Gerald Stanley Lee.

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its little ways, and was busily driving about and attending to
my business as I had planned, 6,000 more men suddenly wanted
something, brought me up to a full stop one rainy day, and said
that they had decided that if I wanted to ride I would have to
walk, or that I would have to poke dismally about in a'bus, or

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50 CROWDS

worm my way through mider the ground. As I understood it,
there was somethmg that they wanted and something that
they were going to get; and while of course in a way, they
recogidzed that there might be something that I wanted too, I
would have to wait till they got theirs.

I could not think of anything I had ever done to them, nor
could I see what the thousands of other good people in London
that I saw walking and puddling about, or watched waiting
twenty minutes or so with long, hopeful, dogged whistles for
cabs, had done to them.

A few days more, and my morning paper tells me suddenly of
some more men who wanted something — this time up in
Lancashire. They had decided that they wouldn't let some
two or three hundred thousand other men go to their work until
they got it. They hushed cities to have their own way. Day
by day I watched them throwing the silence of the cities in their
employers' faces, closing shops, closing up railroads, telling
the world it must pay more for the clothes on its back, and all
because — a certain Mr. and Mrs. Riley of Accrington, North
Lancashire did not like or did not think that they liked, the
North Lancashire Trades Union. (The general idea seemed to
be to have all the others join in, everywhere — fifty-f oiu* mil-
lion spindles, and four hundred and forty thousand looms— and
wait and keep perfectly still until Mr. and Mrs. Riley could
make up their minds.

And now this present week, morning after morning I take up
my paper and read that 500,000 miners want something. I
look in my fire dubiously day by day. I may have to go home
to America in a few weeks to get warm.

Of course it is only fair to say at the outset that this little
series of impressions, or sketches, as one may say, of Civilization
as I have seen it since arriving in England are of such a nature
that I need not have come over to England to observe them.
I would be the last to deny that the same conveniences for
being disagreeable and tor getting in the way and for making a



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INVENTIONS FOR MAKING CROWDS THINK 51

general muss of Life can be offered almost any time in my own
hopeful and blundering country.

What more immediately concerns me in these things is that,
having happened, there can be no doubt that they have some
valuable and worthy meaning for me and for other people that
I ought to get out of them.

One cannot stand by and see a great civilization like our Eng-
lish-speaking civilization, with its ocean liners, cathedrals, and
aeroplanes, being undignified and ineflScient before one's eyes
and even a little ridiculous, without trying to see if it does not
serve some purpose. There must be something beyond, some-
thing further and deeper, something newborn about it, which
shall be worth our while. Strikes seem to be common people's
way of thinking things out. If they had more imagination, they
would know what they were going to think beforehand, without
so much trouble perhaps; but so long as they have not, and so
long as it is really true perhaps that all these miUions of levers
and wheels and engines will have to be stopped, so that the
rich mechanical-minded people who own them and the poor
mechanical-minded people who work with them can think
better, we will have to be glad at least that they are thinking,
and we will have to hope that they are thinking fast, and will
soon have it over with. In the meantime, while they are
thinking, we can think too.

It is never fair to Imnp people together, and there are always
exceptions and special reasons toconsider;but, speaking roughly,
it is fair to lay it down as a general principle that it is apt to be
the more common kind of employers and employees who find it
diflScult to think, and who need strikes to think with. When
we see 175,000 weavers striking in Lancashire, and the Trades
Unions insisting on the discharge of Non-Union men, and
employers being willing to recognize the Unions but being un-
willing to be controlled by them, most of us find ourselves tak-
ing sides very quickly. We are often amazed to see how quickly
we take sides, and what amazes some of us most is our apparent



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52 CROWDS

inconsistency. We find ourselves now on the Union side and
now on the employer side in the dispute between Capital and
Laboiu:. We never know when we take up the morning paper,
some of us, which side will be our next; and very often, if we
were suddenly asked why, on reading quietly about a new dis-
pute in the morning paper, we had taken promptly one side
rather than the other, almost unconsciously, before we knew it
we would not perhaps be able to say at once. The other day I
became a little alarmed at myself at what looked at first like a
kind of moral weakness, and inabiUty to stand still on one side
or the other in the contest between Laboiu: and Capital; and
I tried to think my way sternly through, and decide why it was
mymindseemed to waver from one side to the other,and seemed
so inconsistent and inefficient.

It seems to me I have just discovered a certain thread of
consistency, as I look back over many disputes.

As near as I can remember, I find the side that uses force, or
that uses the most force, invariably turns me against it. If,
as I read, I find that both sides are using force, I find myself
against both sides. I find myself wishing, in spite of my dis-
like of SociaUsm, that the nation had the power, when a quarrel-
some industry tiu^ns to the people in the street and stops them
in what they are doing, and tells the people in the street that
they cannot ride, or that they shall not sleep, or that they can-
not eat — when a quarrelsome industry insists on keeping the
whole world up all night because it has a Stomach Ache, I feel
suddenly that the people ought to be able to take the industry
away and put it into such hands that the people in the streets
will be protected; into hands that will make the industry be-
have so that it won't have a stomach ache. An industry with
a stomach ache always has it because somebody in it has been
over-eating and getting more than their share, and is incom-
petent and unfit; and obviously it should have its freedom, its
privilege of selecting its food, taken away from it until it be-
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INVENTIONS FOR MAKING CROWDS THINK 53

Always allowing for exceptions, we may put it down as a
general truth that, when we find a cause using force or mere
advantage of position, it is because there is incompetence or
lack of brains in those who conduct it, and the cure lies, not in
more force, but in more brains. One cannot help being angered
by force, because one knows that it is not only not a remedy,
but is itself the cause of all incompetence and blindness in busi-
ness. Force merely heaps the incompetence and blindness up,
postpones co-operation, defeats the mutual interest which is the
very substance of business eflSdency in a nation. Force is itself
the injury mounting up more and more, which it seeks to ciu^.

The most likely way to prevent industrial trouble would
seem to be to have employers and managers and foremen who
have a genius for getting men to trust and believe in them. We
are getting smoke-consmners, computing machines, and the
next contrivance is going to be the employer who has the imder-
standing spirit, and who sees the cash value of human genius,
the value in the market of genius for being fair and getting on
with people. Arbitration boards are at best (as they them-
selves would say) stupid and negative things, and though bet-
ter than nothing, as a rule merely postpone evil or change
symptoms. No one can, ever really arbitrate for any one else
either in industry or marriage except for a moment. The
trouble Kes deep down inside the people who keep needing
arbitration. As long as these people are still there, and as long
as incompetent employers or employees are there, there is bound
to be trouble.

Turning out incompetent employers and incompetent la-
bourers is the only way. We are getting rid of them as rapidly
as possible. All business in the last resort turns on brains for
being human and understanding people. Business, as people
say, is partly business and business is partly economics, but
more than anything else, in modern times, business is psy-
chology.

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54 CROWDS

employers and incompetent labourers are already being turned
out, and are boimd to be turned out implacably more and more,
by the competitive nature of modem business. Under present
conditions, if we have in each industry one single competent
employing firm, with brains for being fair and brains for being
far-sighted, and for being thoughtful of others — in short, with
brains for being believed in — the control of that industry soon
falls into their hands. People who use force instead of brains
are second-rate, are out of the spirit of the times, and are going
by. And this seems to be the spirit, too, which is to govern the
more eflScient Labour Unions as well as the more eflScient Trusts.
If it were possible to collect the names in England and Amer-
ica of the men in each industry where brains were being per-
sonally believed in, we would have a Ust of the leaders of.
England and America for the next fifty years. Having a soul in
business pays, not because it affords a fine motive power, but
because it affords a practical and conclusive method of driving
the devil out of business. He is being driven out of industry,
one industry at a time, by men who get on better without him;
and this is going to go on until the abiUty to do this — to crowd
out the devil, to get the devil out of machines and factories, out
of the machinery of organization — the power to keep the devil
out of things and out of people, is recognized by everybody as
the greatest, most subtle, most victorious and universal market-
value in the world. The men who can be believed in most will
get the most business, and, what is still more important, the
men who can make men beUeve in them most will be able to hire
the employees who can be beUeved in most, and will get a.
monopoly of the eflSciency of the world; and though the men
who can be believed in less may be able to continue for a time
to do their work and go through all their old motions as well as
they can, with all their old lumbering, pathetic machinery of
watching each other and suspecting each other and fighting
each other humped up on their backs, they can never hope to
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INVENTIONS FOR MAKING CROWDS THINK 55

openly and in a few words for their employees, jobbers, con-
sumers, and the public, without any vast machinery of sus-
picion to bother with. It is a most curious, local, temporary,
back-coimty idea, the idea that, for sheer industrial economy,
for simple cheap conclusive finance, there is anything on earth
in business that will take the place of old-fashioned himian
personal prestige — the prestige of the man who has a genius
for being beUeved in.

In a way, perhaps the recent strike among the London cab-
men is an instance of what is really the essential issue in every
strike. The bottom fact about the taxi chauflFeurs, stated
simply, was that they did not beUeve in their employers. They
believed that, if the precise figures were known, their employers
were getting more than their share. On the other hand, the
bottom fact about the employers was that they did not and
could not beUeve that, if the precise figures were known, the
cabmen were not getting more than their share. They insisted
that the cabmen should pubKsh, or make known, the precise
figures of their extras. The cabmen declined to do it, and it
made them look for the moment perhaps as if they were wrong.
But were they necessarily wrong? Was it really true that
they had any more reason to trust their employers than their
employers had to trust them? The cabmen might quite hon-
estly and justly have said to the owners: "What we want is
an honest, impeccable Uttle dividend-recorder fastened on the
back of every owner, as well as on our machines and on us.
Then we will publish our extras."

The determining and important fact of economics in the last
analysis always turns out to be some hiunan fact, some fact
about people. It is really true that just now, in the present
half-stage of machine-industry, employers should nearly all
be compelled to go about in this world with fare-recorders on
their backs. Employees too. This would be the logical thing
to do; and as it is impracticable, and as every business must have
certain elements of secrepy in it in order to be competent, the



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56 CROWDS

only alternative is to have in charge men with enough genius
for being beUeved in and for taking measures to be beUeved in
— to keep employees believing in them, in spite of secrecy.
Under these conditions, it cannot be long before we will see in
every business the men being put forward on both sides who
have a genius for being beUeved in. Managers and superin-
tendents will be put in oflSce everywhere who see the cash
value, the economy, of the simple, old-fashioned power in a
man of a genius for being beUeved in; employers with the power
of inspiring more and better work from their workmen; Labour
men with the power of inspiring employers to beUeve in them,
of inspiring their employers to put up money, stock, or profits
on their beUef -^ on the beUef that workmen are capable of the
highest qualities of manhood: hard work, loyalty, persistence,
and faith toward a common end. I have preferred to have
this inspired employer a milUonaire, because the more capital
he has the more men he can employ, and the more rapidly
the other kind of miUionaire, the blind, old-fashioned butter of
Labour, wiU be driven out of business.

Little can be done with one book, but at this special junctiu^e,
this psychological moment for copartnership and the spirit of
copartnership, when aU the world is touched to the quick by
great strikes — at a time when one can sit still and almost hear
the nations think — there are some of us who hope that the case
we are trying to make out for copartnership between Capital
and Labour wiU be of use to those who are trying to do things,
and who for the moment find themselves foiled at every point
by men who have given up beUeving in human nature. We
wish to put oiu'selves on record, and to say that we do beUeve in
human nature, and that we beUeve not only that the inspired
employer is going to be evolved by the Crowd, but that the
Crowd is going to recognize him and is going to take sides with
him, and that the Crowd is going to justify him, make him suc-
ceed, is going to make his success its own success, ti other
words, we beUeve in heroes, crowds, and goodness; in men of



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INVENTIONS FOR MAKING CROWDS THINK 67

heroic gifts — who are fit and meet to interpret the wills and
desires of crowds — who are great men or Crowd-Men, crowds
in spirit themselves.

I would like to try to express the type of modem man who, as
it seems to me, is about to prove himself the real ruler of our
modem world, the silent master of what the crowds shall think.
It has seemed to me that it is going to be a man of a marked
type, and of a particular temperament, to whom we will Have
to look in our new and crowded world for the crowd-interpreter,
or man who touches the imagination of crowds.

As our whole labour problem to-day turns on our being able
to touch the imagination of Crowds, it may not be iminteresting
in the next chapter to consider what a man who can do this will
probably be like and the spirit in which he will do it.



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CHAPTER V

THE CROWD-MAN — AN INVENTION FOR
MAKING CROWDS SEE

WHEN Wilbur Wright flew around the Statue of Liberty in
New York the other day, his doing it was a big event; but a still
bigger event, as it seems to some of us, was the way he felt
about New York when he did it. All New York could not make
him show off. Hundreds of thousands of people on roofs could
look up at the sky over New York, for him to go by, all that they
liked. He sKpped down to Washington without saying any-
thing, on the 3 : 25 train, to attend to flying as part of the serious
business of the world.

Why fly around a little town like New York, or show your
bright wings in the light, or circle the Statue of Liberty for
fun, when you are reconstructing civilization, and binding a
whole planet together, and wrapping the heavens close down
around the earth, and making railroads everywhere out of the
air? New York is always a little superficial and fimny about
itself. All it needs to do, it seems to think, is to snap its fingers
at a man of genius anywhere on this broad world, whisper to
him pleasantly, and he will trot promptly up, of course, and do
his little turn for it.

But not Wilbur Wright. Wilbur Wright would not give two
miUion people an encore, or even come back to bow. As one
looked over from Mount Tom one could see all New York black
and solid on the tops of its roofs and houses looking up into a
great hole of air for him, and Wilbur Wright sUpping quietly
off down to Washington and leaving them there, a whole great
city imder the sky, with its heads up!

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INVENTIONS FOR MAKING CROWDS SEE 69

A little experience like this has been what New York has
needed for a long time. It takes a scientist to do these things.
I wish there were some poet who would do as well. Even a
prophet up above New York — or seer of men and of years —
glinting his wings in the Ught, the New York Sun and the World
and the Times down below, all their opera-glasses trained on
him, and all those little fimny reporters running helplessly
about, all the people pouring out from Doctor Parkhurst's
chiuxdi to look up. ... It would be something.

Probably there are very few capitals in the world — Paris,
BerUn, or London — that would not be profoundly stirred and
possibly much improved by having some man suddenly appear
up over them, who would be so interested in what he was doing
that he would forget to notice whether anybody was looking —
who would be capable of sKpping off quietly and leaving an
entire city with its heads up, and going on and attending to
business.

There have been times when we woidd have been relieved,
some of us, if the North Pole could have been discovered in this
way and without large audiences tagging. There are some of
us who will never cease to regret as long as we Uve that the
North Pole could not have waited a Kttle. We would rather
have had Wilbur Wright discover it. One can imagine how he
would do it: fly gracefully up to it all by himself, and discover it
some pleasant evening, and have it over with, and sUp back on
his soft wings in the night, and not say anything about it. It
is this Wilbur Wright spirit that I would like to dwell on in these
pages. It seems to me it is a true modern spirit, the spirit
which alone could make our civilization great, and the spirit
which alone could make crowds great. It was the crowd that
spoiled the way the Pole was discovered — all the miUions of
people, vast, thoughtless audiences piling in and making a show
of it. Many people in America, all the vast crowds reading
about it, seemed to feel that they were more important than the
Pole; and when Captain Peary came back, vast crowds of these



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60 CROWDS

same people paid as much as five dollars apiece for the privilege
of being in the same room with him. It was quite impossible
not to contrast Captain Peary in his attitude toward the crowd
and Wilbur Wright. There seemed to be, and there ^will always
remain, a certain vulgarity in the way the North Pole was dis-
covered, and the way the whole world behaved in regard to it,
and the secret seems to have been in Captain Peary's failure to,
be a Wilbur Wright. He allowed the Pole to be a Crowd affair.
All the while as he went about the coimtry holding his little
exhibits of the tip of the planet we could not help wishing, many
of us who were in the Audience, that this man who sat there
before us, the man who had the Thing in his hand, who had col-
lected the North Pole, would not notice us, would snub us if
need be a little, and would leave these people, these millions of
people, with their heads up and go quietly on to the South Pole
and collect that. It is because there are thousands of men who
understand just how Wilbur Wright felt when he slipped away
the other day in New York and left the entire city with its
heads up that we have every reason to expect that the crowd
is to produce great leaders, and is to become a great crowd,
great and humble in spirit before God, before the stars, and the
atoms, and the microbes, and before Itself. In the meantime,
however, we see all about us in the world countless would-be
leaders of the crowd, who would perhaps not quite understand
the way Wilbur Wright felt that day when he slipped away from
New York and left the entire city with its heads up. Most
newspaper men — men who are in the habit of writing for a
crowd and regarding a crowd quite respectfully — will have
wondered a little why Wilbur Wright could have let such a
crowd go by. Most actors and theatrical people would have
stayed over a train or so and given one more little performance
with all those wistful people on the roof-tops. There are only
a very few clergymen in England or America to-day who, with
a great audience like that and so many men in it, would ever
have thought of slipping off on the 3:25 train in the way Wilbur



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INVENTIONS FOR MAKING CROWDS SEE 61

Wright did. The ministers and the politicians of all countries
are still wondering a little — if they ever thought of it — how
Wright did it. Most of the other people in the worid wonder
a little, too, but I imagine that the great inventors of the worid
who read about it the next morning did not wonder. The
true scientists, in this coimtry and in Germany and in France,
all understood just how Wilbur Wright felt when he left New
York with its heads up. The great artists of the world, in litera-
ture, in painting, and architecture; the great railroad builders,
the city builders, the nation builders, the great statesmen, the
great biologists, and chemists, imderstood. James J. Hill, with
his face toward the Pacific, imderstood. Alexander Graham
Bell, out abroad doing the listening and talking and thinking
the thoughts of eighty million people, understood. Marconi,
making the ships whisper across the sea, and William G.
McAdoo, shooting a himdred and seventy thousand people a
day through a hole imder the Hudson — understood.

And God, when He made the world. And Columbus when he
discovered America. And Jesus Christ when He was so happy
and so preoccupied over His vision of a new world, over invent-
ing Christianity, that it seemed a very small and incidental thing
to die on the Cross — He imderstood.

Wilbur Wright's secret was that he had a vision. His vision
was that a human being could be greater and more powerful
than the world had ever believed before.

Just to be there was a great thought, to be allowed to be one
of those admitted, to be present at the first faint beginning, the
first still alighting of the human spirit from the earth upon the
sky. Wilbur Wright made the most ordinary man a genius
a minute. He made him wonder softly who he was — and the
people all about him — who were they? and what would they
think, and what would they do next? The first flash of light on
the wings was a thousand years. It was as if almost for a
moment he saw at last the whole earth about him. History,
churches, factories on it, slipping out of its cocoon at last — its



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62 CROWDS

little, old, faded, tied-down cocoon, and sailing upon the air —
sailing with him, sailing with the churches, with the factories,
and with the schools, with History, through the Invisible,
through the Intangible — out to the Sun. . . .



Perhaps the reason that New York was a great city a few



Online LibraryGerald Stanley LeeCrowds: a moving-picture of democracy → online text (page 5 of 44)