THE GHOST IN THE WHITE HOUSE
SOME SUGGESTIONS AS TO HOW A HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE (WHO ARE SUPPOSED IN A VAGUE, HELPLESS WAY TO HAUNT THE WHITE HOUSE) CAN MAKE THEMSELVES FELT WITH A PRESIDENT—HOW THEY CAN BACK HIM UP—EXPRESS THEMSELVES TO HIM, BE EXPRESSED BY HIM, AND GET WHAT THEY WANT
GERALD STANLEY LEE
Author of "Crowds" and "Inspired Millionaires"
"The White House is haunted by a vague helpless abstraction,—by a kind of ghost of the nation, called The People"
NEW YORK E. P. DUTTON & CO. 681 FIFTH AVENUE
Copyright, 1920 BY E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
All Rights Reserved
First printing May, 1920
Printed in the United States of America
Transcriber's Note: Chapter XXII in Book II was printed without a title.
WHAT THE PEOPLE EXPECT OF THE PEOPLE
I Gist 3 II The Lonesomest Job on Earth 4 III The President and the Ghost 6 IV Real Folks and the Ghost 12 V The Ghost Receives an Invitation 16 VI What a Body for the Ghost Would be Like 20 VII The Ghost gets Down to Business 25 VIII Three Rights of Man in a Democracy—The Right to Think 27 IX The Right to be Waited On 32 X The Right to Whisper 36 XI The Right to Whisper Together 39 XII The Right to Trust Somebody 41 XIII The Right to Vote All Day 46 XIV The Skilled Consumer 48 XV Sample Democracies 51 XVI The Town Pendulum 54 XVII The National Listening Machine 58 XVIII How the National Listening Machine Will Work 62 XIX Making a Right Start 64 XX Up to the People 66 XXI The Way for a Nation to Speak Up 68
WHAT EACH MAN EXPECTS OF HIMSELF
I G. S. L. to Himself 75 II If I Were a Nation 78 III What the Mahogany Desk is Going to Do 81 IV Rules for Being Lied to 85 V Getting One Man Right 87 VI Getting Fifty Men Right 89 VII Engineers in Folks 91 VIII The Great New Profession 92 IX Getting People to Notice Facts 97 X The Fool Killers 100 XI The Whisperers 102 XII Mr. Dooley, Judge Gary and Mr. Gompers 103 XIII Fooling Onseself in Politics 108 XIV Swearing Off from Oneself in Time 112 XV Technique for not Being Fooled by Oneself 117 XVI The Autobiography of a Letter 120 XVII The Man Fifty Three Thousand Post Offices Failed On 124 XVIII Causes of Being Fooled About Oneself 126 XIX Loco-Mindedness 128 XX Flat-Thinking. Thinking in Me Flat 131 XXI Lost-Mindedness 133 XXII 137 XXIII Self-Discipline by Proxy 139 XXIV Machine Mindedness 142 XXV New Brain Tracks in Business 143
TECHNIQUE FOR A NATION'S GETTING ITS WAY
I Big in Little 147 II Conscious Control of Brain Tracks 149 III What is Called Thinking 151 IV Living Down Cellar in One's Own Mind 156 V Being Helped up the Cellar Stairs 160 VI Reflections on the Stairs 166 VII Helping Other People up the Cellar Stairs 169 VIII Helping a Nation up the Cellar Stairs 173 IX Technique for Labor in Getting its Way 175 X Technique for Capital in Getting its Way 179 XI Philandering and Alexandering 183 XII The Factory that Lay Awake All Night 185 XIII Listening to Jim 191 XIV The New Company 196 XV The Fifty-Cent Dollar 198 XVI The Business Man, the Professional Man and the Artist 200 XVII The News-Man 203 XVIII W. J. 205 XIX The Look-Up Club Looks Up 207 XX Propagandy People 211 XXI The Skilled Consumers of Publicity 213
THE TECHNIQUE OF A NATION'S GETTING ITS WAY
I Fourth of July All the Year Round 217 II The Vision and the Body 219 III The Call of a Hundred Million People 222 IV The Call of a World 227 V Missouri 232 VI A Victory Loan Advertisement 236
THE TECHNIQUE OF A NATION'S BEING BORN AGAIN
I Reconstruction 243 II National Biology 245 III The Air Line League 247 IV The Look-Up Club Looks Up 250 (1) For Instance 250 (2) Why The Look-Up Club Looks Up 255 V The Try-Out Club Tries Out 257 (1) I + You = We 257 (2) The Engineer at Work 260 (3) The Engineer and the Game 262 (4) The American Business Sport 264 VI The Put-Through Clan Puts Through 270 (1) What 270 (2) How 272 (3) Psycho-Analysis 273 (4) Psycho-Analysis for a Town 276 (5) To-Morrow 280 (6) Who 281 (7) The Town Fireplace 286 (8) The Sign on the World 288
WHAT THE PEOPLE EXPECT OF THE PRESIDENT
I The Big Brother of the People 293 II The Man Who Carries the Bunch of Keys for the Nation 300 III The President's Temperament 302 IV The President's Religion 306 V The Red Flag and the White House 309
THE MOTION BEFORE THE HOUSE
This is a book a hundred million people would write if they had time.
I am nominating in this book—in the presence of the people, the next President of the United States.
The name is left blank.
I am nominating a man not a name.
I am presenting a program and a sketch of what the next President will be like, of what he will be like as a fellow human being, and I leave the details—his name, the color of his eyes and the party he belongs to, to be filled in by people later.
Here is his program, his faith in the people, his vision for the people and his vision for himself.
* * * * *
No one has ever nominated a President in a book before.
I do it because a book can be more quiet, more sensible and thoughtful, more direct and human, and closer to the hearts of the people, than a convention can.
A book can be more public too—can be attended by more people than a convention. Only a few thousand people can get into a convention. A hundred million can get into a book. All in the same two hours, by twenty million lamps thousands of miles apart, the people can crowd into a book.
So in this book, as I have said, I am merely acting as the secretary or employee of the hundred million people. I am writing a book a hundred million people would write if they could, expressing for them the kind of President for the next four years of our nation—the most colossal four years of the world, the people have ordered in their hearts.
We are weary of politicians' politicians. We want ours. Politicians may not be so bad but during the war they do not seem to us to have done as well as most people. In the dead-earnest of the war, with our Liberty Loan and Red Cross and Council of Defense, and our dollar a year men we have half taken over the government ourselves and we feel no longer awed by the regular political practitioners or government tinkerers. They are not all alike, of course, but we have turned our national glass on them and have come to see through them—at least the worst ones and many thousands of them—all these busy little worms of public diplomacy building their faint vague little coral islands of bluff and unbelief far far away from us, out in the great ocean of their nothingness all by themselves.
Unless the more common run of our typical politicians see through themselves before the conventions come, and see that the people see through them, and see it quick, their days are numbered.
Instead of patronizing us and whispering to one another behind their hands about us, their time has come now—in picking out the next President to begin gazing up to the countenance of the people, to begin listening to the people's prayer to God.
The people are a new people since the war. Out of the crash of empires, out of threats in every man's door-yard the people are praying to God.
And they are voting to God, too.
The sooner the two great political parties reckon with this, the sooner they push around behind themselves out of sight all the funny little would-be Presidents, and all the little shan't-be politicians running around like ants under the high heaven of the faith of a great people picking up tidbits they dare to believe—and put forward instead a live believing hot and cold human being, a man who will give up being President for what he believes, the sooner they will find themselves with a President on their hands that can be elected. Whichever party it is that does this, and does it first and does it best, will be the one that will be underwritten by the people.
The people of this country are to-day in a religious mood toward the great coming political conventions and the questions and the men that will come up in them. We are on the whole, in spite of the low estimate the majority of politicians have of us, straight-minded and free-hearted people, shrewd, masterful and devout, praying with one hand and keeping from being fooled with the other and we want our public men to have courage and vision for themselves and for us. We give notice that thousands of our most complacently puttering, most quibbly and fuddly politicians are going to be taken out by the people, lifted up by the people, and dropped kindly but firmly over the edge of the world. This nation is facing the most colossal, most serious and godlike moment any nation has ever faced, and it does not propose in the presence of forty nations, in the presence of its own conscience, its own grim appalling hope, to be trifled with.
So far as any one can see with the naked eye the quickest and surest way to get past the politicians, to remind the politicians of the real spirit of the people, to loom up the face of the people before their eyes and make them suddenly take the people more seriously than they take themselves, is with a book. In a book a President can be nominated by acclamation—by a kind of silent acclamation. In a book, without giving any name or pointing anybody out at least the soul of a President can be ordered by a people.
We will publish upon the housetops the hopes and the prayers and the wills of the people.
Then let the conventions feel the housetops looking down on them when they meet.
In a book published in a hundred newspapers one week, wedged into covers across a nation another, the people with one single national stroke can put what they want before the country—a hundred million people in a book can rise to make a motion.
We will not wait to be cornered by our politicians into a convention to which we cannot go. We will not wait to be told three months too late, to pick out—out of two men we did not want, the man we will have to take. The short-cut way for us as the people of this country to take the initiative with our politicians and to make the politicians toe our line, instead of toeing theirs, is for the people to blurt out the truth, write a book, get in early beforehand their quiet word with both great parties and tell them whatever his name is, whatever his party is, the kind of President they want.
So here it is, such as it is, the book, a little politically innocent-looking thing perhaps, just engaged in being like folks instead of like politicians, just engaged in being human—in letting a nation speak and act as a human being speaks and acts, in a great simple sublime human crisis in which with forty nations looking on, we are making democracy work—making a loophole for the fate of the world.
* * * * *
I am trying to answer three questions.
What shall the new President believe about the people and expect of the people?
What shall the new people—people made new by this war, expect of themselves and expect of their new President?
What kind of a President, with what kind of a personality or temperament do the people feel would be the best kind of a President to pull them together, to help the people do what the people have to do?
I have wanted to bring forward a way in which the things the new President will expect the people to do, can be done by the people.
What the people want done, especially with regard to the Red Flag, predatory capital, predatory labor, and the fifty-cent dollar cannot be done by the President for them, and they are not going to do it themselves lonesomely and individually by yearning, or by standing around three thousand miles apart or in any other way than by voluntarily agreeing to get together and do it together.
WHAT THE PEOPLE EXPECT OF THE PEOPLE
The Crowd is my Hero.
The Hero of this book is a hundred million people.
I have come to have the feeling—especially in regard to political conventions, that it might not be amiss to put forward some suggestions just now as to how a hundred million people can strike—make themselves more substantial, more important in this country, so that we shall really have in this country in time a hundred million people who, taken as a whole, feel important in it—like a Senator for instance—like Senator Lodge, like sugar even, or like meat or like oil, like Trusts that won't trust, and Congressmen that won't play and workmen that won't work—I am thinking out ways in this book in which the hundred million people can come to feel as if it made a very substantial difference to somebody what they wanted and what they thought—ways in which the hundred million people shall be taken seriously in their own country, and like a Profiteer, or like a noble agitator, or like a free beautiful labor union,—get what they want.
THE LONESOMEST JOB ON EARTH
What is going to happen to the next President the day after he is inaugurated, a few minutes after it, when he goes to the place assigned to him, or at least that night?
The Ghost in the White House.
The White House is haunted by a vague, helpless abstraction, a kind of ghost of a nation, called the people.
The only way the Nation, in the White House, gets in, is as a spirit. The man who lives there, if he wants to be chummy (as any man we want there would), has to commune with a Generalization.
What we really do with a President is to pick him deliberately up out of his warm human living with the rest of us, with people who, whatever else is the matter with them, are at least somebody in particular, lift him over in the White House, shut him up there for four years to live in wedlock with An Average, to be the consort day and night of Her Who Never Was, and Who Never Is—a kind of vague, cold, intellectual, unsubstantial, lonely, Terrible Angel called the People.
Just a kind of light in Her eyes at times.
That is all there is to Her.
It is a good deal like reducing or trying to reduce the Aurora Borealis to 2 and 2 = 4, to go into the White House for four years, warm up to this cold, passionately talked about, passionately believed in Lady. It does not give any real satisfaction to anybody—either to the hundred million people or to the President.
It certainly is not a pleasant or thoughtful thing for a hundred million people to do to a President—to be a Ghost.
It is not efficient.
Naturally—much of the time anyway, all the Ghost of a people can get or hope to get (however hard he tries) is the Ghost of a President.
THE PRESIDENT AND THE GHOST
There are a number of things about going into the White House the next four years and being the Head Employee of a hundred million people, that are going to make it, unless people do something about it, the lonesomest job on earth.
The new President on entering the mansion and taking up his position as the Head Employee of the hundred million people is going to find he is expected to put up, and put up every day, with marked and embarrassing idiosyncrasies or personal traits in his Employer, that no man would ever put up with, from any other employer in the world.
Halfness, or double personality.
Big, impressive-looking Fool Moments.
Cumulus clouds of Slow Sure Conceit with Sudden Flops of Humility.
And perhaps most trying of all in being the employee of a hundred million people, is the almost daily sense that the employee has that the Employer—like some strange, kindly, big Innocent, is going to be made a fool of before one's eyes and do things and be made to do things by unworthy and designing persons for which he is going to be sorry.
The man who is conscientious in the White House has an Employer whose immediate and temporary orders he must disobey to his face, sometimes in the hope that he will be thanked afterwards.
Once in a great while the man who has been put on the job as the expert, as the captain of the ship, has to tell the Owner of the Line, when the storm is highest, that he must not butt in.
The restful and homelike feeling one has with the average employer that one is just being an employee and that one's employer is being responsible, is lacking in the White House, where one is practically expected to undertake at the same time being both one's own employee and one's own employer.
But while this little trait of general irresponsibleness in the President's Employer may be the hardest to bear, there are more dangerous ones for the country.
I am dwelling on them long enough to consider what can be done about them. I have believed they are going to be removed or mitigated the moment the Employer can be got to see how hard some of the traits are making it for the President to do anything for him.
Bodilessness is the worst. The man to whom the hundred million people are giving for the next four years the job of being their Head Employee, is not only never going to see his Employer, but he has an Employer so large, so various, so amorphous, so mixed together and so scattered apart he could never hope in a thousand years to get in touch with It.
Serving It is necessarily one long monstrous strain of guesswork, a trying daily, nightly, for four years to get into grip with a mist, with a fog of human nature, an Abstraction, a ghost of a nation called the People.
It is this bodilessness in the Employer—this very simple rudimentary whiffling communion the Employer has with his usually distinguished and accomplished Head Employee, which the Head Employee finds it hardest to bear. The only thing his Employer ever says to him directly is (once in four years) that he wants him or that he does not want him and even then he confides to him that he only half wants him. He says deliberately and out loud before everybody, so that everybody knows and the people of other nations, "Here is the man I would a little rather have than not." That is all. Then he coops him up in the White House, drops away absently, softly into ten thousand cities, forgets him, and sets him to work.
Any man can see for himself, that having a crowd for an Employer like this, a crowd of a hundred million people you cannot go to and that cannot come to you, puts one in a very vague, lonesome position, and when one thinks that on top of all this about forty or fifty millions of the people one is being The Head Employee of (in the other party) expect one to feel and really want one to feel lonesome with them, and that at the utmost all one can do, or ever hope to do is to about half-suit one's Employer—keep up a fair working balance with him in one's favor, it will be small wonder if the man in the White House feels he has—especially these next most trying four years, the lonesomest job on earth.
The Prime Minister of England has a lonesome job of course, but he is the head of his own party, has and knows he has all the while his own special crowd, he is allowed and expected, as a matter of course, to snuggle up to. This special and understood chumminess is not allowed to our President. He has to drub along all day, day in and day out, sternly, and be President of all of us.
It may be true that it has not always looked like the lonesomest job on earth and, of course, when Theodore Roosevelt had it, the job of being President considerably chirked up, but in the new never-can-tell world America is trying to be a great nation in now, the next four years of our next President, between not making mistakes with a hundred unhappy, senile, tubercular railroads and two hundred thousand sick and unhappy factories at home, and not making mistakes with forty desperate nations abroad, the man we put in the White House next is going to have what will be the lonesomest job this old earth has had on it, for four thousand years—except the one that began in Nazareth—the one the new President is going to have a chance to help and to move along in a way which little, old, queer, bent, eager St. Paul with his prayers in Rome and his sermons in Athens, never dreamed of.
It does seem, somehow, with this next particular thing our new President and a hundred million people and forty nations are all together going to try to do, as if it were rather unpractical and inefficient at just this time for our President to have a ghost for an Employer.
All any man has to do to see how inefficient this tends to make a President, is to stop and think. If you have an employer who cannot collect himself and you cannot collect him, if all day, every day, all you do before you do anything for him is to guess on him and make him up—what is there—what deep, searching and conclusive and permanent action is there, after all, the man in The White House can take in his employer's behalf when his employer has no physical means of telling him what he wants and what he is willing to do with what he gets? What can the man in the White House hope to accomplish for a people with whom it is the constitutional and regular thing to be as lonely as this?
I have wanted to consider what can be done, and done now not to have a lonely President the next four years.
The first thing to do is to pick out in the next conventions and the next election a man for the White House a great-hearted direct and free people will not feel lonely with, and then set to work hard doing things that will back him up, that will make him daily feel where we stand, and not let him feel lonely with us.
The feeling of helplessness, of bodilessness—the feeling the Public has every day in the White House and in the Senate, of being treated, and treated to its own face as if it was not there, is a feeling that works as badly one way as it does the other.
The President does not want a Ghost.
The people do not want to be treated as a Ghost.
The object of this book is to resent—to expose to everybody as unfair and untrue and destroy forever the title I have written across the front of it, "The Ghost in The White House."
The object of this book is to take its own title back, to put itself out of date, to make people in a generation wonder what it means to save, to try to save a great people in the greatest, most desperate moment of all time, with forty nations thundering on our door before the whole world, from being an inarticulate, shimmering, wavering, gibbering Ghost in its own House.
There must be things—broad simple things about Capital and Labor people can do and do every day in this country, that will make a President timidly stop guessing what they want.
It ought not to take as it does now, a genius for a President or a seer for a President to know what the people want. A man of genius—a seer, a man who can read the heart of a nation—especially in politics, comes not only not once in four years, but four hundred years and it is highly unlikely when he does that the Republican Party, or the Democratic Party in America will know him offhand and give people a chance to have him in the White House.
The best the people can hope for in America now is to have a body—to find some way to express ourselves in our daily workaday actions without saying a word—express ourselves so plainly that without saying a word our President, our Politicians—even the kind of men who seem to put up naturally with having to be in the Senate—the kind of men who can feel happy and in their element in a place like Congress will see what the People—the real people in this country are like.
I am trying to put forward ways of forming body-tissues for a people so that we the people in America, at last, in the days that lie ahead, instead of being a Ghost in our own House, shall have things that we can do, material, business things that we can do, so that we shall be able to prove to a President what we are like and what we want—so that each man of us shall feel he has something tangible he can make an impression on a President with—something more than a vague, faint, little ballot to hurl (like an Autumn leaf) at him, once in four years.
REAL FOLKS AND THE GHOST
When a man speaks of The City National Bank he speaks of it as if he meant something and knew what he meant.
When the same man in the same breath speaks of The People, watch him bewhiffle it.
When a good hearty sensible fellow human being we all know speaks of Business he speaks of it in a substantial tone, with some burr in it, and when in the same half minute he speaks of the Country, he drops in some mysterious way into a holy tone of unrealness, into a kind of whine of The Invisible.
Business talks bass. Patriotism is an AEolian harp.
During the war this was changed. We found ourselves every day treating America, treating The Country, treating The People as a bodily fact.
I would like to see what can be done now in the next President's next four years, to give America this magnificent sense of a body in peace.
Why is it that we have in America a body for Germans, and then wilt down in a minute after Chateau-Thierry into bodilessness for ourselves, into treating and expecting everybody else to treat The People, the will, the vision, the glory, the destiny of The People as a Ghost—unholy, cowardly, voiceless, helpless—just a light in its eyes—just a vast national shimmer at a world, without hands and without feet.
Millions of people every day in this country are very particular to salute the flag, sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" and ship Bolshevists, but let them speak to you in conversation, of an industrial body like the Steel Trust or the Pennsylvania Railroad and they act as if something were there. Bring up the Body-Politic and it's a whiff.
It ought to be considered treason to think or to speak of The Country in this vague, breathy way.
The next immediate, imperative need of America is to see what can be done and done in the next President's next four years to make the Body-Politic people take the Body-Politic and what happens to the Body-Politic as if it were as substantial as a coal strike—as what happened at Ypres, Cambrai and Chateau-Thierry.
Otherwise we are a nation of whiners and yearners and are not what we pretend to be at all, and the only logical thing the Germans and the rest of the world can do, is to protect themselves from democracy.
I believe that the best things the Old World has said about us and hoped for us, to the effect that we are a disinterested nation and a nation of idealists, are true to the American character and real.
But they are not actual. We are the world's colossal tragic Adolescent. Forty nations are depending on us—are waiting for us—in the world's long desperate minutes—waiting for America to grow up.
This nation has just as much spirituality, just as much patriotism and religion as it expresses bodily in its business in the conduct of its daily producing, buying and selling, and no more. Any big beautiful evaporated Body-Politic we have or try to think we can have aside from this body—this actual working through of our patriotism, our democracy and our patriotism into our business, is weak, unholy, unclean and threatens in its one desperate and critical moment the fate of a world.
All really religious men and all real patriots know this.
In a democracy like ours a religion which is not occupied all day every day in this year of our Lord 1920 in making democracy work, a religion that loafs off into a pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night, a religion that cannot be used to run steel mills so that men won't go to hell in them and to run coal mines so that men won't be in hell already, is not a religion at all. And a nation that sheds tears over three hundred thousand disabled and crippled soldiers, who gave up their jobs and sailed six thousand miles to die for them, and that has finally managed to get new jobs for just two hundred and seventeen of the three hundred thousand and taken nineteen months to do it, illustrates what it means—in just one simple item—for a hundred million people, to try to be good without a body.
But it is not only in behalf of its helplessness with the President I am groping in these pages for a body for the Public.
The reason that the Public in dealing in its daily business with powerful persons of any kind—whether good or bad, whether a President or anybody, is taken advantage of and does not get what it wants, is that the Public is a Ghost.
Theoretically all powerful persons, predatory Trusts, profiteering labor unions and the wrong kind of politicians always speak respectfully to the Public, but when they want something that belongs to the Public they find the Public is an Abstraction and help themselves. They act when with the Public, as if the Public was not there.
The only way this is ever going to be stopped is for us to make a spontaneous voluntary popular start in this country toward having a body for people in general, towards giving a hundred million people in dealing with their politicians, their trusts and labor unions, less bodilessness. We propose to give a hundred million people a face, a voice, a presence, a backbone, a grip.
Then all the people we ask things of who think we can be whoofed away, will pay attention to us.
THE GHOST RECEIVES AN INVITATION
Being allowed to live a week to-day means as much as being allowed to live a whole life four years ago or perhaps four years from now.
We are being allowed to live in the splendid desperate moment of the world.
International war ending to-night.
To-morrow morning a thousand civil wars breaking out in a thousand nations—between classes—unless we all do our seeing and do our living swiftly and do it together swiftly to-day.
When one-tenth of the people of America tell the President of the United States and nine-tenths of the people that they cannot have any coal unless they do what the one-tenth say; when another one-tenth of the people tell the nine-tenths that they cannot have anything to eat, and another one-tenth tell them that they cannot have anything to wear until the one-tenth get what they want, just how much more democratic America is than Germany it is difficult to say; and just why anybody should suppose the emergency is over it is difficult to say. The idea of getting what you want by hold-up which has been taught to labor by capital, is now getting ready to be used by labor and capital both, and by everybody.
The really great immediate universal emergency to-day in America is the holdup. We get rid of one Kaiser other people have three thousand miles away, to get instead five thousand Kaisers we have to live with next door here at home, that we have to ask things of and say "please" to every time we cook, every time we eat, every time we buy something to wear.
The emergency is not only immediate but it is universal, all the people are concerned in meeting it all the time. We have said to one another and to everybody for four years that what we have all been sacrificing for and dying for these four years is to make the world safe for democracy.
This was our emergency. We were right. The emergency we are meeting now is to make democracy safe for the world. If the Kaiser wanted to dream his wildest dream of autocratic sneer and autocratic hate he would have dreamed US; he would have dreamed what we will be unless the men and women of America—especially the men and women of America formerly active in the Red Cross, shall meet the emergency and undertake in behalf of the people to prove to the people how (if anybody will go about and look it up) industrial democracy in America in distinction from industrial autocracy, really works.
If it works for some of us in some places, let twenty million people—Red Cross people get up and say across this land in every village, town and city, it shall work now in all places for all of us. And then take steps—all of them every morning, every afternoon, getting together as they did in the Red Cross, to see to it that the whole town and everybody in it does something about it.
When the soldiers of the American army we were all helping in the Red Cross stop fighting the Germans, come home, divide off into classes and begin fighting one another, why—because now the soldiers we have been helping need us more, because now all day every day they need us more than they ever dreamed of needing us when they were merely fighting Germans—why should we stop helping them?
On the day after the armistice—the very day when our war with just Germans was over, when the deeper, realer, more intimate, more desperate war Germany had precipitated upon all nations with themselves, begins, why should the men and women who had been working every afternoon for the men of this nation, in the Red Cross, talk about reducing to a peace basis?
The people in the Red Cross have been having in the last three years the vision of backing up an army of four million men fighting for the liberties of the world, but the vision that is before us now—before the same people—that we must meet and meet desperately and quickly is the vision of backing up an army of a hundred million men, women and children fighting for their own liberties in their own dooryards, fighting for the liberty to eat at their own tables, to sleep in their own beds, and to wear clothes on their backs, in a country which we have told the Germans is the greatest machinery of freedom, the greatest engine of democracy in the world.
I will not believe that the men and women of all classes who have made the Red Cross what it was, who have made the Red Cross the trusted representative of American democracy in all nations, who now find themselves facing both at home and abroad the most desperate, sublime, most stupendous chance to save democracy and to present democracy to a world, I will not believe that these men and women are going to lose their grip, wave their vision for a people away, forsake forty nations, forsake the daily heaped-up bewildered fighting of the fighters they have helped before.
The logical thing at this great moment for the people who made the Red Cross to do—the thing they alone have the record, the teamwork-drill, the experience, the machinery, the momentum to do, is to keep on following the fighters, rendering first aid to the fighters moving on with their first-aid from fighters for the rights of the people not to be bullied by kings, to fighters for the rights of all classes of people not to be bullied by everybody, not to be bullied by one another.
WHAT A BODY FOR THE GHOST WOULD BE LIKE
I have always wanted to write a book an employer and a workman could read looking over each other's shoulders. I would have two chapters on every subject. In one chapter I would tell the employer things his workman wants him to know, and in the next chapter I would tell the workman things that for years the employer has been trying to get him to notice. I would begin each chapter in such a way that no employer or workman would ever know which was which, or which was his chapter, until he had got in quite a little way; and I would do my best to have everybody read each other's chapters all through the book. An employer would be reading along in his chapter as innocent as you please, and slap his leg and say, "THAT'S IT! THAT'S IT! It does me good to think my workmen are reading this!" And then he would turn over the leaf and he would come plump full head on into three paragraphs about himself and about how the public feels about him, and about how his workmen feel about him, and about what God is going to do to him, and about what all the people who read my book are going to help God to do to him, that will make him think. The first thing he will think of perhaps will be to lay down the book. Then before he knows it he will see another of those things he wants his workmen to read softly poking itself out of the page at him. Then he will slap his leg and think how I am making his workmen think. So he will go through the book slapping his leg and shouting "Amen" in one chapter, and sitting still and thinking in the next.
This is the gist of what I propose a new organization shall do on a national scale.
It may seem a rather simple-minded way to describe what I propose a great aggregation of American men and women on the scale of the Red Cross, should do, but the soul, the spirit, the temperament, even the technique of what I have in mind—in miniature, is in it.
It is true that it would be a certain satisfaction of course to an author to prove to employers and employees that they could get on better together than they could apart, even if they got on together better only in a kind of secret and private way in the pages of his own book; and it is true that a book in which I could make an employer and an employee work their minds together through my own little fountain pen would count some. I would at least be dramatizing my idea in ink.
But people do not believe ideas dramatized in ink.
The thing for an author or a man who has ideas to do if he must use words, is to use words to make his ideas happen.
Then let him use words about them and write books about them to advertise that they have happened.
People are more impressed with things that have happened than they are with things that are perhaps going to. Instead of having employers and employees go over the same ideas together in a book, I propose that twenty million people, in ten thousand cities shall make them go over the same ideas together in the shop.
Are capital and labor going to use the holdup on each other to get what they want when six million dead men, still almost warm in their graves, have died to prove that the holdup, or German way of getting things, does not work? What the new League will be for will be to put before the world, before every nation, before every village and city in its local branch, a working vision of how different classes and different groups of people can get what they want out of each other by trying things out together, by touching each other's imaginations and advertising to each other instead of blowing out each other's brains. The way to keep in place our Bolshevists of America is to show them that we the combined people of America, combined and acting together as one in the organization I am sketching in this book, know what they want, and that we can get the thing they essentially want for them better than they can get it. The three great groups in American life—the employing class, the laboring class, and the consumer—have all belonged to the Red Cross together, they have all worked together and sacrificed themselves, and sacrificed their class, to work for the Red Cross. What the New League will stand for in the name of all of them will be the thing that they have already demonstrated in the Red Cross that they can do. Three classes can get a thing for one class better than one class can get it.
This is the content of the League's vision of action.
The method of it will be advertising with enormous campaigns never dreamed of before what the three-class vision is and how it works. Then we will have factories dramatize it. Then we will advertise the factories.
Then when we have democracy working in a thousand factories, we will advertise and transplant our working democracy, our factory democracies, abroad.
People who have learned that democracy works in their daily work can be trusted to believe democracy will work even in their religion, even in their politics.
* * * * *
The idea I have in mind is already foreshadowed in the city of Cleveland.
The spirit of the people of Cleveland has already rebelled against being treated as a ghost—against being whoofed at by Labor unions and trusts.
Always before this, when incompetent manufacturers and incompetent labor unions, for the mere reason that they had not the patience to try very hard and were incompetent to understand one another and do their job, held up the whole city—five hundred thousand people—and calmly made them pay for it, the city of Cleveland like any other city would venture to step in sweetly and kindly, look spiritual and intangible a minute, suggest wistfully that they did feel capital and labor were not being quite fair to Cleveland and would they not please stop interrupting Cleveland several million dollars a day. All that ever would come of it would be the yowls of Labor at the Ghost of Cleveland, the noble whines of manufacturers at the Ghost of Cleveland.
Cleveland was treated as if it was not there.
Cleveland now swears off from being a ghost and proposes to deal bodily and in behalf of all, with its own lockouts and its own strikes in much the same way I am hoping the nation will, according to the news in my paper this morning.
With Mr. Paul Pfeiss, an eminently competent manufacturer, recognizing the incompetence of his own group as partly responsible for the holdups practiced on the city and with Mr. Warren S. Stone, an eminently competent labor union leader, recognizing the incompetence of his own group as being also partly responsible—with these two men, one the official representative of the Capital group, and the other the official representative of the Labor group, both championing the Public group and standing out for Cleveland against themselves, taking the initiative and acting respectively as President and Secretary of the Public group, the Ghost of the city of Cleveland publicly swears off from being a ghost and begins precipitating a body for itself.
I do not wish to hamper my own statement of my idea of a body for the people of the United States by linking it up with a definite undertaking in Cleveland which may or may not prove to be as good an illustration of it as I hope, but the spirit and the understanding of what has got to happen, seems to be in Cleveland—and I stop in the middle of my chapter with greetings to Paul Pfeiss and to Warren Stone. In my book the Ghost of the People of Cleveland salutes the Ghost of the People of the United States!
THE GHOST GETS DOWN TO BUSINESS
A body usually begins with an embryo, and the tissue and skeleton come afterwards.
A book does, too. I prefer not exposing a skeleton much, myself, and am inclined to feel that the ground plan of a book like the ground plan of a man, should be illustrated and used, should be presented to people with the flesh on, that a skeleton should be treated politely as an inference.
But I am dealing with the body of democracy. And people are nervous about democracy just now, so much boneless democracy is being offered to them.
So I begin with the principles—the skeleton of the body of democracy for which this book stands.
The outstanding features of the body of democracy are the brain, the heart and the hand.
With the brain of democracy goes the right to think.
With the heart goes the right to live.
With the hand goes the right to be waited on.
With these three rights go three greater rights, or three duties, some people call them.
With the right to think goes the right to let others think.
With the right to live goes the right to let others live.
With the right to be waited on, goes the right to serve. To call the right to serve a duty is an understatement. I doubt if the people who have succeeded best and who have really attained the largest amount of their three greater rights, have thought of them very often as duties.
I end this chapter with the three questions America is in the world to-day to ask, to find out her own personal three answers to in the sight of the nations.
I am putting with the three questions the three answers I am hoping to hear my country give, before I die.
What determines what proportion of his right to think, each man shall have?
His power to get attention and let others think.
What determines what proportion of his right to live, each man shall have?
His power to let others live.
What determines what proportion of his right to be waited on, each man shall have?
His power to serve.
These are the principles of the new League—the voluntary, spontaneous organization of the men and women of America to meet the emergency in America of our war with ourselves, on the same scale and in the same spirit as the Red Cross met the emergency of our war with other nations, an organization which I hope to show ought to be formed, and which I am rising to make the motion to form, in this book.
I put these principles forward as the by-laws of America's faith in itself, as the principles that should govern the brain, the heart and the hand of each man in a democracy, toward all other men and that should govern all other men toward him—the skeleton of the body of the people.
THREE RIGHTS OF MAN IN A DEMOCRACY
I—THE RIGHT TO THINK
I am entitled to one one-hundred millionth of President Wilson's time in a year.
If I want 2/100,000,000ths of President Wilson's time in a year I must show him why. I must also show the other 99,999,999 people who think I deserve no more than my regular 1/100,000,000th why I should have two. Not allowing for the President's sleeping nights, my precise share of his time would be one-third of a second once a year. Why should I have two-thirds of a second?
I have to show.
The success of democracy as a working institution turns on salesmanship—upon every man's selling himself—his right to the attention of the Government.
A democracy which considers itself a queue of a hundred million people standing before the window of the President's attention to be waited upon by the President in the order in which they are born or in which they come up, would be a helpless institution. The success of democracy—that is, the success of a government in serving the will of the hundred million people in the queue, turns on sorting people in the queue out, turns on giving attention to what some people in the queue want before others. The man who gets out of line and walks up ahead of people who have been standing in line longer than he has, must get the permission of the queue. He must make the people in the queue feel he represents them with the President if he steps up ahead. Then they let him have their turn. They are glad to let him have hours with the President if they feel he is giving hours' worth of representation to their minutes. All each man wants to feel is that in letting Gompers, for instance, or Schwab, go up ahead, he is getting with the President a minute an hour long. Miles of people in rows say to a man like this, who can give them and their interests with the President a minute an hour long, "You first, please."
Political democracy, if it works, turns on getting the attention of the queue and then going with it to the window.
Political democracy, in other words, turns on advertising.
So does industrial democracy.
Industrial democracy in a factory of five thousand men consists in making arrangements for the five thousand men to appreciate each other, appreciate the Firm, and to feel the Firm appreciating them; arrangements for having the five thousand men get each other's attention in the right proportions at the right time so that they work as one.
The next thing that is coming in industrial democracy is getting skilled capital and skilled labor to appreciate each other's skill. A skilled capitalist can not fairly be called a skilled capitalist or, now that this war is over, unless he knows how to keep his queue appreciating his skill, keep his five thousand men standing in line for his attention cheerfully.
The difference between an industrial autocracy and an industrial democracy is that in an industrial autocracy you keep your queue in line with a club, or with threats of bread and butter, and in an industrial democracy you have your queue of five thousand men, each man in the row cheering you while he sees you giving one minute a week of your attention to him and one hour a day of your attention to others. Still you find him cheering you.
The skilled employer is the employer who so successfully advertises his skill to his employees and so successfully advertises their skill to themselves and to one another that they hand over to him in their common interest the right to sort them over. They hand over to him deliberately, in other words, in their own interests, the right not to treat them alike. Democracy consists in keeping people in line without a club. Democracy is a queueful of people cutting in ahead of one another fairly and in a way that the queue stands for.
If a man standing in a queue before a ticket window wants to cut in ahead of five people, the way for him to do it is to show the five people something in his hand that makes them say, "You first, please." He must show why he should go first, and that he is doing it in their interest.
The other day as I was standing in a long line of people before the ticket window in the Northampton station, I noticed on a guess that half a dozen of the people were standing in line to buy a ticket to New York on the express due in half an hour, and a dozen and a half were standing in line to buy tickets to Springfield on the local going in three minutes. I was number thirteen. I wanted to get a ticket for Springfield. The thing for me to do, of course, to rise to the crisis and make democracy work, was to jump up on my suitcase and address the queue who were ahead of me: "Ladies and gentlemen! Eighteen or twenty of you in this line ahead of me want tickets to Springfield on the train going in three minutes, and the rest of you want tickets on the train going in half an hour. If you people who are hoping you can get your tickets in time to go to Springfield will let me cut in ahead of you out of my turn and get my ticket, I will buy tickets for all of you with this ten dollar bill in thirty seconds, and you can get your tickets of me on the train, and in this way we will all catch it."
I did not do it, of course, but it would have been what I call democracy if I had.
The whole problem of labor and capital, and of political and industrial freedom, from now on after this war would have been solved in miniature before that window—if I had. My invention for the future of the Red Cross is that it should do what I tried to do at that window, for the American people.
* * * * *
Democracy is a form of government in which the people are essentially autocrats. The difference between an autocracy and a democracy is that the people select their autocrats. The more autocracy the more efficiency.
A people can not have the autocracy they need to get what they want unless they are willing to give over to their representatives the necessary trust pro tem., the necessary ex officio right to be autocrats in their behalf. Democracy is autocracy of the people, for the people, by the people—that is, by the people in spirit to their representatives who express their spirit.
The representatives of the people can not keep the people's autocracy for them unless they keep in touch with the people—that is, unless they advertise to the people and the people feel that they can advertise to them.
In an autocracy the autocracy of the ruler is based on forcing people's attention. In a democracy the autocracy is based on touching men's imaginations, on making people want to fall into line in the right order. If the Kaiser had done this in Germany, Germany would have been the greatest democracy in the world and the greatest nation. If the Kaiser had had the power and genius for advertising of the modern kind, if he had had the power of making people want things in distinction from making them meek and making them take them whether they wanted them or not, he would have invented and set up a working model for America.
Obviously, the more the people desire to form in line the better and more successful all the people in the line will be in getting what they want at the window. The more autocracy people know enough to give their representatives, the better democracy works. In the last analysis the fate of democracy in modern life turns on having autocrats on probation—autocrats selected for their positions by advertising, and kept in position as autocrats as long as they can advertise to the people and as long as the people feel that they can advertise to them.
II—THE RIGHT TO BE WAITED ON
Democracy is a form of government in which the people are supposed to be waited on in the way kings are, and in which the people arrange to have things done for them so that they won't have to hold up their work and take the time off to do them themselves.
* * * * *
Three Rights to Be Waited on
1. Skilled labor has the right to be waited on by skilled capital.
Skilled labor, being preoccupied as it naturally is by its highly specialized knowledge and skill, can not take the time off to do for itself what skilled capital could do in providing work, and providing markets for skilled labor. It cannot, on the other hand, take the time off to understand skilled capital and what it is doing in detail. Even if it could take the time off, and if five thousand hands in a factory all devoted themselves all day to understanding the work the Office is doing, the five thousand would make poor work of understanding.
Arrangements have got to be made in one way or another for skilled labor's trusting the Office, for its feeling that the autocracy it intrusts to the Office is being used fairly in its interest.
The first and most important skill of skilled capital, of course, is its skill in doing for its employees and for its customers what it is supposed to do.
But the second skill of capital must be skill in being believed in and finding means of being believed in by its employees. The more it is believed in, the more power to serve will be accorded to it. In other words, the second function of skilled capital is advertising to its skilled labor, and in making exchange arrangements with its skilled labor, for being advertised to.
2. Skilled capital has a right to be waited on by skilled labor.
The first skill of skilled labor must be with its machines and its tools, and in making its product, but the second skill must be its skill in being believed in. The skilled capital it is supposed to be waited on by is preoccupied with its skill, and unless labor makes special and very thorough provision to be understood and to keep understood by skilled capital, and by the public and the people who buy the goods, and unless skilled labor tries to keep in touch all around and do teamwork all around with all concerned so that it can do its work, it can not fairly be called skilled labor at all. Skilled labor has to have skill in putting its skill with others to produce a result.
In other words, the second skill of skilled labor is skill in making arrangements for being believed in and believing in others. Its second skill is in advertising and in being advertised to.
3. The other group concerned in industry is one which I like to call the Skilled Consumers.
The people have a right to have capital skilled in considering them, and labor skilled in considering them, at every point.
The people are the employers of all employers and of all employees.
The saying among business men and merchants in case of quarrel, "The customer is always right," has to be in the long run treated in a democracy as if it were approximately true.
What the consumers have to do in a democracy, however, in a singular degree is to live up to it. The consumers must make, and I believe are going to make, elaborate arrangements for being skilled consumers.
Skilled capital has organized.
Skilled labor has organized.
And now the consumers, or the people, if they are to be skilled, and if they are to get out of skilled capital and skilled labor what they want, will organize their skill to get it. They will organize to help the best skilled capital at the expense of the worst, to help the best skilled labor at the expense of the worst.
In other words, the secret of industrial democracy and of making industrial democracy work, lies in making the people skilled in conveying their wishes to the skilled capital and skilled labor waiting on them.
Skilled capital has a right to be waited on by skilled consumers, who will support it when it is right and punish it when it is wrong, by the way they buy and sell.
Skilled labor has a right to be waited on by skilled consumers, who will defend it from skilled capital that pretends to be skilled and is not.
True and sincere skilled capital and true and sincere skilled labor cannot keep on doing what they try to do as long as the supposedly skilled consumers they have a right to, back away from their job and lazily and foolishly buy and sell in the markets in such a way as to reward capital for doing wrong to labor, or labor for doing wrong to capital.
In other words, the second function of the skilled consumers after telling skilled capital and labor what they want to eat and wear, is to make arrangements to advertise to capital and labor and to have capital and labor advertise to them, so that they can be skilled in knowing how to help them work together, and skilled in buying in such a way as to help in making capital and labor more skilled instead of less in dealing with themselves and one another and with the people.
I have summed up the three Rights to Be Waited On. All of these rights turn on skilled advertising and on the science of being believed in, the science of being allowed to be autocrats, the science of being allowed by the people to make their democracy work.
I would like to illustrate this in the next chapter.
III—THE RIGHT TO WHISPER
The employees in the stockyards in —— have been trying to get the attention of Mr. John Doe, the young man who inherited the business, to the fact that the least a family can live on now is $1388 a year.
Mr. Doe, who has never tried being bitterly poor and whose attention can not be got to what can be done in a year for a wife and five children with $1388 until he tries it, is rather discouraging to deal with.
There is no known way of getting him to try it, and in the meantime he thinks he knows without trying, and he thinks his attention is got when it is not. He tells the workmen that two pairs of shoes ought to last a child a year—and goes home in his limousine.
That is the end of it.
It ought not to be the end of it.
Who can get Mr. Doe's attention?
Why is it that Mr. Doe's employees do not succeed in getting Mr. Doe's attention?
Why is it that Mr. Doe has so little difficulty in getting theirs? Why is it that Mr. Doe's employees, when he speaks of the two pairs of shoes a year, hang on his words?
Because Mr. John Doe is their employer.
Who are the people whose words Mr. Doe would hang on and would be obliged to hang on?
Mr. Doe's employers.
Who are Mr. Doe's employers?
All the people in America who eat meat.
Of course if one had just come from Mars yesterday and was looking about studying things, the first thing one would ask would be, Why do not the people in America who eat meat, and who keep on Mr. Doe in his position, at once mention to him that they wish him to look into the matter of the two pairs of shoes a year?
Because the People Who Eat Meat—Mr. Doe's employers—have no way of mentioning it to Mr. Doe.
If the People Who Eat Meat would but barely whisper to Mr. Doe it would get his attention as much as a whole year's shouting would from his workmen.
But the People Who Eat Meat in America have no whisper. In other words, it is because Mr. Doe's employers are absolutely dumb, and Mr. Doe is absolutely deaf to any one except his employers, that two pairs of shoes are not enough for the workmen's children.
It is for the purpose of letting the People Who Eat Meat in America—whisper and learn to whisper in this country that the new League organized to operate as a kind of People's Advertising Guild or Consumers' Advertising Club, with its national office in New York and its local branches in ten thousand towns and cities, now offers its services to all people who eat meat in America.
The employers of America have organized to do anything with their business, and anything with their workmen, and anything with the country that they like.
The workmen of America have organized to do now, and are deliberately planning to do anything with their work, and anything with their employers, and anything with the country that they like.
The new national League is now to be organized as the voice of the American people, as the whisper of the will of the consumer in every industry in America.
The people to get the attention of employers are the employers of the employers.
Every civil war we are having in this country can be settled and the attention of the fighters on both sides can be got, and the country can work as one man in making democracy safe for the world, the moment the employers of the employers whisper.
* * * * *
The way I would like to end this chapter—with the blanks filled in, of course, would be this.
Anybody who wants to be a part of this whisper, who knows of any industry he would like to see a whisper from the people tried in, or who wishes as an Associate Member to join the Air Line League—a League for the direct action of the people in what concerns them all, is invited to send five dollars as membership fee and his name and address, to ——, Treasurer National Office of The Air Line League, Number —— Street, New York.
But the chapter cannot end in this way.
This is merely the pattern of the way I would like to have it end later, and while I have put the name—The Air Line League—down and am going to use it for the convenience of this book, I only do so, leaving it open to the people who have the vision of The League and who put the vision into action, to change the name if they want to.
THE RIGHT TO WHISPER TOGETHER
Every man like all Gaul is divided into three parts. He is an employee of somebody, an employer of somebody, and a consumer.
The natural employer left to himself is apt to suppose, if he is making shoes, that his consumers ought to pay more for shoes, and that his employees ought to be paid less. As regards hats, and umbrellas, and overcoats, and underwear, the same man is a rather noble impartial person towards employers and employees. He wants them to listen to each other and lower the cost of living by not having strikes and lockouts, and by not fighting each other ten hours a day.
In 999 out of 1000 labor quarrels a consumer is naturally a fair-minded person and the best-located person to control and determine how any particular business shall be run.
The League proposed is planned to operate in its national and local functions as a national Consumers' Club, with working branches in every town which shall be engaged in doing specific things every day toward making the employers and employees in that town listen to each other in the interests of the consumer public.
It is always to the interests of the consumer-public to see to it that people who have particular interests in a business should be compelled to listen to the others' interests.
Consumers naturally prefer experts to run things for them, but if they do not run them for them, they are the natural people to make them do it.
In the last resort the right to control is with the consumers.
We are going to look to them very soon now as the natural Central Telephone Exchange in business. It is the consumers who connect everybody up. They are the switchboard of the World.
THE RIGHT TO TRUST SOMEBODY
Democracy—as perhaps my reader will have heard me say before—democracy is a form of government in which the people are supposed to be waited on in just the way kings are and in which the people arrange to have things done for them so that they won't have to hold up their work and take the time off to do them themselves.
I try to go to the polls as I should. But I resent being obliged by my dear native country to stand up in a booth by myself with a lead pencil and know all there is to know and in a few minutes, about seventy-five men on a ticket. I do not like to feel that I am swaying the world with that yellow pencil, and that the ignorant way I feel when I am putting down crosses beside names, is the feeling other people have, that this feeling I have—in those few brief miserable moments I spend with the yellow pencil—is the feeling that this country is being governed with.
I met a man the other day as he came out from the polls who asked me who somebody was he had voted for, and he said he went on the general principle when he was up in one of those stalls of ignorance and was being stood up faithfully with nothing in his head to rule the country—he went on the general principle that every time he came on the name of a man he knew, he just voted for the other.
As a democrat and as a believer in crowds I resent the idea that being stood up and being made to vote on seventy-five names I cannot know anything about is democracy. It is tyranny. It is a demand that I do something no one has a right to make me do. I have other things every man knows I can do better and so has the man in the booth next to me, than knowing all there is to know about seventy-five names on a ticket—Smiths and Browns and Smiths and Smiths—it is a thing I want to have done for me, I want experts—engineers in human nature that I and my fellow citizens can hire to pick out my employees, i.e., the employees of the state that I want and that I have a right to and that I would have if I had time to stop work, study them and find them. Very often the way we don't go to the polls in America is to our credit. It is the protest of our intelligence against the impossibility of being intelligent toward so many subjects and detectives toward so many people.
We don't want to stop doing things we know we know, and know we can do, to vote on expert questions we don't even want to know anything about, huge laundry-lists of people that God only knows or could know and that can only be seen through anyway by large faithful hard-working committees who devote their time to it.
If we spent nine hours a day in doing nothing else but reading papers and watching and going up and down our laundry-list of valuable persons day and night we couldn't keep track or begin to keep track of the people we put in office. It is not our business to, it seems to many of us. Perhaps I should merely speak for myself. I can at least be permitted to say that it is not my business. If the state will give me ten men to watch, men in prominent places where they can be watched more or less naturally and easily, I will undertake to help watch them and then vote on them. What I demand and have a right to as a democrat and as a man who wants to get things for the people is that these ten men shall look after the other sixty-five and let me attend to business. The other sixty-five have a right to be looked after, criticized and appreciated by people who can do it, by men who can devote themselves to it, by men we all elect intelligently to do it for us—by men we have all looked through and through and trust.
The last year or so I have been getting about three long communications a week from the —— Railway which has been trying to make me over into an expert on all the details of its relation to the Government. I wish I had time to know all about it. Some of us will have to. Things are so arranged just now in this country that probably if a lot of us whose business it is to travel on the railroads instead of running them don't take a hand at it for a while and butt in in behalf of both the railroads and the Government, there won't be any railroads or there won't be any Government.
But I resent having this crisis put up to me personally. I resent having a pile a foot high of things I have got to know before I can help the Government to be fair to the railroads—or the railroads to be fair to the Government. I am better anyway at writing books. I don't want to be jerked into a judge—or a corporation lawyer because I am a voter. Railroads always bewilder me. Even the simplest things railroads tell everybody about themselves are hard for me to understand—time-tables for instance; and why should a man who is always innocently taking Sunday trains on Monday afternoon be called on to butt in on an expert auditor's job in this way, beat his Congressman on the head with the poor penitent railroads—with all the details about their poor insides—and with all their back bills and things?
There must be other voters who feel about this as I do.
Is this Democracy?
This is what Democracy is to me—Democracy is a belief in the faithfulness, ability and shrewd good-heartedness of crowds and their power to select great and true leaders.
The essential fundamental principle of the democratic form of government is supposed to be that more than any other form of government on the face of the earth it trusts people. A democracy that does not trust its leaders, that does not trust even its best men, is not as democratic as a monarchy that does. Some of us seem to think that all that people can be trusted to do is to pick out men we can keep from leading us, that it's a kind of religion to us to select men we can stop and bother. They have settled down to the idea that this is what we are like—as if the main qualification of a candidate in America is a gift of making people, of making in fact almost anybody, feel superior to him. I believe I am living in a democracy that will dare to elect experts in subjects, that will take being a statesman seriously—as a special and skilled profession, an expert engineering job in human nature, and in getting things out of people, and for people. We are getting ready for great and true leaders in America. Our people are getting ready to stake their fate in picking them out. Even our banks are. Our labor unions are. In our politics it is the masterful servants we are taking to most. Anybody can see it. There are particular things and men we want, and the first leader we have in this country who is shrewd enough about us to see that we, the people of this country, are not as vague or cartilaginous as we look, who treats us like fellow human beings, who dares to expect things of us and dares to expect to be trusted by us and who dares to keep still long enough to do things for us, will show what America is like, in spite of what she looks like, and will bring America out.
And America instead of being a kind of big slovenly adolescent, perpetually thirteen-year-old nation going around with its big innocent mouth open, will be grown up at last among the nations of the earth, will be a great clear-cut, clear-headed, firm-knit, sinewy nation that knows what it wants, and gets it—and does not say much.
THE RIGHT TO VOTE ALL DAY
This principle which I have applied in this last chapter to political democracy applies still more forcibly to democracy in industry, and to the right of the people to be waited on by skilled labor and by skilled capital.
I do not wish to bother to know everything about how everything I buy every day is made, but I do want to have arrangements made through a national league to which I belong, for instance, so that I can practically know about the conditions under which anything is made, the moment I wish to.
There should be as it were a card catalogue or authority in my town that I can go to and consult, which represents me and a hundred million people. This is my conception of what the National League through its local branches could do and do for everybody. It would only cost a few cents more to have a hundred million men know about a particular article what ten, twenty or a hundred or a thousand know, the moment they happen to need it, by looking it up in the League's national opinion of it and national experience with it, in a card catalogue or what would operate practically as a card catalogue.
We all have the right in this country to spend our money intelligently. If people want to get our thousand dollars a year, or two thousand a year, or three, five, or ten thousand a year, they must show cause why they should have it, dollar for dollar. We want our dollars to help people to help us, laborers who are helping the country and capitalists who are helping the country. Every time I spend ten cents I want to know that I am getting ten cents' worth of democracy, ten cents' worth of skilled capital and skilled labor working for all of us. I propose to vote with my money on the fate of my country and the fate of democracy with silver coins and with dollar bills every day. The other kind of ballot, the paper ballot, I can only use in the nature of the case once or twice a year.
THE SKILLED CONSUMER
The way to control the world and govern the well-being of men is not through the time they have left over, or the time they choose to lay one side for it, but directly and through their most important engagements and things they do and are sure to do all the time.
A man's first important engagement in this world is with his own breath.
His second engagement is with his own stomach.
His third is with the night and with sleep.
His fourth is with posterity, with the unborn, with his children and children's children.
His fifth is with his ancestors and with God.
In nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand things a man needs to have to keep these engagements—things he has to have if he is alive at all, he is a consumer.
What the new League will say to the consumer is something like this:
"In nine hundred and ninety-nine things out of a thousand you have to have to live, the Air Line League is organized to stand by you, express you and get the attention of everybody to what you want; and in the one thing you make for everybody it is going to express everybody to you and get your attention to what everybody wants of you."
This would seem to most of us to be fair all around.
When one thinks of it, why should one-thousandth part of what a man has and has to have, in order to live his life—the part he makes himself—be seen everywhere in this world in every man's life holding up and bullying, making him pay high prices for, the other nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths?
Let the nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of a man's life take possession of the one thousandth part of him. Then we will have a civilization.
Or at least the nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of him will persuade the one thousandth of him to cooeperate.
We have had autocracy of capital because on the whole in the world until machinery came in, capital kept close enough to labor and to the consumer to know what the workmen and the people wanted.
Now that Capital has lost its grip, Labor announces that it is going to be after this war the autocrat, and represent capital and the consumer.
The Air Line League is here to ask, Why should not the consumer represent himself?
Capital has tried and failed and has said, "Let the public be damned." Now Labor has tried and failed, and is saying hoarsely in a thousand cities, "Let the public be damned."
What the Air Line League is for is to advertise the people together, and let the consumers represent themselves.
What we have been fighting for essentially in this war is the control of the consumers in the world in all nations.
When we speak of democracy and of organizing the will of the people, what we really mean is organizing the will of the consumers.
Organizing the will of the consumers is not a holdup. A holdup by all the people of all the people for all the people is Liberty.
I do not want to delay or bother people with my definition of democracy, but I do not mind confiding to them where I have seen some.
One is always coming upon bits or dots of democracy in America. It is these bits or dots of rough more or less unfinished democracy we have in America which make most of us believe in the people of this country.
Everybody in America knows of them.
There are at least forty-four dots of democracy—little marked-off places—what might be called safety zones (everybody knows of them), even in New York. There are usually white globes in front of them, and a short name written in long plain slanting white letters across a huge piece of glass.
If anybody wants to see just what democracy is like in business all he has to do is to go into the nearest Childs restaurant, order some griddle-cakes, sit down and eat and think. All he really needs to do is to study the menu, but of course a menu is more thoroughly studied by eating some of it.
One soon finds that a menu may be a little modest every-day magna charta of democracy or it may not.
What a menu has long been for in the typical restaurant is to find a way of browbeating and bewildering a customer into spending more money for his luncheon than he intends to when he comes in.
Rows of grieved and vaguely disturbed people can be seen in restaurants every day—being mowed down by menus.
In a Childs restaurant business success is based on turning the whole idea of a menu around, and instead of the customer's coming in and studying the menu, the menu studies him.
The consumer in a Childs restaurant is there to economize and the restaurant is there to help him do it, the whole menu being constructed by experts in foods for the express purpose of telling the customer more than he knows about his food and his money, persuading him and practically tricking him into spending less money on his luncheon than he intends to.
A business may be said to be a big vital and winning business in any line in proportion as one sees the consumers in it—practically running it—running it in spirit. A democratic business is one which is being run as the consumers would run it if they knew how.
A business may be said to be a democratic business in proportion as one sees experts in it expressing crowds. One sees great crowds going to and fro and up and down in it acting for all practical purposes like geniuses, like skilled angels doing every day offhand inspired and inspiring difficult adventurous things as a matter of course—like tackling the high cost of living.
What the Air Line League is for is to make the consumers of America—the all-class class, class-conscious—is to organize the consumers of America locally and nationally so that the comparative cooeperation of crowds and geniuses and experts as in Childs' restaurants, can be assured in all lines of business, taken over, improved, standardized, established as the label of modern successful business life.
The Air Line League definition of democracy would be this:
A democracy may be said to be a state of society in which the consumers or the people who want things, have the complete and whole-hearted expert attention of the men who make them.
The triumph of America and of the other democracies during the war has been that they have proved that crowds can have and can be depended upon to have, experts, fifty thousand dollar men or anybody they want, to wait on them while they whip the Germans.
What the Air Line League proposes to do (Further details later) is to arrange through its local and national branches to answer the sneer of the Germans that crowds and experts in democracy can not find a way to keep this up.
Is it true or is it not true that the moment this war is over all our experts drop away—permanently drop away from waiting on crowds—are really going back now for fifty or a hundred thousand a year, to waiting on themselves in just the way the Germans said they would?
What the Air Line League will stand for will be that experts and crowds can be found waiting on each other and having the mutual convenience and power of waiting on each other during peace as well as war.
Why should we put up with the idea of having these conveniences and powers for a mere little sidesteppish interrupting thing like whipping the Germans and not having them all the while, every day, for ourselves?
THE TOWN PENDULUM
The Air Line League in its local, national and international branches will act as a Listening Machine.
A Listening Machine may be said to work two ways, backward and forward. Worked forward, it listens to people until they feel understood. When the same machine is turned around and worked the other way, it makes people listen until they understand.
There are people in every town and in every local branch of the League who have what I like to call sometimes, pendulum temperaments. People in motion are not as reliable and as calculable as brass. People have wills, visions, individual emotions and lurchings of their own. When a man with a pendulum temperament sees a colossal pendulum made of crowds of people—crowds of employers and crowds of workmen—swinging from one extreme to another, the first thing he wants to do as each issue comes up, local or national, is to see to it that his own mind and each other man's mind in these two crowds on each side of the question should go twice through the middle, to going once to the extremes at either end.
In other words, The National Air Line League will act to bring extremes together—twice through the middle to once at each end—and local clubs will act as attention-swinging machines—as attention-forcing machines between classes.
I might give an illustration:
The National League in its central office in New York gets a report from the local branch in the town where Smith safety razors are made that the Smith Works are in a chronic state of strikes and sabotage and sustained ugliness and inefficiency. The Central Office, after quietly looking into it, hearing both sides and finding the charge is true, sends through its local branches reports to the ten million men shaving with Smith blades every morning that the workmen and managers of the Smith factories, who are working a nominal nine hours a day, are spending three hours a day in fighting with each other as to how Smith blades should be made for the public, and six hours a day in making the blades. The consumer is told by the League that he is paying for nine hours' work a day on his blades and only getting six, and that if the employers and employees in the Smith factories could be got to listen to each other and to work together the blades could be had for three cents less apiece.
The League will then proceed through its local branch in the Smith town to arrest the attention of the Smith workmen and the Smith employers. It will suggest that they get each other's point of view and sit down very earnest and hear everything that the other side has to say and everything the other side wants to do, until they find some way of getting together and being efficient and knowing how to make Smith blades.
If necessary in order to get the attention of the workmen and employers at the Smith Works to the desirability of their listening to each other, the users of Smith blades throughout the country will shave themselves with their fathers' razors for three weeks.
If the Government says that this is conspiracy, and that shutting up a factory to make the people in it listen to each other and listen to the consumers is against the law of the land, all the people in America who shave will turn the Government out of office and have the law changed.
A strike by workmen in a particular business is a holdup of all the other workmen in the country, raises the cost of living for everybody, and is undemocratic and unfair.
A lockout of employers in a particular business is a holdup of all other employers and workmen, and is undemocratic and unfair.
In a country of a hundred million people a holdup conducted by a hundred million people for the hundred million people is democracy.
I employ this rather threatening illustration of the possible action of the League in certain cases because it suggests the power of democracy when experts and crowds act together—the fact that democracy can really be made to work, that democracy can be as forcible, as immediate and practical in dealing with autocratic classes, as autocracy can.
But only two or three per cent of what the League in its local and national branches would really do would be like the illustration I have used. The power the League would have to do things like this would make doing them unnecessary.
The regular work of the League would largely consist in accepting invitations from factories, and in supplying and training experts for the purpose of conducting in a factory mutual advertising campaigns, or studies in attention between workmen and employers, adapted to different types of factories.
The way out for democracy in dealing with predatory wealth which organizes to hold up the consumers, and with predatory labor which organizes to hold up the consumers, is for the consumers to organize.
THE NATIONAL LISTENING MACHINE
People are so much more apt to bear in mind in proportion, the power of an organization to be ugly, than they are its power not to need to be ugly—to get what it wants with people by combining with them instead of fighting them, that perhaps it might be well to dwell a moment on the fact that the power of the consumers of the country as organized in the Air Line League, to make it uncomfortable for predatory labor or predatory capital, will never be abused.
If what an organization is for, is to put the soul and body of a people together it is compelled as a matter of course, to get its own way with the same quietness, dignity and power it is telling other people to. The first business of the Air Line League is going to be, to be believed in by everybody. The way to be believed in by everybody is for the League to do itself the thing that it talks about doing. If in this way the League soon gets itself believed in by everybody, the first thing people will notice about the Air Line League will soon be that it is an organization that can lick anybody in sight with its little finger. The next thing people will notice is that it never gets so low that it has to do it.
The power of labor unions and employers' associations has frequently been abused because they have many of them organized their power for the express purpose of abusing it.
It is highly unlikely that people will need to be afraid of the power of the Air Line League. An organization which exists for the express purpose of driving out of business people who get what they want by holdups, the entire activities of which are devoted to proving to people how much more holding out a hand gets for people in business than sticking out a fist, soon gets its fist trusted.
If the Air Line League abuses its power it will commit suicide so fast that people will feel suddenly safe.
* * * * *
If I were writing a platform for the Air Line League, it might be put perhaps for all practical purposes in one sentence.
Predicate—What we believe about war.
Verb—What we propose to do about what we believe about war.
Adverb—How we propose to do it.
The main trouble with the sentence forty nations are trying to stutter out now, is that there is no predicate, no verb, no spinal column of belief.
The spinal column of belief in the Air Line League—the gist of our platform—is this one sentence:
PEOPLE FIGHT BECAUSE THEY CANNOT GET OTHER'S ATTENTION.
Everything we believe and propose to do follows from this.
The way to stop war is to advertise, to provide and set up in full sight and in working order before people who are trying to get what they want by war, a substitute for war which gets what they want for them quicker and better.
The way to keep people who fight from fighting is to stand over them, advertise to them and dramatize to them how much more people can get by listening to each other. Then compel them to listen.
We do not believe in fighting on the one hand nor in an anaemic and temporary thing like arbitration on the other. All that men really do in arbitration is to hire their listening done for them by other people.
Listening which men were created to do themselves, which is done for them by others, only lasts a minute.
The three plain spiritual brutal facts that capital and labor have to reckon with and conform to in dealing with human nature to-day are these:
Disputes can not be fought out—not even by the people themselves.
Disputes can not be arbitrated out by other people for them.
All other people are for in a fight is to compel the fighters to listen to each other.
Doing anything less than compelling the fighters to listen to each other, is visionary, cowardly, temporary and impracticable.
The moment people stop fighting, begin listening to each other and begin feeling listened to, nobody can hire them to organize to fight each other. They organize to listen to each other.
What the Air Line League is for in every nation, in every city, town and village where a branch is set up, is to organize people to listen to each other.
I do not think any one is going to feel obliged to feel afraid of the power of a League, that puts daily before its own face, before everybody's face—before every letter it writes, and before everything it does, across its letter-head, this chapter in nine words.
PEOPLE FIGHT BECAUSE THEY CANNOT GET EACH OTHER'S ATTENTION.
HOW THE NATIONAL LISTENING MACHINE WILL WORK
Nine people out of ten who do wrong in business, do it because they feel that if they do not do the wrong to some one else, some one else will do the wrong to them. In the last analysis, some way of bringing about conscription for universal service in business is the only way in which we can be assured that the criminals and exploiters in any particular line of industry will not, at least temporarily, control and ruin the business. What the Air Line League would do practically would be to organize American business-men into a kind of "I Won't If You Won't" Club. A very large majority of men daily see that certain things ought not to be done. It is not right-mindedness in people that is needed so much as the organization of the right-mindedness so that those who are wrong can be crowded out. My idea of the general policy of the Air Line League would be to bring the public to cooeperate with the best men in each industry in such a way as to drive the worst ones out. Probably from a publicity point of view the best way to do would be for the League to pick out the nine best factories in the country in which the laborers have a working understanding and a practical listening arrangement with their employers, and help the laborers in these nine factories advertise to other laborers in the country, at specific times and places, and to capital throughout the country, how they like it. One factory in ten, if necessary, could be selected for national discipline. A notorious factory could be picked out in which the laborers had the worst listening arrangement, and in which both the employers and employees were imposing upon each other to their own detriment and the detriment of their customers the most; and could be publicly disciplined by the National League acting through its local clubs everywhere. Cooperating with nine factories and disciplining one would be my idea of the best way to get results. All that would need to be done would be to make a list of all the industries in the country and keep the buyers of the country informed about them through the local Clubs.
Industrial democracy is coming in this country one industry at a time. Each industry is going to work out its own salvation by emancipating and freeing the hands of the men who can run it best in the interests of the public—that is, run it with the lowest prices to the public, the highest prices to the wage earners, and a surplus for improvements, inventions and experiments in rendering its product of more service to all.
I am not in favor of having capitalists try to convince labor as a class, nor having labor try to convince capital as a class. The skilled labor which has been convinced by capital should convince the others through the services of twenty thousand local Clubs, and skilled capital which has succeeded in being believed in by its labor will do the same in convincing other capital.
MAKING A RIGHT START
It will be seen that the idea I have in mind might be imagined as a kind of civic federation club, a super-consumers' league, and a super-advertising club rolled into one. Rolling these three ideas into one is a temperament, and the men who are full of the vision of what can be done with them rolled into one, and of what is the matter with them if they are not rolled into one, must be the controlling powers in the new organization. The Civic Federation has been a safe plodding vague institution because it has not had a vigorous vision of itself, and has not been conducted by men who have a personal genius for conceiving and carrying out cooeperation between capital and labor. It has been weak, theoretical, and full of generalization because it has not had the driving force that such a man as Schwab—some Schwab in publicity instead of steel—could have given it.
The Consumers' League has been a useful, suggestive institution, and has done work of value (as it would doubtless say itself) in a more or less nagging and sporadic way, but it has had no national militant vision or sense of thoroughness in what it could do because it lacked the advertising clinch, the advertising willfulness and irresistibleness that puts things through.
The new organizations—as a super-consumers' league, a super-advertising club—will converge these two ideas into a huge momentum, into a national organized drive or vision of making men see together and act together, until we work out social democracy in every man's business, in every man's store, and the daily work of every man's life. Programs which have merely been yearned at before, which have been sleazily groped at and generalized over and guessed at before, will be gathered up, articulated, melted into a huge common national action by men who have the consuming passion and genius for touching the imaginations of others. The selection and articulation of these men in all communities is all that is necessary. Everything is waiting and ready. First we will get the men together who have the fire. Then we will put fire under the boilers of the nation and turn the drive-wheels of a world.