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Bt macmillan and CO.

Set up and electrotyped Navember, 1893. Revised
edition printed August, 1894.

Noririooli ^tpss ;

J. S. Gushing & Co. — Berwick & Smith.

Boston, Mass., U.S.A.


These Essays are the outcome of discussions in which the
writer has been engaged on the several questions, and are
partly drawn from papers contributed by him to different

Of the subjects some are specially British, though not with-
out interest for a citizen of the United States; others are
common to both countries.

Some service may be done by bringing an important question
into focus, even when the reader does not agree with, the
opinions of the writer.

The opinions of the present writer are those of a Liberal of
the old school, as yet unconverted to State Socialism, who still
looks for further improvement, not to increased interference
of government, but to individual effort, free association, and
the same agencies, moral, intellectual, and economical, which
have brought us thus far, and one of which, science, is now
operating with immensely increased power; deeming it the
function of government to protect these agencies, not to super-
sede them. A writer of this school can have no panacea or
nostrum to offer; and when a nostrum or panacea is offered,
lie will necessarily be found rather on the critical side. He
will look for improvement, not for regeneration; expect
improvement still to be, as it has been, gradual ; and hope
much from steady, calm, and harmonious effort, little from
violence or revolution. In his estimation the clearest gain



reaped by the world from the political struggles through
which it has been going, amidst much that is equivocal or
still on trial, will be liberty of opinion.

In America rather than in England an old English Liberal
now finds his political home. In England that which was the
Liberal party is becoming the party of State Socialism, or, as
Mr. Cleveland calls it, of Paternalism, though it retains the
name, to which, as etymology itself protests, only those who
have faith in liberty are entitled. America, though now invaded
by State Socialism, is still a land of liberty regulated and pro-
tected by law, in which every man is free to do his best for
himself, which as a general rule he can hardly do without
also doing what is best for the commonwealth.

The essay which has required most revision is that on the
Political Crisis in England. The scene shifts rapidly on the
English stage, while the nation is apparently drifting towards
socialistic revolution. In the question whether the House of
Lords shall be abolished, reduced to impotence, or so reorgan-
ised as to make it, like the Amei-ican Senate, a conservative
institution, interest centres. If the Second Chamber falls,
there is apparently nothing between the nation and revolu-
tion. Already, the Lords having renounced amendment of the
Budget, there is no bar to socialistic confiscation.

Since this essay on the Political Crisis in England was writ-
ten and a comparison was incidentally drawn in it between the
industrial situation in England and that in the United States
to the advantage of the latter, we have had in the United
States a sudden outburst of industrial war. When the organi-
sation of the Knights of Labour, at one time so much dreaded,
had lost its force, general peace seemed to have been pretty
well assured. This eruption is not normal, but is the conse-


quence of the financial crisis whicli has paralysed commerce,
deranged industry, reduced wages, and thrown many altogether
out of employment, especially in congested centres of labour,
such as California and Chicago, at the latter of which much
labour had been collected, and discharged, by the World's
Fair. The violence was foreign. The native American is
faithful to law. The apparent dimensions of the disturbance
were magnified by the extent of its influence.

We have had a lesson, however, on the character of a Trade-
Union system, which placed national commerce, the subsistence
of myriads, and the peace of society at the mercy of a labour
despot whose personal game is believed to have had as much
to do with the catastrophe as the Pullman quarrel. The
conflict between employer and employed has given birth to a
set of adventurers who subsist by industrial war and exult
when widespread havoc makes the community tremble at their

The attention of politicians of the regular parties, as they
are termed, is called to the growth of another party, not
regular or indeed political, whose single aim it is to aggrandise
the wage-earning class, or that part of it which is capable of
organisation, at the expense of other classes, and which, as its
recent operations show, cares much for its own interest and
very little for the interest of the community at large. What
will be the effect of this intrusive power on politics and politi-
cal combinations? Will good citizens find it safe any longer
to divide themselves on the old party lines, when, by their
division, they will probably bring about the triumph of the
common enemy? If party politicians can think of anything
beyond the immediate game, this crisis affords them matter
for reflection.


It does not seem that the Pullman strike was justified. The
Company explained the situation to its men. It could not be
expected to pay more for the work than the goods would bring
in the market. Nor in such a case was there any room for
arbitration. Had the men been simply discharged, there would
apparently have been nothing more to be said.

The preachings of the Socialists and Utopians have told;
not their philosophies or their visions, to which the mechanic
pays little heed, but their appeals to class passions, to hatred
of the rich, and to the lust of public plunder. Go to any
socialistic meeting, however respectable, and v/hatever may be
the formal course of the discussion, you will find that the
pervading sentiment is the same. Men who ultimately proved
some of the most sanguinary of the French Terrorists began
with sentiments milder than those to which Socialists, Com-
munists, and Nationalisers of land, to say nothing of Anar-
chists, are giving utterance now.'

Of any duties of the workingman towards his employer or
the community, of any power which he has of improving his
own lot by frugality, temperance, diligence, self-restraint, in
the organs of labour-agitation there is seldom a word. Em-
ployers, good and bad, are alike held up to odium under the
sweeping designation of capital, presented as the " spoilers "
who prey upon the " toilers, " and pointed out as the objects of
an everlasting war. The Pullman establishment must have
fed, since its formation, thousands ; yet it is treated as labour's
foe, and wrecked at the bidding of incendiaries who have never
given any one an ounce of bread.

If society does not mean to go under the Unionist yoke,
it will have to uphold freedom of labour. When men do not
choose to work for the wages offered them they have a right.


individually, or collectively as a Union, to refuse. But they
have no right by violence, physical or moral, tt) prevent other
men from taking the work. This is firm ground, if the com-
munity will be true to itself. Unfortunately, the community
can act only through elective legislators who tremble at the
thought of the labour vote.

The action of President Cleveland was applauded by all
good citizens. Can it be doubted that he was right in putting
forth the military force of the commonwealth to control an
anarchical usurper who, in his attempt to reduce the community
to submission by boycotting, sympathetic strikes, tying up
railways, stopping the mails, intercepting inter-State com-
merce, disorganising the industry of the country, and threaten-
ing to deprive large districts of subsistence, was morally levying
war against the United States? The appeal to patriotism was
of the same kind as in 18G1, though not so loud or thrilling.
Patriotism, after a moment of stupor, answered the appeal and
mounted the national colours against the anarchic emblem.
But it is not, as in 1861, at its highest mark. At Wash-
ington some of the senators, such as Senator Davis of Minne-
sota, were brave and triie to the country. But we are told
that it was impossible to get an expression of opinion from
any member of the House of Representatives. What is to be
expected of men whose political life at the next election will
be at the mercy of the labour vote? It was fortunate that the
President was in his second term. Yet a politician, with the
wire-puller at his ear, often errs in thinking that the timid
course is the safest.

There is no use in blinking the fact that for the restoration
of order and the prevention of further havoc, happily at small
cost of blood, tlie country was mainly indebted to the discipline,


constancy, and courage of a handful of regular soldiers. The
day has not yet come on which a regular army, to uphold
public order in the last resort, will no longer be a need of civ-
ilisation. Militiamen share the heat of the political or social
fray; they either refuse to fire or fire too soon. The regular
soldier fires at the word of command. Nor can the pattern
of authority or discipline be yet spared.

The real quarrel was perhaps less between the Company,
as makers of railway cars, and their workmen, than between
the Company, as owners of the model village of Pullman,
and their tenants. There has been friction in Pullman.
There was friction in its English counterpart, Saltaire. In-
dependence kicks against paternal rule, however benevolent,
however wise. Pullman and Saltaire are partial realisations,
as with regard to Pullman has been truly remarked, of the
Socialist's ideal community as it is presented to us in the
reveries of Utopian writers. But the paternalism of Pullman
and Saltaire is far less meddling than that of the socialistic
community would be.

We must not forget the origin of these troubles. Dishonesty
in the high places of commerce, illicit speculation, watering
of stocks, want of integrity in the management of railways,
the derangement of the currency for a political purpose, were
sources of the financial crisis from which industrial disturb-
ance flowed, and are as much to blame as the malignant
ambition of the labour demagogues who gave the word for the
strike. Nor can justice pass by the wealthy men of America
who, heedless of the responsibilities of wealth, waste it on
luxury and ostentation, often in the pleasure cities of Europe.
It may be true that they are excluded from politics, but
politics are not the whole of life. They can remain at their


posts and do their social duty. If they will not, they deserve
to be plundered, and plundered they will be.

The social and political danger caused by the existence of
so sharp a division between employer and employed has been
brought with terrible vividness before us by this conflict.
To make that division sharper still and envenom it at the
same time, is the aim of the labour incendiary. To soften
and, if possible, efface it, must be the aim of every one who
desires peace with justice. Personal intercourse may do
something. It is an unfortunate part of the joint-stock
system that a company is not personal and can present only a
hard commercial aspect to its workmen.

State Socialism in England scoff's at the American system
of law and liberty as though it were answerable for these
disasters. It is difficult to imagine anything less chargeable
to the account of a system of law and liberty than the tyranny
of a labour despot and his organisation. What would the
State Socialist have done in the premises? Would he have
compelled the Pullman Company, by legislation, to carry on a
losing trade for the benefit of their workmen? When English
Socialism says that America is fifty years behind England in
the treatment of the labour question, what does it mean?
Whence but from England and Europe did this curse of
industrial war, with its Unionist tyrannies, its strikes, boy-
cottings, and battenings come? When the Sheffield outrages
were committed there had hardly been such a thing as in-
dustrial war in the United States. In striking the balance
between the economical situations in the two countries, it is
not to be forgotten that Ireland has been now for a series of
years in a state of agrarian rebellion.

The State Socialists of the British Commons the other


day passed a Bill limiting the hours of labour in mines.
This is genuine Socialism, since it interferes with the freedom
of male adult labour. In laws protecting women and children,
there is nothing really socialistic. A government may regu-
late the hours and wages of its own workmen as it pleases,
because the taxpayer finds the money. But private employers,
paying the wages out of their own purse, cannot afford to
give ten hours' pay for eight hours' work unless the work of
the eight hours is really equivalent to that of the ten; and
the workman whose eight hours are not as good as his ten
hours, that is, the weaker workman, will be in danger of
being thrown out of employment altogether. To the members
of the House of Commons who voted for the Bill this can
hardly have failed to be apparent; but they bowed to the
labour vote.

It seems that in England an attempt is now being made to
fix a minimum of wages, or, as it is styled, a living wage.
How can the rate of wages be fixed without fixing the rate
of profits, or without fixing the purchasing power of the
wages themselves?

The capitalists organise, equip, and guide industry, taking
a profit which statistics seem to prove is not on the average
more than commensurate with the service rendered and the
risk. The real employer is the purchaser, who cannot be
made, in the long run, to pay for the goods more than they
are worth to him. Bury this fact as deep in ethical eloquence
as you will, it will rise again.

Nor, again, can any State Socialist who is capable of reflec-
tion fail to see that danger, and in England most serious
danger, is arising from the growth of population beyond the
demand for labour and the means of subsistence; or to be


aware t'liat he is aggravating that danger when he relieves
parents, at the expense of the State, of the duty of educating
the children whom they bring into the world, and proposes
even partly to relieve them of the duty of providing the
children with food. The case is made worse by the action of
Trade- Unions, which, rendering employment a monopoly, pre-
vents the fair distribution of such means of livelihood as
there are.

Since the essay on the Empire was published, an inter-
colonial conference has been sitting at Ottawa in the interest
of Imperial Federation, or at least of imperial union. All
that good dinners, flowing wine, and fraternal eloquence could
do to annul the opposition of nature has been done. If those
genial powers can prevail, Canada will be detached from the
American Continent, and attached permanently to Europe,
while all the obstacles to the secure transit of trade or of
armies through her sub- Arctic region, with its wildernesses,
mountain ranges, avalanches, snow-blocks, floods, and land-
slips, will disappear. It seems that nothing was said about
contribution to imperial armaments, which is the root of the
matter and the test of sincerity in the cause. About fiscal
discrimination something was said but not well received by
the imperial country. Do what we will, the North American
Continent will in the end assert its unity and independence
against all efforts to keep it divided, and a part of it depend-
ent, in the imagined interest of a European power.

Since the essay on Woman Suffrage was published, the
question has recently come to a head in New York in connec-
tion with the Convention called to amend the State constitu-


tion. A protest has been entered against the change, by a
number of ladies sufficient to show that an opponent does not
speak in the male interest alone. Advocates of the change
have appealed to domestic sentiment by arguing that the
spirit of the home will find its way into political government
through the female vote. Home is always a word wherewith
to conjure; but it is difficult to see how the spirit of conjugal
and parental affection or that of housewifery can be infused
into the action of a political government any more than into
that of a judiciary. What the home asks of government is
protection, as of the judiciary it asks justice. The prospect
of political and social danger opened by the recent strikes
will hardly dispose the legislators or the people of New York
to throw wide the political flood-gates and add to the present
elements of turmoil the inrush of the whole female vote.

In the essay on the Irish Question the writer, whether he
has erred or not, has been guilty of no "apostasy." Thirty
years ago in a little work called "Irish History and Irish
Character," he defended the Union on the same grounds on
which he defends it now; though parts of the book would
now require alteration, because, since it was written, research
has thrown new lights on Irish history and the writer has
seen the iDolitical action of the Irish in the United States.
With John Bright, the writer was always for the Disestablish-
ment of the Irish State Church, and for every measure of
justice to the Irish people. With John Bright, he was
always for the Union. If he ever had a political leader, his
leader was John Bright, not Mr. Gladstone, to whom, though
very grateful for some reforms, and above all for the infusion
of moderation into foreign and imperial policy, he never


pinned his faith. He went with Jolm Bright and against
Mr. Gladstone when England was divided in sympathy be-
tween American union and secession. He cannot believe
that any American who was true to his own Union will think
worse of Englishmen for being true to theirs. Nor can he
believe that many Americans are at heart very angry with
those who would dissuade the two great members of the Race
of Law from conspiring in their mutual jealousy to put each
other's heads under the feet of a race which is not that of
law, whatever its other gifts or its industrial services may be.

It will be found that the subjects are treated for the most
part historically, or on general principles, and that the politi-
cal student has seldom encroached on the domain of the
practical statesman.

It has been found convenient to make " Utopian Visions "
an essay separate from "Social and Industrial Revolution."

The thanks of the writer are once more tendered to the
proprietors and editors of the North American Revieio, the
Forum, the Nineteenth Century, and the National Review, for
their courtesy in permitting him to draw upon articles which
appeared in their periodicals, as well as for the privilege
which he has enjoyed of being one of their contributors.

August, 1894.



Social and Industrial Revolution

Utopian Visions

The Question of Disestablishment
The Political Crisis in England

The Empire

Woman Suffrage

The Jewish Question

The Irish Question ....

Prohibition in Canada and the United States



The Oneida Community and American Socialism . . 361





The belief that the human lot can be levelled by economical
change, and the desire to make the attempt, are at present
strong; they are giving birth to a multitude of projects, and
in Europe are threatening society with convulsion. In Amer-
ica the possession of property is as yet more widely diffused
than in Europe, while the hope of possessing property is still
almost universal. Eagerness to grasp a full share of the good
things of the present life has been intensified by the departure,
or decline, of the religious faith which held out to the unfortu-
nate in this world the hope of indemnity in another. "If
to-morrow we die, and death is the end, to-day let iis eat and
drink; and if we have not the wherewithal, let us see if we
cannot take from those who have." So multitudes are saying
in their hearts, and philosophy has not yet furnished a clear
reply. Popular education has gone far enough to make the
masses think, not far enough to make them think deeply;
they read what falls in with their aspirations, and their
thoughts run in the groove thus formed; flattering theories
make way rapidly, and, like religious doctrines, are received
without examination by the credulous and uncritical. The
ignorant readers of a Socialistic philosopher, while they are
incompetent to understand or scrutinise the arguments ad-
dressed to their intellects, imbibe the appeal addressed to
their feelings and desires, which are fortified by the impres-
sion that they have philosophy on tlieir side. However good
the ultimate effects of popular education may be, one of its
first effects, in the absence of religion, can hardly fail to be



discontent. The number of actual Communists or Socialists
in any country is as yet small compared with that of the
population at large. Of what is called Socialism in Germany
much appears to be mainly a revolt against the burden of
military service and taxation. Yet Socialistic ideas and senti-
ments spread, especially among the artisan class, which is
active-minded, is gathered in commercial centres, lives on
wages about the rate of which there are frequent disputes, is
filled with craving for pleasure by ever-present temptations,
and stirred to envy by the perpetual sight of wealth. Envy is
a potent factor in the movement, and is being inflamed by the
ostentation of the vulgar rich, who thus deserve, almost as
much as the revolutionary artisans, the name of a dangerous
class. This is the main source of that sort of social revolution
which may be called Satanism, as it seeks, not to reconstruct,
but to destroy, and to destroy not only existing political insti-
tutions, but the established code of morality, social, domestic,
and personal. Satanism manifests itself in different countries
under various forms and names, such as ISTihilism, Intransi-
gentism, Petrolean Communism, the dynamite wing of Anarch-
ism ; Nihilism and Anarchism being defined with more startling
sharpness than the rest, though the destructive spirit of all is
the same. Social innovation is everywhere more or less allied
with, and impelled by, the political and religious revolution
which fills the civilised world; while the revolution in science
has helped to excite the spirit of change in every sphere, little
as Utopianism is akin to science. Wages have greatly risen.
The amount of comforts and enjoyments which they will bring
have been multiplied at the same time. But this brings the
wage-earner within sight of new objects of desire. Beneficence
has vastly increased; but its gifts are taken as instalments of
a boundless debt. Tlie feeling of the wage-earner towards
the capitalist does not seem to soften, nor the malevolence of
the labour journal to abate.

No man with a brain and a heart can fail to be penetrated
with a sense of the unequal distribution of wealth, or to be
willing to try any experiment which may hold out a reason-


able hope of putting an end to poverty. By the success of
such an experinient, the happiness of the rich, of such, at
least, of them as are good men, would be increased far more
than their riches would be diminished. But only the Nihilist
would desire blindly to plunge society into chaos. It is plainly
beyond our power to alter the fundamental conditions of our
being. There are inequalities greater even than those of
wealth, which are fixed not by human lawgivers, but by nature,

Online LibraryGoldwin SmithEssays on questions of the day → online text (page 1 of 34)