Gerald Stanley Lee.

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sation, in his goodness. It leads to consequences. And there
always seems to be something about Lim's goodness which
attracts the attention of people, and makes people who see it
want it. So when I speak of goodness in this book, and put it
down as the basis of the power of getting men to do as one
likes, I do not deny that I am taking the word away and moving
it over from its usual associations. I do not mean by a good
act, a good-looking act, but an act so constituted that it makes
good. For the purpose of this book I would define goodness as
efficiency. Goodness is the quality in a thing that makes the
thing go, and that makes it go so that it will not run down»
and that nothing can stop it.

There is the inefficiency of lying, for instance, and the inef-
ficiency of force, or bullying.

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MY THEORY about the Liar is that it is of no use to scold
hun or blame hun. It merely makes him feel superior. He
should be looked upon quietly and without saying anything as S
case of arrested development. What has happened to him is
that he merely is not quite bright about himself, and has failed
to see how bright (in the long run) other people are.

When a man hes or does any other wrong thing, his real fail-
ure consists not in the wrongdoing itself, but in his failure to
take pains to focus his mind on the facts in himself, and in the
people about him, and see what it really is that he would wish he
had done, say in twenty years. It seems to be possible, after a
climisy fashion, to find out by a study of ourselves, and of our
own Uves and of other men's lives, what we would wish we had
done afterward. Everything we have learned so far we have
learned by guessing wrong on what we have thought we would
want afterward. We have gradually guessed what we wanted
better. We began our Uves as children with all sorts of inter-
esting sins or moral guesses and experiments. We find there
are certain sins or moral experiments we almost never use any
more because we found that they never worked. We had been
deceived about them. Most of us have tried lying. Since
we were very small we have tried in every possible fashion —
now in one way, now in another — to see if lying could not be
made to work. By far the majority of us, and all of us who are
the most intelligent, are not deceived now by our desire to tell
lies. Perhaps we have not learned that all lies do not pay. A
child tells a lie at first as if a lie had never been thought of be-


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fore. It is as if lying had just been invented, and he had just
thought what a great convenience it was, and how many things
there were that he could do in that way. He discovers that the
particular thing he wants at the moment, he gets very often by
lying. But the next time he lies, he cannot get anything. K
he keeps on lying for a long time, he learns that while, after a
fashion, he is getting things, he is losing people. Finally, he
finds he cannot even get things. Nobody believes in him or
trusts him. He cannot be eflSicient. He then decides that
being trusted, and having people who feel safe to associate with
him and to do business with him, is the thing he really wants
most; and that he must have first, even if it is only a way to get
the other things he wants. It need not be wondered that the
Trusts, those huge raw youngsters of the modern spirit, have
had to go through with most of the things other boys have.
The Trusts have had to go through, one after the other, all their
children's diseases, and try their funny little moral experiments
on the world. They thought they could he at first. They
thought it would be cimning, and that it would work. They
did not reaUze at once that the bigger a boy you were, even if
you were anonymous, the more your he showed and the more
people there were who suflFered from it who would be bound
sooner or later to call you to account for it.

The Trusts have been guessing wrong on what they would
wish they had done in twenty years, and the best of them now
are trying to guess better. They are trying to acquire prestige
by being far-sighted for themselves and far-sighted for the peo-
ple who deal with them, and are resting their policy on winning
confidence and on keeping faith with the people.

They not only tried lying, like all yoimg children, but
they tried stealing. For years the big corporations could be
seen going around from one big innocent city in this country
to another, and standing by quietly and without saying a word,
putting the streets in their pockets.

But no big corporation of the first class to-day would begin

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its connection with a city in this fashion. Beginning a per-
manent business relation with a customer by making hinn sorry
afterward he has had any dealings with you, has gone by as a
method of getting business in England and America.

One of our big American magazines not long ago, which had
gained especially high rates from its advertisers because they
believed in it, lied about its circulation. The man who was
responsible was not precisely sure, gave nominal figures in round
numbers, and did what magazines very commonly did under the
circumstances; but when the magazine owner looked up details
afterward and learned precisely what the circulation was for
the particular issue concerned, he sent out announcements to
every firm in the country that had anything in the columns of
that issue, saying that the firm had lied, and enclosing a check
for the difference in value represented. Of course it was a good
stroke of business, eating national humble pie so, and it was a
cheap stroke of business too, doing some one, sudden, striking
thing that no one would forget. Not an advertisement could be
inserted and paid for in the magazine for years without having
that action, and the prestige of that action, back of it. Every
shred of virtue there was in the action could have been set one
^side, and was set one side by many people, because it paid so
well. Every one saw suddenly, and with a faint breath of
astonishment, how honesty worked. But the main point
about the magazine in distinction from its competitors seems to
have been that it not merely saw how honesty worked, but it
saw it first and it had the originality, the moral shrewdness and
courage, to put up money on it. It beUeved in honesty so hard
that suddenly one morning, before all the world, it risked its
entire fortune on it. Now that it has been done once, the new
level or standard of candour may besaid to have beenestablished
which others will have to follow. But it does not seem to me
that the kind of man who has the moral originality to dare do a
thing like this first need ever have any serious trouble with
competitors. In the last analysis, in the competition of modem

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business to get the crowd, the big success is bound to come to
men in the one region of competition where competition still
has some give in it — the region of moral originaUty. Other
things in competition nowadays have all been thought of except
being good. Any man who can and will to-day think out new
and unlooked-for ways of being good can get ahead, in the
United States of practically everybody.

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THE stage properties that go with a bully change as we grow
older. When one thinks of a bully, one usually sees a picture
at once in one's mind. It is a big boy lording it over a little
one, or getting him down and sitting on him.

Everybody recognizes what is going on immediately, pitches
in nobly and beautifully, and licks the big boy.

The trouble with the bully in business has been that he is not
so simple and easy to recognize. He is apt to be more or less
anonymous and impersonal, and it is harder to hit him in the
right place.

But when one thinks of it perhaps this pleasant and inspiring
duty is not so impracticable as it looks, and is presently to be
attended to.

Any man who reUes, in getting what he wants, on being big
instead of being right, is a bully.

Modem business is done over a wide area, with thousands
of persons looking on, and for a long time and with thousands of
people coming back. The man who relies on being big instead
of being right, and who takes advantage of his position instead
of his inherent superiority, is soon seen through. His customers
go over to the enemy. A show of force or a hold-up works
very well at the moment. Being bigger may be more showy
than being right, and it may down the Little Boy, but the Little
Boy wins the crowd.

Business to-day consists in persuading crowds.

The Little Boy can prove he is right. All the bully can prove
is that he is bigger.


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The Liar in Business is already going by.

Now it is the turn of the bully.

Not long ago a few advertisers in a big American city wanted
unfairly low rates for advertisements and tried to use force with
the newspapers. Three or four of the biggest shops combined
and gave notice that they would take their advertising away
unless the rates came down. After a Uttle, they drew in a few
other lines of business with them^ and suddenly one morning
five or six full pages of advertisements were withdrawn from
every newspaper in the city. The newspapers went on pub-
lishing all the news of the city except news as to what people
could buy in department stores, and waited. They made no
counter-move of any kind, and said nothing and seven days
slipped past. They held to the claim that the service they per-
formed in connecting the great stores with the people of the
city was a real service, that it represented market value which
could be proved and paid for. They kept on for another week
publishing for the people all the news of the city except the
news as to how they could spend their money. They won-
dered how long it would take the great shops with acres of
things to sell to see how it would work not to let anybody know
what the things were.

The great shops tried other ways of letting people know.
They tried handbills, a huge helpless patter of them over all the
city. They used billboards, and posted huge Usts of items for
people to stop and read in the streets, if they wanted to, while
they rushed by. For three whole weeks they held on tight to
the idea that the newspapers were striking employees of de-
partment stores. One would have thought that they would
have seen that the newspapers were the representatives of the
people — almost the homes of the people — and that it would
pay to treat them respectfully. One would have thought they
would have seen that if they wanted space in the homes of the
people — places at their very breakfast tables — space that
the newspapers had earned and acquired there, they would

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have to pay their share of what it had cost the newspapers to
get it.

One would have thought that the department shops would
have seen that the more they could make the newspapers pros-
per, the more influence the newspapers would have in the homes
of the people, and the more business they could get through
them. But it was not until the shopowners had come down
and gazed day after day on the big, white, lonely floors of their
shops that they saw the truth. Crowds stayed away, and proved
it to them. Namely: a store, if it uses a great newspaper, in-
stead of having a few feet of show windows on a street for people
to walk by, gets practically miles of show windows- for people —
in their own houses — sells its goods almost any morning to the
people — to a whole city — before anybody gets up from break-
fast — has its duties as well as its rights.

Of course, when the shopkeepers really saw that this was
what the newspapers had been doing for them, they wanted to
do what was right, and wanted to pay for it. One would have
thought, looking at it theoretically, that the department stores
in any city would have imagination enough to see, without
practically having to shut their stores up for three weeks, what
advertising was worth. But if great department stores do not
have imagination to see what they would wish they had done in
twenty years, in one year, or three weeks, and have to spell out
the experience morning by morning and see what works, word
by word, they do learn in the end that being right works, and
that bullying does not. Gradually the leviel or standard of
right in business is bound to rise, until people have generalljr-
come to take the Golden Bule with the literalness and seribus-^
ness that the best and biggest men are already taking it.
Department stores that have the moral origiiiaUty and imagi-
nation to guess what people would wish they had bought of
them and what they would wish they had sold to them after-
ward are going to win. Department stores that deal with their
customers three or four years ahead are the ones that win first.

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THE basis of successful business is imagination about other
people. The best way to train one's imagination about other
people is to try different ways of being of service to them.
Trying different ways of merely getting money out of them
does not train the imagination. It is too easy.

Business is going to be before long among the noblest of the
professions, because it takes the highest order of imagination to
succeed in it. Goodness is no longer a Sunday school. The
whole world, in a rough way, is its own Sunday school.

To have the most brains render the most service — render
services people had never dreamed of before.

Why bother to tell people to be good? It bores us. It bores
them. Presently we will tell them over our shoulders, as
we go by, to use their brains. Goodness is a by-product of

Being good every day in business stands in no need of being
stood up for, or apologized for, or even helped. All of these
things may be expedient and hiunan and natural, because one
cannot help being interested in particular people and in a
particular generation; but they are not really necessary to
goodness. It is only when we are tired, or when we only half
believe in it, that we feel to-day that goodness needs to be
stood up for. In a day when men make vast crowds of things,
so that the things are seen everywhere, and when the things are
made to stand the test of crowds — crowds of days, or crowds
of years — and when they make them for crowds of people,
> goodness does not need scared and helpful people defending it.


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/ have seen that goodness is a thmg to be sung about like a
sunset. I have seen that goodness is organic, and grounded
in the nature of things and in the nature of man. I have seen
that being good is the one great adventure of the world, the
huge daily passionate moral experiment of the human heart —
that all men are at work on it, that goodness is an implacable
crowd process, and that nothing can stop it.

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BUT Fate has so arranged our Kves that we all have to live
cooped up in one particular generation. Living in all of them,
especially the ages just ahead, and seeing as one looks out upon
them how goodness wins, may be well enough when one is tired
or discouraged and is driven to it, but in the meantime all the
while we are living in this one. The faces of the people we know
flit past us; the gaunt, grim face of the crowd haunts us — the
crowd that will slip softly off the earth very soon and drop into
the Darkness — a whole generation of it, without seeing how
things are coming out; and there is something about the streets,
about the look of women as they go by, something about the
faces of the Uttle children, that makes one wish goodness would
hurry. One cannot think with any real pleasure of goodness as
a huge, slow, implacable moral glacier, a kind of human force
of gravity, grinding out truths and grinding under people,
generation after generation, down toward some vast, beautiful,
happy valley with flowers and children in it and majestic old
men thousands of years away. One wishes goodness would
hurry. We are not content, some of us, with having the good
people climb over the so-called evil ones and gain the supremacy
of the world, and all because the evil people do not see what
they really want to do or would have wished they had done
afterward. We want the evil ones, so called, to see what they
really want now. We cannot help believing that there is some
way of attracting their attention to what they really want now.

I have seen, or seemed to see, in my time that there is almost


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no limit to what people can do if they can get their own atten-
tion, or if some person or some event will happen by that can
get their attention for them.

Paralytics jumped from their beds at the time of the San
Francisco earthquake and ran for blocks. The whole earth
had to shake them in order to get their attention; but it did it,
and they saw what it was they wanted, and they ran for it at
once, whether they were paralytics ot not. In the fire that
followed the earthquake, people that had been sick in bed for
weeks were seen, scores of them, dragging their trunks through
the streets.

I have seen, too, in my time scores of people doing great feats
of goodness in this way, things that they knew they could
not do, dragging huge moral tnmks after them, or swinging
them up on their shoulders. I have seen men who thought
they were old in their hearts, and who thought they were wicked,
running like boys, with shouts and cheers, to do right. It was
all a matter of attention. The question with most of us would
seem to be: How can one get one's attention to what one would
^h one had done in twenty years, and how can one get other
people's — all the people with whom we are living and work-
ing — to do with us what they would wish they had done, in
twenty minutes, twenty days, or twenty years?

Letting the Crowd be Good, all turns in the long run upon
touching the imagination of Crowds.

In the last analysis, the coming of the kingdom of heaven,
as it has been called, is going to be the coming slowly, and from
unsuspected quarters, of a new piety and of new kinds of saints
into the forefront of modem life — saints who can attract
attention, saints who can make crowds think what they really

Using the word in its more special sense, the time has come
when it is being keenly realized that if goodness is to be properly
appreciated by crowds, it must be properly advertised.

How can goodness be advertised to Crowds?

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Who are the people that can touch the imagination of Crowds?

The best and most suggestive truths that most of us could
come to with regard to doing right, would come from a study
of the people who have tried to make us do it. Most of us, if
we were asked to name the people most prominently connected
with the virtues that we have studied and wondered about most,
would mention, probably, either our parents or our preachers.
Many of us feel quite expert about parents. We have studied
vividly, and sometimes with almost a breathless interest, all
their Uttle ways of getting us to be good, and there is hardly
any one who has not come to quite definite conclusions of how
he should be preached to. I have thought it would be not
unfruitful to consider in this connection either our parents or
our preachers. I have decided to consider the preachers who
try to make me good, because they are a Uttle less complicated
than parents.

Preachers can only be put into classes in a general way.
They often overlap, and many of them change over from one
class into another every now and then on some special subject,
or on some special line of experience which they have had.
But for the most part, at least as regards emphasis, preachers
may be said to divide off into three classes:

Those who tease us to do right.

Those who make us see that doing right, if any one wants
to do it, is really an excellent thing.

Those who make us want to do it.

I never go to hear a second time, if I can help it, a preacher
who has teased me to do right. I used to hope at first that
perhaps a clergyman who was teasing people might incidentally
slip off the track a minute, and say something or see something
interesting and alive. But, apparently, preachers who do not
see that people should not be teased to do right, do not see other
things, and I have gradually given up having hopeful moments

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about them. Why, in a world like this, with the right and the
wrong in it all lying so eloquent and plain and beautiful in the
lives of the people about us, and just waiting to be uncovered
a little, waiting to be looked at hard a minute, should audiences
be gathered together and teased to do right?

If the right were merely to be had in sermons or on paper,
it might be diflFerent. My own experience with the right has
been, if ]f may speak for one, that when I get out of the way
of the people who are doing it, and let the right they are doing
be seen by people, everybody wants it. When people who are
doing right are quietly revealed, uncovered a Kttle further by
a preacher, everybody envies them, and teasing becomes
superfluous. People sit in their seats and think of them, and
become covetous to be like them. If, this very day, all the
ministers of the world were to agree that, on next Sunday
morning at half-past ten o'clock, they all with one accord
would preach a sermon teasing people to be rich, it would not
be more absurd, or more pathetic, or more away from the point,
than it would be to preach a sermon teasing people to be good.
They want to be good now; they envy the people that they see
going about the world not leaning on others to be good —
self-poised, independent, free, rich, spiritually self-supporting

The men and women that we know may be more or less
muddled in their minds with philosophy or with theology, or
perhaps they are being deceived by expediency or being bullied
by their environment, but they are not wicked; they are out of
focus, and what they desire when they go to church on Sunday
morning is to get a good look at beautiful and refreshing things
that they want, and for an hour and a half, if possible, with slow
steadied thought see their own lives in perspective. It is a
criminal waste of time to get hundreds of people to come into
church on a Sunday morning and seat them all together in a
great room where they cannot get out, and then tease them
and tell them they ought to be good. They knew it before

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they came. They are already agreed, all of them, that they
want to be good. They even want to be good in business —
as good as they can aflford to. The question is how to manage
to do it. The thing that is troubling them is the technique.
How can they be good in their business — more good than their
employers want them to be, for instance — and keep their
positions? Doing as one would wish one had done afterward,
or knowing what one is about, or "being good" as it is some-
times called, is a thing that all really clever people have agreed
upon. They simply cannot manage some of the details — details
like time and place, a detail like being good now, for instance,
or like being good here. It is the more practical things
like these that trouble people, or they grow mixed in their
thoughts about the big goods and the little ones — which
shall be first in order of importance or which in the order of
time. And when one sees that people are really like this in
their hearts, and when one sees them, all these poor, helpless
people, sitting cooped up in a church for an hour and a half
being teased to be good, it is small wonder that it seems, or is
coming to seem, to the clean-cut morally businesslike men and
women we have to-day, a pitiful waste of time.

I come to the second class of preachers I had in mind with
more diffidence. My feelings about them are not so simple
and rudimentary as my feelings about those who have teased
me to be good.

Any man who travels about, or who drops into churches
wherever he happens to be from Sunday to Sunday, is almost sure

Online LibraryGerald Stanley LeeCrowds: a moving-picture of democracy → online text (page 9 of 44)