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THE MODERN FACTORY.
THE student of history knows that all useful inventions that reduce the cost of production are the friends, not the foes, of the wage-earning classes; that the part each man plays in production having been minimized by inventions, has resulted in exalting to the dignity of producers a vast army of one-talent men who were before comparatively useless in the economic world. Useless men easily become helpless and hopeless and often desperate. Idleness is productive of every form of vice, and he is a great philanthropist who furnishes employment to others. Machinery is the great philanthropist in the economic world. Because many of these employes are women and children does not break the force of the argument, but strengthens the proposition that a multitude of non-producers, many of them the idle, the lazy, the shiftless, the parasites of society, have been enabled by the factory system to enter the ranks of the world's industrious side by side with five-talent men, because modern machinery has minimized the part that each person plays in production.
There is no end to the trouble that comes from viewing work as a curse instead of a blessing to man. Even the sewer-cleaner is healthier in body and mind than the man who stands all day idle in the marketplace.
Some people imagine that in superseding the domestic system the factory system has caused the workers to suffer intellectual loss. Would the introduction of modern machinery into China be an intellectual loss to that nation? If industry is an intellectual irritant and a moral agent, the wage-earning classes must be benefited, on the whole, by whatever increases industry. Modern machinery has so revolutionized industry that it does not pay a skilled carpenter to pick up a two-penny nail, as the time so lost is of more value than the nail.
The highest form of sympathy in the economic world is justice. It is just here that the pulpit is persistently misunderstood by the business world. Employers imagine that a religious view of a factory or of economics or of politics is a sentimental one and theoretical. The clergyman objects to the economic or political view of the pulpit, and esteems it materialistic and gross; the business man returns the compliment and
objects to sentiment in business. But the moment the pulpit speaks for justice and points out practical ways in which it may be expressed, all listen with respect. A factory should be in good sanitary condition, with fire-escapes and all possible precautions against danger to life and limb. The laws of most States now enforce these provisions. Dangerous machinery should be run by men intelligent enough to realize the danger and be careful. This is economy, as the principle of contributory negligence applies in case of accident. Overseers should be humane and courteous. Wages should be promptly paid, and commensurate with the grade of work required and with the selling-price of the goods, not regulated entirely by the competitive labor market, where hunger and want drive men in desperation to work cheap. The highest form of sympathy thus is justice. To the extent that profit-sharing is justice, and not charity, will it ever prevail. In most factories the hard facts are these. The overseer is chosen from the ranks of the men because of his experience, ability, and knowledge of the details of the business. Like the Sophomore who delights in bullying over the underclass man whose rank he has just passed out of, so such overseers are usually much more severe on the men than are the employers. Be at ease before a king, but mind your ways before a justice of the peace. The section boss will not listen as patiently as Chauncey M. Depew to the complaint of an ordinary daylaborer. Human nature is nowhere more in evidence than in a factory. Sympathy as emotion is quite unknown in the ordinary factory. Sympathy as justice is coming more and more into rules and regulations, and even into the statutes. Factories ordinarily are run to make money. The idea advanced by Mr. Nelson of St. Louis that money-making is a fetich, and the object of a factory is the mental, moral, or religious culture of the men, would lead most business men of to-day to distrust his sincerity or his sanity. A factory is not run to fit men for heaven, nor to teach ethics or English grammar; it is run to produce goods so that they may be sold in the markets at a profit. Grant was a great general to the extent that his temper of mind was cold, dispassionate, and just; yet he was a man of great tenderness and sympathy, but it found expression not in tears or emotion, but in rigid adherence to duty.
Overseers are accountable to employers, and all to stockholders, who look for dividends. It may be very wicked for stockholders to want dividends, but they do it, and will continue to do so for some time to come. To secure results a factory must have rigid rules; gates must be open and closed on time; time clocks must be on duty; overseers must be faithful; property that can be carried home must be watched the same as the assets of a bank under capitalistic management. The innocent suffer for the guilty. Tools are stolen, property is carried away, not by the many but by the few. The same is true in a college or in a bank. With the whole atmosphere thus economic and commercial, the immortality of the soul is quite forgotten amid the noise of machinery and the rush of
business. A man is looked upon as an economic force that must be made productive; and, unless he is productive and profitable, most overseers would discharge him with as little feeling as they would stop a squeaking machine.
Absurd results come from mixing in equations factors that are not equivalents. Religion must find fruitage in a lofty system of ethics, and this again must find expression in all of man's relations with man, whether in commercial circles, social intercourse, or in church relations. But unless religion is confined to ethics in its outward manifestations, and seeks expression through justice, we shall have such seemingly absurd equations as these:
Religion: Pulpit :: Economics : Factory .. Economic pulpit-Religious factory.
Political Science: State: Theology: Church. Politics: City :: Religion Pulpit.. Political pulpit=Religious city.
To write up a factory, a railway, or a corporation intelligently, it must be done from the standpoint of economics and ethics, in a judicial spirit, with a profound regard for facts, free from all sentimentalism and with the full knowledge that the highest form of sympathy is justice and good-will.
PRINCE KROPOTKINE has written a scientific treatise on Morality, and it is an interesting production. The Outlook (Jan. 8) has an article by him, and in its preface has this to say of him:
"Prince Kropotkine, or Peter Kropotkine, as he now calls himself, is a descendant of the royal house of the Ruriks, and it used to be said of him by his partisans of St. Petersburg that he had a better right to the Russian throne than the reigning Czar. He was born at Moscow fiftyfive years ago, was first a page at court, then an officer in the army, and next chamberlain to Czarina. Of such stock and in such environment grew up the man whose name is familiar throughout the civilized world as the great scientific exponent of Anarchism. His reputation as a scientific writer, it need hardly be said, was not achieved by his often impassioned pleas for the overthrow of all government resting on force and the establishment of purely voluntary coöperation in its stead.
"In his youth he traveled extensively, and ever since he has been an active and distinguished writer of geographical and geological works. Not until he was thirty years old, and journeying in Switzerland, did he come in contact with men who were developing the Anarchist movement. Their obvious disinterestedness and the greatness of their aims appealed strongly to him, and he shortly devoted himself with feverish activity to carrying forward the agitation in his native land. A year later he was arrested for participation in Nihilist plots, and spent the next three years
in prison. In 1876 he escaped and came to Switzerland, where he founded the paper Revolt, and assisted in extending the Anarchistic agitation in the south of France. In 1883, after an Anarchist uprising at Lyons, he was again imprisoned, but was set free after three years' imprisonment. Since 1886 he has been living in England, devoting himself to scientific writing and to agitation for his Anarchist proposals. Those who differ most widely from his philosophy cannot but recognize the nobility of the spirit which led him to abandon the position to which he was born and to labor for the equal opportunities of all."
From this introduction of the Prince to the Christian people of America, we turn to the "Cyclopedia of Social Reform," and find a half-column devoted to him as a social reformer, with no unpleasant allusion to his writings or their character.
When the anarchists were hanged in Chicago a deal of sympathy was expressed for them by such ethically amiable men as Robert T. Lincoln, William M. Salter, Colonel Ingersoll, and Henry D. Lloyd. But they were hanged by what backbone and nerve and sinew Chicago had inherited from New England ethics, and the fearful and unbelieving were silenced.
In all the utterances of the anarchists, there was the same spirit of desperation and unmorality that characterizes the writings of Prince Kropotkine, and a glance at them will reveal what Archbishop Ireland means when he says "the Anarchist is the deadly foe of order, of right, of society. He is the wild beast bent solely on destruction." In order that our readers may catch a glimpse of Kropotkine's "nobility of spirit" and the "scientific" character of his writings, we quote literally from his "Freedom Pamphlet,-No. 6."
But the inveterate enemies of thought-the government, the lawgiver, and the priest-soon recover from their defeat. By degrees they gather together their scattered forces, and remodel their faith and their code of laws to adapt them to the new needs.
Thirty years ago, the youth of Russia were passionately agitated by this very question. I will be immoral," a young Nihilist came and said to his friend, thus translating into action the thoughts that gave him no rest. "I will be immoral. And why should I not? Because the Bible wills it? But the Bible is only a collection of Babylonian and Hebrew traditions—traditions collected and put together like the Homeric poems, or as is being done still with Basque poems and Mongolian legends. Must I then go back to the state of mind of the half-civilized peoples of the East?
Must I be moral because Kant tells me of a categoric imperative, of a mysterious command which comes to me from the depths of my own being and bids me be moral? But why should this 'categoric imperative' exercise a greater authority over my actions than that other imperative, which at times may command me to get drunk?
"A word, nothing but a word, like the words 'Providence' or 'Destiny,' invented to conceal our ignorance.
"Or perhaps I am to be moral to oblige Bentham, who wants me to believe that I shall be happier if I drown to save a passer-by, who has fallen into the river, than if I watched him drown?
"Or perhaps because such has been my education? Because my mother taught me morality? Shall I then go and kneel down in a church, honor the Queen, bow before the judge I know for a scoundrel, simply because our mothers, our good-ignorant mothers, have taught us such a pack of nonsense? I am prejudiced,-like every one else. I will try to rid myself of prejudice. Even though immorality be distasteful, I will yet force myself to be immoral, as when I was a boy I forced myself to give up fearing the dark, the churchyard, ghosts and dead people-all of which I had been taught to fear.
"I will be immoral to snap a weapon abused by religion; I will do it, were it only to protest against the hypocrisy imposed upon us in the name of a word to which the name morality has been given."
Such was the way in which the youth of Russia reasoned when they broke with old-world prejudices, and unfurled this banner of Nihilist or rather of Anarchist philosophy: to bend the knee to no authority whatsoever, however respected; to accept no principle so long as it is unestablished by reason. Need we add, that after pitching into the waste-paper basket the teaching of their fathers, and burning all systems of morality, the Nihilist youth developed in their midst a nucleus of moral customs, infinitely superior to aught that their fathers had practiced under the control of the "Gospel," of the conscience, of the Categoric Imperative, or of the recognized advantage of the utilitarian. But before answering the question, Why am I to be moral? let us see if the question is well put; let us analyze the motives of human action.
We have seen that men's actions (their deliberate and conscious actions, for we speak afterwards of unconscious habits) all have the same origin. Those that are called virtuous and those that are designated as vicious, great devotions and petty knaveries, acts that attract and acts that repel, all spring from a common source. All are performed in answer to some need of the individual's nature. All have for the end the quest of pleasure, the desire to avoid pain.
Mosaic, Buddhist, Christian, and Mussulman theologians have had recourse to divine inspiration to distinguish between good and evil. They have seen that man, be he savage or civilized, ignorant or learned, perverse or kindly and honest, always knows if he is acting well or ill, especially always knows if he is acting ill; and as they have found no explanation of this general fact, they have put it down to divine inspiration. Metaphysical philosophers, on their side, have told us of conscience, of a mystic "imperative," and, after all, have changed nothing but the phrases.
But neither have known how to estimate the very simple and very striking fact that animals living in societies are also able to distinguish between good and evil, just as man does. Moreover, their conceptions of good and evil are of the same nature as those of mån. Among the best developed representatives of each separate class-fish, insects, birds, mammals-they are even identical.