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liar, and subscribe to newspapers that live upon economic falsehoods; we outlaw personal waste, and fasten profligacy upon our own government.
Plainly there is something out of joint in this condition of things, and to the serious student of social phenomena it is suggestive of a solution of continuity in moral ideas, a dislocation of principle along the line which marks the boundary between personal conduct and political thought and action. This sug. gestion must needs be disquieting when we consider what an obscure and variable line this is; at how many anxious points of one's own experience it is obliterated, so that even a groping conscience fails to trace it; how often, in the absorption of business or under the excitement of politics, good men, consciously or unconsciously, disregard the distinctions of which this faint line is intended to be the delimitation. The question naturally arises, Why should there be such a line at all? Why should political ethics allow purposes, methods, and actions which are forbidden by all codes of morals governing personal conduct ?
The question covers too much ground for an answer to be attempted in this article; but there is a subdivision of it which may be considered within the limits now available, and which is especially timely, namely, the ethical force of economic principles, regarded from the point of view occupied by those who are responsible for legislation. Under our system of government this responsibility rests first upon State legislatures and the federal Congress ; hence if, in respect to legislation, economic science creates duties, these duties devolve upon those bodies, and moral responsibility being in its nature indivisible, such duties devolve, also, upon every member of any such body. It is obvious, also, that the moral accountability of each member must be proportioned to the influence which he exerts, or is able to exert, in the consideration of measures involving economic principles and relations, and especially to the weight of his voice or example in their final decision. The responsibility here defined does not, however, rest wholly upon representatives; these are chosen by constituencies, and are more or less constrained by the views and the prejudices of voters. Even the unreasonable and unjust pretensions of local interests and the importunities of influential persons must be conformed to on pain of defeat. The civium ardor prava jubentium is not to be lightly turned aside.
Few senators or representatives would venture to realize Burke's conception of representative accountability; none would feel called upon to do so except in matters of conscience, and, unfortunately, economic legislation is not recognized generally as involving matters of conscience. Here is the core of the trouble that besets our times ; here is the chief, but a hidden, source of the social unrest, the industrial disorders, that mar the symmetry of American prosperity ; economic truth has not acquired ethical force.
In the United States, society is constructed altogether upon the industrial basis, and modern industry is a living organism framed upon a vast network of reciprocal relations and depend. encies. The currents of its life circulate with the velocity to which steam impels; electricity is its nerve-force, the sciences are its faculties, the arts constitute its members, its great heart throbs with all the productive energies of nature raised to incalculable power by the mechanical achievements of human invention. Each man or woman or child who works, each human being who contributes to the matter or to the force which together constitute the totality of our industry, sustains some relation to every other such contributor; every person is an industrial point where the capillaries of supply and of distribution coalesce; every one is incessantly emitting the products of his industry and absorbing the products of others' industries; the channels of general distribution and supply are gorged with the superfluities of all on the way to supply the deficiencies of all.
Natural laws pervade this wonderful system and sustain it. Nothing but natural law could hold its myriad forces in balanced play, guide through its mazes such masses of material, adjust to every man's back his burden of labor, bring to every mouth its daily bread.
Natural law would go further, apportioning to every man his due share of industrial opportunity and his proper dividend in the total product of wealth ; but man, voter and legislator, doctrinaire and charlatan, man in his unwisdom has presumed to interfere. Statute laws, usurping the function of natural laws and invading their sphere, have projected disorder into the machinery; the rhythm of its movements is disturbed, abnormal conditions are created, so that our wondrous resources, energies, and achievements are running abnormally to two products, millionaires and mendicants !
Natural laws, when obstructed or overborne, transfer their energy to sub-laws, and in our case such sub-laws have produced, on the one hand, corporations and trusts, on the other hand labor organizations. The first are castles and strongholds of accumulated wealth, the second are the walled cities and intrenched camps of the “producers of wealth.” Here is war where we should have peace, and where nature would have maintained peace but for man's meddling.
Outside these marshaled forces of militant industry we find great masses of workers, neither armed for conflict nor desiring it, taking no part in the hostilities, having no sympathy with either side, and yet compelled to bear the cost of each campaign. The farmers and the artisans, the small shopkeepers, the modest tradesmen, a multitude of clerks, sewing women, shop-girls, children, and aged persons suffer in pocket, or through privation, every time there is a lockout, a blow-out, a strike, or a boycott. It is trite to say that these things are the products of a too rapid expansion of industry; but, while partially true, the statement is misleading. Industry cannot expand too rapidly, but our ideas ought to expand with it. With the development of machinery the science of mechanics has become perfected; chemistry, geology, physics, have all advanced with the growth of the employments to which they minister ; but economic science has not progressed with the expansion of industry. We have not even adjusted the common law to the requirements of a society organized wholly upon reciprocal industrial relations and interactions.
A rapidly expanding industry demands absolute freedom of environment; within and beyond the peripheries it successively transcends there must be room for both the old and the new activities, scope for constantly augmenting forces, no obstruc tions, no counteractions. These conditions do not exist among us; no wonder that the old frames and casings are strained and cracked by the energies pent within them, for no strength of material can resist the force exerted by cell multiplication in natural growth.
This great expansion of industry is not quite a hundred years old; but see how it has changed the physical face of the country, the occupations of the people, their social habits.
What corresponding changes have we made in our laws, civil and criminal ? How have we adjusted conveyances of property to the accelerated movement in the transfer of ownership? What efforts have been made to modify the precedents and the practice of our courts in harmony with the new relations generated by the spirit of industry that impregnates every source of individual or corporate activity? The material gains of the century cannot be computed, its intellectual progress has been bewildering, in literature and in art there has been a veritable efforescence, science bas attained a development beyond the scope of eighteenth-century conjecture; but in economics we have stood still, nay, we have even drifted back from where our fathers were fifty years ago.
The one science of all others which can enable us to take proper account of our gain in wealth, in productive force, in commercial effectiveness ; the one science that can teach us to make this wealth a national blessing without its becoming a social curse; the one science that can enlighten us as to the duties arising out of industrial relations, and guide us in grafting a new morality upon the dead wood of the old systems, has been, and still is, neglected among us. We have passed under a new social dispensation, but the light of its gospel is denied to us. In our colleges and universities economic science has less vitality than the dead languages ; in legislatures and in Congress it has not passed beyond the stage of a superstition. Statesmen account it foolishness; to the politician it is a stumbling-block.
Surely it is time for popular attention to be aroused so that this neglected science may be brought up abreast of the age. One way of effecting this is to make an appeal to the national conscience; another way is to excite public apprehension. Inverting the order of these methods so as to reserve the nobler for the last, let it be considered how serious is the present aspect of what is called the strife between capital and labor. Who sees any remedy for the antagonism of classes ? Who proposes any basis for a truce, not to speak of permanent peace? No church in the present day dares to hold up the cross or any other symbol of peace and mutual good-will between these antagonists. The Episcopal Church puts this declaration in the mouth of every votary :
“My duty toward my neighbor is to love him as myself and to do to all men as I would they should do unto me; to love, honor, and succor my father and mother; to honor and obey the civil authority ; to submit myself to all my governors, teachers, spiritual pastors, and masters; to order myself lowly and reverently to all my betters; to hurt nobody by word or deed; to be true and just in all my dealings; to bear no malice nor hatred in my heart; to keep my hands from picking and stealing and my tongue from evil speaking, lying, and slandering; to keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity ; not to covet nor desire other men's goods, but to learn and labor truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call me."
The church that alone adheres to this formula is especially supported by those who belong to what is popularly known as the capitalist class. It either does not try, or else it has failed, to secure adherents from the “labor element” so called ; but no one imagines that any considerable number of either the one class or the other would, or in conscience could, subscribe to this as a complete statement of social duty. The old systems of morals are equally impotent to restrain the greed for gain on the one side, the fierce assertion of the rights of labor on the other. Nor do they teach that self-restraint in such matters is a duty. Industrial co-operation is of economic, not moral, parentage.
The courts have strained the chains of precedent to the point of rupture in their noble effort to clothe new-born rights in obsolete phraseology; but the new cloth threatens to rend the old garment, the new wine is bursting the old bottles. The laws of master and servant which arose in England when feudal service ceased can never be so stretched and patched as to cover the relations between a great railroad corporation or a great manufacturing concern and the thousands of “hands" borne on its pay-rolls. New laws must be devised to fit our new needs, new processes must be adopted to suit these new times, or else the courts will fall into disrepute and society will vibrate between industrial despotism and social anarchy.