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bilitation from the ravages of war should take heed.

200



CHAPTER XIII

THE LABOR PROBLEM

The necessity of studying and realizing the fundamental needs of
Labor everywhere for food, domestic life, ownership, recreation,
work, intellectual activity, and association with fellow-men The
power of Labor to reconstruct the world not realized by Capital.

Since the Industrial Revolution and the unhappy
antagonism of Capital and Labor, with at first the
former and now, especially during and since the war,
the latter tending to subordinate the other, the world
has entered upon a new era, and. a new and higher
morale here, too, is imperative, and industrial prac-
tice, legislation, and public opinion must take new,
cues from the Zeitgeist. We must realize that in all
lines of production labor is no longer a commodity,
but a partner and must be accepted sympathetically
as an intelligent cooperator, and that the long, sad
history of sweating, strikes, riots, sabotage, injunc-
tions, and the rest, represent a dark-age period that
we must emerge from and which has not been credit-
able to our insight into the fundamental laws of hu-

i

man nature.

Industry is the chief trait of our nation and. of
our age. One estimate is that it now absorbs nine-
tenths of all human ability, mental and physical.
Moreover, business and its methods and interests
more and more dominate politics, education, science,

201



MORALE

and, in a sense, also religion. It makes war or peace,
prosperity or decline. It is economic interests that
will eventually find or make a way of adjusting the
claims of the superman versus Bolshevism, of capital
versus labor, and of the classes versus the masses
generally. To this system the morale of the work-
man is no less important than that of the soldier in
the war. Not only his physical but his mental con-
dition is all-determining. It is here, therefore, that
we must reconsider basal human impulses, often
more unconscious than conscious, and inventory and
grade the main determining tendencies that consti-
tute the normal motives of man's behavior, the
thwarting of which makes most of the troubles in in-
dividual, social, and economic life. These play a role
in industry as fundamental as the categories have
in the history of philosophic thought, and we must
seek them where Aristotle found his, viz., in the
market place, rather than by psychological analysis.
They are not simple but genetic and elemental and in-
stinctive, and we shall find far more help from
writers like Carleton Parker 1 and Ordway Tead 2
than from the more scientifically psychologic writ-

1 Motives in Economic Life. Amer. Econ. Rev. Sup. March, 1918,
and The I. W. W. Atlan., Nov., 1917.

'Instincts in Industry. A Study of Working-Class Psychology.
232, Bost., 1918.

* Supplemented, perhaps, by writers like Glenn Frank and R. W.
Bruere ; Spargo (Americanism and Social Democracy, N. Y., Harper,
1918) ; A. Henderson (Aims of Labor, N. Y., Huebsch, 1919) ; Boyd
Fisher (Industrial Loyalty, Lond., 1918) ; P. S. Grant (Fair Play for
the Worker); Meyer Bloomfield (Management and Men, N. Y., Cen-
tury, 1919) ; W. L. MacKenzie King (Industry and Humanity, N. Y.,
Houghton, Mifflin, 1918) ; E. E. Schoonmaker (The World Storm and
Beyond, N. Y., Century, 1915).

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THE LABOR PROBLEM

ings of McDougall, Thorndike, Shand, or from char-
acterology generally. The more important of these
human impulses and needs may be tabbed off as
follows :

1. Food. When this is abundant and fit, men
tend to be contented; and when it is scanty or ill-
adapted to their nutritive needs they become uneasy,
restless, and seize upon anything however untoward
to objectify and justify their discontent. The Paw-
low philosophy has given us a vastly broader basis
for realizing the importance of this factor of human
well-being. Studies of the "conditioned reflex" suggest
to us what the very position of the senses near the
entrance to the alimentary canal (because all of them
were originally food-finders and testers) long taught
in biology, that a large part of not only animal but
of human activity consists in the quest for and pro-
vision of adequate food supply. Fasting and incipient
starvation have motivated the great migrations of
animals and men, and the home and hearth lose much
of their attraction if the table there spread is not
adapted to make for growth or restoration of tissue
lost by activity. Hence the well-known significance
of all sumptuary laws and regulations. Now, too,
tnat v prohibition has removed the long-accustomed
physiological reinforcement that drink once gave,
which also made men more content with inadequate
fare, we cannot doubt that we have here a source
of aggravation to present discontent; while the
scanty food allowance which the war necessitated in

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MOKALE

European lands has had a no less profound effect
on the morale of these peoples. The prime need,
then, not only of labor but of mankind generally is
to be well nourished, and that labor enjoys this
fundamental condition of stability should be the
first object of inquiry Where conditions are to be
studied, for there is no more fundamental need of
life. Metabolic insufficiency has of late been rec-
ognized for school children as a cause of truancy,
irritability, apathy, insubordination, and even vice
and crime. The same is true of armies. But we
have not yet learned that it is no less true of com-
munities in time of peace and perhaps most of all
for laborers. Napoleon said an army "fights on its
belly," and the same is true of the army of toilers.
The old materialists, Biichner and Moleschott, based
their system on the phrase, "Man is what he eats,"
and now the Russian school of physiologists are
amplifying this view and telling us that we not only
eat but think, feel, act, etc. as we digest, and are
even interpreting the higher psychic powers of man on
a metabolic basis. Just how food shortage through-
out the entire Occident has predisposed its popula-
tion to revolution only the expert, and not even he
can yet entirely explain. But the obvious lesson of
it all is that every great industry needs not only its
Hoover to insure an adequate supply but its practi-
cal dietitian to investigate and suggest ways of
reaching the sources and the cures of discontent in
this field. If alimentary conditions had been kept at

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THE LABOR PKOBLEM

their optimum and every organ and tissue had been
well nourished, and enough fit food had been at the
command of the laborer's purse, there would have
been far less labor trouble throughout the world of
late. Here the new trophic psychology has a vast
field for its practical application. Never w^as there
such need for and such sure advantage to our entire
industrial system from our teaching the girls and
women of the working classes what and how to buy,
how to cook, flavor, and even serve foods and drinks
to make them appetizing, for appetite, we now know,
gives the momentum not only to digestion as it is
generally understood but to all the higher and later
processes of assimilation; while fasting in all the
studies that have been made of its conditions makes
restlessness by; far its chief behavioristic concom-
itant.

2. Next to hunger comes love as a psychic
world-pow r er, the one conserving the individual and
the other perpetuating the race. From the teens on
the sexes must meet wholesomely. Each needs all
the influence from the other to mature aright, espe-
cially from early adolescence well on into the age of
full nubility. Dancing, for instance, is at this age
almost a primitive instinct and can be made a far
more potent regulative of morale at these susceptible
years than the world has yet realized.

Every normal individual wants to mate and enjoy,
family life. Working as well as all other girls must
have means, too, to deck themselves appropriately,

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MOKALE

for without this they easily lose all self-respect and
are exposed to the greatest temptations. A best dress
or suit, and occasionally a dressing up in it, is itself
a factor of morale for both sexes. Even before mar-
riage interest in the other sex tends to stabilize each,
and wedlock and the added responsibilities it entails
do this yet more. Every family must have its home
and be able to rear its children decently. Whatever
thwarts phyloprogenetic instincts is not only waste-
ful but dangerous, for psychanalysis has lately
opened a vast new field here for both theory and
practice. It has compelled us to regard almost
everything connected with the transmission of the
sacred torch of life in a new light and taught us how
many of the diseases not only of the individual but
of society, and in some sense particularly of indus-
trial life, are due to derangements of the erotic and
domestic life. Wage-scales need not perhaps, as they
now sometimes are, be supplemented by bonuses for
babies, but such scales should always discriminate in
favor of employees witli families. The workman's
appreciation of good schools for his children make
these an asset of growing worth in the labor market,
while licentiousness in a community is an industrial
disability.

3. A third instinct only a little less primeval is
that of ownership. Everyone, except hoboes or ex-
treme communists, who though still found, in theory
are very rare in our greedy age, craves something he
can call all his very own property, and the unique

206



THE LABOR PEOBLEM

extension of bis personality to all its interests which
it thus gives. With no provision against sickness, old-
age pensions or insurance, "lay-offs," and other ex-
igencies, the workman feels insecure and is ready to
listen to radicalism just in proportion as he feels that
change would not make things worse for him. Own-
ership not only widens interest and makes for con-
servatism but gives a sense of personal worth, inde-
pendence, or freedom of thought and action, of hav-
ing a place and function in the social order ; and also,
what is perhaps yet more important, it safeguards
against a sense of the injustice of an industrial sys-
tem that exacts a man's best endeavor for a bare sub-
sistence; while if he sees no chance or hope of ever
getting ahead, despair sooner or later supervenes, and
desperation is the most dangerous and inflammable
explosive of all psychic states. Immigrants who
have been lured to our shores by extravagant hopes
of easy wealth suffer most by the great disillusion
that they experience and so fall easiest prey to the
ever-active agencies of discontent. A laborer who has
toiled hard all his life and at sixty is laid off as no
longer useful, with nothing laid up and hence depen-
dent on his relatives, is an economic burden both to
himself and to the community, and the worst thing
about it all is the rankling, festering sense of injus-
tice, which is not much mitigated by the fact that
even early in life discouragement may have made him
improvident and have aborted the instinct for acqui-
sition.

207



MORALE

4. This brings us to another fundamental instinct,
viz., play, amusement, or recreation. Everyone,
especially those .who lead the drab life of the mod-
ern toiler, needs and craves an occasional "good
time." Indeed we all need to glow, tingle, and feel life
intensely now and then. .We want our affective na-
ture stirred to its nethermost depths. Our souls as
well as our bodies are erethic, and it seems as though
our blood needed sometimes to be flushed with adren-
alin. These second-breath states and impulses need
legitimate cultivation because thus only can the in-
dividual learn to draw upon his racial resources.
Orgies of sex and drink are the easiest and common-
est vents of this instinct to "life more and fuller" for
which the soul pants, and to find proper vicariates is
one of the chief considerata of the morale of labor, as
it is indeed of morale in other fields. The degenerate
plebs of Rome ranked the demand for circuses beside
that for bread. All animals, as well as men, seek
pleasure and avoid pain, and if they must suffer, they
seek compensation for it. The algedonic scale is a
long one, ranging all the way from ecstasy to agony,
and the tranquillity of both the individual and so-
ciety depends upon the proportions in which these
sovereign masters of life really dominate it. Here
we especially need "the new Sunday." Although the
old Puritanical gloom is fast passing, the Church
makes now almost no claim upon Sunday afternoon
and evening, though it generally "sits tight" against
opening them to games, dramas, and other well-cho-

208



THE LABOR PROBLEM

sen and uplifting amusements lest the day be "Euro-
peanized." We need here a commission to rescue
from the present neglectful, wasteful, and often
vicious influences this great western holiday by sug-
gesting programs that will make it the happiest day
of the week, and it is labor that most needs this.

5. By nature, or at least by second nature, man is
a worker. He must do and make things and enjoy
the advantages that come from all that he does or
makes well or he is a slave. The struggle of one
party to get the most work for the least pay, and of
the other to get the most pay for the least work is the
nadir of industrial morale and involves the greatest
of all economic wastes, a waste that will never cease
until labor shares both profits and management and
the interests of both these moieties of the processes
of production are thus identified. Nothing less will
ever bring industrial peace and check "sojering" on
the one side and exploitation on the other. Few em-
ployers realize how hard most men will work if the
rewards of their endeavors are fair and sure and in
some kind of proportion to their effort. Normally
man is a striver and he will even drudge if it pays in
betterment of his condition and if his loyalty be en-
listed. Labor should have relative permanence, and
instead of the present disastrous turnovers there
should be a new identification of interests. Just in
proportion as work is made equitably profitable, man
in general wants more not less of it. He is not by na-
ture lazy, shiftless, or improvident but is made so by

209



MORALE

abnormal conditions. Veblen is right; there is an in-
stinct for workmanship that if we could only appeal
to aright, would almost redeem man from the ancient
curse of his fabled fall and realize many ideals now
often thought to be unattainable.

6. The need of mentation. One of the chief traits
of man as distinct from animals is his larger brain
and his highly, some think abnormally developed in-
tellect. Curiosity is perhaps the earliest expression
of the basal noetic instinct and is well developed in
many animals. All educational systems, libraries,
the press, science, and even myth, gossip, and espion-
age, were evolved to satisfy this craving. Ignorance
is asphyxia and every normal soul craves more knowl-
edge. Tests of mentality show how mistaken it is to
assume that the illiterate are co ipso inferior or less
truly wise than the learned. The mind of man was
never so active and alert as it is to-day. Politics,
local, national, and international; labor problems,
strikes, with which the world to-day fairly boils; war
and peace methods, social problems, ever wider in-
dustrial relations, automobiles, which every bright
young man wants to understand, a larger view of all
agricultural methods and devices, land transporta-
tion, steel, mining, ships, immigration, machinery,
all these are stimulating and developing the intellect
far more, on the whole, than schooling ever succeeded
in doing. The workman thinks close to facts, and
these are so very thoughfrprovoking that the impulse
to deal with them can often even overcome his fa-

210



THE LABOR PROBLEM

tigue. But the tired man is prone to extreme and
radical views because they are easiest, and inclines
toward trial-and-error methods because the surplus
energy that feeds the impulse to intellectualize is in-
sufficient. And yet even thus he makes hundreds of
inventions, great and small, every year and count-
less helpful suggestions of improvement in processes,
management, and even organization, many of which
are of high survival value. Even the academic
phrases of Marx and the idealism of the Fabians and
guildists, although they diverted psychic energy from
hard reality toward idealism, gave much, with a
wholesome ferment that at least did a great deal to
overcome inertia and stimulate rationalizing activi-
ties. Industrial night- and trade-schools are doing
ever more, but life and industry themselves give an
even more firmly organized brain tissue, and the
workman is extending his purview to include employ-
ers' problems, markets, and trade conditions ; and all
this works to overcome the evils of catch phrases and
the law of least effort. The sooner we learn that
labor now has a mind of its own and a very good,
keen, well-stored, and resourceful one, more and more
able to hold its own in any forum, court, legislature,
or labor conference against employers and capital,
and realize all the intellectual agencies it can enlist in
its behalf, the better it will be. Its best leaders are
men of rare native mental power and sagacity. They
can think and talk convincingly, and their leadership
is the spontaneous acme of sincerity, of well-matured

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MORALE

and intense conviction. Their creeds are ever more
constructive and less destructive. They often have
the stuff of which martyrs are made and the best of
them are incorruptible. What they most crave is to
be taken into the confidences of and into the same
kind of partnership with those who control. What
they moat dread is secret arrangements to the disad-
vantage of those whom they loyally represent. Thus
every appeal to the mentality of labor and every op-
portunity of the laborer for the kind of culture he
wants, as distinguished always from that his employ-
ers or even philanthropists and social workers think
he ought to have, is a direct asset to efficient produc-
tion ; and to thwart this noetic instinct or even to ig-
nore and neglect it is simply to drive it into perverse,
wasteful, and perhaps dangerous channels.

7. Man is the most gregarious of all creatures and
he owes his conquest of animals and the material
world very largely to this basal instinct which, as
Trotter has shown, is hardly less primitive than
that of self-preservation. From the huddling of ani-
mals for warmth, as Sutherland has shown, to the mob
and tribal instinct and up to the club, party, sect, and
class, the impulse to act, feel, and think in masses or
groups is one of the great primordials. Fashions,
creeds, philosophies, unions, schools of thought, folk-
ways, mores ? communities, all show the strength and
depth of the human trend toward collectivity. The
crowd is very subject to suggestion and must have
and is very subordinate to its leaders. It is this in-

212



istinct that makes solitude so painful and domestic
service so discredited, and causes the now world-wide
tendency to urban congestion. There is often a con-
flict of loyalties, e. g., race and language conscious-
ness may be arrayed, especially in polyglot communi-
ties, against trade loyalties. The ties of comradeship
in arms are very close, and at home the war tended
to break down class distinctions, even on the street,
and it is this that makes the dispersal of great crowds
when aroused so hard and even dangerous. Free as-
sociation, good-fellowship, and fraternization, there-
fore, express an instinct that can do great things for
good or evil, and if this is thwarted or repressed, men
either stagnate and grow cranky or else become fit
for "treason, strategy, or spoils." Every hour of idle-
ness and discontent, to say nothing of strikes, fer-
tilizes the germs of Bolshevism.

But there is one great danger that may be charac-
terized here as follows: Science is the very highest
embodiment of the principle of reality. It represents
the most heroic objective and impersonal attitude of
mind. Huxley compared the devotion of the modern
investigator to fact and law to the Christian sense of
self-surrender and his feeling of absolute dependence
upon God and His will. We must give up precon-
ceived ideas and become as little children as con-
trasted with the self -satisfy ing processes of thinking
under the "pleasure principle." It is incidental that
science has conferred so many blessings upon man-
kind. But while we have utilized it for all kinds of

213



MORALE

comforts, we have not really learned its great lesson
of the inexorable inviolability of the law of cause and
effect. Many if not most strive to lessen pain and
toil and to increase and equalize pleasures, which
have become the chief quest of man to-day.

Thus the gregarious spirit has one of its culmina-
tions in the drift toward the city, where so many in-
ventions can be enjoyed as contrasted with the coun-
try where man faces the stern laws of nature. As E.
G. Groves well says, "Everything conspires to build
into the urban philosophy of life the conviction that
the obstacles that hamper human inclination are due
to the interference of other people." In the city we feel
that we would get all we want but for the conflicting
wants of others. Because contacts are chiefly with
persons the idea arjses that all our thwartings are
due to wrongs inflicted upon us by other people, and
so they get the blame; while in the country it is na-
ture that checks our purposes. To this source of
urban interest must be added the more rapid weak-
ening of older moral and religious restraints by radi-
calism, the acceleration of the state of mind that feels
that we must get everything here and now, the
sharper focalization upon the bald economic problem
of getting more dollars at once by any means, which
seem enhanced in value because they can be ex-
changed for such intense pleasures, and finally the
fact that demagogues and extremists make more
promises and arouse more hopes which are unful-
filled. All these tend to lower the tone of city morale.

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THE LABOR PROBLEM

We must not forget, too, that the closing of the sa-
loon, where men met their friends and which was an
important organ for the deployment of the social
sense, made it necessary to find another vent for their
gregarious instinct in the union or in collective ac-
tion for the betterment of their condition. (See the
chapter on Prohibition.)

Labor is now at the greatest crisis in its history.
We are told that since the war began, wages have, on
on the whole, advanced about 100 per cent., hours
have been reduced 10 per cent, and efficiency and
output in many industries are to-day only about 80
per cent of the normal. There is only one way of re-
ducing prices for the necessities of life, and that is
increased output. To raise wages and lessen output
only makes matters worse. Labor in this country is
at a parting of the ways, and at the present writing
it seems uncertain whether its course will be directed
by its conservative leaders or by a more radical group
of them. It is significant that in Germany the work-
men have lately gone on record as favoring a "ten-
hour day, no strikes, and no advance in wages." If
the radical element of labor wins control, it will be a
heavy blow to all the great American expectations of
business leadership in the world to-day. Unionism
and probably collective bargaining have come to stay.
This involves the right of private, always sharply dis-
tinguished in this respect from public utility and gov-
ernmental officials, to strike if necessary to enforce
their demands. It will be hard indeed to bring labor

215



to give up the right to be represented by delegates of
its own choosing whether in the shop or brought iu
from outside, but the shop that is closed either to
members of the union or to those who prefer to stay
outside will always result in great and unfair disad-
vantage, in the one case to the employer and in the
other to the laborer. Employers in this country are
less awake to the needs of the hour and to the neces-
sity of making concessions to the new demands of the
laborer than those in Europe. They do not realize
the power of labor nor the dangers of revolution that
now impend. Still less do they realize the subtle plea
that soviet, ideals under various names are now mak-
ing to labor throughout the world, and it is lament-
able that our political leaders have not studied, and
therefore vastly underestimate the force of the ap-
peal that labor not only can now but ought every-


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Online LibraryG. Stanley (Granville Stanley) HallMorale, the supreme standard of life and conduct → online text (page 14 of 25)