By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Equality
Author: Bellamy, Edward
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Equality" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: EDWARD BELLAMY.]




Author of
Looking Backward, Dr. Heidenhoff's Process, Miss Ludington's Sister, etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

Second Edition

       *       *       *       *       *


Looking Backward was a small book, and I was not able to get into it all
I wished to say on the subject. Since it was published what was left out
of it has loomed up as so much more important than what it contained that
I have been constrained to write another book. I have taken the date of
Looking Backward, the year 2000, as that of Equality, and have utilized
the framework of the former story as a starting point for this which I
now offer. In order that those who have not read Looking Backward may be
at no disadvantage, an outline of the essential features of that story is

In the year 1887 Julian West was a rich young man living in Boston. He
was soon to be married to a young lady of wealthy family named Edith
Bartlett, and meanwhile lived alone with his man-servant Sawyer in the
family mansion. Being a sufferer from insomnia, he had caused a chamber
to be built of stone beneath the foundation of the house, which he used
for a sleeping room. When even the silence and seclusion of this retreat
failed to bring slumber, he sometimes called in a professional mesmerizer
to put him into a hypnotic sleep, from which Sawyer knew how to arouse
him at a fixed time. This habit, as well as the existence of the
underground chamber, were secrets known only to Sawyer and the hypnotist
who rendered his services. On the night of May 30, 1887, West sent for
the latter, and was put to sleep as usual. The hypnotist had previously
informed his patron that he was intending to leave the city permanently
the same evening, and referred him to other practitioners. That night the
house of Julian West took fire and was wholly destroyed. Remains
identified as those of Sawyer were found and, though no vestige of West
appeared, it was assumed that he of course had also perished.

One hundred and thirteen years later, in September, A. D. 2000, Dr.
Leete, a physician of Boston, on the retired list, was conducting
excavations in his garden for the foundations of a private laboratory,
when the workers came on a mass of masonry covered with ashes and
charcoal. On opening it, a vault, luxuriously fitted up in the style of a
nineteenth-century bedchamber, was found, and on the bed the body of a
young man looking as if he had just lain down to sleep. Although great
trees had been growing above the vault, the unaccountable preservation of
the youth's body tempted Dr. Leete to attempt resuscitation, and to his
own astonishment his efforts proved successful. The sleeper returned to
life, and after a short time to the full vigor of youth which his
appearance had indicated. His shock on learning what had befallen him was
so great as to have endangered his sanity but for the medical skill of
Dr. Leete, and the not less sympathetic ministrations of the other
members of the household, the doctor's wife, and Edith the beautiful
daughter. Presently, however, the young man forgot to wonder at what had
happened to himself in his astonishment on learning of the social
transformation through which the world had passed while he lay sleeping.
Step by step, almost as to a child, his hosts explained to him, who had
known no other way of living except the struggle for existence, what were
the simple principles of national co-operation for the promotion of the
general welfare on which the new civilization rested. He learned that
there were no longer any who were or could be richer or poorer than
others, but that all were economic equals. He learned that no one any
longer worked for another, either by compulsion or for hire, but that all
alike were in the service of the nation working for the common fund,
which all equally shared, and that even necessary personal attendance, as
of the physician, was rendered as to the state like that of the military
surgeon. All these wonders, it was explained, had very simply come about
as the results of replacing private capitalism by public capitalism, and
organizing the machinery of production and distribution, like the
political government, as business of general concern to be carried on for
the public benefit instead of private gain.

But, though it was not long before the young stranger's first
astonishment at the institutions of the new world had passed into
enthusiastic admiration and he was ready to admit that the race had for
the first time learned how to live, he presently began to repine at a
fate which had introduced him to the new world, only to leave him
oppressed by a sense of hopeless loneliness which all the kindness of his
new friends could not relieve, feeling, as he must, that it was dictated
by pity only. Then it was that he first learned that his experience had
been a yet more marvelous one than he had supposed. Edith Leete was no
other than the great-granddaughter of Edith Bartlett, his betrothed, who,
after long mourning her lost lover, had at last allowed herself to be
consoled. The story of the tragical bereavement which had shadowed her
early life was a family tradition, and among the family heirlooms were
letters from Julian West, together with a photograph which represented so
handsome a youth that Edith was illogically inclined to quarrel with her
great-grandmother for ever marrying anybody else. As for the young man's
picture, she kept it on her dressing table. Of course, it followed that
the identity of the tenant of the subterranean chamber had been fully
known to his rescuers from the moment of the discovery; but Edith, for
reasons of her own, had insisted that he should not know who she was till
she saw fit to tell him. When, at the proper time, she had seen fit to do
this, there was no further question of loneliness for the young man, for
how could destiny more unmistakably have indicated that two persons were
meant for each other?

His cup of happiness now being full, he had an experience in which it
seemed to be dashed from his lips. As he lay on his bed in Dr. Leete's
house he was oppressed by a hideous nightmare. It seemed to him that he
opened his eyes to find himself on his bed in the underground chamber
where the mesmerizer had put him to sleep. Sawyer was just completing the
passes used to break the hypnotic influence. He called for the morning
paper, and read on the date line May 31, 1887. Then he knew that all this
wonderful matter about the year 2000, its happy, care-free world of
brothers and the fair girl he had met there were but fragments of a
dream. His brain in a whirl, he went forth into the city. He saw
everything with new eyes, contrasting it with what he had seen in the
Boston of the year 2000. The frenzied folly of the competitive industrial
system, the inhuman contrasts of luxury and woe--pride and
abjectness--the boundless squalor, wretchedness, and madness of the whole
scheme of things which met his eye at every turn, outraged his reason and
made his heart sick. He felt like a sane man shut up by accident in a
madhouse. After a day of this wandering he found himself at nightfall in
a company of his former companions, who rallied him on his distraught
appearance. He told them of his dream and what it had taught him of the
possibilities of a juster, nobler, wiser social system. He reasoned with
them, showing how easy it would be, laying aside the suicidal folly of
competition, by means of fraternal co-operation, to make the actual world
as blessed as that he had dreamed of. At first they derided him, but,
seeing his earnestness, grew angry, and denounced him as a pestilent
fellow, an anarchist, an enemy of society, and drove him from them. Then
it was that, in an agony of weeping, he awoke, this time awaking really,
not falsely, and found himself in his bed in Dr. Leete's house, with the
morning sun of the twentieth century shining in his eyes. Looking from
the window of his room, he saw Edith in the garden gathering flowers for
the breakfast table, and hastened to descend to her and relate his
experience. At this point we will leave him to continue the narrative for

       *       *       *       *       *









































       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *



With many expressions of sympathy and interest Edith listened to the
story of my dream. When, finally, I had made an end, she remained musing.

"What are you thinking about?" I said.

"I was thinking," she answered, "how it would have been if your dream had
been true."

"True!" I exclaimed. "How could it have been true?"

"I mean," she said, "if it had all been a dream, as you supposed it was
in your nightmare, and you had never really seen our Republic of the
Golden Rule or me, but had only slept a night and dreamed the whole thing
about us. And suppose you had gone forth just as you did in your dream,
and had passed up and down telling men of the terrible folly and
wickedness of their way of life and how much nobler and happier a way
there was. Just think what good you might have done, how you might have
helped people in those days when they needed help so much. It seems to me
you must be almost sorry you came back to us."

"You look as if you were almost sorry yourself," I said, for her wistful
expression seemed susceptible of that interpretation.

"Oh, no," she answered, smiling. "It was only on your own account. As for
me, I have very good reasons for being glad that you came back."

"I should say so, indeed. Have you reflected that if I had dreamed it all
you would have had no existence save as a figment in the brain of a
sleeping man a hundred years ago?"

"I had not thought of that part of it," she said smiling and still half
serious; "yet if I could have been more useful to humanity as a fiction
than as a reality, I ought not to have minded the--the inconvenience."

But I replied that I greatly feared no amount of opportunity to help
mankind in general would have reconciled me to life anywhere or under any
conditions after leaving her behind in a dream--a confession of shameless
selfishness which she was pleased to pass over without special rebuke, in
consideration, no doubt, of my unfortunate bringing up.

"Besides," I resumed, being willing a little further to vindicate myself,
"it would not have done any good. I have just told you how in my
nightmare last night, when I tried to tell my contemporaries and even my
best friends about the nobler way men might live together, they derided
me as a fool and madman. That is exactly what they would have done in
reality had the dream been true and I had gone about preaching as in the
case you supposed."

"Perhaps a few might at first have acted as you dreamed they did," she
replied. "Perhaps they would not at once have liked the idea of economic
equality, fearing that it might mean a leveling down for them, and not
understanding that it would presently mean a leveling up of all together
to a vastly higher plane of life and happiness, of material welfare and
moral dignity than the most fortunate had ever enjoyed. But even if the
rich had at first mistaken you for an enemy to their class, the poor, the
great masses of the poor, the real nation, they surely from the first
would have listened as for their lives, for to them your story would have
meant glad tidings of great joy."

"I do not wonder that you think so," I answered, "but, though I am still
learning the A B C of this new world, I knew my contemporaries, and I
know that it would not have been as you fancy. The poor would have
listened no better than the rich, for, though poor and rich in my day
were at bitter odds in everything else, they were agreed in believing
that there must always be rich and poor, and that a condition of material
equality was impossible. It used to be commonly said, and it often seemed
true, that the social reformer who tried to better the condition of the
people found a more discouraging obstacle in the hopelessness of the
masses he would raise than in the active resistance of the few, whose
superiority was threatened. And indeed, Edith, to be fair to my own
class, I am bound to say that with the best of the rich it was often as
much this same hopelessness as deliberate selfishness that made them what
we used to call conservative. So you see, it would have done no good even
if I had gone to preaching as you fancied. The poor would have regarded
my talk about the possibility of an equality of wealth as a fairy tale,
not worth a laboring man's time to listen to. Of the rich, the baser sort
would have mocked and the better sort would have sighed, but none would
have given ear seriously."

But Edith smiled serenely.

"It seems very audacious for me to try to correct your impressions of
your own contemporaries and of what they might be expected to think and
do, but you see the peculiar circumstances give me a rather unfair
advantage. Your knowledge of your times necessarily stops short with
1887, when you became oblivious of the course of events. I, on the other
hand, having gone to school in the twentieth century, and been obliged,
much against my will, to study nineteenth-century history, naturally know
what happened after the date at which your knowledge ceased. I know,
impossible as it may seem to you, that you had scarcely fallen into that
long sleep before the American people began to be deeply and widely
stirred with aspirations for an equal order such as we enjoy, and that
very soon the political movement arose which, after various mutations,
resulted early in the twentieth century in overthrowing the old system
and setting up the present one."

This was indeed interesting information to me, but when I began to
question Edith further, she sighed and shook her head.

"Having tried to show my superior knowledge, I must now confess my
ignorance. All I know is the bare fact that the revolutionary movement
began, as I said, very soon after you fell asleep. Father must tell you
the rest. I might as well admit while I am about it, for you would soon
find it out, that I know almost nothing either as to the Revolution or
nineteenth-century matters generally. You have no idea how hard I have
been trying to post myself on the subject so as to be able to talk
intelligently with you, but I fear it is of no use. I could not
understand it in school and can not seem to understand it any better now.
More than ever this morning I am sure that I never shall. Since you have
been telling me how the old world appeared to you in that dream, your
talk has brought those days so terribly near that I can almost see them,
and yet I can not say that they seem a bit more intelligible than

"Things were bad enough and black enough certainly," I said; "but I don't
see what there was particularly unintelligible about them. What is the

"The main difficulty comes from the complete lack of agreement between
the pretensions of your contemporaries about the way their society was
organized and the actual facts as given in the histories."

"For example?" I queried.

"I don't suppose there is much use in trying to explain my trouble," she
said. "You will only think me stupid for my pains, but I'll try to make
you see what I mean. You ought to be able to clear up the matter if
anybody can. You have just been telling me about the shockingly unequal
conditions of the people, the contrasts of waste and want, the pride and
power of the rich, the abjectness and servitude of the poor, and all the
rest of the dreadful story."


"It appears that these contrasts were almost as great as at any previous
period of history."

"It is doubtful," I replied, "if there was ever a greater disparity
between the conditions of different classes than you would find in a half
hour's walk in Boston, New York, Chicago, or any other great city of
America in the last quarter of the nineteenth century."

"And yet," said Edith, "it appears from all the books that meanwhile the
Americans' great boast was that they differed from all other and former
nations in that they were free and equal. One is constantly coming upon
this phrase in the literature of the day. Now, you have made it clear
that they were neither free nor equal in any ordinary sense of the word,
but were divided as mankind had always been before into rich and poor,
masters and servants. Won't you please tell me, then, what they meant by
calling themselves free and equal?"

"It was meant, I suppose, that they were all equal before the law."

"That means in the courts. And were the rich and poor equal in the
courts? Did they receive the same treatment?"

"I am bound to say," I replied, "that they were nowhere else more
unequal. The law applied in terms to all alike, but not in fact. There
was more difference in the position of the rich and the poor man before
the law than in any other respect. The rich were practically above the
law, the poor under its wheels."

"In what respect, then, were the rich and poor equal?"

"They were said to be equal in opportunities."

"Opportunities for what?"

"For bettering themselves, for getting rich, for getting ahead of others
in the struggle for wealth."

"It seems to me that only meant, if it were true, not that all were
equal, but that all had an equal chance to make themselves unequal. But
was it true that all had equal opportunities for getting rich and
bettering themselves?"

"It may have been so to some extent at one time when the country was
new," I replied, "but it was no more so in my day. Capital had
practically monopolized all economic opportunities by that time; there
was no opening in business enterprise for those without large capital
save by some extraordinary fortune."

"But surely," said Edith, "there must have been, in order to give at
least a color to all this boasting about equality, some one respect in
which the people were really equal?"

"Yes, there was. They were political equals. They all had one vote alike,
and the majority was the supreme lawgiver."

"So the books say, but that only makes the actual condition of things
more absolutely unaccountable."

"Why so?"

"Why, because if these people all had an equal voice in the
government--these toiling, starving, freezing, wretched masses of the
poor--why did they not without a moment's delay put an end to the
inequalities from which they suffered?"

"Very likely," she added, as I did not at once reply, "I am only showing
how stupid I am by saying this. Doubtless I am overlooking some important
fact, but did you not say that all the people, at least all the men, had
a voice in the government?"

"Certainly; by the latter part of the nineteenth century manhood suffrage
had become practically universal in America."

"That is to say, the people through their chosen agents made all the
laws. Is that what you mean?"


"But I remember you had Constitutions of the nation and of the States.
Perhaps they prevented the people from doing quite what they wished."

"No; the Constitutions were only a little more fundamental sort of laws.
The majority made and altered them at will. The people were the sole and
supreme final power, and their will was absolute."

"If, then, the majority did not like any existing arrangement, or think
it to their advantage, they could change it as radically as they wished?"

"Certainly; the popular majority could do anything if it was large and
determined enough."

"And the majority, I understand, were the poor, not the rich--the ones
who had the wrong side of the inequalities that prevailed?"

"Emphatically so; the rich were but a handful comparatively."

"Then there was nothing whatever to prevent the people at any time, if
they just willed it, from making an end of their sufferings and
organizing a system like ours which would guarantee their equality and

"Nothing whatever."

"Then once more I ask you to kindly tell me why, in the name of common
sense, they didn't do it at once and be happy instead of making a
spectacle of themselves so woeful that even a hundred years after it
makes us cry?"

"Because," I replied, "they were taught and believed that the regulation
of industry and commerce and the production and distribution of wealth
was something wholly outside of the proper province of government."

"But, dear me, Julian, life itself and everything that meanwhile makes
life worth living, from the satisfaction of the most primary physical
needs to the gratification of the most refined tastes, all that belongs
to the development of mind as well as body, depend first, last, and
always on the manner in which the production and distribution of wealth
is regulated. Surely that must have been as true in your day as ours."

"Of course."

"And yet you tell me, Julian, that the people, after having abolished the
rule of kings and taken the supreme power of regulating their affairs
into their own hands, deliberately consented to exclude from their
jurisdiction the control of the most important, and indeed the only
really important, class of their interests."

"Do not the histories say so?"

"They do say so, and that is precisely why I could never believe them.
The thing seemed so incomprehensible I thought there must be some way of
explaining it. But tell me, Julian, seeing the people did not think that
they could trust themselves to regulate their own industry and the
distribution of the product, to whom did they leave the responsibility?"

"To the capitalists."

"And did the people elect the capitalists?"

"Nobody elected them."

"By whom, then, were they appointed?"

"Nobody appointed them."

"What a singular system! Well, if nobody elected or appointed them, yet
surely they must have been accountable to somebody for the manner in
which they exercised powers on which the welfare and very existence of
everybody depended."

"On the contrary, they were accountable to nobody and nothing but their
own consciences."

"Their consciences! Ah, I see! You mean that they were so benevolent, so
unselfish, so devoted to the public good, that people tolerated their
usurpation out of gratitude. The people nowadays would not endure the
irresponsible rule even of demigods, but probably it was different in
your day."

"As an ex-capitalist myself, I should be pleased to confirm your surmise,
but nothing could really be further from the fact. As to any benevolent
interest in the conduct of industry and commerce, the capitalists
expressly disavowed it. Their only object was to secure the greatest
possible gain for themselves without any regard whatever to the welfare
of the public."

"Dear me! Dear me! Why you make out these capitalists to have been even
worse than the kings, for the kings at least professed to govern for the
welfare of their people, as fathers acting for children, and the good
ones did try to. But the capitalists, you say, did not even pretend to
feel any responsibility for the welfare of their subjects?"

"None whatever."

"And, if I understand," pursued Edith, "this government of the
capitalists was not only without moral sanction of any sort or plea of
benevolent intentions, but was practically an economic failure--that is,
it did not secure the prosperity of the people."

"What I saw in my dream last night," I replied, "and have tried to tell
you this morning, gives but a faint suggestion of the misery of the world
under capitalist rule."

Edith meditated in silence for some moments. Finally she said: "Your
contemporaries were not madmen nor fools; surely there is something you
have not told me; there must be some explanation or at least color of
excuse why the people not only abdicated the power of controling their
most vital and important interests, but turned them over to a class which
did not even pretend any interest in their welfare, and whose government
completely failed to secure it."

"Oh, yes," I said, "there was an explanation, and a very fine-sounding
one. It was in the name of individual liberty, industrial freedom, and
individual initiative that the economic government of the country was
surrendered to the capitalists."

"Do you mean that a form of government which seems to have been the most
irresponsible and despotic possible was defended in the name of liberty?"

"Certainly; the liberty of economic initiative by the individual."

"But did you not just tell me that economic initiative and business
opportunity in your day were practically monopolized by the capitalists

"Certainly. It was admitted that there was no opening for any but
capitalists in business, and it was rapidly becoming so that only the
greatest of the capitalists themselves had any power of initiative."

"And yet you say that the reason given for abandoning industry to
capitalist government was the promotion of industrial freedom and
individual initiative among the people at large."

"Certainly. The people were taught that they would individually enjoy
greater liberty and freedom of action in industrial matters under the
dominion of the capitalists than if they collectively conducted the
industrial system for their own benefit; that the capitalists would,
moreover, look out for their welfare more wisely and kindly than they
could possibly do it themselves, so that they would be able to provide
for themselves more bountifully out of such portion of their product as
the capitalists might be disposed to give them than they possibly could
do if they became their own employers and divided the whole product among

"But that was mere mockery; it was adding insult to injury."

"It sounds so, doesn't it? But I assure you it was considered the
soundest sort of political economy in my time. Those who questioned it
were set down as dangerous visionaries."

"But I suppose the people's government, the government they voted for,
must have done something. There must have been some odds and ends of
things which the capitalists left the political government to attend to."

"Oh, yes, indeed. It had its hands full keeping the peace among the
people. That was the main part of the business of political governments
in my day."

"Why did the peace require such a great amount of keeping? Why didn't it
keep itself, as it does now?"

"On account of the inequality of conditions which prevailed. The strife
for wealth and desperation of want kept in quenchless blaze a hell of
greed and envy, fear, lust, hate, revenge, and every foul passion of the
pit. To keep this general frenzy in some restraint, so that the entire
social system should not resolve itself into a general massacre, required
an army of soldiers, police, judges, and jailers, and endless law-making
to settle the quarrels. Add to these elements of discord a horde of
outcasts degraded and desperate, made enemies of society by their
sufferings and requiring to be kept in check, and you will readily admit
there was enough for the people's government to do."

"So far as I can see," said Edith, "the main business of the people's
government was to struggle with the social chaos which resulted from its
failure to take hold of the economic system and regulate it on a basis of

"That is exactly so. You could not state the whole case more adequately
if you wrote a book."

"Beyond protecting the capitalist system from its own effects, did the
political government do absolutely nothing?"

"Oh, yes, it appointed postmasters and tidewaiters, maintained an army
and navy, and picked quarrels with foreign countries."

"I should say that the right of a citizen to have a voice in a government
limited to the range of functions you have mentioned would scarcely have
seemed to him of much value."

"I believe the average price of votes in close elections in America in my
time was about two dollars."

"Dear me, so much as that!" said Edith. "I don't know exactly what the
value of money was in your day, but I should say the price was rather

"I think you are right," I answered. "I used to give in to the talk about
the pricelessness of the right of suffrage, and the denunciation of those
whom any stress of poverty could induce to sell it for money, but from
the point of view to which you have brought me this morning I am inclined
to think that the fellows who sold their votes had a far clearer idea of
the sham of our so-called popular government, as limited to the class of
functions I have described, than any of the rest of us did, and that if
they were wrong it was, as you suggest, in asking too high a price."

"But who paid for the votes?"

"You are a merciless cross-examiner," I said. "The classes which had an
interest in controling the government--that is, the capitalists and the
office-seekers--did the buying. The capitalists advanced the money
necessary to procure the election of the office-seekers on the
understanding that when elected the latter should do what the capitalists
wanted. But I ought not to give you the impression that the bulk of the
votes were bought outright. That would have been too open a confession of
the sham of popular government as well as too expensive. The money
contributed by the capitalists to procure the election of the
office-seekers was mainly expended to influence the people by indirect
means. Immense sums under the name of campaign funds were raised for this
purpose and used in innumerable devices, such as fireworks, oratory,
processions, brass bands, barbecues, and all sorts of devices, the object
of which was to galvanize the people to a sufficient degree of interest
in the election to go through the motion of voting. Nobody who has not
actually witnessed a nineteenth-century American election could even
begin to imagine the grotesqueness of the spectacle."

"It seems, then," said Edith, "that the capitalists not only carried on
the economic government as their special province, but also practically
managed the machinery of the political government as well."

"Oh, yes, the capitalists could not have got along at all without control
of the political government. Congress, the Legislatures, and the city
councils were quite necessary as instruments for putting through their
schemes. Moreover, in order to protect themselves and their property
against popular outbreaks, it was highly needful that they should have
the police, the courts, and the soldiers devoted to their interests, and
the President, Governors, and mayors at their beck."

"But I thought the President, the Governors, and Legislatures represented
the people who voted for them."

"Bless your heart! no, why should they? It was to the capitalists and not
to the people that they owed the opportunity of officeholding. The people
who voted had little choice for whom they should vote. That question was
determined by the political party organizations, which were beggars to
the capitalists for pecuniary support. No man who was opposed to
capitalist interests was permitted the opportunity as a candidate to
appeal to the people. For a public official to support the people's
interest as against that of the capitalists would be a sure way of
sacrificing his career. You must remember, if you would understand how
absolutely the capitalists controled the Government, that a President,
Governor, or mayor, or member of the municipal, State, or national
council, was only temporarily a servant of the people or dependent on
their favour. His public position he held only from election to election,
and rarely long. His permanent, lifelong, and all-controling interest,
like that of us all, was his livelihood, and that was dependent, not on
the applause of the people, but the favor and patronage of capital, and
this he could not afford to imperil in the pursuit of the bubbles of
popularity. These circumstances, even if there had been no instances of
direct bribery, sufficiently explained why our politicians and
officeholders with few exceptions were vassals and tools of the
capitalists. The lawyers, who, on account of the complexities of our
system, were almost the only class competent for public business, were
especially and directly dependent upon the patronage of the great
capitalistic interests for their living."

"But why did not the people elect officials and representatives of their
own class, who would look out for the interests of the masses?"

"There was no assurance that they would be more faithful. Their very
poverty would make them the more liable to money temptation; and the
poor, you must remember, although so much more pitiable, were not morally
any better than the rich. Then, too--and that was the most important
reason why the masses of the people, who were poor, did not send men of
their class to represent them--poverty as a rule implied ignorance, and
therefore practical inability, even where the intention was good. As soon
as the poor man developed intelligence he had every temptation to desert
his class and seek the patronage of capital."

Edith remained silent and thoughtful for some moments.

"Really," she said, finally, "it seems that the reason I could not
understand the so-called popular system of government in your day is that
I was trying to find out what part the people had in it, and it appears
that they had no part at all."

"You are getting on famously," I exclaimed. "Undoubtedly the confusion of
terms in our political system is rather calculated to puzzle one at
first, but if you only grasp firmly the vital point that the rule of the
rich, the supremacy of capital and its interests, as against those of the
people at large, was the central principle of our system, to which every
other interest was made subservient, you will have the key that clears up
every mystery."



Absorbed in our talk, we had not heard the steps of Dr. Leete as he

"I have been watching you for ten minutes from the house," he said,
"until, in fact, I could no longer resist the desire to know what you
find so interesting."

"Your daughter," said I, "has been proving herself a mistress of the
Socratic method. Under a plausible pretext of gross ignorance, she has
been asking me a series of easy questions, with the result that I see as
I never imagined it before the colossal sham of our pretended popular
government in America. As one of the rich I knew, of course, that we had
a great deal of power in the state, but I did not before realize how
absolutely the people were without influence in their own government."

"Aha!" exclaimed the doctor in great glee, "so my daughter gets up early
in the morning with the design of supplanting her father in his position
of historical instructor?"

Edith had risen from the garden bench on which we had been seated and was
arranging her flowers to take into the house. She shook her head rather
gravely in reply to her father's challenge.

"You need not be at all apprehensive," she said; "Julian has quite cured
me this morning of any wish I might have had to inquire further into the
condition of our ancestors. I have always been dreadfully sorry for the
poor people of that day on account of the misery they endured from
poverty and the oppression of the rich. Henceforth, however, I wash my
hands of them and shall reserve my sympathy for more deserving objects."

"Dear me!" said the doctor, "what has so suddenly dried up the fountains
of your pity? What has Julian been telling you?"

"Nothing, really, I suppose, that I had not read before and ought to have
known, but the story always seemed so unreasonable and incredible that I
never quite believed it until now. I thought there must be some modifying
facts not set down in the histories."

"But what is this that he has been telling you?"

"It seems," said Edith, "that these very people, these very masses of the
poor, had all the time the supreme control of the Government and were
able, if determined and united, to put an end at any moment to all the
inequalities and oppressions of which they complained and to equalize
things as we have done. Not only did they not do this, but they gave as a
reason for enduring their bondage that their liberties would be
endangered unless they had irresponsible masters to manage their
interests, and that to take charge of their own affairs would imperil
their freedom. I feel that I have been cheated out of all the tears I
have shed over the sufferings of such people. Those who tamely endure
wrongs which they have the power to end deserve not compassion but
contempt. I have felt a little badly that Julian should have been one of
the oppressor class, one of the rich. Now that I really understand the
matter, I am glad. I fear that, had he been one of the poor, one of the
mass of real masters, who with supreme power in their hands consented to
be bondsmen, I should have despised him."

Having thus served formal notice on my contemporaries that they must
expect no more sympathy from her, Edith went into the house, leaving me
with a vivid impression that if the men of the twentieth century should
prove incapable of preserving their liberties, the women might be trusted
to do so.

"Really, doctor," I said, "you ought to be greatly obliged to your
daughter. She has saved you lots of time and effort."

"How so, precisely?"

"By rendering it unnecessary for you to trouble yourself to explain to me
any further how and why you came to set up your nationalized industrial
system and your economic equality. If you have ever seen a desert or sea
mirage, you remember that, while the picture in the sky is very clear and
distinct in itself, its unreality is betrayed by a lack of detail, a sort
of blur, where it blends with the foreground on which you are standing.
Do you know that this new social order of which I have so strangely
become a witness has hitherto had something of this mirage effect? In
itself it is a scheme precise, orderly, and very reasonable, but I could
see no way by which it could have naturally grown out of the utterly
different conditions of the nineteenth century. I could only imagine that
this world transformation must have been the result of new ideas and
forces that had come into action since my day. I had a volume of
questions all ready to ask you on the subject, but now we shall be able
to use the time in talking of other things, for Edith has shown me in ten
minutes' time that the only wonderful thing about your organization of
the industrial system as public business is not that it has taken place,
but that it waited so long before taking place, that a nation of rational
beings consented to remain economic serfs of irresponsible masters for
more than a century after coming into possession of absolute power to
change at pleasure all social institutions which inconvenienced them."

"Really," said the doctor, "Edith has shown herself a very efficient
teacher, if an involuntary one. She has succeeded at one stroke in giving
you the modern point of view as to your period. As we look at it, the
immortal preamble of the American Declaration of Independence, away back
in 1776, logically contained the entire statement of the doctrine of
universal economic equality guaranteed by the nation collectively to its
members individually. You remember how the words run:

"'We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created
equal, with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights
governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes
destructive of these rights it is the right of the people to alter or to
abolish it and institute a new government, laying its foundations on such
principles and organizing its powers in such form as may seem most likely
to effect their safety and happiness.'

"Is it possible, Julian, to imagine any governmental system less adequate
than ours which could possibly realize this great ideal of what a true
people's government should be? The corner stone of our state is economic
equality, and is not that the obvious, necessary, and only adequate
pledge of these three birthrights--life, liberty, and happiness? What is
life without its material basis, and what is an equal right to life but a
right to an equal material basis for it? What is liberty? How can men be
free who must ask the right to labor and to live from their fellow-men
and seek their bread from the hands of others? How else can any
government guarantee liberty to men save by providing them a means of
labor and of life coupled with independence; and how could that be done
unless the government conducted the economic system upon which employment
and maintenance depend? Finally, what is implied in the equal right of
all to the pursuit of happiness? What form of happiness, so far as it
depends at all on material facts, is not bound up with economic
conditions; and how shall an equal opportunity for the pursuit of
happiness be guaranteed to all save by a guarantee of economic equality?"

"Yes," I said, "it is indeed all there, but why were we so long in seeing

"Let us make ourselves comfortable on this bench," said the doctor, "and
I will tell you what is the modern answer to the very interesting
question you raise. At first glance, certainly the delay of the world in
general, and especially of the American people, to realize that democracy
logically meant the substitution of popular government for the rule of
the rich in regulating the production and distribution of wealth seems
incomprehensible, not only because it was so plain an inference from the
idea of popular government, but also because it was one which the masses
of the people were so directly interested in carrying out. Edith's
conclusion that people who were not capable of so simple a process of
reasoning as that did not deserve much sympathy for the afflictions they
might so easily have remedied, is a very natural first impression.

"On reflection, however, I think we shall conclude that the time taken by
the world in general and the Americans in particular in finding out the
full meaning of democracy as an economic as well as a political
proposition was not greater than might have been expected, considering
the vastness of the conclusions involved. It is the democratic idea that
all human beings are peers in rights and dignity, and that the sole just
excuse and end of human governments is, therefore, the maintenance and
furtherance of the common welfare on equal terms. This idea was the
greatest social conception that the human mind had up to that time ever
formed. It contained, when first conceived, the promise and potency of a
complete transformation of all then existing social institutions, one and
all of which had hitherto been based and formed on the principle of
personal and class privilege and authority and the domination and selfish
use of the many by the few. But it was simply inconsistent with the
limitations of the human intellect that the implications of an idea so
prodigious should at once have been taken in. The idea must absolutely
have time to grow. The entire present order of economic democracy and
equality was indeed logically bound up in the first full statement of the
democratic idea, but only as the full-grown tree is in the seed: in the
one case, as in the other, time was an essential element in the evolution
of the result.

"We divide the history of the evolution of the democratic idea into two
broadly contrasted phases. The first of these we call the phase of
negative democracy. To understand it we must consider how the democratic
idea originated. Ideas are born of previous ideas and are long in
outgrowing the characteristics and limitations impressed on them by the
circumstances under which they came into existence. The idea of popular
government, in the case of America as in previous republican experiments
in general, was a protest against royal government and its abuses.
Nothing is more certain than that the signers of the immortal Declaration
had no idea that democracy necessarily meant anything more than a device
for getting along without kings. They conceived of it as a change in the
forms of government only, and not at all in the principles and purposes
of government.

"They were not, indeed, wholly without misgivings lest it might some time
occur to the sovereign people that, being sovereign, it would be a good
idea to use their sovereignty to improve their own condition. In fact,
they seem to have given some serious thought to that possibility, but so
little were they yet able to appreciate the logic and force of the
democratic idea that they believed it possible by ingenious clauses in
paper Constitutions to prevent the people from using their power to help
themselves even if they should wish to.

"This first phase of the evolution of democracy, during which it was
conceived of solely as a substitute for royalty, includes all the
so-called republican experiments up to the beginning of the twentieth
century, of which, of course, the American Republic was the most
important. During this period the democratic idea remained a mere protest
against a previous form of government, absolutely without any new
positive or vital principle of its own. Although the people had deposed
the king as driver of the social chariot, and taken the reins into their
own hands, they did not think as yet of anything but keeping the vehicle
in the old ruts and naturally the passengers scarcely noticed the change.

"The second phase in the evolution of the democratic idea began with the
awakening of the people to the perception that the deposing of kings,
instead of being the main end and mission of democracy, was merely
preliminary to its real programme, which was the use of the collective
social machinery for the indefinite promotion of the welfare of the
people at large.

"It is an interesting fact that the people began to think of applying
their political power to the improvement of their material condition in
Europe earlier than in America, although democratic forms had found much
less acceptance there. This was, of course, on account of the perennial
economic distress of the masses in the old countries, which prompted them
to think first about the bearing any new idea might have on the question
of livelihood. On the other hand, the general prosperity of the masses in
America and the comparative ease of making a living up to the beginning
of the last quarter of the nineteenth century account for the fact that
it was not till then that the American people began to think seriously of
improving their economic condition by collective action.

"During the negative phase of democracy it had been considered as
differing from monarchy only as two machines might differ, the general
use and purpose of which were the same. With the evolution of the
democratic idea into the second or positive phase, it was recognized that
the transfer of the supreme power from king and nobles to people meant
not merely a change in the forms of government, but a fundamental
revolution in the whole idea of government, its motives, purposes, and
functions--a revolution equivalent to a reversal of polarity of the
entire social system, carrying, so to speak, the entire compass card with
it, and making north south, and east west. Then was seen what seems so
plain to us that it is hard to understand why it was not always seen,
that instead of its being proper for the sovereign people to confine
themselves to the functions which the kings and classes had discharged
when they were in power, the presumption was, on the contrary, since the
interest of kings and classes had always been exactly opposed to those of
the people, that whatever the previous governments had done, the people
as rulers ought not to do, and whatever the previous governments had not
done, it would be presumably for the interest of the people to do; and
that the main use and function of popular government was properly one
which no previous government had ever paid any attention to, namely, the
use of the power of the social organization to raise the material and
moral welfare of the whole body of the sovereign people to the highest
possible point at which the same degree of welfare could be secured to
all--that is to say, an equal level. The democracy of the second or
positive phase triumphed in the great Revolution, and has since been the
only form of government known in the world."

"Which amounts to saying," I observed, "that there never was a democratic
government properly so called before the twentieth century."

"Just so," assented the doctor. "The so-called republics of the first
phase we class as pseudo-republics or negative democracies. They were
not, of course, in any sense, truly popular governments at all, but
merely masks for plutocracy, under which the rich were the real though
irresponsible rulers! You will readily see that they could have been
nothing else. The masses from the beginning of the world had been the
subjects and servants of the rich, but the kings had been above the rich,
and constituted a check on their dominion. The overthrow of the kings
left no check at all on the power of the rich, which became supreme. The
people, indeed, nominally were sovereigns; but as these sovereigns were
individually and as a class the economic serfs of the rich, and lived
at their mercy, the so-called popular government became the mere
stalking-horse of the capitalists.

"Regarded as necessary steps in the evolution of society from pure
monarchy to pure democracy, these republics of the negative phase mark a
stage of progress; but if regarded as finalities they were a type far
less admirable on the whole than decent monarchies. In respect especially
to their susceptibility to corruption and plutocratic subversion they
were the worst kind of government possible. The nineteenth century,
during which this crop of pseudo-democracies ripened for the sickle of
the great Revolution, seems to the modern view nothing but a dreary
interregnum of nondescript, _faineant_ government intervening
between the decadence of virile monarchy in the eighteenth century and
the rise of positive democracy in the twentieth. The period may be
compared to that of the minority of a king, during which the royal power
is abused by wicked stewards. The people had been proclaimed as
sovereign, but they had not yet assumed the sceptre."

"And yet," said I, "during the latter part of the nineteenth century,
when, as you say, the world had not yet seen a single specimen of popular
government, our wise men were telling us that the democratic system had
been fully tested and was ready to be judged on its results. Not a few of
them, indeed, went so far as to say that the democratic experiment had
proved a failure when, in point of fact, it seems that no experiment in
democracy, properly understood, had as yet ever been so much as

The doctor shrugged his shoulders.

"It is a very sympathetic task," he said, "to explain the slowness of the
masses in feeling their way to a comprehension of all that the democratic
idea meant for them, but it is one equally difficult and thankless to
account for the blank failure of the philosophers, historians, and
statesmen of your day to arrive at an intelligent estimate of the logical
content of democracy and to forecast its outcome. Surely the very
smallness of the practical results thus far achieved by the democratic
movement as compared with the magnitude of its proposition and the forces
behind it ought to have suggested to them that its evolution was yet but
in the first stage. How could intelligent men delude themselves with the
notion that the most portentous and revolutionary idea of all time had
exhausted its influence and fulfilled its mission in changing the title
of the executive of a nation from king to President, and the name of the
national Legislature from Parliament to Congress? If your pedagogues,
college professors and presidents, and others who were responsible for
your education, had been worth their salt, you would have found nothing
in the present order of economic equality that would in the least have
surprised you. You would have said at once that it was just what you had
been taught must necessarily be the next phase in the inevitable
evolution of the democratic idea."

Edith beckoned from the door and we rose from our seat.

"The revolutionary party in the great Revolution," said the doctor, as we
sauntered toward the house, "carried on the work of agitation and
propaganda under various names more or less grotesque and ill-fitting as
political party names were apt to be, but the one word democracy, with
its various equivalents and derivatives, more accurately and completely
expressed, explained, and justified their method, reason, and purpose
than a library of books could do. The American people fancied that they
had set up a popular government when they separated from England, but
they were deluded. In conquering the political power formerly exercised
by the king, the people had but taken the outworks of the fortress of
tyranny. The economic system which was the citadel and commanded every
part of the social structure remained in possession of private and
irresponsible rulers, and so long as it was so held, the possession of
the outworks was of no use to the people, and only retained by the
sufferance of the garrison of the citadel. The Revolution came when the
people saw that they must either take the citadel or evacuate the
outworks. They must either complete the work of establishing popular
government which had been barely begun by their fathers, or abandon all
that their fathers had accomplished."



On going into breakfast the ladies met us with a highly interesting piece
of intelligence which they had found in the morning's news. It was, in
fact, nothing less than an announcement of action taken by the United
States Congress in relation to myself. A resolution had, it appeared,
been unanimously passed which, after reciting the facts of my
extraordinary return to life, proceeded to clear up any conceivable
question that might arise as to my legal status by declaring me an
American citizen in full standing and entitled to all a citizen's rights
and immunities, but at the same time a guest of the nation, and as such
free of the duties and services incumbent upon citizens in general except
as I might choose to assume them.

Secluded as I had been hitherto in the Leete household, this was almost
the first intimation I had the public in my case. That interest, I was
now informed, had passed beyond my personality and was already producing
a general revival of the study of nineteenth-century literature and
politics, and especially of the history and philosophy of the transition
period, when the old order passed into the new.

"The fact is," said the doctor, "the nation has only discharged a debt of
gratitude in making you its guest, for you have already done more for our
educational interests by promoting historical study than a regiment of
instructors could achieve in a lifetime."

Recurring to the topic of the congressional resolution, the doctor said
that, in his opinion, it was superfluous, for though I had certainly
slept on my rights as a citizen rather an extraordinary length of time,
there was no ground on which I could be argued to have forfeited any of
them. However that might be, seeing the resolution left no doubt as to my
status, he suggested that the first thing we did after breakfast should
be to go down to the National Bank and open my citizen's account.

"Of course," I said, as we left the house, "I am glad to be relieved of
the necessity of being a pensioner on you any longer, but I confess I
feel a little cheap about accepting as a gift this generous provision of
the nation."

"My dear Julian," replied the doctor, "it is sometimes a little difficult
for me to quite get your point of view of our institutions."

"I should think it ought to be easy enough in this case. I feel as if I
were an object of public charity."

"Ah!" said the doctor, "you feel that the nation has done you a favor,
laid you under an obligation. You must excuse my obtuseness, but the fact
is we look at this matter of the economic provision for citizens from an
entirely different standpoint. It seems to us that in claiming and
accepting your citizen's maintenance you perform a civic duty,
whereby you put the nation--that is, the general body of your
fellow-citizens--under rather more obligation than you incur."

I turned to see if the doctor were not jesting, but he was evidently
quite serious.

"I ought by this time to be used to finding that everything goes by
contraries in these days," I said, "but really, by what inversion of
common sense, as it was understood in the nineteenth century, do you make
out that by accepting a pecuniary provision from the nation I oblige it
more than it obliges me?"

"I think it will be easy to make you see that," replied the doctor,
"without requiring you to do any violence to the methods of reasoning to
which your contemporaries were accustomed. You used to have, I believe, a
system of gratuitous public education maintained by the state."


"What was the idea of it?"

"That a citizen was not a safe voter without education."

"Precisely so. The state therefore at great expense provided free
education for the people. It was greatly for the advantage of the citizen
to accept this education just as it is for you to accept this provision,
but it was still more for the interest of the state that the citizen
should accept it. Do you see the point?"

"I can see that it is the interest of the state that I should accept an
education, but not exactly why it is for the state's interest that I
should accept a share of the public wealth."

"Nevertheless it is the same reason, namely, the public interest in good
government. We hold it to be a self-evident principle that every one who
exercises the suffrage should not only be educated, but should have a
stake in the country, in order that self-interest may be identified with
public interest. As the power exercised by every citizen through the
suffrage is the same, the economic stake should be the same, and so you
see we come to the reason why the public safety requires that you should
loyally accept your equal stake in the country quite apart from the
personal advantage you derive by doing so."

"Do you know," I said, "that this idea of yours, that every one who votes
should have an economic stake in the country, is one which our rankest
Tories were very fond of insisting on, but the practical conclusion they
drew from it was diametrically opposed to that which you draw? They would
have agreed with you on the axiom that political power and economic stake
in the country should go together, but the practical application they
made of it was negative instead of positive. You argue that because an
economic interest in the country should go with the suffrage, all who
have the suffrage should have that interest guaranteed them. They argued,
on the contrary, that from all who had not the economic stake the
suffrage should be taken away. There were not a few of my friends who
maintained that some such limitation of the suffrage was needed to save
the democratic experiment from failure."

"That is to say," observed the doctor, "it was proposed to save the
democratic experiment by abandoning it. It was an ingenious thought, but
it so happened that democracy was not an experiment which could be
abandoned, but an evolution which must be fulfilled. In what a striking
manner does that talk of your contemporaries about limiting the suffrage
to correspond with the economic position of citizens illustrate the
failure of even the most intelligent classes in your time to grasp the
full significance of the democratic faith which they professed! The
primal principle of democracy is the worth and dignity of the individual.
That dignity, consisting in the quality of human nature, is essentially
the same in all individuals, and therefore equality is the vital
principle of democracy. To this intrinsic and equal dignity of the
individual all material conditions must be made subservient, and personal
accidents and attributes subordinated. The raising up of the human being
without respect of persons is the constant and only rational motive of
the democratic policy. Contrast with this conception that precious notion
of your contemporaries as to restricting suffrage. Recognizing the
material disparities in the circumstances of individuals, they proposed
to conform the rights and dignities of the individual to his material
circumstances instead of conforming the material circumstances to the
essential and equal dignity of the man."

"In short," said I, "while under our system we conformed men to things,
you think it more reasonable to conform things to men?"

"That is, indeed," replied the doctor, "the vital difference between the
old and the new orders."

We walked in silence for some moments. Presently the doctor said: "I was
trying to recall an expression you just used which suggested a wide
difference between the sense in which the same phrase was understood in
your day and now is. I was saying that we thought everybody who voted
ought to have a property stake in the country, and you observed that some
people had the same idea in your time, but according to our view of what
a stake in the country is no one had it or could have it under your
economic system."

"Why not?" I demanded. "Did not men who owned property in a country--a
millionaire, for instance, like myself--have a stake in it?"

"In the sense that his property was geographically located in the country
it might be perhaps called a stake within the country but not a stake in
the country. It was the exclusive ownership of a piece of the country or
a portion of the wealth in the country, and all it prompted the owner to
was devotion to and care for that specific portion without regard to the
rest. Such a separate stake or the ambition to obtain it, far from making
its owner or seeker a citizen devoted to the common weal, was quite as
likely to make him a dangerous one, for his selfish interest was to
aggrandize his separate stake at the expense of his fellow-citizens and
of the public interest. Your millionaires--with no personal reflection
upon yourself, of course--appear to have been the most dangerous class of
citizens you had, and that is just what might be expected from their
having what you called but what we should not call a stake in the
country. Wealth owned in that way could only be a divisive and antisocial

"What we mean by a stake in the country is something which nobody could
possibly have until economic solidarity had replaced the private
ownership of capital. Every one, of course, has his own house and piece
of land if he or she desires them, and always his or her own income to
use at pleasure; but these are allotments for use only, and, being always
equal, can furnish no ground for dissension. The capital of the nation,
the source of all this consumption, is indivisibly held by all in common,
and it is impossible that there should be any dispute on selfish grounds
as to the administration of this common interest on which all private
interests depend, whatever differences of judgment there may be. The
citizen's share in this common fund is a sort of stake in the country
that makes it impossible to hurt another's interest without hurting one's
own, or to help one's own interest without promoting equally all other
interests. As to its economic bearings it may be said that it makes the
Golden Rule an automatic principle of government. What we would do for
ourselves we must of necessity do also for others. Until economic
solidarity made it possible to carry out in this sense the idea that
every citizen ought to have a stake in the country, the democratic system
never had a chance to develop its genius."

"It seems," I said, "that your foundation principle of economic equality
which I supposed was mainly suggested and intended in the interest of the
material well-being of the people, is quite as much a principle of
political policy for safeguarding the stability and wise ordering of

"Most assuredly," replied the doctor. "Our economic system is a measure
of statesmanship quite as much as of humanity. You see, the first
condition of efficiency or stability in any government is that the
governing power should have a direct, constant, and supreme interest in
the general welfare--that is, in the prosperity of the whole state as
distinguished from any part of it. It had been the strong point of
monarchy that the king, for selfish reasons as proprietor of the country,
felt this interest. The autocratic form of government, solely on that
account, had always a certain rough sort of efficiency. It had been, on
the other hand, the fatal weakness of democracy, during its negative
phase previous to the great Revolution, that the people, who were the
rulers, had individually only an indirect and sentimental interest in the
state as a whole, or its machinery--their real, main, constant, and
direct interest being concentrated upon their personal fortunes, their
private stakes, distinct from and adverse to the general stake. In
moments of enthusiasm they might rally to the support of the
commonwealth, but for the most part that had no custodian, but was at the
mercy of designing men and factions who sought to plunder the
commonwealth and use the machinery of government for personal or class
ends. This was the structural weakness of democracies, by the effect of
which, after passing their first youth, they became invariably, as the
inequality of wealth developed, the most corrupt and worthless of all
forms of government and the most susceptible to misuse and perversion for
selfish, personal, and class purposes. It was a weakness incurable so
long as the capital of the country, its economic interests, remained in
private hands, and one that could be remedied only by the radical
abolition of private capitalism and the unification of the nation's
capital under collective control. This done, the same economic
motive--which, while the capital remained in private hands, was a
divisive influence tending to destroy that public spirit which is the
breath of life in a democracy--became the most powerful of cohesive
forces, making popular government not only ideally the most just but
practically the most successful and efficient of political systems. The
citizen, who before had been the champion of a part against the rest,
became by this change a guardian of the whole."



The formalities at the bank proved to be very simple. Dr. Leete
introduced me to the superintendent, and the rest followed as a matter of
course, the whole process not taking three minutes. I was informed that
the annual credit of the adult citizen for that year was $4,000, and that
the portion due me for the remainder of the year, it being the latter
part of September, was $1,075.41. Taking vouchers to the amount of $300,
I left the rest on deposit precisely as I should have done at one of the
nineteenth-century banks in drawing money for present use. The
transaction concluded, Mr. Chapin, the superintendent, invited me into
his office.

"How does our banking system strike you as compared with that of your
day?" he asked.

"It has one manifest advantage from the point of view of a penniless
_revenant_ like myself," I said--"namely, that one receives a credit
without having made a deposit; otherwise I scarcely know enough of it to
give an opinion."

"When you come to be more familiar with our banking methods," said the
superintendent. "I think you will be struck with their similarity to your
own. Of course, we have no money and nothing answering to money, but the
whole science of banking from its inception was preparing the way for the
abolition of money. The only way, really, in which our system differs
from yours is that every one starts the year with the same balance to his
credit and that this credit is not transferable. As to requiring deposits
before accounts are opened, we are necessarily quite as strict as your
bankers were, only in our case the people, collectively, make the deposit
for all at once. This collective deposit is made up of such provisions of
different commodities and such installations for the various public
services as are expected to be necessary. Prices or cost estimates are
put on these commodities and services, and the aggregate sum of the
prices being divided by the population gives the amount of the citizen's
personal credit, which is simply his aliquot share of the commodities and
services available for the year. No doubt, however, Dr. Leete has told
you all about this."

"But I was not here to be included in the estimate of the year," I said.
"I hope that my credit is not taken out of other people's."

"You need feel no concern," replied the superintendent. "While it is
astonishing how variations in demand balance one another when great
populations are concerned, yet it would be impossible to conduct so big a
business as ours without large margins. It is the aim in the production
of perishable things, and those in which fancy often changes, to keep as
little ahead of the demand as possible, but in all the important staples
such great surpluses are constantly carried that a two years' drought
would not affect the price of non-perishable produce, while an unexpected
addition of several millions to the population could be taken care of at
any time without disturbance."

"Dr. Leete has told me," I said, "that any part of the credit not used by
a citizen during the year is canceled, not being good for the next year.
I suppose that is to prevent the possibility of hoarding, by which the
equality of your economic condition might be undermined."

"It would have the effect to prevent such hoarding, certainly," said the
superintendent, "but it is otherwise needful to simplify the national
bookkeeping and prevent confusion. The annual credit is an order on a
specific provision available during a certain year. For the next year a
new calculation with somewhat different elements has to be made, and to
make it the books must be balanced and all orders canceled that have not
been presented, so that we may know just where we stand."

"What, on the other hand, will happen if I run through my credit before
the year is out?"

The superintendent smiled. "I have read," he said, "that the spendthrift
evil was quite a serious one in your day. Our system has the advantage
over yours that the most incorrigible spendthrift can not trench on his
principal, which consists in his indivisible equal share in the capital
of the nation. All he can at most do is to waste the annual dividend.
Should you do this, I have no doubt your friends will take care of you,
and if they do not you may be sure the nation will, for we have not the
strong stomachs that enabled our forefathers to enjoy plenty with hungry
people about them. The fact is, we are so squeamish that the knowledge
that a single individual in the nation was in want would keep us all
awake nights. If you insisted on being in need, you would have to hide
away for the purpose.

"Have you any idea," I asked, "how much this credit of $4,000 would have
been equal to in purchasing power in 1887?"

"Somewhere about $6,000 or $7,000, I should say," replied Mr. Chapin. "In
estimating the economic position of the citizen you must consider that a
great variety of services and commodities are now supplied gratuitously
on public account, which formerly individuals had to pay for, as, for
example, water, light, music, news, the theatre and opera, all sorts of
postal and electrical communications, transportation, and other things
too numerous to detail."

"Since you furnish so much on public or common account, why not furnish
everything in that way? It would simplify matters, I should say."

"We think, on the contrary, that it would complicate the administration,
and certainly it would not suit the people as well. You see, while we
insist on equality we detest uniformity, and seek to provide free play to
the greatest possible variety of tastes in our expenditure."

Thinking I might be interested in looking them over, the superintendent
had brought into the office some of the books of the bank. Without having
been at all expert in nineteenth-century methods of bookkeeping, I was
much impressed with the extreme simplicity of these accounts compared
with any I had been familiar with. Speaking of this, I added that it
impressed me the more, as I had received an impression that, great as
were the superiorities of the national co-operative system over our way
of doing business, it must involve a great increase in the amount of
bookkeeping as compared with what was necessary under the old system. The
superintendent and Dr. Leete looked at each other and smiled.

"Do you know, Mr. West," said the former, "it strikes us as very odd that
you should have that idea? We estimate that under our system one
accountant serves where dozens were needed in your day."

"But," said I, "the nation has now a separate account with or for every
man, woman, and child in the country."

"Of course," replied the superintendent, "but did it not have the same in
your day? How else could it have assessed and collected taxes or exacted
a dozen other duties from citizens? For example, your tax system alone
with its inquisitions, appraisements, machinery of collection and
penalties was vastly more complex than the accounts in these books before
you, which consist, as you see, in giving to every person the same credit
at the beginning of the year, and afterward simply recording the
withdrawals without calculations of interest or other incidents whatever.
In fact, Mr. West, so simple and invariable are the conditions that the
accounts are kept automatically by a machine, the accountant merely
playing on a keyboard."

"But I understand that every citizen has a record kept also of his
services as the basis of grading and regrading."

"Certainly, and a most minute one, with most careful guards against error
or unfairness. But it is a record having none of the complications of one
of your money or wages accounts for work done, but is rather like the
simple honor records of your educational institutions by which the
ranking of the students was determined."

"But the citizen also has relations with the public stores from which he
supplies his needs?"

"Certainly, but not a relation of account. As your people would have
said, all purchases are for cash only--that is, on the credit card."

"There remains," I persisted, "the accounting for goods and services
between the stores and the productive departments and between the several

"Certainly; but the whole system being under one head and all the parts
working together with no friction and no motive for any indirection, such
accounting is child's work compared with the adjustment of dealings
between the mutually suspicious private capitalists, who divided among
themselves the field of business in your day, and sat up nights devising
tricks to deceive, defeat, and overreach one another."

"But how about the elaborate statistics on which you base the
calculations that guide production? There at least is need of a good deal
of figuring."

"Your national and State governments," replied Mr. Chapin, "published
annually great masses of similar statistics, which, while often very
inaccurate, must have cost far more trouble to accumulate, seeing that
they involved an unwelcome inquisition into the affairs of private
persons instead of a mere collection of reports from the books of
different departments of one great business. Forecasts of probable
consumption every manufacturer, merchant, and storekeeper had to make in
your day, and mistakes meant ruin. Nevertheless, he could but guess,
because he had no sufficient data. Given the complete data that we have,
and a forecast is as much increased in certainty as it is simplified in

"Kindly spare me any further demonstration of the stupidity of my

"Dear me, Mr. West, there is no question of stupidity. A wholly new
system of things always impresses the mind at first sight with an effect
of complexity, although it may be found on examination to be simplicity
itself. But please do not stop me just yet, for I have told you only one
side of the matter. I have shown you how few and simple are the accounts
we keep compared with those in corresponding relations kept by you; but
the biggest part of the subject is the accounts you had to keep which we
do not keep at all. Debit and credit are no longer known; interest,
rents, profits, and all the calculations based on them no more have any
place in human affairs. In your day everybody, besides his account with
the state, was involved in a network of accounts with all about him. Even
the humblest wage-earner was on the books of half a dozen tradesmen,
while a man of substance might be down in scores or hundreds, and this
without speaking of men not engaged in commerce. A fairly nimble dollar
had to be set down so many times in so many places, as it went from hand
to hand, that we calculate in about five years it must have cost itself
in ink, paper, pens, and clerk hire, let alone fret and worry. All these
forms of private and business accounts have now been done away with.
Nobody owes anybody, or is owed by anybody, or has any contract with
anybody, or any account of any sort with anybody, but is simply beholden
to everybody for such kindly regard as his virtues may attract."



"Doctor," said I as we came out of the bank, "I have a most extraordinary

"What sort of a feeling?"

"It is a sensation which I never had anything like before," I said, "and
never expected to have. I feel as if I wanted to go to work. Yes, Julian
West, millionaire, loafer by profession, who never did anything useful in
his life and never wanted to, finds himself seized with an overmastering
desire to roll up his sleeves and do something toward rendering an
equivalent for his living."

"But," said the doctor, "Congress has declared you the guest of the
nation, and expressly exempted you from the duty of rendering any sort of
public service."

"That is all very well, and I take it kindly, but I begin to feel that I
should not enjoy knowing that I was living on other people."

"What do you suppose it is," said the doctor, smiling, "that has given
you this sensitiveness about living on others which, as you say, you
never felt before?"

"I have never been much given to self-analysis," I replied, "but the
change of feeling is very easily explained in this case. I find myself
surrounded by a community every member of which not physically
disqualified is doing his or her own part toward providing the material
prosperity which I share. A person must be of remarkably tough
sensibilities who would not feel ashamed under such circumstances if he
did not take hold with the rest and do his part. Why didn't I feel that
way about the duty of working in the nineteenth century? Why, simply
because there was no such system then for sharing work, or indeed any
system at all. For the reason that there was no fair play or suggestion
of justice in the distribution of work, everybody shirked it who could,
and those who could not shirk it cursed the luckier ones and got even by
doing as bad work as they could. Suppose a rich young fellow like myself
had a feeling that he would like to do his part. How was he going to go
about it? There was absolutely no social organization by which labor
could be shared on any principle of justice. There was no possibility of
co-operation. We had to choose between taking advantage of the economic
system to live on other people or have them take advantage of it to live
on us. We had to climb on their backs as the only way of preventing them
from climbing on our backs. We had the alternative of profiting by an
unjust system or being its victims. There being no more moral
satisfaction in the one alternative than the other, we naturally
preferred the first. By glimpses all the more decent of us realized the
ineffable meanness of sponging our living out of the toilers, but our
consciences were completely bedeviled by an economic system which seemed
a hopeless muddle that nobody could see through or set right or do right
under. I will undertake to say that there was not a man of my set,
certainly not of my friends, who, placed just as I am this morning in
presence of an absolutely simple, just, and equal system for distributing
the industrial burden, would not feel just as I do the impulse to roll up
his sleeves and take hold."

"I am quite sure of it," said the doctor. "Your experience strikingly
confirms the chapter of revolutionary history which tells us that when
the present economic order was established those who had been under the
old system the most irreclaimable loafers and vagabonds, responding to
the absolute justice and fairness of the new arrangements, rallied to the
service of the state with enthusiasm. But talking of what you are to do,
why was not my former suggestion a good one, that you should tell our
people in lectures about the nineteenth century?"

"I thought at first that it would be a good idea," I replied, "but our
talk in the garden this morning has about convinced me that the very last
people who had any intelligent idea of the nineteenth century, what it
meant, and what it was leading to, were just myself and my contemporaries
of that time. After I have been with you a few years I may learn enough
about my own period to discuss it intelligently."

"There is something in that," replied the doctor. "Meanwhile, you see
that great building with the dome just across the square? That is our
local Industrial Exchange. Perhaps, seeing that we are talking of what
you are to do to make yourself useful, you may be interested in learning
a little of the method by which our people choose their occupations."

I readily assented, and we crossed the square to the exchange.

"I have given you thus far," said the doctor, "only a general outline of
our system of universal industrial service. You know that every one of
either sex, unless for some reason temporarily or permanently exempt,
enters the public industrial service in the twenty-first year, and after
three years of a sort of general apprenticeship in the unclassified
grades elects a special occupation, unless he prefers to study further
for one of the scientific professions. As there are a million youth, more
or less, who thus annually elect their occupations, you may imagine that
it must be a complex task to find a place for each in which his or her
own taste shall be suited as well as the needs of the public service."

I assured the doctor that I had indeed made this reflection.

"A very few moments will suffice," he said, "to disabuse your mind of
that notion and to show you how wonderfully a little rational system has
simplified the task of finding a fitting vocation in life which used to
be so difficult a matter in your day and so rarely was accomplished in a
satisfactory manner."

Finding a comfortable corner for us near one of the windows of the
central hall, the doctor presently brought a lot of sample blanks and
schedules and proceeded to explain them to me. First he showed me the
annual statement of exigencies by the General Government, specifying in
what proportion the force of workers that was to become available that
year ought to be distributed among the several occupations in order to
carry on the industrial service. That was the side of the subject which
represented the necessities of the public service that must be met. Next
he showed me the volunteering or preference blank, on which every youth
that year graduating from the unclassified service indicated, if he chose
to, the order of his preference as to the various occupations making up
the public service, it being inferred, if he did not fill out the blank,
that he or she was willing to be assigned for the convenience of the

"But," said I, "locality of residence is often quite as important as the
kind of one's occupation. For example, one might not wish to be separated
from parents, and certainly would not wish to be from a sweetheart,
however agreeable the occupation assigned might be in other respects."

"Very true," said the doctor. "If, indeed, our industrial system
undertook to separate lovers and friends, husbands and wives, parents and
children, without regard to their wishes, it certainly would not last
long. You see this column of localities. If you make your cross against
Boston in that column, it becomes imperative upon the administration to
provide you employment somewhere in this district. It is one of the
rights of every citizen to demand employment within his home district.
Otherwise, as you say, ties of love and friendship might be rudely
broken. But, of course, one can not have his cake and eat it too; if you
make work in the home district imperative, you may have to take an
occupation to which you would have preferred some other that might have
been open to you had you been willing to leave home. However, it is not
common that one needs to sacrifice a chosen career to the ties of
affection. The country is divided into industrial districts or circles,
in each of which there is intended to be as nearly as possible a complete
system of industry, wherein all the important arts and occupations are
represented. It is in this way made possible for most of us to find an
opportunity in a chosen occupation without separation from friends. This
is the more simply done, as the modern means of communication have so far
abolished distance that the man who lives in Boston and works in
Springfield, one hundred miles away, is quite as near his place of
business as was the average workingman of your day. One who, living in
Boston, should work two hundred miles away (in Albany), would be far
better situated than the average suburbanite doing business in Boston a
century ago. But while a great number desire to find occupations at home,
there are also many who from love of change much prefer to leave the
scenes of their childhood. These, too, indicate their preferences by
marking the number of the district to which they prefer to be assigned.
Second or third preferences may likewise be indicated, so that it would
go hard indeed if one could not obtain a location in at least the part of
the country he desired, though the locality preference is imperative only
when the person desires to stay in the home district. Otherwise it is
consulted so far as consistent with conflicting claims. The volunteer
having thus filled out his preference blank, takes it to the proper
registrar and has his ranking officially stamped upon it."

"What is the ranking?" I asked.

"It is the figure which indicates his previous standing in the schools
and during his service as an unclassified worker, and is supposed to give
the best attainable criterion thus far of his relative intelligence,
efficiency, and devotion to duty. Where there are more volunteers for
particular occupations than there is room for, the lowest in ranking have
to be content with a second or third preference. The preference blanks
are finally handed in at the local exchange, and are collated at the
central office of the industrial district. All who have made home work
imperative are first provided for in accordance with rank. The blanks of
those preferring work in other districts are forwarded to the national
bureau and there collated with those from other districts, so that the
volunteers may be provided for as nearly as may be according to their
wishes, subject, where conflict of claim arises, to their relative
ranking right. It has always been observed that the personal
eccentricities of individuals in great bodies have a wonderful tendency
to balance and mutually complement one another, and this principle is
strikingly illustrated in our system of choice of occupation and
locality. The preference blanks are filled out in June, and by the first
of August everybody knows just where he or she is to report for service
in October.

"However, if any one has received an assignment which is decidedly
unwelcome either as to location or occupation, it is not even then, or
indeed at any time, too late to endeavor to find another. The
administration has done its best to adjust the individual aptitude and
wishes of each worker to the needs of the public service, but its
machinery is at his service for any further attempts he may wish to make
to suit himself better."

And then the doctor took me to the Transfer Department and showed me how
persons who were dissatisfied either with their assignment of occupation
or locality could put themselves in communication with all others in any
part of the country who were similarly dissatisfied, and arrange, subject
to liberal regulations, such exchanges as might be mutually agreeable.

"If a person is not absolutely unwilling to do anything at all," he said,
"and does not object to all parts of the country equally, he ought to be
able sooner or later to provide himself both with pretty nearly the
occupation and locality he desires. And if, after all, there should be
any one so dull that he can not hope to succeed in his occupation or make
a better exchange with another, yet there is no occupation now tolerated
by the state which would not have been as to its conditions a godsend to
the most fortunately situated workman of your day. There is none in which
peril to life or health is not reduced to a minimum, and the dignity and
rights of the worker absolutely guaranteed. It is a constant study of the
administration so to bait the less attractive occupations with special
advantages as to leisure and otherwise always to keep the balance of
preference between them as nearly true as possible; and if, finally,
there were any occupation which, after all, remained so distasteful as to
attract no volunteers, and yet was necessary, its duties would be
performed by all in rotation."

"As, for example," I said, "the work of repairing and cleansing the

"If that sort of work were as offensive as it must have been in your day,
I dare say it might have to be done by a rotation in which all would take
their turn," replied the doctor, "but our sewers are as clean as our
streets. They convey only water which has been chemically purified and
deodorized before it enters them by an apparatus connected with every
dwelling. By the same apparatus all solid sewage is electrically
cremated, and removed in the form of ashes. This improvement in the sewer
system, which followed the great Revolution very closely, might have
waited a hundred years before introduction but for the Revolution,
although the necessary scientific knowledge and appliances had long been
available. The case furnishes merely one instance out of a thousand of
the devices for avoiding repulsive and perilous sorts of work which,
while simple enough, the world would never have troubled itself to adopt
so long as the rich had in the poor a race of uncomplaining economic
serfs on which to lay all their burdens. The effect of economic equality
was to make it equally the interest of all to avoid, so far as possible,
the more unpleasant tasks, since henceforth they must be shared by all.
In this way, wholly apart from the moral aspects of the matter, the
progress of chemical, sanitary, and mechanical science owes an
incalculable debt to the Revolution."

"Probably," I said, "you have sometimes eccentric persons--'crooked
sticks' we used to call them--who refuse to adapt themselves to the
social order on any terms or admit any such thing as social duty. If such
a person should flatly refuse to render any sort of industrial or useful
service on any terms, what would be done with him? No doubt there is a
compulsory side to your system for dealing with such persons?"

"Not at all," replied the doctor. "If our system can not stand on its
merits as the best possible arrangement for promoting the highest welfare
of all, let it fall. As to the matter of industrial service, the law is
simply that if any one shall refuse to do his or her part toward the
maintenance of the social order he shall not be allowed to partake of its
benefits. It would obviously not be fair to the rest that he should do
so. But as to compelling him to work against his will by force, such an
idea would be abhorrent to our people. The service of society is, above
all, a service of honor, and all its associations are what you used to
call chivalrous. Even as in your day soldiers would not serve with
skulkers, but drummed cowards out of the camp, so would our workers
refuse the companionship of persons openly seeking to evade their civic

"But what do you do with such persons?"

"If an adult, being neither criminal nor insane, should deliberately and
fixedly refuse to render his quota of service in any way, either in a
chosen occupation or, on failure to choose, in an assigned one, he would
be furnished with such a collection of seeds and tools as he might choose
and turned loose on a reservation expressly prepared for such persons,
corresponding a little perhaps with the reservations set apart for such
Indians in your day as were unwilling to accept civilization. There he
would be left to work out a better solution of the problem of existence
than our society offers, if he could do so. We think we have the best
possible social system, but if there is a better we want to know it, so
that we may adopt it. We encourage the spirit of experiment."

"And are there really cases," I said, "of individuals who thus
voluntarily abandon society in preference to fulfilling their social

"There have been such cases, though I do not know that there are any at
the present time. But the provision for them exists."



When we reached the house the doctor said:

"I am going to leave you to Edith this morning. The fact is, my duties as
mentor, while extremely to my taste, are not quite a sinecure. The
questions raised in our talks frequently suggest the necessity of
refreshing my general knowledge of the contrasts between your day and
this by looking up the historical authorities. The conversation this
morning has indicated lines of research which will keep me busy in the
library the rest of the day."

I found Edith in the garden, and received her congratulations upon my
fully fledged citizenship. She did not seem at all surprised on learning
my intention promptly to find a place in the industrial service.

"Of course you will want to enter the service as soon as you can," she
said. "I knew you would. It is the only way to get in touch with the
people and feel really one of the nation. It is the great event we all
look forward to from childhood."

"Talking of industrial service," I said, "reminds me of a question it has
a dozen times occurred to me to ask you. I understand that everyone who
is able to do so, women as well as men, serves the nation from twenty-one
to forty-five years of age in some useful occupation; but so far as I
have seen, although you are the picture of health and vigor, you have no
employment, but are quite like young ladies of elegant leisure in my day,
who spent their time sitting in the parlor and looking handsome. Of
course, it is highly agreeable to me that you should be so free, but how,
exactly, is so much leisure on your part squared with the universal
obligation of service?"

Edith was greatly amused. "And so you thought I was shirking? Had it not
occurred to you that there might probably be such things as vacations or
furloughs in the industrial service, and that the rather unusual and
interesting guest in our household might furnish a natural occasion for
me to take an outing if I could get it?"

"And can you take your vacation when you please?"

"We can take a portion of it when we please, always subject, of course,
to the needs of the service."

"But what do you do when you are at work--teach school, paint china, keep
books for the Government, stand behind a counter in the public stores, or
operate a typewriter or telegraph wire?"

"Does that list exhaust the number of women's occupations in your day?"

"Oh, no; those were only some of their lighter and pleasanter
occupations. Women were also the scrubbers, the washers, the servants of
all work. The most repulsive and humiliating kinds of drudgery were put
off upon the women of the poorer class; but I suppose, of course, you do
not do any such work."

"You may be sure that I do my part of whatever unpleasant things there
are to do, and so does every one in the nation; but, indeed, we have long
ago arranged affairs so that there is very little such work to do. But,
tell me, were there no women in your day who were machinists, farmers,
engineers, carpenters, iron workers, builders, engine drivers, or members
of the other great crafts?"

"There were no women in such occupations. They were followed by men

"I suppose I knew that," she said; "I have read as much; but it is
strange to talk with a man of the nineteenth century who is so much like
a man of to-day and realize that the women were so different as to seem
like another order of beings."

"But, really," said I, "I don't understand how in these respects the
women can do very differently now unless they are physically much
stronger. Most of these occupations you have just mentioned were too
heavy for their strength, and for that reason, largely, were limited to
men, as I should suppose they must still be."

"There is not a trade or occupation in the whole list," replied Edith,
"in which women do not take part. It is partly because we are physically
much more vigorous than the poor creatures of your time that we do the
sorts of work that were too heavy for them, but it is still more an
account of the perfection of machinery. As we have grown stronger, all
sorts of work have grown lighter. Almost no heavy work is done directly
now; machines do all, and we only need to guide them, and the lighter the
hand that guides, the better the work done. So you see that nowadays
physical qualities have much less to do than mental with the choice of
occupations. The mind is constantly getting nearer to the work, and
father says some day we may be able to work by sheer will power directly
and have no need of hands at all. It is said that there are actually more
women than men in great machine works. My mother was first lieutenant in
a great iron works. Some have a theory that the sense of power which one
has in controlling giant engines appeals to women's sensibilities even
more than to men's. But really it is not quite fair to make you guess
what my occupation is, for I have not fully decided on it."

"But you said you were already at work."

"Oh, yes, but you know that before we choose our life occupation we are
three years in the unclassified or miscellaneous class of workers. I am
in my second year in that class."

"What do you do?"

"A little of everything and nothing long. The idea is to give us during
that period a little practical experience in all the main departments of
work, so that we may know better how and what to choose as an occupation.
We are supposed to have got through with the schools before we enter this
class, but really I have learned more since I have been at work than in
twice the time spent in school. You can not imagine how perfectly
delightful this grade of work is. I don't wonder some people prefer to
stay in it all their lives for the sake of the constant change in tasks,
rather than elect a regular occupation. Just now I am among the
agricultural workers on the great farm near Lexington. It is delightful,
and I have about made up my mind to choose farm work as an occupation.
That is what I had in mind when I asked you to guess my trade. Do you
think you would ever have guessed that?"

"I don't think I ever should, and unless the conditions of farm work have
greatly changed since my day I can not imagine how you could manage it in
a woman's costume."

Edith regarded me for a moment with an expression of simple surprise, her
eyes growing large. Then her glance fell to her dress, and when she again
looked up her expression had changed to one which was at once meditative,
humorous, and wholly inscrutable. Presently she said:

"Have you not observed, my dear Julian, that the dress of the women you
see on the streets is different from that which women wore in the
nineteenth century?"

"I have noticed, of course, that they generally wear no skirts, but you
and your mother dress as women did in my day."

"And has it not occurred to you to wonder why our dress was not like
theirs--why we wear skirts and they do not?"

"Possibly that has occurred to me among the thousand other questions that
every day arise in my mind, only to be driven out by a thousand others
before I can ask them; but I think in this case I should have rather
wondered why these other women did not dress as you do instead of why you
did not dress as they do, for your costume, being the one I was
accustomed to, naturally struck me as the normal type, and this other
style as a variation for some special or local reason which I should
later learn about. You must not think me altogether stupid. To tell the
truth, these other women have as yet scarcely impressed me as being very
real. You were at first the only person about whose reality I felt
entirely sure. All the others seemed merely parts of a fantastic farrago
of wonders, more or less possible, which is only just beginning to become
intelligible and coherent. In time I should doubtless have awakened to
the fact that there were other women in the world besides yourself and
begun to make inquiries about them."

As I spoke of the absoluteness with which I had depended on her during
those first bewildering days for the assurance even of my own identity
the quick tears rushed to my companion's eyes, and--well, for a space the
other women were more completely forgotten than ever.

Presently she said: "What were we talking about? Oh, yes,
I remember--about those other women. I have a confession to make. I have
been guilty toward you all this time of a sort of fraud, or at least of a
flagrant suppression of the truth, which ought not to be kept up a moment
longer. I sincerely hope you will forgive me, in consideration of my
motive, and not----"

"Not what?"

"Not be too much startled."

"You make me very curious," I said. "What is this mystery? I think I can
stand the disclosure."

"Listen, then," she said. "That wonderful night when we saw you first, of
course our great thought was to avoid agitating you when you should
recover full consciousness by any more evidence of the amazing things
that had happened since your day than it was necessary you should see. We
knew that in your time the use of long skirts by women was universal, and
we reflected that to see mother and me in the modern dress would no doubt
strike you very strangely. Now, you see, although skirtless costumes are
the general--indeed, almost universal--wear for most occasions, all
possible costumes, ancient and modern, of all races, ages, and
civilizations, are either provided or to be obtained on the shortest
possible notice at the stores. It was therefore very easy for us to
furnish ourselves with the old-style dress before father introduced you
to us. He said people had in your day such strange ideas of feminine
modesty and propriety that it would be the best way to do. Can you
forgive us, Julian, for taking such an advantage of your ignorance?"

"Edith," I said, "there were a great many institutions of the nineteenth
century which we tolerated because we did not know how to get rid of
them, without, however, having a bit better opinion of them than you
have, and one of them was the costume by means of which our women used to
disguise and cripple themselves."

"I am delighted!" exclaimed Edith. "I perfectly detest these horrible
bags, and will not wear them a moment longer!" And bidding me wait where
I was, she ran into the house.

Five minutes, perhaps, I waited there in the arbor, where we had been
sitting, and then, at a light step on the grass, looked up to see Edith
with eyes of smiling challenge standing before me in modern dress. I have
seen her in a hundred varieties of that costume since then, and have
grown familiar with the exhaustless diversity of its adaptations, but I
defy the imagination of the greatest artist to devise a scheme of color
and fabric that would again produce upon me the effect of enchanting
surprise which I received from that quite simple and hasty toilet.

I don't know how long I stood looking at her without a thought of words,
my eyes meanwhile no doubt testifying eloquently enough how adorable I
found her. She seemed, however, to divine more than that in my
expression, for presently she exclaimed:

"I would give anything to know what you are thinking down in the bottom
of your mind! It must be something awfully funny. What are you turning so
red for?"

"I am blushing for myself," I said, and that is all I would tell her,
much as she teased me. Now, at this distance of time I may tell the
truth. My first sentiment, apart from overwhelming admiration, had been a
slight astonishment at her absolute ease and composure of bearing under
my gaze. This is a confession that may well seem incomprehensible to
twentieth-century readers, and God forbid that they should ever catch the
point of view which would enable them to understand it better! A woman of
my day, unless professionally accustomed to use this sort of costume,
would have seemed embarrassed and ill at ease, at least for a time, under
a gaze so intent as mine, even though it were a brother's or a father's.
I, it seems, had been prepared for at least some slight appearance of
discomposure on Edith's part, and was consciously surprised at a manner
which simply expressed an ingenuous gratification at my admiration. I
refer to this momentary experience because it has always seemed to me to
illustrate in a particularly vivid way the change that has taken place
not only in the customs but in the mental attitude of the sexes as to
each other since my former life. In justice to myself I must hasten to
add that this first feeling of surprise vanished even as it arose, in a
moment, between two heart-beats. I caught from her clear, serene eyes the
view point of the modern man as to woman, never again to lose it. Then it
was that I flushed red with shame for myself. Wild horses could not have
dragged from me the secret of that blush at the time, though I have told
her long ago.

"I was thinking," I said, and I was thinking so, too, "that we ought to
be greatly obliged to twentieth-century women for revealing for the first
time the artistic possibilities of the masculine dress."

"The masculine dress," she repeated, as if not quite comprehending my
meaning. "Do you mean my dress?"

"Why, yes; it is a man's dress I suppose, is it not?"

"Why any more than a woman's?" she answered rather blankly. "Ah, yes, I
actually forgot for a moment whom I was talking to. I see; so it was
considered a man's dress in your day, when the women masqueraded as
mermaids. You may think me stupid not to catch your idea more quickly,
but I told you I was dull at history. It is now two full generations
since women as well as men have worn this dress, and the idea of
associating it with men more than women would occur to no one but a
professor of history. It strikes us merely as the only natural and
convenient solution of the dress necessity, which is essentially the same
for both sexes, since their bodily conformation is on the same general



The extremely delicate tints of Edith's costume led me to remark that the
color effects of the modern dress seemed to be in general very light as
compared with those which prevailed in my day.

"The result," I said, "is extremely pleasing, but if you will excuse a
rather prosaic suggestion, it occurs to me that with the whole nation
given over to wearing these delicate schemes of color, the accounts for
washing must be pretty large. I should suppose they would swamp the
national treasury if laundry bills are anything like what they used to

This remark, which I thought a very sensible one, set Edith to laughing.
"Doubtless we could not do much else if we washed our clothes," she said;
"but you see we do not wash them."

"Not wash them!--why not?"

"Because we don't think it nice to wear clothes again after they have
been so much soiled as to need washing."

"Well, I won't say that I am surprised," I replied; "in fact, I think I
am no longer capable of being surprised at anything; but perhaps you will
kindly tell me what you do with a dress when it becomes soiled."

"We throw it away--that is, it goes back to the mills to be made into
something else."

"Indeed! To my nineteenth-century intellect, throwing away clothing would
seem even more expensive than washing it."

"Oh, no, much less so. What do you suppose, now, this costume of mine

"I don't know, I am sure. I never had a wife to pay dressmaker's bills
for, but I should say certainly it cost a great deal of money."

"Such costumes cost from ten to twenty cents," said Edith. "What do you
suppose it is made of?"

I took the edge of her mantle between my fingers.

"I thought it was silk or fine linen," I replied, "but I see it is not.
Doubtless it is some new fiber."

"We have discovered many new fibers, but it is rather a question of
process than material that I had in mind. This is not a textile fabric at
all, but paper. That is the most common material for garments nowadays."

"But--but," I exclaimed, "what if it should come on to rain on these
paper clothes? Would they not melt, and at a little strain would they not

"A costume such as this," said Edith, "is not meant for stormy weather,
and yet it would by no means melt in a rainstorm, however severe. For
storm-garments we have a paper that is absolutely impervious to moisture
on the outer surface. As to toughness, I think you would find it as hard
to tear this paper as any ordinary cloth. The fabric is so strengthened
with fiber as to hold together very stoutly."

"But in winter, at least, when you need warmth, you must have to fall
back on our old friend the sheep."

"You mean garments made of sheep's hair? Oh, no, there is no modern use
for them. Porous paper makes a garment quite as warm as woolen could, and
vastly lighter than the clothes you had. Nothing but eider down could
have been at once so warm and light as our winter coats of paper."

"And cotton!--linen! Don't tell me that they have been given up, like

"Oh, no; we weave fabrics of these and other vegetable products, and they
are nearly as cheap as paper, but paper is so much lighter and more
easily fashioned into all shapes that it is generally preferred for
garments. But, at any rate, we should consider no material fit for
garments which could not be thrown away after being soiled. The idea of
washing and cleaning articles of bodily use and using them over and over
again would be quite intolerable. For this reason, while we want
beautiful garments, we distinctly do not want durable ones. In your day,
it seems, even worse than the practice of washing garments to be used
again you were in the habit of keeping your outer garments without
washing at all, not only day after day, but week after week, year after
year, sometimes whole lifetimes, when they were specially valuable, and
finally, perhaps, giving them away to others. It seems that women
sometimes kept their wedding dresses long enough for their daughters to
wear at their weddings. That would seem shocking to us, and yet, even
your fine ladies did such things. As for what the poor had to do in the
way of keeping and wearing their old clothes till they went to rags, that
is something which won't bear thinking of."

"It is rather startling," I said, "to find the problem of clean clothing
solved by the abolition of the wash tub, although I perceive that that
was the only radical solution. 'Warranted to wear and wash' used to be
the advertisement of our clothing merchants, but now it seems, if you
would sell clothing, you must warrant the goods neither to wear nor to

"As for wearing," said Edith, "our clothing never gets the chance to show
how it would wear before we throw it away, any more than the other
fabrics, such as carpets, bedding, and hangings that we use about our

"You don't mean that they are paper-made also!" I exclaimed.

"Not always made of paper, but always of some fabric so cheap that they
can be rejected after the briefest period of using. When you would have
swept a carpet we put in a new one. Where you would wash or air bedding
we renew it, and so with all the hangings about our houses so far as we
use them at all. We upholster with air or water instead of feathers. It
is more than I can understand how you ever endured your musty, fusty,
dusty rooms with the filth and disease germs of whole generations stored
in the woolen and hair fabrics that furnished them. When we clean out a
room we turn the hose on ceiling, walls, and floor. There is nothing to
harm--nothing but tiled or other hard-finished surfaces. Our hygienists
say that the change in customs in these matters relating to the purity of
our clothing and dwellings, has done more than all our other improvements
to eradicate the germs of contagious and other diseases and relegate
epidemics to ancient history.

"Talking of paper," said Edith, extending a very trim foot by way of
attracting attention to its gear, "what do you think of our modern

"Do you mean that they also are made of paper?" I exclaimed.

"Of course."

"I noticed the shoes your father gave me were very light as compared with
anything I had ever worn before. Really that is a great idea, for
lightness in foot wear is the first necessity. Scamp shoemakers used to
put paper soles in shoes in my day. It is evident that instead of
prosecuting them for rascals we should have revered them as unconscious
prophets. But, for that matter, how do you prepare soles of paper that
will last?"

"There are plenty of solutions which will make paper as hard as iron."

"And do not these shoes leak in winter?"

"We have different kinds for different weathers. All are seamless, and
the wet-weather sort are coated outside with a lacquer impervious to

"That means, I suppose, that rubbers too as articles of wear have been
sent to the museum?"

"We use rubber, but not for wear. Our waterproof paper is much lighter
and better every way."

"After all this it is easy to believe that your hats and caps are also

"And so they are to a great extent," said Edith; "the heavy headgear that
made your men bald ours would not endure. We want as little as possible
on our heads, and that as light as may be."

"Go on!" I exclaimed. "I suppose I am next to be told that the delicious
but mysterious articles of food which come by the pneumatic carrier from
the restaurant or are served there are likewise made out of paper.
Proceed--I am prepared to believe it!"

"Not quite so bad as that," laughed my companion, "but really the next
thing to it, for the dishes you eat them from are made of paper. The
crash of crockery and glass, which seems to have been a sort of running
accompaniment to housekeeping in your day, is no more heard in the land.
Our dishes and kettles for eating or cooking, when they need cleaning are
thrown away, or rather, as in the case of all these rejected materials I
have spoken of, sent back to the factories to be reduced again to pulp
and made over into other forms."

"But you certainly do not use paper kettles? Fire will still burn, I
fancy, although you seem to have changed most of the other rules we went

"Fire will still burn, indeed, but the electrical heat has been adopted
for cooking as well as for all other purposes. We no longer heat our
vessels from without but from within, and the consequence is that we do
our cooking in paper vessels on wooden stoves, even as the savages used
to do it in birch-bark vessels with hot stones, for, so the philosophers
say, history repeats itself in an ever-ascending spiral."

And now Edith began to laugh at my perplexed expression. She declared
that it was clear my credulity had been taxed with these accounts of
modern novelties about as far as it would be prudent to try it without
furnishing some further evidence of the truth of the statements she had
made. She proposed accordingly, for the balance of the morning, a visit
to some of the great paper-process factories.



"You surely can not form the slightest idea of the bodily ecstasy it
gives me to have done with that horrible masquerade in mummy clothes,"
exclaimed my companion as we left the house. "To think this is the first
time we have actually been walking together!"

"Surely you forget," I replied; "we have been out together several

"Out together, yes, but not walking," she answered; "at least I was not
walking. I don't know what would be the proper zoological term to
describe the way I got over the ground inside of those bags, but it
certainly was not walking. The women of your day, you see, were trained
from childhood in that mode of progression, and no doubt acquired some
skill in it; but I never had skirts on in my life except once, in some
theatricals. It was the hardest thing I ever tried, and I doubt if I ever
again give you so strong a proof of my regard. I am astonished that you
did not seem to notice what a distressful time I was having."

But if, being accustomed, as I had been, to the gait of women hampered by
draperies, I had not observed anything unusual in Edith's walk when we
had been out on previous occasions, the buoyant grace of her carriage and
the elastic vigor of her step as she strode now by my side was a
revelation of the possibilities of an athletic companionship which was
not a little intoxicating.

To describe in detail what I saw in my tour that day through
the paper-process factories would be to tell an old story to
twentieth-century readers; but what far more impressed me than all the
ingenuity and variety of mechanical adaptations was the workers
themselves and the conditions of their labor. I need not tell my readers
what the great mills are in these days--lofty, airy halls, walled with
beautiful designs in tiles and metal, furnished like palaces, with every
convenience, the machinery running almost noiselessly, and every incident
of the work that might be offensive to any sense reduced by ingenious
devices to the minimum. Neither need I describe to you the princely
workers in these palaces of industry, the strong and splendid men and
women, with their refined and cultured faces, prosecuting with the
enthusiasm of artists their self-chosen tasks of combining use and
beauty. You all know what your factories are to-day; no doubt you find
them none too pleasant or convenient, having been used to such things all
your lives. No doubt you even criticise them in various ways as falling
short of what they might be, for such is human nature; but if you would
understand how they seem to me, shut your eyes a moment and try to
conceive in fancy what our cotton and woolen and paper mills were like a
hundred years ago.

Picture low rooms roofed with rough and grimy timbers and walled with
bare or whitewashed brick. Imagine the floor so crammed with machinery
for economy of space as to allow bare room for the workers to writhe
about among the flying arms and jaws of steel, a false motion meaning
death or mutilation. Imagine the air space above filled, instead of air,
with a mixture of stenches of oil and filth, unwashed human bodies, and
foul clothing. Conceive a perpetual clang and clash of machinery like the
screech of a tornado.

But these were only the material conditions of the scene. Shut your eyes
once more, that you may see what I would fain forget I had ever seen--the
interminable rows of women, pallid, hollow-cheeked, with faces vacant and
stolid but for the accent of misery, their clothing tattered, faded, and
foul; and not women only, but multitudes of little children, weazen-faced
and ragged--children whose mother's milk was barely out of their blood,
their bones yet in the gristle.

       *       *       *       *       *

Edith introduced me to the superintendent of one of the factories, a
handsome woman of perhaps forty years. She very kindly showed us about
and explained matters to me, and was much interested in turn to know what
I thought of the modern factories and their points of contrast with those
of former days. Naturally, I told her that I had been impressed, far more
than by anything in the new mechanical appliances, with the
transformation in the condition of the workers themselves.

"Ah, yes," she said, "of course you would say so; that must indeed be the
great contrast, though the present ways seem so entirely a matter of
course to us that we forget it was not always so. When the workers settle
how the work shall be done, it is not wonderful that the conditions
should be the pleasantest possible. On the other hand, when, as in your
day, a class like your private capitalists, who did not share the work,
nevertheless settled how it should be done it is not surprising that the
conditions of industry should have been as barbarous as they were,
especially when the operation of the competitive system compelled the
capitalists to get the most work possible out of the workers on the
cheapest terms."

"Do I understand." I asked, "that the workers in each trade regulate for
themselves the conditions of their particular occupation?"

"By no means. The unitary character of our industrial administration is
the vital idea of it, without which it would instantly become
impracticable. If the members of each trade controlled its conditions,
they would presently be tempted to conduct it selfishly and adversely to
the general interest of the community, seeking, as your private
capitalists did, to get as much and give as little as possible. And not
only would every distinctive class of workers be tempted to act in this
manner, but every subdivision of workers in the same trade would
presently be pursuing the same policy, until the whole industrial system
would become disintegrated, and we should have to call the capitalists
from their graves to save us. When I said that the workers regulated the
conditions of work, I meant the workers as a whole--that is, the people
at large, all of whom are nowadays workers, you know. The regulation and
mutual adjustment of the conditions of the several branches of the
industrial system are wholly done by the General Government. At the same
time, however, the regulation of the conditions of work in any occupation
is effectively, though indirectly, controlled by the workers in it
through the right we all have to choose and change our occupations.
Nobody would choose an occupation the conditions of which were not
satisfactory, so they have to be made and kept satisfactory."

       *       *       *       *       *

While we were at the factory the noon hour came, and I asked the
superintendent and Edith to go out to lunch with me. In fact, I wanted to
ascertain whether my newly acquired credit card was really good for
anything or not.

"There is one point about your modern costumes," I said, as we sat at our
table in the dining hall, "about which I am rather curious. Will you tell
me who or what sets the fashions?"

"The Creator sets the only fashion which is now generally followed,"
Edith answered.

"And what is that?"

"The fashion of our bodies," she answered.

"Ah, yes, very good," I replied, "and very true, too, of your costumes,
as it certainly was not of ours; but my question still remains. Allowing
that you have a general theory of dress, there are a thousand differences
in details, with possible variations of style, shape, color, material,
and what not. Now, the making of garments is carried on, I suppose, like
all your other industries, as public business, under collective
management, is it not?"

"Certainly. People, of course, can make their own clothes if they wish
to, just as they can make anything else, but it would be a great waste of
time and energy."

"Very well. The garments turned out by the factories have to be made up
on some particular design or designs. In my day the question of designs
of garments was settled by society leaders, fashion journals, edicts from
Paris, or the Lord knows how; but at any rate the question was settled
for us, and we had nothing to do but to obey. I don't say it was a good
way; on the contrary, it was detestable; but what I want to know is, What
system have you instead, for I suppose you have now no society leaders,
fashion journals, or Paris edicts? Who settles the question what you
shall wear?"

"We do," replied the superintendent.

"You mean, I suppose, that you determine it collectively by democratic
methods. Now, when I look around me in this dining hall and see the
variety and beauty of the costumes, I am bound to say that the result of
your system seems satisfactory, and yet I think it would strike even the
strongest believer in the principle of democracy that the rule of the
majority ought scarcely to extend to dress. I admit that the yoke of
fashion which we bowed to was very onerous, and yet it was true that if
we were brave enough, as few indeed were, we might defy it; but with the
style of dress determined by the administration, and only certain styles
made, you must either follow the taste of the majority or lie abed. Why
do you laugh? Is it not so?"

"We were smiling," replied the superintendent, "on account of a slight
misapprehension on your part. When I said that we regulated questions of
dress, I meant that we regulated them not collectively, by majority, but
individually, each for himself or herself."

"But I don't see how you can," I persisted. "The business of producing
fabrics and of making them into garments is carried on by the Government.
Does not that imply, practically, a governmental control or initiative in
fashions of dress?"

"Dear me, no!" exclaimed the superintendent. "It is evident, Mr. West, as
indeed the histories say, that governmental action carried with it in
your day an arbitrary implication which it does not now. The Government
is actually now what it nominally was in the America of your day--the
servant, tool, and instrument by which the people give effect to their
will, itself being without will. The popular will is expressed in two
ways, which are quite distinct and relate to different provinces: First,
collectively, by majority, in regard to blended, mutually involved
interests, such as the large economic and political concerns of the
community; second, personally, by each individual for himself or herself
in the furtherance of private and self-regarding matters. The Government
is not more absolutely the servant of the collective will in regard to
the blended interests of the community than it is of the individual
convenience in personal matters. It is at once the august representative
of all in general concerns, and everybody's agent, errand boy, and
factotum for all private ends. Nothing is too high or too low, too great
or too little, for it to do for us.

"The dressmaking department holds its vast provision of fabrics and
machinery at the absolute disposition of the whims of every man or woman
in the nation. You can go to one of the stores and order any costume of
which a historical description exists, from the days of Eve to yesterday,
or you can furnish a design of your own invention for a brand-new
costume, designating any material at present existing, and it will be
sent home to you in less time than any nineteenth-century dressmaker ever
even promised to fill an order. Really, talking of this, I want you to
see our garment-making machines in operation. Our paper garments, of
course, are seamless, and made wholly by machinery. The apparatus being
adjustable to any measure, you can have a costume turned out for you
complete while you are looking over the machine. There are, of course,
some general styles and shapes that are usually popular, and the stores
keep a supply of them on hand, but that is for the convenience of the
people, not of the department, which holds itself always ready to follow
the initiative of any citizen and provide anything ordered in the least
possible time."

"Then anybody can set the fashion?" I said.

"Anybody can set it, but whether it is followed depends on whether it is
a good one, and really has some new point in respect of convenience or
beauty; otherwise it certainly will not become a fashion. Its vogue will
be precisely proportioned to the merit the popular taste recognizes in
it, just as if it were an invention in mechanics. If a new idea in dress
has any merit in it, it is taken up with great promptness, for our people
are extremely interested in enhancing personal beauty by costume, and the
absence of any arbitrary standards of style such as fashion set for you
leaves us on the alert for attractions and novelties in shape and color.
It is in variety of effect that our mode of dressing seems indeed to
differ most from yours. Your styles were constantly being varied by the
edicts of fashion, but as only one style was tolerated at a time, you had
only a successive and not a simultaneous variety, such as we have. I
should imagine that this uniformity of style, extending, as I understand
it often did, to fabric, color, and shape alike, must have caused your
great assemblages to present a depressing effect of sameness.

"That was a fact fully admitted in my day," I replied. "The artists were
the enemies of fashion, as indeed all sensible people were, but
resistance was in vain. Do you know, if I were to return to the
nineteenth century, there is perhaps nothing else I could tell my
contemporaries of the changes you have made that would so deeply impress
them as the information that you had broken the scepter of fashion, that
there were no longer any arbitrary standards in dress recognized, and
that no style had any other vogue that might be given it by individual
recognition of its merits. That most of the other yokes humanity wore
might some day be broken, the more hopeful of us believed, but the yoke
of fashion we never expected to be freed from, unless perhaps in heaven."

"The reign of fashion, as the history books call it, always seemed to me
one of the most utterly incomprehensible things about the old order,"
said Edith. "It would seem that it must have had some great force behind
it to compel such abject submission to a rule so tyrannical. And yet
there seems to have been no force at all used. Do tell us what the secret
was, Julian?"

"Don't ask me," I protested. "It seemed to be some fell enchantment that
we were subject to--that is all I know. Nobody professed to understand
why we did as we did. Can't you tell us," I added, turning to the
superintendent--"how do you moderns diagnose the fashion mania that made
our lives such a burden to us?"

"Since you appeal to me," replied our companion, "I may say that the
historians explain the dominion of fashion in your age as the natural
result of a disparity of economic conditions prevailing in a community in
which rigid distinctions of caste had ceased to exist. It resulted from
two factors: the desire of the common herd to imitate the superior class,
and the desire of the superior class to protect themselves from that
imitation and preserve distinction of appearance. In times and countries
where class was caste, and fixed by law or iron custom, each caste had
its distinctive dress, to imitate which was not allowed to another class.
Consequently fashions were stationary. With the rise of democracy, the
legal protection of class distinctions was abolished, while the actual
disparity in social ranks still existed, owing to the persistence of
economic inequalities. It was now free for all to imitate the superior
class, and thus seem at least to be as good as it, and no kind of
imitation was so natural and easy as dress. First, the socially ambitious
led off in this imitation; then presently the less pretentious were
constrained to follow their example, to avoid an apparent confession of
social inferiority; till, finally, even the philosophers had to follow
the herd and conform to the fashion, to avoid being conspicuous by an
exceptional appearance."

"I can see," said Edith, "how social emulation should make the masses
imitate the richer and superior class, and how the fashions should in
this way be set; but why were they changed so often, when it must have
been so terribly expensive and troublesome to make the changes?"

"For the reason," answered the superintendent, "that the only way the
superior class could escape their imitators and preserve their
distinction in dress was by adopting constantly new fashions, only to
drop them for still newer ones as soon as they were imitated.--Does it
seem to you, Mr. West, that this explanation corresponds with the facts
as you observed them?"

"Entirely so," I replied. "It might be added, too, that the changes in
fashions were greatly fomented and assisted by the self-interest of vast
industrial and commercial interests engaged in purveying the materials of
dress and personal belongings. Every change, by creating a demand for new
materials and rendering those in use obsolete, was what we called good
for trade, though if tradesmen were unlucky enough to be caught by a
sudden change of fashion with a lot of goods on hand it meant ruin to
them. Great losses of this sort, indeed, attended every change in

"But we read that there were fashions in many things besides dress," said

"Certainly," said the superintendent. "Dress was the stronghold and main
province of fashion because imitation was easiest and most effective
through dress, but in nearly everything that pertained to the habits of
living, eating, drinking, recreation, to houses, furniture, horses and
carriages, and servants, to the manner of bowing even, and shaking hands,
to the mode of eating food and taking tea, and I don't know what
else--there were fashions which must be followed, and were changed as
soon as they were followed. It was indeed a sad, fantastic race, and, Mr.
West's contemporaries appear to have fully realized it; but as long as
society was made up of unequals with no caste barriers to prevent
imitation, the inferiors were bound to ape the superiors, and the
superiors were bound to baffle imitation, so far as possible, by seeking
ever-fresh devices for expressing their superiority."

"In short," I said, "our tedious sameness in dress and manners appears to
you to have been the logical result of our lack of equality in

"Precisely so," answered the superintendent. "Because you were not equal,
you made yourself miserable and ugly in the attempt to seem so. The
aesthetic equivalent of the moral wrong of inequality was the artistic
abomination of uniformity. On the other hand, equality creates an
atmosphere which kills imitation, and is pregnant with originality, for
every one acts out himself, having nothing to gain by imitating any one



When we parted with the superintendent of the paper-process factory I
said to Edith that I had taken in since that morning about all the new
impressions and new philosophies I could for the time mentally digest,
and felt great need of resting my mind for a space in the contemplation
of something--if indeed there were anything--which had not changed or
been improved in the last century.

After a moment's consideration Edith exclaimed: "I have it! Ask no
questions, but just come with me."

Presently, as we were making our way along the route she had taken, she
touched my arm, saying, "Let us hurry a little."

Now, hurrying was the regulation gait of the nineteenth century. "Hurry
up!" was about the most threadbare phrase in the English language, and
rather than "_E pluribus unum_" should especially have been the
motto of the American people, but it was the first time the note of haste
had impressed my consciousness since I had been living twentieth-century
days. This fact, together with the touch of my companion upon my arm as
she sought to quicken my pace, caused me to look around, and in so doing
to pause abruptly.

"What is this?" I exclaimed.

"It is too bad!" said my companion. "I tried to get you past without
seeing it."

But indeed, though I had asked what was this building we stood in
presence of, nobody could know so well as I what it was. The mystery was
how it had come to be there for in the midst of this splendid city of
equals, where poverty was an unknown word, I found myself face to face
with a typical nineteenth-century tenement house of the worst sort--one
of the rookeries, in fact, that used to abound in the North End and other
parts of the city. The environment was indeed in strong enough contrast
with that of such buildings in my time, shut in as they generally were by
a labyrinth of noisome alleys and dark, damp courtyards which were
reeking reservoirs of foetid odors, kept in by lofty, light-excluding
walls. This building stood by itself, in the midst of an open square, as
if it had been a palace or other show place. But all the more, indeed, by
this fine setting was the dismal squalor of the grimy structure
emphasized. It seemed to exhale an atmosphere of gloom and chill which
all the bright sunshine of the breezy September afternoon was unable to
dominate. One would not have been surprised, even at noonday, to see
ghosts at the black windows. There was an inscription over the door, and
I went across the square to read it, Edith reluctantly following me.
These words I read, above the central doorway:


"This is one of the ghost buildings," said Edith, "kept to scare the
people with, so that they may never risk anything that looks like
bringing back the old order of things by allowing any one on any plea to
obtain an economic advantage over another. I think they had much better
be torn down, for there is no more danger of the world's going back to
the old order than there is of the globe reversing its rotation."

A band of children, accompanied by a young woman, came across the square
as we stood before the building, and filed into the doorway and up the
black and narrow stairway. The faces of the little ones were very
serious, and they spoke in whispers.

"They are school children." said Edith. "We are all taken through this
building, or some other like it, when we are in the schools, and the
teacher explains what manner of things used to be done and endured there.
I remember well when I was taken through this building as a child. It was
long afterward before I quite recovered from the terrible impression I
received. Really, I don't think it is a good idea to bring young children
here, but it is a custom that became settled in the period after the
Revolution, when the horror of the bondage they had escaped from was yet
fresh in the minds of the people, and their great fear was that by some
lack of vigilance the rule of the rich might be restored.

"Of course," she continued, "this building and the others like it, which
were reserved for warnings when the rest were razed to the ground, have
been thoroughly cleaned and strengthened and made sanitary and safe every
way, but our artists have very cunningly counterfeited all the old
effects of filth and squalor, so that the appearance of everything is
just as it was. Tablets in the rooms describe how many human beings used
to be crowded into them, and the horrible conditions of their lives. The
worst about it is that the facts are all taken from historical records,
and are absolutely true. There are some of these places in which the
inhabitants of the buildings as they used to swarm in them are reproduced
in wax or plaster with every detail of garments, furniture, and all the
other features based on actual records or pictures of the time. There is
something indescribably dreadful in going through the buildings fitted
out in that way. The dumb figures seem to appeal to you to help them. It
was so long ago, and yet it makes one feel conscience-stricken not to be
able to do anything."

"But, Julian, come away. It was just a stupid accident my bringing you
past here. When I undertook to show you something that had not changed
since your day, I did not mean to mock you."

Thanks to modern rapid transit, ten minutes later we stood on the ocean
shore, with the waves of the Atlantic breaking noisily at our feet and
its blue floor extending unbroken to the horizon. Here indeed was
something that had not been changed--a mighty existence, to which a
thousand years were as one day and one day as a thousand years. There
could be no tonic for my case like the inspiration of this great
presence, this unchanging witness of all earth's mutations. How petty
seemed the little trick of time that had been played on me as I stood in
the presence of this symbol of everlastingness which made past, present,
and future terms of little meaning!

In accompanying Edith to the part of the beach where we stood I had taken
no note of directions, but now, as I began to study the shore, I observed
with lively emotion that she had unwittingly brought me to the site of my
old seaside place at Nahant. The buildings were indeed gone, and the
growth of trees had quite changed the aspect of the landscape, but the
shore line remained unaltered, and I knew it at once. Bidding her follow
me, I led the way around a point to a little strip of beach between the
sea and a wall of rock which shut off all sight or sound of the land
behind. In my former life the spot had been a favorite resort when I
visited the shore. Here in that life so long ago, and yet recalled as if
of yesterday, I had been used from a lad to go to do my day dreaming.
Every feature of the little nook was as familiar to me as my bedroom and
all was quite unchanged. The sea in front, the sky above, the islands and
the blue headlands of the distant coast--all, indeed, that filled the
view was the same in every detail. I threw myself upon the warm sand by
the margin of the sea, as I had been wont to do, and in a moment the
flood of familiar associations had so completely carried me back to my
old life that all the marvels that had happened to me, when presently I
began to recall them, seemed merely as a day dream that had come to me
like so many others before it in that spot by the shore. But what a dream
it had been, that vision of the world to be; surely of all the dreams
that had come to me there by the sea the weirdest!

There had been a girl in the dream, a maiden much to be desired. It had
been ill if I had lost her; but I had not, for this was she, the girl in
this strange and graceful garb, standing by my side and smiling down at
me. I had by some great hap brought her back from dreamland, holding her
by the very strength of my love when all else of the vision had dissolved
at the opening of the eyes.

Why not? What youth has not often been visited in his dreams by maidenly
ideals fairer than walk on earth, whom, waking, he has sighed for and for
days been followed by the haunting beauty of their half-remembered faces?
I, more fortunate than they, had baffled the jealous warder at the gates
of sleep and brought my queen of dreamland through.

When I proceeded to state to Edith this theory to account for her
presence, she professed to find it highly reasonable, and we proceeded at
much length to develop the idea. Falling into the conceit that she was an
anticipation of the twentieth-century woman instead of my being an
excavated relic of the nineteenth-century man, we speculated what we
should do for the summer. We decided to visit the great pleasure resorts,
where, no doubt, she would under the circumstances excite much curiosity
and at the same time have an opportunity of studying what to her
twentieth-century mind would seem even more astonishing types of humanity
than she would seem to them--namely, people who, surrounded by a needy
and anguished world, could get their own consent to be happy in a
frivolous and wasteful idleness. Afterward we would go to Europe and
inspect such things there as might naturally be curiosities to a girl out
of the year 2000, such as a Rothschild, an emperor, and a few specimens
of human beings, some of which were at that time still extant in Germany,
Austria, and Russia, who honestly believed that God had given to certain
fellow-beings a divine title to reign over them.



It was after dark when we reached home, and several hours later before we
had made an end of telling our adventures. Indeed, my hosts seemed at all
times unable to hear too much of my impressions of modern things,
appearing to be as much interested in what I thought of them as I was in
the things themselves.

"It is really, you see," Edith's mother had said, "the manifestation of
vanity on our part. You are a sort of looking-glass to us, in which we
can see how we appear from a different point of view from our own. If it
were not for you, we should never have realized what remarkable people we
are, for to one another, I assure you, we seem very ordinary."

To which I replied that in talking with them I got the same looking-glass
effect as to myself and my contemporaries, but that it was one which by
no means ministered to my vanity.

When, as we talked, the globe of the color clock turning white announced
that it was midnight, some one spoke of bed, but the doctor had another

"I propose," said he, "by way of preparing a good night's rest for us
all, that we go over to the natatorium and take a plunge."

"Are there any public baths open so late as this?" I said. "In my day
everything was shut up long before now."

Then and there the doctor gave me the information which, matter of course
as it is to twentieth-century readers, was surprising enough to me, that
no public service or convenience is ever suspended at the present day,
whether by day or night, the year round; and that, although the service
provided varies in extent, according to the demand, it never varies in

"It seems to us," said the doctor, "that among the minor inconveniences
of life in your day none could have been more vexing than the recurrent
interruption of all, or of the larger part of all, public services every
night. Most of the people, of course, are asleep then, but always a
portion of them have occasion to be awake and about, and all of us
sometimes, and we should consider it a very lame public service that did
not provide for the night workers as good a service as for the day
workers. Of course, you could not do it, lacking any unitary industrial
organization, but it is very easy with us. We have day and night shifts
for all the public services--the latter, of course, much the smaller."

"How about public holidays; have you abandoned them?"

"Pretty generally. The occasional public holidays in your time were
prized by the people, as giving them much-needed breathing spaces.
Nowadays, when the working day is so short and the working year so
interspersed with ample vacations, the old-fashioned holiday has ceased
to serve any purpose, and would be regarded as a nuisance. We prefer to
choose and use our leisure time as we please."

It was to the Leander Natatorium that we had directed our steps. As I
need not remind Bostonians, this is one of the older baths, and
considered quite inferior to the modern structures. To me, however, it
was a vastly impressive spectacle. The lofty interior glowing with light,
the immense swimming tank, the four great fountains filling the air with
diamond-dazzle and the noise of falling water, together with the throng
of gayly dressed and laughing bathers, made an exhilarating and
magnificent scene, which was a very effective introduction to the
athletic side of the modern life. The loveliest thing of all was the
great expanse of water made translucent by the light reflected from the
white tiled bottom, so that the swimmers, their whole bodies visible,
seemed as if floating on a pale emerald cloud, with an effect of buoyancy
and weightlessness that was as startling as charming. Edith was quick to
tell me, however, that this was as nothing to the beauty of some of the
new and larger baths, where, by varying the colors of the tiling at the
bottom, the water is made to shade through all the tints of the rainbow
while preserving the same translucent appearance.

I had formed an impression that the water would be fresh, but the green
hue, of course, showed it to be from the sea.

"We have a poor opinion of fresh water for swimming when we can get
salt," said the doctor. "This water came in on the last tide from the

"But how do you get it up to this level?"

"We make it carry itself up," laughed the doctor; "it would be a pity if
the tidal force that raises the whole harbor fully seven feet, could not
raise what little we want a bit higher. Don't look at it so
suspiciously," he added. "I know that Boston Harbor water was far from
being clean enough for bathing in your day, but all that is changed. Your
sewerage systems, remember, are forgotten abominations, and nothing that
can defile is allowed to reach sea or river nowadays. For that reason we
can and do use sea water, not only for all the public baths, but provide
it as a distinct service for our home baths and also for all the public
fountains, which, thus inexhaustibly supplied, can be kept always
playing. But let us go in."

"Certainly, if you say so," said I, with a shiver, "but are you sure that
it is not a trifle cool? Ocean water was thought by us to be chilly for
bathing in late September."

"Did you think we were going to give you your death?" said the doctor.
"Of course, the water is warmed to a comfortable temperature; these baths
are open all winter."

"But, dear me! how can you possibly warm such great bodies of water,
which are so constantly renewed, especially in winter?"

"Oh, we have no conscience at all about what we make the tides do for
us," replied the doctor. "We not only make them lift the water up here,
but heat it, too. Why, Julian, cold or hot are terms without real
meaning, mere coquettish airs which Nature puts on, indicating that she
wants to be wooed a little. She would just as soon warm you as freeze
you, if you will approach her rightly. The blizzards which used to freeze
your generation might just as well have taken the place of your coal
mines. You look incredulous, but let me tell you now, as a first step
toward the understanding of modern conditions, that power, with all its
applications of light, heat, and energy, is to-day practically
exhaustless and costless, and scarcely enters as an element into
mechanical calculation. The uses of the tides, winds, and waterfalls are
indeed but crude methods of drawing on Nature's resources of strength
compared with others that are employed by which boundless power is
developed from natural inequalities of temperature."

A few moments later I was enjoying the most delicious sea bath that ever
up to that time had fallen to my lot; the pleasure of the pelting under
the fountains was to me a new sensation in life.

"You'll make a first-rate twentieth-century Bostonian," said the doctor,
laughing at my delight. "It is said that a marked feature of our modern
civilization is that we are tending to revert to the amphibious type of
our remote ancestry; evidently you will not object to drifting with the

It was one o'clock when we reached home.

"I suppose," said Edith, as I bade her good-night, "that in ten minutes
you will be back among your friends of the nineteenth century if you
dream as you did last night. What would I not give to take the journey
with you and see for myself what the world was like!"

"And I would give as much to be spared a repetition of the experience," I
said, "unless it were in your company."

"Do you mean that you really are afraid you will dream of the old times

"So much afraid," I replied, "that I have a good mind to sit up all night
to avoid the possibility of another such nightmare."

"Dear me! you need not do that," she said. "If you wish me to, I will see
that you are troubled no more in that way."

"Are you, then, a magician?"

"If I tell you not to dream of any particular matter, you will not," she

"You are easily the mistress of my waking thoughts," I said; "but can you
rule my sleeping mind as well?"

"You shall see," she said, and, fixing her eyes upon mine, she said
quietly, "Remember, you are not to dream of anything to-night which
belonged to your old life!" and, as she spoke, I knew in my mind that it
would be as she said.



Among the pieces of furniture in the subterranean bedchamber where Dr.
Leete had found me sleeping was one of the strong boxes of iron cunningly
locked which in my time were used for the storage of money and valuables.
The location of this chamber so far underground, its solid stone
construction and heavy doors, had not only made it impervious to noise
but equally proof against thieves, and its very existence being,
moreover, a secret, I had thought that no place could be safer for
keeping the evidences of my wealth.

Edith had been very curious about the safe, which was the name we gave to
these strong boxes, and several times when we were visiting the vault had
expressed a lively desire to see what was inside. I had proposed to open
it for her, but she had suggested that, as her father and mother would be
as much interested in the process as herself, it would be best to
postpone the treat till all should be present.

As we sat at breakfast the day after the experiences narrated in the
previous chapters, she asked why that morning would not be a good time to
show the inside of the safe, and everybody agreed that there could be no

"What is in the safe?" asked Edith's mother.

"When I last locked it in the year 1887," I replied, "there were in it
securities and evidences of value of various sorts representing something
like a million dollars. When we open it this morning we shall find,
thanks to the great Revolution, a fine collection of waste paper.--I
wonder, by the way, doctor, just what your judges would say if I were to
take those securities to them and make a formal demand to be reinstated
in the possessions which they represented? Suppose I said: 'Your Honors,
these properties were once mine and I have never voluntarily parted with
them. Why are they not mine now, and why should they not be returned to
me?' You understand, of course, that I have no desire to start a revolt
against the present order, which I am very ready to admit is much better
than the old arrangements, but I am quite curious to know just what the
judges would reply to such a demand, provided they consented to entertain
it seriously. I suppose they would laugh me out of court. Still, I think
I might argue with some plausibility that, seeing I was not present when
the Revolution divested us capitalists of our wealth, I am at least
entitled to a courteous explanation of the grounds on which that course
was justified at the time. I do not want my million back, even if it were
possible to return it, but as a matter of rational satisfaction I should
like to know on just what plea it was appropriated and is retained by the

"Really Julian," said the doctor, "it would be an excellent idea if you
were to do just what you have suggested--that is, bring a formal suit
against the nation for reinstatement in your former property. It would
arouse the liveliest popular interest and stimulate a discussion of the
ethical basis of our economic equality that would be of great educational
value to the community. You see the present order has been so long
established that it does not often occur to anybody except historians
that there ever was any other. It would be a good thing for the people to
have their minds stirred up on the subject and be compelled to do some
fundamental thinking as to the merits of the differences between the old
and the new order and the reasons for the present system. Confronting the
court with those securities in your hand, you would make a fine dramatic
situation. It would be the nineteenth century challenging the twentieth,
the old civilization, demanding an accounting of the new. The judges, you
may be sure, would treat you with the greatest consideration. They would
at once admit your rights under the peculiar circumstances to have the
whole question of wealth distribution and the rights of property reopened
from the beginning, and be ready to discuss it in the broadest spirit."

"No doubt," I answered, "but it is just an illustration, I suppose, of
the lack of unselfish public spirit among my contemporaries that I do not
feel disposed to make myself a spectacle even in the cause of education.
Besides, what is the need? You can tell me as well as the judges could
what the answer would be, and as it is the answer I want and not the
property that will do just as well."

"No doubt," said the doctor, "I could give you the general line of
reasoning they would follow."

"Very well. Let us suppose, then, that you are the court. On what ground
would you refuse to return me my million, for I assume that you would

"Of course it would be the same ground," replied the doctor, "that the
nation proceeded upon in nationalizing the property which that same
million represented at the time of the great Revolution."

"I suppose so; that is what I want to get at. What is that ground?"

"The court would say that to allow any person to withdraw or withhold
from the public administration for the common use any larger portion of
capital than the equal portion allotted to all for personal use and
consumption would in so far impair the ability of society to perform its
first duty to its members."

"What is this first duty of society to its members, which would be
interfered with by allowing particular citizens to appropriate more than
an equal proportion of the capital of the country?"

"The duty of safeguarding the first and highest right of its members--the
right of life."

"But how is the duty of society to safeguard the lives of its members
interfered with when one person, has more capital than another?"

"Simply," answered the doctor, "because people have to eat in order to
live, also to be clothed and to consume a mass of necessary and desirable
things, the sum of which constitutes what we call wealth or capital. Now,
if the supply of these things was always unlimited, as is the air we need
to breathe, it would not be necessary to see that each one had his share,
but the supply of wealth being, in fact, at any one time limited, it
follows that if some have a disproportionate share, the rest will not
have enough and may be left with nothing, as was indeed the case of
millions all over the world until the great Revolution established
economic equality. If, then, the first right of the citizen is protection
to life and the first duty of society is to furnish it, the state must
evidently see to it that the means of life are not unduly appropriated by
particular individuals, but are distributed so as to meet the needs of
all. Moreover, in order to secure the means of life to all, it is not
merely necessary that the state should see that the wealth available for
consumption is properly distributed at any given time; for, although all
might in that case fare well for to-day, tomorrow all might starve
unless, meanwhile, new wealth were being produced. The duty of society to
guarantee the life of the citizen implies, therefore, not merely the
equal distribution of wealth for consumption, but its employment as
capital to the best possible advantage for all in the production of more
wealth. In both ways, therefore, you will readily see that society would
fail in its first and greatest function in proportion as it were to
permit individuals beyond the equal allotment to withdraw wealth, whether
for consumption or employment as capital, from the public administration
in the common interest."

"The modern ethics of ownership is rather startlingly simple to a
representative of the nineteenth century," I observed. "Would not the
judges even ask me by what right or title of ownership I claimed my

"Certainly not. It is impossible that you or any one could have so strong
a title to material things as the least of your fellow-citizens have to
their lives, or could make so strong a plea for the use of the collective
power to enforce your right to things as they could make that the
collective power should enforce their right to life against your right to
things at whatever point the two claims might directly or indirectly
conflict. The effect of the disproportionate possession of the wealth of
a community by some of its members to curtail and threaten the living of
the rest is not in any way affected by the means by which that wealth was
obtained. The means may have constituted, as in past times they often did
by their iniquity, an added injury to the community; but the fact of the
disproportion, however resulting, was a continuing injury, without regard
to its beginnings. Our ethics of wealth is indeed, as you say, extremely
simple. It consists merely in the law of self-preservation, asserted in
the name of all against the encroachments of any. It rests upon a
principle which a child can understand as well as a philosopher, and
which no philosopher ever attempted to refute--namely, the supreme right
of all to live, and consequently to insist that society shall be so
organized as to secure that right.

"But, after all," said the doctor, "what is there in our economic
application of this principle which need impress a man of your time with
any other sensation than one of surprise that it was not earlier made?
Since what you were wont to call modern civilization existed, it has been
a principle subscribed to by all governments and peoples that it is the
first and supreme duty of the state to protect the lives of the citizens.
For the purpose of doing this the police, the courts, the army, and the
greater part of the machinery of governments has existed. You went so far
as to hold that a state which did not at any cost and to the utmost of
its resources safeguard the lives of its citizens forfeited all claim to
their allegiance.

"But while professing this principle so broadly in words, you completely
ignored in practice half and vastly the greater half of its meaning. You
wholly overlooked and disregarded the peril to which life is exposed on
the economic side--the hunger, cold, and thirst side. You went on the
theory that it was only by club, knife, bullet, poison, or some other
form of physical violence that life could be endangered, as if hunger,
cold, and thirst--in a word, economic want--were not a far more constant
and more deadly foe to existence than all the forms of violence together.
You overlooked the plain fact that anybody who by any means, however
indirect or remote, took away or curtailed one's means of subsistence
attacked his life quite as dangerously as it could be done with knife or
bullet--more so, indeed, seeing that against direct attack he would have
a better chance of defending himself. You failed to consider that no
amount of police, judicial, and military protection would prevent one
from perishing miserably if he had not enough to eat and wear."

"We went on the theory," I said, "that it was not well for the state to
intervene to do for the individual or to help him to do what he was able
to do for himself. We held that the collective organization should only
be appealed to when the power of the individual was manifestly unequal to
the task of self-defense."

"It was not so bad a theory if you had lived up to it," said the doctor,
"although the modern theory is far more rational that whatever can be
done better by collective than individual action ought to be so
undertaken, even if it could, after a more imperfect fashion, be
individually accomplished. But don't you think that under the economic
conditions which prevailed in America at the end of the nineteenth
century, not to speak of Europe, the average man armed with a good
revolver would have found the task of protecting himself and family
against violence a far easier one than that of protecting them against
want? Were not the odds against him far greater in the latter struggle
than they could have been, if he were a tolerably good shot, in the
former? Why, then, according to your own maxim, was the collective force
of society devoted without stint to safeguarding him against violence,
which he could have done for himself fairly well, while he was left to
struggle against hopeless odds for the means of a decent existence? What
hour, of what day of what year ever passed in which the number of deaths,
and the physical and moral anguish resulting from the anarchy of the
economic struggle and the crushing odds against the poor, did not
outweigh as a hundred to one that same hour's record of death or
suffering resulting from violence? Far better would society have
fulfilled its recognized duty of safeguarding the lives of its members
if, repealing every criminal law and dismissing every judge and
policeman, it had left men to protect themselves as best they might
against physical violence, while establishing in place of the machinery
of criminal justice a system of economic administration whereby all would
have been guaranteed against want. If, indeed, it had but substituted
this collective economic organization for the criminal and judicial
system it presently would have had as little need of the latter as we do,
for most of the crimes that plagued you were direct or indirect
consequences of your unjust economic conditions, and would have
disappeared with them.

"But excuse my vehemence. Remember that I am arraigning your civilization
and not you. What I wanted to bring out is that the principle that the
first duty of society is to safeguard the lives of its members was as
fully admitted by your world as by ours, and that in failing to give the
principle an economic as well as police, judicial, and military
interpretation, your world convicted itself of an inconsistency as
glaring in logic as it was cruel in consequences. We, on the other hand,
in assuming as a nation the responsibility of safeguarding the lives of
the people on the economic side, have merely, for the first time,
honestly carried out a principle as old as the civilized state."

"That is clear enough," I said. "Any one, on the mere statement of the
case, would of course be bound to admit that the recognized duty of the
state to guarantee the life of the citizen against the action of his
fellows does logically involve responsibility to protect him from
influences attacking the economic basis of life quite as much as from
direct forcible assaults. The more advanced governments of my day, by
their poor laws and pauper systems, in a dim way admitted this
responsibility, although the kind of provision they made for the
economically unfortunate was so meager and accompanied with such
conditions of ignominy that men would ordinarily rather die than accept
it. But grant that the sort of recognition we gave of the right of the
citizen to be guaranteed a subsistence was a mockery more brutal than its
total denial would have been, and that a far larger interpretation of its
duty in this respect was incumbent on the state, yet how does it
logically follow that society is bound to guarantee or the citizen to
demand an absolute economic equality?"

"It is very true, as you say," answered the doctor, "that the duty of
society to guarantee every member the economic basis of his life might be
after some fashion discharged short of establishing economic equality.
Just so in your day might the duty of the state to safeguard the lives of
citizens from physical violence have been discharged after a nominal
fashion if it had contented itself with preventing outright murders,
while leaving the people to suffer from one another's wantonness all
manner of violence not directly deadly; but tell me, Julian, were
governments in your day content with so construing the limit of their
duty to protect citizens from violence, or would the citizens have been
content with such a limitation?"

"Of course not."

"A government which in your day," continued the doctor, "had limited its
undertaking to protect citizens from violence to merely preventing
murders would not have lasted a day. There were no people so barbarous as
to have tolerated it. In fact, not only did all civilized governments
undertake to protect citizens from assaults against their lives, but from
any and every sort of physical assault and offense, however petty. Not
only might not a man so much as lay a finger on another in anger, but if
he only wagged his tongue against him maliciously he was laid by the
heels in jail. The law undertook to protect men in their dignity as well
as in their mere bodily integrity, rightly recognizing that to be
insulted or spit upon is as great a grievance as any assault upon life

"Now, in undertaking to secure the citizen in his right to life on the
economic side, we do but studiously follow your precedents in
safeguarding him from direct assault. If we did but secure his economic
basis so far as to avert death by direct effect of hunger and cold as
your pauper laws made a pretense of doing, we should be like a State in
your day which forbade outright murder but permitted every kind of
assault that fell short of it. Distress and deprivation resulting from
economic want falling short of actual starvation precisely correspond to
the acts of minor violence against which your State protected citizens as
carefully as against murder. The right of the citizen to have his life
secured him on the economic side can not therefore be satisfied by any
provision for bare subsistence, or by anything less than the means for
the fullest supply of every need which it is in the power of the nation
by the thriftiest stewardship of the national resources to provide for

"That is to say, in extending the reign of law and public justice to the
protection and security of men's interests on the economic side, we have
merely followed, as we were reasonably bound to follow, your much-vaunted
maxim of 'equality before the law.' That maxim meant that in so far as
society collectively undertook any governmental function, it must act
absolutely without respect of persons for the equal benefit of all.
Unless, therefore, we were to reject the principle of 'equality before
the law,' it was impossible that society, having assumed charge of the
production and distribution of wealth as a collective function, could
discharge it on any other principle than equality."

"If the court please," I said, "I should like to be permitted at this
point to discontinue and withdraw my suit for the restoration of my
former property. In my day we used to hold on to all we had and fight for
all we could get with a good stomach, for our rivals were as selfish as
we, and represented no higher right or larger view. But this modern
social system with its public stewardship of all capital for the general
welfare quite changes the situation. It puts the man who demands more
than his share in the light of a person attacking the livelihood and
seeking to impair the welfare of everybody else in the nation. To enjoy
that attitude anybody must be a good deal better convinced of the justice
of his title than I ever was even in the old days."



"Nevertheless," said the doctor, "I have stated only half the reason the
judges would give wherefore they could not, by returning your wealth,
permit the impairment of our collective economic system and the
beginnings of economic inequality in the nation. There is another great
and equal right of all men which, though strictly included under the
right of life, is by generous minds set even above it: I mean the right
of liberty--that is to say, the right not only to live, but to live in
personal independence of one's fellows, owning only those common social
obligations resting on all alike.

"Now, the duty of the state to safeguard the liberty of citizens was
recognized in your day just as was its duty to safeguard their lives, but
with the same limitation, namely, that the safeguard should apply only to
protect from attacks by violence. If it were attempted to kidnap a
citizen and reduce him by force to slavery, the state would interfere,
but not otherwise. Nevertheless, it was true in your day of liberty and
personal independence, as of life, that the perils to which they were
chiefly exposed were not from force or violence, but resulted from
economic causes, the necessary consequences of inequalities of wealth.
Because the state absolutely ignored this side, which was incomparably
the largest side of the liberty question, its pretense of defending the
liberties of citizens was as gross a mockery as that of guaranteeing
their lives. Nay, it was a yet more absolute mockery and on a far vaster

"For, although I have spoken of the monopolization of wealth and of the
productive machinery by a portion of the people as being first of all a
threat to the lives of the rest of the community and to be resisted as
such, nevertheless the main practical effect of the system was not to
deprive the masses of mankind of life outright, but to force them,
through want, to buy their lives by the surrender of their liberties.
That is to say, they accepted servitude to the possessing class and
became their serfs on condition of receiving the means of subsistence.
Although multitudes were always perishing from lack of subsistence, yet
it was not the deliberate policy of the possessing class that they should
do so. The rich had no use for dead men; on the other hand, they had
endless use for human beings as servants, not only to produce more
wealth, but as the instruments of their pleasure and luxury.

"As I need not remind you who were familiar with it, the industrial
system of the world before the great Revolution was wholly based upon the
compulsory servitude of the mass of mankind to the possessing class,
enforced by the coercion of economic need."

"Undoubtedly," I said, "the poor as a class were in the economic service
of the rich, or, as we used to say, labor was dependent on capital for
employment, but this service and employment had become in the nineteenth
century an entirely voluntary relation on the part of the servant or
employee. The rich had no power to compel the poor to be their servants.
They only took such as came voluntarily to ask to be taken into service,
and even begged to be, with tears. Surely a service so sought after could
scarcely be called compulsory."

"Tell us, Julian," said the doctor, "did the rich go to one another and
ask the privilege of being one another's servants or employees?"

"Of course not."

"But why not?"

"Because, naturally, no one could wish to be another's servant or subject
to his orders who could get along without it."

"I should suppose so, but why, then, did the poor so eagerly seek to
serve the rich when the rich refused with scorn to serve one another? Was
it because the poor so loved the rich?"


"Why then?"

"It was, of course, for the reason that it was the only way the poor
could get a living."

"You mean that it was only the pressure of want or the fear of it that
drove the poor to the point of becoming the servants of the rich?"

"That is about it."

"And would you call that voluntary service? The distinction between
forced service and such service as that would seem quite imperceptible to
us. If a man may be said to do voluntarily that which only the pressure
of bitter necessity compels him to elect to do, there has never been any
such thing as slavery, for all the acts of a slave are at the last the
acceptance of a less evil for fear of a worse. Suppose, Julian, you or a
few of you owned the main water supply, or food supply, clothing supply,
land supply, or main industrial opportunities in a community and could
maintain your ownership, that fact alone would make the rest of the
people your slaves, would it not, and that, too, without any direct
compulsion on your part whatever?"

"No doubt."

"Suppose somebody should charge you with holding the people under
compulsory servitude, and you should answer that you laid no hand on them
but that they willingly resorted to you and kissed your hands for the
privilege of being allowed to serve you in exchange for water, food, or
clothing, would not that be a very transparent evasion on your part of
the charge of slaveholding?"

"No doubt it would be."

"Well, and was not that precisely the relation the capitalists or
employers as a class held toward the rest of the community through their
monopolization of wealth and the machinery of production?"

"I must say that it was."

"There was a great deal said by the economists of your day," the doctor
went on, "about the freedom of contract--the voluntary, unconstrained
agreement of the laborer with the employer as to the terms of his
employment. What hypocrisy could have been so brazen as that pretense
when, as a matter of fact, every contract made between the capitalist who
had bread and could keep it and the laborer who must have it or die would
have been declared void, if fairly judged, even under your laws as a
contract made under duress of hunger, cold, and nakedness, nothing less
than the threat of death! If you own the things men must have, you own
the men who must have them."

"But the compulsion of want," said I, "meaning hunger and cold, is a
compulsion of Nature. In that sense we are all under compulsory servitude
to Nature."

"Yes, but not to one another. That is the whole difference between
slavery and freedom. To-day no man serves another, but all the common
good in which we equally share. Under your system the compulsion of
Nature through the appropriation by the rich of the means of supplying
Nature's demands was turned into a club by which the rich made the poor
pay Nature's debt of labor not only for themselves but for the rich also,
with a vast overcharge besides for the needless waste of the system."

"You make out our system to have been little better than slavery. That is
a hard word."

"It is a very hard word, and we want above all things to be fair. Let us
look at the question. Slavery exists where there is a compulsory using of
men by other men for the benefit of the users. I think we are quite
agreed that the poor man in your day worked for the rich only because his
necessities compelled him to. That compulsion varied in force according
to the degree of want the worker was in. Those who had a little economic
means would only render the lighter kinds of service on more or less easy
and honorable conditions, while those who had less means or no means at
all would do anything on any terms however painful or degrading. With the
mass of the workers the compulsion of necessity was of the sharpest kind.
The chattel slave had the choice between working for his master and the
lash. The wage-earner chose between laboring for an employer or starving.
In the older, cruder forms of slavery the masters had to be watching
constantly to prevent the escape of their slaves, and were troubled with
the charge of providing for them. Your system was more convenient, in
that it made Nature your taskmaster, and depended on her to keep your
servants to the task. It was a difference between the direct exercise of
coercion, in which the slave was always on the point of rebellion, and an
indirect coercion by which the same industrial result was obtained, while
the slave, instead of rebelling against his master's authority, was
grateful for the opportunity of serving him."

"But," said I, "the wage-earner received wages and the slave received

"I beg your pardon. The slave received subsistence--clothing and
shelter--and the wage-earner who could get more than these out of his
wages was rarely fortunate. The rate of wages, except in new countries
and under special conditions and for skilled workers, kept at about the
subsistence point, quite as often dropping below as rising above. The
main difference was that the master expended the subsistence wage of the
chattel slave for him while the earner expended it for himself. This was
better for the worker in some ways; in others less desirable, for the
master out of self-interest usually saw that the chattel,
children had enough; while the employer, having no stake in the life or
health of the wage-earner, did not concern himself as to whether he lived
or died. There were never any slave quarters so vile as the tenement
houses of the city slums where the wage-earners were housed."

"But at least," said I, "there was this radical difference between the
wage-earner of my day and the chattel slave: the former could leave his
employer at will, the latter could not."

"Yes, that is a difference, but one surely that told not so much in favor
of as against the wage-earner. In all save temporarily fortunate
countries with sparse population the laborer would have been glad indeed
to exchange the right to leave his employer for a guarantee that he would
not be discharged by him. Fear of losing his opportunity to work--his
job, as you called it--was the nightmare of the laborer's life as it was
reflected in the literature of your period. Was it not so?"

I had to admit that it was even so.

"The privilege of leaving one employer for another," pursued the doctor,
"even if it had not been more than balanced by the liability to
discharge, was of very little worth to the worker, in view of the fact
that the rate of wages was at about the same point wherever he might go,
and the change would be merely a choice between the personal dispositions
of different masters, and that difference was slight enough, for business
rules controlled the relations of masters and men."

I rallied once more.

"One point of real superiority at least you must admit the wage-earner
had over the chattel slave. He could by merit rise out of his condition
and become himself an employer, a rich man."

"Surely, Julian, you forget that there has rarely been a slave system
under which the more energetic, intelligent, and thrifty slaves could and
did not buy their freedom or have it given them by their masters. The
freedmen in ancient Rome rose to places of importance and power quite as
frequently as did the born proletarian of Europe or America get out of
his condition."

I did not think of anything to reply at the moment, and the doctor,
having compassion on me, pursued: "It is an old illustration of the
different view points of the centuries that precisely this point which
you make of the possibility of the wage-earner rising, although it was
getting to be a vanishing point in your day, seems to us the most truly
diabolical feature of the whole system. The prospect of rising as a
motive to reconcile the wage-earner or the poor man in general to his
subjection, what did it amount to? It was but saying to him, 'Be a good
slave, and you, too, shall have slaves of your own.' By this wedge did
you separate the cleverer of the wage-workers from the mass of them and
dignify treason to humanity by the name of ambition. No true man should
wish to rise save to raise others with him."

"One point of difference, however, you must at least admit," I said. "In
chattel slavery the master had a power over the persons of his slaves
which the employer did not have over even the poorest of his employees:
he could not lay his hand upon them in violence."

"Again, Julian," said the doctor, "you have mentioned a point of
difference that tells in favor of chattel slavery as a more humane
industrial method than the wage system. If here and there the anger of
the chattel slave owner made him forget his self-restraint so far as to
cripple or maim his slaves, yet such cases were on the whole rare, and
such masters were held to an account by public opinion if not by law; but
under the wage system the employer had no motive of self-restraint to
spare life or limb of his employees, and he escaped responsibility by the
fact of the consent and even eagerness of the needy people to undertake
the most perilous and painful tasks for the sake of bread. We read that
in the United States every year at least two hundred thousand men, women,
and children were done to death or maimed in the performance of their
industrial duties, nearly forty thousand alone in the single branch of
the steam railroad service. No estimate seems to have ever been attempted
of the many times greater number who perished more indirectly through the
injurious effects of bad industrial conditions. What chattel-slave system
ever made a record of such wastefulness of human life, as that?

"Nay, more, the chattel-slave owner, if he smote his slave, did it in
anger and, as likely as not, with some provocation; but these wholesale
slaughters of wage-earners that made your land red were done in sheer
cold-bloodedness, without any other motive on the part of the
capitalists, who were responsible, save gain.

"Still again, one of the more revolting features of chattel slavery has
always been considered the subjection of the slave women to the lust of
their masters. How was it in this respect under the rule of the rich? We
read in our histories that great armies of women in your day were forced
by poverty to make a business of submitting their bodies to those who had
the means of furnishing them a little bread. The books say that these
armies amounted in your great cities to bodies of thirty or forty
thousand women. Tales come down to us of the magnitude of the maiden
tribute levied upon the poorer classes for the gratification of the lusts
of those who could pay, which the annals of antiquity could scarcely
match for horror. Am I saying too much, Julian?"

"You have mentioned nothing but facts which stared me in the face all my
life," I replied, "and yet it appears I have had to wait for a man of
another century to tell me what they meant."

"It was precisely because they stared you and your contemporaries so
constantly in the face, and always had done so, that you lost the faculty
of judging their meaning. They were, as we might say, too near the eyes
to be seen aright. You are far enough away from the facts now to begin to
see them clearly and to realize their significance. As you shall continue
to occupy this modern view point, you will more and more completely come
to see with us that the most revolting aspect of the human condition
before the great Revolution was not the suffering from physical privation
or even the outright starvation of multitudes which directly resulted
from the unequal distribution of wealth, but the indirect effect of that
inequality to reduce almost the total human race to a state of degrading
bondage to their fellows. As it seems to us, the offense of the old order
against liberty was even greater than the offense to life; and even if it
were conceivable that it could have satisfied the right of life by
guaranteeing abundance to all, it must just the same have been destroyed,
for, although the collective administration of the economic system had
been unnecessary to guarantee life, there could be no such thing as
liberty so long as by the effect of inequalities of wealth and the
private control of the means of production the opportunity of men to
obtain the means of subsistence depended on the will of other men."



"I observe," pursued the doctor, "that Edith is getting very impatient
with these dry disquisitions, and thinks it high time we passed from
wealth in the abstract to wealth in the concrete, as illustrated by the
contents of your safe. I will delay the company only while I say a very
few words more; but really this question of the restoration of your
million, raised half in jest as it was, so vitally touches the central
and fundamental principle of our social order that I want to give you at
least an outline idea of the modern ethics of wealth distribution.

"The essential difference between the new and the old point of view you
fully possess by this time. The old ethics conceived of the question of
what a man might rightfully possess as one which began and ended with the
relation of individuals to things. Things have no rights as against moral
beings, and there was no reason, therefore, in the nature of the case as
thus stated, why individuals should not acquire an unlimited ownership of
things so far as their abilities permitted. But this view absolutely
ignored the social consequences which result from an unequal distribution
of material things in a world where everybody absolutely depends for life
and all its uses on their share of those things. That is to say, the old
so-called ethics of property absolutely overlooked the whole ethical side
of the subject--namely, its bearing on human relations. It is precisely
this consideration which furnishes the whole basis of the modern ethics
of property. All human beings are equal in rights and dignity, and only
such a system of wealth distribution can therefore be defensible as
respects and secures those equalities. But while this is the principle
which you will hear most generally stated as the moral ground of our
economic equality, there is another quite sufficient and wholly different
ground on which, even if the rights of life and liberty were not
involved, we should yet maintain that equal sharing of the total product
of industry was the only just plan, and that any other was robbery.

"The main factor in the production of wealth among civilized men is the
social organism, the machinery of associated labor and exchange by which
hundreds of millions of individuals provide the demand for one another's
product and mutually complement one another's labors, thereby making the
productive and distributive systems of a nation and of the world one
great machine. This was true even under private capitalism, despite the
prodigious waste and friction of its methods; but of course it is a far
more important truth now when the machinery of co-operation runs with
absolute smoothness and every ounce of energy is utilized to the utmost
effect. The element in the total industrial product which is due to the
social organism is represented by the difference between the value of
what one man produces as a worker in connection with the social
organization and what he could produce in a condition of isolation.
Working in concert with his fellows by aid of the social organism, he and
they produce enough to support all in the highest luxury and refinement.
Toiling in isolation, human experience has proved that he would be
fortunate if he could at the utmost produce enough to keep himself alive.
It is estimated, I believe, that the average daily product of a worker in
America to-day is some fifty dollars. The product of the same man working
in isolation would probably be highly estimated on the same basis of
calculation if put at a quarter of a dollar. Now tell me, Julian, to whom
belongs the social organism, this vast machinery of human association,
which enhances some two hundredfold the product of every one's labor?"

"Manifestly," I replied, "it can belong to no one in particular, but to
nothing less than society collectively. Society collectively can be the
only heir to the social inheritance of intellect and discovery, and it is
society collectively which furnishes the continuous daily concourse by
which alone that inheritance is made effective."

"Exactly so. The social organism, with all that it is and all it makes
possible, is the indivisible inheritance of all in common. To whom, then,
properly belongs that two hundredfold enhancement of the value of every
one's labor which is owing to the social organism?"

"Manifestly to society collectively--to the general fund."

"Previous to the great Revolution," pursued the doctor. "Although there
seems to have been a vague idea of some such social fund as this, which
belonged to society collectively, there was no clear conception of its
vastness, and no custodian of it, or possible provision to see that it
was collected and applied for the common use. A public organization of
industry, a nationalized economic system, was necessary before the social
fund could be properly protected and administered. Until then it must
needs be the subject of universal plunder and embezzlement. The social
machinery was seized upon by adventurers and made a means of enriching
themselves by collecting tribute from the people to whom it belonged and
whom it should have enriched. It would be one way of describing the
effect of the Revolution to say that it was only the taking possession by
the people collectively of the social machinery which had always belonged
to them, thenceforth to be conducted as a public plant, the returns of
which were to go to the owners as the equal proprietors and no longer to

"You will readily see," the doctor went on, "how this analysis of the
product of industry must needs tend to minimize the importance of the
personal equation of performance as between individual workers. If the
modern man, by aid of the social machinery, can produce fifty dollars'
worth of product where he could produce not over a quarter of a dollar's
worth without society, then forty-nine dollars and three quarters out of
every fifty dollars must be credited to the social fund to be equally
distributed. The industrial efficiency of two men working without society
might have differed as two to one--that is, while one man was able to
produce a full quarter dollar's worth of work a day, the other could
produce only twelve and a half cents' worth. This was a very great
difference under those circumstances, but twelve and a half cents is so
slight a proportion of fifty dollars as not to be worth mentioning. That
is to say, the difference in individual endowments between the two men
would remain the same, but that difference would be reduced to relative
unimportance by the prodigious equal addition made to the product of both
alike by the social organism. Or again, before gunpowder was invented one
man might easily be worth two as a warrior. The difference between the
men as individuals remained what it was; yet the overwhelming factor
added to the power of both alike by the gun practically equalized them as
fighters. Speaking of guns, take a still better illustration--the
relation of the individual soldiers in a square of infantry to the
formation. There might be large differences in the fighting power of the
individual soldiers singly outside the ranks. Once in the ranks, however,
the formation added to the fighting efficiency of every soldier equally
an element so overwhelming as to dwarf the difference between the
individual efficiency of different men. Say, for instance, that the
formation added ten to the fighting force of every member, then the man
who outside the ranks was as two to one in power compared with his
comrade would, when they both stood in the ranks, compare with him only
as twelve to eleven--an inconsiderable difference.

"I need scarcely point out to you, Julian, the bearing of the principle
of the social fund on economic equality when the industrial system was
nationalized. It made it obvious that even if it were possible to figure
out in a satisfactory manner the difference in the industrial products
which in an accounting with the social fund could be respectively
credited to differences in individual performance, the result would not
be worth the trouble. Even the worker of special ability, who might hope
to gain most by it, could not hope to gain so much as he would lose in
common with others by sacrificing the increased efficiency of the
industrial machinery that would result from the sentiment of solidarity
and public spirit among the workers arising from a feeling of complete
unity of interest."

"Doctor," I exclaimed, "I like that idea of the social fund immensely! It
makes me understand, among other things, the completeness with which you
seem to have outgrown the wages notion, which in one form or other was
fundamental to all economic thought in my day. It is because you are
accustomed to regarding the social capital rather than your day-to-day
specific exertions as the main source of your wealth. It is, in a word,
the difference between the attitude of the capitalist and the

"Even so," said the doctor. "The Revolution made us all capitalists, and
the idea of the dividend has driven out that of the stipend. We take
wages only in honor. From our point of view as to the collective
ownership of the economic machinery of the social system, and the
absolute claim of society collectively to its product, there is something
amusing in the laborious disputations by which your contemporaries used
to try to settle just how much or little wages or compensation for
services this or that individual or group was entitled to. Why, dear me,
Julian, if the cleverest worker were limited to his own product, strictly
separated and distinguished from the elements by which the use of the
social machinery had multiplied it, he would fare no better than a
half-starved savage. Everybody is entitled not only to his own product,
but to vastly more--namely, to his share of the product of the social
organism, in addition to his personal product, but he is entitled to this
share not on the grab-as-grab-can plan of your day, by which some made
themselves millionaires and others were left beggars, but on equal terms
with all his fellow-capitalists."

"The idea of an unearned increment given to private properties by the
social organism was talked of in my day," I said, "but only, as I
remember, with reference to land values. There were reformers who held
that society had the right to take in taxes all increase in value of land
that resulted from social factors, such as increased population or public
improvements, but they seemed to think the doctrine applicable to land

"Yes," said the doctor, "and it is rather odd that, having hold of the
clew, they did not follow it up."



Wires for light and heat had been put into the vault, and it was as warm
and bright and habitable a place as it had been a century before, when it
was my sleeping chamber. Kneeling before the door of the safe, I at once
addressed myself to manipulating the dial, my companions meanwhile
leaning over me in attitudes of eager interest.

It had been one hundred years since I locked the safe the last time, and
under ordinary circumstances that would have been long enough for me to
forget the combination several times over, but it was as fresh in my mind
as if I had devised it a fortnight before, that being, in fact, the
entire length of the intervening period so far as my conscious life was

"You observe," I said, "that I turn this dial until the letter 'K' comes
opposite the letter 'R.' Then I move this other dial till the number '9'
comes opposite the same point. Now the safe is practically unlocked. All
I have to do to open it is to turn this knob, which moves the bolts, and
then swing the door open, as you see."

But they did not see just then, for the knob would not turn, the lock
remaining fast. I knew that I had made no mistake about the combination.
Some of the tumblers in the lock had failed to fall. I tried it over
again several times and thumped the dial and the door, but it was of no
use. The lock remained stubborn. One might have said that its memory was
not as good as mine. It had forgotten the combination. A materialistic
explanation somewhat more probable was that the oil in the lock had been
hardened by time so as to offer a slight resistance. The lock could not
have rusted, for the atmosphere of the room had been absolutely dry.
Otherwise I should not have survived.

"I am sorry to disappoint you," I said, "but we shall have to send to the
headquarters of the safe manufacturers for a locksmith. I used to know
just where in Sudbury Street to go, but I suppose the safe business has
moved since then."

"It has not merely moved," said the doctor, "it has disappeared; there
are safes like this at the historical museum, but I never knew how they
were opened until now. It is really very ingenious."

"And do you mean to say that there are actually no locksmiths to-day who
could open this safe?"

"Any machinist can cut the steel like cardboard," replied the doctor;
"but really I don't believe there is a man in the world who could pick
the lock. We have, of course, simple locks to insure privacy and keep
children out of mischief, but nothing calculated to offer serious
resistance either to force or cunning. The craft of the locksmith is

At this Edith, who was impatient to see the safe opened, exclaimed that
the twentieth century had nothing to boast of if it could not solve a
puzzle which any clever burglar of the nineteenth century was equal to.

"From the point of view of an impatient young woman it may seem so," said
the doctor. "But we must remember that lost arts often are monuments of
human progress, indicating outgrown limitations and necessities, to which
they ministered. It is because we have no more thieves that we have no
more locksmiths. Poor Julian had to go to all this pains to protect the
papers in that safe, because if he lost them he would be left a beggar,
and, from being one of the masters of the many, would have become one of
the servants of the few, and perhaps be tempted to turn burglar himself.
No wonder locksmiths were in demand in those days. But now you see, even
supposing any one in a community enjoying universal and equal wealth
could wish to steal anything, there is nothing that he could steal with a
view to selling it again. Our wealth consists in the guarantee of an
equal share in the capital and income of the nation--a guarantee that is
personal and can not be taken from us nor given away, being vested in
each one at birth, and divested only by death. So you see the locksmith
and safe-maker would be very useless persons."

As we talked, I had continued to work the dial in the hope that the
obstinate tumbler might be coaxed to act, and presently a faint click
rewarded my efforts and I swung the door open.

"Faugh!" exclaimed Edith at the musty gust of confined air which
followed. "I am sorry for your people if that is a fair sample of what
you had to breathe."

"It is probably about the only sample left, at any rate," observed the

"Dear me! what a ridiculous little box it turns out to be for such a
pretentious outside!" exclaimed Edith's mother.

"Yes," said I. "The thick walls are to make the contents fireproof as
well as burglar-proof--and, by the way, I should think you would need
fireproof safes still."

"We have no fires, except in the old structures," replied the doctor.
"Since building was undertaken by the people collectively, you see we
could not afford to have them, for destruction of property means to the
nation a dead loss, while under private capitalism the loss might be
shuffled off on others in all sorts of ways. They could get insured, but
the nation has to insure itself."

Opening the inner door of the safe, I took out several drawers full of
securities of all sorts, and emptied them on the table in the room.

"Are these stuffy-looking papers what you used to call wealth?" said
Edith, with evident disappointment.

"Not the papers in themselves," I said, "but what they represented."

"And what was that?" she asked.

"The ownership of land, houses, mills, ships, railroads, and all manner
of other things," I replied, and went on as best I could to explain to
her mother and herself about rents, profits, interest, dividends, etc.
But it was evident, from the blank expression of their countenances, that
I was not making much headway.

Presently the doctor looked up from the papers which he was devouring
with the zeal of an antiquarian, and chuckled.

"I am afraid, Julian, you are on the wrong tack. You see economic science
in your day was a science of things; in our day it is a science of human
beings. We have nothing at all answering to your rent, interest, profits,
or other financial devices, and the terms expressing them have no meaning
now except to students. If you wish Edith and her mother to understand
you, you must translate these money terms into terms of men and women and
children, and the plain facts of their relations as affected by your
system. Shall you consider it impertinent if I try to make the matter a
little clearer to them?"

"I shall be much obliged to you," I said; "and perhaps you will at the
same time make it clearer to me."

"I think," said the doctor, "that we shall all understand the nature and
value of these documents much better if, instead of speaking of them as
titles of ownership in farms, factories, mines, railroads, etc., we state
plainly that they were evidences that their possessors were the masters
of various groups of men, women, and children in different parts of the
country. Of course, as Julian says, the documents nominally state his
title to things only, and say nothing about men and women. But it is the
men and women who went with the lands, the machines, and various other
things, and were bound to them by their bodily necessities, which gave
all the value to the possession of the things.

"But for the implication that there were men who, because they must have
the use of the land, would submit to labor for the owner of it in return
for permission to occupy it, these deeds and mortgages would have been of
no value. So of these factory shares. They speak only of water power and
looms, but they would be valueless but for the thousands of human workers
bound to the machines by bodily necessities as fixedly as if they were
chained there. So of these coal-mine shares. But for the multitude of
wretched beings condemned by want to labor in living graves, of what
value would have been these shares which yet make no mention of them? And
see again how significant is the fact that it was deemed needless to make
mention of and to enumerate by name these serfs of the field, of the
loom, of the mine! Under systems of chattel slavery, such as had formerly
prevailed, it was necessary to name and identify each chattel, that he
might be recovered in case of escape, and an account made of the loss in
case of death. But there was no danger of loss by the escape or the death
of the serfs transferred by these documents. They would not run away, for
there was nothing better to run to or any escape from the world-wide
economic system which enthralled them; and if they died, that involved no
loss to their owners, for there were always plenty more to take their
places. Decidedly, it would have been a waste of paper to enumerate them.

"Just now at the breakfast table," continued the doctor, "I was
explaining the modern view of the economic system of private capitalism
as one based on the compulsory servitude of the masses to the
capitalists, a servitude which the latter enforced by monopolizing the
bulk of the world's resources and machinery, leaving the pressure of want
to compel the masses to accept their yoke, the police and soldiers
meanwhile defending them in their monopolies. These documents turn up in
a very timely way to illustrate the ingenious and effectual methods by
which the different sorts of workers were organized for the service of
the capitalists. To use a plain illustration, these various sorts of
so-called securities may be described as so many kinds of human harness
by which the masses, broken and tamed by the pressure of want, were yoked
and strapped to the chariots of the capitalists.

"For instance, here is a bundle of farm mortgages on Kansas farms. Very
good; by virtue of the operation of this security certain Kansas farmers
worked for the owner of it, and though they might never know who he was
nor he who they were, yet they were as securely and certainly his thralls
as if he had stood over them with a whip instead of sitting in his parlor
at Boston, New York, or London. This mortgage harness was generally used
to hitch in the agricultural class of the population. Most of the farmers
of the West were pulling in it toward the end of the nineteenth
century.--Was it not so, Julian? Correct me if I am wrong."

"You are stating the facts very accurately," I answered. "I am beginning
to understand more clearly the nature of my former property."

"Now let us see what this bundle is," pursued the doctor. "Ah! yes; these
are shares in New England cotton factories. This sort of harness was
chiefly used for women and children, the sizes ranging away down so as to
fit girls and boys of eleven and twelve. It used to be said that it was
only the margin of profit furnished by the almost costless labor of the
little children that made these factories paying properties. The
population of New England was largely broken in at a very tender age to
work in this style of harness.

"Here, now, is a little different sort. These are railroad, gas, and
water-works shares. They were a sort of comprehensive harness, by which
not only a particular class of workers but whole communities were hitched
in and made to work for the owner of the security.

"And, finally, we have here the strongest harness of all, the Government
bond. This document, you sec, is a bond of the United States Government.
By it seventy million people--the whole nation, in fact--were harnessed
to the coach of the owner of this bond; and, what was more, the driver in
this case was the Government itself, against which the team would find it
hard to kick. There was a great deal of kicking and balking in the other
sorts of harness, and the capitalists were often inconvenienced and
temporarily deprived of the labor of the men they had bought and paid for
with good money. Naturally, therefore, the Government bond was greatly
prized by them as an investment. They used every possible effort to
induce the various governments to put more and more of this sort of
harness on the people, and the governments, being carried on by the
agents of the capitalists, of course kept on doing so, up to the very eve
of the great Revolution, which was to turn the bonds and all the other
harnesses into waste paper."

"As a representative of the nineteenth century," I said, "I can not deny
the substantial correctness of your rather startling way of describing
our system of investments. Still, you will admit that, bad as the system
was and bitter as was the condition of the masses under it, the function
performed by the capitalists in organizing and directing such industry as
we had was a service to the world of some value."

"Certainly, certainly," replied the doctor. "The same plea might be
urged, and has been, in defense of every system by which men have ever
made other men their servants from the beginning. There was always some
service, generally valuable and indispensable, which the oppressors could
urge and did urge as the ground and excuse of the servitude they
enforced. As men grew wiser they observed that they were paying a ruinous
price for the services thus rendered. So at first they said to the kings:
'To be sure, you help defend the state from foreigners and hang thieves,
but it is too much to ask us to be your serfs in exchange; we can do
better.' And so they established republics. So also, presently, the
people said to the priests: 'You have done something for us, but you have
charged too much for your services in asking us to submit our minds to
you; we can do better.' And so they established religious liberty.

"And likewise, in this last matter we are speaking of, the people finally
said to the capitalists: 'Yes, you have organized our industry, but at
the price of enslaving us. We can do better.' And substituting national
co-operation for capitalism, they established the industrial republic
based on economic democracy. If it were true, Julian, that any
consideration of service rendered to others, however valuable, could
excuse the benefactors for making bondmen of the benefited, then there
never was a despotism or slave system which could not excuse itself."

"Haven't you some real money to show us," said Edith, "something besides
these papers--some gold and silver such as they have at the museum?"

It was not customary in the nineteenth century for people to keep large
supplies of ready money in their houses, but for emergencies I had a
little stock of it in my safe, and in response to Edith's request I took
out a drawer containing several hundred dollars in gold and emptied it on
the table.

"How pretty they are!" exclaimed Edith, thrusting her hands in the pile
of yellow coins and clinking them together. "And is it really true that
if you only had enough of these things, no matter how or where you got
them, men and women would submit themselves to you and let you make what
use you pleased of them?"

"Not only would they let you use them as you pleased, but they would be
extremely grateful to you for being so good as to use them instead of
others. The poor fought each other for the privilege of being the
servants and underlings of those who had the money."

"Now I see," said Edith, "what the Masters of the Bread meant."

"What is that about Masters of the Bread?" I asked. "Who were they?"

"It was a name given to the capitalists in the revolutionary period,"
replied the doctor. "This thing Edith speaks of is a scrap of the
literature of that time, when the people first began to fully wake up to
the fact that class monopoly of the machinery of production meant slavery
for the mass."

"Let me see if I can recall it," said Edith. "It begins this way:
'Everywhere men, women, and children stood in the market-place crying to
the Masters of the Bread to take them to be their servants, that they
might have bread. The strong men said: "O Lords of the Bread, feel our
thews and sinews, our arms and our legs; see how strong we are. Take us
and use us. Let us dig for you. Let us hew for you. Let us go down in the
mine and delve for you. Let us freeze and starve in the forecastles of
your ships. Send us into the hells of your steamship stokeholes. Do what
you will with us, but let us serve you, that we may eat and not die!"

"'Then spoke up also the learned men, the scribes and the lawyers, whose
strength was in their brains and not in their bodies: "O Masters of the
Bread," they said, "take us to be your servants and to do your will. See
how fine is our wit, how great our knowledge; our minds are stored with
the treasures of learning and the subtlety of all the philosophies. To us
has been given clearer vision than to others, and the power of persuasion
that we should be leaders of the people, voices to the voiceless, and
eyes to the blind. But the people whom we should serve have no bread to
give us. Therefore, Masters of the Bread, give us to eat, and we will
betray the people to you, for we must live. We will plead for you in the
courts against the widow and the fatherless. We will speak and write in
your praise, and with cunning words confound those who speak against you
and your power and state. And nothing that you require of us shall seem
too much. But because we sell not only our bodies, but our souls also,
give us more bread than these laborers receive, who sell their bodies

"'And the priests and Levites also cried out as the Lords of the Bread
passed through the market-place: "Take us, Masters, to be your servants
and to do your will, for we also must eat, and you only have the bread.
We are the guardians of the sacred oracles, and the people hearken unto
us and reply not, for our voice to them is as the voice of God. But we
must have bread to eat like others. Give us therefore plentifully of your
bread, and we will speak to the people, that they be still and trouble
you not with their murmurings because of hunger. In the name of God the
Father will we forbid them to claim the rights of brothers, and in the
name of the Prince of Peace will we preach your law of competition."

"'And above all the clamor of the men were heard the voices of a
multitude of women crying to the Masters of the Bread: "Pass us not by,
for we must also eat. The men are stronger than we, but they eat much
bread while we eat little, so that though we be not so strong yet in the
end you shall not lose if you take us to be your servants instead of
them. And if you will not take us for our labor's sake, yet look upon us:
we are women, and should be fair in your eyes. Take us and do with us
according to your pleasure, for we must eat."

"'And above all the chaffering of the market, the hoarse voices of the
men, and the shrill voices of the women, rose the piping treble of the
little children, crying: "Take us to be your servants, for the breasts of
our mothers are dry and our fathers have no bread for us, and we hunger.
We are weak, indeed, but we ask so little, so very little, that at last
we shall be cheaper to you than the men, our fathers, who eat so much,
and the women, our mothers, who eat more than we."

"'And the Masters of the Bread, having taken for their use or pleasure
such of the men, the women, and the little ones as they saw fit, passed
by. And there was left a great multitude in the market-place for whom
there was no bread.'"

"Ah!" said the doctor, breaking the silence which followed the ceasing of
Edith's voice, "it was indeed the last refinement of indignity put upon
human nature by your economic system that it compelled men to seek the
sale of themselves. Voluntary in a real sense the sale was not, of
course, for want or the fear of it left no choice as to the necessity of
selling themselves to somebody, but as to the particular transaction
there was choice enough to make it shameful. They had to seek those to
whom to offer themselves and actively to procure their own purchase. In
this respect the submission of men to other men through the relation of
hire was more abject than under a slavery resting directly on force. In
that case the slave might be compelled to yield to physical duress, but
he could still keep a mind free and resentful toward his master; but in
the relation of hire men sought for their masters and begged as a favor
that they would use them, body and mind, for their profit or pleasure. To
the view of us moderns, therefore, the chattel slave was a more dignified
and heroic figure than the hireling of your day who called himself a free

"It was possible for the slave to rise in soul above his circumstances
and be a philosopher in bondage like Epictetus, but the hireling could
not scorn the bonds he sought. The abjectness of his position was not
merely physical but mental. In selling himself he had necessarily sold
his independence of mind also. Your whole industrial system seems in this
point of view best and most fitly described by a word which you oddly
enough reserved to designate a particular phase of self-selling practiced
by women.

"Labor for others in the name of love and kindness, and labor with others
for a common end in which all are mutually interested, and labor for its
own joy, are alike honorable, but the hiring out of our faculties to the
selfish uses of others, which was the form labor generally took in your
day, is unworthy of human nature. The Revolution for the first time in
history made labor truly honorable by putting it on the basis of
fraternal co-operation for a common and equally shared result. Until then
it was at best but a shameful necessity."

Presently I said: "When you have satisfied your curiosity as to these
papers I suppose we might as well make a bonfire of them, for they seem
to have no more value now than a collection of heathen fetiches after the
former worshipers have embraced Christianity."

"Well, and has not such a collection a value to the student of history?"
said the doctor. "Of course, these documents are scarcely now valuable in
the sense they were, but in another they have much value. I see among
them several varieties which are quite scarce in the historical
collections, and if you feel disposed to present the whole lot to our
museum I am sure the gift will be much appreciated. The fact is, the
great bonfire our grandfathers made, while a very natural and excusable
expression of jubilation over broken bondage, is much to be regretted
from an archaeological point of view."

"What do you mean by the great bonfire?" I inquired.

"It was a rather dramatic incident at the close of the great Revolution.
When the long struggle was ended and economic equality, guaranteed by the
public administration of capital, had been established, the people got
together from all parts of the land enormous collections of what you used
to call the evidences of value, which, while purporting to be
certificates of property in things, had been really certificates of the
ownership of men, deriving, as we have seen, their whole value from the
serfs attached to the things by the constraint of bodily necessities.
These it pleased the people--exalted, as you may well imagine, by the
afflatus of liberty--to collect in a vast mass on the site of the New
York Stock Exchange, the great altar of Plutus, whereon millions of human
beings had been sacrificed to him, and there to make a bonfire of them. A
great pillar stands on the spot to-day, and from its summit a mighty
torch of electric flame is always streaming, in commemoration of that
event and as a testimony forever to the ending of the parchment bondage
that was heavier than the scepters of kings. It is estimated that
certificates of ownership in human beings, or, as you called them, titles
to property, to the value of forty billion dollars, together with
hundreds of millions of paper money, went up in that great blaze, which
we devoutly consider must have been, of all the innumerable burnt
sacrifices which have been offered up to God from the beginning, the one
that pleased him best.

"Now, if I had been there, I can easily imagine that I should have
rejoiced over that conflagration as much as did the most exultant of
those who danced about it; but from the calmer point of view of the
present I regret the destruction of a mass of historic material. So you
see that your bonds and deeds and mortgages and shares of stock are
really valuable still."



"We read in the histories," said Edith's mother, "much about the amazing
extent to which particular individuals and families succeeded in
concentrating in their own hands the natural resources, industrial
machinery, and products of the several countries. Julian had only a
million dollars, but many individuals or families had, we are told,
wealth amounting to fifty, a hundred, and even two or three hundred
millions. We read of infants who in the cradle were heirs of hundreds of
millions. Now, something I never saw mentioned in the books was the
limit, for there must have been some limit fixed, to which one individual
might appropriate the earth's surface and resources, the means of
production, and the products of labor."

"There was no limit," I replied.

"Do you mean," exclaimed Edith, "that if a man were only clever and
unscrupulous enough he might appropriate, say, the entire territory of a
country and leave the people actually nothing to stand on unless by his

"Certainly," I replied. "In fact, in many countries of the Old World
individuals owned whole provinces, and in the United States even vaster
tracts had passed and were passing into private and corporate hands.
There was no limit whatever to the extent of land which one person might
own, and of course this ownership implied the right to evict every human
being from the territory unless the owner chose to let individuals remain
on payment of tribute."

"And how about other things besides land?" asked Edith.

"It was the same," I said. "There was no limit to the extent to which an
individual might acquire the exclusive ownership of all the factories,
shops, mines, and means of industry, and commerce of every sort, so that
no person could find an opportunity to earn a living except as the
servant of the owner and on his terms."

"If we are correctly informed," said the doctor, "the concentration of
the ownership of the machinery of production and distribution, trade and
industry, had already, before you fell asleep, been carried to a point in
the United States through trusts and syndicates which excited general

"Certainly," I replied. "It was then already in the power of a score of
men in New York city to stop at will every car-wheel in the United
States, and the combined action of a few other groups of capitalists
would have sufficed practically to arrest the industries and commerce of
the entire country, forbid employment to everybody, and starve the entire
population. The self-interest of these capitalists in keeping business
going on was the only ground of assurance the rest of the people had for
their livelihood from day to day. Indeed, when the capitalists desired to
compel the people to vote as they wished, it was their regular custom to
threaten to stop the industries of the country and produce a business
crisis if the election did not go to suit them."

"Suppose, Julian, an individual or family or group of capitalists, having
become sole owners of all the land and machinery of one nation, should
wish to go on and acquire the sole ownership of all the land and economic
means and machinery of the whole earth, would that have been inconsistent
with your law of property?"

"Not at all. If one individual, as you suggest, through the effect of
cunning and skill combined with inheritances, should obtain a legal title
to the whole globe, it would be his to do what he pleased with as
absolutely as if it were a garden patch, according to our law of
property. Nor is your supposition about one person or family becoming
owner of the whole earth a wholly fanciful one. There was, when I fell
asleep, one family of European bankers whose world-wide power and
resources were so vast and increasing at such a prodigious and
accelerating rate that they had already an influence over the destinies
of nations wider than perhaps any monarch ever exercised."

"And if I understand your system, if they had gone on and attained the
ownership of the globe to the lowest inch of standing room at low tide,
it would have been the legal right of that family or single individual,
in the name of the sacred right of property, to give the people of the
human race legal notice to move off the earth, and in case of their
failure to comply with the requirement of the notice, to call upon them
in the name of the law to form themselves into sheriffs' _posses_
and evict themselves from the earth's surface?"


"O father," exclaimed Edith, "you and Julian are trying to make fun of
us. You must think we will believe anything if you only keep straight
faces. But you are going too far."

"I do not wonder you think so," said the doctor. "But you can easily
satisfy yourself from the books that we have in no way exaggerated the
possibilities of the old system of property. What was called under that
system the right of property meant the unlimited right of anybody who was
clever enough to deprive everybody else of any property whatever."

"It would seem, then," said Edith, "that the dream of world conquest by
an individual, if ever realized, was more likely under the old _regime
_ to be realized by economic than by military means."

"Very true," said the doctor. "Alexander and Napoleon mistook their
trade; they should have been bankers, not soldiers. But, indeed, the time
was not in their day ripe for a world-wide money dynasty, such as we have
been speaking of. Kings had a rude way of interfering with the so-called
rights of property when they conflicted with royal prestige or produced
dangerous popular discontent. Tyrants themselves, they did not willingly
brook rival tyrants in their dominions. It was not till the kings had
been shorn of power and the interregnum of sham democracy had set in,
leaving no virile force in the state or the world to resist the money
power, that the opportunity for a world-wide plutocratic despotism
arrived. Then, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, when
international trade and financial relations had broken down national
barriers and the world had become one field of economic enterprise, did
the idea of a universally dominant and centralized money power become not
only possible, but, as Julian has said, had already so far materialized
itself as to cast its shadow before. If the Revolution had not come when
it did, we can not doubt that something like this universal plutocratic
dynasty or some highly centered oligarchy, based upon the complete
monopoly of all property by a small body, would long before this time
have become the government of the world. But of course the Revolution
must have come when it did, so we need not talk of what would have
happened if it had not come."



"I have read," said Edith, "that there never was a system of oppression
so bad that those who benefited by it did not recognize the moral sense
so far as to make some excuse for themselves. Was the old system of
property distribution, by which the few held the many in servitude
through fear of starvation, an exception to this rule? Surely the rich
could not have looked the poor in the face unless they had some excuse to
offer, some color of reason to give for the cruel contrast between their

"Thanks for reminding us of that point," said the doctor. "As you say,
there never was a system so bad that it did not make an excuse for
itself. It would not be strictly fair to the old system to dismiss it
without considering the excuse made for it, although, on the other hand,
it would really be kinder not to mention it, for it was an excuse that,
far from excusing, furnished an additional ground of condemnation for the
system which it undertook to justify."

"What was the excuse?" asked Edith.

"It was the claim that, as a matter of justice, every one is entitled to
the effect of his qualities--that is to say, the result of his abilities,
the fruit of his efforts. The qualities, abilities, and efforts of
different persons being different, they would naturally acquire
advantages over others in wealth seeking as in other ways; but as this
was according to Nature, it was urged that it must be right, and nobody
had any business to complain, unless of the Creator.

"Now, in the first place, the theory that a person has a right in dealing
with his fellows to take advantage of his superior abilities is nothing
other than a slightly more roundabout expression of the doctrine that
might is right. It was precisely to prevent their doing this that the
policeman stood on the corner, the judge sat on the bench, and the
hangman drew his fees. The whole end and amount of civilization had
indeed been to substitute for the natural law of superior might an
artificial equality by force of statute, whereby, in disregard of their
natural differences, the weak and simple were made equal to the strong
and cunning by means of the collective force lent them.

"But while the nineteenth-century moralists denied as sharply as we do
men's right to take advantage of their superiorities in direct dealings
by physical force, they held that they might rightly do so when the
dealings were indirect and carried on through the medium of things. That
is to say, a man might not so much as jostle another while drinking a cup
of water lest he should spill it, but he might acquire the spring of
water on which the community solely depended and make the people pay a
dollar a drop for water or go without. Or if he filled up the spring so
as to deprive the population of water on any terms, he was held to be
acting within his right. He might not by force take away a bone from a
beggar's dog, but he might corner the grain supply of a nation and reduce
millions to starvation.

"If you touch a man's living you touch him, would seem to be about as
plain a truth as could be put in words; but our ancestors had not the
least difficulty in getting around it. 'Of course,' they said, 'you must
not touch the man; to lay a finger on him would be an assault punishable
by law. But his living is quite a different thing. That depends on bread,
meat, clothing, land, houses, and other material things, which you have
an unlimited right to appropriate and dispose of as you please without
the slightest regard to whether anything is left for the rest of the

"I think I scarcely need dwell on the entire lack of any moral
justification for the different rule which our ancestors followed in
determining what use you might rightly make of your superior powers in
dealing with your neighbor directly by physical force and indirectly by
economic duress. No one can have any more or other right to take away
another's living by superior economic skill or financial cunning than if
he used a club, simply because no one has any right to take advantage of
any one else or to deal with him otherwise than justly by any means
whatever. The end itself being immoral, the means employed could not
possibly make any difference. Moralists at a pinch used to argue that a
good end might justify bad means, but none, I think, went so far as to
claim that good means justified a bad end; yet this was precisely what
the defenders of the old property system did in fact claim when they
argued that it was right for a man to take away the living of others and
make them his servants, if only his triumph resulted from superior talent
or more diligent devotion to the acquisition of material things.

"But indeed the theory that the monopoly of wealth could be justified by
superior economic ability, even if morally sound, would not at all have
fitted the old property system, for of all conceivable plans for
distributing property, none could have more absolutely defied every
notion of desert based on economic effort. None could have been more
utterly wrong if it were true that wealth ought to be distributed
according to the ability and industry displayed by individuals."

"All this talk started with the discussion of Julian's fortune. Now tell
us, Julian, was your million dollars the result of your economic ability,
the fruit of your industry?"

"Of course not," I replied. "Every cent of it was inherited. As I have
often told you, I never lifted a finger in a useful way in my life."

"And were you the only person whose property came to him by descent
without effort of his own?"

"On the contrary, title by descent was the basis and backbone of the
whole property system. All land, except in the newest countries, together
with the bulk of the more stable kinds of property, was held by that

"Precisely so. We hear what Julian says. While the moralists and the
clergy solemnly justified the inequalities of wealth and reproved the
discontent of the poor on the ground that those inequalities were
justified by natural differences in ability and diligence, they knew all
the time, and everybody knew who listened to them, that the foundation
principle of the whole property system was not ability, effort, or desert
of any kind whatever, but merely the accident of birth, than which no
possible claim could more completely mock at ethics."

"But, Julian," exclaimed Edith, "you must surely have had some way of
excusing yourself to your conscience for retaining in the presence of a
needy world such an excess of good things as you had!"

"I am afraid," I said, "that you can not easily imagine how callous was
the cuticle of the nineteenth-century conscience. There may have been
some of my class on the intellectual plane of little Jack Horner in
Mother Goose, who concluded he must be a good boy because he pulled out a
plum, but I did not at least belong to that grade. I never gave much
thought to the subject of my right to an abundance which I had done
nothing to earn in the midst of a starving world of toilers, but
occasionally, when I did think of it, I felt like craving pardon of the
beggar who asked alms for being in a position to give to him."

"It is impossible to get up any sort of a quarrel with Julian," said the
doctor; "but there were others of his class less rational. Cornered as to
their moral claim to their possessions, they fell back on that of their
ancestors. They argued that these ancestors, assuming them to have had a
right by merit to their possessions, had as an incident of that merit the
right to give them to others. Here, of course, they absolutely confused
the ideas of legal and moral right. The law might indeed give a person
power to transfer a legal title to property in any way that suited the
lawmakers, but the meritorious right to the property, resting as it did
on personal desert, could not in the nature of moral things be
transferred or ascribed to any one else. The cleverest lawyer would never
have pretended that he could draw up a document that would carry over the
smallest tittle of merit from one person to another, however close the
tie of blood.

"In ancient times it was customary to hold children responsible for the
debts of their fathers and sell them into slavery to make satisfaction.
The people of Julian's day found it unjust thus to inflict upon innocent
offspring the penalty of their ancestors' faults. But if these children
did not deserve the consequences of their ancestors' sloth, no more had
they any title to the product of their ancestors' industry. The
barbarians who insisted on both sorts of inheritance were more logical
than Julian's contemporaries, who, rejecting one sort of inheritance,
retained the other. Will it be said that at least the later theory of
inheritance was more humane, although one-sided? Upon that point you
should have been able to get the opinion of the disinherited masses who,
by reason of the monopolizing of the earth and its resources from
generation to generation by the possessors of inherited property, were
left no place to stand on and no way to live except by permission of the
inheriting class."

"Doctor," I said, "I have nothing to offer against all that. We who
inherited our wealth had no moral title to it, and that we knew as well
as everybody else did, although it was not considered polite to refer to
the fact in our presence. But if I am going to stand up here in the
pillory as a representative of the inheriting class, there are others who
ought to stand beside me. We were not the only ones who had no right to
our money. Are you not going to say anything about the money makers, the
rascals who raked together great fortunes in a few years by wholesale
fraud and extortion?"

"Pardon me, I was just coming to them," said the doctor. "You ladies must
remember," he continued, "that the rich, who in Julian's day possessed
nearly everything of value in every country, leaving the masses mere
scraps and crumbs, were of two sorts: those who had inherited their
wealth, and those who, as the saying was, had made it. We have seen how
far the inheriting class were justified in their holdings by the
principle which the nineteenth century asserted to be the excuse for
wealth--namely, that individuals were entitled to the fruit of their
labors. Let us next inquire how far the same principle justified the
possessions of these others whom Julian refers to, who claimed that they
had made their money themselves, and showed in proof lives absolutely
devoted from childhood to age without rest or respite to the piling up of
gains. Now, of course, labor in itself, however arduous, does not imply
moral desert. It may be a criminal activity. Let us see if these men who
claimed that they made their money had any better title to it than
Julian's class by the rule put forward as the excuse for unequal wealth,
that every one has a right to the product of his labor. The most complete
statement of the principle of the right of property, as based on economic
effort, which has come down to us, is this maxim: 'Every man is entitled
to his own product, his whole product, and nothing but his product.' Now,
this maxim had a double edge, a negative as well as a positive, and the
negative edge is very sharp. If everybody was entitled to his own
product, nobody else was entitled to any part of it, and if any one's
accumulation was found to contain any product not strictly his own, he
stood condemned as a thief by the law he had invoked. If in the great
fortunes of the stockjobbers, the railroad kings, the bankers, the great
landlords, and the other moneyed lords who boasted that they had begun
life with a shilling--if in these great fortunes of mushroom rapidity of
growth there was anything that was properly the product of the efforts of
any one but the owner, it was not his, and his possession of it condemned
him as a thief. If he would be justified, he must not be more careful to
obtain all that was his own product than to avoid taking anything that
was not his product. If he insisted upon the pound of flesh awarded him
by the letter of the law, he must stick to the letter, observing the
warning of Portia to Shylock:

      Nor cut thou less nor more
  But just a pound of flesh; if thou tak'st more
  Or less than a just pound, be it so much
  As makes light or heavy in the substance,
  Or the division of the twentieth part
  Of one poor scruple; nay, if the scale do turn
  But in the estimation of a hair,
  Thou diest, and thy goods are confiscate.

How many of the great fortunes heaped up by the self-made men of your
day, Julian, would have stood that test?"

"It is safe to say," I replied, "that there was not one of the lot whose
lawyer would not have advised him to do as Shylock did, and resign his
claim rather than try to push it at the risk of the penalty. Why, dear
me, there never would have been any possibility of making a great fortune
in a lifetime if the maker had confined himself to his own product. The
whole acknowledged art of wealth-making on a large scale consisted in
devices for getting possession of other people's product without too open
breach of the law. It was a current and a true saying of the times that
nobody could honestly acquire a million dollars. Everybody knew that it
was only by extortion, speculation, stock gambling, or some other form of
plunder under pretext of law that such a feat could be accomplished. You
yourselves can not condemn the human cormorants who piled up these heaps
of ill-gotten gains more bitterly than did the public opinion of their
own time. The execration and contempt of the community followed the great
money-getters to their graves, and with the best of reason. I have had
nothing to say in defense of my own class, who inherited our wealth, but
actually the people seemed to have more respect for us than for these
others who claimed to have made their money. For if we inheritors had
confessedly no moral right to the wealth we had done nothing to produce
or acquire, yet we had committed no positive wrong to obtain it."

"You see," said the doctor, "what a pity it would have been if we had
forgotten to compare the excuse offered by the nineteenth century for the
unequal distribution of wealth with the actual facts of that
distribution. Ethical standards advance from age to age, and it is not
always fair to judge the systems of one age by the moral standards of a
later one. But we have seen that the property system of the nineteenth
century would have gained nothing by way of a milder verdict by appealing
from the moral standards of the twentieth to those of the nineteenth
century. It was not necessary, in order to justify its condemnation, to
invoke the modern ethics of wealth which deduce the rights of property
from the rights of man. It was only necessary to apply to the
actual realities of the system the ethical plea put forth in its
defense--namely, that everybody was entitled to the fruit of his own
labor, and was not entitled to the fruit of anybody's else--to leave not
one stone upon another of the whole fabric."

"But was there, then, absolutely no class under your system," said
Edith's mother, "which even by the standards of your time could claim an
ethical as well as a legal title to their possessions?"

"Oh, yes," I replied, "we have been speaking of the rich. You may set it
down as a rule that the rich, the possessors of great wealth, had no
moral right to it as based upon desert, for either their fortunes
belonged to the class of inherited wealth, or else, when accumulated in a
lifetime, necessarily represented chiefly the product of others, more or
less forcibly or fraudulently obtained. There were, however, a great
number of modest competencies, which were recognized by public opinion as
being no more than a fair measure of the service rendered by their
possessors to the community. Below these there was the vast mass of
well-nigh wholly penniless toilers, the real people. Here there was
indeed abundance of ethical title to property, for these were the
producers of all; but beyond the shabby clothing they wore, they had
little or no property."

"It would seem," said Edith, "that, speaking generally, the class which
chiefly had the property had little or no right to it, even according to
the ideas of your day, while the masses which had the right had little or
no property."

"Substantially that was the case," I replied. "That is to say, if you
took the aggregate of property held by the merely legal title of
inheritance, and added to it all that had been obtained by means which
public opinion held to be speculative, extortionate, fraudulent, or
representing results in excess of services rendered, there would be
little property left, and certainly none at all in considerable amounts."

"From the preaching of the clergy in Julian's time," said the doctor,
"you would have thought the corner stone of Christianity was the right of
property, and the supreme crime was the wrongful appropriation of
property. But if stealing meant only taking that from another to which he
had a sound ethical title, it must have been one of the most difficult of
all crimes to commit for lack of the requisite material. When one took
away the possessions of the poor it was reasonably certain that he was
stealing, but then they had nothing to take away."

"The thing that seems to me the most utterly incredible about all this
terrible story," said Edith, "is that a system which was such a
disastrous failure in its effects on the general welfare, which, by
disinheriting the great mass of the people, had made them its bitter
foes, and which finally even people like Julian, who were its
beneficiaries, did not attempt to defend as having any ground of
fairness, could have maintained itself a day."

"No wonder it seems incomprehensible to you, as now, indeed, it seems to
me as I look back," I replied. "But you can not possibly imagine, as I
myself am fast losing the power to do, in my new environment, how
benumbing to the mind was the prestige belonging to the immemorial
antiquity of the property system as we knew it and of the rule of the
rich based on it. No other institution, no other fabric of power ever
known to man, could be compared with it as to duration. No different
economic order could really be said ever to have been known. There had
been changes and fashions in all other human institutions, but no radical
change in the system of property. The procession of political, social,
and religious systems, the royal, imperial, priestly, democratic epochs,
and all other great phases of human affairs, had been as passing cloud
shadows, mere fashions of a day, compared with the hoary antiquity of the
rule of the rich. Consider how profound and how widely ramified a root in
human prejudices such a system must have had, how overwhelming the
presumption must have been with the mass of minds against the possibility
of making an end of an order that had never been known to have a
beginning! What need for excuses or defenders had a system so deeply
based in usage and antiquity as this? It is not too much to say that to
the mass of mankind in my day the division of the race into rich and
poor, and the subjection of the latter to the former, seemed almost as
much a law of Nature as the succession of the seasons--something that
might not be agreeable, but was certainly unchangeable. And just here, I
can well understand, must have come the hardest as well as, necessarily,
the first task of the revolutionary leaders--that is, of overcoming the
enormous dead weight of immemorial inherited prejudice against the
possibility of getting rid of abuses which had lasted so long, and
opening people's eyes to the fact that the system of wealth distribution
was merely a human institution like others, and that if there is any
truth in human progress, the longer an institution had endured unchanged,
the more completely it was likely to have become out of joint with the
world's progress, and the more radical the change must be which, should
bring it into correspondence with other lines of social evolution."

"That is quite the modern view of the subject," said the doctor. "I shall
be understood in talking with a representative of the century which
invented poker if I say that when the revolutionists attacked the
fundamental justice of the old property system, its defenders were able
on account of its antiquity to meet them with a tremendous bluff--one
which it is no wonder should have been for a time almost paralyzing. But
behind the bluff there was absolutely nothing. The moment public opinion
could be nerved up to the point of calling it, the game was up. The
principle of inheritance, the backbone of the whole property system, at
the first challenge of serious criticism abandoned all ethical defense
and shriveled into a mere convention established by law, and as
rightfully to be disestablished by it in the name of anything fairer. As
for the buccaneers, the great money-getters, when the light was once
turned on their methods, the question was not so much of saving their
booty as their bacon.

"There is historically a marked difference," the doctor went on, "between
the decline and fall of the systems of royal and priestly power and the
passing of the rule of the rich. The former systems were rooted deeply in
sentiment and romance, and for ages after their overthrow retained a
strong hold on the hearts and imaginations of men. Our generous race has
remembered without rancor all the oppressions it has endured save only
the rule of the rich. The dominion of the money power had always been
devoid of moral basis or dignity, and from the moment its material
supports were destroyed, it not only perished, but seemed to sink away at
once into a state of putrescence that made the world hurry to bury it
forever out of sight and memory."



"Really," said her mother, "Edith touched the match to quite a large
discussion when she suggested that you should open the safe for us."

To which I added that I had learned more that morning about the moral
basis of economic equality and the grounds for the abolition of private
property than in my entire previous experience as a citizen of the
twentieth century.

"The abolition of private property!" exclaimed the doctor. "What is that
you say?"

"Of course," I said, "I am quite ready to admit that you have
something--very much better in its place, but private property you have
certainly abolished--have you not? Is not that what we have been talking

The doctor turned as if for sympathy to the ladies. "And this young
man," he said, "who thinks that we have abolished private property has at
this moment in his pocket a card of credit representing a private annual
income, for strictly personal use, of four thousand dollars, based upon a
share of stock in the wealthiest and soundest corporation in the world,
the value of his share, calculating the income on a four-per-cent basis,
coming to one hundred thousand dollars."

I felt a little silly at being convicted so palpably of making a
thoughtless observation, but the doctor hastened to say that he
understood perfectly what had been in my mind. I had, no doubt, heard it
a hundred times asserted by the wise men of my day that the equalization
of human conditions as to wealth would necessitate destroying the
institution of private property, and, without having given special
thought to the subject, had naturally assumed that the equalization of
wealth having been effected, private property must have been abolished,
according to the prediction.

"Thanks," I said; "that is it exactly."

"The Revolution," said the doctor, "abolished private capitalism--that is
to say, it put an end to the direction of the industries and commerce of
the people by irresponsible persons for their own benefit and transferred
that function to the people collectively to be carried on by responsible
agents for the common benefit. The change created an entirely new system
of property holding, but did not either directly or indirectly involve
any denial of the right of private property. Quite on the contrary, the
change in system placed the private and personal property rights of every
citizen upon a basis incomparably more solid and secure and extensive
than they ever before had or could have had while private capitalism
lasted. Let us analyze the effects of the change of systems and see if it
was not so."

"Suppose you and a number of other men of your time, all having separate
claims in a mining region, formed a corporation to carry on as one mine
your consolidated properties, would you have any less private property
than you had when you owned your claims separately? You would have
changed the mode and tenure of your property, but if the arrangement were
a wise one that would be wholly to your advantage, would it not?"

"No doubt."

"Of course, you could no longer exercise the personal and complete
control over the consolidated mine which you exercised over your separate
claim. You would have, with your fellow-corporators, to intrust the
management of the combined property to a board of directors chosen by
yourselves, but you would not think that meant a sacrifice of your
private property, would you?"

"Certainly not. That was the form under which a very large part, if not
the largest part, of private property in my day was invested and

"It appears, then," said the doctor, "that it is not necessary to the
full possession and enjoyment of private property that it should be in a
separate parcel or that the owner should exercise a direct and personal
control over it. Now, let us further suppose that instead of intrusting
the management of your consolidated property to private directors more or
less rascally, who would be constantly trying to cheat the stockholders,
the nation undertook to manage the business for you by agents chosen by
and responsible to you; would that be an attack on your property

"On the contrary, it would greatly enhance the value of the property. It
would be as if a government guarantee were obtained for private bonds."

"Well, that is what the people in the Revolution did with private
property. They simply consolidated the property in the country previously
held in separate parcels and put the management of the business into the
hands of a national agency charged with paying over the dividends to the
stockholders for their individual use. So far, surely, it must be
admitted the Revolution did not involve any abolition of private

"That is true," said I, "except in one particular. It is or used to be a
usual incident to the ownership of property that it may be disposed of at
will by the owner. The owner of stock in a mine or mill could not indeed
sell a piece of the mine or mill, but he could sell his stock in it; but
the citizen now can not dispose of his share in the national concern. He
can only dispose of the dividend."

"Certainly," replied the doctor; "but while the power of alienating the
principal of one's property was a usual incident of ownership in your
time, it was very far from being a necessary incident or one which was
beneficial to the owner, for the right of disposing of property involved
the risk of being dispossessed of it by others. I think there were few
property owners in your day who would not very gladly have relinquished
the right to alienate their property if they could have had it guaranteed
indefeasibly to them and their children. So to tie up property by trusts
that the beneficiary could not touch the principal was the study of rich
people who desired best to protect their heirs. Take the case of entailed
estates as another illustration of this idea. Under that mode of holding
property the possessor could not sell it, yet it was considered the most
desirable sort of property on account of that very fact. The fact you
refer to--that the citizen can not alienate his share in the national
corporation which forms the basis of his income--tends in the same way to
make it a more and not a less valuable sort of property. Certainly its
quality as a strictly personal and private sort of property is
intensified by the very indefeasibleness with which it is attached to the
individual. It might be said that the reorganization of the property
system which we are speaking of amounted to making the United States an
entailed estate for the equal benefit of the citizens thereof and their
descendants forever."

"You have not yet mentioned" I said, "the most drastic measure of all by
which the Revolution affected private property, namely, the absolute
equalizing of the amount of property to be held by each. Here was not
perhaps any denial of the principle itself of private property, but it
was certainly a prodigious interference with property holders."

"The distinction is well made. It is of vital importance to a correct
apprehension of this subject. History has been full of just such
wholesale readjustments of property interests by spoliation, conquest, or
confiscation. They have been more or less justifiable, but when least so
they were never thought to involve any denial of the idea of private
property in itself, for they went right on to reassert it under a
different form. Less than any previous readjustment of property relations
could the general equalizing of property in the Revolution be called a
denial of the right of property. On the precise contrary it was an
assertion and vindication of that right on a scale never before dreamed
of. Before the Revolution very few of the people had any property at all
and no economic provision save from day to day. By the new system all
were assured of a large, equal, and fixed share in the total national
principal and income. Before the Revolution even those who had secured a
property were likely to have it taken from them or to slip from them by a
thousand accidents. Even the millionaire had no assurance that his
grandson might not become a homeless vagabond or his granddaughter be
forced to a life of shame. Under the new system the title of every
citizen to his individual fortune became indefeasible, and he could lose
it only when the nation became bankrupt. The Revolution, that is to say,
instead of denying or abolishing the institution of private property,
affirmed it in an incomparably more positive, beneficial, permanent, and
general form than had ever been known before.

"Of course, Julian, it was in the way of human nature quite a matter of
course that your contemporaries should have cried out against the idea of
a universal right of property as an attack on the principle of property.
There was never a prophet or reformer who raised his voice for a purer,
more spiritual, and perfect idea of religion whom his contemporaries did
not accuse of seeking to abolish religion; nor ever in political affairs
did any party proclaim a juster, larger, wiser ideal of government
without being accused of seeking to abolish government. So it was quite
according to precedent that those who taught the right of all to property
should be accused of attacking the right of property. But who, think you,
were the true friends and champions of private property? those who
advocated a system under which one man if clever enough could monopolize
the earth--and a very small number were fast monopolizing it--turning the
rest of the race into proletarians, or, on the other hand, those who
demanded a system by which all should become property holders on equal

"It strikes me," I said, "that as soon as the revolutionary leaders
succeeded in opening the eyes of the people to this view of the matter,
my old friends the capitalists must have found their cry about 'the
sacred right of property' turned into a most dangerous sort of

"So they did. Nothing could have better served the ends of the
Revolution, as we have seen, than to raise the issue of the right of
property. Nothing was so desirable as that the people at large should be
led to give a little serious consideration on rational and moral grounds
to what that right was as compared with what it ought to be. It was very
soon, then, that the cry of 'the sacred right of property,' first raised
by the rich in the name of the few, was re-echoed with overwhelming
effect by the disinherited millions in the name of all."



"Ah!" exclaimed Edith, who with her mother had been rummaging the drawers
of the safe as the doctor and I talked, "here are some letters, if I am
not mistaken. It seems, then, you used safes for something besides

It was, in fact, as I noted with quite indescribable emotion, a packet of
letters and notes from Edith Bartlett, written on various occasions
during our relation as lovers, that Edith, her great-granddaughter, held
in her hand. I took them from her, and opening one, found it to be a note
dated May 30, 1887, the very day on which I parted with her forever. In
it she asked me to join her family in their Decoration-day visit to the
grave at Mount Auburn where her brother lay, who had fallen in the civil

"I do not expect, Julian," she had written, "that you will adopt all my
relations as your own because you marry me--that would be too much--but
my hero brother I want you to take for yours, and that is why I would
like you to go with us to-day."

The gold and parchments, once so priceless, now carelessly scattered
about the chamber, had lost their value, but these tokens of love had not
parted with their potency through lapse of time. As by a magic power they
called up in a moment a mist of memories which shut me up in a world of
my own--a world in which the present had no part. I do not know for how
long I sat thus tranced and oblivious of the silent, sympathizing group
around me. It was by a deep involuntary sigh from my own lips that I was
at last roused from my abstraction, and returned from the dream world of
the past to a consciousness of my present environment and its conditions.

"These are letters," I said, "from the other Edith--Edith Bartlett, your
great-grandmother. Perhaps you would be interested in looking them over.
I don't know who has a nearer or better claim to them after myself than
you and your mother."

Edith took the letters and began to examine them with reverent curiosity.

"They will be very interesting," said her mother, "but I am afraid,
Julian, we shall have to ask you to read them for us."

My countenance no doubt expressed the surprise I felt at this confession
of illiteracy on the part of such highly cultivated persons.

"Am I to understand," I finally inquired, "that handwriting, and the
reading of it, like lock-making, is a lost art?"

"I am afraid it is about so," replied the doctor, "although the
explanation here is not, as in the other case, economic equality so much
as the progress of invention. Our children are still taught to write and
to read writing, but they have so little practice in after-life that they
usually forget their acquirements pretty soon after leaving school; but
really Edith ought still to be able to make out a nineteenth-century
letter.--My dear, I am a little ashamed of you."

"Oh, I can read this, papa," she exclaimed, looking up, with brows still
corrugated, from a page she had been studying. "Don't you remember I
studied out those old letters of Julian's to Edith Bartlett, which mother
had?--though that was years ago, and I have grown rusty since. But I have
read nearly two lines of this already. It is really quite plain. I am
going to work it all out without any help from anybody except mother."

"Dear me, dear me!" said I, "don't you write letters any more?"

"Well, no," replied the doctor, "practically speaking, handwriting has
gone out of use. For correspondence, when we do not telephone, we send
phonographs, and use the latter, indeed, for all purposes for which you
employed handwriting. It has been so now so long that it scarcely occurs
to us that people ever did anything else. But surely this is an evolution
that need surprise you little: you had the phonograph, and its
possibilities were patent enough from the first. For our important
records we still largely use types, of course, but the printed matter is
transcribed from phonographic copy, so that really, except in
emergencies, there is little use for handwriting. Curious, isn't it, when
one comes to think of it, that the riper civilization has grown, the more
perishable its records have become? The Chaldeans and Egyptians used
bricks, and the Greeks and Romans made more or less use of stone and
bronze, for writing. If the race were destroyed to-day and the earth
should be visited, say, from Mars, five hundred years later or even less,
our books would have perished, and the Roman Empire be accounted the
latest and highest stage of human civilization."



Presently Edith and her mother went into the house to study out the
letters, and the doctor being so delightfully absorbed with the stocks
and bonds that it would have been unkind not to leave him alone, it
struck me that the occasion was favorable for the execution of a private
project for which opportunity had hitherto been lacking.

From the moment of receiving my credit card I had contemplated a
particular purchase which I desired to make on the first opportunity.
This was a betrothal ring for Edith. Gifts in general, it was evident,
had lost their value in this age when everybody had everything he wanted,
but this was one which, for sentiment's sake, I was sure would still seem
as desirable to a woman as ever.

Taking advantage, therefore, of the unusual absorption of my hosts in
special interests, I made my way to the great store Edith had taken me to
on a former occasion, the only one I had thus far entered. Not seeing the
class of goods which I desired indicated by any of the placards over the
alcoves, I presently asked one of the young women attendants to direct me
to the jewelry department.

"I beg your pardon," she said, raising her eyebrows a little, "what did I
understand you to ask for?"

"The jewelry department," I repeated. "I want to look at some rings."

"Rings," she repeated, regarding me with a rather blank expression. "May
I ask what kind of rings, for what sort of use?"

"Finger rings," I repeated, feeling that the young woman could not be so
intelligent as she looked.

At the word she glanced at my left hand, on one of the fingers of which I
wore a seal ring after a fashion of my day. Her countenance took on an
expression at once of intelligence and the keenest interest.

"I beg your pardon a thousand times!" she exclaimed. "I ought to have
understood before. You are Julian West?"

I was beginning to be a little nettled with so much mystery about so
simple a matter.

"I certainly am Julian West," I said; "but pardon me if I do not see the
relevancy of that fact to the question I asked you."

"Oh, you must really excuse me," she said, "but it is most relevant.
Nobody in America but just yourself would ask for finger rings. You see
they have not been used for so long a period that we have quite ceased to
keep them in stock; but if you would like one made to order you have only
to leave a description of what you want and it will be at once

I thanked her, but concluded that I would not prosecute the undertaking
any further until I had looked over the ground a little more thoroughly.

I said nothing about my adventure at home, not caring to be laughed at
more than was necessary; but when after dinner I found the doctor alone
in his favorite outdoor study on the housetop, I cautiously sounded him
on the subject.

Remarking, as if quite in a casual way, that I had not noticed so much as
a finger ring worn by any one, I asked him whether the wearing of jewelry
had been disused, and, if so, what was the explanation of the abandonment
of the custom?

The doctor said that it certainly was a fact that the wearing of jewelry
had been virtually an obsolete custom for a couple of generations if not
more. "As for the reasons for the fact," he continued, "they really go
rather deeply into the direct and indirect consequences of our present
economic system. Speaking broadly, I suppose the main and sufficient
reason why gold and silver and precious stones have ceased to be prized
as ornaments is that they entirely lost their commercial value when the
nation organized wealth distribution on the basis of the indefeasible
economic equality of all citizens. As you know, a ton of gold or a bushel
of diamonds would not secure a loaf of bread at the public stores,
nothing availing there except or in addition to the citizen's credit,
which depends solely on his citizenship, and is always equal to that of
every other citizen. Consequently nothing is worth anything to anybody
nowadays save for the use or pleasure he can personally derive from it.
The main reason why gems and the precious metals were formerly used as
ornaments seems to have been the great convertible value belonging to
them, which made them symbols of wealth and importance, and consequently
a favorite means of social ostentation. The fact that they have entirely
lost this quality would account, I think, largely for their disuse as
ornaments, even if ostentation itself had not been deprived of its motive
by the law of equality."

"Undoubtedly," I said; "yet there were those who thought them pretty
quite apart from their value."

"Well, possibly," replied the doctor. "Yes, I suppose savage races
honestly thought so, but, being honest, they did not distinguish between
precious stones and glass beads so long as both were equally shiny. As to
the pretension of civilized persons to admire gems or gold for their
intrinsic beauty apart from their value, I suspect that was a more or
less unconscious sham. Suppose, by any sudden abundance, diamonds of the
first water had gone down to the value of bottle glass, how much longer
do you think they would have been worn by anybody in your day?"

I was constrained to admit that undoubtedly they would have disappeared
from view promptly and permanently.

"I imagine," said the doctor, "that good taste, which we understand even
in your day rather frowned on the use of such ornaments, came to the aid
of the economic influence in promoting their disuse when once the new
order of things had been established. The loss by the gems and precious
metals of the glamour that belonged to them as forms of concentrated
wealth left the taste free to judge of the real aesthetic value of
ornamental effects obtained by hanging bits of shining stones and plates
and chains and rings of metal about the face and neck and fingers, and
the view seems to have been soon generally acquiesced in that such
combinations were barbaric and not really beautiful at all."

"But what has become of all the diamonds and rubies and emeralds, and
gold and silver jewels?" I exclaimed.

"The metals, of course--silver and gold--kept their uses, mechanical and
artistic. They are always beautiful in their proper places, and are as
much used for decorative purposes as ever, but those purposes are
architectural, not personal, as formerly. Because we do not follow the
ancient practice of using paints on our faces and bodies, we use them not
the less in what we consider their proper places, and it is just so with
gold and silver. As for the precious stones, some of them have found use
in mechanical applications, and there are, of course, collections of them
in museums here and there. Probably there never were more than a few
hundred bushels of precious stones in existence, and it is easy to
account for the disappearance and speedy loss of so small a quantity of
such minute objects after they had ceased to be prized."

"The reasons you give for the passing of jewelry," I said, "certainly
account for the fact, and yet you can scarcely imagine what a surprise I
find in it. The degradation of the diamond to the rank of the glass bead,
save for its mechanical uses, expresses and typifies as no other one fact
to me the completeness of the revolution which at the present time has
subordinated things to humanity. It would not be so difficult, of course,
to understand that men might readily have dispensed with jewel-wearing,
which indeed was never considered in the best of taste as a masculine
practice except in barbarous countries, but it would have staggered the
prophet Jeremiah to have his query 'Can a maid forget her ornaments?'
answered in the affirmative."

The doctor laughed.

"Jeremiah was a very wise man," he said, "and if his attention had been
drawn to the subject of economic equality and its effect upon the
relation of the sexes, I am sure he would have foreseen as one of its
logical results the growth of a sentiment of quite as much philosophy
concerning personal ornamentation on the part of women as men have ever
displayed. He would not have been surprised to learn that one effect of
that equality as between men and women had been to revolutionize women's
attitude on the whole question of dress so completely that the most
bilious of misogynists--if indeed any were left--would no longer be able
to accuse them of being more absorbed in that interest than are men."

"Doctor, doctor, do not ask me to believe that the desire to make herself
attractive has ceased to move woman!"

"Excuse me, I did not mean to say anything of the sort," replied the
doctor. "I spoke of the disproportionate development of that desire which
tends to defeat its own end by over-ornament and excess of artifice. If
we may judge from the records of your time, this was quite generally the
result of the excessive devotion to dress on the part of your women; was
it not so?"

"Undoubtedly. Overdressing, overexertion to be attractive, was the
greatest drawback to the real attractiveness of women in my day."

"And how was it with the men?"

"That could not be said of any men worth calling men. There were, of
course, the dandies, but most men paid too little attention to their
appearance rather than too much."

"That is to say, one sex paid too much attention to dress and the other
too little?"

"That was it."

"Very well; the effect of economic equality of the sexes and the
consequent independence of women at all times as to maintenance upon men
is that women give much less thought to dress than in your day and men
considerably more. No one would indeed think of suggesting that either
sex is nowadays more absorbed in setting off its personal attractions
than the other. Individuals differ as to their interest in this matter,
but the difference is not along the line of sex."

"But why do you attribute this miracle," I exclaimed, "for miracle it
seems, to the effect of economic equality on the relation of men and

"Because from the moment that equality became established between them it
ceased to be a whit more the interest of women to make themselves
attractive and desirable to men than for men to produce the same
impression upon women."

"Meaning thereby that previous to the establishment of economic equality
between men and women it was decidedly more the interest of the women to
make themselves personally attractive than of the men."

"Assuredly," said the doctor. "Tell me to what motive did men in your day
ascribe the excessive devotion of the other sex to matters of dress as
compared with men's comparative neglect of the subject?"

"Well, I don't think we did much clear thinking on the subject. In fact,
anything which had any sexual suggestion about it was scarcely ever
treated in any other than a sentimental or jesting tone."

"That is indeed," said the doctor, "a striking trait of your age, though
explainable enough in view of the utter hypocrisy underlying the entire
relation of the sexes, the pretended chivalric deference to women on the
one hand, coupled with their practical suppression on the other, but you
must have had some theory to account for women's excessive devotion to
personal adornment."

"The theory, I think, was that handed down from the ancients--namely,
that women were naturally vainer than men. But they did not like to hear
that said: so the polite way of accounting for the obvious fact that they
cared so much more for dress than did men was that they were more
sensitive to beauty, more unselfishly desirous of pleasing, and other
agreeable phrases."

"And did it not occur to you that the real reason why woman gave so much
thought to devices for enhancing her beauty was simply that, owing to her
economic dependence on man's favor, a woman's face was her fortune, and
that the reason men were so careless for the most part as to their
personal appearance was that their fortune in no way depended on their
beauty; and that even when it came to commending themselves to the favor
of the other sex their economic position told more potently in their
favor than any question of personal advantages? Surely this obvious
consideration fully explained woman's greater devotion to personal
adornment, without assuming any difference whatever in the natural
endowment of the sexes as to vanity."

"And consequently," I put in, "when women ceased any more to depend for
their economic welfare upon men's favor, it ceased to be their main aim
in life to make themselves attractive to men's eyes?"

"Precisely so, to their unspeakable gain in comfort, dignity, and freedom
of mind for more important interests."

"But to the diminution, I suspect, of the picturesqueness of the social

"Not at all, but most decidedly to its notable advantage. So far as we
can judge, what claim the women of your period had to be regarded as
attractive was achieved distinctly in spite of their efforts to make
themselves so. Let us recall that we are talking about that excessive
concern of women for the enhancement of their charms which led to a mad
race after effect that for the most part defeated the end sought. Take
away the economic motive which made women's attractiveness to men a means
of getting on in life, and there remained Nature's impulse to attract the
admiration of the other sex, a motive quite strong enough for beauty's
end, and the more effective for not being too strong."

"It is easy enough to see," I said, "why the economic independence of
women should have had the effect of moderating to a reasonable measure
their interest in personal adornment; but why should it have operated in
the opposite direction upon men, in making them more attentive to dress
and personal appearance than before?"

"For the simple reason that their economic superiority to women having
disappeared, they must henceforth depend wholly upon personal
attractiveness if they would either win the favor of women or retain it
when won."



"It occurs to me, doctor," I said, "that it would have been even better
worth the while of a woman of my day to have slept over till now than for
me, seeing that the establishment of economic equality seems to have
meant for more for women than for men."

"Edith would perhaps not have been pleased with the substitution," said
the doctor; "but really there is much in what you say, for the
establishment of economic equality did in fact mean incomparably more for
women than for men. In your day the condition of the mass of men was
abject as compared with their present state, but the lot of women was
abject as compared with that of the men. The most of men were indeed the
servants of the rich, but the woman was subject to the man whether he
were rich or poor, and in the latter and more common case was thus the
servant of a servant. However low down in poverty a man might be, he had
one or more lower even than he in the persons of the women dependent on
him and subject to his will. At the very bottom of the social heap,
bearing the accumulated burden of the whole mass, was woman. All the
tyrannies of soul and mind and body which the race endured, weighed at
last with cumulative force upon her. So far beneath even the mean estate
of man was that of woman that it would have been a mighty uplift for her
could she have only attained his level. But the great Revolution not
merely lifted her to an equality with man but raised them both with the
same mighty upthrust to a plane of moral dignity and material welfare as
much above the former state of man as his former state had been above
that of woman. If men then owe gratitude to the Revolution, how much
greater must women esteem their debt to it! If to the men the voice of
the Revolution was a call to a higher and nobler plane of living, to
woman it was as the voice of God calling her to a new creation."

"Undoubtedly," I said, "the women of the poor had a pretty abject time of
it, but the women of the rich certainly were not oppressed."

"The women of the rich," replied the doctor, "were numerically too
insignificant a proportion of the mass of women to be worth considering
in a general statement of woman's condition in your day. Nor, for that
matter, do we consider their lot preferable to that of their poorer
sisters. It is true that they did not endure physical hardship, but were,
on the contrary, petted and spoiled by their men protectors like
over-indulged children; but that seems to us not a sort of life to be
desired. So far as we can learn from contemporary accounts and social
pictures, the women of the rich lived in a hothouse atmosphere of
adulation and affectation, altogether less favorable to moral or mental
development than the harder conditions of the women of the poor. A woman
of to-day, if she were doomed to go back to live in your world, would beg
at least to be reincarnated as a scrub woman rather than as a wealthy
woman of fashion. The latter rather than the former seems to us the sort
of woman which most completely typified the degradation of the sex in
your age."

As the same thought had occurred to me, even in my former life, I did not
argue the point.

"The so-called woman movement, the beginning of the great transformation
in her condition," continued the doctor, "was already making quite a stir
in your day. You must have heard and seen much of it, and may have even
known some of the noble women who were the early leaders."

"Oh, yes." I replied. "There was a great stir about women's rights, but
the programme then announced was by no means revolutionary. It only aimed
at securing the right to vote, together with various changes in the laws
about property-holding by women, the custody of children in divorces, and
such details. I assure you that the women no more than the men had at
that time any notion of revolutionizing the economic system."

"So we understand," replied the doctor. "In that respect the women's
struggle for independence resembled revolutionary movements in general,
which, in their earlier stages, go blundering and stumbling along in such
a seemingly erratic and illogical way that it takes a philosopher to
calculate what outcome to expect. The calculation as to the ultimate
outcome of the women's movement was, however, as simple as was the same
calculation in the case of what you called the labor movement. What the
women were after was independence of men and equality with them, while
the workingmen's desire was to put an end to their vassalage to
capitalists. Now, the key to the fetters the women wore was the same that
locked the shackles of the workers. It was the economic key, the control
of the means of subsistence. Men, as a sex, held that power over women,
and the rich as a class held it over the working masses. The secret of
the sexual bondage and of the industrial bondage was the same--namely,
the unequal distribution of the wealth power, and the change which was
necessary to put an end to both forms of bondage must obviously be
economic equalization, which in the sexual as in the industrial relation
would at once insure the substitution of co-operation for coercion.

"The first leaders of the women's revolt were unable to see beyond the
ends of their noses, and consequently ascribed their subject condition
and the abuses they endured to the wickedness of man, and appeared to
believe that the only remedy necessary was a moral reform on his part.
This was the period during which such expressions as the 'tyrant man' and
'man the monster' were watchwords of the agitation. The champions of the
women fell into precisely the same mistake committed by a large
proportion of the early leaders of the workingmen, who wasted good breath
and wore out their tempers in denouncing the capitalists as the willful
authors of all the ills of the proletarian. This was worse than idle
rant; it was misleading and blinding. The men were essentially no worse
than the women they oppressed nor the capitalists than the workmen they
exploited. Put workingmen in the places of the capitalists and they would
have done just as the capitalists were doing. In fact, whenever
workingmen did become capitalists they were commonly said to make the
hardest sort of masters. So, also, if women could have changed places
with the men, they would undoubtedly have dealt with the men precisely as
the men had dealt with them. It was the system which permitted human
beings to come into relations of superiority and inferiority to one
another which was the cause of the whole evil. Power over others is
necessarily demoralizing to the master and degrading to the subject.
Equality is the only moral relation between human beings. Any reform
which should result in remedying the abuse of women by men, or workingmen
by capitalists, must therefore be addressed to equalizing their economic
condition. Not till the women, as well as the workingmen, gave over the
folly of attacking the consequences of economic inequality and attacked
the inequality itself, was there any hope for the enfranchisement of
either class.

"The utterly inadequate idea which the early leaders of the women had of
the great salvation they must have, and how it must come, are curiously
illustrated by their enthusiasm for the various so-called temperance
agitations of the period for the purpose of checking drunkenness among
men. The special interest of the women as a class in this reform in men's
manners--for women as a rule did not drink intoxicants--consisted in the
calculation that if the men drank less they would be less likely to abuse
them, and would provide more liberally for their maintenance; that is to
say, their highest aspirations were limited to the hope that, by
reforming the morals of their masters, they might secure a little better
treatment for themselves. The idea of abolishing the mastership had not
yet occurred to them as a possibility.

"This point, by the way, as to the efforts of women in your day to reform
men's drinking habits by law rather strikingly suggests the difference
between the position of women then and now in their relation to men. If
nowadays men were addicted to any practice which made them seriously and
generally offensive to women, it would not occur to the latter to attempt
to curb it by law. Our spirit of personal sovereignty and the rightful
independence of the individual in all matters mainly self-regarding would
indeed not tolerate any of the legal interferences with the private
practices of individuals so common in your day. But the women would not
find force necessary to correct the manners of the men. Their absolute
economic independence, whether in or out of marriage, would enable them
to use a more potent influence. It would presently be found that the men
who made themselves offensive to women's susceptibilities would sue for
their favor in vain. But it was practically impossible for women of your
day to protect themselves or assert their wills by assuming that
attitude. It was economically a necessity for a woman to marry, or at
least of so great advantage to her that she could not well dictate terms
to her suitors, unless very fortunately situated, and once married it was
the practical understanding that in return for her maintenance by her
husband she must hold herself at his disposal."

"It sounds horribly," I said, "at this distance of time, but I beg you to
believe that it was not always quite as bad as it sounds. The better men
exercised their power with consideration, and with persons of refinement
the wife virtually retained her self-control, and for that matter in many
families the woman was practically the head of the house."

"No doubt, no doubt," replied the doctor. "So it has always been under
every form of servitude. However absolute the power of a master, it has
been exercised with a fair degree of humanity in a large proportion of
instances, and in many cases the nominal slave, when of strong character,
has in reality exercised a controlling influence over the master. This
observed fact is not, however, considered a valid argument for subjecting
human beings to the arbitrary will of others. Speaking generally, it is
undoubtedly true that both the condition of women when subjected to men,
as well as that of the poor in subjection to the rich, were in fact far
less intolerable than it seems to us they possibly could have been. As
the physical life of man can be maintained and often thrive in any
climate from the poles to the equator, so his moral nature has shown its
power to live and even put forth fragrant flowers under the most terrible
social conditions."

"In order to realize the prodigious debt of woman to the great
Revolution," resumed the doctor, "we must remember that the bondage from
which it delivered her was incomparably more complete and abject than any
to which men had ever been subjected by their fellow-men. It was enforced
not by a single but by a triple yoke. The first yoke was the subjection
to the personal and class rule of the rich, which the mass of women bore
in common with the mass of men. The other two yokes were peculiar to her.
One of them was her personal subjection not only in the sexual relation,
but in all her behavior to the particular man on whom she depended for
subsistence. The third yoke was an intellectual and moral one, and
consisted in the slavish conformity exacted of her in all her thinking,
speaking, and acting to a set of traditions and conventional standards
calculated to repress all that was spontaneous and individual, and impose
an artificial uniformity upon both the inner and outer life.

"The last was the heaviest yoke of the three, and most disastrous in its
effects both upon women directly and indirectly upon mankind through the
degradation of the mothers of the race. Upon the woman herself the effect
was so soul-stifling and mind-stunting as to be made a plausible excuse
for treating her as a natural inferior by men not philosophical enough to
see that what they would make an excuse for her subjection was itself the
result of that subjection. The explanation of woman's submission in
thought and action to what was practically a slave code--a code peculiar
to her sex and scorned and derided by men--was the fact that the main
hope of a comfortable life for every woman consisted in attracting the
favorable attention of some man who could provide for her. Now, under
your economic system it was very desirable for a man who sought
employment to think and talk as his employer did if he was to get on in
life. Yet a certain degree of independence of mind and conduct was
conceded to men by their economic superiors under most circumstances, so
long as they were not actually offensive, for, after all, what was mainly
wanted of them was their labor. But the relation of a woman to the man
who supported her was of a very different and much closer character. She
must be to him _persona grata_, as your diplomats used to say. To
attract him she must be personally pleasing to him, must not offend his
tastes or prejudices by her opinions or conduct. Otherwise he would be
likely to prefer some one else. It followed from this fact that while a
boy's training looked toward fitting him to earn a living, a girl was
educated with a chief end to making her, if not pleasing, at least not
displeasing to men.

"Now, if particular women had been especially trained to suit particular
men's tastes--trained to order, so to speak--while that would have been
offensive enough to any idea of feminine dignity, yet it would have been
far less disastrous, for many men would have vastly preferred women of
independent minds and original and natural opinions. But as it was not
known beforehand what particular men would support particular women, the
only safe way was to train girls with a view to a negative rather than a
positive attractiveness, so that at least they might not offend average
masculine prejudices. This ideal was most likely to be secured by
educating a girl to conform herself to the customary traditional and
fashionable habits of thinking, talking, and behaving--in a word, to the
conventional standards prevailing at the time. She must above all things
avoid as a contagion any new or original ideas or lines of conduct in any
important respect, especially in religious, political, and social
matters. Her mind, that is to say, like her body, must be trained and
dressed according to the current fashion plates. By all her hopes of
married comfort she must not be known to have any peculiar or unusual or
positive notions on any subject more important than embroidery or parlor
decoration. Conventionality in the essentials having been thus secured,
the brighter and more piquant she could be in small ways and frivolous
matters the better for her chances. Have I erred in describing the
working of your system in this particular, Julian?"

"No doubt," I replied, "you have described to the life the correct and
fashionable ideal of feminine education in my time, but there were, you
must understand, a great many women who were persons of entirely original
and serious minds, who dared to think and speak for themselves."

"Of course there were. They were the prototypes of the universal woman of
to-day. They represented the coming woman, who to-day has come. They had
broken for themselves the conventional trammels of their sex, and proved
to the world the potential equality of women with men in every field of
thought and action. But while great minds master their circumstances, the
mass of minds are mastered by them and formed by them. It is when we
think of the bearing of the system upon this vast majority of women, and
how the virus of moral and mental slavery through their veins entered
into the blood of the race, that we realize how tremendous is the
indictment of humanity against your economic arrangements on account of
woman, and how vast a benefit to mankind was the Revolution that gave
free mothers to the race-free not merely from physical but from moral and
intellectual fetters.

"I referred a moment ago," pursued the doctor, "to the close parallelism
existing in your time between the industrial and the sexual situation,
between the relations of the working masses to the capitalists, and those
of the women to men. It is strikingly illustrated in yet another way.

"The subjection of the workingmen to the owners of capital was insured by
the existence at all times of a large class of the unemployed ready to
underbid the workers and eager to get employment at any price and on any
terms. This was the club with which the capitalist kept down the workers.
In like manner it was the existence of a body of unappropriated women
which riveted the yoke of women's subjection to men. When maintenance was
the difficult problem it was in your day there were many men who could
not maintain themselves, and a vast number who could not maintain women
in addition to themselves. The failure of a man to marry might cost him
happiness, but in the case of women it not only involved loss of
happiness, but, as a rule, exposed them to the pressure or peril of
poverty, for it was a much more difficult thing for women than for men to
secure an adequate support by their own efforts. The result was one of
the most shocking spectacles the world has ever known--nothing less, in
fact, than a state of rivalry and competition among women for the
opportunity of marriage. To realize how helpless were women in your day,
to assume toward men an attitude of physical, mental, or moral dignity
and independence, it is enough to remember their terrible disadvantage in
what your contemporaries called with brutal plainness the marriage

"And still woman's cup of humiliation was not full. There was yet another
and more dreadful form of competition by her own sex to which she was
exposed. Not only was there a constant vast surplus of unmarried women
desirous of securing the economic support which marriage implied, but
beneath these there were hordes of wretched women, hopeless of obtaining
the support of men on honorable terms, and eager to sell themselves for a
crust. Julian, do you wonder that, of all the aspects of the horrible
mess you called civilization in the nineteenth century, the sexual
relation reeks worst?"

"Our philanthropists were greatly disturbed over what we called the
social evil," said I--"that is, the existence of this great multitude of
outcast women--but it was not common to diagnose it as a part of the
economic problem. It was regarded rather as a moral evil resulting from
the depravity of the human heart, to be properly dealt with by moral and
religious influences."

"Yes, yes, I know. No one in your day, of course, was allowed to intimate
that the economic system was radically wicked, and consequently it was
customary to lay off all its hideous consequences upon poor human nature.
Yes, I know there were, people who agreed that it might be possible by
preaching to lessen the horrors of the social evil while yet the land
contained millions of women in desperate need, who had no other means of
getting bread save by catering to the desires of men. I am a bit of a
phrenologist, and have often wished for the chance of examining the
cranial developments of a nineteenth-century philanthropist who honestly
believed this, if indeed any of them honestly did."

"By the way," I said, "high-spirited women, even in my day, objected to
the custom that required them to take their husbands' names on marriage.
How do you manage that now?"

"Women's names are no more affected by marriage than men's."

"But how about the children?"

"Girls take the mother's last name with the father's as a middle name,
while with boys it is just the reverse."

       *       *       *       *       *

"It occurs to me," I said, "that it would be surprising if a fact so
profoundly affecting woman's relations with man as her achievement of
economic independence, had not modified the previous conventional
standards of sexual morality in some respects."

"Say rather," replied the doctor, "that the economic equalization of men
and women for the first time made it possible to establish their
relations on a moral basis. The first condition of ethical action in any
relation is the freedom of the actor. So long as women's economic
dependence upon men prevented them from being free agents in the sexual
relation, there could be no ethics of that relation. A proper ethics of
sexual conduct was first made possible when women became capable of
independent action through the attainment of economic equality."

"It would have startled the moralists of my day," I said, "to be told
that we had no sexual ethics. We certainly had a very strict and
elaborate system of 'thou shalt nots.'"

"Of course, of course," replied my companion. "Let us understand each
other exactly at this point, for the subject is highly important. You
had, as you say, a set of very rigid rules and regulations as to the
conduct of the sexes--that is, especially as to women--but the basis of
it, for the most part, was not ethical but prudential, the object being
the safeguarding of the economic interests of women in their relations
with men. Nothing could have been more important to the protection of
women on the whole, although so often bearing cruelly upon them
individually, than these rules. They were the only method by which, so
long as woman remained an economically helpless and dependent person, she
and her children could be even partially guarded from masculine abuse and
neglect. Do not imagine for a moment that I would speak lightly of the
value of this social code to the race during the time it was necessary.
But because it was entirely based upon considerations not suggested by
the natural sanctities of the sexual relation in itself, but wholly upon
prudential considerations affecting economic results, it would be an
inexact use of terms to call it a system of ethics. It would be more
accurately described as a code of sexual economics--that is to say, a
set of laws and customs providing for the economic protection of women
and children in the sexual and family relation.

"The marriage contract was embellished by a rich embroidery of
sentimental and religious fancies, but I need not remind you that its
essence in the eyes of the law and of society was its character as a
contract, a strictly economic _quid-pro-quo_ transaction. It was a
legal undertaking by the man to maintain the woman and future family in
consideration of her surrender of herself to his exclusive disposal--that
is to say, on condition of obtaining a lien on his property, she became a
part of it. The only point which the law or the social censor looked to
as fixing the morality or immorality, purity or impurity, of any sexual
act was simply the question whether this bargain had been previously
executed in accordance with legal forms. That point properly attended to,
everything that formerly had been regarded as wrong and impure for the
parties became rightful and chaste. They might have been persons unfit to
marry or to be parents; they might have been drawn together by the basest
and most sordid motives; the bride may have been constrained by need to
accept a man she loathed; youth may have been sacrificed to decrepitude,
and every natural propriety outraged; but according to your standard, if
the contract had been legally executed, all that followed was white and
beautiful. On the other hand, if the contract had been neglected, and a
woman had accepted a lover without it, then, however great their love,
however fit their union in every natural way, the woman was cast out as
unchaste, impure, and abandoned, and consigned to the living death of
social ignominy. Now let me repeat that we fully recognize the excuse for
this social law under your atrocious system as the only possible way of
protecting the economic interests of women and children, but to speak of
it as ethical or moral in its view of the sex relation is certainly about
as absurd a misuse of words as could be committed. On the contrary, we
must say that it was a law which, in order to protect women's material
interests, was obliged deliberately to disregard all the laws that are
written on the heart touching such matters.

"It seems from the records that there was much talk in your day about the
scandalous fact that there were two distinct moral codes in sexual
matters, one for men and another for women--men refusing to be bound by
the law imposed on women, and society not even attempting to enforce it
against them. It was claimed by the advocates of one code for both sexes
that what was wrong or right for woman was so for man, and that there
should be one standard of right and wrong, purity and impurity, morality
and immorality, for both. That was obviously the correct view of the
matter; but what moral gain would there have been for the race even if
men could have been induced to accept the women's code--a code so utterly
unworthy in its central idea of the ethics of the sexual relation?
Nothing but the bitter duress of their economic bondage had forced women
to accept a law against which the blood of ten thousand stainless
Marguerites, and the ruined lives of a countless multitude of women,
whose only fault had been too tender loving, cried to God perpetually.
Yes, there should doubtless be one standard of conduct for both men and
women as there is now, but it was not to be the slave code, with its
sordid basis, imposed upon the women by their necessities. The common and
higher code for men and women which the conscience of the race demanded
would first become possible, and at once thereafter would become assured
when men and women stood over against each other in the sexual relation,
as in all others, in attitudes of absolute equality and mutual

"After all, doctor," I said, "although at first it startled me a little
to hear you say that we had no sexual ethics, yet you really say no more,
nor use stronger words, than did our poets and satirists in treating the
same theme. The complete divergence between our conventional sexual
morality and the instinctive morality of love was a commonplace with us,
and furnished, as doubtless you well know, the motive of a large part of
our romantic and dramatic literature."

"Yes," replied the doctor, "nothing could be added to the force and
feeling with which your writers exposed the cruelty and injustice of the
iron law of society as to these matters--a law made doubly cruel and
unjust by the fact that it bore almost exclusively on women. But their
denunciations were wasted, and the plentiful emotions they evoked were
barren of result, for the reason that they failed entirely to point out
the basic fact that was responsible for the law they attacked, and must
be abolished if the law were ever to be replaced by a just ethics. That
fact, as we have seen, was the system of wealth distribution, by which
woman's only hope of comfort and security was made to depend on her
success in obtaining a legal guarantee of support from some man as the
price of her person."

"It seems to me," I observed, "that when the women, once fairly opened
their eyes to what the revolutionary programme meant for their sex by its
demand of economic equality for all, self-interest must have made them
more ardent devotees of the cause than even the men."

"It did indeed," replied the doctor. "Of course the blinding, binding
influence of conventionality, tradition, and prejudice, as well as the
timidity bred of immemorial servitude, for a long while prevented the
mass of women from understanding the greatness of the deliverance which
was offered them; but when once they did understand it they threw
themselves into the revolutionary movement with a unanimity and
enthusiasm that had a decisive effect upon the struggle. Men might regard
economic equality with favor or disfavor, according to their economic
positions, but every woman, simply because she was a woman, was bound to
be for it as soon as she got it through her head what it meant for her
half of the race."



Edith had come up on the house top in time to hear the last of our talk,
and now she said to her father:

"Considering what you have been telling Julian about women nowadays as
compared with the old days, I wonder if he would not be interested in
visiting the gymnasium this afternoon and seeing something of how we
train ourselves? There are going to be some foot races and air races, and
a number of other tests. It is the afternoon when our year has the
grounds, and I ought to be there anyway."

To this suggestion, which was eagerly accepted, I owe one of the most
interesting and instructive experiences of those early days during which
I was forming the acquaintance of the twentieth-century civilization.

At the door of the gymnasium Edith left us to join her class in the

"Is she to compete in anything?" I asked.

"All her year--that is, all of her age--in this ward will be entered in
more or less events."

"What is Edith's specialty?" I asked.

"As to specialties," replied the doctor, "our people do not greatly
cultivate them. Of course, privately they do what they please, but the
object of our public training is not so much to develop athletic
specialties as to produce an all-around and well-proportioned physical
development. We aim first of all to secure a certain standard of strength
and measurement for legs, thighs, arms, loins, chest, shoulders, neck,
etc. This is not the highest point of perfection either of physique or
performance. It is the necessary minimum. All who attain it may be
regarded as sound and proper men and women. It is then left to them as
they please individually to develop themselves beyond that point in
special directions.

"How long does this public gymnastic education last?"

"It is as obligatory as any part of the educational course until the body
is set, which we put at the age of twenty-four; but it is practically
kept up through life, although, of course, that is according to just how
one feels."

"Do you mean that you take regular exercise in a gymnasium?"

"Why should I not? It is no less of an object to me to be well at sixty
than it was at twenty."

"Doctor," said I, "if I seem surprised you must remember that in my day
it was an adage that no man over forty-five ought to allow himself to run
for a car, and as for women, they stopped running at fifteen, when their
bodies were put in a vise, their legs in bags, their toes in thumbscrews,
and they bade farewell to health."

"You do indeed seem to have disagreed terribly with your bodies," said
the doctor. "The women ignored theirs altogether, and as for the men, so
far as I can make out, up to forty they abused their bodies, and after
forty their bodies abused them, which, after all, was only fair. The vast
mass of physical misery caused by weakness and sickness, resulting from
wholly preventable causes, seems to us, next to the moral aspect of the
subject, to be one of the largest single items chargeable to your system
of economic inequality, for to that primal cause nearly every feature of
the account appears directly or indirectly traceable. Neither souls nor
bodies could be considered by your men in their mad struggle for a
living, and for a grip on the livelihood of others, while the complicated
system of bondage under which the women were held perverted mind and body
alike, till it was a wonder if there were any health left in them."

On entering the amphitheater we saw gathered at one end of the arena some
two or three hundred young men and women talking and lounging. These, the
doctor told me, were Edith's companions of the class of 1978, being all
those of twenty-two years of age, born in that ward or since coming there
to live. I viewed with admiration the figures of these young men and
women, all strong and beautiful as the gods and goddesses of Olympus.

"Am I to understand," I asked, "that this is a fair sample of your youth,
and not a picked assembly of the more athletic?"

"Certainly," he replied; "all the youth in their twenty-third year who
live in this ward are here to-day, with perhaps two or three exceptions
on account of some special reason."

"But where are the cripples, the deformed, the feeble, the consumptive?"

"Do you see that young man yonder in the chair with so many of the others
about him?" asked the doctor.

"Ah! there is then at least one invalid?"

"Yes," replied my companion: "he met with an accident, and will never be
vigorous. He is the only sickly one of the class, and you see how much
the others make of him. Your cripples and sickly were so many that pity
itself grew weary and spent of tears, and compassion callous with use;
but with us they are so few as to be our pets and darlings."

At that moment a bugle sounded, and some scores of young men and women
dashed by us in a foot race. While they ran, the bugle continued to sound
a nerve-bracing strain. The thing that astonished me was the evenness of
the finish, in view of the fact that the contestants were not specially
trained for racing, but were merely the group which in the round of tests
had that day come to the running test. In a race of similarly unselected
competitors in my day, they would have been strung along the track from
the finish to the half, and the most of them nearest that.

"Edith, I see, was third in," said the doctor, reading from the signals.
"She will be pleased to have done so well, seeing you were here."

The next event was a surprise. I had noticed a group of youths on a lofty
platform at the far end of the amphitheater making some sort of
preparations, and wondered what they were going to do. Now suddenly, at
the sound of a trumpet, I saw them leap forward over the edge of the
platform. I gave an involuntary cry of horror, for it was a deadly
distance to the ground below.

"It's all right," laughed the doctor, and the next moment I was staring
up at a score of young men and women charging through the air fifty feet
above the race course.

Then followed contests in ball-throwing and putting the shot.

"It is plain where your women get their splendid chests and shoulders,"
said I.

"You have noticed that, then!" exclaimed the doctor.

"I have certainly noticed," was my answer, "that your modern women seem
generally to possess a vigorous development and appearance of power above
the waist which were only occasionally seen in our day."

"You will be interested, no doubt," said the doctor, "to have your
impression corroborated by positive evidence. Suppose we leave the
amphitheater for a few minutes and step into the anatomical rooms. It is
indeed a rare fortune for an anatomical enthusiast like myself to have a
pupil so well qualified to be appreciative, to whom to point out the
effect our principle of social equality, and the best opportunities of
culture for all, have had in modifying toward perfection the human form
in general, and especially the female figure. I say especially the female
figure, for that had been most perverted in your day by the influences
which denied woman a full life. Here are a group of plaster statues,
based on the lines handed down to us by the anthropometric experts of the
last decades of the nineteenth century, to whom we are vastly indebted.
You will observe, as your remark just now indicated that you had
observed, that the tendency was to a spindling and inadequate development
above the waist and an excessive development below. The figure seemed a
little as if it had softened and run down like a sugar cast in warm
weather. See, the front breadth flat measurement of the hips is actually
greater than across the shoulders, whereas it ought to be an inch or two
less, and the bulbous effect must have been exaggerated by the bulging
mass of draperies your women accumulated about the waist."

At his words I raised my eyes to the stony face of the woman figure, the
charms of which he had thus disparaged, and it seemed to me that the
sightless eyes rested on mine with an expression of reproach, of which my
heart instantly confessed the justice. I had been the contemporary of
this type of women, and had been indebted to the light of their eyes for
all that made life worth living. Complete or not, as might be their
beauty by modern standards, through them I had learned to know the stress
of the ever-womanly, and been made an initiate of Nature's sacred
mysteries. Well might these stony eyes reproach me for consenting by my
silence to the disparagement of charms to which I owed so much, by a man
of another age.

"Hush, doctor, hush!" I exclaimed. "No doubt you are right, but it is not
for me to hear these words."

I could not find the language to explain what was in my mind, but it was
not necessary. The doctor understood, and his keen gray eyes glistened as
he laid his hand on my shoulder.

"Right, my boy, quite right! That is the thing for you to say, and Edith
would like you the better for your words, for women nowadays are jealous
for one another's honor, as I judge they were not in your day. But, on
the other hand, if there were present in this room disembodied shades of
those women of your day, they would rejoice more than any others could at
the fairer, ampler temples liberty has built for their daughters' souls
to dwell in.

"Look!" he added, pointing to another figure; "this is the typical woman
of to-day, the lines not ideal, but based on an average of measurements
for the purpose of scientific comparison. First, you will observe that
the figure is over two inches taller than the other. Note the shoulders!
They have gained two inches in width relatively to the hips, as compared
with the figure we have been examining. On the other hand, the girth at
the hips is greater, showing more powerful muscular development. The
chest is an inch and a half deeper, while the abdominal measure is fully
two inches deeper. These increased developments are all over and above
what the mere increase in stature would call for. As to the general
development of the muscular system, you will see there is simply no

"Now, what is the explanation? Simply the effect upon woman of the full,
free, untrammeled physical life to which her economic independence opened
the way. To develop the shoulders, arms, chest, loins, legs, and body
generally, exercise is needed--not mild and gentle, but vigorous,
continuous exertion, undertaken not spasmodically but regularly. There is
no dispensation of Providence that will or ever would give a woman
physical development on any other terms than those by which men have
acquired their development. But your women had recourse to no such means.
Their work had been confined for countless ages to a multiplicity of
petty tasks--hand work and finger work--tasks wearing to body and mind in
the extreme, but of a sort wholly failing to provoke that reaction of the
vital forces which builds up and develops the parts exercised. From time
immemorial the boy had gone out to dig and hunt with his father, or
contend for the mastery with other youths while the girl stayed at home
to spin and bake. Up to fifteen she might share with her brother a few of
his more insipid sports, but with the beginnings of womanhood came the
end of all participation in active physical outdoor life. What could be
expected save what resulted--a dwarfed and enfeebled physique and a
semi-invalid existence? The only wonder is that, after so long a period
of bodily repression and perversion, the feminine physique should have
responded, by so great an improvement in so brief a period, to the free
life opened up to woman within the last century."

"We had very many beautiful women; physically perfect they seemed at
least to us," I said.

"Of course you did, and no doubt they were the perfect types you deemed
them," replied the doctor. "They showed you what Nature meant the whole
sex to be. But am I wrong in assuming that ill health was a general
condition among your women? Certainly the records tell us so. If we may
believe them, four fifths of the practice of doctors was among women, and
it seemed to do them mighty little good either, although perhaps I ought
not to reflect on my own profession. The fact is, they could not do
anything, and probably knew they couldn't, so long as the social customs
governing women remained unchanged."

"Of course you are right enough as to the general fact," I replied.
"Indeed, a great writer had given currency to a generally accepted maxim
when he said that invalidism was the normal condition of woman."

"I remember that expression. What a confession it was of the abject
failure of your civilization to solve the most fundamental proposition of
happiness for half the race! Woman's invalidism was one of the great
tragedies of your civilization, and her physical rehabilitation is one of
the greatest single elements in the total increment of happiness which
economic equality has brought the human race. Consider what is implied in
the transformation of the woman's world of sighs and tears and suffering,
as you know it, into the woman's world of to-day, with its atmosphere of
cheer and joy and overflowing vigor and vitality!"

"But," said I, "one thing is not quite clear to me. Without being a
physician, or knowing more of such matters than a young man might be
supposed to, I have yet understood in a general way that the weakness and
delicacy of women's physical condition had their causes in certain
natural disabilities of the sex."

"Yes, I know it was the general notion in your day that woman's physical
constitution doomed her by its necessary effect to be sick, wretched, and
unhappy, and that at most her condition could not be rendered more than
tolerable in a physical sense. A more blighting blasphemy against Nature
never found expression. No natural function ought to cause constant
suffering or disease; and if it does, the rational inference is that
something is wrong in the circumstances. The Orientals invented the myth
of Eve and the apple, and the curse pronounced upon her, to explain the
sorrows and infirmities of the sex, which were, in fact, a consequence,
not of God's wrath, but of man-made conditions and customs. If you once
admit that these sorrows and infirmities are inseparable from woman's
natural constitution, why, then there is no logical explanation but to
accept that myth as a matter of history. There were, however, plentiful
illustrations already in your day of the great differences in the
physical conditions of women under different circumstances and different
social environments to convince unprejudiced minds that thoroughly
healthful conditions which should be maintained a sufficiently long
period would lead to a physical rehabilitation for woman that would quite
redeem from its undeserved obloquy the reputation of her Creator."

"Am I to understand that maternity now is unattended with risk or

"It is not nowadays an experience which is considered at all critical
either in its actual occurrence or consequences. As to the other supposed
natural disabilities which your wise men used to make so much of as
excuses for keeping women in economic subjection, they have ceased to
involve any physical disturbance whatever.

"And the end of this physical rebuilding of the feminine physique is not
yet in view. While men still retain superiority in certain lines of
athletics, we believe the sexes will yet stand on a plane of entire
physical equality, with differences only as between individuals."

"There is one question," said I, "which this wonderful physical rebirth
of woman suggests. You say that she is already the physical equal of man,
and that your physiologists anticipate in a few generations more her
evolution to a complete equality with him. That amounts to saying, does
it not, that normally and potentially she always has been man's physical
equal and that nothing but adverse circumstances and conditions have ever
made her seem less than his equal?"


"How, then, do you account for the fact that she has in all ages and
countries since the dawn of history, with perhaps a few doubtful and
transient exceptions, been his physical subject and thrall? If she ever
was his equal, why did she cease to become so, and by a rule so
universal? If her inferiority since historic times may be ascribed to
unfavorable man-made conditions, why, if she was his equal, did she
permit those conditions to be imposed upon her? A philosophical theory as
to how a condition is to cease should contain a rational suggestion as to
how it arose."

"Very true indeed," replied the doctor. "Your question is practical. The
theory of those who hold that woman will yet be man's full equal in
physical vigor necessarily implies, as you suggest, that she must
probably once have been his actual equal, and calls for an explanation of
the loss of that equality. Suppose man and woman actual physical equals
at some point of the past. There remains a radical difference in their
relation as sexes--namely, that man can passionally appropriate woman
against her will if he can overpower her, while woman can not, even if
disposed, so appropriate man without his full volition, however great her
superiority of force. I have often speculated as to the reason of this
radical difference, lying as it does at the root of all the sex tyranny
of the past, now happily for evermore replaced by mutuality. It has
sometimes seemed to me that it was Nature's provision to keep the race
alive in periods of its evolution when life was not worth living save for
a far-off posterity's sake. This end, we may say, she shrewdly secured by
vesting the aggressive and appropriating power in the sex relation in
that sex which had to bear the least part of the consequences resultant
on its exercise. We may call the device a rather mean one on Nature's
part, but it was well calculated to effect the purpose. But for it, owing
to the natural and rational reluctance of the child-bearing sex to assume
a burden so bitter and so seemingly profitless, the race might easily
have been exposed to the risk of ceasing utterly during the darker
periods of its upward evolution.

"But let us come back to the specific question we were talking about.
Suppose man and woman in some former age to have been, on the whole,
physically equal, sex for sex. Nevertheless, there would be many
individual variations. Some of each sex would be stronger than others of
their own sex. Some men would be stronger than some women, and as many
women be stronger than some men. Very good; we know that well within
historic times the savage method of taking wives has been by forcible
capture. Much more may we suppose force to have been used wherever
possible in more primitive periods. Now, a strong woman would have no
object to gain in making captive a weaker man for any sexual purpose, and
would not therefore pursue him. Conversely, however, strong men would
have an object in making captive and keeping as their wives women weaker
than themselves. In seeking to capture wives, men would naturally avoid
the stronger women, whom they might have difficulty in dominating, and
prefer as mates the weaker individuals, who would be less able to resist
their will. On the other hand, the weaker of the men would find it
relatively difficult to capture any mates at all, and would be
consequently less likely to leave progeny. Do you see the inference?"

"It is plain enough," I replied. "You mean that the stronger women and
the weaker men would both be discriminated against, and that the types
which survived would be the stronger of the men and the weaker of the

"Precisely so. Now, suppose a difference in the physical strength of the
sexes to have become well established through this process in prehistoric
times, before the dawn of civilization, the rest of the story follows
very simply. The now confessedly dominant sex would, of course, seek to
retain and increase its domination and the now fully subordinated sex
would in time come to regard the inferiority to which it was born as
natural, inevitable, and Heaven-ordained. And so it would go on as it did
go on, until the world's awakening, at the end of the last century, to
the necessity and possibility of a reorganization of human society on a
moral basis, the first principle of which must be the equal liberty and
dignity of all human beings. Since then women have been reconquering, as
they will later fully reconquer, their pristine physical equality with

"A rather alarming notion occurs to me," said I. "What if woman should in
the end not only equal but excel man in physical and mental powers, as he
has her in the past, and what if she should take as mean an advantage of
that superiority as he did?"

The doctor laughed. "I think you need not be apprehensive that such a
superiority, even if attained, would be abused. Not that women, as such,
are any more safely to be trusted with irresponsible power than men, but
for the reason that the race is rising fast toward the plane already in
part attained in which spiritual forces will fully dominate all things,
and questions of physical power will cease to be of any importance in
human relations. The control and leading of humanity go already largely,
and are plainly destined soon to go wholly, to those who have the largest
souls--that is to say, to those who partake most of the Spirit of the
Greater Self; and that condition is one which in itself is the most
absolute guarantee against the misuse of that power for selfish ends,
seeing that with such misuse it would cease to be a power."

"The Greater Self--what does that mean?" I asked.

"It is one of our names for the soul and for God," replied the doctor,
"but that is too great a theme to enter on now."



The morning following, Edith received a call to report at her post of
duty for some special occasion. After she had gone, I sought out the
doctor in the library and began to ply him with questions, of which, as
usual, a store had accumulated in my mind overnight.

"If you desire to continue your historical studies this morning," he said
presently, "I am going to propose a change of teachers."

"I am very well satisfied with the one whom Providence assigned to me," I
answered, "but it is quite natural you should want a little relief from
such persistent cross-questioning."

"It is not that at all," replied the doctor. "I am sure no one could
conceivably have a more inspiring task than mine has been, nor have I any
idea of giving it up as yet. But it occurred to me that a little change
in the method and medium of instruction this morning might be agreeable."

"Who is to be the new teacher?" I asked.

"There are to be a number of them, and they are not teachers at all, but

"Come, doctor," I protested, "don't you think a man in my position has
enough riddles to guess, without making them up for him?"

"It sounds like a riddle, doesn't it? But it is not. However, I will
hasten to explain. As one of those citizens to whom for supposed public
services the people have voted the blue ribbon, I have various honorary
functions as to public matters, and especially educational affairs. This
morning I have notice of an examination at ten o'clock of the ninth grade
in the Arlington School. They have been studying the history of the
period before the great Revolution, and are going to give their general
impressions of it. I thought that perhaps, by way of a change, you might
be interested in listening to them, especially in view of the special
topic they are going to discuss."

I assured the doctor that no programme could promise more entertainment.
"What is the topic they discuss?" I inquired.

"The profit system as a method of economic suicide is their theme,"
replied the doctor. "In our talks hitherto we have chiefly touched on the
moral wrongfulness of the old economic order. In the discussion we shall
listen to this morning there will be no reference unless incidentally to
moral considerations. The young people will endeavor to show us that
there were certain inherent and fatal defects in private capitalism as a
machine for producing wealth which, quite apart from its ethical
character, made its abolition necessary if the race was ever to get out
of the mire of poverty."

"That is a very different doctrine from the preaching I used to hear," I
said. "The clergy and moralists in general assured us that there were no
social evils for which moral and religious medicine was not adequate.
Poverty, they said, was in the end the result of human depravity, and
would disappear if everybody would only be good."

"So we read," said the doctor. "How far the clergy and the moralists
preached this doctrine with a professional motive as calculated to
enhance the importance of their services as moral instructors, how far
they merely echoed it as an excuse for mental indolence, and how far they
may really have been sincere, we can not judge at this distance, but
certainly more injurious nonsense was never taught. The industrial and
commercial system by which the labor of a great population is organized
and directed constitutes a complex machine. If the machine is constructed
unscientifically, it will result in loss and disaster, without the
slightest regard to whether the managers are the rarest of saints or the
worst of sinners. The world always has had and will have need of all the
virtue and true religion that men can be induced to practice; but to tell
farmers that personal religion will take the place of a scientific
agriculture, or the master of an unseaworthy ship that the practice of
good morals will bring his craft to shore, would be no greater
childishness than the priests and moralists of your day committed in
assuring a world beggared by a crazy economic system that the secret of
plenty was good works and personal piety. History gives a bitter chapter
to these blind guides, who, during the revolutionary period, did far more
harm than those who openly defended the old order, because, while the
brutal frankness of the latter repelled good men, the former misled them
and long diverted from the guilty system the indignation which otherwise
would have sooner destroyed it.

"And just here let me say, Julian, as a most important point for you to
remember in the history of the great Revolution, that it was not until
the people had outgrown this childish teaching and saw the causes of the
world's want and misery, not primarily in human depravity, but in the
economic madness of the profit system on which private capitalism
depended, that the Revolution began to go forward in earnest."

Now, although the doctor had said that the school we were to visit was in
Arlington, which I knew to be some distance out of the city, and that the
examination would take place at ten o'clock, he continued to sit
comfortably in his chair, though the time was five minutes of ten.

"Is this Arlington the same town that was a suburb of the city in my
time?" I presently ventured to inquire.


"It was then ten or twelve miles from the city," I said.

"It has not been moved, I assure you," said the doctor.

"Then if not, and if the examination is to begin in five minutes, are we
not likely to be late?" I mildly observed.

"Oh, no," replied the doctor, "there are three or four minutes left yet."

"Doctor," said I, "I have been introduced within the last few days to
many new and speedy modes of locomotion, but I can't see how you are
going to get me to Arlington from here in time for the examination that
begins three minutes hence, unless you reduce me to an electrified
solution, send me by wire, and have me precipitated back to my shape at
the other end of the line; and even in that case I should suppose we had
no time to waste."

"We shouldn't have, certainly, if we were intending to go to Arlington
even by that process. It did not occur to me that you would care to go,
or we might just as well have started earlier. It is too bad!"

"I did not care about visiting Arlington." I replied, "but I assumed that
it would be rather necessary to do so if I were to attend an examination
at that place. I see my mistake. I ought to have learned by this time not
to take for granted that any of what we used to consider the laws of
Nature are still in force."

"The laws of Nature are all right," laughed the doctor. "But is it
possible that Edith has not shown you the electroscope?"

"What is that?" I asked.

"It does for vision what the telephone does for hearing," replied the
doctor, and, leading the way to the music room, he showed me the

"It is ten o'clock," he said, "and we have no time for explanations now.
Take this chair and adjust the instrument as you see me do. Now!"

Instantly, without warning, or the faintest preparation for what was
coming, I found myself looking into the interior of a large room. Some
twenty boys and girls, thirteen to fourteen years of age, occupied a
double row of chairs arranged in the form of a semicircle about a desk at
which a young man was seated with his back to us. The rows of students
were facing us, apparently not twenty feet away. The rustling of their
garments and every change of expression in their mobile faces were as
distinct to my eyes and ears as if we had been directly behind the
teacher, as indeed we seemed to be. At the moment the scene had flashed
upon me I was in the act of making some remark to the doctor. As I
checked myself, he laughed. "You need not be afraid of interrupting
them," he said. "They don't see or hear us, though we both see and hear
them so well. They are a dozen miles away."

"Good heavens!" I whispered--for, in spite of his assurance, I could not
realize that they did not hear me--"are we here or there?"

"We are here certainly," replied the doctor, "but our eyes and ears are
there. This is the electroscope and telephone combined. We could have
heard the examination just as well without the electroscope, but I
thought you would be better entertained if you could both see and hear.
Fine-looking young people, are they not? We shall see now whether they
are as intelligent as they are handsome."


"Our subject this morning," said the teacher briskly, "is 'The Economic
Suicide of Production for Profit,' or 'The Hopelessness of the Economic
Outlook of the Race under Private Capitalism.'--Now, Frank, will you tell
us exactly what this proposition means?"

At these words one of the boys of the class rose to his feet.

"It means," he said, "that communities which depended--as they had to
depend, so long as private capitalism lasted--upon the motive of profit
making for the production of the things by which they lived, must always
suffer poverty, because the profit system, by its necessary nature,
operated to stop limit and cripple production at the point where it began
to be efficient."

"By what is the possible production of wealth limited?"

"By its consumption."

"May not production fall short of possible consumption? May not the
demand for consumption exceed the resources of production?"

"Theoretically it may, but not practically--that is, speaking of demand
as limited to rational desires, and not extending to merely fanciful
objects. Since the division of labor was introduced, and especially since
the great inventions multiplied indefinitely the powers of man,
production has been practically limited only by the demand created by

"Was this so before the great Revolution?"

"Certainly. It was a truism among economists that either England,
Germany, or the United States alone could easily have supplied the
world's whole consumption of manufactured goods. No country began to
produce up to its capacity in any line."

"Why not?"

"On account of the necessary law of the profit system, by which it
operated to limit production."

"In what way did this law operate?"

"By creating a gap between the producing and consuming power of the
community, the result of which was that the people were not able to
consume as much as they could produce."

"Please tell us just how the profit system led to this result."

"There being under the old order of things," replied the boy Frank, "no
collective agency to undertake the organization of labor and exchange,
that function naturally fell into the hands of enterprising individuals
who, because the undertaking called for much capital, had to be
capitalists. They were of two general classes--the capitalist who
organized labor for production; and the traders, the middlemen, and
storekeepers, who organized distribution, and having collected all the
varieties of products in the market, sold them again to the general
public for consumption. The great mass of the people--nine, perhaps, out
of ten--were wage-earners who sold their labor to the producing
capitalists; or small first-hand producers, who sold their personal
product to the middlemen. The farmers were of the latter class. With the
money the wage-earners and farmers received in wages, or as the price of
their produce, they afterward went into the market, where the products of
all sorts were assembled, and bought back as much as they could for
consumption. Now, of course, the capitalists, whether engaged in
organizing production or distribution, had to have some inducement for
risking their capital and spending their time in this work. That
inducement was profit."

"Tell us how the profits were collected."

"The manufacturing or employing capitalists paid the people who worked
for them, and the merchants paid the farmers for their products in tokens
called money, which were good to buy back the blended products of all in
the market. But the capitalists gave neither the wage-earner nor the
farmer enough of these money tokens to buy back the equivalent of the
product of his labor. The difference which the capitalists kept back for
themselves was their profit. It was collected by putting a higher price
on the products when sold in the stores than the cost of the product had
been to the capitalists."

"Give us an example."

"We will take then, first, the manufacturing capitalist, who employed
labor. Suppose he manufactured shoes. Suppose for each pair of shoes he
paid ten cents to the tanner for leather, twenty cents for the labor of
putting, the shoe together, and ten cents for all other labor in any way
entering into the making of the shoe, so that the pair cost him in
actual outlay forty cents. He sold the shoes to a middleman for, say,
seventy-five cents. The middleman sold them to the retailer for a dollar,
and the retailer sold them over his counter to the consumer for a dollar
and a half. Take next the case of the farmer, who sold not merely his
labor like the wage-earner, but his labor blended with his material.
Suppose he sold his wheat to the grain merchant for forty cents a bushel.
The grain merchant, in selling it to the flouring mill, would ask, say,
sixty cents a bushel. The flouring mill would sell it to the wholesale
flour merchant for a price over and above the labor cost of milling at a
figure which would include a handsome profit for him. The wholesale flour
merchant would add another profit in selling to the retail grocer, and
the last yet another in selling to the consumer. So that finally the
equivalent of the bushel of wheat in finished flour as bought back by the
original farmer for consumption would cost him, on account of profit
charges alone, over and above the actual labor cost of intermediate
processes, perhaps twice what he received for it from the grain

"Very well," said the teacher. "Now for the practical effect of this

"The practical effect," replied the boy, "was necessarily to create a gap
between the producing and consuming power of those engaged in the
production of the things upon which profits were charged. Their ability
to consume would be measured by the value of the money tokens they
received for producing the goods, which by the statement was less than
the value put upon those goods in the stores. That difference would
represent a gap between what they could produce and what they could


"Margaret," said the teacher, "you may now take up the subject where
Frank leaves it, and tell us what would be the effect upon the economic
system of a people of such a gap between its consuming and producing
power as Frank shows us was caused by profit taking."

"The effect," said the girl who answered to the name of Margaret, "would
depend on two factors: first, on how numerous a body were the
wage-earners and first producers, on whose products the profits were
charged; and, second, how large was the rate of profit charged, and the
consequent discrepancy between the producing and consuming power of each
individual of the working body. If the producers on whose product a
profit was charged were but a handful of the people, the total effect of
their inability to buy back and consume more than a part of their product
would create but a slight gap between the producing and consuming power
of the community as a whole. If, on the other hand, they constituted a
large proportion of the whole population, the gap would be
correspondingly great, and the reactive effect to check production would
be disastrous in proportion."

"And what was the actual proportion of the total population made up by
the wage-earners and original producers, who by the profit system were
prevented from consuming as much as they produced?"

"It constituted, as Frank has said, at least nine tenths of the whole
people, probably more. The profit takers, whether they were organizers of
production or of distribution, were a group numerically insignificant,
while those on whose product the profits were charged constituted the
bulk of the community."

"Very well. We will now consider the other factor on which the size of
the gap between the producing and consuming power of the community
created by the profit system was dependent--namely, the rate of profits
charged. Tell us, then, what was the rule followed by the capitalists in
charging profits. No doubt, as rational men who realized the effect of
high profits to prevent consumption, they made a point of making their
profits as low as possible."

"On the contrary, the capitalists made their profits as high as possible.
Their maxim was, 'Tax the traffic all it will bear.'"

"Do you mean that instead of trying to minimize the effect of profit
charging to diminish consumption, they deliberately sought to magnify it
to the greatest possible degree?"

"I mean that precisely," replied Margaret. "The golden rule of the profit
system, the great motto of the capitalists, was, 'Buy in the Cheapest
Market, and sell in the Dearest.'"

"What did that mean?"

"It meant that the capitalist ought to pay the least possible to those
who worked for him or sold him their produce, and on the other hand
should charge the highest possible price for their product when he
offered it for sale to the general public in the market."

"That general public," observed the teacher, "being chiefly composed of
the workers to whom he and his fellow-capitalists had just been paying as
nearly nothing as possible for creating the product which they were now
expected to buy back at the highest possible price."


"Well, let us try to realize the full economic wisdom of this rule as
applied to the business of a nation. It means, doesn't it, Get something
for nothing, or as near nothing as you can. Well, then, if you can get it
for absolutely nothing, you are carrying out the maxim to perfection. For
example, if a manufacturer could hypnotize his workmen so as to get them
to work for him for no wages at all, he would be realizing the full
meaning of the maxim, would he not?"

"Certainly; a manufacturer who could do that, and then put the product of
his unpaid workmen on the market at the usual price, would have become
rich in a very short time."

"And the same would be true, I suppose, of a grain merchant who was able
to take such advantage of the farmers as to obtain their grain for
nothing, afterward selling it at the top price."

"Certainly. He would become a millionaire at once."

"Well, now, suppose the secret of this hypnotizing process should get
abroad among the capitalists engaged in production and exchange, and
should be generally applied by them so that all of them were able to get
workmen without wages, and buy produce without paying anything for it,
then doubtless all the capitalists at once would become fabulously rich."

"Not at all."

"Dear me! why not?"

"Because if the whole body of wage-earners failed to receive any wages
for their work, and the farmers received nothing for their produce, there
would be nobody to buy anything, and the market would collapse entirely.
There would be no demand for any goods except what little the capitalists
themselves and their friends could consume. The working people would then
presently starve, and the capitalists be left to do their own work."

"Then it appears that what would be good for the particular capitalist,
if he alone did it, would be ruinous to him and everybody else if all the
capitalists did it. Why was this?"

"Because the particular capitalist, in expecting to get rich by
underpaying his employees, would calculate on selling his produce, not to
the particular group of workmen he had cheated, but to the community at
large, consisting of the employees of other capitalists not so successful
in cheating their workmen, who therefore would have something to buy
with. The success of his trick depended on the presumption that his
fellow-capitalists would not succeed in practicing the same trick. If
that presumption failed, and all the capitalists succeeded at once in
dealing with their employees, as all were trying to do, the result would
be to stop the whole industrial system outright."

"It appears, then, that in the profit system we have an economic method,
of which the working rule only needed to be applied thoroughly enough in
order to bring the system to a complete standstill and that all which
kept the system going was the difficulty found in fully carrying out the
working rule.

"That was precisely so," replied the girl; "the individual capitalist
grew rich fastest who succeeded best in beggaring those whose labor or
produce he bought; but obviously it was only necessary for enough
capitalists to succeed in so doing in order to involve capitalists and
people alike in general ruin. To make the sharpest possible bargain with
the employer or producer, to give him the least possible return for his
labor or product, was the ideal every capitalist must constantly keep
before him, and yet it was mathematically certain that every such sharp
bargain tended to undermine the whole business fabric, and that it was
only necessary that enough capitalists should succeed in making enough
such sharp bargains to topple the fabric over."

"One question more. The bad effects of a bad system are always aggravated
by the willfulness of men who take advantage of it, and so, no doubt, the
profit system was made by selfish men to work worse than it might have
done. Now, suppose the capitalists had all been fair-minded men and not
extortioners, and had made their charges for their services as small as
was consistent with reasonable gains and self-protection, would that
course have involved such a reduction of profit charges as would have
greatly helped the people to consume their products and thus to promote

"It would not," replied the girl. "The antagonism of the profit system to
effective wealth production arose from causes inherent in and inseparable
from private capitalism; and so long as private capitalism was retained,
those causes must have made the profit system inconsistent with any
economic improvement in the condition of the people, even if the
capitalists had been, angels. The root of the evil was not moral, but
strictly economic."

"But would not the rate of profits have been much reduced in the case

"In some instances temporarily no doubt, but not generally, and in no
case permanently. It is doubtful if profits, on the whole, were higher
than they had to be to encourage capitalists to undertake production and

"Tell us why the profits had to be so large for this purpose."

"Legitimate profits under private capitalism," replied the girl
Margaret--"that is, such profits as men going into production or trade
must in self-protection calculate upon, however well disposed toward the
public--consisted of three elements, all growing out of conditions
inseparable from private capitalism, none of which longer exist. First,
the capitalist must calculate on at least as large a return on the
capital he was to put into the venture as he could obtain by lending it
on good security--that is to say, the ruling rate of interest. If he were
not sure of that, he would prefer to lend his capital. But that was not
enough. In going into business he risked the entire loss of his capital,
as he would not if it were lent on good security. Therefore, in addition
to the ruling rate of interest on capital, his profits must cover the
cost of insurance on the capital risked--that is, there must be a
prospect of gains large enough in case the venture succeeded to cover the
risk of loss of capital in case of failure. If the chances of failure,
for instance, were even, he must calculate on more than a hundred per
cent profit in case of success. In point of fact, the chances of failure
in business and loss of capital in those days were often far more than
even. Business was indeed little more than a speculative risk, a lottery
in which the blanks greatly outnumbered the prizes. The prizes to tempt
investment must therefore be large. Moreover, if a capitalist were
personally to take charge of the business in which he invested his
capital, he would reasonably have expected adequate wages of
superintendence--compensation, in other words, for his skill and judgment
in navigating the venture through the stormy waters of the business sea,
compared with which, as it was in that day, the North Atlantic in
midwinter is a mill pond. For this service he would be considered
justified in making a large addition to the margin of profit charged."

"Then you conclude, Margaret, that, even if disposed to be fair toward
the community, a capitalist of those days would not have been able safely
to reduce his rate of profits sufficiently to bring the people much
nearer the point of being able to consume their products than they were."

"Precisely so. The root of the evil lay in the tremendous difficulties,
complexities, mistakes, risks, and wastes with which private capitalism
necessarily involved the processes of production and distribution, which
under public capitalism have become so entirely simple, expeditious, and

"Then it seems it is not necessary to consider our capitalist ancestors
moral monsters in order to account for the tragical outcome of their
economic methods."

"By no means. The capitalists were no doubt good and bad, like other
people, but probably stood up as well as any people could against the
depraving influences of a system which in fifty years would have turned
heaven itself into hell."


"That will do, Margaret," said the teacher. "We will next ask you,
Marion, to assist us in further elucidating the subject. If the profit
system worked according to the description we have listened to, we shall
be prepared to learn that the economic situation was marked by the
existence of large stores of consumable goods in the hands of the profit
takers which they would be glad to sell, and, on the other hand, by a
great population composed of the original producers of the goods, who
were in sharp need of the goods but unable to purchase them. How does
this theory agree with the facts stated in the histories?"

"So well," replied Marion, "that one might almost think you had been
reading them." At which the class smiled, and so did I.

"Describe, without unnecessary infusion of humor--for the subject was not
humorous to our ancestors--the condition of things to which you refer.
Did our great-grandfathers recognize in this excess of goods over buyers
a cause of economic disturbance?"

"They recognized it as the great and constant cause of such disturbance.
The perpetual burden of their complaints was dull times, stagnant trade,
glut of products. Occasionally they had brief periods of what they called
good times, resulting from a little brisker buying, but in the best of
what they called good times the condition of the mass of the people was
what we should call abjectly wretched."

"What was the term by which they most commonly described the presence in
the market of more products than could be sold?"


"Was it meant by this expression that there had been actually more food,
clothing, and other good things produced than the people could use?"

"Not at all. The mass of the people were in great need always, and in
more bitter need than ever precisely at the times when the business
machine was clogged by what they called overproduction. The people, if
they could have obtained access to the overproduced goods, would at any
time have consumed them in a moment and loudly called for more. The
trouble was, as has been said, that the profits charged by the capitalist
manufacturers and traders had put them out of the power of the original
producers to buy back with the price they had received for their labor or

"To what have our historians been wont to compare the condition of the
community under the profit system?"

"To that of a victim of the disease of chronic dyspepsia so prevalent
among our ancestors."

"Please develop the parallel."

"In dyspepsia the patient suffered from inability to assimilate food.
With abundance of dainties at hand he wasted away from the lack of power
to absorb nutriment. Although unable to eat enough to support life, he
was constantly suffering the pangs of indigestion, and while actually
starving for want of nourishment, was tormented by the sensation of an
overloaded stomach. Now, the economic condition of a community under the
profit system afforded a striking analogy to the plight of such a
dyspeptic. The masses of the people were always in bitter need of all
things, and were abundantly able by their industry to provide for all
their needs, but the profit system would not permit them to consume even
what they produced, much less produce what they could. No sooner did they
take the first edge off of their appetite than the commercial system was
seized with the pangs of acute indigestion and all the symptoms of an
overloaded system, which nothing but a course of starvation would
relieve, after which the experience would be repeated with the same
result, and so on indefinitely."

"Can you explain why such an extraordinary misnomer as overproduction,
should be applied to a situation that would better be described as
famine; why a condition should be said to result from glut when it was
obviously the consequence of enforced abstinence? Surely, the mistake was
equivalent to diagnosing a case of starvation as one of gluttony."

"It was because the economists and the learned classes, who alone had a
voice, regarded the economic question entirely from the side of the
capitalists and ignored the interest of the people. From the point of
view of the capitalist it was a case of overproduction when he had
charged profits on products which took them beyond the power of the
people to buy, and so the economist writing in his interest called it.
From the point of view of the capitalist, and consequently of the
economist, the only question was the condition of the market, not of the
people. They did not concern themselves whether the people were famished
or glutted; the only question was the condition of the market. Their
maxim that demand governed supply, and supply would always meet demand,
referred in no way to the demand representing human need, but wholly to
an artificial thing called the market, itself the product of the profit

"What was the market?"

"The market was the number of those who had money to buy with. Those who
had no money were non-existent so far as the market was concerned, and in
proportion as people had little money they were a small part of the
market. The needs of the market were the needs of those who had the money
to supply their needs with. The rest, who had needs in plenty but no
money, were not counted, though they were as a hundred to one of the
moneyed. The market was supplied when those who could buy had enough,
though the most of the people had little and many had nothing. The market
was glutted when the well-to-do were satisfied, though starving and naked
mobs might riot in the streets."

"Would such a thing be possible nowadays as full storehouses and a hungry
and naked people existing at the same time?"

"Of course not. Until every one was satisfied there could be no such
thing as overproduct now. Our system is so arranged that there can be too
little nowhere so long as there is too much anywhere. But the old system
had no circulation of the blood."

"What name did our ancestors give to the various economic disturbances
which they ascribed to overproduction?"

"They called them commercial crises. That is to say, there was a chronic
state of glut which might be called a chronic crisis, but every now and
then the arrears resulting from the constant discrepancy between
consumption and production accumulated to such a degree as to nearly
block business. When this happened they called it, in distinction from
the chronic glut, a crisis or panic, on account of the blind terror which
it caused."

"To what cause did they ascribe the crises?"

"To almost everything besides the perfectly plain reason. An extensive
literature seems to have been devoted to the subject. There are shelves
of it up at the museum which I have been trying to go through, or at
least to skim over, in connection with this study. If the books were not
so dull in style they would be very amusing, just on account of the
extraordinary ingenuity the writers display in avoiding the natural and
obvious explanation of the facts they discuss. They even go into

"What do you mean?"

"I suppose the class will think I am romancing, but it is a fact that one
of the most famous of the theories by which our ancestors accounted for
the periodical breakdowns of business resulting from the profit system
was the so-called 'sun-spot theory.' During the first half of the
nineteenth century it so happened that there were severe crises at
periods about ten or eleven years apart. Now, it happened that sun spots
were at a maximum about every ten years, and a certain eminent English
economist concluded that these sun spots caused the panics. Later on it
seems this theory was found unsatisfactory, and gave place to the
lack-of-confidence explanation."

"And what was that?"

"I could not exactly make out, but it seemed reasonable to suppose that
there must have developed a considerable lack of confidence in an
economic system which turned out such results."

"Marion, I fear you do not bring a spirit of sympathy to the study of the
ways of our forefathers, and without sympathy we can not understand

"I am afraid they are a little too other, for me to understand."

The class tittered, and Marion was allowed to take her seat.


"Now, John," said the teacher, "we will ask you a few questions. We have
seen by what process a chronic glut of goods in the market resulted from
the operation of the profit system to put products out of reach of the
purchasing power of the people at large. Now, what notable characteristic
and main feature of the business system of our forefathers resulted from
the glut thus produced?"

"I suppose you refer to competition?" said the boy.

"Yes. What was competition and what caused it, referring especially to
the competition between capitalists?"

"It resulted, as you intimate, from the insufficient consuming power of
the public at large, which in turn resulted from the profit system. If
the wage-earners and first-hand producers had received purchasing power
sufficient to enable them to take up their numerical proportion of the
total product offered in the market, it would have been cleared of goods
without any effort on the part of sellers, for the buyers would have
sought the sellers and been enough to buy all. But the purchasing power
of the masses, owing to the profits charged on their products, being left
wholly inadequate to take those products out of the market, there
naturally followed a great struggle between the capitalists engaged in
production and distribution to divert the most possible of the all too
scanty buying each in his own direction. The total buying could not of
course be increased a dollar without relatively, or absolutely increasing
the purchasing power in the people's hands, but it was possible by effort
to alter the particular directions in which it should be expended, and
this was the sole aim and effect of competition. Our forefathers thought
it a wonderfully fine thing. They called it the life of trade, but, as we
have seen, it was merely a symptom of the effect of the profit system to
cripple consumption."

"What were the methods which the capitalists engaged in production and
exchange made use of to bring trade their way, as they used to say?"

"First was direct solicitation of buyers and a shameless vaunting of
every one's wares by himself and his hired mouthpieces, coupled with a
boundless depreciation of rival sellers and the wares they offered.
Unscrupulous and unbounded misrepresentation was so universally the rule
in business that even when here and there a dealer told the truth he
commanded no credence. History indicates that lying has always been more
or less common, but it remained for the competitive system as fully
developed in the nineteenth century to make it the means of livelihood of
the whole world. According to our grandfathers--and they certainly ought
to have known--the only lubricant which was adapted to the machinery of
the profit system was falsehood, and the demand for it was unlimited."

"And all this ocean of lying, you say, did not and could not increase the
total of goods consumed by a dollar's worth."

"Of course not. Nothing, as I said, could increase that save an increase
in the purchasing power of the people. The system of solicitation or
advertising, as it was called, far from increasing the total sale, tended
powerfully to decrease it."

"How so?"

"Because it was prodigiously expensive and the expense had to be added to
the price of the goods and paid by the consumer, who therefore could buy
just so much less than if he had been left in peace and the price of the
goods had been reduced by the saving in advertising."

"You say that the only way by which consumption could have been increased
was by increasing the purchasing power in the hands of the people
relatively to the goods to be bought. Now, our forefathers claimed that
this was just what competition did. They claimed that it was a potent
means of reducing prices and cutting down the rate of profits, thereby
relatively increasing the purchasing power of the masses. Was this claim
well based?"

"The rivalry of the capitalists among themselves," replied the lad, "to
tempt the buyers' custom certainly prompted them to undersell one another
by nominal reductions of prices, but it was rarely that these nominal
reductions, though often in appearance very large, really represented in
the long run any economic benefit to the people at large, for they were
generally effected by means which nullified their practical value."

"Please make that clear."

"Well, naturally, the capitalist would prefer to reduce the prices of his
goods in such a way, if possible, as not to reduce his profits, and that
would be his study. There were numerous devices which he employed to this
end. The first was that of reducing the quality and real worth of the
goods on which the price was nominally cut down. This was done by
adulteration and scamped work, and the practice extended in the
nineteenth century to every branch of industry and commerce and affected
pretty nearly all articles of human consumption. It came to that point,
as the histories tell us, that no one could ever depend on anything he
purchased being what it appeared or was represented. The whole atmosphere
of trade was mephitic with chicane. It became the policy of the
capitalists engaged in the most important lines of manufacture to turn
out goods expressly made with a view to wearing as short a time as
possible, so as to need the speedier renewal. They taught their very
machines to be dishonest, and corrupted steel and brass. Even the
purblind people of that day recognized the vanity of the pretended
reductions in price by the epithet 'cheap and nasty,' with which they
characterized cheapened goods. All this class of reductions, it is plain,
cost the consumer two dollars for every one it professed to save him. As
a single illustration of the utterly deceptive character of reductions in
price under the profit system, it may be recalled that toward the close
of the nineteenth century in America, after almost magical inventions for
reducing the cost of shoemaking, it was a common saying that although the
price of shoes was considerably lower than fifty years before, when they
were made by hand, yet that later-made shoes were so much poorer in
quality as to be really quite as expensive as the earlier."

"Were adulteration and scamped work the only devices by which sham
reductions of prices was effected?"

"There were two other ways. The first was where the capitalist saved his
profits while reducing the price of goods by taking the reduction out of
the wages he had paid his employees. This was the method by which the
reductions in price were very generally brought about. Of course, the
process was one which crippled the purchasing power of the community by
the amount of the lowered wages. By this means the particular group of
capitalists cutting down wages might quicken their sales for a time until
other capitalists likewise cut wages. In the end nobody was helped, not
even the capitalist. Then there was the third of the three main kinds of
reductions in price to be credited to competition--namely, that made on
account of labor-saving machinery or other inventions which enabled the
capitalist to discharge his laborers. The reduction in price on the goods
was here based, as in the former case, on the reduced amount of wages
paid out, and consequently meant a reduced purchasing power on the part
of the community, which, in the total effect, usually nullified the
advantage of reduced price, and often more than nullified it."

"You have shown," said the teacher, "that most of the reductions of price
effected by competition were reductions at the expense of the original
producers or of the final consumers, and not reductions in profits. Do
you mean to say that the competition of capitalists for trade never
operated to reduce profits?"

"Undoubtedly it did so operate in countries where from the long operation
of the profit system surplus capital had accumulated so as to compete
under great pressure for investment; but under such circumstances
reductions in prices, even though they might come from sacrifices of
profits, usually came too late to increase the consumption of the

"How too late?"

"Because the capitalist had naturally refrained from sacrificing his
profits in order to reduce prices so long as he could take the cost of
the reduction out of the wages of his workmen or out of the first-hand
producer. That is to say, it was only when the working masses had been
reduced to pretty near the minimum subsistence point that the capitalist
would decide to sacrifice a portion of his profits. By that time it was
too late for the people to take advantage of the reduction. When a
population had reached that point, it had no buying power left to be
stimulated. Nothing short of giving commodities away freely could help
it. Accordingly, we observe that in the nineteenth century it was always
in the countries where the populations were most hopelessly poor that the
prices were lowest. It was in this sense a bad sign for the economic
condition of a community when the capitalist found it necessary to make a
real sacrifice of profits, for it was a clear indication that the working
masses had been squeezed until they could be squeezed no longer."

"Then, on the whole, competition was not a palliative of the profit

"I think that it has been made apparent that it was a grievous
aggravation of it. The desperate rivalry of the capitalists for a share
in the scanty market which their own profit taking had beggared drove
them to the practice of deception and brutality, and compelled a
hard-heartedness such as we are bound to believe human beings would not
under a less pressure have been guilty of."

"What was the general economic effect of competition?"

"It operated in all fields of industry, and in the long run for all
classes, the capitalists as well as the non-capitalists, as a steady
downward pull as irresistible and universal as gravitation. Those felt it
first who had least capital, the wage-earners who had none, and the
farmer proprietors who, having next to none, were under almost the same
pressure to find a prompt market at any sacrifice of their product, as
were the wage-earners to find prompt buyers for their labor. These
classes were the first victims of the competition to sell in the glutted
markets of things and of men. Next came the turn of the smaller
capitalists, till finally only the largest were left, and these found it
necessary for self-preservation to protect themselves against the process
of competitive decimation by the consolidation of their interests. One of
the signs of the times in the period preceding the Revolution was this
tendency among the great capitalists to seek refuge from the destructive
efforts of competition through the pooling of their undertakings in great
trusts and syndicates."

"Suppose the Revolution had not come to interrupt that process, would a
system under which capital and the control of all business had been
consolidated in a few hands have been worse for the public interest than
the effect of competition?"

"Such a consolidated system would, of course, have been an intolerable
despotism, the yoke of which, once assumed, the race might never have
been able to break. In that respect private capitalism under a
consolidated plutocracy, such as impended at the time of the Revolution,
would have been a worse threat to the world's future than the competitive
system; but as to the immediate bearings of the two systems on human
welfare, private capital in the consolidated form might have had some
points of advantage. Being an autocracy, it would have at least given
some chance to a benevolent despot to be better than the system and to
ameliorate a little the conditions of the people, and that was something
competition did not allow the capitalists to do."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that under competition there was no free play whatever allowed
for the capitalist's better feelings even if he had any. He could not be
better than the system. If he tried to be, the system would crush him. He
had to follow the pace set by his competitors or fail in business.
Whatever rascality or cruelty his rivals might devise, he must imitate or
drop out of the struggle. The very wickedest, meanest, and most rascally
of the competitors, the one who ground his employees lowest, adulterated
his goods most shamefully, and lied about them most skillfully, set the
pace for all the rest."

"Evidently, John, if you had lived in the early part of the revolutionary
agitation you would have had scant sympathy with those early reformers
whose fear was lest the great monopolies would put an end to

"I can't say whether I should have been wiser than my contemporaries in
that case," replied the lad, "but I think my gratitude to the monopolists
for destroying competition would have been only equaled by my eagerness
to destroy the monopolists to make way for public capitalism."


"Now, Robert," said the teacher, "John has told us how the glut of
products resulting from the profit system caused a competition among
capitalists to sell goods and what its consequences were. There was,
however, another sort of glut besides that of goods which resulted from
the profit system. What was that?"

"A glut of men," replied the boy Robert. "Lack of buying power on the
part of the people, whether from lack of employment or lowered wages,
meant less demand for products, and that meant less work for producers.
Clogged storehouses meant closed factories and idle populations of
workers who could get no work--that is to say, the glut in the goods
market caused a corresponding glut in the labor or man market. And as the
glut in the goods market stimulated competition among the capitalists to
sell their goods, so likewise did the glut in the labor market stimulate
an equally desperate competition among the workers to sell their labor.
The capitalists who could not find buyers for their goods lost their
money indeed, but those who had nothing to sell but their strength and
skill, and could find none to buy, must perish. The capitalist, unless
his goods were perishable, could wait for a market, but the workingman
must find a buyer for his labor at once or die. And in respect to this
inability to wait for a market, the farmer, while technically a
capitalist, was little better off than the wage-earner, being, on account
of the smallness of his capital, almost as unable to withhold his product
as the workingman his labor. The pressing necessity of the wage-earner to
sell his labor at once on any terms and of the small capitalist to
dispose of his product was the means by which the great capitalists were
able steadily to force down the rate of wages and the prices paid for
their product to the first producers."

"And was it only among the wage-earners and the small producers that this
glut of men existed?"

"On the contrary, every trade, every occupation, every art, and every
profession, including the most learned ones, was similarly overcrowded,
and those in the ranks of each regarded every fresh recruit with jealous
eyes, seeing in him one more rival in the struggle for life, making it
just so much more difficult than it had been before. It would seem that
in those days no man could have had any satisfaction in his labor,
however self-denying and arduous, for he must always have been haunted by
the feeling that it would have been kinder to have stood aside and let
another do the work and take the pay, seeing that there was not work and
pay for all."

"Tell us, Robert, did not our ancestors recognize the facts of the
situation you have described? Did they not see that this glut of men
indicated something out of order in the social arrangements?"

"Certainly. They professed to be much distressed over it. A large
literature was devoted to discussing why there was not enough work to go
around in a world in which so much more work evidently needed to be done
as indicated by its general poverty. The Congresses and Legislatures were
constantly appointing commissions of learned men to investigate and
report on the subject."

"And did these learned men ascribe it to its obvious cause as the
necessary effect of the profit system to maintain and constantly increase
a gap between the consuming and producing power of the community?"

"Dear me, no! To have criticised the profit system would have been flat
blasphemy. The learned men called it a problem--the problem of the
unemployed--and gave it up as a conundrum. It was a favorite way our
ancestors had of dodging questions which they could not answer without
attacking vested interests to call them problems and give them up as
insolvable mysteries of Divine Providence."

"There was one philosopher, Robert--an Englishman--who went to the bottom
of this difficulty of the glut of men resulting from the profit system.
He stated the only way possible to avoid the glut, provided the profit
system was retained. Do you remember his name?"

"You mean Malthus, I suppose."

"Yes. What was his plan?"

"He advised poor people, as the only way to avoid starvation, not to get
born--that is, I mean he advised poor people not to have children. This
old fellow, as you say, was the only one of the lot who went to the root
of the profit system, and saw that there was not room for it and for
mankind on the earth. Regarding the profit system as a God-ordained
necessity, there could be no doubt in his mind that it was mankind which
must, under the circumstances, get off the earth. People called Malthus a
cold-blooded philosopher. Perhaps he was, but certainly it was only
common humanity that, so long as the profit system lasted, a red flag
should be hung out on the planet, warning souls not to land except at
their own risk."


"I quite agree with you, Robert," said the teacher, "and now, Emily, we
will ask you to take us in charge as we pursue a little further this
interesting, if not very edifying theme. The economic system of
production and distribution by which a nation lives may fitly be compared
to a cistern with a supply pipe, representing production, by which water
is pumped in; and an escape pipe, representing consumption, by which the
product is disposed of. When the cistern is scientifically constructed
the supply pipe and escape pipe correspond in capacity, so that the water
may be drawn off as fast as supplied, and none be wasted by overflow.
Under the profit system of our ancestors, however, the arrangement was
different. Instead of corresponding in capacity with the supply pipe
representing production, the outlet representing consumption was half or
two thirds shut off by the water-gate of profits, so that it was not able
to carry off more than, say, a half or a third of the supply that was
pumped into the cistern through the feed pipe of production. Now, Emily,
what would be the natural effect of such a lack of correspondence between
the inlet and the outlet capacity of the cistern?"

"Obviously," replied the girl who answered to the name of Emily, "the
effect would be to clog the cistern, and compel the pumps to slow down to
half or one third of their capacity--namely, to the capacity of the
escape pipe."

"But," said the teacher, "suppose that in the case of the cistern used by
our ancestors the effect of slowing down the pump of production was to
diminish still further the capacity of the escape pipe of consumption,
already much too small, by depriving the working masses of even the small
purchasing power they had before possessed in the form of wages for labor
or prices for produce."

"Why, in that case," replied the girl, "it is evident that since slowing
down production only checked instead of hastening relief by consumption,
there would be no way to avoid a stoppage of the whole service except to
relieve the pressure in the cistern by opening waste pipes."

"Precisely so. Well, now, we are in a position to appreciate how
necessary a part the waste pipes played in the economic system of our
forefathers. We have seen that under that system the bulk of the people
sold their labor or produce to the capitalists, but were unable to buy
back and consume but a small part of the result of that labor or produce
in the market, the rest remaining in the hands of the capitalists as
profits. Now, the capitalists, being a very small body numerically, could
consume upon their necessities but a petty part of these accumulated
profits, and yet, if they did not get rid of them somehow, production
would stop, for the capitalists absolutely controlled the initiative in
production, and would have no motive to increase accumulations they could
not dispose of. In proportion, moreover, as the capitalists from lack of
use for more profits should slacken production, the mass of the people,
finding none to hire them, or buy their produce to sell again, would lose
what little consuming power they had before, and a still larger
accumulation of products be left on the capitalists' hands. The question
then is, How did the capitalists, after consuming all they could of their
profits upon their own necessities, dispose of the surplus, so as to make
room for more production?"

"Of course," said the girl Emily, "if the surplus products were to be so
expended as to relieve the glut, the first point was that they must be
expended in such ways that there should be no return, for them. They must
be absolutely wasted--like water poured into the sea. This was
accomplished by the use of the surplus products in the support of bodies
of workers employed in unproductive kinds of labor. This waste labor was
of two sorts--the first was that employed in wasteful industrial and
commercial competition; the second was that employed in the means and
services of luxury."

"Tell us about the wasteful expenditure of labor in competition."

"That was through the undertaking of industrial and commercial
enterprises which were not called for by any increase in consumption,
their object being merely the displacement of the enterprises of one
capitalist by those of another."

"And was this a very large cause of waste?"

"Its magnitude may be inferred from the saying current at the time that
ninety-five per cent of industrial and commercial enterprises failed,
which merely meant that in this proportion of instances capitalists
wasted their investments in trying to fill a demand which either did not
exist or was supplied already. If that estimate were even a remote
suggestion of the truth, it would serve to give an idea of the enormous
amounts of accumulated profits which were absolutely wasted in
competitive expenditure. And it must be remembered also that when a
capitalist succeeded in displacing another and getting away his business
the total waste of capital was just as great as if he failed, only in the
one case it was the capital of the previous investor that was destroyed
instead of the capital of the newcomer. In every country which had
attained any degree of economic development there were many times more
business enterprises in every line than there was business for, and many
times as much capital already invested as there was a return for. The
only way in which new capital could be put into business was by forcing
out and destroying old capital already invested. The ever-mounting
aggregation of profits seeking part of a market that was prevented from
increasing by the effect of those very profits, created a pressure of
competition among capitalists which, by all accounts that come down to
us, must have been like a conflagration in its consuming effects upon

"Now tell us something about the other great waste of profits by which
the pressure in the cistern was sufficiently relieved to permit
production to go on--that is to say, the expenditure of profits for the
employment of labor in the service of luxury. What was luxury?"

"The term luxury, in referring to the state of society before the
Revolution, meant the lavish expenditure of wealth by the rich to gratify
a refined sensualism, while the masses of the people were suffering lack
of the primary necessities."

"What were some of the modes of luxurious expenditure indulged in by the

"They were unlimited in variety, as, for example, the construction of
costly palaces for residence and their decoration in royal style, the
support of great retinues of servants, costly supplies for the table,
rich equipages, pleasure ships, and all manner of boundless expenditure
in fine raiment and precious stones. Ingenuity was exhausted in
contriving devices by which the rich might waste the abundance the people
were dying for. A vast army of laborers was constantly engaged in
manufacturing an infinite variety of articles and appliances of elegance
and ostentation which mocked the unsatisfied primary necessities of those
who toiled to produce them."

"What have you to say of the moral aspect of this expenditure for

"If the entire community had arrived at that stage of economic prosperity
which would enable all alike to enjoy the luxuries equally," replied the
girl, "indulgence in them would have been merely a question of taste. But
this waste of wealth by the rich in the presence of a vast population
suffering lack of the bare necessaries of life was an illustration of
inhumanity that would seem incredible on the part of civilized people
were not the facts so well substantiated. Imagine a company of persons
sitting down with enjoyment to a banquet, while on the floors and all
about the corners of the banquet hall were groups of fellow-beings dying
with want and following with hungry eyes every morsel the feasters lifted
to their mouths. And yet that precisely describes the way in which the
rich used to spend their profits in the great cities of America, France,
England, and Germany before the Revolution, the one difference being that
the needy and the hungry, instead of being in the banquet room itself,
were just outside on the street."

"It was claimed, was it not, by the apologists of the luxurious
expenditure of the capitalists that they thus gave employment to many who
would otherwise have lacked it?"

"And why would they have lacked employment? Why were the people glad to
find employment in catering to the luxurious pleasures and indulgences of
the capitalists, selling themselves to the most frivolous and degrading
uses? It was simply because the profit taking of these same capitalists,
by reducing the consuming power of the people to a fraction of its
producing power, had correspondingly limited the field of productive
employment, in which under a rational system there must always have been
work for every hand until all needs were satisfied, even as there is now.
In excusing their luxurious expenditure on the ground you have mentioned,
the capitalists pleaded the results of one wrong to justify the
commission of another."

"The moralists of all ages," said the teacher, "condemned the luxury of
the rich. Why did their censures effect no change?"

"Because they did not understand the economics of the subject. They
failed to see that under the profit system the absolute waste of the
excess of profits in unproductive expenditure was an economic necessity,
if production was to proceed, as you showed in comparing it with the
cistern. The waste of profits in luxury was an economic necessity, to use
another figure, precisely as a running sore is a necessary vent in some
cases for the impurities of a diseased body. Under our system of equal
sharing, the wealth of a community is freely and equally distributed
among its members as is the blood in a healthy body. But when, as under
the old system, that wealth was concentrated in the hands of a portion of
the community, it lost its vitalizing quality, as does the blood when
congested in particular organs, and like that becomes an active poison,
to be got rid of at any cost. Luxury in this way might be called an
ulcer, which must be kept open if the profit system was to continue on
any terms."

"You say," said the teacher, "that in order that production should go on
it was absolutely necessary to get the excess of profits wasted in some
sort of unproductive expenditure. But might not the profit takers have
devised some way of getting rid of the surplus more intelligent than mere
competition to displace one another, and more consistent with humane
feeling than wasting wealth upon refinements of sensual indulgence in the
presence of a needy multitude?"

"Certainly. If the capitalists had cared at all about the humane aspect
of the matter, they could have taken a much less demoralizing method in
getting rid of the obstructive surplus. They could have periodically made
a bonfire of it as a burnt sacrifice to the god Profit, or, if they
preferred, it might have been carried out in scows beyond soundings and
dumped there."

"It is easy to see," said the teacher, "that from a moral point of view
such a periodical bonfire or dump would have been vastly more edifying to
gods and men than was the actual practice of expending it in luxuries
which mocked the bitter want of the mass. But how about the economic
operation of this plan?"

"It would have been as advantageous economically as morally. The process
of wasting the surplus profits in competition and luxury was slow and
protracted, and meanwhile productive industry languished and the workers
waited in idleness and want for the surplus to be so far reduced as to
make room for more production. But if the surplus at once, on being
ascertained, were destroyed, productive industry would go right on."

"But how about the workmen employed by the capitalists in ministering to
their luxuries? Would they not have been thrown out of work if luxury had
been given up?"

"On the contrary, under the bonfire system there would have been a
constant demand for them in productive employment to provide material for
the blaze, and that surely would have been a far more worthy occupation
than helping the capitalists to consume in folly the product of their
brethren employed in productive industry. But the greatest advantage of
all which would have resulted from the substitution of the bonfire for
luxury remains to be mentioned. By the time the nation had made a few
such annual burnt offerings to the principle of profit, perhaps even
after the first one, it is likely they would begin to question, in the
light of such vivid object lessons, whether the moral beauties of the
profit system were sufficient compensation for so large an economic


"Now, Charles," said the teacher, "you shall help us a little on a point
of conscience. We have, one and another, told a very bad story about the
profit system, both in its moral and its economic aspects. Now, is it not
possible that we have done it injustice? Have we not painted too black a
picture? From an ethical point of view we could indeed scarcely have done
so, for there are no words strong enough to justly characterize the mock
it made of all the humanities. But have we not possibly asserted too
strongly its economic imbecility and the hopelessness of the world's
outlook for material welfare so long as it should be tolerated? Can you
reassure us on this point?"

"Easily," replied the lad Charles. "No more conclusive testimony to the
hopelessness of the economic outlook under private capitalism could be
desired than is abundantly given by the nineteenth-century economists
themselves. While they seemed quite incapable of imagining anything
different from private capitalism as the basis of an economic system,
they cherished no illusions as to its operation. Far from trying to
comfort mankind by promising that if present ills were bravely borne
matters would grow better, they expressly taught that the profit system
must inevitably result at some time not far ahead in the arrest of
industrial progress and a stationary condition of production."

"How did they make that out?"

"They recognized, as we do, the tendency under private capitalism of
rents, interest, and profits to accumulate as capital in the hands of the
capitalist class, while, on the other hand, the consuming power of the
masses did not increase, but either decreased or remained practically
stationary. From this lack of equilibrium between production and
consumption it followed that the difficulty of profitably employing
capital in productive industry must increase as the accumulations of
capital so disposable should grow. The home market having been first,
glutted with products and afterward the foreign market, the competition
of the capitalists to find productive employment for their capital would
lead them, after having reduced wages to the lowest possible point, to
bid for what was left of the market by reducing their own profits to the
minimum point at which it was worth while to risk capital. Below this
point more capital would not be invested in business. Thus the rate of
wealth production would cease to advance, and become stationary."

"This, you say, is what the nineteenth-century economists themselves
taught concerning the outcome of the profit system?"

"Certainly. I could, quote from their standard books any number of
passages foretelling this condition of things, which, indeed, it required
no prophet to foretell."

"How near was the world--that is, of course, the nations whose industrial
evolution had gone farthest--to this condition when the Revolution came?"

"They were apparently on its verge. The more economically advanced
countries had generally exhausted their home markets and were struggling
desperately for what was left of foreign markets. The rate of interest,
which indicated the degree to which capital had become glutted, had
fallen in England to two per cent and in America within thirty years had
sunk from seven and six to five and three and four per cent, and was
falling year by year. Productive industry had become generally clogged,
and proceeded by fits and starts. In America the wage-earners were
becoming proletarians, and the farmers fast sinking into the state of a
tenantry. It was indeed the popular discontent caused by these
conditions, coupled with apprehension of worse to come, which finally
roused the people at the close of the nineteenth century to the necessity
of destroying private capitalism for good and all."

"And do I understand, then, that this stationary condition, after which
no increase in the rate of wealth production could be looked for, was
setting in while yet the primary needs of the masses remained unprovided

"Certainly. The satisfaction of the needs of the masses, as we have
abundantly seen, was in no way recognized as a motive for production
under the profit system. As production approached the stationary point
the misery of the people would, in fact, increase as a direct result of
the competition among capitalists to invest their glut of capital in
business. In order to do so, as has already been shown, they sought to
reduce the prices of products, and that meant the reduction of wages to
wage-earners and prices to first producers to the lowest possible point
before any reduction in the profits of the capitalist was considered.
What the old economists called the stationary condition of production
meant, therefore, the perpetuation indefinitely of the maximum degree of
hardship endurable by the people at large."

"That will do, Charles; you have said enough to relieve any apprehension
that possibly we were doing injustice to the profit system. Evidently
that could not be done to a system of which its own champions foretold
such an outcome as you have described. What, indeed, could be added to
the description they give of it in these predictions of the stationary
condition as a programme of industry confessing itself at the end of its
resources in the midst of a naked and starving race? This was the good
time coming, with the hope of which the nineteenth-century economists
cheered the cold and hungry world of toilers--a time when, being worse
off than ever, they must abandon forever even the hope of improvement. No
wonder our forefathers described their so-called political economy as a
dismal science, for never was there a pessimism blacker, a hopelessness
more hopeless than it preached. Ill indeed had it been for humanity if it
had been truly a science.


"Now, Esther," the teacher pursued, "I am going to ask you to do a little
estimating as to about how much the privilege of retaining the profit
system cost our forefathers. Emily has given us an idea of the magnitude
of the two great wastes of profits--the waste of competition and the
waste of luxury. Now, did the capital wasted in these two ways represent
all that the profit system cost the people?"

"It did not give a faint idea of it, much less represent it," replied the
girl Esther. "The aggregate wealth wasted respectively in competition and
luxury, could it have been distributed equally for consumption among the
people, would undoubtedly have considerably raised the general level of
comfort. In the cost of the profit system to a community, the wealth
wasted by the capitalists was, however, an insignificant item. The bulk
of that cost consisted in the effect of the profit system to prevent
wealth from being produced, in holding back and tying down the almost
boundless wealth-producing power of man. Imagine the mass of the
population, instead of being sunk in poverty and a large part of them in
bitter want, to have received sufficient to satisfy all their needs and
give them ample, comfortable lives, and estimate the amount of additional
wealth which it would have been necessary to produce to meet this
standard of consumption. That will give you a basis for calculating the
amount of wealth which the American people or any people of those days
might and would have produced but for the profit system. You may estimate
that this would have meant a fivefold, sevenfold, or tenfold increase of
production, as you please to guess.

"But tell us this: Would it have been possible for the people of America,
say, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, to have multiplied
their production at such a rate if consumption had demanded it?"

"Nothing is more certain than that they could easily have done so. The
progress of invention had been so great in the nineteenth century as to
multiply from twentyfold to many hundredfold the productive power of
industry. There was no time during the last quarter of the century in
America or in any of the advanced countries when the existing productive
plants could not have produced enough in six months to have supplied the
total annual consumption as it actually was. And those plants could have
been multiplied indefinitely. In like manner the agricultural product of
the country was always kept far within its possibility, for a plentiful
crop under the profit system meant ruinous prices to the farmers. As has
been said, it was an admitted proposition of the old economists that
there was no visible limit to production if only sufficient demand for
consumption could be secured."

"Can you recall any instance in history in which it can be argued that a
people paid so large a price in delayed and prevented development for the
privilege of retaining any other tyranny as they did for keeping the
profit system?"

"I am sure there never was such another instance, and I will tell you why
I think so. Human progress has been delayed at various stages by
oppressive institutions, and the world has leaped forward at their
overthrow. But there was never before a time when the conditions had been
so long ready and waiting for so great and so instantaneous a forward
movement all along the line of social improvement as in the period
preceding the Revolution. The mechanical and industrial forces, held in
check by the profit system, only required to be unleashed to transform
the economic condition of the race as by magic. So much for the material
cost of the profit system to our forefathers; but, vast as that was, it
is not worth considering for a moment in comparison with its cost in
human happiness. I mean the moral cost in wrong and tears and black
negations and stifled moral possibilities which the world paid for every
day's retention of private capitalism: there are no words adequate to
express the sum of that."


"That will do, Esther.--Now, George, I want you to tell us just a little
about a particular body among the learned class of the nineteenth
century, which, according to the professions of its members, ought to
have known and to have taught the people all that we have so easily
perceived as to the suicidal character of the profit system and the
economic perdition it meant for mankind so long as it should be
tolerated. I refer to the political economists."

"There were no political economists before the Revolution," replied the

"But there certainly was a large class of learned men who called
themselves political economists."

"Oh, yes; but they labeled themselves wrongly."

"How do you make that out?"

"Because there was not, until the Revolution--except, of course, among
those who sought to bring it to pass--any conception whatever of what
political economy is."

"What is it?"

"Economy," replied the lad, "means the wise husbandry of wealth in
production and distribution. Individual economy is the science of this
husbandry when conducted in the interest of the individual without regard
to any others. Family economy is this husbandry carried on for the
advantage of a family group without regard to other groups. Political
economy, however, can only mean the husbandry of wealth for the greatest
advantage of the political or social body, the whole number of the
citizens constituting the political organization. This sort of husbandry
necessarily implies a public or political regulation of economic affairs
for the general interest. But before the Revolution there was no
conception of such an economy, nor any organization to carry it out. All
systems and doctrines of economy previous to that time were distinctly
and exclusively private and individual in their whole theory and
practice. While in other respects our forefathers did in various ways and
degrees recognize a social solidarity and a political unity with
proportionate rights and duties, their theory and practice as to all
matters touching the getting and sharing of wealth were aggressively and
brutally individualistic, antisocial, and unpolitical."

"Have you ever looked over any of the treatises which our forefathers
called political economies, at the Historical Library?"

"I confess," the boy answered, "that the title of the leading work under
that head was enough for me. It was called The Wealth of Nations. That
would be an admirable title for a political economy nowadays, when the
production and distribution of wealth are conducted altogether by and for
the people collectively; but what meaning could it conceivably have had
as applied to a book written nearly a hundred years before such a thing
as a national economic organization was thought of, with the sole view of
instructing capitalists how to get rich at the cost of, or at least in
total disregard of, the welfare of their fellow-citizens? I noticed too
that quite a common subtitle used for these so-called works on political
economy was the phrase 'The Science of Wealth.' Now what could an
apologist of private capitalism and the profit system possibly have to
say about the science of wealth? The A B C of any science of wealth
production is the necessity of co-ordination and concert of effort;
whereas competition, conflict, and endless cross-purposes were the sum
and substance of the economic methods set forth by these writers."

"And yet," said the teacher, "the only real fault of these so-called
books on Political Economy consists in the absurdity of the title.
Correct that, and their value as documents of the times at once becomes
evident. For example, we might call them 'Examinations into the Economic
and Social Consequences of trying to get along without any Political
Economy.' A title scarcely less fit would perhaps be 'Studies into the
Natural Course of Economic Affairs when left to Anarchy by the Lack of
any Regulation in the General Interest.' It is, when regarded in this
light, as painstaking and conclusive expositions of the ruinous effects
of private capitalism upon the welfare of communities, that we perceive
the true use and value of these works. Taking up in detail the various
phenomena of the industrial and commercial world of that day, with their
reactions upon the social status, their authors show how the results
could not have been other than they were, owing to the laws of private
capitalism, and that it was nothing but weak sentimentalism to suppose
that while those laws continued in operation any different results could
be obtained, however good men's intentions. Although somewhat heavy in
style for popular reading, I have often thought that during the
revolutionary period no documents could have been better calculated to
convince rational men who could be induced to read them, that it was
absolutely necessary to put an end to private capitalism if humanity were
ever to get forward.

"The fatal and quite incomprehensible mistake of their authors was that
they did not themselves see this, conclusion and preach it. Instead of
that they committed the incredible blunder of accepting a set of
conditions that were manifestly mere barbaric survivals as the basis of a
social science when they ought easily to have seen that the very idea of
a scientific social order suggested the abolition of those conditions as
the first step toward its realization.

"Meanwhile, as to the present lesson, there are two or three points to
clear up before leaving it. We have been talking altogether of profit
taking, but this was only one of the three main methods by which the
capitalists collected the tribute from the toiling world by which their
power was acquired and maintained. What were the other two?"

"Rent and interest."

"What was rent?"

"In those days," replied George, "the right to a reasonable and equal
allotment of land for private uses did not belong as a matter of course
to every person as it does now. No one was admitted to have any natural
right to land at all. On the other hand, there was no limit to the extent
of land, though it were a whole province, which any one might not legally
possess if he could get hold of it. By natural consequence of this
arrangement the strong and cunning had acquired most of the land, while
the majority of the people were left with none at all. Now, the owner of
the land had the right to drive any one off his land and have him
punished for entering on it. Nevertheless, the people who owned n
required to have it and to use it and must needs go to the capitalists
for it. Rent was the price charged by capitalists for not driving people
off their land."

"Did this rent represent any economic service of any sort rendered to the
community by the rent receiver?"

"So far as regards the charge for the use of the land itself apart from
improvements it represented no service of any sort, nothing but the
waiver for a price of the owner's legal right of ejecting the occupant.
It was not a charge for doing anything, but for not doing something."

"Now tell us about interest; what was that?"

"Interest was the price paid for the use of money. Nowadays the
collective administration directs the industrial forces of the nation for
the general welfare, but in those days all economic enterprises were for
private profit, and their projectors had to hire the labor they needed
with money. Naturally, the loan of so indispensable a means as this
commanded a high price; that price was interest."

"And did interest represent any economic service to the community on the
part of the interest taker in lending his money?"

"None whatever. On the contrary, it was by the very nature of the
transaction, a waiver on the part of the lender of the power of action in
favor of the borrower. It was a price charged for letting some one else
do what the lender might have done but chose not to. It was a tribute
levied by inaction upon action."

"If all the landlords and money lenders had died over night, would it
have made any difference to the world?"

"None whatever, so long as they left the land and the money behind. Their
economic role was a passive one, and in strong contrast with that of the
profit-seeking capitalists, which, for good or bad, was at least active."

"What was the general effect of rent and interest upon the consumption
and consequently the production of wealth by the community?"

"It operated to reduce both."


"In the same way that profit taking did. Those who received rent were
very few, those who paid it were nearly all. Those who received interest
were few, and those who paid it many. Rent and interest meant, therefore,
like profits, a constant drawing away of the purchasing power of the
community at large and its concentration in the hands of a small part of

"What have you to say of these three processes as to their comparative
effect in destroying the consuming power of the masses, and consequently
the demand for production?"

"That differed in different ages and countries according to the stage of
their economic development. Private capitalism has been compared to a
three-horned bull, the horns being rent, profit, and interest, differing
in comparative length and strength according to the age of the animal. In
the United States, at the time covered by our lesson, profits were still
the longest of the three horns, though the others were growing terribly

"We have seen, George," said his teacher, "that from a period long before
the great Revolution it was as true as it is now that the only limit to
the production of wealth in society was its consumption. We have seen
that what kept the world in poverty under private capitalism was the
effect of profits, aided by rent and interest to reduce consumption and
thus cripple production, by concentrating the purchasing power of the
people in the hands of a few. Now, that was the wrong way of doing
things. Before leaving the subject I want you to tell us in a word what
is the right way. Seeing that production is limited by consumption, what
rule must be followed in distributing the results of production to be
consumed in order to develop consumption to the highest possible point,
and thereby in turn to create the greatest possible demand for

"For that purpose the results of production must be distributed equally
among all the members of the producing community."

"Show why that is so."

"It is a self-evident mathematical proposition. The more people a loaf of
bread or any given thing is divided among, and the more equally it is
divided, the sooner it will be consumed and more bread be called for. To
put it in a more formal way, the needs of human beings result from the
same natural constitution and are substantially the same. An equal
distribution of the things needed by them is therefore that general plan
by which the consumption of such things will be at once enlarged to the
greatest possible extent and continued on that scale without interruption
to the point of complete satisfaction for all. It follows that the equal
distribution of products is the rule by which the largest possible
consumption can be secured, and thus in turn the largest production be

"What, on the other hand, would be the effect on consumption of an
unequal division of consumable products?"

"If the division were unequal, the result would be that some would have
more than they could consume in a given time, and others would have less
than they could have consumed in the same time, the result meaning a
reduction of total consumption below what it would have been for that
time with an equal division of products. If a million dollars were
equally divided among one thousand men, it would presently be wholly
expended in the consumption of needed things, creating a demand for the
production of as much more; but if concentrated in one man's hands, not a
hundredth part of it, however great his luxury, would be likely to be so
expended in the same period. The fundamental general law in the science
of social wealth is, therefore, that the efficiency of a given amount of
purchasing power to promote consumption is in exact proportion to its
wide distribution, and is most efficient when equally distributed among
the whole body of consumers because that is the widest possible

"You have not called attention to the fact that the formula of the
greatest wealth production--namely, equal sharing of the product among
the community--is also that application of the product which will cause
the greatest sum of human happiness."

"I spoke strictly of the economic side of the subject."

"Would it not have startled the old economists to hear that the secret of
the most efficient system of wealth production was conformity on a
national scale to the ethical idea of equal treatment for all embodied by
Jesus Christ in the golden rule?"

"No doubt, for they falsely taught that there were two kinds of science
dealing with human conduct--one moral, the other economic; and two lines
of reasoning as to conduct--the economic, and the ethical; both right in
different ways. We know better. There can be but one science of human
conduct in whatever field, and that is ethical. Any economic proposition
which can not be stated in ethical terms is false. Nothing can be in the
long run or on a large scale sound economics which is not sound ethics.
It is not, therefore, a mere coincidence, but a logical necessity, that
the supreme word of both ethics and economics should be one and the
same--equality. The golden rule in its social application is as truly the
secret of plenty as of peace."



"That will do, George. We will close the session here. Our discussion, I
find, has taken a broader range than I expected, and to complete the
subject we shall need to have a brief session this afternoon.--And now,
by way of concluding the morning, I propose to offer a little
contribution of my own. The other day, at the museum, I was delving among
the relics of literature of the great Revolution, with a view to finding
something that might illustrate our theme. I came across a little
pamphlet of the period, yellow and almost undecipherable, which, on
examination, I found to be a rather amusing skit or satirical take-off on
the profit system. It struck me that probably our lesson might prepare us
to appreciate it, and I made a copy. It is entitled "The Parable of the
Water Tank," and runs this way:

"'There was a certain very dry land, the people whereof were in sore need
of water. And they did nothing but to seek after water from morning until
night, and many perished because they could not find it.

"'Howbeit, there were certain men in that land who were more crafty and
diligent than the rest, and these had gathered stores of water where
others could find none, and the name of these men was called capitalists.
And it came to pass that the people of the land came unto the capitalists
and prayed them that they would give them of the water they had gathered
that they might drink, for their need was sore. But the capitalists
answered them and said:

"'"Go to, ye silly people! why should we give you of the water which we
have gathered, for then we should become even as ye are, and perish with
you? But behold what we will do unto you. Be ye our servants and ye shall
have water."

"'And the people said, "Only give us to drink and we will be your
servants, we and our children." And it was so.

"'Now, the capitalists were men of understanding, and wise in their
generation. They ordered the people who were their servants in bands with
captains and officers, and some they put at the springs to dip, and
others did they make to carry the water, and others did they cause to
seek for new springs. And all the water was brought together in one
place, and there did the capitalists make a great tank for to hold it,
and the tank was called the Market, for it was there that the people,
even the servants of the capitalists, came to get water. And the
capitalists said unto the people:

"'"For every bucket of water that ye bring to us, that we may pour it
into the tank, which is the Market, behold! we will give you a penny, but
for every bucket that we shall draw forth to give unto you that ye may
drink of it, ye and your wives and your children, ye shall give to us two
pennies, and the difference shall be our profit, seeing that if it were
not for this profit we would not do this thing for you, but ye should all

"'And it was good in the people's eyes, for they were dull of
understanding, and they diligently brought water unto the tank for many
days, and for every bucket which they did bring the capitalists gave them
every man a penny; but for every bucket that the capitalists drew forth
from the tank to give again unto the people, behold! the people rendered
to the capitalists two pennies.

"'And after many days the water tank, which was the Market, overflowed at
the top, seeing that for every bucket the people poured in they received
only so much as would buy again half of a bucket. And because of the
excess that was left of every bucket, did the tank overflow, for the
people were many, but the capitalists were few, and could drink no more
than others. Therefore did the tank overflow.

"'And when the capitalists saw that the water overflowed, they said to
the people:

"'"See ye not the tank, which is the Market, doth overflow? Sit ye down,
therefore and be patient, for ye shall bring us no more water till the
tank be empty."

"'But when the people no more received the pennies of the capitalists for
the water they brought, they could buy no more water from the
capitalists, having naught wherewith to buy. And when the capitalists saw
that they had no more profit because no man bought water of them, they
were troubled. And they sent forth men in the highways, the byways, and
the hedges, crying, "If any thirst let him come to the tank and buy water
of us, for it doth overflow." For they said among themselves, "Behold,
the times are dull; we must advertise."

"'But the people answered, saying: "How can we buy unless ye hire us, for
how else shall we have wherewithal to buy? Hire ye us, therefore, as
before, and we will gladly buy water, for we thirst, and ye will have no
need to advertise." But the capitalists said to the people: "Shall we
hire you to bring water when the tank, which is the Market, doth already
overflow? Buy ye, therefore, first water, and when the tank is empty,
through your buying, will we hire you again." And so it was because the
capitalists hired them no more to bring water that the people could not
buy the water they had brought already, and because the people could not
buy the water they had brought already, the capitalists no more hired
them to bring water. And the saying went abroad, "It is a crisis."

"'And the thirst of the people was great, for it was not now as it had
been in the days of their fathers, when the land was open before them,
for every one to seek water for himself, seeing that the capitalists had
taken all the springs, and the wells, and the water wheels, and the
vessels and the buckets, so that no man might come by water save from the
tank, which was the Market. And the people murmured against the
capitalists and said: "Behold, the tank runneth over, and we die of
thirst. Give us, therefore, of the water, that we perish not."

"'But the capitalists answered: "Not so. The water is ours. Ye shall not
drink thereof unless ye buy it of us with pennies." And they confirmed it
with an oath, saying, after their manner, "Business is business."

"'But the capitalists were disquieted that the people bought no more
water, whereby they had no more any profits, and they spake one to
another, saying: "It seemeth that our profits have stopped our profits,
and by reason of the profits we have made, we can make no more profits.
How is it that our profits are become unprofitable to us, and our gains
do make us poor? Let us therefore send for the soothsayers, that they may
interpret this thing unto us," and they sent for them.

"'Now, the soothsayers were men learned in dark sayings, who joined
themselves to the capitalists by reason of the water of the capitalists,
that they might have thereof and live, they and their children. And they
spake for the capitalists unto the people, and did their embassies for
them, seeing that the capitalists were not a folk quick of understanding
neither ready of speech.

"'And the capitalists demanded of the soothsayers that they should
interpret this thing unto them, wherefore it was that the people bought
no more water of them, although the tank was full. And certain of the
soothsayers answered and said, "It is by reason of overproduction," and
some said, "It is glut"; but the signification of the two words is the
same. And others said, "Nay, but this thing is by reason of the spots on
the sun." And yet others answered, saying, "It is neither by reason of
glut, nor yet of spots on the sun that this evil hath come to pass, but
because of lack of confidence."

"'And while the soothsayers contended among themselves, according to
their manner, the men of profit did slumber and sleep, and when they
awoke they said to the soothsayers: "It is enough. Ye have spoken
comfortably unto us. Now go ye forth and speak comfortably likewise unto
this people, so that they be at rest and leave us also in peace."

"'But the soothsayers, even the men of the dismal science--for so they
were named of some--were loath to go forth to the people lest they should
be stoned, for the people loved them not. And they said to the

"'"Masters, it is a mystery of our craft that if men be full and thirst
not but be at rest, then shall they find comfort in our speech even as
ye. Yet if they thirst and be empty, find they no comfort therein but
rather mock us, for it seemeth that unless a man be full our wisdom
appeareth unto him but emptiness." But the capitalists said: "Go ye
forth. Are ye not our men to do our embassies?"

"'And the soothsayers went forth to the people and expounded to them the
mystery of overproduction, and how it was that they must needs perish of
thirst because there was overmuch water, and how there could not be
enough because there was too much. And likewise spoke they unto the
people concerning the sun spots, and also wherefore it was that these
things had come upon them by reason of lack of confidence. And it was
even as the soothsayers had said, for to the people their wisdom seemed
emptiness. And the people reviled them, saying: "Go up, ye bald-heads!
Will ye mock us? Doth plenty breed famine? Doth nothing come out of
much?" And they took up stones to stone them.

"'And when the capitalists saw that the people still murmured and would
not give ear to the soothsayers, and because also they feared lest they
should come upon the tank and take of the water by force, they brought
forth to them certain holy men (but they were false priests), who spake
unto the people that they should be quiet and trouble not the capitalists
because they thirsted. And these holy men, who were false priests,
testified to the people that this affliction was sent to them of God for
the healing of their souls, and that if they should bear it in patience
and lust not after the water, neither trouble the capitalists, it would
come to pass that after they had given up the ghost they would come to a
country where there should be no capitalists but an abundance of water.
Howbeit, there were certain true prophets of God also, and these had
compassion on the people and would not prophesy for the capitalists, but
rather spake constantly against them.

"'Now, when the capitalists saw that the people still murmured and would
not be still, neither for the words of the soothsayers nor of the false
priests, they came forth themselves unto them and put the ends of their
fingers in the water that overflowed in the tank and wet the tips
thereof, and they scattered the drops from the tips of their fingers
abroad upon the people who thronged the tank, and the name of the drops
of water was charity, and they were exceeding bitter.

"'And when the capitalists saw yet again that neither for the words of
the soothsayers, nor of the holy men who were false priests, nor yet for
the drops that were called charity, would the people be still, but raged
the more, and crowded upon the tank as if they would take it by force,
then took they counsel together and sent men privily forth among the
people. And these men sought out the mightiest among the people and all
who had skill in war, and took them apart and spake craftily with them,

"'"Come, now, why cast ye not your lot in with the capitalists? If ye
will be their men and serve them against the people, that they break not
in upon the tank, then shall ye have abundance of water, that ye perish
not, ye and your children."

"'And the mighty men and they who were skilled in war hearkened unto this
speech and suffered themselves to be persuaded, for their thirst
constrained them, and they went within unto the capitalists and became
their men, and staves and swords were put in their hands and they became
a defense unto the capitalists and smote the people when they thronged
upon the tank.

"'And after many days the water was low in the tank, for the capitalists
did make fountains and fish ponds of the water thereof, and did bathe
therein, they and their wives and their children, and did waste the water
for their pleasure.

"'And when the capitalists saw that the tank was empty, they said, "The
crisis is ended"; and they sent forth and hired the people that they
should bring water to fill it again. And for the water that the people
brought to the tank they received for every bucket a penny, but for the
water which the capitalists drew forth from the tank to give again to the
people they received two pennies, that they might have their profit. And
after a time did the tank again overflow even as before.

"'And now, when many times the people had filled the tank until it
overflowed and had thirsted till the water therein had been wasted by the
capitalists, it came to pass that there arose in the land certain men who
were called agitators, for that they did stir up the people. And they
spake to the people, saying that they should associate, and then would
they have no need to be servants of the capitalists and should thirst no
more for water. And in the eyes of the capitalists were the agitators
pestilent fellows, and they would fain have crucified them, but durst not
for fear of the people.

"'And the words of the agitators which they spake to the people were on
this wise:

"'"Ye foolish people, how long will ye be deceived by a lie and believe
to your hurt that which is not? for behold all these things that have
been said unto you by the capitalists and by the soothsayers are
cunningly devised fables. And likewise the holy men, who say that it is
the will of God that ye should always be poor and miserable and athirst,
behold! they do blaspheme God and are liars, whom he will bitterly judge
though he forgive all others. How cometh it that ye may not come by the
water in the tank? Is it not because ye have no money? And why have ye no
money? Is it not because ye receive but one penny for every bucket that
ye bring to the tank, which is the Market, but must render two pennies
for every bucket ye take out, so that the capitalists may have their
profit? See ye not how by this means the tank must overflow, being filled
by that ye lack and made to abound out of your emptiness? See ye not also
that the harder ye toil and the more diligently ye seek and bring the
water, the worse and not the better it shall be for you by reason of the
profit, and that forever?"

"'After this manner spake the agitators for many days unto the people,
and none heeded them, but it was so that after a time the people
hearkened. And they answered and said unto the agitators:

"'"Ye say truth. It is because of the capitalists and of their profits
that we want, seeing that by reason of them and their profits we may by
no means come by the fruit of our labor, so that our labor is in vain,
and the more we toil to fill the tank the sooner doth it overflow, and we
may receive nothing because there is too much, according to the words of
the soothsayers. But behold, the capitalists are hard men and their
tender mercies are cruel. Tell us if ye know any way whereby we may
deliver ourselves out of our bondage unto them. But if ye know of no
certain way of deliverance we beseech you to hold your peace and let us
alone, that we may forget our misery."

"'And the agitators answered and said, "We know a way."

"'And the people said: "Deceive us not, for this thing hath been from the
beginning, and none hath found a way of deliverance until now, though
many have sought it carefully with tears. But if ye know a way, speak
unto us quickly."

"'Then the agitators spake unto the people of the way. And they said:

"'"Behold, what need have ye at all of these capitalists, that ye should
yield them profits upon your labor? What great thing do they wherefore ye
render them this tribute? Lo! it is only because they do order you in
bands and lead you out and in and set your tasks and afterward give you a
little of the water yourselves have brought and not they. Now, behold the
way out of this bondage! Do ye for yourselves that which is done by the
capitalists--namely, the ordering of your labor, and the marshaling of
your bands, and the dividing of your tasks. So shall ye have no need at
all of the capitalists and no more yield to them any profit, but all the
fruit of your labor shall ye share as brethren, every one having the
same; and so shall the tank never overflow until every man is full, and
would not wag the tongue for more, and afterward shall ye with the
overflow make pleasant fountains and fish ponds to delight yourselves
withal even as did the capitalists; but these shall be for the delight of

"'And the people answered, "How shall we go about to do this thing, for
it seemeth good to us?"

"'And the agitators answered: "Choose ye discreet men to go in and out
before you and to marshal your bands and order your labor, and these men
shall be as the capitalists were; but, behold, they shall not be your
masters as the capitalists are, but your brethren and officers who do
your will, and they shall not take any profits, but every man his share
like the others, that there may be no more masters and servants among
you, but brethren only. And from time to time, as ye see fit, ye shall
choose other discreet men in place of the first to order the labor."

"'And the people hearkened, and the thing was very good to them. Likewise
seemed it not a hard thing. And with one voice they cried out, "So let it
be as ye have said, for we will do it!"

"'And the capitalists heard the noise of the shouting and what the people
said, and the soothsayers heard it also, and likewise the false priests
and the mighty men of war, who were a defense unto the capitalists; and
when they heard they trembled exceedingly, so that their knees smote
together, and they said one to another, "It is the end of us!"

"'Howbeit, there were certain true priests of the living God who would
not prophesy for the capitalists, but had compassion on the people; and
when they heard the shouting of the people and what they said, they
rejoiced with exceeding great joy, and gave thanks to God because of the

"'And the people went and did all the things that were told them of the
agitators to do. And it came to pass as the agitators had said, even
according to all their words. And there was no more any thirst in that
land, neither any that was ahungered, nor naked, nor cold, nor in any
manner of want; and every man said unto his fellow, "My brother," and
every woman said unto her companion, "My sister," for so were they with
one another as brethren and sisters which do dwell together in unity. And
the blessing of God rested upon that land forever.'"



The boys and girls of the political-economy class rose to their feet at
the teacher's word of dismissal, and in the twinkling of an eye the scene
which had been absorbing my attention disappeared, and I found myself
staring at Dr. Leete's smiling countenance and endeavoring to imagine how
I had come to be where I was. During the greater part and all the latter
part of the session of the class so absolute had been the illusion of
being actually present in the schoolroom, and so absorbing the interest
of the theme, that I had quite forgotten the extraordinary device by
which I was enabled to see and hear the proceedings. Now, as I recalled
it, my mind reverted with an impulse of boundless curiosity to the
electroscope and the processes by which it performed its miracles.

Having given me some explanation of the mechanical operation of the
apparatus and the way in which it served the purpose of a prolonged optic
nerve, the doctor went on to exhibit its powers on a large scale. During
the following hour, without leaving my chair, I made the tour of the
earth, and learned by the testimony of my senses that the transformation
which had come over Boston since my former life was but a sample of that
which the whole world of men had undergone. I had but to name a great
city or a famous locality in any country to be at once present there so
far as sight and hearing were concerned. I looked down on modern New
York, then upon Chicago, upon San Francisco, and upon New Orleans,
finding each of these cities quite unrecognizable but for the natural
features which constituted their setting. I visited London. I heard the
Parisians talk French and the Berlinese talk German, and from St.
Petersburg went to Cairo by way of Delhi. One city would be bathed in the
noonday sun; over the next I visited, the moon, perhaps, was rising and
the stars coming out; while over the third the silence of midnight
brooded. In Paris, I remember, it was raining hard, and in London fog
reigned supreme. In St. Petersburg there was a snow squall. Turning from
the contemplation of the changing world of men to the changeless face of
Nature, I renewed my old-time acquaintance with the natural wonders of
the earth--the thundering cataracts, the stormy ocean shores, the lonely
mountain tops, the great rivers, the glittering splendors of the polar
regions, and the desolate places of the deserts.

Meanwhile the doctor explained to me that not only the telephone and
electroscope were always connected with a great number of regular
stations commanding all scenes of special interest, but that whenever in
any part of the world there occurred a spectacle or accident of
particular interest, special connections were instantly made, so that all
mankind could at once see what the situation was for themselves without
need of actual or alleged special artists on the spot.

With all my conceptions of time and space reduced to chaos, and well-nigh
drunk with wonder, I exclaimed at last:

"I can stand no more of this just now! I am beginning to doubt seriously
whether I am in or out of the body."

As a practical way of settling that question the doctor proposed a brisk
walk, for we had not been out of the house that morning.

"Have we had enough of economics for the day?" he asked as we left the
house, "or would you like to attend the afternoon session the teacher
spoke of?"

I replied that I wished to attend it by all means.

"Very good," said the doctor; "it will doubtless be very short, and what
do you say to attending it this time in person? We shall have plenty of
time for our walk and can easily get to the school before the hour by
taking a car from any point. Seeing this is the first time you have used
the electroscope, and have no assurance except its testimony that any
such school or pupils really exist, perhaps it would help to confirm any
impressions you may have received to visit the spot in the body."



Presently, as we were crossing Boston Common, absorbed in conversation, a
shadow fell athwart the way, and looking up, I saw towering above us a
sculptured group of heroic size.

"Who are these?" I exclaimed.

"You ought to know if any one," said the doctor. "They are contemporaries
of yours who were making a good deal of disturbance in your day."

But, indeed, it had only been as an involuntary expression of surprise
that I had questioned what the figures stood for.

Let me tell you, readers of the twentieth century, what I saw up there on
the pedestal, and you will recognize the world-famous group. Shoulder to
shoulder, as if rallied to resist assault, were three figures of men in
the garb of the laboring class of my time. They were bareheaded, and
their coarse-textured shirts, rolled above the elbow and open at the
breast, showed the sinewy arms and chest. Before them, on the ground, lay
a pair of shovels and a pickaxe. The central figure, with the right hand
extended, palm outward, was pointing to the discarded tools. The arms of
the other two were folded on their breasts. The faces were coarse and
hard in outline and bristled with unkempt beards. Their expression was
one of dogged defiance, and their gaze was fixed with such scowling
intensity upon the void space before them that I involuntarily glanced
behind me to see what they were looking at. There were two women also in
the group, as coarse of dress and features as the men. One was kneeling
before the figure on the right, holding up to him with one arm an
emaciated, half-clad infant, while with the other she indicated the
implements at his feet with an imploring gesture. The second of the women
was plucking by the sleeve the man on the left as if to draw him back,
while with the other hand she covered her eyes. But the men heeded the
women not at all, or seemed, in their bitter wrath, to know that they
were there.

"Why," I exclaimed, "these are strikers!"

"Yes," said the doctor, "this is The Strikers, Huntington's masterpiece,
considered the greatest group of statuary in the city and one of the
greatest in the country."

"Those people are alive!" I said.

"That is expert testimony," replied the doctor. "It is a pity Huntington
died too soon to hear it. He would have been pleased."

Now, I, in common with the wealthy and cultured class generally, of my
day, had always held strikers in contempt and abhorrence, as blundering,
dangerous marplots, as ignorant of their own best interests as they were
reckless of other people's, and generally as pestilent fellows, whose
demonstrations, so long as they were not violent, could not unfortunately
be repressed by force, but ought always to be condemned, and promptly put
down with an iron hand the moment there was an excuse for police
interference. There was more or less tolerance among the well-to-do, for
social reformers, who, by book or voice, advocated even very radical
economic changes so long as they observed the conventionalities of
speech, but for the striker there were few apologists. Of course, the
capitalists emptied on him the vials of their wrath and contempt, and
even people who thought they sympathized with the working class shook
their heads at the mention of strikes, regarding them as calculated
rather to hinder than help the emancipation of labor. Bred as I was in
these prejudices, it may not seem strange that I was taken aback at
finding such unpromising subjects selected for the highest place in the

"There is no doubt as to the excellence of the artist's work," I said,
"but what was there about the strikers that has made you pick them out of
our generation as objects of veneration?"

"We see in them," replied the doctor, "the pioneers in the revolt against
private capitalism which brought in the present civilization. We honor
them as those who, like Winkelried, 'made way for liberty, and died.' We
revere in them the protomartyrs of co-operative industry and economic

"But I can assure you, doctor, that these fellows, at least in my day,
had not the slightest idea of revolting against private capitalism as a
system. They were very ignorant and quite incapable of grasping so large
a conception. They had no notion of getting along without capitalists.
All they imagined as possible or desirable was a little better treatment
by their employers, a few cents more an hour, a few minutes less working
time a day, or maybe merely the discharge of an unpopular foreman. The
most they aimed at was some petty improvement in their condition, to
attain which they did not hesitate to throw the whole industrial machine
into disorder."

"All which we moderns know quite well," replied the doctor. "Look at
those faces. Has the sculptor idealized them? Are they the faces of
philosophers? Do they not bear out your statement that the strikers, like
the working-men generally, were, as a rule, ignorant, narrow-minded men,
with no grasp of large questions, and incapable of so great an idea as
the overthrow of an immemorial economic order? It is quite true that
until some years after you fell asleep they did not realize that their
quarrel was with private capitalism and not with individual capitalists.
In this slowness of awakening to the full meaning of their revolt they
were precisely on a par with the pioneers of all the great liberty
revolutions. The minutemen at Concord and Lexington, in 1775, did not
realize that they were pointing their guns at the monarchical idea. As
little did the third estate of France, when it entered the Convention in
1789, realize that its road lay over the ruins of the throne. As little
did the pioneers of English freedom, when they began to resist the will
of Charles I, foresee that they would be compelled, before they got
through, to take his head. In none of these instances, however, has
posterity considered that the limited foresight of the pioneers as to the
full consequences of their action lessened the world's debt to the crude
initiative, without which the fuller triumph would never have come. The
logic of the strike meant the overthrow of the irresponsible conduct of
industry, whether the strikers knew it or not, and we can not rejoice in
the consequences of that overthrow without honoring them in a way which
very likely, as you intimate, would surprise them, could they know of it,
as much as it does you. Let me try to give you the modern point of view
as to the part played by their originals." We sat down upon one of the
benches before the statue, and the doctor went on:

"My dear Julian, who was it, pray, that first roused the world of your
day to the fact that there was an industrial question, and by their
pathetic demonstrations of passive resistance to wrong for fifty years
kept the public attention fixed on that question till it was settled? Was
it your statesmen, perchance your economists, your scholars, or any other
of your so-called wise men? No. It was just those despised, ridiculed,
cursed, and hooted fellows up there on that pedestal who with their
perpetual strikes would not let the world rest till their wrong, which
was also the whole world's wrong, was righted. Once more had God chosen
the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, the weak things to
confound the mighty.

"In order to realize how powerfully these strikes operated to impress
upon the people the intolerable wickedness and folly of private
capitalism, you must remember that events are what teach men, that deeds
have a far more potent educating influence than any amount of doctrine,
and especially so in an age like yours, when the masses had almost no
culture or ability to reason. There were not lacking in the revolutionary
period many cultured men and women, who, with voice and pen, espoused the
workers' cause, and showed them the way out; but their words might well
have availed little but for the tremendous emphasis with which they were
confirmed by the men up there, who starved to prove them true. Those
rough-looking fellows, who probably could not have constructed a
grammatical sentence, by their combined efforts, were demonstrating the
necessity of a radically new industrial system by a more convincing
argument than any rhetorician's skill could frame. When men take their
lives in their hands to resist oppression, as those men did, other men
are compelled to give heed to them. We have inscribed on the pedestal
yonder, where you see the lettering, the words, which the action of the
group above seems to voice:

"'We can bear no more. It is better to starve than live on the terms you
give us. Our lives, the lives of our wives and of our children, we set
against your gains. If you put your foot upon our neck, we will bite your

"This was the cry," pursued the doctor, "of men made desperate by
oppression, to whom existence through suffering had become of no value.
It was the same cry that in varied form but in one sense has been the
watchword of every revolution that has marked an advance of the
race--'Give us liberty, or give us death!' and never did it ring out with
a cause so adequate, or wake the world to an issue so mighty, as in the
mouths of these first rebels against the folly and the tyranny of private

"In your age, I know, Julian," the doctor went on in a gentler tone, "it
was customary to associate valor with the clang of arms and the pomp and
circumstance of war. But the echo of the fife and drum comes very faintly
up to us, and moves us not at all. The soldier has had his day, and
passed away forever with the ideal of manhood which he illustrated. But
that group yonder stands for a type of self-devotion that appeals to us
profoundly. Those men risked their lives when they flung down the tools
of their trade, as truly as any soldiers going into battle, and took odds
as desperate, and not only for themselves, but for their families, which
no grateful country would care for in case of casualty to them. The
soldier went forth cheered with music, and supported by the enthusiasm of
the country, but these others were covered with ignominy and public
contempt, and their failures and defeats were hailed with general
acclamation. And yet they sought not the lives of others, but only that
they might barely live; and though they had first thought of the welfare
of themselves, and those nearest them, yet not the less were they
fighting the fight of humanity and posterity in striking in the only way
they could, and while yet no one else dared strike at all, against the
economic system that had the world by the throat, and would never relax
its grip by dint of soft words, or anything less than disabling blows.
The clergy, the economists and the pedagogues, having left these ignorant
men to seek as they might the solution of the social problem, while they
themselves sat at ease and denied that there was any problem, were very
voluble in their criticisms of the mistakes of the workingmen, as if it
were possible to make any mistake in seeking a way out of the social
chaos, which could be so fatuous or so criminal as the mistake of not
trying to seek any. No doubt, Julian, I have put finer words in the
mouths of those men up there than their originals might have even
understood, but if the meaning was not in their words it was in their
deeds. And it is for what they did, not for what they said, that we honor
them as protomartyrs of the industrial republic of to-day, and bring our
children, that they may kiss in gratitude the rough-shod feet of those
who made the way for us."

My experiences since I waked up in this year 2000 might be said to have
consisted of a succession of instantaneous mental readjustments of a
revolutionary character, in which what had formerly seemed evil to me had
become good, and what had seemed wisdom had become foolishness. Had this
conversation about the strikers taken place anywhere else, the entirely
new impression I had received of the part played by them in the great
social revolution of which I shared the benefit would simply have been
one more of these readjustments, and the process entirely a mental one.
But the presence of this wondrous group, the lifelikeness of the figures
growing on my gaze as I listened to the doctor's words, imparted a
peculiar personal quality--if I may use the term--to the revulsion of
feeling that I experienced. Moved by an irresistible impulse, I rose to
my feet, and, removing my hat, saluted the grim forms whose living
originals I had joined my contemporaries in reviling.

The doctor smiled gravely.

"Do you know, my boy," he said, "it is not often that the whirligig of
Time brings round his revenges in quite so dramatic a way as this?"



We arrived at the Arlington School some time before the beginning of the
recitation which we were to attend, and the doctor took the opportunity
to introduce me to the teacher. He was extremely interested to learn that
I had attended the morning session, and very desirous to know something
of my impressions. As to the forthcoming recitation, he suggested that if
the members of the class were aware that they had so distinguished an
auditor, it would be likely to embarrass them, and he should therefore
say nothing about my presence until the close of the session, when he
should crave the privilege of presenting his pupils to me personally. He
hoped I would permit this, as it would be for them the event of a
lifetime which their grandchildren would never tire of hearing them
describe. The entrance of the class interrupted our conversation, and the
doctor and myself, having taken our seats in a gallery, where we could
hear and see without being seen, the session at once began.

"This morning," said the teacher, "we confined ourselves for the sake of
clearness to the effects of the profit system upon a nation or community
considered as if it were alone in the world and without relations to
other communities. There is no way in which such outside relations
operated to negative any of the laws of profit which were brought out
this morning, but they did operate to extend the effect of those laws in
many interesting ways, and without some reference to foreign commerce our
review of the profit system would be incomplete.

"In the so-called political economies of our forefathers we read a vast
deal about the advantages to a country of having an international trade.
It was supposed to be one of the great secrets of national prosperity,
and a chief study of the nineteenth-century statesmen seems to have been
to establish and extend foreign commerce.--Now, Paul, will you tell us
the economic theory as to the advantages of foreign commerce?"

"It is based on the fact," said the lad Paul, "that countries differ in
climate, natural resources, and other conditions, so that in some it is
wholly impossible or very difficult to produce certain needful things,
while it is very easy to produce certain other things in greater
abundance than is needed. In former times also there were marked
differences in the grade of civilization and the condition of the arts in
different countries, which still further modified their respective powers
in the production of wealth. This being so, it might obviously be for the
mutual advantage of countries to exchange with one another what they
could produce against what they could not produce at all or only with
difficulty, and not merely thus secure many things which otherwise they
must go without, but also greatly increase the total effectiveness of
their industry by applying it to the sorts of production best fitted to
their conditions. In order, however, that the people of the respective
countries should actually derive this advantage or any advantage from
foreign exchange, it would be necessary that the exchanges should be
carried on in the general interest for the purpose of giving the people
at large the benefit of them, as is done at the present day, when foreign
commerce, like other economic undertakings, is carried on by the
governments of the several countries. But there was, of course, no
national agency to carry on foreign commerce in that day. The foreign
trade, just like the internal processes of production and distribution,
was conducted by the capitalists on the profit system. The result was
that all the benefits of this fair sounding theory of foreign commerce
were either totally nullified or turned into curses, and the
international trade relations of the countries constituted merely a
larger field for illustrating the baneful effects of the profit system
and its power to turn good to evil and 'shut the gates of mercy on


"Illustrate, please, the operation of the profit system in international

"Let us suppose," said the boy Paul, "that America could produce grain
and other food stuffs with great cheapness and in greater quantities than
the people needed. Suppose, on the contrary, that England could produce
food stuffs only with difficulty and in small quantities. Suppose,
however, that England, on account of various conditions, could produce
clothing and hardware much more cheaply and abundantly than America. In
such a case it would seem that both countries would be gainers if
Americans exchanged the food stuffs which it was so easy for them to
produce for the clothing and hardware which it was so easy for the
English to produce. The result would appear to promise a clear and equal
gain for both people. But this, of course, is on the supposition that the
exchange should be negotiated by a public agency for the benefit of the
respective populations at large. But when, as in those days, the exchange
was negotiated wholly by private capitalists competing for private
profits at the expense of the communities, the result was totally

"The American grain merchant who exported grain to the English would be
impelled, by the competition of other American grain merchants, to put
his price to the English as low as possible, and to do that he would beat
down to the lowest possible figure the American farmer who produced the
grain. And not only must the American merchant sell as low as his
American rivals, but he must also undersell the grain merchants of other
grain-producing countries, such as Russia, Egypt, and India. And now let
us see how much benefit the English people received from the cheap
American grain. We will say that, owing to the foreign food supply, the
cost of living declined one half or a third in England. Here would seem a
great gain surely; but look at the other side of it. The English must pay
for their grain by supplying the Americans with cloth and hardware. The
English manufacturers of these things were rivals just as the American
grain merchants were--each one desirous of capturing as large a part of
the American market as he could. He must therefore, if possible,
undersell his home rivals. Moreover, like the American grain merchant,
the English manufacturer must contend with foreign rivals. Belgium and
Germany made hardware and cloth very cheaply, and the Americans would
exchange their grain for these commodities with the Belgians and the
Germans unless the English sold cheaper. Now, the main element in the
cost of making cloth and hardware was the wages paid for labor. A
pressure was accordingly sure to be brought to bear by every English
manufacturer upon his workmen to compel them to accept lower wages so
that he might undersell his English rivals, and also cut under the German
and Belgian manufacturers, who were trying to get the American trade. Now
can the English workman live on less wages than before? Plainly he can,
for his food supply has been greatly cheapened. Presently, therefore, he
finds his wages forced down by as much as the cheaper food supply has
cheapened his living, and so finds himself just where he was to start
with before the American trade began. And now look again at the American
farmer. He is now getting his imported clothing and tools much cheaper
than before, and consequently the lowest living price at which he can
afford to sell grain is considerably lower than before the English trade
began--lower by so much, in fact, as he has saved on his tools and
clothing. Of this, the grain merchant, of course, took prompt advantage,
for unless he put his grain into the English market lower than other
grain merchants, he would lose his trade, and Russia, Egypt, and India
stood ready to flood England with grain if the Americans could not bid
below them, and then farewell to cheap cloth and tools! So down presently
went the price the American farmer received for his grain, until the
reduction absorbed all that he had gained by the cheaper imported fabrics
and hardware, and he, like his fellow-victim across the sea--the English
iron worker or factory operative--was no better off than he was before
English trade had been suggested.

"But was he as well off? Was either the American or the English worker as
well off as before this interchange of products began, which, if rightly
conducted, would have been so greatly beneficial to both? On the
contrary, both alike were in important ways distinctly worse off. Each
had indeed done badly enough before, but the industrial system on which
they depended, being limited by the national borders, was comparatively
simple and uncomplex, self-sustaining, and liable only to local and
transient disturbances, the effect of which could be to some extent
estimated, possibly remedied. Now, however, the English operatives and
the American farmer had alike become dependent upon the delicate balance
of a complex set of international adjustments liable at any moment to
derangements that might take away their livelihood, without leaving them
even the small satisfaction of understanding what hurt them. The prices
of their labor or their produce were no longer dependent as before upon
established local customs and national standards of living, but had
become subject to determination by the pitiless necessities of a
world-wide competition in which the American farmer and the English
artisan were forced into rivalship with the Indian ryot, the Egyptian
fellah, the half-starved Belgian miner, or the German weaver. In former
ages, before international trade had become general, when one nation was
down another was up, and there was always hope in looking over seas; but
the prospect which the unlimited development of international commerce
upon the profit system was opening to mankind the latter part of the
nineteenth century was that of a world-wide standard of living fixed by
the rate at which life could be supported by the worst-used races.
International trade was already showing itself to be the instrumentality
by which the world-wide plutocracy would soon have established its sway
if the great Revolution had tarried."

"In the case of the supposed reciprocal trade between England and
America, which you have used as an illustration," said the teacher, "you
have assumed that the trade relation was an exchange of commodities on
equal terms. In such a case it appears that the effect of the profit
system was to leave the masses of both countries somewhat worse off than
they would have been without foreign trade, the gain on both the American
and English side inuring wholly to the manufacturing and trading
capitalists. But in fact both countries in a trade relation were not
usually on equal terms. The capitalists of one were often far more
powerful than those of another, and had a stronger or older economic
organization at their service. In that case what was the result?"

"The overwhelming competition of the capitalists of the stronger country
crushed out the enterprises of the capitalists of the weaker country, the
people of which consequently became wholly dependent upon the foreign
capitalists for many productions which otherwise would have been produced
at home to the profit of home capitalists, and in proportion as the
capitalists of the dependent country were thus rendered economically
incapable of resistance the capitalists of the stronger country regulated
at their pleasure the terms of trade. The American colonies, in 1776,
were driven to revolt against England by the oppression resulting from
such a relation. The object of founding colonies, which was one of the
main ends of seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century
statesmanship, was to bring new communities into this relation of
economic vassalage to the home capitalists, who, having beggared the home
market by their profit, saw no prospect of making more except by
fastening their suckers upon outside communities. Great Britain, whose
capitalists were strongest of all, was naturally the leader in this
policy, and the main end of her wars and her diplomacy for many centuries
before the great Revolution was to obtain such colonies, and to secure
from weaker nations trade concessions and openings--peaceably if
possible, at the mouth of the cannon if necessary."

"How about the condition of the masses in a country thus reduced to
commercial vassalage to the capitalists of another country? Was it
necessarily worse than the condition of the masses of the superior

"That did not follow at all. We must constantly keep in mind that the
interests of the capitalists and of the people were not identical. The
prosperity of the capitalists of a country by no means implied prosperity
on the part of the population, nor the reverse. If the masses of the
dependent country had not been exploited by foreign capitalists, they
would have been by domestic capitalists. Both they and the working masses
of the superior country were equally the tools and slaves of the
capitalists, who did not treat workingmen any better on account of being
their fellow countrymen than if they had been foreigners. It was the
capitalists of the dependent country rather than the masses who suffered
by the suppression of independent business enterprises."


"That will do, Paul.--We will now ask some information from you, Helen,
as to a point which Paul's last words have suggested. During the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a bitter controversy raged among our
ancestors between two parties in opinion and politics, calling
themselves, respectively, the Protectionists and the Free Traders, the
former of whom held that it was well to shut out the competition of
foreign capitalists in the market of a country by a tariff upon imports,
while the latter held that no impediment should be allowed to the
entirely free course of trade. What have you to say as to the merits of
this controversy?"

"Merely," replied the girl called Helen, "that the difference between the
two policies, so far as it affected the people at large, reduced itself
to the question whether they preferred being fleeced by home or foreign
capitalists. Free trade was the cry of the capitalists who felt
themselves able to crush those of rival nations if allowed the
opportunity to compete with them. Protection was the cry of the
capitalists who felt themselves weaker than those of other nations, and
feared that their enterprises would be crushed and their profits taken
away if free competition were allowed. The Free Traders were like a man
who, seeing his antagonist is no match for him, boldly calls for a free
fight and no favor, while the Protectionist was the man who, seeing
himself overmatched, called for the police. The Free Trader held that the
natural, God-given right of the capitalist to shear the people anywhere
he found them was superior to considerations of race, nationality, or
boundary lines. The Protectionist, on the contrary, maintained the
patriotic right of the capitalist to the exclusive shearing of his own
fellow-countrymen without interference of foreign capitalists. As to the
mass of the people, the nation at large, it was, as Paul has just said, a
matter of indifference whether they were fleeced by the capitalists of
their own country under protection or the capitalists of foreign
countries under free trade. The literature of the controversy between
Protectionists and Free Traders makes this very clear. Whatever else the
Protectionists failed to prove, they were able to demonstrate that the
condition of the people in free-trade countries was quite as bad as
anywhere else, and, on the other hand, the Free Traders were equally
conclusive in the proofs they presented that the people in protected
countries, other things being equal, were no better off than those in
free-trade lands. The question of Protection or Free Trade interested the
capitalists only. For the people, it was the choice between the devil and
the deep sea."

"Let us have a concrete illustration." said the teacher. "Take the case
of England. She was beyond comparison the country of all others in the
nineteenth century which had most foreign trade and commanded most
foreign markets. If a large volume of foreign trade under conditions
practically dictated by its capitalists was under the profit system a
source of national prosperity to a country, we should expect to see the
mass of the British people at the end of the nineteenth century enjoying
an altogether extraordinary felicity and general welfare as compared with
that of other peoples or any former people, for never before did a nation
develop so vast a foreign commerce. What were the facts?"

"It was common," replied the girl, "for our ancestors in the vague and
foggy way in which they used the terms 'nation' and 'national' to speak
of Great Britain as rich. But it was only her capitalists, some scores of
thousands of individuals among some forty million people, who were rich.
These indeed had incredible accumulations, but the remainder of the forty
millions--the whole people, in fact, save an infinitesimal fraction--were
sunk in poverty. It is said that England had a larger and more hopeless
pauper problem than any other civilized nation. The condition of her
working masses was not only more wretched than that of many contemporary
people, but was worse, as proved by the most careful economic
comparisons, than it had been in the fifteenth century, before foreign
trade was thought of. People do not emigrate from a land where they are
well off, but the British people, driven out by want, had found the
frozen Canadas and the torrid zone more hospitable than their native
land. As an illustration of the fact that the welfare of the working
masses was in no way improved when the capitalists of a country commanded
foreign markets, it is interesting to note the fact that the British
emigrant was able to make a better living in English colonies whose
markets were wholly dominated by English capitalists than he had been at
home as the employee of those capitalists. We shall remember also that
Malthus, with his doctrine that it was the best thing that could happen
to a workingman not to be born, was an Englishman, and based his
conclusions very logically upon his observation of the conditions of life
for the masses in that country which had been more successful than any
other in any age in monopolizing the foreign markets of the world by its

"Or," the lad went on, "take Belgium, that old Flemish land of merchants,
where foreign trade had been longer and more steadily used than in any
other European country. In the latter part of the nineteenth century the
mass of the Belgian people, the hardest-worked population in the world,
was said to have been, as a rule, without adequate food--to be
undergoing, in short, a process of slow starvation. They, like the people
of England and the people of Germany, are proved, by statistical
calculations upon the subject that have come down to us, to have been
economically very much better off during the fifteenth and early part of
the sixteenth century, when foreign trade was hardly known, than they
were in the nineteenth. There was a possibility before foreign trade for
profit began that a population might obtain some share of the richness of
a bountiful land just from the lack of any outlet for it. But with the
beginning of foreign commerce, under the profit system, that possibility
vanished. Thenceforth everything good or desirable, above what might
serve for the barest subsistence of labor, was systematically and
exhaustively gathered up by the capitalists, to be exchanged in foreign
lands for gold and gems, silks, velvets, and ostrich plumes for the rich.
As Goldsmith had it:

  "Around the world each needful product flies
  For all the luxuries the world supplies."

"To what has the struggle of the nations for foreign markets in the
nineteenth century been aptly compared?"

"To a contest between galleys manned by slaves, whose owners were racing
for a prize."

"In such a race, which crew was likely to fare worse, that of the winning
or the losing galley?"

"That of the winning galley, by all means," replied the girl, "for the
supposition is that, other conditions being equal, it was the more sorely

"Just so," said the teacher, "and on the same principle, when the
capitalists of two countries contended for the supplying of a foreign
market it was the workers subject to the successful group of capitalists
who were most to be pitied, for, other conditions being equal, they were
likely to be those whose wages had been cut lowest and whose general
condition was most degraded."

"But tell us," said the teacher, "were there not instances of a general
poverty in countries having no foreign trade as great as prevailed in the
countries you have mentioned?"

"Dear me, yes!" replied the girl. "I have not meant to convey any
impression that because the tender mercies of the foreign capitalists
were cruel, those of the domestic capitalist were any less so. The
comparison is merely between the operation of the profit system on a
larger or smaller scale. So long as the profit system was retained, it
would be all one in the end, whether you built a wall around a country
and left the people to be exploited exclusively by home capitalists, or
threw the wall down and let in the foreigners."



"Now, Florence," said the teacher, "with your assistance we will take up
the closing topic in our consideration of the economic system of our
fathers--namely, its hostility to invention and improvement. It has been
our painful duty to point out numerous respects in which our respected
ancestors were strangely blind to the true character and effects of their
economic institutions, but no instance perhaps is more striking than
this. Far from seeing the necessary antagonism between private capitalism
and the march of improvement which is so plain to us, they appear to have
sincerely believed that their system was peculiarly favorable to the
progress of invention, and that its advantage in this respect was so
great as to be an important set-off to its admitted ethical defects. Here
there is decidedly a broad difference in opinion, but fortunately the
facts are so well authenticated that we shall have no difficulty in
concluding which view is correct.

"The subject divides itself into two branches: First, the natural
antagonism of the old system to economic changes; and, second, the effect
of the profit principle to minimize if not wholly to nullify the benefit
of such economic improvements as were able to overcome that antagonism so
far as to get themselves introduced.--Now, Florence, tell us what there
was about the old economic system, the system of private capitalism,
which made it constitutionally opposed to changes in methods."

"It was," replied the girl, "the fact that it consisted of independent
vested interests without any principle of coordination or combination,
the result being that the economic welfare of every individual or group
was wholly dependent upon his or its particular vested interest without
regard to others or to the welfare of the whole body."

"Please bring out your meaning by comparing our modern system in the
respect you speak of with private capitalism."

"Our system is a strictly integrated one--that is to say, no one has any
economic interest in any part or function of the economic organization
which is distinct from his interest in every other part and function. His
only interest is in the greatest possible output of the whole. We have
our several occupations, but only that we may work the more efficiently
for the common fund. We may become very enthusiastic about our special
pursuit, but as a matter of sentiment only, for our economic interests
are no more dependent upon our special occupation than upon any other. We
share equally in the total product, whatever it is."

"How does the integrated character of the economic system affect our
attitude toward improvements or inventions of any sort in economic

"We welcome them with eagerness. Why should we not? Any improvement of
this sort must necessarily redound to the advantage of every one in the
nation and to every one's advantage equally. If the occupation affected
by the invention happens to be our particular employment we lose nothing,
though it should make that occupation wholly superfluous. We might in
that case feel a little sentimental regret over the passing away of old
habits, but that is all. No one's substantial interests are in any way
more identified with one pursuit than another. All are in the service of
the nation, and it is the business and interest of the nation to see that
every one is provided with other work as soon as his former occupation
becomes unnecessary to the general weal, and under no circumstances is
his rate of maintenance affected. From its first production every
improvement in economic processes is therefore an unalloyed blessing to
all. The inventor comes bringing a gift of greater wealth or leisure in
his hand for every one on earth, and it is no wonder that the people's
gratitude makes his reward the most enviable to be won by a public

"Now, Florence, tell us in what way the multitude of distinct vested
interests which made up private capitalism operated to produce an
antagonism toward economic inventions and improvements."


"As I have said," replied the girl, "everybody's interest was wholly
confined to and bound up with the particular occupation he was engaged
in. If he was a capitalist, his capital was embarked in it; if he was an
artisan, his capital was the knowledge of some particular craft or part
of a craft, and he depended for his livelihood on the demand for the sort
of work he had learned how to do. Neither as capitalist or artisan, as
employer or employee, had he any economic interest or dependence outside
of or larger than his special business. Now, the effect of any new idea,
invention, or discovery for economic application is to dispense more or
less completely with the process formerly used in that department, and so
far to destroy the economic basis of the occupations connected with that
business. Under our system, as I have said, that means no loss to
anybody, but simply a shifting of workers, with a net gain in wealth or
leisure to all; but then it meant ruin to those involved in the change.
The capitalist lost his capital, his plant, his investments more or less
totally, and the workingmen lost their means of livelihood and were
thrown on what you well called the cold charity of the world--a charity
usually well below zero; and this loss without any rebate or compensation
whatever from the public at large on account of any general benefit that
might be received from the invention. It was complete. Consequently, the
most beneficent of inventions was cruel as death to those who had been
dependent for living or for profit on the particular occupations it
affected. The capitalists grew gray from fear of discoveries which in a
day might turn their costly plants to old iron fit only for the junkshop,
and the nightmare of the artisan was some machine which should take bread
from his children's mouths by enabling his employer to dispense with his

"Owing to this division of the economic field into a set of vested
personal and group interests wholly without coherency or integrating
idea, each standing or falling by and for itself, every step in the
advance of the arts and sciences was gained only at the cost of an amount
of loss and ruin to particular portions of the community such as would be
wrought by a blight or pestilence. The march of invention was white with
the bleaching bones of innumerable hecatombs of victims. The spinning
jenny replaced the spinning wheel, and famine stalked through English
villages. The railroad supplanted the stagecoach, and a thousand hill
towns died while as many sprang up in the valleys, and the farmers of the
East were pauperized by the new agriculture of the West. Petroleum
succeeded whale-oil, and a hundred seaports withered. Coal and iron were
found in the South, and the grass grew in the streets of the Northern
centers of iron-making. Electricity succeeded steam, and billions of
railroad property were wiped out. But what is the use of lengthening a
list which might be made interminable? The rule was always the same:
every important invention brought uncompensated disaster to some portion
of the people. Armies of bankrupts, hosts of workers forced into
vagabondage, a sea of suffering of every sort, made up the price which
our ancestors paid for every step of progress.

"Afterward, when the victims had been buried or put out of the way, it
was customary with our fathers to celebrate these industrial triumphs,
and on such occasions a common quotation in the mouths of the orators was
a line of verse to the effect that--

  "Peace hath her victories not less renowned than those of war.

The orators were not wont to dwell on the fact that these victories of
what they so oddly called peace were usually purchased at a cost in human
life and suffering quite as great as--yes, often greater than--those of
so-called war. We have all read of Tamerlane's pyramid at Damascus made
of seventy thousand skulls of his victims. It may be said that if the
victims of the various inventions connected with the introduction of
steam had consented to contribute their skulls to a monument in honor of
Stevenson or Arkwright it would dwarf Tamerlane's into insignificance.
Tamerlane was a beast, and Arkwright was a genius sent to help men, yet
the hideous juggle of the old-time economic system made the benefactor
the cause of as much human suffering as the brutal conqueror. It was bad
enough when men stoned and crucified those who came to help them, but
private capitalism did them a worse outrage still in turning the gifts
they brought into curses."

"And did the workers and the capitalists whose interests were threatened
by the progress of invention take practical means of resisting that
progress and suppressing the inventions and the inventors?"

"They did all they could in that way. If the working-men had been strong
enough they would have put an absolute veto on inventions of any sort
tending to diminish the demand for crude hand labor in their respective
crafts. As it was, they did all it was possible for them to accomplish in
that direction by trades-union dictation and mob violence; nor can any
one blame the poor fellows for resisting to the utmost improvements which
improved them out of the means of livelihood. A machine gun would have
been scarcely more deadly if turned upon the workingmen of that day than
a labor-saving machine. In those bitter times a man thrown out of the
employment he had fitted himself for might about as well have been shot,
and if he were not able to get any other work, as so many were not, he
would have been altogether better off had he been killed in battle with
the drum and fife to cheer him and the hope of a pension for his family.
Only, of course, it was the system of private capitalism and not the
labor-saving machine which the workingmen should have attacked, for with
a rational economic system the machine would have been wholly

"How did the capitalists resist inventions?"

"Chiefly by negative means, though much more effective ones than the mob
violence which the workingmen used. The initiative in everything belonged
to the capitalists. No inventor could introduce an invention, however
excellent, unless he could get capitalists to take it up, and this
usually they would not do unless the inventor relinquished to them most
of his hopes of profit from the discovery. A much more important
hindrance to the introduction of inventions resulted from the fact that
those who would be interested in taking them up were those already
carrying on the business the invention applied to, and their interest was
in most cases to suppress an innovation which threatened to make obsolete
the machinery and methods in which their capital was invested. The
capitalist had to be fully assured not only that the invention was a good
one in itself, but that it would be so profitable to himself personally
as to make up for all the damage to his existing capital before he would
touch it. When inventions wholly did away with processes which had been
the basis of profit-charging it was often suicidal for the capitalist to
adopt them. If they could not suppress such inventions in any other way,
it was their custom to buy them up and pigeonhole them. After the
Revolution there were found enough of these patents which had been bought
up and pigeonholed in self-protection by the capitalists to have kept the
world in novelties for ten years if nothing more had been discovered. One
of the most tragical chapters in the history of the old order is made up
of the difficulties, rebuffs, and lifelong disappointments which
inventors had to contend with before they could get their discoveries
introduced, and the frauds by which in most cases they were swindled out
of the profits of them by the capitalists through whom their introduction
was obtained. These stories seem, indeed, well-nigh incredible nowadays,
when the nation is alert and eager to foster and encourage every stirring
of the inventive spirit, and every one with any sort of new idea can
command the offices of the administration without cost to safeguard his
claim to priority and to furnish him all possible facilities of
information, material, and appliances to perfect his conception."

"Considering," said the teacher, "that these facts as to the resistance
offered by vested interests to the march of improvement must have been
even more obvious to our ancestors than to us, how do you account for the
belief they seem to have sincerely held that private capitalism as a
system was favorable to invention?"

"Doubtless," replied the girl, "it was because they saw that whenever an
invention was introduced it was under the patronage of capitalists. This
was, of course, necessarily so because all economic initiative was
confined to the capitalists. Our forefathers, observing that inventions
when introduced at all were introduced through the machinery of private
capitalism, overlooked the fact that usually it was only after exhausting
its power as an obstruction to invention that capital lent itself to its
advancement. They were in this respect like children who, seeing the
water pouring over the edge of a dam and coming over nowhere else, should
conclude that the dam was an agency for aiding the flow of the river
instead of being an obstruction which let it over only when it could be
kept back no longer."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Our lesson," said the teacher, "relates in strictness only to the
economic results of the old order, but at times the theme suggests
aspects of former social conditions too important to pass without
mention. We have seen how obstructive was the system of vested interests
which underlaid private capitalism to the introduction of improvements
and inventions in the economic field. But there was another field in
which the same influence was exerted with effects really far more
important and disastrous.--Tell us, Florence, something of the manner in
which the vested interest system tended to resist the advance of new
ideas in the field of thought, of morals, science, and religion."

"Previous to the great Revolution," the girl replied, "the highest
education not being universal as with us, but limited to a small body,
the members of this body, known as the learned and professional classes,
necessarily became the moral and intellectual teachers and leaders of the
nation. They molded the thoughts of the people, set them their standards,
and through the control of their minds dominated their material interests
and determined the course of civilization. No such power is now
monopolized by any class, because the high level of general education
would make it impossible for any class of mere men to lead the people
blindly. Seeing, however, that such a power was exercised in that day and
limited to so small a class, it was a most vital point that this class
should be qualified to discharge so responsible a duty in a spirit of
devotion to the general weal unbiased by distracting motives. But under
the system of private capitalism, which made every person and group
economically dependent upon and exclusively concerned in the prosperity
of the occupation followed by himself and his group, this ideal was
impossible of attainment. The learned class, the teachers, the preachers,
writers, and professional men were only tradesmen after all, just like
the shoemakers and the carpenters, and their welfare was absolutely bound
up with the demand for the particular sets of ideas and doctrines they
represented and the particular sorts of professional services they got
their living by rendering. Each man's line of teaching or preaching was
his vested interest--the means of his livelihood. That being so, the
members of the learned and professional class were bound to be affected
by innovations in their departments precisely as shoemakers or carpenters
by inventions affecting their trades. It necessarily followed that when
any new idea was suggested in religion, in medicine, in science, in
economics, in sociology, and indeed in almost any field of thought, the
first question which the learned body having charge of that field and
making a living out of it would ask itself was not whether the idea was
good and true and would tend to the general welfare, but how it would
immediately and directly affect the set of doctrines, traditions, and
institutions, with the prestige of which their own personal interests
were identified. If it was a new religious conception that had been
suggested, the clergyman considered, first of all, how it would affect
his sect and his personal standing in it. If it were a new medical idea,
the doctor asked first how it would affect the practice of the school he
was identified with. If it was a new economic or social theory, then all
those whose professional capital was their reputation as teachers in that
branch questioned first how the new idea agreed with the doctrines and
traditions constituting their stock in trade. Now, as any new idea,
almost as a matter of course, must operate to discredit previous ideas in
the same field, it followed that the economic self-interest of the
learned classes would instinctively and almost invariably be opposed to
reform or advance of thought in their fields.

"Being human, they were scarcely more to be blamed for involuntarily
regarding new ideas in their specialties with aversion than the weaver or
the brickmaker for resisting the introduction of inventions calculated to
take the bread out of his mouth. And yet consider what a tremendous,
almost insurmountable, obstacle to human progress was presented by the
fact that the intellectual leaders of the nations and the molders of the
people's thoughts, by their economic dependence upon vested interests in
established ideas, were biased against progress by the strongest motives
of self-interest. When we give due thought to the significance of this
fact, we shall find ourselves wondering no longer at the slow rate of
human advance in the past, but rather that there should have been any
advance at all."



"The general subject of the hostility of private capitalism to
progress," pursued the teacher, "divides itself, as I said, into two
branches. First, the constitutional antagonism between a system of
distinct and separate vested interests and all unsettling changes which,
whatever their ultimate effect, must be directly damaging to those
interests. We will now ask you, Harold, to take up the second branch of
the subject--namely, the effect of the profit principle to minimize, if
not wholly to nullify, the benefit to the community of such inventions
and improvements as were able to overcome the antagonism of vested
interests so far as to get themselves introduced. The nineteenth century,
including the last quarter of the eighteenth, was marked by an
astonishing and absolutely unprecedented number of great inventions in
economic processes. To what was this outburst of inventive genius due?"

"To the same cause," replied the boy, "which accounts for the rise of the
democratic movement and the idea of human equality during the same
period--that is to say, the diffusion of intelligence among the masses,
which, for the first time becoming somewhat general, multiplied
ten-thousandfold the thinking force of mankind, and, in the political
aspect of the matter, changed the purpose of that thinking from the
interest of the few to that of the many."

"Our ancestors," said the teacher, "seeing that this outburst of
invention took place under private capitalism, assumed that there must be
something in that system peculiarly favorable to the genius of invention.
Have you anything to say on that point beyond what has been said?"

"Nothing," replied the boy, "except that by the same rule we ought to
give credit to the institutions of royalty, nobility, and plutocracy for
the democratic idea which under their fostering influence during the same
period grew to flowering in the great Revolution."

"I think that will do on that point," answered the teacher. "We will now
ask you to tell us something more particularly of this great period of
invention which began in the latter part of the eighteenth century."


"From the times of antiquity up to the last quarter of the eighteenth
century," said the lad, "there had been almost no progress in the
mechanical sciences save as to shipbuilding and arms. From 1780, or
thereabouts, dates the beginning of a series of discoveries of sources of
power, and their application by machinery to economic purposes, which,
during the century following, completely revolutionized the conditions of
industry and commerce. Steam and coal meant a multiplication of human
energy in the production of wealth which was almost incalculable. For
industrial purposes it is not too much to say that they transformed man
from a pygmy to a Titan. These were, of course, only the greatest factors
in a countless variety of discoveries by which prodigious economies of
labor were effected in every detail of the arts by which human life is
maintained and ministered to. In agriculture, where Nature, which can not
be too much hurried, is a large partner, and wherein, therefore, man's
part is less controlling than in other industries, it might be expected
that the increase of productive energy through human invention would be
least. Yet here it was estimated that agricultural machinery, as most
perfectly developed in America, had multiplied some fifteenfold the
product of the individual worker. In most sorts of production less
directly dependent upon Nature, invention during this period had
multiplied the efficiency of labor in a much greater degree, ranging from
fifty and a hundred-fold to several thousand-fold, one man being able to
accomplish as much as a small army in all previous ages."

"That is to say," said the teacher, "it would seem that while the needs
of the human race had not increased, its power to supply those needs had
been indefinitely multiplied. This prodigious increase in the potency of
labor was a clear net economic gain for the world, such as the previous
history of the race furnished nothing comparable to. It was as if God had
given to man his power of attorney in full, to command all the forces of
the universe to serve him. Now, Harold, suppose you had merely been told
as much as you have told us concerning the hundredfold multiplication of
the wealth-producing power of the race which took place at this period,
and were left, without further information, to infer for yourself how
great a change for the better in the condition of mankind would naturally
follow, what would it seem reasonable to suppose?"

"It would seem safe to take for granted at the least," replied the boy,
"that every form of human unhappiness or imperfection resulting directly
or indirectly from economic want would be absolutely banished from the
earth. That the very meaning of the word poverty would have been
forgotten would seem to be a matter-of-course assumption to begin with.
Beyond that we might go on and fancy almost anything in the way of
universal diffusion of luxury that we pleased. The facts given as the
basis of the speculation would justify the wildest day-dreams of
universal happiness, so far as material abundance could directly or
indirectly minister to it."

"Very good, Harold. We know now what to expect when you shall go on to
tell us what the historical facts are as to the degree of improvement in
the economic condition of the mass of the race, which actually did result
from the great inventions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Take the condition of the mass of the people in the advanced countries at
the close of the nineteenth century, after they had been enjoying the
benefits of coal and steam, and the most of the other great inventions
for a century, more or less, and comparing it with their condition, say,
in 1780, give us some idea of the change for the better which had taken
place in their economic welfare. Doubtless it was something marvelous."

"It was a subject of much nice debate and close figuring," replied the
boy, "whether in the most advanced countries there had been, taking one
class with another, and disregarding mere changes in fashions, any real
improvement at all in the economic basis of the great majority of the

"Is it possible that the improvement had been so small that there could
be a question raised whether there had been any at all?"

"Precisely so. As to the English people in the nineteenth century,
Florence has given us the facts in speaking of the effects of foreign
commerce. The English had not only a greater foreign commerce than any
other nation, but had also made earlier and fuller use of the great
inventions than any other. She has told us that the sociologists of the
time had no difficulty in proving that the economic condition of the
English people was more wretched in the latter part of the nineteenth
century than it had been centuries previous, before steam had been
thought of, and that this was equally true of the peoples of the Low
Countries, and the masses of Germany. As to the working masses of Italy
and Spain, they had been in much better economic condition during periods
of the Roman Empire than they were in the nineteenth century. If the
French were a little better off in the nineteenth than in the eighteenth
century, it was owing wholly to the distribution of land effected by the
French Revolution, and in no way to the great inventions."

"How was it in the United States?"

"If America," replied the lad, "had shown a notable improvement in the
condition of the people, it would not be necessary to ascribe it to the
progress of invention, for the wonderful economic opportunities of a new
country had given them a vast though necessarily temporary advantage over
other nations. It does not appear, however, that there was any more
agreement of testimony as to whether the condition of the masses had on
the whole improved in America than in the Old World. In the last decade
of the nineteenth century, with a view to allaying the discontent of the
wage-earners and the farmers, which was then beginning to swell to
revolutionary volume, agents of the United States Government published
elaborate comparisons of wages and prices, in which they argued out a
small percentage of gain on the whole in the economic condition of the
American artisans during the century. At this distance we can not, of
course, criticise these calculations in detail, but we may base a
reasonable doubt of the conclusion that the condition of the masses had
very greatly improved upon the existence of the popular discontent which
they were published in the vain hope of moderating. It seems safe to
assume that the people were better acquainted with their own condition
than the sociologists, and it is certain that it was the growing
conviction of the American masses during the closing decades of the
nineteenth century that they were losing ground economically and in
danger of sinking into the degraded condition of the proletariat and
peasantry of the ancient and contemporary European world. Against the
laborious tabulations of the apologists of capitalism we may adduce, as
far superior and more convincing evidence of the economic tendency of the
American people during the latter part of the nineteenth century, such
signs of the times as the growth of beggary and vagabondage to Old World
proportions, the embittered revolts of the wage-earners which kept up a
constant industrial war, and finally the condition of bankruptcy into
which the farming population was sinking."

"That will do as to that point," said the teacher. "In such a comparison
as this small margins and nice points of difference are impertinent. It
is enough that if the indefinite multiplication of man's wealth-producing
power by inventive progress had been developed and distributed with any
degree of intelligence for the general interest, poverty would have
disappeared and comfort if not luxury have become the universal
condition. This being a fact as plain and large as the sun, it is
needless to consider the hairsplitting debates of the economists as to
whether the condition of this or that class of the masses in this or that
country was a grain better or two grains worse than it had been. It is
enough for the purpose of the argument that nobody anywhere in any
country pretended that there had been an improvement noticeable enough to
make even a beginning toward that complete transformation in the human
condition for the better, of which the great inventions by universal
admission had contained the full and immediate promise and potency.

"And now tell us, Harold, what our ancestors had to say as to this
astonishing fact--a fact more marvelous than the great inventions
themselves, namely, their failure to prove of any considerable benefit to
mankind. Surely a phenomenon at once so amazing in itself and involving
so prodigious a defeat to the hopes of human happiness must have set a
world of rational beings to speculating in a very impassioned way as to
what the explanation might be. One would suppose that the facts of this
failure with which our ancestors were confronted would have been enough
to convince them that there must be something radically and horribly
wrong about any economic system which was responsible for it or had
permitted it, and that no further argument would have been wanted to
induce them to make a radical change in it."

"One would think so, certainly," said the boy, "but it did not seem to
occur to our great-grandfathers to hold their economic system to any
responsibility for the result. As we have seen, they recognized, however
they might dispute as to percentages, that the great inventions had
failed to make any notable improvement in the human condition, but they
never seemed to get so far as to inquire seriously why this was so. In
the voluminous works of the economists of the period we find no
discussions, much less any attempt to explain, a fact which to our view
absolutely overshadows all the other features of the economic situation
before the Revolution. And the strangest thing about it all is that their
failure to derive any benefit worth speaking of from the progress of
invention in no way seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of our ancestors
about the inventions. They seemed fairly intoxicated with the pride of
their achievements, barren of benefit as they had been, and their day
dreams were of further discoveries that to a yet more amazing degree
should put the forces of the universe at their disposal. None of them
apparently paused to reflect that though God might empty his treasure
house for their benefit of its every secret of use and of power, the race
would not be a whit the better off for it unless they devised some
economic machinery by which these discoveries might be made to serve the
general welfare more effectually than they had done before. They do not
seem to have realized that so long as poverty remained, every new
invention which multiplied the power of wealth production was but one
more charge in the indictment against their economic system as guilty of
an imbecility as great as its iniquity. They appear to have wholly
overlooked the fact that until their mighty engines should be devoted to
increasing human welfare they were and would continue mere curious
scientific toys of no more real worth or utility to the race than so many
particularly ingenious jumping-jacks. This craze for more and more and
ever greater and wider inventions for economic purposes, coupled with
apparent complete indifference as to whether mankind derived any ultimate
benefit from them or not, can only be understood by regarding it as one
of those strange epidemics of insane excitement which have been known to
affect whole populations at certain periods, especially of the middle
ages. Rational explanation it has none."

"You may well say so," exclaimed the teacher. "Of what use indeed was it
that coal had been discovered, when there were still as many fireless
homes as ever? Of what use was the machinery by which one man could weave
as much cloth as a thousand a century before when there were as many
ragged, shivering human beings as ever? Of what use was the machinery by
which the American farmer could produce a dozen times as much food as his
grandfather when there were more cases of starvation and a larger
proportion of half-fed and badly fed people in the country than ever
before, and hordes of homeless, desperate vagabonds traversed the land,
begging for bread at every door? They had invented steamships, these
ancestors of ours, that were miracles, but their main business was
transporting paupers from lands where they had been beggared in spite of
labor-saving machinery to newer lands where, after a short space, they
would inevitably be beggared again. About the middle of the nineteenth
century the world went wild over the invention of the sewing-machine and
the burden it was to lift from the shoulders of the race. Yet, fifty
years after, the business of garment-making, which it had been expected
to revolutionize for the better, had become a slavery both in America and
Europe which, under the name of the 'sweating system,' scandalized even
that tough generation. They had lucifer matches instead of flint and
steel, kerosene and electricity instead of candles and whale-oil, but the
spectacles of squalor, misery, and degradation upon which the improved
light shone were the same and only looked the worse for it. What few
beggars there had been in America in the first quarter of the nineteenth
century went afoot, while in the last quarter they stole their
transportation on trains drawn by steam engines, but there were fifty
times as many beggars. The world traveled sixty miles an hour instead of
five or ten at the beginning of the century, but it had not gained an
inch on poverty, which clung to it as the shadow to the racer."


"Now, Helen," pursued the teacher, "we want you to explain the facts that
Harold has so clearly brought out. We want you to tell us why it was that
the economic condition of humanity derived but a barely perceptible
advantage at most, if indeed any at all, from an inventive progress which
by its indefinite multiplication of productive energy should by every
rule of reason have completely transformed for the better the economic
condition of the race and wholly banished want from earth. What was there
about the old system of private capitalism to account for a _fiasco_
so tremendous?"

"It was the operation of the profit principle," replied the girl Helen.

"Please proceed with the explanation."

"The great economic inventions which Harold has been talking about," said
the girl, "were of the class of what were called labor-saving machines
and devices--that is to say, they enabled one man to produce more than
before with the same labor, or to produce the same as before with less
labor. Under a collective administration of industry in the equal general
interest like ours, the effect of any such invention would be to increase
the total output to be shared equally among all, or, if the people
preferred and so voted, the output would remain what it was, and the
saving of labor be appropriated as a dividend of leisure to be equally
enjoyed by all. But under the old system there was, of course, no
collective administration. Capitalists were the administrators, being the
only persons who were able to carry on extensive operations or take the
initiative in economic enterprises, and in what they did or did not do
they had no regard to the public interest or the general gain, but to
their own profit only. The only motive which could induce a capitalist to
adopt an invention was the idea of increasing his profits either by
getting a larger product at the same labor cost, or else getting the same
product at a reduced labor cost. We will take the first case. Suppose a
capitalist in adopting labor-saving machinery calculated to keep all his
former employees and make his profit by getting a larger product with the
same labor cost. Now, when a capitalist proposed to increase his output
without the aid of a machine he had to hire more workers, who must be
paid wages to be afterward expended in purchasing products in the market.
In this case, for every increase of product there was some increase,
although not at all an equal one, in the buying power of the community.
But when the capitalist increased his output by the aid of machinery,
with no increase in the number of workers employed, there was no
corresponding increase of purchasing power on the part of the community
to set off against the increased product. A certain amount of purchasing
power went, indeed, in wages to the mechanics who constructed the
labor-saving machines, but it was small in comparison with the increase
in the output which the capitalist expected to make by means of the
machinery, otherwise it would have been no object to him to buy the
machine. The increased product would therefore tend directly to glut yet
more the always glutted market; and if any considerable number of
capitalists should introduce machinery in the same way, the glut would
become intensified into a crisis and general stoppage of production.

"In order to avert or minimize such a disaster, the capitalists could
take one or two courses. They could, if they chose, reduce the price of
their increased machine product so that the purchasing power of the
community, which had remained stationary, could take it up at least as
nearly as it had taken up the lesser quantity of higher-priced product
before the machinery was introduced. But if the capitalists did this,
they would derive no additional profit whatever from the adoption of the
machinery, the whole benefit going to the community. It is scarcely
necessary to say that this was not what the capitalists were in business
for. The other course before them was to keep their product where it was
before introducing the machine, and to realize their profit by
discharging the workers, thus saving on the labor cost of the output.
This was the course most commonly taken, because the glut of goods was
generally so threatening that, except when inventions opened up wholly
new fields, capitalists were careful not greatly to increase outputs. For
example, if the machine enabled one man to do two men's work, the
capitalist would discharge half of his force, put the saving in labor
cost in his pocket, and still produce as many goods as ever. Moreover,
there was another advantage about this plan. The discharged workers
swelled the numbers of the unemployed, who were underbidding one another
for the opportunity to work. The increased desperation of this
competition made it possible presently for the capitalist to reduce the
wages of the half of his former force which he still retained. That was
the usual result of the introduction of labor-saving machinery: First,
the discharge of workers, then, after more or less time, reduced wages
for those who were retained."

"If I understand you, then," said the teacher, "the effect of
labor-saving inventions was either to increase the product without any
corresponding increase in the purchasing power of the community, thereby
aggravating the glut of goods, or else to positively decrease the
purchasing power of the community, through discharges and wage
reductions, while the product remained the same as before. That is to
say, the net result of labor-saving machinery was to increase the
difference between the production and consumption of the community which
remained in the hands of the capitalists as profit."

"Precisely so. The only motive of the capitalist in introducing
labor-saving machinery was to retain as profit a larger share of the
product than before by cutting down the share of labor--that is to say,
labor-saving machinery which should have banished poverty from the world
became the means under the profit system of impoverishing the masses more
rapidly than ever."

"But did not the competition among the capitalists compel them to
sacrifice a part of these increased profits in reductions of prices in
order to get rid of their goods?"

"Undoubtedly; but such reductions in price would not increase the
consuming power of the people except when taken out of profits, and, as
John explained to us this morning, when capitalists were forced by
competition to reduce their prices they saved their profits as long as
possible by making up for the reductions in price by debasing the quality
of the goods or cutting down wages until the public and the wage-earners
could be cheated and squeezed no longer. Then only did they begin to
sacrifice profits, and it was then too late for the impoverished
consumers to respond by increasing consumption. It was always, as John
told us, in the countries where the people were poorest that the prices
were lowest, but without benefit to the people."


"And now," said the teacher, "I want to ask you something about the
effect of labor-saving inventions upon a class of so-called capitalists
who made up the greater half of the American people--I mean the farmers.
In so far as they owned their farms and tools, however encumbered by
debts and mortgages, they were technically capitalists, although
themselves quite as pitiable victims of the capitalists as were the
proletarian artisans. The agricultural labor-saving inventions of the
nineteenth century in America were something simply marvelous, enabling,
as we have been told, one man to do the work of fifteen a century before.
Nevertheless, the American farmer was going straight to the dogs all the
while these inventions were being introduced. Now, how do you account for
that? Why did not the farmer, as a sort of capitalist, pile up his
profits on labor-saving machinery like the other capitalists?"

"As I have said," replied the girl, "the profits made by labor-saving
machinery resulted from the increased productiveness of the labor
employed, thus enabling the capitalist either to turn out a greater
product with the same labor cost or an equal product with a less labor
cost, the workers supplanted by the machine being discharged. The amount
of profits made was therefore dependent on the scale of the business
carried on--that is, the number of workers employed and the consequent
figure which labor cost made in the business. When farming was carried on
upon a very large scale, as were the so-called bonanza farms in the
United States of that period, consisting of twenty to thirty thousand
acres of land, the capitalists conducting them did for a time make great
profits, which were directly owing to the labor-saving agricultural
machines, and would have been impossible without them. These machines
enabled them to put a greatly increased product on the market with small
increase of labor cost or else the same product at a great decrease of
labor cost. But the mass of the American farmers operated on a small
scale only and employed very little labor, doing largely their own work.
They could therefore make little profit, if any, out of labor-saving
machinery by discharging employees. The only way they could utilize it
was not by cutting down the expense of their output but by increasing the
amount of the output through the increased efficiency of their own labor.
But seeing that there had been no increase meanwhile in the purchasing
power of the community at large, there was no more money demand for their
products than before, and consequently if the general body of farmers
through labor-saving machinery increased their output, they could dispose
of the greater aggregate only at a reduced price, so that in the end they
would get no more for the greater output than for the less. Indeed, they
would not get so much, for the effect of even a small surplus when held
by weak capitalists who could not keep it back, but must press for sale,
had an effect to reduce the market price quite out of proportion to the
amount of the surplus. In the United States the mass of these small
farmers was so great and their pressure to sell so desperate that in the
latter part of the century they destroyed the market not only for
themselves but finally even for the great capitalists who conducted the
great farms."

"The conclusion is, then, Helen," said the teacher, "that the net effect
of labor-saving machinery upon the mass of small farmers in the United
States was ruinous."

"Undoubtedly," replied the girl. "This is a case in which the historical
facts absolutely confirm the rational theory. Thanks to the profit
system, inventions which multiplied the productive power of the farmer
fifteenfold made a bankrupt of him, and so long as the profit system was
retained there was no help for him."

"Were farmers the only class of small capitalists who were injured rather
than helped by labor-saving machinery?"

"The rule was the same for all small capitalists whatever business they
were engaged in. Its basis, as I have said, was the fact that the
advantage to be gained by the capitalists from introducing labor-saving
machinery was in proportion to the amount of labor which the machinery
enabled them to dispense with--that is to say, was dependent upon the
scale of their business. If the scale of the capitalist's operations was
so small that he could not make a large saving in reduced labor cost by
introducing machinery, then the introduction of such machinery put him at
a crushing disadvantage as compared with larger capitalists. Labor-saving
machinery was in this way one of the most potent of the influences which
toward the close of the nineteenth century made it impossible for the
small capitalists in any field to compete with the great ones, and helped
to concentrate the economic dominion of the world in few and ever fewer

"Suppose, Helen, that the Revolution had not come, that labor-saving
machinery had continued to be invented as fast as ever, and that the
consolidation of the great capitalists' interests, already foreshadowed,
had been completed, so that the waste of profits in competition among
themselves had ceased, what would have been the result?"

"In that case," replied the girl, "all the wealth that had been wasted in
commercial rivalry would have been expended in luxury in addition to what
had been formerly so expended. The new machinery year by year would have
gone on making it possible for a smaller and ever smaller fraction of the
population to produce all the necessaries for the support of mankind, and
the rest of the world, including the great mass of the workers, would
have found employment in unproductive labor to provide the materials of
luxury for the rich or in personal services to them. The world would thus
come to be divided into three classes: a master caste, very limited in
numbers; a vast body of unproductive workers employed in ministering to
the luxury and pomp of the master caste; and a small body of strictly
productive workers, which, owing to the perfection of machinery, would be
able to provide for the needs of all. It is needless to say that all save
the masters would be at the minimum point as to means of subsistence.
Decaying empires in ancient times have often presented such spectacles of
imperial and aristocratic splendor, to the supply and maintenance of
which the labor of starving nations was devoted. But no such spectacle
ever presented in the past would have been comparable to that which the
twentieth century would have witnessed if the great Revolution had
permitted private capitalism to complete its evolution. In former ages
the great mass of the population has been necessarily employed in
productive labor to supply the needs of the world, so that the portion of
the working force available for the service of the pomp and pleasures of
the masters as unproductive laborers has always been relatively small.
But in the plutocratic empire we are imagining, the genius of invention,
through labor-saving machinery, would have enabled the masters to devote
a greater proportion of the subject population to the direct service of
their state and luxury than had been possible under any of the historic
despotisms. The abhorrent spectacles of men enthroned as gods above
abject and worshiping masses, which Assyria, Egypt, Persia, and Rome
exhibited in their day, would have been eclipsed."

"That will do, Helen," said the teacher. "With your testimony we will
wind up our review of the economic system of private capitalism which the
great Revolution abolished forever. There are of course a multitude of
other aspects and branches of the subject which we might take up, but the
study would be as unprofitable as depressing. We have, I think, covered
the essential points. If you understand why and how profits, rent, and
interest operated to limit the consuming power of most of the community
to a fractional part of its productive power, thereby in turn
correspondingly crippling the latter, you have the open secret of the
poverty of the world before the Revolution, and of the impossibility of
any important or lasting improvement from any source whatever in the
economic circumstances of mankind, until and unless private capitalism,
of which the profit system with rent and interest were necessary and
inseparable parts, should be put an end to."



"And now," the teacher went on, glancing at the gallery where the doctor
and I had been sitting unseen, "I have a great surprise for you. Among
those who have listened to your recitation to-day, both in the forenoon
and afternoon, has been a certain personage whose identity you ought to
be able to infer when I say that, of all persons now on earth, he is
absolutely the one best able, and the only one fully able, to judge how
accurate your portrayal of nineteenth-century conditions has been. Lest
the knowledge should disturb your equanimity, I have refrained from
telling you, until the present moment, that we have present with us this
afternoon a no less distinguished visitor than Julian West, and that with
great kindness he has consented to permit me to present you to him."

I had assented, rather reluctantly, to the teacher's request, not being
desirous of exposing myself unnecessarily to curious staring. But I had
yet to make the acquaintance of twentieth-century boys and girls. When
they came around me it was easy to see in the wistful eyes of the girls
and the moved faces of the boys how deeply their imaginations were
stirred by the suggestions of my presence among them, and how far their
sentiment was from one of common or frivolous curiosity. The interest
they showed in me was so wholly and delicately sympathetic that it could
not have offended the most sensitive temperament.

This had indeed been the attitude of all the persons of mature years whom
I had met, but I had scarcely expected the same considerateness from
school children. I had not, it seemed, sufficiently allowed for the
influence upon manners of the atmosphere of refinement which surrounds
the child of to-day from the cradle. These young people had never seen
coarseness, rudeness, or brusqueness on the part of any one. Their
confidence had never been abused, their sympathy wounded, or their
suspicion excited. Having never imagined such a thing as a person
socially superior or inferior to themselves, they had never learned but
one sort of manners. Having never had any occasion to create a false or
deceitful impression or to accomplish anything by indirection, it was
natural that they should not know what affectation was.

Truly, it is these secondary consequences, these moral and social
reactions of economic equality to create a noble atmosphere of human
intercourse, that, after all, have been the greatest contribution which
the principle has made to human happiness.

At once I found myself talking and jesting with the young people as
easily as if I had always known them, and what with their interest in
what I told them of the old-time schools, and my delight in their naive
comments, an hour slipped away unnoticed. Youth is always inspiring, and
the atmosphere of these fresh, beautiful, ingenuous lives was like a wine

Florence! Esther! Helen! Marion! Margaret! George! Robert! Harold!
Paul!--Never shall I forget that group of star-eyed girls and splendid
lads, in whom I first made acquaintance with the boys and girls of the
twentieth century. Can it be that God sends sweeter souls to earth now
that the world is so much fitter for them?



It was one of those Indian summer afternoons when it seems sinful waste
of opportunity to spend a needless hour within. Being in no sort of
hurry, the doctor and I chartered a motor-carriage for two at the next
station, and set forth in the general direction of home, indulging
ourselves in as many deviations from the route as pleased our fancy.
Presently, as we rolled noiselessly over the smooth streets, leaf-strewn
from the bordering colonnades of trees, I began to exclaim about the
precocity of school children who at the age of thirteen or fourteen were
able to handle themes usually reserved in my day for the college and
university. This, however, the doctor made light of.

"Political economy," he said, "from the time the world adopted the plan
of equal sharing of labor and its results, became a science so simple
that any child who knows the proper way to divide an apple with his
little brothers has mastered the secret of it. Of course, to point out
the fallacies of a false political economy is a very simple matter also,
when one has only to compare it with the true one.

"As to intellectual precocity in general," pursued the doctor, "I do not
think it is particularly noticeable in our children as compared with
those of your day. We certainly make no effort to develop it. A bright
school child of twelve in the nineteenth century would probably not
compare badly as to acquirements with the average twelve-year-old in our
schools. It would be as you compared them ten years later that the
difference in the educational systems would show its effect. At
twenty-one or twenty-two the average youth would probably in your day
have been little more advanced in education than at fourteen, having
probably left school for the factory or farm at about that age or a
couple of years later unless perhaps he happened to be one of the
children of the rich minority. The corresponding child under our system
would have continued his or her education without break, and at
twenty-one have acquired what you used to call a college education."

"The extension of the educational machinery necessary to provide the
higher education for all must have been enormous," I said. "Our
primary-school system provided the rudiments for nearly all children, but
not one in twenty went as far as the grammar school, not one in a hundred
as far as the high school, and not one in a thousand ever saw a college.
The great universities of my day--Harvard, Yale, and the rest--must have
become small cities in order to receive the students flocking to them."

"They would need to be very large cities certainly," replied the doctor,
"if it were a question of their undertaking the higher education of our
youth, for every year we graduate not the thousands or tens of thousands
that made up your annual grist of college graduates, but millions. For
that very reason--that is, the numbers to be dealt with--we can have no
centers of the higher education any more than you had of the primary
education. Every community has its university just as formerly its common
schools, and has in it more students from the vicinage than one of your
great universities could collect with its drag net from the ends of the

"But does not the reputation of particular teachers attract students to
special universities?"

"That is a matter easily provided for," replied the doctor. "The
perfection of our telephone and electroscope systems makes it possible to
enjoy at any distance the instruction of any teacher. One of much
popularity lectures to a million pupils in a whisper, if he happens to be
hoarse, much easier than one of your professors could talk to a class of
fifty when in good voice."

"Really, doctor," said I, "there is no fact about your civilization that
seems to open so many vistas of possibility and solve beforehand so many
possible difficulties in the arrangement and operation of your social
system as this universality of culture. I am bound to say that nothing
that is rational seems impossible in the way of social adjustments when
once you assume the existence of that condition. My own contemporaries
fully recognized in theory, as you know, the importance of popular
education to secure good government in a democracy; but our system, which
barely at best taught the masses to spell, was a farce indeed compared
with the popular education of to-day."

"Necessarily so," replied the doctor. "The basis of education is
economic, requiring as it does the maintenance of the pupil without
economic return during the educational period. If the education is to
amount to anything, that period must cover the years of childhood and
adolescence to the age of at least twenty. That involves a very large
expenditure, which not one parent in a thousand was able to support in
your day. The state might have assumed it, of course, but that would have
amounted to the rich supporting the children of the poor, and naturally
they would not hear to that, at least beyond the primary grades of
education. And even if there had been no money question, the rich, if
they hoped to retain their power, would have been crazy to provide for
the masses destined to do their dirty work--a culture which would have
made them social rebels. For these two reasons your economic system was
incompatible with any popular education worthy of the name. On the other
hand, the first effect of economic equality was to provide equal
educational advantages for all and the best the community could afford.
One of the most interesting chapters in the history of the Revolution is
that which tells how at once after the new order was established the
young men and women under twenty-one years of age who had been working in
fields or factories, perhaps since childhood, left their work and poured
back into the schools and colleges as fast as room could be made for
them, so that they might as far as possible repair their early loss. All
alike recognized, now that education had been made economically possible
for all, that it was the greatest boon the new order had brought. It
recorded also in the books that not only the youth, but the men and
women, and even the elderly who had been without educational advantages,
devoted all the leisure left from their industrial duties to making up,
so far as possible, for their lack of earlier advantages, that they might
not be too much ashamed in the presence of a rising generation to be
composed altogether of college graduates.

"In speaking of our educational system as it is at present," the doctor
went on, "I should guard you against the possible mistake of supposing
that the course which ends at twenty-one completes the educational
curriculum of the average individual. On the contrary, it is only the
required minimum of culture which society insists that all youth shall
receive during their minority to make them barely fit for citizenship. We
should consider it a very meager education indeed that ended there. As we
look at it, the graduation from the schools at the attainment of majority
means merely that the graduate has reached an age at which he can be
presumed to be competent and has the right as an adult to carry on his
further education without the guidance or compulsion of the state. To
provide means for this end the nation maintains a vast system of what you
would call elective post-graduate courses of study in every branch of
science, and these are open freely to every one to the end of life to be
pursued as long or as briefly, as constantly or as intermittently, as
profoundly or superficially, as desired.

"The mind is really not fit for many most important branches of
knowledge, the taste for them does not awake, and the intellect is not
able to grasp them, until mature life, when a month of application will
give a comprehension of a subject which years would have been wasted in
trying to impart to a youth. It is our idea, so far as possible, to
postpone the serious study of such branches to the post-graduate schools.
Young people must get a smattering of things in general, but really
theirs is not the time of life for ardent and effective study. If you
would see enthusiastic students to whom the pursuit of knowledge is the
greatest joy of life you must seek them among the middle-aged fathers and
mothers in the post-graduate schools.

"For the proper use of these opportunities for the lifelong pursuit of
knowledge we find the leisure of our lives, which seems to you so ample,
all too small. And yet that leisure, vast as it is, with half of every
day and half of every year and the whole latter half of life sacred to
personal uses--even the aggregate of these great spaces, growing greater
with every labor-saving invention, which are reserved for the higher uses
of life, would seem to us of little value for intellectual culture, but
for a condition commanded by almost none in your day but secured to all
by our institutions. I mean the moral atmosphere of serenity resulting
from an absolute freedom of mind from disturbing anxieties and carking
cares concerning our material welfare or that of those dear to us. Our
economic system puts us in a position where we can follow Christ's maxim,
so impossible for you, to 'take no thought for the morrow.' You must not
understand, of course, that all our people are students or philosophers,
but you may understand that we are more or less assiduous and systematic
students and school-goers all our lives."

"Really, doctor," I said, "I do not remember that you have ever told me
anything that has suggested a more complete and striking contrast between
your age and mine than this about the persistent and growing development
of the purely intellectual interests through life. In my day there was,
after all, only six or eight years' difference in the duration of the
intellectual life of the poor man's son drafted into the factory at
fourteen and the more fortunate youth's who went to college. If that of
the one stopped at fourteen, that of the other ceased about as completely
at twenty-one or twenty-two. Instead of being in a position to begin his
real education on graduating from college, that event meant the close of
it for the average student, and was the high-water mark of his life, so
far as concerned the culture and knowledge of the sciences and
humanities. In these respects the average college man never afterward
knew so much as on his graduation day. For immediately thereafter, unless
of the richest class, he must needs plunge into the turmoil and strife of
business life and engage in the struggle for the material means of
existence. Whether he failed or succeeded, made little difference as to
the effect to stunt and wither his intellectual life. He had no time and
could command no thought for anything else. If he failed, or barely
avoided failure, perpetual anxiety ate out his heart; and if he
succeeded, his success usually made him a grosser and more hopelessly
self-satisfied materialist than if he had failed. There was no hope for
his mind or soul either way. If at the end of life his efforts had won
him a little breathing space, it could be of no high use to him, for the
spiritual and intellectual parts had become atrophied from disuse, and
were no longer capable of responding to opportunity.

"And this apology for an existence," said the doctor, "was the life of
those whom you counted most fortunate and most successful--of those who
were reckoned to have won the prizes of life. Can you be surprised that
we look back to the great Revolution as a sort of second creation of man,
inasmuch as it added the conditions of an adequate mind and soul life to
the bare physical existence under more or less agreeable conditions,
which was about all the life the most of human being's, rich or poor, had
up to that time known? The effect of the struggle for existence in
arresting, with its engrossments, the intellectual development at the
very threshold of adult life would have been disastrous enough had the
character of the struggle been morally unobjectionable. It is when we
come to consider that the struggle was one which not only prevented
mental culture, but was utterly withering to the moral life, that we
fully realize the unfortunate condition of the race before the
Revolution. Youth is visited with noble aspirations and high dreams of
duty and perfection. It sees the world as it should be, not as it is; and
it is well for the race if the institutions of society are such as do not
offend these moral enthusiasms, but rather tend to conserve and develop
them through life. This, I think, we may fully claim the modern social
order does. Thanks to an economic system which illustrates the highest
ethical idea in all its workings, the youth going forth into the world
finds it a practice school for all the moralities. He finds full room and
scope in its duties and occupations for every generous enthusiasm, every
unselfish aspiration he ever cherished. He can not possibly have formed a
moral idea higher or completer than that which dominates our industrial
and commercial order.

"Youth was as noble in your day as now, and dreamed the same great dreams
of life's possibilities. But when the young man went forth into the world
of practical life it was to find his dreams mocked and his ideals derided
at every turn. He found himself compelled, whether he would or not, to
take part in a fight for life, in which the first condition of success
was to put his ethics on the shelf and cut the acquaintance of his
conscience. You had various terms with which to describe the process
whereby the young man, reluctantly laying aside his ideals, accepted the
conditions of the sordid struggle. You described it as a 'learning to
take the world as it is,' 'getting over romantic notions,' 'becoming
practical,' and all that. In fact, it was nothing more nor less than the
debauching of a soul. Is that too much to say?

"It is no more than the truth, and we all knew it," I answered.

"Thank God, that day is over forever! The father need now no longer
instruct the son in cynicism lest he should fail in life, nor the mother
her daughter in worldly wisdom as a protection from generous instinct.
The parents are worthy of their children and fit to associate with them,
as it seems to us they were not and could not be in your day. Life is all
the way through as spacious and noble as it seems to the ardent child
standing on the threshold. The ideals of perfection, the enthusiasms of
self-devotion, honor, love, and duty, which thrill the boy and girl, no
longer yield with advancing years to baser motives, but continue to
animate life to the end. You remember what Wordsworth said:

  "Heaven lies about us in our infancy.
  Shades of the prison house begin to close
  Upon the growing boy.

I think if he were a partaker of our life he would not have been moved to
extol childhood at the expense of maturity, for life grows ever wider and
higher to the last."



The next morning, it being again necessary for Edith to report at her
post of duty, I accompanied her to the railway station. While we stood
waiting for the train my attention was drawn to a distinguished-looking
man who alighted from an incoming car. He appeared by nineteenth-century
standards about sixty years old, and was therefore presumably eighty or
ninety, that being about the rate of allowance I have found it necessary
to make in estimating the ages of my new contemporaries, owing to the
slower advent of signs of age in these times. On speaking to Edith of
this person I was much interested when she informed me that he was no
other than Mr. Barton, whose sermon by telephone had so impressed me on
the first Sunday of my new life, as set forth in Looking Backward. Edith
had just time to introduce me before taking the train.

As we left the station together I said to my companion that if he would
excuse the inquiry I should be interested to know what particular sect or
religious body he represented.

"My dear Mr. West," was the reply, "your question suggests that my friend
Dr. Leete has not probably said much to you about the modern way of
regarding religious matters."

"Our conversation has turned but little on that subject," I answered,
"but it will not surprise me to learn that your ideas and practices are
quite different from those of my day. Indeed, religious ideas and
ecclesiastical institutions were already at that time undergoing such
rapid and radical decomposition that it was safe to predict if religion
were to survive another century it would be under very different forms
from any the past had known."

"You have suggested a topic," said my companion, "of the greatest
possible interest to me. If you have nothing else to do, and would like
to talk a little about it, nothing would give me more pleasure."

Upon receiving the assurance that I had absolutely no occupation except
to pick up information about the twentieth century, Mr. Barton said:

"Let us then go into this old church, which you will no doubt have
already recognized as a relic of your time. There we can sit comfortably
while we talk, amid surroundings well fitted to our theme."

I then perceived that we stood before one of the last-century church
buildings which have been preserved as historical monuments, and,
moreover, as it oddly enough fell out, that this particular church was no
other than the one my family had always attended, and I as well--that is,
whenever I attended any church, which was not often.

"What an extraordinary coincidence!" exclaimed Mr. Barton, when I told
him this; "who would have expected it? Naturally, when you revisit a spot
so fraught with affecting associations, you will wish to be alone. You
must pardon my involuntary indiscretion in proposing to turn in here."

"Really," I replied, "the coincidence is interesting merely, not at all
affecting. Young men of my day did not, as a rule, take their church
relations very seriously. I shall be interested to see how the old place
looks. Let us go in, by all means."

The interior proved to be quite unchanged in essential particulars since
the last time I had been within its walls, more than a century before.
That last occasion, I well remembered, had been an Easter service, to
which I had escorted some pretty country cousins who wanted to hear the
music and see the flowers. No doubt the processes of decay had rendered
necessary many restorations, but they had been carried out so as to
preserve completely the original effects.

Leading the way down the main aisle, I paused in front of the family pew.

"This, Mr. Barton," I said, "is, or was, my pew. It is true that I am a
little in arrears on pew rent, but I think I may venture to invite you to
sit with me."

I had truly told Mr. Barton that there was very little sentiment
connected with such church relations as I had maintained. They were
indeed merely a matter of family tradition and social propriety. But in
another way I found myself not a little moved, as, dropping into my
accustomed place at the head of the pew, I looked about the dim and
silent interior. As my eye roved from pew to pew, my imagination called
back to life the men and women, the young men and maidens, who had been
wont of a Sunday, a hundred years before, to sit in those places. As I
recalled their various activities, ambitions, hopes, fears, envies, and
intrigues, all dominated, as they had been, by the idea of money
possessed, lost, or lusted after, I was impressed not so much with the
personal death which had come to these my old acquaintances as by the
thought of the completeness with which the whole social scheme in which
they had lived and moved and had their being had passed away. Not only
were they gone, but their world was gone, and its place knew it no more.
How strange, how artificial, how grotesque that world had been!--and yet
to them and to me, while I was one of them, it had seemed the only
possible mode of existence.

Mr. Barton, with delicate respect for my absorption, waited for me to
break the silence.

"No doubt," I said, "since you preserve our churches as curiosities, you
must have better ones of your own for use?"

"In point of fact," my companion replied, "we have little or no use for
churches at all."

"Ah, yes! I had forgotten for the moment that it was by telephone I heard
your sermon. The telephone, in its present perfection, must indeed have
quite dispensed with the necessity of the church as an audience room."

"In other words," replied Mr. Barton, "when we assemble now we need no
longer bring our bodies with us. It is a curious paradox that while the
telephone and electroscope, by abolishing distance as a hindrance to
sight and hearing, have brought mankind into a closeness of sympathetic
and intellectual rapport never before imagined, they have at the same
time enabled individuals, although keeping in closest touch with
everything going on in the world, to enjoy, if they choose, a physical
privacy, such as one had to be a hermit to command in your day. Our
advantages in this respect have so far spoiled us that being in a crowd,
which was the matter-of-course penalty you had to pay for seeing or
hearing anything interesting, would seem too dear a price to pay for
almost any enjoyment."

"I can imagine," I said, "that ecclesiastical institutions must have been
affected in other ways besides the disuse of church buildings, by the
general adaptation of the telephone system to religious teaching. In my
day, the fact that no speaker could reach by voice more than a small
group of hearers made it necessary to have a veritable army of
preachers--some fifty thousand, say, in the United States alone--in order
to instruct the population. Of these, not one in many hundreds was a
person who had anything to utter really worth hearing. For example, we
will say that fifty thousand clergymen preached every Sunday as many
sermons to as many congregations. Four fifths of these sermons were poor,
half of the rest perhaps fair, some of the others good, and a few score,
possibly, out of the whole really of a fine class. Now, nobody, of
course, would hear a poor discourse on any subject when he could just as
easily hear a fine one, and if we had perfected the telephone system to
the point you have, the result would have been, the first Sunday after
its introduction, that everybody who wanted to hear a sermon would have
connected with the lecture rooms or churches of the few widely celebrated
preachers, and the rest would have had no hearers at all, and presently
have been obliged to seek new occupations."

Mr. Barton was amused. "You have, in fact, hit," he said, "upon the
mechanical side of one of the most important contrasts between your times
and ours--namely, the modern suppression of mediocrity in teaching,
whether intellectual or religious. Being able to pick from the choicest
intellects, and most inspired moralists and seers of the generation,
everybody of course agrees in regarding it a waste of time to listen to
any who have less weighty messages to deliver. When you consider that all
are thus able to obtain the best inspiration the greatest minds can give,
and couple this with the fact that, thanks to the universality of the
higher education, all are at least pretty good judges of what is best,
you have the secret of what might be called at once the strongest
safeguard of the degree of civilization we have attained, and the surest
pledge of the highest possible rate of progress toward ever better
conditions--namely, the leadership of moral and intellectual genius. To
one like you, educated according to the ideas of the nineteenth century
as to what democracy meant, it may seem like a paradox that the
equalizing of economic and educational conditions, which has perfected
democracy, should have resulted in the most perfect aristocracy, or
government by the best, that could be conceived; yet what result could be
more matter-of-course? The people of to-day, too intelligent to be misled
or abused for selfish ends even by demigods, are ready, on the other
hand, to comprehend and to follow with enthusiasm every better leading.
The result is, that our greatest men and women wield to-day an unselfish
empire, more absolute than your czars dreamed of, and of an extent to
make Alexander's conquests seem provincial. There are men in the world
who when they choose to appeal to their fellow-men, by the bare
announcement are able to command the simultaneous attention of one to
five or eight hundred millions of people. In fact, if the occasion be a
great one, and the speaker worthy of it, a world-wide silence reigns as
in their various places, some beneath the sun and others under the stars,
some by the light of dawn and others at sunset, all hang on the lips of
the teacher. Such power would have seemed, perhaps, in your day
dangerous, but when you consider that its tenure is conditional on the
wisdom and unselfishness of its exercise, and would fail with the first
false note, you may judge that it is a dominion as safe as God's."

"Dr. Leete," I said, "has told me something of the way in which the
universality of culture, combined with your scientific appliances, has
made physically possible this leadership of the best; but, I beg your
pardon, how could a speaker address numbers so vast as you speak of
unless the pentecostal miracle were repeated? Surely the audience must be
limited at least by the number of those understanding one language."

"Is it possible that Dr. Leete has not told you of our universal

"I have heard no language but English."

"Of course, everybody talks the language of his own country with his
countrymen, but with the rest of the world he talks the general
language--that is to say, we have nowadays to acquire but two languages
to talk to all peoples--our own, and the universal. We may learn as many
more as we please, and we usually please to learn many, but these two are
alone needful to go all over the world or to speak across it without an
interpreter. A number of the smaller nations have wholly abandoned their
national tongue and talk only the general language. The greater nations,
which have fine literature embalmed in their languages, have been more
reluctant to abandon them, and in this way the smaller folks have
actually had a certain sort of advantage over the greater. The tendency,
however, to cultivate but one language as a living tongue and to treat
all the others as dead or moribund is increasing at such a rate that if
you had slept through another generation you might have found none but
philological experts able to talk with you."

"But even with the universal telephone and the universal language," I
said, "there still remains the ceremonial and ritual side of religion to
be considered. For the practice of that I should suppose the piously
inclined would still need churches to assemble in, however able to
dispense with them for purposes of instruction."

"If any feel that need, there is no reason why they should not have as
many churches as they wish and assemble as often as they see fit. I do
not know but there are still those who do so. But with a high grade of
intelligence become universal the world was bound to outgrow the
ceremonial side of religion, which with its forms and symbols, its holy
times and places, its sacrifices, feasts, fasts, and new moons, meant so
much in the child-time of the race. The time has now fully come which
Christ foretold in that talk with the woman by the well of Samaria when
the idea of the Temple and all it stood for would give place to the
wholly spiritual religion, without respect of times or places, which he
declared most pleasing to God.

"With the ritual and ceremonial side of religion outgrown," said I, "with
church attendance become superfluous for purposes of instruction, and
everybody selecting his own preacher on personal grounds, I should say
that sectarian lines must have pretty nearly disappeared."

"Ah, yes!" said Mr. Barton, "that reminds me that our talk began with
your inquiry as to what religious sect I belonged to. It is a very long
time since it has been customary for people to divide themselves into
sects and classify themselves under different names on account of
variations of opinion as to matters of religion."

"Is it possible," I exclaimed, "that you mean to say people no longer
quarrel over religion? Do you actually tell me that human beings have
become capable of entertaining different opinions about the next world
without becoming enemies in this? Dr. Leete has compelled me to believe a
good many miracles, but this is too much."

"I do not wonder that it seems rather a startling proposition, at first
statement, to a man of the nineteenth century," replied Mr. Barton. "But,
after all, who was it who started and kept up the quarreling over
religion in former days?"

"It was, of course, the ecclesiastical bodies--the priests and

"But they were not many. How were they able to make so much trouble?"

"On account of the masses of the people who, being densely ignorant, were
correspondingly superstitious and bigoted, and were tools in the hands of
the ecclesiastics."

"But there was a minority of the cultured. Were they bigoted also? Were
they tools of the ecclesiastics?"

"On the contrary, they always held a calm and tolerant attitude on
religious questions and were independent of the priesthoods. If they
deferred to ecclesiastical influence at all, it was because they held it
needful for the purpose of controlling the ignorant populace."

"Very good. You have explained your miracle. There is no ignorant
populace now for whose sake it is necessary for the more intelligent to
make any compromises with truth. Your cultured class, with their tolerant
and philosophical view of religious differences, and the criminal folly
of quarreling about them, has become the only class there is."

"How long is it since people ceased to call themselves Catholics,
Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, and so on?"

"That kind of classification may be said to have received a fatal shock
at the time of the great Revolution, when sectarian demarcations and
doctrinal differences, already fallen into a good deal of disregard, were
completely swept away and forgotten in the passionate impulse of
brotherly love which brought men together for the founding of a nobler
social order. The old habit might possibly have revived in time had it
not been for the new culture, which, during the first generation
subsequent to the Revolution, destroyed the soil of ignorance and
superstition which had supported ecclesiastical influence, and made its
recrudescence impossible for evermore.

"Although, of course," continued my companion, "the universalizing of
intellectual culture is the only cause that needs to be considered in
accounting for the total disappearance of religious sectarianism, yet it
will give you a more vivid realization of the gulf fixed between the
ancient and the modern usages as to religion if you consider certain
economic conditions, now wholly passed away, which in your time
buttressed the power of ecclesiastical institutions in very substantial
ways. Of course, in the first place, church buildings were needful to
preach in, and equally so for the ritual and ceremonial side of religion.
Moreover, the sanction of religious teaching, depending chiefly on the
authority of tradition instead of its own reasonableness, made it
necessary for any preacher who would command hearers to enter the service
of some of the established sectarian organizations. Religion, in a word,
like industry and politics, was capitalized by greater or smaller
corporations which exclusively controlled the plant and machinery, and
conducted it for the prestige and power of the firms. As all those who
desired to engage in politics or industry were obliged to do so in
subjection to the individuals and corporations controlling the machinery,
so was it in religious matters likewise. Persons desirous of entering on
the occupation of religious teaching could do so only by conforming to
the conditions of some of the organizations controlling the machinery,
plant, and good will of the business--that is to say, of some one of the
great ecclesiastical corporations. To teach religion outside of these
corporations, when not positively illegal, was a most difficult
undertaking, however great the ability of the teacher--as difficult,
indeed, as it was to get on in politics without wearing a party badge, or
to succeed in business in opposition to the great capitalists. The
would-be religious teacher had to attach himself, therefore, to some one
or other of the sectarian organizations, whose mouthpiece he must consent
to be, as the condition of obtaining any hearing at all. The organization
might be hierarchical, in which case he took his instructions from above,
or it might be congregational, in which case he took his orders from
below. The one method was monarchical, the other democratic, but one as
inconsistent as the other with the office of the religious teacher, the
first condition of which, as we look at it, should be absolute
spontaneity of feeling and liberty of utterance.

"It may be said that the old ecclesiastical system depended on a double
bondage: first, the intellectual subjection of the masses through
ignorance to their spiritual directors; and, secondly, the bondage of the
directors themselves to the sectarian organizations, which as spiritual
capitalists monopolized the opportunities of teaching. As the bondage was
twofold, so also was the enfranchisement--a deliverance alike of the
people and of their teachers, who, under the guise of leaders, had been
themselves but puppets. Nowadays preaching is as free as hearing, and as
open to all. The man who feels a special calling to talk to his fellows
upon religious themes has no need of any other capital than something
worth saying. Given this, without need of any further machinery than the
free telephone, he is able to command an audience limited only by the
force and fitness of what he has to say. He now does not live by his
preaching. His business is not a distinct profession. He does not belong
to a class apart from other citizens, either by education or occupation.
It is not needful for any purpose that he should do so. The higher
education which he shares with all others furnishes ample intellectual
equipment, while the abundant leisure for personal pursuits with which
our life is interfused, and the entire exemption from public duty after
forty-five, give abundant opportunity for the exercise of his vocation.
In a word, the modern religious teacher is a prophet, not a priest. The
sanction of his words lies not in any human ordination or ecclesiastical
_exequatur,_ but, even as it was with the prophets of old, in such
response as his words may have power to evoke from human hearts."

"If people," I suggested, "still retaining a taste for the old-time
ritual and ceremonial observances and face-to-face preaching, should
desire to have churches and clergy for their special service, is there
anything to prevent it?"

"No, indeed. Liberty is the first and last word of our civilization. It
is perfectly consistent with our economic system for a group of
individuals, by contributing out of their incomes, not only to rent
buildings for group purposes, but by indemnifying the nation for the loss
of an individual's public service to secure him as their special
minister. Though the state will enforce no private contracts of any sort,
it does not forbid them. The old ecclesiastical system was, for a time
after the Revolution, kept up by remnants in this way, and might be until
now if anybody had wished. But the contempt into which the hireling
relation had fallen at once after the Revolution soon made the position
of such hired clergymen intolerable, and presently there were none who
would demean themselves by entering upon so despised a relation, and
none, indeed, who would have spiritual service, of all others, on such

"As you tell the story," I said, "it seems very plain how it all came
about, and could not have been otherwise; but you can perhaps hardly
imagine how a man of the nineteenth century, accustomed to the vast place
occupied by the ecclesiastical edifice and influence in human affairs, is
affected by the idea of a world getting on without anything of the sort."

"I can imagine something of your sensation," replied my companion,
"though doubtless not adequately. And yet I must say that no change in
the social order seems to us to have been more distinctly foreshadowed by
the signs of the times in your day than precisely this passing away of
the ecclesiastical system. As you yourself observed, just before we came
into this church, there was then going on a general deliquescence of
dogmatism which made your contemporaries wonder what was going to be
left. The influence and authority of the clergy were rapidly
disappearing, the sectarian lines were being obliterated, the creeds were
falling into contempt, and the authority of tradition was being
repudiated. Surely if anything could be safely predicted it was that the
religious ideas and institutions of the world were approaching some great

"Doubtless," said I, "if the ecclesiastics of my day had regarded the
result as merely depending on the drift of opinion among men, they would
have been inclined to give up all hope of retaining their influence, but
there was another element in the case which gave them courage."

"And what was that?"

"The women. They were in my day called the religious sex. The clergy
generally were ready to admit that so far as the interest of the cultured
class of men, and indeed of the men generally, in the churches went, they
were in a bad way, but they had faith that the devotion of the women
would save the cause. Woman was the sheet anchor of the Church. Not only
were women the chief attendants at religious functions, but it was
largely through their influence on the men that the latter tolerated,
even so far as they did, the ecclesiastical pretensions. Now, were not
our clergymen justified in counting on the continued support of women,
whatever the men might do?"

"Certainly they would have been if woman's position was to remain
unchanged, but, as you are doubtless by this time well aware, the
elevation and enlargement of woman's sphere in all directions was perhaps
the most notable single aspect of the Revolution. When women were called
the religious sex it would have been indeed a high ascription if it had
been meant that they were the more spiritually minded, but that was not
at all what the phrase signified to those who used it; it was merely
intended to put in a complimentary way the fact that women in your day
were the docile sex. Less educated, as a rule, than men, unaccustomed to
responsibility, and trained in habits of subordination and self-distrust,
they leaned in all things upon precedent and authority. Naturally,
therefore, they still held to the principle of authoritative teaching in
religion long after men had generally rejected it. All that was changed
with the Revolution, and indeed began to change long before it. Since the
Revolution there has been no difference in the education of the sexes nor
in the independence of their economic and social position, in the
exercise of responsibility or experience in the practical conduct of
affairs. As you might naturally infer, they are no longer, as formerly, a
peculiarly docile class, nor have they any more toleration for authority,
whether in religion, politics, or economics, than their brethren. In
every pursuit of life they join with men on equal terms, including the
most important and engrossing of all our pursuits--the search after
knowledge concerning the nature and destiny of man and his relation to
the spiritual and material infinity of which he is a part."



"I infer, then," I said, "that the disappearance of religious divisions
and the priestly caste has not operated to lessen the general interest in

"Should you have supposed that it would so operate?"

"I don't know. I never gave much thought to such matters. The
ecclesiastical class represented that they were very essential to the
conservation of religion, and the rest of us took it for granted that it
was so."

"Every social institution which has existed for a considerable time,"
replied Mr. Barton, "has doubtless performed some function which was at
the time more or less useful and necessary. Kings, ecclesiastics, and
capitalists--all of them, for that matter, merely different sorts of
capitalists--have, no doubt, in their proper periods, performed functions
which, however badly discharged, were necessary and could not then have
been discharged in any better manner. But just as the abolition of
royalty was the beginning of decent government, just as the abolition of
private capitalism was the beginning of effective wealth production, so
the disappearance of church organization and machinery, or ecclesiastical
capitalism, was the beginning of a world-awakening of impassioned
interest in the vast concerns covered by the word religion.

"Necessary as may have been the subjection of the race to priestly
authority in the course of human evolution, it was the form of tutelage
which, of all others, was most calculated to benumb and deaden the
faculties affected by it, and the collapse of ecclesiasticism presently
prepared the way for an enthusiasm of interest in the great problems of
human nature and destiny which would have been scarcely conceivable by
the worthy ecclesiastics of your day who with such painful efforts and
small results sought to awake their flocks to spiritual concerns. The
lack of general interest in these questions in your time was the natural
result of their monopoly as the special province of the priestly class
whose members stood as interpreters between man and the mystery about
him, undertaking to guarantee the spiritual welfare of all who would
trust them. The decay of priestly authority left every soul face to face
with that mystery, with the responsibility of its interpretation upon
himself. The collapse of the traditional theologies relieved the whole
subject of man's relation with the infinite from the oppressive effect of
the false finalities of dogma which had till then made the most boundless
of sciences the most cramped and narrow. Instead of the mind-paralyzing
worship of the past and the bondage of the present to that which is
written, the conviction took hold on men that there was no limit to what
they might know concerning their nature and destiny and no limit to that
destiny. The priestly idea that the past was diviner than the present,
that God was behind the race, gave place to the belief that we should
look forward and not backward for inspiration, and that the present and
the future promised a fuller and more certain knowledge concerning the
soul and God than any the past had attained."

"Has this belief," I asked, "been thus far practically confirmed by any
progress actually made in the assurance of what is true as to these
things? Do you consider that you really know more about them than we did,
or that you know more positively the things which we merely tried to

Mr. Barton paused a moment before replying.

"You remarked a little while ago," he said, "that your talks with Dr.
Leete had as yet turned little on religious matters. In introducing you
to the modern world it was entirely right and logical that he should
dwell at first mainly upon the change in economic systems, for that has,
of course, furnished the necessary material basis for all the other
changes that have taken place. But I am sure that you will never meet any
one who, being asked in what direction the progress of the race during
the past century has tended most to increase human happiness, would not
reply that it had been in the science of the soul and its relation to the
Eternal and Infinite.

"This progress has been the result not merely of a more rational
conception of the subject and complete intellectual freedom in its study,
but largely also of social conditions which have set us almost wholly
free from material engrossments. We have now for nearly a century enjoyed
an economic welfare which has left nothing to be wished for in the way of
physical satisfactions, especially as in proportion to the increase of
this abundance there has been through culture a development of simplicity
in taste which rejects excess and surfeit and ever makes less and less of
the material side of life and more of the mental and moral. Thanks to
this co-operation of the material with the moral evolution, the more we
have the less we need. Long ago it came to be recognized that on the
material side the race had reached the goal of its evolution. We have
practically lost ambition for further progress in that direction. The
natural result has been that for a long period the main energies of the
intellect have been concentrated upon the possibilities of the spiritual
evolution of mankind for which the completion of its material evolution
has but prepared the beginning. What we have so far learned we are
convinced is but the first faint inkling of the knowledge we shall attain
to; and yet if the limitations of this earthly state were such that we
might never hope here to know more than now we should not repine, for the
knowledge we have has sufficed to turn the shadow of death into a bow of
promise and distill the saltness out of human tears. You will observe, as
you shall come to know more of our literature, that one respect in which
it differs from yours is the total lack of the tragic note. This has very
naturally followed, from a conception of our real life, as having an
inaccessible security, 'hid in God,' as Paul said, whereby the accidents
and vicissitudes of the personality are reduced to relative triviality.

"Your seers and poets in exalted moments had seen that death was but a
step in life, but this seemed to most of you to have been a hard saying.
Nowadays, as life advances toward its close, instead of being shadowed by
gloom, it is marked by an access of impassioned expectancy which would
cause the young to envy the old, but for the knowledge that in a little
while the same door will be opened to them. In your day the undertone of
life seems to have been one of unutterable sadness, which, like the
moaning of the sea to those who live near the ocean, made itself audible
whenever for a moment the noise and bustle of petty engrossments ceased.
Now this undertone is so exultant that we are still to hear it."

"If men go on," I said, "growing at this rate in the knowledge of divine
things and the sharing of the divine life, what will they yet come to?"

Mr. Barton smiled.

"Said not the serpent in the old story, 'If you eat of the fruit of the
tree of knowledge you shall be as gods'? The promise was true in words,
but apparently there was some mistake about the tree. Perhaps it was the
tree of selfish knowledge, or else the fruit was not ripe. The story is
obscure. Christ later said the same thing when he told men that they
might be the sons of God. But he made no mistake as to the tree he showed
them, and the fruit was ripe. It was the fruit of love, for universal
love is at once the seed and fruit, cause and effect, of the highest and
completest knowledge. Through boundless love man becomes a god, for
thereby is he made conscious of his oneness with God, and all things are
put under his feet. It has been only since the great Revolution brought
in the era of human brotherhood that mankind has been able to eat
abundantly of this fruit of the true tree of knowledge, and thereby grow
more and more into the consciousness of the divine soul as the essential
self and the true hiding of our lives. Yes, indeed, we shall be gods. The
motto of the modern civilization is '_Eritis sicut Deus_.'"

"You speak of Christ. Do I understand that this modern religion is
considered by you to be the same doctrine Christ taught?"

"Most certainly. It has been taught from the beginning of history and
doubtless earlier, but Christ's teaching is that which has most fully and
clearly come down to us. It was the doctrine that he taught, but the
world could not then receive it save a few, nor indeed has it ever been
possible for the world in general to receive it or even to understand it
until this present century."

"Why could not the world receive earlier the revelation it seems to find
so easy of comprehension now?"

"Because," replied Mr. Barton, "the prophet and revealer of the soul and
of God, which are the same, is love, and until these latter days the
world refused to hear love, but crucified him. The religion of Christ,
depending as it did upon the experience and intuitions of the unselfish
enthusiasms, could not possibly be accepted or understood generally by a
world which tolerated a social system based upon fratricidal struggle as
the condition of existence. Prophets, messiahs, seers, and saints might
indeed for themselves see God face to face, but it was impossible that
there should be any general apprehension of God as Christ saw him until
social justice had brought in brotherly love. Man must be revealed to man
as brother before God could be revealed to him as father. Nominally, the
clergy professed to accept and repeat Christ's teaching that God is a
loving father, but of course it was simply impossible that any such idea
should actually germinate and take root in hearts as cold and hard as
stone toward their fellow-beings and sodden with hate and suspicion of
them. 'If a man love not his brother whom he hath seen, how shall he love
God whom he hath not seen?' The priests deafened their flocks with
appeals to love God, to give their hearts to him. They should have rather
taught them, as Christ did, to love their fellow-men and give their
hearts to them. Hearts so given the love of God would presently enkindle,
even as, according to the ancients, fire from heaven might be depended on
to ignite a sacrifice fitly prepared and laid.

"From the pulpit yonder, Mr. West, doubtless you have many times heard
these words and many like them repeated: 'If we love one another God
dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.' 'He that loveth his
brother dwelleth in the light.' 'If any man say I love God, and hateth
his brother, he is a liar.' 'He that loveth not his brother, abideth in
death.' 'God is love and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God.'
'Every one that loveth knoweth God.' 'He that loveth not knoweth not

"Here is the very distillation of Christ's teaching as to the conditions
of entering on the divine life. In this we find the sufficient
explanation why the revelation which came to Christ so long ago and to
other illumined souls could not possibly be received by mankind in
general so long as an inhuman social order made a wall between man and
God, and why, the moment that wall was cast down, the revelation flooded
the earth like a sunburst.

"'If we love one another God dwelleth in us,' and mark how the words were
made good in the way by which at last the race found God! It was not,
remember, by directly, purposely, or consciously seeking God. The great
enthusiasm of humanity which overthrew the old order and brought in the
fraternal society was not primarily or consciously a godward aspiration
at all. It was essentially a humane movement. It was a melting and
flowing forth of men's hearts toward one another, a rush of contrite,
repentant tenderness, an impassioned impulse of mutual love and
self-devotion to the common weal. But 'if we love one another God
dwelleth in us,' and so men found it. It appears that there came a
moment, the most transcendent moment in the history of the race of man,
when with the fraternal glow of this world of new-found embracing
brothers there seems to have mingled the ineffable thrill of a divine
participation, as if the hand of God were clasped over the joined hands
of men. And so it has continued to this day and shall for evermore."



After dinner the doctor said that he had an excursion to suggest for the

"It has often occurred to me," he went on, "that when you shall go out
into the world and become familiar with its features by your own
observation, you will, in looking back on these preparatory lessons I
have tried to give you, form a very poor impression of my talent as a
pedagogue. I am very much dissatisfied myself with the method in which I
have developed the subject, which, instead of having been philosophically
conceived as a plan of instruction, has been merely a series of random
talks, guided rather by your own curiosity than any scheme on my part."

"I am very thankful, my dear friend and teacher," I replied, "that you
have spared me the philosophical method. Without boasting that I have
acquired so soon a complete understanding of your modern system, I am
very sure that I know a good deal more about it than I otherwise should,
for the very reason that you have so good-naturedly followed the lead of
my curiosity instead of tying me to the tailboard of a method."

"I should certainly like to believe," said the doctor, "that our talks
have been as instructive to you as they have been delightful to me, and
if I have made mistakes it should be remembered that perhaps no
instructor ever had or is likely to have a task quite so large as mine,
or one so unexpectedly thrust upon him, or, finally, one which, being so
large, the natural curiosity of his pupil compelled him to cover in so
short a time."

"But you were speaking of an excursion for this afternoon."

"Yes," said the doctor. "It is a suggestion in the line of an attempt to
remedy some few of my too probable omissions of important things in
trying to acquaint you with how we live now. What do you say to
chartering an air car this afternoon for the purpose of taking a
bird's-eye view of the city and environs, and seeing what its various
aspects may suggest in the way of features of present-day civilization
which we have not touched upon?"

The idea struck me as admirable, and we at once proceeded to put it in

       *       *       *       *       *

In these brief and fragmentary reminiscences of my first experiences in
the modern world it is, of course, impossible that I should refer to one
in a hundred of the startling things which happened to me. Still, even
with that limitation, it may seem strange to my readers that I have not
had more to say of the wonder excited in my mind by the number and
character of the great mechanical inventions and applications unknown in
my day, which contribute to the material fabric and actuate the mechanism
of your civilization. For example, although this was very far from being
my first air trip, I do not think that I have before referred to a sort
of experience which, to a representative of the last century, must
naturally have been nothing less than astounding. I can only say, by way
of explanation of this seeming indifference to the mechanical wonders of
this age, that had they been ten times more marvelous, they would still
have impressed me with infinitely less astonishment than the moral
revolution illustrated by your new social order.

This, I am sure, is what would be the experience of any man of my time
under my circumstances. The march of scientific discovery and mechanical
invention during the last half of the nineteenth century had already been
so great and was proceeding so rapidly that we were prepared to expect
almost any amount of development in the same lines in the future. Your
submarine shipping we had distinctly anticipated and even partially
realized. The discovery of the electrical powers had made almost any
mechanical conception seem possible. As to navigation of the air, we
fully expected that would be somehow successfully solved by our
grandchildren if not by our children. If, indeed, I had not found men
sailing the air I should have been distinctly disappointed.

But while we were prepared to expect well-nigh anything of man's
intellectual development and the perfecting of his mastery over the
material world, we were utterly skeptical as to the possibility of any
large moral improvement on his part. As a moral being, we believed that
he had got his growth, as the saying was, and would never in this world
at least attain to a nobler stature. As a philosophical proposition, we
recognized as fully as you do that the golden rule would afford the basis
of a social life in which every one would be infinitely happier than
anybody was in our world, and that the true interest of all would be
furthered by establishing such a social order; but we held at the same
time that the moral baseness and self-blinding selfishness of man would
forever prevent him from realizing such an ideal. In vain, had he been
endowed with a godlike intellect; it would not avail him for any of the
higher uses of life, for an ineradicable moral perverseness would always
hinder him from doing as well as he knew and hold him in hopeless
subjection to the basest and most suicidal impulses of his nature.

"Impossible; it is against human nature!" was the cry which met and for
the most part overbore and silenced every prophet or teacher who sought
to rouse the world to discontent with the reign of chaos and awaken faith
in the possibility of a kingdom of God on earth.

Is it any wonder, then, that one like me, bred in that atmosphere of
moral despair, should pass over with comparatively little attention the
miraculous material achievements of this age, to study with ever-growing
awe and wonder the secret of your just and joyous living?

As I look back I see now how truly this base view of human nature was the
greatest infidelity to God and man which the human race ever fell into,
but, alas! it was not the infidelity which the churches condemned, but
rather a sort which their teachings of man's hopeless depravity were
calculated to implant and confirm.

This very matter of air navigation of which I was speaking suggests a
striking illustration of the strange combination on the part of my
contemporaries of unlimited faith in man's material progress with total
unbelief in his moral possibilities. As I have said, we fully expected
that posterity would achieve air navigation, but the application of the
art most discussed was its use in war to drop dynamite bombs in the midst
of crowded cities. Try to realize that if you can. Even Tennyson, in his
vision of the future, saw nothing more. You remember how he

  Heard the heavens fill with shouting,
    And there rained a ghastly dew
  From the nations airy navies,
    Grappling in the central blue.


"And now," said the doctor, as he checked the rise of our car at an
altitude of about one thousand feet, "let us attend to our lesson. What
do you see down there to suggest a question?"

"Well, to begin with," I said, as the dome of the Statehouse caught my
eye, "what on earth have you stuck up there? It looks for all the world
like one of those self-steering windmills the farmers in my day used to
pump up water with. Surely that is an odd sort of ornament for a public

"It is not intended as an ornament, but a symbol," replied the doctor.
"It represents the modern ideal of a proper system of government. The
mill stands for the machinery of administration, the wind that drives it
symbolizes the public will, and the rudder that always keeps the vane of
the mill before the wind, however suddenly or completely the wind may
change, stands for the method by which the administration is kept at all
times responsive and obedient to every mandate of the people, though it
be but a breath.

"I have talked to you so much on that subject that I need enlarge no
further on the impossibility of having any popular government worthy of
the name which is not based upon the economic equality of the citizens
with its implications and consequences. No constitutional devices or
cleverness of parliamentary machinery could have possibly made popular
government anything but a farce, so long as the private economic interest
of the citizen was distinct from and opposed to the public interest, and
the so-called sovereign people ate their bread from the hand of
capitalists. Given, on the other hand, economic unity of private
interests with public interest, the complete independence of every
individual on every other, and universal culture to cap all, and no
imperfection of administrative machinery could prevent the government
from being a good one. Nevertheless, we have improved the machinery as
much as we have the motive force. You used to vote once a year, or in two
years, or in six years, as the case might be, for those who were to rule
over you till the next election, and those rulers, from the moment of
their election to the term of their offices, were as irresponsible as
czars. They were far more so, indeed, for the czar at least had a supreme
motive to leave his inheritance unimpaired to his son, while these
elected tyrants had no interest except in making the most they could out
of their power while they held it.

"It appears to us that it is an axiom of democratic government that power
should never be delegated irrevocably for an hour, but should always be
subject to recall by the delegating power. Public officials are nowadays
chosen for a term as a matter of convenience, but it is not a term
positive. They are liable to have their powers revoked at any moment by
the vote of their principals; neither is any measure of more than merely
routine character ever passed by a representative body without reference
back to the people. The vote of no delegate upon any important measure
can stand until his principals--or constituents, as you used to call
them--have had the opportunity to cancel it. An elected agent of the
people who offended the sentiment of the electors would be displaced, and
his act repudiated the next day. You may infer that under this system the
agent is solicitous to keep in contact with his principals. Not only do
these precautions exist against irresponsible legislation, but the
original proposition of measures comes from the people more often than
from their representatives.

"So complete through our telephone system has the most complicated sort
of voting become, that the entire nation is organized so as to be able to
proceed almost like one parliament if needful. Our representative bodies,
corresponding to your former Congresses, Legislatures, and Parliaments,
are under this system reduced to the exercise of the functions of what
you used to call congressional committees. The people not only nominally
but actually govern. We have a democracy in fact.

"We take pains to exercise this direct and constant supervision of our
affairs not because we suspect or fear our elected agents. Under our
system of indefeasible, unchangeable, economic equality there is no
motive or opportunity for venality. There is no motive for doing evil
that could be for a moment set against the overwhelming motive of
deserving the public esteem, which is indeed the only possible object
that nowadays could induce any one to accept office. All our vital
interests are secured beyond disturbance by the very framework of
society. We could safely turn over to a selected body of citizens the
management of the public affairs for their lifetime. The reason we do not
is that we enjoy the exhilaration of conducting the government of affairs
directly. You might compare us to a wealthy man of your day who, though
having in his service any number of expert coachmen, preferred to handle
the reins himself for the pleasure of it. You used to vote perhaps once a
year, taking five minutes for it, and grudging the time at that as lost
from your private business, the pursuit of which you called, I believe,
'the main chance.' Our private business is the public business, and we
have no other of importance. Our 'main chance' is the public welfare, and
we have no other chance. We vote a hundred times perhaps in a year, on
all manner of questions, from the temperature of the public baths or the
plan to be selected for a public building, to the greatest questions of
the world union, and find the exercise at once as exhilarating as it is
in the highest sense educational.

"And now, Julian, look down again and see if you do not find some other
feature of the scene to hang a question on."


"I observe," I said, "that the harbor forts are still there. I suppose
you retain them, like the specimen tenement houses, as historical
evidences of the barbarism of your ancestors, my contemporaries."

"You must not be offended," said the doctor, "if I say that we really
have to keep a full assortment of such exhibits, for fear the children
should flatly refuse to believe the accounts the books give of the
unaccountable antics of their great-grandfathers."

"The guarantee of international peace which the world union has
brought," I said, "must surely be regarded by your people as one of the
most signal achievements of the new order, and yet it strikes me I have
heard you say very little about it."

"Of course," said the doctor, "it is a great thing in itself, but so
incomparably less important than the abolition of the economic war
between man and man that we regard it as merely incidental to the latter.
Nothing is much more astonishing about the mental operations of your
contemporaries than the fuss they made about the cruelty of your
occasional international wars while seemingly oblivious to the horrors of
the battle for existence in which you all were perpetually involved. From
our point of view, your wars, while of course very foolish, were
comparatively humane and altogether petty exhibitions as contrasted
with the fratricidal economic struggle. In the wars only men took
part--strong, selected men, comprising but a very small part of the total
population. There were no women, no children, no old people, no cripples
allowed to go to war. The wounded were carefully looked after, whether by
friends or foes, and nursed back to health. The rules of war forbade
unnecessary cruelty, and at any time an honorable surrender, with good
treatment, was open to the beaten. The battles generally took place on
the frontiers, out of sight and sound of the masses. Wars were also very
rare, often not one in a generation. Finally, the sentiments appealed
to in international conflicts were, as a rule, those of courage and
self-devotion. Often, indeed generally, the causes of the wars were
unworthy of the sentiments of self-devotion which the fighting called
out, but the sentiments themselves belonged to the noblest order.

"Compare with warfare of this character the conditions of the economic
struggle for existence. That was a war in which not merely small selected
bodies of combatants took part, but one in which the entire population of
every country, excepting the inconsiderable groups of the rich, were
forcibly enlisted and compelled to serve. Not only did women, children,
the aged and crippled have to participate in it, but the weaker the
combatants the harder the conditions under which they must contend. It
was a war in which there was no help for the wounded, no quarter for the
vanquished. It was a war not on far frontiers, but in every city, every
street, and every house, and its wounded, broken, and dying victims lay
underfoot everywhere and shocked the eye in every direction that it might
glance with some new form of misery. The ear could not escape the
lamentations of the stricken and their vain cries for pity. And this war
came not once or twice in a century, lasting for a few red weeks or
months or years, and giving way again to peace, as did the battles of the
soldiers, but was perennial and perpetual, truceless, lifelong. Finally,
it was a war which neither appealed to nor developed any noble, any
generous, any honorable sentiment, but, on the contrary, set a constant
premium on the meanest, falsest, and most cruel propensities of human

"As we look back upon your era, the sort of fighting those old forts down
there stood for seems almost noble and barely tragical at all, as
compared with the awful spectacle of the struggle for existence.

"We even are able to sympathize with the declaration of some of the
professional soldiers of your age that occasional wars, with their
appeals, however false, to the generous and self-devoting passions, were
absolutely necessary to prevent your society, otherwise so utterly sordid
and selfish in its ideals, from dissolving into absolute putrescence."

"It is to be feared," I was moved to observe, "that posterity has not
built so high a monument to the promoters of the universal peace
societies of my day as they expected."

"They were well meaning enough so far as they saw, no doubt," said the
doctor, "but seem to have been a dreadfully short-sighted and purblind
set of people. Their efforts to stop wars between nations, while
tranquilly ignoring the world-wide economic struggle for existence which
cost more lives and suffering in any one month than did the international
wars of a generation, was a most striking case of straining at a gnat and
swallowing a camel.

"As to the gain to humanity which has come from the abolition of all war
or possibility of war between nations of to-day, it seems to us to
consist not so much in the mere prevention of actual bloodshed as in the
dying out of the old jealousies and rancors which used to embitter
peoples against one another almost as much in peace as in war, and the
growth in their stead of a fraternal sympathy and mutual good will,
unconscious of any barrier of race or country."


As the doctor was speaking, the waving folds of a flag floating far below
caught my eye. It was the Star-Spangled Banner. My heart leaped at the
sight and my eyes grew moist.

"Ah!" I exclaimed, "it is Old Glory!" for so it had been a custom to call
the flag in the days of the civil war and after.

"Yes," replied my companion, as his eyes followed my gaze, "but it wears
a new glory now, because nowhere in the land it floats over is there
found a human being oppressed or suffering any want that human aid can

"The Americans of your day," he continued, "were extremely patriotic
after their fashion, but the difference between the old and the new
patriotism is so great that it scarcely seems like the same sentiment. In
your day and ever before, the emotions and associations of the flag were
chiefly of the martial sort. Self-devotion to the nation in war with
other nations was the idea most commonly conveyed by the word
'patriotism' and its derivatives. Of course, that must be so in ages when
the nations had constantly to stand ready to fight one another for their
existence. But the result was that the sentiment of national solidarity
was arrayed against the sentiment of human solidarity. A lesser social
enthusiasm was set in opposition to a greater, and the result was
necessarily full of moral contradictions. Too often what was called love
of country might better have been described as hate and jealousy of other
countries, for no better reason than that there were other, and bigoted
prejudices against foreign ideas and institutions--often far better than
domestic ones--for no other reason than that they were foreign. This sort
of patriotism was a most potent hindrance for countless ages to the
progress of civilization, opposing to the spread of new ideas barriers
higher than mountains, broader than rivers, deeper than seas.

"The new patriotism is the natural outcome of the new social and
international conditions which date from the great Revolution. Wars,
which were already growing infrequent in your day, were made impossible
by the rise of the world union, and for generations have now been
unknown. The old blood-stained frontiers of the nations have become
scarcely more than delimitations of territory for administrative
convenience, like the State lines in the American Union. Under these
circumstances international jealousies, suspicions, animosities, and
apprehensions have died a natural death. The anniversaries of battles and
triumphs over other nations, by which the antique patriotism was kept
burning, have been long ago forgotten. In a word, patriotism is no longer
a martial sentiment and is quite without warlike associations. As the
flag has lost its former significance as an emblem of outward defiance,
it has gained a new meaning as the supreme symbol of internal concord and
mutuality; it has become the visible sign of the social solidarity in
which the welfare of all is equally and impregnably secured. The
American, as he now lifts his eyes to the ensign of the nation, is not
reminded of its military prowess as compared with other nations, of its
past triumphs in battle and possible future victories. To him the waving
folds convey no such suggestions. They recall rather the compact of
brotherhood in which he stands pledged with all his countrymen mutually
to safeguard the equal dignity and welfare of each by the might of all.

"The idea of the old-time patriots was that foreigners were the only
people at whose hands the flag could suffer dishonor, and the report of
any lack of etiquette toward it on their part used to excite the people
to a patriotic frenzy. That sort of feeling would be simply
incomprehensible now. As we look at it, foreigners have no power to
insult the flag, for they have nothing to do with it, nor with what it
stands for. Its honor or dishonor must depend upon the people whose
plighted faith one to another it represents, to maintain the social
contract. To the old-time patriot there was nothing incongruous in the
spectacle of the symbol of the national unity floating over cities
reeking with foulest oppressions, full of prostitution, beggary, and dens
of nameless misery. According to the modern view, the existence of a
single instance in any corner of the land where a citizen had been
deprived of the full enjoyment of equality would turn the flag into a
flaunting lie, and the people would demand with indignation that it
should be hauled down and not raised again till the wrong was remedied."

"Truly," I said, "the new glory which Old Glory wears is a greater than
the old glory."


As we had talked, the doctor had allowed our car to drift before the
westerly breeze till now we were over the harbor, and I was moved to
exclaim at the scanty array of shipping it contained.

"It does not seem to me," I said, "that there are more vessels here than
in my day, much less the great fleets one might expect to see after a
century's development in population and resources."

"In point of fact," said the doctor, "the new order has tended to
decrease the volume of foreign trade, though on the other hand there is a
thousandfold more foreign travel for instruction and pleasure."

"In just what way," I asked, "did the new order tend to decrease
exchanges with foreign countries?"

"In two ways," replied the doctor. "In the first place, as you know, the
profit idea is now abolished in foreign trade as well as in domestic
distribution. The International Council supervises all exchanges between
nations, and the price of any product exported by one nation to another
must not be more than that at which the exporting nation provides its own
people with the same. Consequently there is no reason why a nation should
care to produce goods for export unless and in so far as it needs for
actual consumption products of another country which it can not itself so
well produce.

"Another yet more potent effect of the new order in limiting foreign
exchange is the general equalization of all nations which has long ago
come about as to intelligence and the knowledge and practice of sciences
and arts. A nation of to-day would be humiliated to have to import any
commodity which insuperable natural conditions did not prevent the
production of at home. It is consequently to such productions that
commerce is now limited, and the list of them grows ever shorter as with
the progress of invention man's conquest of Nature proceeds. As to the
old advantage of coal-producing countries in manufacturing, that
disappeared nearly a century ago with the great discoveries which made
the unlimited development of electrical power practically costless.

"But you should understand that it is not merely on economic grounds or
for self-esteem's sake that the various peoples desire to do everything
possible for themselves rather than depend on people at a distance. It is
quite as much for the education and mind-awakening influence of a
diversified industrial system within a small space. It is our policy, so
far as it can be economically carried out in the grouping of industries,
not only to make the system of each nation complete, but so to group the
various industries within each particular country that every considerable
district shall present within its own limits a sort of microcosm of the
industrial world. We were speaking of that, you may remember, the other
morning, in the Labor Exchange."


The doctor had some time before reversed our course, and we were now
moving westward over the city.

"What is that building which we are just passing over that has so much
glass about it?" I asked.

"That is one of the sanitariums," replied the doctor, "which people go to
who are in bad health and do not wish to change their climate, as we
think persons in serious chronic ill health ought to do and as all can
now do if they desire. In these buildings everything is as absolutely
adapted to the condition of the patient as if he were for the time being
in a world in which his disease were the normal type."

"Doubtless there have been great improvements in all matters relating to
your profession--medicine, hygiene, surgery, and the rest--since my day."

"Yes," replied the doctor, "there have been great improvements in two
ways--negative and positive--and the more important of the two is perhaps
the negative way, consisting in the disappearance of conditions inimical
to health, which physicians formerly had to combat with little chance of
success in many cases. For example, it is now two full generations since
the guarantee of equal maintenance for all placed women in a position of
economic independence and consequent complete control of their relations
to men. You will readily understand how, as one result of this, the taint
of syphilis has been long since eliminated from the blood of the race.
The universal prevalence now for three generations of the most cleanly
and refined conditions of housing, clothing, heating, and living
generally, with the best treatment available for all in case of sickness,
have practically--indeed I may say completely--put an end to the zymotic
and other contagious diseases. To complete the story, add to these
improvements in the hygienic conditions of the people the systematic and
universal physical culture which is a part of the training of youth, and
then as a crowning consideration think of the effect of the physical
rehabilitation--you might almost call it the second creation of woman in
a bodily sense--which has purified and energized the stream of life at
its source."

"Really, doctor, I should say that, without going further, you have
fairly reasoned your profession out of its occupation."

"You may well say so," replied the doctor. "The progress of invention and
improvement since your day has several times over improved the doctors
out of their former occupations, just as it has every other sort of
workers, but only to open new and higher fields of finer work.

"Perhaps," my companion resumed, "a more important negative factor in the
improvement in medical and hygienic conditions than any I have mentioned
is the fact that people are no longer in the state of ignorance as to
their own bodies that they seem formerly to have been. The progress of
knowledge in that respect has kept pace with the march of universal
culture. It is evident from what we read that even the cultured classes
in your day thought it no shame to be wholly uninformed as to physiology
and the ordinary conditions of health and disease. They appear to have
left their physical interests to the doctors, with much the same spirit
of cynical resignation with which they turned over their souls to the
care of the clergy. Nowadays a system of education would be thought
farcical which did not impart a sufficient knowledge of the general
principles of physiology, hygiene, and medicine to enable a person to
treat any ordinary physical disturbance without recourse to a physician.
It is perhaps not too much to say that everybody nowadays knows as much
about the treatment of disease as a large proportion of the members of
the medical profession did in your time. As you may readily suppose, this
is a situation which, even apart from the general improvement in health,
would enable the people to get on with one physician where a score
formerly found business. We doctors are merely specialists and experts on
subjects that everybody is supposed to be well grounded in. When we are
called in, it is really only in consultation, to use a phrase of the
profession in your day, the other parties being the patient and his

"But of all the factors in the advance of medical science, one of the
most important has been the disappearance of sectarianism, resulting
largely from the same causes, moral and economic, which banished it from
religion. You will scarcely need to be reminded that in your day
medicine, next to theology, suffered most of all branches of knowledge
from the benumbing influence of dogmatic schools. There seems to have
been well-nigh as much bigotry as to the science of curing the body as
the soul, and its influence to discourage original thought and retard
progress was much the same in one field as the other.

"There are really no conditions to limit the course of physicians. The
medical education is the fullest possible, but the methods of practice
are left to the doctor and patient. It is assumed that people as cultured
as ours are as competent to elect the treatment for their bodies as to
choose that for their souls. The progress in medical science which has
resulted from this complete independence and freedom of initiative on the
part of the physician, stimulated by the criticism and applause of a
people well able to judge of results, has been unprecedented. Not only in
the specific application of the preserving and healing arts have
innumerable achievements been made and radically new principles
discovered, but we have made advances toward a knowledge of the central
mystery of life which in your day it would have been deemed almost
sacrilegious to dream of. As to pain, we permit it only for its
symptomatic indications, and so far only as we need its guidance in

"I take it, however, that you have not abolished death."

"I assure you," laughed the doctor, "that if perchance any one should
find out the secret of that, the people would mob him and burn up his
formula. Do you suppose we want to be shut up here forever?"


Applying myself again to the study of the moving panorama below us, I
presently remarked to the doctor that we must be pretty nearly over what
was formerly called Brighton, a suburb of the city at which the live
stock for the food supply of the city had mainly been delivered.

"I see the old cattle-sheds are gone," I said. "Doubtless you have much
better arrangements. By the way, now that everybody is well-to-do, and
can afford the best cuts of beef, I imagine the problem of providing a
big city with fresh meats must be much more difficult than in my day,
when the poor were able to consume little flesh food, and that of the
poorest sort."

The doctor looked over the side of the car for some moments before

"I take it," he said, "that you have not spoken to any one before on this

"Why, I think not. It has not before occurred to me."

"It is just as well," said the doctor. "You see, Julian, in the
transformation in customs and habits of thought and standards of fitness
since your day, it could scarcely have happened but that in some cases
the changes should have been attended with a decided revulsion in
sentiment against the former practices. I hardly know how to express
myself, but I am rather glad that you first spoke of this matter to me."

A light dawned on me, and suddenly brought out the significance of
numerous half-digested observations which I had previously made.

"Ah!" I exclaimed, "you mean you don't eat the flesh of animals any

"Is it possible you have not guessed that? Had you not noticed that you
were offered no such food?"

"The fact is," I replied, "the cooking is so different in all respects
from that of my day that I have given up all attempt to identify
anything. But I have certainly missed no flavor to which I have been
accustomed, though I have been delighted by a great many novel ones."

"Yes," said the doctor, "instead of the one or two rude processes
inherited from primitive men by which you used to prepare food and elicit
its qualities, we have a great number and variety. I doubt if there was
any flavor you had which we do not reproduce, besides the great number of
new ones discovered since your time."

"But when was the use of animals for food discontinued?"

"Soon after the great Revolution."

"What caused the change? Was it a conviction that health would be favored
by avoiding flesh?"

"It does not seem to have been that motive which chiefly led to the
change. Undoubtedly the abandonment of the custom of eating animals, by
which we inherited all their diseases, has had something to do with the
great physical improvement of the race, but people did not apparently
give up eating animals mainly for health's sake any more than cannibals
in more ancient times abandoned eating their fellow-men on that account.
It was, of course, a very long time ago, and there was perhaps no
practice of the former order of which the people, immediately after
giving it up, seem to have become so much ashamed. This is doubtless why
we find such meager information in the histories of the period as to the
circumstances of the change. There appears, however, to be no doubt that
the abandonment of the custom was chiefly an effect of the great wave of
humane feeling, the passion of pity and compunction for all suffering--in
a word, the impulse of tender-heartedness--which was really the great
moral power behind the Revolution. As might be expected, this outburst
did not affect merely the relations of men with men, but likewise their
relations with the whole sentient world. The sentiment of brotherhood,
the feeling of solidarity, asserted itself not merely toward men and
women, but likewise toward the humbler companions of our life on earth
and sharers of its fortunes, the animals. The new and vivid light thrown
on the rights and duties of men to one another brought also into view and
recognition the rights of the lower orders of being. A sentiment against
cruelty to animals of every kind had long been growing in civilized
lands, and formed a distinct feature of the general softening of manners
which led up to the Revolution. This sentiment now became an enthusiasm.
The new conception of our relation to the animals appealed to the heart
and captivated the imagination of mankind. Instead of sacrificing the
weaker races to our use or pleasure, with no thought for their welfare,
it began to be seen that we should rather, as elder brothers in the great
family of Nature, be, so far as possible, guardians and helpers to the
weaker orders whose fate is in our hands and to which we are as gods. Do
you not see, Julian, how the prevalence of this new view might soon have
led people to regard the eating of their fellow-animals as a revolting
practice, almost akin to cannibalism?"

"That is, of course, very easily understood. Indeed, doctor, you must not
suppose that my contemporaries were wholly without feeling on this
subject. Long before the Revolution was dreamed of there were a great
many persons of my acquaintance who owned to serious qualms over
flesh-eating, and perhaps the greater part of refined persons were not
without pangs of conscience at various times over the practice. The
trouble was, there really seemed nothing else to do. It was just like our
economic system. Humane persons generally admitted that it was very bad
and brutal, and yet very few could distinctly see what the world was
going to replace it with. You people seem to have succeeded in perfecting
a _cuisine_ without using flesh, and I admit it is every way more
satisfactory than ours was, but you can not imagine how absolutely
impossible the idea of getting on without the use of animal food looked
in my day, when as yet nothing definite had been suggested to take its
place which offered any reasonable amount of gratification to the palate,
even if it provided the means of aliment."

"I can imagine the difficulty to some extent. It was, as you say, like
that which so long hindered the change of economic systems. People could
not clearly realize what was to take its place. While one's mouth is full
of one flavor it is difficult to imagine another. That lack of
constructive imagination on the part of the mass is the obstacle that has
stood in the way of removing every ancient evil, and made necessary a
wave of revolutionary force to do the work. Such a wave of feeling as I
have described was needful in this case to do away with the immemorial
habit of flesh-eating. As soon as the new attitude of men's minds took
away their taste for flesh, and there was a demand that had to be
satisfied for some other and adequate sort of food, it seems to have been
very promptly met."

"From what source?"

"Of course," replied the doctor, "chiefly from the vegetable world,
though by no means wholly. There had never been any serious attempt
before to ascertain what its provisions for food actually were, still
less what might be made of them by scientific treatment. Nor, as long as
there was no objection to killing some animal and appropriating without
trouble the benefit of its experiments, was there likely to be. The rich
lived chiefly on flesh. As for the working masses, which had always drawn
their vigor mainly from vegetables, nobody of the influential classes
cared to make their lot more agreeable. Now, however, all with one
consent set about inquiring what sort of a table Nature might provide for
men who had forsworn murder.

"Just as the crude and simple method of slavery, first chattel slavery
and afterward wage slavery, had, so long as it prevailed, prevented men
from seeking to replace its crude convenience by a scientific industrial
system, so in like manner the coarse convenience of flesh for food had
hitherto prevented men from making a serious perquisition of Nature's
edible resources. The delay in this respect is further accounted for by
the fact that the preparation of food, on account of the manner of its
conduct as an industry, had been the least progressive of all the arts of

"What is that?" I said. "The least progressive of arts? Why so?"

"Because it had always been carried on as an isolated household industry,
and as such chiefly left to servants or women, who in former times were
the most conservative and habit-bound class in the communities. The rules
of the art of cookery had been handed down little changed in essentials
since the wife of the Aryan cowherd dressed her husband's food for him.

"Now, it must remain very doubtful how immediately successful the revolt
against animal food would have proved if the average family cook, whether
wife or hireling, had been left each for herself in her private kitchen
to grapple with the problem of providing for the table a satisfactory
substitute for flesh. But, thanks to the many-sided character of the
great Revolution, the juncture of time at which the growth of humane
feeling created a revolt against animal food coincided with the complete
breakdown of domestic service and the demand of women for a wider life,
facts which compelled the placing of the business of providing and
preparing food on a co-operative basis, and the making of it a branch of
the public service. So it was that as soon as men, losing appetite for
their fellow-creatures, began to ask earnestly what else could be eaten,
there was already being organized a great governmental department
commanding all the scientific talent of the nation, and backed by the
resources of the country, for the purpose of solving the question. And it
is easy to believe that none of the new departments was stimulated in its
efforts by a keener public interest than this which had in charge the
preparation of the new national bill of fare. These were the conditions
for which alimentation had waited from the beginnings of the race to
become a science.

"In the first place, the food materials and methods of preparing them
actually extant, and used in the different nations, were, for the first
time in history, collected and collated. In presence of the cosmopolitan
variety and extent of the international _menu_ thus presented, every
national _cuisine_ was convicted of having until then run in a rut.
It was apparent that in nothing had the nations been more provincial,
more stupidly prejudiced against learning from one another, than in
matters of food and cooking. It was discovered, as observing travelers
had always been aware, that every nation and country, often every
province, had half a dozen gastronomic secrets that had never crossed the
border, or at best on very brief excursions.

"It is well enough to mention, in passing, that the collation of this
international bill of fare was only one illustration of the innumerable
ways in which the nations, as soon as the new order put an end to the old
prejudices, began right and left to borrow and adopt the best of one
another's ideas and institutions, to the great general enrichment.

"But the organization of a scientific system of alimentation did not
cease with utilizing the materials and methods already existing. The
botanist and the chemist next set about finding new food materials and
new methods of preparing them. At once it was discovered that of the
natural products capable of being used as food by man, but a petty
proportion had ever been utilized; only those, and a small part even of
that class, which readily lent themselves to the single primitive process
whereby the race hitherto had attempted to prepare food--namely, the
application of dry or wet heat. To this, manifold other processes
suggested by chemistry were now added, with effects that our ancestors
found as delightful as novel. It had hitherto been with the science of
cooking as with metallurgy when simple fire remained its only method.

"It is written that the children of Israel, when practicing an enforced
vegetarian diet in the wilderness, yearned after the flesh-pots of Egypt,
and probably with good reason. The experience of our ancestors appears to
have been in this respect quite different. It would seem that the
sentiments with which, after a very short period had elapsed, they looked
back upon the flesh-pots they had left behind were charged with a feeling
quite the reverse of regret. There is an amusing cartoon of the period,
which suggests how brief a time it took for them to discover what a good
thing they had done for themselves in resolving to spare the animals. The
cartoon, as I remember it, is in two parts. The first shows Humanity,
typified by a feminine figure regarding a group of animals consisting of
the ox, the sheep, and the hog. Her face expresses the deepest
compunction, while she tearfully exclaims, 'Poor things! How could we
ever bring ourselves to eat you?' The second part reproduces the same
group, with the heading 'Five Years After.' But here the countenance
of Humanity as she regards the animals expresses not contrition or
self-reproach, but disgust and loathing, while she exclaims in nearly
identical terms, but very different emphasis, 'How could we, indeed?'"


Continuing to move westward toward the interior, we had now gradually
left behind the more thickly settled portions of the city, if indeed any
portion of these modern cities, in which every home stands in its own
inclosure, can be called thickly settled. The groves and meadows and
larger woods had become numerous, and villages occurred at frequent
intervals. We were out in the country.

"Doctor," said I, "it has so happened, you will remember, that what I
have seen of twentieth-century life has been mainly its city side. If
country life has changed since my day as much as city life, it will be
very interesting to make its acquaintance again. Tell me something about

"There are few respects, I suppose," replied the doctor, "in which the
effect of the nationalization of production and distribution on the basis
of economic equality has worked a greater transformation than in the
relations of city and country, and it is odd we should not have chanced
to speak of this before now."

"When I was last in the world of living people," I said, "the city was
fast devouring the country. Has that process gone on, or has it possibly
been reversed?"

"Decidedly the latter," replied the doctor, "as indeed you will at once
see must have been the case when you consider that the enormous growth of
the great cities of the past was entirely an economic consequence of the
system of private capitalism, with its necessary dependence upon
individual initiative, and the competitive system."

"That is a new idea to me," I said.

"I think you will find it a very obvious one upon reflection," replied
the doctor. "Under private capitalism, you see, there was no public or
governmental system for organizing productive effort and distributing its
results. There was no general and unfailing machinery for bringing
producers and consumers together. Everybody had to seek his own
occupation and maintenance on his own account, and success depended on
his finding an opportunity to exchange his labor or possessions for the
possessions or labor of others. For this purpose the best place, of
course, was where there were many people who likewise wanted to buy or
sell their labor or goods. Consequently, when, owing either to accident
or calculation, a mass of people were drawn together, others flocked to
them, for every such aggregation made a market place where, owing simply
to the number of persons desiring to buy and sell, better opportunities
for exchange were to be found than where fewer people were, and the
greater the number of people the larger and better the facilities for
exchange. The city having thus taken a start, the larger it became, the
faster it was likely to grow by the same logic that accounted for its
first rise. The laborer went there to find the largest and steadiest
market for his muscle, and the capitalist--who, being a conductor of
production, desired the largest and steadiest labor market--went there
also. The capitalist trader went there to find the greatest group of
consumers of his goods within least space.

"Although at first the cities rose and grew, mainly because of the
facilities for exchange among their own citizens, yet presently the
result of the superior organization of exchange facilities made them
centers of exchange for the produce of the surrounding country. In this
way those who lived in the cities had not only great opportunities to
grow rich by supplying the needs of the dense resident population, but
were able also to levy a tribute upon the products of the people in the
country round about by compelling those products to pass through their
hands on the way to the consumers, even though the consumers, like the
producers, lived in the country, and might be next door neighbors.

"In due course," pursued the doctor, "this concentration of material
wealth in the cities led to a concentration there of all the superior,
the refined, the pleasant, and the luxurious ministrations of life. Not
only did the manual laborers flock to the cities as the market where they
could best exchange their labor for the money of the capitalists, but the
professional and learned class resorted thither for the same purpose. The
lawyers, the pedagogues, the doctors, the rhetoricians, and men of
special skill in every branch, went there as the best place to find the
richest and most numerous employers of their talents, and to make their

"And in like manner all who had pleasure to sell--the artists, the
players, the singers, yes, and the courtesans also--flocked to the cities
for the same reasons. And those who desired pleasure and had wealth to
buy it, those who wished to enjoy life, either as to its coarse or
refined gratifications, followed the pleasure-givers. And, finally, the
thieves and robbers, and those pre-eminent in the wicked arts of living
on their fellow-men, followed the throng to the cities, as offering them
also the best field for their talents. And so the cities became great
whirlpools, which drew to themselves all that was richest and best, and
also everything that was vilest, in the whole land.

"Such, Julian, was the law of the genesis and growth of the cities, and
it was by necessary consequence the law of the shrinkage, decay, and
death of the country and country life. It was only necessary that the era
of private capitalism in America should last long enough for the rural
districts to have been reduced to what they were in the days of the Roman
Empire, and of every empire which achieved full development--namely,
regions whence all who could escape had gone to seek their fortune in the
cities, leaving only a population of serfs and overseers.

"To do your contemporaries justice, they seemed themselves to realize
that the swallowing up of the country by the city boded no good to
civilization, and would apparently have been glad to find a cure for it,
but they failed entirely to observe that, as it was a necessary effect of
private capitalism, it could only be remedied by abolishing that."

"Just how," said I, "did the abolition of private capitalism and the
substitution of a nationalized economic system operate to stop the growth
of the cities?"

"By abolishing the need of markets for the exchange of labor and
commodities," replied the doctor. "The facilities of exchange organized
in the cities under the private capitalists were rendered wholly
superfluous and impertinent by the national organization of production
and distribution. The produce of the country was no longer handled by or
distributed through the cities, except so far as produced or consumed
there. The quality of goods furnished in all localities, and the measure
of industrial service required of all, was the same. Economic equality
having done away with rich and poor, the city ceased to be a place where
greater luxury could be enjoyed or displayed than the country. The
provision of employment and of maintenance on equal terms to all took
away the advantages of locality as helps to livelihood. In a word, there
was no longer any motive to lead a person to prefer city to country life,
who did not like crowds for the sake of being crowded. Under these
circumstances you will not find it strange that the growth of the cities
ceased, and their depopulation began from the moment the effects of the
Revolution became apparent."

"But you have cities yet!" I exclaimed.

"Certainly--that is, we have localities where population still remains
denser than in other places. None of the great cities of your day have
become extinct, but their populations are but small fractions of what
they were."

"But Boston is certainly a far finer-looking city than in my day."

"All the modern cities are far finer and fairer in every way than their
predecessors and infinitely fitter for human habitation, but in order to
make them so it was necessary to get rid of their surplus population.
There are in Boston to-day perhaps a quarter as many people as lived in
the same limits in the Boston of your day, and that is simply because
there were four times as many people within those limits as could be
housed and furnished with environments consistent with the modern idea of
healthful and agreeable living. New York, having been far worse crowded
than Boston, has lost a still larger proportion of its former population.
Were you to visit Manhattan Island I fancy your first impression would be
that the Central Park of your day had been extended all the way from the
Battery to Harlem River, though in fact the place is rather thickly built
up according to modern notions, some two hundred and fifty thousand
people living there among the groves and fountains."

"And you say this amazing depopulation took place at once after the

"It began then. The only way in which the vast populations of the old
cities could be crowded into spaces so small was by packing them like
sardines in tenement houses. As soon as it was settled that everybody
must be provided with really and equally good habitations, it followed
that the cities must lose the greater part of their population. These had
to be provided with dwellings in the country. Of course, so vast a work
could not be accomplished instantly, but it proceeded with all possible
speed. In addition to the exodus of people from the cities because there
was no room for them to live decently, there was also a great outflow of
others who, now there had ceased to be any economic advantages in city
life, were attracted by the natural charms of the country; so that you
may easily see that it was one of the great tasks of the first decade
after the Revolution to provide homes elsewhere for those who desired to
leave the cities. The tendency countryward continued until the cities
having been emptied of their excess of people, it was possible to make
radical changes in their arrangements. A large proportion of the old
buildings and all the unsightly, lofty, and inartistic ones were cleared
away and replaced with structures of the low, broad, roomy style adapted
to the new ways of living. Parks, gardens, and roomy spaces were
multiplied on every hand and the system of transit so modified as to get
rid of the noise and dust, and finally, in a word, the city of your day
was changed into the modern city. Having thus been made as pleasant
places to live in as was the country itself, the outflow of population
from the cities ceased and an equilibrium became established."

"It strikes me," I observed, "that under any circumstances cities must
still, on account of their greater concentration of people, have certain
better public services than small villages, for naturally such
conveniences are least expensive where a dense population is to be

"As to that," replied the doctor, "if a person desires to live in some
remote spot far away from neighbors he will have to put up with some
inconveniences. He will have to bring his supplies from the nearest
public store and dispense with various public services enjoyed by those
who live nearer together; but in order to be really out of reach of these
services he must go a good way off. You must remember that nowadays the
problems of communication and transportation both by public and private
means have been so entirely solved that conditions of space which were
prohibitive in your day are unimportant now. Villages five and ten miles
apart are as near together for purposes of social intercourse and
economic administration as the adjoining wards of your cities. Either on
their own account or by group combinations with other communities
dwellers in the smallest villages enjoy installations of all sorts of
public services as complete as exist in the cities. All have public
stores and kitchens with telephone and delivery systems, public baths,
libraries, and institutions of the highest education. As to the quality
of the services and commodities provided, they are of absolutely equal
excellence wherever furnished. Finally, by telephone and electroscope the
dwellers in any part of the country, however deeply secluded among the
forests or the mountains, may enjoy the theater, the concert, and the
orator quite as advantageously as the residents of the largest cities."


Still we swept on mile after mile, league after league, toward the
interior, and still the surface below presented the same parklike aspect
that had marked the immediate environs of the city. Every natural feature
appeared to have been idealized and all its latent meaning brought out by
the loving skill of some consummate landscape artist, the works of man
blending with the face of Nature in perfect harmony. Such arrangements of
scenery had not been uncommon in my day, when great cities prepared
costly pleasure grounds, but I had never imagined anything on a scale
like this.

"How far does this park extend?" I demanded at last. "There seems no end
to it."

"It extends to the Pacific Ocean," said the doctor.

"Do you mean that the whole United States is laid out in this way?"

"Not precisely in this way by any means, but in a hundred different ways
according to the natural suggestions of the face of the country and the
most effective way of co-operating with them. In this region, for
instance, where there are few bold natural features, the best effect to
be obtained was that of a smiling, peaceful landscape with as much
diversification in detail as possible. In the mountainous regions, on the
contrary, where Nature has furnished effects which man's art could not
strengthen, the method has been to leave everything absolutely as Nature
left it, only providing the utmost facilities for travel and observation.
When you visit the White Mountains or the Berkshire Hills you will find,
I fancy, their slopes shaggier, the torrents wilder, the forests loftier
and more gloomy than they were a hundred years ago. The only evidences of
man's handiwork to be found there are the roadways which traverse every
gorge and top every summit, carrying the traveler within reach of all the
wild, rugged, or beautiful bits of Nature."

"As far as forests go, it will not be necessary for me to visit the
mountains in order to perceive that the trees are not only a great deal
loftier as a rule, but that there are vastly more of them than formerly."

"Yes," said the doctor, "it would be odd if you did not notice that
difference in the landscape. There are said to be five or ten trees
nowadays where there was one in your day, and a good part of those you
see down there are from seventy-five to a hundred years old, dating from
the reforesting."

"What was the reforesting?" I asked.

"It was the restoration of the forests after the Revolution. Under
private capitalism the greed or need of individuals had led to so general
a wasting of the woods that the streams were greatly reduced and the land
was constantly plagued with droughts. It was found after the Revolution
that one of the things most urgent to be done was to reforest the
country. Of course, it has taken a long time for the new plantings to
come to maturity, but I believe it is now some twenty-five years since
the forest plan reached its full development and the last vestiges of the
former ravages disappeared."

"Do you know," I said presently, "that one feature which is missing from
the landscape impresses me quite as much as any that it presents?"

"What is it that is missing?"

"The hayfield."

"Ah! yes, no wonder you miss it," said the doctor. "I understand that in
your day hay was the main crop of New England?"

"Altogether so," I replied, "and now I suppose you have no use for hay at
all. Dear me, in what a multitude of important ways the passing of the
animals out of use both for food and work must have affected human
occupations and interests!"

"Yes, indeed," said the doctor, "and always to the notable improvement of
the social condition, though it may sound ungrateful to say so. Take the
case of the horse, for example. With the passing of that long-suffering
servant of man to his well earned reward, smooth, permanent, and clean
roadways first became possible; dust, dirt, danger, and discomfort ceased
to be necessary incidents of travel.

"Thanks to the passing of the horse, it was possible to reduce the
breadth of roadways by half or a third, to construct them of smooth
concrete from grass to grass, leaving no soil to be disturbed by wind or
water, and such ways once built, last like Roman roads, and can never be
overgrown by vegetation. These paths, penetrating every nook and corner
of the land, have, together with the electric motors, made travel such a
luxury that as a rule we make all short journeys, and when time does not
press even very long ones, by private conveyance. Had land travel
remained in the condition it was in when it depended on the horse, the
invention of the air-car would have strongly tempted humanity to treat
the earth as the birds do--merely as a place to alight on between
flights. As it is, we consider the question an even one whether it is
pleasanter to swim through the air or to glide over the ground, the
motion being well-nigh as swift, noiseless, and easy in one case as in
the other."

"Even before 1887," I said, "the bicycle was coming into such favor and
the possibilities of electricity were beginning so to loom up that
prophetic people began to talk about the day of the horse as almost over.
But it was believed that, although dispensed with for road purposes, he
must always remain a necessity for the multifarious purposes of farm
work, and so I should have supposed. How is it about that?"


"Wait a moment," replied the doctor; "when we have descended a little I
will give you a practical answer."

After we had dropped from an altitude of perhaps a thousand feet to a
couple of hundred, the doctor said:

"Look down there to the right."

I did so, and saw a large field from which the crops had been cut. Over
its surface was moving a row of great machines, behind which the earth
surged up in brown and rigid billows. On each machine stood or sat in
easy attitude a young man or woman with quite the air of persons on a
pleasure excursion.

"Evidently," I said, "these are plows, but what drives them?"

"They are electric plows," replied the doctor. "Do you see that snakelike
cord trailing away over the broken ground behind each machine? That is
the cable by which the force is supplied. Observe those posts at regular
intervals about the field. It is only necessary to attach one of those
cables to a post to have a power which, connected with any sort of
agricultural machine, furnishes energy graduated from a man's strength to
that of a hundred horses, and requiring for its guidance no other force
than the fingers of a child can supply."

And not only this, but it was further explained to me that by this system
of flexible cables of all sizes the electric power was applied not only
to all the heavy tasks formerly done by animals, but also to the hand
instruments--the spade, the shovel, and the fork--which the farmer in my
time must bend his own back to, however well supplied he might be with
horse power. There was, indeed, no tool, however small, the doctor
explained, whether used in agriculture or any other art, to which this
motor was not applicable, leaving to the worker only the adjustment and
guiding of the instrument.

"With one of our shovels," said the doctor, "an intelligent boy can
excavate a trench or dig a mile of potatoes quicker than a gang of men in
your day, and with no more effort than he would use in wheeling a

I had been told several times that at the present day farm work was
considered quite as desirable as any other occupation, but, with my
impressions as to the peculiar arduousness of the earth worker's task, I
had not been able to realize how this could really be so. It began to
seem possible.

The doctor suggested that perhaps I would like to land and inspect some
of the arrangements of a modern farm, and I gladly assented. But first he
took advantage of our elevated position to point out the network of
railways by which all the farm transportation was done and whereby the
crops when gathered could, if desirable, be shipped directly, without
further handling, to any point in the country. Having alighted from our
car, we crossed the field toward the nearest of the great plows, the
rider of which was a dark-haired young woman daintily costumed, such a
figure certainly as no nineteenth-century farm field ever saw. As she sat
gracefully upon the back of the shining metal monster which, as it
advanced, tore up the earth with terrible horns, I could but be reminded
of Europa on her bull. If her prototype was as charming as this young
woman, Jupiter certainly was excusable for running away with her.

As we approached, she stopped the plow and pleasantly returned our
greeting. It was evident that she recognized me at the first glance, as,
thanks doubtless to the diffusion of my portrait, everybody seemed to do.
The interest with which she regarded me would have been more flattering
had I not been aware that I owed it entirely to my character as a freak
of Nature and not at all to my personality.

When I asked her what sort of a crop they were expecting to plant at this
season, she replied that this was merely one of the many annual plowings
given to all soil to keep it in condition.

"We use, of course, abundant fertilizers," she said, "but consider the
soil its own best fertilizer if kept moving."

"Doubtless," said I, "labor is the best fertilizer of the soil. So old an
authority as Aesop taught us that in his fable of 'The Buried Treasure,'
but it was a terribly expensive sort of fertilizer in my day when it had
to come out of the muscles of men and beasts. One plowing a year was all
our farmers could manage, and that nearly broke their backs."

"Yes," she said, "I have read of those poor men. Now you see it is
different. So long as the tides rise and fall twice a day, let alone the
winds and waterfalls, there is no reason why we should not plow every day
if it were desirable. I believe it is estimated that about ten times the
amount of power is nowadays given to the working of every acre of land
that it was possible to apply in former times."

We spent some time inspecting the farm. The doctor explained the drainage
and pumping systems by which both excess and deficiency of rain are
guarded against, and gave me opportunity to examine in detail some of the
wonderful tools he had described, which make practically no requisition
on the muscle of the worker, only needing a mind behind them.

Connected with the farm was one of the systems of great greenhouse
establishments upon which the people depend for fresh vegetables in the
winter, and this, too, we visited. The wonders of intensive culture which
I saw in that great structure would of course astonish none of my
readers, but to me the revelation of what could be done with plants when
all the conditions of light, heat, moisture, and soil ingredients were
absolutely to be commanded, was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. It
seemed to me that I had stolen into the very laboratory of the Creator,
and found him at the task of fashioning with invisible hands the dust of
the earth and the viewless air into forms of life. I had never seen
plants actually grow before and had deemed the Indian juggler's trick an
imposture. But here I saw them lifting their heads, putting forth their
buds, and opening their flowers by movements which the eye could follow.
I confess that I fairly listened to hear them whisper.

"In my day, greenhouse culture of vegetables out of season had been
carried on only to an extent to meet the demands of a small class of very
rich. The idea of providing such supplies at moderate prices for the
entire community, according to the modern practice, was of course quite
undreamed of."

When we left the greenhouse the afternoon had worn away and the sun was
setting. Rising swiftly to a height where its rays still warmed us, we
set out homeward.

Strongest of all the impressions of that to me so wonderful afternoon
there lingered most firmly fixed in my mind the latest--namely, the
object lesson I had received of the transformation in the conditions of
agriculture, the great staple human occupation from the beginning, and
the basis of every industrial system. Presently I said:

"Since you have so successfully done away with the first of the two main
drawbacks of the agricultural occupation as known in my day--namely, its
excessive laboriousness--you have no doubt also known how to eliminate
the other, which was the isolation, the loneliness, the lack of social
intercourse and opportunity of social culture which were incident to the
farmer's life."

"Nobody would certainly do farm work," replied the doctor, "if it had
continued to be either more lonesome or more laborious than other sorts
of work. As regards the social surroundings of the agriculturist, he is
in no way differently situated from the artisan or any other class of
workers. He, like the others, lives where he pleases, and is carried to
and fro just as they are between the place of his residence and
occupation by the lines of swift transit with which the country is
threaded. Work on a farm no longer implies life on a farm, unless for
those who like it."

"One of the conditions of the farmer's life, owing to the variations of
the season," I said, "has always been the alternation of slack work and
periods of special exigency, such as planting and harvesting, when the
sudden need of a multiplied labor force has necessitated the severest
strain of effort for a time. This alternation of too little with too much
work, I should suppose, would still continue to distinguish agriculture
from other occupations."

"No doubt," replied the doctor, "but this alternation, far from involving
either a wasteful relaxation of effort or an excessive strain on the
worker, furnishes occasions of recreation which add a special attraction
to the agricultural occupation. The seasons of planting and harvesting
are of course slightly or largely different in the several districts of a
country so extensive as this. The fact makes it possible successively to
concentrate in each district as large an extra contingent of workers
drawn from other districts as is needed. It is not uncommon on a few
days' notice to throw a hundred thousand extra workers into a region
where there is a special temporary demand for labor. The inspiration of
these great mass movements is remarkable, and must be something like that
which attended in your day the mobilizing and marching of armies to war."

We drifted on for a space in silence through the darkening sky.

"Truly, Julian," said the doctor at length, "no industrial transformation
since your day has been so complete, and none surely has affected so
great a proportion of the people, as that which has come over
agriculture. The poets from Virgil up and down have recognized in rural
pursuits and the cultivation of the earth the conditions most favorable
to a serene and happy life. Their fancies in this respect have, however,
until the present time, been mocked by the actual conditions of
agriculture, which have combined to make the lot of the farmer, the
sustainer of all the world, the saddest, most difficult, and most
hopeless endured by any class of men. From the beginning of the world
until the last century the tiller of the soil has been the most pathetic
figure in history. In the ages of slavery his was the lowest class of
slaves. After slavery disappeared his remained the most anxious, arduous,
and despairing of occupations. He endured more than the poverty of the
wage-earner without his freedom from care, and all the anxiety of the
capitalist without his hope of compensating profits. On the one side he
was dependent for his product, as was no other class, upon the caprices
of Nature, while on the other in disposing of it he was more completely
at the mercy of the middleman than any other producer. Well might he
wonder whether man or Nature were the more heartless. If the crops
failed, the farmer perished; if they prospered, the middleman took the
profit. Standing as a buffer between the elemental forces and human
society, he was smitten by the one only to be thrust back by the other.
Bound to the soil, he fell into a commercial serfdom to the cities
well-nigh as complete as the feudal bondage had been. By reason of his
isolated and unsocial life he was uncouth, unlettered, out of touch with
culture, without opportunities for self-improvement, even if his bitter
toil had left him energy or time for it. For this reason the dwellers in
the towns looked down upon him as one belonging to an inferior race. In
all lands, in all ages, the countryman has been considered a proper butt
by the most loutish townsman. The starving proletarian of the city
pavement scoffed at the farmer as a boor. Voiceless, there was none to
speak for him, and his rude, inarticulate complaints were met with jeers.
Baalam was not more astonished when the ass he was riding rebuked him
than the ruling classes of America seem to have been when the farmers,
toward the close of the last century, undertook to have something to say
about the government of the country.

"From time to time in the progress of history the condition of the farmer
has for brief periods been tolerable. The yeoman of England was once for
a little while one who looked nobles in the face. Again, the American
farmer, up to the middle of the nineteenth century, enjoyed the golden
age of agriculture. Then for a space, producing chiefly for use and not
for sale to middlemen, he was the most independent of men and enjoyed a
rude abundance. But before the nineteenth century had reached its last
third, American agriculture had passed through its brief idyllic period,
and, by the inevitable operation of private capitalism, the farmer began
to go down hill toward the condition of serfdom, which in all ages before
had been his normal state, and must be for evermore, so long as the
economic exploitation of men by men should continue. While in one sense
economic equality brought an equal blessing to all, two classes had
especial reason to hail it as bringing to them a greater elevation from a
deeper degradation than to any others. One of these classes was the
women, the other the farmers."



What did I say to the theater for that evening? was the question with
which Edith met me when we reached home. It seemed that a celebrated
historical drama of the great Revolution was to be given in Honolulu that
afternoon, and she had thought I might like to see it.

"Really you ought to attend," she said, "for the presentation of the play
is a sort of compliment to you, seeing that it is revived in response to
the popular interest in revolutionary history which your presence has

No way of spending the evening could have been more agreeable to me, and
it was agreed that we should make up a family theater party.

"The only trouble," I said, as we sat around the tea table, "is that I
don't know enough yet about the Revolution to follow the play very
intelligently. Of course, I have heard revolutionary events referred to
frequently, but I have no connected idea of the Revolution as a whole."

"That will not matter," said Edith. "There is plenty of time before the
play for father to tell you what is necessary. The matinee does not begin
till three in the afternoon at Honolulu, and as it is only six now the
difference in time will give us a good hour before the curtain rises."

"That's rather a short time, as well as a short notice, for so big a task
as explaining the great Revolution," the doctor mildly protested, "but
under the circumstances I suppose I shall have to do the best I can."

"Beginnings are always misty," he said, when I straightway opened at him
with the question when the great Revolution began. "Perhaps St. John
disposed of that point in the simplest way when he said that 'in the
beginning was God.' To come down nearer, it might be said that Jesus
Christ stated the doctrinal basis and practical purpose of the great
Revolution when he declared that the golden rule of equal and the best
treatment for all was the only right principle on which people could live
together. To speak, however, in the language of historians, the great
Revolution, like all important events, had two sets of causes--first, the
general, necessary, and fundamental cause which must have brought it
about in the end, whatever the minor circumstances had been; and, second,
the proximate or provoking causes which, within certain limits,
determined when it actually did take place, together with the incidental
features. These immediate or provoking causes were, of course, different
in different countries, but the general, necessary, and fundamental cause
was the same in all countries, the great Revolution being, as you know,
world-wide and nearly simultaneous, as regards the more advanced nations.

"That cause, as I have often intimated in our talks, was the growth of
intelligence and diffusion of knowledge among the masses, which,
beginning with the introduction of printing, spread slowly through the
sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, and much more rapidly
during the nineteenth, when, in the more favored countries, it began, to
be something like general. Previous to the beginning of this process of
enlightenment the condition of the mass of mankind as to intelligence,
from the most ancient times, had been practically stationary at a point
little above the level of the brutes. With no more thought or will of
their own than clay in the hands of the potter, they were unresistingly
molded to the uses of the more intelligent and powerful individuals and
groups of their kind. So it went on for innumerable ages, and nobody
dreamed of anything else until at last the conditions were ripe for the
inbreathing of an intellectual life into these inert and senseless clods.
The process by which this awakening took place was silent, gradual,
imperceptible, but no previous event or series of events in the history
of the race had been comparable to it in the effect it was to have upon
human destiny. It meant that the interest of the many instead of the few,
the welfare of the whole instead of that of a part, were henceforth to be
the paramount purpose of the social order and the goal of its evolution.

"Dimly your nineteenth-century philosophers seem to have perceived that
the general diffusion of intelligence was a new and large fact, and that
it introduced a very important force into the social evolution, but they
were wall-eyed in their failure to see the certainty with which it
foreshadowed a complete revolution of the economic basis of society in
the interest of the whole body of the people as opposed to class interest
or partial interest of every sort. Its first effect was the democratic
movement by which personal and class rule in political matters was
overthrown in the name of the supreme interest and authority of the
people. It is astonishing that there should have been any intelligent
persons among you who did not perceive that political democracy was but
the pioneer corps and advance guard of economic democracy, clearing the
way and providing the instrumentality for the substantial part of the
programme--namely, the equalization of the distribution of work and
wealth. So much for the main, general, and necessary cause and
explanation of the great Revolution--namely, the progressive diffusion of
intelligence among the masses from the sixteenth to the end of the
nineteenth centuries. Given this force in operation, and the revolution
of the economic basis of society must sooner or later have been its
outcome everywhere: whether a little sooner or later and in just what way
and with just what circumstances, the differing conditions of different
countries determined.

"In the case of America, the period of revolutionary agitation which
resulted in the establishment of the present order began almost at once
upon the close of the civil war. Some historians date the beginning of
the Revolution from 1873."

"Eighteen seventy-three!" I exclaimed; "why, that was more than a dozen
years before I fell asleep! It seems, then, that I was a contemporary and
witness of at least a part of the Revolution, and yet I saw no
Revolution. It is true that we recognized the highly serious condition of
industrial confusion and popular discontent, but we did not realize that
a Revolution was on."

"It was to have been expected that you would not," replied the doctor.
"It is very rarely that the contemporaries of great revolutionary
movements have understood their nature until they have nearly run their
course. Following generations always think that they would have been
wiser in reading the signs of the times, but that is not likely."

"But what was there," I said, "about 1873 which has led historians to
take it as the date from which to reckon the beginning of the

"Simply the fact that it marked in a rather distinct way the beginning of
a period of economic distress among the American people, which continued,
with temporary and partial alleviations, until the overthrow of private
capitalism. The popular discontent resulting from this experience was the
provoking cause of the Revolution. It awoke Americans from their
self-complacent dream that the social problem had been solved or could be
solved by a system of democracy limited to merely political forms, and
set them to seeking the true solution.

"The economic distress beginning at the last third of the century, which
was the direct provocation of the Revolution, was very slight compared
with that which had been the constant lot and ancient heritage of other
nations. It represented merely the first turn or two of the screw by
which capitalism in due time squeezed dry the masses always and
everywhere. The unexampled space and richness of their new land had given
Americans a century's respite from the universal fate. Those advantages
had passed, the respite was ended, and the time had come when the people
must adapt their necks to the yoke all peoples before had worn. But
having grown high-spirited from so long an experience of comparative
welfare, the Americans resisted the imposition, and, finding mere
resistance vain, ended by making a revolution. That in brief is the whole
story of the way the great Revolution came on in America. But while this
might satisfy a languid twentieth-century curiosity as to a matter so
remote in time, you will naturally want a little more detail. There is a
particular chapter in Storiot's History of the Revolution explaining just
how and why the growth of the power of capital provoked the great
uprising, which deeply impressed me in my school days, and I don't think
I can make a better use of a part of our short time than by reading a few
paragraphs from it."

And Edith having brought the book from the library--for we still sat at
the tea table--the doctor read:

"'With reference to the evolution of the system of private capitalism to
the point where it provoked the Revolution by threatening the lives and
liberties of the people, historians divide the history of the American
Republic, from its foundation in 1787 to the great Revolution which made
it a true republic, into three periods.

"'The first comprises the decades from the foundation of the republic to
about the end of the first third of the nineteenth century--say, up to
the thirties or forties. This was the period during which the power of
capital in private hands had not as yet shown itself seriously
aggressive. The moneyed class was small and the accumulations of capital
petty. The vastness of the natural resources of the virgin country defied
as yet the lust of greed. The ample lands to be had for the taking
guaranteed independence to all at the price of labor. With this resource
no man needed to call another master. This may be considered the idyllic
period of the republic, the time when De Tocqueville saw and admired it,
though not without prescience of the doom that awaited it. The seed of
death was in the state in the principle of private capitalism, and was
sure in time to grow and ripen, but as yet the conditions were not
favorable to its development. All seemed to go well, and it is not
strange that the American people indulged in the hope that their republic
had indeed solved the social question.

"'From about 1830 or 1840, speaking of course in a general way as
to date, we consider the republic to have entered on its second
phase--namely, that in which the growth and concentration of capital
began to be rapid. The moneyed class now grew powerful, and began to
reach out and absorb the natural resources of the country and to organize
for its profit the labor of the people. In a word, the growth of the
plutocracy became vigorous. The event which gave the great impulse to
this movement, and fixed the time of the transition from the first to the
second period in the history of the nation, was of course the general
application of steam to commerce and industry. The transition may indeed
be said to have begun somewhat earlier, with the introduction of the
factory system. Of course, if neither steam nor the inventions which made
the factory system possible had ever been introduced, it would have been
merely a question of a longer time before the capitalist class,
proceeding in this case by landlordism and usury, would have reduced the
masses to vassalage, and overthrown democracy even as in the ancient
republics, but the great inventions amazingly accelerated the plutocratic
conquest. For the first time in history the capitalist in the subjugation
of his fellows had machinery for his ally, and a most potent one it was.
This was the mighty factor which, by multiplying the power of capital and
relatively dwarfing the importance of the workingman, accounts for the
extraordinary rapidity with which, during the second and third periods
the conquest of the republic by the plutocracy was carried out.

"'It is a fact creditable to Americans that they appear to have begun to
realize as early as the forties that new and dangerous tendencies were
affecting the republic and threatening to falsify its promise of a wide
diffusion of welfare. That decade is notable in American history for the
popular interest taken in the discussion of the possibility of a better
social order, and for the numerous experiments undertaken to test the
feasibility of dispensing with the private capitalist by co-operative
industry. Already the more intelligent and public-spirited citizens were
beginning to observe that their so-called popular government did not seem
to interfere in the slightest degree with the rule of the rich and the
subjection of the masses to economic masters, and to wonder, if that were
to continue to be so, of exactly how much value the so-called republican
institutions were on which they had so prided themselves.

"'This nascent agitation of the social question on radical lines was,
however, for the time destined to prove abortive by force of a condition
peculiar to America--namely, the existence on a vast scale of African
chattel slavery in the country. It was fitting in the evolution of
complete human liberty that this form of bondage, cruder and more brutal,
if not on the whole more cruel, than wage slavery, should first be put
out of the way. But for this necessity and the conditions that produced
it, we may believe that the great Revolution would have occurred in
America twenty-five years earlier. From the period of 1840 to 1870 the
slavery issue, involving as it did a conflict of stupendous forces,
absorbed all the moral and mental as well as physical energies of the

"'During the thirty or forty years from the serious beginning of the
antislavery movement till the war was ended and its issues disposed of,
the nation had no thought to spare for any other interests. During this
period the concentration of capital in few hands, already alarming to the
far-sighted in the forties, had time, almost unobserved and quite
unresisted, to push its conquest of the country and the people. Under
cover of the civil war, with its preceding and succeeding periods of
agitation over the issues of the war, the capitalists may be said to have
stolen a march upon the nation and intrenched themselves in a commanding

"'Eighteen seventy-three is the point, as near as any date, at which the
country, delivered at last from the distracting ethical, and sectional
issues of slavery, first began to open its eyes to the irrepressible
conflict which the growth of capitalism had forced--a conflict between
the power of wealth and the democratic idea of the equal right of all to
life, liberty, and happiness. From about this time we date, therefore,
the beginning of the final or revolutionary period of the pseudo-American
Republic which resulted in the establishment of the present system.

"'History had furnished abundant previous illustrations of the overthrow
of republican societies by the growth and concentration of private
wealth, but never before had it recorded a revolution in the economic
basis of a great nation at once so complete and so swiftly effected. In
America before the war, as we have seen, wealth had been distributed with
a general effect of evenness never previously known in a large community.
There had been few rich men and very few considerable fortunes. It had
been in the power neither of individuals nor a class, through the
possession of overwhelming capital, to exercise oppression upon the rest
of the community. In the short space of twenty-five to thirty years these
economic conditions had been so completely reversed as to give America in
the seventies and eighties the name of the land of millionaires, and make
it famous to the ends of the earth as the country of all others where the
vastest private accumulations of wealth existed. The consequences of this
amazing concentration of wealth formerly so equally diffused, as it had
affected the industrial, the social, and the political interests of the
people, could not have been other than revolutionary.

"'Free competition in business had ceased to exist. Personal initiative
in industrial enterprises, which formerly had been open to all, was
restricted to the capitalists, and to the larger capitalists at that.
Formerly known all over the world as the land of opportunities, America
had in the time of a generation become equally celebrated as the land of
monopolies. A man no longer counted chiefly for what he was, but for what
he had. Brains and industry, if coupled with civility, might indeed win
an upper servant's place in the employ of capital, but no longer could
command a career.

"'The concentration of the economic administration of the country in the
hands of a comparatively small body of great capitalists had necessarily
consolidated and centralized in a corresponding manner all the functions
of production and distribution. Single great concerns, backed by enormous
aggregations of capital, had appropriated tracts of the business field
formerly occupied by innumerable smaller concerns. In this process, as a
matter of course, swarms of small businesses were crushed like flies, and
their former independent proprietors were fortunate to find places as
underlings in the great establishments which had supplanted them.
Straight through the seventies and eighties, every month, every week,
every day saw some fresh province of the economic state, some new branch
of industry or commerce formerly open to the enterprise of all, captured
by a combination of capitalists and turned into an intrenched camp of
monopoly. The words _syndicate_ and _trust_ were coined to
describe these monstrous growths, for which the former language of the
business world had no name.

"'Of the two great divisions of the working masses it would be hard to
say whether the wage-earner or the farmer had suffered most by the
changed order. The old personal relationship and kindly feeling between
employee and employer had passed away. The great aggregations of capital
which had taken the place of the former employers were impersonal forces,
which knew the worker no longer as a man, but as a unit of force. He was
merely a tool in the employ of a machine, the managers of which regarded
him as a necessary nuisance, who must unfortunately be retained at the
least possible expense, until he could be invented wholly out of
existence by some new mechanical contrivance.

"'The economic function and possibilities of the farmer had similarly
been dwarfed or cut off as a result of the concentration of the business
system of the country in the hands of a few. The railroads and the grain
market had, between them, absorbed the former profits of farming, and
left the farmer only the wages of a day laborer in case of a good crop,
and a mortgage debt in case of a bad one; and all this, moreover, coupled
with the responsibilities of a capitalist whose money was invested in his
farm. This latter responsibility, however, did not long continue to
trouble the farmer, for, as naturally might be supposed, the only way he
could exist from year to year under such conditions was by contracting
debts without the slightest prospect of paying them, which presently led
to the foreclosure of his land, and his reduction from the once proud
estate of an American farmer to that of a tenant on his way to become a

"'From 1873 to 1896 the histories quote some six distinct business
crises. The periods of rallying between them were, however, so brief that
we may say a continuous crisis existed during a large part of that
period. Now, business crises had been numerous and disastrous in the
early and middle epoch of the republic, but the business system, resting
at that time on a widely extended popular initiative, had shown itself
quickly and strongly elastic, and the rallies that promptly followed the
crashes had always led to a greater prosperity than that before enjoyed.
But this elasticity, with the cause of it, was now gone. There was little
or slow reaction after the crises of the seventies, eighties, and early
nineties, but, on the contrary, a scarcely interrupted decline of prices,
wages, and the general prosperity and content of the farming and
wage-earning masses.

"'There could not be a more striking proof of the downward tendency in
the welfare of the wage-earner and the farmer than the deteriorating
quality and dwindling volume of foreign immigration which marked the
period. The rush of European emigrants to the United States as the land
of promise for the poor, since its beginning half a century before, had
continued with increasing volume, and drawn to us a great population from
the best stocks of the Old World. Soon after the war the character of the
immigration began to change, and during the eighties and nineties came to
be almost entirely made up of the lowest, most wretched, and barbarous
races of Europe--the very scum of the continent. Even to secure these
wretched recruits the agents of the transatlantic steamers and the
American land syndicates had to send their agents all over the worst
districts of Europe and flood the countries with lying circulars. Matters
had come to the point that no European peasant or workingman, who was yet
above the estate of a beggar or an exile, could any longer afford to
share the lot of the American workingman and farmer, so little time
before the envy of the toiling world.

"'While the politicians sought, especially about election time, to cheer
the workingman with the assurance of better times just ahead, the more
serious economic writers seem to have frankly admitted that the
superiority formerly enjoyed by American workingmen over those of other
countries could not be expected to last longer, that the tendency
henceforward was to be toward a world-wide level of prices and
wages--namely, the level of the country where they were lowest. In
keeping with this prediction we note that for the first time, about the
beginning of the nineties, the American employer began to find himself,
through the reduced cost of production in which wages were the main
element, in a position to undersell in foreign markets the products of
the slave gangs of British, Belgian, French, and German capitalists.

"'It was during this period, when the economic distress of the masses was
creating industrial war and making revolutionists of the most contented
and previously prosperous agricultural population in history, that the
vastest private fortunes in the history of the world were being
accumulated. The millionaire, who had been unknown before the war and was
still an unusual and portentous figure in the early seventies, was
presently succeeded by the multimillionaire, and above the
multimillionaires towered yet a new race of economic Titans, the hundred
millionaires, and already the coming of the billionaire was being
discussed. It is not difficult, nor did the people of the time find it
so, to see, in view of this comparison, where the wealth went which the
masses were losing. Tens of thousands of modest competencies disappeared,
to reappear in colossal fortunes in single hands. Visibly as the body of
the spider swells as he sucks the juices of his victims, had these vast
aggregations grown in measure as the welfare of the once prosperous
people had shrunk away.

"'The social consequences of so complete an overthrow of the former
economic equilibrium as had taken place could not have been less than
revolutionary. In America, before the war, the accumulations of wealth
were usually the result of the personal efforts of the possessor and were
consequently small and correspondingly precarious. It was a saying of the
time that there were usually but three generations from shirt-sleeves to
shirt-sleeves--meaning that if a man accumulated a little wealth, his son
generally lost it, and the grandson was again a manual laborer. Under
these circumstances the economic disparities, slight at most and
constantly fluctuating, entirely failed to furnish a basis for class
distinctions. There were recognized no laboring class as such, no leisure
class, no fixed classes of rich and poor. Riches or poverty, the
condition of being at leisure or obliged to work were considered merely
temporary accidents of fortune and not permanent conditions. All this was
now changed. The great fortunes of the new order of things by their very
magnitude were stable acquisitions, not easily liable to be lost, capable
of being handed down from generation to generation with almost as much
security as a title of nobility. On the other hand, the monopolization of
all the valuable economic opportunities in the country by the great
capitalists made it correspondingly impossible for those not of the
capitalist class to attain wealth. The hope of becoming rich some day,
which before the war every energetic American had cherished, was now
practically beyond the horizon of the man born to poverty. Between rich
and poor the door was henceforth shut. The way up, hitherto the social
safety valve, had been closed, and the bar weighted with money bags.

"'A natural reflex of the changed social conditions of the country is
seen in the new class terminology, borrowed from the Old World, which
soon after the war crept into use in the United States. It had been the
boast of the former American that everybody in this country was a
workingman; but now that term we find more and more frankly employed to
distinguish the poor from the well-to-do. For the first time in American
literature we begin to read of the lower classes, the upper classes, and
the middle classes--terms which would have been meaningless in America
before the war, but now corresponded so closely with the real facts of
the situation that those who detested them most could not avoid their

"'A prodigious display of luxury such as Europe could not rival had begun
to characterize the manner of life of the possessors of the new and
unexampled fortunes. Spectacles of gilded splendor, of royal pomp and
boundless prodigality mocked the popular discontent and brought out in
dazzling light the width and depth of the gulf that was being fixed
between the masters and the masses.

"'Meanwhile the money kings took no pains to disguise the fullness of
their conviction that the day of democracy was passing and the dream of
equality nearly at an end. As the popular feeling in America had grown
bitter against them they had responded with frank indications of their
dislike of the country and disgust with its democratic institutions. The
leading American millionaires had become international personages,
spending the greater part of their time and their revenue in European
countries, sending their children there for education and in some
instances carrying their preference for the Old World to the extent of
becoming subjects of foreign powers. The disposition on the part of the
greater American capitalists to turn their backs upon democracy and ally
themselves with European and monarchical institutions was emphasized in a
striking manner by the long list of marriages arranged during this period
between great American heiresses and foreign noblemen. It seemed to be
considered that the fitting destiny for the daughter of an American
multimillionaire was such a union. These great capitalists were very
shrewd in money matters, and their investments of vast sums in the
purchase of titles for their posterity was the strongest evidence they
could give of a sincere conviction that the future of the world, like its
past, belonged not to the people but to class and privilege.

"'The influence exercised over the political government by the moneyed
class under the convenient euphemism of "the business interests," which
merely meant the interests of the rich, had always been considerable, and
at times caused grave scandals. In measure as the wealth of the country
had become concentrated and allied, its influence in the government had
naturally increased, and during the seventies, eighties, and nineties it
became a scarcely veiled dictatorship. Lest the nominal representatives
of the people should go astray in doing the will of the capitalists, the
latter were represented by bodies of picked agents at all the places of
government. These agents closely followed the conduct of all public
officials, and wherever there was any wavering in their fidelity to the
capitalists, were able to bring to bear influences of intimidation or
bribery which were rarely unsuccessful. These bodies of agents had a
recognized semi-legal place in the political system of the day under the
name of lobbyists.

"'The history of government contains few more shameful chapters than that
which records how during this period the Legislatures--municipal, State,
and national--seconded by the Executives and the courts, vied with each
other by wholesale grants of land, privileges, franchises, and monopolies
of all kinds, in turning over the country, its resources, and its people
to the domination of the capitalists, their heirs and assigns forever.
The public lands, which a few decades before had promised a boundless
inheritance to future generations, were ceded in vast domains to
syndicates and individual capitalists, to be held against the people as
the basis of a future territorial aristocracy with tributary populations
of peasants. Not only had the material substance of the national
patrimony been thus surrendered to a handful of the people, but in the
fields of commerce and of industry all the valuable economic
opportunities had been secured by franchises to monopolies, precluding
future generations from opportunity of livelihood or employment, save as
the dependents and liegemen of a hereditary capitalist class. In the
chronicles of royal misdoings there have been many dark chapters
recording how besotted or imbecile monarchs have sold their people into
bondage and sapped the welfare of their realms to enrich licentious
favorites, but the darkest of those chapters is bright beside that which
records the sale of the heritage and hopes of the American people to the
highest bidder by the so-called democratic State, national, and local
governments during the period of which we are speaking.

"'Especially necessary had it become for the plutocracy to be able to use
the powers of government at will, on account of the embittered and
desperate temper of the working masses.

"'The labor strikes often resulted in disturbances too extensive to be
dealt with by the police, and it became the common practice of the
capitalists, in case of serious strikes, to call on the State and
national governments to furnish troops to protect their property
interest. The principal function of the militia of the States had become
the suppression of strikes with bullet or bayonet, or the standing guard
over the plants of the capitalists, till hunger compelled the insurgent
workmen to surrender.

"'During the eighties the State governments entered upon a general policy
of preparing the militia for this new and ever-enlarging field of
usefulness. The National Guard was turned into a Capitalist Guard. The
force was generally reorganized, increased in numbers, improved in
discipline, and trained with especial reference to the business of
shooting riotous workingmen. The drill in street firing--a quite new
feature in the training of the American militiaman, and a most ominous
one--became the prominent test of efficiency. Stone and brick armories,
fortified against attack, loopholed for musketry and mounted with guns to
sweep the streets, were erected at the strategic points of the large
cities. In some instances the militia, which, after all, was pretty near
the people, had, however, shown such unwillingness to fire on strikers
and such symptoms of sympathy for their grievances, that the capitalists
did not trust them fully, but in serious cases preferred to depend on the
pitiless professional soldiers of the General Government, the regulars.
Consequently, the Government, upon request of the capitalists, adopted
the policy of establishing fortified camps near the great cities, and
posting heavy garrisons in them. The Indian wars were ceasing at about
this time, and the troops that had been stationed on the Western plains
to protect the white settlements from the Indians were brought East to
protect the capitalists from the white settlements. Such was the
evolution of private capitalism.

"'The extent and practical character of the use to which the capitalists
intended to put the military arm of the Government in their controversy
with the workingmen may be judged from the fact that in single years of
the early nineties armies of eight and ten thousand men were on the
march, in New York and Pennsylvania, to suppress strikes. In 1892 the
militia of five States, aided by the regulars, were under arms against
strikers simultaneously, the aggregate force of troops probably making a
larger body than General Washington ever commanded. Here surely was civil
war already.

"'Americans of the former days had laughed scornfully at the
bayonet-propped monarchies of Europe, saying rightly that a government
which needed to be defended by force from its own people was a
self-confessed failure. To this pass, however, the industrial system of
the United States was fast coming--it was becoming a government by

"'Thus briefly, and without attempt at detail, may be recapitulated some
of the main aspects of the transformation in the condition of the
American people, resulting from the concentration of the wealth of the
country, which first began to excite serious alarm at the close of the
civil war.

"'It might almost be said that the citizen armies of the North had
returned from saving the republic from open foes, to find that it had
been stolen from them by more stealthy but far more dangerous enemies
whom they had left at home. While they had been putting down caste rule
based on race at the South, class rule based on wealth had been set up at
the North, to be in time extended over South and North alike. While the
armies of the people had been shedding rivers of blood in the effort to
preserve the political unity of the nation, its social unity, upon which
the very life of a republic depends, had been attacked by the beginnings
of class divisions, which could only end by splitting the once coherent
nation into mutually suspicious and inimical bodies of citizens,
requiring the iron bands of despotism to hold them together in a
political organization. Four million negroes had indeed been freed from
chattel slavery, but meanwhile a nation of white men had passed under the
yoke of an economic and social vassalage which, though the common fate of
European peoples and of the ancient world, the founders of the republic
had been proudly confident their posterity would never wear.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

The doctor closed the book from which he had been reading and laid it

"Julian," he said, "this story of the subversion of the American Republic
by the plutocracy is an astounding one. You were a witness of the
situation it describes, and are able to judge whether the statements are

"On the contrary," I replied, "I should think you had been reading aloud
from a collection of newspapers of the period. All the political, social,
and business facts and symptoms to which the writer has referred were
matters of public discussion and common notoriety. If they did not
impress me as they do now, it is simply because I imagine I never heard
them grouped and marshaled with the purpose of bringing out their

Once more the doctor asked Edith to bring him a book from the library.
Turning the pages until he had found the desired place, he said:

"Lest you should fancy that the force of Storiot's statement of the
economic situation in the United States during the last third of the
nineteenth century owes anything to the rhetorical arrangement, I want to
give you just a few hard, cold statistics as to the actual distribution
of property during that period, showing the extent to which its ownership
had been concentrated. Here is a volume made up of information on this
subject based upon analyses of census reports, tax assessments, the files
of probate courts, and other official documents. I will give you three
sets of calculations, each prepared by a separate authority and based
upon a distinct line of investigation, and all agreeing with a closeness
which, considering the magnitude of the calculation, is astounding, and
leaves no room to doubt the substantial accuracy of the conclusions.

"From the first set of tables, which was prepared in 1893 by a census
official from the returns of the United States census, we find it
estimated that out of sixty-two billions of wealth in the country a group
of millionaires and multimillionaires, representing three one-hundredths
of one per cent of the population, owned twelve billions, or one fifth.
Thirty-three billions of the rest was owned by a little less than nine
per cent of the American people, being the rich and well-to-do class less
than millionaires. That is, the millionaires, rich, and well-to-do,
making altogether but nine per cent of the whole nation, owned forty-five
billions of the total national valuation of sixty-two billions. The
remaining ninety-one per cent of the whole nation, constituting the bulk
of the people, were classed as the poor, and divided among themselves the
remaining seventeen million dollars.

"A second table, published in 1894 and based upon the surrogates' records
of estates in the great State of New York, estimates that one per cent of
the people, one one-hundredth of the nation, possessed over half, or
fifty-five per cent, of its total wealth. It finds that a further
fraction of the population, including the well-to-do, and amounting to
eleven per cent, owned over thirty-two per cent of the total wealth, so
that twelve per cent of the whole nation, including the very rich and the
well-to-do, monopolized eighty-seven per cent of the total wealth of the
country, leaving but thirteen per cent of that wealth to be shared among
the remaining eighty-eight per cent of the nation. This eighty-eight per
cent of the nation was subdivided into the poor and the very poor. The
last, constituting fifty per cent out of the eighty-eight, or half the
entire nation, had too little wealth to be estimated at all, apparently
living a hand-to-mouth existence.

"The estimates of a third computator whom I shall quote, although taken
from quite different data, agree remarkably with the others, representing
as they do about the same period. These last estimates, which were
published in 1889 and 1891, and like the others produced a strong
impression, divide the nation into three classes--the rich, the middle,
and the working class. The rich, being one and four tenths per cent of
the population, are credited with seventy per cent of the total wealth.
The middle class, representing nine and two tenths per cent of the
population, is credited with twelve per cent of the total wealth, the
rich and middle classes, together, representing ten and six tenths per
cent of the population, having therefore eighty-two per cent of the total
wealth, leaving to the working class, which constituted eighty-nine and
four tenths of the nation, but eighteen per cent of the wealth, to share
among them."

"Doctor," I exclaimed, "I knew things were pretty unequally divided in my
day, but figures like these are overwhelming. You need not take the
trouble to tell me anything further by way of explaining why the people
revolted against private capitalism. These figures were enough to turn
the very stones into revolutionists."

"I thought you would say so," replied the doctor. "And please remember
also that these tremendous figures represent only the progress made
toward the concentration of wealth mainly within the period of a single
generation. Well might Americans say to themselves 'If such things are
done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?' If private
capitalism, dealing with a community in which had previously existed a
degree of economic equality never before known, could within a period of
some thirty years make such a prodigious stride toward the complete
expropriation of the rest of the nation for the enrichment of a class,
what was likely to be left to the people at the end of a century? What
was to be left even to the next generation?"



"So much for the causes of the Revolution in America, both the general
fundamental cause, consisting in the factor newly introduced into social
evolution by the enlightenment of the masses and irresistibly tending to
equality, and the immediate local causes peculiar to America, which
account for the Revolution having come at the particular time it did and
for its taking the particular course it did. Now, briefly as to that

"The pinching of the economic shoe resulting from the concentration of
wealth was naturally first felt by the class with least reserves, the
wage-earners, and the Revolution may be said to have begun with their
revolt. In 1869 the first great labor organization in America was formed
to resist the power of capital. Previous to the war the number of strikes
that had taken place in the country could be counted on the fingers.
Before the sixties were out they were counted by hundreds, during the
seventies by thousands, and during the eighties the labor reports
enumerate nearly ten thousand, involving two or three million workers.
Many of these strikes were of continental scope, shaking the whole
commercial fabric and causing general panics.

"Close after the revolt of the wage earners came that of the
farmers--less turbulent in methods but more serious and abiding in
results. This took the form of secret leagues and open political parties
devoted to resisting what was called the money power. Already in the
seventies these organizations threw State and national politics into
confusion, and later became the nucleus of the revolutionary party.

"Your contemporaries of the thinking classes can not be taxed with
indifference to these signs and portents. The public discussion and
literature of the time reflect the confusion and anxiety with which the
unprecedented manifestations of popular discontent had affected all
serious persons. The old-fashioned Fourth-of-July boastings had ceased to
be heard in the land. All agreed that somehow republican forms of
government had not fulfilled their promise as guarantees of the popular
welfare, but were showing themselves impotent to prevent the
recrudescence in the New World of all the Old World's evils, especially
those of class and caste, which it had been supposed could never exist in
the atmosphere of a republic. It was recognized on all sides that the old
order was changing for the worse, and that the republic and all it had
been thought to stand for was in danger. It was the universal cry that
something must be done to check the ruinous tendency. Reform was the word
in everybody's mouth, and the rallying cry, whether in sincerity or
pretense, of every party. But indeed, Julian, I need waste no time
describing this state of affairs to you, for you were a witness of it
till 1887."

"It was all quite as you describe it, the industrial and political
warfare and turmoil, the general sense that the country was going wrong,
and the universal cry for some sort of reform. But, as I said before, the
agitation, while alarming enough, was too confused and purposeless to
seem revolutionary. All agreed that something ailed the country, but no
two agreed what it was or how to cure it."

"Just so," said the doctor. "Our historians divide the entire
revolutionary epoch--from the close of the war, or the beginning of the
seventies, to the establishment of the present order early in the
twentieth century--into two periods, the incoherent and the rational. The
first of these is the period of which we have been talking, and with
which Storiot deals with in the paragraphs I have read--the period with
which you were, for the most part, contemporary. As we have seen, and you
know better than we can, it was a time of terror and tumult, of confused
and purposeless agitation, and a Babel of contradictory clamor. The
people were blindly kicking in the dark against the pricks of capitalism,
without any clear idea of what they were kicking against.

"The two great divisions of the toilers, the wage-earners and the
farmers, were equally far from seeing clear and whole the nature
of the situation and the forces of which they were the victims. The
wage-earners' only idea was that by organizing the artisans and manual
workers their wages could be forced up and maintained indefinitely. They
seem to have had absolutely no more knowledge than children of the effect
of the profit system always and inevitably to keep the consuming power of
the community indefinitely below its producing power and thus to maintain
a constant state of more or less aggravated glut in the goods and labor
markets, and that nothing could possibly prevent the constant presence of
these conditions so long as the profit system was tolerated, or their
effect finally to reduce the wage-earner to the subsistence point or
below as profits tended downward. Until the wage-earners saw this and no
longer wasted their strength in hopeless or trivial strikes against
individual capitalists which could not possibly affect the general
result, and united to overthrow the profit system, the Revolution must
wait, and the capitalists had no reason to disturb themselves.

"As for the farmers, as they were not wage-earners, they took no
interest in the plans of the latter, which aimed merely to benefit the
wage-earning class, but devoted themselves to equally futile schemes for
their class, in which, for the same reason that they were merely class
remedies, the wage-earners took no interest. Their aim was to obtain aid
from the Government to improve their condition as petty capitalists
oppressed by the greater capitalists who controlled the traffic and
markets of the country; as if any conceivable device, so long as private
capitalism should be tolerated, would prevent its natural evolution,
which was the crushing of the smaller capitalists by the larger.

"Their main idea seems to have been that their troubles as farmers were
chiefly if not wholly to be accounted for by certain vicious acts of
financial legislation, the effect of which they held had been to make
money scarce and dear. What they demanded as the sufficient cure of the
existing evils was the repeal of the vicious legislation and a larger
issue of currency. This they believed would be especially beneficial to
the farming class by reducing the interest on their debts and raising the
price of their product.

"Undoubtedly the currency and the coinage and the governmental financial
system in general had been shamelessly abused by the capitalists to
corner the wealth of the nation in their hands, but their misuse of this
part of the economic machinery had been no worse than their manipulation
of the other portions of the system. Their trickery with the currency had
only helped them to monopolize the wealth of the people a little faster
than they would have done it had they depended for their enrichment on
what were called the legitimate operations of rent, interest, and
profits. While a part of their general policy of economic subjugation of
the people, the manipulation of the currency had not been essential to
that policy, which would have succeeded just as certainly had it been
left out. The capitalists were under no necessity to juggle with the
coinage had they been content to make a little more leisurely process of
devouring the lands and effects of the people. For that result no
particular form of currency system was necessary, and no conceivable
monetary system would have prevented it. Gold, silver, paper, dear money,
cheap money, hard money, bad money, good money--every form of token from
cowries to guineas--had all answered equally well in different times and
countries for the designs of the capitalist, the details of the game
being only slightly modified according to the conditions.

"To have convinced himself of the folly of ascribing the economic
distress to which his class as well as the people at large had been
reduced, to an act of Congress relating to the currency, the American
farmer need only have looked abroad to foreign lands, where he would have
seen that the agricultural class everywhere was plunged in a misery
greater than his own, and that, too, without the slightest regard to the
nature of the various monetary systems in use.

"Was it indeed a new or strange phenomenon in human affairs that the
agriculturists were going to the wall, that the American farmer should
seek to account for the fact by some new and peculiarly American policy?
On the contrary, this had been the fate of the agricultural class in all
ages, and what was now threatening the American tiller of the soil was
nothing other than the doom which had befallen his kind in every previous
generation and in every part of the world. Manifestly, then, he should
seek the explanation not in any particular or local conjunction of
circumstances, but in some general and always operative cause. This
general cause, operative in all lands and times and among all races, he
would presently see when he should interrogate history, was the
irresistible tendency by which the capitalist class in the evolution of
any society through rent, interest, and profits absorbs to itself the
whole wealth of the country, and thus reduces the masses of the people to
economic, social, and political subjection, the most abject class of all
being invariably the tillers of the soil. For a time the American
population, including the farmers, had been enabled, thanks to the vast
bounty of a virgin and empty continent, to evade the operation of this
universal law, but the common fate was now about to overtake them, and
nothing would avail to avert it save the overthrow of the system of
private capitalism of which it always had been and always must be the
necessary effect.

"Time would fail even to mention the innumerable reform nostrums offered
for the cure of the nation by smaller bodies of reformers. They ranged
from the theory of the prohibitionists that the chief cause of the
economic distress--from which the teetotal farmers of the West were the
worst sufferers--was the use of intoxicants, to that of the party which
agreed that the nation was being divinely chastised because there was no
formal recognition of the Trinity in the Constitution. Of course, these
were extravagant persons, but even those who recognized the concentration
of wealth as the cause of the whole trouble quite failed to see that this
concentration was itself the natural evolution of private capitalism, and
that it was not possible to prevent it or any of its consequences unless
and until private capitalism itself should be put an end to.

"As might be expected, efforts at resistance so ill calculated as these
demonstrations of the wage-earners and farmers, not to speak of the host
of petty sects of so-called reformers during the first phase of the
Revolution, were ineffectual. The great labor organizations which had
sprung up shortly after the war as soon as the wage-earners felt the
necessity of banding themselves to resist the yoke of concentrated
capital, after twenty-five years of fighting, had demonstrated their
utter inability to maintain, much less to improve, the condition of the
workingman. During this period ten or fifteen thousand recorded strikes
and lock-outs had taken place, but the net result of the industrial civil
war, protracted through so long a period, had been to prove to the
dullest of workingmen the hopelessness of securing any considerable
amelioration of their lot by class action or organization, or indeed of
even maintaining it against encroachments. After all this unexampled
suffering and fighting, the wage-earners found themselves worse off than
ever. Nor had the farmers, the other great division of the insurgent
masses, been any more successful in resisting the money power. Their
leagues, although controlling votes by the million, had proved even more
impotent if possible than the wage-earners' organizations to help their
members. Even where they had been apparently successful and succeeded in
capturing the political control of states, they found the money power
still able by a thousand indirect influences to balk their efforts and
turn their seeming victories into apples of Sodom, which became ashes in
the hands of those who would pluck them.

"Of the vast, anxious, and anguished volume of public discussion as to
what should be done, what after twenty-five years had been the practical
outcome? Absolutely nothing. If here and there petty reforms had been
introduced, on the whole the power of the evils against which those
reforms were directed had vastly increased. If the power of the
plutocracy in 1873 had been as the little finger of a man, in 1895 it was
thicker than his loins. Certainly, so far as superficial and material
indications went, it looked as if the battle had been going thus far
steadily, swiftly, and hopelessly against the people, and that the
American capitalists who expended their millions in buying titles of
nobility for their children were wiser in their generation than the
children of light and better judges of the future.

"Nevertheless, no conclusion could possibly have been more mistaken.
During these decades of apparently unvaried failure and disaster the
revolutionary movement for the complete overthrow of private capitalism
had made a progress which to rational minds should have presaged its
complete triumph in the near future."

"Where had the progress been?" I said; "I don't see any."

"In the development among, the masses of the people of the necessary
revolutionary temper," replied the doctor; "in the preparation of the
popular mind by the only process that could have prepared it, to accept
the programme of a radical reorganization of the economic system from the
ground up. A great revolution, you must remember, which is to profoundly
change a form of society, must accumulate a tremendous moral force, an
overwhelming weight of justification, so to speak, behind it before it
can start. The processes by which and the period during which this
accumulation of impulse is effected are by no means so spectacular as the
events of the subsequent period when the revolutionary movement, having
obtained an irresistible momentum, sweeps away like straws the obstacles
that so long held it back only to swell its force and volume at last. But
to the student the period of preparation is the more truly interesting
and critical field of study. It was absolutely necessary that the
American people, before they would seriously think of undertaking so
tremendous a reformation as was implied in the substitution of public for
private capitalism, should be fully convinced not by argument only, but
by abundant bitter experience and convincing object lessons, that no
remedy for the evils of the time less complete or radical would suffice.
They must become convinced by numerous experiments that private
capitalism had evolved to a point where it was impossible to amend it
before they would listen to the proposition to end it. This painful but
necessary experience the people were gaining during the earlier decades
of the struggle. In this way the innumerable defeats, disappointments,
and fiascoes which met their every effort at curbing and reforming the
money power during the seventies, eighties, and early nineties,
contributed far more than as many victories would have done to the
magnitude and completeness of the final triumph of the people. It was
indeed necessary that all these things should come to pass to make the
Revolution possible. It was necessary that the system of private and
class tyranny called private capitalism should fill up the measure of its
iniquities and reveal all it was capable of, as the irreconcilable enemy
of democracy, the foe of life and liberty and human happiness, in order
to insure that degree of momentum to the coming uprising against it which
was necessary to guarantee its complete and final overthrow. Revolutions
which start too soon stop too soon, and the welfare of the race demanded
that this revolution should not cease, nor pause, until the last vestige
of the system by which men usurped power over the lives and liberties of
their fellows through economic means was destroyed. Therefore not one
outrage, not one act of oppression, not one exhibition of conscienceless
rapacity, not one prostitution of power on the part of Executive,
Legislature, or judiciary, not one tear of patriotic shame over the
degradation of the national name, not one blow of the policeman's
bludgeon, not a single bullet or bayonet thrust of the soldiery, could
have been spared. Nothing but just this discipline of failure,
disappointment, and defeat on the part of the earlier reformers could
have educated the people to the necessity of attacking the system of
private capitalism in its existence instead of merely in its particular

"We reckon the beginning of the second part of the revolutionary movement
to which we give the name of the coherent or rational phase, from the
time when there became apparent a clear conception, on the part of at
least a considerable body of the people, of the true nature of the issue
as one between the rights of man and the principle of irresponsible power
embodied in private capitalism, and the realization that its outcome, if
the people were to triumph, must be the establishment of a wholly new
economic system which should be based upon the public control in the
public interest of the system of production and distribution hitherto
left to private management."

"At about what date," I asked, "do you consider that the revolutionary
movement began to pass from the incoherent into the logical phase?"

"Of course," replied the doctor, "it was not the case of an immediate
outright change of character, but only of the beginning of a new spirit
and intelligence. The confusion and incoherence and short-sightedness of
the first period long overlapped the time when the infusion of a more
rational spirit and adequate ideal began to appear, but from about the
beginning of the nineties we date the first appearance of an intelligent
purpose in the revolutionary movement and the beginning of its
development from a mere formless revolt against intolerable conditions
into a logical and self-conscious evolution toward the order of to-day."

"It seems I barely missed it."

"Yes," replied the doctor, "if you had been able to keep awake only a
year or two longer you would not have been so wholly surprised by our
industrial system, and especially by the economic equality for and by
which it exists, for within a couple of years after your supposed demise
the possibility that such a social order might be the outcome of the
existing crisis was being discussed from one end of America to the other.

"Of course," the doctor went on, "the idea of an integrated economic
system co-ordinating the efforts of all for the common welfare, which is
the basis of the modern state, is as old as philosophy. As a theory it
dates back to Plato at least, and nobody knows how much further, for it
is a conception of the most natural and obvious order. Not, however,
until popular government had been made possible by the diffusion of
intelligence was the world ripe for the realization of such a form of
society. Until that time the idea, like the soul waiting for a fit
incarnation, must remain without social embodiment. Selfish rulers
thought of the masses only as instruments for their own aggrandizement,
and if they had interested themselves in a more exact organization of
industry it would only have been with a view of making that organization
the means of a more complete tyranny. Not till the masses themselves
became competent to rule was a serious agitation possible or desirable
for an economic organization on a co-operative basis. With the first
stirrings of the democratic spirit in Europe had come the beginning of
earnest discussion as to the feasibility of such a social order. Already,
by the middle of the century, this agitation in the Old World had become,
to discerning eyes, one of the signs of the times, but as yet America, if
we except the brief and abortive social experiments in the forties, had
remained wholly unresponsive to the European movement.

"I need not repeat that the reason, of course, was the fact that the
economic conditions in America had been more satisfactory to the masses
than ever before, or anywhere else in the world. The individualistic
method of making a living, every man for himself, had answered the
purpose on the whole so well that the people did not care to discuss
other methods. The powerful motive necessary to rouse the sluggish and
habit-bound minds of the masses and interest them in a new and
revolutionary set of ideas was lacking. Even during the early stage of
the revolutionary period it had been found impossible to obtain any
hearing for the notions of a new economic order which were already
agitating Europe. It was not till the close of the eighties that the
total and ridiculous failure of twenty years of desperate efforts to
reform the abuses of private capitalism had prepared the American people
to give serious attention to the idea of dispensing with the capitalist
altogether by a public organization of industry to be administered like
other common affairs in the common interest.

"The two great points of the revolutionary programme--the principle of
economic equality and a nationalized industrial system as its means and
pledge--the American people were peculiarly adapted to understand and
appreciate. The lawyers had made a Constitution of the United States, but
the true American constitution--the one written on the people's
hearts--had always remained the immortal Declaration with its assertion
of the inalienable equality of all men. As to the nationalization of
industry, while it involved a set of consequences which would completely
transform society, the principle on which the proposition was based, and
to which it appealed for justification, was not new to Americans in any
sense, but, on the contrary, was merely a logical development of the idea
of popular self-government on which the American system was founded. The
application of this principle to the regulation of the economic
administration was indeed a use of it which was historically new, but it
was one so absolutely and obviously implied in the content of the idea
that, as soon as it was proposed, it was impossible that any sincere
democrat should not be astonished that so plain and common-sense a
corollary of popular government had waited so long for recognition. The
apostles of a collective administration of the economic system in the
common interest had in Europe a twofold task: first, to teach the general
doctrine of the absolute right of the people to govern, and then to show
the economic application of that right. To Americans, however, it was
only necessary to point out an obvious although hitherto overlooked
application of a principle already fully accepted as an axiom.

"The acceptance of the new ideal did not imply merely a change in
specific programmes, but a total facing about of the revolutionary
movement. It had thus far been an attempt to resist the new economic
conditions being imposed by the capitalists by bringing back the former
economic conditions through the restoration of free competition as it had
existed before the war. This was an effort of necessity hopeless, seeing
that the economic changes which had taken place were merely the necessary
evolution of any system of private capitalism, and could not be
successfully resisted while the system was retained.

"'Face about!' was the new word of command. 'Fight forward, not backward!
March with the course of economic evolution, not against it. The
competitive system can never be restored, neither is it worthy of
restoration, having been at best an immoral, wasteful, brutal scramble
for existence. New issues demand new answers. It is in vain to pit the
moribund system of competition against the young giant of private
monopoly; it must rather be opposed by the greater giant of public
monopoly. The consolidation of business in private interests must be met
with greater consolidation in the public interest, the trust and the
syndicate with the city, State, and nation, capitalism with nationalism.
The capitalists have destroyed the competitive system. Do not try to
restore it, but rather thank them for the work, if not the motive, and
set about, not to rebuild the old village of hovels, but to rear on the
cleared place the temple humanity so long has waited for.'

"By the light of the new teaching the people began to recognize that the
strait place into which the republic had come was but the narrow and
frowning portal of a future of universal welfare and happiness such as
only the Hebrew prophets had colors strong enough to paint.

"By the new philosophy the issue which had arisen between the people and
the plutocracy was seen not to be a strange and unaccountable or
deplorable event, but a necessary phase in the evolution of a democratic
society in passing from a lower to an incomparably higher plane, an issue
therefore to be welcomed not shunned, to be forced not evaded, seeing
that its outcome in the existing state of human enlightenment and
world-wide democratic sentiment could not be doubtful. By the road by
which every republic had toiled upward from the barren lowlands of early
hardship and poverty, just at the point where the steepness of the hill
had been overcome and a prospect opened of pleasant uplands of wealth and
prosperity, a sphinx had ever stood, propounding the riddle, 'How shall a
state combine the preservation of democratic equality with the increase
of wealth?' Simple indeed had been the answer, for it was only needful
that the people should so order their system of economy that wealth
should be equally shared as it increased, in order that, however great
the increase, it should in no way interfere with the equalities of the
people; for the great justice of equality is the well of political life
everlasting for peoples, whereof if a nation drink it may live forever.
Nevertheless, no republic before had been able to answer the riddle, and
therefore their bones whitened the hilltop, and not one had ever survived
to enter on the pleasant land in view. But the time had now come in the
evolution of human intelligence when the riddle so often asked and never
answered was to be answered aright, the sphinx made an end of, and the
road freed forever for all the nations.

"It was this note of perfect assurance, of confident and boundless hope,
which distinguished the new propaganda, and was the more commanding and
uplifting from its contrast with the blank pessimism on the one side of
the capitalist party, and the petty aims, class interests, short vision,
and timid spirit of the reformers who had hitherto opposed them.

"With a doctrine to preach of so compelling force and beauty, promising
such good things to men in so great want of them, it might seem that it
would require but a brief time to rally the whole people to its support.
And so it would doubtless have been if the machinery of public
information and direction had been in the hands of the reformers or in
any hands that were impartial, instead of being, as it was, almost wholly
in those of the capitalists. In previous periods the newspapers had not
represented large investments of capital, having been quite crude
affairs. For this very reason, however, they were more likely to
represent the popular feeling. In the latter part of the nineteenth
century a great newspaper with large circulation necessarily required a
vast investment of capital, and consequently the important newspapers of
the country were owned by capitalists and of course carried on in the
owners' interests. Except when the capitalists in control chanced to be
men of high principle, the great papers were therefore upon the side of
the existing order of things and against the revolutionary movement.
These papers monopolized the facilities of gathering and disseminating
public intelligence and thereby exercised a censorship, almost as
effective as that prevailing at the same time in Russia or Turkey, over
the greater part of the information which reached the people.

"Not only the press but the religious instruction of the people was under
the control of the capitalists. The churches were the pensioners of the
rich and well-to-do tenth of the people, and abjectly dependent on them
for the means of carrying on and extending their work. The universities
and institutions of higher learning were in like manner harnessed to the
plutocratic chariot by golden chains. Like the churches, they were
dependent for support and prosperity upon the benefactions of the rich,
and to offend them would have been suicidal. Moreover, the rich and
well-to-do tenth of the population was the only class which could afford
to send children to institutions of the secondary education, and they
naturally preferred schools teaching a doctrine comfortable to the
possessing class.

"If the reformers had been put in possession of press, pulpit, and
university, which the capitalists controlled, whereby to set home their
doctrine to the heart and mind and conscience of the nation, they would
have converted and carried the country in a month.

"Feeling how quickly the day would be theirs if they could but reach the
people, it was natural that they should chafe bitterly at the delay,
confronted as they were by the spectacle of humanity daily crucified
afresh and enduring an illimitable anguish which they knew was needless.
Who indeed would not have been impatient in their place, and cried as
they did, 'How long, O Lord, how long?' To men so situated, each day's
postponement of the great deliverance might well have seemed like a
century. Involved as they were in the din and dust of innumerable petty
combats, it was as difficult for them as for soldiers in the midst of a
battle to obtain an idea of the general course of the conflict and the
operation of the forces which would determine its issue. To us, however,
as we look back, the rapidity of the process by which during the nineties
the American people were won over to the revolutionary programme seems
almost miraculous, while as to the ultimate result there was, of course,
at no time the slightest ground of question.

"From about the beginning of the second phase of the revolutionary
movement, the literature of the times begins to reflect in the most
extraordinary manner a wholly new spirit of radical protest against the
injustices of the social order. Not only in the serious journals and
books of public discussion, but in fiction and in belles-lettres, the
subject of social reform becomes prominent and almost commanding. The
figures that have come down to us of the amazing circulation of some of
the books devoted to the advocacy of a radical social reorganization are
almost enough in themselves to explain the revolution. The antislavery
movement had one Uncle Tom's Cabin; the anticapitalist movement had many.

"A particularly significant fact was the extraordinary unanimity and
enthusiasm with which the purely agricultural communities of the far West
welcomed the new gospel of a new and equal economic system. In the past,
governments had always been prepared for revolutionary agitation among
the proletarian wage-earners of the cities, and had always counted on the
stolid conservatism of the agricultural class for the force to keep the
inflammable artisans down. But in this revolution it was the
agriculturists who were in the van. This fact alone should have
sufficiently foreshadowed the swift course and certain issue of the
struggle. At the beginning of the battle the capitalists had lost their

"At about the beginning of the nineties the revolutionary movement first
prominently appears in the political field. For twenty years after the
close of the civil war the surviving animosities between North and South
mainly determined party lines, and this fact, together with the lack of
agreement on a definite policy, had hitherto prevented the forces of
industrial discontent from making any striking political demonstration.
But toward the close of the eighties the diminished bitterness of feeling
between North and South left the people free to align themselves on the
new issue, which had been steadily looming up ever since the war, as the
irrepressible conflict of the near future--the struggle to the death
between democracy and plutocracy, between the rights of man and the
tyranny of capital in irresponsible hands.

"Although the idea of the public conduct of economic enterprises by
public agencies had never previously attracted attention or favor in
America, yet already in 1890, almost as soon as it began to be talked
about, political parties favoring its application to important branches
of business had polled heavy votes. In 1892 a party, organized in nearly
every State in the Union, cast a million votes in favor of nationalizing
at least the railroads, telegraphs, banking system, and other monopolized
businesses. Two years later the same party showed large gains, and in
1896 its platform was substantially adopted by one of the great historic
parties of the country, and the nation divided nearly equally on the

"The terror which this demonstration of the strength of the party of
social discontent caused among the possessing class seems at this
distance rather remarkable, seeing that its demands, while attacking many
important capitalist abuses, did not as yet directly assail the principle
of the private control of capital as the root of the whole social evil.
No doubt, what alarmed the capitalists even more than the specific
propositions of the social insurgents were the signs of a settled popular
exasperation against them and all their works, which indicated that what
was now called for was but the beginning of what would be demanded later.
The antislavery party had not begun with demanding the abolition of
slavery, but merely its limitation. The slaveholders were not, however,
deceived as to the significance of the new political portent, and the
capitalists would have been less wise in their generation than their
predecessors had they not seen in the political situation the beginning
of a confrontation of the people and the capitalists--the masses and the
classes, as the expression of the day was--which threatened an economic
and social revolution in the near future."

"It seems to me," I said, "that by this stage of the revolutionary
movement American capitalists capable of a dispassionate view of the
situation ought to have seen the necessity of making concessions if they
were to preserve any part of their advantages."

"If they had," replied the doctor, "they would have been the first
beneficiaries of a tyranny who in presence of a rising flood of
revolution ever realized its force or thought of making concessions until
it was hopelessly too late. You see, tyrants are always materialists,
while the forces behind great revolutions are moral. That is why the
tyrants never foresee their fate till it is too late to avert it."

"We ought to be in our chairs pretty soon," said Edith. "I don't want
Julian to miss the opening scene."

"There are a few minutes yet," said the doctor, "and seeing that I have
been rather unintentionally led into giving this sort of outline sketch
of the course of the Revolution, I want to say a word about the
extraordinary access of popular enthusiasm which made a short story of
its later stages, especially as it is that period with which the play
deals that we are to attend.

"There had been many, you must know, Julian, who, while admitting that a
system of co-operation, must eventually take the place of private
capitalism in America and everywhere, had expected that the process would
be a slow and gradual one, extending over several decades, perhaps half a
century, or even more. Probably that was the more general opinion. But
those who held it failed to take account of the popular enthusiasm which
would certainly take possession of the movement and drive it irresistibly
forward from the moment that the prospect of its success became fairly
clear to the masses. Undoubtedly, when the plan of a nationalized
industrial system, and an equal sharing of results, with its promise of
the abolition of poverty and the reign of universal comfort, was first
presented to the people, the very greatness of the salvation it offered
operated to hinder its acceptance. It seemed too good to be true. With
difficulty the masses, sodden in misery and inured to hopelessness, had
been able to believe that in heaven there would be no poor, but that it
was possible here and now in this everyday America to establish such an
earthly paradise was too much to believe.

"But gradually, as the revolutionary propaganda diffused a knowledge of
the clear and unquestionable grounds on which this great assurance
rested, and as the growing majorities of the revolutionary party
convinced the most doubtful that the hour of its triumph was at hand, the
hope of the multitude grew into confidence, and confidence flamed into a
resistless enthusiasm. By the very magnitude of the promise which at
first appalled them they were now transported. An impassioned eagerness
seized upon them to enter into the delectable land, so that they found
every day's, every hour's delay intolerable. The young said, 'Let us make
haste, and go in to the promised land while we are young, that we may
know what living is': and the old said, 'Let us go in ere we die, that we
may close our eyes in peace, knowing that it will be well with our
children after us.' The leaders and pioneers of the Revolution, after
having for so many years exhorted and appealed to a people for the most
part indifferent or incredulous, now found themselves caught up and borne
onward by a mighty wave of enthusiasm which it was impossible for them to
check, and difficult for them to guide, had not the way been so plain.

"Then, to cap the climax, as if the popular mind were not already in a
sufficiently exalted frame, came 'The Great Revival,' touching this
enthusiasm with religious emotion."

"We used to have what were called revivals of religion in my day," I
said, "sometimes quite extensive ones. Was this of the same nature?"

"Scarcely," replied the doctor. "The Great Revival was a tide of
enthusiasm for the social, not the personal, salvation, and for the
establishment in brotherly love of the kingdom of God on earth which
Christ bade men hope and work for. It was the general awakening of the
people of America in the closing years of the last century to the
profoundly ethical and truly religious character and claims of the
movement for an industrial system which should guarantee the economic
equality of all the people.

"Nothing, surely, could be more self-evident than the strictly Christian
inspiration of the idea of this guarantee. It contemplated nothing less
than a literal fulfillment, on a complete social scale, of Christ's
inculcation that all should feel the same solicitude and make the same
effort for the welfare of others as for their own. The first effect of
such a solicitude must needs be to prompt effort to bring about an equal
material provision for all, as the primary condition of welfare. One
would certainly think that a nominally Christian people having some
familiarity with the New Testament would have needed no one to tell them
these things, but that they would have recognized on its first statement
that the programme of the revolutionists was simply a paraphrase of the
golden rule expressed in economic and political terms. One would have
said that whatever other members of the community might do, the Christian
believers would at once have flocked to the support of such a movement
with their whole heart, soul, mind, and might. That they were so slow to
do so must be ascribed to the wrong teaching and non-teaching of a class
of persons whose express duty, above all other persons and classes, was
to prompt them to that action--namely, the Christian clergy.

"For many ages--almost, indeed, from the beginning of the Christian
era--the churches had turned their backs on Christ's ideal of a kingdom
of God to be realized on earth by the adoption of the law of mutual
helpfulness and fraternal love. Giving up the regeneration of human
society in this world as a hopeless undertaking, the clergy, in the name
of the author of the Lord's Prayer, had taught the people not to expect
God's will to be done on earth. Directly reversing the attitude of Christ
toward society as an evil and perverse order of things needing to be made
over, they had made themselves the bulwarks and defenses of existing
social and political institutions, and exerted their whole influence to
discourage popular aspirations for a more just and equal order. In the
Old World they had been the champions and apologists of power and
privilege and vested rights against every movement for freedom and
equality. In resisting the upward strivings of their people, the kings
and emperors had always found the clergy more useful servants than the
soldiers and the police. In the New World, when royalty, in the act of
abdication, had passed the scepter behind its back to capitalism, the
ecclesiastical bodies had transferred their allegiance to the money
power, and as formerly they had preached the divine right of kings to
rule their fellow-men, now preached the divine right of ruling and using
others which inhered in the possession of accumulated or inherited
wealth, and the duty of the people to submit without murmuring to the
exclusive appropriation of all good things by the rich.

"The historical attitude of the churches as the champions and apologists
of power and privilege in every controversy with the rights of man and
the idea of equality had always been a prodigious scandal, and in every
revolutionary crisis had not failed to cost them great losses in public
respect and popular following. Inasmuch as the now impending crisis
between the full assertion of human equality and the existence of private
capitalism was incomparably the most radical issue of the sort that had
ever arisen, the attitude of the churches was likely to have a critical
effect upon their future. Should they make the mistake of placing
themselves upon the unpopular side in this tremendous controversy, it
would be for them a colossal if not a fatal mistake--one that would
threaten the loss of their last hold as organizations on the hearts and
minds of the people. On the other hand, had the leaders of the churches
been able to discern the full significance of the great turning of the
world's heart toward Christ's ideal of human society, which marked the
closing of the nineteenth century, they might have hoped by taking the
right side to rehabilitate the churches in the esteem and respect of the
world, as, after all, despite so many mistakes, the faithful
representatives of the spirit and doctrine of Christianity. Some there
were indeed--yes, many, in the aggregate--among the clergy who did see
this and sought desperately to show it to their fellows, but, blinded by
clouds of vain traditions, and bent before the tremendous pressure of
capitalism, the ecclesiastical bodies in general did not, with these
noble exceptions, awake to their great opportunity until it had passed
by. Other bodies of learned men there were which equally failed to
discern the irresistible force and divine sanction of the tidal wave of
humane enthusiasm that was sweeping over the earth, and to see that it
was destined to leave behind it a transformed and regenerated world. But
the failure of these others, however lamentable, to discern the nature of
the crisis, was not like the failure of the Christian clergy, for it was
their express calling and business to preach and teach the application to
human relations of the Golden Rule of equal treatment for all which the
Revolution came to establish, and to watch for the coming of this very
kingdom of brotherly love, whose advent they met with anathemas.

"The reformers of that time were most bitter against the clergy for their
double treason to humanity and Christianity, in opposing instead of
supporting the Revolution; but time has tempered harsh judgments of every
sort, and it is rather with deep pity than with indignation that we look
back on these unfortunate men, who will ever retain the tragic
distinction of having missed the grandest opportunity of leadership ever
offered to men. Why add reproach to the burden of such a failure as that?

"While the influence of ecclesiastical authority in America, on account
of the growth of intelligence, had at this time greatly shrunken from
former proportions, the generally unfavorable or negative attitude of the
churches toward the programme of equality had told heavily to hold back
the popular support which the movement might reasonably have expected
from professedly Christian people. It was, however, only a question of
time, and the educating influence of public discussion, when the people
would become acquainted for themselves with the merits of the subject.
'The Great Revival' followed, when, in the course of this process of
education, the masses of the nation reached the conviction that the
revolution against which the clergy had warned them as unchristian was,
in fact, the most essentially and intensely Christian movement that had
ever appealed to men since Christ called his disciples, and as such
imperatively commanded the strongest support of every believer or admirer
of Christ's doctrine.

"The American people appear to have been, on the whole, the most
intelligently religious of the large populations of the world--as
religion was understood at that time--and the most generally influenced
by the sentiment of Christianity. When the people came to recognize that
the ideal of a world of equal welfare, which had been represented to them
by the clergy as a dangerous delusion, was no other than the very dream
of Christ; when they realized that the hope which led on the advocates of
the new order was no baleful _ignis fatuus_, as the churches had
taught, but nothing less nor other than the Star of Bethlehem, it is not
to be wondered at that the impulse which the revolutionary movement
received should have been overwhelming. From that time on it assumes more
and more the character of a crusade, the first of the many so-called
crusades of history which had a valid and adequate title to that name and
right to make the cross its emblem. As the conviction took hold on the
always religious masses that the plan of an equalized human welfare was
nothing less than the divine design, and that in seeking their own
highest happiness by its adoption they were also fulfilling God's purpose
for the race, the spirit of the Revolution became a religious enthusiasm.
As to the preaching of Peter the Hermit, so now once more the masses
responded to the preaching of the reformers with the exultant cry, 'God
wills it!' and none doubted any longer that the vision would come to
pass. So it was that the Revolution, which had begun its course under the
ban of the churches, was carried to its consummation upon a wave of moral
and religious emotion."

"But what became of the churches and the clergy when the people found out
what blind guides they had been?" I asked.

"No doubt," replied the doctor, "it must have seemed to them something
like the Judgment Day when their flocks challenged them with open Bibles
and demanded why they had hid the Gospel all these ages and falsified the
oracles of God which they had claimed to interpret. But so far as
appears, the joyous exultation of the people over the great discovery
that liberty, equality, and fraternity were nothing less than the
practical meaning and content of Christ's religion seems to have left no
room in their heart for bitterness toward any class. The world had
received a crowning demonstration that was to remain conclusive to all
time of the untrustworthiness of ecclesiastical guidance; that was all.
The clergy who had failed in their office of guides had not done so, it
is needless to say, because they were not as good as other men, but on
account of the hopeless falsity of their position as the economic
dependents of those they assumed to lead. As soon as the great revival
had fairly begun they threw themselves into it as eagerly as any of the
people, but not now with any pretensions of leadership. They followed the
people whom they might have led.

"From the great revival we date the beginning of the era of modern
religion--a religion which has dispensed with the rites and ceremonies,
creeds and dogmas, and banished from this life fear and concern for the
meaner self; a religion of life and conduct dominated by an impassioned
sense of the solidarity of humanity and of man with God; the religion of
a race that knows itself divine and fears no evil, either now or

"I need not ask," I said, "as to any subsequent stages of the Revolution,
for I fancy its consummation did not tarry long after 'The Great

"That was indeed the culminating impulse," replied the doctor; "but while
it lent a momentum to the movement for the immediate realization of an
equality of welfare which no obstacle could have resisted, it did its
work, in fact, not so much by breaking down opposition as by melting it
away. The capitalists, as you who were one of them scarcely need to be
told, were not persons of a more depraved disposition than other people,
but merely, like other classes, what the economic system had made them.
Having like passions and sensibilities with other men, they were as
incapable of standing out against the contagion of the enthusiasm of
humanity, the passion of pity, and the compulsion of humane tenderness
which The Great Revival had aroused, as any other class of people. From
the time that the sense of the people came generally to recognize that
the fight of the existing order to prevent the new order was nothing more
nor less than a controversy between the almighty dollar and the Almighty
God, there was substantially but one side to it. A bitter minority of the
capitalist party and its supporters seems indeed to have continued its
outcry against the Revolution till the end, but it was of little
importance. The greater and all the better part of the capitalists joined
with the people in completing the installation of the new order which all
had now come to see was to redound to the benefit of all alike."

"And there was no war?"

"War! Of course not. Who was there to fight on the other side? It is odd
how many of the early reformers seem to have anticipated a war before
private capitalism could be overthrown. They were constantly referring to
the civil war in the United States and to the French Revolution as
precedents which justified their fear, but really those were not
analogous cases. In the controversy over slavery, two geographical
sections, mutually impenetrable to each other's ideas were opposed and
war was inevitable. In the French Revolution there would have been no
bloodshed in France but for the interference of the neighboring nations
with their brutal kings and brutish populations. The peaceful outcome of
the great Revolution in America was, moreover, potently favored by the
lack as yet of deep class distinctions, and consequently of rooted class
hatred. Their growth was indeed beginning to proceed at an alarming rate,
but the process had not yet gone far or deep and was ineffectual to
resist the glow of social enthusiasm which in the culminating years of
the Revolution blended the whole nation in a common faith and purpose.

"You must not fail to bear in mind that the great Revolution, as it came
in America, was not a revolution at all in the political sense in which
all former revolutions in the popular interest had been. In all these
instances the people, after making up their minds what they wanted
changed, had to overthrow the Government and seize the power in order to
change it. But in a democratic state like America the Revolution was
practically done when the people had made up their minds that it was for
their interest. There was no one to dispute their power and right to do
their will when once resolved on it. The Revolution as regards America
and in other countries, in proportion as their governments were popular,
was more like the trial of a case in court than a revolution of the
traditional blood-and-thunder sort. The court was the people, and the
only way that either contestant could win was by convincing the court,
from which there was no appeal.

"So far as the stage properties of the traditional revolution were
concerned, plots, conspiracies, powder-smoke, blood and thunder, any one
of the ten thousand squabbles in the mediaeval, Italian, and Flemish
towns, furnishes far more material to the romancer or playwright than did
the great Revolution in America."

"Am I to understand that there was actually no violent doings in
connection with this great transformation?"

"There were a great number of minor disturbances and collisions,
involving in the aggregate a considerable amount of violence and
bloodshed, but there was nothing like the war with pitched lines which
the early reformers looked for. Many a petty dispute, causeless and
resultless, between nameless kings in the past, too small for historical
mention, has cost far more violence and bloodshed than, so far as America
is concerned, did the greatest of all revolutions."

"And did the European nations fare as well when they passed through the
same crisis?"

"The conditions of none of them were so favorable to peaceful social
revolution as were those of the United States, and the experience of most
was longer and harder, but it may be said that in the case of none of the
European peoples were the direful apprehensions of blood and slaughter
justified which the earlier reformers seem to have entertained. All over
the world the Revolution was, as to its main factors, a triumph of moral



"I am sorry to interrupt," said Edith, "but it wants only five minutes of
the time for the rising of the curtain, and Julian ought not to miss the
first scene."

On this notice we at once betook ourselves to the music room, where four
easy chairs had been cozily arranged for our convenience. While the
doctor was adjusting the telephone and electroscope connections for our
use, I expatiated to my companion upon the contrasts between the
conditions of theater-going in the nineteenth and in the twentieth
centuries--contrasts which the happy denizens of the present world can
scarcely, by any effort of imagination, appreciate. "In my time, only the
residents of the larger cities, or visitors to them, were ever able to
enjoy good plays or operas, pleasures which were by necessary consequence
forbidden and unknown to the mass of the people. But even those who as to
locality might enjoy these recreations were obliged, in order to do so,
to undergo and endure such prodigious fuss, crowding, expense, and
general derangement of comfort that for the most part they preferred to
stay at home. As for enjoying the great artists of other countries, one
had to travel to do so or wait for the artists to travel. To-day, I need
not tell you how it is: you stay at home and send your eyes and ears
abroad to see and hear for you. Wherever the electric connection is
carried--and there need be no human habitation however remote from social
centers, be it the mid-air balloon or mid-ocean float of the weather
watchman, or the ice-crusted hut of the polar observer, where it may not
reach--it is possible in slippers and dressing gown for the dweller to
take his choice of the public entertainments given that day in every city
of the earth. And remember, too, although you can not understand it, who
have never seen bad acting or heard bad singing, how this ability of one
troupe to play or sing to the whole earth at once has operated to take
away the occupation of mediocre artists, seeing that everybody, being
able to see and hear the best, will hear them and see them only."

"There goes the bell for the curtain," said the doctor, and in another
moment I had forgotten all else in the scene upon the stage. I need not
sketch the action of a play so familiar as "The Knights of the Golden
Rule." It is enough for this purpose to recall the fact that the costumes
and setting were of the last days of the nineteenth century, little
different from what they had been when I looked last on the world of that
day. There were a few anachronisms and inaccuracies in the setting which
the theatrical administration has since done me the honor to solicit my
assistance in correcting, but the best tribute to the general correctness
of the scheme was its effect to make me from the first moment oblivious
of my actual surroundings. I found myself in presence of a group of
living contemporaries of my former life, men and women dressed as I had
seen them dressed, talking and acting, as till within a few weeks I had
always seen people talk and act; persons, in short, of like passions,
prejudices, and manners to my own, even to minute mannerisms ingeniously
introduced by the playwright, which even more than the larger traits of
resemblance affected my imagination. The only feeling that hindered my
full acceptance of the idea that I was attending a nineteenth-century
show was a puzzled wonder why I should seem to know so much more than the
actors appeared to about the outcome of the social revolution they were
alluding to as in progress.

When the curtain fell on the first scene, and I looked about and saw
Edith, her mother and father, sitting about me in the music room, the
realization of my actual situation came with a shock that earlier in my
twentieth-century career would have set my brain swimming. But I was too
firm on my new feet now for anything of that sort, and for the rest of
the play the constant sense of the tremendous experience which had made
me at once a contemporary of two ages so widely apart, contributed an
indescribable intensity to my enjoyment of the play.

After the curtain fell, we sat talking of the drama, and everything else,
till the globe of the color clock, turning from bottle-green to white,
warned us of midnight, when the ladies left the doctor and myself to our
own devices.



"It is pretty late," I said, "but I want very much to ask you just a few
more questions about the Revolution. All that I have learned leaves me
quite as puzzled as ever to imagine any set of practical measures by
which the substitution of public for private capitalism could have been
effected without a prodigious shock. We had in our day engineers clever
enough to move great buildings from one site to another, keeping them
meanwhile so steady and upright as not to interfere with the dwellers in
them, or to cause an interruption of the domestic operations. A problem
something like this, but a millionfold greater and more complex, must
have been raised when it came to changing the entire basis of production
and distribution and revolutionizing the conditions of everybody's
employment and maintenance, and doing it, moreover, without meanwhile
seriously interrupting the ongoing of the various parts of the economic
machinery on which the livelihood of the people from day to day depended.
I should be greatly interested to have you tell me something about how
this was done."

"Your question," replied the doctor, "reflects a feeling which had no
little influence during the revolutionary period to prolong the
toleration extended by the people to private capitalism despite the
mounting indignation against its enormities. A complete change of
economic systems seemed to them, as it does to you, such a colossal and
complicated undertaking that even many who ardently desired the new order
and fully believed in its feasibility when once established, shrank back
from what they apprehended would be the vast confusion and difficulty of
the transition process. Of course, the capitalists, and champions of
things as they were, made the most of this feeling, and apparently
bothered the reformers not a little by calling on them to name the
specific measures by which they would, if they had the power, proceed to
substitute for the existing system a nationalized plan of industry
managed in the equal interest of all.

"One school of revolutionists declined to formulate or suggest any
definite programme whatever for the consummating or constructive stage of
the Revolution. They said that the crisis would suggest the method for
dealing with it, and it would be foolish and fanciful to discuss the
emergency before it arose. But a good general makes plans which provide
in advance for all the main eventualities of his campaign. His plans are,
of course, subject to radical modifications or complete abandonment,
according to circumstances, but a provisional plan he ought to have. The
reply of this school of revolutionists was not, therefore, satisfactory,
and, so long as no better one could be made, a timid and conservative
community inclined to look askance at the revolutionary programme.

"Realizing the need of something more positive as a plan of campaign,
various schools of reformers suggested more or less definite schemes. One
there was which argued that the trades unions might develop strength
enough to control the great trades, and put their own elected officers in
place of the capitalists, thus organizing a sort of federation of trades
unions. This, if practicable, would have brought in a system of group
capitalism as divisive and antisocial, in the large sense, as private
capitalism itself, and far more dangerous to civil order. This idea was
later heard little of, as it became evident that the possible growth and
functions of trade unionism were very limited.

"There was another school which held that the solution was to be found by
the establishment of great numbers of voluntary colonies, organized on
co-operative principles, which by their success would lead to the
formation of more and yet more, and that, finally, when most of the
population had joined such groups they would simply coalesce and form
one. Many noble and enthusiastic souls devoted themselves to this line of
effort, and the numerous colonies that were organized in the United
States during the revolutionary period were a striking indication of the
general turning of men's hearts toward a better social order. Otherwise
such experiments led, and could lead, to nothing. Economically weak, held
together by a sentimental motive, generally composed of eccentric though
worthy persons, and surrounded by a hostile environment which had the
whole use and advantage of the social and economic machinery, it was
scarcely possible that such enterprises should come to anything practical
unless under exceptional leadership or circumstances.

"There was another school still which held that the better order was to
evolve gradually out of the old as the result of an indefinite series of
humane legislation, consisting of factory acts, short-hour laws, pensions
for the old, improved tenement houses, abolition of slums, and I don't
know how many other poultices for particular evils resultant from the
system of private capitalism. These good people argued that when at some
indefinitely remote time all the evil consequences of capitalism had been
abolished, it would be time enough and then comparatively easy to abolish
capitalism itself--that is to say, after all the rotten fruit of the evil
tree had been picked by hand, one at a time, off the branches, it would
be time enough to cut down the tree. Of course, an obvious objection to
this plan was that, so long as the tree remained standing, the evil fruit
would be likely to grow as fast as it was plucked. The various reform
measures, and many others urged by these reformers, were wholly humane
and excellent, and only to be criticised when put forward as a sufficient
method of overthrowing capitalism. They did not even tend toward such a
result, but were quite as likely to help capitalism to obtain a longer
lease of life by making it a little less abhorrent. There was really a
time after the revolutionary movement had gained considerable headway
when judicious leaders felt considerable apprehension lest it might be
diverted from its real aim, and its force wasted in this programme of
piecemeal reforms.

"But you have asked me what was the plan of operation by which the
revolutionists, when they finally came into power, actually overthrew
private capitalism. It was really as pretty an illustration of the
military manoeuvre that used to be called flanking as the history of war
contains. Now, a flanking operation is one by which an army, instead of
attacking its antagonist directly in front, moves round one of his flanks
in such a way that without striking a blow it forces the enemy to leave
his position. That is just the strategy the revolutionists used in the
final issue with capitalism.

"The capitalists had taken for granted that they were to be directly
assaulted by wholesale forcible seizure and confiscation of their
properties. Not a bit of it. Although in the end, of course, collective
ownership was wholly substituted for the private ownership of capital,
yet that was not done until after the whole system of private capitalism
had broken down and fallen to pieces, and not as a means of throwing it
down. To recur to the military illustration, the revolutionary army did
not directly attack the fortress of capitalism at all, but so manoeuvred
as to make it untenable, and to compel its evacuation.

"Of course, you will understand that this policy was not suggested by any
consideration for the rights of the capitalists. Long before this time
the people had been educated to see in private capitalism the source and
sum of all villainies, convicting mankind of deadly sin every day that it
was tolerated. The policy of indirect attack pursued by the
revolutionists was wholly dictated by the interest of the people at
large, which demanded that serious derangements of the economic system
should be, so far as possible, avoided during the transition from the old
order to the new.

"And now, dropping figures of speech, let me tell you plainly what was
done--that is, so far as I remember the story. I have made no special
study of the period since my college days, and very likely when you come
to read the histories you will find that I have made many mistakes as to
the details of the process. I am just trying to give you a general idea
of the main course of events, to the best of my remembrance. I have
already explained that the first step in the programme of political
action adopted by the opponents of private capitalism had been to induce
the people to municipalize and nationalize various quasi-public services,
such as waterworks, lighting plants, ferries, local railroads, the
telegraph and telephone systems, the general railroad system, the coal
mines and petroleum production, and the traffic in intoxicating liquors.
These being a class of enterprises partly or wholly non-competitive and
monopolistic in character, the assumption of public control over them did
not directly attack the system of production and distribution in general,
and even the timid and conservative viewed the step with little
apprehension. This whole class of natural or legal monopolies might
indeed have been taken under public management without logically
involving an assault on the system of private capitalism as a whole. Not
only was this so, but even if this entire class of businesses was made
public and run at cost, the cheapening in the cost of living to the
community thus effected would presently be swallowed up by reductions of
wages and prices, resulting from the remorseless operation of the
competitive profit system.

"It was therefore chiefly as a means to an ulterior end that the opponent
of capitalism favored the public operation of these businesses. One part
of that ulterior end was to prove to the people the superior simplicity,
efficiency, and humanity of public over private management of economic
undertakings. But the principal use which this partial process of
nationalization served was to prepare a body of public employees
sufficiently large to furnish a nucleus of consumers when the Government
should undertake the establishment of a general system of production and
distribution on a non-profit basis. The employees of the nationalized
railroads alone numbered nearly a million, and with their dependent women
and children represented some 4,000,000 people. The employees in the coal
mines, iron mines, and other businesses taken charge of by the Government
as subsidiary to the railroads, together with the telegraph and telephone
workers, also in the public service, made some hundreds of thousands more
persons with their dependents. Previous to these additions there had been
in the regular civil service of the Government nearly 250,000 persons,
and the army and navy made some 50,000 more. These groups with their
dependents amounted probably to a million more persons, who, added to the
railroad, mining, telegraph, and other employees, made an aggregate of
something like 5,000,000 persons dependent on the national employment.
Besides these were the various bodies of State and municipal employees in
all grades, from the Governors of States down to the street-cleaners.


"The first step of the revolutionary party when it came to power, with
the mandate of a popular majority to bring in the new order, was to
establish in all important centers public-service stores, where public
employees could procure at cost all provisions of necessity or luxury
previously bought at private stores. The idea was the less startling for
not being wholly new. It had been the custom of various governments to
provide for certain of the needs of their soldiers and sailors by
establishing service stores at which everything was of absolutely
guaranteed quality and sold strictly at cost. The articles thus furnished
were proverbial for their cheapness and quality compared with anything
that could be bought elsewhere, and the soldier's privilege of obtaining
such goods was envied by the civilian, left to the tender mercies of the
adulterating and profit-gorging retailer. The public stores now set up by
the Government were, however, on a scale of completeness quite beyond any
previous undertakings, intended as they were to supply all the
consumption of a population large enough for a small-sized nation.

"At first the goods in these stores were of necessity bought by the
Government of the private capitalists, producers, or importers. On these
the public employee saved all the middlemen's and retailers' profits,
getting them at perhaps half or two thirds of what they must have paid at
private stores, with the guarantee, moreover, of a careful Government
inspection as to quality. But these substantial advantages were but a
foretaste of the prosperity he enjoyed when the Government added the
function of production to that of distribution, and proceeded as rapidly
as possible to manufacture products, instead of buying them of

"To this end great food and cotton farms were established in all sections
of the country and innumerable shops and factories started, so that
presently the Government had in public employ not only the original
5,000,000, but as many more--farmers, artisans, and laborers of all
sorts. These, of course, also had the right to be provided for at the
public stores, and the system had to be extended correspondingly. The
buyers in the public stores now saved not only the profits of the
middleman and the retailer, but those as well of the manufacturer, the
producer, and the importer.

"Still further, not only did the public stores furnish the public
employees with every kind of goods for consumption, but the Government
likewise organized all sorts of needful services, such as cooking,
laundry work, housework agencies, etc., for the exclusive benefit of
public employees--all, of course, conducted absolutely at cost. The
result was that the public employee was able to be supplied at home or in
restaurants with food prepared by the best skill out of the best material
and in the greatest possible variety, and more cheaply than he had ever
been able to provide himself with even the coarsest provisions."

"How did the Government acquire the lands and manufacturing plants it
needed?" I inquired. "Did it buy them of the owners, or as to the plants
did it build them?"

"It co
erected them without affecting the success of the programme, but that was
generally needless. As to land, the farmers by millions were only too
glad to turn over their farms to the Government and accept employment on
them, with the security of livelihood which that implied for them and
theirs. The Government, moreover, took for cultivation all unoccupied
lands that were convenient for the purpose, remitting the taxes for

"It was much the same with the factories and shops which the national
system called for. They were standing idle by thousands in all parts of
the country, in the midst of starving populations of the unemployed. When
these plants were suited to the Government requirements they were taken
possession of, put in operation, and the former workers provided with
employment. In most instances former superintendents and foremen as well
as the main body of operatives were glad to keep their old places, with
the nation as employer. The owners of such plants, if I remember rightly,
received some allowance, equal to a very low rate of interest, for the
use of their property until such time as the complete establishment of
the new order should make the equal maintenance of all citizens the
subject of a national guarantee. That this was to be the speedy and
certain outcome of the course of events was now no longer doubted, and
pending that result the owners of idle plants were only too glad to get
anything at all for their use.

"The manufacturing plants were not the only form of idle capital which
the Government on similar terms made use of. Considerable quantities of
foreign imports were required to supply the public stores; and to avoid
the payment of profits to capitalists on these, the Government took
possession of idle shipping, building what it further needed, and went
into foreign trade, exporting products of the public industries, and
bringing home in exchange the needed foreign goods. Fishing fleets flying
the national flag also brought home the harvest of the seas. These peace
fleets soon far outnumbered the war ships which up to that time
exclusively had borne the national commission. On these fleets the sailor
was no more a slave.


"And now consider the effect of another feature of the public-store
system, namely, the disuse of money in its operations. Ordinary money was
not received in the public stores, but a sort of scrip canceled on use
and good for a limited time only. The public employee had the right of
exchanging the money he received for wages, at par, into this scrip.
While the Government issued it only to public employees, it was accepted
at the public stores from any who presented it, the Government being only
careful that the total amount did not exceed the wages exchanged into
such scrip by the public employees. It thus became a currency which
commanded three, four, and five hundred per cent premium over money which
would only buy the high-priced and adulterated goods for sale in the
remaining stores of the capitalists. The gain of the premium went, of
course, to the public employees. Gold, which had been worshiped by the
capitalists as the supreme and eternal type of money, was no more
receivable than silver, copper, or paper currency at the public stores,
and people who desired the best goods were fortunate to find a public
employee foolish enough to accept three or four dollars in gold for one
in scrip.

"The effect to make money a drug in the market, of this sweeping
reduction in its purchasing utility, was greatly increased by its
practically complete disuse by the large and ever-enlarging proportion of
the people in the public service. The demand for money was still further
lessened by the fact that nobody wanted to borrow it now for use in
extending business, seeing that the field of enterprise open to private
capital was shrinking every hour, and evidently destined presently to
disappear. Neither did any one desire money to hoard it, for it was more
evident every day that it would soon become worthless. I have spoken of
the public-store scrip commanding several hundred per cent premium over
money, but that was in the earlier stages of the transition period.
Toward the last the premium mounted to ever-dizzier altitudes, until the
value of money quite disappeared, it being literally good for nothing as

"If you would imagine the complete collapse of the entire monetary and
financial system with all its standards and influences upon human
relations and conditions, you have only to fancy what the effect would
have been upon the same interests and relations in your day if positive
and unquestioned information had become general that the world was to be
destroyed within a few weeks or months, or at longest within a year. In
this case indeed the world was not to be destroyed, but to be rejuvenated
and to enter on an incomparably higher and happier and more vigorous
phase of evolution; but the effect on the monetary system and all
dependent on it was quite the same as if the world were to come to an
end, for the new world would have no use for money, nor recognize any
human rights or relations as measured by it."

"It strikes me," said I, "that as money grew valueless the public taxes
must have failed to bring in anything to support the Government."

"Taxes," replied the doctor, "were an incident of private capitalism and
were to pass away with it. Their use had been to give the Government a
means of commanding labor under the money system. In proportion as the
nation collectively organized and directly applied the whole labor of the
people as the public welfare required it, had no need and could make no
use of taxes any more than of money in other respects. Taxation went to
pieces in the culminating stage of the Revolution, in measure as the
organization of the capital and labor of the people for public purposes
put an end to its functions."


"It seems to me that about this time, if not before, the mass of the
people outside of the public service must have begun to insist pretty
loudly upon being let in to share these good things."

"Of course they did," replied the doctor; "and of course that was just
what they were expected to do and what it had been arranged they should
do as soon as the nationalized system of production and distribution was
in full running order. The previously existing body of public employees
had merely been utilized as furnishing a convenient nucleus of consumers
to start with, which might be supplied without deranging meantime any
more than necessary the outside wage or commodity markets. As soon as the
system was in working order the Government undertook to receive into the
public service not merely selected bodies of workers, but all who
applied. From that time the industrial army received its recruits by tens
and fifties of thousands a day till within a brief time the people as a
whole were in the public service.

"Of course, everybody who had an occupation or trade was kept right on at
it at the place where he had formerly been employed, and the labor
exchanges, already in full use, managed the rest. Later on, when all was
going smoothly, would be time enough for the changings and shiftings
about that would seem desirable."

"Naturally," I said, "under the operation of the public employment
programme, the working people must have been those first brought into the
system, and the rich and well-to-do must probably have remained outside
longest, and come in, so to speak, all in a batch, when they did."

"Evidently so," replied the doctor. "Of course, the original nucleus of
public employees, for whom the public stores were first opened, were all
working people, and so were the bodies of people successively taken into
the public service, as farmers, artisans, and tradesmen of all sorts.
There was nothing to prevent a capitalist from joining the service, but
he could do so only as a worker on a par with the others. He could buy in
the public stores only to the extent of his pay as a worker. His other
money would not be good there. There were many men and women of the rich
who, in the humane enthusiasm of the closing days of the Revolution,
abandoned their lands and mills to the Government and volunteered in the
public service at anything that could be given them to do; but on the
whole, as might be expected, the idea of going to work for a living on an
economic equality with their former servants was not one that the rich
welcomed, and they did not come to it till they had to."

"And were they then, at last, enlisted by force?" I asked.

"By force!" exclaimed the doctor; "dear me! no. There was no sort of
constraint brought to bear upon them any more than upon anybody else,
save that created by the growing difficulty and final impossibility of
hiring persons for private employment, or obtaining the necessities of
life except from the public stores with the new scrip. Before the
Government entered on the policy of receiving into the public service
every one who applied, the unemployed had thronged upon the capitalists,
seeking to be hired. But immediately afterward the rich began to find it
impossible to obtain men and women to serve them in field, factory, or
kitchen. They could offer no inducements in the depreciated money which
alone they possessed that were enough to counterbalance the advantages of
the public service. Everybody knew also that there was no future for the
wealthy class, and nothing to be gained through their favor.

"Moreover, as you may imagine, there was already a strong popular feeling
of contempt for those who would abase themselves to serve others for hire
when they might serve the nation of which they were citizens; and, as you
may well imagine, this growing sentiment made the position of a private
servant or employee of any sort intolerable. And not only did the
unfortunate capitalists find it impossible to induce people to cook for
them, wash for them, to black their boots, to sweep their rooms, or drive
their coaches, but they were put to straits to obtain in the dwindling
private markets, where alone their money was good, the bare necessities
of life, and presently found even that impossible. For a while, it would
seem, they struggled against a relentless fate, sullenly supporting life
on crusts in the corners of their lonesome palaces; but at last, of
course, they all had to follow their former servants into the new nation,
for there was no way of living save by connection with the national
economic organization. Thus strikingly was illustrated, in the final exit
of the capitalists from the human stage, how absolute was and always had
been the dependence of capital upon the labor it despised and tyrannized

"And do I understand that there was no compulsion upon anybody to join
the public service?"

"None but what was inherent in the circumstances I have named," replied
the doctor. "The new order had no need or use for unwilling recruits. In
fact, it needed no one, but every one needed it. If any one did not wish
to enter the public service and could live outside of it without stealing
or begging, he was quite welcome to. The books say that the woods were
full of self-exiled hermits for a while, but one by one they tired of it
and came into the new social house. Some isolated communities, however,
remained outside for years."

"The mill seems, indeed, to have been calculated to grind to an exceeding
fineness all opposition to the new order," I observed, "and yet it must
have had its own difficulties, too, in the natural refractoriness of the
materials it had to make grist of. Take, for example, my own class of the
idle rich, the men and women whose only business had been the pursuit of
pleasure. What useful work could have been got out of such people as we
were, however well disposed we might have become to render service? Where
could we have been fitted into any sort of industrial service without
being more hindrance than help?"

"The problem might have been serious if the idle rich of whom you speak
had been a very large proportion of the population, but, of course,
though very much in evidence, they were in numbers insignificant compared
with the mass of useful workers. So far as they were educated
persons--and quite generally they had some smattering of knowledge--there
was an ample demand for their services as teachers. Of course, they were
not trained teachers, or capable of good pedagogical work; but directly
after the Revolution, when the children and youth of the former poor were
turned back by millions from the field and factories to the schools, and
when the adults also of the working classes passionately demanded some
degree of education to correspond with the improved conditions of life
they had entered on, there was unlimited call for the services as
instructors of everybody who was able to teach anything, even one of the
primary branches, spelling, writing, geography, or arithmetic in the
rudiments. The women of the former wealthy class, being mostly well
educated, found in this task of teaching the children of the masses, the
new heirs of the world, an employment in which I fancy they must have
tasted more real happiness in the feeling of being useful to their kind
than all their former frivolous existences could have given them. Few,
indeed, were there of any class who did not prove to have some physical
or mental quality by which they might with pleasure to themselves be
serviceable to their kind."


"There was another class of my contemporaries," I said, "which I fancy
must have given the new order more trouble to make anything out of than
the rich, and those were the vicious and criminal idle. The rich were at
least intelligent and fairly well behaved, and knew enough to adapt
themselves to a new state of things and make the best of the inevitable,
but these others must have been harder to deal with. There was a great
floating population of vagabond criminals, loafers, and vicious of every
class, male and female, in my day, as doubtless you well know. Admit that
our vicious form of society was responsible for them; nevertheless, there
they were, for the new society to deal with. To all intents and purposes
they were dehumanized, and as dangerous as wild beasts. They were barely
kept in some sort of restraint by an army of police and the weapons of
criminal law, and constituted a permanent menace to law and order. At
times of unusual agitation, and especially at all revolutionary crises,
they were wont to muster in alarming force and become aggressive. At the
crisis you are describing they must doubtless have made themselves
extremely turbulent. What did the new order do with them? Its just and
humane propositions would scarcely appeal to the members of the criminal
class. They were not reasonable beings; they preferred to live by lawless
violence, rather than by orderly industry, on terms however just. Surely
the new nation must have found this class of citizens a very tough morsel
for its digestion."

"Not nearly so tough," replied the doctor, "as the former society had
found it. In the first place, the former society, being itself based on
injustice, was wholly without moral prestige or ethical authority in
dealing with the criminal and lawless classes. Society itself stood
condemned in their presence for the injustice which had been the
provocation and excuse of their revolt. This was a fact which made the
whole machinery of so-called criminal justice in your day a mockery.
Every intelligent man knew in his heart that the criminal and vicious
were, for the most part, what they were on account of neglect and
injustice, and an environment of depraving influences for which a
defective social order was responsible, and that if righteousness were
done, society, instead of judging them, ought to stand with them in the
dock before a higher justice, and take upon itself the heavier
condemnation. This the criminals themselves felt in the bottom of their
hearts, and that feeling forbade them to respect the law they feared.
They felt that the society which bade them reform was itself in yet
greater need of reformation. The new order, on the other hand, held forth
to the outcasts hands purged of guilt toward them. Admitting the wrong
that they had suffered in the past, it invited them to a new life under
new conditions, offering them, on just and equal terms, their share in
the social heritage. Do you suppose that there ever was a human heart so
base that it did not at least know the difference between justice and
injustice, and to some extent respond to it?

"A surprising number of the cases you speak of, who had been given up as
failures by your civilization, while in fact they had been proofs of its
failure, responded with alacrity to the first fair opportunity to be
decent men and women which had ever come to them. There was, of course, a
large residuum too hopelessly perverted, too congenitally deformed, to
have the power of leading a good life, however assisted. Toward these the
new society, strong in the perfect justice of its attitude, proceeded
with merciful firmness. The new society was not to tolerate, as the old
had done, a criminal class in its midst any more than a destitute class.
The old society never had any moral right to forbid stealing or to punish
robbers, for the whole economic system was based on the appropriation, by
force or fraud on the part of a few, of the earth and its resources and
the fruit of the toil of the poor. Still less had it any right to forbid
beggary or to punish violence, seeing that the economic system which it
maintained and defended necessarily operated to make beggars and to
provoke violence. But the new order, guaranteeing an equality of plenty
to all, left no plea for the thief and robber, no excuse for the beggar,
no provocation for the violent. By preferring their evil courses to the
fair and honorable life offered them, such persons would henceforth
pronounce sentence on themselves as unfit for human intercourse. With a
good conscience, therefore, the new society proceeded to deal with all
vicious and criminal persons as morally insane, and to segregate them in
places of confinement, there to spend their lives--not, indeed, under
punishment, or enduring hardships of any sort beyond enough labor for
self-support, but wholly secluded from the world--and absolutely
prevented from continuing their kind. By this means the race, in the
first generation after the Revolution, was able to leave behind itself
forever a load of inherited depravity and base congenital instincts, and
so ever since it has gone on from generation to generation, purging
itself of its uncleanness."


"In my day," I said, "a peculiar complication of the social problem in
America was the existence in the Southern States of many millions of
recently freed negro slaves, but partially as yet equal to the
responsibility of freedom. I should be interested to know just how the
new order adapted itself to the condition of the colored race in the

"It proved," replied the doctor, "the prompt solution of a problem which
otherwise might have continued indefinitely to plague the American
people. The population of recent slaves was in need of some sort of
industrial regimen, at once firm and benevolent, administered under
conditions which should meanwhile tend to educate, refine, and elevate
its members. These conditions the new order met with ideal perfection.
The centralized discipline of the national industrial army, depending for
its enforcement not so much on force as on the inability of any one to
subsist outside of the system of which it was a part, furnished just the
sort of a control--gentle yet resistless--which was needed by the
recently emancipated bondsman. On the other hand, the universal education
and the refinements and amenities of life which came with the economic
welfare presently brought to all alike by the new order, meant for the
colored race even more as a civilizing agent than it did to the white
population which relatively had been further advanced."

"There would have been in some parts," I remarked, "a strong prejudice on
the part of the white population against any system which compelled a
closer commingling of the races."

"So we read, but there was absolutely nothing in the new system to offend
that prejudice. It related entirely to economic organization, and had
nothing more to do then than it has now with social relations. Even for
industrial purposes the new system involved no more commingling of races
than the old had done. It was perfectly consistent with any degree of
race separation in industry which the most bigoted local prejudices might


"There is just one point about the transition stage that I want to go
back to," I said. "In the actual case, as you have stated it, it seems
that the capitalists held on to their capital and continued to conduct
business as long as they could induce anybody to work for them or buy of
them. I suppose that was human nature--capitalist human nature anyway;
but it was also convenient for the Revolution, for this course gave time
to get the new economic system perfected as a framework before the strain
of providing for the whole people was thrown on it. But it was just
possible, I suppose, that the capitalists might have taken a different
course. For example, suppose, from the moment the popular majority gave
control of the national Government to the revolutionists the capitalists
had with one accord abandoned their functions and refused to do business
of any kind. This, mind you, would have been before the Government had
any time to organize even the beginnings of the new system. That would
have made a more difficult problem to deal with, would it not?"

"I do not think that the problem would have been more difficult," replied
the doctor, "though it would have called for more prompt and summary
action. The Government would have had two things to do and to do at once:
on the one hand, to take up and carry on the machinery of productive
industry abandoned by the capitalists, and simultaneously to provide
maintenance for the people pending the time when the new product should
become available. I suppose that as to the matter of providing for the
maintenance of the people the action taken would be like that usually
followed by a government when by flood, famine, siege, or other sudden
emergency the livelihood of a whole community has been endangered. No
doubt the first step would have been to requisition, for public use all
stores of grain, clothing, shoes, and commodities in general throughout
the country, excepting of course reasonable stocks in strictly private
use. There was always in any civilized country a supply ahead of these
necessities sufficient for several months or a year which would be many
times more than would be needful to bridge over the gap between the
stoppage of the wheels of production under private management and their
getting into full motion under public administration. Orders on the
public stores for food and clothing would have been issued to all
citizens making application and enrolling themselves in the public
industrial service. Meanwhile the Government would have immediately
resumed the operation of the various productive enterprises abandoned by
the capitalists. Everybody previously employed in them would simply have
kept on, and employment would have been as rapidly as possible provided
for those who had formerly been without it. The new product, as fast as
made, would be turned into the public stores and the process would, in
fact, have been just the same as that I have described, save that it
would have gone through in much quicker time. If it did not go quite so
smoothly on account of the necessary haste, on the other hand it would
have been done with sooner, and at most we can hardly imagine that the
inconvenience and hardship to the people would have been greater than
resulted from even a mild specimen of the business crises which your
contemporaries thought necessary every seven years, and toward the last
of the old order became perpetual.


"Your question, however," continued the doctor, "reminds me of another
point which I had forgotten to mention--namely, the provisional methods
of furnishing employment for the unemployed before the organization of
the complete national system of industry. What your contemporaries were
pleased to call 'the problem of the unemployed'--namely, the necessary
effect of the profit system to create and perpetuate an unemployed
class--had been increasing in magnitude from the beginning of the
revolutionary period, and toward the close of the century the involuntary
idlers were numbered by millions. While this state of things on the one
hand furnished a powerful argument for the revolutionary propaganda by
the object lesson it furnished of the incompetence of private capitalism
to solve the problem of national maintenance, on the other hand, in
proportion as employment became hard to get, the hold of the employers
over the actual and would-be employees became strengthened. Those who had
employment and feared to lose it, and those who had it not but hoped to
get it, became, through fear and hope, very puppets in the hands of the
employing class and cast their votes at their bidding. Election after
election was carried in this way by the capitalists through their power
to compel the workingman to vote the capitalist ticket against his own
convictions, from the fear of losing or hope of obtaining an opportunity
to work.

"This was the situation which made it necessary previous to the conquest
of the General Government by the revolutionary party, in order that the
workingmen should be made free to vote for their own deliverance, that at
least a provisional system of employment should be established whereby
the wage-earner might be insured a livelihood when unable to find a
private employer.

"In different States of the Union, as the revolutionary party came into
power, slightly different methods were adopted for meeting this
emergency. The crude and wasteful makeshift of indiscriminate employment
on public works, which had been previously adopted by governments in
dealing with similar emergencies, would not stand the criticism of the
new economic science. A more intelligent method was necessary and easily
found. The usual plan, though varied in different localities, was for the
State to guarantee to every citizen who applied therefor the means of
maintenance, to be paid for in his or her labor, and to be taken in the
form of commodities and lodgings, these commodities and lodgings being
themselves produced and maintained by the sum of the labor of those, past
and present, who shared them. The necessary imported commodities or raw
materials were obtained by the sale of the excess of product at market
rates, a special market being also found in the consumption of the State
prisons, asylums, etc. This system, whereby the State enabled the
otherwise unemployed mutually to maintain themselves by merely furnishing
the machinery and superintendence, came very largely into use to meet the
emergencies of the transition period, and played an important part in
preparing the people for the new order, of which it was in an imperfect
way a sort of anticipation. In some of these State establishments for the
unemployed the circle of industries was remarkably complete, and the
whole product of their labor above expenses being shared among the
workers, they enjoyed far better fare than when in private employment,
together with a sense of security then impossible. The employer's power
to control his workmen by the threat of discharge was broken from the
time these co-operative systems began to be established, and when, later,
the national industrial organization was ready to absorb them, they
merely melted into it."


"How about the women?" I said. "Do I understand that, from the first
organization of the industrial public service on a complete scale, the
women were expected, like the men, if physically able, to take their
places in the ranks?"

"Where women were sufficiently employed already in housework in their own
families," replied the doctor, "they were recognized as rendering public
service until the new co-operative housekeeping was sufficiently
systematized to do away with the necessity of separate kitchens and other
elaborate domestic machinery for each family. Otherwise, except as
occasions for exemption existed, women took their place from the
beginning of the new order as units in the industrial state on the same
basis with men.

"If the Revolution had come a hundred years before, when as yet women had
no other vocation but housework, the change in customs might have been a
striking one, but already at that time women had made themselves a place
in the industrial and business world, and by the time the Revolution came
it was rather exceptional when unmarried women not of the rich and idle
class did not have some regular occupation outside the home. In
recognizing women as equally eligible and liable to public service with
men, the new order simply confirmed to the women workers the independence
they had already won."

"But how about the married women?"

"Of course," replied the doctor, "there would be considerable periods
during which married women and mothers would naturally be wholly exempt
from the performance of any public duty. But except at such times there
seems to be nothing in the nature of the sexual relation constituting a
reason why a married woman should lead a more secluded and useless life
than a man. In this matter of the place of women under the new order, you
must understand that it was the women themselves, rather than the men,
who insisted that they must share in full the duties as well as the
privileges of citizenship. The men would not have demanded it of them. In
this respect you must remember that during its whole course the
Revolution had been contemporary with a movement for the enlargement and
greater freedom of women's lives, and their equalization as to rights and
duties with men. The women, married as well as unmarried, had become
thoroughly tired of being effaced, and were in full revolt against the
headship of man. If the Revolution had not guaranteed the equality and
comradeship with him which she was fast conquering under the old order,
it could never have counted on her support."

"But how about the care of children, of the home, etc.?"

"Certainly the mothers could have been trusted to see that nothing
interfered with the welfare of their children, nor was there anything in
the public service expected of them that need do so. There is nothing in
the maternal function which establishes such a relation between mother
and child as need permanently interfere with her performance of social
and public duties, nor indeed does it appear that it was allowed to do so
in your day by women of sufficient economic means to command needed
assistance. The fact that women of the masses so often found it necessary
to abandon an independent existence, and cease to live any more for
themselves the moment they had children, was simply a mark of the
imperfection of your social arrangements, and not a natural or moral
necessity. So, too, as to what you call caring for a home. As soon as
co-operative methods were applied to housekeeping, and its various
departments were systematized as branches of the public service, the
former housewife had perforce to find another vocation in order to keep
herself busy."


"Talking about housework," I said, "how did they manage about houses?
There were, of course, not enough good lodgings to go around, now that
all were economic equals. How was it settled who should have the good
houses and who the poor?"

"As I have said," replied the doctor, "the controlling idea of the
revolutionary policy at the climax of the Revolution was not to
complicate the general readjustment by making any changes at that time
not necessary to its main purpose. For the vast number of the badly
housed the building of better houses was one of the first and greatest
tasks of the nation. As to the habitable houses, they were all assessed
at a graduated rental according to size and desirability, which their
former occupants, if they desired to keep them, were expected to pay out
of their new incomes as citizens. For a modest house the rent was
nominal, but for a great house--one of the palaces of the millionaires,
for instance--the rent was so large that no individual could pay it, and
indeed no individual without a host of servants would be able to occupy
it, and these, of course, he had no means of employing. Such buildings
had to be used as hotels, apartment houses, or for public purposes. It
would appear that nobody changed dwellings except the very poor, whose
houses were unfit for habitation, and the very rich, who could make no
use of their former habitation under the changed condition of things."


"There is one point not quite clear in my mind," I said, "and that is
just when the guarantee of equal maintenance for all citizens went into

"I suppose," replied the doctor, "that it must have been when, after the
final collapse of what was left of private capitalism, the nation assumed
the responsibility of providing for all the people. Until then the
organization of the public service had been on the wage basis, which
indeed was the only practicable way of initiating the plan of universal
public employment while yet the mass of business was conducted by the
capitalists, and the new and rising system had to be accommodated at so
many points to the existing order of things. The tremendous rate at which
the membership of the national industrial army was growing from week to
week during the transition period would have made it impossible to find
any basis of equal distribution that would hold good for a fortnight. The
policy of the Government had, however, been to prepare the workers for
equal sharing by establishing, as far as possible, a level wage for all
kinds of public employees. This it was possible to do, owing to the
cheapening of all sorts of commodities by the abolition of profits,
without reducing any one's income.

"For example, suppose one workman had received two dollars a day, and
another a dollar and a half. Owing to the cheapening of goods in the
public stores, these wages presently purchased twice as much as before.
But, instead of permitting the virtual increase of wages to operate by
multiplication, so as to double the original discrepancy between the pay
of the two, it was applied by equal additions to the account of each.
While both alike were better off than before, the disproportion in their
welfare was thus reduced. Nor could the one previously more highly paid
object to this as unfair, because the increased value of his wages was
not the result of his own efforts, but of the new public organization,
from which he could only ask an equal benefit with all others. Thus by
the time the nation was ready for equal sharing, a substantially level
wage, secured by leveling up, not leveling down, had already been
established. As to the high salaries of special employees, out of all
proportion to workmen's wages, which obtained under private capitalism,
they were ruthlessly cut down in the public service from the inception of
the revolutionary policy.

"But of course the most radical innovation in establishing universal
economic equality was not the establishment of a level wage as between
the workers, but the admission of the entire population, both of workers
and of those unable to work or past the working age, to an equal share in
the national product. During the transition period the Government had of
necessity proceeded like a capitalist in respect to recognizing and
dealing only with effective workers. It took no more cognizance of the
existence of the women, except when workers, or the children, or the old,
or the infirm, crippled, or sick, or other dependents on the workers than
the capitalists had been in the habit of doing. But when the nation
gathered into its hands the entire economic resources of the country it
proceeded to administer them on the principle--proclaimed, indeed, in the
great Declaration, but practically mocked by the former republic--that
all human beings have an equal right to liberty, life, and happiness, and
that governments rightfully exist only for the purpose of making good
that right--a principle of which the first practical consequence ought to
be the guarantee to all on equal terms of the economic basis. Thenceforth
all adult persons who could render any useful service to the nation were
required to do so if they desired to enjoy the benefits of the economic
system; but all who acknowledged the new order, whether they were able or
unable to render any economic service, received an equal share with all
others of the national product, and such provision was made for the needs
of children as should absolutely safeguard their interests from the
neglect or caprice of selfish parents.

"Of course, the immediate effect must have been that the active workers
received a less income than when they had been the only sharers; but if
they had been good men and distributed their wages as they ought among
those dependent on them, they still had for their personal use quite as
much as before. Only those wage-earners who had formerly had none
dependent on them or had neglected them suffered any curtailment of
income, and they deserved to. But indeed there was no question of
curtailment for more than a very short time for any; for, as soon as the
now completed economic organization was fairly in motion, everybody was
kept too busy devising ways to expend his or her own allowance to give
any thought to that of others. Of course, the equalizing of the economic
maintenance of all on the basis of citizenship put a final end to the
employment of private servants, even if the practice had lasted till
then, which is doubtful; for if any one desired a personal servant he
must henceforth pay him as much as he could receive in the public
service, which would be equivalent to the whole income of the would-be
employer, leaving him nothing for himself."


"There is one point," I said, "on which I should like to be a little more
clearly informed. When the nation finally took possession absolutely in
perpetuity of all the lands, machinery, and capital after the final
collapse of private capitalism, there must have been doubtless some sort
of final settling and balancing of accounts between the people and the
capitalists whose former properties had been nationalized. How was that
managed? What was the basis of final settlement?"

"The people waived a settlement," replied the doctor. "The guillotine,
the gallows, and the firing platoon played no part in the consummation of
the great Revolution. During the previous phases of the revolutionary
agitation there had indeed been much bitter talk of the reckoning which
the people in the hour of their triumph would demand of the capitalists
for the cruel past; but when the hour of triumph came, the enthusiasm of
humanity which glorified it extinguished the fires of hate and took away
all desire of barren vengeance. No, there was no settlement demanded; the
people forgave the past."

"Doctor," I said, "you have sufficiently--in fact,
overwhelmingly--answered my question, and all the more so because you did
not catch my meaning. Remember that I represent the mental and moral
condition of the average American capitalist in 1887. What I meant was to
inquire what compensation the people made to the capitalists for
nationalizing what had been their property. Evidently, however, from the
twentieth-century point of view, if there were to be any final settlement
between the people and the capitalists it was the former who had the bill
to present."

"I rather pride myself," replied the doctor, "in keeping track of your
point of view and distinguishing it from ours, but I confess that time I
fairly missed the cue. You see, as we look back upon the Revolution, one
of its most impressive features seems to be the vast magnanimity of the
people at the moment of their complete triumph in according a free
quittance to their former oppressors.

"Do you not see that if private capitalism was right, then the Revolution
was wrong; but, on the other hand, if the Revolution was right, then
private capitalism was wrong, and the greatest wrong that ever existed;
and in that case it was the capitalists who owed reparation to the people
they had wronged, rather than the people who owed compensation to the
capitalists for taking from them the means of that wrong? For the people
to have consented on any terms to buy their freedom from their former
masters would have been to admit the justice of their former bondage.
When insurgent slaves triumph, they are not in the habit of paying their
former masters the price of the shackles and fetters they have broken;
the masters usually consider themselves fortunate if they do not have
their heads broken with them. Had the question of compensating the
capitalists been raised at the time we are speaking of, it would have
been an unfortunate issue for them. To their question, Who was to pay
them for what the people had taken from them? the response would have
been, Who was to pay the people for what the capitalist system had taken
from them and their ancestors, the light of life and liberty and
happiness which it had shut off from unnumbered generations? That was an
accounting which would have gone so deep and reached back so far that the
debtors might well be glad to waive it. In taking possession of the earth
and all the works of man that stood upon it, the people were but
reclaiming their own heritage and the work of their own hands, kept back
from them by fraud. When the rightful heirs come to their own, the unjust
stewards who kept them out of their inheritance may deem themselves
mercifully dealt with if the new masters are willing to let bygones be

"But while the idea of compensating the capitalists for putting an end to
their oppression would have been ethically absurd, you will scarcely get
a full conception of the situation without considering that any such
compensation was in the nature of the case impossible. To have
compensated the capitalists in any practical way--that is, any way which
would have preserved to them under the new order any economic equivalent
for their former holdings--would have necessarily been to set up private
capitalism over again in the very act of destroying it, thus defeating
and stultifying the Revolution in the moment of its triumph.

"You see that this last and greatest of revolutions in the nature of the
case absolutely differed from all former ones in the finality and
completeness of its work. In all previous instances in which governments
had abolished or converted to public use forms of property in the hands
of citizens it had been possible to compensate them in some other kind of
property through which their former economic advantage should be
perpetuated under a different form. For example, in condemning lands it
was possible to pay for them in money, and in abolishing property in men
it was possible to pay for the slaves, so that the previous superiority
or privilege held by the property owner was not destroyed outright, but
merely translated, so to speak, into other terms. But the great
Revolution, aiming as it did at the final destruction of all forms of
advantage, dominion, or privilege among men, left no guise or mode
possible under which the capitalist could continue to exercise his former
superiority. All the modes under which in past time men had exercised
dominion over their fellows had been by one revolution after another
reduced to the single form of economic superiority, and now that this
last incarnation of the spirit of selfish dominion was to perish there
was no further refuge for it. The ultimate mask torn off, it was left to
wither in the face of the sun."

"Your explanation leaves me nothing further to ask as to the matter of a
final settling between the people and the capitalists," I said. "Still, I
have understood that in the first steps toward the substitution of public
business management for private capitalism, consisting in the
nationalizing or municipalizing of quasi-public services, such as gas
works, railroads, telegraphs, etc., some theory of compensation was
followed. Public opinion, at that stage not having accepted the whole
revolutionary programme, must probably have insisted upon this practice.
Just when was it discontinued?'

"You will readily perceive," replied the doctor, "that in measure as it
became generally recognized that economic equality was at hand, it began
to seem farcical to pay the capitalists for their possessions in forms of
wealth which must presently, as all knew, become valueless. So it was
that, as the Revolution approached its consummation, the idea of buying
the capitalists out gave place to plans for safeguarding them from
unnecessary hardships pending the transition period. All the businesses
of the class you speak of which were taken over by the people in the
early stages of the revolutionary agitation, were paid for in money or
bonds, and usually at prices most favorable to the capitalists. As to the
greater plants, which were taken over later, such as railroads and the
mines, a different course was followed. By the time public opinion was
ripe for these steps, it began to be recognized by the dullest that it
was possible, even if not probable, that the revolutionary programme
would go completely through, and all forms of monetary value or
obligation become waste paper. With this prospect the capitalists owning
the properties were naturally not particularly desirous of taking
national bonds for them which would have been the natural form of
compensation had they been bought outright. Even if the capitalists had
been willing to take the bonds, the people would never have consented to
increase the public debt by the five or six billions of bonds that would
have been necessary to carry out the purchase. Neither the railroads nor
the mines were therefore purchased at all. It was their management, not
their ownership, which had excited the public indignation and created the
demand for their nationalization. It was their management, therefore,
which was nationalized, their ownership remaining undisturbed.

"That is to say, the Government, on the high ground of public policy and
for the correction of grievances that had become intolerable, assumed the
exclusive and perpetual management and operation of the railroad lines.
An honest valuation of the plants having been made, the earnings, if any,
up to a reasonable percentage, were paid over to the security holders.
This arrangement answered the purpose of delivering the people and the
security holders alike from the extortions and mismanagement of the
former private operators, and at the same time brought a million railroad
employees into the public service and the enjoyment of all its benefits
quite as effectively as if the lines had been bought outright. A similar
plan was followed with the coal and other mines. This combination of
private ownership with public management continued until, the Revolution
having been consummated, all the capital of the country was nationalized
by comprehensive enactment.

"The general principle which governed the revolutionary policy in dealing
with property owners of all sorts was that while the distribution of
property was essentially unjust and existing property rights morally
invalid, and as soon as possible a wholly new system should be
established, yet that, until the new system of property could as a whole
replace the existing one, the legal rights of property owners ought to be
respected, and when overruled in the public interest proper provision
should be made to prevent hardship. The means of private maintenance
should not, that is to say, be taken away from any one until the
guarantee of maintenance from public sources could take its place. The
application of this principle by the revolutionists seems to have been
extremely logical, clean cut, and positive. The old law of property, bad
as it was, they did not aim to abolish in the name of license,
spoliation, and confusion, but in the name of a stricter and more logical
as well as more righteous law. In the most nourishing days of capitalism,
stealing, so called, was never repressed more sternly than up to the very
eve of the complete introduction of the new system.

"To sum up the case in a word," I suggested, "it seems that in passing
from the old order into the new it necessarily fared with the rich as it
did when they passed out of this world into the next. In one case, as in
the other, they just absolutely had to leave their money behind them."

"The illustration is really very apt," laughed the doctor, "except in one
important particular. It has been rumored that the change which Dives
made from this world to the next was an unhappy one for him; but within
half a dozen years after the new economic system had been in operation
there was not an ex-millionaire of the lot who was not ready to admit
that life had been made as much better worth living for him and his class
as for the rest of the community."

"Did the new order get into full running condition so quickly as that?" I

"Of course, it could not get into perfect order as you see it now for
many years. The _personnel_ of any community is the prime factor in
its economic efficiency, and not until the first generation born under
the new order had come to maturity--a generation of which every member
had received the highest intellectual and industrial training--did the
economic order fully show what it was capable of. But not ten nor two
years had elapsed from the time when the national Government took all the
people into employment on the basis of equal sharing in the product
before the system showed results which overwhelmed the world with
amazement. The partial system of public industries and public stores
which the Government had already undertaken had given the people some
intimation of the cheapening of products and improvement in their quality
which might follow from the abolition of profits even under a wage
system, but not until the entire economic system had been nationalized
and all co-operated for a common weal was it possible completely to pool
the product and share it equally. No previous experience had therefore
prepared the public for the prodigious efficiency of the new economic
enginery. The people had thought the reformers made rather large promises
as to what the new system would do in the way of wealth-making, but now
they charged them of keeping back the truth. And yet the result was one
that need not have surprised any one who had taken the trouble to
calculate the economic effect of the change in systems. The incalculable
increase of wealth which but for the profit system the great inventions
of the century would long before have brought the world, was being reaped
in a long-postponed but overwhelming harvest.

"The difficulty under the profit system had been to avoid producing too
much; the difficulty under the equal sharing system was how to produce
enough. The smallness of demand had before limited supply, but supply had
now set to it an unlimited task. Under private capitalism demand had been
a dwarf and lame at that, and yet this cripple had been pace-maker for
the giant production. National cooperation had put wings on the dwarf and
shod the cripple with Mercury's sandals. Henceforth the giant would need
all his strength, all his thews of steel and sinews of brass even, to
keep him in sight as he flitted on before.

"It would be difficult to give you an idea of the tremendous burst of
industrial energy with which the rejuvenated nation on the morrow of the
Revolution threw itself into the task of uplifting the welfare of all
classes to a level where the former rich man might find in sharing the
common lot nothing to regret. Nothing like the Titanic achievement by
which this result was effected had ever before been known in human
history, and nothing like it seems likely ever to occur again. In the
past there had not been work enough for the people. Millions, some rich,
some poor, some willingly, some unwillingly, had always been idle, and
not only that, but half the work that was done was wasted in competition
or in producing luxuries to gratify the secondary wants of the few, while
yet the primary wants of the mass remained unsatisfied. Idle machinery
equal to the power of other millions of men, idle land, idle capital of
every sort, mocked the need of the people. Now, all at once there were
not hands enough in the country, wheels enough in the machinery, power
enough in steam and electricity, hours enough in the day, days enough in
the week, for the vast task of preparing the basis of a comfortable
existence for all. For not until all were well-to-do, well housed, well
clothed, well fed, might any be so under the new order of things.

"It is said that in the first full year after the new order was
established the total product of the country was tripled, and in the
second the first year's product was doubled, and every bit of it

"While, of course, the improvement in the material welfare of the nation
was the most notable feature in the first years after the Revolution,
simply because it was the place at which any improvement must begin, yet
the ennobling and softening of manners and the growth of geniality in
social intercourse are said to have been changes scarcely less notable.
While the class differences inherited from the former order in point of
habits, education, and culture must, of course, continue to mark and in a
measure separate the members of the generation then on the stage, yet the
certain knowledge that the basis of these differences had passed away
forever, and that the children of all would mingle not only upon terms of
economic equality, but of moral, intellectual, and social sympathy, and
entire community of interest, seems to have had a strong anticipatory
influence in bringing together in a sentiment of essential brotherhood
those who were too far on in life to expect to see the full promise of
the Revolution realized.

"One other matter is worth speaking of, and that is the effect almost at
once of the universal and abounding material prosperity which the nation
had entered on to make the people forget all about the importance they
had so lately attached to petty differences in pay and wages and salary.
In the old days of general poverty, when a sufficiency was so hard to
come by, a difference in wages of fifty cents or a dollar had seemed so
great to the artisan that it was hard for him to accept the idea of an
economic equality in which such important distinctions should disappear.
It was quite natural that it should be so. Men fight for crusts when they
are starving, but they do not quarrel over bread at a banquet table.
Somewhat so it befell when in the years after the Revolution material
abundance and all the comforts of life came to be a matter of course for
every one, and storing for the future was needless. Then it was that the
hunger motive died out of human nature and covetousness as to material
things, mocked to death by abundance, perished by atrophy, and the
motives of the modern worker, the love of honor, the joy of beneficence,
the delight of achievement, and the enthusiasm of humanity, became the
impulses of the economic world. Labor was glorified, and the cringing
wage-slave of the nineteenth century stood forth transfigured as the
knight of humanity."



If the reader were to judge merely from what has been set down in these
pages he would be likely to infer that my most absorbing interest during
these days I am endeavoring to recall was the study of the political
economy and social philosophy of the modern world, which I was pursuing
under the direction of Dr. Leete. That, however, would be a great
mistake. Full of wonder and fascination as was that occupation, it was
prosaic business compared with the interest of a certain old story which
his daughter and I were going over together, whereof but slight mention
has been made, because it is a story which all know or ought to know for
themselves. The dear doctor, being aware of the usual course of such
stories, no doubt realized that this one might be expected presently to
reach a stage of interest where it would be likely, for a time at least,
wholly to distract my attention from other themes. No doubt he had been
governed by this consideration in trying to give to our talks a range
which should result in furnishing me with a view of the institutions of
the modern world and their rational basis that would be as symmetrical
and rounded out as was at all consistent with the vastness of the subject
and the shortness of the time. It was some days after he had told me the
story of the transition period before we had an opportunity for another
long talk, and the turn he gave to our discourse on that occasion seemed
to indicate that he intended it as a sort of conclusion of the series, as
indeed it proved to be.

Edith and I had come home rather late that evening, and when she left me
I turned into the library, where a light showed that the doctor was still
sitting. As I entered he was turning over the leaves of a very old and
yellow-looking volume, the title of which, by its oddity, caught my eye.

"Kenloe's Book of the Blind," I said. "That is an odd title."

"It is the title of an odd book," replied the doctor. "The Book of the
Blind is nearly a hundred years old, having been compiled soon after the
triumph of the Revolution. Everybody was happy, and the people in their
joy were willing to forgive and forget the bitter opposition of the
capitalists and the learned class, which had so long held back the
blessed change. The preachers who had preached, the teachers who had
taught, and the writers who had written against the Revolution, were now
the loudest in its praise, and desired nothing so much as to have their
previous utterances forgotten. But Kenloe, moved by a certain crabbed
sense of justice, was bound that they should not be forgotten.
Accordingly, he took the pains to compile, with great care as to
authenticity, names, dates, and places, a mass of excerpts from speeches,
books, sermons, and newspapers, in which the apologists of private
capitalism had defended that system and assailed the advocates of
economic equality during the long period of revolutionary agitation. Thus
he proposed to pillory for all time the blind guides who had done their
best to lead the nation and the world into the ditch. The time would
come, he foresaw, as it has come, when it would seem incredible to
posterity that rational men and, above all, learned men should have
opposed in the name of reason a measure which, like economic equality
obviously meant nothing more nor less than the general diffusion of
happiness. Against that time he prepared this book to serve as a
perpetual testimony. It was dreadfully hard on the men, all alive at the
time and desiring the past to be forgotten, on whom he conferred this
most undesirable immortality. One can imagine how they must have
anathematized him when the book came out. Nevertheless it must be said
that if men ever deserved to endure perpetual obloquy those fellows did.

"When I came across this old volume on the top shelf of the library the
other day it occurred to me that it might be helpful to complete your
impression of the great Revolution by giving you an idea of the other
side of the controversy--the side of your own class, the capitalists, and
what sort of reasons they were able to give against the proposition to
equalize the basis of human welfare."

I assured the doctor that nothing would interest me more. Indeed, I had
become so thoroughly naturalized as a twentieth-century American that
there was something decidedly piquant in the idea of having my former
point of view as a nineteenth-century capitalist recalled to me.

"Anticipating that you would take that view," said the doctor, "I have
prepared a little list of the main heads of objection from Kenloe's
collection, and we will go over them, if you like, this evening. Of
course, there are many more than I shall quote, but the others are mainly
variations of these, or else relate to points which have been covered in
our talks."

I made myself comfortable, and the doctor proceeded:


"The clergy in your day assumed to be the leaders of the people, and it
is but respectful to their pretensions to take up first what seems to
have been the main pulpit argument against the proposed system of
economic equality collectively guaranteed. It appears to have been rather
in the nature of an excuse for not espousing the new social ideal than a
direct attack on it, which indeed it would have been rather difficult for
nominal Christians to make, seeing that it was merely the proposal to
carry out the golden rule.

"The clergy reasoned that the fundamental cause of social misery was
human sin and depravity, and that it was vain to expect any great
improvement in the social condition through mere improvements in social
forms and institutions unless there was a corresponding moral improvement
in men. Until that improvement took place it was therefore of no use to
introduce improved social systems, for they would work as badly as the
old ones if those who were to operate them were not themselves better men
and women.

"The element of truth in this argument is the admitted fact that the use
which individuals or communities are able to make of any idea,
instrument, or institution depends on the degree to which they have been
educated up to the point of understanding and appreciating it.

"On the other hand, however, it is equally true, as the clergy must at
once have admitted, that from the time a people begins to be morally and
intellectually educated up to the point of understanding and appreciating
better institutions, their adoption is likely to be of the greatest
benefit to them. Take, for example, the ideas of religious liberty and of
democracy. There was a time when the race could not understand or fitly
use either, and their adoption as formal institutions would have done no
good. Afterward there came a time when the world was ready for the ideas,
and then their realization by means of new social institutions
constituted great forward steps in civilization.

"That is to say, if, on the one hand, it is of no use to introduce an
improved institution before people begin to be ready for it, on the other
hand great loss results if there be a delay or refusal to adopt the
better institution as soon as the readiness begins to manifest itself.

"This being the general law of progress, the practical question is, How
are we to determine as to any particular proposed improvement in
institutions whether the world is yet ready to make a good use of it or
whether it is premature?

"The testimony of history is that the only test of the fitness of people
at any time for a new institution is the volume and earnestness of the
popular demand for the change. When the peoples began in earnest to cry
out for religious liberty and freedom of conscience, it was evident that
they were ready for them. When nations began strongly to demand popular
government, it was proof that they were ready for that. It did not follow
that they were entirely able at once to make the best possible use of the
new institution; that they could only learn to do by experience, and the
further development which they would attain through the use of the better
institution and could not otherwise attain at all. What was certain was
that after the people had reached this state of mind the old institution
had ceased to be serviceable, and that however badly for a time the new
one might work, the interest of the race demanded its adoption, and
resistance to the change was resistance to progress.

"Applying this test to the situation toward the close of the nineteenth
century, what evidence was there that the world was beginning to be ready
for a radically different and more humane set of social institutions? The
evidence was the volume, earnestness, and persistence of the popular
demand for it which at that period had come to be the most widespread,
profound, and powerful movement going on in the civilized world. This was
the tremendous fact which should have warned the clergy who withstood the
people's demand for better things to beware lest haply they be found
fighting even against God. What more convincing proof could be asked that
the world had morally and intellectually outgrown the old economic order
than the detestation and denunciation of its cruelties and fatuities
which had become the universal voice? What stronger evidence could there
be that the race was ready at least to attempt the experiment of social
life on a nobler plane than the marvelous development during this period
of the humanitarian and philanthropic spirit, the passionate acceptance
by the masses of the new idea of social solidarity and the universal
brotherhood of man?

"If the clergymen who objected to the Revolution on the ground that
better institutions would be of no utility without a better spirit had
been sincere in that objection, they would have found in a survey of the
state and tendencies of popular feeling the most striking proof of the
presence of the very conditions in extraordinary measure which they
demanded as necessary to insure the success of the experiment.

"But indeed it is to be greatly feared that they were not sincere. They
pretended to hold Christ's doctrine that hatred of the old life and a
desire to lead a better one is the only vocation necessary to enter upon
such a life. If they had been sincere in professing this doctrine, they
would have hailed with exultation the appeal of the masses to be
delivered from their bondage to a wicked social order and to be permitted
to live together on better, kinder, juster terms. But what they actually
said to the people was in substance this: It is true, as you complain,
that the present social and economic system is morally abominable and
thoroughly antichristian, and that it destroys men's souls and bodies.
Nevertheless, you must not think of trying to change it for a better
system, because you are not yet good enough to try to be better. It is
necessary that you should wait until you are more righteous before you
attempt to leave off doing evil. You must go on stealing and fighting
until you shall become fully sanctified.

"How would the clergy have been scandalized to hear that a Christian
minister had in like terms attempted to discourage an individual penitent
who professed loathing for his former life and a desire to lead a better!
What language shall we find then that is strong enough fitly to
characterize the attitude of these so-called ministers of Christ, who in
his name rebuked and derided the aspirations of a world weary of social
wrong and seeking for a better way?"


"But, after all," pursued the doctor, turning the pages of Kenloe, "let
us not be too hard on these unfortunate clergymen, as if they were more
blinded or bigoted in their opposition to progress than were other
classes of the learned men of the day, as, for example, the
economists. One of the main arguments--perhaps the leading one--of the
nineteenth-century economists against the programme of economic equality
under a nationalized economic system was that the people would not prove
efficient workers owing to the lack of sufficiently sharp personal
incentives to diligence.

"Now, let us look at this objection. Under the old system there were two
main incentives to economic exertion: the one chiefly operative on the
masses, who lived from hand to mouth, with no hope of more than a bare
subsistence; the other operating to stimulate the well-to-do and rich to
continue their efforts to accumulate wealth. The first of these motives,
the lash that drove the masses to their tasks, was the actual pressure or
imminent fear of want. The second of the motives, that which spurred the
already rich, was the desire to be ever richer, a passion which we know
increased with what it fed on. Under the new system every one on easy
conditions would be sure of as good a maintenance as any one else and be
quite relieved from the pressure or fear of want. No one, on the other
hand, by any amount of effort, could hope to become the economic superior
of another. Moreover, it was said, since every one looked to his share in
the general result rather than to his personal product, the nerve of zeal
would be cut. It was argued that the result would be that everybody would
do as little as he could and keep within the minimum requirement of the
law, and that therefore, while the system might barely support itself, it
could never be an economic success."

"That sounds very natural," I said. "I imagine it is just the sort of
argument that I should have thought very powerful."

"So your friends the capitalists seem to have regarded it, and yet the
very statement of the argument contains a confession of the economic
imbecility of private capitalism which really leaves nothing to be
desired as to completeness. Consider, Julian, what is implied as to an
economic system by the admission that under it the people never escape
the actual pressure of want or the immediate dread of it. What more could
the worst enemy of private capitalism allege against it, or what stronger
reason could he give for demanding that some radically new system be at
least given a trial, than the fact which its defenders stated in this
argument for retaining it--namely, that under it the masses were always
hungry? Surely no possible new system could work any worse than one which
confessedly depended upon the perpetual famine of the people to keep it

"It was a pretty bad giving away of their case," I said, "when you come
to think of it that way. And yet at first statement it really had a
formidable sound."

"Manifestly," said the doctor, "the incentives to wealth-production under
a system confessedly resulting in perpetual famine must be ineffectual,
and we really need consider them no further; but your economists praised
so highly the ambition to get rich as an economic motive and objected so
strongly to economic equality because it would shut it off, that a word
may be well as to the real value of the lust of wealth as an economic
motive. Did the individual pursuit of riches under your system
necessarily tend to increase the aggregate wealth of the community? The
answer is significant. It tended to increase the aggregate wealth only
when it prompted the production of new wealth. When, on the other hand,
it merely prompted individuals to get possession of wealth already
produced and in the hands of others, it tended only to change the
distribution without at all increasing the total of wealth. Not only,
indeed, did the pursuit of wealth by acquisition, as distinguished from
production, not tend to increase the total, but greatly to decrease it by
wasteful strife. Now, I will leave it to you, Julian, whether the
successful pursuers of wealth, those who illustrated most strikingly the
force of this motive of accumulation, usually sought their wealth by
themselves producing it or by getting hold of what other people had
produced or supplanting other people's enterprises and reaping the field
others had sown."

"By the latter processes, of course," I replied. "Production was slow and
hard work. Great wealth could not be gained that way, and everybody knew
it. The acquisition of other people's product and the supplanting of
their enterprises were the easy and speedy and royal ways to riches for
those who were clever enough, and were the basis of all large and rapid

"So we read," said the doctor; "but the desire of getting rich also
stimulated capitalists to more or less productive activity which was the
source of what little wealth you had. This was called production for
profit, but the political-economy class the other morning showed us that
production for profit was economic suicide, tending inevitably, by
limiting the consuming power of a community, to a fractional part of its
productive power to cripple production in turn, and so to keep the mass
of mankind in perpetual poverty. And surely this is enough to say about
the incentives to wealth-making which the world lost in abandoning
private capitalism, first general poverty, and second the profit system,
which caused that poverty. Decidedly we can dispense with those

"Under the modern system it is indeed true that no one ever imagined such
a thing as coming to want unless he deliberately chose to, but we think
that fear is on the whole the weakest as well as certainly the cruelest
of incentives. We would not have it on any terms were it merely for
gain's sake. Even in your day your capitalists knew that the best man was
not he who was working for his next dinner, but he who was so well off
that no immediate concern for his living affected his mind. Self-respect
and pride in achievement made him a far better workman than he who was
thinking of his day's pay. But if those motives were as strong then,
think how much more powerful they are now! In your day when two men
worked side by side for an employer it was no concern of the one, however
the other might cheat or loaf. It was not his loss, but the employer's.
But now that all work for the common fund, the one who evades or scamps
his work robs every one of his fellows. A man had better hang himself
nowadays than get the reputation of a shirk.

"As to the notion of these objectors that economic equality would cut the
nerve of zeal by denying the individual the reward of his personal
achievements, it was a complete misconception of the effects of the
system. The assumption that there would be no incentives to impel
individuals to excel one another in industry merely because these
incentives would not take a money form was absurd. Every one is as
directly and far more certainly the beneficiary of his own merits as in
your day, save only that the reward is not in what you called 'cash.' As
you know, the whole system of social and official rank and headship,
together with the special honors of the state, are determined by the
relative value of the economic and other services of individuals to the
community. Compared with the emulation aroused by this system of nobility
by merit, the incentives to effort offered under the old order of things
must have been slight indeed.

"The whole of this subject of incentive taken by your contemporaries
seems, in fact, to have been based upon the crude and childish theory
that the main factor in diligence or execution of any kind is external,
whereas it is wholly internal. A person is congenitally slothful or
energetic. In the one case no opportunity and no incentive can make him
work beyond a certain minimum of efficiency, while in the other case he
will make his opportunity and find his incentives, and nothing but
superior force can prevent his doing the utmost possible. If the motive
force is not in the man to start with, it can not be supplied from
without, and there is no substitute for it. If a man's mainspring is not
wound up when he is born, it never can be wound up afterward. The most
that any industrial system can do to promote diligence is to establish
such absolutely fair conditions as shall promise sure recognition for all
merit in its measure. This fairness, which your system, utterly unjust in
all respects, wholly failed to secure, ours absolutely provides. As to
the unfortunates who are born lazy, our system has certainly no
miraculous power to make them energetic, but it does see to it with
absolute certainty that every able-bodied person who receives economic
maintenance of the nation shall render at least the minimum of service.
The laziest is sure to pay his cost. In your day, on the other hand,
society supported millions of able-bodied loafers in idleness, a dead
weight on the world's industry. From the hour of the consummation of the
great Revolution, this burden ceased to be borne."

"Doctor," I said, "I am sure my old friends could do better than that.
Let us have another of their objections."


"Here, then, is one which they seem to have thought a great deal of. They
argued that the effect of economic equality would be to make everybody
just alike, as if they had been sawed off to one measure, and that
consequently life would become so monotonous that people would all hang
themselves at the end of a month. This objection is beautifully typical
of an age when everything and everybody had been reduced to a money
valuation. It having been proposed to equalize everybody's supply of
money, it was at once assumed, as a matter of course, that there would be
left no points of difference between individuals that would be worth
considering. How perfectly does this conclusion express the philosophy of
life held by a generation in which it was the custom to sum up men as
respectively 'worth' so many thousands, hundred thousands, or millions of
dollars! Naturally enough, to such people it seemed that human beings
would become well-nigh indistinguishable if their bank accounts were the

"But let us be entirely fair to your contemporaries. Possibly those who
used this argument against economic equality would have felt aggrieved to
have it made out the baldly sordid proposition it seems to be. They
appear, to judge from the excerpts collected in this book, to have had a
vague but sincere apprehension that in some quite undefined way economic
equality would really tend to make people monotonously alike, tediously
similar, not merely as to bank accounts, but as to qualities in general,
with the result of obscuring the differences in natural endowments, the
interaction of which lends all the zest to social intercourse. It seems
almost incredible that the obvious and necessary effect of economic
equality could be apprehended in a sense so absolutely opposed to the
truth. How could your contemporaries look about them without seeing that
it is always inequality which prompts the suppression of individuality by
putting a premium on servile imitation of superiors, and, on the other
hand, that it is always among equals that one finds independence?
Suppose, Julian, you had a squad of recruits and wanted to ascertain at a
glance their difference in height, what sort of ground would you select
to line them up on?"

"The levelest piece I could find, of course."

"Evidently; and no doubt these very objectors would have done the same in
a like case, and yet they wholly failed to see that this was precisely
what economic equality would mean for the community at large. Economic
equality with the equalities of education and opportunity implied in it
was the level standing ground, the even floor, on which the new order
proposed to range all alike, that they might be known for what they were,
and all their natural inequalities be brought fully out. The charge of
abolishing and obscuring the natural differences between men lay justly
not against the new order, but against the old, which, by a thousand
artificial conditions and opportunities arising from economic inequality,
made it impossible to know how far the apparent differences in
individuals were natural, and how far they were the result of artificial
conditions. Those who voiced the objection to economic equality as
tending to make men all alike were fond of calling it a leveling process.
So it was, but it was not men whom the process leveled, but the ground
they stood on. From its introduction dates the first full and clear
revelation of the natural and inherent varieties in human endowments.
Economic equality, with all it implies, is the first condition of any
true anthropometric or man-measuring system."

"Really," I said, "all these objections seem to be of the boomerang
pattern, doing more damage to the side that used them than to the enemy."

"For that matter," replied the doctor, "the revolutionists would have
been well off for ammunition if they had used only that furnished by
their opponents' arguments. Take, for example, another specimen, which we
may call the aesthetic objection to economic equality, and might regard
as a development of the one just considered. It was asserted that the
picturesqueness and amusement of the human spectacle would suffer without
the contrast of conditions between the rich and poor. The question first
suggested by this statement is: To whom, to what class did these
contrasts tend to make life more amusing? Certainly not to the poor, who
made up the mass of the race. To them they must have been maddening. It
was then in the interest of the mere handful of rich and fortunate that
this argument for retaining poverty was urged. Indeed this appears to
have been quite a fine ladies' argument. Kenloe puts it in the mouths of
leaders of polite society. As coolly as if it had been a question of
parlor decoration, they appear to have argued that the black background
of the general misery was a desirable foil to set off the pomp of the
rich. But, after all, this objection was not more brutal than it was
stupid. If here and there might be found some perverted being who
relished his luxuries the more keenly for the sight of others' want, yet
the general and universal rule is that happiness is stimulated by the
sight of the happiness of others. As a matter of fact, far from desiring
to see or be even reminded of squalor and poverty, the rich seem to have
tried to get as far as possible from sight or sound of them, and to wish
to forget their existence.

"A great part of the objections to economic equality in this book seems
to have been based on such complete misapprehensions of what the plan
implied as to have no sort of relevancy to it. Some of these I have
passed over. One of them, by way of illustration, was based on the
assumption that the new social order would in some way operate to
enforce, by law, relations of social intimacy of all with all, without
regard to personal tastes or affinities. Quite a number of Kenloe's
subjects worked themselves up to a frenzy, protesting against the
intolerable effects of such a requirement. Of course, they were fighting
imaginary foes. There was nothing under the old social order which
compelled men to associate merely because their bank accounts or incomes
were the same, and there was nothing under the new order that would any
more do so. While the universality of culture and refinement vastly
widens the circle from which one may choose congenial associates, there
is nothing to prevent anybody from living a life as absolutely unsocial
as the veriest cynic of the old time could have desired.


"The theory of Kenloe," continued the doctor, "that unless he carefully
recorded and authenticated these objections to economic equality,
posterity would refuse to believe that they had ever been seriously
offered, is specially justified by the next one on the list. This is an
argument against the new order because it would abolish the competitive
system and put an end to the struggle for existence. According to the
objectors, this would be to destroy an invaluable school of character and
testing process for the weeding out of inferiority, and the development
and survival as leaders of the best types of humanity. Now, if your
contemporaries had excused themselves for tolerating the competitive
system on the ground that, bad and cruel as it was, the world was not
ripe for any other, the attitude would have been intelligible, if not
rational; but that they should defend it as a desirable institution in
itself, on account of its moral results, and therefore not to be
dispensed with even if it could be, seems hard to believe. For what was
the competitive system but a pitiless, all-involving combat for the means
of life, the whole zest of which depended on the fact that there was not
enough to go round, and the losers must perish or purchase bare existence
by becoming the bondmen of the successful? Between a fight for the
necessary means of life like this and a fight for life itself with sword
and gun, it is impossible to make any real distinction. However, let us
give the objection a fair hearing.

"In the first place, let us admit that, however dreadful were the
incidents of the fight for the means of life called competition, yet, if
it were such a school of character and testing process for developing the
best types of the race as these objectors claimed, there would be
something to have been said in favor of its retention. But the first
condition of any competition or test, the results of which are to command
respect or possess any value, is the fairness and equality of the
struggle. Did this first and essential condition of any true competitive
struggle characterize the competitive system of your day?"

"On the contrary," I replied, "the vast majority of the contestants were
hopelessly handicapped at the start by ignorance and lack of early
advantages, and never had even the ghost of a chance from the word go.
Differences in economic advantages and backing, moreover, gave half the
race at the beginning to some, leaving the others at a distance which
only extraordinary endowments might overcome. Finally, in the race for
wealth all the greatest prizes were not subject to competition at all,
but were awarded without any contest according to the accident of birth."

"On the whole, then, it would appear," resumed the doctor, "that of all
the utterly unequal, unfair, fraudulent, sham contests, whether in sport
or earnest, that were ever engaged in, the so-called competitive system
was the ghastliest farce. It was called the competitive system apparently
for no other reason than that there was not a particle of genuine
competition in it, nothing but brutal and cowardly slaughter of the
unarmed and overmatched by bullies in armor; for, although we have
compared the competitive struggle to a foot race, it was no such harmless
sport as that, but a struggle to the death for life and liberty, which,
mind you, the contestants did not even choose to risk, but were forced to
undertake, whatever their chances. The old Romans used to enjoy the
spectacle of seeing men fight for their lives, but they at least were
careful to pair their gladiators as nearly as possible. The most hardened
attendants at the Coliseum would have hissed from the arena a performance
in which the combatants were matched with such utter disregard of
fairness as were those who fought for their lives in the so-called
competitive struggle of your day."

"Even you, doctor," I said, "though you know these things so well through
the written record, can not realize how terribly true your words are."

"Very good. Now tell me what it would have been necessary to do by way of
equalizing the conditions of the competitive struggle in order that it
might be called, without mockery, a fair test of the qualities of the

"It would have been necessary, at least," I said, "to equalize their
educational equipment, early advantages, and economic or money backing."

"Precisely so; and that is just what economic equality proposed to do.
Your extraordinary contemporaries objected to economic equality because
it would destroy the competitive system, when, in fact, it promised the
world the first and only genuine competitive system it ever had."

"This objection seems the biggest boomerang yet," I said.

"It is a double-ended one," said the doctor, "and we have yet observed
but one end. We have seen that the so-called competitive system under
private capitalism was not a competitive system at all, and that nothing
but economic equality could make a truly competitive system possible.
Grant, however, for the sake of the argument, that the old system was
honestly competitive, and that the prizes went to the most proficient
under the requirements of the competition; the question would remain
whether the qualities the competition tended to develop were desirable
ones. A training school in the art of lying, for example, or burglary, or
slander, or fraud, might be efficient in its method and the prizes might
be fairly distributed to the most proficient pupils, and yet it would
scarcely be argued that the maintenance of the school was in the public
interest. The objection we are considering assumes that the qualities
encouraged and rewarded under the competitive system were desirable
qualities, and such as it was for the public policy to develop. Now, if
this was so, we may confidently expect to find that the prize-winners in
the competitive struggle, the great money-makers of your age, were
admitted to be intellectually and morally the finest types of the race at
the time. How was that?"

"Don't be sarcastic, doctor."

"No, I will not be sarcastic, however great the temptation, but just
talk straight on. What did the world, as a rule, think of the great
fortune-makers of your time? What sort of human types did they represent?
As to intellectual culture, it was held as an axiom that a college
education was a drawback to success in business, and naturally so, for
any knowledge of the humanities would in so far have unmanned men for the
sordid and pitiless conditions of the fight for wealth. We find the great
prize takers in the competitive struggle to have generally been men who
made it a boast that they had never had any mental education beyond the
rudiments. As a rule, the children and grandchildren, who gladly
inherited their wealth, were ashamed of their appearance and manners as
too gross for refined surroundings.

"So much for the intellectual qualities that marked the victors in the
race for wealth under the miscalled competitive system; what of the
moral? What were the qualities and practices which the successful seeker
after great wealth must systematically cultivate and follow? A lifelong
habit of calculating upon and taking advantage of the weaknesses,
necessities, and mistakes of others, a pitiless insistence upon making
the most of every advantage which one might gain over another, whether by
skill or accident, the constant habit of undervaluing and depreciating
what one would buy, and overvaluing what one would sell; finally, such a
lifelong study to regulate every thought and act with sole reference to
the pole star of self-interest in its narrowest conception as must needs
presently render the man incapable of every generous or self-forgetting
impulse. That was the condition of mind and soul which the competitive
pursuit of wealth in your day tended to develop, and which was naturally
most brilliantly exemplified in the cases of those who carried away the
great prizes of the struggle.

"But, of course, these winners of the great prizes were few, and had the
demoralizing influence of the struggle been limited to them it would have
involved the moral ruin of a small number. To realize how wide and deadly
was the depraving influence of the struggle for existence, we must
remember that it was not confined to its effect upon the characters of
the few who succeeded, but demoralized equally the millions who failed,
not on account of a virtue superior to that of the few winners, or any
unwillingness to adopt their methods, but merely through lack of the
requisite ability or fortune. Though not one in ten thousand might
succeed largely in the pursuit of wealth, yet the rules of the contest
must be followed as closely to make a bare living as to gain a fortune,
in bargaining for a bag of old rags as in buying a railroad. So it was
that the necessity equally upon all of seeking their living, however
humble, by the methods of competition, forbade the solace of a good
conscience as effectually to the poor man as to the rich, to the many
losers at the game as to the few winners. You remember the familiar
legend which represents the devil as bargaining with people for their
souls, with the promise of worldly success as the price. The bargain was
in a manner fair as set forth in the old story. The man always received
the price agreed on. But the competitive system was a fraudulent devil,
which, while requiring everybody to forfeit their souls, gave in return
worldly success to but one in a thousand.

"And now, Julian, just let us glance at the contrast between what winning
meant under the old false competitive system and what it means under the
new and true competitive system, both to the winner and to the others.
The winners then were those who had been most successful in getting away
the wealth of others. They had not even pretended to seek the good of the
community or to advance its interest, and if they had done so, that
result had been quite incidental. More often than otherwise their wealth
represented the loss of others. What wonder that their riches became a
badge of ignominy and their victory their shame? The winners in the
competition of to-day are those who have done most to increase the
general wealth and welfare. The losers, those who have failed to win the
prizes, are not the victims of the winners, but those whose interest,
together with the general interest, has been served by them better than
they themselves could have served it. They are actually better off
because a higher ability than theirs was developed in the race, seeing
that this ability redounded wholly to the common interest. The badges of
honor and rewards of rank and office which are the tangible evidence of
success won in the modern competitive struggle are but expressions of the
love and gratitude of the people to those who have proved themselves
their most devoted and efficient servants and benefactors."

"It strikes me," I said, "so far as you have gone, that if some one had
been employed to draw up a list of the worst and weakest aspects of
private capitalism, he could not have done better than to select the
features of the system on which its champions seem to have based their
objections to a change."


"That is an impression," said the doctor, "which you will find confirmed
as we take up the next of the arguments on our list against economic
equality. It was asserted that to have an economic maintenance on simple
and easy terms guaranteed to all by the nation would tend to discourage
originality and independence of thought and conduct on the part of the
people, and hinder the development of character and individuality. This
objection might be regarded as a branch of the former one that economic
equality would make everybody just alike, or it might be considered a
corollary of the argument we have just disposed of about the value of
competition as a school of character. But so much seems to have been made
of it by the opponents of the Revolution that I have set it down

"The objection is one which, by the very terms necessary to state it,
seems to answer itself, for it amounts to saying that a person will be in
danger of losing independence of feeling by gaining independence of
position. If I were to ask you what economic condition was regarded as
most favorable to moral and intellectual independence in your day, and
most likely to encourage a man to act out himself without fear or favor,
what would you say?"

"I should say, of course, that a secure and independent basis of
livelihood was that condition."

"Of course. Now, what the new order promised to give and guarantee
everybody was precisely this absolute independence and security of
livelihood. And yet it was argued that the arrangement would be
objectionable, as tending to discourage independence of character. It
seems to us that if there is any one particular in which the influence
upon humanity of economic equality has been more beneficent than any
other, it has been the effect which security of economic position has had
to make every one absolute lord of himself and answerable for his
opinions, speech, and conduct to his own conscience only.

"That is perhaps enough to say in answer to an objection which, as I
remarked, really confutes itself, but the monumental audacity of the
defenders of private capitalism in arguing that any other possible system
could be more unfavorable than itself to human dignity and independence
tempts a little comment, especially as this is an aspect of the old order
on which I do not remember that we have had much talk. As it seems to us,
perhaps the most offensive feature of private capitalism, if one may
select among so many offensive features, was its effect to make cowardly,
time-serving, abject creatures of human beings, as a consequence of the
dependence for a living, of pretty nearly everybody upon some individual
or group.

"Let us just glance at the spectacle which the old order presented in
this respect. Take the women in the first place, half the human race.
Because they stood almost universally in a relation of economic
dependence, first upon men in general and next upon some man in
particular, they were all their lives in a state of subjection both to
the personal dictation of some individual man, and to a set of irksome
and mind-benumbing conventions representing traditional standards of
opinion as to their proper conduct fixed in accordance with the masculine
sentiment. But if the women had no independence at all, the men were not
so very much better off. Of the masculine half of the world, the greater
part were hirelings dependent for their living upon the favor of
employers and having the most direct interest to conform so far as
possible in opinions and conduct to the prejudices of their masters, and,
when they could not conform, to be silent. Look at your secret ballot
laws. You thought them absolutely necessary in order to enable workingmen
to vote freely. What a confession is that fact of the universal
intimidation of the employed by the employer! Next there were the
business men, who held themselves above the workingmen. I mean the
tradesmen, who sought a living by persuading the people to buy of them.
But here our quest of independence is even more hopeless than among the
workingmen, for, in order to be successful in attracting the custom of
those whom they cringingly styled their patrons, it was necessary for the
merchant to be all things to all men, and to make an art of

"Let us look yet higher. We may surely expect to find independence of
thought and speech among the learned classes in the so-called liberal
professions if nowhere else. Let us see how our inquiry fares there. Take
the clerical profession first--that of the religious ministers and
teachers. We find that they were economic servants and hirelings either
of hierarchies or congregations, and paid to voice the opinions of their
employers and no others. Every word that dropped from their lips was
carefully weighed lest it should indicate a trace of independent
thinking, and if it were found, the clergyman risked his living. Take the
higher branches of secular teaching in the colleges and professions.
There seems to have been some freedom allowed in teaching the dead
languages; but let the instructor take up some living issue and handle it
in a manner inconsistent with the capitalist interest, and you know well
enough what became of him. Finally, take the editorial profession, the
writers for the press, who on the whole represented the most influential
branch of the learned class. The great nineteenth-century newspaper was a
capitalistic enterprise as purely commercial in its principle as a woolen
factory, and the editors were no more allowed to write their own opinions
than the weavers to choose the patterns they wove. They were employed to
advocate the opinions and interests of the capitalists owning the paper
and no others. The only respect in which the journalists seem to have
differed from the clergy was in the fact that the creeds which the latter
were employed to preach were more or less fixed traditions, while those
which the editors must preach changed with the ownership of the paper.
This, Julian, is the truly exhilarating spectacle of abounding and
unfettered originality, of sturdy moral and intellectual independence and
rugged individuality, which it was feared by your contemporaries might be
endangered by any change in the economic system. We may agree with them
that it would have been indeed a pity if any influence should operate to
make independence any rarer than it was, but they need not have been
apprehensive; it could not be."

"Judging from these examples of the sort of argumentative opposition
which the revolutionists had to meet," I observed, "it strikes me that
they must have had a mighty easy time of it."

"So far as rational argument was concerned," replied the doctor, "no
great revolutionary movement ever had to contend with so little
opposition. The cause of the capitalists was so utterly bad, either from
the point of view of ethics, politics, or economic science, that there
was literally nothing that could be said for it that could not be turned
against it with greater effect. Silence was the only safe policy for the
capitalists, and they would have been glad enough to follow it if the
people had not insisted that they should make some sort of a plea to the
indictment against them. But because the argumentative opposition which
the revolutionists had to meet was contemptible in quality, it did not
follow that their work was an easy one. Their real task--and it was one
for giants--was not to dispose of the arguments against their cause, but
to overcome the moral and intellectual inertia of the masses and rouse
them to do just a little clear thinking for themselves.


"The next objection--there are only two or three more worth
mentioning--is directed not so much against economic equality in itself
as against the fitness of the machinery by which the new industrial
system was to be carried on. The extension of popular government over
industry and commerce involved of course the substitution of public and
political administration on a large scale for the previous irresponsible
control of private capitalists. Now, as I need not tell you, the
Government of the United States--municipal, State, and national--in the
last third of the nineteenth century had become very corrupt. It was
argued that to intrust any additional functions to governments so corrupt
would be nothing short of madness."

"Ah!" I exclaimed, "that is perhaps the rational objection we have been
waiting for. I am sure it is one that would have weighed heavily with me,
for the corruption of our governmental system smelled to heaven."

"There is no doubt," said the doctor, "that there was a great deal of
political corruption and that it was a very bad thing, but we must look a
little deeper than these objectors did to see the true bearing of this
fact on the propriety of nationalizing industry.

"An instance of political corruption was one where the public servant
abused his trust by using the administration under his control for
purposes of private gain instead of solely for the public interest--that
is to say, he managed his public trust just as if it were his private
business and tried to make a profit out of it. A great outcry was made,
and very properly, when any such conduct was suspected; and therefore the
corrupt officers operated under great difficulties, and were in constant
danger of detection and punishment. Consequently, even in the worst
governments of your period the mass of business was honestly conducted,
as it professed to be, in the public interest, comparatively few and
occasional transactions being affected by corrupt influences.

"On the other hand, what were the theory and practice pursued by the
capitalists in carrying on the economic machinery which were under their
control? They did not profess to act in the public interest or to have
any regard for it. The avowed object of their whole policy was so to use
the machinery of their position as to make the greatest personal gains
possible for themselves out of the community. That is to say, the use of
his control of the public machinery for his personal gain--which on the
part of the public official was denounced and punished as a crime, and
for the greater part prevented by public vigilance--was the avowed policy
of the capitalist. It was the pride of the public official that he left
office as poor as when he entered it, but it was the boast of the
capitalist that he made a fortune out of the opportunities of his
position. In the case of the capitalist these gains were not called
corrupt, as they were when made by public officials in the discharge of
public business. They were called profits, and regarded as legitimate;
but the practical point to consider as to the results of the two systems
was that these profits cost the people they came out of just as much as
if they had been called political plunder.

"And yet these wise men in Kenloe's collection taught the people, and
somebody must have listened to them, that because in some instances
public officials succeeded in spite of all precautions in using the
public administration for their own gain, it would not be safe to put any
more public interests under public administration, but would be safer to
leave them to private capitalists, who frankly proposed as their regular
policy just what the public officials were punished whenever caught
doing--namely, taking advantage of the opportunities of their position to
enrich themselves at public expense. It was precisely as if the owner of
an estate, finding it difficult to secure stewards who were perfectly
faithful, should be counseled to protect himself by putting his affairs
in the hands of professional thieves."

"You mean," I said, "that political corruption merely meant the
occasional application to the public administration of the profit-seeking
principle on which all private business was conducted."

"Certainly. A case of corruption in office was simply a case where the
public official forgot his oath and for the occasion took a businesslike
view of the opportunities of his position--that is to say, when the
public official fell from grace he only fell to the normal level on which
all private business was admittedly conducted. It is simply astonishing,
Julian, how completely your contemporaries overlooked this obvious fact.
Of course, it was highly proper that they should be extremely critical of
the conduct of their public officials; but it is unaccountable that they
should fail to see that the profits of private capitalists came out of
the community's pockets just as certainly as did the stealings of
dishonest officials, and that even in the most corrupt public departments
the stealings represented a far less percentage than would have been
taken as profits if the same business were done for the public by

"So much for the precious argument that, because some officials sometimes
took profits of the people, it would be more economical to leave their
business in the hands of those who would systematically do so! But, of
course, although the public conduct of business, even if it were marked
with a certain amount of corruption, would still be more economical
for the community than leaving it under the profit system, yet no
self-respecting community would wish to tolerate any public corruption at
all, and need not, if only the people would exercise vigilance. Now, what
will compel the people to exercise vigilance as to the public
administration? The closeness with which we follow the course of an agent
depends on the importance of the interests put in his hands. Corruption
has always thrived in political departments in which the mass of the
people have felt little direct concern. Place under public administration
vital concerns of the community touching their welfare daily at many
points, and there will be no further lack of vigilance. Had they been
wiser, the people who objected to the governmental assumption of new
economic functions on account of existing political corruption would have
advocated precisely that policy as the specific cure for the evil.

"A reason why these objectors seem to have been especially short-sighted
is the fact that by all odds the most serious form which political
corruption took in America at that day was the bribery of legislators by
private capitalists and corporations in order to obtain franchises and
privileges. In comparison with this abuse, peculation or bribery of crude
direct sorts were of little extent or importance. Now, the immediate and
express effect of the governmental assumption of economic businesses
would be, so far as it went, to dry up this source of corruption, for it
was precisely this class of capitalist undertakings which the
revolutionists proposed first to bring under public control.

"Of course, this objection was directed only against the new order while
in process of introduction. With its complete establishment the very
possibility of corruption, would disappear with the law of absolute
uniformity governing all incomes.

"Worse and worse," I exclaimed. "What is the use of going further?"

"Patience," said the doctor. "Let us complete the subject while we are on
it. There are only a couple more of the objections that have shape enough
to admit of being stated."


"The first of them," pursued the doctor, "was the argument that such an
extension of the functions of public administration as nationalized
industries involved would lodge a power in the hands of the Government,
even though it were the people's own government, that would be dangerous
to their liberties.

"All the plausibility there was to this objection rested on the tacit
assumption that the people in their industrial relations had under
private capitalism been free and unconstrained and subject to no form of
authority. But what assumption could have been more regardless of facts
than this? Under private capitalism the entire scheme of industry and
commerce, involving the employment and livelihood of everybody, was
subject to the despotic and irresponsible government of private masters.
The very demand for nationalizing industry has resulted wholly from the
sufferings of the people under the yoke of the capitalists.

"In 1776 the Americans overthrew the British royal government in the
colonies and established their own in its place. Suppose at that time the
king had sent an embassy to warn the American people that by assuming
these new functions of government which formerly had been performed for
them by him they were endangering their liberty. Such an embassy would,
of course, have been laughed at. If any reply had been thought needful,
it would have been pointed out that the Americans were not establishing
over themselves any new government, but were substituting a government of
their own, acting in their own interests, for the government of others
conducted in an indifferent or hostile interest. Now, that was precisely
what nationalizing industry meant. The question was, Given the necessity
of some sort of regulation and direction of the industrial system,
whether it would tend more to liberty for the people to leave that power
to irresponsible persons with hostile interests, or to exercise it
themselves through responsible agents? Could there conceivably be but one
answer to that question?

"And yet it seems that a noted philosopher of the period, in a tract
which has come down to us, undertook to demonstrate that if the people
perfected the democratic system by assuming control of industry in the
public interest, they would presently fall into a state of slavery which
would cause them to sigh for the days of Nero and Caligula. I wish we had
that philosopher here, that we might ask him how, in accordance with any
observed laws of human nature, slavery was going to come about as the
result of a system aiming to establish and perpetuate a more perfect
degree of equality, intellectual as well as material, than had ever been
known. Did he fancy that the people would deliberately and maliciously
impose a yoke upon themselves, or did he apprehend that some usurper
would get hold of the social machinery and use it to reduce the people to
servitude? But what usurper from the beginning ever essayed a task so
hopeless as the subversion of a state in which there were no classes or
interests to set against one another, a state in which there was no
aristocracy and no populace, a state the stability of which represented
the equal and entire stake in life of every human being in it? Truly it
would seem that people who conceived the subversion of such a republic
possible ought to have lost no time in chaining down the Pyramids, lest
they, too, defying ordinary laws of Nature, should incontinently turn
upon their tops.

"But let us leave the dead to bury their dead, and consider how the
nationalization of industry actually did affect the bearing of government
upon the people. If the amount of governmental machinery--that is, the
amount of regulating, controlling, assigning, and directing under the
public management of industry--had continued to be just the same it was
under the private administration of the capitalists, the fact that it was
now the people's government, managing everything in the people's interest
under responsibility to the people, instead of an irresponsible tyranny
seeking its own interest, would of course make an absolute difference in
the whole character and effect of the system and make it vastly more
tolerable. But not merely did the nationalization of industry give a
wholly new character and purpose to the economic administration, but it
also greatly diminished the net amount of governing necessary to carry it
on. This resulted naturally from the unity of system with the consequent
co-ordination and interworking of all the parts which took the place of
the former thousand-headed management following as many different and
conflicting lines of interest, each a law to itself. To the workers the
difference was as if they had passed out from under the capricious
personal domination of innumerable petty despots to a government of laws
and principles so simple and systematic that the sense of being subject
to personal authority was gone.

"But to fully realize how strongly this argument of too much government
directed against the system of nationalized industry partook of the
boomerang quality of the previous objections, we must look on to the
later effects which the social justice of the new order would naturally
have to render superfluous well-nigh the whole machinery of government as
previously conducted. The main, often almost sole, business of
governments in your day was the protection of property and person against
criminals, a system involving a vast amount of interference with the
innocent. This function of the state has now become almost obsolete.
There are no more any disputes about property, any thefts of property, or
any need of protecting property. Everybody has all he needs and as much
as anybody else. In former ages a great number of crimes have resulted
from the passions of love and jealousy. They were consequences of the
idea derived from immemorial barbarism that men and women might acquire
sexual proprietorship in one another, to be maintained and asserted
against the will of the person. Such crimes ceased to be known after the
first generation had grown up under the absolute sexual autonomy and
independence which followed from economic equality. There being no lower
classes now which upper classes feel it their duty to bring up in the way
they should go, in spite of themselves, all sorts of attempts to regulate
personal behavior in self-regarding matters by sumptuary legislation have
long ago ceased. A government in the sense of a coordinating directory of
our associated industries we shall always need, but that is practically
all the government we have now. It used to be a dream of philosophers
that the world would some time enjoy such a reign of reason and justice
that men would be able to live together without laws. That condition, so
far as concerns punitive and coercive regulations, we have practically
attained. As to compulsory laws, we might be said to live almost in a
state of anarchy.

"There is, as I explained to you in the Labor Exchange the other morning,
no compulsion, in the end, even as to the performance of the universal
duty of public service. We only insist that those who finally refuse to
do their part toward maintaining the social welfare shall not be
partakers of it, but shall resort by themselves and provide for


"And now we come to the last objection on my list. It is entirely
different in character from any of the others. It does not deny that
economic equality would be practicable or desirable, or assert that the
machinery would work badly. It admits that the system would prove a
triumphant success in raising human welfare to an unprecedented point and
making the world an incomparably more agreeable place to live in. It was
indeed the conceded success of the plan which was made the basis of this
objection to it."

"That must be a curious sort of objection," I said. "Let us hear about

"The objectors put it in this way: 'Let us suppose,' they said, 'that
poverty and all the baneful influences upon life and health that follow
in its train are abolished and all live out their natural span of life.
Everybody being assured of maintenance for self and children, no motive
of prudence would be operative to restrict the number of offspring. Other
things being equal, these conditions would mean a much faster increase of
population than ever before known, and ultimately an overcrowding of the
earth and a pressure on the food supply, unless indeed we suppose new and
indefinite food sources to be found?'"

"I do not see why it might not be reasonable to anticipate such a
result," I observed, "other things being equal."

"Other things being equal," replied the doctor, "such a result might be
anticipated. But other things would not be equal, but so different that
their influence could be depended on to prevent any such result."

"What are the other things that would not be equal?"

"Well, the first would be the diffusion of education, culture, and
general refinement. Tell me, were the families of the well-to-do and
cultured class in the America of your day, as a whole, large?"

"Quite the contrary. They did not, as a rule, more than replace

"Still, they were not prevented by any motive of prudence from increasing
their numbers. They occupied in this respect as independent a position as
families do under the present order of economic equality and guaranteed
maintenance. Did it never occur to you why the families of the well-to-do
and cultured in your day were not larger?"

"Doubtless," I said, "it was on account of the fact that in proportion as
culture and refinement opened intellectual and aesthetic fields of
interest, the impulses of crude animalism played less important parts in
life. Then, too, in proportion as families were refined the woman ceased
to be the mere sexual slave of the husband, and her wishes as to such
matters were considered."

"Quite so. The reflection you have suggested is enough to indicate the
fallacy of the whole Malthusian theory of the increase of population on
which this objection to better social conditions was founded. Malthus, as
you know, held that population tended to increase faster than means of
subsistence, and therefore that poverty and the tremendous wastes of life
it stood for were absolutely necessary in order to prevent the world from
starving to death by overcrowding. Of course, this doctrine was
enormously popular with the rich and learned class, who were responsible
for the world's misery. They naturally were delighted to be assured that
their indifference to the woes of the poor, and even their positive
agency in multiplying those woes, were providentially overruled for good,
so as to be really rather praiseworthy than otherwise. The Malthus
doctrine also was very convenient as a means of turning the tables on
reformers who proposed to abolish poverty by proving that, instead of
benefiting mankind, their reforms would only make matters worse in the
end by overcrowding the earth and starving everybody. By means of the
Malthus doctrine, the meanest man who ever ground the face of the poor
had no difficulty in showing that he was really a slightly disguised
benefactor of the race, while the philanthropist was an injurious fellow.

"This prodigious convenience of Malthusianism has an excuse for things as
they were, furnishes the explanation for the otherwise incomprehensible
vogue of so absurd a theory. That absurdity consists in the fact that,
while laying such stress on the direct effects of poverty and all the
ills it stands for to destroy life, it utterly failed to allow for the
far greater influence which the brutalizing circumstances of poverty
exerted to promote the reckless multiplication of the species. Poverty,
with all its deadly consequences, slew its millions, but only after
having, by means of its brutalizing conditions, promoted the reckless
reproduction of tens of millions--that is to say, the Malthus doctrine
recognized only the secondary effects of misery and degradation in
reducing population, and wholly overlooked their far more important
primary effect in multiplying it. That was its fatal fallacy.

"It was a fallacy the more inexcusable because Malthus and all his
followers were surrounded by a society the conditions of which absolutely
refuted their theory. They had only to open then eyes to see that
wherever the poverty and squalor chiefly abounded, which they vaunted as
such valuable checks to population, humankind multiplied like rabbits,
while in proportion as the economic level of a class was raised its
proliferousness declined. What corollary from this fact of universal
observation could be more obvious than that the way to prevent reckless
overpopulation was to raise, not to depress, the economic status of the
mass, with all the general improvement in well-being which that implied?
How long do you suppose such an absurdly fundamental fallacy as underlay
the Malthus theory would have remained unexposed if Malthus had been a
revolutionist instead of a champion and defender of capitalism?

"But let Malthus go. While the low birth-rate among the cultured
classes--whose condition was the prototype of the general condition under
economic equality--was refutation enough of the overpopulation objection,
yet there is another and far more conclusive answer, the full force of
which remains to be brought out. You said a few moments ago that one
reason why the birth-rate was so moderate among the cultured classes was
the fact that in that class the wishes of women were more considered than
in the lower classes. The necessary effect of economic equality between
the sexes would mean, however, that, instead of being more or less
considered, the wishes of women in all matters touching the subject we
are discussing would be final and absolute. Previous to the establishment
of economic equality by the great Revolution the non-child-bearing sex
was the sex which determined the question of child-bearing, and the
natural consequence was the possibility of a Malthus and his doctrine.
Nature has provided in the distress and inconvenience of the maternal
function a sufficient check upon its abuse, just as she has in regard to
all the other natural functions. But, in order that Nature's check should
be properly operative, it is necessary that the women through whose wills
it must operate, if at all, should be absolutely free agents in the
disposition of themselves, and the necessary condition of that free
agency is economic independence. That secured, while we may be sure that
the maternal instinct will forever prevent the race from dying out, the
world will be equally little in danger of being recklessly overcrowded."


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Equality" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.