The Contributors' Column--January Atlantic
Elizabeth Hasanovitz, a young Russian who came to this country some halfdozen years ago, describes in these first chapters of her autobiography her early experiences of ‘sweating’ and exploitation in the clothing trade, which began her evolution into a frank revolutionist, deeply embittered toward the country which had seemed to offer her the very fullness of life. Our readers will remember that Dr. and Mrs. Phillips had been residents of Berlin for more than a decade when they were forced to return to this country after our entrance into the war, as set forth in their previous article, ‘ Auf Wiedersehn, Berlin,’in the October Atlantic. In their second paper, they deal more particularly with the extraordinary revulsion of feeling in the Prussian capital, and the moral decline of its people.
Lieutenant Charles Péguy, whose heroic death very early in the war is described in a letter to M. Maurice Barrès by a devoted trooper in his company, was rapidly acquiring an assured position among French writers of force and originality. He was peasant-born, the descendant of a long line of humble vine-dressers of the Orléanais, and he realized ‘ the nobility of that peasant life, the grandeur and the sanctity of the French tradition inscribed upon our soil, and preserved by the families which live close to the soil. He speaks of his “ancestors” as an aristocrat might do. . . . Peasant he was, and chose to be. He remained a peasanl in the midst of Paris, with all his strength and all his vigor. It was a matter of pride with him, as it is to other men to be Parisians.’ Thus M. Doumic in an enthusiastic, albeit discriminating, article devoted to Péguy in the Revue des Deux Mondes soon after his death. He was not simply an author: he printed with his own hand and published his Cashiers de la Quinzaine, which appeared ten times a year for a decade or more. In this quasimagazine he not only introduced to the public Rolland’s Jean Christophe, and some of the bestknown work of Anatole France, together with the productions of other writers less known to universal fame, but he used it as the vehicle for the publication of all his own work. It is not within the purview of this column to follow his career in letters or even to give a list of his books. I t is worth noting, however, that he plunged headlong into the Dreyfus ‘Affaire,’ taking sides ‘vehemently against the French Staff, the French army, officers and privates, against every one who wore the French uniform. How long did this last?’ says M. Doumic; ‘by what paths did he travel back into the great national highway?’ From the day that France was threatened by a German invasion in 1905, ‘he never ceased to be obsessed by the German peril. He thought of nothing but the union of hearts, and arousing nil the energies of the nation in view of the inevitable conthet.’ When it came, Péguy was married, and had three children. Born in 1873, he was past forty, so belonged in the territorial force; but he asked to be enrolled in the reserve, that he might go at once, with younger comrades, to the scene of actual fighting. ’At the first call of his country he dropped everything, not without emotion, not without an upheaval of his whole existence; but without hesitation, without a backward glance, having thenceforth but a single thought — the defense of the consecrated soil. One of the younger writers said to me: “You can have no conception of what that man was to those of my generation. Verily we had in him our professor of heroism.”
Mrs. Gerould’s name is sufficiently familiar, not to readers of the Atlantic only. Robert Haven Schauffler, a frequent contributor of both prose and verse to these pages, has just passed through one of the National training camps. In ‘A Woman of Resource ’ the Elderly Spinster makes further disclosure of the delightful and unfamiliar material which she gathered during her residence in the Polygamous City in Northern India. Mrs. Ruth Pierce accompanied her husband on a business trip which carried him through the Balkans. For a winter she settled among the Bulgars, keeping house, and making many interesting friends and acquaintances. When war broke out, the travels of Mr. and Mrs. Pierce took an exciting turn, and some of her experiences are here narrated.
Oswald Garrison Villard, son of the well-known builder of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and grandson of the Liberator, has been for many years past associated with the Nation and Evening Post, and is well fitted both by taste and training to write of present-day ‘ Press Tendencies and Dangers.’ He is the author of a notable biography of John Brown of Ossawatomie, a work which fell to his hand by heredity, as it were. — In this number, Professor Latimer draws near the end of his leisurely ‘progress’ toward recovery from his unfortunate, yet for our readers fortunate, breakdown. Beatrice Ravenel is a poet of Charleston, who contributed to the Atlantic last summer the favorite lines ‘ For a Sun-Dial.’ ‘If “A Parable for Fathers ” is affecting,’says its author, ‘ it is because it was written as a tribute to my own father, and to what he has meant in my life.’ Miss Wood sends this, her first contribution, from the Middle West. In his remarks upon ‘ Freedom of the College ’ President Meiklejohn of Amherst makes a healthful and useful contribution to the more or less hectic discussion now going on concerning the disciplining of professors by college governing boards, for alleged unpatriotic utterances or opinions.
Professor Joseph S. Ames, who has been for many years at the head of the Department of Physics and Director of the Physical Laboratory at Johns Hopkins, was sent abroad last spring by the National Research Council, as Chairman of a commission of six, to investigate the application of science to war, as illustrated on the western front. Besides the Chairman, the commission consisted of two medical men. one chemist, one metallurgist, and one man interested in meteorology, topography, and the like. The results of his observation are presented in what seems to us an important and most interesting paper. Other papers by Professor Ames are in preparation.
In a very recent letter Professor Ames says:—
I have just returned from a visit to the aircraft works in Buffalo, Detroit and Dayton. This was an official visit and so I have seen everything there is to be seen in regard to our aircraft programme. I can hardly express my feeling of depression. The Liberty motor is coming along splendidly, and it is going to be a great success. But we are not going to have any mechanics competent to repair it. Tt takes longer to train a mechanic than a pilot. Major Vincent, the man who designed the motor, told me that it would be over a year before we could hope to have mechanics even in small numbers. So far we have made one airplane suitable for use in Europe. The manufacturer assured me that his company could not be on a production programme until after the first of July.
We are having a large number of school planes made but there are no engines for these. The man who was entrusted with the work has fallen down completely. Even if we were to have the school planes ready we do not have one tenth the requisite number of teachers, and cannot hope to get them for six months.
It is very hard to place one’s finger on the man or committee responsible for this condition. As far as I could see, the evil is a fundamental one. This country and its officials are possessed with the idea that everything must be labeled ‘made in America,’ and the difficulties into which we are now running are those which any man might have foreseen. As a matter of fact, within three days after my return from Europe in June I made this whole matter the subject of my report to the Aircraft Production Committee. No one believed me, and although I had a good solution it was refused.
Mr. Freeman’s power of vivid narration is displayed once more in this episode of the invasion of Serbia, taken down from the lips of the Serbian patriot, Radovitch, sometime half-owner of a dance-hall and baseball park in Aldridge, Montana.
In the December ‘ Contributors’ Column,’ a member of our staff, who has since left us to enter the service of the government, in his characterization of the work in connection with ‘ Shock at the Front ’ of Dr. William T. Porter, allowed his enthusiasm to carry him beyond the facts to such a degree as to draw forth a remonstrance from Dr. Porter, who writes to the Editor: ‘ I can claim for my new remedy only that it has been of some advantage. Of how much advantage, only long observation can tell. It has not in any sense “ revolutionized ” present practice. The “ reason ” is not affected in traumatic shock.’ In his second paper, Dr. Porter tells of his second visit to the front, in 1917, again under the auspices of the Rockefeller Institute. Mr. Nordhoff was graduated at Harvard in 1909, and after graduation was in the ‘ sugar-cane business ’ in the State of Vera Cruz, Mexico, until 1911, when he was driven out by the revolution. He then became Secretary of the California China Products Co., which office he held when he went to France. Christian L. Lange is SecretaryGeneral of the Interparliamentary Union, with headquarters at Christiania. His eminent qualifications for the task led to his selection to make report to the Carnegie Foundation of conditions in Northern Europe as affected by the war.
In the battles of literature, no cause wants for volunteers. ‘ Kindly run the attached poem in an early number of your magazine,’ writes a young poet, with the crisp decisiveness of a veteran, ‘ and send me your check by early mail for what you think it is worth.’ He offers also a series of ‘ 101 War Poems, to be printed at least one a month.’ Since this would stretch the series to some time in 1926, we felt obliged to accept the writer’s alternative, and reply to File ‘ DDB 5326,’ which, in his business-like way, the poet offers to devote exclusively to Atlantic correspondence.
As we told our friends in the November issue, we had no heart to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding ot the Atlantic in this season of agony and blood. In the sequel, however, so many pleasant ‘Returns of the Day’ poured into the Atlantic office, that we cannot forbear to pass on to a wider circle two or three at least of the old-fashioned nosegays which came to us from friends of full sixty years’ standing, one of 84 years, another of 77the latter a veteran also of the Civil War. These two date back their intimacy with the magazine to the very first number; and they have so many pleasant words to say about it that one would like to print their letters in full, did space permit.
‘The Old College Boy —and ancient of 84 years,’ says one, ‘still swears by the Atlantic, the best American Magazine.’ And the other,
‘The Atlantic, which started in a time of peace, faced the crisis of the Civil War with vigor; and to be itself and true to its fine traditions, there was only one course now for it to pursue. It has given many great articles, both informing and inspiring. A man of 77 cannot expect to stay much longer here, but I would like to live to see the right ending of this great struggle against wrong, and as long as I do live, I expect to receive good from the pages of the Atlantic.’
Nor are softer tones lacking in the chorus of veterans: —
‘“’T is Sixty Years Since,” yes, and I was a Junior in the Girls’ High School (no boys) in Portland, Maine. The teacher . . . told us of the new magazine for which all members of the “mutual admiration society” of Boston would write, and read aloud “The Autocrat of the BreakfastTable,” and tried, as well as he could to explain Emerson’s “Brahma.”I read the Atlantic, in parts at least, for many years, and have been a regular subscriber since Nov., 1882, and have read it “from kiver to kiver,” as a Scotch friend told me.’
While Professor Parker’s paper on the I.W.W. in the November number was one that we were particularly glad to print, as it presents a point of view which deserves to be presented, nevertheless we believe that a clear understanding of the situation would be made easier by a number of extracts taken from the declarations of principles of the I.W.W. These extracts should in fairness be regarded as extreme examples; but the tendencies that they exemplify are unquestionably characteristic of the organization. From The Advancing Proletariat —
Property — either material or in the form of specialized skill—has ceased to exist for the proletarian; access to the machine is the sole basis of his life; and following the loss of the property idea comes a complete revolution in the attitude of the worker. Man becomes the dominant factor, and all his problems are again translated in terms of human rights. He thinks in the terms of a class, for he now realizes his class division, and knows that only as such can he hope to survive. He finds that he must attack the structure of a society based on private property and his point of attack is at the point of production, the point where he daily meets his enemy. His whole attitude is one of opposition; opposition to the property of the master class — an attitude utterly subversive of all modern efforts, morals, religions and laws — an utterly revolutionary attitude.
The tactics used are determined by the power of the organization to make good in their use. The question of ‘right ’and ‘wrong’ does not concern us. No terms made with an employer are final. All peace, so long as the wage-system lasts, is but an armed truce.
Craft unionism cannot survive. . . Any economic system built upon the RIGHT OF PROPERTY is a confiscatory system, . . . Stripped of his property, the ‘aristocrat of labor’ sinks to the level of the common herd.
All the activities of the proletariat furthering its programme for a new society must necessarily be revolutionary and be BEYOND THE LAW.
From The Onward Sweep: —
The antidote to ‘the industrial efficiency’ cry lies in an immediate agitation for a shorter work day, combined with the intelligent adoption of ca’ canny, ‘go-easy,’and other methods of sabotage on the job. This is vitally necessary for all workers, irrespective of their beliefs as to methods of organization, political, religious or racial prejudices. . . . ‘Scientific management’ must be met by ‘scientific sabotage.’ (The Onward Sweep, p. 18.)
From Sabotage, Its History, Philosophy and Function —
Sabotage is a direct application of the idea that property has no rights that its creators are bound to respect.... The charge that sabotage is ‘immoral,’ ‘unethical,’ ‘uncivilized,’ and the like does not worry the rebellious workers so long as it is effective in inflicting injury to the employers’ property. As it aids the workers in their fight, it will find increasing favor in their eyes. . . . The question is not, Is sabotage immoral? — but, Does sabotage get the goods? ‘You are destroying civilization’ is likewise hurled against us; to which we reply, in the language of the street: ‘We should worry!’ Civilization is a lie. . . . What is more civilized than for the workers to create powder that refuses to explode? What is more civilized than to work slow, and thus force employers to give a living to more of the unemployed? What is more civilized than to spike the guns when they are trained on our working-class brothers in other countries?
In advocating sabotage, we hope to show that the workers should rid their minds of the last remnants of bourgeois cant and hypocrisy, and by its use develop courage and individual initiative.
But, as stated before, sabotage is but one phase of the question. Anti-military and antipatriotic agitation must also be carried on.
The saboteur is the sharp-shooter of the revolution. He has the courage and the daring to invade the enemy’s country in the uniform of the ‘loyal,’ that is to say— subservient worker. But he knows that loyalty to his employer means treason to his class. Sabotage is the smokeless powder of the social war. It scores a hit while its source is seldom detected.
Says Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: —
I am not going to try to justify sabotage on any moral ground. If the workers consider that sabotage is necessary, that in itself makes sabotage moral. . . . That a thing is against the law does not necessarily mean that the thing is not good. Sometimes, it means just the contrary. A mighty good thing for the working class to use against the capitalists. . . . Sabotage is a shining sword. It pierces the nerve centers of capitalism, stabs at its hearts and stomachs, tears at the vitals of its economic system.
In connection with the much-diseussed question of the facility with which the Americanized immigrant acquires the English language, our readers may be glad to read a school-theme written by a young Russian whose name in English is Jacob Smith. It was sent to us by a teacher long a friend of the Atlantic.
According to the persuasive reports of our daily newspapers who deliberately took special pains in scrutinizing the scandal of our county treasury, the accused was the only one who malisously risked to steal city property. Again we were told through our dubious papers that the guilty one led a licentious life, and that he gambled and spent all his money on joyful automobile rides and many other bodily amuzments. These evidences are redieilous and absured for, the accusers themselves are leading the same kind of life, because For money they will not only attack a guilty person, but also take special priviliges to incinerate any one they chose.
We shall now take this matter from a neutral point of view, and investigate it from the other end of the cane, (since a cane has two ends). Let us not defend Smith nor declare him guilty. The nature of a human being can be easily persuaded; and in this case we learned through Jacob’s best friends, that he posscsed a weak character which caused his catastrophy. Besides, he was unfortunate that he was surrounded by a mass of county politims who had kept him tight in the harness and drove him wherever they wished. We were also thoroughly convinced that Jacob had inherited eighty thousand dollars and this amount was deliberately taken from him by his robbers who kept pointing on him their rifles all the time, (that is to betray him if he refuses). That is brutality, immorality, and robbery in every sence. There happened and will happen many similar incidents, because political life basal ways been and will be involved in such events. Therefore, the newspapers had absolutely condemned the accused one for (‘red tape’) in order to save the remaining county grafters who are leading a dishonest and immoral life against innocent citizens.
A Chicago correspondent makes the following interesting remarks on Mr. McLaren’s thoughtful paper in our last issue: ‘Referring to “The German State of Mind,” an alienist would diagnose it as megolomania. Let me quote from Dr. H. H. B. Walker’s A Doctor’s Diary in Damaraland, which is rather a compilation of scientific notes of a cultured traveler than a book of propaganda. Dr. Walker, who was with General Botha’s Northern Force in the campaign in German Southwest Africa, writing among the civilian population of Luderitz, says: —
“‘One feels that one is at grips with a madman, a madman stimulated by egotism and hate. It is almost uncanny, living among them. So sure are they of their superiority, their omnipotence, their Divine right almost, that one is at times almost persuaded, and doubts one’s own sanity. . , . Intelligence without wisdom, strength without restraint, purpose without pity, egotism naked and unabashed — these are the forces civilization is up against.”
‘ It was not alone in South Africa that this German state of mind was exhibited, but in China, in Samoa, in Belgium, and in Prussia. The Germans have gone mad.’
Many readers will welcome the announcement that ‘ Professor’s Progress,’ revised and enlarged, according to the author’s promise, ‘with a great deal of low humor, a fair measure of realism, pathos, bathos, and, let us hope, a touch of agathos too,’ will be published in April by Henry Holt & Co. Many a reader will be glad to have a copy in his hand, as well as the editor of this magazine.