Thomas Kirwan.

Reciprocity (social and economic) in the thirtieth century, the coming co-operative age; a forecast of the world's future online

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Online LibraryThomas KirwanReciprocity (social and economic) in the thirtieth century, the coming co-operative age; a forecast of the world's future → online text (page 1 of 15)
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The Glenn Negley Collection
of Utopian Literature

Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive
in 2010 witii funding from
Dui^e University Libraries


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For ThtnKing People.






A Forecast of the World's Futtjek

Tze-Kung- asked, saying: "Is there one -word

which may serve as a rule of practice for all

one's life?" The Master said: "Is not becipkocitt

such a word? What you do not want done to

yourself, do not do to others." — Confucian Analects.


Tbibune Building, New Yobk.


Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1908,

By Thomas Kibwan.

(All Rights Reserved.)





. . . i-vi

Chapter I. — By Way of Preamble — An Eventful
Journey and Curious Experience, .... 7

Chapter II. — Sun Invocation — Visiting the Town

Mansion — A Sun-Cooked Dinner, . . , . 31

Chapter III. — A Tilt at Windmills, and Other

Things of General Interest, 68

Chapter IV. — Woman's Work in the Commune —
Training Children in Schools — Marriage —
Varied Industries, 95

Chapter V. — Visiting Underground Ways — The

Town Farm and Town^Stores — Finance, . . 126

Chapter VI. — The Patriarch's Sunday Sermon —

How Thirtieth Century Houses are Built, . .152

Chapter VII. — Sociological Talk — Air-Ship in
View — Telephone Wonders — Airy Flight and
Great Peril — The Awakening, 187


This is a work of fiction, but not a novel. It is a love
story, but on a scale beyond mere individual or sexual
affection — it is of love of fellow man.

It may be thought that it portrays a condition of soci-
ety that would constitute a Quaker world. But a world
of peace, good will and brotherly co-operation among
men would seem to be an improvement on the world of
competition and strife which we have at the present day.

Is it not well to picture a better world, an earthly
heaven, even at the risk of being deemed visionary?

To those opposed to or who fear "modernism," or free
thought and inquiry outide the bounds of orthodoxy, it
may not be acceptable. Such good people would better
not read it.

But to the lover of the human kind, of equal rights
and a " square deal," it may afford food for reflection.

It treats of what may be and should be in a coming
age of intellectual and moral advancement — an age of
co-operative social and industrial brotherhood among
plain and right living people — a mythless and super-
stitionless age.

Plain men and women are dealt with in it, "ladies"
and "gentlemen," as complimentary or conventional
titles, being out of keeping with the simple dignity of
the manhood and womanhood of a truly democratic and
common sense people.

Finally, the aim of this work is to incite people to


The inspiration of this work is derived from a long
life of observation of social and industrial development
during an era of the most remarkable progress in the
world's history, namely, from a time antedating the
middle of the 19th century to the early years of the 20th
century — more than seventy years of active existence.

Four things to be noted in that period are —

First, The wonderful development of industrial power
through the steam engine.

Second, The progress of invention, and employment
of machinery in the arts.

Third, The development of a system of public education.

Fourth, The self-conscious awakening of the working
classes in America and Europe, due to better education
and more enlightenment as to human rights, and their
participation in the activities of government.

Steam power has not only revolutionized the older
methods of production, but it has, with the development
of machinery, so greatly increased the productive ca-
pacity of the industrial nations of the world that it gives
hopeful promise of immunity from grinding drudgery to
the workers of the future.

Keeping pace with the development of the steam en-
gine has been the invention of machinery. To such an
extent has this development taken place that now the
real artificer is the automatic machine, man being only
the director and attendant.

Within the past quarter of a century a new form of


energy has been developed, which promises in the not
very distant future to supplant even steam power. This
is electricity, now extensively produced by steam power,
but also quite largely by water power, and to some ex-
tent by wind power. These forces, it will be remem-
bered, are all derived from the energy of our parent Sun.
The time is coming when the coal measures will be ex-
hausted, and water, wind, tide, and power derived from
passing vegetation, will have to be availed of.

The system of general education, which is permeating
and quickening the masses of Europe, America, Australia,
South Africa and New Zealand, is silently but surely aid-
ing in the moulding of a race of men of more intelligence
and nobler characteristics. The results of this develop-
ment are to be seen in every form of industry, in every
phase of social life. A superior class of engineers, me-
chanics, inventors, operatives and even laborers, is being
developed under the improved systems of education.

It may be true that the various systems of education
in vogue are still imperfect, but enough progress has
been made to show that the persistent quest after new
methods will bear better fruitage, for all methods which
are improvements result from tentative activities.

The trend now in educational methods is in the direc-
tion of industrialism — polytechnical and trade schools —
which will undoubtedly in time replace the present lead-
ing methods, retaining their best features as part of the
new system.

The self-conscious awakening of the working classes
throughout the civilized world, it may be assumed, is one


of the important results of modern education and conse-
quent enlightenment. The working people of this age,
equipped with an intelligence which guides them to con-
sider the most available means of bettering their con-
dition and securing for themselves a more equitable pro-
portion of the rewards of their industry than they now
receive under the wage system, have been manifesting this
dominant desire in various ways, such as by forming
trades unions or associations for co-operative efforts to
obtain better compensation for their labor.

There is another and more advanced class of laborers
who are not satisfied with the scope of trades' unionism,
but are for a federation not only of all workers politically
in their own country, but an international federation of
all working men for a common end. This class of pro-
gressive workers is known as Socialists.

The Socialists have had, and still have, in their ranks
men of the highest mentality and broadest calibre, whose
studies of and writings on political economy have made
those of the earlier writers on the subject appear more
confusing than enlightening. They (the Socialists)
have established propagandist centres in Europe, America
and other advanced sections of the world, and spread their
doctrines by means of periodical publications and works
on Socialism and political economy, most of which are
of a readable and enlightening nature.

The Socialists advocate radical changes in prevailing
governmental and industrial systems, but the revolution
thus advocated by them is not of the nature that people
commonly associate with that term. They do not mean


that it shall be accomplished through violence — brought
about by bullets and carnage — but by ballots in the
hands of the enfranchised, backed by enlightened public
opinion, and peaceful methods of legislation.

In other words, as I understand it, the Socialists aim
to obtain through legislative enactment all the vast and
various industries and systems of transportation, all the
lands, buildings and all other kinds of fixed property, for
the use and benefit of the whole people — to make them
public property, in fact. In doing this they do not pro-
pose to despoil or expropriate the property of any one
without just compensation, but (as is the present usage in
the operation of the law of eminent domain) that gov-
ernment should take them, pay for them a just valuation,
and occupy and operate them by the people for the use
and benefit of all the people. It is a most fascinating
scheme for altruistic endeavor.

Assuming that this theory (for it is as yet only such)
will ultimately become a practical reality, for it appears
to be based ui)on the broad ethics of justice and human-
ity, the following work has been predicated.

This work may, in the existing light of the world, be
looked upon as a dream of Utopia, and perhaps it is; but
if it has not a justification in the recent, present and
prospective developments in the political, industrial and
social affairs among civilized peoples and the rapid
spread of civilization among the backward races, then
the writer has anticipated and estimated most illogically.

The united will and energy of the people, when wisely
directed, will accomplish wonderful results. Unity of


action in electing to the law-making branches of govern-
ment only men pledged to make such enactments as will
give " a square deal " in the struggle for existence, is
essential to the success of all popular movements by
peaceful means. Economic changes, we are told, always
precede political revolutions. The Social revolution will
be both economic and political.

The path of progress for the workers of the world is
through legislation, not through strife and bloodshed.

The man of the future will not be warlike. In him
the instinct of the savage will have been eliminated by
ancestral generations of peace-loving brotherhood among
men. Co-operative will succeed competitive industry,
and the incentives for aggression as well as need of de-
fence will be non-existent.

In this work I have outlined a system of education
which should logically accord with the highly industrial
conditions of a commune like the one outlined, with va-
riety enough of rational amusements — entertaining and
also instructive — to suit all tastes, all ages, and give a
zest and flavor of enjoyment to life.

The treatment of the criminal and insane suggested in
the book as pertaining to the coming ages, while merci-
ful and wise, is also properly considerate of the welfare
of society. The most available method of eliminating
vicious and undesirable elements from the population is
confinement for chronic habits of crime and for lunacy,
and consequent prevention of propagation ; for the taint
of heredity is not alone confined to physical degeneracy
but to mental and moral deterioration, and is so potent


and persistent that even a favorable-to-reforra environ-
ment will fail to remedy it and fit the unfortunate sub-
ject for rational participation in the concerns of normal

Marriage and other social customs treated are to some
extent, it is believed, an improvement on existing ones.
A word of explanation in regard to the decadence of
the God religions of today. The world will change in
this respect in the coming ten centuries as it has in the
past twenty or thirty. The old religions of the so-called
heathen world, with their men-made gods, have been re-
legated to the limbo of the dead past. Yet in their day
of dominance they controlled and swayed vast numbers
of mankind. They lived their time of usefulness, and in
the process of evolution were superseded by other forms
of superstition, some of which still survive. These, in
their turn, will inevitably go the way of all myths, and
mankind, emancipated from such mental bondage, will
rejoice in the freedom of a rational existence.

If this consummation cannot be expected in our day, it is
a pleasing hope that future generations will yet realize it.
Then let us pray that come it may,

As come it will for a' that,
That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,

May bear the gree, and a' that;
For a' that, and a' that,

It's coming yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world o'er,

Shall brothers be for a' that, [Rob't Burns.

Thk Author.




By Way of Preamble. — An Eventful Joueney and

Curious Experience.

Is there such a mental phenomenon as prescience, or
the anticipation of events? The Greeks and Romans
had their oracles, their soothsayers and sibyls, who, it
may be noted, are represented in this age by spiritests,
psychologists, and others claiming peculiar mental and
spiritual endowments.

The Jews had their prophets, who were imitated later,
even in the history of the Christian era. All these so-
called or pretended prophets had their believers and fol-
lowers, and many honest people still believe them to
have been endowed with some measure of inspiration,
even if most of their predictions as yet remain unfulfilled.
There is, for example, the persistent anticipation of a
beatific condition of things which is to prevail in the un-
certain future, popularly expressed in the optimism,
"There's a good time coming," the condition for the ad-
vent of which is "wait a little longer," and the "boys"
are still awaiting its coming.

In the early Christian times a millenium was predicted,
when Christ would come again to earth, reign for a thous-
and years, and only the saints would inhabit the earth ;
but he has not yet materialized, though even to this day


there are many good people who look forward to the
" second coming of Christ " with a confidence and hope-
fulness which is little short of sublime.

Whatever the significance of such aspirations, it may
he admitted that they have a singular merit in the fact
that they aim at better conditions of life for the human
race ; at least they furnish evidence that there are minds
of such peculiar endowment and logical bias that they
can deduce from acquired knowledge or mental concepts
of the trend of moral, social and industrial affairs, a train
of sequential development.

With these premises, I would ask attention to what
follows — the record of what may be termed a vision of
the future, or perhaps a dream. Have I dreamed it, or
has it come to me in the guise of prophecy ? You shall
judge. I can not; for I have been nursing the thing so
long that it has assumed to my mind a more than half
reality — a kind of substantial unsubstantiality, if such a
paradoxical term can be reconciled with the critical view.

When the infant awakens to the objective conditions
of life he does not at first comprehend the novelty of his
environment, having had no antecedent experience for
analogy ; hence his latent faculties, slow in developing,
take years to mature. What would be his impression,
however, if he came into the world with his faculties of
observation and deduction fully developed — as if trans-
lated from one adult stage of existence to another and a
radically different one ?

It will, of course, be said that such an hypothesis is
preposterous, because it assumes an impossibility. Per-


haps, however, it may be less absurd and more to the
purpose to suppose that one, whom we may term a bar-
barian, but with an acute and observing mind, should be
suddenly translated from a barbaric environment into a
most highly civilized community and brought in contact
with, to him, new and striking customs, educational and
industrial arts, social refinements and pleasing manners.

The comparison in the present case may more proper-
ly apply to the barbarian hypothesis, for my vision, in
some respects, has translated me, not into existing new
and more highly developed lands and peoples, but into
familiar scenes, under new and greatly changed con-
ditions ; changes for the better, in which may be noted a
radical advance toward that ideal stage of human prog-
ress so often conceived of and described as that of a
" golden age " — a condition of things under which life
may be rationally enjoyed ; where the clouds and glamor
of ignorance and sui^erstition have only a curious tradi-
tional existence, as fairy tales are now viewed ; where all
who think and plan and work receive their just share of
the awards for thought, skill and labor; where justice to
all is assured by all, and where men are brothers in fact
as well as in name.

But to my visional theme. You may call it \'isionary ;
but read it, my friend, and then you will be better quali-
fied to judge of its merits. As to title, I have thought
the work should be called The Electrical Age, for in it
the application of electricity to all the affairs of life that
require power, heat, light, chemical action, etc., is all but
universal. But at the last moment I have thought of a


more comprehensive, a more ethical title — Reciprocity.

This is the story as I shall tell it :

Gliding Into Futurity.

I left Boston one pleasant morning in the summer of
1907, and arrived at my destination in Vermont, some
twelve or thirteen miles west of White I?iH^er Junction,
about an hour and a half later on the same day in the
year 2907. 'This is impossible, absurd!' you wall say;
but for my purpose it is a verity in a way. Let me ex-
plain the paradox in my fashion, if you please.

On the road, after leaving Boston's immediate suburbs,
I soon became conscious of a change in the usual charac-
teristics of railway travel. The noise of the locomotive,
its puffing of steam, smoke and cinders, the pounding of
the wheels on the rails, the jolting and jarring of the
cars, all seemed to have suddenly ceased, and in place of
the swaying and noise of the train there was an absence
of harsh vibration, as if the train were sailing on a
smooth water surface or gliding through the air. At the
same time there was a sense of rapid motion.

Surprised at the change, I looked from the car window
and was bewildered at what I saw. It seemed as if a
panorama of mingled landscape and open framework was
rushing past with a velocity that left little more than a
blur on the sight. At times the picture faded into dark-
ness, as if the train were passing through some under-
ground way.

At a loss to account for what I saw, I turned to a fel-
low passenger and asked for information. He was a
well dressed and noble looking man, with a frank and


kindly countenance, and was willing to enlighten me.

* I j"dge by your speech and dress,' he said, 'that you
are not lamiliar with your surroundings. Are you not a
stranger in these parts?'

' Pardon me, sir,' I said, ' but you can hardly call a
man a strange who has made Boston his home for over
sixty years, and has traveled on this line many times be-
fore today; but I will confess that things appear strange
to me now. As to my speech and dress, I wear a good
tailor-made suit, and feel that in speech I am not behind
this twentieth century — this year of our Lord 1907,'

He regarded me keenly for a moment, and then, with
a smile of compassion, as I judged, said : ' That is a very
strange statement, my brother, passing strange ; for this
year counts just one thousand years later in that era of
the world's history — it being the thirtieth century, 2907.'

< One thousand years later I ' I exclaimed, ' that is im-
possible ! ' and I looked sharply at him to see if he were
quizzing me.

'It may seem so to you, for what reason I cannot guess,'
he returned, with no sign of banter in his tone, ' but you
will pardon me for saying that to my knowledge it is a

' But how can it be ? Only this morning I read in a
Washington dispatch to the Herald President Roose-
velt had — '

' President Roosevelt ! Why he was one of the early
Presidents of the Republic, famous as peacemaker, and
as such his name is honored to this day. There have
been more than a hundred presidents since his time.


How strange ! ' And be seemed to regard me with a
puzzled expression, as if he doubted my sanity, but was
too polite to give expression to the thought.

* Is there such a thing as resurrection after death, or
am I wandering spirit? But I have no recollection of
dying,' I said to myself; and then aloud: 'Why, it is not
fifteen minutes since we left the North Station in Boston,
and I have not been asleep. I am now wide awake, and
this is a mystery. Is it not a waking dream? I'm not a
hasheesh eater, and — excuse me, are you a real person-
age, a flesh-and-blood human being?'

He smiled at my question and said : * I am as real flesh
and blood as you are. Feel me, and be convinced,' and
he extended his hand and clasped mine with a firm yet
gentle pressure. It was indeed solid flesh, with the
blood flowing rhythmically in it.

• Well,' he said, ' be you whom you may, I have no
disposition to doubt your word, and as you seem uncer-
tain in regard to your surroundings, I will answer your
inquiries. You ask why there is apparently little or no
jolting of the train, and yet the landscape and other ob-
jects seem to rush past with a blur. We are now going
at a speed of one hundred miles an hour. The entire
road bed is under cover, roofed over, and the tracks are
as nearly straight and level as engineering skill can make
them. There are no short curves. To accomplish this,
hills and mountains have been tunneled, and the road-
bed over valleys raised. The windows in the sides of
the covering structure are lowered in the summer season,
but closed in winter, except for ventilating purposes.


This is to keep snow off the tracks in winter. The traffic
on our railways, therefore, is never obstructed. The
country highways, where they cross the railways, go over
or under them. There can be no collisions with motor
vehicles on the public roads. The covering structure of
the tracks has concrete foundations and a superstructure
and roof of metal. It is built to endure.'

'Wonderful,' I said. 'How are these cars propelled —
by what power, I mean ?'

' By the electric current.'

' By trolley ? — overhead wire or third rail ? '

< Neither ; the current is produced on the cars.'

' How is it generated? '

♦ The power is derived from alcohol. It is used to run
engines which operate generators. These, in turn, sup-
ply current to electric moters which propel the cars.'

'Do you depend on alcohol alone for the power to
generate the electric current?' I asked.

' No, indeed, except for motor purposes. We employ
water and wind pressure on a large scale for electric cur-
rent production, also compressed air ; but alcohol is most
available on railways and on large freight and passenger
vehicles, where it is more economical to manufacture the
current required than to carry storage cells. But, I am
told, we are about to realize a vast improvement in the
matter of electric current generation. All forms of
power heretofore employed were the products of sun
energy, stored or manifested in different forms, but now
we are promised the conversion direct of the solar energy
into the manageable electric current. It has long been


known that electricity is but a form of the energy given
out by our sun, which in turn derives its potency from
the great universal store of cosmical energy. But you
will please excuse me, as I get off at this station. This
is West Hartford, Vermont.'

' Why this is where I get off also,' I said.

Upon leaving the train I found myself in a spacious
station, which spanned the tracks, and connected with
the track shed and an overhead bridge. I looked at the
cars of the train. They were of metal and seemed light
but strong. I could see no wheels, but the trucks rested
on legs, and these extended into deeply-grooved rails,
shaped in cross section like the letter XJ. How could
these legs slide in the grooves of the rails with apparent-
ly so little friction ? My traveling companion explained
that these legs had shoes or skates on their lower parts
which fitted loosely into the rail grooves. At the bottom
of the grooves were steel balls, separated by smaller balls
held in dividing sleeves, a device which prevented the

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Online LibraryThomas KirwanReciprocity (social and economic) in the thirtieth century, the coming co-operative age; a forecast of the world's future → online text (page 1 of 15)