A MOVING-PICTURE OF DEMOCRACY
GERALD STANLEY LEE
Editor of "Mount Tom"
IN FIVE BOOKS CROWDS AND MACHINES LETTING THE CROWD BE GOOD LETTING THE CROWD BE BEAUTIFUL CROWDS AND HEROES GOOD NEWS AND HARD WORK
GARDEN CITY NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
Copyright, 1913, by DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian
COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY THE RIDGWAY COMPANY COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY MITCHELL KENNERLEY COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY CO. COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY THE OUTLOOK COMPANY COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY THE INDEPENDENT WEEKLY, INCORPORATED
By GERALD STANLEY LEE
THE LOST ART OF READING A Sketch of Civilization
THE CHILD AND THE BOOK A Constructive Criticism of Education
THE SHADOW CHRIST A Study of the Hebrew Men of Genius
THE VOICE OF THE MACHINES An Introduction to the Twentieth Century
INSPIRED MILLIONAIRES A Study of the Man of Genius in Business
CROWDS A Moving Picture of Democracy
Gratefully inscribed to a little Mountain, a great Meadow, and a Woman. To the Mountain for the sense of time, to the Meadow for the sense of space, and to the Woman for the sense of everything.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CROWDS AND MACHINES
I. WHERE ARE WE GOING? 3
II. THE CROWD SCARE 19
III. THE MACHINE SCARE 34
IV. THE STRIKE—AN INVENTION FOR MAKING CROWDS THINK 49
V. THE CROWD-MAN—AN INVENTION FOR MAKING CROWDS SEE 58
VI. THE IMAGINATION OF CROWDS 65
VII. IMAGINATION ABOUT THE UNSEEN 66
VIII. THE CROWD'S IMAGINATION ABOUT THE FUTURE 69
IX. THE CROWD'S IMAGINATION ABOUT PEOPLE 74
X. A DEMOCRATIC THEORY OF HUMAN NATURE 76
XI. DOING AS ONE WOULD WISH ONE HAD DONE IN TWENTY YEARS 80
XII. NEW KINDS AND NEW SIZES OF MEN 86
LETTING THE CROWDS BE GOOD
I. SPEAKING AS ONE OF THE CROWD 93
II. IS IT WRONG FOR GOOD PEOPLE TO BE EFFICIENT? 96
III. IS IT WRONG FOR GOOD PEOPLE TO BE INTERESTING? 103
IV. PROSPECTS OF THE LIAR 107
V. PROSPECTS OF THE BULLY 111
VI. GOODNESS AS A CROWD-PROCESS 114
VII. THOUGHTS ON BEING IMPROVED BY OTHER PEOPLE 116
VIII. MAKING GOODNESS HURRY 125
IX. TOUCHING THE IMAGINATION OF CROWDS 128
X. THE STUPENDOUS, THE UNUSUAL, THE MONOTONOUS AND THE SUCCESSFUL 142
XI. THE SUCCESSFUL 146
XII. THE NECKS OF THE WICKED 154
XIII. IS IT WRONG FOR GOOD PEOPLE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? 163
XIV. IS IT SECOND RATE FOR GOOD PEOPLE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? 167
XV. THE SUCCESSFUL TEMPERAMENT 173
XVI. THE MEN AHEAD PULL 178
XVII. THE CROWDS PUSH 184
XVIII. THE MAN WHO SAYS HOW, SAYS HOW 186
XIX. AND THE MACHINE STARTS! 194
LETTING THE CROWD BE BEAUTIFUL
PART I. WISTFUL MILLIONAIRES
I. MR. CARNEGIE SPEAKS UP 205
II. MR. CARNEGIE TRIES TO MAKE PEOPLE READ 208
III. MR. NOBEL TRIES TO MAKE PEOPLE WRITE 211
IV. PAPER BOOKS, MARBLE PILLARS, AND WOODEN BOYS 221
V. THE HUMDRUM FACTORY AND THE TUMPTY-TUM THEATRE 227
PART II. IRON MACHINES
I. STEEPLES AND CHIMNEYS 236
II. BELLS AND WHEELS 240
III. DEW AND ENGINES 243
IV. DEAD AS A DOOR NAIL! 245
V. AN OXFORD MAN AND AN INCH OF IRON 248
VI. THE MACHINES' MACHINES 250
VII. THE MEN'S MACHINES 252
VIII. THE BASEMENT OF THE WORLD 256
IX. THE GROUND FLOOR FOLKS 262
X. THE MACHINE-TRAINERS 266
XI. MACHINES, CROWDS, AND ARTISTS 269
PART III. PEOPLE-MACHINES
I. NOW! 280
II. COMMITTEES AND COMMITTEES 288
III. THE INCONVENIENCE OF BEING HUMAN 286
IV. LETTING THE CROWD HAVE PEOPLE IN IT 290
CROWDS AND HEROES
I. THE SOCIALIST AND THE HERO 297
II. THE CROWD AND THE HERO 301
III. THE CROWD AND THE AVERAGE PERSON 303
IV. THE CROWD AND PIERPONT MORGAN 307
V. THE CROWD AND TOM MANN 313
VI. AN OPENING FOR THE NEXT PIERPONT MORGAN 323
VII. AN OPENING FOR THE NEXT TOM MANN 327
VIII. THE MEN WHO LOOK 331
IX. WHO IS AFRAID? 337
X. RULES FOR TELLING A HERO—WHEN ONE SEES ONE 343
XI. THE TECHNIQUE OF COURAGE 346
XII. THE MEN WHO WANT THINGS 349
XIII. MEN WHO GET THINGS 356
XIV. SOURCES OF COURAGE FOR OTHERS—TOLERATION 364
XV. CONVERSION 371
XVI. EXCEPTION 380
XVII. INVENTION 383
XVIII. THE MAN WHO PULLS THE WORLD TOGETHER 397
XIX. THE MAN WHO STANDS BY 400
XX. THE STRIKE OF THE SAVIOURS 402
XXI. THE LEAGUE OF THE MEN WHO ARE NOT AFRAID 404
GOOD NEWS AND HARD WORK
PART I. NEWS AND LABOUR 413
PART II. NEWS AND MONEY 422
PART III. NEWS AND GOVERNMENT
I. OXFORD STREET AND THE HOUSE OF COMMONS 431
II. OXFORD STREET HUMS, THE HOUSE HEMS 440
III. PRESIDENT WILSON AND MOSES 449
IV. THE PRESIDENT SAYS YES AND NO 455
V. THE PRESIDENT SAYS "LOOK!" 463
VI. THE PEOPLE SAY "WHO ARE YOU?" 469
VII. THE PEOPLE SAY "WHO ARE WE?" 472
VIII. NEWS ABOUT US TO THE PRESIDENT 474
IX. NEWS-MEN 476
X. AMERICAN TEMPERAMENT AND GOVERNMENT 483
XI-XII. NEWS-BOOKS 505-513
XIII. NEWS-PAPERS 517
XIV. NEWS-MACHINES 524
XV. NEWS-CROWDS 527
XVI. CROWD-MEN 550
CROWDS AND MACHINES
TO CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
_"A battered, wrecked old man Thrown on this savage shore far, far from home, Pent by the sea and dark rebellious brows twelve dreary months ... The end I know not, it is all in Thee, Or small or great I know not—haply what broad fields, what lands!...
And these things I see suddenly, what mean they As if some miracle, some hand divine unsealed my eyes, Shadowy vast shapes smile through the air and sky, And on the distant waves sail countless ships, And anthems in new tongues I hear saluting me."_
WHERE ARE WE GOING?
The best picture I know of my religion is Ludgate Hill as one sees it going down the foot of Fleet Street. It would seem to many perhaps like a rather strange half-heathen altar, but it has in it the three things with which I worship most my Maker in this present world—the three things which it would be the breath of religion to me to offer to a God together—Cathedrals, Crowds, and Machines.
With the railway bridge reaching over, all the little still locomotives in the din whispering across the street; with the wide black crowd streaming up and streaming down, and the big, faraway, other-worldly church above, I am strangely glad. It is like having a picture of one's whole world taken up deftly, and done in miniature and hung up for one against the sky—the white steam which is the breath of modern life, the vast hurrying of our feet, and that Great Finger pointing toward heaven day and night for us all....
I never tire of walking out a moment from my nook in Clifford's Inn and stealing a glimpse and coming back to my fireplace. I sit still a moment before going to work and look in the flames and think. The great roar outside the Court gathers it all up—that huge, boundless, tiny, summed-up world out there; flings it faintly against my quiet windows while I sit and think.
And when one thinks of it a minute, it sends one half-fearfully, half-triumphantly back to one's work—the very thought of it. The Crowd hurrying, the Crowd's flurrying Machines, and the Crowd's God, send one back to one's work!
In the afternoon I go out again, slip my way through the crowds along the Strand, toward Charing Cross.
I never tire of watching the drays, the horses, the streaming taxis, all these little, fearful, gliding crowds of men and women, when a little space of street is left, flowing swiftly, flowing like globules, like mercury, between the cabs.
But most of all I like looking up at that vast second story of the street, coming in over one like waves, like seas—all these happy, curious tops of 'buses; these dear, funny, way-up people on benches; these world-worshippers, sight-worshippers, and Americans—all these little scurrying congregations, hundreds of them, rolling past.
I sit on the front seat of a horse 'bus elbow to elbow with the driver, staring down over the brink of the abyss upon ears and necks—that low, distant space where the horses look so tiny and so ineffectual and so gone-by below.
The street is the true path of the spirit. To walk through it, or roll or swing on top of a 'bus through it—the miles of faces, all these tottering, toddling, swinging miles of legs and stomachs; and on all sides of you, and in the windows and along the walks, the things they wear, and the things they eat, and the things they pour down their little throats, and the things they pray to and curse and worship and swindle in! It is like being out in the middle of a great ocean of living, or like climbing up some great mountain-height of people, their abysses and their clouds about them, their precipices and jungles and heavens, the great high roads of their souls reaching off.... I can never say why, but so strange is it, so full of awe is it, and of splendour and pity, that there are times when, rolling and swinging along on top of a 'bus, with all this strange, fearful joy of life about me, within me ... it is as if on top of my 'bus I had been far away in some infinite place, and had felt Heaven and Hell sweep past.
One of the first things that strikes an American when he slips over from New York, and finds himself, almost before he had thought of it—walking down the Strand, suddenly, instead of Broadway, is the way things—thousands of things at once; begin happening to him.
Of course, with all the things that are happening to him—the 'buses, the taxis, the Wren steeples, the great streams of new sights in the streets, the things that happen to his eyes and to his ears, to his feet and his hands, and to his body lunging through the ground and swimming up in space on top of a 'bus through this huge, glorious, yellow mist of people ... there are all the things besides that begin happening to his mind.
In New York, of course, he rushes along through the city, in a kind of tunnel of his own thoughts, of his own affairs, and drives on to his point, and New York does not—at least it does not very often—make things happen to his mind. He is not in London five minutes before he begins to notice how London does his thinking for him. The streets of the city set him to thinking, mile after mile, miles of comparing, miles of expecting.
And above the streets that he walks through and drives through he finds in London another complete set of streets that interest him: the greater, silenter streets of England—the streets of people's thoughts. And he reads the great newspapers, those huge highways on which the English people are really going somewhere.... "Where are they going?" He goes through the editorials, he stumbles through the news, "Where are the English people going?"
* * * * *
An American thinks of the English people in the third person—at first, of course.
After three days or so, he begins, half-unconsciously, slipping over every now and then into what seems to be a vague, loose first person plural.
Then the first person plural grows.
He finds at last that his thinking has settled down into a kind of happy, easy-going, international, editorial "We." New York and London, Chicago and Sheffield, go drifting together through his thoughts, and even Paris, glimmering faintly over there, and a dim round world, and he asks, as the people of a world stream by, "Where are WE going?"
Thus it is that London, looming, teeming, world-suggesting, gets its grip upon a man, a fresh American, and stretches him, stretches him before his own eyes, makes him cosmopolitan, does his thinking for him.
* * * * *
There was a great sea to still his soul and lay down upon his spirit that big, quiet roundness of the earth.
Nothing is quite the same after that wide strip of sea—sleeping out there alone night by night—the gentle round earth sloping away down from under one on both sides, in the midst of space.... Then, suddenly, almost before one knows, that quiet Space still lingering round one, perhaps one finds oneself thrust up out of the ground in the night into that big yellow roar of Trafalgar Square.
And here are the swift sudden crowds of people, one's own fellow-men hurrying past. One looks into the faces of the people hurrying past: "Where are we going?" One looks at the stars: "WHERE ARE WE GOING?"
* * * * *
That night, when I was thrust up out of the ground and stood dazed in the Square, I was told in a minute that this London where I was was a besieged and conquered city. Some men had risen up in a day and said to London: "No one shall go in. No one shall go out."
I was in the great proud city at last, the capital of the world, her big, new, self-assured inventions all about her, all around her, and soldiers camping out with her locomotives!
With her long trains for endless belts of people going in and coming out, with her air-brakes, electric lights, and motor-cars and aerial mails, it seemed passing strange to be told that her great stations were all choked up with a queer, funny, old, gone-by, clanky piece of machinery, an invention for making people good, like soldiers!
And I stood in the middle of the roar of Trafalgar Square and asked, as all England was asking that night: "Where are we going?"
And I looked in the faces of the people hurrying past.
And nobody knew.
And the next day I went through the silenter streets of the city, the great crowded dailies where all the world troops through, and then the more quiet weeklies, then the monthlies, more dignified and like private parks; and the quarterlies, too, thoughtful, high-minded, a little absent, now and then a footfall passing through.
And I found them all full of the same strange questioning: "Where are we going?"
And nobody knew.
It was the same questioning I had just left in New York, going up all about me, out of the skyscrapers.
New York did not know.
Now London did not know.
* * * * *
And after I had tried the journals and the magazines, I thought of books.
I could not but look about—how could I do otherwise than look about?—a lonely American walking at last past all these nobly haunted doorways and windows—for your idealists or interpreters, your men who bring in the sea upon your streets and the mountains on your roof-tops; who still see the wide, still reaches of the souls of men beyond the faint and tiny roar of London.
I could not but look for your men of imagination, your poets; for the men who build the dreams and shape the destinies of nations because they mould their thoughts.
I do not like to say it. How shall an American, coming to you out of his long, flat, literary desert, dare to say it?... Here, where Shakespeare played mightily, and like a great boy with the world; where Milton, Keats, Wordsworth, Browning, Shelley, and even Dickens flooded the lives and refreshed the hearts of the people; here, in these selfsame streets, going past these same old, gentle, smoky temples where Charles Lamb walked and loved a world, and laughed at a world, and even made one—lifted over his London forever into the hearts of men....
I can only say what I saw those first few fresh days: John Galsworthy out with his camera—his beautiful, sad, foggy camera; Arnold Bennett stitching and stitching faithfully twenty-four hours a day—big, curious tapestries of little things; H.G. Wells, with his retorts, his experiments about him, his pots and kettles of humanity in a great stew of steam, half-hopeful, half-dismayed, mixing up his great, new, queer messes of human nature; and (when I could look up again) G.K. Chesterton, divinely swearing, chanting, gloriously contradicting, rolled lustily through the wide, sunny spaces of His Own Mind; and Bernard Shaw (all civilization trooping by), the eternal boy, on the eternal curbstone of the world, threw stones; and the Bishop of Birmingham preached a fine, helpless sermon....
* * * * *
When a new American, coming from his own big, hurried, formless, speechless country, finds himself in what he had always supposed to be this trim, arranged, grown-up, articulate England, and when, thrust up out of the ground in Trafalgar Square, he finds himself looking at that vast yellow mist of people, that vast bewilderment of faces, of the poor, of the rich, coming and going they cannot say where—he naturally thinks at first it must be because they cannot speak; and when he looks to those who speak for them, to their writers or interpreters, and when he finds that they are bewildered, that they are asking the same question over and over that we in America are asking too, "Where are we going?" he is brought abruptly up, front to front with the great broadside of modern life. London, his last resort, is as bewildered as New York; and so, at last, here it is. It has to be faced now and here, as if it were some great scare-head or billboard on the world, "WHERE ARE WE GOING?"
* * * * *
The most stupendous feat for the artist or man of imagination in modern times is to conceive a picture or vision for our Society—our present machine-civilization—a common expectation for people which will make them want to live.
If Leonardo were living now, he would probably slight for the time being his building bridges, and skimp his work on Mona Lisa, and write a book—an exultant book about common people. He would focus and express democracy as only the great and true aristocrat or genius or artist will ever do it. A great society must be expressed as a vision or expectation before men can see it together, and go to work on it together, and make it a fact. What makes a society great is that it is full of people who have something to live for and who know what it is. It is because nobody knows, now, that our present society is not great. The different kinds of people in it have not made up their minds what they are for, and some kinds have particularly failed to make up their minds what the other kinds are for.
We are all making our particular contribution to the common vision, and some of us are able to say in one way and some in another what this vision is; but it is going to take a supreme catholic, summing-up individualist, a great man or artist—a man who is all of us in one—to express for Crowds, and for all of us together, where we want to go, what we think we are for, and what kind of a world we want.
This will have to be done first in a book. The modern world is collecting its thoughts. It is trying to write its bible.
The Bible of the Hebrews (which had to be borrowed by the rest of the world if they were to have one) is the one great outstanding fact and result of the Hebrew genius. They did not produce a civilization, but they produced a book for the rest of the world to make civilizations out of, a book which has made all other nations the moral passengers of the Hebrews for two thousand years.
And the whole spirit and aim of this book, the thing about it that made it great, was that it was the sublimest, most persistent, most colossal, masterful attempt ever made by men to look forth upon the earth, to see all the men in it, like spirits hurrying past, and to answer the question, "WHERE ARE WE GOING?"
I would not have any one suppose that in these present tracings and outlines of thought I am making an attempt to look upon the world and say where the people are going, and where they think they are going, and where they want to go. I have attempted to find out, and put down what might seem at first sight (at least it did to me) the answer to a very small and unimportant question—"Where is it that I really want to go myself?" "What kind of a world is it, all the facts about me being duly considered, I really want to be in?"
No man living in a world as interesting as this ever writes a book if he can help it. If Mr. Bernard Shaw or Mr. Chesterton or Mr. Wells had been so good as to write a book for me in which they had given the answer to my question, in which they had said more or less authoritatively for me what kind of a world it is that I want to be in, this book would never have been written. The book is not put forward as an attempt to arrange a world, or as a system or a chart, or as a nation-machine, or even as an argument. The one thing that any one can fairly claim for this book is that one man's life has been saved with it. It is the record of one man fighting up through story after story of crowds and of crowds' machines to the great steel and iron floor on the top of the world, until he had found the manhole in it, and broken through and caught a breath of air and looked at the light. The book is merely a life-preserver—that is all; and one man's life-preserver. Perhaps the man is representative, and perhaps he is not. At all events, here it is. Anybody else who can use it is welcome to it.
* * * * *
The first and most practical step in getting what one wants in this world is wanting it. One would think that the next step would be expressing what one wants. But it almost never is. It generally consists in wanting it still harder and still harder until one can express it.
This is particularly true when the thing one wants is a new world. Here are all these other people who have to be asked. And until one wants it hard enough to say it, to get it outside one's self, possibly make it catching, nothing happens.
If one were to point out one trait rather than another that makes Bernard Shaw, for so brilliant a man, so ineffective as a leader, or literary statesman, or social reformer, it would be his modesty. He has never wanted anything.
If I could have found a book by Bernard Shaw in which Mr. Shaw had merely said what he wanted himself, it is quite possible this book would not have been written. Even if Mr. Shaw, without saying what he wanted, had ever shown in any corner of any book that one man's wanting something in this world amounted to anything, or could make any one else want it, or could make any difference in him, or in the world around him, perhaps I would not have written this book.
Everywhere, as I have looked about me among the bookmen in America, in England, I have found, not the things that they wanted in their books, but always these same deadly lists or bleak inventories—these prairies of things that they did not want.
Now, as a matter of fact, I knew already, with an almost despairing distinctness, nearly all these things I did not want and it has not helped me (with all due courtesy and admiration) having John Galsworthy out photographing them day after day, so that I merely did not want them harder. And Mr. Wells's measles and children's diseases, too. I knew already that I did not want them. And Mr. Shaw's entire, heroic, almost noble collection of things he does not want does not supply me—nor could it supply any other man with furniture to make a world with—even if it were not this real, big world, with rain and sunshine and wind and people in it, and were only that little, wonderful world a man lives within his own heart. There have been times, and there will be more of them, when I could not otherwise than speak as the champion of Bernard Shaw; but, after all, what single piece of furniture is there that George Bernard Shaw, living with his great attic of not-things all around him, is able to offer to furnish me for me single, little, warm, lighted room to keep my thoughts in? Nor has he furnished me with one thing with which I would care to sit down in my little room and think—looking into the cold, perfect hygienic ashes he has left upon my hearth. Even if I were a revolutionist, and not a mere, plain human being, loving life and wanting to live more abundantly, I am bound to say I do not see what there is in Mr. Galsworthy's photographs, or in Mr. Wells's rich, bottomless murk of humanity to make a revolution for. And Mr. Bernard Shaw, with all his bottles of disinfectants and shelves of sterilized truths, his hard well-being and his glittering comforts, has presented the vision of a world in which at the very best—even if it all comes out as he says it will—a man would merely have things without wanting them, and without wanting anything.
* * * * *
And so it has seemed to me that even if he is quite unimportant, any man to-day who, in some public place, like a book, shall paint the picture of his heart's desire, who shall throw up, as upon a screen, where all men may see them, his most immediate and most pressing ideals, would perform an important service. If a man's sole interest were to find out what all men in the world want, the best way to do it would be for him to say quite definitely, so that we could all compare notes, what he wanted himself. Speaking for a planet has gone by, but possibly, if a few of us but speak for ourselves, the planet will talk back, and we shall find out at last what it really is that it wants.
The thing that many of us want most in the present grayness and din of the world is some one to play with, or if the word "play" is not quite the right word, some one with whom we can work with freedom and self-expressiveness and joy. Nine men out of ten one meets to-day talk with one as it were with their watches in their hands. The people who are rich one sees everywhere, being run away with by their motor-cars; and the people who are poor one sees struggling pitifully and for their very souls, under great wheels and beneath machines.
Of course, I can only speak for myself. I do not deny that a little while at a time I can sit by a brook in the woods and be happy; but if, as it happens, I would rather have other people about me—people who do not spoil things, I find that the machines about me everywhere have made most people very strange and pathetic in the woods. They cannot sit by brooks, many of them; and when they come out to the sky, it looks to them like some mere, big, blue lead roof up over their lives. Perhaps I am selfish about it, but I cannot bear to see people looking at the sky in this way....
* * * * *
So, as I have watched my fellow human beings, what I have come to want most of all in this world is the inspired employer—or what I have called the inspired millionaire or organizer; the man who can take the machines off the backs of the people and take the machines out of their wits, and make the machines free their bodies and serve their souls.
If we ever have the inspired employer, he will have to be made by the social imagination of the people, by creating the spirit of expectation and challenge toward the rich among the masses of the people.
I believe that the time has come when the world is to make its last stand for idealism, great men, and crowds.
I believe that great men can be really great, that they can represent crowds. I believe that crowds can be really great, that they can know great men.
The most natural kind of great man for crowds to know first will probably be a kind of everyday great man or business statesman, the man who represents all classes, and who proves it in the way he conducts his business.
I have called this man the Crowdman.
I do not say that I have met precisely the type of inspired millionaire I have in mind, but I have known scores of men who have reminded me of him and of what he is going to be, and I am prepared to say that in spirit, or latent at least, he is all about me in the world to-day. If it is proved to me that no such man exists, I am here to say there will be one. If it is proved to me that there cannot be one, I will make one. If it is proved to me that by lifting up Desire in the faces of young men and of boys, and in the faces of true fathers and young mothers, and by ringing up my challenge on the great doors of the schools, I cannot make one, then I will invoke the men that shall write the books, that shall sing the songs that shall make one! I say this with all reverence for other men's desires and with all respect for natural prejudgments. As I have conceived it, the one business of the world to-day is to find out what we are for and to find out what men in the world—on the whole—really want. When men know what they want they get it. Every wrong thing we have to face in modern industrial life is due to men who know what they want, and who therefore get it, due to the passions and the dreams of men; and the one single way in which these wrong things will ever be overcome is with more passions and with more and mightier dreams of men.
Nothing is more visionary than trying to run a world without dreams, especially an economic world. It is because even bad dreams are better in this world than having no dreams at all that bad people so called are so largely allowed to run it.
In the final and practical sense, the one factor in economics to be reckoned with is Desire.
The next move in economics is going to be the statement of a shrewd, dogged, realizable ideal. It is only ideals that have aroused the wrong passions, and it is only ideals that will arouse the right ones.
It will have to be, I imagine, when it comes, not a mere statement of principles, an analysis, or a criticism, but a moving-picture, a portrait of the human race, that shall reveal man's heart to himself. What we want is a vast white canvas, spread, as it were, over the end of the world, before which we shall all sit together, the audience of the nations, of the poor, of the rich, as in some still, thoughtful place—all of us together; and then we will throw up before us on the vast white screen in the dark the vivid picture of our vast desires, flame up upon it the hopes, the passions of human lives, and the grim, silent wills of men. "What do we want?" "Where are we going?"
In place of the literature of criticism we have come now to the literature of Desire.
This literature will have to come slowly, and I have come to believe that the first book, when it comes, will be perhaps a book that does not prove anything, a book that is a mere cry, a prayer, or challenge; the story of what one man with these streetfuls of the faces of men and the faces of women pouring their dullness and pouring their weariness over him, has desired, and of what, God helping him, he will have.
There is a certain sense in which merely praying to God has gone by. In the present desperate crisis of a world plunging on in the dark to a catastrophe or a glory that we cannot guess, it is a time for men to pray a prayer, a standing-up prayer, to one another.
I believe that it is going to be this huge gathering-in of public desire, this imperious challenge of what men want, this standing-up prayer of men to one another, which alone shall make men go forth with faith and singing once more into the battle of life. Sometimes it has seemed to me I have already heard it—this song of men's desires about me—faintly. But I have seen that the time is at hand when it shall come as a vast chorus of cities, of fields, of men's voices, filling the dome of the world—a chorus in the glory and the shame of which no millionaire who merely wants to make money, no artist who is not expressing the souls and freeing the bodies of men, no statesman who is not gathering up the desires of crowds, and going daily through the world hewing out the will of the people, shall dare to live.
* * * * *
But while this is the vision of my belief, I would not have any one suppose that I am the bearer of easy and gracious tidings.
It is rather of a great daily adventure one has with the world.
There have been times when it seemed as if it had to begin all over again every morning.
Day by day I walk down Fleet Street toward Ludgate Hill.
I look once more every morning at that great picture of any religion; I look at the quiet, soaring, hopeful dome—that little touch of singing or praying that men have lifted up against heaven. "Will the Dome bring the Man to me?"
I look up at the machines, strange and eager, hurrying across the bridge. "Will the Machines bring the Man to me?"
I look in the faces of the crowd hurrying past. "Will the Crowd bring the Man to me?"
With the picture of my religion—or perhaps three religions or three stories of religion—I walk on and on through the crowd, past the railway, past the Cathedral, past the Mansion House, and over the Tower Bridge. I walk fast and eagerly and blindly, as though a man would walk away from the world.
Suddenly I find myself, throngs of voices all about me, standing half-unconsciously by a high iron fence in Bermondsey watching that smooth asphalt playground where one sees the very dead (for once) crowded by the living—pushed over to the edges—their gravestones tilted calmly up against the walls. I stand and look through the pickets and watch the children run and shout—the little funny, mockingly dressed, frowzily frumpily happy children, the stored-up sunshine of a thousand years all shining faintly out through the dirt, out through the generations in their little faces—"Will the Man come to me out of these?"
The tombstones lean against the wall and the children run and shout. As I watch them with my hopes and fears and the tombstones tilted against the walls—as I peer through the railings at the children, I face my three religions. What will the three religions do with the children? What will the children do with the three religions?
And now I will tell the truth. I will not cheat nor run away as sometimes I seem to have tried to do for years. I will no longer let myself be tricked by the mere glamour and bigness of our modern life nor swooned into good-will by the roll and liturgy of revolution, "of the people," "for the people," "by the people," nor will I be longer awed by those huge phrase-idols, constitutions, routines, that have roared around me "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"—those imperious, thoughtless, stupid tra-la-las of the People. Do the People see truth? Can the People see truth? Can all the crowd, and can all the machines, and all the cathedrals piled up together produce the Man, the Crowd-man or great man who sees truth?
And so with my three religions, I have three fears, one for each of them. There is the Machine fear, lest the crowd should be overswept by its machines and become like them; and the Crowd fear, lest the crowd should overlook its mighty innumerable and personal need of great men; and there is also the daily fear for the Church, lest the Church should not understand crowds and machines and grapple with crowds and machines, interpret them and glory in them and appropriate them for her own use and for God's—lest the Church should turn away from the crowds and the machines and graciously and idly bow down to Herself.
And now I am going to try to express these three fears that go with the three religions as well as I can, so that I can turn on them and face them and, God helping me, look them out of countenance.
THE CROWD SCARE
Time was when a man was born upon this planet in a somewhat lonely fashion. A few human beings out of all infinity stood by to care for him. He was brought up with hills and stars and a neighbour or so, until he grew to man's estate. He climbed at last over the farthest hill, and there, on the rim of things, standing on the boundary line of sky and earth that had always been the edge of life to him before, he looked forth upon the freedom of the world, and said in his soul, "What shall I be in this world I see, and whither shall I go in it?" And the sky and the earth and the rivers and the seas and the nights and the days beckoned to him, and the voices of life rose around him, and they all said, "Come!"
On a corner in New York, around a Street Department wagon, not so very long ago, five thousand men were fighting for shovels, fifty men to a shovel—a tool for living a little longer.
The problem of living in this modern world is the problem of finding room in it. The crowd principle is so universally at work through modern life that the geography of the world has been changed to conform to it. We live in crowds. We get our living in crowds. We are amused in herds. Civilization is a list of cities. Cities are the huge central dynamos of all being. The power of a man can be measured to-day by the mile, the number of miles between him and the city; that is, between him and what the city stands for—the centre of mass.
The crowd principle is the first principle of production. The producer who can get the most men together and the most dollars together controls the market; and when he once controls the market, instead of merely getting the most men and the most dollars, he can get all the men and all the dollars. Hence the corporation in production.
The crowd principle is the first principle of distribution. The man who can get the most men to buy a particular thing from him can buy the most of it, and therefore buy it the cheapest, and therefore get more men to buy from him; and having bought this particular thing cheaper than all men could buy it, it is only a step to selling it to all men; and then, having all the men on one thing and all the dollars on one thing, he is able to buy other things for nothing, for everybody, and sell them for a little more than nothing to everybody. Hence the department store—the syndicate of department stores—the crowd principle in commerce.
The value of a piece of land is the number of footsteps passing by it in twenty-four hours. The value of a railroad is the number of people near it who cannot keep still. If there are a great many of these people, the railroad runs its trains for them. If there are only a few, though they be heroes and prophets, Dantes, Savonarolas, and George Washingtons, trains shall not be run for them. The railroad is the characteristic property and symbol of property in this modern age, and the entire value of a railroad depends upon its getting control of a crowd—either a crowd that wants to be where some other crowd is, or a crowd that wants a great many tons of something that some other crowd has.
When we turn from commerce to philosophy, we find the same principle running through them both. The main thing in the philosophy of to-day is the extraordinary emphasis of environment and heredity. A man's destiny is the way the crowd of his ancestors ballot for his life. His soul—if he has a soul—is an atom acted upon by a majority of other atoms.
When we turn to religion in its different phases, we find the same emphasis upon them all—the emphasis of mass, of majority. Not that the church exists for the masses—no one claims this—but that, such as it is, it is a mass church. While the promise of Scripture, as a last resort, is often heard in the church about two or three gathered together in God's name, the Church is run on the working conviction that unless the minister and the elders can gather two or three hundred in God's name, He will not pay any particular attention to them, or, if He does, He will not pay the bills. The church of our forefathers, founded on personality, is exchanged for the church of democracy, founded on crowds; and the church of the moment is the institutional church, in which the standing of the clergyman is exchanged for the standing of the congregation. The inevitable result, the crowd clergyman, is seen on every hand amongst us—the agent of an audience, who, instead of telling an audience what they ought to do, runs errands for them morning and noon and night. With coddling for majorities and tact for whims, he carefully picks his way. He does his people as much good as they will let him, tells them as much truth as they will hear, until he dies at last, and goes to take his place with Puritan parsons who mastered majorities, with martyrs who would not live and be mastered by majorities, and with apostles who managed to make a new world without the help of majorities at all.
Theology reveals the same tendency. The measuring by numbers is found in all belief, the same cringing before masses of little facts instead of conceiving the few immeasurable ones. Helpless individuals mastered by crowds are bound to believe in a kind of infinitely helpless God. He stands in the midst of the crowds of His laws and the systems of His worlds: to those who are not religious, a pale First Cause; and to those who are, a Great Sentimentality far away in the heavens, who, in a kind of vast weak-mindedness (a Puritan would say), seems to want everybody to be good and hopes they will, but does not quite know what to do about it if they are not.
Every age has its typical idea of heaven and its typical idea of hell (in some of them it would be hard to tell which is which), and every civilization, has its typical idea of God. A civilization with sovereign men in it has a sovereign God; and a crowd civilization, reflecting its mood on the heavens, is inclined to a pleasant, large-minded God, eternally considering everybody and considering everything, but inefficient withal, a kind of legislature of Deity, typical of representative institutions at their best and at their worst.
If we pass from our theology to our social science we come to the most characteristic result of the crowd principle that the times afford. We are brought face to face with Socialism, the millennium machine, the Corliss engine of progress. It were idle to deny to the Socialist that he is right—and more right, indeed, than most of us, in seeing that there is a great wrong somewhere; but it would be impossible beyond this point to make any claim for him, except that he is honestly trying to create in the world a wrong we do not have as yet, that shall be large enough to swallow the wrong we have. The term "Socialism" stands for many things, in its present state; but so far as the average Socialist is concerned, he may be defined as an idealist who turns to materialism, that is, to mass, to carry his idealism out. The world having discovered two great ideals in the New Testament, the service of all men by all other men, and the infinite value of the individual, the Socialist expects to carry out one of these ideals by destroying the other.
The principle that an infinitely helpful society can be produced by setting up a row of infinitely helpless individuals is Socialism, as the average Socialist practises it. The average Socialist is the type of the eager but effeminate reformer of all ages, because he seeks to gain by machinery things nine tenths of the value of which to men is in gaining them for themselves. Socialism is the attempt to invent conveniences for heroes, to pass a law that will make being a man unnecessary, to do away with sin by framing a world in which it would be worthless to do right because it would be impossible to do wrong. It is a philosophy of helplessness, which, even if it succeeds in helplessly carrying its helplessness out—in doing away with suffering, for instance—can only do it by bringing to pass a man not alive enough to be capable of suffering, and putting him in a world where suffering and joy alike would be a bore to him.
But the main importance of Socialism in this connection lies in the fact that it does not confine itself to sociology. It has become a complete philosophy of life, and can be seen penetrating with its subtle satire on human nature almost everything about us. We have the cash register to educate our clerks into pure and honest character, and the souls of conductors can be seen being nurtured, mile after mile, by fare-recorders. Corporations buy consciences by the gross. They are hung over the door of every street car. Consciences are worked by pulling a strap. Liverymen have cyclometres to help customers to tell the truth, and the Australian ballot is invented to help men to be manly enough to vote the way they think. And when, in the course of human events, we came to the essentially moral and spiritual reform of a woman's right to dress in good taste—that is, appropriately for what she is doing, what did we proceed to do to bring it about? Conventions were held year after year, and over and over, to get women to dress as they wanted to; dress reform associations were founded, syndicates of courage were established all over the land—all in vain; and finally,—Heaven help us!—how was this great moral and spiritual reform accomplished? By an invention of two wheels, one in front of the other. It was brought about by the Pope Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut in two short years.
Everything is brought about by manufacturing companies. It is the socialist spirit; the idea that, if we can only find it, there is some machine that can surely be invented that will take the place of men: not only of hands and feet, but of all the old-fashioned and lumbering virtues, courage, patience, vision, common sense, and religion itself, out of which they are made.
But we depend upon machinery not only for the things that we want, but for the brains with which we decide what we want. If a man wants to know what he thinks, he starts a club; and if he wants to be very sure, he calls a convention. From the National Undertakers' Association and the Launderers' League to the Christian Endeavour Tournament and the World's Congress—the Midway Pleasance of Piety—the Convention strides the world with vociferousness. The silence that descends from the hills is filled with its ceaseless din. The smallest hamlet in the land has learned to listen reverent from afar to the vast insistent roar of It, as the Voice of the Spirit of the Times.
Every idea we have is run into a constitution. We cannot think without a chairman. Our whims have secretaries; our fads have by-laws. Literature is a club. Philosophy is a society. Our reforms are mass meetings. Our culture is a summer school. We cannot mourn our mighty dead without Carnegie hall and forty vice-presidents. We remember our poets with trustees, and the immortality of a genius is watched by a standing committee. Charity is an Association. Theology is a set of resolutions. Religion is an endeavour to be numerous and communicative. We awe the impenitent with crowds, convert the world with boards, and save the lost with delegates; and how Jesus of Nazareth could have done so great a work without being on a committee is beyond our ken. What Socrates and Solomon would have come to if they had only had the advantage of conventions it would be hard to say; but in these days, when the excursion train is applied to wisdom; when, having little enough, we try to make it more by pulling it about; when secretaries urge us, treasurers dun us, programs unfold out of every mail—where is the man who, guileless-eyed, can look in his brother's face; can declare upon his honour that he has never been a delegate, never belonged to anything, never been nominated, elected, imposed on, in his life?
Everything convenes, revolves, petitions, adjourns. Nothing stays adjourned. We have reports that think for us, committees that do right for us, and platforms that spread their wooden lengths over all the things we love, until there is hardly an inch of the dear old earth to stand on, where, fresh and sweet and from day to day, we can live our lives ourselves, pick the flowers, look at the stars, guess at God, garner our grain, and die. Every new and fresh human being that comes upon the earth is manufactured into a coward or crowded into a machine as soon as we get at him. We have already come to the point where we do not expect to interest anybody in anything without a constitution. And the Eugenic Society is busy now on by-laws for falling in love.
What this means with regard to the typical modern man is, not that he does not think, but that it takes ten thousand men to make him think. He has a crowd soul, a crowd creed. Charged with convictions, galvanized from one convention to another, he contrives to live, and with a sense of multitude, applause, and cheers he warms his thoughts. When they have been warmed enough he exhorts, dictates, goes hither and thither on the crutch of the crowd, and places his crutch on the world, and pries on it, if perchance it may be stirred to something. To the bigotry of the man who knows because he speaks for himself has been added a new bigotry on the earth—the bigotry of the man who speaks for the nation; who, with a more colossal prejudice than he had before, returns from a mass meeting of himself, and, with the effrontery that only a crowd can give, backs his opinions with forty states, and walks the streets of his native town in the uniform of all humanity. This is a kind of fool that has never been possible until these latter days. Only a very great many people, all of them working on him at once, and all of them watching every one else working at once, can produce this kind.
Indeed, the crowd habit has become so strong upon us, has so mastered the mood of the hour, that even you and I, gentle reader, have found ourselves for one brief moment, perhaps, in a certain sheepish feeling at being caught in a small audience. Being caught in a small audience at a lecture is no insignificant experience. You will see people looking furtively about, counting one another. You will make comparisons. You will recall the self-congratulatory air of the last large audience you had the honour to belong to, sitting in the same seats, buzzing confidently to itself before the lecture began. The hush of disappointment in a small audience all alone with itself, the mutual shame of it, the chill in it, that spreads softly through the room, every identical shiver of which the lecturer is hired to warm through—all these are signs of the times. People look at the empty chairs as if every modest, unassuming chair there were some great personality saying to each and all of us: "Why are you here? Did you not make a mistake? Are you not ashamed to be a party to—to—as small a crowd as this?" Thus do we sit, poor mortals, doing obeisance to Empty Chairs—we who are to be lectured to—until the poor lecturer who is to lecture to us comes in, and the struggle with the Chairs begins.
When we turn to education as it stands to-day, the same self-satisfied, inflexible smile of the crowd is upon it all. We see little but the massing of machinery, the crowding together of numbers of teachers and numbers of courses and numbers of students, and the practical total submergence of personality, except by accident, in all educated life.
The infinite value of the individual, the innumerable consequences of one single great teaching man, penetrating every pupil who knows him, becoming a part of the universe, a part of the fibre of thought and existence to every pupil who knows him—this is a thing that belongs to the past and to the inevitable future. With all our great institutions, the crowds of men who teach in them, the crowds of men who learn in them, we are still unable to produce out of all the men they graduate enough college presidents to go around. The fact that at almost any given time there may be seen, in this American land of ours, half a score of colleges standing and waiting, wondering if they will ever find a president again, is the climax of what the universities have failed to do. The university will be justified only when a man with a university in him, a whole campus in his soul, comes out of it, to preside over it, and the soul that has room for more than one chair in it comes out of it to teach in it.
When we turn from education to journalism, the pressure of the crowd is still more in evidence. To have the largest circulation is to have the most advertising, and to have the most advertising means to have the most money, and to have the most money means to be able to buy the most ability, and to have the most ability means to keep all that one gains and get more. The degradation of many of our great journals in the last twenty years is but the inevitable carrying out of the syndicate method in letters—a mass of contributors, a mass of subscribers, and a mass of advertisers. So long as it gives itself over to the circulation idea, the worse a newspaper is, the more logical it is. There may be a certain point where it is bound to stop some time, because there will not be enough bad people who are bad enough to go around; but we have not come to it yet, and in the meantime about everything that can be thought of is being printed to make bad people. If it be asserted that there are not enough bad people to go around even now, it may be added that there are plenty of good people to take their places as fast as they fail to be bad enough, and that the good people who take the bad papers to find fault with them are the ones who make such papers possible.
The result of the crowd principle is the inevitable result. Our journals have fallen off as a matter of course, not only in moral ideals (which everybody realizes), but in brain force, power of expression, imagination, and foresight—the things that give distinction and results to utterance and that make a journal worth while. The editorial page has been practically abandoned by most journals, because most journals have been abandoned by their editors: they have become printed counting-rooms. With all their greatness, their crowds of writers, and masses of readers, and piles of cablegrams, they are not able to produce the kind of man who is able to say a thing the kind of way that will make everybody stop and listen to him, cablegrams and all. Horace Greeley and Samuel Bowles and Charles A. Dana have passed from the press, and the march of the crowd through the miles of their columns every day is trampling on their graves. The newspaper is the mass machine, the crowd thinker. To and fro, from week to week and from year to year, its flaming headlines sway, now hither and now thither, where the greatest numbers go, or the best guess of where they are going to go; and Personality, creative, triumphant, masterful, imperious Personality—is it not at an end? It were a dazzling sight, perhaps, to gaze at night upon a huge building, thinking with telegraph under the wide sky around the world, the hurrying of its hundred pens upon the desks, and the trembling of its floors with the mighty coming of a Day out of the grip of the press; but even this huge bewildering pile of power, this aggregation, this corporation of forces, machines of souls, glittering down the Night—does any one suppose It stands by Itself, that It is its own master, that It can do its own will in the world? In all its splendour It stands, weaving the thoughts of the world in the dark; but that very night, that very moment, It lies in the power of a little ticking-thing behind its doors. It belongs to that legislature of information and telegraph, that owner of what happens in a day, called the Associated Press.
If the One who called Himself a man and a God had not been born in a crowd, if he had not loved and grappled with it, and been crucified and worshipped by it, He might have been a Redeemer for the silent, stately, ancient world that was before He came, but He would have failed to be a Redeemer for this modern world—a world where the main inspiration and the main discouragement is the crowd, where every great problem and every great hope is one that deals with crowds. It is a world where, from the first day a man looks forth to move, he finds his feet and hands held by crowds. The sun rises over crowds for him, and sets over crowds; and having presumed to be born, when he presumes to die at last, in a crowd of graves he is left not even alone with God. Ten human lives deep they have them—the graves in Paris; and whether men live their lives piled upon other men's lives, in blocks in cities or in the apparent loneliness of town or country what they shall do or shall not do, or shall have or shall not have—is it not determined by crowds, by the movement of crowds? The farmer is lonely enough, one would say, as he rests by his fire in the plains, his barns bursting with wheat; but the murmur of the telegraph almost any moment is the voice of the crowd to him, thousands of miles away, shouting in the Stock Exchange: "You shall not sell your wheat! Let it lie! Let it rot in your barns!"
And yet, if a man were to go around the earth with a surveyor's chain, there would seem to be plenty of room for all who are born upon it. The fact that there are enough square miles of the planet for every human being on it to have several square miles to himself does not prove that a man can avoid the crowd—that it is not a crowded world. If what a man could be were determined by the square mile, it would indeed be a gentle and graceful earth to live on. But an acre of Nowhere satisfies no one; and how many square miles does a man want to be a nobody in? He can do it better in a crowd, where every one else is doing it.
In the ancient world, when a human being found something in the wrong place and wanted to put it where it belonged, he found himself face to face with a few men. He found he had to deal with these few men. To-day, if he wants anything put where it belongs, he finds himself face to face with a crowd. He finds that he has to deal with a crowd. The world has telephones and newspapers now, and it has railroads; and if a man proposes to do a certain thing in it, the telephones tell the few, and the newspapers tell the crowd, and the crowd gets on to the railroad; and before he rises from his sleep, behold the crowd in his front yard; and if he can get as far as his own front gate in the thing he is going for, he must be—either a statesman? a hero? or a great genius? None of these. Let him be a corporation—of ideas or of dollars; let him be some complex, solid, crowded thing, would he do anything for himself, or for anybody else, or for everybody else, in a world too crowded to tell the truth without breaking something, or to find room for it, when it is told, without breaking something.
This is the Crowd's World.
* * * * *
What I have written I have written.
I have been sitting and reading it. It is a mood. But there is an implacable truth in it, I believe, that must be gotten out and used.
As I have been reading I have looked up. I see the quiet little mountain through my window standing out there in the sun. It looks around the world as if nothing had happened; and the bobolinks out in the great meadow are all flying and singing in the same breath and rowing through the air, thousands of them, miles of them. They do not stop a minute.
A moment ago while I was writing I heard the Child outside on the piazza, four years old, going by my window back and forth, listening to the crunch of her new shoes as if it were the music of the spheres. Why should not I do as well? I thought. The Child is merely seeing her shoes as they are with as many senses and as many thoughts and desires at once as she can muster, and with all her might.
What if I were to see the world like the Child?
Yesterday I went to Robert's Meadow. I saw three small city boys, with their splendid shining rubber boots and their beautiful bamboo poles. They were on their way home. They had only the one trout between them, and that had been fondled, examined, and poked over and bragged about until it was fairly stiff and brown with those boys—looked as if it had been stolen out of a dried-herring box. They put it reverently back, when I saw it, into their big basket. I smiled a little as I walked on and thought how they felt about it.
Then suddenly it was as if I had forgotten something. I turned and looked back; saw those three boys—a little retinue to that solitary fish—trudging down the road in the yellow sun. And I stood there and wanted to be in it! Then I saw them going round the bend in the road thirty years away.
I still want to be one of those boys.
And I am going to try. Perhaps, Heaven helping me, I will yet grow up to them!
I know that the way those three boys felt about the fish—the way they folded it around with something, the way they made the most of it, is the way to feel about the world.
I side with the three boys. I am ready to admit that as regards technical and comparatively unimportant details or as regards perspective on the fish the boys may not have been right. It is possible that they had not taken a point of view, measured in inches or volts or foot-pounds, that was right and could last forever; but I know that the spirit of their point of view was right—the spirit that hovered around the three boys and around the fish that day was right and could last forever.
It is the spirit in which the world was made, and the spirit in which new worlds in all ages, and even before our eyes by Boys and Girls and—God, are being made.
It is only the boys and the girls (all sizes) who know about worlds. And it is only boys and girls who are right.
I heard a robin in the apple tree this morning out in the rain singing, "I believe! I believe!"
* * * * *
At the same time, I am glad that I have known and faced, and that I shall have to know and face, the Crowd Fear.
I know in some dogged, submerged, and speechless way that it is not a true fear. And yet I want to move along the sheer edge of it all my life. I want it. I want all men to have it, and to keep having it, and to keep conquering it. I have seen that no man who has not felt it, who does not know this huge numbing, numberless fear before the crowd, and who may not know it again almost any moment, will ever be able to lead the crowd, glory in it, die for it, or help it. Nor will any man who has not defied it, and lifted his soul up naked and alone before it and cried to God, ever interpret the crowd or express the will of the crowd, or hew out of earth and heaven what the crowd wants.
We want to help to express and fulfil a crowd civilization, we want to share the crowd life, to express what people in crowds feel—the great crowd sensations, excitements, the inspirations and depressions of those who live and struggle with crowds.
We want to face, and face grimly, implacably, the main facts, the main emotions men are having to-day. And the main emotion men are having to-day about our modern world is that it is a crowded world, that in the nature of the case its civilization is a crowd civilization. Every other important thing for this present age to know must be worked out from this one. It is the main thing with which our religion has to deal, the thing our literature is about, and the thing our arts will be obliged to express. Any man who makes the attempt to consider or interpret anything either in art or life without a true understanding of the crowd principle as it is working to-day, without a due sense of its central place in all that goes on around us, is a spectator in the blur and bewilderment of this modern world, as helpless in it, and as childish and superficial in it, as a Greek god at the World's Fair, gazing out of his still Olympian eyes at the Midway Pleasance.
* * * * *
After the Crowd Fear there comes to most of us the machine fear. Machines are the huge limbs or tentacles of crowds. As the crowds grow the machines grow; grasping at the little strip of sky over us, at the little patch of ground beneath our feet, they swing out before us and beckon daily to us new hells and new heavens in our eyes.
THE MACHINE SCARE
I have had occasion nearly every day for the past two weeks to pass by an ancient churchyard on a great hillside not far from London. Most of the stones are very old, and seem to have been thoughtfully and reverently, flake by flake, wrought into their final form by long-vanished hands. As I stand and watch them, with the yews and cypresses flocking round them, it is as if in some sort of way they had been surely wrought by the hand of love, so full are they of grief and of joy, of devotion, of the very singing of the dead and of those who loved them.
When I walk on a little farther, and come to a small and new addition to the churchyard, and look about me at the stones, I find myself suddenly in quite a new company. So far as one could observe, looking at the gravestones in the new churchyard, the people who died there died rather thoughtlessly and mechanically, and as if nobody cared very much. Of course, when one thinks a little further, one knows that this cannot be true, and that the men and the women who gathered by these glib, trim, capable-looking modern tombstones were as full of love and tenderness and reverence before their dead as the others were—but the lines on the stones give no sign. One never stops to read an epitaph on one of them; one knows it would not be interesting, or really whisper to one the strange, happy, human things of another world—even of this world, that make the old tombstones such good company and so friendly to us. One gives a glance at the stone and passes on. It was made by machinery, apparently; a machine might have designed it, a machine might have died and been buried under it. One looks beyond it at all the others like it—all the glib, competent-looking white stones. Were the silenced people all machines under them, all mechanical, all made to a pattern like their stones, like these strangely hard, brief tombstones standing here at their heads, summing up their lives before us curtly, heartlessly, on this gentle old hillside?
I looked back to the old eloquent cemetery that almost seemed to be breathing things, and looked once more at the new.
And as I stood and thought, they seemed to me to be two worlds—one the world the people all about me are always saying sadly is going by, and the other—well, the one we will have to have.
* * * * *
As I look off from the hilltop at the great sloping countryside about me, which stretches miles and miles, with its green fields, and bushy treetops, its red roofs, its banners of steam from twenty railways, its huge, grim, furious chimneys, its still, sleepy steeples, I also see two worlds, the same two worlds over again that I saw in the churchyard, except that they are all jumbled together—the complacent, capable, cut-out, homeless-looking houses, the little snuggled-down old ones with their happy trees about them and trails of cooking smoke. I see the same two worlds standing and facing each other before me whichever way I turn.
And when I slip out of the churchyard from those two little separate worlds of the dead, and move slowly down the long bustling village street, and look into the faces of the living, the same two worlds that were in the churchyard and on the hills seem to look at me out of the faces of the living too.
The faces go hurrying past me, worlds apart. Most people, I imagine, who read these pages must have noticed the people's faces in the streets nowadays—how they seem to have come out of separate worlds into the street a moment, and hurry past, and seem to be going back in a moment more to separate worlds.
There is hardly even a village footway left anywhere to-day where one cannot see these two worlds, or the spirit of these two worlds, flitting past one through the streets in people's faces, and nightly before our eyes, struggling with each other to possess, to swallow away into itself human souls, to master the fate of man upon the earth.
One of these is the World of the Hand-made; the other is the Machine-made World.
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As day by day I watch these two worlds with all their people in them flocking past me, I have come to have certain momentary but recurrent resentments and attractions, unaccountable strong emotions; and when I try afterward to rationalize my emotions, as a man should, and give an account of them to myself, and get them ready to use and face my age with, and make myself strong and fit to live in an age, I find myself with a great task before me. And yet one must do it; one cannot live in an age strongly and fitly if one would rather be living in some other age, or if it is an age with two worlds in it and one cannot make up one's mind which is the world one wants and settle down quietly and live in it. Then a strange thing happens, and always happens the moment I begin to try to decide which of the two—the Hand-made World or the Machine-made World—I will choose. I find that in an odd, confused, groping, obstinate way I am bound to choose them both. In spite of all its ugly ways—a kind of vast indifference it has to me, to everybody, its magnificent heartlessness—I find I have come to take in the Machine-made World a kind of boundless, half-secret pride and joy, for a terrible and strange beauty there is in it. And then, too, even if I wanted to give it up, I could not: neither I nor any man, nor all the world combined, could unthink to-day a hundred years, fold up a hundred thousand miles of railway, tuck modern life all neatly up again in a little, old, snug, safe, lovable Hand-made World. There must be some way out, some connecting link between the Hand-made and the Machine-made. We have merely lost it for a moment.
Which way shall we turn? And so at last to the little Thing through which the whole world whispers to me on my desk, to the mighty railways that beckon past my door, to the airships that cannot be stilled, and to the rolling mills that will not be silenced, I turn at last! I turn to the Machines Themselves. Half-singing and half-cursing, I have faced them. There is some way in which they can answer and can be made to answer—can be made to give me and the men about me the kind of world we want. I try to analyze it and think it out. What is the thing, the real thing in the Hand-made World, that fills me with pride and joy, and that I cannot and will not give up? Is not the real thing that is in it something that can be or might be freed from it, exhaled from it, something that might be in some new form saved, made an atmosphere or a spirit and passed on? And what is it in the new Machine-made World which, in spite of the splendid joy, a rough new, wild religion there is in it, keeps daily filling me as I go past machines with this contradictory obstinate dread of them? After a time I have made a little cleared space in my mind, a little breathing room. It has come to me from thinking that what is beautiful in the Hand-made World perhaps is not these particular Hand-made things themselves at which I so delight, but the Hand-made spirit of the men who made them which the men put into the things. And perhaps what is full of death and fear in the Machine-made World is not the machines themselves, but the Machine-made spirit in which the men who run the machines have made the machines work. Perhaps the Hand-made spirit is pervasive, eternal. Perhaps it can escape like a spirit, and can live where it will live, and do what it will do, like a spirit, and possess the body that it wills to possess. Perhaps the Hand-made spirit is still living around me to-day, and is not only living, but is living in a more unspeakable, unbounded body than any spirit has ever lived in before, and is to-day before our eyes, laying its huge iron fingers around our little earth, and holding the oceans in its hand, and brushing away mountains with a breath, until we have Man at last playing all night through the sky, with visions and airships and telescopes. His very words walk on the air with soft and unseen feet.
It is the Hand-made spirit that creates machines. The machines themselves are still the mighty children of the men who move and work in the Hand-made spirit; and the men who glory in them, the men who bring them forth, who think them out, and who create them, and who do the great and mighty things with them, are still the Hand-made men.
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This leads us up to the question we are all asking ourselves every day. "How can a machine-made world be run in the spirit of a hand-made world?" The particular form in which the question has been put, which is taken from "Inspired Millionaires" is as follows:
"The idea that there is something in a machine simply as a machine which makes it inherently unspiritual is based upon the experience of the world; but it is, after all, a rather amateur and juvenile world with machines as yet. Its ideas are in their first stages, and are based for the most part upon the world's experience with second-rate men, working in second-rate factories—men who have been bullied, and could be bullied, by the machines they worked with into being machines themselves. No one would think of denying that men who let machines get the better of them, either in their minds or their bodies, in any walk of life, grow unspiritual and mechanical. But it does not take a machine to make a machine out of a man. Anything will do it if the man will let it. Even the farmer who is out under the great free dome of heaven, and working in wonder every day of his life, grows like a clod if he buries his soul alive in the soil. But farming has been tried many thousands of years, and the other kind of farmer is known by everybody—the farmer who is master over the soil; who, instead of becoming an expression of the soil himself, makes the soil express him. The next thing that is going to happen is that every one is going to know the other kind of mechanic. It is cheerfully admitted that the kind of mechanic we largely have now, who allows himself to be a watcher of a machine, a turner-of-something for forty years, can hardly be classed as vegetable life. He is not even organic matter except in a very small part of himself.
"But it is not the mechanical machine which makes the man unspiritual. It is the mechanical man beside the machine. A master at a piano (which is a machine) makes it a spiritual thing; and a master at a printing-press, like William Morris, makes it a free and artistic and self-expressive thing."
I spent a day a little while ago in walking through a factory. I went past miles of machines—great glass roofs of sunshine over them—and looked in the faces of thousands of men. As I went through the machines I kept looking to and fro between the machines and the men who stood beside them, and sometimes I came back and looked again at the machines and the men beside them; and every machine, or nearly every machine, I saw (any one could see it in that factory) was making a man of somebody. One could see the spirit of the man who invented the machine, and the spirit of the man who worked with it, and the spirit of the man who owned it and who placed it there with the man, all softly, powerfully running together. There were exceptions, and every now and then one came, of course, upon the man who seemed to be simply another and somewhat different contrivance or attachment to his machine—some part that had been left over and thought of last, and had not been done as well as the others; but the factory, taken as a whole, from the manager's offices and the great counting-room, and from the tall chimneys to the dump, seemed to me to have something fresh and human and unwonted about it. It seemed to be a factory that had a look, a look of its own. It was like a vast countenance. It had features, an expression. It had an air—well, one must say it, of course, if one is driven to it: the factory had a soul, and was humming it. Any one could have seen why by going into his office and talking a little while with the owner, or by even not talking to him—by seeing him look up from his desk. After walking through several miles of his personality, and up and down and down and up the corridors of his mind, one did not really need to meet him except as a matter of form and as a finishing touch. One had been visiting with him all along: to look in his face was merely to sum it up, to see it all, the whole place, over again in one look. One did not need to be surprised; one might have known what such a man would be like—that such a factory could only be conceived and wrought by a man of genius, a kind of lighted-up man. A man who had put not only skylights in his buildings, but skylights in his men, would have to have a skylight in himself (a skylight with a motor attachment, of course).
If one were to try to think in nature or in art of something that would be like him—well, some kind of transcendental engine, I should say, running softly, smoothly outdoors in a great sunshine, would have given one a good idea of him. But, however this may be, it certainly would have been quite impossible to go through his factory and ever say again that machines do not and could not have souls, or at least over-souls, and that men who worked with machines did not and could not have souls as fast as they were allowed to.
A few days later I went through another factory, and I came out weary and spent at night, feeling as unreasonable and almost as hateful about machines, and as discouraged about the people who had to work with them as John Ruskin did in those first early days when the Factory Chimney first lifted its long black flag upon our earth, and bullied great cities into cowards and slaves, and all the great, quiet-hearted nations, and began making for us—all around us, before our eyes, as though in a kind of jeer at us, and at our queer, pretty, helpless little religions—the hell we had ceased to believe in.
The hell is here, and is going to be here apparently as long as may be necessary for us to see it and believe in it once more. If a hell on our own premises, shut down hard over our lives here and now, is what is necessary to make us religious and human once more, if we are reduced to it, and if having a hard, literal hell—one of our own—is our only way of seeing things, of fighting our way through to the truth, and of getting once more decisive, manful, commanding ideas of good and evil, I for one can only be glad we have Pittsburgs and Sheffields to hurry us along and soon have it over with.
But while, like Ruskin, any one can look about the machines and see hell, he can see hell to-day, unlike Ruskin, with heaven lined up close beside it. The machines have come to have souls. The machines we can see all about us have taken sides. We can all of us see the machines about us to-day like vast looms, weaving in and weaving out the fate of the world, the fate of the churches, the fate of the women and the little children, and the very fate of God; and everything about us we can see turning at last on what we are doing with the machines that are about us, and what we are letting our machines do with us.
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It has cleared my mind, and at least helped me to live side by side with machines better from day to day, to consider what these two souls or spirits in the machines are, and what they are doing and likely to do. If one knows them and one sees them, and sees how they are working, it is easier to take sides and join in and help.
It would seem to me that there are two spirits in machinery—the spirit of weariness, weakness, of inventing ways of getting out of work; and there is the spirit in the machines, too, of moving mountains, conquering the sea and air, of working harder and lifting one's work over to more heroic, to more splendid and difficult, and almost impossible things. It is these two spirits that are fighting for the possession and control of our machine civilization. I watch the machines and the men beside them and see which side they are on. The labourer who is doing as little work as he dares for his wages and the capitalist who is giving as little service as he dares for his money are on the one side (the vast, lazy, mean majority of employers and employees), and there may be seen standing on the other side against them, battling for our world, another small but mighty group made up of the labourer who loves his work more than his wages, and the capitalist who loves the thing he makes more than the profit. In other words, the fate of our modern civilization, with all its marvellous machines on it, its art galleries and its churches, is all hanging to-day on the battle between the spirit of achievement, the spirit of creating things, and the spirit of weariness or the spirit of thinking of ways of getting out of things.
It does not take very long to see which one prefers when one considers the problem of living in one world or the other. If we are to take our choice between living in a world run by tired men and a world run by inspired ones, most of us will have little difficulty in deciding which we would prefer, and which one we are bound to have. I have been moved to come forward with the idea of inspired employers—or, as I have called it, "Inspired Millionaires"—because it would seem to me inspired employers are the very least we can ask for; for certainly if even our employers cannot be inspired or rested and strong, we cannot expect their overworked workmen to be. There is no hope for us but to write our books and to live our lives in such a way as to help put the world in the hands of the Strong, and to help keep its institutions and customs out of the hands of the overworked. Overworked mechanical employers and overworked labourers are the last men to solve the problem of the overworked, except in a small, tired, mean, resentful, temporary way.
And so, as I look about me and watch the machines and the men who are working with the machines, or owning them, it is on this principle that I find myself taking sides. I will not live, if I can help it, in a world that is conceived and arranged and managed by tired and overworked and mechanical men. Have I not seen tired, mechanical men, whole generations of them, vast mobs of them, the men who have let the machines mow down their souls? The first thing I have come to ask of a man, if he is to be at the head of a machine—whether it is a machine called a factory, or a machine called a Government or a city, or a machine called a nation—is, Is he tired? I have cast my lot once for all—and as it seems to me, too, the lot of the world—with those men who are rested, with the surplus men, the men who want to work more not less, who are still and gentle and strong in their hearts, steady in their imaginations, great men—men who are not driven to being self-centred or driven to being class-centred, who can be world-centred and inspired.
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When one has made this decision, that one will work for a world in control of men who are strong, one suddenly is brought face to face with a fact in our machine civilization which probably is quite new, and which the spirit of man has never had to face in any age before.
For the first time in the history of the world, machinery has made it possible for the world to get into the hands of the weak.
The Gun began it—the gun in a coward's hands may side with the weak, and the machine in the hands of the weak may temporarily give the world a list or a trend, and leave it leaning on the wrong side.
The Trust, for instance, which is really an extremely valuable invention, and perhaps, on the whole, the most important machine of modern times when it is used to defend the rights of the people, is a very different thing when it is pointed at them. We have to-day, not unnaturally, the spectacle of perhaps nine people out of ten getting up and saying in chorus all through the world that Trusts ought to be abolished; and yet it cannot honestly be said that there is really anything about the trust-machine—any more than any other machine—that is inherently wicked, or mechanical and heartless. Our real objection to the trust-machines is not to the machines themselves, but to the fact that they are, or happen to be (judging each Trust by itself), in the hands of the weak and of the tired—of men, that is, who have no spirit, no imagination about people; mechanical-minded men, who, at least in the past, have taken the easiest and laziest course in business—that of making all the money they can.
The moment we see the Trusts in the hands of the strong men, the men who are unwilling to slump back into mere money-making, and who face daily with hardihood and with joy the feat of weaving into business several strands of value at once, making things and making money and making men together, the Trust will become a vast machine of human happiness, lifting up and pulling on the world for all of us day and night.
If our labouring men to-day are to be got out from under the machines, we can only bring it to pass by doing everything we can in directors' meetings or in labor unions or as buyers or as journalists—whatever we may be—to keep the trust-machines in this world out of the hands of the tired, weak, and mechanical-minded men.
And the things that have been happening to the trust-machines, or are about to happen to them, have happened and are beginning to happen before our eyes to the machines themselves. The machines of flame and iron wheels and men in monstrous factories which the philosophers and the poets and the very preachers have doomed our world with are passing through the same evolution as the trust-machines, and shall be seen at last through the dim struggle yielding themselves, bending their iron wills to the same indomitable human spirit, the same slow, stern, implacable will of the soul of man. They shall be inspired machines.
Now for a long time we have seen (for the most part) the weak and mechanical-minded employer, the man who takes the line of least resistance in business, on every hand about us, making his employees mechanical-minded. The men have not been able to work without machines to work with, and as they have been obliged to come to him to get the machines, he has adopted the policy of letting himself fall into the weakest and easiest way of keeping his men under his own control. He takes the machines the men have come to him to get, and turns them back against them, points them at their lives, stops their minds with them, their intelligence and manhood, the very hope and religion with which they live; and of course, when men have had machines pointed at them long enough, one sees them on every hand being mowed down in rows into machines themselves—as deadly and as hopeless to make a civilization out of, or a nation out of, or to give votes to, or to have for fathers as machines would be, as iron or leather or wood.
In the meantime, however, we seem to have been developing—partly by competition and partly by combination and by experience—employers who are not mechanical-minded, who have spirit themselves, and who believe in it and can use it in others; who find ways of adjusting the hours, the wages, and the conditions of work for the men, so that what is most valuable in them, their spirit, their imaginations, their hourly good-will, can all be turned into the business, can all daily be used as the most important part of the working equipment of the factory. These employers have found (by believing it long enough to try it) that live men can do better and more marketable work than dead ones. If the great slow-moving majority of our modern machine employers were not mechanical-minded, it would not be necessary to prove to them categorically the little platitude (which even people who have observed cab-horses know) that the living is more valuable than the half-dead, and that live men can do better and more marketable work than half-dead ones.
But, of course, if they are not convinced by imagination or by arguments or by figures, they may have to be convinced by losing their business; for the most spirited employers, those who take the more difficult and creative course of making money and men together, are sure to be the employers who will get and keep the most spirited men, and are sure to crowd out of the market in their own special line employers who can only get and keep mechanical-minded ones.
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It would be hard to overstate the importance of the battle now going on among the trades unions between the spirited labourers and the tired ones, and among the manufacturers between the inspired employers and the mechanical-minded ones.
For the time being, at least, it is the inspired employers who have most power to change the conditions of labour and to free the mechanical-minded slaves. It is they who are standing to-day on the great strategical ground of our time. They hold the pass of human life. People cannot expect to be inspired in crowds. Crowds are too unwieldy and too inconvenient to act quickly. The people can only concentrate their energies on getting and demanding inspired employers, on insisting that the men who for eight or nine hours a day are pouring in with their wages their thoughts, and their motives, the very hope with which they live, into their lives, shall be the champions of the people, shall represent them and act for them, as they are not placed to act for themselves, and with more imagination than they can yet expect to have for themselves. If our labouring men of to-day are going to struggle out from under the machines, they can only do it by doing all that they can in labour unions and in the press and at the polls to keep the machines in this world out of the hands of tired and mechanical-minded owners.
But probably the more immediate rescue from the evil or mechanicalness in machines is not going to come from the employers on the one hand or the employees on the other, but from having the employees in the Trades Unions and the employers in the directors' meetings combining together to keep in subordinate places where they cannot hurt others all men, whether directors or employees, who do not work harder than they have to, and who have not the brains to do their work for something besides money. The men who are like this will of course be pitied and duly considered, but they will be kept where they will not have power to control other men, or where by force of position or by mere majority they will be able to bully other men to work as mechanically as they do. Workmen who do not want to become machines can only better conditions by combination with so-called inspired employers—employers who work harder than they have to, who dote on the great human difficulties of work, who choose not the easiest but the most perfect way of doing things, who are never mechanical themselves, and will not let their men be if they can help it. I have liked to call these employers inspired millionaires. I would rather have the machine owner or employer a millionaire, because the more machines an inspired employer can own, the more he can buy and get away from the uninspired ones, the sooner will the right of labour and the will of the people be accomplished. When the machines are in the hands of inspired and strong and spirited men—men of real competence or genius for business, the machines will be seen on every hand around us as the engines of war against evil, against slavery, the whirling weapons of the Spirit.
Even now, in dreams have I stood and watched them—the will of the people like a flail in their mighty hands—this vast army of machines—go thundering past, driving the uninspired and mechanical off the face of the earth.
THE STRIKE—AN INVENTION FOR MAKING CROWDS THINK
When I was arranging to slip over from New York and get something I very much wanted in England last spring, I found myself held up suddenly in all my plans because some men on the docks had decided that there was something that they wanted too. They decided that I and thousands of other people in New York would have to wait over on the shores of America until they got it.
After postponing my plans until things had settled down, I took passage, and in due time found myself standing on English soil, only to be informed that, while I might be allowed perhaps at least to stand on English soil, that was really as much as I could expect. I could not go anywhere because a number of men on the railways had decided that there was something they wanted and that I would have to wait till they got it.
I could go down and look at the silent, cold locomotives on the rails, and I could be as wistful and hopeful as I liked about getting up to London, but these men had decided that there was something that they wanted and I must wait.
I could not think of anything I had ever done to these men, and what had Liverpool and London done to them?
After I was duly settled in London, and had begun to get into its little ways, and was busily driving about and attending to my business as I had planned, 6,000 more men suddenly wanted something, brought me up to a full stop one rainy day, and said that they had decided that if I wanted to ride I would have to walk, or that I would have to poke dismally about in a 'bus, or worm my way through under the ground. As I understood it, there was something that they wanted and something that they were going to get; and while of course in a way, they recognized that there might be something that I wanted too, I would have to wait till they got theirs.