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the situation confronting civilization should
be faced.

It cannot fairly be claimed that either our
own Government or that of any other nation
has manifested very great wisdom or courage
in meeting the challenge inherent in the new
conditions. The world's statesmen have sig-
nally failed to comprehend the utter in-
adequacy of old theories and methods to meet
the new order of things. Thirty-five millions
of men were under arms, it is estimated, when
the Armistice was signed. The demobiliza-
tion of these immense armies, and of the mil-
lions of civilian auxiliaries to them; the
wholly changed mentality of the men, many
of whom find in the homes they left environ-
ments no longer suitable; the friction insep-
arable from the process of turning industry
and commerce back into the channels of peace
these are equivalent to bringing immense
masses of highly inflammatory materials into
the very heart of the social structure, needing
only a touch from the torch of revolt to set the
whole mass aflame.

Men and women whose minds have been
prepared by their experience for the recep-
tion of Bolshevist teachings ought not to be
subjected to unnecessary irritation. It is



foolish and dangerous to continue one day
longer than is absolutely necessary the ex-
traordinary limitations imposed during the
war upon the freedom of the citizen to give
full expression to his convictions and beliefs.
It is foolish and dangerous to oppose the
universally growing demand for democratic
control of industry. It is foolish and danger-
ous to permit profiteering in the people's food,
clothing, and shelter. All these things, and
worse, have been taking place in practically
every country, including our own, with the
result that Bolshevism rages like a forest fire
which threatens to become uncontrollable.
And the statesmen and diplomats of the world
charged with the great task of making peace,
learning nothing from the past, blind to the
perils of the present, have made of the negotia-
tions for peace an irritant as dangerous as war
itself. They have delayed the comfort and
freedom from suspense for which the peoples
of many nations yearned by their intrigues,
their higgling and haggling, their reckless
passion for power.


In order to combat Bolshevism and kindred
forms of social unrest and revolt with success,



it is necessary at the very outset to abandon
all thought of relying upon repressive and
punitive measures. If social revolt could be
put down by brute force Czarism would never
have been overthrown. Gallows, firing squad,
underground dungeon, solitary prison cell,
exile these and every other form of re-
pression and terrorism which unscrupulous
despotism could devise were used by the gov-
ernment of Czar Nicholas II. in desperate
but vain endeavor to crush out the spirit of
revolt. As history plainly shows all who have
eyes to see, repression utterly failed to accom-
plish the purposed end and served only to in-
crease that which it was intended to destroy.
Where Czarism failed in the use of its special
and chosen weapons, no democratic nation
can hope to succeed. It is a most distressing
circumstance that upon every hand proposals
are made to inaugurate a great campaign of
repression to the end that Bolshevism may be
destroyed. Those who give this counsel are
more dangerous than the Bolsheviki them-
selves. The maddest of mad men is he who
proposes to establish and protest Freedom by
means of the instrumentalities of Tyranny.
History gives us counsel if we will but



barken, counsel in which the experience of
mankind is summarized lor our guidance.
And this is the counsel: Bolshevism cannot
be locked within prison walls. It cannot be
burned at the stake. It cannot be strangled
upon the gallows. It cannot be exiled. It
cannot be beaten with clubs. No amount of
repressive legislation can drive it out of the
minds and hearts of men. All that physical
force can accomplish is to drive the spirit
of revolt into subterranean, secret conspiratory
channels. Once we place our reliance upon
methods of force to rid ourselves of Bol-
shevism or other forms of social revolt we
must abandon everything that distinguishes
democratic from despotic government. We
must maintain and use a vast secret police serv-
ice, an immense army of spies; domiciliary
search without warrant will of necessity be-
come a regular police method; agents
provocateurs will become a terrible menace.
And when all these agencies of government by
repression and police terrorism have been es-
tablished it will be found that the spirit of
social revolt flourishes naturally in the dark
and secret channels of conspiracy, like those
noisome fungi and bacteria which flourish



best in dark and dank places where the cleans-
ing sunlight never penetrates.

The first concern of a democratic nation in
dealing with social discontent and revolt must
be to keep the agitation in the open, where it
can be seen by all and freely discussed. War
is an exceptional, wholly abnormal, condition
of life, and the ordinary principles and
methods of democratic government are not
applicable to it. At such times, propaganda
may be the most dangerous method of attack
used by the enemy, as the Italian debacle at
Caporetto showed. But in times of peace the
ways of democratic government are safer and
more effective than any other. The most
powerful weapon to use against a propaganda
that is false is a propaganda that is true. The
lie and the half-truth are best opposed by
truth. Bolshevist ideas cannot be beaten out
of men's heads and hearts, but they can be
driven out by democratic ideas that are
sound and true. Ten thousand citizens
equipped with a thorough knowledge of the
subject could, by a counter-propaganda, do
more to check Bolshevism than ten times as
many police agents. To doubt this is to doubt
the validity of the democratic ideal.

Discussion is not enough, however. Merely



to make the nation into a vast forum or de-
bating society will not rid us of Bolshevism.
We must deal with the problem construc-
tively, by means of a well considered,
comprehensive program of reform. We must
recognize that Bolshevism springs from a bit-
ter sense of social injustice and can only be de-
stroyed by removing that sense. Social jus-
tice, and the widely diffused consciousness of
its reality, alone can put an end to the disease.
The theory guiding the numerous official "in-
vestigations" of Bolshevism, that it is the
product of the guile or fanaticism of "ag-
itators," is at once very pathetic and very dan-
gerous. The cause of Bolshevism lies, not in
the guile or fanaticism of agitators, but in the
harsh experience of multitudes of people
whose spokesmen the agitators become.
Quinet, that able historian and defender of
the French Revolution, to whom we owe so
much of our knowledge of such men as
Robespierre and Marat, describes the sig-
nificance of the latter in an eloquent passage
which applies equally to Bolshevism today:

"It was a voice crying from the underworld,
the piercing cry of a whole world of torment.
It burst from the bosom of the past thousand
years' slavery; it was the product of that past



its horrible creature, its monster, its roar.
Before being let loose on the world it was for
centuries irritated, prepared for fury, as bulls
are irritated in the torturous narrow pen be-
fore being let out, foaming with madness in-
to the arena."*

Our task is to uproot the wrongs inherited
from the past, lest the hatred born of those
wrongs engulf and destroy not the wrongs
alone but all the rich heritage of good be-
queathed to us by that same past. And we
must begin by making government truly dem-
ocratic and quickly responsive to the people's
will freely expressed. The autocratic,
bureaucratic, and despotic methods imposed
upon us by the exigiencies of war must be
thrown off, and the sooner this is done the bet-
ter will it be for all. There must be a more
immediate and definite responsibility of gov-
ernment to the electorate. Some way must
be found to make the heads of the actual gov-
ernment of the country, those charged with
functions of vital importance, immediately
answerable to the elected representatives of
the people. The President's Cabinet ought to

*La Revolution, chap. VIII.



become the Cabinet of Congress itself, its
members being elected by Congress and con-
trolled by it. At any rate every member of the
Cabinet should be compelled to attend cer-
tain regular sessions of Congress and be sub-
ject to questioning and criticism concerning
the administration of the several departments.

Such an arrangement would act as a safety
valve. It would make it possible for abuses
to be quickly brought to light and for rem-
edies to be quickly applied. If the Postmas-
ter-General, for example, had been compelled
to attend certain regular sittings of the House
of Representatives and the Senate in order
that he might be questioned concerning the
affairs of his very important department, it
is practically certain that either there would
have been a very much more satisfactory ad-
ministration of the postal system or a new
Postmaster-General. Nearly forty years have
elapsed since a Congressional Committee
which included James G. Blaine, John J. In-
galls, and William B. Allison unanimously
reported a bill embodying this reform, but we
are still without the safety valve.

To provide some method whereby griev-
ances and complaints may be quickly brought
to the light of day is necessary and wise, but



it is necessary to go much deeper than that.
We must eliminate the causes of unrest. The
wages system as we know it is doomed: it
has become obsolete. There can never be
freedom from industrial revolt so long as the
wages of the workers are virtually monopoly
prices, arbitrarily fixed, either by the monop-
oly of labor-power by the unions or the
monopoly of jobs by the employers. Wages
constitute the basis of existence for millions
of families. The whole physical and moral
well-being of society is at stake. A difference
in the wage-rate reflects itself in a difference
in the death rate and in the crime rate. The
black tide of prostitution rises with every ma-
terial decline in the wage-rate, as thousands
of investigations have shown. To permit a
matter so vital as the fixing of wages to be de-
pendent upon accidental circumstances, such
as the fluctuations of supply and demand, or
upon the monopoly power possessed by this
or the other group, is unscientific and provoc-
ative of dangerous unrest.

Wages can be and should be definitely re-
lated to the standard of living, to the sum of
available consumption goods. Every human
being has a right to an abundance of good
food and good clothing, to be well and de-



cently housed, to be well-educated and to
possess leisure for recreation and enjoyment.
These are the minimum necessities of the nor-
mal human being, and failure to secure them
is evidence of the failure of the individual or
of society. Because it is not possible for all
human beings to attain them, even by honest
labor, it follows that we have to do with fail-
ure on the part of society. No wage, what-
ever its amount in dollars and cents may be, is
a just or fair wage which does not make it
possible for the wage-earner to obtain these
minimum necessities of a decent human ex-
istence for himself and for his wife and chil-
dren. What we need, then, is a standard of
wages bearing a definite relation to the cost
of the things which go to make up the eco-
nomic basis of a decent and wholesome life.
Wages should be measured by purchasing
power. It is time to end the mockery of
"high wages" with low purchasing power, ex-
pecting the workers to be satisfied with money
increases which possess power only to pur-
chase a decreased amount of commodities.
Wages ought to be measured by commodity
prices, the norm being the "index figure" of
the combined prices of a representative num-
ber of staple and necessary commodities. Then



wages would advance as prices advanced, fall-
ing again if prices fell.

The old term "a fair wage," so much used
by economists and social reformers, was never
very clearly defined. It is now coming to
have a very definite meaning. The only fair
wage is that wage which enables the worker
to obtain for himself and his family, first, all
the requisites of a sound, healthy, physical
life. These include, abundant, wholesome
food, good clothing, and good housing. Sec-
ondly, it must enable the worker to obtain for
himself and for his family every educational
and cultural advantage essential to high men-
tal and moral development. There must be
equality of opportunity for every child.

It is the task of the State to see that there
is employment for every worker at work that
is in itself worthy and not degrading, under
conditions which are not needlessly exhaust-
ing or injurious to health, for recompense
which will make it possible for the workers
and their families to attain physical, mental,
and moral efficiency. Any State which fails
in the discharge of this duty will be menaced,
sooner or later, by an uprising of the victims
of its neglect and failure. Housing is too
vitally connected with physical and moral



health to justify leaving it to private enter-
prise. The alarming shortage of dwellings
which are at once fit for habitation and to be
had at rentals which wage-earners can pay is
a very grave problem. Over-crowding is an
increasing evil, and there is abundant evidence
that over-crowding inevitably leads to in-
creased disease, vice, and crime. Perhaps no
other single evil is so prolific a breeder of
social despair. It is difficult to see how any-
thing less than a comprehensive plan financed
by the Federal Government and carried out
by it in co-operation with the municipalities
can meet the housing problem as it exists

A substantial reduction of the hours of la-
bor is necessary in a majority of industrial
occupations. At the same time, there must be
a very great increase in production. It is im-
possible to see how there can be any solution
of this two-fold problem unless and until the
whole management of industry is democ-
ratized and brought under the direct con-
trol of those most vitally concerned, the pro-
ducers and the consumers. The organization
and management of industry by capitalists,
motived solely or mainly by their own selfish
interests, modified somewhat by the power of



the unions of the wage-earners, must be re-
garded as an outgrown condition no longer
tolerable or desirable. Syndicalism, Bol-
shevism and Guild Socialism are so many
manifestations of a growing determination to
place industry upon a totally different basis.
We cannot contemplate calmly placing the
mines in the sole control of the miners, the
railways in the sole control of the railroad
workers, the telegraphs in the sole control of
the telegraphers, and so on through the whole
fabric of industrial society. That would un-
doubtedly lead to evils as great as, if not
greater than, anything we have known hereto-
fore. It would place the life of civilized so-
ciety under the control of a very small part
of the population, a certain number of occu-
pational groups holding peculiarly strong
strategic positions. But we may contemplate
with perfect equanimity the creation of joint
boards, consisting of representatives of labor,
manual and managerial, of the consumers and
of the State, for the management of every in-

To these democratic boards of management
we can safely trust, if to anybody at all, the
regulation of such matters as wages, hours of
labor, scientific management, technical im-



provements, the development of industry, and
so on. They might very well function in co-
operation with Congress, through committees,
and aid in the formulation of necessary social
legislation. In this manner would be over-
come the principal objection to the present
system, which places the task of legislating
upon matters requiring a great deal of spe-
cialized and technical knowledge in the hands
of men who cannot possess that knowledge,
who are elected solely because they live in a
given geographical area and are popular with
their fellow citizens residing in that area.
We should benefit by the element of wisdom
in Syndicalism and Bolshevism, while avoid-
ing the folly and the peril.

In a highly developed industrial country
like the United States, wonderfully rich in
human and material resources as it is, there
need not be, and there should not be, a
poverty problem. Poverty and all the evils
that flow from it can be banished from our
midst. It will be banished from our midst if
we unite in a determined effort to that end
with the same degree of solidarity we man-
ifested in our determination to win the war
against the aggressive militarism which
threatened us and all civilized men. We can



end the tragic waste of life evidenced by the
excessive mortality of infants and young chil-
dren in the homes of the poorly paid. We can
put an end to the physical degradation result-
ing from the widespread undernourishment
of children of school age. We can put an end
to the great mass of involuntary poverty re-
sulting from sickness, industrial accidents,
and old age. Much of the sickness and an al-
most incredible proportion of industrial ac-
cidents are preventable and should be pre-
vented. Against the remainder, as against old
age, every member of society should be in-
sured by the State.

A nation which has banished poverty and
its associated evils from its midst, and has
brought its economic life under democratic
control, will have no need to fear Bolshevism
or any other form of social revolt. Of course
there will always be discontent as long as hu-
man nature remains imperfect and fallible,
but the discontent possible in such a nation
will be the healthy discontent that is essential
and prerequisite to progress, not the discontent
of despairing revolt.










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Online LibraryJohn SpargoThe psychology of bolshevism → online text (page 8 of 8)