PROPOSED REMEDIES--SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL
Prohibition and Female Suffrage--Free Silver and Protective Tariff-- "Communism"--"They Had All Things in Common"--"Anarchism"--"Socialism" or "Collectivism"--Babbitt on Social Upbuilding--Herbert Spencer on Socialism--Examples of Two Socialist Communities--"Nationalism" --General Mechanical Education as a Remedy--The "Single Tax" Remedy--Henry George's Answer to Pope Leo XIII on Labor--Dr. Lyman Abbott on the Situation--An M. E. Bishop's Suggestions--Other Hopes and Fears--The Only Hope--"That Blessed Hope"--The Attitude Proper for God's People Who See These Things--In the World but Not of It.
"Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?" "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one unto his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven." Jer. 8:22; 51:7-9
VARIOUS are the remedies advocated as "cure-alls" for the relief of the groaning creation in its present, admittedly serious, condition; and all who sympathize with the suffering body-politic must sympathize also with the endeavors of its various doctors, who, having diagnosed the case, are severally anxious that the patient should try their prescriptions. The attempts to find a cure and to apply it are surely commendable, and have the appreciation of all kind-hearted people. Nevertheless, sober judgment, enlightened by God's Word, tells us that none of the proposed remedies will cure the malady. The presence and services of the Great Physician with his remedies--medicines, splints, [D470] bandages, straitjackets and lancets will be requisite; and nothing short of their efficient and persistent use will effect a cure of the malady of human depravity and selfishness. But let us briefly examine the prescriptions of other doctors, that we may note how some of them approximate the wisdom of God and yet how far they all fall short of it--not for the sake of controversy, but in order that all may the more clearly see the one and only direction from which help need be expected.
Prohibition and Female Suffrage as Remedies
These two remedies are usually compounded, it being conceded that prohibition can never command a majority support unless women have a free ballot--and doubtful even then. The advocates of this remedy show statistics to prove that much of the trouble and poverty of Christendom are traceable to the liquor traffic, and they aver that if it were abolished, peace and plenty would be the rule and not the exception.
We heartily sympathize with much that is claimed along this line: drunkenness is certainly one of the most noxious fruits of civilization; it is rapidly spreading, too, to the semi-civilized and barbarous. We would rejoice to see it abolished now and forever. We are willing to grant, too, that its abolition would relieve much of the poverty of today, and that by it hundreds of millions of wealth are annually far worse than wasted. But this is not the remedy to cure the evils arising from present, selfish social conditions, and to meet and parry the grinding pressure of the "Law of Supply and Demand," which would progress as relentlessly as ever, squeezing the lifeblood from the masses.
Who, indeed, squander the millions of money spent annually on liquors?--the very poor? No, indeed; the rich! The rich specially, and secondly the middle class. If the liquor [D471] traffic were abolished tomorrow, so far from relieving the financial pressure, upon the very poor, it would have the reverse effect. Thousands of farmers who now grow the millions of bushels of barley and rye and grapes and hops used in the manufacture of liquor would be obliged to cultivate other crops, and thus in turn further depress farm produce prices in general. The vast army of tens of thousands of distillers, coopers, bottlers, glassworkers, teamsters, saloon-keepers and bartenders, now employed in and by this traffic, would be forced to find other employment and would further depress the labor market, and hence the scale of daily wages. The millions on millions of capital now invested in this traffic would enter other lines and force business competition.
All this should not deter us from desiring the removal of the curse, if it were possible to get a majority to consent to it. But a majority will never be found (save in exceptional localities). The majority is composed of slaves to this appetite and those interested in it financially, either directly or indirectly. Prohibition will not be established until the Kingdom of God is established. We merely point out here that the removal of this curse, even if practicable, would not cure the present social-financial malady.
The Free Silver and Protective Tariff Remedies
We freely concede that the demonetization of silver by Christendom was a masterstroke of selfish policy on the part of money-lenders to decrease the volume of standard money and thus to increase the value of their loans; to permit the maintenance of high rates of interest on such debts because of the curtailment of the legal money, while all other business investments, as well as labor, are suffering constant depreciation as the results of increasing supply and competition. Many bankers and money-lenders are [D472] "honest" men according to the legal standard of honesty; but, alas! the standard of some is too low. It says, Let us bankers and money-lenders look out for our interests, and let the farmers, less shrewd, look out for themselves. Let us delude the poorer and less shrewd by calling gold "honest money" and silver "dishonest money." Many of the poor desire to be honest, and can thus be brow-beaten and cajoled into supporting our plans, which, however, will go hard with the "reapers." Under the influence of our talk about "honest money," and our prestige as honorable men, our standing as financiers and wealthy men, they will conclude that any views contrary to ours must be wrong; they will forget that silver money has been the standard of the world from earliest history, and that gold, like precious stones, was formerly merchandise, until added to silver to meet the increasing demand for money sufficient to do the world's business. As it is the rate of interest is falling in our money centers; how much lower the rate of interest would be if all silver had a coin value and money were thus more plentiful! Our next move must be to retire all paper money and thus bolster up the rate of interest.
Under the law of supply and demand every borrower is interested in having plenty of money--silver, gold and paper; under the same law every banker and money-lender is interested in abolishing paper money and in discrediting silver; for the less money there is of a debt-canceling value, the more that little is demanded. Hence, while labor and commercial values are dropping, money is in demand and interest nearly holds its own.
As already shown, the indications of prophecy seem to be that silver will not be restored to equal privileges with gold as standard money in the civilized world. But it is manifest that, even if it were fully restored, its relief would be but [D473] temporary: it would remove the peculiar incentive now being given to manufacturers in Japan, India, China and Mexico; it would relieve the farming element of Christendom, and thus remove part of the present pressure under which every one labors "to make both ends meet"; and thus it might put off the crash for a while longer. But apparently God does not wish to thus postpone the "evil day"; and hence human selfishness, blind to all reason, will rule and ruin the more quickly; as it is written, "the wisdom of their wise men shall perish"; and "neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath." Zeph. 1:18; Ezek. 7:19; Isa. 14:4-7, margin; 29:14
Protection, wisely gauged so as to avoid creating monopolies and to develop all the natural resources of a land, is undoubtedly of some advantage in preventing the rapid leveling of labor the world over. However, at the very most it is but an inclined plane down which wages will go to the lower level, instead of with a ruder jolt over the precipice. Soon or later, under the competitive system now controlling, goods as well as wages will be forced to nearly a common level the world over.
Neither "Free Silver" nor Protective Tariff, therefore, can claim to be remedies for present and impending evils, but merely palliatives.
Communism as a Remedy
Communism proposes a social system in which there will be community of goods; in which all property shall be owned in common and operated in the general interest, and all profits from all labor be devoted to the general welfare-- "to each according to his needs." The tendency of Communism was illustrated in the French Commune. Its definition by Rev. Joseph Cook, is--"Communism means the abolition [D474] of inheritance, the abolition of the family, the abolition of nationalities, the abolition of religion, the abolition of property."
Some features of Communism we could commend (see Socialism), but as a whole it is quite impracticable. Such an arrangement would probably do very well for heaven, where all are perfect, pure and good, and where love reigns; but a moment's reflection should prove to any man of judgment and experience that in the present condition of men's hearts such a scheme is thoroughly impracticable. The tendency would be to make drones of all. We would soon have a competition as to who could do the least and the worst work; and society would soon lapse into barbarism and immorality, tending to the rapid extinction of the race.
But some fancy that Communism is taught in the Bible and that consequently it must be the true remedy--God's remedy. With many this is the strongest argument in its favor. The supposition that it was instituted by our Lord and the Apostles, and that it should have continued to be the rule and practice of Christians since, is very common. We therefore present below an article on this phase of the subject from our own magazine:
"They Had All Things in Common"
"And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people." Acts 2:44-47
Such was the spontaneous sentiment of the early Church: selfishness gave place to love and general interest. Blessed experience! And without doubt a similar sentiment, more or less clearly defined, comes to the hearts of all who are truly converted. When first we got a realizing sense of [D475] God's love and salvation, when we gave ourselves completely to the Lord and realized his gifts to us, which pertain not only to the life that now is, but also to that which is to come--we felt an exuberance of joy, which found in every fellow-pilgrim toward the heavenly Canaan a brother or a sister in whom we trusted as related to the Lord and having his spirit; and we were disposed to deal with them all as we would with the Lord, and to share with them our all, as we would share all with our Redeemer. And in many instances it was by a rude shock that we were awakened to the fact that neither we nor others are perfect in the flesh; and that no matter how much of the Master's spirit his people now possess, they "have this treasure in earthen vessels" of human frailty and defection.
Then we learned, not only that the weaknesses of the flesh of other men had to be taken into account, but that our own weaknesses of the flesh needed constant guarding. We found that whilst all had shared Adam's fall, all had not fallen alike, or in exactly the same particulars. All have fallen from God's likeness and spirit of love, to Satan's likeness and spirit of selfishness; and as love has diversities of operations, so has selfishness. Consequently, selfishness working in one has wrought a desire for ease, sloth, indolence; in another it produced energy, labor for the pleasures of this life, self-gratification, etc.
Among those actively selfish some take self-gratification in amassing a fortune, and having it said, He is wealthy; others gratify their selfishness by seeking honor of men; others in dress, others in travel, others in debauchery and the lowest and meanest forms of selfishness.
Each one begotten to the new life in Christ, with its new spirit of love, finds a conflict begun, fightings within and without; for the new spirit wars with whatever form of selfishness or depravity formerly had control of us. The "new mind of Christ," whose principles are justice and love, asserts itself; and reminds the will that it has assented to and convenanted to this change. The desires of the flesh (the selfish desires, whatever their bent), aided by the outside influence of friends, argue and discuss the question, urging [D476] that no radical measures must be taken--that such a course would be foolish, insane, impossible. The flesh insists that the old course cannot be changed, but will agree to slight modifications, and to do nothing so extreme as before.
The vast majority of God's people seem to agree to this partnership, which is really still the reign of selfishness. But others insist that the spirit or mind of Christ shall have the control. The battle which ensues is a hard one (Gal. 5:16,17); but the new will should conquer, and self with its own selfishness, or depraved desires, be reckoned dead. Col. 2:20; 3:3; Rom. 6:2-8
But does this end the battle forever? No--
"Ne'er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down;
Thine arduous task will not be done
Till thou hast gained thy crown."
Ah, yes, we must renew the battle daily, and help divine implore and receive, that we may finish our course with joy. We must not only conquer self, but, as the Apostle did, we must keep our bodies under. (1 Cor. 9:27) And this, our experience, that we must be constantly on the alert against the spirit of selfishness, and to support and promote in ourselves the spirit of love, is the experience of all who likewise have "put on Christ" and taken his will to be theirs. Hence the propriety of the Apostle's remark, "Henceforth know we no man [in Christ] after the flesh." We know those in Christ according to their new spirit, and not according to their fallen flesh. And if we see them fail sometimes, or always to some degree, and yet see evidences that the new mind is wrestling for the mastery, we are properly disposed to sympathize with them rather than to berate them for little failures; "remembering ourselves, lest we also be tempted [of our old selfish nature in violation of some of the requirements of the perfect law of love]."
Under "the present distress," therefore, while each has all that he can do to keep his own body under and the spirit of love in control, sound judgment, as well as experience and the Bible, tells us that we would best not complicate matters by attempting communistic schemes; but each make as straight paths as possible for his own feet, that that which is [D477] lame in our fallen flesh be not turned entirely out of the way, but that it be healed.
(1) Sound judgment says that if the saints with divine help have a constant battle to keep selfishness subject to love, a promiscuous colony or community would certainly not succeed in ruling itself by a law utterly foreign to the spirit of the majority of its members. And it would be impossible to establish a communism of saints only, because we cannot read the hearts--only "the Lord knoweth them that are his." And if such a colony of saints could be gotten together, and if it should prosper with all things in common, all sorts of evil persons would seek to get their possessions or to share them; and if successfully excluded they would say all manner of evil against them; and so, if it held together at all, the enterprise would not be a real success.
Some saints, as well as many of the world, are so fallen into selfish indolence that nothing but necessity will help them to be, "not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." And many others are so selfishly ambitious that they need the buffetings of failure and adversity to mellow them and enable them to sympathize with others, or even to bring them to deal justly with others. For both these classes "community" would merely serve to hinder the learning of the proper and needed lessons.
Such communities, if left to the rule of the majority, would sink to the level of the majority; for the progressive, active minority, finding that nothing could be gained by energy and thrift over carelessness and sloth, would also grow careless and indolent. If governed by organizers of strong will, as Life Trustees and Managers, on a paternal principle, the result would be more favorable financially; but the masses, deprived of personal responsibility, would degenerate into mere tools and slaves of the Trustees.
To sound judgment it therefore appears that the method of individualism, with its liberty and responsibility, is the best one for the development of intelligent beings; even though it may work hardships many times to all, and sometimes to many.
Sound judgment can see that if the Millennial Kingdom were established on the earth, with the divine rulers then [D478] promised, backed by unerring wisdom and full power to use it, laying "judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and ruling not by consent of majorities, but by righteous judgment, as "with a rod of iron"--then communism could succeed; probably it would be the very best condition, and if so it will be the method chosen by the King of kings. But for that we wait; and not having the power or the wisdom to use such theocratic power, the spirit of a sound mind simply bides the Lord's time, praying meanwhile, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." And after Christ's Kingdom shall have brought all the willing back to God and righteousness, and shall have destroyed all the unwilling, then, with Love the rule of earth as it is of heaven, we may suppose that men will share earth's mercies in common, as do the angels the bounties of heaven.
(2) Experience proves the failure of communistic methods in the present time. There have been several such communities; and the result has always been failure. The Oneida community of New York is one whose failure has long been recognized. Another, the Harmony Society of Pennsylvania, soon disappointed the hopes of its founders, for so much discord prevailed that it divided. The branch known as Economites located near Pittsburgh, Pa. It flourished for a while, after a fashion, but is now quite withered; and possession of its property is now being disputed in the Society and in the courts of law.
Other communistic societies are starting now, which will be far less successful than these because the times are different; independence is greater, respect and reverence are less, majorities will rule, and without superhuman leaders are sure to fail. Wise worldly leaders are looking out for themselves, while wise Christians are busy in other channels-- obeying the Lord's command, "Go thou and preach the Gospel."
(3) The Bible does not teach Communism, but does teach loving, considerate Individualism, except in the sense of family communism--each family acting as a unit, of which the father is the head and the wife one with him, his fellow-heir of the grace of life, his partner in every joy and benefit as well as in every adversity and sorrow. [D479]
True, God permitted a communistic arrangement in the primitive Church, referred to at the beginning of this article; but this may have been for the purpose of illustrating to us the unwisdom of the method; and lest some, thinking of the scheme now, should conclude that the apostles did not command and organize communities, because they lacked the wisdom to devise and carry out such methods; for not a word can be quoted from our Lord or the apostles advocating the communistic principles; but much can be quoted to the contrary.
True, the Apostle Peter (and probably other apostles) knew of, and cooperated in, that first communistic arrangement, even if he did not teach the system. It has been inferred, too, that the death of Ananias and Sapphira was an indication that the giving of all the goods of the believers was compulsory; but not so: their sin was that of lying, as Peter declared in reviewing the case. While they had the land there was no harm in keeping it if they got it honestly; and even after they had sold it no harm was done: the wrong was in misrepresenting that the sum of money turned in was their all, when it was not their all. They were attempting to cheat the others by getting a share of their alls without giving their own all.
As a matter of fact, the Christian Community at Jerusalem was a failure. "There arose a murmuring"--"Because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations." Although under the Apostolic inspection the Church was pure, free from "tares," and all had the treasure of the new spirit or "mind of Christ," yet evidently that treasure was only in warped and twisted earthen vessels which could not get along well together.
The apostles soon found that the management of the community would greatly interfere with their real work-- the preaching of the gospel. So they abandoned those things to others. The Apostle Paul and others traveled from city to city preaching Christ and him crucified; but, so far as the record shows, they never mentioned communism and never organized a community; and yet St. Paul declares, "I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God." This proves that Communism is no part of the gospel, nor of the counsel of God for this age. [D480]
On the contrary, the Apostle Paul exhorted and instructed the Church to do things which it would be wholly impossible to do as members of a communistic society--to each "provide for his own"; to "lay by on the first day of the week" money for the Lord's service, according as the Lord had prospered them; that servants should obey their masters, rendering the service with a double good will if the master were also a brother in Christ; and how masters should treat their servants, as those who must themselves give an account to the great Master, Christ. 1 Tim. 5:8; 6:1; 1 Cor. 16:2; Eph. 6:5-9
Our Lord Jesus not only did not establish a Community while he lived, but he never taught that such should be established. On the contrary, in his parables he taught that all have not the same number of pounds or talents given them, but each is a steward and should individually (not collectively, as a commune) manage his own affairs, and render his own account. (Matt. 25:14-28; Luke 19:12-24. See also James 4:13,15.) When dying, our Lord commended his mother to the care of his disciple John, and the record of John (19:27)is, "And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John, therefore, had a home, so had Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Had our Lord formed a Community he would doubtless have commended his mother to it instead of to John.
Moreover, the forming of a Commune of believers is opposed to the purpose and methods of the Gospel age. The object of this age is to witness Christ to the world, and thus to "take out a people for his name"; and to this end each believer is exhorted to be a burning and a shining light before men--the world in general--and not before and to each other merely. Hence, after permitting the first Christian Community to be established, to show that the failure to establish Communities generally was not an oversight, the Lord broke it up, and scattered the believers everywhere, to preach the gospel to every creature. We read--"And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the [D481] apostles," and they went everywhere preaching the gospel. Acts 8:1,4; 11:19
It is still the work of God's people to shine as lights in the midst of the world, and not to shut themselves up in convents and cloisters or as communities. The promises of Paradise will not be realized by joining such communities. The desire to join such "confederacies" is but a part of the general spirit of our day, against which we are forewarned. (Isa. 8:12) "Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:36
Anarchy as a Remedy
Anarchists want liberty to the extent of lawlessness. They have apparently reached the conclusion that every method of human cooperation has proved a failure, and they propose to destroy all cooperative human restraints. Anarchy is therefore the exact opposite of Communism, although some confound them. While Communism would destroy all Individualism and compel the whole world to share alike, Anarchy would destroy all laws and social restraints so that each individual might do as he please. Anarchism is merely destructive: so far as we can ascertain, it has no constructive features. It probably considers that it has a sufficient task on hand to destroy the world, and will better let the future battle for itself in the matter of reconstruction.
The following extracts from a sixteen page booklet published by the London Anarchists and distributed at their great May-day parade, gives some idea of their wild and desperate notions:
"The belief that there must be authority somewhere, and submission to authority, are at the root of all our misery. As a remedy we advise a struggle for life or death against all authority--physical authority, as embodied in the State, or doctrinary authority, the result of centuries of ignorance [D482] and superstition, such as religion, patriotism, obedience to laws, belief in the usefulness of government, submission to the wealthy and to those in office--in short, a struggle against all and every humbug designed to stupefy and enslave the workingmen. The workingmen necessarily must destroy authority: those who are benefited by it certainly will not. Patriotism and religion are sanctuaries and bulwarks of rascals; religion is the greatest curse of the human race. Yet there are to be found men who prostitute the noble word 'labor' by combining it with the nauseating term 'church' into 'Labor-Church.' One might just as well speak of a 'Labor-Police.'
"We do not share the views of those who believe that the State may be converted into a beneficent institution. The change would be as difficult as to convert a wolf into a lamb. Nor do we believe in the centralization of all production and consumption, as aimed at by the Socialists. That would be nothing but the present State in a new form, with increased authority, a veritable monstrosity of tyranny and slavery.
"What the Anarchists want is equal liberty for all. The talents and inclination of all men differ from each other. Every one knows best what he can do and what he wants; laws and regulations only hamper, and forced labor is never pleasant. In the state aimed at by the Anarchists, every one will do the work that pleases him best, and will satisfy his wants out of the common store as pleases him best."
It would seem that even the poorest judgment and the least experience would see in this proposal nothing but the sheerest folly. In it there is no remedy either proposed or expected: it is but the gnashing of teeth of the hopeless and despairing; yet it is the extremity toward which multitudes are being driven by the force of circumstances propelled by selfishness.
Socialism or Collectivism as a Remedy
Socialism as a civil government would propose to secure the reconstruction of society, the increase of wealth, and a [D483] more nearly equal distribution of the products of labor through the public collective ownership of land and capital (wealth other than real estate), and the management of all industries by the public collectively. Its motto is, "Every one according to his deeds."
It differs from "Nationalism" in that it does not propose to reward all individuals alike. It differs from "Communism" in that it does not advocate a community of goods or property. It thus, in our judgment, avoids the errors of both, and is a very practical theory if it could be introduced gradually and by wise, moderate, unselfish men. This principle has already accomplished much on a small scale in various localities. In many cities in the United States the water supply, street improvements, schools and fire and police departments are so conducted, to the general welfare. But Europe is in advance of us along these lines; for many of their railroads and telegraphs are so conducted. In France the tobacco business with all its profits belongs to the government, the people. In Russia the liquor business has been seized by the government and is hereafter to be conducted by it for the public benefit financially, and it is claimed also morally.
The following interesting statistics are from
by E. D. Babbitt, LL. D., of the College of Fine Forces, New Jersey:
"Sixty-eight governments own their telegraph lines.
"Fifty-four governments own their railroads in whole or in part, while only nineteen, the United States among them, do not.
"In Australia one can ride 1,000 miles (first class) across the country for $5.50, or six miles for 2 cents, and railroad men are paid more for eight hours labor than in the United States for ten hours. Does this impoverish the country? In [D484] Victoria, where these rates prevail, the net income for 1894 was sufficient to pay the federal taxes.
"In Hungary, where the roads are state-owned, one can ride six miles for a cent, and since the government bought the roads, wages have doubled.
"In Belgium, fares and freight rates have been cut down one-half and wages doubled. But for all that the roads pay a yearly revenue to the government of $4,000,000.
"In Germany, the government-owned roads will carry a person four miles for a cent, while the wages of the employees are 120 per cent higher than when the corporations owned them. Has such a system proved ruinous? No. During the last ten years the net profits have increased 41 per cent. Last year (1894), the roads paid the German government a net profit of $25,000,000.
"It has been estimated that government ownership of railroads would save the people of the United States a billion dollars in money and give better wages to its employees, two millions of whom would doubtless then be needed instead of 700,000 as at present.
"Berlin, Germany, is called the cleanest, best paved and best governed city in the world. It owns its gas works, electric lights, water works, street railways, city telephones, and even its fire insurance, and thus makes a profit every year of 5,000,000 mark, or $1,250,000, over all expenses. In that city the citizens can ride five miles as often as they please every day in the whole year for $4.50, while two trips a day on the elevated railroads of New York would cost $36.50.
"Mr. F. G. R. Gordon has given in the Twentieth Century the statistics with reference to lighting a number of American cities and finds that the average price of each arc light by the year, when under municipal control, is $52.12 1/2 while the average price paid to private parties by the various cities is $105.13 per light each year, or a little more than twice as much as when run by the cities themselves.
"The average price for telegrams in the United States in 1891 was thirty-two and a half cents. In Germany, where the telegraphs are owned by the government, messages of ten words are sent to all parts of the country for five cents. [D485] From the greater distances and higher prices for labor, here, we would probably have to pay from five to twenty cents, according to the distance. The remarkable advantage of having each municipality control its own gas, water, coal and street railways, has been demonstrated by Birmingham, Glasgow and other cities in Great Britain."
Very good, we answer, so far as it goes. But still no sane man will claim that the poor of Europe are enjoying the Millennial blessings, even with all these Socialist theories in operation in their midst. No well informed man will undertake to say that the working classes of Europe are anywhere near on a par with workmen in general in the United States. This is still their Paradise, and laws are even now being formed to limit the thousands who desire still to come to share this Paradise.
But while we rejoice in every amelioration of the condition of Europe's poor, let us not forget that the nationalization movement, except in Great Britain, results not from greater sagacity on the part of the people, nor from benevolence or indolence on the part of Capital, but from another cause which does not operate in the United States-- from the governments themselves. They have taken possession of these to avoid bankruptcy. They are under immense expense in supporting armies, navies, fortresses, etc., and must have a source of revenue. The cheap rates of travel are with a view to please the people and also to draw business; for if the rates were not low the many who earn small wages could not ride. As it is, the fourth-class cars in Germany are merely freight cars, without seats of any kind.
In full view of such facts let us not delude ourselves with the supposition that such measures would solve the Labor Problem, or even relieve matters for more than six years, and that but slightly.
We have reason to believe that Socialism will make great progress during the next few years. But frequently it will [D486] not be wisely or moderately advanced: success will intoxicate some of its advocates, and failure render others desperate, and as a result impatience will lead to calamity. Capitalism and Monarchism see in Socialism a foe, and already they oppose it as much as they dare in view of public opinion. The Church nominal, though full of tares and worldliness, is still a powerful factor in the case; for she represents and largely controls the middle classes in whose hands is the balance of power as between the upper and the lower classes of society. To these Socialism has hitherto been considerably misrepresented by its friends, who hitherto have generally been infidels. Rulers, capitalists and clergymen, with few exceptions, will seize upon the first extremes of Socialism to assault it and brand it with infamy, and temporarily throttle it, encouraging themselves with specious arguments which self-interest and fear will suggest.
We can but rejoice to see principles of equity set in motion, even though they be but temporary and partial. And all whose interests would be affected thereby should endeavor to take a broad view, and to relinquish a portion of their personal advantage for the general good.
As intimated the movement will be crushed under the combined power of Church, State and Capital and later lead to the great explosion of anarchy, in which, as indicated in the Scriptures, all present institutions will be wrecked--"a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."
But even should Socialism have its own way entirely, it would prove to be but a temporary relief, so long as selfishness is the ruling principle in the hearts of the majority of mankind. There are "born schemers" who would speedily find ways of getting the cream of public works and compensations for themselves; parasites on the social structure [D487] would multiply and flourish and "rings" would be everywhere. So long as people recognize and worship a principle, they will more or less conform to it: hence Socialism at first might be comparatively pure, and its representatives in office faithful servants of the public for the public good. But let Socialism become popular, and the same shrewd, selfish schemers who now oppose it would get inside and control it for their own selfish ends.
Communists and Nationalists see that so long as differences of compensation are permitted selfishness will warp and twist truth and justice; and in order to gratify pride and ambition it will surmount every barrier against poverty that men can erect. To meet this difficulty they go to the impractical extremes which their claims present-- impractical because men are sinners, not saints; selfish, not loving.
Herbert Spencer's View of Socialism
Mr. Herbert Spencer, the noted English philosopher and economist, noticing the statement that the Italian Socialist Ferri supports his theories, wrote: "The assertion that any of my views favor Socialism causes me great irritation. I believe the advent of Socialism to be the greatest disaster the world has ever known."
While great thinkers agree that competition or "individualism" has its evils that require drastic remedies, they deprecate the enslavement of the individual to social organization: or rather the burial of all individuality in Socialism, as eventually the greater disaster; since it would create armies of public employees, make politics still more of a trade than at present, and consequently open the way more than ever to rings and general corruption.
The following from the Literary Digest (Aug. 10, 1895), has a bearing upon the subject in hand as going to show [D488] that Socialistic principles would not endure unless supported by some kind of force--so strong is selfishness in all mankind:
"Two Socialist Communities"
"Two practical trials of Socialism attract the attention of students of social economy abroad. In both cases the original promoters of Socialist communities are doing fairly well, in one they are even prosperous. But the attempt to live up to the teachings of Socialistic theorists has failed in both instances. The erstwhile communists have returned to methods which scarcely differ from those of the bourgeoise around them. A little more than two years ago a party of Australian workingmen, tired of a life of wage-slavery relieved only by the hardships of enforced idleness, set out for Paraguay, where they obtained land suitable for farmers who have no large machines at their disposal. They called their settlement New Australia, and hoped to convert it into a Utopia for workingmen. The British foreign Office, in its latest official report, gives a short history of the movement which caused many men to exchange Australia, 'the workingman's Eldorado,' for South America. We take the following from the report mentioned:
"The aims of the colony were set forth in its constitution, in which one of the articles runs as follows: 'It is our intention to form a community in which all labor will be for the benefit of every member, and in which it will be impossible for one to tyrannize another. It will be the duty of each individual to regard the well-being of the community as his chief aim, thus insuring a degree of comfort, happiness and education which is impossible in a state of society where no one is certain that he will not starve.'
"This ideal was not realized. Eighty-five of the colonists soon tired of the restrictions imposed upon them by the majority, and refused to obey. New arrivals from Australia made up the loss occasioned by this secession; but the new arrivals, dissatisfied with the leader of the movement, elected a chief of their own, so that there were now three parties in the colony. The equal division of the proceeds of [D489] their labor soon dissatisfied a number of the workers, who, in opposition to Socialist rules, demanded a share in proportion to the work they had done. The strict enforcement of Prohibition was another cause of dissatisfaction, especially as its infringement was punishable by expulsion without a chance of getting the original capital sunk in the undertaking refunded. The colony was on the point of breaking up, when the erstwhile leader of the movement succeeded in getting himself appointed judge by the Paraguayan authorities, and surrounded himself with a police force. There is hope that the colony will now become prosperous, but Socialistic regulations have been discarded.
"The experience of the miners of Monthieux is somewhat different. In their case it was prosperity that caused the Socialistic theories to be set aside. The Gewerbe Zeitung, Berlin, tells their story as follows:
"'At Monthieux, near St. Etienne, is a pit which was given up by the company which owned it a couple of years ago, and the miners were discharged. As there was no chance for employment in the neighborhood, the workmen begged the company to turn over the pit to them, and as the owners did not believe that the pit could be made to pay, they consented. The miners had no machinery, but they worked with a will and managed to find new veins. They made almost superhuman efforts and managed to save enough of their earnings to purchase machinery, and the discarded mines of Monthieux became a source of wealth to the new owners. The former owners then endeavored to regain possession, but lost their suit, and the labor press did not fail to contrast the avarice of the capitalists with the nobility of the miners who shared alike the proceeds of their labor. The mines of Monthieux were pointed out as an instance of the triumph of Collectivism over the exploitation of private capital.
"'Meanwhile the miners extended their operations until they could no longer do all the work without help. Other miners were called in, and did their best to further the work. But the men who had first undertaken to make the pit a paying one refused to share alike with the newcomers. They knew that the wealth which lay beneath their feet had been [D490] discovered by them with almost superhuman efforts; they had, so to speak, made something out of nothing, why should they share the results of their labors with the newcomers, who had, indeed, worked all this time, but elsewhere? Why should they give to the new comrades of the harvest they had not planted? The newcomers should be paid well, better than in other mines, but they should not become joint owners. And when the newcomers created a disturbance, the 'capitalistic' workingmen fetched police and had them thrown out of their council room.'"
Nationalism as a Remedy
Nationalism is a later development of theory along the lines of socialism. It claims that all industries should be conducted by the nation, on the basis of common obligation to work and a general guarantee of livelihood; all workers to do the same amount of work, and to get the same wages.
Nationalists claim that--
"The combinations, trusts and syndicates, of which the people at present complain, demonstrate the practicability of our basic principle of association. We merely seek to push this principle a little further and have all industries operated in the interest of all, by the nation--the people organized --the organic unity of the whole people.
"The present industrial system proves itself wrong by the immense wrongs it produces; it proves itself absurd by the immense waste of energy and material which is admitted to be its concomitant. Against this system we raise our protest: for the abolition of the slavery it has wrought and would perpetuate, we pledge our best efforts."
Some favorable points, common to both, we have mentioned favorably under the caption "Socialism or Collectivism as a remedy"; as a whole, however, Nationalism is quite impracticable; the objections to it being in general the same that we urged foregoing against Communism. Although Nationalism does not, like Communism, directly threaten the destruction of the family, its tendency would [D491] surely be in that direction. Among its advocates are many broadminded, philanthropic souls, some of whom have helped, without hope of personal advantage, to found colonies where the principles of Nationalism were to be worked out as public examples. Some of these have been utter failures, and even the practically successful have been forced to ignore Nationalist principles in dealing with the world outside their colonies: and, as might be expected, they have all had considerable internal friction. If, with "one Lord, one faith and one baptism" God's saints find it difficult to "preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace," and need to be exhorted to forbear one another in love; how could it be expected that mixed companies, claiming no such spirit as a bond, could succeed in vanquishing the selfish spirit of the world, the flesh and the devil?
Several colonies on this Nationalist plan have started and failed within the past few years, in the United States. One of the most noted failures is that known as the Altruria Colony, of California, founded by Rev. E. B. Payne, on the theory "One for all and all for one." It had many advantages over other colonies in that it picked out its members, and did not accept all sorts. Moreover, it had a Lodge form of government of very thorough control. Its founder, giving the reasons for the failure, in the San Francisco Examiner, Dec. 10, 1896, said:
"Altruria was not a complete failure;...we demonstrated that trust, good will and sincerity--which prevailed for a part of the time--made a happy community life, and on the other side, that suspicion, envy and selfish motives diabolize human nature and make life not worth while.... We did not continue to trust and consider one another as we did at first, but fell back into the ways of the rest of the world."
What some people demonstrate by experience others know by inductive reasoning, based upon knowledge of human [D492] nature. Any one wanting a lesson on the futility of hope from such a quarter while selfishness still controls the hearts of men, can get his experience cheaply by boarding for a week each at three or four second-class "boarding houses."
General Education of Mechanics a Remedy
In The Forum some years ago an article appeared by Mr. Henry Holt, in which he endeavored to show that education should be largely industrial, to fit a mechanic to readily turn from one employment to another--he should "learn a dozen" trades. While this might for a time help a few individuals, it is manifest that such a measure would not solve the problem. It is bad enough as it is, when plasterers and bricklayers may be busy while shoemakers and weavers are idle; but what would be the effect if the latter also understood bricklaying and plastering? It would multiply competition in every trade, if all the unemployed could compete for the busy jobs. The gentleman, however, deals well with two comprehensive truths, respecting which education is needed. He said:
"The simpler of these truths is the inevitable, even if cruel--the necessity of Natural Selection. I do not say it's justice. Nature knows nothing of justice. Her machinery pounds remorselessly along in a set of hard conditions, but, after all, pounds out of those conditions the best they will yield. True, she has evolved in us intelligences to slightly direct her course; and it is in using them the function of justice comes up. But we can direct her only in channels fitted to her own currents: otherwise we are overwhelmed. Now, no one of her courses is broader and more clearly marked than that of Natural Selection, and in the exercise of our little liberties and suffrages, we are never so wise as when we fall in with it--when, for example, we raise a Lincoln from his cabin. But so far, we are vastly more apt to prefer the demagogue, and then we suffer. Socialism proposes to extend [D493] the danger of this suffering into the field of production. The captains of industry are now chosen purely by natural selection--at least with a very moderate abnormality in the action of heredity, which rapidly cures itself: if the son does not inherit fitness, he soon ceases to survive. But with increasing freedom of competition, and increasing facilities for able men without capital, to hire it, it is substantially true that industry is at present directed by Natural Selection. For this, the Socialist proposes to substitute artificial selection, and that by popular vote. A general knowledge of the superiority of Nature's way would cure this madness.
"The other truth so difficult to impart clearly, but not impossible to give some conception of, is the more important. It is difficult, not so much because it calls for some preliminary education, as because dogma has been fighting it for thousands of years, and fights it still. To most who read this, every one of these assertions will probably appear strange, when the truth is named in the familiar phraseology --The Universal Reign of Law. Yet it is the fact that hosts of men who think they believe in it, pray every day that it may not be--that exceptions may be made in their cases. People generally--and legislators generally--in a matter of physiology, would send for a doctor; or in a matter of machinery, for an engineer; or in chemistry, for a chemist; and would follow his opinion with childlike faith; but in economics they want no opinions but their own. They have no idea that such matters are, like physical matters, under the control of natural laws--that to find those laws, or learn those already found, requires special study; and that to go counter to them, in ignorance, must bring disaster as fatal as in perversity...
"The workingman needs, then, not only instruction in the trade-school and in certain economic facts, but the kind of instruction in science and history that will give him some conception of Natural Law. On the basis thus provided could be built some notion of its control in the social as well as in the material world; and also some realization that human law is futile, or worse, except as, by close study and [D494] cautious experiment, it is made to conform to the Natural Law. Hence would come the faith that no human law could make the unfit survive, except at somebody else's expense; and that the only way to enable them to survive at their own, is to make them fit."
Yes, it is well that all should learn that these two laws control in our present social system, and that it is not in the power of man to change nature or nature's laws; and hence that it is impossible for him to do more than tinker present social conditions, and temporarily improve them a little. The new and more desirable laws necessary to the perfect, the ideal society, will require supernatural powers for their introduction. Learning this lesson will help to bring (instead of a discontent which aggravates itself) "godliness with contentment," while waiting for the Kingdom of God and praying, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as in heaven."
The Single Tax Remedy
Doubtless because he saw the effects of Communism and Nationalism and Socialism, as pointed out above, Mr. Henry George devised a scheme of some merit, known as the "Single Tax Theory." This may be said to be the reverse of Socialism in some respects. It is Individualism in many important features. It leaves the individual to the resources of his own character, efforts and environment; except that it would preserve to each an inalienable right to share, as the common blessings of the Creator--air, water and land. It proposes very little direct alteration of the present social system. Claiming that the present inequalities of fortune, so far as they are oppressive and injurious, are wholly the results of private ownership of the land, this theory proposes that all lands become once more the property of Adam's race as a whole; and claims that thus the evils of our present social system would speedily right themselves. It proposes [D495] that this re-distribution of the land shall be accomplished, not by dividing it proportionately among the human family, but by considering it all as one vast estate, and permitting each person as a tenant to use as much as he may choose of what he now possesses, and to collect a land-tax or rental from each occupant proportional to the value of the land (aside from the value of the buildings or other improvements thereon). Thus a vacant lot would be assessed as heavy a rental or tax as an adjoining lot, built upon, and the untilled field as much as the adjoining fruitful one. The tax thus raised would constitute a fund for every purpose for the general welfare--for schools, streets, roads, water, etc., and for local and general government; hence the name of the theory, "Single Tax."
The effect would of course be to open to actual settlement thousands of town lots and barren fields now held for speculative purposes; because all taxes being consolidated into one, and being removed from cattle, machinery, business and improvements of every kind, and all concentrated upon the land would make the land-tax quite an item; graduated, however, so as to show no favoritism, poor farm lands or remote from transportation being taxed less in proportion than better lands, and those nearer to transportation. City lots similarly would be assessed according to value, location and surroundings considered.
Such a law, made to become operative ten years after its passage, would have the immediate effect of reducing real estate values, and by the time it would become operative millions of acres and thousands of town-lots would be open to any one who could make use of them and pay the assessed rents. Mr. Henry George took advantage of the fact that Pope Leo XIII issued an Encyclical on Labor, to publish a pamphlet in reply, entitled, "An Open Letter to Pope Leo XIII," etc. As it contains some good thoughts along the lines of our topic and besides is a further statement of [D496] the theory under discussion, we make liberal extracts as follows:
An Extract from an Open Letter
by Mr. Henry George to Pope Leo XIII, in Answer
to the Latter's Encyclical on the
Perplexing Labor Question.
"It seems to us that your Holiness misses its real significance in intimating that Christ, in becoming the son of a carpenter and himself working as a carpenter, showed merely that 'there is nothing to be ashamed of in seeking one's bread by labor.' To say that is almost like saying that by not robbing people he showed that there is nothing to be ashamed of in honesty. If you will consider how true in any large view is the classification of all men into workingmen, beggarmen and thieves, you will see that it was morally impossible that Christ, during his stay on earth, should have been anything else than a workingman, since he who came to fulfil the law must by deed as well as word obey God's law of labor.
"See how fully and how beautifully Christ's life on earth illustrated this law. Entering our earthly life in the weakness of infancy, as it is appointed that all should enter it, He lovingly took what in the natural order is lovingly rendered, the sustenance, secured by labor, that one generation owes to its immediate successors. Arrived at maturity he earned his own subsistence by that common labor in which the majority of men must and do earn it. Then passing to a higher--to the very highest--sphere of labor, he earned his subsistence by the teaching of moral and spiritual truths, receiving its material wages in the love offerings of grateful hearers, and not refusing the costly spikenard with which Mary anointed his feet. So, when he chose his disciples, he did not go to land owners or other monopolists who live on the labor of others, but to common laboring men. And when he called them to a higher sphere of labor and sent them out to teach moral and spiritual truths, he told them to take, without condescension on the one hand, or sense of degradation on the other, the loving return for such labor, [D497] saying to them that the 'laborer is worthy of his hire,' thus showing, what we hold, that all labor does not consist in what is called manual labor, but that whoever helps to add to the material, intellectual, moral or spiritual fulness of life is also a laborer.*
*"Nor should it be forgotten that the investigator, the philosopher, the teacher, the artist, the poet, the priest, though not engaged in the production of wealth, are not only engaged in the production of utilities and satisfactions to which the production of wealth is only a means, but by acquiring and diffusing knowledge, stimulating mental powers and elevating the moral sense, may greatly increase the ability to produce wealth. For man does not live by bread alone...He who by any exertion of mind or body adds to the aggregate of enjoyable wealth increases the sum of human knowledge, or gives to human life higher elevation or greater fulness--he is, in the large meaning of the words, a 'producer,' a 'working man,' a 'laborer,' and is honestly earning honest wages. But he who without doing aught to make mankind richer, wiser, better, happier, lives on the toil of others--he, no matter by what name of honor he may be called, or how lustily the priests of Mammon may swing their censers before him, is in the last analysis but a beggarman or a thief."
"In assuming that laborers, even ordinary manual laborers, are naturally poor, you ignore the fact that labor is the producer of wealth, and attribute to the natural law of the Creator an injustice that comes from man's impious violation of his benevolent intention. In the rudest state of the arts it is possible, where justice prevails, for all well men to earn a living. With the labor-saving appliances of our time it should be possible for all to earn much more. And so, in saying that poverty is no disgrace, you convey an unreasonable implication. For poverty ought to be a disgrace, because in a condition of social justice, it would, where unimposed by unavoidable misfortune, imply recklessness or laziness.
"The sympathy of your Holiness seems exclusively directed to the poor, the workers. Ought this to be so? Are not rich idlers to be pitied also? By the word of the Gospel it is the rich rather than the poor who call for pity. And to any one who believes in a future life, the condition of him who wakes to find his cherished millions left behind must seem pitiful. But even in this life, how really pitiable are the rich. The evil is not in wealth in itself--in its command over material [D498] things; it is in the possession of wealth while others are steeped in poverty; in being raised above touch with the life of humanity, from its work and its struggles, its hopes and its fears, and above all, from the love that sweetens life, and the kindly sympathies and generous acts that strengthen faith in man and trust in God. Consider how the rich see the meaner side of human nature; how they are surrounded by flatterers and sycophants; how they find ready instruments not only to gratify vicious impulses, but to prompt and stimulate them; how they must constantly be on guard lest they be swindled; how often they must suspect an ulterior motive behind kindly deed or friendly word; how if they try to be generous they are beset by shameless beggars and scheming impostors; how often the family affections are chilled for them, and their deaths anticipated with the ill-concealed joy of expectant possession. The worst evil of poverty is not in the want of material things, but in the stunting and distortion of the higher qualities. So, though in another way, the possession of unearned wealth likewise stunts and distorts what is noblest in man.
"God's commands cannot be evaded with impunity. If it be God's command that men shall earn their bread by labor, the idle rich must suffer. And they do. See the utter vacancy of the lives of those who live for pleasure; see the loathsome vices bred in a class who, surrounded by poverty, are sated with wealth. See that terrible punishment of ennui of which the poor know so little that they cannot understand it; see the pessimism that grows among the wealthy classes--that shuts out God, that despises men, that deems existence in itself an evil, and fearing death yet longs for annihilation.
"When Christ told the rich young man who sought him to sell all he had and to give it to the poor, he was not thinking of the poor, but of the young man. And I doubt not that among the rich, and especially among the self-made rich, there are many who at times, at least, feel keenly the folly of their riches and fear for the dangers and temptations to which these expose their children. But the strength of long habit, the promptings of pride, the excitement of making and holding what has become for them the counters in a game of cards, the family expectations that have assumed [D499] the character of rights, and the real difficulty they find in making any good use of their wealth, bind them to their burden, like a weary donkey to his pack, till they stumble on the precipice that bounds this life.
"Men who are sure of getting food when they shall need it eat only what appetite dictates. But with the sparse tribes who exist on the verge of the habitable globe, life is either a famine or a feast. Enduring hunger for days, the fear of it prompts them to gorge like anacondas when successful in their quest of game. And so, what gives wealth its curse is what drives men to seek it, what makes it so envied and admired --the fear of want. As the unduly rich are the corollary of the unduly poor, so is the soul-destroying quality of riches but the reflex of the want that imbrutes and degrades. The real evil lies in the injustice from which unnatural possession and unnatural deprivation both spring.
"But this injustice can hardly be charged on individuals or classes. The existence of private property in land is a great social wrong from which society at large suffers, and of which the very rich and the very poor are alike victims, though at the opposite extremes. Seeing this, it seems to us like a violation of Christian charity to speak of the rich as though they individually were responsible for the sufferings of the poor. Yet, while you do this, you insist that the cause of monstrous wealth and degrading poverty shall not be touched. Here is a man with a disfiguring and dangerous excrescence. One physician would kindly, gently, but firmly remove it. Another insists that it shall not be removed, but at the same time holds up the poor victim to hatred and ridicule. Which is right?
"In seeking to restore all men to their equal and natural rights we do not seek the benefit of any class, but of all. For we both know by faith and see by fact that injustice can profit no one and that justice must benefit all.
"Nor do we seek any 'futile and ridiculous equality.'... The equality we would bring about is not the equality of fortune, but the equality of natural opportunity...
"And in taking for the uses of society what we clearly see is the great fund intended for society in the divine order, we would not levy the slightest tax on the possessors of wealth, no matter how rich they might be. Not only do we deem [D500] such taxes a violation of the right of property, but we see that by virtue of beautiful adaptations in the economic laws of the Creator it is impossible for any one honestly to acquire wealth, without at the same time adding to the wealth of the world...
"Your Holiness in the Encyclical gives an example of this. Denying the equality of right to the material basis of life, and yet conscious that there is a right to live, you assert the right of laborers to employment, and their right to receive from their employers a certain indefinite wage. No such rights exist. No one has a right to demand employment of another, or to demand higher wages than the other is willing to give, or in any way to put pressure on another to make him raise such wages against his will. There can be no better moral justification for such demands on employers by workingmen than there would be for employers to demand that workingmen shall be compelled to work for them when they do not want to and to accept wages lower than they are willing to take. Any seeming justification springs from a prior wrong, the denial to workingmen of their natural rights...
"Christ justified David, who when pressed by hunger committed what ordinarily would be sacrilege, by taking from the temple the loaves of proposition. But in this he was far from saying that the robbing of temples was a proper way of getting a living.
"In the Encyclical, however, you commend the application to the ordinary relations of life, under normal conditions, of principles that in ethics are only to be tolerated under extraordinary conditions. You are driven to this assertion of false rights by your denial of true rights. The natural right which each man has is not that of demanding employment or wages from another man; but that of employing himself--that of applying by his own labor to the inexhaustible storehouse which the Creator has in the land provided for all men. Were that storehouse open, as by the single tax we would open it, the natural demand for labor would keep pace with the supply, the man who sold labor and the man who bought it would become free exchangers for mutual advantage, and all cause for dispute between workman and employer would be gone. For then, all being [D501] free to employ themselves, the mere opportunity to labor would cease to seem a boon; and since no one would work for another for less, all things considered, than he could earn by working for himself, wages would necessarily rise to their full value, and the relations of workman and employer be regulated by mutual interest and convenience.
"This is the only way in which they can be satisfactorily regulated.
"Your Holiness seems to assume that there is some just rate of wages that employers ought to be willing to pay and that laborers should be content to receive, and to imagine that if this were secured there would be an end of strife. This rate you evidently think of as that which will give workingmen a frugal living, and perhaps enable them by hard work and strict economy to lay by a little something.
"But how can a just rate of wages be fixed without the 'higgling of the market' any more than the just price of corn or pigs or ships or paintings can be so fixed? And would not arbitrary regulation in the one case as in the other check that interplay that most effectively promotes the economical adjustment of productive forces? Why should buyers of labor any more than buyers of commodities, be called on to pay higher prices than in a free market they are compelled to pay? Why should the sellers of labor be content with anything less than in a free market they can obtain? Why should workingmen be content with frugal fare when the world is so rich? Why should they be satisfied with a lifetime of toil and stinting, when the world is so bountiful? Why should not they also desire to gratify the higher instincts, the finer tastes? Why should they be forever content to travel in the steerage when others find the cabin more enjoyable?
"Nor will they. The ferment of our time does not arise merely from the fact that workingmen find it harder to live on the same scale of comfort. It is also, and perhaps still more largely, due to the increase of their desires with an improved scale of comfort. This increase of desire must continue; for workingmen are men, and man is the unsatisfied animal.
"He is not an ox, of whom it may be said, so much grass, so much grain, so much water, and a little salt, and he will [D502] be content. On the contrary, the more man gets the more he craves. When he has enough food, then he wants better food. When he gets a shelter, then he wants a more commodious and tasty one. When his animal needs are satisfied, then mental and spiritual desires arise.
"This restless discontent is of the nature of man--of that nobler nature that raises him above the animals by so immeasurable a gulf, and shows him to be indeed created in the likeness of God. It is not to be quarreled with, for it is the motor of all progress. It is this that has raised St. Peter's dome, and on dull, dead canvas made the angelic face of the Madonna to glow; it is this that has weighed suns and analyzed stars, and opened page after page of the wonderful works of creative intelligence; it is this that has narrowed the Atlantic to an ocean ferry and trained the lightning to carry our messages to the remotest lands; it is this that is opening to us possibilities beside which all that our modern civilization has as yet accomplished seem small. Nor can it be repressed save by degrading and imbruting men; by reducing Europe to Asia.
"Hence, short of what wages may be earned when all restrictions on labor are removed, and access to natural opportunities on equal terms secured to all, it is impossible to fix any rate of wages that will be deemed just, or any rate of wages that can prevent workingmen striving to get more. So far from it making workingmen more contented to improve their condition a little, it is certain to make them more discontented.
"Nor are you asking justice when you ask employers to pay their workingmen more than they are compelled to pay--more than they could get others to do the work for. You are asking charity. For the surplus that the rich employer thus gives is not in reality wages, it is essentially alms.
"In speaking of the practical measures for the improvement of the condition of labor which your Holiness suggests, I have not mentioned what you place much stress upon--charity. But there is nothing practical in such recommendations as a cure for poverty, nor will any one so consider them. If it were possible for the giving of alms to abolish poverty there would be no poverty in Christendom. [D503]
"Charity is indeed a noble and beautiful virtue, grateful to man and approved by God. But charity must be built on justice. It cannot supersede justice.
"What is wrong in the condition of labor through the Christian world is that labor is robbed. And while you justify the continuance of that robbery it is idle to urge charity. To do so--to commend charity as a substitute for justice, is indeed something akin in essence to those heresies, condemned by your predecessors, that taught that the gospel had superseded the law, and that the love of God exempted men from moral obligations.
"All that charity can do where injustice exists is here and there to somewhat mollify the effects of injustice. It cannot cure them. Nor is even what little it can do to mollify the effects of injustice without evil. For what may be called the superimposed, as in this sense, secondary virtues, work evil where the fundamental or primary virtues are absent. Thus sobriety is a virtue, and diligence is a virtue. But a sober and diligent thief is all the more dangerous. Thus patience is a virtue. But patience under wrong is the condoning of wrong. Thus it is a virtue to seek knowledge and to endeavor to cultivate the mental powers. But the wicked man becomes more capable of evil by reason of his intelligence. Devils we always think of as intelligent.
"And thus that pseudo charity that discards and denies justice works evil. On the one side it demoralizes its recipients, outraging that human dignity, which, as you say, 'God himself treats with reverence,' and turning into beggars and paupers men who, to become self-supporting, self-respecting citizens, only need the restitution of what God has given them. On the other side it acts as an anodyne to the consciences of those who are living on the robbery of their fellows, and fosters that moral delusion and spiritual pride that Christ doubtless had in mind when he said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. For it leads men, steeped in injustice, and using their money and their influence to bolster up injustice, to think that in giving alms they are doing something more than their duty towards man and deserve to be very well thought of by God, and in a vague way to attribute to their own goodness what really [D504] belongs to God's goodness. For consider: Who is the All-provider? Who is it that as you say, 'owes to man a storehouse that shall never fail,' and which 'he finds only in the inexhaustible fertility of the earth.' Is it not God? And when, therefore, men, deprived of the bounty of their God, are made dependent on the bounty of their fellow-creatures, are not these creatures, as it were, put in the place of God, to take credit to themselves for paying obligations that you yourself say God owes?
"But worse, perhaps, than all else is the way in which this substituting of vague injunctions to charity for the clear-cut demands of justice opens an easy means for the professed teachers of the Christian religion of all branches and communions to placate Mammon while persuading themselves that they are serving God...
"No, your Holiness, as faith without works is dead, as men cannot give to God his due while denying to their fellows the rights he gave them, so charity, unsupported by justice, can do nothing to solve the problem of the existing condition of labor. Though the rich were to 'bestow all their goods to feed the poor and give their bodies to be burned,' poverty would continue while property in land continues.
"Take the case of the rich man today who is honestly desirous of devoting his wealth to the improvement of the condition of labor. What can he do?
"Bestow his wealth on those who need it? He may help some who deserve it, but he will not improve general conditions. And against the good he may do will be the danger of doing harm.
"Build churches? Under the shadow of churches poverty festers, and the vice that is born of it breeds.
"Build schools and colleges? Save as it may lead men to see the iniquity of private property in land, increased education can effect nothing for mere laborers, for as education is diffused the wages of education sink.
"Establish hospitals? Why, already it seems to laborers that there are too many seeking work, and to save and prolong life is to add to the pressure.
"Build model tenements? Unless he cheapens house accommodations he but drives further the class he would benefit, [D505] and as he cheapens house accommodations he brings more to seek employment and cheapens wages.
"Institute laboratories, scientific schools, workshops for physical experiments? He but stimulates invention and discovery, the very forces that, acting on a society based on private property in land, are crushing labor as between the upper and the nether millstone.
"Promote emigration from places where wages are low to places where they are somewhat higher? If he does, even those whom he at first helps to emigrate will soon turn on him to demand that such emigration shall be stopped, as it is reducing their wages.
"Give away what land he may have, or refuse to take rent for it, or let it at lower rents than the market price? He will simply make new land owners or partial land owners; he may make some individuals the richer, but he will do nothing to improve the general condition of labor.
"Or bethinking himself of those public-spirited citizens of classic times who spent great sums in improving their native cities, shall he try to beautify the city of his birth or adoption? Let him widen and straighten narrow and crooked streets, let him build parks and erect fountains, let him open tramways and bring in railroads, or in any way make beautiful and attractive his chosen city, and what will be the result? Must it not be those who appropriate God's bounty will take his also? Will it not be that the value of land will go up, and that the net result of his benefactions will be an increase of rents and a bounty to land owners? Why, even the mere announcement that he is going to do such things will start speculation and send up the value of land by leaps and bounds.
"What, then, can the rich man do to improve the condition of labor?
"He can do nothing at all except to use his strength for the abolition of the great primary wrong that robs men of their birthright. The justice of God laughs at the attempts of men to substitute anything else for it."
* * *
"While within narrow lines trades unionism promotes the idea of the mutuality of interests, and often helps to [D506] raise courage and further political education, and while it has enabled limited bodies of workingmen to improve somewhat their condition, and gain, as it were, breathing space, yet it takes no note of the general causes that determine the conditions of labor, and strives for the elevation of only a small part of the great body by means that cannot help the rest. Aiming at the restriction of competition--the limitation of the right to labor, its methods are like those of an army, which even in a righteous cause are subversive of liberty and liable to abuse, while its weapon, the strike, is destructive in its nature, both to combatants and non-combatants, being a form of passive war. To apply the principle of trades unions to all industry, as some dream of doing, would be to enthrall men in a caste system.
"Or take even such moderate measures as the limitation of working hours and of the labor of women and children. They are superficial in looking no further than to the eagerness of men and women and little children to work unduly, and in proposing forcibly to restrain overwork while utterly ignoring its cause, the sting of poverty that forces human beings to it. And the methods by which these restraints must be enforced, multiply officials, interfere with personal liberty, tend to corruption and are liable to abuse.
"As for thorough going socialism, which is the more to be honored as having the courage of its convictions, it would carry these vices to full expression. Jumping to conclusions without effort to discover causes, it fails to see that oppression does not come from the nature of capital, but from the wrong that robs labor of capital by divorcing it from land, and that creates a fictitious capital that is really capitalized monopoly. It fails to see that it would be impossible for capital to oppress labor were labor free to the natural material of production; that the wage system in itself springs from mutual convenience, being a form of cooperation in which one of the parties prefers a certain to a contingent result; and that what it calls the 'iron law of wages' is not the natural law of wages, but only the law of wages in that unnatural condition in which men are made helpless by being deprived of the material for life and work. It fails to see that what it mistakes for the evils of competition are really the evils of restricted competition--are due to a one-sided competition [D507] to which men are forced when deprived of land; while its methods, the organization of men into industrial armies, the direction and control of all production and exchange by governmental or semi-governmental bureaus, would, if carried to full expression, mean Egyptian despotism.
"We differ from the Socialists in our diagnosis of the evil, and we differ from them as to remedies. We have no fear of capital, regarding it as the natural handmaiden of labor; we look on interest in itself as natural and just; we would set no limit to accumulation, nor impose on the rich any burden that is not equally placed on the poor; we see no evil in competition, but deem unrestricted competition to be as necessary to the health of the industrial and social organism as the free circulation of the blood is to the health of the bodily organism--to be the agency whereby the fullest cooperation is to be secured. We would simply take for the community what belongs to the community; the value that attaches to land by the growth of the community; leave sacredly to the individual all that belongs to the individual; and, treating necessary monopolies as functions of the state, abolish all restrictions and prohibitions save those required for public health, safety, morals and convenience.
"But the fundamental difference--the difference I ask your Holiness specially to note, is in this: Socialism in all its phases looks on the evils of our civilization as springing from the inadequacy or inharmony of natural relations, which must be artificially organized or improved. In its idea there devolves on the state the necessity of intelligently organizing the industrial relations of men; the construction, as it were, of a great machine whose complicated parts shall properly work together under the direction of human intelligence. This is the reason why socialism tends toward atheism. Failing to see the order and symmetry of natural law, it fails to recognize God.
"On the other hand, we who call ourselves Single Tax Men (a name which expresses merely our practical propositions) see in the social and industrial relations of men not a machine which requires construction, but an organism which needs only to be suffered to grow. We see in the natural, social and industrial laws such harmony as we see in the [D508] adjustments of the human body, and that as far transcends the power of man's intelligence to order and direct as it is beyond man's intelligence to order and direct the vital movements of his frame. We see in these social and industrial laws so close a relation to the moral law as must spring from the same Authorship, and that proves the moral law to be the sure guide of man, where his intelligence would wander and go astray. Thus, to us, all that is needed to remedy the evils of our time is to do justice and give freedom. This is the reason why our beliefs tend towards, nay, are indeed the only beliefs consistent with a firm and reverent faith in God, and with the recognition of his law as the supreme law which men must follow if they would secure prosperity and avoid destruction. This is the reason why to us political economy only serves to show the depth of wisdom in the simple truths which common people heard from the lips of Him of whom it was said with wonder, 'Is not this the Carpenter of Nazareth?'
"And it is because that in what we propose--the securing to all men of equal natural opportunities for the exercise of their powers and the removal of all legal restriction on the legitimate exercise of those powers--we see the conformation of human law to the moral law, that we hold with confidence, not merely that this is the sufficient remedy for all the evils you so strikingly portray, but that it is the only possible remedy.
"Nor is there any other. The organization of man is such, his relations to the world in which he is placed are such-- that is to say, the immutable laws of God are such--that it is beyond the power of human ingenuity to devise any way by which the evils born of the injustice that robs men of their birthright can be removed otherwise than by doing justice, by opening to all the bounty that God has provided for all.
"Since man can only live on land and from land, since land is the reservoir of matter and force from which man's body itself is taken, and on which he must draw for all that he can produce, does it not irresistibly follow that to give the land in ownership to some men and to deny to others all right to it is to divide mankind into the rich and the poor, the privileged and the helpless? Does it not follow that [D509] those who have no rights to the use of land can live only by selling their power to labor to those who own the land? Does it not follow that what the Socialists call 'the iron law of wages,' what the political economists term 'the tendency of wages to a minimum,' must take from the landless masses --the mere laborers, who of themselves have no power to use their labor--all the benefits of any possible advance or improvement that does not alter this unjust division of land? For, having no power to employ themselves, they must, either as labor-sellers or land-renters, compete with one another for permission to labor. This competition with one another of men, shut out from God's inexhaustible storehouse, has no limit but starvation, and must ultimately force wages to their lowest point, the point at which life can just be maintained and reproduction carried on.
"This is not to say that all wages must fall to this point, but that the wages of that necessarily largest stratum of laborers who have only ordinary knowledge, skill and aptitude must so fall. The wages of special classes, who are fenced off from competition by peculiar knowledge, skill or other causes, may remain above that ordinary level. Thus, where the ability to read and write is rare, its possession enables a man to obtain higher wages than the ordinary laborer. But as the diffusion of education makes the ability to read and write general, this advantage is lost. So, when a vocation requires special training or skill, or is made difficult of access by artificial restrictions, the checking of competition tends to keep wages in it at a higher level. But as the progress of invention dispenses with peculiar skill, or artificial restrictions are broken down, these higher wages sink to the ordinary level. And so, it is only so long as they are special that such qualities as industry, prudence and thrift can enable the ordinary laborer to maintain a condition above that which gives a mere living. Where they become general, the law of competition must reduce the earnings or savings of such qualities to the general level-- which, land being monopolized and labor helpless, can be only that at which the next lowest point is the cessation of life.
"Or, to state the same thing in another way: land being necessary to life and labor, its owners will be able, in return [D510] for permission to use it, to obtain from mere laborers all that labor can produce, save enough to enable such of them to maintain life as are wanted by the land-owners and their dependents.
"Thus, where private property in land has divided society into a land-owning class and a landless class, there is no possible invention or improvement, whether it be industrial, social or moral, which, so long as it does not affect the ownership of land, can prevent poverty or relieve the general condition of mere laborers. For whether the effect of any invention or improvement be to increase what labor can produce or to decrease what is required to support the laborer, it can, so soon as it becomes general, result only in increasing the income of the owners of land, without at all benefiting the mere laborers. In no events can those possessed of the mere ordinary power to labor, a power utterly useless without the means necessary to labor, keep more of their earnings than enough to enable them to live.
"How true this is we may see in the facts of today. In our own time invention and discovery have enormously increased the productive power of labor, and at the same time greatly reduced the cost of many things necessary to the support of the laborer. Have these improvements anywhere raised the earnings of the mere laborer? Have not their benefits mainly gone to the owners of land--enormously increased land values?
"I say mainly, for some part of the benefit has gone to the cost of monstrous standing armies and warlike preparations; to the payment of interest on great public debts; and, largely disguised as interest on fictitious capital, to the owners of monopolies other than that of land. But improvements that would do away with these wastes would not benefit labor; they would simply increase the profits of land owners. Were standing armies and all their incidents abolished, were all monopolies other than that of land done away with, were governments to become models of economy, were the profits of speculators, of middlemen, of all sorts of exchangers saved, were every one to become so strictly honest that no policemen, no courts, no prisons, no precautions against dishonesty would be needed--the result [D511] would not differ from that which has followed the increase of productive power.
"Nay, would not these very blessings bring starvation to many of those who now manage to live? Is it not true, that if there were proposed today, what all Christian men ought to pray for, the complete disbandment of all the armies of Europe, the greatest fears would be aroused for the consequences of throwing on the labor market so many unemployed laborers?
"The explanation of this and of similar paradoxes that in our time perplex on every side may be easily seen. The effect of all inventions and improvements that increase productive power, that save waste and economize effort, is to lessen the labor required for a given result, and thus to save labor, so that we speak of them as labor-saving inventions or improvements. Now, in a natural state of society where the rights of all to the use of the earth are acknowledged, labor-saving improvements might go to the very utmost that can be imagined without lessening the demand for men, since in such natural conditions the demand for men lies in their own enjoyment of life and the strong instincts that the Creator has implanted in the human breast. But in that unnatural state of society where the masses of men are disinherited of all but the power to labor when opportunity to labor is given them by others, there the demand for them becomes simply the demand for their services by those who hold this opportunity, and man himself becomes a commodity. Hence, although the natural effect of labor-saving improvement is to increase wages, yet in the unnatural condition which private ownership of the land begets, the effect, even of such moral improvements as the disbandment of armies and the saving of the labor that vice entails, is by lessening the commercial demand, to lower wages and reduce mere laborers to starvation or pauperism. If labor-saving inventions and improvements could be carried to the very abolition of the necessity for labor, what would be the result? Would it not be that land owners could then get all the wealth the land is capable of producing, and would have no need at all for laborers, who must then either starve or live as pensioners on the bounty of the land owners? [D512]
"Thus, so long as private property in land continues--so long as some men are treated as owners of the earth and other men can live on it only by their sufferance--human wisdom can devise no means by which the evils of our present condition may be avoided."
This theory of free land (except for taxes thereon) is a broad and a just theory which we would be pleased to see put into operation at once, although we would not profit by it personally. It would doubtless prove a temporary relief to society, although its destruction of land values would create as much or more of a shock than Socialism proposes, unless graduated, as above suggested, by previous announcement. It would readily combine with the more moderate features of Socialism and would give them greater lasting quality; because, the land, one source of wealth, being in the hands of all the people on such conditions, it never would be necessary for healthy, industrious people to starve: all could at least grow crops sufficient to feed themselves. While this, we believe, would be a wise and just measure, and one in accordance with the divine law, as very ably shown by Mr. George, yet it would not be the panacea for all the ills of humanity. The groaning creation would still groan until righteousness and truth are fully established in the earth and all hearts are brought into accord with it, and selfishness would still find opportunity to take all the cream, and leave only enough skimmed milk for the barest necessities of others.
As a proof that a single tax upon land would not alone meet the exigencies of the social and financial trouble, nor avert the coming disaster and social wreck, we cite an instance of its marked failure. India, for long centuries, has had a single tax, a land-tax only--the soil being held in common and operated under village control. As a result about two-thirds of its population are agriculturalists--a larger proportion than with any other people in the world. [D513] Only of late years has private ownership of land been introduced there by the English, and thus far over a very limited area only. The people of India may be said to be contented and comfortable; but it certainly is not because they are rich and supplied with luxuries and conveniences. Modern machinery is speedily revolutionizing their affairs and cutting down their already meager earnings and compelling them to live on still less or else starve. We have already quoted good authority showing that the poor masses can but seldom afford to eat the plainest food to satisfaction. See page 381.
When we grant that the single tax or free land proposition would prove to be only one factor of a temporary relief, it is all that we can grant; for if selfishness be thwarted in one direction it will only break out in another: nothing will effectually avail but "new hearts" and "right spirits"; and these neither the Single Tax theory nor any other human theory can produce.
Suppose, for instance, that the people had the land; it would be an easy matter for a combination of capital to refuse to purchase the farm products except at their own figures --barely enough to permit the producers to live--and on the other hand to control and fix high prices upon all the agriculturalist needs to purchase--from the farm fertilizer and farm implements to his family clothing and home furnishments.
This very condition is surely approaching--the Law of Supply and Demand operates too slowly to satisfy the greed for wealth today. Labor cannot stop the operation of this law, and is crowded both by machinery and growing population; but Capital can counteract it at least partially by forming Trusts, Combines, Syndicates, etc., for nearly or quite controlling supplies and prices. The Coal Combine is an illustration. [D514]
Of what avail, we ask, would Single Tax be against this spirit of selfishness? It would be powerless!
But suppose that the free land and single tax proposition were to go into operation tomorrow; suppose that tilled lands were exempted from all taxes; that each farm were provided with a house, horse, cow, plow and other necessities; suppose this meant the doubling of the present area of cultivation and doubling of present crops. It would insure plenty of corn and wheat and vegetables for the healthy and thrifty to eat; but the great overplus would bring so small a price that it would not pay to send it to market, except under favorable conditions. It is sometimes so, even under present conditions: thousands of bushels of potatoes and cabbage being left to rot, because it does not pay to handle them. The first year might draw from the cities to the aforesaid farms thousands of strong and willing men anxious to serve themselves: this would free the city labor market and temporarily raise the wages of those who would remain in the cities, but it would last only one year. The farmers, finding that they could not make clothing and household necessities out of corn and potatoes, either directly or by exchange, would quit farming and go back to the cities and compete vigorously for whatever they could get that would provide more for them than mere sustenance; for whatever would grant them a share of life's comforts and luxuries.
No; free land is good as a preventive of starvation, and it is a proper condition in view of the fact that our bountiful Creator gave the land to Adam and his family as a common inheritance; and it would greatly help our present difficulties, if the whole world had a Jubilee of restitution of the land and remission of debts every fifty years, as the Jews had. But such things would be merely palliatives now, as they were with the Jews, and as they still are in India. The [D515] only real cure is the great antitypical Jubilee which will be established by earth's coming King--Immanuel.
Other Hopes and Fears
We have hastily scanned the principal theories advanced for the betterment of present conditions, but it is manifest that none of them are adequate to the necessities of the case. Besides these there are any number of people who incessantly preach and pray about what they see wrong, and who want somebody to stop the course of the world, but who neither see nor suggest anything even simulating practicability.
But in this connection we should not forget to mention some honest but thoroughly impractical souls who vainly imagine that the churches, if awakened to the situation, could avert the impending social calamity, revolutionize society and re-establish it upon a new and better basis. They say, If only the churches could be awakened, they could conquer the world for Christ and could themselves establish on earth a Kingdom of God upon a basis of love and loyalty to God and equal love for fellowmen. Some of them even claim that this, the Christ-spirit in the churches, would be the second coming of Christ.
How hopelessly impracticable this theory is, need scarcely be pointed out. What they consider its strength is really its weakness--numbers. They look at the figures 300,000,000 Christians and say, What a power! We look at the same figures and say, What a weakness!
If this vast number were saints, moved and controlled by love, there would indeed be force behind the argument, and it would seem thoroughly practical to say that if these were awakened to the true situation they could and would revolutionize society at once. But alas! "tares" and "chaff" predominate, and the "wheat" class is small. As the great [D516] Shepherd declared, his is but a "little flock," like their Master of "no reputation" or influence, and amongst them are "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble." (1 Cor. 1:26) "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" James 2:5
No, no! The spirit of Christ in his little flock is not sufficient to give them the Kingdom! The Church has never been without those who had this spirit. As our Lord declared before he left us, that he would be with us to the end of the age, so it has been fulfilled. But he also promised that as he went away (personally) in the end of the Jewish age, so he would come again (personally) in the end of this age. He assured us that during his absence all who would be faithful to him would "suffer persecution"--that his Kingdom joint-heirs would "suffer violence" until he should come again and receive them unto himself. Then he would reward their faithfulness and sufferings with glory, honor and immortality, and a share in his throne and its power to bless the world with righteous government and knowledge of the truth, and finally to destroy the wilful workers of iniquity from among the workers of righteousness. For this not only the groaning creation, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the spirit (Rom. 8:23) must groan and wait-- for the Father's time and the Father's manner of bestowal. He has shown clearly that the time for these blessings is now at hand, and that they will be introduced by scourging the world with an awful time of trouble, which the saints, the little flock, are to escape by being changed and glorified in the Kingdom.
But lest any should ever say that wealth and educational advantages would have permitted them to conquer the world, God has given the nominal church--"Christendom" [D517] --these very advantages. Yet these opportunities seem to operate reversely, to cultivate pride, superciliousness, and infidelity called "higher criticism"--and will eventuate in the wreck of society. "When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find [the] faith on the earth?"
The Only Hope--"That Blessed Hope"
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." "Which hope we have as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast." "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13; Heb. 6:19; 1 Pet. 1:13
In considering this vexed question of Supply and Demand which is doing so much to divide humanity into two classes, the rich and the poor, we have as far as possible avoided harsh criticism of either side; firmly believing, as we have endeavored to show, that present conditions are the results of the constitutional law of selfishness (the result of the Adamic fall) which dominates the vast majority of the human family, rich and poor alike. These deep-seated laws of constitutional selfishness are detested by a small number (chiefly the poor) who, having found Christ and come heartily under his spirit and law of love, would gladly abandon all selfishness, but cannot. These laws often crowd small merchants and contractors as well as employees. Yet so certain is their operation that, if all the rich were dead today, and their wealth distributed pro rata, those laws would within a few years reproduce the very conditions of today. Indeed, many of the millionaires of today were poor boys. And any system of laws that the majority of men might enact, which would deprive men of the opportunities for exercising their acquisitive and selfish propensities, would sap the life of progress and rapidly turn civilization back toward improvidence, indolence and barbarism.
The only hope for the world is in the Kingdom of our [D518] Lord Jesus Christ--the Millennial Kingdom. It is God's long promised remedy, delayed until its due time, and now, thank God, nigh, even at the door. Once more man's extremity will be God's opportunity--"The desire of all nations shall come," at a juncture when human ingenuity and skill will have exhausted themselves in seeking relief without avail. Indeed, it would seem to be the divine method, to teach great lessons in schools of experience. Thus the Jews directly (and we and all men indirectly) were taught by their Law Covenant the great lesson that by the deeds of the Law no (fallen) flesh could be justified before God. Thus did the Lord point his pupils to the better New Covenant of Grace through Christ.
The time of trouble, the "day of vengeance," with which this age will close and the Millennial age will open, will not only be a just recompense for misused privileges, but it will tend to humble the arrogance of men and to make them "poor in spirit," and ready for the great blessings God is ready to pour upon all flesh. (Joel 2:28) Thus he wounds to heal.
But someone unfamiliar with the divine program may perhaps inquire, How can the Kingdom of God be established if all these human methods fail? What different scheme does it propose? If its scheme is declared in the Word of God, why cannot men put it into operation at once and thus avoid the trouble?
We answer, God's Kingdom will not be established by a vote of the people, nor by the vote of the aristocracy and rulers. In due time He "whose right it is," he who bought it with his own precious blood, will "take the Kingdom." He will "take unto himself his great power and reign." Force will be used, "He shall rule them [the nations] with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers." (Rev. 2:27) He will "gather the nations and assemble [D519] the kingdoms and pour upon them his fierce anger, and the whole earth shall be devoured with the fire of his jealousy; and then [after they are humbled and ready to hear and heed his counsel] he will turn unto them a pure language that they may all call upon the Lord to serve him with one consent. Zeph. 3:8,9
Not only will the Kingdom be established with force, and be a power that men cannot resist, but it will so continue throughout the entire Millennial age; for the entire reign is for the specific purpose of vanquishing the enemies of righteousness. "He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." "His enemies shall lick the dust." "The soul that will not hear [obey] that Prophet [the glorious Christ--antitype of Moses] shall be destroyed from among the people," in the Second Death.
Satan will be bound--his every deceptive and misleading influence will be restrained--so that evil shall no longer appear to men to be good, nor good appear undesirable, evil; truth shall no longer appear to men untrue nor falsehoods be caused to appear true. Rev. 20:2
But as heretofore shown, the reign will not be one of force only; side by side with the force will be the olive branch of mercy and peace for all the inhabitants of the world, who, when the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth, will learn righteousness. (Isa. 26:9) The sin-blinded eyes shall be opened; and the world will see right and wrong, justice and injustice, in a light quite different from now-- in "seven-fold" light. (Isa. 30:26; 29:18-20) The outward temptations of the present will largely be done away, evils will neither be licensed nor permitted: but a penalty sure and swift will fall upon transgressors, meted out with unerring justice by the glorified and competent judges of that time who will also have compassion upon the weak. 1 Cor. 6:2; Psa. 96:13; Acts 17:31 [D520]
These judges shall not judge by the hearing of the ear nor by the sight of the eye, but shall judge righteous judgment. (Isa. 11:3) No mistakes will be made; no evil deed shall fail of its just recompense: even attempts to commit crimes must speedily cease under such conditions. Every knee shall bow [to the power then in control] and every tongue shall confess [to the justice of the arrangement]. (Phil. 2:10,11) Then, gradually probably with many, the new order of things will begin to appeal to the hearts of some, and what at first was obedience by force will become obedience from love, and appreciation of righteousness. And eventually all others--all who obey merely because compelled by force--will be cut off in the Second Death. Rev. 20:7-9; Acts 3:23
The rule and law of Love will thus be enforced; not by consent of the majority, but in opposition to it. It will be turning civilization back from its republican ideas and placing mankind temporarily under an autocratic rule--for a thousand years. Such autocratic power would be terrible in the hands of either a vicious or an incompetent ruler; but God relieves us of all fear when he informs us that the Dictator of that age will be the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ, who has the welfare of man so at heart that he laid down his life as our ransom price in order that he might have the authority to lift out of our sin-defilement and restore to perfection and divine favor all who will accept his grace by obedience to the New Covenant.
Early in the Millennium it will become apparent to all that this course which God has outlined is the only one adapted to the exigencies of the case of the sin-sick, selfish world. Indeed, some already see that the world's great need is a strong and righteous government: they begin to see, more and more, that the only persons who can safely be entrusted with absolute liberty are those who have been [D521] soundly converted--who have renewed wills, renewed hearts, the spirit of Christ.
The Proper Attitude for God's People
But some may inquire, What must we who see these things in their true light do now? Shall we if we own vacant land give it away or abandon it? No; that would serve no good purpose unless you gave it to some poor neighbor actually needing it: and then, should he make a failure of its use, he doubtless would censure you as the author of his misfortunes.
If we are farmers or merchants or manufacturers, shall we attempt to do business on the Millennium basis? No; for, as already shown, to do so would bring upon you financial disaster, injurious to your creditors and to those dependent on you, as well as upon your employees.
We suggest that all that can now be done is to let our moderation be known unto all men: avoid grinding anybody; pay a reasonable wage or a share of the profits or else do not hire; avoid dishonesty of every form; "provide things honest in the sight of all men"; set an example of "Godliness with contentment," and always by word as well as by example discourage not only violence, but even discontent; and seek to lead the weary and heavy laden to Christ and the word of God's grace--through faith and full consecration. And should you, by God's grace, be the steward of more or less wealth, do not worship it, nor seek to see how much you can accumulate for your heirs to wrangle over and misuse; but use it, according to your covenant, for God's service and under his direction; remembering that it is not yours to keep, nor yours to use for yourself, but God's entrusted to your care, to be used in joyful service, to the glory of our King.
As a suggestion for the practical application of these remarks [D522] to life's affairs we give, following, a letter sent us by a reader of our semi-monthly journal, and our reply to it as published therein. It may be helpful to others.
In the World but Not of the World
DEAR BROTHER: Last Sunday at our meeting we had a lesson from Romans 12:1, and among many thoughts brought out from such a prolific subject were some on the use we make of our consecrated time. I am engaged in the grocery business; but the condition of trade in general demands almost "eternal vigilance" at the present time.
The question which has presented itself to me many times is, Should I, as one of the consecrated, put forth such efforts to make and maintain custom as it is now necessary to do? I issue weekly price-lists, many times offering goods at less than cost for baits, and I give away many "gifts" with more profitable goods; not of preference to that sort of dealing, but because all my competitors are doing the same thing, and, to maintain my trade and living (as I am not wealthy), I am compelled to follow suit.
Another objectionable feature about that kind of method is that it squeezes my weaker brother in the same line of business. I am acquainted with many of them; some are widows trying to make an honest living by selling goods: but I am compelled to throw all my better feelings to the wind and "wade in," no matter whom it injures. This is a sad confession for one who is bidding for the position of assisting our Lord in the lifting of mankind out of the chasm of selfishness from which they must be saved in the age which we believe to be so close at hand. I am not trying to get you to justify my actions in this matter, but desire your opinion as to the advisable course of God's professed children engaged in business during the present time, when it is a case of the big fish eating the smaller ones.
Yours in Christ,
In reply: The conditions you name are common to nearly [D523] every form of business, and prevail throughout the civilized world increasingly. It is a part of the general "trouble" of our times. The increase of machine capacity and the increase of the human family both contribute to reduce wages and make steady employment more precarious. More men seek to engage in business; and competition and small profits, while beneficial to the poor, are commercially killing the small store and high prices. In consequence, small stores and small factories are giving way to larger ones which, by reason of better and more economical arrangements, permit better service and lower prices. Larger stocks of fresher goods at lower prices and with better service are to the general advantage of the public as compared with the old-time small shops with stale goods, high prices and careless service; even though temporarily some poor widows or worthy ones may suffer through mental, physical or financial inability to keep up with the new order of things. And even these, if they can take a broad, benevolent view of the situation, may rejoice in the public welfare, even though it enforces an unfavorable change in their own affairs. They may rejoice with those that are benefited and wait patiently for the coming Kingdom which will make God's blessings more common to all than at present. But only those who have the "new nature" and its love can be expected to view things thus unselfishly. The present commercial competition is not, therefore, an unmixed evil. It is one of the great lessons being given to the world as a preparatory study before entering the great Millennial age, when the business of the world will be largely, if not wholly, on a socialistic footing--not for the wealth or advantage of the individual, but for the general welfare.
Meantime, however, the selfish competitive strain grows more galling continually to those possessed of noble, generous impulses, whether Christians or not. We are glad to note [D524] your own appreciation of the subject and your dissatisfaction with present conditions.
Our advice is that you keep a sharp lookout, and, if you see some other branch of business less beset with competition and therefore more favorable, make a change. If not, or until you find a more favorable business, or more favorable conditions, we advise that you continue where you are and modify your course to some extent; i.e., divide matters as evenly as you can between the three conflicting interests--your own, your competitors' and your patrons' or neighbors' interests. If your business is meeting expenses and affording a reasonable profit, endeavor to keep it there, but do not push it in the endeavor to become "rich"; for "they that will [to] be rich fall into temptation and a snare." (1 Tim. 6:9) We should avoid all dishonorable competition or meanness toward competitors, and any misrepresentation of goods to customers. Justice and honesty must be carefully guarded at any cost: then add all the "moderation" in favor of your competitor that love may suggest and that circumstances permit.
We are not forgetting the injunction, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" (Exod. 23:2), nor counseling the slightest compromise with injustice. Your question, we take it, is not whether you may do injustice, but whether love will permit you to do all that justice would not object to and that custom sanctions. The worldly heart does not scruple about such "trifles:" it is your "new nature," whose law is love, that would prefer to see your competitor prosper, and longs to do good unto all men as it has opportunity--especially to the household of faith. Cultivate this "new nature" by obeying its law of love in every way possible. "If it be possible, so much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men"-- dealing generously and according to love. He who is imbued with the spirit of love thinketh no evil toward his competitor, [D525] and seeketh not his own welfare merely, and would not rejoice in a competitor's failure.
The difficulty is that the whole world is running on the depraved basis of selfishness, which is quite incongruous to love. With some the plane is higher, and with some lower: some limit their selfishness to the line of justice, others descend in selfishness to injustice and dishonesty, and the tendency is always downward. The "New Creature" in Christ must never go below justice and honesty, and must seek as much as possible to rise above this highest worldly standard, toward perfect love. It is the fault of the present competitive system that the interests of the buyer and those of the seller are ever in conflict. No power can correct, control and alter all this except the one power that God has promised--the Millennial Kingdom, which shall enforce the rule of love and liberate from the propensities and bonds of selfishness all who, when they see and know the better way, will accept the help then to be provided.
* * *
We have seen as inevitable under the present social law either the crush of the masses of humanity into the mire, as the slaves of wealth and intellect, or the crash of the present social order under the reign of anarchy, and the Scriptural declaration that it will be the latter; and that this will bring an awful retribution upon all men, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, and by actual demonstration teach men the folly of selfishness, and help them in future to appreciate the wisdom of God's law of love; and that the "great tribulation" will teach all a fearful, but eventually a most profitable lesson. We are therefore prepared to examine in our next chapter what the Scriptures have to tell us respecting the fall of "Babylon"--"Christendom"--in the great struggle in which this age shall end. [D526]
As we have viewed the failure of Christendom to adopt the spirit of Christ's teaching, and seen how the knowledge and liberty gained from his teachings were blended with the spirit of evil, selfishness, and as from present foreshadowings we mark the sure approach of the dread calamity --anarchy and every evil work--we see the justice of its permission, and read therein the divine law of retribution. And though we lament the evils which incur the retribution, yet realizing its necessity and justice, and having learned also the ends of mercy to be attained eventually by this very means, our hearts exclaim, "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are thy ways, thou king of nations." Rev. 15:3--Margin
"Wait for the morning--it will come indeed,
As surely as the night has given need;
The yearning eyes at last will strain their sight,
No more unanswered by the morning light:
No longer will they vainly strive through tears
To pierce the darkness of thy doubts and fears,
But, bathed in balmy dews and rays of dawn,
Will smile with rapture o'er the darkness gone.
"Wait for the morning, O thou smitten child,
Scorned, scourged, persecuted and reviled,
Athirst and famishing, none pitying thee,
Crowned with the twisted thorns of agony--
No faintest gleam of sunlight through the dense
Infinity of gloom to lead thee thence--
Wait thou for morning--it will come indeed,
As surely as the night hath given need."
--James Whitcomb Riley