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not affecting vital interests, not affecting national honor, a treaty by which all nations shall bind themselves to refer all such questions to arbitration. Then lastly, they could appeal to the Conference to do something practical to stop the headlong race to ruin and perdition that is going on in the continual increase of the armaments of the world.
I know that there are some people who want to go in for a program of disarmament. My dear friends, I have no objection to anybody who wants to bring the Kingdom of Heaven down to this world by return of post. (Laughter.) It is an admirable thing to want to do, but a difficult thing to get done. And so the question of disarmament will not be discussed at this Hague Conference. If it had been proposed to discuss disarmament, many of the great powers would not have put their foot inside the Hague Conference. What will be discussed, thanks to the persistence both of Great Britain and America, will be the question whether or not it is possible for the next term of, say, five years, for the nations to agree not to increase their armaments beyond the point which they have at present reached. (Applause.) That would be the beginning, the first practical halt-step; after that, if we find that in five years we have not increased our armaments, that we have kept faith with each other, then we might perhaps simultaneously reduce our armaments, so that we would not alter the relative fighting strength between one power and another. But one thing at a time. Creep before you walk, walk before you run, and run before you fly; and if you will try, as the former speakers at this Peace Congress seemed to want to do, to start flying right straight up at once, you will only break your neck and you won't get a bit farther. (A Voice: Good!)
Now, my friends, I am very glad that I have had the opportunity of speaking to you just a little to-night, because I think I have given you a taste of my quality. (Applause and laughter.) My quality is the quality of a man who goes straight to his point, trailing his coat for somebody to tread on and very much disappointed when he cannot get anybody to disagree with him (laughter), because it is horribly monotonous talking to people that hold the same opinions.
A MAN: I disagree with you.
THE MAN: I do.
MR. STEAD: Good, good, good; come along. (Applause.)
THE MAN: I maintain, that in spite of all that you have said, there can never be permanent Peace under the present system of exploitation for profit. (Applause.) We know that. There is another thing in which I disagree with you.
MR. STEAD: May I just say one word before you go to
THE MAN: If you want, I will sit down. (Cries of Order!
MR. STEAD: Go on.
THE MAN: I did not mean to break up the meeting.
THE MAN: The second thing, you want Mr. Gompers and these men when they go to England to be honored. Why do you say that those men who are upon the backs of labor are the leaders of labor? So far, the leaders of labor are not yet here. These men take advantage of our brutal ignorance to work upon it with their speeches. We are very ignorant and do not know our real leaders, yet you encourage us to show respect to these leaders you have spoken of. You talk about geniusWe made the geniuses. (Cries of Order, Order). One of the speakers has mentioned Carlyle. But she did not read what he says about hero-worship. There is one more thing where I disagree with you. You have all ignored to-night what international socialism has done toward Peace. (Applause, and a voice "Good Boy!")
MR. STEAD: Now we are going to have some fun. (Applause. Laughter.) Now, in the first place the speaker who has just sat down said he disagreed with me. (Tumult and cries of "Order! Order!") I take one at a time. (Laughter.) He said that he disagreed with me because he said that nothing could be done to secure permanent Peace until the present organization of society for the exploitation for profit was done away with. should like to ask that speaker, how he knows that I do not
agree with him. I said nothing to show that I did not. (Applause. Laughter.) Secondly, he says that Mr. Gompers and Mr. Powderly and Mr. Mitchell
THE MAN: I did not mention Mitchell.
MR. STEAD: Well, I will accept the correction-that the people I mention are not the real leaders of the working classes of America.
THE MAN: No.
MR. STEAD: Well, my friends, I have a good deal of what you may call confidence, and I am ready to do a good many things, but I should not want to attempt to nominate the men who are the leaders of the working classes of America. The men composing the American Federation of Labor are capable of choosing the right kind of men, are they not? I wouldn't have the impudence to say that they were not, for I am a foreigner; I don't know. If you think that that organization of laborers of America are fools, you are entitled to your opinion, but, as an Englishman, I would not dare to say so. (Laughter. Applause.) There is a gentleman over there (the speaker pointing).
ANOTHER MAN: Answer the third question. The socialist
MR. STEAD: Yes, I beg your pardon. I understood you to ask me whether international socialism had done anything to promote Peace? I think that international socialism has distinctly been a good influence in putting the fear of God into the hearts. of the various nations. (Applause.) I think that the dread of the growth of socialism is the one terror which appeals to some persons who are very strongly in favor of going on with more and more military expenditures, to think once and twice and even thrice before they go farther in that direction. But may I give you one word of advice? I give it to you with the best goodwill in the world. Do not assume that a man disagrees with you until you have proof that he does. (Applause and cries of 'Hear! Hear!")
A MAN (in the left-hand corner of the hall): You're all right, Billy!
MR. BUCHANAN: As Chairman of this meeting I want to lay down the rules which govern these questions. Mr. Stead very graciously is willing to face any questions, and he has shown his ability to answer, but in the absence of the officials of the American Federation of Labor here, I will not tolerate any assault upon their reputations or character. (Applause. Cheering.) If you desire to ask any questions that involve principle, I am satisfied Mr. Stead will answer them, but you must not insult the American labor movement by impugning the motives of its leaders. (Applause.) I won't have it.
ANOTHER MAN: These men that Mr. Stead wants to send to Europe are, as a matter of fact, the leaders of the workingmen in America to-day. We know that. Whether they should be or not is another question. I am not going to say anything about that. I want to say that I differ with you, Mr. Stead. When you got up there at first, you said you were surprised that you could have talked so much at all these Peace Meetings and nobody ever come back at you. If you came to the Cooper Union meetings held here every week, you would find that at all these meetings we always get back at the speaker. And the only reason that you and the rest of the speakers up there tonight have it all your own way was because there were so many of you there. (Laughter.) We had to give you a chance. But I want to say this: that I thoroughly agree in some respects with my friend on the left. There is a force making for International Peace in the world to-day, and it has done more for International Peace than all the Hague Conferences held for the past seventy-five years. (A voice, "Good Boy!")
Chancellor von Buëlow, of the German Empire, has stated distinctly that the greatest force making for International Peace in the world to-day is the international movement of the socialist party of the world. (Applause, and a voice, "Good Boy!") Chancellor von Buëlow ought to know, because he was preceded by Mr. Bismarck, the man of "blood and iron," and that man of blood and iron tried to stop the socialist movement for ten years, but came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to conciliate the socialist movement; and so he tried to conciliate it then, but it kept growing and growing all the time. And notwithstanding the fact that the international socialist