BY WILLIAM JEWETT TUCKER
THE rise of the social conscience was at first regarded in the light of an ordinary moral awakening. It was referred, perhaps naturally, but certainly with little thought, to the order of moral and spiritual phenomena with which we were familiar, — the anti-slavery struggle, temperance reforms, and revivals of religion. Gradually, however, it became evident to careful observers that it was of quite a different order: more nearly comparable, if comparisons were to be made, with such a phenomenon as the rise of the spirit of nationality. The spirit of nationality was not a revival of the spirit of race, or of religion, or of any of the traditional forces which had heretofore been dominant. It sprang out of its own environment. It was evoked by those conditions, social and political, which marked the transition from feudalism to democracy. Once evoked, it became in turn creative. Working usually, but not always, in coöperation with the spirit of liberty, it wrought steadily and persistently till it achieved its result in the nationalization of modern Europe.
To what extent the social conscience, called into being under the stress of present social and economic conditions, will effect a like reconstruction of modern society must be a matter of opinion or of faith; but this much is now evident: its aim is reconstructive as well as reformatory. It has already changed in large degree the moral tone of society. But what is of far more importance, it is giving us a new intellectual perspective through which we view all moral issues affecting society. It has changed the angle of moral vision so that we see the same things differently. The remark of the Right Honorable A. J. Balfour in regard to the mental change effected by the scientific revolution of the latter part of the nineteenth century applies with almost equal pertinency to the mental change which is being effected by the present social revolution: ‘The mental framework in which we arrange the separate facts in the world of men and things is a new framework.’
In the following notes I have taken account of certain movements in the progress of the social conscience chiefly within the field of economics and politics. In other fields its activities have been equally marked and often more intense, but here there are clearer signs of sequence and progress. And yet I would not overestimate this distinction. The social conscience has been passing through the stage of knighterrantry. It was not to be expected that the chivalrous approach to social issues would be altogether constructive, although thereby opening the way most clearly for constructive methods. The actual progress which it has made is best reflected in the changes wrought in public opinion. There lies the real test of the moral value of its activities, and there also is to be found the best measure of its moral development. Public opinion, as the governing force in modern democracy, is the objective of the social conscience.
FROM CHARITY TO JUSTICE
Apparently the social conscience sprang into action to resist the encroachments of monopolistic wealth upon the liberties of the people. That was its first conspicuous task. But it was not the beginning of its work. Before the public mind had been stirred by the thought of monopolistic wealth as a menace to liberty, there had been a growing sensitiveness and concern about the general relation of wealth to poverty. It was not true, any more then than now, that as the rich were growing richer the poor were growing poorer. But it was true that, while wealth increased rapidly, poverty remained a constant in the social order. The new social movement had for its immediate object a change in this static condition of poverty. It aimed, not simply at the relief of the poor, but at a reduction of poverty itself corresponding at least with the increase of wealth. Starting out of the broad field occupied by the charities, it put forth as its chief principle of action that in any attempt to solve the problem of economic poverty, the stress should be laid upon justice rather than upon charity.
Charity had long been the accredited means of communication between the rich and the poor. This was true, not only of private charity, but of the organized charities. The church was a recognized almoner of the rich. Of course the object of charity, especially as privately administered, was to bring the rich and the poor together; but the increasing effect of it under changed economic conditions had been to separate them into classes, to add to the number of the poor and to confirm them in their poverty. The new movement sought to arrest this tendency by changing both the method and the object of social endeavor. The contrast between the old and the new was thus expressed in the language of the time: the old sought ‘to put right what social conditions had put wrong,’ to relieve, that is, the sufferings incident to existing conditions; the new sought ‘to put right the social conditions themselves.’
It was clearly recognized that the attempt ‘ to put right social conditions’ involved two things, — the thorough understanding of these conditions, and equally the coöoperation of those living under them. The community was to be made the unit for social study and for associated effort. A neighborhood was regarded as the most practicable field possible for operation. Every neighborhood in a great city had necessities and also resources of its own. It had its own inner life. Relief might come from without, but reform must come from within. ‘Social justice,’ a term then first employed, must have its counterpart in ‘community of interest.’
The movement which embodied these convictions found definite and almost spontaneous expression in the social settlement. With a zeal and selfdenial which had been the almost exclusive characteristics of missionary enterprises, many young men and women from the colleges went into residence in the congested districts of the great cities, to study at first hand social and economic conditions, to awaken the neighborhood spirit, to organize for the common advancement, and, above all, to give personal help, stimulus, and coöperation. Residential or social settlements were established in rapid succession. Within two decades there were over four hundred distributed through two thirds of the states of the Union. Many of them soon became recognized civic centres. Some of them assumed national interest and influence. As a body of coöperative organizations they have made contributions of rare and unique value to the literature of social and economic reform. The investigations carried on invariably show thoroughness of knowledge and sanity of judgment. The settlements have become recruiting grounds for the manifold agencies of social service. Not a few among the residents have been called to positions of high civic responsibility. It is not too much to say that the influence which emanated from these social centres has been the leaven of social reform in our cities. Nor is it too much to say that the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice which marked this inception of the social movement must continue to characterize it if it is to remain the exponent of the social conscience.
I have recalled this initial chapter in the history of the social movement in this country chiefly to show how radical a change has been brought about in the public mind regarding the relation of wealth to poverty. In 1889, Mr. Carnegie published two articles in the North American Review, which at the instance of Mr. Gladstone were republished in the Pall Mall Gazette under the title, ‘The Gospel of Wealth.’ This term had been used incidentally by Mr. Carnegie at the close of his first article. ‘Such in my opinion is the true gospel concerning wealth, obedience to which is destined some day to solve the problem of the rich and the poor.’ This gospel was the now familiar theory of Mr. Carnegie, that the millionaire should regard himself as the trustee of the wealth in his hands, to be administered by him for the benefit of society, — a theory to which, be it said to his lasting honor, he has clung in practice with fine consistency and splendid optimism, while the premises upon which it rests have been swept away. These premises, to quote his own words, were, first: ‘We start with a condition of affairs ’ (referring to the present economic system) ‘under which the best interests of the race are promoted but which inevitably gives wealth to the few’; and second: ‘The millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor, entrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it could or would have done for itself.’
In the general acclaim which followed the announcement of this gospel the premises on which it rested were almost entirely overlooked, at least in their economic implications. To-day these economic implications, rather than the gospel itself, are foremost in public thought and concern. I know of no community which would now be willing to accept a gift from Mr. Carnegie upon condition of subscribing to his postulates. The consequences to society of such acceptance are everywhere apparent. If the present economic system must ‘inevitably give wealth to the few,’ then Socialism is near at hand. If the few can ‘administer wealth for the community far better than it could or would do for itself,’ then democracy has reached the limit of its intelligence and responsibility.
Doubtless it is owing to Mr. Carnegie’s theory of the function of wealth that he is not taken quite seriously as a philanthropist. His public gifts are accepted with a good humor corresponding to his own, but hardly with gratitude. Whatever may be the ultimate effect of some of the benefactions which he has put into permanent form (the good or harm to society depending altogether upon the way in which they are administered), it is evident that the theory lying back of them will expire under personal limitations. The gospel of the millionaire has already been superseded by the law of social justice acting through social responsibility.
THE STRUGGLE WITH MONOPOLY
The growth of monopoly came upon the people of this country as a surprise and as a shock. It was a surprise because it had been assumed that monopolies were the special perquisites of a monarchical government. What place could they have in a democracy? How could they enter in? It was to be learned only through experience that a democracy, established in a rich and unexploited country, might become a fruitful field for monopoly; that the bounty of nature might become a lavish substitute for royal favor; that private enterprise might reach larger results than could be secured by intrigue or preferment; that legislation undertaken in the interest of prosperity, as under certain forms of the tariff, might leave unguarded many places for the incoming of privilege; and that combinations effected to prevent the strife and waste of competition might produce the trust. The shock of this apparent invasion of monopoly was due chiefly to the sudden increase and concentration of wealth. This in itself was sufficient to awaken suspicion. But what especially aroused the social conscience was the arbitrary exercise of power and the ostentatious display of luxury which attended the new wealth. The social atmosphere grew thick with suspicion and distrust. Not a few of those who seemed to profit most by the changed conditions were looked upon as ‘social malefactors.’ It did not seem possible that so much wealth could be acquired so easily and so quickly, and yet honestly. Certainly the new ways of gaining and of spending money were not in keeping with the traditional and accepted habits of a democracy.
There was at first a sense of helplessness in the endeavor to stay the social effects of so much corrupting wealth. But this feeling only increased and intensified the determination to get at the causes of the sudden and vast increase, and if possible to arrest them at the sources. It is difficult even now to determine how much of the new wealth was due to monopoly. But investigation showed very clearly that far too large a proportion of the national resources had passed into private ownership without any equivalent return; that gross discriminations had been made by the great carrying companies; that combinations of capital acting in restraint of production and of trade had gained control of various kinds of business; and that the government itself, through tariff legislation, had often become a party to privilege. A much more serious fact was brought to light, namely, that the spirit of monopoly had begun to take possession of the business mind of the country. It was no longer a disgrace, but a mark of enterprise, to acquire privileges. Under various names and guises, always bearing some patriotic stamp, the attempt was constantly made to gain privileges and advantages through the state or federal government, which were virtually of the nature of monopoly.
The story of the struggle against monopoly is for the most part told in the record of legislative enactments, state and federal, and of judicial decisions. The record shows remarkable consistency and tenacity of purpose.
The struggle has been maintained as the government has passed from administration to administration and from party to party. It has been not only consecutive but cumulative. An amendment to an anti-monopolistic measure has always been more drastic than the original act. As the occasions for conflict with open monopoly have passed, the spirit of conflict has gone over into the search for monopolistic tendencies, in the attempt, to quote the language of the President, ‘to kill monopoly in the seed.’
Within the sphere of federal legislation there has been direct sequence of action, from the Sherman Anti-Trust law of 1890, through the Interstate Commerce act made effective by the amendment of 1906, through the various enactments for the conservation of the national resources, to the more recent acts creating a Federal Reserve Board to restore ‘democracy of credit,’ and a Federal Trade Commission to attempt the restoration of free competition in business. I do not refer to the tariff in this enumeration because tariff legislation must follow the swing of the political pendulum until the tariff is placed on a non-partisan and scientific basis. So long as tariff legislation is allowed to be reckoned a party asset it can have little moral significance. Under the plea of ‘ tariff reform’ the Democratic party came into power, and within two years the cry of ‘tariff and prosperity’ very nearly brought back the Republication party into power. The essential tariff reform is to take the tariff out of politics. An income tax, the necessary complement of tariff reduction, has not yet been made in any true sense a democratic measure. Few will question the justice of a cumulative tax, even at a high rate of progression, but surely a tax is far from being democratic which altogether exempts the vast majority of property holders, reaching under the present law but one half of one per cent of the whole population. In any conscientious interpretation of democracy it ought to be as humiliating to the average citizen to be exempted from taxation as to be passed over in the call to arms for the defense of the country.
The campaign against monopoly produced certain indirect results, affecting the working of the political system and the method of administering the government, the full consequences of which cannot as yet be estimated. It gave the people of this country what English writers call ‘the sense of the state,’ — not necessarily more devotion to it, but the sense of its power as a political instrumentality. The attempt of the people to make use of the powers of the state against the encroachments of monopoly showed them how completely they had been anticipated in the use of these powers by those acting in the interest of various monopolies. Powerful interests, often representing non-resident capital, as in California and in some parts of the West, had gained control of state legislatures. Suspicion was rife regarding the financial legislation of Congress. It was charged in particular that the Senate had become the seat of privilege.
The evident remedy for this state of affairs was to prevent the possible alliance of corrupt politics with corrupt business. Two measures were devised for the accomplishment of this purpose: the primary, to do away with the party manager or ‘ boss ’ through whom political deals were made; and the recall, to keep the official representative of the people within their reach while in office. Election to the United States Senate was taken from the state legislatures and put directly into the hands of the people. The movement for more direct government as a safeguard against monopoly was widespread and gave rise to a vast amount of political experimentation, much of which still awaits the test of practicality. Any excess of political machinery in the interest of reform soon defeats its own end unless a suitable corrective can be applied. The most promising corrective for present excesses is the short ballot.
Of much more importance, however, in view of future possibilities, is the change which was effected in the method of governmental regulation, — the change, to so considerable a degree, from general control by the courts to a more immediate supervision by commissions. This modification or enlargement of the federal function looks beyond regulation or even control, and opens the way, when the object may be desired, to government ownership. The history of the Interstate Commerce Commission shows that government regulation and control by commission may not only prepare the way for, but also in certain contingencies necessitate, government ownership. It seems improbable that the transportation system of the country can be carried on indefinitely under two masters. Without doubt the commission system will familiarize both the government and the people with the idea and with the methods of government ownership. Without doubt also it may help to develop the unexpended national resources and to recover some that are being wasted or mismanaged under private control. Occasions, like the strikes in the mine industries of Colorado, which call for federal interference, suggest very forcibly the idea of federal operation through purchase or lease. In general it may be said that the struggle against monopoly has tended and still tends to make larger use of the government for the ownership and operation of public utilities. The chief danger in this tendency lies in the displacement or disuse of some of the fundamental functions of government. So consistent a radical as John Morley remarks, in commenting on the disturbance of the judiciary in a constitutional government, ‘Weakening confidence in Parliament would be formidable, but confidence destroyed in courts of justice would be taking out the linchpin.’
THE VENTURE INTO ‘ PRACTICAL POLITICS’
Perhaps it was not to be expected that the newly awakened ‘sense of the state’ would be satisfied with changes in the machinery of government allowing a freer and more direct use of governmental power by the people. The field of practical politics, always tempting, offered a peculiarly alluring opportunity. Both of the existing political parties had, for different reasons, lost the full confidence of the country. The Democratic party, long out of power, had ceased to fulfill the real function of a party in opposition. The Republican party, grown arrogant through its long lease of power, and showing distinct monopolistic tendencies, had become the object of much popular discontent. This discontent culminated in serious internal dissensions. The open revolt of Mr. Roosevelt, following the action of the Chicago Convention of 1912, gave promise of the success of a new party, pledged to the one aim of social justice, under the banner of a leader of personal magnetism and of tried political sagacity. The Progressive party thus organized drew to its support many of those who had long been at work in various ways under the stimulus of the social conscience. In the enthusiasm of the hour it seemed to them advisable to commit the issues of social reform to the fortune of politics. Great confidence was placed in the assumed analogy between the formation of the Progressive parly and that of the Republican party. It was believed that corresponding results would follow.
The confidence placed in the analogy between the Republican and Progressive parties proved to be misleading at two vital points. In the first place, the Republican party started out with a distinct and commanding issue, an issue also which was pregnant with great possibilities. ‘No more slave states’ meant a clear line of defense against the extension of slavery and involved the possibility of its extinction. The apprehension of this fact by both North and South made war itself imminent.
‘ Social justice ’ was by contrast a vague and indeterminate cause. Restated in terms of specific reforms, it lost the effectiveness of a single and imperative issue. Most of the reforms demanded were matters for state legislation. Some states were far in advance of others in their reformatory work, notably Massachusetts among the older, and Wisconsin among the newer states. The carrying out of social reforms through legislation required much effort to overcome popular inertia, as also at times to overcome the secret opposition of private and corporate interests. But for the success of a reform party there was need of sharper and more exciting antagonism. In fact, it was soon found that there could be no political monopoly in the matter of reform. The unexpected moral renaissance of the Democratic party, with its own progressive programme, greatly reduced the opportunity of a Progressive party. In this political exigency it became necessary to revert more and more to the personal and political issues which had created and which maintained the feud in the Republican party.
In the second place, the assumed analogy between the leaders of the respective parties at their formation was misleading. Mr. Lincoln became the recognized leader of the Republican party through a process of moral evolution. Other leaders gradually gave place as his supreme qualifications were made clear. But his leadership was essentially moral rather than political. His rare political sagacity was seen to be the practical outcome of his wisdom and rectitude. His moral insight, his intense sympathies, his enduring courage, his undaunted faith, and perhaps more than these, his humility and almost infinite patience, made him the leader he was. These characteristics may be said to have created a new type of leadership. Incapable of self-assertion, he had the far greater power of merging his whole personality in the cause for which he stood, and the equal power of identifying himself with all those with whom he was called upon to act and to suffer. He thus became the leader, because the representative, of the people in their hour of chastisement, of suffering, and of struggle. In the striking epitome of Mr. Emerson, ‘He was the true history of the American people in his time. Step by step he walked before them; slow with their slowness, quickening his march by theirs, the true representative of this continent; an entirely public man; father of his country, the pulse of twenty millions throbbing in his heart, the thought of their minds articulated by his tongue.’
Mr. Roosevelt is at least different, and the difference marks the contrast between the moral and the political leader. Mr. Roosevelt is not wanting in great moral qualities. He is broadly and genuinely human. His manifestations of regard for his fellow men are no affectation. He is incorruptibly honest, quite immune to the temptations of money. He has a true understanding of the elemental virtues. He has ideals, held fast to practical uses through a saving common sense. He has moral as well as physical courage. He can fling himself with contagious abandon into a political fight. The versatility of his personal power is remarkable. He can do almost anything with himself except subordinate himself. That exception marks his moral limitation. When men or causes come within his personal environment he sees them primarily in their relation to himself. Loyalty or disloyalty to him defines their character. Hence his otherwise inexplicable discrimination between political bosses of the same type. Hence his lapses in the maintenance of personal friendships. Hence his choice of the specific issues to be urged in a political campaign. Mr. Roosevelt is not to be characterized as a selfish man. I believe him to be as capable of sacrifice as of heroism. But his egoism — to keep to the point in question — put him at a wide remove from Mr. Lincoln as a moral leader. It made quite useless any comparison with a view to support from an assumed historic parallelism.
Another characteristic of Mr. Roosevelt’s leadership in contrast with that of Mr. Lincoln — a characteristic which adds to his attractiveness as a political leader but detracts from the seriousness of his moral leadership — is his sporting instinct. He is the sportsman in politics. He follows the game. He plays the issue which has the immediate political effect. He has his eye constantly on his antagonists, who for the time are his ‘enemies.’ These must never be lost sight of, though principles may be retired from view. Under Mr. Roosevelt’s direction, the New York Progressive platform in the last election treated of Republican bosses rather than of progressive principles. He was evidently more than willing to stay the march into the Promised Land for a return into Egypt to unseat the Pharaohs. This was good sport; it may have been good politics; it was not moral leadership. Grant that the corrupt or reactionary boss is a vital issue to-day in the political life of the nation, as is certainly true in some localities; then evidently the place to meet the issue is within the afflicted party. There it ceases to be a game and becomes a fight. When Mr. Roosevelt left the Republican party he gave up his vantage ground as a political in distinction from a social reformer, a loss of which apparently no one is more conscious than himself. Had he remained in the party it is hardly presumable that he would have been a negligible quantity in the election in New York, or that he would have failed of his contention in Pennsylvania. The progressive element which he took out of the party might have been employed to far greater advantage within.
It is difficult to estimate the actual moral influence of the Progressive party because of the overshadowing interest or curiosity of the public regarding its effect on the political future of Mr. Roosevelt. The Progressive party has also had to reckon with the fact, always to be reckoned with in the appeal to politics as in the appeal to arms, that the moral result is largely affected by success or failure. Had the party succeeded unmistakably as a political force, its power of moral impression would have been greatly enhanced. To the degree in which it has failed politically, the whole moral movement in which it had a part has been prejudiced in the public mind, because of its insistent claim to be the exponent of the social conscience of the country. At present it seems hardly probable that both of the controlling parties will so far defy the moral sense of the nation as to give occasion for a third party committed to the maintenance and furtherance of social justice. The antagonism of Mr. Roosevelt to Mr. Wilson, the disaffection of the business interests of the country, the protracted uncertainty in regard to Mexican affairs, or unforeseen complications in the foreign policy of the government, may lead Republicans and Progressives to unite on the sole issue of effecting a change in the administration; but even in this outcome of the political situation it may be fairly assumed, so great has been the advance in public opinion, that the genuine progressive voter, whatever his party affiliations, will continue the contest for social and economic reform, as the independent voter of the earlier part of this generation carried on the contest for civilservice reform, irrespective of party, till the battle was won.
In 1857 John Stuart Mill wrote, ‘Hitherto it is quite questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being. They have enabled a greater population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers and others to make fortunes. They have increased the comforts of the middle classes. But they have not yet begun to effect those great changes in human destiny which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish.’
This sweeping indictment, though written a half-century after the inventions which gave rise to modern industrialism went into operation, must be accepted to-day with very large modifications. And yet the astonishing fact remains, in spite of the many reliefs of labor, and in spite of the great advances in convenience and comfort brought about by mechanical inventions in which the industrial laborer shares, that industrialism is the prevailing and persistent cause of popular discontent in a democracy.
The social curse of industrialism as it now exists lies in its effect upon the disposition and temper of industrial workers. It has taken away from them the zest for work, than which nothing is more necessary to social progress. This alienation in spirit of the man from his work is as evident in the higher ranks of industrial labor as in the lower ranks. The fact in itself ought to be allowed to make its due impression before considering the reasons for it. Whatever may be the causes which have given a distinct character and tone to ‘the mind of the wage-earner,’ the fact stands out that his ‘mind’ is the most difficult mental factor to be brought into right relation to the common fellowship of work.
On one side of the industrial worker is the professional or clerical worker, usually a wage-earner or salary-earner. On the other side is the farmer or independent mechanic, a manual worker. Among these, his neighbors and fellow workers, there may be complaints and grievances, but no common dissatisfaction over the work in hand. On the whole the common characteristic of all workers outside industrialism is zest for their work. What makes the difference? Why has industrialism robbed the individual and society of this inestimable boon? If the social conscience is to act effectively, not only for the physical relief of the industrial worker, but also for a reform of the spirit of industrialism, the reasons for the existing state of mind must be understood. It is absurd to assume that the industrial worker has an inborn aversion to work. The causes of this alienation of the man from his ‘job ’ must lie, not in him but in his environment.
There are three definite if not altogether justifiable reasons for his attitude and spirit: industrialism has put him under the domination of the machine; it has subjected him to various conditions not of his own choosing; and it has deprived him of the stimulus and incentive to private ownership. Much has been accomplished to modify the effect of the first two causes of discontent, and much more is in the process of accomplishment. The social conscience is growing extremely sensitive to the increasing wear and tear incident to employment under machinery, especially upon the physical life of women and children. On their own account and for the welfare of the race, it is seen to be necessary that the most careful safeguards be established and enforced by vigilant supervision. And in general it is seen that the protection of the worker must keep pace with the inventions which intensify the power of the machine. The record of protective legislation is encouraging, and it is also suggestive of the practical value of more humane conditions in the productive industries.
I think that the humanizing of industrialism, so far as it can be expressed in ways of relief and protection, is likely to be achieved by the common, though often unrelated, efforts of those most concerned: by the foresight of the wiser employers, private and corporate, by the steady pressure of trade-unions, and by the persistence of the social reformers. Among these agencies the most uncertain is the employer or manager of labor. At a recent meeting of the Society to Promote the Science of Management one speaker remarked, ‘ The greatest grievance that any group of employees can have against their employers is lack of intelligence in the conduct of their business. The man who assumes industrial leadership is an industrial menace unless he makes or has made those studies which inform him as to the vital facts of his business.’
According to authoritative testimony given before the Federal Industrial Commission it is not regarded as the business of the directors of a corporation to inform themselves as to the facts concerning the conditions of labor. Those facts are delegated to the manager. What if the manager, as is not infrequently the case, reflects the mind of the director, a mind set to the task of increasing profits? Manifestly every corporation needs for its own intelligent management an advocate of its employees, a kind of tribune of labor, unless it proposes to rely on the labor-unions to correct the faults of its ignorance.
But in the broadest sense all efforts for relief and protection are relatively negative in their effects. They do not reach far enough into human nature to touch those springs of desire and purpose which make the daily work a satisfaction and a possible joy. No man can be satisfied with his work who is not allowed a share in the responsibilities and rewards of private ownership. Industrialism, under present conditions, deprives its workers of this satisfaction. It makes no provision for their individuality. It swallows up the individual in the class, leaving him in just complaint over his unsatisfying lot. And the most disheartening fact is that those who suffer most from this lack in industrialism have sought for compensating equivalents rather than for a reform of the system. Trade-unionism and socialism have their solutions of the problem, but neither finds a solution in the one consistent means of increasing satisfaction with work. Tradeunionism finds its solution in shorter hours and in higher wages. It looks primarily to the man outside his work, not to the man in his work, except for his necessary protection. It does not stimulate to the highest degree of excellence. In this respect it has not inherited the spirit of the guilds. It tolerates mediocrity. It leaves the question of standards to the ‘boss.’ I do not now recall any public mention of the meetings of industrial workers in any trade called for the discussion of methods of bettering the product, like those which are frequently held by agricultural workers.
The obvious reply may be made that under the system improvement is not the business of the union. The pertinence of this reply is the ground of my contention against the present working of the industrial system. For trade-unionism I have a profound respect, notwithstanding its shortcomings, and in some cases its unpardonable offenses. It has met the problem of industrialism from the side of the wage-earner as nothing else could have done, and has given him rights and compensations which could have been gained in no other way. But it has not met the problem of industrialism from the side of the wage-earner as a man who is entitled to the human reward of his work. Its solution is, simply, more money for the job and more time outside it. The work still remains drudgery.
Something more may be said for the socialistic solution. The Socialist demands public ownership. This solution gives the industrial worker an equal right in the common product, and it distributes the work over the whole body. The abolition of private property means of course the enforced equality of manual labor. But the redistribution of work will not foster the love of it. Work is still drudgery to be minimized only by its wider distribution. The dissatisfaction of the industrial worker is reduced supposedly in quantity, but his disposition is not thereby changed. Neither can public ownership satisfy or eradicate the instinct of acquisition. The right to private property, like the right to a home, is one of the halting places where we stop in the surrender of our individuality to the collective good. Without doubt we yet have very much of our individual holdings to surrender for the good of society, from which surrender every one will receive a return in the way of an investment. Socialism has made many justifiable gains at the expense of what had become an unjustifiable and unremunerative individualism, but there is an irreducible remainder to be accepted and honored if we are to preserve our individuality. We cannot as individuals give up the right to love and the right to work; and the right to work means, if anything, the right to the incentives and satisfactions which belong to work.
I think, however, that Socialism rather than trade-unionism holds the coming alternative regarding industrial labor, — public ownership or the opening of industrialism in larger degree to private ownership. No one can overlook the relative increase of the industrial classes, stimulated alike by capital, by inventions, and by immigration, or their growing separateness in matters social and political. Socially we are coming nearer to one another through our recreations than through work. The automobile, for example, is bringing about a noticeable equality. The equality of the road counts for a good deal in the present state of physical restlessness. But motoring, like baseball or any other recreation, has to do with us out of work hours.
Our work may yield us the means of more outside enjoyment without increasing in the least our satisfaction in the work itself. But it is the daily task, with its rigid requirements, with the conditions it imposes, and the spirit it creates, that determines the character of a democracy. If we are to become in increasing degree an industrial democracy, it will be the industrial factor rather than the democratic which will give the shaping touch. Hence the concern of the social conscience, far beyond questions of relief or protection, with the problems of industrialism. If the exclusion of the many industrial workers from the field of private property means the probable or possible shifting of society to the basis of collective ownership, it is none too soon to ask how far this exclusion is essential to the working of the system. Must the wage be accepted as the sole means of communication between capital and labor, making labor accessible to capital, but leaving capital inaccessible to labor? Or is the system capable of admitting such supplementary relations as will allow to labor more direct access to management and ownership?
The term ‘share’ applied to the corporate ownership of many industries has a suggestive meaning at this point. Without doubt the wage was as great an advance for the convenience of industry as the introduction of money for purposes of trade in place of barter. The wage is a well-defined, cleancut agency for fixing productive values in terms of labor. It has an educative power over the laborer, helping him to measure his relative worth. It relieves him from certain annoying responsibilities, like taxes, incident to all private ownerships, even the least. And it furnishes him with a reasonably stable means of livelihood. But, as has been contended, it does not put him in the right attitude toward his job, chiefly because it does not appeal to the instinct of acquisition. An ‘interest’ in the business, however small it may be, is always enough to change one’s disposition toward it.
From the nature of the case, holdings in so-called industrials are different from agricultural holdings. The industrial plant cannot be divided and subdivided like landed properties. But as ownership in the industries is for the most part corporate, that is, collective, there is no inherent reason why it should not be made accessible to those who are otherwise necessary partners in all the productive activities of a corporation. Some noteworthy experiments have shown the practicability of the principle, such as the rating of wages for a given period on the basis of stock and declaring a corresponding dividend to the wage-earner, or the offering to employees of stock in small denominations and at par, whatever may be the premium. The principle of allowing wages to earn an interest in the business, once accepted and duly provided for, would produce a direct moral effect upon the mind of the wageearner. As has been suggested, any ‘ interest,’ however small, would effect a change of disposition and temper. But the principle admits of a very considerable expansion in the more stable industries, where the wage-earner is reasonably secure of permanent work. The practical result ought to keep pace with the growing intelligence, skill, and thrift of the wage-earner, and above all with his more efficient attitude toward his job. The enormous growth of coöperative production in European countries shows how much room there is in industrialism for experiments in relief of the deadening effect of the wage-system. Industrialism in this country still lacks that courageous initiative on the human side, through which the mechanical inventions may be made to effect, in the prophetic words of Mill, ‘those great changes in human destiny which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish.’ The time has come to expose and to meet in practical ways the fallacy involved in the much-used distinction between human rights and property rights. Human rights are not furthered or advantaged by the suppression of property rights. Human rights in property rights have yet to be recognized and satisfied. There lies the unfulfilled task of humanizing industrialism.
REINFORCEMENT OF THE SOCIAL CONSCIENCE THROUGH THE ENTRANCE OF WOMAN INTO CIVIC LIFE
The development of the social conscience has followed in the main the course of its activities, putting forth those qualities which from time to time have been called for. With a single exception, no new factor has entered into this process of development. That exception is worthy of note for its influence upon the character and efficiency of the social conscience. I refer to the entrance of woman into the responsibilities and opportunities of civic life. This entrance of woman into civic life has been effected quietly but rapidly, while society has been discussing her political status. In fact it may be said to have made suffrage an incident rather than the goal of her civic progress. Without doubt it has worked to the advantage of suffrage in that it has advanced the argument from the stage of rights to that of capabilities.
So long as the movement was known as ‘woman’s rights’ it made comparatively little headway, in spite of the fact that the argument from rights, unvexed by questions of expediency, was really unanswerable. If suffrage is anybody’s right, if, that is, the political obligation or privilege is of the nature of a right, it is not logical to make it a matter of sex. The final reference of the question to physical force — the right to vote must rest on the ability to fight — would, if insisted upon, withdraw the ballot from all men unable or unwilling to fight. The ballot should then rest on conscription. The compromise frequently suggested — that women be allowed to vote when the majority declare themselves in favor of suffrage — has this to commend it: it seeks to guard against the danger to the state from the extension of unoccupied rights. But even this danger cannot fairly be said to invalidate the rights of the individual as such, whatever others of a given class may or may not care to do. It simply raises the question of expediency. The danger from unoccupied rights is far less than the danger from the denial of rights.
And yet, as I have said, in spite of the unanswerableness of the argument from rights, the movement for suffrage made little headway from the force of the argument alone. Militancy would have brought it to a standstill. The acceleration of the movement for woman’s suffrage has come from the demonstration of her capacity for civic life.
This capacity has resulted in large degree from the educational and industrial training of women. A great many are seen to be fitted for doing, and many are seen to be doing, the very things for which it has been assumed that suffrage would prepare the way. Their example has had the twofold effect of making suffrage seem at once less necessary and more logical; certainly it has made more evident the inconsistency of denying suffrage to those so well qualified to exercise it. Such has been the effect of the public services rendered by the residents of Hull House and of like settlement houses operated by women; such the effect of the influence of many women in official positions; such the effect of the executive ability displayed by certain women in the management of estates.
I recall a remark of Judge Theodore W. Dwight, that the decline of Rome was marked by the transfer of great fortunes to the widows of wealthy men, who became thereby the prey of adventurers. The like transfer of fortunes in this country within recent years gives a striking proof of progress, disclosing in many cases an equal if not superior competency on the part of women in dealing with the highest uses of money. A glance through the Woman’s Who’s Who of America shows both suffragists and anti-suffragists to be in agreement in the estimate they place upon civic duties and in their willingness to assume them. Whenever and wherever suffrage comes it is quite sure to appear that it has been anticipated in many of the civic responsibilities, some of them official, at which it aims, — a fact which ought to reduce suffrage to its fit proportion in the general advance of woman, and likewise take away any fear of its assumed unnaturalness or impracticability.
Although the entrance of women into civic life has been complicated by discussions about suffrage, it has had a most stimulating effect upon the social conscience. It has reinforced the social conscience at points where it needed strengthening. Moral reform is quite sure to suffer from the lack of singleness of purpose and from the lack of persistence. The average citizen is willing to support a reform movement if it does not conflict too much with other interests, and if it does not take too much of his time. These limitations characterize the action of most men in business. The professional anti-reformers understand perfectly these elements of human weakness in reform, and simply give them time to produce their effect. There has been a noticeable change in the spirit of civic reforms since women became more directly concerned in them. They are kept to their purpose and held to their accomplishment. The charge is made that where women have the right to vote they seldom register in full numbers for general elections. Doubtless the charge is true. The compensating fact appears in the definiteness of their interests and in their tenacity of purpose when their interests are aroused.
Any one who follows the course of legislation must take note of the vast increase of legislative action on subjects which invite especially the judgment, the intelligence, and the experimental knowledge of women. The widening of the field of investigation for legislative purposes is largely in those directions in which women of trained minds can best act as experts. And many of the administrative positions created within this widening field under legislative supervision can best be filled by women.
I am well aware of the protest which may be made at this point in behalf of the home and its duties, and I am in sympathy with its intent. But there are two considerations to be kept in mind when this protest is unduly urged. In the first place it is unfair to the individual woman and to society to hold all women in reserve for duties which may never come to some of them. It is of no advantage to the home to keep up a large waiting list of unoccupied women. Marriage has the acknowledged right of way. There are very few occupations which cannot be adjusted to its requirements, or which will not be surrendered on its demands. And in the second place, many civic duties are in no way incompatible with those of the home. They are in fact simply an extension of these duties. The question of the use of time is very largely personal. In most families allowance is made for reading, recreation, and the various social conventions. The vast amount of time consumed in ‘bridge,’ for example, has been taken from the home, rather than from the school, the office, the factory, or the store. There seems to be no sufficient reason for arresting the progress of women at the line of civic duties. Doubtless here as elsewhere there is a good deal to be learned about wise economies of time through the incoming of new interests into the daily life.
The statement was made at the beginning of this article that the actual progress of the social conscience is best reflected in the changes brought about in public opinion. In any candid review of its progress, even within the limits of those movements which have been under discussion, it will appear, I think, that the social conscience has done very much to refurnish the public mind with ideas and principles, and with conceptions of duty, fit and adequate to the new demands of society. In particular it may be claimed that it has reinstated the conception of justice above that of charity in the ethics of philanthropy; that it has recalled liberty to a service in behalf of economic freedom equivalent to that accomplished in behalf of political freedom; that it has awakened a ‘sense of the state ’ corresponding to the increase of political responsibilities; that it has made society sensitive to the inhumanities of industrialism and is teaching society how to estimate the property rights which are involved in human rights; and that it is creating an open mind toward the entrance of woman into civic life. This retrospect, bringing to mind the changes in public opinion effected by the social conscience, may have a timely significance if it shall give us any ground to hope that, when the conscience of the nations has been fully aroused, changes may be effected in the public opinion of the world which shall guarantee the restoration of peace and the renewal of civilization.