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Industrial Discontent
by [?]

In contemplation of these and a hundred other “results,” no less shameful in themselves than significant of the deeper shame beneath and prophetic of the blacker shame to come, I should say: “Behold the outcome of hardly more than a century of government by the people! Behold the superstructure whose foundations our forefathers laid upon the unstable overgrowth of popular caprice surfacing the unplummeted abysm of human depravity! Behold the reality behind our dream of the efficacy of forms, the saving grace of principles, the magic of words! We have believed in the wisdom of majorities and are fooled; trusted to the good honor of numbers, and are betrayed. Our touching faith in the liberty of the rascal, our strange conviction that anarchy making proselytes and bombs is less dangerous than anarchy with a shut mouth and a watched hand–lo, this is the beginning of the aid of the dream!”

Our Government has broken down at every point, and the two irreconcilable elements whose suspensions of hostilities are mistaken for peace are about to try their hands at each other’s tempting display of throats. There is no longer so much as a pretense of amity; apparently there will not much longer be a pretense of regard for mercy and morals. Already “industrial discontent” has attained to the magnitude of war. It is important, then, that there be an understanding of principles and purposes. As the combatants will not define their positions truthfully by words, let us see if it can be inferred from the actions which are said to speak more plainly. If one of the really able men who now “direct the destinies” of the labor organizations in this country, could be enticed into the Palace of Truth and “examined” by a skilful catechist he would indubitably say something like this:

“Our ultimate purpose is abolition of the distinction between employer and employee, which is but a modification of that between master and slave.

“We propose that the laborer shall be chief owner of all the property and profits of the enterprise in which he is engaged, and have through his union a controlling voice in all its affairs.

“We propose to overthrow the system under which a man can grow richer by working with his head than with his hands, and prevent the man who works with neither from having anything at all.

“In the attainment of these ends any means is to be judged, as to its fitness for our use, with sole regard to its efficacy. We shall punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty. We shall destroy property and life under such circumstances and to such an extent as may seem to us expedient. Falsehood, treachery, arson, assassination, all these we look upon as legitimate if effective.

“The rules of ‘civilized warfare’ we shall not observe, but shall put prisoners to death or torture them, as we please.

“We do not recognize a non-union man’s right to labor, nor to live. The right to strike includes the right to strike him.”

Doubtless all that (and “the half is not told”) sounds to the unobservant like a harsh exaggeration, an imaginative travesty of the principles of labor organizations. It is not a travesty; it has no element of exaggeration. Not in the last twenty-five years has a great strike or lockout occurred in this country without supplying facts, notorious and undisputed, upon which some of these confessions of faith are founded. The war is practically a servile insurrection, and servile insurrections are today what they ever were: the most cruel and ferocious of all manifestations of human hate. Emancipation is rough work; when he who would be free, himself strikes the blow, he can not consider too curiously with what he strikes it nor upon whom it falls. It will profit you to understand, my fine gentleman with the soft hands, the character of that which is confronting you. You are not threatened with a bombardment of roses.