Gerald Stanley Lee.

Crowds: a moving-picture of democracy online

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from week to week.

Why is no one singing 1913, our own American 1913?

Why is no one stuttering out our Bible — one the President
could have to refer to, our own Bible in our own tongue from
morning to morning in the symbols that breathe to us out of
the sounds in the street, out of the air, out of the fresh, bright
American sky, and out of the new ground beneath our feet?

It is easy for a President to pile up three columns a morning
of news about himself to us, show each man his face in the
morning, but what is there he can do with twenty thousand
newspapers at his breakfast table, to pick out the real news
about us? Who shall paint the portrait of a people?

One could go about in the White House and study the por-
traits of the presidents, but where is the portrait of the people?
The portrait of the people comes in little bits to the president
like a puzzle picture. Each man brings in his little crooked
piece, jig-sawed out from Iowa, South Dakota, Oklahoma or
Aroostook County, Maine. This picture or vision of a nation,
this wilderness of pieces, can be seen every day when one goes
in, lying in heaps on the floor of the White House.

A literature is the expression on the face of a nation. A
literature is the eyes of a great people looking at one.

It seems to be as we look, looking out of the past and faraway
into the future.

A newspaper can set a nation's focus for a morning, adjusting
it one way or the other. A President can set the focus for four
years. But only a book can set the focus for a nation's next

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hundred years so that it can act intelligently and steadfastly
on its main line from week to week and morning to morning.
Only a book can make a vast, inspiring, steadfast, stage-setting
for a nation. Only a book, strong, slow, reflective, alone with
each man, and before all men, can set in vast still array the
perspective, the vision of the people, can give that magnificent
self -consciousness which alone makes a great nation, or a mighty
man. At last humble, imperious, exalted, it shall see Itself,
its vision of its daily life lying out before it, threading its way
to God!

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I WENT one day six months ago to the Mansion House
and heard Lord Grey, and Lord Robert Cecil, and Mr. T. C.
Taylor and others address the annual meeting of the Labour
Copartnership Association.

I found myself in the presence of a body of men who believe
that EngUshmen are capable of bigger and better things than
many men believe they are capable of. They refuse to evade
the issue of the coal strike and to agree with the socialists who
have given up believing that Enghsh employers can be com-
petent and who merely believe that we will have to rely on
our governments now to be employers, and they refuse to
agree with the syndicalists, who believe in human nature still
less and have given up on employers and on governments both.

I have retained three impressions as a result of the meeting.

The first was that it was the most significant and impressive
event since the coal strike, that it brought the whole industrial
issue to a point and summed the coal strike up.

The second impression was one of surprise that the hall was
not full.

The third impression came the next day when I looked
through the papers for accounts of what had been said and of
what it stood for.

It was noted pleasantly and hurriedly as one of the day's
events. It was just one more of those shadowy things that
flicker on the big foolish, drifting, rolling attention of a world
a second and are gone.

People were given a few inches.


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I read in the papers that same day a quite long account of
a discussion of nine bishops for five hours (meeting at the same
time) on a matter of proper clothes for clergymen.

I would have said of that meeting of the Labour Copartner-
ship Association — that it was a meeting of a Society for
Defence and Protection of Longer Possible Religion on the
Earth — but the clergy out of all the invitations, did not seem
very largely to have had time to be there.

I wondered too a little about the papers, as I hunted through

It set one to thinking if anything serious to the nation would
have happened, if possibly during the coal strike the London
papers had devoted as much attention to T. C. Taylor — a
mutual interest employer — and to how he runs his business
— as to Horatio Bottomley?

Possibly too what Mr. Sandow prefers to have people drink
is not so important — perhaps whole pages of it at a time — as
Amos Mann and how he runs his shoe business without strikes,
or as Joseph Bibby and how he makes oil cakes and loyal work-
men together.

I read the other day of a clergyman in New Jersey — who
was organizing a league of all the left-handed men in the world.
Everything is being organized, whether or no. Some one has
financed him. There will be some one very soon now who
will pay the bill for organizing the attention of a world and
for deciding the fate of human nature. It woidd be worth
while spending possibly one fortune on getting human nature
to settle decisively and once for all whether it has any reason
to believe in itself or not. Why have a world at all — one
like this? Do we want it? Who wants it? What do we want
instead? We will advertise and find out. We will spend
millions of poimds and Dreadnoughts, even tiational beer-
bills on it, if necessary, on making everybody know that men-
tally competent business men — mutual-interest employers, and
mentally competent workmen — mutual-interest workmen, can

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be produced by the human race. When everybody knows that
this is true, nine out of ten Parliamentary questions would be
settled, the Churches woidd again have a chance to be noticed,
and education and even religion could be taken seriously.
There would be some object in being a teacher perhaps once
more and in making teaching again a great profession. There
would be some object perhaps in even being an artist. The
world would start off on a decent, self-respecting theory or
vision about itself. Things could begin to be done in society
once more, soundly, permanently, hmnanly and from the
bottom up.

We would go out on the streets again — rich and poor —
and look in each other's faces. We would take up our morning
papers without a sinking at the heart.

And the men who have stopped believing in men and who
merely believe in machines would be indicted before the bar
of mankind. We would see them slowly filing back, one by one,
to where they belong — on the back seats of the world.

The newspapers in England and America seem to think
that in their business of rolling the world along, what they
find themselves confronted with just now is an economic prob-

The problem that the newspapers are really confronted with,
as a matter of fact, is one with which newspaper men big and
Uttle are more competent to deal than they would be with an
expert problem in economics. The real problem that news-
papers are confronted with every night, every morning, to-day,
is a problem in human nature.

Some people believe that human nature can be believed in,
and others do not. The sociaUsts, the syndicalists, the trades
unionists, as a class, and the capitalists as a class, are acting as
if they did not. A great many inventors, and a great many
workmen, all the more bold and inventive workmen, and many
capitalists and great organizers of facts and of men, are acting
as if they believed in human nature.

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Which are right? Can a mutual-interest employer, can a
mutual-interest worker, be produced by the human race?
There are some of us who answer that this is a matter of fact,
that this type of man can be produced, is already produced,
and is about to be reproduced indefinitely.

The moment we can convince trades unions and convince
employers that this is true we will change the face of the earth.

Why not change the face of the earth now?

In this connection I respectfully submit three considerations:

1st. If all employers of the worid to-morrow morning knew
what Lord Grey (as President of the Labour Copartnership
Association) knows to-day about copartnership — the hard
facts about the way copartnership works in calling out human
nature — in nerving and organizing labour, every employer
in the world to-morrow would begin to take an attitude
toward labour which would result in making strikes
and lockouts as impracticable, as incredible, as moony,
as visionary forever as ideals of a world without strikes
look now.

2nd. If all the workmen of the world to-morrow morning
knew what Frederick Taylor (the American engineer) knows
about planning workmen's work so that they receive, for the
same expenditure of strength, a third more wages every day,
the whole attitude of labour in every nation and of the trades
unions of the world — the attitude of doing as little work as
possible, of labouring and studying and slaving away to dis-
cover ways of not being of any use to employers — would face
about in a day.

3rd. What Lord Grey knows about copartnership and the
way it works is in the form of ascertainable, communicable, and
demonstrable facts. What Frederick Taylor knows and what
he has been doing with human beings and with steel and pig
iron and with bricks and other real things is in the form of
history that has been making for thirty years — and that can
be looked up and proved.

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Why should not everybody who employs labour know what
Lord Grey knows?

And why should not all workmen know what a few thousand
workmen who have been trained under Frederick Taylor to
work under better conditions and with more wages, know?

If I were an inspired millionaire the first thing I would do
to-morrow would be to supply the funds and find the men who
should take up what Lord Grey knows about employers, and
what Frederick Taylor knows about workmen, and put it where
all who live shall see it and know it. I would spend my fortune
in proving to the world, in making everybody know and believe
that the mutual-interest business man and the mutual-interest
workman have been produced and can be produced and shall
be produced by the human race.

The problem of the fate of the world in its essential nature
and in its spiritual elements and gifts — has come to be in this
age of the press a huge advertising problem — a great adventure
in human attention.

The most characteristic and hiunan and natural way, and the
only profound and permanent way to handle the quarrel
between Capital and Labour is by placing certain facts —
certain rights-of-all-men-to-know, into the hands of some dis-
interested and powerful statesman of publicity — some great
organizer of the attention of a world. He would have to be a
practical passionate psychologist, a man gifted with a bird's-
eye view of publics — a discoverer of geniuses and crowds,
a natural diviner or reader of the hearts of men. He shall
search out and employ twenty men to write as many books
addressed to as many classes and types of employers and
workers. He shall arrange pamphlets for every dooryard that
cannot help being read.

He shall reach trades unions by using the cinema, by having
some master of hiunan appeal take the fate of labour, study it
out in pictures — and the truth shall be thrown night after
night and day after day on a hundred thousand screens around

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a world. He shall organize and employ wide publicity or rely
on secret and careful means on different aspects of the issue
according to the nature of the issue, human nature and com-
mon sense, and organize his campaign to reach every type of
person, every temperament, and order of circumstance, each in
its own way.

What Lord Grey knows and what Frederick Taylor's workmen
know shall be put where all who live shall see it — where every
employer, every workman, every workman's wife and every
growing boy and girl that is passing by, as on some vast bill-
board above the world, shall see it — shall see and know and
believe that employers that are worth believing in — and
that workmen who can work and who are skilled and clever
enough to love to work -^- can still be produced by the human

If I were a newspaper man I would start what might be
called Pull Together Clubs in every community, men in all
walks of life, little groups of crowdmen or men in the com-
munity who could not bear not to see a town do team work.

I would use these Pull Together Clubs in every community
as means of gathering and distributing news — as local com-
mittees on the national campaign of touching the imagination
of labour and touching the imagination of capital.
''Wiihotd Vision the People perish,"

I would begin with spending five miUion dollars on a vision
for the people.

What would I do with a five-miUion-dollar fund for touch-
ing the imagination of labour and touching the imagination of

First: preliminary announcement in all papers and in all
public ways, asking names and addresses of workmen who have
already proved and established their belief in copartnership.

Names and addresses of employers in the same way.

Second: names and addresses of workmen who would believe
in it if *hey could; who believe in the principle theoretically and

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would be interested in seeing how it could be practically and
technically proved.

Names and addresses of employers m the same way.

Third: selection of one firm in each industry, the best and
most strategically placed to carry it out in that industry, and
placing the facts before them.

Selection of the leading workmen out of all the workmen in
the nation employed in that industry, who would be willing to
work with such a firm.

Fourth: a selection of travelling secretaries to visit trades
unions and get provisional permission and toleration for these
workmen so that they can take copartnership places under such
a firm with the consent of their fellows and be set one side for
experimental purposes, under the protection of the trades
union rules.

Fifth: I would find the most promising trades-union branch
in each industry and I would try to get this branch to take it up
with the other branches until all trades unions were brought
to admit copartnership members on special terms.

Sixth: after getting copartnership tolerated for certain work-
men employed in certain firms I would try to make copartner-
ship a trades-union movement.

I would then let the trades unions educate the employers.

Seventh: I would prepare a list of apparent exceptions to
copartnership as a working principle. I would investigate and
try to see why they were exceptions and why copartnership
would not work, and I would find and set inventors at work,
and find in what way the spirit that is back of copartnership
could be applied.

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WE WANT to be good and the one thing we need to do is to
tell each other. Then we will be good. Our conveniences for
being good in crowds are not finished yet.

We have invented machines for crowds to see one another
with and to use in getting about in the dark. One engine
whirls round and round all night so that half a million people
can be going about anywhere after sunset without running
into each other.

Crowds have vast machines for being somewhere else — run
in somewhat the same way all from one impretentious building
they put up called a Power House.

A great many of our machines for allowing crowds of people
to move their bodies around with have been attended to, but
our Intelligence-Machine, our machine for knowing what other
people really think, and what they are like in their hearts so that
we can know enough to be good to them, and have brains enough
to get them to be good to us, is not finished and set up yet.

The industrial problem instead of being primarily an eco-
nomic problem is a news problem.

If a President were to appoint a Secretary of Labour and
were to give him as one of his conveniences, a news engineer —
an expert at attracting and holding the attention of labour
unions and driving through news to them about themselves
that they do not know yet, who would be practically at the
head of the department in two years? The Secretary or the
Secretary's news engineer? News is all there is to such a
department, finding out what it is and distributing it. Any

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one can think of scores of labour-union fallacies, news they do
not know about themselves that they will want to know at
once when their attention is called to it.

If nine members of the President's Cabinet were national
news agents, experts in nationalizing news, one member could
do with his subordinates all the other things that Cabinet
members do.

The real problem before each Cabinet member is a problem
of news. If the Secretary of Commerce, for instance, could get
people to know certain things, he would not need to do at all
most of the things that he is doing now. Neither would the
Attorney General.

If everything in a Cabinet position turns on getting people
to know things, why not get them to know them? Why not
take that job instead? Why not take the job of throwing one's
self out of a job? Every powerful man has done it — thrown
himself out of what he was doing, by making up something
bigger to do from the beginning of the world.

In every business it is the man who can recognize, focus,
organize, and apply news, and who can get news through to
people, who soon becomes the head of the business.

The man who can get news through to directors and to
employees and make them see themselves and see one
another and the facts as they are, soon gets to be Head of the

The man who can get news through to the public, the sales-
man of news to people about what they want to buy and about
how they are to spend their money — very personal, intimate
news to every man — soon rises to be Head of the Head of the
factory and of the entire business.

It will probably be the same in a cabinet or in a government.
If the Secretary of the Department of Commerce has a news
engineer as a subordinate in his department and begins to study
and observe how to do his work best, how to solve his problem
in the nation, we will soon see the head of the department, if he

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really is the head of the department, quietly taking over his
news engineer's job and letting his news engineer have his.

It is a news engineering job, being a Secretary of Commerce.

Every member of the Cabinet has a news engineering job.

And the-fact seems to be that the moment the news is attended
to in each member's department — applied news, special and
private news, turned on and set to work where it is called for —
most members of cabinets, secretaries of making people do
things, and for that matter, the Presidents of making people
do things will be thrown out of employment. The Secretaries
of What People Think, and the President of What People
Think — the engineers of the news in this nation — will be
the men who govern it.

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I HAVE tried to express in the last chapter, some kind of
tentative working vision or hope of what authors and of what
newspaper men can do in governing a country.

This chapter is for anybody, any plain human being.

Governments all over the world to-day are groping to find
out what plain human beings are like.

It does not matter very long what other things a government
gets wrong, if it gets the people right.

This suggests something that each of us can do.

I was calling on , Treasurer of , in his new bank,

not long ago — a hushed, reverent place with a dome up over
it and no windows on this wicked world — a kind of heavenly
minded way of being lighted from above. It seemed to be a
kind of Church for Money.

"This is new," I said, "since I've been away. Who built

mentioned the name of Non-Gregarious as if I had

never heard of him.

I said nothing. And he began to tell me how Non built the
bank. He said he had wanted Non from the first, but that the
directors had been set against it.

And the more he told the directors about Non, he said, the
more set they were. They kept offering a good many rather
vague objections, and for a long time he could not really make
them out.

Finally he got it. All the objections boiled down to one.


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Non was too good to be true. If there was a man like Non in
this world, they said, they would have heard about it before.

When I was telling ex-Mayor ^ in , about Non,

the first time, he interrupted me and asked me if I would mind
his ringing for his stenographer. He was a trustee and respon-
sible, either directly or indirectly, for hundreds of buildings, and
he wanted the news in writing.

Of course there must be something the matter with it, he said,
but he wanted it to be true, if it could, and as the bare chance of
its being true would be very important to him, he was going to
have it looked up.

Now ex-Mayor is precisely the kind of man (as half

the world knows) who, if he had been a contractor, instead of
what he had happened to be, would have been precisely the kind
of contractor Non is. He has the same difficult, heroic blend
of shrewd faiths in him, of high motives and getting what he

But the moment ex-Mayor found these same motives

put up to be believed in at one remove, and in somebody else,
he thought they were too good to be true.

I have f oimd myself constantly confronted in the last few
years of observation with a very singular and interesting fact
about business men.

Nine business men out of ten I know, who have high motives,
(in a rather bluff simple way, without particularly thinking
about it, one way or the other) seem to feel a little superior to
other people. They begin, as a rule, apparently, by feeling
a little superior to themselves, by trying to keep from seeing how
high their motives are, and when, in the stem scuffle of life,
they are unable any longer to keep from suspecting how high
their motives are themselves, they fall back on trying to keep
other people from suspecting it.

In 's factory in , the workers in brass, a few

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years ago, could not be kept alive more than two years because

they breathed brass filings. When installed, at great

expense, suction machines to place beside the men to keep
them from breathing brass, some one said, "Well surely you will
admit this time, that this is philanthropy?"

"Not at all."

The saving in brass air alone, gathered up from in front
of the men's mouths, paid for the machines. What is more
he said that after he had gone to the expense of educating
some fine workmen, if a mere Uttle sucking machine like
that could make the best workmen he had, work for him
twenty years instead of two years, it was poor economy to
let them die.

Nearly all of the really creative business men make it a point,
until they get a bit intimate with people, to talk in this tone
about business. One can talk with them for hours, for days at
a time, about their business — some of them, without being
able a single time to comer them into being decent or into
admitting that they care about anybody.

Now I will not yield an inch to — or to anybody else in

my desire to displace and crowd out altruism in our modern life.
I believe that altruism is a feeble and discouraged thing from a
religious point of view. I have believed that the big, difficult
and glorious thing in religion is mutualism, a spiritual genius
for finding identities, for putting people's interests together
— you-and-I-ness, and we-ness, letting people crowd in and
help themselves.

And why not beUeve this and drop it? Why should nearly
every business man one meets to-day, try to keep up this des-
perate show, of avoiding the appearance of good, of not wanting
to seem mixed up in any way with goodness — either his own
or other people's?

In the present desperate crisis of the world, when all our
governments everywhere are groping to find out what business
men are really like and what they propose to be like, if a man L

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good (far more than if he is bad) everybody has a right to know

Online LibraryGerald Stanley LeeCrowds: a moving-picture of democracy → online text (page 38 of 44)