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Entered according: to Act of Parliament of Canada, in 
the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, 
by D. Appleton and Company, in the Office of the 
Minister of Agriculture. 

All rights reserved, including those of translation 
and dramatization. 

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

In the year 1887 Julian West was a rich young man liv- 
ing in Boston. He was soon to be married to a young lady 
of wealthy family named Edith Bartlett, and meanwhile 
lived alone with his man-servant Sawyer in the family man- 
sion. Being a sufferer from insomnia, he had caused a 
chamber to be built of stone beneath the foundation of the 
house, which he used for a sleeping room. When even the 
silence and seclusion of this retreat failed to bring slumber, 
he sometimes called in a professional mesmerizer to put him 
into a hypnotic sleep, from which Sawyer knew how to 
arouse him at a fixed time. This habit, as well as the exist- 
ence of the underground chamber, were secrets known only 
to Sawyer and the hypnotist who rendered his services. On 
the night of May 30, 1887, West sent for the latter, and was 
put to sleep as usual. The hypnotist had previously in- 
formed his patron that he was intending to leave the city 
perniEinently the same evening, and referred him to other 



practitioners. That night the house of Julian West took fire 
and was wholly destroyed. Remains identified as those of 
Sawyer were found and, though no vestige of West appeared, 
it was assumed that he of course had also perished. 

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


results of replacing private capitalism by public capitalism, 
and organizing the machinery of production and distri- 
bution, like the political government, as business of general 
concern to be carried on for the public benefit instead of 
private gain. 

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

His cup of happiness now being full, he had an experience 
in which it seemed to be dashed from his lips. As he lay on 
his bed in Dr. Leete's house he was oppressed by a hideous 
nightmare. It seemed to him that he opened his eyes to find 
himself on his bed in the underground chamber where the 
mesmerizer had put him to sleep. Sawyer was just complet- 


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




II. — Why the revolution did not come earlier . . 14 







IX. — Something that had not changed .... 62 

X. — A midnight plunge 66 

XI. — Life the basis of the right of property . . 70 

XII. — How inequality of wealth destroys liberty . 79 

XIII. — Private capital stolen from the social fund . 87 

XIV. — We look over my collection of harnesses . . 92 

XV. — ^What we were coming to but for the revolution . 103 

XVI. — An excuse that condemned 106 

XVII. — The revolution saves private property from mo- 
nopoly . . 116 

XVIIT. — An echo of the past 121 

XIX. — "Can a maid forget her ornaments'?" . . . 124 

XX. — What the revolution did for women . . . 130 

XXI.— At the gymnasium 143 

XXII. — Economic suicide of the profit system . . . 153 

XXIII. — "The parable of the water tank" . . . 195 

XXIV. — I am shown all the kingdoms of the earth . 204 

XXV.— The strikers 206 

XXVI. — Foreign commerce under profits; protection and 
free trade, or between the devil and the 




XXVII. — Hostility of a system of vested interests to 





XXX. — What universal culture means . . . 245 

XXXI. — " Neither in this mountain nor at Jerusalem " 252 

XXXII.— Eritis sicut deus . . . . . . .264 

XXXIII. — Several important matters overlooked . . 270 

XXXIV. — What started the revolution .... 304 

XXXV. — Why the revolution went slow at first but 


XXXVI. — Theater-going in the twentieth century . 347 

XXXVII. — The transition period 349 

XXXVIII .— The book of the blind 381 




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

" What are you thinking about ? " I said. 

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

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

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

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

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

" I should say so, indeed. Have you reflected that if I 
had dreamed it all you would have had no existence save 



as a figment in the brain of a sleeping man a hundred years 
ago ? " 

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

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

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

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

" I do not wonder that you think so," I answered, " but, 
though I am still learning the A B C of this new world, I 
knew my contemporaries, and I know that it would not 
have been as you fancy. The poor would have listened no 
better than the rich, for, though poor and rich in my day 
were at bitter odds in everything else, they were agreed in 
believing that there must always be rich and poor, and that 


a condition of material equality was impossible. It used to 
be commonly said, and it often seemed true, that the social 
reformer who tried to better the condition of the people 
found a more discouraging obstacle in the hopelessness of 
the masses he would raise than in the active resistance of 
the few, whose superiority was threatened. And indeed, 
Edith, to be fair to my own class, I am bound to say that 
with the best of the rich it was often as much this same 
hopelessness as deliberate selfishness that made them what 
we used to call conservative. So you see, it would have 
done no good even if I had gone to preaching as you fan- 
cied. The poor would have regarded my talk about the 
possibility of an equality of wealth as a fairy tale, not worth 
a laboring man's time to listen to. Of the rich, the baser 
sort would have mocked and the better sort would have 
sighed, but none would have given ear seriously." 

But Edith smiled serenely. 

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

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

" Having tried to show my superior knowledge, I must 
now confess my ignorance. All I know is the bare fact 
that the revolutionary movement began, as I said, very soon 


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

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

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

" For example ? " I queried. 

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

" Yes." 

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

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

" And yet," said Edith, " it appears from all the books 
that meanwhile the Americans' great boast was that they 


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

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

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

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

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

" They were said to be equal in opportunities." 

" Opportunities for what ? " 

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

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

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

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

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


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

"Why so?" 

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

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

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

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

" Certainly." 

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

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

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

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

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

" Emphatically so ; the rich were but a handful compar- 

" Then there was nothing whatever to prevent the peo- 
ple at any time, if they just willed it, from making an end 
of their sufferings and organizing a system like oui'S which 
would guarantee their equality and prosperity ? " 


" Nothing whatever." 

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

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

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

" Of course." 

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

" Do not the histories say so ? " 

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

" To the capitalists." 

" And did the people elect the capitalists ? " 

" Nobody elected them." 

" By whom, then, were they appointed ? " 

"Nobody appointed them." 

" What a singular system ! Well, if nobody elected or 
appointed them, yet surely they must have been accountable 
to somebody for the manner in which they exercised powers 


on which the welfare and very existence of everybody de- 

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

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

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

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

" None whatever." 

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

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

Edith meditated in silence for some moments. Finally 
she said : " Your contemporaries were not madmen nor 
fools; surely there is something you have not told me; 
there must be some explanation or at least color of excuse 
why the people not only abdicated the power of controling 
their most vital and important interests, but turned them 


over to a class which did not even pretend any interest in 
their welfare, and whose government completely failed to 
secure it." 

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

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

" Certainly ; the liberty of economic initiative by the in- 

" But did you not just tell me that economic initiative 
and business opportunity in your day were practically mo- 
nopolized by the capitalists themselves ? " 

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

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

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

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

" It sounds so, doesn't it ? But I assure you it was con- 
sidered the soundest sort of political economy in my time. 


Those who questioned it were set down as dangerous vision- 

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

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

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

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

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

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

" Beyond protecting the capitalist system from its own 
effects, did the political government do absolutely noth- 

" Oh, yes, it appointed postmasters and tidewaiters, main- 
tained an army and navy, and picked quarrels with foreign 

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


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

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

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

" But who paid for the votes ? " 

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

" It seems, then," said Edith, " that the capitalists not only 
carried on the economic government as their special prov- 


ince, but also practically managed tlie machinery of the 
political government as well." 

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

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

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


patronage of the great capitalistic interests for their liv- 

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

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

Edith remained silent and thoughtful for some mo- 

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" Nothing, really, I suppose, that I had not read before 
and ought to have known, but the story always seemed so 
unreasonable and incredible that I never quite believed it 


until now. I thought there must be some modifying facts 
not set down in the histories." 

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

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

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

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

" How so, precisely ? " 

" By rendering it unnecessary for you to trouble your- 
self to explain to me any further how and why you came 
to set up your nationalized industrial system and your 
economic equality. If you have ever seen a desert or sea 
mirage, you remember that, while the picture in the sky is 
very clear and distinct in itself, its unreality is betrayed by 
a lack of detail, a sort of blur, where it blends with the fore- 
ground on which you are standing. Do you know that this 


new social order of which I have so strangely become a 
witness has hitherto had something of this mirage effect ? 
In itself it is a scheme precise, orderly, and very reasonable, 
but I could see no way by which it could have naturally 
grown out of the utterly different conditions of the nine- 
teenth century. I could only imagine that this world trans- 
formation must have been the result of new ideas and forces 
that had come into action since my day. I had a volume of 
questions all ready to ask you on the subject, but now we 
shall be able to use the time in talking of other things, for 
Edith has shown me in ten minutes' time that the only won- 
derful thing about your organization of the industrial system 
as public business is not that it has taken place, but that it 
waited so long before taking place, that a nation of rational 
beings consented to remain economic serfs of irresponsible 
masters for more than a century after coming into posses- 
sion of absolute power to change at pleasure all social insti- 
tutions which inconvenienced them." 

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

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

" Is it possible, Julian, to imagine any governmental sys- 
tem less adequate than ours which could possibly realize this 
great ideal of what a true people's government should be ? 


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

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

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

" On reflection, however, I think we shall conclude that 
the time taken by the world in general and the Americans 
in particular in finding out the full meaning of democracy 
as an economic as well as a political proposition was not 
greater than might have been expected, considering the vast- 


ness of the conclusions involved. It is the democratic idea 
that all human beings are peers in rights and dignity, and 
that the sole just excuse and end of human governments is, 
therefore, the maintenance and furtherance of the common 
welfare on equal terms. This idea was the greatest social 
conception that the human mind had up to that time ever 
formed. It contained, when first conceived, the promise and 
potency of a complete transformation of all then existing 
social institutions, one and all of which had hitherto been 
based and formed on the principle of personal and class 
privilege and authority and the domination and selfish use 
of the many by the few. But it was simply inconsistent 
with the limitations of the human intellect that the implica- 
tions of an idea so prodigious should at once have been 
taken in. The idea must absolutely have time to grow. 
The entire present order of economic democracy and equal- 
ity was indeed logically bound up in the first full statement 
of the democratic idea, but only as the full-grown tree is in 
the seed : in the one case, as in the other, time was an essen- 
tial element in the evolution of the result. 

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

" They were not, indeed, wholly without misgivings lest 
it might some time occur to tiie sovereign people that, being 
sovereign, it would be a good idea to use their sovereignty 
to improve their own condition. In fact, they seem to have 
given some serious thought to that possibility, but so little 


were they yet able to appreciate the logic and force of the 
democratic idea that they believed it possible by ingenious 
clauses in paper Constitutions to prevent the people from 
using their power to help themselves even if they should 
wish to. 

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

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

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

"During the negative phase of democracy it had been 
considered as differing from monarchy only as two machines 


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

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

" Just so," assented the doctor. " The so-called republics 
of the first phase we class as pseudo-republics or negative 
democracies. They were not, of course, in any sense, truly 
popular governments at all, but merely masks for plutocracy, 
under which the rich were the real though irresponsible 
rulers! You will readily see that they could have been 
nothing else. The masses from the beginning of the world 


had been the subjects and servants of the rich, but the kings 
had been above the rich, and constituted a check on their 
dominion. The overthrow of the kings left no check at all 
on the power of the rich, which became supreme. The peo- 
ple, indeed, nominally were sovereigns ; but as these sover- 
eigns were individually and as a class the economic serfs of 
the rich, and lived at their mercy, the so-called popular 
government became the mere stalking-horse of the capi- 

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

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

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. 

" It is a very sympathetic task," he said, " to explain the 
slowness of the masses in feeling their way to a compre- 
hension of all that the democratic idea meant for them, 
but it is one equally difficult and thankless to account for 


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

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

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


must either take the citadel or evacuate the outworks. 
They must either complete the work of establishing popu- 
lar government which had been barely begun by their 
fathers, or abandon all that their fathers had accomplished." 



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

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

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

Recurring to the topic of the congressional resolution, 
the doctor said that, in his opinion, it was superfluous, for 
though I had certainly slept on my rights as a citizen rather 


an extraordinary length of time, there was no ground on 
v/hich I could be argued to have forfeited any of them. 
However that might be, seeing the resolution left no doubt 
as to my status, he suggested that the first thing we did 
after breakfast should be to go down to the National Bank 
and open my citizen's account. 

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

" My dear Julian," replied the doctor, " it is sometimes a 
little di 65 cult for me to quite get your point of view of our 

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

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

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

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

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


" What was the idea of it ? " 

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


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

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

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

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

"That is to say," observed the doctor, "it was proposed 
to save the democratic experiment by abandoning it. It 
was an ingenious thought, but it so happened that democ- 
racy was not an experiment which could be abandoned, but 


an evolution which must be fulfilled. In what a striking 
manner does that talk of your contemporaries about limit- 
ing the suffrage to correspond with the economic position of 
citizens illustrate the failure of even the most intelligent 
classes in your time to grasp the full significance of the 
democratic faith which they professed! The primal prin- 
ciple of democracy is the worth and dignity of the individ- 
ual. That dignity, consisting in the quality of human nature, 
is essentially the same in all individuals, and therefore 
equality is the vital principle of democracy. To this intrin- 
sic and equal dignity of the individual all material condi- 
tions must be made subservient, and personal accidents and 
attributes subordinated. The raising up of the human being 
without respect of persons is the constant and only rational 
motive of the democratic policy. Contrast with this con- 
ception that precious notion of your contemporaries as to 
restricting suffrage. Eecognizing the material disparities in 
the circumstances of individuals, they proposed to conform 
the rights and dignities of the individual to his material 
circumstances instead of conforming the material circum- 
stances to the essential and equal dignity of the man." 

"In short," said I, "while under our system we con- 
formed men to things, you think it more reasonable to con- 
form things to men ? " 

" That is, indeed," replied the doctor, " the vital differ- 
ence between the old and the new orders." 

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

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

" In the sense that his property was geographically lo- 


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

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


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

" Most assuredly," replied the doctor. " Our economic 
system is a measure of statesmanship quite as much as of 
humanity. You see, the first condition of efiiciency or 
stability in any government is that the governing power 
should have a direct, constant, and supreme interest in the 
general welfare — that is, in the prosperity of the whole 
state as distinguished from any part of it. It had been the 
strong point of monarchy that the king, for selfish reasons 
as proprietor of the country, felt this interest. The auto- 
cratic form of government, solely on that account, had 
always a certain rough sort of efiiciency. It had been, on 
the other hand, the fatal weakness of democracy, during its 
negative phase previous to the great Revolution, that the 
people, who were the rulers, had individually only an in- 
direct and sentimental interest in the state as a whole, or its 
machinery — their real, main, constant, and direct interest 
being concentrated upon their personal fortunes, their pri- 
vate stakes, distinct from and adverse to the general stake. 
In moments of enthusiasm they might rally to the support 
of the commonwealth, but for the most part that had no 
custodian, but was at the mercy of designing men and fac- 
tions who sought to plunder the commonwealth and use 
the machinery of government for personal or class ends. 
This was the structural weakness of democracies, by the 
efl'ect of which, after passing their first youth, they became 
invariably, as the inequality of wealth developed, the most 
corrupt and worthless of all forms of government and the 
most susceptible to misuse and perversion for selfish, per- 
sonal, and class purposes. It was a weakness incurable so 
long as the capital of the country, its economic interests, 
remained in private hands, and one that could be remedied 
only by the radical abolition of private capitalism and the 
unification of the nation's capital under collective control. 
This done, the same economic motive — which, while the 


capital remained in private hands, was a divisive influence 
tending to destroy that public spirit which is the breath of 
hfe in a democracy — became the most powerful of cohesive 
forces, making popular government not only ideally the 
most just but practically the most successful and efficient of 
political systems. The citizen, who before had been the 
champion of a part against the rest, became by this change 
a guardian of the whole." 



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

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

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

" When you come to be more familiar with our banking 
methods," said the superintendent, "I think you will be 
struck with their similarity to your own. Of course, we have 
no money and nothing answering to money, but the whole 
science of banking from its inception was preparing the way 
for the abolition of money. The only way, really, in which 
our system differs from yours is that every one starts the 


year with the same balance to his credit and that this credit 
is not transferable. As to requiring deposits before accounts 
are opened, we are necessarily quite as strict as your bankers 
were, only in our case the people, collectively, make the de- 
posit for all at once. This collective deposit is made up of 
such provisions of different commodities and such installa- 
tions for the various public services as are expected to be 
necessary. Prices or cost estimates are put on these com- 
modities and services, and the aggregate sum of the prices 
being divided by the population gives the amount of the 
citizen's personal credit, which is simply his aliquot share of 
the commodities and services available for the year. No 
doubt, however, Dr. Leete has told you all about this." 

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

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

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

" It would have the effect to prevent such hoarding, cer- 
tainly," said the superintendent, " but it is otherwise needful 
to simplify the national bookkeeping and prevent confusion. 
The annual credit is an order on a specific provision available 
during a certain year. For the next year a new calculation 
with somewhat different elements has to be made, and to 
make it the books must be balanced and all orders canceled 


that have not been presented, so that we may know just 
where we stand." 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thinking I might be interested in looking them over, the 
superintendent had brought into the office some of the books 
of the bank. Without having been at all expert in nine- 


teenth-century methods of bookkeeping, I was much im- 
pressed with the extreme simplicity of these accounts com- 
pared with any I had been familiar with. Speaking of this, 
I added that it impressed me the more, as I had received an 
impression that, great as were the superiorities of the na- 
tional co-operative system over our way of doing business, 
it must involve a great increase in the amount of bookkeep- 
ing as compared with what was necessary under the old 
system. The superintendent and Dr. Leete looked at each 
other and smiled. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

" Certainly, but not a relation of account. As your peo- 


pie would have said, all purchases are for cash only — that is, 
on the credit card." 

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

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

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

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

" Kindly spare me any further denionstration of the stu- 
pidity of my criticism." 

" Dear me, Mr. West, there is no question of stupidity. A 
wholly new system of things always impresses the mind at 
first sight with an effect of complexity, although it may 
be found on examination to be simplicity itself. But 
please do not stop me just yet, for I have told you only one 
side of the matter. I have shown you how few and simple 
are the accounts we keep compared with those in corre- 
sponding relations kept by you ; but the biggest part of the 
subject is the accounts you had to keep which we do not 


keep at all. Debit and credit are no longer known ; interest, 
rents, profits, and all the calculations based on them no 
more have any place in human affairs. In your day every- 
body, besides his account with the state, was involved in a 
network of accounts with all about him. Even the humblost 
wage-earner was on the books of half a dozen tradesmen, 
while a man of substance might be down in scores or hun- 
dreds, and this without speaking of men not engaged in 
commerce. A fairly nimble dollar had to be set down so 
many times in so many places, as it went from hand to hand, 
that we calculate in about five years it must have cost itself 
in ink, paper, pens, and clerk hire, let alone fret and worry. 
All these forms of private and business accounts have now 
been done away with. Nobody owes anybody, or is owed 
by anybody, or has any contract with anybody, or any ac- 
count of any sort with anybody, but is simply beholden to 
everybody for such kindly regard as his virtues may attract." 



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

" What sort of a feeling ? " 

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

I readily assented, and we crossed the square to the ex- 

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


I assured the doctor that I had indeed made this reflec- 

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

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

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

" Very true," said the doctor. " If, indeed, our industrial 
system undertook to separate lovers and friends, husbands 
and wives, parents and children, without regard to their 
wishes, it certainly would not last long. You see this col- 
umn of localities. If you make your cross against Boston 
in that column, it becomes imperative upon the administra- 
tion to provide you employment somewhere in this district. 
It is one of the rights of every citizen to demand employment 
within his home district. Otherwise, as you say, ties of love 
and friendship might be rudely broken. But, of course, one 
can not have his cake and eat it too ; if you make work in 


the home district imperative, you may have to take an occu- 
pation to which you would have preferred some other that 
might have been open to you had you been willing to leave 
home. However, it is not common that one needs to sacri- 
fice a chosen career to the ties of affection. The country is 
divided into industrial districts or circles, in each of which 
there is intended to be as nearly as possible a complete sys- 
tem of industry, wherein all the important arts and occu- 
pations are represented. It is in this way made possible for 
most of us to find an opportunity in a chosen occupation 
without separation from friends. This is the more simply 
done, as the modern means of communication have so far 
abolished distance that the man who lives in Boston and 
works in Springfield, one hundred miles away, is quite as near 
his place of business as was the average workingman of your 
day. One who, living in Boston, should work two hundred 
miles away (in Albany), would be far better situated than 
the average suburbanite doing business in Boston a century 
ago. But while a great number desire to find occupations at 
home, there are also many who from love of change much 
prefer to leave the scenes of their childhood. These, too, indi- 
cate their preferences by marking the number of the district 
to which they prefer to be assigned. Second or third prefer- 
ences may likewise be indicated, so that it would go hard in- 
deed if one could not obtain a location in at least the part 
of the country he desired, though the locality preference is 
imperative only when the person desires to stay in the home 
district. Otherwise it is consulted so far as consistent with 
conflicting claims. The volunteer having thus filled out his 
preference blank, takes it to the proper registrar and has his 
ranking ofiicially stamped upon it." 

" What is the ranking ? " I asked. 

" It is the figure which indicates his previous standing in 
the schools and during his service as an unclassified worker, 
and is supposed to give the best attainable criterion thus far 
of his relative intelligence, efficiency, and devotion to duty. 
Where there are more volunteers for particular occupations 
than there is room for, the lowest in ranking have to be 
content with a second or third preference. The preference 
blanks are finally handed in at the local exchange, and are 


collated at the central office of the industrial district. All 
who have made home work imperative are first provided 
for in accordance with rank. The blanks of those prefer- 
ring work in other districts are forwarded to the national 
bureau and there collated with those from other districts, so 
that the volunteers may be provided for as nearly as may 
be according to their wislies, subject, where conflict of claim 
arises, to their relative ranking right. It has always been 
observed that the personal eccentricities of individuals in 
great bodies have a wonderful tendency to balance and 
mutually complement one another, and this principle is 
strikingly illustrated in our system of choice of occupation 
and locality. The preference blanks are filled out in June, 
and by the first of August everybody knows just where he 
or she is to report for service in October. 

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

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

" If a person is not absolutely unwilling to do anything at 
all," he said, " and does not object to all parts of the country 
equally, he ought to be able sooner or later to provide him- 
self both with pretty nearly the occupation and locality he 
desires. And if, after all, there should be any one so dull 
that he can not hope to succeed in his occupation or make 
a better exchange with another, yet there is no occupation 
now tolerated by the state which would not have been as to 
its conditions a godsend to the most fortunately situated 
workman of your day. There is none in which peril to life 


or health is not reduced to a mmimum, and the dignity and 
rights of the worker absolutely guaranteed. It is a constant 
study of the administration so to bait the less attractive oc- 
cupations with special advantages as to leisure and other- 
wise always to keep the balance of preference between them 
as nearly true as possible; and if, finally, there were any 
occupation which, after all, remained so distasteful as to at- 
tract no volunteers, and yet was necessary, its duties would 
be performed by all in rotation." 

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

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

" Probably," I said, " you have sometimes eccentric per- 
sons — ' crooked sticks ' we'used to call them — who refuse to 
adapt themselves to the social order on any terms or admit 
any such thing as social duty. If such a person should 
flatly refuse to render any sort of industrial or useful service 


on any terms, what would be done with him ? No doubt 
there is a compulsory side to your system for dealing with 
such persons ? " 

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

" But what do you do with such persons ? " 

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

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

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




When we reached the house the doctor said : 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

" Does that list exhaust the number of women's occupa- 
tions in your day ? " 

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

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

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

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

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

" There is not a trade or occupation in the whole list," 
replied. Edith, " in which women do not take part. It is 
partly because we are physically much more vigorous than 
the poor creatures of your time that we do the sorts of work 
that were too heavy for them, but it is still more an account 


of the perfection of machinery. As we have grown stronger, 
all sorts of work have grown lighter. Almost no heavy 
work is done directly now ; machines do all, and we only 
need to guide them, and the lighter the hand that guides, 
the better the work done. So you see that nowadays phys- 
ical qualities have much less to do than mental with the 
choice of occupations. The mind is constantly getting 
nearer to the work, and father says some day we may be 
able to work by sheer will power directly and have no need 
of hands at all. It is said that there are actually more women 
than men in great machine works. My mother was first 
lieutenant in a great iron works. Some have a theory that 
the sense of power which one has in controlling giant en- 
gines appeals to women's sensibilities even more than to 
men's. But really it is not quite fair to make you guess 
what my occupation is, for I have not fully decided on it." 

" But you said you were already at work." 

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

"What do you do?" 

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

" I don't think I ever should, and unless the conditions 
of farm work have greatly changed since my day I can 


not imagine how you could manage it in a woman's cos- 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presently she said : " What were we talking about ? Oh, 


yes, I remember — about those other women. I have a con- 
fession to make. I have been guilty toward you all this 
time of a sort of fraud, or at least of a flagrant suppres- 
sion of the truth, which ought not to be kept up a moment 
longer. I sincerely hope you will forgive me, in considera- 
tion of my motive, and not " 

"Not what?" 

" Not be too much startled." 

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

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

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

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

Five minutes, perhaps, I waited there in the arbor, 
where we had been sitting, and then, at a light step on the 


grass, looked up to see Edith with eyes of. smiling challenge 
standing before me in modern dress. I have seen her in a 
hundred varieties of that costume since then, and have 
grown familiar with the exhaustless diversity of its adapta- 
tions, but I defy the imagination of the greatest artist to de- 
vise a scheme of color and fabric that would again produce 
upon me the effect of enchanting surprise which I received 
from that quite simple and hasty toilet. 

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

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

" I am blushing for myself," I said, and that is all I 
would tell her, much as she teased me. Now, at this dis- 
tance of time I may tell the truth. My first sentiment, 
apart from overwhelming admiration, had been a slight 
astonishment at her absolute ease and composure of bearing 
under my gaze. This is a confession that may well seem in- 
comprehensible to twentieth-century readers, and God forbid 
that they should ever catch the point of view which would 
enable them to understand it better ! A woman of my day, 
unless professionally accustomed to use this sort of cos- 
tume, would have seemed embarrassed and ill at ease, at 
least for a time, under a gaze so intent as mine, even 
though it were a brother's or a father's. I, it seems, had 
been prepared for at least some slight appearance of discom- 
posure on Edith's part, and was consciously surprised at a 
manner which simply expressed an ingenuous gratification 
at my admiration. I refer to this momentary experience 
because it has always seemed to me to illustrate in a par- 
ticularly vivid way the change that has taken place not 
only in the customs but in the mental attitude of the sexes 
as to each other since my former life. In justice to myself 
I must hasten to add that this first feeling of surprise van- 
ished even as it arose, in a moment, between two heart-beats. 
I caught from her clear, serene eyes the view point of the 


modern man as to woman, never again to lose it. Then it 
was that I flushed red with shame for myself. Wild horses 
could not have dragged from me the secret of that blush at 
the time, though I have told her long ago. 

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

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

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

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



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

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


treasury if laundry bills are anything like what they used 

to be." 

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

" Not wash them !— why not ? " 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I took the edge of her mantle between my fingers. 

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

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

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

" A costume such as this," said Edith, " is not meant for 
stormy weather, and yet it would by no means melt in a 
rainstorm, however severe. For storm-garments we have a 
paper that is absolutely impervious to moisture on the outer 
surface. As to toughness, I think you would find it as hard 


to tear this paper as any ordinary cloth. The fabric is 
so strengthened with fiber as to hold together very stout- 

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

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

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

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

"It is rather startling," I said, "to find the problem of 
clean clothing solved by the abolition of the washtub, al- 
though I perceive that that was the only radical solution. 
' Warranted to wear and wash ' used to be the advertisement 
of our clothing merchants, but now it seems, if you would 


sell clothing, you must warrant the goods neither to wear 
nor to wash." 

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

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

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

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

" Do you mean that they also are made of paper ? " I ex- 

" Of course." 

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


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

" And do not these shoes leak in winter ? " 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



losophers say, history repeats itself in an ever-ascending 

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



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

" Surely you forget," I replied ; " we have been out to- 
gether several times." 

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

But if, being accustomed, as I had been, to the gait of 
women hampered by draperies, I had not observed any- 
thing unusual in Edith's walk when we had been out on 
previous occasions, the buoyant grace cf her carriage and 
the elastic vigor of her step as she strode now by my side 


was a revelation of the possibilities of an athletic compan- 
ionship which w£is not a little intoxicating. 

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

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

But these were only the material conditions of the scene. 
Shut your eyes once more, that you may see what I would 
fain forget I had ever seen — the interminable rows of 
women, pallid, hollow-cheeked, with faces vacant and 


stolid but for the accent of misery, their clothing tattered, 
faded, and foul; and not women only, but multitudes of 
little children, weazen-faced and ragged — children whose 
mother's milk was barely out of their blood, their bones yet 
in the gristle. 

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

" Ah, yes," she said, *' of course you would say so ; that 
must indeed be the great contrast, though the X3resent ways 
seem so entirely a matter of course to us that we forget it 
was not always so. When the workers settle how the work 
shall be done, it is not wonderful that the conditions should 
be the pleasantest possible. On the other hand, when, as in 
your day, a class like your private capitalists, who did not 
share the work, nevertheless settled how it should be done, 
it is not surprising that the conditions of industry should 
have been as barbarous as they were, especially when the 
operation of the competitive system compelled the capi- 
talists to get the most work possible out of the workers on 
the cheapest terms." 

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

" By no means. The unitary character of our industrial 
administration is the vital idea of it, without which it would 
instantly become impracticable. If the members of each 
trade controlled its conditions, they would presently be 
tempted to conduct it selfishly and adversely to the general 
interest of the community, seeking, as your private capi- 
talists did, to get as much and give as little as possible. 
And not only would every distinctive class of workers be 
tempted to act in this manner, but every subdivision of 


■workers in the same trade would presently be pursuing the 
same policy, until the whole industrial system would be- 
come disintegrated, and we should have to call the capi- 
talists from their graves to save us. When I said that the 
workers regulated the conditions of work, I meant the 
workers as a whole — that is, the people at large, all of 
whom are nowadays workers, you know. The regulation 
and mutual adjustment of the conditions of the several 
branches of the industrial system are wholly done by the 
General Government. At the same time, however, the regu- 
lation of the conditions of work in any occupation is effect- 
ively, though indirectly, controlled by the workers in it 
through the right we all have to choose and change our oc- 
cupations. Nobody would choose an occupation the condi- 
tions of which were not satisfactory, so they have to be 
made and kept satisfactoiy." 

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

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

"The Creator sets the only fashion which is now gen- 
erally followed," Edith answered. 

" And what is that ? " 

" The fashion of our bodies," she answered. 

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

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


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

" We do," replied the superintendent. 

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

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

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

" Dear me, no ! " exclaimed the superintendent. " It is 
evident, Mr. West, as indeed the histories say, that govern- 
mental action carried with it in your day an arbitrary 
implication which it does not now. The Government is 
actually now what it nominally was in the America of your 


day — the servant, tool, and instrument by which the people 
give effect to their will, itself being without will. The popu- 
lar will is expressed in two ways, which are quite distinct 
and relate to different provinces : First, collectively, by ma- 
jority, in regard to blended, mutually involved interests, 
such as the large economic and political concerns of the 
community ; second, personally, by each individual for him- 
self or herself in the furtherance of private and self -regarding 
matters. The Government is not more absolutely the serv- 
ant of the collective will in regard to the blended interests 
of the community than it is of the individual convenience 
in personal matters. It is at once the august representative 
of all in general concerns, and everybody's agent, eiTand 
boy, and factotum for all private ends. Nothing is too high 
or too low, too great or too little, for it to do for us. 

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

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

" Anybody can set it, but whether it is followed tiepends 
on whether it is a good one, and really has some new point 
in respect of convenience or beauty ; otherwise it certainly 
will not become a fashion. Its vogue will be precisely pro- 


portioned to the merit the popular taste recognizes in it, just 
as if it were an invention in mechanics. If a new idea in 
dress has any merit in it, it is taken up with great prompt- 
ness, for our people are extremely interested in enhancing 
personal beauty by costume, and the absence of any arbi- 
trary standards of style such as fashion set for you leaves 
us on the alert for attractions and novelties in shape and 
color. It is in variety of effect that our mode of dressing 
seems indeed to differ most from yours. Your styles were 
constantly being varied by the edicts of fashion, but as only 
one style was tolerated at a time, you had only a successive 
and not a simultaneous variety, such as we have. I should 
imagine that this uniformity of style, extending, as I under- 
stand it often did, to fabric, color, and shape alike, must 
have caused your great assemblages to present a depressing 
effect of sameness. 

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

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

" Don't ask me," I protested. " It seemed to be some fell 
enchantment that we were subject to — that is all I know. 
Nobody professed to understand why we did as we did. 


Can't you tell us," I added, turning to the superintendent — 
" how do you moderns diagnose the fashion mania that 
made our lives such a burden to us ? " 

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

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

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

" Entirely so," I replied. " It might be added, too, that 


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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

" What is this ? " I exclaimed. 

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

But indeed, though I had asked what was this building 
we stood in presence of, nobody could know so well as I 
what it was. The mystery was how it had come to be there 
for in the midst of this splendid city of equals, where poverty 
was an unknown word, I found myself face to face with a 
typical nineteenth-century tenement house of the worst sort 
— one of the rookeries, in fact, that used to abound in the 
North End and other parts of the city. The environment 
was indeed in strong enough contrast with that of such 
buildings in my time, shut in as they generally were by a 
labyrinth of noisome alleys and dark, damp courtyards 


which were reeking reservoirs of foetid odors, kept in by 
lofty, light-excluding walls. This building stood by itself, 
in the midst of an open square, as if it had been a palace 
or other show place. But all the more, indeed, by this 
fine setting was the dismal squalor of the grimy structure 
emphasized. It seemed to exhale an atmosphere of gloom 
and chill which all the bright sunshine of the breezy Sep- 
tember afternoon was unable to dominate. One would not 
have been surprised, even at noonday, to see ghosts at the 
black windows. There was an inscription over the door, 
and I went across the square to read it, Edith reluctantly fol- 
lowing me. These words I read, above the central doorway : 


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

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

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


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

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

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

In accompanying Edith to the part of the beach where 
we stood I had taken no note of directions, but now, as I be- 
gan to study the shore, I observed with lively emotion that 
she had unwittingly brought me to the site of my old sea- 
side place at Nahant. The buildings were indeed gone, and 


the growth of trees had quite changed the aspect of the 
landscape, but the shore line remained unaltered, and I knew 
it at once. Bidding her follow me, I led the way around a 
point to a little strip of beach between the sea and a wall of 
rock which shut off all sight or sound of the land behind. 
In my former life the spot had been a favorite resort when I 
visited the shore. Here in that life so long ago, and yet re- 
called as if of yesterday, I had been used from a lad to go 
to do my day dreaming. Every feature of the little nook 
was as familiar to me as my bedroom and all was quite un- 
changed. The sea in front, the sky above, the islands and 
the blue headlands of the distant coast — all, indeed, that 
filled the view was the same in every detail. I threw my- 
self upon the warm sand by the margin of the sea, as I had 
been wont to do, and in a moment the flood of familiar asso- 
ciations had so completely carried me back to my old life 
that all the marvels that had happened to me, when pres- 
ently I began to recall them, seemed merely as a day dream 
that had come to me like so many others before it in that 
spot by the shore. But what a dream it had been, that vision 
of the world to be ; surely of all the dreams that had come 
to me there by the sea the weirdest ! 

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

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

When I proceeded to state to Edith this theory to ac- 
count for her presence, she professed to find it highly reason- 
able, and we proceeded at much length to develop the idea. 
Falling into the conceit that she was an anticipation of the 
twentieth-century woman instead of my being an excavated 


relic of the nineteenth-century man, we speculated what we 
should do for the summer. We decided to visit the great 
pleasure resorts, where, no doubt, she would under the circum- 
stances excite much curiosity and at the same time have an 
opportunity of studying what to her twentieth-century mind 
would seem even more astonishing types of humanity than 
she would seem to them — namely, people who, surrounded 
by a needy and anguished world, could get their own con- 
sent to be happy in a frivolous and wasteful idleness. After- 
ward we would go to Europe and inspect such things there 
as might naturally be curiosities to a girl out of the year 
2000, such as a Rothschild, an emperor, and a few specimens 
of human beings, some of which were at that time still ex- 
tant in Germany, Austria, and Russia, who honestly believed 
that God had given to certain fellow-beings a divine title to 
reign over them. 



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

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

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

When, as we talked, the globe of the color clock turning 


white announced that it was midnight, some one spoke of 
bed, but the doctor had another scheme. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was to the Leander Natatorium that we had directed 
our steps. As I need not remind Bostonians, this is one of 
the older baths, and considered quite inferior to the modern 
structxires. To me, however, it was a vastly impressive spec- 


tacle. The lofty interior glowing with light, the immense 
swimming tank, the four great fountains filling the air with 
diamond-dazzle and tlie noise of falling water, together with 
the throng of gayly dressed and laughing bathers, made an 
exhilarating and magnificent scene, which was a very ef- 
fective introduction to the athletic side of the modern life. 
The loveliest thing of all was the great expanse of water 
made translucent by the light reflected from the white tiled 
bottom, so that the swimmers, their whole bodies visible, 
seemed as if floating on a pale emerald cloud, with an effect 
of buoyancy and weightlessness that was as startling as 
charming. Edith was quick to tell me, however, that this 
was as nothing to the beauty of some of the new and larger 
baths, where, by varying the colors of the tiling at the bottom, 
the water is made to shade through all the tints of the rain- 
bow while preserving the same translucent appearance. 

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

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

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

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

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

" Did you think we were going to give you your death ? " 


said the doctor. "Of course, the water is warmed to a com- 
fortable temperature ; these baths are open all winter." 

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

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

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

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

It was one o'clock when we reached home. 

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

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


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

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

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

" Are you, then, a magician ? " 

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

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

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



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

Edith had been very curious about the safe, which was 
the name we gave to these strong boxes, and several times 
when we were visiting the vault had expressed a lively de- 
sire to see what was inside. I had proposed to open it for 
her, but she had suggested that, as her father and mother 


would be as much interested in the process as herself, it 
would be best to postpone the treat till all should be present. 

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

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

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

" Really Julian," said the doctor, "it would be an excel- 
lent idea if you were to do just what you have suggested — 
that is, bring a formal suit against the nation for reinstate- 
ment in your former property. It would arouse the liveliest 
popular interest and stimulate a discussion of the ethical 
basis of our economic equality that would be of great edu- 
cational value to the community. You see the present order 


has been so long established that it does not often occur to 
anybody except historians that there ever was any other. It 
would be a good thing for the people to have their minds 
stirred up on the subject and be compelled to do some 
fundamental thinking as to the merits of the differences 
between the old and the new order and the reasons for 
the present system. Confronting the court with those 
securities in your hand, you would make a fine dramatic 
situation. It would be the nineteenth century challeng- 
ing the twentieth, the old civilization, demanding an ac- 
counting of the new. The judges, you may be sure, would 
treat you with the greatest consideration. They would at 
once admit your rights under the peculiar circumstances to 
have the whole question of wealth distribution and the 
rights of property reopened from the beginning, and be 
ready to discuss it in the broadest spirit." 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

" It was not so bad a theory if you had lived up to it," 
said the doctor, " although the modern theory is far more 
rational that whatever can be done better by collective than 
individual action ought to be so undertaken, even if it 
could, after a more imperfect fashion, be individually ac- 
complished. But don't you think that under the economic 
conditions which prevailed in America at the end of the 
nineteenth century, not to speak of Europe, the average man 
armed with a good revolver would have found the task of pro- 
tecting himself and family against violence a far easier one 
than that of protecting them against want ? Were not the 
odds, against him far greater in the latter struggle than they 
could have been, if he were a tolerably good shot, in the 
former ? Why, then, according to your own maxim, was 
the collective force of society devoted without stint to safe- 


guarding him against violence, which he could have done 
for himself fairly well, while he was left to struggle against 
hopeless odds for the means of a decent existence ? What 
hour, of what day of what year ever passed in which the 
number of deaths, and the physical and moral anguish re- 
sulting from the anarchy of the economic struggle and the 
crushing odds against the poor, did not outweigh as a hun- 
dred to one that same hour's record of death or suffering 
resulting from violence ? Far better would society have 
fulfilled its recognized duty of safeguarding the lives of 
its members if, repealing every criminal law and dismiss- 
ing every judge and policeman, it had left men to protect 
themselves as best they might against physical violence, 
while establishing in place of the machinery of criminal 
justice a system of economic administration whereby all 
would have been guaranteed against want. If, indeed, it 
had but substituted this collective economic organization 
for the criminal and judicial system it presently would 
have had as little need of the latter as we do, for most of 
the crimes that plagued you were direct or indirect conse- 
quences of your unjust economic conditions, and would 
have disappeared with them. 

" But excuse my vehemence. Eemember that I am ar- 
raigning your civilization and not you. What I wanted to 
bring out is that the principle that the first duty of society 
is to safeguard the lives of its members was as fully ad- 
mitted by your world as by ours, and that in failing to give 
the principle an economic as well as police, judicial, and 
military interpretation, your world convicted itself of an in- 
consistency as glaring in logic as it was cruel in conse- 
quences. We, on the other hand, in assuming as a na- 
tion the responsibility of safeguarding the lives of the 
people on the economic side, have merely, for the first time, 
honestly carried out a principle as old as the civilized 

" That is clear enough," I said. " Any one, on the mere 
statement of the case, would of course be bound to admit 
that the recognized duty of the state to guarantee tlie life of 
the citizen against the action of his fellows does logically in- 
volve responsibility to protect him from influences attack- 


ing the economic basis of life quite as much as from direct 
forcible assaults. The more advanced governments of my 
day, by their poor laws and pauper systems, in a dim way ad- 
mitted this responsibility, although the kind of provision 
they made for the economically unfortunate was so meager 
and accompanied with such conditions of ignominy that men 
would ordinarily rather die than accept it. But grant that 
the sort of recognition we gave of the right of the citizen to 
be guaranteed a subsistence was a mockery more brutal than 
its total denial would have been, and that a far larger inter- 
pretation of its duty in this respect was incumbent on the 
state, yet how does it logically follow that society is bound 
to guarantee or the citizen to demand an absolute economic 
equality ? " 

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

" Of course not." 

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


suited or spit upon is as great a grie^«ance as any assault 
upon life itself. 

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

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

"If the court please," I said, "I should like to be per- 
mitted at this point to discontinue and withdraw my suit for 
the restoration of my former property. In my day we used 
to hold on to all we had and fight for all we could get with 
a good stomach, for our rivals were as selfish as we, and rep- 
resented no higher right or larger view. But this modern 
social system with its public stewardship of all capital for 
the general welfare quite changes the situation. It puts the 
man who demands more than his share in the light of a per- 


son attacking the livelihood and seeking to impair the wel- 
fare of everybody else in the nation. To enjoy that attitude 
anybody must be a good deal better convinced of the justice 
of his title than I ever was even in the old days." 



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

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

" For, although I have spoken of the monopolization of 


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

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

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

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

" Of course not." 

" But why not ? " 

" Because, naturally, no one could wish to be another's 
servant or subject to his orders who could get along with- 
out it." 

"I should suppose so, but why, then, did the poor so 
eagerly seek to serve the rich when the rich refused with 


scorn to serve one another ? Was it because the poor so 
loved the rich ? " 

•' Scarcely." 

'' Why then ? " 

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

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

" That is about it." 

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

" No doubt." 

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

" No doubt it would be." 

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

" I must say that it was." 

" There was a great deal said by the economists of your 
day," the doctor went on, " about the freedom of contract — 
the voluntary, unconstrained agreement of the laborer with 


the employer as to the terms of his employment. What 
hypocrisy could have been so brazen as that pretense when, 
as a matter of fact, every contract made between the capi- 
talist who had bread and could keep it and the laborer who 
must have it or die would have been declared void, if fairly 
judged, even under your laws as a contract made under 
duress of hunger, cold, and nakedness, nothing less than the 
threat of death ! If you own the things men must have, 
you own the men who must have them." 

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

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

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

" It is a very hard word, and we want above all things 
to be fair. Let us look at the question. Slavery exists 
where there is a compulsory using of men by other men for 
the benefit of the users. I think we are quite agreed that 
the poor man in your day worked for the rich only because 
his necessities compelled him to. That compulsion varied 
in force according to the degree of want the worker was in. 
Those who had a little economic means would only render 
the lighter kinds of service on more or less easy and honor- 
able conditions, while those who had less means or no means 
at all would do anything on any terms however painful or 
degrading. With the mass of the workers the compulsion 
of necessity was of the sharpest kind. The chattel slave 
had the choice between working for his master and the 
lash. The wage-earner chose between laboring for an em- 
ployer or starving. In the older, cruder forms of slavery 
the masters had to be watching constantly to prevent the 


escape of their slaves, and were troubled with the charge 
of providing for them. Your system was more convenient, 
in that it made Nature your taskmaster, and depended on 
her to keep your servants to the task. It was a difference 
between the direct exercise of coercion, in which the slave 
was always on the point of rebellion, and an indirect coer- 
cion by which the same industrial result was obtained, while 
the slave, instead of rebelling against his master's authority, 
was grateful for the opportunity of serving him." 

" But," said I, " the wage-earner received wages and the 
slave received nothing." 

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

" But at least," said I, " there was this radical difference 
between the wage-earner of my day and the chattel slave : 
the former could leave his employer at will, the latter could 

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


I had to admit that it was even so. 

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

I rallied once more. 

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

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

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

" One point of difference, however, you must at least ad- 
mit," I said. " In chattel slavery the master had a power 
over the pereons of his slaves which the employer did not 


have over even the poorest of his employees : he could not 
lay his hand upon them in violence." 

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

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

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


the lusts of those who could pay, which the annals of an- 
tiquity could scarcely match for horror. Am I saying too 
much, Julian ? " 

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

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



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

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


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

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

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


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

" You will readily see," the doctor went on, " how this 
analysis of the product of industry must needs tend to min- 
imize the importance of the personal equation of perform- 
ance as between individual workers. If the modern man, 
by aid of the social machinery, can produce fifty dollars' 
worth of product where he could produce not over a quarter 
of a dollar's worth without society, then forty-nine dollars 
and three quarters out of every fifty dollars must be credited 
to the social fund to be equally distributed. The industrial 
efficiency of two men working without society might have 
differed as two to one — that is, while one man was able to 
produce a full quarter dollar's worth of work a day, the other 
could produce only twelve and a half cents' worth. This 
was a very great difference under those circumstances, but 
tv/elve and a half cents is so slight a proportion of fifty 
dollars as not to be worth mentioning. That is to say, the 
difference in individual endowments between the two men 
would remain the same, but that difference would be re- 
duced to relative unimportance by the prodigious equal 
addition made to the product of both alike by the social 


organism. Or again, before gunpowder was invented one 
man might easily be worth two as a warrior. The dif- 
ference between the men as individuals remained what 
it was; yet the overwhelming factor added to the power 
of both alike by the gun practically equalized them as 
fighters. Speaking of guns, take a still better illustration 
— the relation of the individual soldiers in a square of in- 
fantry to the formation. There might be large differences 
in the fighting power of the individual soldiers singly out- 
side the ranks. Once in the ranks, however, the formation 
added to the fighting efficiency of every soldier equally 
an element so overwhelming as to dwarf the difference be- 
tween the individual efficiency of different men. Say, for 
instance, that the formation added ten to the fighting force 
of every member, then the man who outside the ranks was 
as two to one in power compared with his comrade would, 
when they both stood in the ranks, compare with him only 
as twelve to eleven — an inconsiderable difference. 

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

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


between the attitude of the capitalist and the proleta- 

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


" Faugh ! " exclaimed Edith at the musty gust of con- 
fined air which followed. " I am sorry for your peoj^le if 
that is a fair sample of what you had to breathe." 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" And what was that ? " she asked. 

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

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

" I am afraid, Julian, you are on the wrong tack. You 
see economic science in your day was a science of things ; in 
our day it is a science of human beings. We have nothing 
at all answering to your rent, interest, profits, or other 
financial devices, and the terms expressing them have no 
meaning now except to students. If you wish Edith and 
her mother to understand you, you must translate these 


money terms into terms of men and women and children, 
and the plain facts of their relations as affected by your 
system. Shall you consider it impertinent if I try to make 
the matter a little clearer to them ? " 

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

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

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


thralled them ; and if they died, that involved no loss to 
their owners, for there were always plenty more to take 
their places. Decidedly, it would have been a waste of 
paper to enumerate them. 

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

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

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

" Now let us see what this bundle is," pursued the doctor. 
" Ah ! yes ; these are shares in New England cotton factories. 
This sort of harness was chiefly used for women and chil- 
dren, the sizes ranging away down so as to fit girls and 
boys of eleven and twelve. It used to be said that it was 


only the margin of profit furnished by the almost costless 
labor of the little children that made these factories paying 
properties. The population of New England was largely 
broken in at a very tender age to work in this style of har- 

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

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

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

" Certainly, certainly," replied the doctor. " The same 
plea 'might be urged, and has been, in defense of every 
system by which men have ever made other men their 
servants from the beginning. There was always some 


service, generally valuable and indispensable, which the 
oppressors could urge and did urge as the ground and ex- 
cuse of the servitude they enforced. As men grew wiser 
they observed that they were paying a ruinous price for 
the services thus rendered. So at first they said to the 
kings : ' To be sure, you help defend the state from foreign- 
ers and hang thieves, but it is too much to ask us to be your 
serfs in exchange ; we can do better. ' And so they established 
republics. So also, presently, the people said to the priests : 
' You have done something for us, but you have charged 
too much for your services in asking us to submit our 
minds to you ; we can do better.' And so they established 
religious liberty. 

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

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

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

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

" Not only would they let you use them as you pleased, 
but they would be extremely grateful to you for being so 
good as to use them instead of others. The poor fought 


each other for the privilege of being the servants and under- 
lings of those who had the money." 

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

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

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

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

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


our bodies, but our souls also, give us more bread than these 
laborers receive, who sell their bodies only." 

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

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

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

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

" Ah ! " said the doctor, breaking the silence which fol- 
lowed the ceasing of Edith's voice, " it was indeed the last 


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

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

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

Presently I said : " When you have satisfied your curi- 
osity as to these papers I suppose we might as well make a 
bonfire of them, for they seem to have no more value now 


than a collection of heathen fetiches after the former wor- 
shipers have embraced Christianity." 

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

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

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


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



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

" There was no limit," I replied. 

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

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


" And how about other things besides land ? " asked 

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

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

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

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

" Not at all. If one individual, as you suggest, through 
the effect of cunning and skill combined with inheritances, 
should obtain a legal title to the whole globe, it would be 
his to do what he pleased with as absolutely as if it were a 
garden patch, according to our law of property. Nor is 
your supposition about one person or family becoming 


owner of the whole earth a wholly fanciful one. There 
was, when I fell asleep, one family of European bankers 
whose world-wide power and resources were so vast and in- 
creasing at such a prodigious and accelerating rate that they 
had already an influence over the destinies of nations wider 
than perhaps any monarch ever exercised." 

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

" Unquestionably." 

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

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

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

" Very true," said the doctor. " Alexander and Napoleon 
mistook their trade; they should have been bankers, not 
soldiers. But, indeed, the time was not in their day ripe for 
a world-wide money dynasty, such as we have been speak- 
ing of. Kings had a rude way of interfering with the so- 
called rights of property when they conflicted with royal 
prestige or produced dangerous popular discontent. Ty- 
rants themselves, they did not willingly brook rival tyrants 


in their dominions. It was not till the kings had been shorn 
of power and the interregnum of sham democracy had set 
in, leaving no virile force in the state or the world to resist 
the money power, that the opportunity for a world-wide 
plutocratic despotism arrived. Then, in the latter part of 
the nineteenth century, when international trade and finan- 
cial relations had broken down national barriers and the 
world had become one field of economic enterprise, did the 
idea of a universally dominant and centralized money power 
become not only possible, but, as Julian has said, had already 
so far materialized itself as to cast its shadow before. If the 
Revolution had not come when it did, we can not doubt that 
something like this universal plutocratic dynasty or some 
highly centered oligarchy, based upon the complete mo- 
nopoly of all property by a small body, would long before 
this time have become the government of the world. But 
of course the Revolution must have come when it did, so we 
need not talk of what would have happened if it had not 



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

"Thanks for reminding us of that point," said the doc- 
tor. " As you say, there never was a system so bad that it 
did not make an excuse for itself. It would not be strictly 
fair to the old system to dismiss it without considering the 
excuse made for it, although, on the other hand, it would 
really be kinder not to mention it, for it was an excuse that, 


far from excusing, furnished an additional ground of con- 
demnation for the system which it undertook to justify." 

" What was the excuse ? " asked Edith. 

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

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

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

" If you touch a man's living you touch him, would 
seem to be about as plain a truth as could be put in words ; 


but our ancestors had not the least difficulty in getting 
around it. 'Of course,' they said, 'you must not toucli the 
man ; to lay a finger on him would be an assault punishable 
by law. But his living is quite a different thing. That de- 
pends on bread, meat, clothing, land, houses, and other ma- 
terial things, which you have an unlimited right to appro- 
priate and dispose of as you please without the slightest 
regard to whether anything is left for the rest of the 

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

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

" All this talk started with the discussion of Julian's for- 
tune. Now tell us, Julian, was your million dollars the 


result of your economic ability, the fruit of your indus- 

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

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

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

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

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

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

" It is impossible to get up any sort of a quarrel with 
Julian," said the doctor ; " but there were others of his class 
less rational. Cornered as to their moral claim to their pos- 
sessions, they fell back on that of their ancestors. They 


argued that these ancestors, assuming them to have had a 
right by merit to their possessions, had as an incident of that 
merit the right to give them to others. Here, of course, they 
absolutely confused the ideas of legal and moral right. The 
law might indeed give a person power to transfer a legal 
title to property in any way that suited the lawmakers, but 
the meritorious right to the property, resting as it did on 
personal desert, could not in the nature of moral things be 
transferred or ascribed to any one else. The cleverest lawyer 
would never have pretended that he could draw up a docu- 
ment that would carry over the smallest tittle of merit 
from one person to another, however close the tie of 

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

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


great fortunes in a few years by wholesale fraud and extor- 
tion ? " 

" Pardon me, I was just coming to them," said the doc- 
tor. " You ladies must remember," he continued, " that the 
rich, who in Julian's day possessed nearly everything of 
value in every country, leaving the masses mere scraps and 
crumbs, were of two sorts : those who had inherited their 
wealth, and those who, as the saying was, had made it. We 
have seen how far the inheriting class were justified in 
their holdings by the principle which the nineteenth century 
asserted to be the excuse for wealth — namely, that individ- 
uals were entitled to the fruit of their labors. Let us next 
inquire how far the same principle justified the possessions 
of these others whom Julian refers to, who claimed that 
they had made their money themselves, and showed in 
proof lives absolutely devoted from childhood to age with- 
out rest or respite to the piling up of gains. Now, of 
course, labor in itself, however arduous, does not imply 
moral desert. It may be a criminal activity. Let us see if 
these men who claimed that they made their money had 
any better title to it than Julian's class by the rule put for- 
ward as the excuse for unequal wealth, that every one has a 
right to the product of his labor. The most complete state- 
ment of the principle of the right of property, as based on 
economic effort, which has come down to us, is this maxim : 
' Every man is entitled to his own product, his whole prod- 
uct, and nothing but his product.' Now, this maxim had 
a double edge, a negative as well as a positive, and the nega- 
tive edge is very sharp. If everybody was entitled to his 
own product, nobody else was entitled to any part of it, and 
if any one's accumulation was found to contain any prod- 
uct not strictly his own, he stood condemned as a thief 
by the law he had invoked. If in the great fortunes of the 
stockjobbers, the railroad kings, the bankers, the great 
landlords, and the other moneyed lords who boasted that 
they had begun life with a shilling — if in these great for- 
tunes of mushroom rapidity of growth there was anything 
that was properly the product of the efforts of any one but 
the owner, it was not his, and his possession of it condemned 
him as a thief. If he would be justified, he must not be 


more careful to obtain all that was his own product than to 
avoid taking anything that was not his product. If he in- 
sisted upon the pound of flesh awarded him by the letter of 
the law, he must stick to the letter, observing the warning 
of Portia to Shy lock : 

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

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

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


wealth we had done nothing to produce or acquire, yet we 
had committed no positive wrong to obtain it." 

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

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

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

" It would seem," said Edith, " that, speaking generally, 


the class which chiefly had the property had little or no 
right to it, even according to the ideas of your day, while 
the masses which had the right had little or no property." 

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

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

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

" No wonder it seems incomprehensible to you, as now, 
indeed, it seems to me as I look back," I replied. " But you 
can not possibly imagine, as I myself am fast losing the 
power to do, in my new environment, how benumbing to 
the mind was the prestige belonging to the immemorial an- 
tiquity of the property system as we knew it and of the rule 
of the rich based on it. No other institution, no other fabric 
of power ever known to man, could be compared with it as 
to duration. No different economic order could really be 
said ever to have been known. There had been changes 
and fashions in all other human institutions, but no radical 


change in the system of property. The procession of polit- 
ical, social, and religious systems, the royal, imperial, 
priestly, democratic epochs, and all other great phases of 
human affairs, had been as passing cloud shadows, mere 
fashions of a day, compared with the hoary antiquity of the 
rule of the rich. Consider how profound and how widely 
ramified a root in human prejudices such a system must 
have had, how overwhelming the presumption must have 
been with the mass of minds against the possibility of mak- 
ing an end of an order that had never been known to have 
a beginning ! What need for excuses or defenders had a 
system so deeply based in usage and antiquity as this ? It is 
not too much to say that to the mass of mankind in my day 
the division of the race into rich and poor, and the subjec- 
tion of the latter to the former, seemed almost as much a law 
of Nature as the succession of the seasons — something that 
might not be agreeable, but was certainly unchangeable. 
And just here, I can well understand, must have come the 
hardest as well as, necessarily, the first task of the revolu- 
tionary leaders — that is, of overcoming the enormous dead 
weight of immemorial inherited prejudice against the pos- 
sibilty of getting rid of abuses which had lasted so long, and 
opening people's eyes to the fact that the system of wealth 
distribution was merely a human institution like others, 
and that if there is any truth in human progress, the 
longer an institution had endured unchanged, the more 
completely it was likely to have become out of joint with 
the world's progress, and the more radical the change must 
be which should bring it into correspondence with other 
lines of social evolution." 

" That is quite the modern view of the subject," said 
the doctor. " I shall be understood in talking with a rep- 
resentative of the century which invented poker if I say 
that when the revolutionists attacked the fundamental 
justice of the old property system, its defenders were able 
on account of its antiquity to meet them with a tremen- 
dous bluff — one which it is no wonder should have been 
for a time almost paralyzing. But behind the bluff there 
was absolutely nothing. The moment public opinion 
could be nerved up to the point of calling it, the game 


was up. The principle of inheritance, the backbone of 
the whole property system, at the first challenge of seri- 
ous criticism abandoned all ethical defense and shriveled 
into a mere convention established by law, and as rightfully 
to be disestablished by it in the name of anything fairer. 
As for the buccaneers, the great money-getters, when the 
light was once turn«i on their methods, the question was 
not so much of saving their booty as their bacon. 

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



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

To which I added that I had learned more that morn- 
ing about the moral basis of economic equality and the 
grounds for the abolition of private property than in my en- 
tire previous experience as a citizen of the twentieth cen- 

" The abolition of private property I " exclaimed the doc- 
tor. '* What is that you say ? " 


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

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

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

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

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

" Suppose you and a number of other men of your time, 
all having separate claims in a mining region, formed a cor- 


poration to carry on as one mine your consolidated proper- 
ties, would you have any less private property than you had 
when you owned your claims separately ? You would have 
changed the mode and tenure of your property, but if the 
arrangement were a wise one that would be wholly to your 
advantage, would it not ? " 

" No doubt." 

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

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

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

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

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

" That is true," said I, " except in one particular. It is or 


used to be a usual incident to the ownership of property 
that it may be disposed of at will by the owner. The owner 
of stock in a mine or mill could not indeed sell a piece of 
the mine or mill, but he could sell his stock in it ; but the 
citizen now can not dispose of his share in the national con- 
cern. He can only dispose of the dividend." 

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

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


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

Of course, Julian, it was in the way of human nature 
quite a matter of course that your contemporaries should 
have cried out against the idea of a universal right of 
property as an attack on the principle of property. There 
was never a prophet or reformer who raised his voice for 
a purer, more spiritual, and perfect idea of religion whom 
his contemporaries did not accuse of seeking to abolish re- 
ligion ; nor ever in political affairs did any party proclaim 
a juster, larger, wiser ideal of government without being 
accused of seeking to abolish government. So it was quite 
according to precedent that those who taught the right of 
all to property should be accused of attacking the right 


of property. But who, think you, were the true friends and 
champions of private property ? those who advocated a 
system under which one man if clever enough could 
monopolize the earth — and a very small number were fast 
monopolizing it — turning the rest of the race into prole- 
tarians, or, on the other hand, those who demanded a sys- 
tem by which all should become property holders on equal 
terms ? " 

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

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



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

It was, in fact, as I noted with quite indescribable emo- 
tion, a packet of letters and notes from Edith Bartlett, 
written on various occasions during our relation as lovers, 
that Edith, her great-granddaughter, held in her hand. I 
took them from her, and opening one, found it to be a note 


dated May 30, 1887, the very day on which I parted with her 
forever. In it she asked me to join her family in their 
Decoration-day visit to the grave at Mount Auburn where 
her brother lay, who had fallen in the civil war. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" I am afraid it is about so," replied the doctor, " although 
the explanation here is not, as in the other case, economic 
equality so much as the progress of invention. Our chil- 


dren are stiU taught to write and to read writing, but 
they have so little practice in after-life that they usually 
forget their acquirements pretty soon after leaving school ; 
but really Edith ought still to be able to make out a nine- 
teenth-century letter. — My dear, I am a little ashamed of 

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I was beginning to be a little nettled with so much mys- 
tery about so simple a matter. 

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

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

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

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

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

The doctor said that it certainly was a fact that the wear- 
ing of jewelry had been virtually an obsolete custom for a 
couple of generations if not more. " As for the reasons for 
the fact," he continued, " they really go rather deeply into 
the direct and indirect consequences of our present economic 
system. Speaking broadly, I suppose the main and sufficient 
reason why gold and silver and precious stones have ceased 
to be prized as ornaments is that they entirely lost their com- 
mercial value when the nation organized wealth distribution 
on the basis of the indefeasible economic equality of all citi- 
zens. As you know, a ton of gold or a bushel of diamonds 
would, not secure a loaf of bread at the public stores, nothing 
availing there except or in addition to the citizen's credit, 
which depends solely on his citizenship, and is always equal 
to that of every other citizen. Consequently nothing is worth 


anything to anybody nowadays save for the use or pleasure 
he can personally derive from it. The main reason why 
gems and the precious metals were formerly used as orna- 
ments seems to have been the great convertible value be- 
longing to them, which made them symbols of wealth and 
importance, and consequently a favorite means of social 
ostentation. The fact that they have entirely lost this qual- 
ity would account, I think, largely for their disuse as orna- 
ments, even if ostentation itself had not been deprived of its 
motive by the law of equality." 

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

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

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

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

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

" The metals, of course — silver and gold — kept their uses, 
mechanical and artistic. They are always beautiful in their 


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

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

The doctor laughed. 

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


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

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

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

" And how was it with the men ? " 

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

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

"That was it." 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

"Precisely so, to their unspeakable gain in comfort. 


dignity, and freedom of mind for more important inter- 

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

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

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

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



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

"Edith would perhaps not have been pleased with the 


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

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

"The women of the rich," replied the doctor, "were 
numerically too insignificant a proportion of the mass of 
women to be worth considering in a general statement of 
woman's condition in your day. Nor, for that matter, do 
we consider their lot preferable to that of their poorer 
sisters. It is true that they did not endure physical hard- 
ship, but were, on the contrary, petted and spoiled by their 
men protectors like over-indulged children ; but that seems 
te *is not a sort of life to be desired. So far as we can learn 


from contemporary accounts and social pictures, the women 
of the rich lived in a hothouse atmosphere of adulation and 
affectation, altogether less favorable to moral or mental de- 
velopment than the harder conditions of the women of the 
poor. A woman of to-day, if she were doomed to go back 
to live in your world, would beg at least to be reincarnated 
as a scrub woman rather than as a wealthy woman of fash- 
ion. The latter rather than the former seems to us the sort 
of woman which most completely typified the degradation 
of the sex in your age." 

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

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

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

"So we understand," replied the doctor. "In that re- 
spect the women's struggle for independence resembled 
revolutionary movements in general, which, in their earlier 
stages, go blundering and stumbling along in such a seem- 
ingly erratic and illogical way that it takes a philosopher to 
calculate what outcome to expect. The calculation as to the 
ultimate outcome of the women's movement was, however, 
as simple as was the same calculation in the case of what 
you called the labor movement. What the women were 
after was independence of men and equality with them, 
while the workingmen's desire was to put an end to their 
vassalage to capitalists. Now, the key to the fetters the 
women wore was the same that locked the shackles of the 
workers. It was the economic key, the control of the means 


of subsistence. Men, as a sex, held that power over women, 
and the rich as a class held it over the working masses. 
The secret of the sexual bondage and of the industrial bond- 
age was the same — namely, the unequal distribution of the 
wealth power, and the change which was necessary to put 
an end to both forms of bondage must obviously be eco- 
nomic equalization, which in the sexual as in the industrial 
relation would at once insure the substitution of co-opera- 
tion for coercion. 

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


workingmen, gave over the folly of attacking the conse- 
quences of economic inequality and attacked the inequality 
itself, was there any hope for the enfranchisement of either 

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

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


to her suitors unless very fortunately situated, and once 
married it was the practical understanding that in return 
for her maintenance by her husband she must hold herself 
at his disposal." 

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

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

" In order to realize the prodigious debt of woman to the 
great Revolution," resumed the doctor, " we must remember 
that the bondage from which it delivered her was incom- 
parably more complete and abject than any to which men 
had ever been subjected by their fellow-men. It was en- 
forced not by a single but by a triple yoke. The first yoke 
was the subjection to the personal and class rule of the rich, 
which the mass of women bore in common with the mass 
of men. The other two yokes were peculiar to her. One of 
them was her personal subjection not only in the sexual 
relation, but in all her behavior to the particular man on 
whom she depended for subsistence. The third yoke was 


an intellectual and moral one, and consisted in the slavish 
conformity exacted of her in all her thinking, speaking, and 
acting to a set of traditions and conventional standards cal- 
culated to repress all that was spontaneous and individual, 
and impose an artificial uniformity upon both the inner and 
outer life. 

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

" Now, if particular women had been especially trained 
to suit particular men's tastes — trained to order, so to speak 
— while that would have been offensive enough to any idea 
of feminine dignity, yet it would have been far less dis- 


astrous, for many men would have vastly preferred women 
of independent minds and original and natural opinions. 
But as it was not known beforehand what particular men 
would support particular women, the only safe way was to 
train girls with a view to a negative rather than a positive 
attractiveness, so that at least they might not offend average 
masculine prejudices. This ideal was most likely to be se- 
cured by educating a girl to conform herself to the custom- 
ary traditional and fashionable habits of thinking, talking, 
and behaving — in a word, to the conventional standards 
prevailing at the time. She must above all things avoid as 
a coQtagion any new or original ideas or lines of conduct in 
any important respect, especially in religious, political, and 
social matters. Her mind, that is to say, like her body, 
must be trained and dressed according to the current fashion 
plates. By all her hopes of married comfort she must not 
be known to have any peculiar or unusual or positive no- 
tions on any subject more important than embroidery or 
parlor decoration. Conventionality in the essentials having 
been thus secured, the brighter and more piquant she could 
be in small ways and frivolous matters the better for her 
chances. Have I erred in describing the working of your 
system in this particular, Julian ? " 

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

" Of course there were. They were the prototypes of the 
universal woman of to-day. They represented the coming 
woman, who to-day has come. They had broken for them- 
selves the conventional trammels of their sex, and proved 
to the world the potential equality of women with men 
in every field of thought and action. But while great 
minds master their circumstances, the mass of minds are 
mastered by them and formed by them. It is when we 
think of the bearing of the system upon this vast majority 
of women, and how the virus of moral and mental slaveiy 
through their veins entered into the blood of the race, that 
we realize how tremendous is the indictment of humanity 


against your economic arrangements on account of woman, 
and how vast a benefit to mankind was the Revolution that 
gave free mothers to the race — free not merely from phys- 
ical but from moral and intellectual fetters. 

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

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

"And still woman's cup of humiliation was not full. 
There was yet another and more dreadful form of competi- 
tion by her own sex to which she was exposed. Not only 
was there a constant vast surplus of unmarried women de- 
sirous of securing the economic support which marriage 
implied, but beneath these there were hordes of wretched 


women, hopeless of obtaining the support of men on honor- 
able terms, and eager to sell themselves for a crust. Julian, 
do you wonder that, of all the aspects of the horrible mess 
you called civilization in the nineteenth century, the sexual 
relation reeks worst ? " 

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

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

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

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

"But how about the children ?" 

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

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

"Say rather," replied the doctor, "that the economic 


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

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

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

" The marriage contract was embellished by a rich em- 
broidery of sentimental and religious fancies, but I need not 
remind you that its essence in the eyes of the law and of 


society was its character as a contract, a strictly economic 
quid-pro-quo transaction. It was a legal undertaking by 
the man to maintain the woman and future family in con- 
sideration of her surrender of herself to his exclusive dis- 
posal — that is to say, on condition of obtaining a lien on 
his property, she became a part of it. The only point which 
the law or the social censor looked to as fixing the morality 
or immorality, purity or impurity, of any sexual act was 
simply the question whether this bargain had been pre- 
viously executed in accordance with legal forms. That 
point properly attended to, everything that formerly had 
been regarded as wrong and impure for the parties became 
rightful and chaste. They might have been persons unfit 
to marry or to be parents ; they might have been drawn to- 
gether by the basest and most sordid motives ; the bride may 
have been constrained by need to accept a man she loathed ; 
youth may have been sacrificed to decrepitude, and every 
natural propriety outraged ; but according to your standard, 
if the contract had been legally executed, all that followed was 
white and beautiful. On the other hand, if the contract had 
been neglected, and a woman had accepted a lover without 
it, then, however great their love, however fit their union in 
every natural way, the woman was cast out as unchaste, im- 
pure, and abandoned, and consigned to the living death of 
social ignominy. Now let me repeat that we fully recognize 
the excuse for this social law under your atrocious system 
as the only possible way of protecting the economic inter- 
ests of women and children, but to speak of it as ethical or 
moral in its view of the sex relation is certainly about as 
absurd a misuse of words as could be committed. On the 
contrary, we must say that it was a law which, in order to 
protect women's material interests, was obliged deliberately 
to disregard all the laws that are written on the heart touch- 
ing such matters. 

" It seems from the records that there was much talk in 
your day about the scandalous fact that there were two dis- 
tinct inoral codes in sexual matters, one for men and another 
for women — men refusing to be bound by the law imposed 
on women, and society not even attempting to enforce it 
against them. It was claimed by the advocates of one code 


for both sexes that what was wrong or right for woman was 
so for man, and that there should be one standard of right 
and wrong, purity and impurity, morality and immorality, 
for both. That was obviously the correct view of the mat- 
ter ; but what moral gain would there have been for the race 
even if men could have been induced to accept the women's 
code— a code so utterly unworthy in its central idea of the 
ethics of the sexual relation ? Nothing but the bitter duress 
of their economic bondage had forced women to accept a 
law against which the blood of ten thousand stainless Mar- 
guerites, and the ruined lives of a countless multitude of 
women, whose only fault had been too tender loving, cried 
to God perpetually. Yes, there should doubtless be one 
standard of conduct for both men and women as there is now, 
but it was not to be the slave code, with its sordid basis, 
imposed upon the women by their necessities. The common 
and higher code for men and women which the conscience 
of the race demanded would first become possible, and at 
once thereafter would become assured when men and women 
stood over against each other in the sexual relation, as in 
all others, in attitudes of absolute equality and mutual inde- 

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

" Yes," replied the doctor, " nothing could be added to 
the force and feeling with which your writers exposed the 
cruelty and injustice of the iron law of society as to these 
matters — a law made doubly cruel and unjust by the fact 
that it bore almost exclusively on women. But their de- 
nunciations were wasted, and the plentiful emotions they 
evoked were barren of result, for the reason that they failed 
entirely to point out the basic fact that was responsible for 
the law they attacked, and must be abolished if the law 


were ever to be replaced by a just ethics. That fact, as 
we have seen, was the system of wealth distribution, by 
which woman's only hope of comfort and security was 
made to depend on her success in obtaining a legal guar- 
antee of support from some man as the price of her per- 

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

" How long does this public gymnastic education last ? " 

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

" Do you mean that you take regular exercise in a gym- 
nasium ? " 

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

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

"You do indeed seem to have disagreed terribly with 
your bodies," said the doctor. " The women ignored theirs 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Then followed contests in ball-throwing and putting the 

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

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

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

" You will be interested, no doubt," said the doctor, " to 
have your impression corroborated by positive evidence. Sup- 
pose we leave the amphitheater for a few minutes and step 
into the anatomical rooms. It is indeed a rare fortune for 
an anatomical enthusiast like myself to have a pupil so well 
qualified to be appreciative, to whom to point out the effect 
our principle of social equality, and the best opportunities 
of culture for all, have had in modifying toward perfection 


the human form in general, and especially the female fig- 
ure. I say especially the female figure, for that had been 
most perverted in your day by the influences which denied 
woman a full life. Here are a group of plaster statues, 
based on the lines handed down to us by the anthropometric 
experts of the last decades of the nineteenth century, to 
whom we are vastly indebted. You will observe, as your 
remark just now indicated that you had observed, that the 
tendency was to a spindling and inadequate development 
above the waist and an excessive development below. .The 
figure seemed a little as if it had softened and run down 
like a sugar cast in warm weather. See, the front breadth 
flat measurement of the hips is actually greater than across 
the shoulders, whereas it ought to be an inch or two less, 
and the bulbous effect must have been exaggerated by the 
bulging mass of draperies your women accumulated about 
the waist." 

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

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

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

" Right, my boy, quite right ! That is the thing for you 
to say, and Edith would like you the better for your words, 
for women nowadays are jealous for one another's honor, as 
I judge they were not in your day. But, on the other hand, 


if there were present in this room disembodied shades of 
those women of your day, they would rejoice more than any 
others could at the fairer, ampler temples liberty has built 
for their daughters' souls to dwell in. 

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

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


and enfeebled physique and a semi-invalid existence ? The 
only wonder is that, after so long a period of bodily repres- 
sion and perversion, the feminine physique should have re- 
sponded, by so great an improvement in so brief a period, to 
the free life opened up to woman within the last century." 

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

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

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

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

" But," said I, " one thing is not quite clear to me. With- 
out being a physician, or knowing more of such matters 
than a young man might be supposed to, I have yet under- 
stood in a general way that the weakness and delicacy of 
women's physical condition had their causes in certain natu- 
ral disabilities of the sex." 

" Yes, I know it was the general notion in your day that 


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

" Am I to understand that maternity now Js unattended 
with risk or suffering ? " 

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

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

"There is one question," said I, "which this wonderful 
physical rebirth of woman suggests. You say that she is 
already the physical equal of man, and that your physiolo- 
gists anticipate in a few generations more her evolution 


to a complete equality with him. That amounts to saying, 
does it not, that normally and potentially she always has 
been man's physical equal and that nothing but adverse 
circumstances and conditions have ever made her seem less 
than his equal ? " 


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

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


to assume a burden so bitter and so seemingly profitless, the 
race might easily have been exposed to the risk of ceasing 
utterly during the darker periods of its upward evolution. 

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

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

" Precisely so. Now, suppose a difference in the physical 
strength of the sexes to have become well established 
through this process in prehistoric times, before the dawn of 
civilization, the rest of the story follows very simply. The 
now confessedly dominant sex would, of course, seek to re- 
tain and increase its domination and the now fully subor- 
dinated sex would in time come to regard the inferiority to 
which it was born as natural, inevitable, and Heaven-or- 
dained. And so it would go on as it did go on, until the 


world's awakening, at the end of the last century, to the 
necessity and possibility of a reorganization of human 
society on a moral basis, the first principle of which must 
be the equal liberty and dignity of all human beings. 
Since then women have been reconquering, as they will 
later fully reconquer, their pristine physical equality with 

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

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

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

" It is one of our names for the soul and for God," re- 
plied the doctor, " but that is too great a theme to enter on 



The morning following, Edith received a call to report 
at her post of duty for some special occasion. After she 
had gone, I sought out the doctor in the library and began 


to ply him with questions, of which, as usual, a store had 
accumulated in my mind overnight. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" The profit system as a method of economic suicide is 
their theme," replied the doctor. " In our talks hitherto we 
have chiefly touched on the moral wrongfulness of the old 
economic order. In the discussion we shall listen to this 


morning there will be no reference unless incidentally to 
moral considerations. The young people will endeavor to 
show us that there were certain inherent and fatal defects 
in private capitalism as a machine for producing wealth 
which, quite apart from its ethical character, made its aboli- 
tion necessary if the race was ever to get out of the mire of 

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

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


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

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

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

" Certainly." 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

" What is that ?" I asked. 

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

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

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

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

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


" Our subject this morning," said the teacher briskly, " is 
*The Economic Suicide of Production for Profit,' or 'The 


Hopelessness of the Economic Outlook of the Race under 
Private Capitalism.' — Now, Frank, will you tell us exactly 
what this proposition means ? " 

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

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

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

" By its consumption." 

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

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

" Was this so before the great Revolution ? " 

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

''Why not?" 

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

" In what way did this law operate ? " 

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

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


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

" Tell us how the profits were collected." 

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

" Give us an example." 

" We will take then, first, the manufacturing caj)italist, 
who employed labor. Suppose he manufactured shoes. Sup- 
pose for each pair of shoes he paid ten cents to the tanner 
for leather, twenty cents for the labor of putting the shoe 
together, and ten cents for all other labor in any way enter- 


ing into the making of the shoe, so that the pair cost him in 
actual outlay forty cents. He sold the shoes to a middle- 
man for, say, seventy-five cents. The middleman sold them 
to the retailer for a dollar, and the retailer sold them over 
his counter to the consumer for a dollar and a half. Take 
next the case of the farmer, who sold not merely his lahor 
like the wage-earner, but his labor blended with his ma- 
terial. Suppose he sold his wheat to the grain merchant for 
forty cents a bushel. The grain merchant, in selling it to 
the flouring mill, would ask, say, sixty cents a bushel. The 
flouring mill would sell it to the wholesale flour merchant 
for a price over and above the labor cost of milling at a fig- 
ure which would include a handsome profit for him. The 
wholesale flour merchant would add another profit in sell- 
ing to the retail gi'ocer, and the last yet another in selling 
to the consimaer. So that finally the equivalent of the 
bushel of wheat in finished flour as bought back by the 
original farmer for consumption would cost him, on account 
of profit charges alone, over and above the actual labor cost 
of intermediate processes, perhaps twice what he received 
for it from the grain merchant." 

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

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


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

" The effect," said the girl who answered to the name of 


Marg-aret, " would depend on two factors : first, on how nu- 
merous a body were the wage-earners and first producers, 
on whose products the profits were charged ; and, second, how 
large was the rate of profit charged, and the consequent dis- 
crepancy between the producing and consuming power of 
each individual of the working body. If the producers on 
whose product a profit was charged were but a handful of 
the people, the total eft'ect of their inability to buy back and 
consume more than a part of their product would create 
but a slight gap between the producing and consuming 
power of the community as a whole. If, on the other hand, 
they constituted a large proportion of the whole population, 
the gap would be correspondingly great, and the reactive 
effect to check production would be disastrous in propor- 

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

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

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

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

" Do you mean that instead of trying to minimize the 
eft'ect of profit charging to diminisli consumption, they de- 
liberately sought to magnify it to the greatest possible de- 
gree ? " 


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

"What did that mean?" 

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

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

" Certainly." 

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

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

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

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

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


" Not at all." 

" Dear me ! why not ? " 

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

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

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

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

" That was precisely so," replied the girl ; " the individual 
capitalist grew rich fastest who succeeded best in beggaring 
those whose labor or produce he bought ; but obviously it 
was only necessary for enough capitalists to succeed in so 
doing in order to involve capitalists and people alike in 
general ruin. To make the sharpest possible bargain with 
the employer or producer, to give him the least possible re- 
turn for his labor or product, was the ideal every capitalist 


must constantly keep before him, and yet it was mathemat- 
ically certain that every such sharp bargain tended to under- 
mine the whole business fabric, and that it was only neces- 
sary that enough capitalists should succeed in making 
enough such sharp bargains to topple the fabric over." 

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

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

" But would not the rate of profits have been much re- 
duced in the case supposed ? " 

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

" Tell us why the profits had to be so large for this pur- 

" Legitimate profits under private capitalism," replied the 
girl Margaret — " that is, such profits as men going into pro- 
duction or trade must in self -protection calculate upon, how- 
ever well disposed toward the public — consisted of three ele- 
ments, all growing out of conditions inseparable from private 
capitalism, none of which longer exist. First, the capitalist 
must calculate on at least as large a return on the capital lie 
was to put into the venture as he could obtain by lending it 


on good security — that is to say, the ruling rate of interest. If 
he were not sure of that, he would prefer to lend his capital. 
But that was not enough. In going into business he risked 
the entire loss of his capital, as he would not if it were lent 
on good security. Therefore, in addition to the ruling rate 
of interest on capital, his profits must cover the cost of 
insurance on the capital risked — that is, there must be a 
prospect of gains large enough in case the venture suc- 
ceeded to cover the risk of loss of capital in case of failure. 
If the chances of failure, for instance, were even, he must 
calculate on more than a hundred per cent profit in case of 
success. In point of fact, the chances of failure in business 
and loss of capital in those days were often far more than 
even. Business was indeed little more than a speculative 
risk, a lottery in which the blanks greatly outnumbered the 
prizes. The prizes to tempt investment must therefore be 
large. Moreover, if a capitalist were personally to take 
charge of the business in which he invested his capital, he 
would reasonably have expected adequate wages of superin- 
tendence — compensation, in other words, for his skill and 
judgment in navigating the venture through the stormy 
waters of the business sea, compared with which, as it was 
in that day, the North Atlantic in midwinter is a mill pond. 
For this service he would be considered justified in making 
a large addition to the margin of profit charged." 

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

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

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

" By no means. The capitalists were no doubt good and 


bad, like other people, but probably stood up as well as any 
people could against the depraving influences of a system 
wbicli in fifty years would have turned heaven itself into 


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

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

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

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

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

" Overproduction." 

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

" Not at all. The mass of the people were in great need 


always, and in more bitter need than ever precisely at the 
times when the business machine was clogged by what they 
called overproduction. The people, if they could have ob- 
tained access to the overproduced goods, would at a;ny time 
have consumed them in a moment and loudly called for more. 
The trouble was, as has been said, that the profits charged 
by the capitalist manufacturers and traders had put them 
out of the power of the original producers to buy back with 
the price they had received for their labor or products." 

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

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

" Please develop the parallel." 

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

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


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

" What was the market ? " 

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

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

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

" What name did our ancestors give to the various eco- 


nomic disturbances which they ascribed to overproduc- 
tion ? " 

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

" To what cause did they ascribe the crises ? " 

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

" What do you mean ? " 

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

" And what was that ? " 

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

" Marion, I fear you do not bring a spirit of sympathv to 


the study of the ways of our forefathers, and without sym- 
pathy we can not understand others." 

" I am afraid they are a little too other for me to under- 

The class tittered, and Marion was allowed to take her 


" Now, John," said the teacher, " we will ask you a few 
questions. We have seen by what process a chronic glut of 
goods in the market resulted from the operation of the profit 
system to put products out of reach of the purchasing power 
of the people at large. Now, what notable characteristic and 
main feature of the business system of our forefathers re- 
sulted from the glut thus produced ? " 

" I suppose you refer to competition ? " said the boy. 

"Yes. What was competition and what caused it, re- 
ferring especially to the competition between capitalists ? " 

" It resulted, as you intimate, from the insufficient con- 
suming power of the public at large, which in turn resulted 
from the profit system. If the wage-earners and first-hand 
producers had received purchasing power sufficient to enable 
them to take up their numerical proportion of the total 
product offered in the market, it would have been cleared 
of goods without any effort on the part of sellers, for the 
buyers would have sought the sellers and been enough to 
buy all. But the purchasing power of the masses, owing to 
the profits charged on their products, being left wholly in- 
adequate to take those products out of the market, there 
naturally followed a great struggle between the capitalists 
engaged in production and distribution to divert the most 
possible of the all too scanty buying each in his own direc- 
tion. The total buying could not of course be increased a 
dollar without relatively or absolutely increasing the pur- 
chasing power in the people's hands, but it was possible by 
effort to alter the particular directions in which it should be 
expended, and this was the sole aim and effect of competi- 
tion. Our forefathers thought it a wonderfully fine thing. 
They called it the life of trade, but, as we have seen, it was 
merely a symptom of the effect of the profit system to crip- 
ple consumption." 


" What were the methods which the capitalists engaged 
in production and exchange made use of to bring trade their 
way, as they used to say ? " 

" First was direct solicitation of buyers and a shameless 
vaunting of every one's wares by himself and his hired 
mouthpieces, coupled with a boundless depreciation of rival 
sellers and the wares they offered. Unscrupulous and un- 
bounded misrepresentation was so universally the rule in 
business that even when here and there a dealer told the 
truth he commanded no credence. History indicates that 
lying has always been more or less common, but it remained 
for the competitive system as fully developed in the nine- 
teenth century to make it the means of livelihood of the 
whole world. According to our grandfathers — and they 
certainly ought to have known — the only lubricant which 
was adapted to the machinery of the profit system was false- 
hood, and the demand for it was unlimited." 

" And all this ocean of lying, you say, did not and could 
not increase the total of goods consumed by a dollar's 

" Of course not. Nothing, as I said, could increase that 
save an increase in the purchasing power of the people. The 
system of solicitation or advertising, as it was called, far 
from increasing the total sale, tended powerfully to de- 
crease it." 

"How so?" 

" Because it was prodigiously expensive and the expense 
had to be added to the price of the goods and paid by the 
consumer, who therefore could buy just so much less than 
if he had been left in peace and the price of the goods had 
been reduced by the saving in advertising." 

"You say that the only way by which consumption 
could have been increased was by increasing the purchas- 
ing power in the hands of the people relatively to the goods 
to be bought. Now, our forefathers claimed that this was 
just what competition did. They claimed that it was a po- 
tent means of reducing prices and cutting down the rate of 
profits, thereby relatively increasing the purchasing power 
of the masses. Was this claim well based ? " 

" The rivalry of the capitalists among themselves," re- 


plied the lad, "to tempt the buyers' custom certainly 
prompted them to undersell one another by nominal reduc- 
tions of prices, but it was rarely that these nominal reduc- 
tions, though often in appearance very large, really repre- 
sented in the long run any economic benefit to the people 
at large, for they were generally effected by means which 
nullified their practical value." 

" Please make that clear." 

" Well, naturally, the capitalist would prefer to reduce 
the prices of his goods in such a way, if possible, as not to 
reduce his profits, and that would be his study. There were 
numerous devices which he employed to this end. The first 
was that of reducing the quality and real worth of the goods 
on which the price was nominally cut down. This was 
done by adulteration and scamped work, and the practice 
extended in the nineteenth century to every branch of in- 
dustry and commerce and affected pretty nearly all arti- 
cles of human consumption. It came to that point, as the 
histories tell us, that no one could ever depend on anything 
he purchased being what it appeared or was represented. 
The whole atmosphere of trade was mephitic with chicane. 
It became the policy of the capitalists engaged in the most 
important lines of manufacture to turn out goods expressly 
made with a view to wearing as short a time as possible, so 
as to need the speedier renewal. They taught their very 
machines to be dishonest, and corrupted steel and brass. 
Even the purblind people of that day recognized the vanity 
of the pretended reductions in price by the epithet ' cheap 
and nasty,' with which they characterized cheapened goods. 
All this class of reductions, it is plain, cost the consumer 
two dollars for every one it professed to save him. As a 
single illustration of the utterly deceptive character of re- 
ductions in price under the profit system, it may be recalled 
that toward the close of the nineteenth century in America, 
after almost magical inventions for reducing the cost of 
shoemaking, it was a common saying that although the 
price of shoes was considerably lower than fifty years be- 
fore, when they were made by hand, yet that later-made 
shoes were so much poorer in quality as to be really quite 
as expensive as the earlier." 


" Were adulteration and scamped work the only devices 
by which sham reductions of prices was effected ? " 

" There were two other ways. The first was where the 
capitalist saved his profits while reducing the price of goods 
by taking the reduction out of the wages he had paid his 
employees. This was the method by which the reductions 
in price were very generally brought about. Of course, 
the process was one which crippled the purchasing power 
of the community by the amount of the lowered wages. 
By this means the particular group of capitalists cutting 
down wages might quicken their sales for a time until other 
capitalists likewise cut wages. In the end nobody was 
helped, not even the capitalist. Then there was the third of 
the three main kinds of reductions in price to be credited to 
competition — namely, that made on account of labor-saving 
machinery or other inventions which enabled the capitalist 
to discharge his laborers. The reduction in price on the 
goods was here based, as in the former case, on the reduced 
amount of wages paid out, and consequently meant a re- 
duced purchasing power on the part of the community, 
which, in the total effect, usually nullified the advantage of 
reduced price, and often more than nullified it." 

"You have shown," said the teacher, "that most of the 
reductions of price effected by competition were reductions 
at the expense of the original producers or of the final con- 
sumers, and not reductions in profits. Do you mean to say 
that the competition of capitalists for trade never operated 
to reduce profits ? " 

" Undoubtedly it did so operate in countries where from 
the long operation of the profit system surplus capital had 
accumulated so as to compete under great pressure for in- 
vestment; but under such circumstances reductions in 
prices, even though they might come from sacrifices of 
profits, usually came too late to increase the consumption 
of the i)eople." 

" How too late ? " 

" Because the capitalist had naturally refrained from 
sacrificing his profits in order to reduce prices so long as he 
could take the cost of the reduction out of the wages of his 
workmen or out of the first-hand producer. That is to say, it 


was only when the working masses had been reduced to pretty 
near the minimum subsistence point that the capitalist would 
decide to sacrifice a portion of his profits. By that time it was 
too late for the people to take advantage of the reduction. 
When a population had reached that point, it had no buying 
power left to be stimulated. Nothing short of giving com- 
modities away freely could help it. Accordingly, we ob- 
serve that in the nineteenth century it was always in the 
countries where the populations were most hopelessly poor 
that the prices were lowest. It was in this sense a bad sign 
for the economic condition of a community when the capi- 
talist found it necessary to make a real sacrifice of profits, 
for it was a clear indication that the working masses had 
been squeezed until they could be squeezed no longer." 

" Then, on the whole, competition was not a palliative of 
the profit system ? " 

" I think that it has been made apparent that it was a 
grievous aggravation of it. The desperate rivalry of the 
capitalists for a share in the scanty market which their own 
profit taking had beggared drove them to the practice of 
deception and brutality, and compelled a hard-heartedness 
such as we are bound to believe human beings would not 
under a less pressure have been guilty of." 

" What was the general economic effect of competition ? " 

" It operated in all fields of industry, and in the long run 
for all classes, the capitalists as well as the non-capitalists, 
as a steady downward pull as irresistible and universal as 
gravitation. Those felt it first who had least capital, the 
wage-earners who had none, and the farmer proprietors 
who, having next to none, were under almost the same pres- 
sure to find a prompt market at any sacrifice of their prod- 
uct, as were the wage-earners to find prompt buyers for 
their labor. These classes were the first victims of the com- 
petition to sell in the glutted markets of things and of men. 
Next came the turn of the smaller capitalists, till finally 
only the largest were left, and these found it necessary for 
self-preservation to protect themselves against the process of 
competitive decimation by the consolidation of their inter- 
ests. One of the signs of the times in the period preceding 
the Revolution was this tendency among the great capital- 


ists to seek refuge from the destructive efforts of competition 
through the pooling of their undertakings in great trusts 
and syndicates." 

" Suppose the Revolution had not come to interrupt that 
process, would a system under which capital and the con- 
trol of all business had been consolidated in a few hands 
have been worse for the public interest than the effect of 
competition ? " 

" Such a consolidated system would, of course, have been 
an intolerable despotism, the yoke of which, once assumed, 
the race might never have been able to break. In that re- 
spect private capitalism under a consolidated plutocracy, 
such as impended at the time of the Revolution, would have 
been a worse threat to the world's future than the com- 
petitive system ; but as to the immediate bearings of the two 
systems on human welfare, private capital in the consoli- 
dated form might have had some points of advantage. 
Being an autocracy, it would have at least given some 
chance to a benevolent despot to be better than the system 
and to ameliorate a little the conditions of the people, and 
that was something competition did not allow the capitalists 
to do." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" I mean that under competition there was no free play 
whatever allowed for the capitalist's better feelings even if 
he had any. He could not be better than the system. If 
he tried to be, the system would crush him. He had to fol- 
low the pace set by his competitors or fail in business. 
Whatever rascality or cruelty his rivals might devise, he 
must imitate or drop out of the struggle. The very wicked- 
est, meanest, and most rascally of the competitors, the one 
who ground his employees lowest, adulterated his goods 
most shamefully, and lied about them most skillfully, set 
the pace for all the rest." 

" Evidently, John, if you had lived in the early part of 
the revolutionary agitation you would have had scant sym- 
pathy with those early reformers whose fear was lest the 
great monopolies would put an end to competition." 

" I can't say whether I should have been wiser than my 
contemporaries in that case," replied the lad, " but I think 


my gratitude to the monopolists for destroying competition 
would have been only equaled by my eagerness to destroy 
the monopolists to make way for public capitalism." 


" Now, Eobert," said the teacher, " John has told us how 
the glut of products resulting from the profit system caused 
a competition among capitalists to sell goods and what its 
consequences were. There was, however, another sort of glut 
besides that of goods which resulted from the profit system. 
What was that ? " 

" A glut of men," replied the boy Eobert. " Lack of buy- 
ing power on the part of the people, whether from lack of em- 
ployment or lowered wages, meant less demand for products, 
and that meant less work for producers. Clogged store- 
houses meant closed factories and idle populations of work- 
ers who could get no work — that is to say, the glut in the 
goods market caused a corresponding glut in the labor or 
man market. And as the glut in the goods market stimu- 
lated competition among the capitalists to sell their goods, 
so likewise did the glut in the labor market stimulate an 
equally desperate competition among the workers to sell their 
labor. The capitalists who could not find buyers for their 
goods lost their money indeed, but those who had nothing to 
sell but their strength and skill, and could find none to buy, 
must perish. The capitalist, unless his goods were perish- 
able, could^ wait for a market, but the workingman must 
find a buyer for his labor at once or die. And in respect to 
this inability to wait for a market, the farmer, while tech- 
nically a capitalist, was little better off than the wage-earner, 
being, on account of the smallness of his capital, almost 
as unable to withhold his product as the workingman his 
labor. The pressing necessity of the wage-earner to sell his 
labor at once on any terms and of the small capitalist to 
dispose of his product was the means by which the great 
capitalists were able steadily to force down the rate of wages 
and the prices paid for their product to the first producers." 

" And was it only among the wage-earners and the small 
producers that this glut of men existed ? " 

" On the contrary, every trade, every occupation, every 


art, and every profession, including the most learned ones, 
was similarly overcrowded, and those in the ranks of each 
regarded every fresh recruit with jealous eyes, seeing in him 
one more rival in the struggle for life, making it just so 
much more difficult than it had been before. It would 
seem that in those days no man could have had any satis- 
faction in his labor, however self-denying and arduous, for 
he must always have been haunted by the feeling that it 
would have been kinder to have stood aside and let another 
do the work and take the pay, seeing that there was not work 
and pay for all." 

" Tell us, Robert, did not our ancestors recognize the facts 
of the situation you have described ? Did they not see that 
this glut of men indicated something out of order in the 
social arrangements ? " 

" Certainly. They professed to be mucli distressed over 
it. A large literature was devoted to discussing why there 
was not enough work to go around in a world in which so 
much more work evidently needed to be done as indicated 
by its general poverty. The Congresses and Legislatures 
were constantly appointing commissions of learned men to 
investigate and report on the subject." 

"And did these learned men ascribe it to its obvious 
cause as the necessary effect of the profit system to maintain 
and constantly increase a gap between the consuming and 
producing power of the community ? " 

" Dear me, no ! To have criticised the profit system 
would have been flat blasphemy. The learned men called 
it a problem — the problem of the unemployed — and gave it 
up as a conundrum. It was a favorite way our ancestors 
had of dodging questions which they could not answer 
without attacking vested interests to call them problems 
and give them up as insolvable mysteries of Divine Provi- 

" There was one philosopher, Robert — an' Englishman — 
who went to the bottom of this difficulty of the glut of men 
resulting from the profit system. He stated the only way 
possible to avoid the glut, provided the profit system was 
retained. Do you remember his name ? " 

" You mean Malthus, I suppose." 


" Yes. What was his plan ? " 

" He advised poor people, as the only way to avoid star- 
vation, not to get born — that is, I mean he advised poor 
people not to have children. This old fellow, as you say, 
was the only one of the lot who went to the root of the profit 
system, and saw that there was not room for it and for man- 
kind on the earth. Regarding the profit system as a God- 
ordained necessity, there could be no doubt in his mind that 
it was mankind which must, under the circumstances, get 
off the earth. People called Malthus a cold-blooded philos- 
opher. Perhaps he was, but certainly it was only common 
humanity that, so long as the profit system lasted, a red flag 
should be hung out on the planet, warning souls not to land 
except at their own risk." 


" I quite agree with you, Robert," said the teacher, " and 
now, Emily, we will ask you to take us in charge as we pur- 
sue a little further this interesting, if not very edifying 
theme. The economic system of production and distribu- 
tion by which a nation lives may fitly be compared to a 
cistern with a supply pipe, representing production, by 
which water is pumped in ; and an escape pipe, repre- 
senting consumption, by which the product is disposed of. 
When the cistern is scientifically constructed the supply 
pipe and escape pipe correspond in capacity, so that the 
water may be drawn off as fast as supplied, and none be 
wasted by overflow. Under the profit system of our an- 
cestors, however, the arrangement was different. Instead 
of corresponding in capacity with the supply pipe repre- 
senting production, the outlet representing consumption was 
half or two thirds shut off by the water-gate of profits, so 
that it was not able to carry off more than, say, a half or 
a third of the supply that was pumped into the cistern 
through the feed pipe of production. Now, Emily, what 
would be the natural effect of such a lack of correspond- 
ence between the inlet and the outlet capacity of the cis- 
tern ? " 

" Obviously," replied the girl who answered to the name 
of Emily, " the effect would be to clog the cistern, and com- 


pel the pumps to slow down to half or one third of their 
capacity — namely, to the capacity of the escape pipe." 

" But," said the teacher, " suppose that in the case of the 
cistern used by our ancestors the effect of slowing down the 
pump of production was to diminish still further the capacity 
of the escape pipe of consumption, already much too small, 
by depriving the working masses of even the small purchas- 
ing power they had before possessed in the form of wages 
for labor or prices for produce." 

"Why, in that case," replied the girl, "it is evident that 
since slowing down production only checked instead of has- 
tening relief by consumption, there would be no way to 
avoid a stoppage of the whole service except to relieve the 
pressure in the cistern by opening waste pipes." 

" Precisely so. Well, now, we are in a position to appre- 
ciate how necessary a part the waste pipes played in the 
economic system of our forefathers. We have seen that 
under that system the bulk of the people sold their labor or 
produce to the capitalists, but were unable to buy back 
and consume but a small part of the result of that labor 
or produce in the market, the rest remaining in the hands 
of the capitalists as profits. Now, the capitalists, being a 
very small body numerically, could consume upon their 
necessities but a petty part of these accumulated profits, and 
yet, if they did not get rid of them somehow, production 
would stop, for the capitalists absolutely controlled the in- 
itiative in production, and would have no motive to increase 
accumulations they could not dispose of. In proportion, 
moreover, as the capitalists from lack of use for more profits 
should slacken production, the mass of the people, finding 
none to hire them, or buy their produce to sell again, would 
lose what little consuming power they had before, and a 
still larger accumulation of products be left on the capital- 
ists' hands. The question then is, How did the capitalists, 
after consuming all they could of their profits upon their 
own necessities, dispose of the surplus, so as to make room 
for more production ? " 

"Of course," said the girl Emily, "if the surplus prod- 
ucts were to be so expended as to relieve the glut, the first 
point was that they must be expended in such ways that 


there should be no return for them. They must be abso- 
lutely wasted — like water poured into the sea. This was ac- 
complished by the use of the surplus products in the support 
of bodies of workers employed in unproductive kinds of 
labor. This waste labor was of two sorts — the first was that 
employed in wasteful industrial and commercial competi- 
tion ; the second was that employed in the means and serv- 
ices of luxury." 

" Tell us about the wasteful expenditure of labor in com- 

"That was through the undertaking of industrial and 
commercial enterprises which were not called for by any 
increase in consumption, their object being merely the dis- 
l^lacement of the enterprises of one capitalist by those of 

" And was this a very large cause of waste ? " 

" Its magnitude may be inferred from the saying current 
at the time that ninety-five per cent of industrial and com- 
mercial enterprises failed, which merely meant that in this 
proportion of instances capitalists wasted their investments 
in trying to fill a demand which either did not exist or was 
supplied already. If that estimate were even a remote sug- 
gestion of the truth, it would serve to give an idea of the 
enormous amounts of accumulated profits which were abso- 
lutely wasted in competitive expenditure. And it must be 
remembered also that when a capitalist succeeded in dis- 
placing another and getting away his business the total 
waste of capital was just as great as if he failed, only in the 
one case it was the capital of the previous investor that was 
destroyed instead of the capital of the newcomer. In every 
country which had attained any degree of economic devel- 
opment there were many times more business enterprises in 
every line than there was business for, and many times as 
much capital already invested as there was a return for. The 
only way in which new capital could be jiut into business was 
by forcing out and destroying old capital already invested. 
The ever-mounting aggregation of profits seeking part of 
a market that was prevented from increasing by the effect 
of those very profits, created a pressure of competition 
among capitalists which, by all accounts that come down 


to us, must have been like a conflagration in its consuming 
effects upon capital. 

" Now tell us something about the other great waste of 
profits by which the pressure in the cistern was sufficiently 
relieved to permit production to go on — that is to say, the 
expenditure of profits for the employment of labor in the 
service of luxury. What was luxury ? " 

" The term luxury, in referring to the state of society be- 
fore the Revolution, meant the lavish expenditure of wealth 
by the rich to gratify a refined sensualism, while the masses 
of the people were suffering lack of the primary necessi- 

"What were some of the modes of luxurious expendi- 
ture indulged in by the capitalists ? " 

" They were unlimited in variety, as, for example, the 
construction of costly palaces for residence and their deco- 
ration in royal style, the support of great retinues of serv- 
ants, costly supplies for the table, rich equipages, pleasure 
ships, and all manner of boundless expenditure in fine rai- 
ment and precious stones. Ingenuity was exhausted in con- 
triving devices by which the rich might waste the abun- 
dance the people were dying for. A vast army of laborers 
was constantly engaged in manufacturing an infinite variety 
of articles and appliances of elegance and ostentation which 
mocked the unsatisfied primary necessities of those who 
toiled to produce them." 

" What have you to say of the moral aspect of this ex- 
penditure for luxury ? " 

" If the entire community had arrived at that stage of 
economic prosperity which would enable all alike to enjoy 
the luxuries equally," replied the girl, "indulgence in them 
would have been merely a question of taste. But this waste 
of wealth by the rich in the presence of a vast population 
suffering lack of the bare necessaries of life was an illustra- 
tion of inhumanity that would seem incredible on the part 
of civilized people were not the facts so well substantiated. 
Imagine a company of persons sitting down with enjoyment 
to a banquet, while on the floors and all about the corners 
of the bianquet hall were groups of*fellow-beings dying with 
want and following with hungry eyes every morsel the 


feasters lifted to their mouths. And yet that precisely de- 
scribes the way in which the rich used to spend their profits 
in the great cities of America, France, England, and Ger- 
many before the Revolution, the one difference being that 
the needy and the hungry, instead of being in the banquet 
room itself, were just outside on the street." 

" It was claimed, was it not, by the apologists of the lux- 
urious expenditure of the capitalists that they thus gave 
employment to many who would otherwise have lacked it ? " 

" And why would they have lacked employment ? Why 
were the people glad to find employment in catering to the 
luxurious pleasures and indulgences of the capitalists, sell- 
ing themselves to the most frivolous and degrading uses ? 
It was simply because the profit taking of these same capi- 
talists, by reducing the consuming power of the people to a 
fraction of its producing power, had correspondingly limited 
the field of productive employment, in which under a ra- 
tional system there must always have been work for every 
hand until all needs were satisfied, even as there is now. 
In excusing their luxurious expenditure on the ground you 
have mentioned, the capitalists pleaded the results of one 
wrong to justify the commission of another." 

" The moralists of all ages," said the teacher, " condemned 
the luxury of the rich. Why did their censures effect no 
change ? " 

" Because they did not understand the economics of the 
subject. They failed to see that under the profit system the 
absolute waste of the excess of profits in unproductive ex- 
penditure was an economic necessity, if production was to 
proceed, as you showed in comparing it with the cistern. 
The waste of profits in luxury was an economic necessity, to 
use another figure, precisely as a running sore is a necessary 
vent in some cases for the impurities of a diseased body. 
Under our system of equal sharing, the wealth of a commu- 
nity is freely and equally distributed among its members as 
is the blood in a healthy body. But when, as under the old 
system, that wealth was concentrated in the hands of a por- 
tion of the community, it lost its vitalizing quality, as does 
the blood when congested in particular organs, and like that 
becomes an active poison, to be got rid of at any cost. Lux- 


ury in this way might be called an ulcer, which must be 
kept open if the profit system was to continue on any 

" You say," said the teacher, " that in order that produc- 
tion should go on it was absolutely necessary to get the ex- 
cess of profits wasted in some sort of unproductive expendi- 
ture. But might not the profit takers have devised some 
way of getting rid of the surplus more intelligent than 
mere competition to displace one another, and more con- 
sistent with humane feeling than wasting wealth upon re- 
finements of sensual indulgence in the presence of a needy 

" Certainly. If the capitalists had cared at all about the 
humane aspect of the matter, they could have taken a much 
less demoralizing method in getting rid of the obstructive 
surplus. They could have periodically made a bonfire of it 
as a burnt sacrifice to the god Profit, or, if they preferred, it 
might have been carried out in scows beyond soundings 
and dumped there." 

'' It is easy to see," said the teacher, " that from a moral 
point of view such a periodical bonfire or dump would have 
been vastly more edifying to gods and men than was the 
actual practice of expending it in luxuries which mocked 
the bitter want of the mass. But how about the economic 
operation of this plan ? " 

"It would have been as advantageous economically as 
morally. The process of wasting the surplus profits in com- 
petition and luxury was slow and protracted, and mean- 
while productive industry languished and the workers 
waited in idleness and want for the surplus to be so far re- 
duced as to make room for more production. But if the 
surplus at once, on being ascertained, were destroyed, pro- 
ductive industry would go right on." 

" But how about the workmen employed by the capital- 
ists in ministering to their luxuries ? Would they not 
have been thrown out of work if luxury had been given 

" On the contrary, under the bonfire system there would 
have been a constant demand for them in productive em- 
ployment to provide material for the blaze, and that surely 


would have been a far more worthy occupation than help- 
ing the capitalists to consume in folly the product of their 
brethren employed in productive industry. But the greatest 
advantage of all which would have resulted from the sub- 
stitution of the bonfire for luxury remains to be mentioned. 
By the time the nation had made a few such annual burnt 
offerings to the principle of profit, perhaps even after the 
first one, it is likely they would begin to question, in the 
light of such vivid object lessons, whether the moral beau- 
ties of the profit system were sufficient compensation for so 
large an economic sacrifice." 


" Now, Charles," said the teacher, " you shall help us a 
little on a point of conscience. We have, one and another, 
told a very bad story about the profit system, both in its 
moral and its economic aspects. Now, is it not possible that 
we have done it injustice ? Have we not painted too black 
a picture ? From an ethical point of view we could indeed 
scarcely have done so, for there are no words strong enough 
to justly characterize the mock it made of all the humani- 
ties. But have we not possibly asserted too strongly its 
economic imbecility and the hopelessness of the world's out- 
look for material welfare so long as it should be tolerated ? 
Can you reassure us on this point ? " 

" Easily," replied the lad Charles. " No more conclusive 
testimony to the hopelessness of the economic outlook under 
private capitalism could be desired than is abundantly given 
by the nineteenth-century economists themselves. Wliile 
they seemed quite incapable of imagining anything differ- 
ent from private capitalism as the basis of an economic sys- 
tem, they cherished no illusions as to its operation. Far 
from trying to comfort mankind by promising that if pres- 
ent ills were bravely borne matters would grow better, they 
expressly taught that the profit system must inevitably re- 
sult at some time not far ahead in the arrest of industrial 
progress and a stationary condition of production." 

" How did they make that out ? " 

" They recognized, as we do, the tendency under private 
capitalism of rents, interest, and profits to accumulate as 


capital in the hands of the capitalist class, while, on the 
other hand, the consuming power of the masses did not in- 
crease, but either decreased or remained practically station- 
ary. From this lack of equilibrium between production and 
consumption it followed that the difficulty of profitably em- 
ploying capital in productive industry must increase as the 
accumulations of capital so disposable should grow. The 
home market having been first glutted with products and 
afterward the foreign market, the competition of the capi- 
talists to find productive employment for their capital 
would lead them, after having reduced wages to the lowest 
possible point, to bid for what was left of the market by re- 
ducing their own profits to the minimum point at which it 
was worth while to risk capital. Below this point more 
capital would not be invested in business. Thus the rate of 
wealth production would cease to advance, and become sta- 

"This, you say, is what the nineteenth-century econo- 
mists themselves taught concerning the outcome of the 
profit system ? " 

"Certainly. I could quote from their standard books 
any number of passages foretelling this condition of things, 
which, indeed, it required no prophet to foretell." 

" How near was the world — that is, of course, the nations 
whose industrial evolution had gone farthest — to this condi- 
tion when the Revolution came ?" 

"They were apparently on its verge. The more eco- 
nomically advanced countries had generally exhausted their 
home markets and were struggling desperately for what 
was left of foreign markets. The rate of interest, which 
indicated the degree to which capital had become glutted, 
had fallen in England to two per cent and in America 
within thirty years had sunk from seven and six to five 
and three and four per cent, and was falling year by year. 
Productive industry had become generally clogged, and pro- 
ceeded by fits and starts. In America the wage-earners 
were becoming proletarians, and the farmers fast sinking 
into the state of a tenantry. It was indeed the popular 
discontent caused by these conditions, coupled with appre- 
hension of worse to come, whicli finally roused the people 


at the close of the nineteenth century to the necessity of 
destroying private capitalism for good and all." 

"And do I understand, then, that this stationary condi- 
tion, after which no increase in the rate of wealth produc- 
tion could be looked for, was setting in while yet the primary 
needs of the masses remained unprovided for ? " 

" Certainly. The satisfaction of the needs of the masses, 
as we have abundantly seen, was in no way recognized as a 
motive for production under the profit system. As produc- 
tion approached the stationary point the misery of the peo- 
ple would, in fact, increase as a direct result of the competi- 
tion among capitalists to invest their glut of capital in 
business. In order to do so, as has already been shown, 
they sought to reduce the prices of products, and that 
meant the reduction of wages to wage-earnei*s and prices to 
first producers to the lowest possible point before any reduc- 
tion in the profits of the capitalist was considered. What 
the old economists called the stationary condition of produc- 
tion meant, therefore, the perpetuation indefinitely of the 
maximum degree of hardship endurable by the people at 

" That will do, Charles ; you have said enough to relieve 
any apprehension that possibly we were doing injustice to 
the profit system. Evidently that could not be done to a 
system of which its own champions foretold such an out- 
come as you have described. What, indeed, could be added 
to the description they give of it in these predictions of the 
stationary' condition as a programme of industry confessing 
itself at the end of its resources in the midst of a naked and 
starving race ? This was the good time coming, with the 
hope of which the nineteenth-century economists cheered 
the cold and hungry world of toilers — a time when, being 
worse off than ever, they must abandon forever even the 
hope of improvement. No wonder our forefathers de- 
scribed their so-called political economy as a dismal science, 
for never was there a pessimism blacker, a hopelessness 
more hopeless than it preached. Ill indeed had it been for 
humanity if it had been truly a science. 



" Now, Esther," the teacher pursued, " I am going to ask 
you to do a little estimating as to about how much the priv- 
ilege of retaining the profit system cost our forefathers. 
Emily has given us an idea of the magnitude of the two 
great wastes of profits — the waste of competition and the 
waste of luxury. Now, did the capital wasted in these two 
ways represent all that the profit system cost the people ? " 

" It did not give a faint idea of it, much less represent 
it," replied the girl Esther. " The aggregate wealth wasted 
respectively in competition and luxury, could it have been 
distributed equally for consumption among the people, 
would undoubtedly have considerably raised the general 
level of comfort. In the cost of the profit system to a com- 
munity, the wealth wasted by the capitalists was, however, 
an insignificant item. The bulk of that cost consisted in 
the effect of the profit system to prevent wealth from being 
produced, in holding back and tying down the almost 
boundless wealth-producing power of man. Imagine the 
mass of the population, instead of being sunk in poverty 
and a large part of them in bitter want, to have received 
sufficient to satisfy all their needs and give them ample, 
comfortable lives, and estimate the amount of additional 
wealth which it would have been necessary to produce 
to meet this standard of consumption. That will give you 
a basis for calculating the amount of wealth which the 
American people or any people of those days might and 
would have produced but for the profit system. You may 
estimate that this would have meant a fivefold, sevenfold, 
or tenfold increase of production, as you please to guess. 

" But tell us this : Would it have been possible for the 
people of America, say, in the last quarter of the nineteenth 
century, to have multiplied their production at such a rate 
if consumption had demanded it ? " 

"Nothing is more certain than that they could easily 
have done so. The progress of invention had been so great 
in the nineteenth century as to multiply from twentyfold to 
many hundredfold the productive power of industry. There 
was no time during the last quarter of the century in Amer- 


ica or in any of the advanced countries when the existing 
productive plants could not have produced enough in six 
months to have supplied the total annual consumption as it 
actually was. And those plants could have been multiplied 
indefinitely. In like manner the agricultural product of 
the country was always kept far within its possibility, for a 
plentiful crop under the profit system meant ruinous prices 
to the farmers. As has been said, it was an admitted propo- 
sition of the old economists that there was no visible limit 
to production if only sufficient demand for consumption 
could be secured." 

" Can you recall any instance in history in which it can 
be argued that a people paid so large a price in delayed and 
prevented development for the privilege of retaining any 
other tyranny as they did for keeping the profit system ? '' 

" I am sure there never was such another instance, and I 
will tell you why I think so. Human progress has been 
delayed at various stages by oppressive institutions, and the 
world has leaped forward at their overthrow. But there 
was never before a time when the conditions had been so 
long ready and waiting for so great and so instantaneous a 
forward movement all along the line of social improve- 
ment as in the period preceding the Revolution. The 
mechanical and industrial forces, held in check by the 
profit system, only required to be unleashed to transform the 
economic condition of the race as by magic. So much for 
the material cost of the profit system to' our forefathers; 
but, vast as that was, it is not worth considering for a mo- 
ment in comparison with its cost in human happiness, I 
mean the moral cost in wrong and tears and black negations 
and stified moral possibilities which the world paid for every 
day's retention of private capitalism : there are no words 
adequate to express the sum of that." 


" That will do, Esther. — Now, George, I want you to tell 
us just a little about a particular body among the learned 
class of the nineteenth century, whicli, according to the pro- 
fessions of its members, ought to have known and to have 
taught the people all that we have so easily perceived as to 


the suicidal character of the profit system and the economic 
perdition it meant for mankind so long as it should be 
tolerated. I refer to the political economists." 

" Tliere were no political economists before the Revolu- 
tion," replied the lad. 

" But there certainly was a large class of learned men 
who called themselves political economists." 

" Oh, yes ; but they labeled themselves wrongly." 

" How do you make that out ? " 

" Because there was not, until the Revolution — except, of 
course, among those who sought to bring it to i^ass — any 
conception whatever of what political economy is." 

"What is it?" 

" Economy," rei^lied the lad, " means the wise husband- 
ry of wealth in production and distribution. Individual 
economy is the science of this husbandry when conducted 
in the interest of the individual without regard to any 
others. Family economy is this husbandry carried on for 
the advantage of a family group without regard to other 
groups. Political economy, however, can only mean the 
husbandry of wealth for the greatest advantage of the 
political or social body, the whole number of the citizens 
constituting the political organization. This sort of hus- 
bandry necessarily implies a public or political regulation 
of economic afPairs for the general interest. But before the 
Revolution there was no conception of such an economy, 
nor any organization to carry it out. All systems and 
doctrines of economy previous to that time were distinctly 
and exclusively private and individual in their whole theory 
and practice. While in other respects our forefathers did 
in various ways and degrees recognize a social solidarity 
and a political unity with proportionate rights and duties, 
their theory and practice as to all matters touching the get- 
ting and sharing of wealth were aggressively and brutally 
individualistic, antisocial, and unpolitical." 

" Have you ever looked over any of the treatises which 
our forefathers called political economies, at the Historical 
Library ? " 

" I confess," the boy answered, " that the title of the 
leading work under that head was enough for me. It was 


called The Wealth of Nations. That would be an admirable 
title for a political economy nowadays, when the production 
and distribution of wealth are conducted altogether by and 
for the people collectively ; but what meaning could it con- 
ceivably have had as applied to a book written nearly a 
hundred years before such a thing as a national economic 
organization was thought of, with the sole view of instruct- 
ing capitalists how to get rich at the cost of, or at least in 
total disregard of, the welfare of their fellow-citizens ? I 
noticed too that quite a common subtitle used for these so- 
called works on political economy was the phrase ' The Sci- 
ence of Wealth.' Now what could an apologist of private 
capitalism and the profit system possibly have to say about 
the science of wealth ? The A B C of any science of wealth 
production is the necessity of co-ordination and concert of 
effort ; whereas competition, conflict, and endless cross-pur- 
poses were the sum and substance of the economic methods 
set forth by these writers." 

"And yet," said the teacher, "the only real fault of these 
so-called books on Political Economy consists in the absurdity 
of the title. Correct that, and their value as documents of 
the times at once becomes evident. For example, we might 
call them ' Examinations into the Economic and Social Con- 
sequences of trying to get along without any Political Econ- 
omy.' A title scarcely less fit would perhaps be 'Studies 
into the Natural Course of Economic Affairs when left to 
Anarchy by the Lack of any Regulation in the General In- 
terest.' It is, when regarded in this light, as painstaking 
and conclusive expositions of the ruinous efl:'ects of private 
capitalism upon the welfare of communities, that we per- 
ceive the true use and value of these works. Taking up in 
detail the various phenomena of the industrial and commer- 
cial world of that day, with their reactions upon the social 
status, their authors show how the results could not have 
been other than they were, owing to the laws of i)rivate capi- 
talism, and that it was nothing but weak sentimentalism to 
suppose that while those laws continued in operation any 
different results could be obtained, however good men's in- 
tentions. Altliough somewhat heavy in style for popular 
reading, I have often thought that during the revolutionary 


period no documents could have been better calculated to 
convince rational men who could be induced to read them, 
that it was absolutely necessary to put an end to private 
capitalism if humanity were ever to get forward. 

"The fatal and quite incomprehensible mistake of their 
authors was that they did not themselves see this conclusion 
and preach it. Instead of that they committed the incredi- 
ble blunder of accepting a set of conditions that were mani- 
festly mere barbaric survivals as the basis of a social science 
when they ought easily to have seen that the very idea of 
a scientific social order suggested the abolition of those con- 
ditions as the first step toward its realization. 

" Meanwhile, as to the present lesson, there are two or 
three points to clear up before leaving it. We have been 
talking altogether of profit taking, but this was only one of 
the three main methods by which the capitalists collected 
the tribute from the toiling world by which their power was 
acquired and maintained. What were the other two ? " 

" Rent and interest." 

"What was rent?" 

" In those days," replied George, " the right to a reason- 
able and equal allotment of land for private uses did not 
belong as a matter of course to every person as it does now. 
No one was admitted to have any natural right to land at 
all. On the other hand, there was no limit to the extent of 
land, though it were a whole province, which any one might 
not legally possess if he could get hold of it. By natural 
consequence of this arrangement the strong and cunning 
had acquired most of the land, while the majority of the 
people were left with none at all. Now, the owner of the 
land had the right to drive any one off his land and have 
him punished for entering on it. Nevertheless, the people 
who owned no land required to have it and to use it and 
must needs go to the capitalists for it. Rent was the price 
charged by capitalists for not driving people off their land." 

" Did this rent represent any economic service of any 
sort rendered to the community by the rent receiver ? " 

"So far as regards the charge for the use of the land 
itself apart from improvements it represented no service of 
any sort, nothing but the waiver for a price of the owner's 


legal right of ejecting the occupant. It was not a charge 
for doing anything, but for not doing something." 

" Now tell us about interest ; what was that ? " 

" Interest was the price paid for the use of money. Now- 
adays the collective administration directs the industrial 
forces of the nation for the general welfare, but in those days 
all economic enterprises were for private profit, and their pro- 
jectors had to hire the labor they needed with money. Nat- 
urally, the loan of so indispensable a means as this com- 
manded a high price ; that price was interest." 

"And did interest represent any economic service to the 
community on the part of the interest taker in lending his 
money ? " 

" None whatever. On the contrary, it was by the very 
nature of the transaction a waiver on the part of the lender 
of the power of action in favor of the borrower. It was a 
price charged for letting some one else do what the lender 
might have done but chose not to. It was a tribute levied 
by inaction upon action." 

" If all the landlords and money lenders had died over 
night, would it have made any diflPerence to the world ? " 

" None whatever, so long as they left the land and the 
money behind. Their economic role was a passive one, and 
in strong contrast with that of the profit-seeking capitalists, 
which, for good or bad, was at least active." 

" What was the general effect of rent and interest upon 
the consumption and consequently the production of wealth 
by the community ? " 

" It operated to reduce both." 


" In the same way that profit taking did. Those who 
received rent were very few, those who paid it were nearly 
all. Those who received interest were few, and those who 
paid it many. Rent and interest meant, therefore, like 
profits, a constant drawing away of the purchasing power 
of the community at large and its concentration in the 
hands of a small part of it." 

•' What have you to say of these three processes as to their 
comparative effect in destroying the consuming power of 
the masses, and consequently the demand for production ? " 


" That differed in different ages and countries according 
to the stage of their economic development. Private capi- 
talism has been compared to a three-horned bull, the horns 
being rent, profit, and interest, differing in comparative 
length and strength accordiog to the age of the animal. In 
the United States, at the time covered by our lesson, profits 
were still the longest of the three horns, though the others 
were growing terribly fast." 

" We have seen, George," said his teacher, " that from a 
period long before the great Revolution it was as true as 
it is now that the only limit to the production of wealth 
in society was its consumption. We have seen that what 
kept the world in poverty under private capitalism was the 
effect of profits, aided by rent and interest to reduce con- 
sumption and thus cripple production, by concentrating the 
purchasing power of the people in the hands of a few. 
Now, that was the wrong way of doing things. Before 
leaving the subject I want you to tell us in a word what 
is the right way. Seeing that production is limited by 
consumption, what rule must be followed in distributing 
the results of production to be consumed in order to de- 
velop consumption to the highest possible point, and there- 
by in turn to create the greatest possible demand for pro- 

" For that purpose the results of production must be dis- 
tributed equally among all the members of the producing 

" Show why that is so." 

" It is a self-evident mathematical proposition. The more 
people a loaf of bread or any given thing is divided among, 
and the more equally it is divided, the sooner it will be con- 
sumed and more bread be called for. To put it in a more 
formal way, the needs of human beings result from the 
same natural constitution and are substantially the same. 
An equal distribution of the things needed by them is there- 
fore that general plan by which the consumption of such 
things will be at once enlarged to the greatest possible ex- 
tent and continued on that scale without interruption to the 
point of complete satisfaction for all. It follows that the 
equal distribution of products is the rule by which the largest 


possible consumption can be secured, and thus in turn the 
largest production be stimulated." 

" What, on the other hand, would be the effect on con- 
sumption of an unequal division of consumable products ? " 

"If the division were unequal, the result would be that 
some would have more than they could consume in a given 
time, and others would have less than they could have 
consumed in the same time, the result meaning a reduction 
of total consumption below what it would have been for 
that time with an equal division of products. If a million 
dollars were equally divided among one thousand men, it 
would presently be wholly expended in the consumption of 
needed things, creating a demand for the production of as 
much more ; but if concentrated in one man's hands, not a 
hundredth part of it, however great his luxury, would be 
likely to be so expended in the same period. The funda- 
mental general law in the science of social wealth is, there- 
fore, that the efficiency of a given amount of purchasing 
power to promote consumption is in exact proportion to its 
wide distribution, and is most efficient when equally distrib- 
uted among the whole body of consumers because that is 
the widest possible distribution." 

"You have not called attention to the fact that the 
formula of the greatest wealth production — namely, equal 
sharing of the product among the community — is also that 
application of the product which will cause the greatest sum 
of human happiness." 

" I spoke strictly of the economic side of the subject." 

" Would it not have startled the old economists to hear 
that the secret of the most efficient system of wealth produc- 
tion was conformity on a national scale to the ethical idea 
of equal treatment for all embodied by Jesus Christ in the 
golden rule ? " 

" No doubt, for they falsely taught that there were two 
kinds of science dealing with human conduct — one moral, 
the other economic ; and two lines of reasoning as to con- 
duct — the economic, and the ethical ; both right in different 
ways. We know better. There can be but one science of 
human conduct in whatever field, and that is ethical. Any 
economic proposition which can not be stated in ethical 


terms is false. Nothing can be in the long run or on a large 
scale sound economics which is not sound ethics. It is not, 
therefore, a mere coincidence, but a logical necessity, that 
the supreme word of both ethics and economics should 
be one and the same — equality. The golden rule in its 
social application is as truly the secret of plenty as of 

"the parable of the water tank." 

" That will do, George. We will close the session here. 
Our discussion, I find, has taken a broader range than I 
expected, and to complete the subject we shall need to have 
a brief session this afternoon. — And now, by way of con- 
cluding the morning, I propose to offer a little contribution 
of my own. The other day, at the museum, I was delving 
among the relics of literature of the great Revolution, with a 
view to finding something that might illustrate our theme. 
I came across a little pamphlet of the period, yellow and 
almost undecipherable, which, on examination, I found to 
be a rather amusing skit or satirical take-off on the profit 
system. It struck me that probably our lesson might pre- 
pare us to appreciate it, and I made a copy. It is entitled 
" The Parable of the Water Tank," and runs this way : 

" ' There was a certain very dry land, the people whereof 
were in sore need of water. And they did nothing but to 
seek after water from morning until night, and many per- 
ished because they could not find it. 

"'Howbeit, there were certain men in that land who 
were more crafty and diligent than the rest, and these had 
gathered stores of water where others could find none, and 
the name of these men was called capitalists. And it came 
to pas3 that the people of the land came unto the capitalists 
and prayed them that they would give them of the water 
they had gathered that they might drink, for their need was 
sore. But the capitalists answered them and said : 

196 EQUALITY. • 

" ' " Go to, ye silly people ! why should we give you of the 
water which we have gathered, for then we should become 
even as ye are, and perish with you ? But behold what 
we will do unto you. Be ye our servants and ye shall have 

" ' And the people said, " Only give us to drink and we 
will be your servants, we and our children." And it was so. 

" ' Now, the capitalists were men of understanding, and 
wise in their generation. They ordered the people who 
were their servants in bands with captains and officers, and 
some they put at the springs to dip, and others did they make 
to carry the water, and others did they cause to seek for new 
springs. And all the water was brought together in one 
place, and there did the capitalists make a great tank for to 
hold it, and the tank was called the Market, for it was there 
that the people, even the servants of the capitalists, came to 
get water. And the capitalists said unto the people : 

" ' " For every bucket of water that ye bring to us, that we 
may pour it into the tank, which is the Market, behold ! we 
will give you a penny, but for every bucket that we shall 
draw forth to give unto you that ye may drink of it, ye 
and your wives and your children, ye shall give to us two 
pennies, and the difference shall be our profit, seeing that if 
it were not for this profit we would not do this thing for 
you, but ye should all perish." 

" ' And it was good in the people's eyes, for they were dull 
of understanding, and they diligently brought water unto 
the tank for many days, and for every bucket which they 
did bring the capitalists gave them every man a penny ; but 
for every bucket that the capitalists drew forth from the 
tank to give again unto the people, behold ! the people ren- 
dered to the capitalists two pennies. 

" ' And after many days the water tank, which was the 
Market, overflowed at the top, seeing that for every bucket 
the people poured in they received only so much as would 
buy again half of a bucket. And because of the excess that 
was left of every bucket, did the tank overflow, for the 
people were many, but the capitalists were few, and could 
drink no more than others. Therefore did the tank over- 


" 'And when the capitalists saw that the water overflowed, 
they said to the people : 

" ' " See ye not the tank, which is the Market, doth over- 
flow ? Sit ye down, therefore and be patient, for ye shall 
bring us no more water till the tank be empty." 

" ' But when the people no more received the pennies of 
the capitalists for the water they brought, they could buy no 
more water from the capitalists, having naught wherewith 
to buy. And when the capitalists saw that they had no 
more profit because no man bought water of them, they 
were troubled. And they sent forth men in the highways, 
the byways, and the hedges, crying, " If any thirst let him 
come to the tank and buy water of us, for it doth overflow." 
For they said among themselves, "Behold, the times are 
dull ; we must advertise." 

" ' But the people answered, saying : " How can we buy 
unless ye hire us, for how else shall we have wherewithal to 
buy ? Hire ye us, therefore, as before, and we will gladly 
buy water, for we thirst, and ye will have no need to adver- 
tise," But the capitalists said to the people : " Shall we hire 
you to bring water when the tank, which is the Market, 
doth already overflow ? Buy ye, therefore, first water, and 
when the tank is empty, through your buying, will we hire 
you again." And so it was because the capitalists hired 
them no more to bring water that the people could not buy 
the water they had brought already, and because the people 
could not buy the water they had brought already, the capi- 
talists no more hired them to bring water. And the say- 
ing went abroad, " It is a crisis." 

" ' And the thirst of the people was great, for it was not 
now as it had been in the days of their fathers, when the 
land was open before them, for every one to seek water for 
himself, seeing that the capitalists had taken all the springs, 
and the wells, and the water w^heels, and the vessels and the 
buckets, so that no man might come by water save from the 
tank, which was the Market. And the people murmured 
against the capitalists and said : " Behold, the tank runneth 
over, and we die of thirst. Give us, therefore, of the water, 
that we perish not." 

" ' But the capitalists answered : " Not so. The water is 


ours. Ye shall not drink thereof unless ye buy it of us with 
pennies." And they confirmed it with an oath, saying, 
after their manner, " Business is business." 

'"But the capitalists were disquieted that the people 
bought no more water, whereby they had no more any 
profits, and they spake one to another, saying : " It seemeth 
that our profits have stopped our profits, and by reason of 
the profits we have made, we can make no more profits. 
How is it that our profits are become unprofitable to us, and 
our gains do make us poor ? Let us therefore send for the 
soothsayers, that they may interpret this thing unto us," and 
they sent for them. 

" ' Now, the soothsayers were men learned in dark say- 
ings, who joined themselves to the capitalists by reason of 
the water of the capitalists, that they might have thereof 
and live, they and their children. And they spake for the 
capitalists unto the people, and did their embassies for them, 
seeing that the capitalists were not a folk quick of under- 
standing neither ready of speech. 

" ' And the capitalists demanded of the soothsayers that 
they should interpret this thing unto them, wherefore it was 
that the people bought no more water of them, although the 
tank was full. And certain of the soothsayers answered 
and said, "It is by reason of overproduction," and some 
said, " It is glut " ; but the signification of the two words is 
the same. And others said, " Nay, but this thing is by rea- 
son of the spots on the sun." And yet others answered, 
saying, " It is neither by reason of glut, nor yet of spots on 
the sun that this evil hath come to pass, but because of lack 
of confidence." 

" ' And while the soothsayers contended among them- 
selves, according to their manner, the men of profit did 
slumber and sleep, and when they awoke they said to the 
soothsayers : " It is enough. Ye have spoken comfortably unto 
us. Now go ye forth and speak comfortably likewise unto 
this people, so that they be at rest and leave us also in peace." 

" ' But the soothsayers, even the men of the dismal sci- 
ence — for so they were named of some — were loath to go 
forth to the people lest they should be stoned, for the people 
loved them not. And they said to the capitalists : 


" ' " Masters, it is a mystery of our craft that if men be 
fuU and thirst not but be at rest, then shaU they find comfort 
in our speech even as ye. Yet if they thirst and be empty, 
find they no comfort therein but rather mock us, for it 
seemeth that unless a man be full our wisdom appeareth 
unto him but emptiness." But the capitalists said : " Go ye 
forth. Are ye not our men to do our embassies ? " 

" ' And the soothsayers went forth to the people and ex- 
pounded to them the mystery of overproduction, and how 
it was that they must needs perish of thirst because there 
was overmuch water, and how there could not be enough 
because there was too much. And likewise spoke they unto 
the people concerning the sun spots, and also wherefore it 
was that these things had come upon them by reason of lack 
of confidence. And it was even as the soothsayers had said, 
for to the people their wisdom seemed emptiness. And the 
people reviled them, saying : " Go up, ye bald-heads ! Will 
ye mock us ? Doth plenty breed famine ? Doth nothing 
come out of much ? " And they took up stones to stone them. 

" ' And when the capitalists saw that the people still mur- 
mured and would not give ear to the soothsayers, and be- 
cause also they feared lest they should come upon the tank 
and take of the water by force, they brought forth to them 
certain holy men (but they were false priests), who spake 
unto the people that they should be quiet and trouble not 
the capitalists because they thirsted. And these holy men, 
who were false priests, testified to the people that this 
affliction was sent to them of God for the healing of their 
souls, and that if they should bear it in patience and lust 
not after the water, neither trouble the capitalists, it would 
come to pass that after they had given up the ghost they 
would come to a country where there should be no capital- 
ists but an abundance of water. Howbeit, there were cer- 
tain true prophets of God also, and these had compassion on 
the people and would not prophesy for the capitalists, but 
rather spake constantly against them. 

" ' Now, when the capitalists saw that the people still mur- 
mured and would not be still, neither for the words of the 
soothsayers nor of the false priests, they came forth them- 
selves unto them and put the ends of their fingers in the 


water that overflowed in the tank and wet the tips thereof, 
and they scattered the drops from the tips of their fingers 
abroad upon the people who thronged the tank, and the 
name of the drops of water was charity, and they were ex- 
ceeding bitter. 

" ' And when the capitalists saw yet again that neither for 
the words of the soothsayers, nor of the holy men who were 
false priests, nor yet for the drops that were called charity, 
would the people be still, but raged the more, and crowded 
upon the tank as if they would take it by force, then took 
they counsel together and sent men privily forth among the 
people. And these men sought out the mightiest among the 
people and all who had skill in war, and took them apart 
and spake craftily with them, saying : 

" ' " Come, now, why cast ye not your lot in with the 
capitalists ? If ye will be their men and serve them against 
the people, that they break not in upon the tank, then shall 
ye have abundance of water, that ye perish not, ye and your 

" ' And the mighty men and they who were skilled in 
war hearkened unto this speech and suffered themselves to be 
persuaded, for their thirst constrained them, and they went 
within unto the capitalists and became their men, and staves 
and swords were put in their hands and they became a de- 
fense unto the capitalists and smote the people when they 
thronged upon the tank. 

" ' And after many days the water was low in the tank, 
for the capitalists did make fountains and fish ponds of the 
water thereof, and did bathe therein, they and their wives 
and their children, and did waste the water for their 

" ' And when the capitalists saw that the tank was 
empty, they said, " The crisis is ended " ; and they sent forth 
and hired the people that they should bring water to fill it 
again. And for the water that the people brought to the 
tank they received for every bucket a penny, but for the 
water which the capitalists drew forth from the tank to 
give again to the people they received two pennies, that they 
might have their profit. And after a time did the tank 
again overflow even as before. 


" ' And now, when many times the people had filled the 
tank until it overflowed and had thirsted till the water 
therein had been wasted by the capitalists, it came to pass 
that there arose in the land certain men who were called 
ag-itators, for that they did stir up the people. And they 
spake to the people, saying that they should associate, and 
then would they have no need to be servants of the capital- 
ists and should thirst no more for water. And in the eyes 
of the capitalists were the agitators pestilent fellows, and 
they would fain have crucified them, but durst not for fear 
of the people. 

" ' And the words of the agitators which they spake to the 
people were on this wise : 

u t u Ye foolish people, how long will ye be deceived by a 
lie and believe to your hurt that which is not ? for behold all 
these things that have been said unto you by the capitalists 
and by the soothsayers are cunningly devised fables. And 
likewise the holy men, who say that it is the will of God 
that ye should always be poor and miserable and atliirst, 
behold ! they do blaspheme God and are liars, whom he 
will bitterly judge though he forgive all others. How 
cometh it that ye may not come by the water in the tank ? 
Is it not because ye have no money ? And why have ye 
no money ? Is it not because ye receive but one penny for 
every bucket that ye bring to the tank, which is the Mar- • 
ket, but must render two pennies for every bucket ye take 
out, so that the capitalists may have their profit ? See ye 
not how by this means the tank must overflow, being filled 
by that ye lack and made to abound out of your emptiness ? 
See ye not also that the harder ye toil and the more diligent- 
ly ye seek and bring the water, the worse and not the better 
it shall be for you by reason of the profit, and that forever ? " 

" ' After this manner spake the agitators for many days 
unto the people, and none heeded them, but it was so that 
after a time the people hearkened. And they answered and 
said unto the agitators : 

" ' " Ye say truth. It is because of the capitalists and of 
their profits that we want, seeing that by reason of them 
and their profits we may by no means come by the fruit of 
our labor, so that our labor is in vain, and the more we 


toil to fill the tank the sooner doth it overflow, and we 
may receive nothing because there is too much, according 
to the words of the soothsayers. But behold, the capitalists 
are hard men and their tender mercies are cruel. Tell us 
if ye know any way whereby we may deliver ourselves out 
of our bondage unto them. But if ye know of no certain 
way of deliverance we beseech you to hold your peace and 
let us alone, that we may forget our misery." 

"'And the agitators answered and said, "We know a 

" 'And the people said : " Deceive us not, for this thing 
hath been from the beginning, and none hath found a way 
of deliverance until now, though many have sought it care- 
fully with tears. But if ye know a way, speak unto us 

" ' Then the agitators spake unto the people of the way. 
And they said : 

" ' " Behold, what need have ye at all of these capitalists, 
that ye should yield them profits upon your labor ? What 
great thing do they wherefore ye render them this tribute ? 
Lo ! it is only because they do order you in bands and lead 
you out and in and set your tasks and afterward give you 
a little of the water yourselves have brought and not they. 
Now, behold the way out of this bondage ! Do ye for your- 
selves that which is done by the capitalists — namely, the 
ordering of your labor, and the marshaling of your bands, 
and the dividing of your tasks. So shall ye have no need 
at all of the capitalists and no more yield to them any 
profit, but all the fruit of your labor shall ye share as 
brethren, every one having the same ; and so shall the tank 
never overflow until every man is full, and would not wag 
the tongue for more, and afterward shall ye with the over- 
flow make pleasant fountains and fish ponds to delight your- 
selves withal even as did the capitalists ; but these shall be 
for the delight of all." 

" ' And the people answered, " How shall we go about to 
do this thing, for it seemeth good to us ? " 

" 'And the agitators answered : " Choose ye discreet men 
to go in and out before you and to marshal your bands and 
order your labor, and these men shall be as the capitalists 


were ; but, behold, they shall not be your masters as the 
capitalists are, but your brethren and officers who do your 
will, and they shall not take any profits, but every man his 
share like the others, that there may be no more masters and 
servants among you, but brethren only. And from time to 
time, as ye see fit, ye shall choose other discreet men in place 
of the first to order the labor." 

" ' And the people hearkened, and the thing was very good 
to them. Likewise seemed it not a hard thing. And with 
one voice they cried out, " So let it be as ye have said, for 
we will do it ! " 

" ' And the capitalists heard the noise of the shouting and 
what the people said, and the soothsayers heard it also, and 
likewise the false priests and the mighty men of war, who 
were a defense unto the capitalists ; and when they heard 
they trembled exceedingly, so that their knees smote to- 
gether, and they said one to another, " It is the end of us ! " 

" ' Howbeit, there were certain true priests of the living 
God who would not prophesy for the capitalists, but had 
compassion on the people ; and when they heard the shouting 
of the people and what they said, they rejoiced with exceed- 
ing great joy, and gave thanks to Grod because of the de- 

" ' And the people we: t and did all the things that were 
told them of the agitators to do. And it came to pass as 
the agitators had said, even according to all their words. 
And there was no more any thirst in that land, neither any 
that was ahungered, nor naked, nor cold, nor in any manner 
of want ; and every man said unto his fellow, " My brother," 
and every woman said unto her companion, " My sister," 
for so were they with one another as brethren and sisters 
which do dwell together in unity. And the blessing of God 
rested upon that land forever.' " 




The boys and girls of the political-economy class rose to 
their feet at the teacher's word of dismissal, and in the 
twinkling of an eye the scene which had been absorbing 
my attention disappeared, and I found myself staring at Dr. 
Leete's smiling countenance and endeavoring to imagine 
how I had come to be where I was. During the greater 
part and all the latter part of the session of the class so ab- 
solute had been the illusion of being actually present in the 
schoolroom, and so absorbing the interest of the theme, that 
I had quite forgotten the extraordinary device by which I 
was enabled to see and hear the proceedings. Now, as I re- 
called it, my mind reverted with an impulse of boundless 
curiosity to the electroscope and the processes by which it 
performed its miracles. 

Having given me some explanation of the mechanical 
operation of the apparatus and the way in which it served 
the purpose of a prolonged optic nerve, the doctor went on 
to exhibit its powers on a large scale. During the follow- 
ing hour, without leaving my chair, I made the tour of the 
earth, and learned by the testimony of my senses that the 
transformation which had come over Boston since my for- 
mer life was but a sample of that which the whole world of 
men had undergone. I had but to name a great city or a 
famous locality in any country to be at once present there 
so far as sight and hearing were concerned. I looked down 
on modern New York, then upon Chicago, upon San Fran- 
cisco, and upon New Orleans, finding each of these cities 
quite unrecognizable but for the natural features which 
constituted their setting. I visited London. I heard the 
Parisians talk French and the Berlinese talk German, and 
from St. Petersburg went to Cairo by wajr of Delhi. One 
city would be bathed in the noonday sun ; over the next I 
visited, the moon, perhaps, was rising and the stars coming 
out ; while over the third the silence of midnight brooded. 
In Paris, I remember, it was raining hard, and in London 
fog reigned supreme. In St. Petersburg there was a snow 


squalL Turning from the contemplation of the changing 
world of men to the changeless face of Nature, I renewed 
my old-time acquaintance with the natural wonders of the 
earth — the thundering cataracts, the stormy ocean shores, 
the lonely mountain tops, the great rivers, the glittering 
splendors of the polar regions, and the desolate places of 
the deserts. 

Meanwhile the doctor explained to me that not only the 
telephone and electroscope were always connected with a 
great number of regular stations commanding all scenes of 
special interest, but that whenever in any part of the world 
there occurred a spectacle or accident of particular interest, 
special connections were instantly made, so that all man- 
kind could at once see what the situation was for themselves 
without need of actual or alleged special artists on the si)ot. 

With all my conceptions of time and space reduced to 
chaos, and well-nigh drunk with wonder, I exclaimed at last : 

" I can stand no more of this just now ! I am beginning 
to doubt seriously whether I am in or out of the body." 

As a practical way of settling that question the doctor 
proposed a brisk walk, for we had not been out of the house 
that morning. 

" Have we had enough of economics for the day ? " he 
asked as we left the house, " or would you like to attend the 
afternoon session the teacher spoke of ?" 

I replied that I wished to attend it by all means. 

"Very good," said the doctor ; " it will doubtless be very 
short, and what do you say to attending it this time in per- 
son ? We shall have plenty of time for our walk and can 
easily get to the school before the hour by taking a car from 
any point. Seeing this is the first time you have used the 
electroscope, and have no assurance except its testimony that 
any such school or pupils really exist, perhaps it would help 
to confirm any impressions you may have received to visit 
the spot in the body." 




Presently, as we were crossing Boston Common, ab- 
sorbed in conversation, a shadow fell athwart the way, and 
looking up, I saw towering above us a sculptured group of 
heroic size. 

" Who are these ? " I exclaimed. 

" You ought to know if any one," said the doctor. " They 
are contemporaries of yours who were making a good deal 
of disturbance in your day." 

But, indeed, it had only been as an involuntary expres- 
sion of surprise that I had questioned what the figures 
stood for. 

Let me tell you, readers of the twentieth century, what I 
saw up there on the pedestal, and you will recognize the 
world-famous group. Shoulder to shoulder, as if rallied to 
resist assault, were three figures of men in the garb of the 
laboring class of my time. They were bareheaded, and 
their coarse-textured shirts, rolled above the elbow and open 
at the breast, showed the sinewy arms and chest. Before 
them, on the ground, lay a pair of shovels and a pickaxe. 
The central figure, with the right hand extended, palm out- 
ward, was pointing to the discarded tools. The arms of the 
other two were folded on their breasts. The faces were 
coarse and hard in outline and bristled with unkempt 
beards. Their expression was one of dogged defiance, and 
their gaze was fixed with such scowling intensity upon the 
void space before them that I involuntarily glanced behind 
me to see what they were looking at. There were two 
women also in the group, as coarse of dress and features as 
the men. One was kneeling before the figure on the right, 
holding up to him with one arm an emaciated, half-clad 
infant, while with the other she indicated the implements 
at his feet with an imploring gesture. The second of the 
women was plucking by the sleeve the man on the left as if 
to draw him back, while with the other hand she covered 
her eyes. But the men heeded the women not at all, or 
seemed, in their bitter wrath, to know that they were there. 


"Why," I exclaimed, "these are strikers ! " 

"Yes," said the doctor, "this is The Strikers, Hunting- 
ton's masterpiece, considered the greatest group of statuary 
in the city and one of the greatest in the country." 

" Those people are alive ! " I said. 

" That is expert testimony," replied the doctor. " It is a 
pity Huntington died too soon to hear it. He would have 
been pleased." 

Now, I, in common with the wealthy and cultured class 
generally, of my day, had always held strikers in contempt 
and abhorrence, as blundering, dangerous marplots, as igno- 
rant of their own best interests as they were reckless of 
other people's, and generally as pestilent fellows, whose 
demonstrations, so long as they were not violent, could not 
unfortunately be repressed by force, but ought always to be 
condemned, and promptly j)ut down with an iron hand the 
moment there was an excuse for police interference. There 
was more or less tolerance among the well-to-do, for social 
reformers, who, by book or voice, advocated even very rad- 
ical economic changes so long as they observed the conven- 
tionalities of speech, but for the striker there were few apolo- 
gists. Of course, the capitalists emptied on him the vials of 
their wrath and contempt, and even people who thought 
they sympathized with the working class shook their heads 
at the mention of strikes, regarding them as calculated rather 
to hinder than help the emancipation of labor. Bred as I was 
in these prejudices, it may not seem strange that I was taken 
aback at finding such unpromising subjects selected for the 
highest place in the city. 

" There is no doubt as to the excellence of the artist's 
work," I said, " but what was there about the strikers that 
has made you pick them out of our generation as objects of 
veneration ? " 

" We see in them," replied the doctor, " the pioneers in the 
revolt against private capitalism which brought in the pres- 
ent civilization. We honor them as those who, like Winkel- 
ried, ' njade way for liberty, and died.' We revere in them 
the protomartjrrs of co-operative industry and economic 

" But I can assure you, doctor, that these fellows, at least 


in my day, had not the slightest idea of revolting against 
private capitalism as a system. They were very ignorant 
and quite incapable of grasping so large a concejjtion. 
They had no notion of getting along without capitalists. 
All they imagined as possible or desirable was a little 
better treatment by their employers, a few cents more an 
hour, a few minutes less working time a day, or maybe 
merely the discharge of an unpopular foreman. The most 
they aimed at was some petty improvement in their con- 
dition, to attain which they did not hesitate to throw the 
whole industrial machine into disorder." 

"All which we moderns know quite wel J," replied the 
doctor. "Look at those faces. Has the sculptor idealized 
them ? Are they the faces of philosophers ? Do they not 
bear out your statement that the strikers, like the working- 
men generally, were, as a rule, ignorant, narrow-minded 
men, with no grasp of large questions, and incapable of so 
great an idea as the overthrow of an immemorial economic 
order ? It is quite true that until some years after you fell 
asleep they did not realize that their quarrel was with pri- 
vate capitalism and not with individual capitalists. In this 
slowness of awakening to the full meaning of their revolt 
they were precisely on a par with the pioneers of all the 
great liberty revolutions. The minutemen at Concord and 
Lexington, in 1775, did not realize that they were pointing 
their guns at the monarchical idea. As little did the third 
estate of France, when it entered the Convention in 1789, 
realize that its road lay over the ruins of the throne. As 
little did the pioneers of English freedom, when they began 
to resist the will of Charles I, foresee that they would be com- 
pelled, before they got through, to take his head. In none 
of these instances, however, has posterity considered that the 
limited foresight of the pioneers as to the full consequences 
of their action lessened the world's debt to the crude initia- 
tive, without which the fuller triumph would never have 
come. The logic of the strike meant the overthrow of the 
irresponsible conduct of industry, whether the strikers knew 
it or not, and we can not rejoice in the consequences of 
that overthrow without honoring them in a way which very 
likely, as you intimate, would surprise them, could they 


know of it, as much as it does you. Let me try to give you 
the modern point of view as to the part played by their origi- 
nals." We sat down upon one of the benches before the 
statue, and the doctor went on : 

" My dear Julian, who was it, pray, that first roused the 
world of your day to the fact that there was an industrial 
question, and by their pathetic demonstrations of passive 
resistance to wrong for fifty years kept the public attention 
fixed on that question till it was settled ? Was it your 
statesmen, perchance your economists, your scholars, or any 
other of your so-called wise men ? No. It was just those 
despised, ridiculed, cursed, and hooted fellows up there on 
that pedestal who with their perpetual strikes would not let 
the world i*est till their wrong, which was also the whole 
world's wrong, was righted. Once more had God chosen 
the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, the 
weak things to confound the mighty. 

" In order to realize how powerfully these strikes oper- 
ated to impress upon the people the intolerable wickedness 
and folly of private capitalism, you must remember that 
esrents are what teach men, that deeds have a far more potent 
educating influence than any amount of doctrine, and espe- 
cially so in an age like yours, when the masses had almost 
no culture or ability to reason. There were not lacking in 
the revolutionary period many cultured men and women, 
who, with voice and pen, espoused the workers' cause, and 
showed them the way out ; but their words might well have 
availed little but for the tremendous emphasis with which 
they were confirmed by the men up there, who starved to 
prove them true. Those rough-looking fellows, who proba- 
bly could not have constructed a grammatical sentence, by 
their combined efforts, were demonstrating the necessity of a 
radically new industrial system by a more convincing argu- 
ment than any rhetorician's skill could frame. When men 
take their lives in their hands to resist oppression, as those 
men did, other men are compelled to give heed to them. 
We have inscribed on the pedestal yonder, where you see 
the lettering, the words, which the action of the group above 
seems to voice : 

" ' We can bear no more. It is better to starve than live 


on the terms you give us. Our lives, the lives of our wives 
and of our children, we set against your gains. If you put 
your foot upon our neck, we will bite your heel ! ' 

" This was the cry," pursued the doctor, " of men made 
desperate by oppression, to whom existence through suffer- 
ing had become of no value. It was the same cry that in 
varied form but in one sense has been the watchword of 
every revolution that has marked an advance of the race — 
' Give us liberty, or give us death ! ' and never did it ring out 
with a cause so adequate, or wake the world to an issue so 
mighty, as in the mouths of these first rebels against the 
folly and the tyranny of private capital. 

" In your age, I know, Julian," the doctor went on in a 
gentler tone, " it was customary to associate valor with the 
clang of arms and the pomp and circumstance of war. But 
the echo of the fife and drum comes very faintly up to us, 
and moves us not at all. The soldier has had his day, and 
passed away forever with the ideal of manhood which he il- 
lustrated. But that group yonder stands for a type of self- 
devotion that appeals to us profoundly. Those men risked 
their lives when they fiung down the tools of their trade, as 
truly as any soldiers going into battle, and took odds as 
desperate, and not only for themselves, but for their families, 
which no grateful country would care for in case of casualty 
to them. The soldier went forth cheered with music, and 
supported by the enthusiasm of the country, but these others 
were covered with ignominy and public contempt, and their 
failures and defeats were hailed with general acclamation. 
And yet they sought not the lives of others, but only that they 
might barely live ; and though they had first thought of the 
welfare of themselves, and those nearest them, yet not the 
less were they fighting the fight of humanity and posterity 
in striking in the only way they could, and while yet no 
one else dared strike at all, against the economic system 
that had the world by the throat, and would never relax its 
grip by dint of soft words, or anything less than disabling 
blows. The clergy, the economists and the pedagogues, hav- 
ing left these ignorant men to seek as they might the 
solution of the social problem, while they themselves sat 
at ease and denied that there was any problem, were 


very voluble in their criticisms of the mistakes of the work- 
ingnien, as if it were possible to make any mistake in 
seeking a way out of the social chaos, which could be so 
fatuous or so criminal as the mistake of not trying to seek 
any. No doubt, Julian, I have put finer words in the 
mouths of those men up there than their originals might 
have even understood, but if the meaning was not in their 
words it was in their deeds. And it is for what they did, 
not for what they said, that we honor them as i^rotomartyrs 
of the industrial republic of to-day, and bring our children, 
that they may kiss in gratitude the rough-shod feet of those 
who made the way for us." 

My experiences since I waked up in this year 2000 might 
be said to have consisted of a succession of instantaneous 
mental readjustments of a revolutionary character, in which 
what had formerly seemed evil to me had become good, and 
what had seemed wisdom had become foolishness. Had 
this conversation about the strikers taken place anywhere 
else, the entirely new impression I had received of the part 
played by them in the great social revolution of which I 
shared the benefit would simply have been one more of 
these readjustments, and the process entirely a mental one. 
But the presence of this wondrous group, the lifelikeness of 
the figures growing on my gaze as I listened to the doctor's 
words, imparted a peculiar personal quality — if I may use the 
term — to the revulsion of feeling that I experienced. Moved 
by an irresistible impulse, I rose to my feet, and, removing 
my hat, saluted the grim forms whose living originals I 
had joined my contemporaries in reviling. 

The doctor smiled gravely. 

"Do you know, my boy," he said, "it is not often that 
the whirligig of Time brings round his revenges in quite so 
dramatic a way as this ? " 




We arrived at the Arlington School some time before the 
beginning of the recitation which we were to attend, and the 
doctor took the opportunity to introduce me to the teacher. 
He was extremely interested to learn that I had attended 
the morning session, and very desirous to know something 
of my impressions. As to the forthcoming recitation, he 
suggested that if the members of the class were aware that 
they had so distinguished an auditor, it would be likely 
to embarrass them, and he should therefore say nothing 
about my presence until the close of the session, when he 
should crave the privilege of presenting his pupils to me 
personally. He hoped I would permit this, as it would be 
for them the event of a lifetime which their grandchildren 
would never tire of hearing them describe. The entrance 
of the class interrupted our conversation, and the doctor 
and myself, having taken our seats in a gallery, where we 
could hear and see without being seen, the session at once 

" This morning," said the teacher, " we confined ourselves 
for the sake of clearness to the effects of the profit system 
upon a nation or community considered as if it were alone 
in the world and without relations to other communities. 
There is no way in which such outside relations operated to 
negative any of the laws of profit which were brought out 
this morning, but they did operate to extend the effect of 
those laws in many interesting ways, and without some ref- 
erence to foreign commerce our review of the profit system 
would be incomplete. 

" In the so-called political economies of our forefather 
we read a vast deal about the advantages to a country of 
having an international trade. It was supposed to be one 
of the great secrets of national prosperity, and a chief 
study of the nineteenth-century statesmen seems to have 
been to establish and extend foreign commerce. — Now, Paul, 


will you tell us the economic theory as to the advantages of 
foreign commerce ? " 

" It is based on the fact," said the lad Paul, " that coun- 
tries difiPer in climate, natural resources, and other condi- 
tions, so that in some it is wholly impossible or very diffi- 
cult to produce certain needful things, while it is very easy 
to produce certain other things in greater abundance than 
is needed. In former times also there were marked differ- 
ences in the grade of civilization and the condition of the 
arts in different countries, which still further modified their 
respective powers in the production of wealth. This being so, 
it might obviously be for the mutual advantage of countries 
to exchange with one another what they could produce 
against what they could not produce at all or only with 
difficulty, and not merely thus secure many things which 
otherwise they must go without, but also greatly increase 
the total effectiveness of their industry by applying it to the 
sorts of production best fitted to their conditions. In order, 
however, that the people of the respective countries should 
actually derive this advantage or any advantage from for- 
eign exchange, it would be necessary that the exchanges 
should be carried on in the general interest for the pur- 
pose of giving the people at large the benefit of them, as is 
done at the present day, when foreign commerce, like other 
economic undertakings, is carried on by the governments of 
the several countries. But there was, of course, no national 
agency to carry on foreign commerce in that day. The for- 
eign trade, just like the internal processes of production and 
distribution, was conducted by the capitalists on the profit sys- 
tem. The result was that all the benefits of this fair sounding 
theory of foreign commerce were either totally nullified or 
tm*ned into curses, and the international trade relations of 
the countries constituted merely a larger field for illustrating 
the baneful effects of the profit system and its power to turn 
good to evil and ' shut the gates of mercy on mankind.' " 


" Illustrate, please, the operation of the profit system in 
international trade." 

" Let us suppose," said the boy Paul, " that America 


could produce grain and other food stuffs with great cheap- 
ness and in greater quantities than the people needed. Sup- 
pose, on the contrary, that England could produce food 
stuffs only with difficulty and in small quantities. Suppose, 
however, that England, on account of various conditions, 
could produce clothing and hardware much more cheaply 
and abundantly than America. In such a case it would 
seem that both countries would be gainers if Americans ex- 
changed the food stuffs which it was so easy for them to 
produce for the clothing and hardware which it was so easy 
for the English to produce. The result would appear to 
promise a clear and equal gain for both people. But this, 
of course, is on the supposition that the exchange should be 
negotiated by a public agency for the benefit of the respect- 
ive populations at large. But when, as in those days, the 
exchange was negotiated wholly by private capitalists com- 
peting for private profits at the expense of the communities, 
the result was totally different. 

" The American grain merchant who exported grain to 
the English would be impelled, by the competition of other 
American grain merchants, to put his price to the English 
as low as possible, and to do that he would beat down to the 
lowest possible figure the American farmer who produced 
the grain. And not only must the American merchant sell 
as low as his American rivals, but he must also undersell the 
grain merchants of other grain-producing countries, such as 
Eussia, Egypt, and India. And now let us see how much 
benefit the English people received from the cheap Ameri- 
can grain.- We will say that, owing to the foreign food 
supply, the cost of living declined one half or a third in 
England. Here would seem a great gain surely ; but look 
at the other side of it. The English must pay for their 
gi'ain by supplying the Americans with cloth and hardware. 
The English manufacturers of these things were rivals just 
as the American grain merchants were — each one desirous 
of capturing as large a part of the American market as he 
could. He must therefore, if possible, undersell his home 
rivals. Moreover, like the American grain merchant, the 
English manufacturer must contend with foreign rivals. 
Belgium and Germany made hardware and cloth very 


cheaply, and the Americans would exchange their grain for 
these commodities with the Belgians and the Germans un- 
less the English sold cheaper. Now, the main element in 
the cost of making cloth and hardware was the wages paid 
for labor. A pressure was accordingly sure to be brought 
to bear by every English manufacturer upon his workmen 
to compel them to accept lower wages so that he might un- 
dersell his English rivals, and also cut under the German 
and Belgian manufacturers, who were trying to get the 
American trade. Now can the English workman live on less 
wages than before ? Plainly he can, for his food supply has 
been greatly cheapened. Presently, therefore, he finds his 
wages forced down by as much as the cheaper food supply 
has cheapened his living, and so finds himself just where he 
was to start with before the American trade began. And 
now look again at the American farmer. He is now getting 
his imported clothing and tools much cheaper than before, 
and consequently the lowest living price at which he can 
afford to sell grain is considerably lower than before the 
English trade began — lower by so much, in fact, as he has 
saved on his tools and clothing. Of this, the grain mer- 
chant, of course, took prompt advantage, for unless he put 
his grain into the English market lower than other grain mer- 
chants, he would lose his trade, and Russia, Egypt, and India 
stood ready to flood England with grain if the Americans 
could not bid below them, and then farewell to cheap cloth 
and tools ! So down presently went the price the American 
farmer received for his grain, until the reduction absorbed 
all that he had gained by the cheaper imported fabrics and 
hardware, and he, like his fellow- victim across the sea — the 
English iron worker or factory operative — was no better off 
than he was before English trade had teen suggested. 

" But was he as well off ? Was either the American or the 
English worker as well off as before this interchange of 
products began, which, if rightly conducted, would have 
been so greatly beneficial to both ? On the contrary, both 
alike were in important ways distinctly worse off. Each had 
indeed done badly enough before, but the industrial system 
on which they depended, being limited by the national bor- 
ders, was comparatively simple and uncomplex, self -sustain- 


ing, and liable only to local and transient disturbances, the 
efPect of which could be to some extent estimated, possibly 
remedied. Now, however, the English operatives and the 
American farmer had alike become dependent upon the deli- 
cate balance of a complex set of international adjustments 
liable at any moment to derangements that might take away 
their livelihood, without leaving them even the small satis- 
faction of understanding what hurt them. The prices of 
their labor or their produce were no longer dependent as 
before upon established local customs and national standards 
of living, but had become subject to determination by the 
pitiless necessities of a world-wide competition in w^hich the 
American farmer and the English artisan were forced into 
rivalship with the Indian ryot, the Egyptian fellah, the half- 
starved Belgian miner, or the German weaver. In former 
ages, before international trade had become general, when 
one nation was down another was up, and there was always 
hope in looking over seas ; but the prospect which the un- 
limited development of international commerce upon the 
profit system was opening to mankind the latter part of the 
nineteenth century was that of a world-wide standard of liv- 
ing fixed by the rate at which life could be supported by the 
worst-used races. International trade was already showing 
itself to be the instrumentality by which the world-wide plu- 
tocracy would soon have established its sway if the great 
Revolution had tarried." 

"In the case of the supposed reciprocal trade between 
England and America, which you have used as an illus- 
tration," said the teacher, " you have assumed that the 
trade relation was an exchange of commodities on equal 
terms. In such a case it appears that the effect of the profit 
system was to leave the masses of both countries somewhat 
worse off than they would have been without foreign trade, 
the gain on both the American and English side inuring 
wholly to the manufacturing and trading capitalists. But 
in fact both countries in a trade relation were not usually 
on equal terms. The capitalists of one were often far more 
powerful than those of another, and had a stronger or older 
economic organization at their service. In that case what 
was the result ? " 


" The overwhelming competition of the capitalists of the 
stronger country crushed out the enterprises of the capital- 
ists of the weaker country, the people of which consequently 
became wholly dependent upon the foreign capitalists for 
many productions which otherwise would have been pro- 
duced at home to the profit of home capitalists, and in pro- 
portion as the capitalists of the dependent country were thus 
rendered economically incapable of resistance the capitalists 
of the stronger country regulated at their pleasure the terms 
of trade. The American colonies, in 1776, were driven to 
revolt against England by the oppression resulting from 
such a relation. The object of founding colonies, which 
was one of the main ends of seventeenth, eighteenth, and 
nineteenth century statesmanship, was to bring new com- 
munities into this relation of economic vassalage to the 
home capitalists, who, having beggared the home market by 
their profit, saw no prospect of making more except by fas- 
tening their suckers upon outside communities. Great Brit- 
ain, whose capitalists were strongest of all, was naturally 
the leader in this policy, and the main end of her wars and 
her diplomacy for many centuries before the great Revolu- 
tion was to obtain such colonies, and to secure from weaker 
nations trade concessions and openings — peaceably if pos- 
sible, at the mouth of the cannon if necessary." 

"How about the condition of the masses in a country 
thus I'educed to commercial vassalage to the capitalists of an- 
other country ? Was it necessarily worse than the condition 
of the masses of the superior country ? " 

" That did not follow at all. We must constantly keep 
in mind that the interests of the capitalists and of the peo- 
ple were not identical. The prosperity of the capitalists 
of a country by no means implied prosperity on the part 
of the population, nor the reverse. If the masses of the 
dependent country had not been exploited by foreign capi- 
talists, they would have been by domestic capitalists. Both 
they and the working masses of the superior country were 
equally the tools and slaves of the capitalists, who did not 
treat workingmen any better on account of being their fel- 
low-countrymen than if they had been foreigners. It was 
the capitalists of the dependent country rather than the 


masses who suffered by the suppression of independent busi- 
ness enterprises." 


" That will do, Paul. — We will now ask some informa- 
tion from you, Helen, as to a point which Paul's last words 
have suggested. During the eighteenth and nineteenth cen- 
turies a bitter controversy raged among our ancestors be- 
tween two parties in opinion and politics, calling them- 
selves, respectively, the Protectionists and the Free Traders, 
the former of whom held that it was well to shut out the 
competition of foreign capitalists in the market of a country 
by a tariff upon imports, while the latter held that no impedi- 
ment should be allowed to the entirely free course of trade. 
What have you to say as to the merits of this controversy ? " 

" Merely," replied the girl called Helen, " that the differ- 
ence between the two policies, so far as it affected the people 
at large, reduced itself to the question whether they pre- 
ferred being fleeced by home or foreign capitalists. Free 
trade was the cry of the capitalists who felt themselves able 
to crush those of rival nations if allowed the opportunity 
to compete with them. Protection was the cry of the capi- 
talists who felt themselves weaker than those of other na- 
tions, and feared . that their enterprises would be crushed 
and their profits taken away if free competition were al- 
lowed. The Free Traders were like a man who, seeing his 
antagonist is no match for him, boldly calls for a free fight 
and no favor, while the Protectionist was the man who, 
seeing himself overmatched, called for the police. The Free 
Trader held that the natural, God-given right of the capital- 
ist to shear the people anywhere he found them was supe- 
rior to considerations of race, nationality, or boundary lines. 
The Protectionist, on the contrary, maintained the patriotic 
right of the capitalist to the exclusive shearing of his own 
fellow-countrymen without interference of foreign capital- 
ists. As to the mass of the people, the nation at large, it 
was, as Paul has just said, a matter of indifference whether 
they were fleeced by the capitalists of their own country 
under protection or the capitalists of foreign countries un- 
der free trade. The literature of the controversy between 


Protectionists and Free Traders makes this very clear. What- 
ever else the Protectionists failed to prove, they were able 
to demonstrate that the condition of the people in free- 
trade countries was quite as bad as anywhere else, and, on 
the other hand, the Free Traders were equally conclusive in 
the proofs they presented that the people in protected coun- 
tries, other things being equal, were no better off than those 
in free-trade lands. The question of Protection or Free 
Trade interested the capitalists only. For the people, it was 
the choice between the devil and the deep sea." 

" Let us have a concrete illustration," said the teacher. 
"Take the case of England. She was beyond comparison 
the country of all others in the nineteenth century which 
had most foreign trade and commanded most foreign mar- 
kets. If a large volume of foreign trade under conditions 
practically dictated by its capitalists was under the profit 
system a source of national prosperity to a country, we 
should expect to see the mass of the British people at the 
end of the nineteenth century enjoying an altogether ex- 
traordinary felicity and general welfare as compared with 
that of other peoples or any former people, for never before 
did a nation develop so vast a foreign commerce. What 
were the facts ? " 

" It was common," replied the girl, " for our ancestors in 
the vague and foggy way in which they used the terms 
' nation ' and ' national ' to speak of Great Britain as rich. 
But it was only her capitalists, some scores of thousands of 
individuals among some forty million people, who were 
rich. These indeed had incredible accumulations, but the 
remainder of the forty millions — the whole people, in fact, 
save an infinitesimal fraction — were sunk in poverty. It is 
said that England had a larger and more hopeless pauper 
problem than any other civilized nation. The condition of 
her working masses was not only more wretched than that 
of many contemporary people, but was worse, as proved by 
the most careful economic couiparisons, than it had been in 
the fifteenth century, before foreign trade was thought of. 
People do not emigrate from a land where they are well off, 
but the British people, driven out by want, had found the 
frozen Canadas and the torrid zone more hospitable than 


their native land. As an illustration of the fact that the 
welfare of the working masses was in no way improved 
when the capitalists of ' a country commanded foreign 
markets, it is interesting to note the fact that the British 
emigrant was able to make a better living in English 
colonies whose markets were wholly dominated by English 
cajDitalists than he had been at home as the employee of 
those capitalists. We shall remember also that Malthus, 
with his doctrine that it was the best thing that could 
happen to a workingman not to be born, was an English- 
man, and based his conclusions very logically upon his 
observation of the conditions of life for the masses in that 
country which had been more successful than any other in 
any age in monopolizing the foreign markets of the world 
by its commerce. 

" Or," the lad went on, " take Belgium, that old Flemish 
land of merchants, where foreign trade had been longer 
and more steadily used than in any other European coun- 
try. In the latter part of the nineteenth century the mass 
of the Belgian people, the hardest- worked population in the 
world, was said to have been, as a rule, without adequate 
food — to be undergoing, in short, a process of slow starva- 
tion. They, like the people of England and the people of 
Germany, are proved, by statistical calculations upon the 
subject that have come down to us, to have been economic- 
ally very much better off during the fifteenth and early 
part of the sixteenth century, when foreign trade was hardly 
known, than they were in the nineteenth. There was a 
possibility before foreign trade for profit began that a popu- 
lation might obtain some share of the richness of a bountiful 
land just from the lack of any outlet for it. But with the 
beginning of foreign commerce, under the profit system, 
that possibility vanished. Thenceforth everything good or 
desirable, above what might serve for the barest subsistence 
of labor, was systematically and exhaustively gathered up 
by the capitalists, to be exchanged in foreign lands for gold 
and gems, silks, velvets, and ostrich plumes for the rich. As 
Goldsmith had it : 

" Around the world each needful product flies 
For all the luxuries the world supplies." 


" To what has the struggle of the nations for foreign 
markets in the nineteenth century been aptly compared ? " 

" To a contest between galleys manned by slaves, whose 
owners were racing for a prize." 

" In such a race, which crew was likely to fare worse, 
that of the winning or the losing galley ? " 

" That of the winning galley, by all means," replied the 
girl, "for the supposition is that, other conditions being 
equal, it was the more sorely scourged." 

" Just so," said the teacher, " and on the same principle, 
when the capitalists of two countries contended for the sup- 
plying of a foreign market it was the workers subject to the 
successful group of capitalists who were most to be pitied, 
for, other conditions being equal, they were likely to be 
those whose wages had been cut lowest and whose general 
condition was most degraded." 

"But tell us," said the teacher, "were there not instances 
of a general poverty in countries having no foreign trade as 
great as prevailed in the countries you have mentioned ? " 

" Dear me, yes ! " replied the girl. " I have not meant to 
convey any impression that because the tender mercies of 
the foreign capitalists were cruel, those of the domestic cap- 
italist were any less so. The comparison is merely between 
the operation of the profit system on a larger or smaller 
scale. So long as the profit system was retained, it would 
be all one in the end, whether you built a wall around a 
country and left the people to be exploited exclusively by 
home capitalists, or threw the wall down and let in the 



"Now, Florence," said the teacher, "with your assist- 
ance we will take up the closing topic in our consideration 
of the economic system of our fathers — namely, its hostility 
to invention and improvement. It has been our painful 


duty to point out numerous respects in which our respected 
ancestors were strangely blind to the true character and 
effects of their economic institutions, but no instance per- 
haps is more striking than this. Far from seeing the neces- 
sary antagonism between private capitalism and the march 
of improvement which is so plain to us, they appear to have 
sincerely believed that their system was peculiarly favora- 
ble to the progress of invention, and that its advantage in 
this respect was so great as to be an important set-off to its 
admitted ethical defects. Here there is decidedly a broad 
difference in opinion, but fortunately the facts are so well 
authenticated that we shall have no difficulty in concluding 
which view is correct. 

" The subject divides itself into two branches : First, the 
natural antagonism of the old system to economic changes ; 
and, second, the effect of the profit principle to minimize if 
not wholly to nullify the benefit of such economic improve- 
ments as were able to overcome that antagonism so far as 
to get themselves introduced. — Now, Florence, tell us what 
there was about the old economic system, the system of pri- 
vate capitalism, which made it constitutionally opposed to 
changes in methods." 

" It was," replied the girl, " the fact that it consisted of 
independent vested interests without any principle of co- 
ordination or combination, the result being that the eco- 
nomic welfare of every individual or group was wholly 
dependent upon his or its particular vested interest without 
regard to others or to the welfare of the whole body." 

"Please bring out your meaning by comparing our 
modern system in the respect you speak of with private 

" Our system is a strictly integrated one — that is to say, 
no one has any economic interest in any part or function of 
the economic organization which is distinct from his inter- 
est in every other part and function. His only interest is 
in the greatest possible output of the whole. We have our 
several occupations, but only that we may work the more 
efficiently for the common fund. We may become very 
enthusiastic about our special pursuit, but as a matter of 
sentiment only, for our economic interests are no more 


dependent upon our special occupation than upon any other. 
We share equally in the total product, whatever it is." 

''How does the integrated character of the economic 
system affect our attitude toward improvements or inven- 
tions of any sort in economic processes ? " 

"We welcome them with eagerness. Why should we 
not ? Any improvement of this sort must necessarily re- 
dound to the advantage of every one in the nation and to 
every one's advantage equally. If the occupation affected 
by the invention happens to be our particular employment 
we lose nothing, though it should make that occupation 
wholly superfluous. We might in that case feel a little 
sentimental regret over the passing away of old habits, but 
that is all. No one's substantial interests are in any way 
more identified with one pursuit than another. All are in 
the service of the nation, and it is the business and interest 
of the nation to sec that every one is provided with other 
work as soon as his former occupation becomes unnecessary 
to the general weal, and under no circumstances is his rate 
of maintenance affected. From its first production every 
improvement in economic processes is therefore an unal- 
loyed blessing to all. The inventor comes bringing a gift of 
greater wealth or leisure in his hand for every one on earth, 
and it is no wonder that the people's gratitude makes his re- 
ward the most enviable to be won by a public benefactor." 

" Now, Florence, tell us in what way the multitude of 
distinct vested interests which made up private capitalism 
operated to produce an antagonism toward economic inven- 
tions and improvements." 


" As I have said," replied the girl, " everybody's interest 
was wholly confined to and bound up with the particular 
occupation he was engaged in. If he was a capitalist, his 
capital was embarked in it ; if he was an artisan, his capital 
was the knowledge of some particular craft or part of a 
crafty and he depended for his livelihood on the demand for 
the sort of work he had learned how to do. Neither as 
capitalist or artisan, as employer or employee, had he any 
economic interest or dependence outside of or larger than 


his special business. Now, the effect of any new idea, inven- 
tion, or discovery for economic application is to dispense 
more or less completely with the process formerly used in 
that department, and so far to destroy the economic basis of 
the occupations connected with that business. Under our 
system, as I have said, that means no loss to anybody, but 
simply a shifting of workers, with a net gain in wealth or 
leisure to all ; but then it meant ruin to those involved in 
the change. The capitalist lost his capital, his plant, his 
investments more or less totally, and the workingmen lost 
their means of livelihood and were thrown on what you 
well called the cold charity of the world — a charity usually 
well below zero ; and this loss without any rebate or com- 
pensation whatever from the public at large on account of 
any general benefit that might be received from the inven- 
tion. It was complete. Consequently, the most beneficent 
of inventions was cruel as death to those who had been de- 
pendent for living or for profit on the particular occupa- 
tions it affected. The capitalists gi'ew gray from fear of 
discoveries which in a day might turn their costly plants to 
old iron fit only for the junkshop, and the nightmare of the 
artisan was some machine which should take bread from 
his children's mouths by enabling his employer to dispense 
with his services. 

" Owing to this division of the economic field into a set 
of vested personal and group interests wholly without co- 
herency or integrating idea, each standing or falling by 
and for itself, every step in the advance of the arts and 
sciences was gained only at the cost of an amount of loss 
and ruin to particular portions of the community such as 
would be wrought by a blight or pestilence. The march of 
invention was white with the bleaching bones of innumer- 
able hecatombs of victims. The spinning jenny replaced 
the spinning wheel, and famine stalked through English 
villages. The railroad supplanted the stagecoach, and a 
thousand hill towns died while as many sprang up in the 
valleys, and the farmers of the East were pauperized by the 
new agriculture of the West. Petroleum succeeded whale- 
oil, and a hundred seaports withered. Coal and iron were 
found in the South, and the grass grew in the streets of the 


Northern centers of iron-making-. Electricity succeeded 
steam, and billions of railroad property were wiped out. 
But what is the use of lengthening a list which might be 
made interminable ? The rule was always the same : every 
important invention brought uncompensated disaster to 
some portion of the people. Armies of bankruj)ts, hosts of 
workers forced into vagabondage, a sea of suffering of every 
sort, made up the price which our ancestors paid for every 
step of progress. 

"Afterward, when the victims had been buried or put 
out of the way, it was customary with our fathers to cele- 
brate these industrial triumphs, and on such occasions a 
common quotation in the mouths of the orators was a line 
of verse to the effect that — 

" Peace hath her victories not less renowned than those of war. 

The orators were not wont to dwell on the fact that these 
victories of what they so oddly called peace were usually 
purchased at a cost in human life and suffering quite as 
great as — yes, often gTeater than — those of so-called war. 
We have all read of Tamerlane's pyramid at Damascus 
made of seventy thousand skulls of his victims. It may be 
said that if the victims of the various inventions connected 
with the introduction of steam had consented to contribute 
their skulls to a monument in honor of Stevenson or 
Arkwright it would dwarf Tamerlane's into insignificance. 
Tamerlane was a beast, and Arkwright was a genius sent to 
help men, yet the hideous juggle of the old-time economic 
system made the benefactor the cause of as much human 
suffering as the brutal conqueror. It was bad enough when 
men stoned and crucified those who came to help them, but 
private capitalism did them a worse outrage still in turning 
the gifts they brought into curses." 

" And did the workers and the capitalists whose inter- 
ests were threatened by the progress of invention take prac- 
tical means of resisting that progress and suppressing tlie 
inventions and the inventors ? " 

" They did all they could in that way. If the working- 
men had been strong enough they would have put an abso- 
lute veto on inventions of any sort tending to diminish the 


demand for crude hand labor in tlieir respective crafts. As 
it was, they did all it was possible for them to accomplish in 
that direction by trades-union dictation and mob violence ; 
nor can any one blame the poor fellows for resisting to 
the utmost improvements which improved them out of 
the means of livelihood. A machine gun would have been 
scarcely more deadly if turned upon the workingmen of that 
day than a labor-saving machine. In those bitter times a 
man thrown out of the employment he had fitted himself 
for might about as well have been shot, and if he were not 
able to get any other work, as so many were not, he would 
have been altogether better off had he been killed in battle 
with the drum and fife to cheer him and the hope of a pension 
for his family. Only, of course, it was the system of private 
capitalism and not the labor-saving machine which the work- 
ingmen should have attacked, for with a rational economic 
system the machine would have been wholly beneficent." 
" How did the capitalists resist inventions ? " 
" Chiefly by negative means, though much more effective 
ones than the mob violence which the workingmen used. 
The initiative in everything belonged to tlie capitalists. No 
inventor could introduce an invention, however excellent, 
unless he could get capitalists to take it up, and this usually 
they would not do unless the inventor relinquished to them 
most of his hopes of profit from the discovery. A much 
more important hindrance to the introduction of inventions 
resulted from the fact that those who would be interested in 
taking them up were those already carrying on the business 
the invention applied to, and their interest was in most cases 
to suppress an innovation which threatened to make obso- 
lete the machinery and methods in which their capital was 
invested. The capitalist had to be fully assured not only 
that the invention was a good one in itself, but that it would 
be so profitable to himself personally as to make up for all 
the damage to his existing capital before he would touch it. 
When inventions wholly did away with processes which had 
been the basis of profit-charging it was often suicidal for the 
capitalist to adopt them. If they could not suppress such 
inventions in any other way, it was their custom to buy 
them up and pigeonhole them. After the Revolution there 


were found enough of these patents which had heen bought 
up and pigeonholed in self -protection by the capitalists to 
have kept the world in novelties for ten years if nothing 
more had been discovered. One of the most tragical chap- 
ters in the history of the old order is made up of the diffi- 
culties, rebuffs, and lifelong disappointments which inventors 
had to contend with before they could get their discoveries 
introduced, and the frauds by which in most cases they were 
swindled out of the profits of them by the capitalists through 
whom their introduction was obtained. These stories seem, 
indeed, well-nigh incredible nowadays, when the nation is 
alert and eager to foster and encourage every stirring of the 
inventive spirit, and every one with any sort of new idea 
can command the offices of the administration without cost 
to safeguard his claim to priority and to furnish him all 
possible facilities of information, material, and appliances 
to perfect his conception." 

" Considering," said the doctor, " that these facts as to 
the resistance offered by vested interests to the march of im- 
provement must have been even more obvious to our ances- 
tors than to us, how do you account for the belief they seem 
to have sincerely held that private capitalism as a system 
was favorable to invention ? " 

"Doubtless," replied the girl, "it was because they saw 
that whenever an invention was introduced it was under 
the patronage of capitalists. This was, of course, necessarily 
so because all economic initiative was confined to the capi- 
talists. Our forefathers, observing that inventions when 
introduced at all were introduced through the machinery of 
private capitalism, overlooked the fact that usually it was 
only after exhausting its power as an obstruction to inven- 
tion that capital lent itself to its advancement. They were 
in this respect like children who, seeing the water pouring 
over the edge of a dam and coming over nowhere else, 
should conclude that the dam was an agency for aiding the 
flow of the river instead of being an obstruction which let 
it over only when it could be kept back no longer." 

" Our lesson," said the teacher, " relates in strictness only 
to the economic results of the old order, but at times the 


theme suggests aspects of former social conditions too im- 
portant to pass without mention. We have seen how ob- 
structive was the system of vested interests which underlaid 
private capitalism to the introduction of improvements and 
inventions in the economic field. But there was another 
field in which the same influence was exerted with effects 
really far more important and disastrous. — Tell us, Flor- 
ence, something of the manner in which the vested interest 
system tended to resist the advance of new ideas in the field 
of thought, of morals, science, and religion." 

"Previous to the great Revolution," the girl replied, 
" the highest education not being universal as with us, but 
limited to a small body, the members of this body, known as 
the learned and professional classes, necessarily became the 
moral and intellectual teachers and leaders of the nation. 
They molded the thoughts of the people, set them their 
standards, and through the control of their minds domi- 
nated their material interests and determined the course of 
civilization. No such power is now monopolized by any 
class, because the high level of general education would 
make it impossible for any class of mere men to lead the 
people blindly. Seeing, however, that such a power was 
exercised in that day and limited to so small a class, it was 
a most vital point that this class should be qualified to dis- 
charge so responsible a duty in a spirit of devotion to the 
general weal unbiased by distracting motives. But under 
the system of private capitalism, which made every person 
and group economically dependent upon and exclusively 
concerned in the prosperity of the occupation followed by 
himself and his group, this ideal was impossible of attain- 
ment. The learned class, the teachers, the preachers, writers, 
and professional men were only tradesmen after all, just 
like the shoemakers and the carpenters, and their welfare 
was absolutely bound up with the demand for the particu- 
lar sets of ideas and doctrines they represented and the par- 
ticular sorts of professional services they got their living by 
rendering. Each man's line of teaching or preaching was 
his vested interest — the means of his livelihood. That being 
so, the members of the learned and professional class were 
bound to be affected by innovations in their departments 


precisely as shoemakers or carpenters by inventions affect- 
ing their trades. It necessarily followed that when any 
new idea was suggested in religion, in medicine, in science, 
in economics, in sociology, and indeed in almost any field of 
thought, the first question which the learned body having 
charge of that field and making a living out of it would ask 
itself was not whether the idea was good and true and would 
tend to the general welfare, but how it would immediately 
and directly affect the set of doctrines, traditions, and institu- 
tions, with the prestige of which their own personal inter- 
ests were identified. If it was a new religious conception 
that had been suggested, the clergyman considered, first of 
all, how it would affect his sect and his personal standing in 
it. If it were a new medical idea, the doctor asked first how 
it would affect the practice of the school he was identified 
with. If it was a new economic or social theory, then all 
those whose professional capital was their reputation as 
teachers in that branch questioned first how the new idea 
agreed with the doctrines and traditions constituting their 
stock in trade. Now, as any new idea, almost as a matter 
of course, must operate to discredit previous ideas in the 
same field, it followed that the economic self-interest of the 
learned classes would instinctively and almost invariably 
be opposed to reform or advance of thought in their fields. 

" Being human, they were scarcely more to be blamed 
for involuntarily regarding new ideas in their specialties 
with aversion than the weaver or the brickmaker for re- 
sisting the introduction of inventions calculated to take the 
bread out of his mouth. And yet consider what a tremen- 
dous, almost insurmountable, obstacle to human progress 
was presented by the fact that the intellectual leaders of the 
nations and the molders of the people's thoughts, by their 
economic dependence upon vested interests in established 
ideas, were biased against progress by the strongest mo- 
tives of self-interest. When we give due thought to the 
significance of this fact, we shall find ourselves wondering 
no longer at the slow rate of human advance in the past, 
but rather that there should have been any advance at all." 




" The general subject of tlie hostility of private capital- 
ism to progress," pursued the teacher, "divides itself, as I 
said, into two branches. First, the constitutional antago- 
nism between a system of distinct and separate vested in- 
terests and all unsettling changes which, whatever their 
ultimate effect, must be directly damaging to those inter- 
ests. We will now ask you, Harold, to take up the second 
branch of the subject — namely, the effect of the profit prin- 
ciple to minimize, if not wholly to nullify, the benefit to the 
community of such inventions and improvements as were 
able to overcome the antagonism of vested interests so far as 
to get themselves introduced. The nineteenth century, in- 
cluding the last quarter of the eighteenth, was marked by 
an astonishing and absolutely unprecedented number of 
great inventions in economic processes. To what was this 
outburst of inventive genius due ? " 

" To the same cause," replied the boy, " which accounts 
for the rise of the democratic movement and the idea of 
human equality during the same period — that is to say, the 
diffusion of intelligence among the masses, which, for the 
first time becoming somewhat general, multiplied ten-thou- 
sandfold the thinking force of mankind, and, in the political 
aspect of the matter, changed the purpose of that thinking 
from the interest of the few to that of the many." 

" Our ancestors," said the teacher, " seeing that this out- 
burst of invention took place under private capitalism, as- 
sumed that there must be something in that system pecul- 
iarly favorable to the genius of invention. Have you any- 
thing to say on that point beyond what has been said ? " 

"Nothing," replied the boy, "except that by the same 
rule we ought to give credit to the institutions of royalty, 
nobility, and plutocracy for the democratic idea which 
under their fostering influence during the same period grew 
to flowering in the great Revolution." 

" I think that will do on that point," answered the 


teacher. " We wiU now ask you to tell us something more 
particularly of this great period of invention which began 
in the latter part of the eighteenth century." 


"From the times of antiquity up to the last quarter 
of the eighteenth century," said the lad, "there had been 
almost no progress in the mechanical sciences save as to 
shipbuilding and arms. From 1780, or thereabouts, dates 
the beginning of a series of discoveries of sources of power, 
and their application by machinery to economic purposes, 
which, during the century following, completely revolu- 
tionized the conditions of industry and commerce. Steam 
and coal meant a multiplication of human energy in the 
production of wealth which was almost incalculable. For 
industrial purposes it is not too much to say that they trans- 
formed man from a pygmy to a Titan. These were, of 
course, only the greatest factors in a countless variety of 
discoveries by which prodigious economies of labor were 
effected in every detail of the arts by which human life is 
maintained and ministered to. In agriculture, where Na- 
ture, which can not be too much hurried, is a large partner, 
and wherein, therefore, man's part is less controlling than in 
other industries, it might be expected that the increase of 
productive energy through human invention would be least. 
Yet here it was estimated that agricultural machinery, as 
most perfectly developed in America, had multiplied some 
fifteenfold the product of the individual worker. In most 
sorts of production less directly dependent upon Nature, in- 
vention during this period had multiplied the efficiency of 
labor in a much greater degree, ranging from fifty and a 
hundred-fold to several thousand-fold, one man being able 
to accomplish as much as a small army in all previous ages." 

" That is to say," said the teacher, " it would seem that 
while the needs of the human race had not increased, its 
power to supply those needs had been indefinitely multi- 
plied. . This prodigious increase in the potency of labor was 
a clear net economic gain for the world, such as the previous 
history of the race furnished nothing comparable to. It 
was as if God had given to man his power of attorney in 


full, to coimnand all the forces of the universe to serve him. 
Now, Harold, suppose you had merely been told as nmch as 
you have told us concerning the hundredfold multiplication 
of the wealth-producing power of the race which took place 
at this period, and were left, without further information, to 
infer for yourself how great a change for the better in the 
condition of mankind would naturally follow, what would 
it seem reasonable to suppose ? " 

"It would seem safe to take for granted at the least," 
replied the boy, " that every form of human unhappiness or 
imperfection resulting directly or indirectly from economic 
want would be absolutely banished from the earth. That the 
very meaning of the word poverty would have been forgotten 
would seem to be a matter-of-course assumption to begin with. 
Beyond that we might go on and fancy almost anything in 
the way of universal diffusion of luxury that we pleased. 
The facts given as the basis of the speculation would justify 
the wildest day-dreams of universal happiness, so far as ma- 
terial abundance could directly or indirectly minister to it." 

"Very good, Harold. "We know now what to expect 
when you shall go on to tell us what the historical facts 
are as to the degree of improvement in the economic con- 
dition of the mass of the race, which actually did result 
from the great inventions of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries. Take the condition of the mass of the people in 
the advanced countries at the close of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, after they had been enjoying the benefits of coal and 
steam, and the most of the other great inventions for a cen- 
tury, more or less, and comparing it with their condition, 
say, in 1780, give us some idea of the change for the better 
which had taken place in their economic welfare. Doubt- 
less it was something marvelous." 

" It was a subject of much nice debate and close figuring," 
replied the boy, "whether in the most advanced countries 
there had been, taking one class with another, and disregard- 
ing mere changes in fashions, any real improvement at all 
in the economic basis of the great majority of the people." 

" Is it possible that the improvement had been so small 
that there could be a question raised whether there had been 
any at all ? " 


"Precisely so. As to the English people in the nine- 
teenth century, Florence has given us the facts in speaking 
of the effects of foreign commerce. The English had not 
only a greater foreign commerce than any other nation, but 
had also made earlier and fuller use of the great inventions 
than any other. She has told us that the sociologists of the 
time had no difficulty in proving that the economic condi- 
tion of the English people was more wretched in the latter 
part of the nineteenth century than it had been centuries 
previous, before steam had been thought of, and that this 
was equally true of the peoples of the Low Countries, and 
tlie masses of Germany. As to the working masses of Italy 
and Spain, they had been in much better economic condition 
during periods of the Roman Empire than they were in the 
nineteenth century. If the French were a little better off in 
the nineteenth than in the eighteenth century, it was owing 
wholly to the distribution of land effected by the French 
Revolution, and in no way to the great inventions." 
" How was it in the United States ? " 
" If America," replied the lad, " had shown a notable im- 
provement in the condition of the people, it would not be 
necessary to ascribe it to the progress of invention, for the 
wonderful economic opportunities of a new country had 
given them a vast though necessarily temporary advantage 
over other nations. It does not appear, however, that there 
was any more agreement of testimony as to whether the 
condition of the masses had on the whole improved in 
America than in the Old World. In the last decade of 
the nineteenth century, with a view to allaying the discon- 
tent of the wage-earners and the farmers, which was then 
beginning to swell to revolutionary volume, agents of the 
United States Government published elaborate comparisons 
of wages and prices, in which they argued out a small per- 
centage of gain on the whole in the economic condition of 
the American artisans during the century. At this distance 
we can not, of course, criticise these calculations in detail, 
but we may base a reasonable doubt of the conclusion that 
the condition of the masses had very greatly improved upon 
the existence of the popular discontent which they were 
published in the vain hope of moderating. It seems safe to 


assume that the people were better acquainted with their own 
condition than the sociologists, and it is certain that it was 
the growing conviction of the American masses during the 
closing decades of the nineteenth century that they were los- 
ing ground economically and in danger of sinking into the 
degraded condition of the proletariat and peasantry of the 
ancient and contemporary European world. Against the 
laborious tabulations of the apologists of capitalism we may 
adduce, as far superior and more convincing evidence of the 
economic tendency of the American people during the latter 
part of the nineteenth century, such signs of the times as 
the growth of beggary and vagabondage to Old World pro- 
portions, the embittered revolts of the wage-earners which 
kept up a constant industrial war, and finally the condi- 
tion of bankruptcy into which the farming population was 

" That will do as to that point," said the teacher. " In 
such a comparison as this small margins and nice points of 
difference are impertinent. It is enough that if the indefi- 
nite multiplication of man's wealth-producing power by 
inventive progress had been developed and distributed with 
any degree of intelligence for the general interest, poverty 
would have disappeared and comfort if not luxury have be- 
come the universal condition. This being a fact as plain 
and large as the sun, it is needless to consider the hair- 
splitting debates of the economists as to whether the condi- 
tion of this or that class of the masses in this or that country 
was a grain better or two grains worse than it had been. It 
is enough for the purpose of the argument that nobody any- 
where in any country pretended that there had been an im- 
provement noticeable enough to make even a beginning 
toward that complete transformation in the human condi- 
tion for the better, of which the great inventions by universal 
admission had contained the full and immediate promise 
and potency. 

"And now tell us, Harold, what our ancestors had to say 
as to this astonishing fact — a fact more marvelous than the 
great inventions themselves, namely, their failure to prove 
of any considerable benefit to mankind. Surely a phenome- 
non at once so amazing in itself and involving so prodigious 


a defeat to the hopes of human happiness must have set a 
world of rational beings to speculating in a very impassioned 
way as to what the explanation might be. One would sup- 
pose that the facts of this failure with which our ancestors 
were confronted would have been enough to convince them 
that there must be something radically and horribly wrong 
about any economic system which was responsible for it or 
had permitted it, and that no further argument would have 
been wanted to induce them to make a radical change in it." 
"One would think so, certainly," said the boy, "but it 
did not seem to occur to our great-gi-andfathers to hold 
their economic system to any responsibility for the result. 
As we have seen, they recognized, however they might dis- 
pute as to percentages, that the great inventions had failed 
to make any notable improvement in the human condition, 
but they never seemed to get so far as to inquire seriously 
why this was so. In the voluminous works of the econo- 
mists of the period we find no discussions, much less any 
attempt to explain, a fact which to our view absolutely over- 
shadows all the other features of the economic situation be- 
fore the Revolution. And the strangest thing about it all 
is that their failure to derive any benefit worth speaking of 
from the progress of invention in no way seemed to dampen 
the enthusiasm of our ancestors about the inventions. They 
seemed fairly intoxicated with the pride of their achieve- 
ments, barren of benefit as they had been, and then* day 
dreams were of further discoveries that to a yet more amazing 
degree should put the forces of the universe at their disi)osal. 
None of them apparently paused to reflect that though God 
might empty his treasure house for their benefit of its every 
secret of use and of power, the race would not be a whit the 
better off for it unless they devised some economic machin- 
ery by which these discoveries might be made to serve the 
general welfare more effectually than they had done before. 
They do not seem to have realized that so long as poverty 
remained, every new invention which multiplied the power 
of wealth production was but one more charge in the indict- 
ment against their ' economic system as guilty of an imbe- 
cility as great as its iniquity. They appear to have wholly 
overlooked the fact that until their mighty engines should 


be devoted to increasing human welfare they were and 
would continue mere curious scientific toys of no more real 
worth or utility to the race than so many particularly in- 
genious jumping-jacks. This craze for more and more and 
ever greater and wider inventions for economic purposes, 
coupled with apparent complete indifference as to whether 
mankind derived any ultimate benefit from them or not, 
can only be understood by regarding it as one of those 
strange epidemics of insane excitement which have been 
known to affect whole populations at certain periods, espe- 
cially of the middle ages. Rational explanation it has none." 
"You may well say so," exclaimed the teacher. "Of 
what use indeed was it that coal had been discovered, when 
there were still as many fireless homes as ever ? Of what 
use was the machinery by which one man could weave as 
much cloth as a thousand a century before when there were 
as many ragged, shivering human beings as ever ? Of what 
use was the machinery by which the American farmer could 
produce a dozen times as much food as his grandfather when 
there were more cases of starvation and a larger propor- 
tion of half -fed and badly fed people in the country than 
ever before, and hordes of homeless, desperate vagabonds 
traversed the land, begging for bread at every door ? They 
had invented steamships, these ancestors of ours, that were 
miracles, but their main business was transporting paupers 
from lands where they had been beggared in spite of labor- 
saving machinery to newer lands where, after a short space, 
they would inevitably be beggared again. About the mid- 
dle of the nineteenth century the world went wild over the 
invention of the sewing-machine and the burden it was to 
lift from the shoulders of the race. Yet, fifty years after, 
the business of garment-making, which it had been expected 
to revolutionize for the better, had become a slavery both in 
America and Europe which, under the name of the ' sweat- 
ing system,' scandalized even that tough generation. They 
had lucifer matches instead of flint and steel, kerosene and 
electricity instead of candles and whale-oil, but the specta- 
cles of squalor, misery, and degradation upon which the 
improved light shone were the same and only looked the 
worse for it. What few beggars there had been in America 


in the first quarter of the nineteenth century went afoot, 
while in the last quarter they stole their transportation on 
trains di'awn by steam engines, but there were fifty times 
as many beggars. The world traveled sixty miles an horn- 
instead of five or ten at the beginning of the century, but 
it had not gained an inch on poverty, which clung to it as 
the shadow to the racer." 


''Now, Helen," pursued the teacher, "we want you to 
explain the facts that Harold has so clearly brought out. 
We want you to tell us why it was that the economic con- 
dition of humanity derived but a barely perceptible advan- 
tage at most, if indeed any at all, from an inventive progress 
which by its indefinite multiplication of productive energy 
should by every rule of reason have completely transformed 
for the better the economic condition of the race and wholly 
banished want from earth. What was there about the old 
system of private capitalism to account for a fiasco so tre- 
mendous ? " 

" It was the operation of the profit principle," replied the 
girl Helen, 

" Please proceed with the explanation." 

" The great economic inventions which Harold has been 
talking about," said the girl, "were of the class of what 
were called labor-saving machines and devices — that is to 
say, they enabled one man to produce more than before 
with the same labor, or to produce the same as before with 
less labor. Under a collective administration of industry 
in the equal general interest like ours, the effect of any such 
invention would be to increase the total output to be shared 
equally among all, or, if the people preferred and so voted, 
the output would remain what it was, and the saving of 
labor be appropriated as a dividend of leisure to be equally 
enjoyed by all. But under the old system there was, of 
course, no collective administration. Capitalists were the 
administrators, being the only persons who were able to 
carry on extensive operations or take the initiative in eco- 
nomic enterprises, and in what they did or did not do they 
had no regard to the public interest or the general gain, but 


to their own profit only. The only motive which could in- 
duce a capitalist to adopt an invention was the idea of in- 
creasing his profits either by getting a larger product at the 
same labor cost, or else getting the same product at a re- 
duced labor cost. We will take the first case. Suppose a 
capitalist in adopting labor-saving machinery calculated to 
keep all his former employees and make his profit by get- 
ting a larger product with the same labor cost. Now, when 
a capitalist proposed to increase his output without the aid of 
a machine he had to hire more workers, who must be paid 
wages to be afterward expended in purchasing products in 
the market. In this case, for every increase of product there 
was some increase, although not at all an equal one, in the 
buying power of the community. But when the capitalist in- 
creased his output by the aid of machinery, with no increase 
in the number of workers employed, there was no correspond- 
ing increase of purchasing power on the part of the commu- 
nity to set off against the increased product. A certain 
amount of purchasing power went, indeed, in wages to the 
mechanics who constructed the labor-saving machines, but 
it was small in comparison with the increase in the output 
which the capitalist expected to make by means of the ma- 
chinery, otherwise it would have been no object to him to 
buy the machine. The increased product would therefore 
tend directly to glut yet more the always glutted market ; 
and if any considerable number of capitalists should intro- 
duce machinery in the same way, the glut would become 
intensified into a crisis and general stoppage of production. 

" In order to avert or minimize such a disaster, the capi- 
talists could take one or two courses. They could, if they 
chose, reduce the price of their increased machine product 
so that the purchasing power of the community, which had 
remained stationary, could take it up at least as nearly as it 
had taken up the lesser quantity of higher-priced product 
before the machinery was introduced. But if the capitalists 
did this, they would derive no additional profit whatever 
from the adoption of the machinery, the whole benefit 
going to the community. It is scarcely necessary to say that 
this was not what the capitalists were in business for. The 
other course before them was to keep their product where 


it was before introducing the machine, and to realize their 
profit by discharging the workers, thus saving on the labor 
cost of the output. This was the course most commonly- 
taken, because the glut of goods was generally so threaten- 
ing that, except when inventions opened up wholly new 
fields, capitalists were careful not greatly to increase out- 
puts. For example, if the machine enabled one man to do 
two men's work, the capitalist would discharge half of his 
force, put the saving in labor cost in his pocket, and still 
produce as many goods as ever. Moreover, there was an- 
other advantage about this plan. The discharged workers 
swelled the numbers of the unemployed, who were under- 
bidding one another for the opportunity to work. The in- 
creased desperation of this competition made it possible 
presently for the capitalist to reduce the wages of the half 
of his former force which he still retained. That was the 
usual result of the introduction of labor-saving machinery : 
First, the discharge of workers, then, after more or less time, 
reduced wages for those who were retained. 

" If I understand you, then," said the teacher, " the effect 
of labor-saving inventions was either to increase the prod- 
uct without any corresponding increase in the purchasing 
power of the community, thereby aggravating the glut of 
goods, or else to positively decrease the purchasing power of 
the community, through discharges and wage reductions, 
while the product remained the same as before. That is to 
say, the net result of labor-saving machinery was to increase 
the difference between the production and consumption of 
the community which remained in the hands of the capital- 
ists as profit." 

" Precisely so. The only motive of the capitalist in in- 
introducing labor-saving machinery was to retain as profit 
a larger share of the product than before by cutting down 
the share of labor — that is to say, labor-saving machinery 
which should have banished poverty from the world became 
the means under the profit system of impoverishing the 
masses more rapidly than ever." 

" But did not the competition among the capitalists com- 
pel them to sacrifice a part of these inci'eased profits in re- 
ductions of prices in order to get rid of their goods ? " 


" Undoubtedly ; but such reductions in price would not 
increase the consuming power of the people except when 
taken out of profits, and, as John explained to us this morn- 
ing, when capitalists were forced by competition to reduce 
their prices they saved their profits as long as possible by 
making up for the reductions in price by debasing the qual- 
ity of the goods or cutting down wages until the public and 
the wage-earners could be cheated and squeezed no longer. 
Then only did they begin to sacrifice profits, and it was then 
too late for the impoverished consumers to respond by in- 
creasing consumption. It was always, as John told us, in 
the countries where the people were poorest that the prices 
were lowest, but without benefit to the people." 


" And now," said the teacher, " I want to ask you some- 
thing about the effect of labor-saving inventions upon a 
class of so-called capitalists who made up the greater half 
of the American people — I mean the farmers. In so far 
as they owned their farms and tools, however encumbered 
by debts and mortgages, they were technically capitalists, 
although themselves quite as pitiable victims of the capital- 
ists as were the proletarian artisans. The agricultural labor- 
saving inventions of the nineteenth century in America 
were something simply marvelous, enabling, as we have 
been told, one man to do the work of fifteen a century before. 
Nevertheless, the American farmer was going straight to 
the dogs all the while these inventions were being intro- 
duced. Now, how do you account for that ? Why did 
not the farmer, as a sort of capitalist, pile up his profits on 
labor-saving machinery like the other capitalists ? " 

" As I have said," replied the girl, " the profits made by 
labor-saving machinery resulted from the increased produc- 
tiveness of the labor employed, thus enabling the capitalist 
either to turn out a greater product with the same labor cost 
or an equal product with a less labor cost, the workers sup- 
planted by the machine being discharged. The amount of 
profits made was therefore dependent on the scale of the 
business carried on — that is, the number of workers em- 
ployed and the consequent figure which labor cost made in 


the business. When farming was carried on upon a very- 
large scale, as were the so-called bonanza farms in the United 
States of that period, consisting of twenty to thirty thousand 
acres of land, the capitalists conducting them did for a time 
make great profits, which were directly owing to the labor- 
saving agricultural machines, and would have been impos- 
sible without them. These machines enabled them to put 
a greatly increased product on the market with small 
increase of labor cost or else the same product at a great 
decrease of labor cost. But the mass of the American farm- 
ers operated on a small scale only and employed very little 
labor, doing largely their own work. They could therefore 
make little profit, if any, out of labor-saving machinery by 
discharging employees. The only way they could utilize it 
was not by cutting down the expense of their output but 
by increasing the amount of the output through the in- 
creased eflSciency of their own labor. But seeing that there 
had been no increase meanwhile in the purchasing power 
of the community at large, there was no more money de- 
mand for their products than before, and consequently if 
the general body of farmers through labor-saving machinery 
increased their output, they could dispose of the greater ag- 
gregate only at a reduced price, so that in the end they 
would get no more for the greater output than for the less. 
Indeed, they would not get so much, for the efi'ect of even a 
small surplus when held by weak capitalists who could not 
keep it back, but must press for sale, had an effect to reduce 
the market price quite out of proportion to the amount of 
the surplus. In the United States the mass of these small 
farmers was so great and their pressure to sell so desperate 
that in the latter part of the century they destroyed the mar- 
ket not only for themselves but finally even for the great 
capitalists who conducted the great farms." 

" The conclusion is, then, Helen," said the teacher, "that 
the net effect of labor-saving machinery upon the mass of 
small farmers in the United States was ruinous." 

" Undoubtedly," replied the girl. " This is a case in 
which the historical facts absolutely confirm the rational 
theory. Thanks to the profit system, inventions which 
multiplied the productive i^ower of the farmer fifteen fold 


made a bankrupt of him, and so long as the profit system 
was retained there was no help for him." 

" Were farmers the only class of small capitalists who 
were injured rather than helped by labor-saving machinery ?" 

" The rule was the same for all small capitalists whatever 
- business they were engaged in. Its basis, as I have said, 
was the fact that the advantage to be gained by the capital- 
ists from introducing labor-saving machinery was in pro- 
portion to the amount of labor which the machinery enabled 
them to dispense with — that is to say, was dependent upon the 
scale of their business. If the scale of the capitalist's opera- 
tions was so small that he could not make a large saving in re- 
duced labor cost by introducing machinery, then the introduc- 
tion of such machinery put hira at a crushing disadvantage as 
compared with larger capitalists. Labor-saving machinery 
was in this way one of the most potent of the influences 
which toward the close of the nineteenth century made it 
impossible for the small capitalists in any field to compete 
with the great ones, and helped to concentrate the economic 
dominion of the world in few and ever fewer hands." 

" Suppose, Helen, that the Revolution had not come, that 
labor-saving machinery had continued to be invented as fast 
as ever, and that the consolidation of the great capitalists' 
interests, already foreshadowed, had been completed, so that 
the waste of profits in competition among themselves had 
ceased, what would have been the result ? " 

" In that case," replied the girl," all the wealth that had 
been wasted in commercial rivalry would have been ex- 
pended in luxury in addition to what had been formerly so 
expended. The new machinery year by year would have 
gone on making it possible for a smaller and ever smaller 
fraction of the population to produce all the necessaries for 
the support of mankind, and the rest of the world, includ- 
ing the great mass of the workers, would have found em- 
ployment in unproductive labor to provide the materials of 
luxury for the rich or in personal services to them. The 
world would thus come to be divided into three classes : a 
master caste, very limited in numbers ; a vast body of unpro- 
ductive workers employed in ministering to the luxury and 
pomp of the master caste ; and a small body of strictly pro- 


ductive workers, which, owing to the perfection of ma- 
chinery, would be able to provide for the needs of all. It 
is needless to say that all save the masters would be at the 
minimum point as to means of subsistence. Decaying* em- 
pires in ancient times have often presented such spectacles 
of imperial and aristocratic splendor, to the supply and 
maintenance of which the labor of starving nations was 
devoted. But no such spectacle ever presented in the past 
would have been comparable to that which the twentieth 
century would have witnessed if the great Revolution had 
permitted private capitalism to complete its evolution. In 
former ages the great mass of the population has been 
necessarily employed in productive labor to supply the 
needs of the world, so that the portion of the working force 
available for the service of the pomp and pleasures of the 
masters as unproductive laborers has always been relatively 
small. But in the plutocratic empire we are imagining, the 
genius of invention, through labor-saving machinery, would 
have enabled the masters to devote a greater proportion of 
the subject population to the direct service of their state and 
luxury than had been possible under any of the historic 
despotisms. The abhorrent spectacles of men enthroned as 
gods above abject and worshiping masses, which Assyria, 
Egypt, Persia, and Rome exhibited in their day, would have 
been eclipsed." 

" That will do, Helen," said the teacher. " With your 
testimony we will wind up our review of the economic 
system of private capitalism which the great Revolution 
abolished forever. There are of course a multitude of other 
aspects and branches of the subject which we might take 
up, but the study would be as unprofitable as depressing. 
We have, I think, covered the essential points. If you un- 
derstand why and how profits, rent, and interest operated to 
limit the consuming power of most of the community to a 
fractional part of its productive power, thereby in turn cor- 
respondingly crippling the latter, you have the open secret 
of the poverty of the world before the Revolution, and of 
the impossibility of any important or lasting improvement 
from any source whatever in the economic circumstances 
of mankind, until and unless private capitalism, of which 


the profit system with rent and interest were necessary and 
inseparable parts, should be put an end to." 



" And now," the teacher went on, g-lancing at the g-allery 
where tlie doctor and I had been sitting unseen, " I have a 
great surprise for you. Among those who have listened to 
your recitation to-day, both in the forenoon and afternoon, 
has been a certain personage whose identity you ought to 
be able to infer when I say that, of all persons now on 
earth, he is absolutely the one best able, and the only one 
fully able, to judge how accurate your portrayal of nine- 
teenth-century conditions has been. Lest the knowledge 
should disturb your equanimity, I have refrained from tell- 
ing you, until the present moment, that we have present 
with us this afternoon a no less distinguished visitor than 
Julian West, and that with great kindness he has consented 
to permit me to present you to him." 

I had assented, rather reluctantly, to the teacher's re- 
quest, not being desirous of exposing myself unnecessarily 
to curious staring. But I had yet to make the acquaintance 
of twentieth-century boys and girls. When they came 
around me it was easy to see in the wistful eyes of the girls 
and the moved faces of the boys how deeply their imagina- 
tions were stirred by the suggestions of my presence among 
them, and how far their sentiment was from one of common 
or frivolous curiosity. The interest they showed in me 
was so wholly and delicately sympathetic that it could not 
have ofPended the most sensitive temperament. 

This had indeed been the attitude of all the persons 
of mature years whom I had met, but I had scarcely ex- 
pected the same considerateness from school children. I 
had not, it seemed, sufficiently allowed for the influence 
upon manners of the atmosphere of refinement which sur- 
rounds the child of to-day from the cradle. These young 


people had never seen coarseness, rudeness, or brusqueness 
on the part of any one. Their confidence had never been 
abused, their sympathy wounded, or their suspicion excited. 
Having never imagined such a thing as a person socially 
superior or inferior to themselves, they had never learned 
but one sort of manners. Having never had any occasion 
to create a false or deceitful impression or to accomplish 
anything by indirection, it was natural that they should 
not know what affectation was. 

Truly, it is these secondary consequences, these moral 
and social reactions of economic equality to create a noble 
atmosphere of human intercourse, that, after all, have been 
the greatest contribution which the principle has made to 
human happiness. 

At once I found myself talking and jesting with the 
young people as easily as if I had always known them, and 
what with their interest in what I told them of the old-time 
schools, and my delight in their naive comments, an hour 
slipped away unnoticed. Youth is always inspiring, and 
the atmosphere of these fresh, beautiful, ingenuous lives was 
like a wine bath. 

Florence ! Esther ! Helen ! Marion ! Margaret ! George ! 
Eobert ! Harold ! Paul ! — Never shall I forget that group of 
star-eyed girls and splendid lads, in whom I first made ac- 
quaintance with the boys and girls of the twentieth century. 
Can it be that God sends sweeter souls to earth now that the 
world is so much fitter for them ? 



It was one of those Indian summer afternoons when it 
seems sinful waste of opportunity to spend a needless hour 
within. Being in no sort of hurry, the doctor and I char- 
tered a motor-carriage for two at the next station, and 
set forth in the general direction of home, indulging our- 
selves in as many deviations from the route as pleased our 


fancy. Presently, as we rolled noiselessly over the smooth 
streets, leaf -strewn from the bordering colonnades of trees, 
I began to exclaim about the precocity of school children 
who at the age of thirteen or fourteen were able to handle 
themes usually reserved in my day for the college and uni- 
versity. This, however, the doctor made light of. 

"Political economy," he said, "from the time the world 
adopted the plan of equal sharing of labor and its results, 
became a science so simple that any child who knows 
the proper way to divide an apple with his little brothers 
has mastered the secret of it. Of course, to point out the 
fallacies of a false political economy is a very simple 
matter also, when one has only to compare it with the 
true one. 

"As to intellectual precocity in general," pursued the 
doctor, " I do not think it is particularly noticeable in our 
children as compared with those of your day. We certainly 
make no effort to develop it, A bright school child of 
twelve in the nineteenth century would probably not com- 
pare badly as to acquirements with the average twelve-year- 
old in our schools. It would be as you compared them ten 
years later that the difference in the educational systems 
would show its effect. At twenty-one or twenty-two the 
average youth would probably in your day have been little 
more advanced in education than at fourteen, having prob- 
ably left school for the factory or farm at about that age or 
a couple of years later unless perhaps he happened to be 
one of the children of the rich minority. The correspond- 
ing child under our system would have continued his or her 
education without break, and at twenty-one have acquired 
what you used to call a college education." 

" The extension of the educational machinery necessary 
to provide the higher education for all must have been 
enormous," I said. " Our primary-school system provided 
the rudiments for nearly all children, but not one in twenty 
went as far as the grammar school, not one in a hundred as 
far as the high school, and not one in a thousand ever saw 
a college. The great universities of my day — Harvard, Yale, 
and the rest — must have become small cities in order to re- 
ceive the students flocking to them." 


" They would need to be very large cities certainly," re- 
plied the doctor, " if it were a question of their undertaking 
the higher education of our youth, for every year we gradu- 
ate not the thousands or tens of thousands that made up 
your annual grist of college graduates, but millions. For 
that very reason — that is, the numbers to be dealt with — we 
can have no centers of the higher education any more than 
you had of the primary education. Every community has 
its university just as formerly its common schools, and has 
in it more students from the vicinage than one of your 
great universities could collect with its drag net from the 
ends of the earth." 

" But does not the reputation of particular teachers attract 
students to special universities ? " 

" That is a matter easily provided for," replied the doctor. 
" The perfection of our telephone and electroscope systems 
makes it possible to enjoy at any distance the instruction of 
any teacher. One of much popularity lectures to a million 
pupils in a whisper, if he happens to be hoarse, much easier 
than one of your professors could talk to a class of fifty 
when in good voice." 

" Really, doctor," said I, " there is no fact about your 
civilization that seems to open so many vistas of . possibility 
and solve beforehand so many possible difficulties in the 
arrangement and operation of your social system as this 
universality of culture. I am bound to say that nothing 
that is rational seems impossible in the way of social adjust- 
ments when once you assume the existence of that condi- 
tion. My own contemporaries fully recognized in theory, 
as you know, the importance of popular education to secure 
good government in a democracy ; but our system, which 
barely at best taught the masses to spell, was a farce indeed 
compared with the popular education of to-day." 

"Necessarily so," replied the doctor. "The basis of 
education is economic, requiring as it does the maintenance 
of the pupil without economic return during the educa- 
tional period. If the education is to amount to anything, 
that period must cover the years of childhood and ado- 
lescence to the age of at least twenty. That involves a very 
large expenditure, which not one parent in a thousand was 


able to support in your day. The state might have assumed 
it, of course, but that would have amounted to the rich sup- 
porting the children of the poor, and naturally they would 
not hear to that, at least beyond the primary grades of edu- 
cation. And even if there had been no money question, the 
rich, if they hoped to retain their power, would have been 
crazy to provide for the masses destined to do their dirty 
work — a culture which would have made them social rebels. 
For these two reasons your economic system was incom- 
patible with any popular education worthy of the name. 
On the other hand, the first efPect of economic equality was 
to provide equal educational advantages for all and the best 
the community could afford. One of the most interesting 
chapters in the history of the Revolution is that which tells 
how at once after the new order was established the young 
men and women under twenty-one years of age who had 
been working in fields or factories, perhaps since childhood, 
left their work and poured back into the schools and col- 
leges as fast as room could be made for them, so that they 
might as far as possible repair their early loss. All alike 
recognized, now that education had been made economically 
possible for all, that it was the greatest boon the new order 
had brought. It recorded also in the books that not only 
the youth, but the men and women, and even the elderly 
who had been without educational advantages, devoted all 
the leisure left from their industrial duties to making up, 
so far as possible, for their lack of earlier advantages, that 
they might not be too much ashamed in the presence of a 
rising generation to be composed altogether of college 
graduates. » 

" In speaking of our educational system as it is at pres- 
ent," the doctor went on, " I should guard you against the 
possible mistake of supposing that the course which ends at 
twenty-one completes the educational curriculum of the 
average individual. On the contrary, it is only the re- 
quired minimum of culture which society insists that all 
youth shall receive during their minority to make them 
barely fit for citizenship. We should consider it a very 
meager education indeed that ended there. As we look at 
it, the graduation from the schools at the attainment of ma- 


jority means merely that the graduate has reached an age 
at which he can be presumed to be competent and has the 
right as an adult to carry on his further education without 
the guidance or compulsion of the state. To provide means 
for this end the nation maintains a vast system of what you 
would call elective post-graduate courses of study in every 
branch of science, and these are open freely to every one 
to the end of life to be pursued as long or as briefly, as con- 
stantly or as intermittently, as profoundly or superficially, 
as desired. 

"The mind is really not fit for many most important 
branches of knowledge, the taste for them does not awake, 
and the intellect is not able to grasp them, until mature life, 
when a month of application will give a comprehension of 
a subject which years would have been wasted in trying to 
impart to a youth. It is our idea, so far as possible, to post- 
pone the serious study of such branches to the post-graduate 
schools. Young people must get a smattering of things in 
general, but really theirs is not the time of life for ardent 
and effective study. If you would see enthusiastic students 
to whom the pursuit of knowledge is the greatest joy of life 
you must seek them among the middle-aged fathers and 
mothers in the post-graduate schools. 

" For the proper use of these opportunities for the life- 
long pursuit of knowledge we find the leisure of our lives, 
which seems to you so ample, all too small. And yet that 
leisure, vast as it is, with half of every day and half of 
every year and the whole latter half of life sacred to per- 
sonal uses — even the aggregate of these great spaces, grow- 
ing greater with every labor-saving invention, which are 
reserved for the higher uses of life, would seem to us of 
little value for intellectual culture, but for a condition com- 
manded by almost none in your day but secured to all by 
our institutions. I mean the moral atmosphere of serenity 
resulting from an absolute freedom of mind from disturbing 
anxieties and carking cares concerning our material welfare 
or that of those dear to us. Our economic system puts us 
in a position where we can follow Christ's maxim, so impos- 
sible for you, to 'take no thought for the morrow.' You 
must not understand, of course, that all our people are stu- 


dents or philosophers, but you may understand that we are 
more or less assiduous and systematic students and school- 
goers all our lives." 

" Eeally, doctor," I said, " I do not remember that you 
have ever told me anything that has suggested a more com- 
plete and striking contrast between your age and mine than 
this about the persistent and growing development of the 
purely intellectual interests through life. In my day there 
was, after all, only six or eight years' diflPerence in the dura- 
tion of the intellectual life of the poor man's son drafted into 
the factory at fourteen and the more fortunate youth's who 
went to college. If that of the one stopped at fourteen, that 
of the other ceased about as completely at twenty-one or 
twenty-two. Instead of being in a position to begin his 
real education on graduating from college, that event meant 
the close of it for the average student, and was the high- 
water mark of his life, so far as concerned the culture and 
knowledge of the sciences and humanities. In these respects 
the average college man never afterward knew so much as 
on his graduation day. For immediately thereafter, unless 
of the richest class, he must needs plunge into the turmoil 
and strife of business life and engage in the struggle for the 
material means of existence. Whether he failed or suc- 
ceeded, made little difference as to the effect to stunt and 
wither his intellectual life. He had no time and could com- 
mand no thought for anything else. If he failed, or barely 
avoided failure, perpetual anxiety ate out his heart ; and if 
he succeeded, his success usually made him a grosser and 
more hopelessly self-satisfied materialist than if he had 
failed. There was no hope for his mind or soul either 
way. If at the end of life his efforts had won him a little 
breathing space, it could be of no high use to him, for the 
spiritual and intellectual parts had become atrophied from 
disuse, and were no longer capable of responding to op- 

"And this apology for an existence," said the doctor, 
" was the life of those whom you counted most fortunate 
and most successful — of those who were reckoned to have 
won the prizes of life. Can you be surprised that we look 
back to the great Revolution as a sort of second creation of 


man, inasmuch as it added the conditions of an adequate 
mind and soul life to the bare physical existence under 
more or less agreeable conditions, which was about all the 
life the most of human beings, rich or poor, had up to that 
time known ? The effect of the struggle for existence in 
arresting, with its engrossments, the intellectual develop- 
ment at the very threshold of adult life would have been 
disastrous enough had the character of the struggle been 
morally unobjectionable. It is when we come to consider 
that the struggle was one which not only prevented mental 
culture, but was utterly withering to the moral life, that 
we fully realize the unfortunate condition of the race be- 
fore the Revolution. Youth is visited with noble aspirations 
and high dreams of duty and perfection. It sees the world 
as it should be, not as it is ; and it is well for the race if the 
institutions of society are such as do not offend these moral 
enthusiasms, but rather tend to conserve and develop them 
through life. This, I think, we may fully claim the modem 
social order does. Thanks to an economic system which 
illustrates the highest ethical idea in all its workings, the 
youth going forth into the world finds it a practice school 
for all the moralities. He finds full room and scope in its 
duties and occupations for every generous enthusiasm, 
every unselfish aspiration he ever cherished. He can not 
possibly have formed a moral idea higher or completer 
than that which dominates our industrial and commercial 

" Youth was as noble in your day as now, and dreamed 
the same great dreams of life's possibilities. But when the 
young man went forth into the world of practical life it was 
to find his dreams mocked and his ideals derided at every 
turn. He found himself compelled, whether he would or 
not, to take part in a fight for life, in which the first condi- 
tion of success was to put his ethics on the shelf and cut the 
acquaintance of his conscience. You had various terms 
with which to describe the process whereby the young man, 
reluctantly laying aside his ideals, accepted the conditions 
of the sordid struggle. You described it as a ' learning to 
take the world as it is,' 'getting over romantic notions,' 
' becoming practical,' and all that. In fact, it was nothing 


more nor less than the debauching of a soul. Is that too 
much to say ? 

" It is no more than the truth, and we all knew it," I 

" Thank God, that day is over forever ! The father need 
now no longer instruct the son in cynicism lest he should 
fail in life, nor the mother her daughter in worldly wisdom 
as a protection from generous instinct. The parents are 
worthy of their children and fit to associate with them, as it 
seems to us they were not and could not be in your day. 
Life is all the way through as spacious and noble as it seems 
to the ardent child standing on the threshold. The ideals 
of perfection, the enthusiasms of self-devotion, honor, love, 
and duty, which thrill the boy and girl, no longer yield 
with advancing years to baser motives, but continue to ani- 
mate life to the end. You remember what Wordsworth 
said : 

" Heaven i5es about us in our infancy. 
Shades of the prison house begin to close 
Upon the growing boy. 

I think if he were a partaker of our life he would not have 
been moved to extol childhood at the expense of maturity, 
for life grows ever wider and higher to the last." 


"neither in this mountain nor at JERUSALEM." 

The next morning, it being again necessary for Edith to 
report at her post of duty, I accompanied her to the railway 
station. While we stood waiting for the train my attention 
was drawn to a distinguished-looking man who alighted 
from an incoming car. He appeared by nineteenth-cen- 
tury standards about sixty years old, and was therefore pre- 
sumably eighty or ninety, that being about the rate of 
allowance I have found it necessary to make in estimating 
the ages of my new contemporaries, owing to the slower ad- 


vent of signs of age in these times. On speaking to Edith of 
this person I was much interested when she informed me 
that he was no other than Mr. Barton, whose sermon by 
telephone had so impressed me on the first Sunday of my 
new life, as set forth in Looking Backward. Edith had just 
time to introduce me before taking the train. 

As we left the station together I said to my companion 
that if he would excuse the inquiry I should be interested 
to know what particular sect or religious body he repre- 

" My dear Mr. West," was the reply, " your question sug- 
gests that my friend Dr. Leete has not probably said much 
to you about the modern way of regarding religious matters." 

" Our conversation has turned but little on that subject," 
I answered, " but it will not surprise me to learn that your 
ideas and practices are quite different from those of my day. 
Indeed, religious ideas and ecclesiastical institutions were 
already at that time undergoing such rapid and radical de- 
composition that it was safe to predict if religion were to 
survive another century it would be under very different 
forms from any the past had known." 

" You have suggested a topic," said my companion, " of 
the greatest possible interest to me. If you have nothing 
else to do, and would like to talk a little about it, nothing 
would give me more pleasure." 

Upon receiving the assurance that I had absolutely 
no occupation except to pick up information about the 
twentieth century, Mr. Barton said : 

" Let us then go into this old church, which you will no 
doubt have already recognized as a relic of yom* time. 
There we can sit comfortably while we talk, amid surround- 
ings well fitted to our theme." 

I then perceived that we stood before one of the last- 
century church buildings which have been preserved as his- 
torical monuments, and, moreover, as it oddly enough fell 
out, that this particular church was no other than the one 
my family had always attended, and I as well — that is, 
whenever I attended any church, which was not often. 

" What an extraordinary coincidence ! " exclaimed Mr. 
Barton, when I told him this ; " who would have expected 


it ? Naturally, when you revisit a spot so fraught with 
affecting associations, you will wish to be alone. You 
must pardon my involuntary indiscretion in proposing to 
turn in here." 

" Really," I replied, " the coincidence is interesting 
merely, not at all affecting. Young men of my day did not, 
as a rule, take their church relations very seriously. I shall 
be interested to see how the old place looks. Let us go in, 
by all means." 

The interior proved to be quite unchanged in essential 
particulars since the last time I had been within its walls, 
more th^n a century before. That last occasion, I well re- 
membered, had been an Easter service, to which I had 
escorted some pretty country cousins who wanted to hear 
the music and see the flowers. No doubt the processes of 
decay had rendered necessary many restorations, but they 
had been carried out so as to preserve completely the orig- 
inal effects. 

Leading the way down the main aisle, I paused in front 
of the family pew. 

" This, Mr. Barton," I said, " is, or was, my pew. It is 
true that I am a little in arrears on pew rent, but I think I 
may venture to invite you to sit with me." 

I had truly told Mr. Barton that there was very little 
sentiment connected with such church relations as I had 
maintained. They were indeed merely a matter of fam- 
ily tradition and social propriety. But in another way 
I found myself not a little moved, as, dropping into my 
accustomed place at the head of the pew, I looked about the 
dim and silent interior. As my eye roved from pew to pew, 
my imagination called back to life the men and women, the 
young men and maidens, who had been wont of a Sunday, 
a hundred years before, to sit in those places. As I recalled 
their various activities, ambitions, hopes, fears, envies, and 
intrigues, all dominated, as they had been, by the idea of 
money possessed, lost, or lusted after, I was impressed not 
so much with the personal death which had come to these 
my old acquaintances as by the thought of the completeness 
with which the whole social scheme in which they had lived 
and moved and had their being had passed away. Not 


only were they gone, but their world was gone, and its place 
knew it no more. How strange, how artificial, how gro- 
tesque that world had been ! — and yet to them and to me, 
while I was one of them, it had seemed the only possible 
mode of existence. 

Mr. Barton, with delicate respect for my absorption, 
waited for me to break the silence. 

"No doubt," I said, "since you preserve our churches 
as curiosities, you must have better ones of your own for 

" In point of fact," my companion replied, " we have lit- 
tle or no use for churches at all." 

" Ah, yes ! I had forgotten for the moment that it was 
by telephone I heard your sermon. The telephone, in its 
present perfection, must indeed have quite dispensed with 
the necessity of the church as an audience room." 

" In other words," replied Mr. Barton, " when we assem- 
ble now we need no longer bring our bodies with us. It is 
a curious paradox that while the telephone and electroscope, 
by abolishing distance as a hindrance to sight and hear- 
ing, have brought mankind into a closeness of sympathetic 
and intellectual rapport never before imagined, they have 
at the same time enabled individuals, although keeping in 
closest touch with everything going on in the world, to en- 
joy, if they choose, a physical privacy, such as one had to 
be a hermit to command in your day. Our advantages in 
this respect have so far spoiled us that being in a crowd, 
which was the matter-of-course penalty you had to pay for 
seeing or hearing anything interesting, would seem too dear 
a price to pay for almost any enjoyment." 

" I can imagine," I said, " that ecclesiastical institutions 
must have been afPected in other ways besides the disuse of 
church buildings, by the general adaptation of the tele- 
phone system to religious teaching. In my day, the fact 
that no speaker could reach by voice more than a small 
group of hearers made it necessary to have a veritable army 
of preachers — some fifty thousand, say, in the United States 
alone — in order to instruct the population. Of these, not 
one in many hundreds was a person who had anything 
to utter really worth hearing. For example, we will say 


that fifty thousand clergymen preached every Sunday as 
many sermons to as many congregations. Four fifths of 
these sermons were poor, half of the rest perhaps fair, some 
of the others good, and a few score, possibly, out of the 
whole really of a fine class. Now, nobody, of course, would 
hear a poor discourse on any subject when he could just as 
easily hear a fine one, and if we had perfected the telephone 
system to the point you have, the result would have been, 
the first Sunday after its introduction, that everybody who 
wanted to hear a sermon would have connected with the 
lecture rooms or churches of the few widely celebrated 
preachers, and the rest would have had no hearers at 
all, and presently have been obliged to seek new occupa- 

Mr. Barton was amused. " You have, in fact, hit," he 
said, " upon the mechanical side of one of the most impor- 
tant contrasts between your times and ours — ^namely, the 
modern suppression of mediocrity in teaching, whether in- 
tellectual or religious. Being able to pick from the choicest 
intellects, and most inspired moralists and seers of the 
generation, everybody of course agrees in regarding it a 
waste of time to listen to any who have less weighty mes- 
sages to deliver. When you consider that all are thus able 
to obtain the best inspiration the greatest minds can give, 
and couple this with the fact that, thanks to the universality 
of the higher education, all are at least pretty good judges 
of what is best, you have the secret of what might be called 
at once the strongest safeguard of the degree of civilization 
we have attained, and the surest pledge of the highest possi- 
ble rate of progress toward ever better conditions — namely, 
the leadership of moral and intellectual genius. To one like 
you, educated according to the ideas of the nineteenth cen- 
tury as to what democracy meant, it may seem like a para- 
dox that the equalizing of economic and educational condi- 
tions, which has perfected democracy, should have resulted 
in the most perfect aristocracy, or government by the best, 
that could be conceived; yet what result could be more 
matter-of-course ? The people of to-day, too intelligent to 
be misled or abused for selfish ends even by demigods, are 
ready, on the other hand, to comprehend and to follow with 


enthusiasm every better leading. The result is, that our 
greatest men and women wield to-day an unselfish empire, 
more absolute than your czars dreamed of, and of an extent 
to make Alexander's conquests seem provincial. There are 
men in the world who when they choose to appeal to their 
fellow-men, by the bare announcement are able to command 
the simultaneous attention of one to five or eight hundred 
millions of people. In fact, if the occasion be a great one, 
and the speaker worthy of it, a world-wide silence reigns as 
in their various places, some beneath the sun and others 
under the stars, some by the light of dawn and others at 
sunset, all hang on the lips of the teacher. Such power 
would have seemed, perhaps, in your day dangerous, but 
when you consider that its tenure is conditional on the wis- 
dom and unselfishness of its exercise, and would fail with 
the first false note, you may judge that it is a dominion as 
safe as God's." 

" Dr. Leete," I said, " has told me something of the way 
in which the universality of culture, combined with your 
scientific appliances, has made physically possible this lead- 
ership of the best ; but, I beg your pardon, how could a 
speaker address numbers so vast as you speak of unless 
the Pentecostal miracle were repeated ? Surely the audi- 
ence must be limited at least by the number of those under- 
standing one language." 

"Is it possible that Dr. Leete has not told you of our 
universal language ? " 

"I have heard no language but English." 

"Of course, everybody talks the language of his own 
country with his countrymen, but with the rest of the 
world he talks the general language — that is to say, we 
have nowadays to acquire but two languages to talk to all 
peoples— our own, and the universal. We may learn as 
many more as we please, and we usually please to learn 
many, but these two are alone needful to go all over the 
world or to speak across it without an interpreter. A num- 
ber of -the smaller nations have wholly abandoned their 
national tongue and talk only the general language. The 
greater nations, which have fine literature embalmed in 
their languages, have been more reluctant to abandon them. 


and in this way the smaller folks have actually had a cer- 
tain sort of advantage over the greater. The tendency, 
however, to cultivate but one language as a living tongue 
and to treat all the others as dead or moribund is increasing 
at such a rate that if you had slept through another genera- 
tion you might have found none but philological experts 
able to talk with you." 

"But even with the universal telephone and the uni- 
versal language," I said, " there still remains the ceremonial 
and ritual side of religion to be considered. For the prac- 
tice of that I should suppose the piously inclined would still 
need churches to assemble in, however able to dispense with 
them for purposes of instruction." 

"If any feel that need, there is no reason why they 
should not have as many churches as they wish and assem- 
ble as often as they see fit. I do not know but there are 
still those who do so. But with a high grade of intelligence 
become universal the world was bound to outgrow the cere- 
monial side of religion, which with its forms and symbols, 
its holy times and places, its sacrifices, feasts, fasts, and new 
moons, meant so much in the child-time of the race. The 
time has now fully come which Christ foretold in that talk 
with the woman by the well of Samaria when the idea of 
the Temple and all it stood for would give place to the 
wholly spiritual religion, without respect of times or places, 
which he declared most pleasing to God. 

"With the ritual and ceremonial side of religion out- 
grown," said I, "with church attendance become superfiu- 
ous for purposes of instruction, and everybody selecting his 
own preacher on personal grounds, I should say that secta- 
rian lines must have pretty nearly disappeared." 

" Ah, yes ! " said Mr. Barton, " that reminds me that our 
talk began with your inquiry as to what religious sect I 
belonged to. It is a very long time since it has been cus- 
tomary for people to divide themselves into sects and classify 
themselves under different names on account of variations 
of opinion as to matters of religion." 

" Is it possible," I exclaimed, " that you mean to say peo- 
ple no longer quarrel over religion ? Do you actually tell 
me that human beings have become capable of entertaining 


different opinions about the next world without becoming 
enemies in this ? Dr. Leete has compelled me to believe a 
good many miracles, but this is too much." 

" I do not wonder that it seems rather a startling prop- 
osition, at first statement, to a man of the nineteenth cen- 
tury," replied Mr. Barton. " But, after all, who was it who 
started and kept up the quarreling over religion in former 
days ? " 

" It was, of course, the ecclesiastical bodies — the priests 
and preachers." 

"But they were not many. How were they able to 
make so much trouble ? " 

"On account of the masses of the people who, being 
densely ignorant, were correspondingly superstitious and 
bigoted, and were tools in the hands of the ecclesiastics." 

" But there was a minority of the cultured. Were they 
bigoted also ? Were they tools of the ecclesiastics ? " 

" On the contrary, they always held a calm and tolerant 
attitude on religious questions and were independent of the 
priesthoods. If they deferred to ecclesiastical influence at 
all, it was because they held it needful for the purpose of 
controlling the ignorant populace." 

" Very good. You have explained your miracle. There 
is no ignorant populace now for whose sake it is necessary 
for the more intelligent to make any compromises with 
truth. Your cultured class, with their tolerant and philo- 
sophical view of religious differences, and the criminal 
folly of quarreling about them, has become the only class 
there is." 

" How long is it since people ceased to call themselves 
Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, and so on ? " 

" That kind of classification may be said to have received 
a fatal shock at the time of the great Revolution, when 
sectarian demarcations and doctrinal differences, already 
fallen into a good deal of disregard, were completely swept 
away and forgotten in the passionate impulse of brotherly 
love which brought men together for the founding of a nobler 
social order. The old habit might possibly have revived in 
time had it not been for the new culture, which, during the 
first generation subsequent to the Revolution, destroyed the 


soil of ignorance and superstition which had supported 
ecclesiastical influence, and made its recrudescence impos- 
sible for evermore. 

" Although, of course," continued my companion, " the 
universalizing of intellectual culture is the only cause that 
needs to be considered in accounting for the total disappear- 
ance of religious sectarianism, yet it will give you a more 
vivid realization of the gulf fixed between the ancient and 
the modern usages as to religion if you consider certain 
economic conditions, now wholly passed away, which in your 
time buttressed the power of ecclesiastical institutions in very 
substantial ways. Of course, in the first place, church build- 
ings were needful to preach in, and equally so for the ritual 
and ceremonial side of religion. Moreover, the sanction 
of religious teaching, depending chiefly on the authority 
of tradition instead of its own reasonableness, made it 
necessary for any preacher who would command hearers 
to enter the service of some of the established sectarian or- 
ganizations. Religion, in a word, like industry and poli- 
tics, was capitalized by greater or smaller corporations 
which exclusively controlled the plant and machinery, and 
conducted it for the prestige and power of the firms. As 
all those who desired to engage in politics or industry 
were obliged to do so in subjection to the individuals and 
corporations controlling the machinery, so was it in reli- 
gious matters likewise. Persons desirous of entering on the 
occupation of religious teaching could do so only by con- 
forming to the conditions of some of the organizations con- 
trolling the machinery, plant, and good will of the business 
— that is to say, of some one of the great ecclesiastical cor- 
porations. To teach religion outside of these corporations, 
when not positively illegal, was a most difficult undertak- 
ing, however great the ability of the teacher — as difficult, in- 
deed, as it was to get on in politics without wearing a party 
badge, or to succeed in business in opposition to the great 
capitalists. The would-be religious teacher had to attach 
himself, therefore, to some one or other of the sectarian 
organizations, whose mouthpiece he must consent to be, as 
the condition of obtaining any hearing at all. The organi- 
zation might be hierarchical, in which case he took his in- 


structions from above, or it might be congregational, in 
which case he took his orders from below. The one method 
was monarchical, the other democratic, but one as inconsis- 
tent as the other with the office of the religious teacher, the 
first condition of which, as we look at it, should be absolute 
spontaneity of feeling and liberty of utterance. 

"It may be said that the old ecclesiastical system de- 
pended on a double bondage: first, the intellectual sub- 
jection of the masses through ignorance to their spiritual 
directors ; and, secondly, the bondage of the directors them- 
selves to the sectarian organizations, which as spiritual capi- 
talists monopolized the opportunities of teaching. As the 
bondage was twofold, so also was the enfranchisement — a 
deliverance alike of the peoj)le and of their teachers, who, 
under the guise of leaders, had been themselves but puppets. 
Nowadays preaching is as free as hearing, and as open to 
all. The man who feels a special calling to talk to his fel- 
lows upon religious themes has no need of any other capital 
than something worth saying. Griven this, without need of 
any further machinery than the free telephone, he is able 
to command an audience limited only by the force and fit- 
ness of what he has to say. He now does not live by his 
preaching. His business is not a distinct profession. He 
does not belong to a class apart from other citizens, either 
by education or occupation. It is not needful for any pur- 
pose that he should do so. The higher education which he 
shares with all others furnishes ample intellectual equip- 
ment, while the abundant ^leisure for personal pursuits with 
which our life is interfused, and the entire exemption from 
public duty after forty-five, give abundant opportunity for 
the exercise of his vocation. In a word, the modern reli- 
gious teacher is a prophet, not a priest. The sanction of his 
words lies not in any human ordination or ecclesiastical 
exequatur^ but, even as it was with the prophets of old, in 
such response as his words may have power to evoke from 
human hearts." 

" If people," I suggested, " still retaining a taste for the 
old-time ritual and ceremonial observances and face-to-face 
preaching, should desire to have churches and clergy for 
their special service, is there anything to prevent it ? " 


" No, indeed. Liberty is the first and last word of our civ- 
ilization. It is perfectly consistent with our economic sys- 
tem for a group of individuals, by contributing out of their 
incomes, not only to rent buildings for group purposes, but 
by indemnifying the nation for the loss of an individual's 
public service to secure him as their special minister. Though 
the state will enforce no private contracts of any sort, it does 
not forbid them. The old ecclesiastical system was, for a 
time after the Revolution, kept up by remnants in this way, 
and might be until now if anybody had wished. But the 
contempt into which the hireling relation had fallen at once 
after the Revolution soon made the position of such hired 
clergymen intolerable, and presently there were none who 
would demean themselves by entering upon so despised a 
relation, and none, indeed, who would have spiritual service, 
of all others, on such terms." 

" As you tell the story," I said, " it seems very plain how 
it all came about, and could not have been otherwise ; but 
you can perhaps hardly imagine how a man of the nine- 
teenth century, accustomed to the vast place occupied by 
the ecclesiastical edifice and influence in human affaii^, is 
affected by the idea of a world getting on without anything 
of the sort." 

" I can imagine something of your sensation," replied my 
companion, " though doubtless not adequately. And yet I 
must say that no change in the social order seems to us to 
have been more distinctly foreshadowed by the signs of the 
times in your day than precisely this passing away of 
the ecclesiastical system. As you yourself observed, just 
before we came into this church, there was then going 
on a general deliquescence of dogmatism which made 
your contempoi'aries wonder what was going to be left. 
The influence and authority of the clergy were rapidly dis- 
appearing, the sectarian lines were being obliterated, the 
creeds were falling into contempt, and the authority of 
tradition was being repudiated. Surely if anything could be 
safely predicted it was that the religious ideas and institu- 
tions of the world were approaching some great change." 

" Doubtless," said I, " if the ecclesiastics of my day had 
regarded the result as merely depending on the drift of opin- 


ion among men, they would have been inclined to give up 
all hope of retaining their influence, but there was another 
element in the case which gave them courage." 

" And what was that ? " 

" The women. They were in my day called the religious 
sex. The clergy generally were ready to admit that so far 
as the interest of the cultured class of men, and indeed of 
the men generally, in the churches went, they were in a 
bad way, but they had faith that the devotion of the women 
would save the cause. Woman was the sheet anchor of the 
Church. Not only were women the chief attendants at reli- 
gious functions, but it was largely through their influence on 
the men that the latter tolerated, even so far as they did, the 
ecclesiastical pretensions. Now, were not our clergymen 
justified in counting on the continued support of women, 
whatever the men might do ? " 

" Certainly they would have been if woman's position 
was to remain unchanged, but, as you are doubtless by this 
time well aware, the elevation and enlargement of woman's 
sphere in all directions was perhaps the most notable single 
aspect of the Revolution. When women were called the 
religious sex it would have been indeed a high ascription 
if it had been meant that they were the more spiritually 
minded, but that was not at all what the phrase signified to 
those who used it ; it was merely intended to put in a com- 
plimentary way the fact that women in your day were the 
docile sex. Less educated, as a rule, than men, unaccus- 
tomed to responsibility, and trained in habits of subordina- 
tion and self -distrust, they leaned in all things upon prece- 
dent and authority. Naturally, therefore, they still held to 
the principle of authoritative teaching in religion long after 
men had generally rejected it. All that was changed with 
the Revolution, and indeed began to change long before it. 
Since the Revolution there has been no difference in the 
education of the sexes nor in the independence of their eco- 
nomic and social position, in the exercise of responsibility or 
experience in the practical conduct of affairs. As you might 
naturally infer, they are no longer, as formerly, a pecul- 
iarly docile class, nor have they any more toleration for 
authority, whether in religion, politics, or economics, than 


their brethren. In every pursuit of life they join with men 
on equal terms, including the most important and engross- 
ing of all our pursuits — the search after knowledge concern- 
ing the nature and destiny of man and his relation to the 
spiritual and material infinity of which he is a part." 



" I INFER, then," I said, " that the disappearance of reli- 
gious divisions and the priestly caste has not operated to 
lessen the general interest in religion." 

" Should you have supposed that it would so operate ? " 

" I don't know. I never gave much tliought to such mat- 
ters. The ecclesiastical class represented that they were 
very essential to the conservation of religion, and the rest 
of us took it for granted that it was so." 

" Every social institution which has existed for a consid- 
erable time," replied Mr. Barton, " has doubtless performed 
some function which was at the time more or less useful 
and necessary. Kings, ecclesiastics, and capitalists — all of 
them, for that matter, merely different sorts of capitalists — 
have, no doubt, in their proper periods, performed functions 
which, however badly discharged, were necessary and could 
not then have been discharged in any better manner. But 
just as the abolition of royalty was the beginning of decent 
government, just as the abolition of private capitalism was 
the beginning of effective wealth production, so the disap- 
pearance of church organization and machinery, or ecclesi- 
astical capitalism, was the beginning of a world-awakening 
of impassioned interest in the vast concerns covered by the 
word religion. 

Necessary as may have been the subjection of the race to 
priestly authority in the course of human evolution, it was 
the form of tutelage which, of all others, was most calcu- 
lated to benumb and deaden the faculties affected by it, 
and the collapse of ecclesiasticism presently prepared the 


way for an enthusiasm of interest in the great problems of 
human nature and destiny which woukl have been scarcely 
conceivable by the worthy ecclesiastics of your day who 
with such painful efforts and small results sought to awake 
their flocks to spiritual concerns. The lack of general in- 
terest in these questions in your time was the natural re- 
sult of their monopoly as the special province of tlie 
priestly class whose members stood as interpreters between 
man and the mystery about him, undertaking to guarantee 
the spiritual welfare of all who would trust them. The de- 
cay of priestly authority left every soul face to face with 
that mystery, with the responsibility of its interpretation 
upon himself. The collapse of the traditional theologies re- 
lieved the whole subject of man's relation with the infi- 
nite from the oppressive effect of the false finalities of 
dogma which had till then made the most boundless of 
sciences the most cramped and narrow. Instead of the 
mind-paralyzing worship of the past and the bondage of 
the present to that which is written, the conviction took 
hold on men that there was no limit to what they might 
know concerning their nature and destiny and no limit to 
that destiny. The priestly idea that the past was diviner 
than the present, that God was behind the race, gave place 
to the belief that we should look forward and not back- 
ward for inspiration, and that the present and the future 
promised a fuller and more certain knowledge concerning 
the soul and God than any the past had attained." 

"Has this belief," I asked, "been thus far practically 
confirmed by any progress actually made in the assurance 
of what is true as to these things ? Do you consider that 
you really know more about them than we did, or that you 
know more positively the things which we merely tried to 
believe ? " 

Mr. Barton paused a moment before replying. 

" You remarked a little while ago," he said, " that your 
talks with Dr. Leete had as yet turned little on religious 
matters. In introducing you to the modern world it was 
entirely right and logical that he should dwell at first mainly 
upon the change in economic systems, for that has, of 
course, furnished the necessary material basis for all the 


other changes that have taken place. But I am sure that 
you will never meet any one who, being asked in what direc- 
tion the progress of the race during the past century has 
tended most to increase human happiness, would not reply 
that it had been in the science of the soul and its relation 
to the Eternal and Infinite. 

" This progress has been the result not merely of a more 
rational conception of the subject and complete intellectual 
freedom in its study, but largely also of social conditions 
which have set us almost wholly free from material en- 
grossments. We have now for nearly a century enjoyed an 
economic welfare which has left nothing to be wished for 
in the way of physical satisfactions, especially as in propor- 
tion to the increase of this abundance there has been 
through culture a development of simplicity in taste which 
rejects excess and surfeit and ever makes less and less of 
the material side of life and more of the mental and moral. 
Thanks to this co-operation of the material with the moral 
evolution, the more we have the less we need. Long ago it 
came to be recognized that on the material side the race had 
reached the goal of its evolution. We have practically lost 
ambition for further progress in that direction. The natural 
result has been that for a long period the main energies of 
the intellect have been concentrated upon the possibilities 
of the spiritual evolution of mankind for which the com- 
pletion of its material evolution has but prepared the begin- 
ning. What we have so far learned we are convinced is 
but the first faint inkling of the knowledge we shall attain 
to ; and yet if the limitations of this earthly state were such 
that we might never hope here to know more than now we 
should not repine, for the knowledge we have has sufficed 
to turn the shadow of death into a bow of promise and dis- 
till the saltness out of human tears. You will observe, as 
you shall come to know more of our literature, that one re- 
spect in which it differs from yours is the total lack of the 
tragic note. This has very naturally followed, from a con- 
ception of our real life, as having an inaccessible security, 
' hid in God,' as Paul said, whereby the accidents and vicis- 
situdes of the personality are reduced to relative triviality. 

" Your seei^ and poets in exalted moments had seen that 


death was but a step in life, but this seemed to most of you 
to have been a hard saying. Nowadays, as life advances 
toward its close, instead of being shadowed by gloom, it is 
marked by an access of impassioned expectancy which 
would cause the young to envy the old, but for the knowl- 
edge that in a little while the same door will be opened to 
them. In your day the undertone of life seems to have 
been one of unutterable sadness, which, like the moaning of 
the sea to those who live near the ocean, made itself audible 
whenever for a moment the noise and bustle of petty en- 
grossments ceased. Now this undertone is so exultant that 
we are still to hear it." 

"If men go on," I said, "growing at this rate in the 
knowledge of divine things and the sharing of the divine 
life, what will they yet come to ? " 

Mr. Barton smiled. 

" Said not the serpent in the old story, ' If you eat of 
the fruit of the tree of knowledge you shall be as gods ' ? 
The promise was true in words, but apparently there was 
some mistake about the tree. Perhaps it was the tree 
of selfish knowledge, or else the fruit was not ripe. The 
story is obscure. Christ later said the same thing when he 
told men that they might be the sons of God. But he made 
no mistake as to the tree he showed them, and the fruit was 
ripe. It was the fruit of love, for universal love is at once 
the seed and fruit, cause and effect, of the highest and com- 
pletest knol wedge. Through boundless love man becomes 
a god, for thereby is he made conscious of his oneness with 
God, and all things are put under his feet. It has been only 
since the great Eevolution brought in the era of human 
brotherhood that mankind has been able to eat abundantly 
of this fruit of the true tree of knowledge, and thereby 
grow more and more into the consciousness of the divine 
soul as the essential self and the true hiding of our lives. 
Yes, indeed, we shall be gods. The motto of the modern 
civilization is ' Eritis sicut Deus.'' " 

" You speak of Christ. Do I undertand that this modern 
religion is considered by you to be the same doctrine Christ 
taught ? " 

" Most certainly. It has been taught from the beginning 


of history and doubtless earlier, but Christ's teaching is 
that which has most fully and clearly come down to us. It 
was the doctrine that he taught, but the world could not 
then receive it save a few, nor indeed has it ever been pos- 
sible for the world in general to receive it or even to under- 
stand it until this present century." 

" Why could not the world receive earlier the revelation 
it seems to find so easy of comprehension now ? " 

" Because," replied Mr. Barton, " the prophet and revealer 
of the soul and of God, which are the same, is love, and until 
these latter days the world refused to hear love, but crucified 
him. The religion of Christ, depending as it did upon the 
experience and intuitions of the unselfish enthusiasms, 
could not possibly be accepted or understood generally by 
a world which tolerated a social system based upon fratri- 
cidal struggle as the condition of existence. Prophets, 
messiahs, seers, and saints might indeed for themselves 
see God face to face, but it was impossible that there 
should be any general apprehension of God as Christ 
saw him until social justice had brought in brotherly love. 
Man must be revealed to man as brother before God could 
be revealed to him as father. Nominally, the clergy pro- 
fessed to accept and repeat Christ's teaching that God is a 
loving father, but of course it was simply impossible that 
any such idea should actually germinate and take root in 
hearts as cold and hard as stone toward their fellow-beings 
and sodden with hate and suspicion of them. ' If a man 
love not his brother whom he hath seen, how shall he love 
God whom he hath not seen ? ' The priests deafened their 
flocks with appeals to love God, to give their hearts to 
him. They should have rather taught them, as Christ did, 
to love their fellow-men and give their hearts to them. 
Hearts so given the love of God would presently enkindle, 
even as, according to the ancients, fire from heaven might 
be depended on to ignite a sacrifice fitly prepared and laid. 

" From the pulpit yonder, Mr. West, doubtless you have 
many times heard these words and many like them repeated : 
' If we love one another God dwelleth in us and his love is 
perfected in us.' ' He that loveth his brother dwelleth in 
the light.' ' If any man say I love God, and hateth his broth- 


er, he is a liar.' 'He that loveth not his brother, abideth 
in death.' ' God is love and he that dwelleth in love 
dwelleth in God.' ' Every one that loveth knoweth God.' 
' He that loveth not knoweth not God.' 

" Here is the very distillation of Christ's teaching as to 
the conditions of entering on the divine life. In this we 
find the sufficient explanation why the revelation wliich 
came to Christ so long ago and to other illumined souls 
could not possibly be received by mankind in general so 
long as an inhuman social order made a wall between man 
and God, and why, the moment that wall was cast down, 
the revelation flooded the earth like a sunburst. 

" ' If we love one another God dwelleth in us,' and mark 
how the words were made good in the way by which at 
last the race found God! It was not, remember, by di- 
rectly, purposely, or consciously seeking God. The great 
enthusiasm of humanity which overthrew the old order 
and brought in the fraternal society was not primarily or 
consciously a godward aspiration at all. It was essen- 
tially a humane movement. It was a melting and flowing 
forth of men's hearts toward one another, a rush of contrite, 
repentant tenderness, an impassioned impulse of mutual 
love and self-devotion to the common weal. But 'if we 
love one another God dwelleth in us,' and so men found it. 
It appears that there came a moment, the most transcendent 
moment in the history of the race of man, when with the 
fraternal glow of this world of new-found embracing broth- 
ers there seems to have mingled the ineffable thrill of a 
divine participation, as if the hand of God were clasped 
over the joined hands of men. And so it has continued to 
this day and shall for evermore." 




After dinner the doctor said that he had an excursion to 
suggest for the afternoon. 

" It has often occurred to me," he went on, " that when 
you shall go out into the world and become familiar with 
its features by your own observation, you will, in looking 
back on these preparatory lessons I have tried to give you, 
form a very poor impression of my talent as a pedagogue. 
I am very much dissatisfied myself with the method in 
which I have developed the subject, which, instead of hav- 
ing been philosophically conceived as a plan of instruction, 
has been merely a series of random talks, guided rather by 
your own curiosity than any scheme on my part." 

"I am very thankful, my dear friend and teacher," I re- 
plied, " that you have spared me the philosophical method. 
Without boasting that I have acquired so soon a complete 
understanding of your modern system, I am very sure that 
I know a good deal more about it than I otherwise should, 
for the very reason that you have so good-naturedly fol- 
lowed the lead of my curiosity instead of tying me to the 
tailboard of a method." 

" I should certainly like to believe," said the doctor, 
" that our talks have been as instructive to you as they have 
been delightful to me, and if I have made mistakes it should 
be remembered that perhaps no instructor ever had or is 
likely to have a task quite so large as mine, or one so unex- 
pectedly thrust upon him, or, finally, one which, being so 
large, the natural curiosity of his pupil compelled him to 
cover in so short a time." 

" But you were speaking of an excursion for this after- 

" Yes," said the doctor. " It is a suggestion in the line 
of an attempt to remedy some few of my too probable omis- 
sions of important things in trying to acquaint you with 
how we live now. What do you say to chartering an air 
car this afternoon for the purpose of taking a bird's-eye 
view of the city and environs, and seeing what its various 


aspects may suggest in the way of features of present-day 
civilization which we have not touched upon ? " 

The idea struck me as admirable, and we at once pro- 
ceeded to put it in execution. 

In these brief and fragmentary reminiscences of my first 
experiences in the modern world it is, of course, impossible 
that I should refer to one in a hundred of the startling 
things which happened to me. Still, even with that limita- 
tion, it may seem strange to my readers that I have not 
had more to say of the wonder excited in my mind by the 
number and character of the great mechanical inventions 
and applications unknown in my day, which contribute to 
the material fabric and actuate the mechanism of your civ- 
ilization. For example, although this was very far from 
being my first air trip, I do not think that I have before 
referred to a sort of experience which, to a representative 
of the last century, must naturally have been nothing less 
than astounding. I can only say, by way of explanation of 
this seeming indifference to the mechanical wonders of this 
age, that had they been ten times more marvelous, they 
would still have impressed me with infinitely less aston- 
ishment than the moral revolution illustrated by your new 
social order. 

This, I am sure, is what would be the experience of any 
man of my time under my circumstances. The march of 
scientific discovery and mechanical invention during the 
last half of the nineteenth century had already been so 
great and was proceeding so rapidly that we were prepared 
to expect almost any amount of development in the same 
lines in the future. Your submarine shipping we had dis- 
tinctly anticipated and even partially realized. The discov- 
ery of the electrical powers had made almost any mechan- 
ical conception seem possible. As to navigation of the air, 
we fully expected that would be somehow successfully 
solved by our grandchildren if not by our children. If, in- 
deed, I had not found men sailing the air I should have 
been distinctly disappointed. 

But while we were prepared to expect well-nigh any- 
thing of man's intellectual development and the perfecting 


of his mastery over the material world, we were utterly- 
skeptical as to the possibility of any large moral improve- 
ment on his part. As a moral being, we believed that he 
had got his growth, as the saying was, and would never in 
this world at least attain to a nobler stature. As a philo- 
sophical proposition, we recognized as fully as you do that 
the golden rule would afford the basis of a social life in 
which every one would be infinitely happier than anybody 
was in our world, and that the true interest of all would be 
furthered by establishing such a social order ; but we held 
at the same time that the moral baseness and self -blinding 
selfishness of man would forever prevent him from realizing 
such an ideal. In vain, had he been endowed with a god- 
like intellect ; it would not avail him for any of the higher 
uses of life, for an ineradicable moral perverseness would 
always hinder him from doing as well as he knew and hold 
him in hopeless subjection to the basest and most suicidal 
impulses of his nature. 

" Impossible ; it is against human nature ! " was the cry 
which met and for the most part overbore and silenced every 
prophet or teacher who sought to rouse the world to discon- 
tent with the reign of chaos and awaken faith in the possi- 
bility of a kingdom of God on earth. 

Is it any wonder, then, that one like me, bred in that at- 
mosphere of moral despair, should pass over with compara- 
tively little attention the miraculous material achievements 
of this age, to study with ever-growing awe and wonder the 
secret of your just and joyous living ? 

As I look back I see now how truly this base view of 
human nature was the greatest infidelity to God and man 
which the human race ever fell into, but, alas ! it was not 
the infidelity which the churches condemned, but rather a 
sort which their teachings of man's hopeless depravity were 
calculated to implant and confirm. 

This very matter of air navigation of which I was speak- 
ing suggests a striking illustration of the strange combination 
on the part of my contemporaries of unlimited faith in 
man's material progress with total unbelief in his moral 
possibilities. As I have said, we fully expected that pos- 
terity would achieve air navigation, but the application of 


the art most discussed was its use in war to drop dynamite 
bombs in the midst of crowded cities. Try to realize that if 
you can. Even Tennyson, in his vision of the future, saw 
nothing more. You remember how he 

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, 

And there rained a ghastly dew 
From the nations airy navies, 

Grappling in the central blue. 


"And now," said the doctor, as he checked the rise of 
our car at an altitude of about one thousand feet, " let us 
attend to our lesson. What do you see down there to sug- 
gest a question ? " 

" Well, to begin with," I said, as the dome of the State- 
house caught my eye, " what on earth have you stuck up 
there ? It looks for all the world like one of those self- 
steering windmills the farmers in my day used to pump up 
water with. Surely that is an odd sort of ornament for a 
public building." 

" It is not intended as an ornament, but a symbol," re- 
plied the doctor. " It represents the modern ideal of a 
proper system of government. The mill stands for the ma- 
chinery of administration, the wind that drives it symbol- 
izes the public will, and the rudder that always keeps the 
vane of the mill before the wind, however suddenly or com- 
pletely the wind may change, stands for the method by 
which the administration is kept at all times responsive and 
obedient to every mandate of the people, though it be but a 

" I have talked to you so much on that subject that I 
need enlarge no further on the impossibility of having any 
popular government worthy of the name which is not based 
upon the economic equality of the citizens with its implica- 
tions and consequences. No constitutional devices or clev- 
erness of parliamentary machinery could have possibly 
made popular government anything but a farce, so long as 
the private economic interest of the citizen was distinct 
from and opposed to the public interest, and the so-called 


sovereign people ate their bread from the hand of capitalists. 
Given, on the other hand, economic unity of private inter- 
ests with public interest, the complete independence of 
every individual on every other, and universal culture to 
cap all, and no imperfection of administrative machinery 
could prevent the government from being a good one. 
Nevertheless, we have improved the machinery as much as 
we have the motive force. You used to vote once a year, 
or in two years, or in six years, as the case might be, for 
those who were to rule over you till the next election, and 
those rulers, from the moment of their election to the term 
of their offices, were as irresponsible as czars. They were 
far more so, indeed, for the czar at least had a supreme mo- 
tive to leave his inheritance unimpaired to his son, while 
these elected tyrants had no interest except in making the 
most they could out of their power while they held it. 

" It appears to us that it is an axiom of democratic gov- 
ernment that power should never be delegated irrevocably 
for an hour, but should always be subject to recall by the 
delegating power. Public officials are nowadays chosen for 
a term as a matter of convenience, but it is not a term posi- 
tive. They are liable to have their powers revoked at any 
moment by the vote of their principals ; neither is any meas- 
ure of more than merely routine character ever passed by a 
representative body without reference back to the people. 
The vote of no delegate upon any important measure can 
stand until his principals — or constituents, as you used to 
call them — have had the opportunity to cancel it. An elected 
agent of the people who offended the sentiment of the elect- 
ors would be displaced, and his act repudiated the next day. 
You may infer that under this system the agent is solicitous 
to keep in contact with his principals. Not only do these 
precautions exist against irresponsible legislation, but the 
original proposition of measures comes from the people 
more often than from their representatives. 

'' So complete through our telephone system has the most 
complicated sort of voting become, that the entire nation is 
organized so as to be able to proceed almost like one parlia- 
ment if needful. Our representative bodies, corresponding 
to your former Congresses, Legislatures, and Parliaments, are 


under this system reduced to the exercise of the functions of 
what you used to call congressional committees. The peo- 
ple not only nominally but actually govern. We have a 
democracy in fact. 

" We take pains to exercise this direct and constant su- 
pervision of our affairs not because we suspect or fear our 
elected agents. Under our system of indefeasible, unchange- 
able, economic equality there is no motive or opportunity 
for venality. There is no motive for doing evil that could 
be for a moment set against the overwhelming motive of 
deserving the public esteem, which is indeed the only pos- 
sible object that nowadays could induce any one to accept 
oflBce. All our vital interests are secured beyond disturbance 
by the very framework of society. We could safely turn 
over to a selected body of citizens the management of the 
public affairs for their lifetime. The reason we do not is 
that we enjoy the exhilaration of conducting the govern- 
ment of affairs directly. You might compare us to a wealthy 
man of your day who, though having in his service any 
number of expert coachmen, preferred to handle the reins 
himself for the pleasure of it. You used to vote perhaps 
once a year, taking five minutes for it, and grudging the 
time at that as lost from your private business, the pursuit 
of which you called, I believe, ' the main chance.' Our pri- 
vate busiDCss is the public business, and we have no other of 
importance. Our ' main chance ' is the public welfare, and 
we have no other chance. We vote a hundred times per- 
haps in a year, on all manner of questions, from the tem- 
perature of the public baths or the plan to be selected for a 
public building, to the greatest questions of the world union, 
and find the exercise at once as exhilarating as it is in the 
highest sense educational. 

" And now, Julian, look down again and see if you do 
not find some other feature of the scene to hang a question 


" I observe," I said, " that the harbor forts are still there. 
I suppose you retain them, like the specimen tenement 
houses, as historical evidences of the bai'barism of your an- 
cestors, my contemporaries." 


" You must not be ofPended," said the doctor, " if I say 
that we really have to keep a full assortment of such ex- 
hibits, for fear the children should flatly refuse to believe 
the accounts the books give of the unaccountable antics of 
their great-grandfathers." 

"The guarantee of international peace which the world 
union has brought," I said, ''must surely be regarded by 
your people as one of the most signal achievements of the 
new order, and yet it strikes me I have heard you say very 
little about it." 

" Of course," said the doctor, " it is a great thing in itself, 
but so incomparably less important than the abolition of the 
economic war between man and man that we regard it as 
merely incidental to the latter. Nothing is much more 
astonishing about the mental operations of your contem- 
poraries than the fuss they made about the cruelty of your 
occasional international wars while seemingly oblivious to 
the horrors of the battle for existence in which you all were 
perpetually involved. From our point of view, your wars, 
while of course very foolish, were comparatively humane 
and altogether petty exhibitions as contrasted with the fra- 
tricidal economic struggle. In the wars only men took 
part— strong, selected men, comprising but a very small 
part of the total population. There were no w^omen, no 
children, no old people, no cripples allowed to go to war. 
The wounded were carefully looked after, whether by 
friends or foes, and nursed back to health. The rules of 
war forbade unnecessary cruelty, and at any time an honor- 
able surrender, w^ith good treatment, was open to the beaten. 
The battles generally took place on the frontiers, out of sight 
and sound of the masses. Wars were also very rare, often 
not one in a generation. Finally, the sentiments appealed 
to in international conflicts were, as a rule, those of courage 
and self-devotion. Often, indeed generally, the causes of 
the wars were unworthy of the sentiments of self-devotion 
which the fighting called out, but the sentiments themselves 
belonged to the noblest order. 

" Compare with warfare of this character the conditions 
of the economic struggle for existence. That was a war in 
which not merely small selected bodies of combatants took 


part, but one in which the entire population of every coun- 
try, excepting the inconsiderable groups of the rich, were 
forcibly enlisted and compelled to serve. Not only did 
women, children, the aged and crippled have to participate 
in it, but the weaker the combatants the harder the condi- 
tions under which they must contend. It was a war in 
which there was no help for the wounded, no quarter for 
the vanquished. It was a war not on far frontiers, but in 
every city, every street, and every house, and its wounded, 
broken, and dying victims lay underfoot everywhere and 
shocked the eye in every direction that it might glance with 
some new form of misery. The ear could not escape the 
lamentations of the stricken and their vain cries for pity. 
And this war came not once or twice in a century, lasting 
for a few red weeks or months or years, and giving way 
again to peace, as did the battles of the soldiers, but was per- 
ennial and perpetual, truceless, lifelong. Finally, it was a 
war which neither appealed to nor developed any noble, 
any generous, any honorable sentiment, but, on the con- 
trary, set a constant premium on the meanest, falsest, and 
most cruel propensities of human nature. 

"As we look back upon your era, the sort of fighting 
those old forts down there stood for seems almost noble and 
barely tragical at all, as compared with the awful spectacle 
of the struggle for existence. 

" We even are able to sympathize with the declaration of 
some of the professional soldiers of your age that occasional 
wars, with their appeals, however false, to the generous and 
self-devoting passions, were absolutely necessary to prevent 
your society, otherwise so utterly sordid and selfish in its 
ideals, from dissolving into absolute putrescence." 

" It is to be feared," I was moved to observe, " that pos- 
terity has not built so high a monument to the promoters 
of the universal peace societies of my day as they expected." 

" They were well meaning enough so far as they saw, no 
doubt," said the doctor, " but seem to have been a dreadfully 
short-sighted and purblind set of people. Their efforts to 
stop wars between nations, while tranquilly ignoring the 
world-wide economic struggle for existence which cost more 
lives and suffering in any one month than did the inter- 


national wars of a generation, was a most striking case of 
straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. 

" As to the gain to humanity which has come from the 
abolition of all war or possibility of war between nations 
of to-day, it seems to us to consist not so much in the 
mere prevention of actual bloodshed as in the dying out of 
the old jealousies and rancors which used to embitter peo- 
ples against one another almost as much in peace as in 
war, and the gi'owth in their stead of a fraternal sympathy 
and mutual good will, unconscious of any barrier of race 
or country." 


As the doctor was speaking, the waving folds of a flag 
floating far below caught my eye. It was the Star-Spangled 
Banner. My heart leaped at the sight and my eyes gi^w 

" Ah ! " I exclaimed, " it is Old Glory ! " for so it had 
been a custom to call the flag in the days of the civil war 
and after. 

" Yes," replied my companion, as his eyes followed my 
gaze, " but it wears a new glory now, because nowhere in the 
land it floats over is there found a human being oppressed 
or suffering any want that human aid can relieve. 

" The Americans of your day," he continued, " were ex- 
tremely patriotic after their fashion, but the difference be- 
tween the old and the new patriotism is so great that it 
scarcely seems like the same sentiment. In your day and 
ever before, the emotions and associations of the flag were 
chiefly of the martial sort. Self-devotion to the nation in 
war with other nations was the idea most commonly con- 
veyed by the word 'patriotism' and its derivatives. Of 
course, that must be so in ages when the nations had con- 
stantly to stand ready to fight one another for their exist- 
ence. But the result was that the sentiment of national soli- 
darity was arrayed against the sentiment of human solidarity. 
A lesser social enthusiasm was set in opposition to a greater, 
and the result was necessarily full of moral contradictions. 
Too often what was called love of country might better 
have been described as hate and jealousy of other countries, 


for no better reason than that there were other, and bigoted 
prejudices against foreign ideas and institutions — often far 
better than domestic ones — for no other reason than that 
they were foreign. This sort of patriotism was a most po- 
tent hindrance for countless ages to the progress of civili- 
zation, opposing to the spread of new ideas barriers higher 
than mountains, broader than rivers, deeper than seas. 

" The new patriotism is the natural outcome of the new 
social and international conditions which date from the 
great Revolution. Wars, which were already growing in- 
frequent in your day, were made impossible by the rise of 
the world union, and for generations have now been un- 
known. The old blood-stained frontiers of the nations have 
become scarcely more than delimitations of territory for ad- 
ministrative convenience, like the State lines in the American 
Union. Under these circumstances international jealousies, 
suspicions, animosities, and apprehensions have died a natu- 
ral death. The anniversaries of battles and triumphs over 
other nations, by which the antique patriotism was kept 
burning, have been long ago forgotten. In a word, patriot- 
ism is no longer a martial sentiment and is quite without 
warlike associations. As the flag has lost its former sig- 
nificance as an emblem of outward defiance, it has gained 
a new meaning as the supreme symbol of internal concord 
and mutuality ; it has become the visible sign of the social 
solidarity in which the welfare of all is equally and im- 
pregnably secured. The American, as he now lifts his eyes 
to the ensign of the nation, is not reminded of its military 
prowess as compared with other nations, of its past triumphs 
in battle and possible future victories. To him the waving 
folds convey no such suggestions. They recall rather the 
compact of brotherhood in which he stands pledged with all 
his countrymen mutually to safeguard the equal dignity and 
welfare of each by the might of all. 

" The idea of the old-time patriots was that foreigners 
were the only people at whose hands the flag could suffer 
dishonor, and the report of any lack of etiquette toward it 
on their part used to excite the people to a patriotic frenzy. 
That sort of feeling would be simply incomprehensible now. 
As we look at it, foreigners have no power to insult the 


flag, for they have nothing to do with it, nor with what it 
stands for. Its honor or dishonor must depend upon the 
people whose plighted faith one to another it represents, to 
maintain the social contract. To the old-time patriot there 
was nothing incongruous in the spectacle of the symbol of 
the national unity floating over cities reeking with foulest 
oppressions, full of prostitution, beggary, and dens of name- 
less misery. According to the modern view, the existence 
of a single instance in any corner of the land where a citi- 
zen had been deprived of the full enjoyment of equality 
would turn the flag into a flaunting lie, and the people 
would demand with indignation that it should be hauled 
down and not raised again till the wrong was remedied." 

" Truly," I said, " the new glory which Old Glory wears 
is a greater than the old glory." 


As we had talked, the doctor had allowed our car to drift 
before the westerly breeze till now we were over the harbor, 
and I was moved to exclaim at the scanty array of shipping 
it contained. 

" It does not seem to me," I said, " that there are more 
vessels here than in my day, much less the great fleets one 
might expect to see after a century's development in popu- 
lation and resources." 

"In point of fact," said the doctor, "the new order has 
tended to decrease the volume of foreign trade, though on 
the other hand there is a thousandfold more foreign travel 
for instruction and pleasure." 

" In just what way," I asked, " did the new order tend to 
decrease exchanges with foreign countries ? " 

" In two ways," replied the doctor. " In the flrst place, as 
you know, the profit idea is now abolished in foreign trade 
as well as in domestic distribution. The International 
Council supervises all exchanges between nations, and tlie 
price of any product exported by one nation to another 
must not be more than that at which the exporting nation 
provides its own people with the same. Consequently there 
is no reason why a nation should care to produce goods for 
export unless and in so far as it needs for actual consump- 


tion products of another country which it can not itself so 
well produce, 

"Another yet more potent effect of the new order in 
limiting" foreign exchange is the general equalization of all 
nations which has long ago come about as to intelligence 
and the knowledge and practice of sciences and arts. A 
nation of to-day would be humiliated to have to import any 
commodity which insuperable natural conditions did not 
prevent the production of at home. It is consequently to 
such productions that commerce is now limited, and the list 
of them grows ever shorter as with the progress of inven- 
tion man's conquest of Nature proceeds. As to the old ad- 
vantage of coal-producing countries in manufacturing, that 
disappeared nearly a century ago with the great discoveries 
which made the unlimited development of [electrical power 
practically costless. 

"But you should understand that it is not merely on 
economic grounds or for self-esteem's sake that the various 
peoples desire to do everything possible for themselves 
rather than depend on people at a distance. It is quite as 
much for the education and mind-awakening influence of a 
diversified industrial system within a small space. It is our 
policy, so far as it can be economically caiTied out in the 
grouping of industries, not only to make the system of each 
nation complete, but so to group the various industries within 
each particular country that every considerable district shall 
present within its own limits a sort of microcosm of the 
industrial world. We were speaking of that, you may re- 
member, the other morning, in the Labor Exchange." 


The doctor had some time before reversed our course, 
and we were now moving westward over the city. 

" What is that building which we are just passing over 
that has so much glass about it ? " I asked. 

"That is one of the sanitariums," replied the doctor, 
" which people go to who are in bad health and do not wish 
to change their climate, as we think pei*sons in serious 
chronic ill health ought to do and as all can now do if they 
desire. In these buildings everything is as absolutely 


adapted to the condition of the patient as if he were for the 
time being in a world in which his disease were the normal 

" Doubtless there have been great improvements in all 
matters relating to your profession — medicine, hygiene, sur- 
gery, and the rest — since my day." 

" Yes," replied the doctor, " there have been great im- 
provements in two ways — negative and positive — and the 
more important of the two is perhaps the negative way, 
consisting in the disappearance of conditions inimical to 
health, which physicians formerly had to combat with little 
chance of success in many cases. For example, it is now 
two full generations since the guarantee of equal main- 
tenance for all placed women in a position of economic 
independence and consequent complete control of their 
relations to men. You will readily understand how, as 
one result of this, the taint of syphilis has been long 
since eliminated from the blood of the race. The universal 
prevalence now for three generations of the most cleanly 
and refined conditions of housing, clothing, heating, and 
living generally, with the best treatment available for all 
in case of sickness, have practically — indeed I may say com- 
pletely — put an end to the zymotic and other contagious 
diseases. To complete the story, add to these improvements 
in the hygienic conditions of the people the systematic and 
universal physical culture which is a part of the training of 
youth, and then as a crowning consideration think of the 
e£Pect of the physical rehabilitation — you might almost call 
it the second creation of woman in a bodily sense — which 
has purified and energized the stream of life at its source." 

" Really, doctor, I should say that, without going fur- 
ther, you have fairly reasoned your profession out of its oc- 

" You may well say so," replied the doctor. " The prog- 
ress of invention and improvement since your day has sev- 
eral times over improved the doctors out of their former 
occupations, just as it has every other sort of workers, but 
only to open new and higher fields of finer work. 

" Perhaps," my companion resumed, " a more important 
negative factor in the improvement in medical and hygienic 


conditions than any I have mentioned is the fact that peo- 
ple are no longer in the state of ignorance as to their own 
bodies that they seem formerly to have been. The prog- 
ress of knowledge in that respect has kept pace with the 
march of universal culture. It is evident from what we 
read that even the cultured classes in your day thought it 
no shame to be wholly uninformed as to physiology and 
the ordinary conditions of health and disease. They appear 
to have left their physical interests to the doctors, with 
much the same spirit of cynical resignation with which they 
turned over their souls to the care of the clergy. Nowa- 
days a system of education would be thought farcical which 
did not impart a sufficient knowledge of the general prin- 
ciples of physiology, hygiene, and medicine to enable a 
person to treat any ordinary physical disturbance without 
recourse to a physician. It is perhaps not too much to say 
that everybody nowadays knows as much about the treat- 
ment of disease as a large proportion of the members of the 
medical profession did in your time. As you may readily 
suppose, this is a situation which, even apart from the gen- 
eral improvement in health, would enable the people to 
get on with one physician where a score formerly found 
business. We doctors are merely specialists and experts 
on subjects that everybody is supposed to be well grounded 
in. When we are called in, it is really only in consultation, 
to use a phrase of the profession in your day, the other par- 
ties being the patient and his friends. 

" But of all the factors in the advance of medical sci- 
ence, one of the most important has been the disappearance 
of sectarianism, resulting largely from the same causes, 
moral and economic, which banished it from religion. You 
will scarcely need to be reminded that in your day medi- 
cine, next to theology, suffered most of all branches of 
knowledge from the benumbing influence of dogmatic 
schools. There seems to have been well-nigh as much big- 
otry as to the science of curing the body as the soul, and 
its influence to discourage original thought and retard prog- 
ress was much the same in one field as the other. 

" There are really no conditions to limit the course of 
physicians. The medical education is the fullest possible, but 


the methods of practice are left to the doctor and patient. 
It is assumed that people as cultured as ours are as compe- 
tent to elect the treatment for their bodies as to choose that 
for their souls. The progress in medical science which has 
resulted from this complete independence and freedom of 
initiative on the part of the physician, stimulated by the 
criticism and applause of a people well able to judge of 
results, has been unprecedented. Not only in the specific 
application of the preserving and healing arts have innu- 
merable achievements been made and radically new prin- 
ciples discovered, but we have made advances toward a 
knowledge of the central mystery of life which in your 
day it would have been deemed almost sacrilegious to dream 
of. As to pain, we permit it only for its symptomatic indi- 
cations, and so far only as we need its guidance in diag- 

" I take it, however, that you have not abolished death." 
" I assure you," laughed the doctor, " that if perchance 
any one should find out the secret of that, the people would 
mob him and burn up his formula. Do you suppose we 
want to be shut up here forever ? " 

"how could we indeed?" 

Applying myself again to the study of the moving pan- 
orama below us, I presently remarked to the doctor that we 
must be pretty nearly over what was formerly called 
Brighton, a suburb of the city at which the live stock for 
the food supply of the city had mainly been delivered. 

" I see the old cattle-sheds are gone," I said. " Doubtless 
you have much better arrangements. By the way, now that 
everybody is well-to-do, and can aflPord the best cuts of beef, 
I imagine the problem of providing a big city with fresh 
meats must be much more difficult than in my day, when 
the poor were able to consume little flesh food, and that of 
the poorest sort." 

The doctor looked over the side of the car for some mo- 
ments before answering. 

" I take it," he said, " that you have not spoken to any 
one before on this point." 

" Why, I think not. It has not before occurred to me." 


" It is just as well," said the doctor. " You see, Julian, 
in the transformation in customs and habits of thought and 
standards of fitness since your day, it could scarcely have 
happened but that in some cases the changes should have 
been attended with a decided revulsion in sentiment against 
the former practices. I hardly know how to express myself, 
but I am rather glad that you first spoke of this matter 
to me." 

A light dawned on me, and suddenly brought out the 
significance of numerous half -digested observations whicli I 
had previously made. 

" Ah ! " I exclaimed, " you mean you don't eat the flesh 
of animals any more." 

"Is it possible you have not guessed that ? Had you 
not noticed that you were offered no such food ? " 

" The fact is," I replied, '' the cooking is so different in 
all respects from that of my day that I have given up all 
attempt to identify anything. But I have certainly missed 
no flavor to which I have been accustomed, though I have 
been delighted by a great many novel ones." 

" Yes," said the doctor, " instead of the one or two rude 
processes inherited from primitive men by which you used 
to prepare food and elicit its qualities, we have a great num- 
ber and variety. I doubt if there was any flavor you had 
which we do not reproduce, besides the great number of 
new ones discovered since your time." 

" But when was the use of animals for food discon- 
tinued ? " 

" Soon after the great Revolution." 

" What caused the change ? Was it a conviction that 
health would be favored by avoiding flesh ? " 

" It does not seem to have been that motive which chiefly 
led to the change. Undoubtedly the abandonment of the 
custom of eating animals, by which we inherited all their 
diseases, has had something to do Avith the great physical 
improvement of the race, but people did not apparently 
give, up eating animals mainly for health's sake any more 
than cannibals in more ancient times abandoned eating their 
fellow-men on that account. It was, of course, a very long 
time ago, and there was perhaps no practice of the former 


order of which the people, immediately after giving it up, 
seem to have become so much ashamed. This is doubtless 
why we find such meager information in the histories of the 
period as to the circumstances of the change. There appears, 
however, to be no doubt that the abandonment of the cus- 
tom was chiefly an effect of the great wave of humane feel- 
ing, the passion of pity and compunction for all suffering 
— in a word, the impulse of tender-heartedness — which was 
really the great moral power behind the Revolution. As 
might be expected, this outburst did not affect merely the 
relations of men with men, but likewise their relations with 
the whole sentient world. The sentiment of brotherhood, 
the feeling of solidarity, asserted itself not merely toward 
men and women, but likewise toward the humbler compan- 
ions of our life on earth and sharers of its fortunes, the 
animals. The new and vivid light thrown on the rights and 
duties of men to one another brought also into view and rec- 
ognition the rights of the lower orders of being. A senti- 
ment against cruelty to animals of every kind had long 
been growing in civilized lands, and formed a distinct fea- 
ture of the general softening of manners which led up to the 
Revolution. This sentiment now became an enthusiasm. 
The new conception of our relation to the animals appealed 
to the heart and captivated the imagination of mankind. In- 
stead of sacrificing the weaker races to our use or pleasure, 
with no thought for their welfare, it began to be seen that 
we should rather, as elder brothei'S in the great family of 
Nature, be, so far as possible, guardians and helpers to the 
weaker orders whose fate is in our hands and to which 
we are as gods. Do you not see, Julian, how the preva- 
lence of this new view might soon have led people to regard 
the eating of their fellow-animals as a revolting practice, 
almost akin to cannibalism ? " 

" That is, of course, very easily understood. Indeed, doc- 
tor, you must not suppose that my contemporaries were 
wholly without feeling on this subject. Long before the 
Revolution was dreamed of there were a great many persons 
of my acquaintance who owned to serious qualms over flesh- 
eating, and perhaps the greater part of refined persons were 
not without pangs of conscience at various times over the 


practice. The trouble was, there really seemed nothing else 
to do. It was just like our economic system. Humane per- 
sons generally admitted that it was very bad and brutal, and 
yet very few could distinctly see what the world was going 
to replace it with. You people seem to have succeeded in 
perfecting a cuisine without using flesh, and I admit it is 
every way more satisfactory than ours was, but you can not 
imagine how absolutely impossible the idea of getting on 
without the use of animal food looked in my day, when as 
yet nothing definite had been suggested to take its place 
which offered any reasonable amount of gratification to the 
palate, even if it provided the means of aliment." 

" I can imagine the difficulty to some extent. It was, as 
you say, like that which so long hindered the change of 
economic systems. People could not clearly realize what 
was to take its place. While one's mouth is full of one 
flavor it is difiicult to imagine another. That lack of con- 
structive imagination on the part of the mass is the ob- 
stacle that has stood in the way of removing every ancient 
evil, and made necessary a wave of revolutionary force to 
do the work. Such a wave of feeling as I have described 
was needful in this case to do away with the immemorial 
habit of flesh-eating. As soon as the new attitude of men's 
minds took away their taste for flesh, and there was a de- 
mand that had to be satisfied for some other and adequate 
sort of food, it seems to have been very promptly met." 

" From what source ? " 

" Of course," replied the doctor, "chiefly from the vege- 
table world, though by no means wholly. There had never 
been any serious attempt before to ascertain what its provi- 
sions for food actually were, still less what might be made 
of them by scientific treatment. Nor, as long as there was 
no objection to killing some animal and appropriating with- 
out trouble the benefit of its experiments, was there likely to 
be. The rich lived chiefly on flesh. As for the working 
masses, which had always drawn their vigor mainly from 
vegetables, nobody of the influential classes cared to make 
their lot more agreeable. Now, however, all with one con- 
sent set about inquiring what sort of a table Nature might 
provide for men who had forsworn murder. 


"Just as the crude and simple method of slavery, first 
chattel slavery and afterward wage slavery, had, so long as 
it prevailed, prevented men from seeking to replace its crude 
convenience by a scientific industrial system, so in like man- 
ner the coarse convenience of flesh for food had hitherto 
prevented men from making a serious perquisition of Na- 
ture's edible resources. The delay in this respect is further 
accounted for by the fact that the preparation of food, on 
account of the manner of its conduct as an industry, had 
been the least progressive of all the arts of life." 

" What is that ? " I said. " The least progressive of arts ? 
Why so ? " 

" Because it had always been carried on as an isolated 
household industry, and as such chiefly left to servants or 
women, who in former times were the most conservative and 
habit-bound class in the communities. The rules of the art 
of cookery had been handed down little changed in essen- 
tials since the wife of the Aryan cowherd dressed her hus- 
band's food for him. 

" Now, it must remain very doubtful how immediately 
successful the revolt against animal food would have proved 
if the average family cook, whether wife or hireling, had 
been left each for herself in her private kitchen to grapple 
with the problem of providing for the table a satisfactory 
substitute for flesh. But, thanks to the many-sided charac- 
ter of the great Revolution, the juncture of time at which 
the growth of humane feeling created a revolt against ani- 
mal food coincided with the complete breakdown of domes- 
tic service and the demand of women for a wider life, facts 
which compelled the placing of the business of providing 
and preparing food on a co-operative basis, and the making 
of it a branch of the public service. So it was that as soon 
as men, losing appetite for their fellow-creatures, began to 
ask earnestly what else could be eaten, there was already 
being organized a great governmental department command- 
ing all the scientific talent of the nation, and backed by the 
resources of the country, for the purpose of solving the ques- 
tion. And it is easy to believe that none of the new depart- 
ments was stimulated in its efforts by a keener public inter- 
est than this which had in charge the preparation of the 


new national bill of fare. These were the conditions for 
which alimentation had waited from the beginnings of the 
race to become a science. 

" In the first place, the food materials and methods of 
preparing them actually extant, and used in the different 
nations, were, for the first time in history, collected and col- 
lated. In presence of the cosmopolitan variety and extent 
of the international menu thus presented, every national 
cuisine was convicted of having until then run in a rut. It 
was apparent that in nothing had the nations been more 
provincial, more stupidly prejudiced against learning from 
one another, than in matters of food and cooking. It was 
discovered, as observing travelers had always been aware, 
that every nation and country, often every province, had 
half a dozen gastronomic secrets that had never crossed the 
border, or at best on very brief excursions. 

" It is well enough to mention, in passing, that the colla- 
tion of this international bill of fare was only one illustra- 
tion of the innumerable ways in which the nations, as soon 
as the new order put an end to the old prejudices, began 
right and left to borrow and adopt the best of one another's 
ideas and institutions, to the great general enrichment. 

" But the organization of a scientific system of alimenta- 
tion did not cease with utilizing the materials and methods 
already existing. The botanist and the chemist next set 
about finding new food materials and new methods of pre- 
paring them. At once it was discovered that of the natu- 
ral products capable of being used as food by man, but a 
petty proportion had ever been utilized ; only those, and a 
small part even of that class, which readily lent themselves 
to the single primitive process whereby the race hitherto had 
attempted to prepare food — namely, the application of dry 
or wet heat. To this, manifold other processes suggested 
by chemistry were now added, with effects that our ances- 
tors found as delightful as novel. It had hitherto been with 
the science of cooking as with metallurgy when simple fire 
remained its only method. 

"It is written that the children of Israel, when prac- 
ticing an enforced vegetarian diet in the wilderness, 
yearned after the flesh-pots of Egypt, and probably with 


good reason. The experience of our ancestors appears to 
have been in this respect quite different. It would seem 
that the sentiments with which, after a very short period 
had elapsed, they looked back upon the flesh-pots they had 
left behind w^ere charged with a feeling quite the reverse of 
regret. There is an amusing cartoon of the period, which 
suggests how brief a time it took for them to discover what 
a good thing they had done for themselves in resolving to 
spare the animals. The cartoon, as I remember it, is in two 
parts. The first shows Humanity, typified by a feminine 
figure regarding a group of animals consisting of the ox, 
the sheep, and the hog. Her face expresses the deepest com- 
punction, while she tearfully exclaims, ' Poor things ! How 
could we ever bring ourselves to eat you ? ' The second part 
reproduces the same group, with the heading ' Five Yeai^s 
After.' But here the countenance of Humanity as she re- 
gards the animals expresses not contrition or self-reproach, 
but disgust and loathing, while she exclaims in nearly 
identical terms, but very different emphasis, 'How could 
we, indeed ? ' " 


Continuing to move westward toward the interior, we 
had now gradually left behind the more thickly settled por- 
tions of the city, if indeed any portion of these modern 
cities, in which every home stands in its own inclosure, 
can be called thickly settled. The groves and meadows and 
larger woods had become numerous, and villages occurred 
at frequent intervals. We were out in the country. 

" Doctor," said I, " it has so happened, you will remem- 
ber, that what I have seen of twentieth-century life has 
been mainly its city side. If country life has changed since 
my day as much as city life, it will be very interesting to 
make its acquaintance again. Tell me something about it." 

" There are few respects, I suppose," replied the doctor, 
"in which the effect of the nationalization of production 
and distribution on the basis of economic equality has 
worked a greater transformation than in the relations of city 
and country, and it is odd we should not have chanced to 
speak of this before now." 


" When I was last" in the world of living people," I said, 
" the city was fast devouring the country. Has that process 
gone on, or has it possibly been reversed ? " 

"Decidedly the latter," replied the doctor, "as indeed 
you will at once see must have been the case when you 
consider that the enormous growth of the great cities of the 
past was entirely an economic consequence of the system of 
private capitalism, with its necessary dependence upon indi- 
vidual initiative, and the competitive system." 

" That is a new idea to me," I said. 

" I think you will find it a very obvious one upon reflec- 
tion," replied the doctor. " Under private capitalism, you 
see, there was no public or governmental system for organ- 
izing productive effort and distributing its results. There 
was no general and unfailing machinery for bringing pro- 
ducers and consumers together. Everybody had to seek his 
own occupation and maintenance on his own account, and 
success depended on his finding an opportunity to exchange 
his labor or possessions for the possessions or labor of others. 
For this purpose the best place, of course, was where there 
were many people who likewise wanted to buy or sell their 
labor or goods. Consequently, when, owing either to acci- 
dent or calculation, a mass of people were drawn together, 
others flocked to them,' for every such aggregation made a 
market place where, owing simply to the number of persons 
desiring to buy and sell, better opportunities for exchange 
were to be found than where fewer people were, and the 
greater the number of people the larger and better the facili- 
ties for exchange. The city having thus taken a start, the 
larger it became, the faster it was likely to grow by the same 
logic that accounted for its first rise. The laborer went 
there to find the largest and steadiest market for his muscle, 
and the capitalist — who, being a conductor of production, de- 
sired the largest and steadiest labor market — went there also. 
The capitalist trader went there to find the greatest group of 
consumers of his goods within least space. 

" Although at first the cities rose and grew, mainly be- 
cause of the facilities for exchange among their own citi- 
zens, yet presently the result of the superior organization 
of exchange facilities made them centei^ of exchange for 


the produce of the surrounding country. In this way those 
who lived in the cities had not only great opportunities to 
grow rich by supplying the needs of the dense resident 
population, but were able also to levy a tribute upon the 
products of the people in the country round about by com- 
pelling those products to pass through their hands on the 
way to the consumers, even though the consumers, like the 
producers, lived in the country, and might be next door 

" In due course," pursued the doctor, " this concentration 
of material wealth in the cities led to a concentration there 
of all the superior, the refined, the pleasant, and the lux- 
urious ministrations of life. Not only did the manual 
laborers flock to the cities as the market where they could 
best exchange their labor for the money of the capitalists, 
but the professional and learned class resorted thither for 
the same purpose. The lawyers, the pedagogues, the doc- 
tors, the rhetoricians, and men of special skill in every 
branch, went there as the best place to find the richest and 
most numerous employers of their talents, and to make their 

" And in like manner all who had pleasure to sell — the 
artists, the players, the singers, yes, and the courtesans also — 
flocked to the cities for the same reasons. And those who 
desired pleasure and had wealth to buy it, those who wished 
to enjoy life, either as to its coarse or refined gratifications, 
followed the pleasure-givers. And, finally, the thieves and 
robbers, and those pre-eminent in the wicked arts of living 
on their fellow-men, followed the throng to the cities, as 
offering them also the best field for their talents. And so 
the cities became great whirlpools, which drew to themselves 
all that was richest and best, and also everything that was 
vilest, in the whole land. 

" Such, Julian, was the law of the genesis and growth of 
the cities, and it was by necessary consequence the law of 
the shrinkage, decay, and death of the country and country 
life. It was only necessary that the era of private capitalism 
in America should last long enough for the rural districts to 
have been reduced to what they were in the days of the 
Roman Empire, and of every empire which achieved full 


development — namely, regions whence all who could escape 
had gone to seek their fortune in the cities, leaving only a 
population of serfs and overseers. 

" To do your contemporaries justice, they seemed them- 
selves to realize that the swallowing up of the country by 
the city boded no good to civilization, and would apparently 
have been glad to find a cure for it, but they failed entirely 
to observe that, as it was a necessary effect of private capi- 
talism, it could only be remedied by abolishing that." 

"Just how," said I, "did the abolition of private capital- 
ism and the substitution of a nationalized economic system 
operate to stop the growth of the cities ? " 

" By abolishing the need of markets for the exchange of 
labor and commodities," replied the doctor. " The facilities 
of exchange organized in the cities under the private capi- 
talists were rendered wholly superfluous and impertinent by 
the national organization of production and distribution. 
The produce of the country was no longer handled by or dis- 
tributed through the cities, except so far as produced or con- 
sumed there. The quality of goods furnished in all locali- 
ties, and the measure of industrial service required of all, was 
the same. Economic equality having done away with rich 
and poor, the city ceased to be a place where greater luxury 
could be enjoyed or displayed than the country. The pro- 
vision of employment and of maintenance on equal terms 
to all took away the advantages of locality as helps to live- 
lihood. In a word, there was no longer any motive to lead 
a person to prefer city to country life, who did not like 
crowds for the sake of being crowded. Under these circum- 
stances you will not find it strange that the growth of the 
cities ceased, and their depopulation began from the mo- 
ment the effects of the Revolution became apparent." 

" But you have cities yet ! " I exclaimed. 

" Certainly — that is, we have localities where population 
still remains denser than in other places. None of the 
great cities of your day have become extinct, but their popu- 
lations, are but small fractions of what they were." 

" But Boston is certainly a far finer-looking city than in 
my day." 

" All the modern cities are far finer and fairer in every 


way than their predecessors and infinitely fitter for human 
habitation, but in order to make them so it was necessary to 
get rid of their surplus population. There are in Boston 
to-day perhaps a quarter as many people as lived in the 
same limits in the Boston of your day, and that is simply 
because there were four times as many people within those 
limits as could be housed and furnished with environments 
consistent with the modern idea of healthful and agree- 
able living. New York, having been far worse crowded 
than Boston, has lost a still larger proportion of its former 
population. Were you to visit Manhattan Island I fancy 
your first impression would be that the Central Park of 
your day had been extended all the way from the Battery 
to Harlem River, though in fact the place is rather thickly 
built up according to modern notions, some two hundred 
and fifty thousand people living there among the groves and 

" And you say this amazing depopulation took place at 
once after the Revolution ? " 

" It began then. The only way in which the vast popu- 
lations of the old cities could be crowded into spaces so 
small was by packing them like sardines in tenement 
houses. As soon as it was settled that everybody must be 
provided with really and equally good habitations, it fol- 
lowed that the cities must lose the greater part of their 
population. These had to be provided with dwellings in 
the country. Of course, so vast a work could not be ac- 
complished instantly, but it proceeded with all possible 
speed. In addition to the exodus of people from the cities 
because there was no room for them to live decently, there 
was also a great outflow of others who, now there had 
ceased to be any economic advantages in city life, were at- 
tracted by the natural charms of the country ; so that you 
may] easily see that it was one of the great tasks of the 
first decade after the Revolution to provide homes else- 
where for those who desired to leave the cities. The tend- 
ency countryward continued until the cities having been 
emptied of their excess of people, it was possible to make 
radical changes in their arrangements. A large proportion 
of the old buildings and all the unsightly, lofty, and inar- 


tistic ones were cleared away and replaced with structures 
of the low, broad, roomy style adapted to the new ways of 
living. Parks, gardens, and roomy spaces were multiplied 
on every hand and the system of transit so modified as to 
get rid of the noise and dust, and finally, in a word, the city 
of your day was changed into the modern city. Having 
thus been made as pleasant places to live in as was the 
country itself, the outflow of population from the cities 
ceased and an equilibrium became established." 

" It strikes me," I observed, " that under any circum- 
stances cities must still, on account of their greater concen- 
tration of people, have certain better public services than 
small villages, for naturally such conveniences are least ex- 
pensive where a dense population is to be supplied." 

" As to that," replied the doctor, " if a person desires to 
live in some remote spot far away from neighbors he will 
have to put up with some inconveniences. He will have to 
bring his supplies from the nearest public store and dispense 
with various public services enjoyed by those who live 
nearer together; but in order to be really out of reach of 
these services he must go a good way off. You must re- 
member that nowadays the problems of communication and 
transportation both by public and private means have been 
so entirely solved that conditions of space which were pro- 
hibitive in your day are unimportant now. Villages five 
and ten miles apart are as near together for purposes of so- 
cial intercourse and economic administration as the adjoin- 
ing wards of your cities. Either on their own account or 
by group combinations with other communities dwellers in 
the smallest villages enjoy installations of all sorts of pub- 
lic services as complete as exist in the cities. All have pub- 
lic stores and kitchens with telephone and delivery systems, 
public baths, libraries, and institutions of the highest educa- 
tion. As to the quality of the services and commodities 
provided, they are of absolutely equal excellence wherever 
furnished. Finally, by telephone and electroscope the 
dwellers in any part of the country, however deeply se- 
cluded among the forests or the mountains, may enjoy the 
theater, the concert, and the orator quite as advantageously 
as the residents of the largest cities." 



Still we swept on mile after mile, league after league, 
toward the interior, and still the surface below presented 
the same parklike aspect that had marked the immediate 
environs of the city. Every natural feature appeared to 
have been idealized and all its latent meaning brought out 
by the loving skill of some consummate landscape artist, 
the works of man blending with the face of Nature in per- 
fect harmony. Such aiTangements of scenery had not been 
uncommon in my day, when great cities prepared costly 
pleasure grounds, but I had never imagined anything on a 
scale like this. 

" How far does this park extend ? " I demanded at last. 
" There seems no end to it." 

" It extends to the Pacific Ocean," said the doctor. 

" Do you mean that the whole United States is laid out in 
this way ? " 

"Not precisely in this way by any means, but in a 
hundred diflPerent ways according to the natural sugges- 
tions of the face of the country and the most effective 
way of co-operating with them. In this region, for in- 
stance, where there are few bold natural features, the best 
effect to be obtained was that of a smiling, peaceful land- 
scape with as much diversification in detail as possible. 
In the mountainous regions, on the contrary, where Na- 
ture has furnished effects which man's art could not 
strengthen, the method has been to leave everything ab- 
solutely as Nature left it, only providing the utmost fa- 
cilities for travel and observation. When you visit the 
White Mountains or the Berkshire Hills you will find, I 
fancy, their slopes shaggier, the torrents wilder, the for- 
ests loftier and more gloomy than they were a hundred 
years ago. The only evidences of man's handiwork to 
be found there are the roadways which traverse every 
gorge and top every summit, carrying the traveler with- 
in reach of all the wild, rugged, or beautiful bits of Na- 

" As far as forests go, it will not be necessary for me to 
visit the mountains in order to perceive that the trees are 


not only a great deal loftier as a rule, but that there are 
vastly more of them than formerly." 

" Yes," said the doctor, " it would be odd if you did not 
notice that difference in the landscape. There are said to 
be five or ten trees nowadays where there was one in your 
day, and a good part of those you see down there are from 
seventy-five to a hundred years old, dating from the refor- 

" What was the reforesting ? " I asked. 

" It was the restoration of the forests after the Revolu- 
tion. Under private capitalism the greed or need of individu- 
als had led to so general a wasting of the woods that the 
streams were greatly reduced and the land was constantly 
plagued with droughts. It was found after the Revolution 
that one of the things most urgent to be done was to refor- 
est the country. Of course, it has taken a long time for the 
new plantings to come to maturity, but I believe it is now 
some twenty-five years since the forest plan reached its full 
development and the last vestiges of the former ravages dis- 

"Do you know," I said presently, "that one feature 
which is missing from the landscape impresses me quite as 
much as any that it presents ? " 

" What is it that is missing ? " 


" Ah ! yes, no wonder you miss it," said the doctor. " I 
understand that in your day hay was the main crop of New 

" Altogether so," I replied, " and now I suppose you have 
no use for hay at all. Dear me, in what a multitude of im- 
portant ways the passing of the animals out of use both 
for food and work must have affected human occupations 
and interests ! " 

" Yes, indeed," said the doctor, " and always to the notable 
improvement of the social condition, though it may sound 
ungrateful to say so. Take the case of the horse, for exam- 
ple. With the passing of that long-suffering servant of man 
to his well earned reward, smooth, permanent, and clean 
roadways first became possible ; dust, dirt, danger, and dis- 
comfort ceased to be necessary incidents of travel. 


" Thanks to the passing of the horse, it was possible to 
reduce the breadth of roadways by half or a third, to con- 
struct them of smooth concrete from grass to grass, leaving 
no soil to be disturbed by wind or water, and such ways 
once built, last like Roman roads, and can never be over- 
grown by vegetation. These paths, penetrating every nook 
and corner of the land, have, together with the electric mo- 
tors, made travel such a luxury that as a rule we make 
all short journeys, and when time does not press even very 
long ones, by private conveyance. Had land travel re- 
mained in the condition it was in when it depended on 
the horse, the invention of the air-car would have strongly 
tempted humanity to treat the earth as the birds do — merely 
as a place to alight on between flights. As it is, we consider 
the question an even one whether it is pleasanter to swim 
through the air or to glide over the ground, the motion being 
well-nigh as swift, noiseless, and easy in one case as in the 

"Even before 1887," I said, "the bicycle was coming 
into such favor and the possibilities of electricity were be- 
ginning so to loom up that prophetic people began to talk 
about the day of the horse as almost over. But it was be- 
lieved that, although dispensed with for road purposes, he 
must always remain a necessity for the multifarious pur- 
poses of farm work, and so I should have supposed. How 
is it about that ? " 


*'Wait a moment," replied the doctor; "when we 
have descended a little I will give you a practical an- 

After we had dropped from an altitude of perhaps a 
thousand feet to a couple of hundred, the doctor said : 

" Look down there to the right." 

I did so, and saw a large field from which the crops had 
been cut. Over its surface was moving a row of great ma- 
chines, behind which the earth surged up in brown and 
rigid billows. On each machine stood or sat in easy atti- 
tude a young man or woman with quite the air of persons 
on a pleasure excursion. 


" Evidently," I said, " these are plows, but what drives 
them ? " 

" They are electric plows," replied the doctor. " Do you 
see that snakelike cord trailing away over the broken 
ground behind each machine ? That is the cable by which 
the force is supplied. Observe those posts at regular in- 
tervals about the field. It is only necessary to attach one 
of those cables to a post to have a power which, connected 
with any sort of agricultural machine, furnishes energy 
graduated from a man's strength to that of a hundred horses, 
and requiring for its guidance no other force than the fin- 
gers of a child can supply." 

And not only this, but it was further explained to me 
that by this system of flexible cables of all sizes the electric 
power was applied not only to all the heavy tasks formerly 
done by animals, but also to the hand instruments — the 
spade, the shovel, and the fork — which the farmer in my 
time must bend his own back to, however well supplied he 
might be with horse power. There was, indeed, no tool, 
however small, the doctor explained, whether used in agri- 
culture or any other art, to which this motor was not appli- 
cable, leaving to the worker only the adjustment and guid- 
ing of the instrument. 

" With one of our shovels," said the doctor, " an intelli- 
gent boy can excavate a trench or dig a mile of potatoes 
quicker than a gang of men in your day, and with no 
more effort than he would use in wheeling a barrow." 

I had been told several times that at the present day 
farm work was considered quite as desirable as any other 
occupation, but, with my impressions as to the peculiar ardu- 
ousness of the earth worker's task, I had not been able to 
realize how this could really be so. It began to seem pos- 

The doctor suggested that perhaps I would like to land 
and inspect some of the arrangements of a modern farm, 
and I gladly assented. But first he took advantage of our 
elevated position to point out the network of railways by 
which all the farm transportation was done and whereby 
the crops when gathered could, if desirable, be shipped 
directly, without further handling, to any point in the coun- 


try. Having alighted from our car, we crossed the field to- 
ward the nearest of the great plows, the rider of which was a 
dark-haired young woman daintily costumed, such a figure 
certainly as no nineteenth-century farm field ever saw. As 
she sat gracefully upon the back of the shining metal mon- 
ster which, as it advanced, tore up the earth with terrible 
horns, I could but be reminded of Europa on her bull. If 
her prototype was as charming as this young woman, Jupiter 
certainly was excusable for running away with her. 

As we approached, she stopped the plow and pleasantly 
returned our greeting. It was evident that she recognized 
me at the first glance, as, thanks doubtless to the diffusion 
of my portrait, everybody seemed to do. The interest with 
which she regarded me would have been more flattering 
had I not been aware that I owed it entirely to my char- 
acter as a freak of Nature and not at all to my personality. 

When I asked her what sort of a crop they were expect- 
ing to plant at this season, she replied that this was merely 
one of the many annual plowings given to all soil to keep 
it in condition. 

" We use, of course, abundant fertilizers," she said, " but 
consider the soil its own best fertilizer if kept moving." 

" Doubtless," said I, " labor is the best fertilizer of the 
soil. So old an authority as ^sop taught us that in his 
fable of ' The Buried Treasure,' but it was a terribly expen- 
sive sort of fertilizer in my day when it had to come out of 
the muscles of men and beasts. One plowing a year was 
all our farmers could manage, and that nearly broke their 

" Yes," she said, " I have read of those poor men. Now 
you see it is different. So long as the tides rise and fall 
twice a day, let alone the winds and waterfalls, there is no 
reason why we should not plow every day if it were de- 
sirable. I believe it is estimated that about ten times the 
amount of power is nowadays given to the working of 
every acre of land that it was possible to apply in former 

We spent some time inspecting the farm. The doctor 
explained the drainage and pumping systems by which both 
excess and deficiency of **Ain a>'e guarded against, and gave 


me opportunity to examine in detail some of the wonderful 
tools he had described, which make practically no requisi- 
tion on the muscle of the worker, only needing a mind be- 
hind them. 

Connected with the farm was one of the systems of 
great greenhouse establishments upon which the people de- 
pend for fresh vegetables in the winter, and this, too, we 
visited. The wonders of intensive culture which I saw in 
that great structure would of course astonish none of my 
readers, but to me the revelation of what could be done 
with plants when all the conditions of light, heat, moisture, 
and soil ingredients were absolutely to be commanded, was 
a never-to-be-forgotten experience. It seemed to me that I 
had stolen into the very laboratory of the Creator, and found 
him at the task of fashioning with invisible hands the dust 
of the earth and the viewless air into forms of life. I had 
never seen plants actually grow before and had deemed the 
Indian juggler's trick an imposture. But here I saw them 
lifting their heads, putting forth their buds, and opening 
their flowers by movements which the eye could follow. I 
confess that I fairly listened to hear them whisper. 

" In my day, greenhouse culture of vegetables out of sea- 
son had been carried on only to an extent to meet the de- 
mands of a small class of very rich. The idea of providing 
such supplies at moderate prices for the entire community, 
according to the modern practice, was of course quite un- 
dreamed of." 

When we left the greenhouse the afternoon had worn 
away and the sun was setting. Rising swiftly to a height 
where its rays still warmed us, we set out homeward. 

Strongest of all the impressions of that to me so wonder- 
ful afternoon there lingered most firmly fixed in my mind 
the latest — namely, the object lesson I had received of the 
transformation in the conditions of agriculture, the great 
staple human occupation from the beginning, and the basis 
of every industrial system. Presently I said : 

"Since you have so successfully done away with the 
first of the two main drawbacks of the agricultural occupa- 
tion as known in my day — namely, its excessive laborious- 
ness — you have no doubt also known how to eliminate the 


other, which was the isolation, the loneliness, the lack of 
social intercourse and opportunity of social culture which 
were incident to the farmer's life.'' 

"Nobody would certainly do farm work," replied the 
doctor, "if it had continued to be either more lonesome or 
more laborious than other sorts of work. As regards the 
social surroundings of the agriculturist, he is in no way 
differently situated from the artisan or any other class of 
workers. He, like the others, lives where he pleases, and 
is carried to and fro just as they are between the place 
of his residence and occupation by the lines of swift tran- 
sit with which the country is threaded. Work on a farm 
no longer implies life on a farm, unless for those who 
like it." 

" One of the conditions of the farmer's life, owing to the 
variations of the season," I said, "has always been the alter- 
nation of slack work and periods of special exigency, such 
as planting and harvesting, when the sudden need of a 
multiplied labor force has necessitated the severest strain of 
effort for a time. This alternation of too little with too 
much work, I should suppose, would still continue to dis- 
tinguish agriculture from other occupations." 

" No doubt," replied the doctor, " but this alternation, far 
from involving either a wasteful relaxation of effort or an 
excessive strain on the worker, furnishes occasions of rec- 
reation which add a special attraction to the agricultural 
occupation. The seasons of planting and harvesting are of 
course slightly or largely different in the several districts 
of a country so extensive as this. The fact makes it pos- 
sible successively to concentrate in each district as large an 
extra contingent of workers drawn from other districts as is 
needed. It is not uncommon on a few days' notice to throw 
a hundred thousand extra workers into a region where there 
is a special temporary demand for labor. The inspiration 
of these great mass movements is remarkable, and must be 
something like that which attended in your day the mobiliz- 
ing and marching of armies to war." 

We drifted on for a space in silence through the darken- 
ing sky. 

"Truly, Julian," said tlie doctor at length, "no indus- 


trial transformation since your day has been so complete, 
and none surely has affected so great a proportion of the 
people, as that which has come over agriculture. The poets 
from Virgil up and down have recognized in rural pursuits 
and the cultivation of the earth the conditions most favor- 
able to a serene and happy life. Their fancies in this re- 
spect have, however, until the present time, been mocked 
by the actual conditions of agriculture, which have com- 
bined to make the lot of the farmer, the sustainer of all the 
world, the saddest, most difficult, and most hopeless endured 
by any class of men. From the beginning of the world until 
the last century the tiller of the soil has been the most pa- 
thetic figure in history. In the ages of slavery his was the 
lowest class of slaves. After slavery disappeared his re- 
mained the most anxious, arduous, and despairing of occupa- 
tions. He endured more than the poverty of the wage-earner 
without his freedom from care, and all the anxiety of the 
capitalist without his hope of compensating profits. On the 
one side he was dependent for his product, as was no other 
class, upon the caprices of Nature, while on the other in dis- 
posing of it he was more completely at the mercy of the 
middleman than any other producer. Well might he won- 
der whether man or Nature were the more heartless. If 
the crops failed, the farmer perished ; if they prospered, the 
middleman took the profit. Standing as a buffer between 
the elemental forces and human society, he was smitten by 
the one only to be thrust back by the other. Bound to the 
soil, he fell into a commercial serfdom to the cities well-nigh 
as complete as the feudal bondage had been. By reason of 
his isolated and unsocial life he was uncouth, unlettered, 
out of touch with culture, without opportunities for self- 
improvement, even if his bitter toil had left him energy or 
time for it. For this reason the dwellers in the towns 
looked down upon him as one belonging to an inferior race. 
In all lands, in all ages, the countryman has been considered 
a proper butt by the most loutish townsman. The starving 
proletarian of the city pavement scoffed at the farmer as a 
boor. Voiceless, there was none to speak for him, and his 
rude, inarticulate complaints were met with jeers. Baalam 
was not more astonished when the ass he was riding re- 


buked him than the ruling classes of America seem to have 
been when the farmers, toward the close of the last century, 
undertook to have something to say about the government 
of the country. 

" From time to time in the progress of history the condi- 
tion of the farmer has for brief periods been tolerable. The 
yeoman of England was once for a little while one who 
looked nobles in the face. Again, the American farmer, up 
to the middle of the nineteenth century, enjoyed the golden 
age of agriculture. Then for a space, producing chiefly for 
use and not for sale to middlemen, he was the most inde- 
pendent of men and enjoyed a rude abundance. But before 
the nineteenth century had reached its last third, American 
agriculture had passed through its brief idyllic period, and, 
by the inevitable operation of private capitalism, the farmer 
began to go down hill toward the condition of serfdom, 
which in all ages before had been his normal state, and must 
be for evermore, so long as the economic exploitation of men 
by men should continue. While in one sense economic 
equality brought an equal blessing to all, two classes had 
especial reason to hail it as bringing to them a greater ele- 
vation from a deeper degradation than to any others. One 
of these classes was the women, the other the farmers." 



What did I say to the theater for that evening ? was 
the question with which Edith met me when we reached 
home. It seemed that a celebrated historical drama of the 
great Revolution was to be given in Honolulu that after- 
noon, and she had thought I might like to see it. 

"Really you ought to attend," she said, "for the presen- 
tation of the play is a sort of compliment to you, seeing that 
it is revived in response to the popular interest in revolu- 
tionary history which your presence has aroused." 

No way of spending the evening could have been more 


agreeable to me, and it was agreed that we should make up 
a family theater party. 

" The only trouble," I said, as we sat around the tea table, 
" is that I don't know enough yet about the Revolution to 
follow the play very intelligently. Of course, I have heard 
revolutionary events referred to frequently, but I have no 
connected idea of the Revolution as a whole." 

" That will not matter" said Edith. " There is plenty of 
time before the play for father to tell you what is necessary. 
The matinee does not begin till three in the afternoon at 
Honolulu, and as it is only six now the diflPerence in time 
will give us a good hour before the curtain rises." 

" That's rather a short time, as well as a short notice, for 
so big a task as explaining the great Revolution," the doc- 
tor mildly protested, " but under the circumstances I sup- 
pose I shall have to do the best I can." 

" Beginnings are always misty," he said, when I straight- 
way opened at him with the question when the great Revo- 
lution began. "Perhaps St. John disposed of that point 
in the simplest way when he said that ' in the beginning 
was God.' To come down nearer, it might be said that 
Jesus Christ stated the doctrinal basis and practical pur- 
pose of the great Revolution when he declared that the 
golden rule of equal and the best treatment for all was the 
only right principle on which people could live together. 
To speak, however, in the language of historians, the great 
Revolution, like all important events, had two sets of causes 
— first, the general, necessary, and fundamental cause which 
must have brought it about in the end, whatever the minor cir- 
cumstances had been ; and, second, the proximate or provok- 
ing causes which, within certain limits, determined when it 
actually did take place, together with the incidental features. 
These immediate or provoking causes were, of course, differ- 
ent in different countries, but the general, necessary, and 
fundamental cause was the same in all countries, the great 
Revolution being, as you know, world-wide and nearly simul- 
taneous, as regards the more advanced nations, 

" That cause, as I have often intimated in our talks, was 
the growth of intelligence and diffusion of knowledge 
among the masses, which, beginning with the introduction 


of printing, spread slowly through the sixteenth, seven- 
teenth, and eighteenth centuries, and much more rapidly 
during the nineteenth, when, in the more favored countries, 
it began to be something like general. Previous to the 
beginning of this process of enlightenment the condition 
of the mass of mankind as to intelligence, from the most 
ancient times, had been practically stationary at a point 
little above the level of the brutes. With no more thought 
or will of their own than clay in the hands of the potter, 
they were unresistingly molded to the uses of the more in- 
telligent and powerful individuals and groups of their kind. 
So it went on for innumerable ages, and nobody dreamed of 
anything else until at last the conditions were ripe for the 
inbreathing of an intellectual life into these inert and sense- 
less clods. The process by which this awakening took 
place was silent, gradual, imperceptible, but no previous 
event or series of events in the history of the race had been 
comparable to it in the effect it was to have upon human 
destiny. It meant that the interest of the many instead of 
the few, the welfare of the whole instead of that of a part, 
were henceforth to be the paramount purpose of the social 
order and the goal of its evolution. 

"Dimly your nineteenth-century philosophers seem to 
have perceived that the general diffusion of intelligence 
was a new and large fact, and that it introduced a very 
important force into the social evolution, but they were 
wall-eyed in their failure to see the certainty with which it 
foreshadowed a complete revolution of the economic basis 
of society in the interest of the whole body of the people as 
opposed to class interest or partial interest of every sort. Its 
first effect was the democratic movement by which per- 
sonal and class rule in political matters was overthrown in 
the name of the supreme interest and authority of the peo- 
ple. It is astonishing that there should have been any in- 
telligent persons among you who did not perceive that po- 
litical democracy was but the pioneer corps and advance 
guard of economic democracy, clearing the way and pro- 
viding the instrumentality for the substantial part of the 
programme — namely, the equalization of the distribution 
of work and wealth. So much for the main, general, and 


necessary cause and explanation of the great Revolution — 
namely, the progressive diffusion of intelligence among the 
masses from the sixteenth to the end of the nineteenth cen- 
turies. Given this force in operation, and the revolution of 
the economic basis of society must sooner or later have been 
its outcome everywhere : whether a little sooner or later 
and in just what way and with just what circumstances, the 
differing conditions of different countries determined. 

" In the case of America, the period of revolutionary agita- 
tion which resulted in the establishment of the present order 
began almost at once upon the close of the civil war. Some 
historians date the beginning of the Revolution from 1873." 

" Eighteen seventy-three ! " I exclaimed ; " why, that was 
more than a dozen years before I fell asleep ! It seems, 
then, that I was a contemporary and witness of at least a part 
of the Revolution, and yet I saw no Revolution. It is true 
that we recognized the highly serious condition of indus- 
trial confusion and popular discontent, but we did not real- 
ize that a Revolution was on." 

" It was to have been expected that you would not," re- 
plied the doctor. " It is very rarely that the contemporaries 
of great revolutionary movements have understood their 
nature until they have nearly run their course. Following 
generations always think that they would have been wiser 
in reading the signs of the times, but that is not likely." 

" But what was there," I said, " about 1873 which has led 
historians to take it as the date from which to reckon the 
beginning of the Revolution ? " 

" Simply the fact that it marked in a rather distinct way 
the beginning of a period of economic distress among the 
American people, which continued, with temporary and par- 
tial alleviations, until the overthrow of private capitalism. 
The popular discontent resulting from this experience was 
the provoking cause of the Revolution. It awoke Americans 
from their self-complacent dream that the social problem 
had been solved or could be solved by a system of democ- 
racy limited to merely political forms, and set them to seek- 
ing the true solution. 

" The economic distress beginning at the last third of the 
centui'y, which was the direct provocation of the Revolu- 


tion, was very slight compared with that which had been 
the constant lot and ancient heritage of other nations. It 
represented merely the first turn or two of the screw by 
which capitalism in due time squeezed dry the masses 
always and everywhere. The unexampled space and rich- 
ness of their new land had given Americans a century's 
respite from the universal fate. Those advantages had 
passed, the respite was ended, and the time had come when 
the people must adapt their necks to the yoke all peoples be- 
fore had worn. But having grown high-spirited from so 
long an experience of comparative welfare, the Americans 
resisted the imposition, and, finding mere resistance vain, 
ended by making a revolution. That in brief is the whole 
story of the way the great Revolution came on in America. 
But while this might satisfy a languid twentieth-century 
curiosity as to a matter so remote in time, you will naturally 
want a little more detail. There is a particular chapter in 
Storiot's History of the Revolution explaining just how and 
why the growth of the power of capital provoked the great 
uprising, which deeply impressed me in my school days, 
and I don't think I can make a better use of a part of our 
short time than by reading a few paragraphs from it." 

And Edith having brought the book from the library — 
for we still sat at the tea table — the doctor read : 

" ' With reference to the evolution of the system of pri- 
vate capitalism to the point where it provoked the Revolu- 
tion by threatening the lives and liberties of the people, 
historians divide the history of the American Republic, from 
its foundation in 1787 to the great Revolution which made 
it a true republic, into three periods. 

" ' The first comprises the decades from the foundation of 
tlie republic to about the end of the first third of the nine- 
teenth century — say, up to the thirties or forties. This was 
the period during which the power of capital in private 
hands had not as yet shown itself seriously aggressive. The 
moneyed class was small and the accumulations of capital 
petty. The vastness of the natural resources of the virgin 
country defied as yet the lust of greed. The ample lands to 
be had for the taking guaranteed independence to all at the 
price of labor. With this resource no man needed to call 


another master. This may be considered the idyllic period 
of the republic, the time when De Tocqueville saw and ad- 
mired it, though not without prescience of the doom that 
awaited it. The seed of death was in the state in the prin- 
ciple of private capitalism, and was sure in time to grow 
and ripen, but as yet the conditions were not favorable to 
its development. All seemed to go well, and it is not strange 
that the American people indulged in the hope that their 
republic had indeed solved the social question. 

" ' From about 1830 or 1840, speaking of course in a general 
way as to date, we consider the republic to have entered on 
its second phase — namely, that in which the growth and con- 
centration of capital began to be rapid. The moneyed class 
now grew powerful, and began to reach out and absorb the 
natural resources of the country and to organize for its 
profit the labor of the people. In a word, the growth of 
the plutocracy became vigorous. The event which gave the 
great impulse to this movement, and fixed the time of the 
transition from the first to the second period in the history 
of the nation, was of course the general application of steam 
to commerce and industry. The transition may indeed be 
said to have begun somewhat earlier, with the introduction 
of the factory system. Of course, if neither steam nor the 
inventions which made the factory system possible had 
ever been introduced, it would have been merely a ques- 
tion of a longer time before the capitalist class, proceeding 
in this case by landlordism and usury, would have reduced 
the masses to vassalage, and overthrown democracy even as 
in the ancient republics, but the great inventions amazingly 
accelerated the plutocratic conquest. For the first time in 
history the capitalist in the subjugation of his fellows had 
machinery for his ally, and a most potent one it was. This 
was the mighty factor which, by multiplying the power of 
capital and relatively dwarfing the importance of the work- 
ingman, accounts for the extraordinary rapidity with which 
during the second and third periods the conquest of the re- 
public by the plutocracy was carried out. 

" ' It is a fact creditable to Americans that they appear to 
have begun to realize as early as the forties that new and 
dangerous tendencies were affecting the republic and 


threatening to falsify its promise of a wide diffusion of wel- 
fare. That decade is notable in American history for the 
popular interest taken in the discussion of the possibility of 
a better social order, and for the numerous experiments 
undertaken to test the feasibility of dispensing with the pri- 
vate capitalist by co-operative industry. Already the more 
intelligent and public-spirited citizens were beginning to 
observe that their so-called popular government did not 
seem to interfere in the slightest degree with the rule of the 
rich and the subjection of the masses to economic masters, 
and to wonder, if that were to continue to be so, of exactly 
how much value the so-called republican institutions were 
on which they had so prided themselves. 

" ' This nascent agitation of the social question on radical 
lines was, however, for the time destined to prove abor- 
tive by force of a condition peculiar to America — namely, 
the existence on a vast scale of African chattel slavery in 
the country. It was fitting in the evolution of complete 
human liberty that this form of bondage, cruder and more 
brutal, if not on the whole more cruel, than wage slavery, 
should first be put out of the way. But for this necessity 
and the conditions that produced it, we may believe that the 
great Eevolution would have occurred in America twenty- 
five years earlier. From the period of 1840 to 1870 the 
slavery issue, involving as it did a conflict of stupendous 
forces, absorbed all the moral and mental as well as physical 
energies of the nation. 

" ' During the thirty or forty years from the serious begin- 
ning of the antislavery movement till the war was ended 
and its issues disposed of, the nation had no thought to spare 
for any other interests. During this period the concentra- 
tion of capital in few hands, already alarming to the far- 
sighted in the forties, had time, almost unobserved and quite 
unresisted, to push its conquest of the country and the peo- 
ple. Under cover of the civil war, with its preceding and 
succeeding periods of agitation over the issues of the war, 
the capitalists may be said to have stolen a march upon the 
nation and intrenched themselves in a commanding posi- 

" ' Eighteen seventy-three is the point, as near as any date, 


at which the country, delivered at last from the distracting 
ethical, and sectional issues of slavery, first began to open 
its eyes to the irrepressible conflict which the growth of 
capitalism had forced — a conflict between the power of 
wealth and the democratic idea of the equal right of all to 
life, liberty, and happiness. From about this time we date, 
therefore, the beginning of the final or revolutionary period 
of the pseudo-American Republic which resulted in the 
establishment of the present system. 

" ' History had furnished abundant previous illustrations 
of the overthrow of republican societies by the growth 
and concentration of private wealth, but never before had 
it recorded a revolution in the economic basis of a great 
nation at once so complete and so swiftly effected. In 
America before the war, as we have seen, wealth had been 
distributed with a general effect of evenness never previously 
known in a large community. There had been few rich men 
and very few considerable fortunes. It had been in the 
power neither of individuals nor a class, through the pos- 
session of overwhelming capital, to exercise oppression upon 
the rest of the community. In the short space of twenty- 
five to thirty years these economic conditions had been so 
completely reversed as to give America in the seventies and 
eighties the name of the land of millionaires, and make it 
famous to the ends of the earth as the country of all others 
where the vastest private accumulations of wealth existed. 
The consequences of this amazing concentration of wealth 
formerly so equally diffused, as it had affected the industrial, 
the social, and the political interests of the people, could not 
have been other than revolutionary. 

" ' Free competition in business had ceased to exist. Per- 
sonal initiative in industrial enterprises, which formerly 
had been open to all, was restricted to the capitalists, and to 
the larger capitalists at that. Formerly known all over the 
world as the land of opportunities, America had in the time 
of a generation become equally celebrated as the land of 
monopolies. A man no longer counted chiefly for what he 
was, but for what he had. Brains and industry, if coupled 
with civility, might indeed win an upper servant's place in 
the employ of capital, but no longer could command a career. 


" ' The concentration of the economic administration of 
the country in the hands of a comparatively small body of 
great capitalists had necessarily consolidated and central- 
ized in a corresponding manner all the functions of pro- 
duction and distribution. Single great concerns, backed by 
enormous aggregations of capital, had appropriated tracts 
of the business field formerly occupied by innumerable 
smaller concerns. In this process, as a matter of course, 
swarms of small businesses were crushed like flies, and their 
former independent proprietors were fortunate to find places 
as underlings in the great establishments which had sup- 
planted them. Straight through the seventies and eighties, 
every month, every week, every day saw some fresh prov- 
ince of the economic state, some new branch of industry 
or commerce formerly open to the enterprise of all, cap- 
tured by a combination of capitalists and turned into an in- 
trenched camp of monopoly. The words syndicate and 
trust were coined to describe these monstrous growths, for 
which the former language of the business world had no 

" ' Of the two great divisions of the working masses it 
would be hard to say whether the wage-earner or the farmer 
had suffered most by the changed order. The old personal 
relationship and kindly feeling between employee and em- 
ployer had passed away. The great aggregations of capital 
which had taken the place of the former employers were 
impersonal forces, which knew the worker no longer as a 
man, but as a unit of force. He was merely a tool in the 
employ of a machine, the managers of which regarded him 
as a necessary nuisance, who must unfortunately be re- 
tained at the least possible expense, until he could be in- 
vented wholly out of existence by some new mechanical 

" ' The economic function and possibilities of the farmer 
had similarly been dwarfed or cut off as a result of the con- 
centration of the business system of the country in the 
hands of a few. The railroads and the grain market had, 
between them, absorbed the former profits of farming, and 
left the farmer only the wages of a day laborer in case of a 
good crop, and a mortgage debt in case of a bad one ; and all 


this, moreover, coupled with the responsibilities of a capi- 
talist whose money was invested in his farm. This latter 
responsibility, however, did not long continue to trouble the 
farmer, for, as naturally might be supposed, the only way 
he could exist from year to year under such conditions was 
by contracting debts without the slightest prospect of pay- 
ing them, which presently led to the foreclosure of his land, 
and his reduction from the onoe proud estate of an American 
farmer to that of a tenant on his way to become a peasant. 

" ' From 1873 to 1896 the histories quote some six distinct 
business crises. The periods of rallying between them were, 
however, so brief that we may say a continuous crisis ex- 
isted during a large part of that period. Now, business 
crises had been numerous and disastrous in the early and 
middle epoch of the republic, but the business system, rest- 
ing at that time on a widely extended popular initiative, 
had shown itself quickly and strongly elastic, and the rallies 
that promptly followed the crashes had always led to a 
greater prosperity than that before enjoyed. But this elas- 
ticity, with the cause of it, was now gone. There was little 
or slow reaction after the crises of the seventies, eighties, 
and early nineties, but, on the contrary, a scarcely inter- 
rupted decline of prices, wages, and the general prosperity 
and content of the farming and wage-earning masses. 

'• ' There could not be a more striking proof of the down- 
ward tendency in the welfare of the wage-earner and the 
farmer than the deteriorating quality and dwindling vol- 
ume of foreign immigration which marked the period. 
The rush of European emigrants to the United States as the 
land of promise for the poor, since its beginning half a cen- 
tury before, had continued with increasing volume, and 
drawn to us a great population from the best stocks of the 
Old World. Soon after the war the character of the immi- 
gration began to change, and during the eighties and nine- 
ties came to be almost entirely made up of the lowest, most 
wretched, and barbarous races of Europe — the very scum of 
the cc«itinent. Even to secure these wretched recruits the 
agents of the transatlantic steamers and the American land 
syndicates had to send their agents all over the worst dis- 
tricts of Europe and flood the countries with lying circulars. 


Matters had come to the point that no European peasant or 
workingman, who was yet above the estate of a beggar or 
an exile, could any longer afford to share the lot of the 
American workingman and farmer, so little time before the 
envy of the toiling world. 

" ' While the politicians sought, especially about election 
time, to cheer the workingman with the assurance of better 
times just ahead, the more serious economic writers seem 
to have frankly admitted that the superiority formerly en- 
joyed by American workingmen over those of other coun- 
tries could not be expected to last longer, that the tend- 
ency henceforward was to be toward a world-wide level of 
prices and wages — namely, the level of the country where 
they were lowest. In keeping with this prediction we note 
that for the first time, about the beginning of the nineties, 
the American employer began to find himself, through the 
reduced cost of production in which wages were the main 
element, in a position to undersell in foreign markets the 
products of the slave gangs of British, Belgian, French, and 
German capitalists. 

" ' It was during this period, when the economic distress 
of the masses was creating industrial war and making revo- 
lutionists of the most contented and previously prosperous 
agricultural population in history, that the vastest private 
fortunes in the history of the world were being accumulated. 
The millionaire, who had been unknown before the war 
and was still an unusual and portentous figure in the early 
seventies, was presently succeeded by the multimillionaire, 
and above the multimillionaires towered yet a new race of 
economic Titans, the hundred millionaires, and already the 
coming of the billionaire was being discussed. It is not 
difficult, nor did the people of the time find it so, to see, in 
view of this comparison, where the wealth went which the 
masses were losing. Tens of thousands of modest compe- 
tencies disappeared, to reappear in colossal fortunes in single 
hands. Visibly as the body of the spider swells as he sucks 
the juices of his victims, had these vast aggregations grown 
in measure as the welfare of the once prosperous people had 
shrunk away. 

" ' The social consequences of so complete an overthrow 


of the former economic equilibrium as had taken place could 
not have been less than revolutionary. In America, before 
the war, the accumulations of wealth were usually the re- 
sult of the personal efforts of the possessor and were con- 
sequently small and correspondingly precarious. It was a 
saying of the time that there were usually but three gen- 
erations from shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves — meaning that if 
a man accumulated a little wealth, his son generally lost it, 
and the grandson was again a manual laborer. Under these 
circumstances the economic disparities, slight at most and 
constantly fluctuating, entirely failed to furnish a basis 
for class distinctions. There were recognized no laboring 
class as such, no leisure class, no fixed classes of rich and 
poor. Riches or poverty, the condition of being at leisure 
or obliged to work were considered merely temporary 
accidents of fortune and not permanent conditions. All 
this was now changed. The great fortunes of the new 
order of things by their very magnitude were stable ac- 
quisitions, not easily liable to be lost, capable of being 
handed down from generation to generation with almost 
as much security as a title of nobility. On the other hand, 
the monopolization of all the valuable economic opportuni- 
ties in the country by the great capitalists made it corre- 
spondingly impossible for those not of the capitalist class 
to attain wealth. The hope of becoming rich some day, 
which before the war every energetic American had cher- 
ished, was now practically beyond the horizon of the man 
born to poverty. Between rich and poor the door was 
henceforth shut. The way up, hitherto the social safety 
valve, had been closed, and the bar weighted with money 

" ' A natural reflex of the changed social conditions of the 
country is seen in the new class terminology, borrowed from 
the Old World, which soon after the war crept into use in the 
United States. It had been the boast of the former Ameri- 
can that everybody in this country was a workingman ; 
but now that term we find more and more frankly em- 
ployed to distinguish the poor from the well-to-do. For 
the first time in American literature we begin to read 
of the lower classes, the upper classes, and the middle 


classes — terms wliich would have been meaningless in 
America before the war, but now corresponded so closely 
with the real facts of the situation that those who detested 
them most could not avoid their use. 

'"A prodigious display of luxury such as Europe could 
not rival had begun to characterize the manner of life of 
the possessors of the new and unexampled fortunes. Spec- 
tacles of gilded splendor, of royal pomp and boundless 
prodigality mocked the popular discontent and brought out 
in dazzling light the width and depth of the gulf that was 
being fixed between the masters and the masses. 

" ' Meanwhile the money kings took no pains to disguise 
the fullness of their conviction that the day of democracy 
was passing and the dream of equality nearly at an end. 
As the popular feeling in America had grown bitter against 
them they had responded with frank indications of their 
dislike of the country and disgust with its democratic in- 
stitutions. The leading American millionaires had become 
international personages, spending the greater part of their 
time and their revenue in European countries, sending their 
children there for education and in some instances carrying 
their preference for the Old World to the extent of becom- 
ing subjects of foreign powers. The disposition on the part 
of the greater American capitalists to turn their backs upon 
democracy and ally themselves with European and mo- 
narchical institutions was emphasized in a striking manner 
by the long list of marriages arranged during this period 
between great American heiresses and foreign noblemen. 
It seemed to be considered that the fitting destiny for the 
daughter of an American multimillionaire was such a 
union. These great capitalists were very shrewd in money 
matters, and their investments of vast sums in the purchase 
of titles for their posterity was the strongest evidence they 
could give of a sincere conviction that the future of the 
world, like its past, belonged not to the people but to class 
and privilege. 

" ' The influence exercised over the political government 
by the moneyed class under the convenient euphemism of 
" the business interests," which merely meant the interests 
of the rich, had always been considerable, and at times 


caused grave scandals. In measure as the wealth of the 
country had become concentrated and allied, its influence in 
the government had naturally increased, and during the 
seventies, eighties, and nineties it became a scai'cely veiled 
dictatorship. Lest the nominal representatives of the people 
should go astray in doing the will of the capitalists, the lat- 
ter were represented by bodies of picked agents at all the 
places of government. These agents closely followed the 
conduct of all public officials, and wherever there was any 
wavering in their fidelity to the capitalists, were able to 
bring to bear influences of intimidation or bribery which 
were rarely unsuccessful. These bodies of agents had a rec- 
ognized semi-legal place in the political system of the day 
under the name of lobbyists. 

" ' The history of government contains few more shame- 
ful chapters than that which records how during this period 
the Legislatures — municipal, State, and national — seconded 
by the Executives and the courts, vied with each other by 
wholesale grants of land, privileges, franchises, and monopo- 
lies of all kinds, in turning over the country, its resources, 
and its people to the domination of the capitalists, their heirs 
and assigns forever. The public lands, which a few decades 
before had promised a boundless inheritance to future gen- 
erations, were ceded in vast domains to syndicates and in- 
dividual capitalists, to be held against the people as the basis 
of a future territorial aristocracy with tributary populations 
of peasants. Not only had the material substance of the 
national patrimony been thus surrendered to a handful of 
the people, but in the fields of commerce and of industry 
all the valuable economic opportunities had been secured 
by franchises to monopolies, precluding future generations 
from opportunity of livelihood or employment, save as the 
dependents and liegemen of a hereditary capitalist class. 
In the chronicles of royal misdoings there have been many 
dark chapters recording how besotted or imbecile monarchs 
have sold their people into bondage and sapped the welfare 
of their realms to enrich licentious favorites, but the darkest 
of tliose chapters is bright beside that which records the 
sale of the heritage and hopes of the American people to 
the highest bidder by the so-called democratic State, na- 


tional, and local governments during the period of which we 
are speaking. 

" ' Especially necessary had it become for the plutocracy 
to be able to use the powers of government at will, on ac- 
count of the embittered and desperate temper of the work- 
ing masses. 

" ' The labor strikes often resulted in disturbances too ex- 
tensive to be dealt with by the police, and it became the com- 
mon practice of the capitalists, in case of serious strikes, to 
call on the State and national governments to furnish troops 
to protect their property interest. The principal function 
of the militia of the States had become the suppression of 
strikes with bullet or bayonet, or the standing guard over 
the plants of the capitalists, till hunger compelled the insur- 
gent workmen to surrender. 

'"During the eighties the State governments entered 
upon a general policy of preparing the militia for this new 
and ever-enlarging field of usefulness. The National Guard 
was turned into a Capitalist Guard. The force was gen- 
erally reorganized, increased in numbers, improved in disci- 
pline, and trained with especial reference to the business of 
shooting riotous workingmen. The drill in street firing — 
a quite new feature in the training of the American militia- 
man, and a most ominous one — became the prominent test 
of efficiency. Stone and brick armories, fortified against 
attack, loopholed for musketry and mounted with guns to 
sweep the streets, were erected at the strategic points of 
the large cities. In some instances the militia, which, after 
all, was pretty near the people, had, however, shown such 
unwillingness to fire on strikers and such symptoms of 
sympathy for their grievances, that the capitalists did not 
trust them fully, but in serious cases preferred to depend on 
the pitiless professional soldiers of the General Government, 
the regulars. Consequently, the Government, upon request 
of the capitalists, adopted the policy of establishing fortified 
camps near the great cities, and posting heavy garrisons in 
them. The Indian wars were ceasing at about this time, 
and the troops that had been stationed on the Western 
plains to protect the white settlements from the Indians 
were brought East to protect the capitalists from the white 


settlements. Such was the evolution of private capi- 

" ' The extent and practical character of the use to which 
the capitalists intended to put the military arm of the Gov- 
erment in their controversy with the workingmen may be 
judged from the fact that in single years of the early nine- 
ties armies of eight and ten thousand men were on the 
march, in New York and Pennsylvania, to suppress strikes. 
In 1892 the militia of five States, aided by the regulars, were 
under arms against strikers simultaneously, the aggregate 
force of troops probably making a larger body than General 
Washington ever commanded. Here surely was civil war 

" ' Americans of the former days had laughed scornfully 
at the bayonet-propped monarchies of Europe, saying rightly 
that a government which needed to be defended by force 
from its own people was a self-confessed failure. To this 
pass, however, the industrial system of the United States 
was fast coming — it was becoming a government by bayo- 

" ' Thus briefly, and without attempt at detail, may be re- 
capitulated some of the main aspects of the transformation 
in the condition of the American people, resulting from the 
concentration of the wealth of the country, which first began 
to excite serious alarm at the close of the civil war. 

" ' It might almost be said that the citizen armies of the 
North had returned from saving the republic from open 
foes, to find that it had been stolen from them by more 
stealthy but far more dangerous enemies whom they had 
left at home. While they had been putting down caste 
rule based on race at the South, class rule based on wealth 
had been set up at the North, to be in time extended over 
South and North alike. While the armies of the people 
had been shedding rivers of blood in the effort to preserve 
the political unity of the nation, its social unity, upon which 
the very life of a republic depends, had been attacked by the 
beginnings of class divisions, which could only end by 
splitting the once coherent nation into mutually suspicious 
and inimical bodies of citizens, requiring the iron bands of 
despotism to hold them together in a political organization. 


Four million negroes had indeed been freed from chattel 
slavery, but meanwhile a nation of white men had passed 
under the yoke of an economic and social vassalage which, 
though the common fate of European peoples and of the 
ancient world, the founders of the republic had been proudly 
confident their posterity would never wear.' " 

The doctor closed the book from which he had been 
reading and laid it down. 

" Julian," he said, " this story of the subversion of the 
American Republic by the plutocracy is an astounding one. 
You were a witness of the situation it describes, and are 
able to judge whether the statements are exaggerated." 

" On the contrary," I replied, " I should think you had 
been reading aloud from a collection of newspapers of the 
period. All the political, social, and business facts and symp- 
toms to which the writer has referred were matters of public 
discussion and common notoriety. If they did not impress 
me as they do now, it is simply because I imagine I never 
heard them grouped and marshaled with the purpose of 
bringing out their significance." 

Once more the doctor asked Edith to bring him a book 
from the library. Turning the pages until he had found 
the desired place, he said : 

" Lest you should fancy that the force of Storiot's state- 
ment of the economic situation in the United States during 
the last third of the nineteenth century owes anything to 
the rhetorical arrangement, I want to give you just a few 
hard, cold statistics as to the actual distribution of prop- 
erty during that period, showing the extent to which its 
ownership had been concentrated. Here is a volume made 
up of information on this subject based upon analyses of 
census reports, tax assessments, the files of probate courts, 
and other official documents. I will give you three sets of 
calculations, each prepared by a separate authority and 
based upon a distinct line of investigation, and all agreeing 
with a closeness which, considering the magnitude of the 
calculation, is astounding, and leaves no room to doubt the 
substantial accuracy of the conclusions. 

" From the first set of tables, which was prepared in 1893 


by a census ofiBcial from the returns of the United States 
census, we find it estimated that out of sixty-two billions of 
wealth in the country a group of millionaires and multi- 
millionaires, representing three one-hundredths of one per 
cent of the population, owned twelve billions, or one fifth. 
Thirty-three billions of the rest was owned by a little less 
than nine per cent of the American people, being the rich 
and well-to-do class less than millionaires. That is, the 
millionaires, rich, and well-to-do, making altogether but 
nine per cent of the whole nation, owned forty-five billions 
of the total national valuation of sixty-two billions. The 
remaining ninety-one per cent of the whole nation, consti- 
tuting the bulk of the people, were classed as the poor, and 
divided among themselves the remaining seventeen million 

" A second table, published in 1894 and based upon the 
surrogates' records of estates in the great State of New York, 
estimates that one per cent of the people, one one-hundredth 
of the nation, possessed over half, or fifty-five per cent, of 
its total wealth. It finds that a further fraction of the popu- 
lation, including the well-to-do, and amounting to eleven 
per cent, owned over thirty-two per cent of the total wealth, 
so that twelve per cent of the whole nation, including the 
very rich and the well-to-do, monopolized eighty-seven per 
cent of the total wealth of the country, leaving but thirteen 
per cent of that wealth to be shared among the remaining 
eighty-eight per cent of the nation. This eighty-eight per 
cent of the nation was subdivided into the poor and the very 
poor. The last, constituting fifty per cent out of the eighty- 
eight, or half the entire nation, had too little wealth to be 
estimated at all, apparently living a hand-to-mouth exist- 

" The estimates of a third computator whom I shall quote, 
although taken from quite different data, agree remarkably 
with the others, representing as they do about the same period. 
These last estimates, which were published in 1889 and 1891, 
and like the others produced a strong impression, divide the 
nation into three classes — the rich, the middle, and the 
working class. The rich, being one and four tenths per 
cent of the population, are credited with seventy per cent of 


the total wealth. The middle class, representing nine and two 
tenths per cent of the population, is credited with twelve 
per cent of the total wealth, the rich and middle classes, 
together, representing ten and six tenths per cent of the 
population, having therefore eighty-two per cent of the 
total wealth, leaving to the working class, which constituted 
eighty-nine and four tenths of the nation, but eighteen per 
cent of the wealth, to share among them." 

" Doctor," I exclaimed, " I knew things were pretty un- 
equally divided in my day, but figures like these are over- 
whelming. You need not take the trouble to tell me any- 
thing further by way of explaining why the people revolted 
against private capitalism. These figures were enough to 
turn the very stones into revolutionists." 

" I thought you would say so," replied the doctor. " And 
please remember also that these tremendous figures repre- 
sent only the progress made toward the concentration of 
wealth mainly within the period of a single generation. 
Well might Americans say to themselves ' If such things 
are done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry ? ' 
If private capitalism, dealing with a community in which 
had previously existed a degree of economic equality never 
before known, could within a period of some thirty years 
make such a prodigious stride toward the complete expro- 
priation of the rest of the nation for the enrichment of 
a class, what was likely to be left to the people at the 
end of a century ? What was to be left even to the next 
generation ? " 




" So much for the causes of the Revolution in America, 
both the general fundamental cause, consisting in the factor 
newly introduced into social evolution by the enlighten- 
ment of the masses and irresistibly tending to equality, and 
the immediate local causes peculiar to America, which ac- 


count for the Revolution having come at the particular time 
it did and for its taking the particular course it did. Now, 
briefly as to that course : 

" The pinching of the economic shoe resulting from the 
concentration of wealth was naturally first felt by the class 
with least reserves, the wage-earners, and the Revolution 
may be said to have begun with their revolt. In 1869 the 
first great labor organization in America was formed to re- 
sist the power of capital. Previous to the war the number 
of strikes that had taken place in the country could be 
counted on the fingers. Before the sixties were out they 
were counted by hundreds, during the seventies by thou- 
sands, and during the eighties the labor reports enumer- 
ate nearly ten thousand, involving two or three million 
workers. Many of these strikes were of continental scope, 
shaking the whole commercial fabric and causing general 

" Close after the revolt of the wage earners came that 
of the farmers — less turbulent in methods but more seri- 
ous and abiding in results. This took the form of secret 
leagues and open political parties devoted to resisting what 
was called the money power. Already in the seventies 
these organizations threw State and national politics into 
confusion, and later became the nucleus of the revolu- 
tionary party. 

" Your contemporaries of the thinking classes can not be 
taxed with indifference to these signs and portents. The 
public discussion and literature of the time reflect the con- 
fusion and anxiety with which the unprecedented manifes- 
tations of popular discontent had affected all serious persons. 
The old-fashioned Fourth-of-July boastings had ceased 
to be heard in the land. All agreed that somehow re- 
publican forms of government had not fulfilled their 
promise as guarantees of the popular welfare, but were 
showing themselves impotent to prevent the recrudes- 
cence in the New World of all the Old World's evils, 
especially those of class and caste, which it had been sup- 
posed could never exist in the atmosphere of a republic. 
It was recognized on all sides that the old order was 
changing for the worse, and that the republic and all it 


had been tliouglit to stand for was in danger. It was 
the universal cry that something must be done to check 
the ruinous tendency. Reform was the word in every- 
body's mouth, and the rallying cry, whether in sincerity 
or pretense, of every party. But indeed, Julian, I need 
waste no time describing this state of affairs to you, for 
you were a witness of it till 1887." 

" It was all quite as you describe it, the industrial and 
political warfare and turmoil, the general sense that the 
country was going wrong, and the universal cry for some 
sort of reform. But, as I said before, the agitation, while 
alarming enough, was too confused and purposeless to 
seem revolutionary. All agreed that something ailed 
the country, but no two agreed what it was or how to 
cure if- 

" Just so," said the doctor. " Our historiaas divide the 
entire revolutionary epoch — from the close of the war, or 
the beginning of the seventies, to the establishment of the 
present order early in the twentieth century — into two pe- 
riods, the incoherent and the rational. The first of these is 
the period of which we have been talking, and with which 
Storiot deals with in the paragraphs I have read — the period 
with which you were, for the most part, contemporary. As 
we have seen, and you know better than we can, it was a 
time of terror and tumult, of confused and purposeless agi- 
tation, and a Babel of contradictory clamor. The people 
were blindly kicking in the dark against the pricks of capi- 
talism, without any clear idea of what they were kiclring 

" The two great divisions of the toilers, the wage-earn- 
ers and the farmers, were equally far from seeing clear 
and whole the nature of the situation and the forces of 
which they were the victims. The wage-earners' only 
idea was that by organizing the artisans and manual work- 
ers their wages could be forced up and maintained in- 
definitely. They seem to have had absolutely no more 
knowledge than children of the effect of the profit system 
always and inevitably to keep the consuming power of 
the community indefinitely below its producing power and 
thus to maintain a constant state of more or less aggravated 


glut in the goods and labor markets, and that nothing 
could possibly prevent the constant presence of these con- 
ditions so long as the profit system was tolerated, or their 
effect finally to reduce the wage-earner to the subsistence 
point or below as profits tended downward. Until the 
wage-earners saw this and no longer wasted their strength 
in hopeless or trivial strikes against individual capitalists 
which could not possibly affect the general result, and 
united to overthrow the profit system, the Revolution must 
wait, and the capitalists had no reason to disturb them- 

"As for the farmers, as they were not wage-earners, 
they took no interest in the plans of the latter, which 
aimed merely to benefit the wage-earning class, but de- 
voted themselves to equally futile schemes for their class, 
in which, for the same reason that they were merely class 
remedies, the wage-earners took no interest. Their aim 
was to obtain aid from the Government to improve their 
condition as petty capitalists oppressed by the greater capi- 
talists who controlled the traffic and markets of the coun- 
try; as if any conceivable device, so long as private 
capitalism should be tolerated, would prevent its natural 
evolution, which was the crushing of the smaller capitalists 
by the larger. 

" Their main idea seems to have been that their troubles 
as farmers were chiefly if not wholly to be accounted for 
by certain vicious acts of financial legislation, the effect 
of which they held had been to make money scarce and 
dear. What they demanded as the sufficient cure of the 
existing evils was the repeal of the vicious legislation 
and a larger issue of currency. This they believed would 
be especially beneficial to the farming class by reducing 
the interest on their debts and raising the price of their 

"Undoubtedly the currency and the coinage and the 
governmental financial system in general had been shame- 
lessly abused by the capitalists to corner the wealth of the 
nation in their hands, but their misuse of this part of the 
economic machinery had been no worse than their manip- 
ulation of the other portions of the system. Their trick- 


ery with the currency had only helped them to monopo- 
lize the wealth of the people a little faster than they would 
have done it had they depended for their enrichment on 
what were called the legitimate operations of rent, interest, 
and profits. While a part of their general policy of eco- 
nomic subjugation of the people, the manipulation of the 
currency had not been essential to that policy, which would 
have succeeded just as certainly had it been left out. The 
capitalists were under no necessity to juggle with the coin- 
age had they been content to make a little more leisurely 
process of devouring the lands and effects of the people. 
For that result no particular form of currency system was 
necessary, and no conceivable monetary system would have 
prevented it. Gold, silver, paper, dear money, cheap money, 
hard money, bad money, good money — every form of token 
from cowries to guineas — had all answered equally well in 
different times and countries for the designs of the capital- 
ist, the details of the game being only slightly modified 
according to the conditions. 

" To have convinced himself of the folly of ascribing the 
economic distress to which his class as well as the people at 
large had been reduced, to an act of Congress relating to 
the currency, the American farmer need only have looked 
abroad to foreign lands, where he would have seen that the 
agricultural class everywhere was plunged in a misery 
greater than his own, and that, too, without the slightest 
regard to the nature of the various monetary systems 
in use. 

" Was it indeed a new or strange phenomenon in human 
affairs that the agriculturists were going to the wall, that 
the American farmer should seek to account for the fact by 
some new and peculiarly American policy ? On the con- 
trary, this had been the fate of the agricultural class in all 
ages, and what was now threatening the American tiller of 
the soil was nothing other than the doom which had befallen 
his kind in every previous generation and in every part of 
the world. Manifestly, then, he should seek the explana- 
tion not in any particular or local conjunction of circum- 
stances, but in some general and always operative cause. 
This general cause, operative in all lands and times and 


among all races, he would presently see when he should in- 
terrogate history, was the irresistible tendency by which the 
capitalist class in the evolution of any society through rent, 
interest, and profits absorbs to itself the whole wealth of the 
country, and thus reduces the masses of the people to eco- 
nomic, social, and political subjection, the most abject class 
of all being invariably the tillers of the soil. For a time 
the American population, including the farmers, had been 
enabled, thanks to the vast bounty of a virgin and empty 
continent, to evade the operation of this universal law, but 
the common fate was now about to overtake them, and noth- 
ing would avail to avert it save the overthrow of the system 
of private capitalism of which it always had been and al- 
ways must be the necessary effect. 

" Time would fail even to mention the innumerable reform 
nostrums offered for the cure of the nation by smaller 
bodies of reformers. They ranged from the theory of the 
prohibitionists that the chief cause of the economic distress — 
from which the teetotal farmers of the West were the worst 
sufferers — was the use of intoxicants, to that of the party 
which agreed that the nation was being divinely chastised 
because there was no formal recognition of the Trinity in 
the Constitution. Of course, these were extravagant per- 
sons, but even those who recognized the concentration of 
wealth as the cause of the whole trouble quite failed to see 
that this concentration was itself the natural evolution of 
private capitalism, and that it was not possible to prevent it 
or any of its consequences unless and until private capital- 
ism itself should be put an end to. 

" As might be expected, efforts at resistance so ill calcu- 
lated as these demonstrations of the wage-earners and farm- 
ers, not to speak of the host of petty sects of so-called 
reformers during the first phase of the Revolution, were 
ineffectual. The great labor organizations which had sprung 
up shortly after the war as soon as the wage-earners felt the 
necessity of banding themselves to resist the yoke of con- 
centrated capital, after twenty-five years of fighting, had 
demonstrated their utter inability to maintain, much less 
to improve, the condition of the workingman. During this 
period ten or fifteen thousand recorded strikes and lock- 


outs had taken place, but the net result of the industrial 
civil war, protracted through so long a period, had been to 
prove to the dullest of workingmen the hopelessness of 
securing any considerable amelioration of their lot by class 
action or organization, or indeed of even maintaining it 
against encroachments. After all this unexampled suf- 
fering and fighting, the wage-earners found themselves 
worse off than ever. Nor had the farmers, the other great 
division of the insurgent masses, been any more suc- 
cessful in resisting the money power. Their leagues, al- 
though controlling votes by the million, had proved even 
more impotent if possible than the wage-earners' organi- 
zations to help their members. Even where they had been 
apparently successful and succeeded in capturing the po- 
litical control of states, they found the money power still 
able by a thousand indirect influences to balk their eiforts 
and turn their seeming victories into apples of Sodom, 
which became ashes in the hands of those who would pluck 

" Of the vast, anxious, and anguished volume of public 
discussion as to what should be done, what after twenty-five 
years had been the practical outcome ? Absolutely noth- 
ing. If here and there petty reforms had been introduced, 
on the whole the power of the evils against which those 
reforms were directed had vastly increased. If the power 
of the plutocracy in 1873 had been as the little finger of 
a man, in 1895 it was thicker than his loins. Certainly, 
so far as superficial and material indications went, it 
looked as if the battle had been going thus far steadily, 
swiftly, and hopelessly against the people, and that the 
American capitalists who expended their millions in buy- 
ing titles of nobility for their children were wiser in their 
generation than the children of light and better judges of 
the future. 

" Nevertheless, no conclusion could possibly have been 
more mistaken. During these decades of apparently un- 
varied failure and disaster the revolutionary movement for 
the complete overthrow of private capitalism had made a 
progress which to rational minds should have presaged its 
complete triumph in the near future." 


"Where had the progress been?" I said; "I dont see 

" In the development among the masses of the people of 
the necessary revolutionary temper," replied the doctor; 
" in the preparation of the popular mind by the only pro- 
cess that could have prepared it, to accept the programme of 
a radical reorganization of the economic system from the 
ground up. A great revolution, you must remember, which 
is to profoundly change a form of society, must accumulate 
a tremendous moral force, an overwhelming weight of jus- 
tification, so to speak, behind it before it can start. The 
processes by which and the period during which this ac- 
cumulation of impulse is effected are by no means so spec- 
tacular as the events of the subsequent period when the 
revolutionary movement, having obtained an irresistible 
momentum, sweeps away like straws the obstacles that so 
long held it back only to swell its force and volume at last. 
But to the student the period of preparation is the more 
truly interesting and critical field of study. It was ab- 
solutely necessary that the American people, before they 
would seriously think of undertaking so tremendous a 
reformation as was implied in the substitution of public for 
private capitalism, should be fully convinced not by argu- 
ment only, but by abundant bitter experience and convinc- 
ing object lessons, that no remedy for the evils of the time 
less complete or radical would sufiice. They must become 
convinced by numerous experiments that private capitalism 
had evolved to a point where it was impossible to amend it 
before they would listen to the proposition to end it. This 
painful but necessary experience the people were gaining dur- 
ing the earlier decades of the struggle. In this way the in- 
numerable defeats, disappointments, and fiascoes which met 
their every effort at curbing and reforming the money 
power during the seventies, eighties, and early nineties, con- 
tributed far more than as many victories would have done 
to the magnitude and completeness of the final triumph 
of the people. It was indeed necessary that all these 
things should come to pass to make the Revolution pos- 
sible. It was necessary that the system of private and 
class tyranny called private capitalism should fill up the 


measure of its iniquities and reveal all it was capable of, 
as the irreconcilable enemy of democracy, the foe of life 
and liberty and human happiness, in order to insure that 
degree of momentum to the coming uprising against it 
which was necessary to guarantee its complete and final over- 
throw. Revolutions which start too soon stop too soon, and 
the welfare of the race demanded that this revolution should 
not cease, nor pause, until the last vestige of the system by 
which men usurped power over the lives and liberties 
of their fellows through economic means was destroyed. 
Therefore not one outrage, not one act of oppression, not 
one exhibition of conscienceless rapacity, not one prostitu- 
tion of power on the part of Executive, Legislature, or judici- 
ary, not one tear of patriotic shame over the degradation of 
the national name, not one blow of the policeman's blud- 
geon, not a single bullet or bayonet thrust of the soldiery, 
could have been spared. Nothing but just this discipline 
of failure, disappointment, and defeat on the part of the 
earlier reformers could have educated the people to the 
necessity of attacking the system of private capitalism in 
its existence instead of merely in its particular manifes- 

" We reckon the beginning of the second part of the revo- 
lutionary movement to which we give the name of the co- 
herent or rational phase, from the time when there became 
apparent a clear conception, on the part of at least a con- 
siderable body of the people, of the true nature of the issue 
as one between the rights of man and the principle of irre- 
sponsible power embodied in private capitalism, and the 
realization that its outcome, if the people were to triumph, 
must be the establishment of a wholly new economic sys- 
tem which should be based upon the public control in the 
public interest of the system of production and distribution 
hitherto left to private management." 

" At about what date," I asked, " do you consider that the 
revolutionary movement began to pass from the incoherent 
into the logical phase ? " 

" Of course," replied the doctor, " it was not the case of 
an immediate outright change of character, but only of the 
beginning of a new spirit and intelligence. The confusion 


and incoherence and short-sightedness of the first period 
long overlapped the time when the infusion of a more rar 
tional spirit and adequate ideal began to appear, but from 
about the beginning of the nineties we date the first ap- 
pearance of an intelligent purpose in the revolutionary 
movement and the beginning of its development from a 
mere formless revolt against intolerable conditions into a 
logical and self-conscious evolution toward the order of 

" It seems I barely missed it." 

" Yes," replied the doctor, " if you had been able to keep 
awake only a year or two longer you would not have been 
so wholly surprised by our industrial system, and especially 
by the economic equality for and by which it exists, for 
within a couple of years after your supposed demise the 
possibility that such a social order might be the outcome 
of the existing crisis was being discussed from one end of 
America to the other. 

" Of course," the doctor went on, " the idea of an inte- 
grated economic system co-ordinating the efforts of all for 
the common welfare, which is the basis of the modern state, 
is as old as philosophy. As a theory it dates back to Plato 
at least, and nobody knows how much further, for it is a 
conception of the most natural and obvious order. Not, 
however, until popular government had been made pos- 
sible by the difi'usion of intelligence was the world ripe for 
the realization of such a form of society. Until that time 
the idea, like the soul waiting for a fit incarnation, must 
remain without social embodiment. Selfish rulers thought 
of the masses only as instruments for their own aggrandize- 
ment, and if they had interested themselves in a more exact 
organization of industry it would only have been with a view 
of making that organization the means of a more complete 
tyranny. Not till the masses themselves became competent 
to rule was a serious agitation possible or desirable for an 
economic organization on a co-operative basis. With the 
first stirrings of the democratic spirit in Europe had come 
the beginning of earnest discussion as to the feasibility of 
such a social order. Already, by the middle of the century, 
this agitation in the Old World had become, to discerning 


eyes, one of the signs of the times, but as yet America, if we 
except the brief and abortive social experiments in the 
forties, had remained wholly unresponsive to the European 

" I need not repeat that the reason, of course, was the 
fact that the economic conditions in America had been 
more satisfactory to the masses than ever before, or any- 
where else in the world. The individualistic method of 
making a living, every man for himself, had answered the 
purpose on the whole so well that the people did not care 
to discuss other methods. The powerful motive neces- 
sary to rouse the sluggish and habit-bound minds of the 
masses and interest them in a new and revolutionary set 
of ideas was lacking. Even during the early stage of the 
revolutionary period it had been found impossible to ob- 
tain any hearing for the notions of a new economic order 
which were already agitating Europe. It was not till the 
close of the eighties that the total and ridiculous failure 
of twenty years of desperate efforts to reform the abuses of 
private capitalism had prepared the American people to 
give serious attention to the idea of dispensing with the 
capitalist altogether by a public organization of industry 
to be administered like other common affairs in the com- 
mon interest. 

" The two great points of the revolutionary programme — 
the principle of economic equality and a nationalized indus- 
trial system as its means and pledge — the American people 
were peculiarly adapted to understand and appreciate. The 
lawyers had made a Constitution of the United States, but 
the true American constitution — the one written on the peo- 
ple's hearts — had always remained the immortal Declaration 
with its assertion of the inalienable equality of all men. As 
to the nationalization of industry, while it involved a set 
of consequences which would completely transform society, 
the principle on which the proposition was based, and to 
which it appealed for justification, was not new to Americans 
in any sense, but, on the contrary, was merely a logical de- 
velopment of the idea of popular self-government on which 
the American system was founded. The application of this 
principle to the regulation of the economic administration 


was indeed a use of it which was historically new, but it 
was one so absolutely and obviously implied in the content 
of the idea that, as soon as it was proposed, it was impos- 
sible that any sincere democrat should not be astonished 
that so plain and common-sense a corollary of popular gov- 
ernment had waited so long for recognition. The apostles 
of a collective administration of the economic system in the 
common interest had in Europe a twofold task : first, to 
teach the general doctrine of the absolute right of the 
people to govern, and then to show the economic applica- 
tion of that right. To Americans, however, it was only 
necessary to point out an obvious although hitherto over- 
looked application of a principle already fully accepted as 
an axiom. 

" The acceptance of the new ideal did not imply merely 
a change in specific progi'ammes, but a total facing about 
of the revolutionary movement. It had thus far been an 
attempt to resist the new economic conditions being imposed 
by the capitalists by bringing back the former economic 
conditions through the restoration of free competition 
as it had existed before the war. This was an effort of neces- 
sity hopeless, seeing that the economic changes which had 
taken place were merely the necessary evolution of any 
system of private capitalism, and could not be successfully 
resisted while the system was retained. 

" ' Face about ! ' was the new v/ord of command. ' Fight 
forward, not backward ! March with the course of eco- 
nomic evolution, not against it. Tlie competitive system 
can never be restored, neither is it worthy of restoration, 
having been at best an immoral, wasteful, brutal scramble 
for existence. New issues demand new answers. It is in 
vain to pit the moribund system of competition against 
the young giant of private monopoly; it must rather be 
opposed by the greater giant of public monopoly. The 
consolidation of business in private interests must be met 
with greater consolidation in the public interest, the trust 
and- the syndicate with the city. State, and nation, capi- 
talism with nationalism. The capitalists have destroyed 
the competitive system. Do not try to restore it, but rather 
thank them for the work, if not the motive, and set 


about, not to rebuild the old village of hovels, but to rear 
on the cleared place the temple humanity so long has 
waited for.' 

" By the light of the new teaching the people began to 
recognize that the strait place into which the republic had 
come was but the narrow and frowning portal of a future 
of universal welfare and happiness such as only the Hebrew 
prophets had colors strong enough to paint. 

" By the new philosophy the issue which had arisen be- 
tween the people and the plutocracy was seen not to be a 
strange and unaccountable or deplorable event, but a neces- 
sary phase in the evolution of a democratic society in pass- 
ing from a lower to an incomparably higher plane, an issue 
therefore to be welcomed not shunned, to be forced not 
evaded, seeing that its outcome in the existing state of hu- 
man enlightenment and world-wide democratic sentiment 
could not be doubtful. By the road by which every repub- 
lic had toiled upward from the barren lowlands of early 
hardship and poverty, just at the point where the steepness 
of the hill had been overcome and a prospect opened of 
pleasant uplands of wealth and prosperity, a sphinx had 
ever stood, propounding the riddle, ' How shall a state com- 
bine the preservation of democratic equality with the in- 
crease of wealth ? ' Simple indeed had been the answer, 
for it was only needful that the people should so order their 
system of economy that wealth should be equally shared 
as it increased, in order that, however great the increase, it 
should in no way interfere with the equalities of the people ; 
for the great justice of equality is the well of political life 
everlasting for peoples, whereof if a nation drink it may 
live forever. Nevertheless, no republic before had been 
able to answer the riddle, and therefore their bones whit- 
ened the hilltop, and not one had ever survived to enter 
on the pleasant land in view. But the time had now come 
in the evolution of human intelligence when the riddle so 
often asked and never answered was to be answered aright, 
the sphinx made an end of, and the road freed forever for 
all the nations. 

" It was this note of perfect assurance, of confident and 
boundless hope, which distinguished the new propaganda, 


and was the more commanding and uplifting from its con- 
trast with the blank pessimism on the one side of the capi- 
talist party, and the petty aims, class interests, short vision, 
and timid spirit of the reformers who had hitherto opposed 

" With a doctrine to preach of so compelling force and 
beauty, promising such good things to men in so great 
want of them, it might seem that it would require but a 
brief time to rally the whole people to its support. And so 
it would doubtless have been if the machinery of public in- 
formation and direction had been in the hands of the re- 
formers or in any hands that were impartial, instead of 
being, as it was, almost wholly in those of the capitalists. 
In previous periods the newspapers had not represented 
large investments of capital, having been quite crude affairs. 
For this very reason, however, they were more likely to rep- 
resent the popular feeling. In the latter part of the nine- 
teenth century a great newspaper with large circulation 
necessarily required a vast investment of capital, and con- 
sequently the important newspapers of the country were 
owned by capitalists and of course carried on in the owners' 
interests. Except when the capitalists in control chanced 
to be men of high principle, the great papers were there- 
fore upon the side of the existing order of things and against 
the revolutionary movement. These papers monopolized 
the facilities of gathering and disseminating public intel- 
ligence and thereby exercised a censorship, almost as effect- 
ive as that prevailing at the same time in Russia or Turkey, 
over the greater part of the information which reached the 

" Not only the press but the religious instruction of the 
people was under the control of the capitalists. The churches 
were the pensioners of the rich and well-to-do tenth of the 
people, and abjectly dependent on them for the means of 
carrying on and extending their work. The universities and 
institutions of higher learning were in like manner har- 
nessed to the plutocratic chariot by golden chains. Like 
the churches, they were dependent for support and pros- 
perity upon the benefactions of the rich, and to offend 
them would have been suicidal. Moreover, the rich and 


well-to-do tenth of the population was the only class 
which could afford to send children to institutions of 
the secondary education, and they naturally preferred 
schools teaching a doctrine comfortable to the possessing 

*' If the reformers had been i^ut in possession of press, 
pulpit, and university, which the capitalists controlled, 
whereby to set home their doctrine to the heart and mind 
and conscience of the nation, they would have converted 
and carried the country in a month. 

" Feeling how quickly the day would be theirs if they 
could but reach the people, it was natural that they should 
chafe bitterly at the delay, confronted as they were by the 
spectacle of humanity daily crucified afresh and enduring 
an illimitable anguish which they knew was needless. Who 
indeed would not have been impatient in their place, and 
cried as they did, ' How long, O Lord, how long ? ' To men 
so situated, each day's postponement of the great deliverance 
might well have seemed like a century. Involved as they 
were in the din and dust of innumerable petty combats, it 
was as difficult for them as for soldiers in the midst of a 
battle to obtain an idea of the general course of the con- 
flict and the operation of the forces which would determine 
its issue. To us, however, as we look back, the rapidity of 
the process by which during the nineties the American 
people were won over to the revolutionary programme 
seems almost miraculous, while as to the ultimate result 
there was, of course, at no time the slightest ground of 

" From about the beginning of the second phase of the 
revolutionary movement, the literature of the times begins 
to reflect in the most extraordinary manner a wholly new 
spirit of radical protest against the injustices of the social 
order. Not only in the serious journals and books of 
public discussion, but in fiction and in belles-lettres, the 
subject of social reform becomes prominent and almost 
commanding. The figures that have come down to us of 
the amazing circulation of some of the books devoted to the 
advocacy of a radical social reorganization are almost enough 
in themselves to explain the revolution. The antislavery 


movement had one Uncle Tom's Cabin; the anticapitalist 
movement had many. 

" A particularly significant fact was the extraordinary 
unanimity and enthusiasm with which the purely agricul- 
tural communities of the far West welcomed the new gospel 
of a new and equal economic system. In the past, govern- 
ments had always been prepared for revolutionary agitation 
among the proletarian wage-earners of the cities, and had 
always counted on the stolid conservatism of the agricul- 
tural class for the force to keep the inflammable artisans 
down. But in this revolution it was the agriculturists 
who were in the van. This fact alone should have suffi- 
ciently foreshadowed the swift course and certain issue of 
the struggle. At the beginning of the battle the capitalists 
had lost their reserves. 

" At about the beginning of the nineties the revolution- 
ary movement first prominently appears in the political 
field. For twenty years after the close of the civil war the 
surviving animosities between North and South mainly de- 
termined party lines, and this fact, together with the lack of 
agreement on a definite policy, had hitherto prevented the 
forces of industrial discontent from making any striking 
political demonstration. But toward the close of the eighties 
the diminished bitterness of feeling between North and South 
left the people free to align themselves on the new issue, 
which had been steadily looming up ever since the war, as 
the irrepressible conflict of the near future — the struggle 
to the death between democracy and plutocracy, between 
the rights of man and the tyranny of capital in irresponsi- 
ble hands. 

" Although the idea of the public conduct of economic 
enterprises by public agencies had never previously attracted 
attention or favor in America, yet already in 1890, almost as 
soon as it began to be talked about, political parties favor- 
ing its application to important branches of business had 
polled heavy votes. In 1892 a party, organized in nearly 
every State in the Union, cast a million votes in favor of 
nationalizing at least the railroads, telegraphs, banking sys- 
tem, and other monopolized businesses. Two years later the 
same party showed large gains, and in 1896 its platform was 


substantially adopted hy one of the great historic parties 
of the country, and the nation divided nearly equally on 
the issue. 

" The terror which this demonstration of the strength of 
the party of social discontent caused among the possessing 
class seems at this distance rather remarkable, seeing that 
its demands, while attacking many important capitalist 
abuses, did not as yet directly assail the principle of the pri- 
vate control of capital as the root of the whole social evil. 
No doubt, what alarmed the capitalists even more than the 
specific propositions of the social insurgents were the signs 
of a settled popular exasperation against them and all their 
works, which indicated that what was now called for was 
but the beginning of what would be demanded later. The 
antislavery party had not begun with demanding the aboli- 
tion of slavery, but merely its limitation. The slaveholders 
were n9t, however, deceived as to the significance of the 
new political portent, and the capitalists would have been 
less wise in their generation than their predecessors had 
they not seen in the political situation the beginning of a 
confrontation of the people and the capitalists — the masses 
and the classes, as the expression of the day was — which 
threatened an economic and social revolution in the near 

" It seems to me," I said, " that by this stage of the revo- 
lutionary movement American capitalists capable of a dis- 
passionate view of the situation ought to have seen the neces- 
sity of making concessions if they were to preserve any part 
of their advantages." 

" If they had," replied the doctor, " they would have been 
the first beneficiaries of a tyranny who in presence of a ris- 
ing flood of revolution ever realized its force or thought of 
making concessions until it was hopelessly too late. You 
see, tyrants are always materialists, while the forces behind 
great revolutions are moral. That is why the tyrants never 
foresee their fate till it is too late to avert it." 

" We ought to be in our chairs pretty soon," said Edith. 
" I don't want Julian to miss the opening scene." 

"There are a few minutes yet," said the doctor, "and 
seeing that I have been rather unintentionally led into giv 


ing this sort of outline sketch of the course of the Revolu- 
tion, I want to say a word about the extraordinary access of 
popular enthusiasm which made a short story of its later 
stages, especially as it is that period with which the play 
deals that we are to attend. 

" There had been many, you must know, Julian, who, 
while admitting that a system of co-operation must eventu- 
ally take the place of private capitalism in America and 
everywhere, had expected that the process would be a slow 
and gradual one, extending over several decades, perhaps 
half a century, or even more. Probably that was the more 
general opinion. But those who held it failed to take ac- 
count of the popular enthusiasm which would certainly take 
possession of the movement and drive it irresistibly forward 
from the moment that the prospect of its success became 
fairly clear to the masses. Undoubtedly, when the plan of 
a nationalized industrial system, and an equal sharing of 
results, with its promise of the abolition of poverty and the 
reign of universal comfort, was first presented to the people, 
the very greatness of the salvation it offered operated to 
hinder its acceptance. It seemed too good to be true. With 
difficulty the masses, sodden in misery and inured to hope- 
lessness, had been able to believe that in heaven there would 
be no poor, but that it was possible here and now in this 
everyday America to establish such an earthly paradise was 
too much to believe. 

" But gradually, as the revolutionary propaganda diffused 
a knowledge of the clear and unquestionable grounds on 
which this great assurance rested, and as the growing ma- 
jorities of the revolutionary party convinced the most 
doubtful that the hour of its triumph was at hand, the hope 
of the multitude grew into confidence, and confidence 
flamed into a resistless enthusiasm. By the very magnitude 
of the promise which at first appalled them they were now 
transported. An impassioned eagerness seized upon them 
to enter into the delectable land, so that they found every 
day's, every hour's delay intolerable. The young said, ' Let 
us make haste, and go in to the promised land while we are 
young, that we may know what living is ' ; and the old said, 
'Let us go in ere we die, that we may close our eyes in 


peace, knowing that it will be well with our children after 
us.' The leaders and pioneers of the Revolution, after 
having for so many years exhorted and appealed to a 
people for the most part indifferent or incredulous, now 
found themselves caught up and borne onward by a mighty 
wave of enthusiasm which it was impossible for them to 
check, and difficult for them to guide, had not the way been 
so plain. 

" Then, to cap the climax, as if the popular mind were 
not already in a sufficiently exalted frame, came ' The 
Great Revival,' touching this enthusiasm with religious 

" We used to have what were called revivals of religion 
in my day," I said, " sometimes quite extensive ones. Was 
this of the same nature ? " 

" Scarcely," replied the doctor. " The Great Revival was 
a tide of enthusiasm for the social, not the personal, salva- 
tion, and for the establishment in brotherly love of the 
kingdom of God on earth which Christ bade men hope and 
work for. It was the general awakening of the people of 
America in the closing years of the last century to the pro- 
foundly ethical and truly religious character and claims of 
the movement for an industrial system which should guar- 
antee the economic equality of all the people. 

"Nothing, surely, could be more self-evident than the 
strictly Christian inspiration of the idea of this guarantee. 
It contemplated nothing less than a literal fulfillment, on 
a complete social scale, of Christ's inculcation that all 
should feel the same solicitude and make the same effort for 
the welfare of others as for their own. The first effect of 
such a solicitude must needs be to prompt effort to bring 
about an equal material provision for all, as the primary 
condition of welfare. One would certainly think that a 
nominally Christian people having some familiarity with 
the New Testament would have needed no one to tell them 
these things, but that they would have recognized on its 
first statement that the programme of the revolutionists was 
simply a paraphrase of the golden rule expressed in eco- 
nomic and political terms. One would have said that what- 
ever other members of the community might do, the Chris- 


tian believers would at once have flocked to the support of 
such a movement with their whole heart, soul, mind, and 
might. That they were so slow to do so must be ascribed 
to the wrong teaching and non-teaching of a class of per- 
sons whose express duty, above all other persons and classes, 
was to prompt them to that action — namely, the Christian 

" For many ages — almost, indeed, from the beginning of 
the Christian era — the churches had turned their backs on 
Christ's ideal of a kingdom of God to be realized on earth 
by the adoption of the law of mutual helpfulness and fra- 
ternal love. Giving up the regeneration of human society 
in this world as a hopeless undertaking, the clergy, in the 
name of the author of the Lord's Prayer, had taught the 
people not to expect God's will to be done on earth. Directly 
reversing the attitude of Christ toward society as an evil 
and perverse order of things needing to be made over, they 
had made themselves the bulwarks and defenses of existing 
social and political institutions, and exerted their whole in- 
fluence to discourage popular aspirations for a more just 
and equal order. In the Old World they had been the 
champions and apologists of power and privilege and 
vested rights against every movement for freedom and 
equality. In resisting the upward strivings of their people, 
the kings and emperors had always found the clergy more 
useful servants than the soldiers and the police. In the 
New World, when royalty, in the act of abdication, had 
passed the scepter behind its back to capitalism, the ecclesi- 
astical bodies had transferred their allegiance to the money 
power, and as formerly they had preached the divine right 
of kings to rule their fellow-men, now preached the divine 
right of ruling and using others which inhered in the pos- 
session of accumulated or inherited wealth, and the duty of 
the people to submit without murmuring to the exclusive 
appropriation of all good things by the rich. 

"The historical attitude of the churches as the cham- 
pions and apologists of power and privilege in every contro- 
versy with the rights of man and the idea of equality had 
always been a prodigious scandal, and in every revolution- 
ary crisis had not failed to cost them great losses in public 


respect and popular following. Inasmuch as the now im- 
pending crisis between the full assertion of human equality 
and the existence of private capitalism was incomparably 
the most radical issue of the sort that had ever arisen, the 
attitude of the churches was likely to have a critical effect 
upon their future. Should they make the mistake of placing 
themselves upon the unpopular side in this tremendous con- 
troversy, it would be for them a colossal if not a fatal mis- 
take—one that would threaten the loss of their last hold as 
organizations on the hearts and minds of the people. On 
the other hand, had the leaders of the churches been able 
to discern the full significance of the great turning of the 
world's heart toward Christ's ideal of human society, which 
marked the closing of the nineteenth century, they might 
have hoped by taking the right side to rehabilitate the 
churches in the esteem and respect of the world, as, after 
all, despite so many mistakes, the faithful representatives 
of the spirit and doctrine of Christianity. Some there were 
indeed — yes, many, in the aggregate — among the clergy who 
did see this and sought desperately to show it to their fel- 
lows, but, blinded by clouds of vain traditions, and bent 
before the tremendous pressure of capitalism, the ecclesias- 
tical bodies in general did not, with these noble exceptions, 
awake to their great opportunity until it had passed by. 
Other bodies of learned men there were which equally failed 
to discern the irresistible force and divine sanction of the 
tidal wave of humane enthusiasm that was sweeping over 
the earth, and to see that it was destined to leave behind it 
a transformed and regenerated world. But the failure of 
these others, however lamentable, to discern the nature of 
the crisis, was not like the failure of the Christian clergy, for 
it was their express calling and business to preach and teach 
the application to human relations of the Golden Eule of 
equal treatment for all which the Revolution came to es- 
tablish, and to watch for the coming of this very kingdom 
of brotherly love, whose advent they met with anathemas. 

" The reformers of that time were most bitter against the 
clergy for their double treason to humanity and Christian- 
ity, in opposing instead of supporting the Revolution ; but 
time has tempered harsh judgments of every sort, and it is 


rather with deep pity than with indignation that we look 
back on these unfortunate men, who Tvill ever retain the 
tragic distinction of having missed the grandest opportunity 
of leadership ever offered to men. Why add reproach to 
the burden of such a failure as that ? 

" While the influence of ecclesiastical authority in Amer- 
ica, on account of the growth of intelligence, had at this 
time greatly shrunken from former proportions, the gener- 
ally unfavorable or negative attitude of the churches toward 
the programme of equality had told heavily to hold back 
the popular support which the movement might reasonably 
have expected from professedly Christian people. It was, 
however, only a question of time, and the educating influ- 
ence of public discussion, when the people would become ac- 
quainted for themselves with the merits of the subject. ' The 
Great Eevival ' followed, when, in the course of this process 
of education, the masses of the nation reached the convic- 
tion that the revolution against which the clergy had warned 
them as unchristian was, in fact, the most essentially and 
intensely Christian movement that had ever appealed to 
men since Christ called his disciples, and as such impera- 
tively commanded the -strongest support of every believer or 
admirer of Christ's doctrine. 

"The American people appear to have been, on the 
whole, the most intelligently religious of the large popula- 
tions of the world — as religion was understood at that time 
— and the most generally influenced by the sentiment of 
Christianity. When the people came to recognize that the 
ideal of a world of equal welfare, which had been repre- 
sented to them by the clergy as a dangerous delusion, was 
no other than the very dream of Christ ; when they realized 
that the hope which led on the advocates of the new order 
was no baleful ignis fatuus, as the churches had taught, 
but nothing less nor other than the Star of Bethlehem, it is 
not to be wondered at that the impulse which the revolu- 
tionary movement received should have been overwhelming. 
From that time on it assumes more and more the character 
of a crusade, the first of the many so-called crusades of history 
which had a valid and adequate title to that name and right 
to make the cross its emblem. As the conviction took hold 


on the always religious masses that the plan of an equalized 
human welfare was nothing less than the divine design, and 
that in seeking their own highest happiness by its adoption 
they were also fulfilling God's purpose for the race, the 
spirit of the Revolution became a religious enthusiasn. As 
to the preaching of Peter the Hermit, so now once more the 
masses responded to the preaching of the reformers with the 
exultant cry, ' God wills it ! ' and none doubted any longer 
that the vision would come to pass. So it was that the 
Revolution, which had begun its course under the ban of 
the churches, was carried to its consummation upon a wave 
of moral and religious emotion." 

" But what became of the churches and the clergy when 
the people found out what blind guides they had been ? " I 

" No doubt," replied the doctor, " it must have seemed to 
them something like the Judgment Day when their flocks 
challenged them with open Bibles and demanded why they 
had hid the Gospel all these ages and falsified the oracles of 
God which they had claimed to interpret. But so far as 
appears, the joyous exultation of the people over the great 
discovery that liberty, equality, and fraternity were nothing 
less than the practical meaning and content of Christ's reli- 
gion seems to have left no room in their heart for bitter- 
ness toward any class. The world had received a crowning 
demonstration that was to remain conclusive to all time of 
the untrustworthiness of ecclesiastical guidance; that was 
all. The clergy who had failed in their office of guides had 
not done so, it is needless to say, because they were not as 
good as other men, but on account of the hopeless falsity 
of their position as the economic dependents of those they 
assumed to lead. As soon as the great revival had fairly 
begun they threw themselves into it as eagerly as any of 
the people, but not now with any pretensions of leadership. 
They followed the people whom they might have led. 

" From the great revival we date the beginning of the era 
of modern religion — a religion which has dispensed with the 
rites and ceremonies, creeds and dogmas, and banished from 
this life fear and concern for the meaner self ; a religion of 
life and conduct dominated by an impassioned sense of the 


solidarity of humanity and of man with God ; the religion 
of a race that knows itself divine and fears no evil, either 
now or hereafter." 

" I need not ask," I said, " as to any subsequent stages of 
the Revolution, for I fancy its consummation did not tarry 
long after ' The Great Revival.' " 

" That was indeed the culminating impulse," replied the 
doctor ; " but while it lent a momentum to the movement for 
the immediate realization of an equality of welfare which 
no obstacle could have resisted, it did its work, in fact, not 
so much by breaking down opposition as by melting it 
away. The capitalists, as you who were one of them scarce- 
ly need to be told, were not persons of a more depraved 
disposition than other people, but merely, like other classes, 
what the economic system had made them. Having like 
passions and sensibilities with other men, they were as in- 
capable of standing out against the contagion of the enthu- 
siasm of humanity, the passion of pity, and the compulsion 
of humane tenderness which The Great Revival had aroused, 
as any other class of people. From the time that the sense 
of the people came generally to recognize that the fight of 
the existing order to prevent the new order was nothing 
more nor less than a controversy between the almighty 
dollar and the Almighty God, there was substantially but 
one side to it. A bitter minority of the capitalist party and 
its supporters seems indeed to have continued its outcry 
against the Revolution till the end, but it was of little im- 
portance. The greater and all the better part of the capital- 
ists joined with the people in completing the installation of 
the new order which all had now come to see was to re- 
dound to the benefit of all alike." 

" And there was no w^ar ? " 

" War ! Of course not. Who was there to fight on the 
other side ? It is odd how many of the early reformers seem 
to have anticipated a war before private capitalism could be 
overthrown. They were constantly referring to the civil 
war in the United States and to the French Revolution as 
precedents which justified their fear, but really those were 
not analogous cases. In the controversy over slavery, two 
geographical sections, mutually impenetrable to each other's 


ideas were opposed and war was inevitable. In the French 
Revolution there would have been no bloodshed in France 
but for the interference of the neighboring nations with 
their brutal kings and brutish populations. The peaceful 
outcome of the great Revolution in America was, moreover, 
potently favored by the lack as yet of deep class distinc- 
tions, and consequently of rooted class hatred. Their growth 
was indeed beginning to proceed at an alarming rate, but 
the process had not yet gone far or deep and was ineffectual 
to resist the glow of social enthusiasm which in the cul- 
minating years of the Revolution blended the whole nation 
in a common faith and purpose. 

" You must not fail to bear in mind that the great Revo- 
lution, as it came in America, was not a revolution at all 
in the political sense in which all former revolutions in the 
popular interest had been. In all these instances the people, 
after making up their minds what they wanted changed, 
had to overthrow the Government and seize the power in or- 
der to change it. But in a democratic state like America the 
Revolution was practically done when the people had made 
up their minds that it was for their interest. There was no 
one to dispute their power and right to do their will when 
once resolved on it The Revolution as regards America 
and in other countries, in proportion as their governments 
were popular, was more like the trial of a case in court than 
a revolution of the traditional blood-and-thunder sort. The 
court was the people, and the only way that either contest- 
ant could win was by con vicing the court, from which there 
was no appeal. 

"So far as the stage properties of the traditional revo- 
lution were concerned, plots, conspiracies, powder-smoke, 
blood and thunder, any one of the ten thousand squabbles 
in the mediaeval, Italian, and Flemish towns, furnishes far 
more material to the romancer or playwright than did the 
great Revolution in America." 

" Am I to understand that there was actually no violent 
doings in connection with this great transformation ? " 

" There were a great number of minor disturbances and 
collisions, involving in the aggregate a considerable amount 
of violence and bloodshed, but there was nothing like the 


war with pitched lines which the early reformers looked 
for. Many a petty dispute, causeless and resultless, between 
nameless kings in the past, too small for historical mention, 
has cost far more violence and bloodshed than, so far as 
America is concerned, did the greatest of all revolutions." 

" And did the European nations fare as well when they 
passed through the same crisis ? " 

" The conditions of none of them were so favorable to 
peaceful social revolution as were those of the United States, 
and the experience of most was longer and harder, but it 
may be said that in the case of none of the European peoples 
were the direful apprehensions of blood and slaughter justi- 
fied which the earlier reformers seem to have entertained. 
All over the world the Revolution was, as to its main fac- 
tors, a triumph of moral forces." 



"I AM sorry to interrupt," said Edith, "but it wants 
only five minutes of the time for the rising of the curtain, 
and Julian ought not to miss the first scene." 

On this notice we at once betook ourselves to the music 
room, where four easy chairs had been cozily arranged for 
our convenience. While the doctor was adjusting the tele- 
phone and electroscope connections for our use, I expatiated 
to my companion upon the contrasts between the conditions 
of theater-going in the nineteenth and in the twentieth cen- 
turies — contrasts which the happy denizens of the present 
world can scarcely, by any effort of imagination, appreciate. 
" In my time, only the residents of the larger cities, or visit- 
ors to them, were ever able to enjoy good plays or operas, 
pleasures which were by necessary consequence forbidden 
and unknown to the mass of the people. But even those 
who as to locality might enjoy these recreations were 
obliged, in order to do so, to undergo and endure such 
prodigious fuss, crowding, expense, and general derange- 


ment of comfort that for the most part they preferred to 
stay at home. As for enjoying the great artists of other 
countries, one had to travel to do so or wait for the artists 
to travel. To-day, I need not tell you how it is : you stay at 
home and send your eyes and ears abroad to see and hear 
for you. Wherever the electric connection is carried — and 
there need be no human habitation however remote from 
social centers, be it the mid-air balloon or mid-ocean float 
of the weather watchman, or the ice-crusted hut of the polar 
observer, where it may not reach — it is possible in slippers 
and dressing gown for the dweller to take his choice of the 
public entertainments given that day in every city of the 
earth. And remember, too, although you can not under- 
stand it, who have never seen bad acting or heard bad sing- 
ing, how this ability of one troupe to play or sing to the 
whole earth at once has operated to take away the occupa- 
tion of mediocre artists, seeing that everybody, being able to 
see and hear the best, will hear them and see them only." 

" There goes the bell for the curtain," said the doctor, and 
in another moment I had forgotten all else in the scene 
upon the stage. I need not sketch the action of a play so 
familiar as "The Knights of the Golden Eule." It is 
enough for this purpose to recall the fact that the cos- 
tumes and setting were of the last days of the nineteenth 
century, little different from what they had been when I 
looked last on the world of that day. There were a few 
anachronisms and inaccuracies in the setting which the the- 
atrical administration has since done me the honor to solicit 
my assistance in correcting, but the best tribute to the gen- 
eral correctness of the scheme was its effect to make me 
from the first moment oblivious of my actual surroundings. 
I found myself in presence of a group of living contempo- 
raries of my former life, men and women dressed as I had 
seen them dressed, talking and acting, as till within a few 
weeks I had always seen people talk and act ; persons, in 
short, of like passions, prejudices, and manners to my own, 
even to minute mannerisms ingeniously introduced by the 
playwright, which even more than the larger traits of resem- 
blance affected my imagination. The only feeling that 
hindered my full acceptance of the idea that I was attend- 


ing a nineteenth -century show was a puzzled wonder why 
I should seem to know so much more than the actors ap- 
peared to about the outcome of the social revolution they 
were alluding to as in progress. 

When the curtain fell on the first scene, and I looked 
about and saw Edith, her mother and father, sitting about 
me in the music room, the realization of my actual situation 
came with a shock that earlier in my twentieth-century 
career would have set my brain swimming. But I was too 
firm on my new feet now for anything of that sort, and for 
the rest of the play the constant sense of the tremendous 
experience which had made me at once a contemporary of 
two ages so widely apart, contributed an indescribable in- 
tensity to my enjoyment of the play. 

After the curtain fell, we sat talking of the drama, and 
everything else, till the globe of the color clock, turning 
from bottle-green to white, warned us of midnight, when 
the ladies left the doctor and myself to our own devices. 



" It is pretty late," I said, "but I want very much to ask 
you just a few more questions about the Revolution. All 
that I have learned leaves me quite as puzzled as ever to 
imagine any set of practical measures by which the substi- 
tution of public for private capitalism could have been 
effected without a prodigious shock. We had in our day 
engineers clever enough to move great buildings from one 
site to another, keeping them meanwhile so steady and 
upright as not to interfere with the dwellers in them, or to 
cause an interruption of the domestic operations. A prob- 
lem something like this, but a millionfold greater and more 
complex, must have been raised when it came to changing 
the entire basis of production and distribution and revolu- 
tionizing the conditions of everybody's employment and 
maintenance, and doing it, moreover, without meanwhile 


seriously interrupting the ongoing of the various parts of 
the economic machinery on which the livelihood of the 
people from day to day depended. 1 should be greatly in- 
terested to have you tell me something about how this was 

"Your question," replied the doctor, "reflects a feeling 
which had no little influence during the revolutionary 
period to prolong the toleration extended by the people to 
private capitalism despite the mounting indignation against 
its enormities. A complete change of economic systems 
seemed to them, as it does to you, such a colossal and compli- 
cated undertaking that even many who ardently desired 
the new order and fully believed in its feasibility when once 
established, shrank back from what they apprehended would 
be the vast confusion and difiiculty of the transition process. 
Of course, the capitalists, and champions of things as they 
were, made the most of this feeling, and apparently bothered 
the reformers not a little by calling on them to name the 
specific measures by which they would, if they had the 
power, proceed to substitute for the existing system a na- 
tionalized plan of industry managed in the equal interest 
of all. 

" One school of revolutionists declined to formulate or 
suggest any definite programme whatever for the consum- 
mating or constructive stage of the Revolution. They said 
that the crisis would suggest the method for dealing with 
it, and it would be foolish and fanciful to discuss the emer- 
gency before it arose. But a good general makes plans 
which provide in advance for all the main eventualities of 
his campaign. His plans are, of course, subject to radical 
modifications or complete abandonment, according to cir- 
cumstances, but a provisional plan he ought to have. The 
reply of this school of revolutionists was not, therefore, satis- 
factory, and, so long as no better one could be made, a timid 
and conservative community inclined to look askance at the 
revolutionary programme. 

" Realizing the need of something more positive as a plan 
of campaign, various schools of reformers suggested more 
or less definite schemes. One there was which argued that 
the trades unions might develop strength enough to control 


the great trades, and put their own elected officers in place 
of the capitalists, thus organizing a sort of federation of 
trades unions. This, if practicable, would have brought in a 
system of group capitalism as divisive and antisocial, in the 
large sense, as private capitalism itself, and far more danger- 
ous to civil order. This idea was later heard little of, as it 
became evident that the possible growth and functions of 
trade unionism were very limited. 

*' There was another school which held that the solution 
was to be found by the establishment of great numbers of 
voluntary colonies, organized on co-operative principles, 
which by their success would lead to the formation of 
more and yet more, and that, finally, when most of the popu- 
lation had joined such groups they would simply coalesce 
and form one. Many noble and enthusiastic souls devoted 
themselves to this line of effort, and the numerous colonies 
that were organized in the United States during the revolu- 
tionary period were a striking indication of the general 
turning of men's hearts toward a better social order. Other- 
wise such experiments led, and could lead, to nothing. Eco- 
nomically weak, held together by a sentimental motive, 
generally composed of eccentric though worthy persons, 
and surrounded by a hostile environment which had the 
whole use and advantage of the social and economic ma- 
chinery, it was scarcely possible that such enterprises should 
come to anything practical unless under exceptional leader- 
ship or circumstances. 

"There was another school still which held that the 
better order was to evolve gradually out of the old as the 
result of an indefinite series of humane legislation, consist- 
ing of factory acts, short-hour laws, pensions for the old, 
improved tenement houses, abolition of slums, and I don't 
know how many other poultices for particular evils result- 
ant from the system of private capitalism. These good peo- 
ple argued that when at some indefinitely remote time all 
the evil consequences of capitalism had been abolished, it 
would be time enough and then comparatively easy to abol- 
ish capitalism itself —that is to say, after all the rotten fruit 
of the evil tree had been picked by hand, one at a time, off 
the branches, it would be time enough to cut down the tree. 


Of course, an obvious objection to this plan was that, so 
long as the tree remained standing, the evil fruit would be 
likely to grow as fast as it was plucked. The various reform 
measures, and many others urged by these reformers, were 
wholly humane and excellent, and only to be criticised when 
put forward as a sufficient method of overthrowing capital- 
ism. They did not even tend toward such a result, but were 
quite as likely to help capitalism to obtain a longer lease of 
life by making it a little less abhorrent. There was really a 
time after the revolutionary movement had gained consider- 
able headway when judicious leaders felt considerable ap- 
prehension lest it might be diverted from its real aim, and 
its force wasted in this programme of piecemeal reforms. 

" But you have asked me what was the plan of operation 
by which the revolutionists, when they finally came into 
power, actually overthrew private capitalism. It was really 
as pretty an illustration of the military manoeuvre that used 
to be called flanking as the history of war contains. Now, a 
flanking operation is one by which an army, instead of 
attacking its antagonist directly in front, moves round one 
of his flanks in such a way that without striking a blow it 
forces the enemy to leave his position. That is just the 
strategy the revolutionists used in the final issue with capi- 

" The capitalists had taken for granted that they were to 
be directly assaulted by wholesale forcible seizure and con- 
fiscation of their properties. Not a bit of it. Although in 
the end, of course, collective ownership was wholly substi- 
tuted for the private ownership of capital, yet that was not 
done until after the whole system of private capitalism had 
broken down and fallen to pieces, and not as a means of 
throwing it down. To recur to the military illustration, the 
revolutionary army did not directly attack the fortress of 
capitalism at all, but so manoeuvred as to make it untenable, 
and to compel its evacuation. 

" Of course, you will understand that this policy was not 
suggested by any consideration for the rights of the capital- 
ists. Long before this time the people had been educated to 
see in private capitalism the source and sum of all vil- 
lainies, convicting mankind of deadly sin every day that it 


was tolerated. The policy of indirect attack pursued by 
the revolutionists was wholly dictated by the interest of 
the people at large, which demanded that serious derange- 
ments of the economic system should be, so far as possible, 
avoided during the transition from the old order to the 

" And now, dropping figures of speech, let me tell you 
plainly what was done — that is, so far as I remember the 
story. I have made no special study of the period since my 
college days, and very likely when you come to read the 
histories you will find that I have made many mistakes as 
to the details of the process. I am just trying to give you a 
general idea of the main course of events, to the best of my 
remembrance. I have already explained that the first step 
in the programme of political action adox3ted by the oppo- 
nents of private capitalism had been to induce the people to 
municipalize and nationalize various quasi-public services, 
such as waterworks, lighting plants, ferries, local railroads, 
the telegraph and telephone systems, the general railroad 
system, the coal mines and petroleum production, and the 
traffic in intoxicating liquors. These being a class of enter- 
prises partly or wholly non-competitive and monopolistic 
in character, the assumption of public control over them 
did not directly attack the system of production and distri- 
bution in general, and even the timid and conservative 
viewed the step with little apprehension. This whole class 
of natural or legal monopolies might indeed have been 
taken under public management without logically involv- 
ing an assault on the system of private capitalism as a 
whole. Not only was this so, but even if this entire class of 
businesses was made public and run at cost, the cheapening 
in the cost of living to the community thus effected would 
presently be swallowed up by reductions of wages and prices, 
resulting from the remorseless operation of the competitive 
profit system. 

" It was therefore chiefly as a means to an ulterior end 
that the opponent of capitalism favored tlie public operation 
of these businesses. One part of that ulterior end was to 
prove to the people the superior simplicity, efficiency, and 
humanity of public over private management of economic 


undertakings. But the principal use which this partial pro- 
cess of nationalization served was to prepare a body of pub- 
lic employees sufficiently large to furnish a nucleus of con- 
sumers when the Government should undertake the estab- 
lishment of a general system of production and distribution 
on a non-profit basis. The employees of the nationalized 
railroads alone numbered nearly a million, and with their 
dependent women and children represented some 4,000,000 
people. The employees in the coal mines, iron mines, and 
other businesses taken charge of by the Government as sub- 
sidiary to the railroads, together with the telegraph and tele- 
phone workers, also in the public service, made some hundreds 
of thousands more persons with their dependents. Previous 
to these additions there had been in the regular civil service 
of the Government nearly 250,000 persons, and the army 
and navy made some 50,000 more. These groups with their 
dependents amounted probably to a million more persons, 
who, added to the railroad, mining, telegraph, and other 
employees, made an aggregate of something like 5,000,000 
persons dependent on the national employment. Besides 
these were the various bodies of State and municipal em- 
ployees in all grades, from the Governors of States down to 
the street-cleaners. 


" The first step of the revolutionary party when it came 
to power, with the mandate of a popular majority to bring 
in the new order, was to establish in all important centers 
public-service stores, where public employees could procure 
at cost all provisions of necessity or luxury previously 
bought at private stores. The idea was the less startling for 
not being wholly new. It had been the custom of various 
governments to provide for certain of the needs of their 
soldiers and sailors by establishing service stores at which 
everything was of absolutely guaranteed quality and sold 
strictly at cost. The articles thus furnished were proverbial 
for their cheapness and quality compared with anything 
that could be bought elsewhere, and the soldier's privilege 
of obtaining such goods was envied by the civilian, left to 
the tender mercies of the adulterating and profit-gorging 


retailer. The public stores now set up by the Government 
were, however, on a scale of completeness quite beyond 
any previous undertakings, intended as they were to sup- 
ply all the consumption of a population large enough for a 
small-sized nation. 

"At first the goods in these stores were of necessity 
bought by the Government of the private capitalists, pro- 
ducers, or importers. On these the public employee saved 
all the middlemen's and retailers' profits, getting them at 
perhaps half or two thirds of what they must have paid at 
private stores, with the guarantee, moreover, of a careful 
Government inspection as to quality. But these substantial 
advantages were but a foretaste of the prosperity he en- 
joyed when the Government added the function of produc- 
tion to that of distribution, and proceeded as rapidly as pos- 
sible to manufacture products, instead of buying them of 

" To this end great food and cotton farms were estab- 
lished in all sections of the country and innumerable shops 
and factories started, so that presently the Government had 
in public employ not only the original 5,000,000, but as many 
more — farmers, artisans, and laborers of all sorts. These, 
of course, also had the right to be provided for at the public 
stores, and the system had to be extended corresponding- 
ly. The buyers in the public stores now saved not only 
the profits of the middleman and the retailer, but those 
as well of the manufacturer, the producer, and the im- 

" Still further, not only did the public stores furnish the 
public employees with every kind of goods for consump- 
tion, but the Government likewise organized all sorts of 
needful services, such as cooking, laundry work, housework 
agencies, etc., for the exclusive benefit of public employees — 
all, of course, conducted absolutely at cost. The result was 
that the public employee was able to be supplied at home or 
in restaurants with food prepared by the best skill out of 
the best material and in the greatest possible variety, and 
more cheaply than he had ever been able to provide himself 
with even the coarsest provisions." 

" How did the Government acquire the lands and manu- 


facturing plants it needed ? " I inquired. " Did it buy them 
of the owners, or as to the plants did it build them ? " 

" It could, of course, have bought them, or in the case of 
the plants have erected them without affecting the success 
of the programme, but that was generally needless. As to 
land, the farmers by millions were only too glad to turn 
over their farms to the Government and accept employment 
on them, with the security of livelihood which that implied 
for them and theirs. The Government, moreover, took for 
cultivation all unoccupied lands that were convenient for 
the purpose, remitting the taxes for compensation. 

''It was much the same with the factories and shops 
which the national system called for. They were standing 
idle by thousands in all parts of the country, in the midst 
of starving populations of the unemployed. When these 
plants were suited to the Government requirements they 
were taken possession of, put in operation, and the former 
workers provided with employment. In most instances 
former superintendents and foremen as well as the main 
body of operatives were glad to keep their old places, with 
the nation as employer. The owners of such plants, if I 
remember rightly, received some allowance, equal to a very 
low rate of interest, for the use of their property until such 
time as the complete establishment of the new order should 
make the equal maintenance of all citizens the subject of 
a national guarantee. That this was to be the speedy and 
certain outcome of the course of events was now no 
longer doubted, and pending that result the owners of 
idle plants were only too glad to get anything at all for 
their use. 

" The manufacturing plants were not the only form of 
idle capital which the Government on similar terms made 
use of. Considerable quantities of foreign imports were 
required to supply the public stores ; and to avoid the pay- 
ment of profits to capitalists on these, the Government took 
possession of idle shipping, building what it further needed, 
and went into foreign trade, exporting products of the pub- 
lic industries, and bringing home in exchange the needed 
foreign goods. Fisliing fleets flying the national flag also 
brought home the harvest of the seas. These peace fleets 


soon far outnumbered the war ships which up to that time 
exclusively had borne the national commission. On these 
fleets the sailor was no more a slave. 


" And now consider the effect of another feature of the 
public-store system, namely, the disuse of money in its 
operations. Ordinary money was not received in the pub- 
lic stores, but a sort of scrip canceled on use and good for a 
limited time only. The public employee had the right of ex- 
changing the money he received for wages, at par, into this 
scrip. While the Grovernment issued it only to public em- 
ployees, it was accepted at the public stores from any who 
presented it, the Government being only careful that the 
total amount did not exceed the wages exchanged into such 
scrip by the public employees. It thus became a currency 
which commanded three, four, and five hundred per cent 
premium over money which would only buy the high-priced 
and adulterated goods for sale in the remaining stores of 
the capitalists. The gain of the premium went, of course, 
to the public employees. Gold, which had been worshiped 
by the capitalists as the supreme and eternal type of money, 
was no more receivable than silver, copper, or paper cur- 
rency at the public stores, and people who desired the best 
goods were fortunate to find a public employee foolish 
enough to accept three or four dollars in gold for one in 

" The effect to make money a drug in the market, of this 
sweeping reduction in its purchasing utility, was greatly in- 
creased by its practically complete disuse by the large and 
ever-enlarging proportion of the people in the public service. 
The demand for money was still further lessened by the 
fact that nobody wanted to borrow it now for use in extend- 
ing business, seeing that the field of enterprise open to 
private capital was shrinking every hour, and evidently 
destined presently to disappear. Neither did any one desire 
money to hoard it, for it was more evident every day that it 
would soon become worthless. I have spoken of the public- 
store scrip commanding several hundred per cent premium 
over money, but that was in the earlier stages of the transi- 


tion period. Toward the last the premium mounted to ever- 
dizzier altitudes, until the value of money quite disappeared, 
it being literally good for nothing as money. 

" If you would imagine the complete collapse of the en- 
tire monetary and financial system with all its standards 
and influences upon human relations and conditions, you 
have only to fancy what the effect would have been upon 
the same interests and relations in your day if positive and 
unquestioned information had become general that the 
world was to be destroyed within a few weeks or months, 
or at longest within a year. In this case indeed the world 
was not to be destroyed, but to be rejuvenated and to enter 
on an incomparably higher and happier and more vigorous 
phase of evolution ; but the effect on the monetary system 
and all dependent on it was quite the same as if the world 
were to come to an end, for the new world would have no 
use for money, nor recognize any human rights or relations 
as measured by it." 

" It strikes me," said I, "that as money grew valueless 
the public taxes must have failed to bring in anything to 
support the Government." 

" Taxes," replied the doctor, " were an incident of private 
capitalism and were to pass away with it. Their use had 
been to give the Government a means of commanding labor 
under the money system. In proportion as the nation col- 
lectively organized and directly applied the whole labor of 
the people as the public welfare required it, had no need and 
could make no use of taxes any more than of money in 
other respects. Taxation went to pieces in the culminating 
stage of the Revolution, in measure as the organization of 
the capital and labor of the people for public purposes put 
an end to its functions." 


" It seems to me that about this time, if not before, the 
mass of the people outside of the public service must have 
begun to insist pretty loudly upon being let in to share these 
good things." 

" Of course they did," replied the doctor ; " and of 
course that was just what they were expected to do and 


what it had been arranged they should do as soon as the 
nationalized system of production and distribution was in 
full running order. The previously existing body of public 
employees had merely been utilized as furnishing a conven- 
ient nucleus of consumers to start with, which might be 
supplied without deranging meantime any more than neces- 
sary the outside wage or commodity markets. As soon as 
the system was in working order the Government under- 
took to receive into the public service not merely selected 
bodies of workers, but all who applied. From that time the 
industrial army received its recruits by tens and fifties of 
thousands a day till within a brief time the people as a 
whole were in the public service. 

" Of course, everybody who had an occupation or trade 
was kept right on at it at the place where he had formerly 
been employed, and the labor exchanges, already in full 
use, managed the rest. Later on, when all was going 
smoothly, would be time enough for the changings and 
shif tings about that would seem desirable." 

" Naturally," I said, " under the operation of the public 
employment programme, the working people must have been 
those first brought into the system, and the rich and well- 
to-do must probably have remained outside longest, and 
come in, so to speak, all in a batch, when they did." 

" Evidently so," replied the doctor. " Of course, the 
original nucleus of public employees, for whom the public 
stores were first opened, were all working people, and so 
were the bodies of people successively taken into the public 
service, as farmers, artisans, and tradesmen of all sorts. 
There was nothing to prevent a capitalist from joining the 
service, but he could do so only as a worker on a par with 
the others. He could buy in the public stores only to the 
extent of his pay as a worker. His other money would not 
be good there. There were many men and women of the 
rich who, in the humane enthusiasm of the closing days of 
the Revolution, abandoned their lands and mills to the Gov- 
ernment and volunteered in the public service at anything 
that could be given them to do ; but on the whole, as might 
be expected, the idea of going to work for a living on an 
economic equality with their former servants was not one 


that the rich welcomed, and they did not come to it till they 
had to." 

" And were they then, at last, enlisted by force ? " I 

" By force ! " exclaimed the doctor ; " dear me ! no. 
There was no sort of constraint brought to bear upon them 
any more than upon anybody else, save that created by the 
growing difficulty and final impossibility of hiring persons 
for private employment, or obtaining the necessities of life 
except from the public stores with the new scrip. Before 
the Government entered on the policy of receiving into the 
public service every one who applied, the unemployed had 
thronged upon the capitalists, seeking to be hired. But im- 
mediately afterward the rich began to find it impossible to 
obtain men and women to serve them in field, factory, or 
kitchen. They could offer no inducements in the depreci- 
ated money which alone they possessed that were enough to 
counterbalance the advantages of the public service. Every- 
body knew also that there was no future for the wealthy 
class, and nothing to be gained through their favor. 

*' Moreover, as you may imagine, there was already a 
strong popular feeling of contempt for those who would 
abase themselves to serve others for hire when they might 
serve the nation of which they were citizens ; and, as you 
may well imagine, this growing sentiment made the posi- 
tion of a private servant or employee of any sort intolerable. 
And not only did the unfortunate capitalists find it impos- 
sible to induce people to cook for them, wash for them, to 
black their boots, to sweep their rooms, or drive their coaches, 
but they were put to straits to obtain in the dwindling 
private markets, where alone their money was good, the 
bare necessities of life, and presently found even that im- 
possible. For a while, it would seem, they struggled against 
a relentless fate, sullenly supporting life on crusts in the 
corners of their lonesome palaces ; but at last, of course, 
they all had to follow their former servants into the new 
nation, for there was no way of living save by connection 
with the national economic organization. Thus strikingly 
was illustrated, in the final exit of the capitalists from the 
human stage, how absolute was and always had been the 


dependence of capital upon the labor it despised and tyran- 
nized over." 

"And do I understand that there was no compulsion 
upon anybody to join the public service ? " 

"None but what was inherent in the circumstances I 
have named," replied the doctor. " The new order had no 
need or use for unwilling recruits. In fact, it needed no 
one, but every one needed it. If any one did not wish to 
enter the public service and could live outside of it without 
stealing or begging, he was quite welcome to. The books 
say that the woods were full of self-exiled hermits for a while, 
but one by one they tired of it and came into the new social 
house. Some isolated communities, however, remained out- 
side for years." 

"The mill seems, indeed, to have been calculated to 
grind, to an exceeding fineness all opposition to the new 
order," I observed, " and yet it must have had its own diffi- 
culties, too, in the natural refractoriness of the materials it 
had to make grist of. Take, for example, my own class of 
the idle rich, the men and women whose only business had 
been the pursuit of pleasure. What useful work could have 
been got out of such people as we were, however well dis- 
posed we might have become to render service ? Where 
could we have been fitted into any sort of industrial service 
without being more hindrance than help ? " 

" The problem might have been serious if the idle rich of 
whom you speak had been a very large proportion of the popu- 
lation, but, of course, though very much in evidence, they 
were in numbers insignificant compared with the mass of use- 
ful workers. So far as they were educated persons — and quite 
generally they had some smattering of knowledge — there was 
an ample demand for their services as teachers. Of course, 
they were not trained teachers, or capable of good pedagogi- 
cal work ; but directly after the Eevolution, when the chil- 
dren and youth of the former poor were turned back by mil- 
lions from the field and factories to the schools, and when 
the adults also of the working classes passionately demanded 
some degree of education to correspond with the improved 
conditions of life they had entered on, there was unlimited 
call for the services as instructors of everybody who was 


able to teach anything, even one of the primary branches, 
spelling, writing, geography, or arithmetic in the rudiments. 
The women of the former wealthy class, being mostly well 
educated, found in this task of teaching the children of the 
masses, the new heirs of the world, an employment in which 
I fancy they must have tasted more real happiness in the 
feeling of being useful to their kind than all their former 
frivolous existences could have given them. Few, indeed, 
were there of any class who did not prove to have some 
physical or mental quality by which they might with pleas- 
ure to themselves be serviceable to their kind." 


" There was another class of my contemporaries," I said, 
" which I fancy must have given the new order more trouble 
to make anything out of than the rich, and those were the 
vicious and criminal idle. The rich were at least intelligent 
and fairly well behaved, and knew enough to adapt them- 
selves to a new state of things and make the best of the 
inevitable, but these others must have been harder to deal 
with. There was a great floating population of vagabond 
criminals, loafers, and vicious of every class, male and 
female, in my day, as doubtless you well know. Admit 
that our vicious form of society was responsible for them ; 
nevertheless, there they were, for the new society to deal 
with. To all intents and purposes they were dehumanized, 
and as dangerous as wild beasts. They were barely kept in 
some sort of restraint by an army of police and the weapons 
of criminal law, and constituted a permanent menace to law 
and order. At times of unusual agitation, and especially at 
all revolutionary crises, they were wont to muster in alarm- 
ing force and become aggressive. At the crisis you are 
describing they must doubtless have made themselves ex- 
tremely turbulent. What did the new order do with them ? 
Its just and humane propositions would scarcely appeal to 
the members of the criminal class. They were not reason- 
able beings; they preferred to live by lawless violence, 
rather than by orderly industry, on terms however just. 
Surely the new nation must have found this class of citizens 
a very tough morsel for its digestion." 


" Not nearly so tough," replied the doctor, " as the former 
society had found it. In the first place, the former society, 
being itself based on injustice, was wholly without moral 
prestige or ethical authority in dealing with the criminal 
and lawless classes. Society itself stood condemned in their 
presence for the injustice which had been the provocation 
and excuse of their revolt. This was a fact which made the 
whole machinery of so-called criminal justice in your day a 
mockery. Every intelligent man knew in his heart that the 
criminal and vicious were, for the most part, what they were 
on account of neglect and injustice, and an environment of 
depraving influences for which a defective social order was 
responsible, and that if righteousness were done,, society, in- 
stead of judging them, ought to stand with them in the dock 
before a higher justice, and take upon itself the heavier con- 
demnation. This the criminals themselves felt in the bot- 
tom of their hearts, and that feeling forbade them to respect 
the law they feared. They felt that the society which bade 
them reform was itself in yet greater need of reformation. 
The new order, on the other hand, held forth to the outcasts 
hands purged of guilt toward them. Admitting the wrong 
that they had suffered in the past, it invited them to a new 
life under new conditions, offering them, on just and equal 
terms, their share in the social heritage. Do you suppose 
that there ever was a human heart so base that it did not at 
least know the difference between justice and injustice, and 
to some extent respond to it ? 

" A surprising number of the cases you speak of, who had 
been given up as failures by your civilization, while in fact 
they had been proofs of its failure, responded with alacrity 
to the first fair opportunity to be decent men and women 
which had ever come to them. There was, of course, a 
large "residuum too hopelessly perverted, too congenitally 
deformed, to have the power of leading a good life, however 
assisted. Toward these the new society, strong in the per- 
fect justice of its attitude, proceeded with merciful firmness. 
The new society was not to tolerate, as the old had done, a 
criminal class in its midst any more than a destitute class. 
The old society never had any moral right to forbid stealing 
or to punish robbers, for the whole economic system was 


based on the appropriation, by force or fraud on the part of 
a few, of the earth and its resources and the fruit of the 
toil of the poor. Still less had it any right to forbid beggary 
or to punish violence, seeing that the economic system 
which it maintained and defended necessarily operated to 
make beggars and to provoke violence. But the new order, 
guaranteeing an equality of plenty to all, left no plea for 
the thief and robber, no excuse for the beggar, no provoca- 
tion for the violent. By preferring their evil courses to the 
fair and honorable life offered them, such persons would 
henceforth pronounce sentence on themselves as unfit for 
human intercourse. With a good conscience, therefore, the 
new society proceeded to deal with all vicious and criminal 
persons as morally insane, and to segregate them in places of 
confinement, there to spend their lives — not, indeed, under 
punishment, or enduring hardships of any sort beyond 
enough labor for self-support, but wholly secluded from the 
world — and absolutely prevented from continuing their 
kind. By this means the race, in the first generation after 
the Revolution, was able to leave behind itself forever a 
load of inherited depravity and base congenital instincts, 
and so ever since it has gone on from generation to genera- 
tion, purging itself of its uncleanness." 


"In my day," I said, "a peculiar complication of the 
social problem in America was the existence in the South- 
ern States of many millions of recently freed negro slaves, 
but partially as yet equal to the responsibility of freedom. I 
should be interested to know just how the new order adapted 
itself to the condition of the colored race in the South." 

" It proved," replied the doctor, " the prompt solution of 
a problem which otherwise might have continued indefi- 
nitely to plague the American people. The population of re- 
cent slaves was in need of some sort of industrial regimen, 
at once firm and benevolent, administered under conditions 
which should meanwhile tend to educate, refine, and elevate 
its members. These conditions the new order met with ideal 
perfection. The centralized discipline of the national in- 
dustrial army, depending for its enforcement not so much 


on force as on the inability of any one to subsist outside of 
the system of which it was a part, furnished just the sort of 
a control — gentle yet resistless — which was needed by the 
recently emancipated bondsman. On the other hand, the 
universal education and the refinements and amenities of 
life which came with the economic welfare presently 
brought to all alike by the new order, meant for the colored 
race even more as a civilizing agent than it did to the white 
population which relatively had been further advanced." 

" There would have been in some parts," I remarked, "a 
strong prejudice on the part of the white population against 
any system which compelled a closer commingling of the 

" So we read, but there was absolutely nothing in the 
new system to offend that prejudice. It related entirely to 
economic organization, and had nothing more to do then 
than it has now with social relations. Even for industrial 
purposes the new system involved no more commingling 
of races than the old had done. It was perfectly consistent 
with any degree of race separation in industry which the 
most bigoted local prejudices might demand." 


" There is just one point about the transition stage that I 
want to go back to," I said. " In the actual case, as you have 
stated it, it seems that the capitalists held on to their capital 
and continued to conduct business as long as they could in- 
duce anybody to work for them or buy of them. I suppose 
that was human nature — capitalist human nature anyway ; 
but it was also convenient for the Revolution, for this course 
gave time to get the new economic system perfected as a 
framework before the strain of providing for the whole 
people was thrown on it. But it was just possible, I suppose, 
that the capitalists might have taken a different course. 
For example, suppose, from the moment the popular ma- 
jority gave control of the national Government to the revo- 
lutionists the capitalists had with one accord abandoned 
their functions and refused to do business of any kind. This, 
mind you, would have been before the Government had any 
time to organize ev^eii the beginnings of the new system. 


That would have made a more difficult problem to deal 
with, would it not ? " 

" I do not think that the problem would have been more 
difficult," replied the doctor, "though it would have called 
for more prompt and summary action. The Government 
would have had two things to do and to do at once : on the 
one hand, to take up and carry on the machinery of produc- 
tive industry abandoned by the capitalists, and simultane- 
ously to provide maintenance for the people pending the 
time when the new product should become available. I sup- 
pose that as to the matter of providing for the maintenance 
of the people the action taken would be like that usually 
followed by a government when by flood, famine, siege, or 
other sudden emergency the livelihood of a whole commu- 
nity has been endangered. No doubt the first step would 
have been to requisition for public use all stores of grain, 
clothing, shoes, and commodities in general throughout the 
country, excepting of course reasonable stocks in strictly pri- 
vate use. There was always in any civilized country a sup- 
ply ahead of these necessities sufficient for several months or 
a year which would be many times more than would be need- 
ful to bridge over the gap between the stoppage of the 
wheels of production under private management and their 
getting into full motion under public administration. Or- 
ders on the public stores for food and clothing would have 
been issued to all citizens making application and enroll- 
ing themselves in the public industrial service. Meanwhile 
the Government would have immediately resumed the 
operation of the various productive enterprises abandoned 
by the capitalists. Everybody previously employed in them 
would simply have kept on, and employment would have 
been as rapidly as possible provided for those who had for- 
merly been without it. The new product, as fast as made, 
would be turned into the public stores and the process 
would, in fact, have been just the same as that I have de- 
scribed, save that it would have gone through in much 
quicker time. If it did not go quite so smoothly on account 
of the necessary haste, on the other hand it would have been 
done with sooner, and at most we can hardly imagine that the 
inconvenience and hardship to the people would have been 


greater than resulted from even a mild specimen of the busi- 
ness crises which your contemporaries thought necessary 
every seven years, and toward the last of the old order be- 
came perpetual. 


"Your question, however," continued the doctor, "re- 
minds me of another point which I had forgotten to men- 
tion — namely, the provisional methods of furnishing em- 
ployment for the unemployed before the organization of the 
complete national system of industry. What your contem- 
poraries were pleased to call ' the problem of the unem- 
ployed '—namely, the necessary effect of the profit system to 
create and perpetuate an unemployed class — had been in- 
creasing in magnitude from the beginning of the revolution- 
aiy period, and toward the close of the century the involun- 
tary idlers were numbered by millions. While this state of 
things on the one hand furnished a powerful argument for 
the revolutionary propaganda by the object lesson it fur- 
nished of the incompetence of private capitalism to solve 
the problem of national maintenance, on the other hand, in 
proportion as employment became hard to get, the hold of 
the employers over the actual and would-be employees be- 
came strengthened. Those who had employment and feared 
to lose it, and those who had it not but hoped to get it, be- 
came, through fear and hope, very puppets in the hands of 
the employing class and cast their votes at their bidding. 
Election after election was carried in this way by the capi- 
talists through their power to compel the workingman to 
vote the capitalist ticket against his own convictions, from 
the fear of losing or hope of obtaining an opportunity to 

" This was the situation which made it necessary previous 
to the conquest of the General Government by the revolu- 
tionary party, in order that the workingmen should be 
made free to vote for their own deliverance, that at least a 
provisional system of employment sliould be established 
whereby the wage-earner might be insured a livelihood 
when unable to find a private employer. 

" In diiferent States of the Union, as the revolutionary 


party came into power, slightly different methods were 
adopted for meeting this emergency. The crude and waste- 
ful makeshift of indiscriminate employment on public 
works, which had been previously adopted by governments 
in dealing with similar emergencies, would not stand the 
criticism of the new economic science. A more intelli- 
gent method was necessary and easily found. The usual 
plan, though varied in different localities, was for the 
State to guarantee to every citizen who applied therefor the 
means of maintenance, to be paid for in his or her labor, and 
to be taken in the form of commodities and lodgings, these 
commodities and lodgings being themselves produced and 
maintained by the sum of the labor of those, past and present, 
who shared them. The necessary imported commodities or 
raw materials were obtained by the sale of the excess of 
product at market rates, a special market being also found 
in the consumption of the State prisons, asylums, etc. This 
system, whereby the State enabled the otherwise unem- 
ployed mutually to maintain themselves by merely furnish- 
ing the machinery and superintendence, came very largely 
into use to meet the emergencies of the transition period, and 
played an important part in preparing the people for the 
new order, of which it was in an imperfect way a sort of 
anticipation. In some of these State establishments for the 
unemployed the circle of industries was remarkably com- 
plete, and the whole product of their labor above expenses 
being shared among the workers, they enjoyed far better 
fare than when in private employment, together with a 
sense of security then impossible. The employer's power to 
control his workmen by the threat of discharge was broken 
from the time these co-operative systems began to be estab- 
lished, and when, later, the national industrial organization 
was ready to absorb them, they merely melted into it." 


"How about the women?" I said. "Do I understand 
that, from the first organization of the industrial public 
service on a complete scale, the women were expected, like 
the men, if physically able, to take their places in the 
ranks ? " 


"Where women were sufficiently employed already in 
housework in their own families," replied the doctor, " they 
were recognized as rendering public service until the new 
co-operative housekeeping was sufficiently systematized to 
do away with the necessity of separate kitchens and other 
elaborate domestic machinery for each family. Otherwise, 
except as occasions for exemption existed, women took their 
place from the beginning of the new order as units in the 
industrial state on the same basis with men. 

"If the Revolution had come a hundred years before, 
when as yet women had no other vocation but housework, the 
change in customs might have been a striking one, but 
already at that time women had made themselves a place 
in the industrial and business world, and by the time the 
Revolution came it was rather exceptional when unmarried 
women not of the rich and idle class did not have some reg- 
ular occupation outside the home. In recognizing women as 
equally eligible and liable to public service with men, the 
new order simply confirmed to the women workers the in- 
dependence they had already won." 

" But how about the married women ? " 

" Of course," replied the doctor, " there would be consid- 
erable periods during which married women and mothers 
would naturally be wholly exempt from the performance of 
any public duty. But except at such times there seems to 
be nothing in the nature of the sexual relation constituting 
a reason why a married woman should lead a more secluded 
and useless life than a man. In this matter of the place of 
women under the new order, you must understand that it 
was the women themselves, rather than the men, who in- 
sisted that they must share in full the duties as well as 
the privileges of citizenship. The men would not have de- 
manded it of them. In this respect you must remember 
that during its whole course the Revolution had been contem- 
porary with a movement for the enlargement and greater 
freedom of women's lives, and their equalization as to rights 
and duties with men. The women, married as well as un- 
man'ied, had become thoroughly tired of being effaced, and 
were in full revolt against the headship of man. If the Revo- 
lution had not guaranteed the equality and comradeship 


with him which she was fast conquering under the old or- 
der, it could never have counted on her support." 

" But how about the care of children, of the home, etc. ? " 
" Certainly the mothers could have been trusted to see 
that nothing interfered with the welfare of their children, 
nor was there anything in the public service expected of 
them that need do so. There is nothing in the maternal 
function which establishes such a relation between mother 
and child as need permanently interfere with her perform- 
ance of social and public duties, nor indeed does it appear 
that it was allowed to do so in your day by women of suffi- 
cient economic means to command needed assistance. The 
fact that women of the masses so often found it necessary 
to abandon an independent existence, and cease to live any 
more for themselves the moment they had children, was sim- 
ply a mark of the imperfection of your social arrangements, 
and not a natural or moral necessity. So, too, as to what 
you call caring for a home. As soon as co-operative meth- 
ods were applied to housekeeping, and its various depart- 
ments were systematized as branches of the public service, 
the former housewife had perforce to find another vocation 
in order to keep herself busy." 


" Talking about housework," I said, " how did they man- 
age about houses ? There were, of course, not enough good 
lodgings to go around, now that all were economic equals. 
How was it settled who should have the good houses and 
who the poor ? " 

"As I have said," replied the doctor, "the controlling 
idea of the revolutionary policy at the climax of the Revo- 
lution was not to complicate the general readjustment by 
making any changes at that time not necessary to its main 
purpose. For the vast number of the badly housed the 
building of better houses was one of the first and greatest 
tasks of the nation. As to the habitable houses, they were 
all assessed at a graduated rental according to size and 
desirability, which their former occupants, if they desired 
to keep them, were expected to pay out of their new in- 
comes as citizens. For a modest house the rent was nomi- 


nal,but for a great house — one of the palaces of the million- 
aires, for instance — the rent was so large that no individual 
could pay it, and indeed no individual without a host of 
servants would be able to occupy it, and these, of course, he 
had no means of employing. Such buildings had to be 
used as hotels, apartment houses, or for public purposes. It 
would appear that nobody changed dwellings except the 
very poor, whose houses were unfit for habitation, and the 
very rich, who could make no use of their former habita- 
tion under the changed condition of things." 


" There is one point not quite clear in my mind," I said, 
" and that is just when the guarantee of equal maintenance 
for all citizens went into effect." 

'" I suppose," replied the doctor, " that it must have been 
when, after the final collapse of what was left of private 
capitalism, the nation assumed the responsibility of provid- 
ing for all the people. Until then the organization of the 
public service had been on the wage basis, which indeed 
was the only practicable way of initiating the plan of uni- 
versal public employment while yet the mass of business 
was conducted by the capitalists, and the new and rising 
system had to be accommodated at so many points to the 
existing order of things. The tremendous rate at which the 
membership of the national industrial army was growing 
from week to week during the transition period would have 
made it impossible to find any basis of equal distribution 
that would hold good for a fortnight. The policy of the 
Government had, however, been to prepare the workers for 
equal sharing by establishing, as far as possible, a level 
wage for all kinds of public employees. This it was pos- 
sible to do, owing to the cheapening of all sorts of com- 
modities by the abolition of profits, without reducing any 
one's income. 

" For example, suppose one workman had received two 
dollars a day, and another a dollar and a half. Owing to 
the cheapening of goods in the i^ublic stores, these wages 
presently purchased twice as much as before. But, instead 
of permitting the virtual increase of wages to operate by 


multiplication, so as to double the original discrepancy be- 
tween the pay of the two, it was applied by equal additions 
to the account of each. While both alike were better off 
than before, the disproportion in their welfare was thus re- 
duced. Nor could the one previously more highly paid ob- 
ject to this as unfair, because the increased value of his 
wages was not the result of his own efforts, but of the new 
public organization, from which he could only ask an equal 
benefit with ail others. Thus by the time the nation was 
i-eady for equal sharing, a substantially level wage, secured 
by leveling up, not leveling down, had already been estab- 
lished. As to the high salaries of special employees, out of 
all proportion to workmen's wages, which obtained under 
private capitalism, they were ruthlessly cut down in the pub- 
lic service from the inception of the revolutionary policy. 

" But of course the most radical innovation in establish- 
ing universal economic equality was not the establishment 
of a level wage as between the workers, but the admission 
of the entire population, both of workers and of those unable 
to work or past the working age, to an equal share in the 
national product. During the transition period the Govern- 
ment had of necessity proceeded like a capitalist in respect 
to recognizing and dealing only with effective workers. It 
took no more cognizance of the existence of the women, ex- 
cept when workers, or the children, or the old, or the infirm, 
crippled, or sick, or other dependents on the workers than 
the capitalists had been in the habit of doing. But when 
the nation gathered into its hands the entire economic 
resources of the country it proceeded to administer them on 
the principle — proclaimed, indeed, in the great Declaration, 
but practically mocked by the former republic — that all 
human beings have an equal right to liberty, life, and happi- 
ness, and that governments rightfully exist only for the 
purpose of making good that right — a principle of which 
the first practical consequence ought to be the guarantee 
to all on equal terms of the economic basis. Thenceforth 
all adult persons who could render any useful service to 
the nation were required to do so if they desired to enjoy 
the benefits of the economic system ; but all who acknowl- 
edged the new order, whether they were able or unable to 


render any economic service, received an equal share with 
all others of the national product, and such provision was 
made for the needs of children as should absolutely safe- 
guard their interests from the neglect or caprice of selfish 

" Of course, the immediate effect must have been that the 
active workers received a less income than when they had 
been the only sharers ; but if they had been good men and 
distributed their wages as they ought among those depend- 
ent on them, they still had for their personal use quite as 
much as before. Only those wage-earners who had for- 
merly had none dependent on them or had neglected them 
suffered any curtailment of income, and they deserved to. 
But indeed there was no question of curtailment for more 
than a very short time for any ; for, as soon as the now 
completed economic organization was fairly in motion, 
everybody was kept too busy devising ways to expend his 
or her own allowance to give any thought to that of others. 
Of course, the equalizing of the economic maintenance of 
all on the basis of citizenship put a final end to the employ- 
ment of private servants, even if the practice had lasted till 
then, which is doubtful ; for if any one desired a personal 
servant he must henceforth pay him as much as he could 
receive in the public service, which would be equivalent to 
the whole income of the would-be employer, leaving him 
nothing for himself." 


" There is one point," I said, ** on which I should like to 
be a little more clearly informed. When the nation finally 
took possession absolutely in perpetuity of all the lands, 
machinery, and capital after the final collapse of private 
capitalism, there must have been doubtless some sort of final 
settling and balancing of accounts between the people and 
the capitalists whose former properties had been nation- 
alized. How was that managed ? What was the basis of 
final Settlement ? " 

"The people waived a settlement," replied the doctor. 
" The guillotine, the gallows, and the firing platoon played 
no part in the consummation of the great Revolution. 


During the previous phases of the revolutionary agitation 
there had indeed been much bitter talk of the reckoning 
which the people in the hour of their triumph would de- 
mand of the capitalists for the cruel past; but when the 
hour of triumph came, the enthusiasm of humanity which 
glorified it extinguished the fires of hate and took away all 
desire of barren vengeance. No, there was no settlement 
demanded ; the people forgave the past." 

" Doctor," I said, " you have sufficiently — in fact, over- 
whelmingly — answered my question, and all the more so 
because you did not catch my meaning. Remember that I 
represent the mental and moral condition of the average 
American capitalist in 1887. What I meant was to inquire 
what compensation the people made to the capitalists for 
nationalizing what had been their property. Evidently, 
however, from the twentieth-century point of view, if there 
were to be any final settlement between the people and the 
capitalists it was the former who had the bill to present." 

" I rather pride myself," replied the doctor, " in keeping 
track of your point of view and distinguishing it from ours, 
but I confess that time I fairly missed the cue. You see, as 
we look back upon the Revolution, one of its most impres- 
sive features seems to be the vast magnanimity of the people 
at the moment of their complete triumph in according a 
free quittance to their former oppressors. 

"Do you not see that if private capitalism was right, 
then the Revolution was wrong ; but, on the other hand, if 
the Revolution was right, then private capitalism was wrong, 
and the greatest wrong that ever existed ; and in that case 
it was the capitalists who owed reparation to the people they 
had wronged, rather than the people who owed compensa- 
tion to the capitalists for taking from them the means of 
that wrong ? For the people to have consented on any terms 
to buy their freedom from their former masters would have 
been to admit the justice of their former bondage. When 
insurgent slaves triumph, they are not in the habit of pay- 
ing their former masters the price of the shackles and fetters 
they have broken ; the masters usually consider themselves 
fortunate if they do not have their heads broken with them. 
Had the question of compensating the capitalists been raised 


at the time we are speaking of, it would have been an unfor- 
tunate issue for them. To their question, Who was to pay 
them for what the people had taken from them ? the response 
would have been, Who was to pay the people for what the 
capitalist system had taken from them and their ancestors, 
the light of life and liberty and happiness which it had shut 
off from unnumbered generations ? That was an account- 
ing which would have gone so deep and reached back so far 
that the debtors might well be glad to waive it. In tak- 
ing possession of the earth and all the works of man that 
stood upon it, the people were but reclaiming their own 
heritage and the work of their own hands, kept back from 
them by fraud. When the rightful heirs come to their own, 
the unjust stewards who kept them out of their inheritance 
may deem themselves mercifully dealt with if the new mas- 
ters are willing to let bygones be bygones. 

" But while the idea of compensating the capitalists for 
putting an end to their oppression would have been ethically 
absurd, you will scarcely get a full conception of the situa- 
tion without considering that any such compensation was 
in the nature of the case impossible. To have compensated 
the capitalists in any practical way — that is, any way which 
would have preserved to them under the new order any 
economic equivalent for their former holdings — would have 
necessarily been to set up private capitalism over again in 
the very act of destroying it, thus defeating and stultifying 
the Revolution in the moment of its triumph. 

" You see that this last and greatest of revolutions in the 
nature of the case absolutely differed from all former ones 
in the finality and completeness of its work. In all previ- 
ous instances in which governments had abolished or con- 
verted to public use forms of property in the hands of citi- 
zens it had been possible to compensate them in some other 
kind of property through which their former economic ad- 
vantage should be perpetuated under a different form. For 
example, in condemning lands it was possible to pay for 
them, in money, and in abolishing property in men it was 
possible to pay for the slaves, so that the previous superiori- 
ty or privilege held by the property owner was not destroyed 
outright, but merely translated, so to speak, into other terms. 


But the great Revolution, aiming as it did at the final de- 
struction of all forms of advantage, dominion, or privilege 
among men, left no guise or mode possible under which the 
capitalist could continue to exercise his former superiority. 
All the modes under which in past time men had exercised 
dominion over their fellows had been by one revolution 
after another reduced to the single form of economic superi- 
ority, and now that this last incarnation of the spirit of self- 
ish dominion was to perish there was no further refuge for 
it. The ultimate mask torn off, it was left to wither in the 
face of the sun." 

" Your explanation leaves me nothing further to ask as 
to the matter of a final settling between the people and the 
capitalists," I said. " Still, I have understood that in the first 
steps toward the substitution of public business management 
for private capitalism, consisting in the nationalizing or 
municipalizing of quasi-public services, such as gas works, 
railroads, telegraphs, etc., some theory of compensation was 
followed. Public opinion, at that stage not having accepted 
the whole revolutionary programme, must probably have 
insisted upon this practice. Just when was it discontinued ? ' 

" You will readily perceive," replied the doctor, *' that in 
measure as it became generally recognized that economic 
equality was at hand, it began to seem farcical to pay the 
capitalists for their possessions in forms of wealth which 
must presently, as all knew, become valueless. So it was 
that, as the Revolution approached its consummation, the idea 
of buying the capitalists out gave place to plans for safe- 
guarding them from unnecessary hardships pending the 
transition period. All the businesses of the class you speak 
of which were taken over by the peojDle in the early stages of 
the revolutionary agitation, were paid for in money or bonds, 
and usually at prices most favorable to the capitalists. As 
to the greater plants, which were taken over later, such as 
railroads and the mines, a different course was followed. 
By the time public opinion was ripe for these steps, it be- 
gan to be recognized by the dullest that it was possible, even 
if not probable, that the revolutionary programme would go 
completely through, and all forms of monetary value or 
obligation become waste paper. With this prospect the 


capitalists owning the properties were naturally not particu- 
larly desirous of taking national bonds for them which 
would have been the natural form of compensation had they 
been bought outright. Even if the capitalists had been 
willing to take the bonds, the people would never have con- 
sented to increase the public debt by the five or six billions 
of bonds that would have been necessary to carry out the 
purchase. Neither the railroads nor the mines were therefore 
purchased at all. It was their management, not their own- 
ership, which had excited the public indignation and created 
the demand for their nationalization. It was their manage- 
ment, therefore, which was nationalized, their ownership 
remaining undisturbed. 

" That is to say, the Government, on the high ground of 
public policy and for the correction of grievances that had 
become intolerable, assumed the exclusive and perpetual 
management and operation of the railroad lines. An honest 
valuation of the plants having been made, the earnings, if 
any, up to a reasonable percentage, were paid over to the 
security holders. This arrangement answered the pui'pose 
of delivering the people and the security holders alike from 
the extortions and mismanagement of the former private 
operators, and at the same time brought a million rail- 
road employees into the public service and the enjoyment of 
all its benefits quite as effectively as if the lines had been 
bought outright. A similar plan was followed with the coal 
and other mines. This combination of private ownership 
with public management continued until, the Revolution 
having been consummated, all the capital of the country 
was nationalized by comprehensive enactment. 

" The general principle which governed the revolution- 
ary policy in dealing with property owners of all sorts was 
that while the distribution of property was essentially un- 
just and existing property rights morally invalid, and as 
soon as possible a wholly new system should be estab- 
lished, yet that, until the new system of property could as a 
whole replace the existing one, the legal rights of property 
owners ought to be respected, and when overruled in the 
public interest proper provision should be made to prevent 
hardship. The means of private maintenance should not, 


that is to say, be taken away from any one until the guar- 
antee of maintenance from public sources could take its 
place. The application of this principle by the revolution- 
ists seems to have been extremely logical, clean cut, and 
positive. The old law of property, bad as it was, they did 
not aim to abolish in the name of license, spoliation, and 
confusion, but in the name of a stricter and more logical 
as well as more righteous law. In the most flourishing days 
of capitalism, stealing, so called, was never repressed more 
sternly than up to the very eve of the complete introduction 
of the new system. 

" To sum up the case in a word," I suggested, " it seems 
that in passing from the old order into the new it neces- 
sarily fared with the rich as it did when they passed out of 
this world into the next. In one case, as in the other, they 
just absolutely had to leave their money behind them." 

" The illustration is really very apt," laughed the doctor, 
" except in one important particular. It has been rumored 
that the change which Dives made from this world to the 
next was an unhappy one for him ; but within half a dozen 
years after the new economic system had been in operation 
there was not an ex-millionaire of the lot who was not ready 
to admit that life had been made as much better worth liv- 
ing for him and his class as for the rest of the community." 

" Did the new order get into full running condition so 
quickly as that ? " I asked. 

" Of course, it could not get into perfect order as you see 
it now for many years. The personnel of any community 
is the prime factor in its economic efficiency, and not until 
the first generation born under the new order had come to 
maturity — a generation of which every member had received 
the highest intellectual and industrial training —did the eco- 
nomic order fully show what it was capable of. But not ten 
nor two years had elapsed from the time when the national 
Government took all the people into employment on the 
basis of equal sharing in the product before the system 
showed results which overwhelmed the world with amaze- 
ment. The partial system of public industries and public 
stores which the Government had already undertaken had 
given the people some intimation of the cheapening of prod- 


ucts and improvement in their quality which might follow 
from the abolition of profits even under a wage system, but 
not until the entire economic system had been nationalized 
and all co-operated for a common weal was it possible com- 
pletely to pool the product and share it equally. No previ- 
ous experience had therefore prepared the public for the 
prodigious efficiency of the new economic enginery. The 
people had thought the reformers made rather large prom- 
ises as to what the new system would do in the way of 
wealth-making, but now they charged them of keeping back 
the truth. And yet the result was one that need not have 
surprised any one who had taken the trouble to calculate the 
economic effect of the change in systems. The incalculable 
increase of wealth which but for the profit system the great 
inventions of the century would long before have brought 
the world, was being reaped in a long-postponed but over- 
whelming harvest. 

" The difficulty under the profit system had been to avoid 
producing too much ; the difficulty under the equal shar- 
ing system was how to produce enough. The smallness of 
demand had before limited supply, but supply had now set 
to it an unlimited task. Under private capitalism demand 
had been a dwarf and lame at that, and yet this cripple had 
been pace-maker for the giant production. National co- 
operation had put wings on the dwarf and shod the cripple 
with Mercury's sandals. Henceforth the giant would need 
all his strength, all his thews of steel and sinews of brass 
even, to keep him in sight as he flitted on before. 

" It would be difficult to give you an idea of the tremen- 
dous burst of industrial energy with which the rejuvenated 
nation on the morrow of the Revolution threw itself into 
the task of uplifting the welfare of all classes to a level 
where the former rich man might find in sharing the com- 
mon lot nothing to regret. Nothing like the Titanic achieve- 
ment by which this result was effected had ever before been 
known in human history, and nothing like it seems likely 
ever to occur again. In the past there had not been work 
enough for the people. Millions, some rich, some poor, some 
willingly, some unwillingly, had always been idle, and not 
only that, but half the work that was done was wasted in 


competition or in producing luxuries to gratify the secondary 
wants of the few, while yet the primary wants of the mass 
remained unsatisfied. Idle machinery equal to the power 
of other millions of men, idle land, idle capital of every 
sort, mocked the need of the people. Now, all at once there 
were not hands enough in the country, wheels enough in 
the machinery, power enough in steam and electricity, hours 
enough in the day, days enough in the week, for the vast 
task of preparing the basis of a comfortable existence for all. 
For not until all were well-to-do, well housed, well clothed, 
well fed, might any be so under the new order of things. 

" It is said that in the first full year after the new order 
was established the total product of the country was tripled, 
and in the second the first year's product was doubled, and 
every bit of it consumed. 

" While, of course, the improvement in the material wel- 
fare of the nation was the most notable feature in the first 
years after the Revolution, simply because it was the place 
at which any improvement must begin, yet the ennobling 
and softening of manners and the growth of geniality in 
social intercourse are said to have been changes scarcely less 
notable. While the class differences inherited from the 
former order in point of habits, education, and culture must, 
of course, continue to mark and in a measure separate the 
members of the generation then on the stage, yet the cer- 
tain knowledge that the basis of these differences had passed 
away forever, and that the children of all would mingle not 
only upon terms of economic equality, but of moral, intel- 
lectual, and social sympathy, and entire community of in- 
terest, seems to have had a strong anticipatory influence in 
bringing together in a sentiment of essential brotherhood 
those who were too far on in life to expect to see the full 
promise of the Revolution realized. 

"One other matter is worth speaking of, and that is 
the effect almost at once of the universal and abounding 
material prosperity which the nation had entered on to 
make the people forget all about the importance they had 
so lately attached to petty differences in pay and wages and 
salary. In the old days of general poverty, when a suffi- 
ciency was so hard to come by, a difference in wages of fifty 


cents or a dollar had seemed so great to the artisan that it 
Avas hard for him to accept the idea of an economic equality 
in which such important distinctions should disappear. It 
was quite natural that it should be so. Men fight for crusts 
when they are starving, but they do not quarrel over bread 
at a banquet table. Somewhat so it befell when in the 
years after the Revolution material abundance and all the 
comforts of life came to be a matter of course for every one, 
and storing for the future was needless. Then it was that 
the hunger motive died out of human nature and covetous- 
ness as to material things, mocked to death by abundance, 
perished by atrophy, and the motives of the modern worker, 
the love of honor, the joy of beneficence, the delight of achieve- 
ment, and the enthusiasm of humanity, became the impulses 
of the economic world. Labor was glorified, and the cring- 
ing wage-slave of the nineteenth century stood forth trans- 
figured as the knight of humanity." 



If the reader were to judge merely from what has been 
set down in these pages he would be likely to infer that my 
most absorbing interest during these days I am endeavor- 
ing to recall was the study of the political economy and 
social philosophy of the modern world, which I was pur- 
suing under the direction of Dr. Leete. That, however, 
would be a great mistake. Full of wonder and fascination 
as was that occupation, it was prosaic business compared 
with the interest of a certain old story which his daughter 
and I were going over together, whereof but slight mention 
has been made, because it is a story which all know or ought 
to know for themselves. The dear doctor, being aware of 
the usual course of such stories, no doubt realized that this 
one might be expected presently to reach a stage of interest 
where it would be likely, for a time at least, wholly to dis- 
tract my attention from other themes. No doubt he had 


been governed by this consideration in trying to give to 
our talks a range which should result in furnishing me 
with a view of the institutions of the modern world and 
their rational basis that would be as symmetrical and 
rounded out as was at all consistent with the vastness of the 
subject and the shortness of the time. It was some days 
after he had told me the story of the transition period be- 
fore we had an opportunity for another long talk, and the 
turn he gave to our discourse on that occasion seemed to in- 
dicate that he intended it as a sort of conclusion of the series, 
as indeed it proved to be. 

Edith and I had come home rather late that evening, 
and when she left me I turned into the library, where a 
light showed that the doctor was still sitting. As I entered 
he was turning over the leaves of a very old and yellow-look- 
ing volume, the title of which, by its oddity, caught my eye. 

" Kenloe's Book of the Blind," I said. " That is an odd 

" It is the title of an odd book," replied the doctor. " The 
Book of the Blind is nearly a hundred years old, having 
been compiled soon after the triumph of the Revolution. 
Everybody was happy, and the people in their joy were will- 
ing to forgive and forget the bitter opposition of the capi- 
talists and the learned class, which had so long held back 
the blessed change. The preachers who had preached, the 
teachers who had taught, and the writers who had written 
against the Revolution, were now the loudest in its praise, 
and desired nothing so much as to have their previous utter- 
ances forgotten. But Kenloe, moved by a certain crabbed 
sense of justice, was bound that they should not be forgot- 
ten. Accordingly, he took the pains to compile, with great 
care as to authenticity, names, dates, and places, a mass of 
excerpts from speeches, books, sermons, and newspapers, in 
which the apologists of private capitalism had defended 
that system and assailed the advocates of economic equality 
during the long period of revolutionary agitation. Thus 
he proposed to pillory for all time the blind guides who had 
done their best to lead the nation and the world into the 
ditch. The time would come, he foresaw, as it has come, 
when it would seem incredible to posterity that rational 


men and, above all, learned men should have opposed in 
the name of reason a measure which, like economic equality, 
obviously meant nothing more nor less than the general 
diffusion of happiness. Against that time he prepared this 
book to serve as a perpetual testimony. It was dreadfully 
hard on the men, all alive at the time and desiring the past 
to be forgotten, on whom he conferred this most undesir- 
able immortality. One can imagine how they must have 
anathematized him when the book came out. Nevertheless, 
it must be said that if men ever deserved to endure perpet- 
ual obloquy those fellows did. 

" When I came across this old volume on the top shelf 
of the library the other day it occurred to me that it might 
be helpful to complete your impression of the great Revolu- 
tion by giving you an idea of the other side of the contro- 
versy — the side of your own class, the capitalists, and what 
sort of reasons they were able to give against the proposi- 
tion to equalize the basis of human welfare." 

I assured the doctor that nothing would interest me 
more. Indeed, I had become so thoroughly naturalized as a 
twentieth-century American that there was something de- 
cidedly piquant in the idea of having my former point of 
view as a nineteenth-century capitalist recalled to me. 

" Anticipating that you would take that view," said the 
doctor, " I have prepared a little list of the main heads of ob- 
jection from Kenloe's collection, and we will go over them, 
if you like, this evening. Of course, there are many more 
than I shall quote, but the others are mainly variations of 
these, or else relate to points which have been covered in our 

I made myself comfortable, and the doctor proceeded : 


" The clergy in your day assumed to be the leaders of 
the people, and it is but respectful to their pretensions to 
take up first what seems to have been the main pulpit argu- 
ment against the proposed system of economic equality col 
lectively guaranteed. It appears to have been rather in the 
nature of an excuse for not espousing the new social ideal 
than a direct attack on it, which indeed it would have been 


rather difficult for nominal Christians to make, seeing that 
it was merely the proposal to carry out the golden rule. 

"The clergy reasoned that the fundamental cause of 
social misery was human sin and depravity, and that it 
was vain to expect any great improvement in the social 
condition through mere improvements in social forms and 
institutions unless there was a corresponding moral im- 
provement in men. Until that improvement took place it 
was therefore of no use to introduce improved social sys- 
tems, for they would work as badly as the old ones if those 
who were to operate them were not themselves better men 
and women. 

" The element of truth in this argument is the admitted 
fact that the use which individuals or communities are able 
to make of any idea, instrument, or institution depends on 
the degree to which they have been educated up to the point 
of understanding and appreciating it. 

" On the other hand, however, it is equally true, as the 
clergy must at once have admitted, that from the time a 
people begins to be morally and intellectually educated up 
to the point of understanding and appreciating better insti- 
tutions, their adoption is likely to be of the greatest bene- 
fit to them. Take, for example, the ideas of religious liberty 
and of democracy. There was a time when the race could 
not understand or fitly use either, and their adoption as 
formal institutions would have done no good. Afterward 
there came a time when the world was ready for the 
ideas, and then their realization by means of new social 
institutions constituted great forward steps in civilization. 

" That is to say, if, on the one hand, it is of no use to 
introduce an improved institution before people begin to be 
ready for it, on the other hand great loss results if there be a 
delay or refusal to adopt the better institution as soon as 
the readiness begins to manifest itself. 

"This being the general law of progress, the practical 
question is, How are we to determine as to any particular 
proposed improvement in institutions whether the world is 
yet ready to make a good use of it or whether it is pre- 
mature ? 

" The testimony of history is that the only test of the fit- 


ness of people at any time for a new institution is the 
volume and earnestness of the popular demand for the 
change. When the peoples began in earnest to cry out for 
religious liberty and freedom of conscience, it was evident 
that they were ready for them. When nations began 
strongly to demand popular government, it was proof that 
they were ready for that. It did not follow that they were 
entirely ahle at once to make the best possible use of the 
new institution ; that they could only learn to do by expe- 
rience, and the further development which they would at- 
tain through the use of the better institution and could not 
otherwise attain at all. What was certain was that after 
the people had reached this state of mind the old institu- 
tion had ceased to be serviceable, and that however badly 
for a time the new one might work, the interest of the race 
demanded its adoption, and resistance to the change was 
resistance to progress. 

" Applying this test to the situation toward the close of 
the nineteenth century, what evidence was there that the 
world was beginning to be ready for a radically different 
and more humane set of social institutions ? The evidence 
was the volume, earnestness, and persistence of the popu- 
lar demand for it which at that period had come to be the 
most widespread, profound, and powerful movement going 
on in the civilized world. This was the tremendous fact 
which should have warned the clergy who withstood the 
people's demand for better things to beware lest haply they 
be found fighting even against God. What more convinc- 
ing proof could be asked that the world had morally and 
intellectually outgrown the old economic order than the 
detestation and denunciation of its cruelties and fatuities 
which had become the universal voice ? What stronger evi- 
dence could there be that the race was ready at least to at- 
tempt the experiment of social life on a nobler plane than 
the marvelous development during this period of the hu- 
manitarian and philanthropic spirit, the passionate accept- 
ance by the masses of the new idea of social solidarity and 
the universal brotherhood of man ? 

" If the clergymen who objected to the Revolution" on the 
ground that better institutions would be of no utility with- 


out a better spirit had been sincere in that objection, they 
would have found in a survey of the state and tendencies of 
popular feeling the most striking proof of thei presence of 
the very conditions in extraordinary measure which they 
demanded as necessary to insure the success of the experi- 

" But indeed it is to be greatly feared that they were not 
sincere. They pretended to hold Christ's doctrine that hatred 
of the old life and a desire to lead a better one is the only 
vocation necessary to enter upon such a life. If they had 
been sincere in professing this doctrine, they would have 
hailed with exultation tlie appeal of the masses to be de- 
livered from their bondage to a wicked social order and to 
be permitted to live together on better, kinder, juster terms. 
But what they actually said to the people was in substance 
this : It is true, as you complain, that the present social and 
economic system is morally abominable and thoroughly 
antichristian, and that it destroys men's souls and bodies. 
Nevertheless, you must not think of trying to change it for a 
better system, because you are not yet good enough to try 
to be better. It is necessary that you should wait until you 
are more righteous before you attempt to leave off doing 
evil. You must go on stealing and fighting until you shall 
become fully sanctified. 

" How would the clergy have been scandalized to hear 
that a Christian minister had in like terms attempted to 
discourage an individual penitent who professed loathing 
for his former life and a desire to lead a better! What 
language shall we find then that is strong enough fitly to 
characterize the attitude of these so-called ministers of 
Christ, who in his name rebuked and derided the aspira- 
tions of a world weary of social wrong and seeking for a 
better way ? " 


" But, after all," pursued the doctor, turning the pages of 
Kenloe, " let us not be too hard on these unfortunate clergy- 
men, as if they were more blinded or bigoted in their oppo- 
sition to progress than were other classes of the learned 
men of the day, as, for example, the economists. One of 


the main arguments — perhaps the leading one — of the nine- 
teenth-century economists against the programme of eco- 
nomic equality under a nationalized economic system was 
that the people would not prove efl&cient workers owing to 
the lack of sufficiently sharp personal incentives to dili- 

" Now, let us look at this objection. Under the old sys- 
tem there were two main incentives to economic exertion : 
the one chiefly operative on the masses, who lived from hand 
to mouth, with no hope of more than a bare subsistence ; the 
other operating to stimulate the well-to-do and rich to con- 
tinue their efforts to accumulate wealth. The first of these 
motives, the lash that drove the masses to their tasks, was 
the actual pressure or imminent fear of want. The second of 
the motives, that which spurred the already rich, was the de- 
sire to be ever richer, a passion which we know increased with 
what it fed on. Under the new system every one on easy 
conditions would be sure of as good a maintenance as any 
one else and be quite relieved from the pressure or fear of 
want. No one, on the other hand, by any amount of effort, 
could hope to become the economic superior of another. 
Moreover, it was said, since every one looked to his share in 
the general result rather than to his personal product, the 
nerve of zeal would be cut. It was argued that the result 
would be that everybody would do as little as he could and 
keep within the minimum requirement of the law, and that 
therefore, while the system might barely support itself, it 
could never be an economic success." 

" That sounds very natural," I said. " I imagine it is 
just the sort of argument that I should have thought very 

" So your friends the capitalists seem to have regarded it, 
and yet the very statement of the argument contains a con- 
fession of the economic imbecility of private capitalism 
which really leaves nothing to be desired as to complete- 
ness. Consider, Julian, what is implied as to an economic 
system by the admission that under it the people never es- 
cape the actual pressure of want or the immediate dread of 
it. What more could the worst enemy of private capitalism 
allege against it, or what stronger reason could he give for 


demanding that some radically new system be at least given 
a trial, than the fact which its defenders stated in this argu- 
ment for retaining it — namely, that under it the masses 
were always hungry ? Surely no possible new system 
could work any worse than one which confessedly de- 
pended upon the perpetual famine of the people to keep it 

" It was a pretty bad giving away of their case," I said, 
" when you come to think of it that way. And yet at first 
statement it really had a formidable sound." 

" Manifestly," said the doctor, " the incentives to wealth- 
production under a system confessedly resulting in perpetual 
famine must be ineffectual, and we really need consider 
them no further ; but your economists praised so highly the 
ambition to get rich as an economic motive and objected so 
strongly to economic equality because it would shut it off, 
that a word may be well as to the real value of the lust of 
wealth as an economic motive. Did the individual pursuit 
of riches under your system necessarily tend to increase 
the aggregate wealth of the community ? The answer is 
significant. It tended to increase the aggregate wealth only 
when it prompted the production of new wealth. When, 
on the other hand, it merely prompted individuals to get 
possession of wealth already produced and in the hands of 
others, it tended only to change the distribution without at 
all increasing the total of wealth. Not only, indeed, did 
the pursuit of wealth by acquisition, as distinguished from 
production, not tend to increase the total, but greatly to 
decrease it by wasteful strife. Now, I will leave it to you, 
Julian, whether the successful pursuers of wealth, those who 
illustrated most strikingly the force of this motive of accu- 
mulation, usually sought their wealth by themselves pro- 
ducing it or by getting hold of what other people had pro- 
duced or supplanting other people's enterprises and reaping 
the field others had sown." 

'' By the latter processes, of course," I replied. " Produc- 
tion was slow and hard work. Great wealth could not be 
gained that way, and everybody knew it. The acquisition 
of other people's product and the supplanting of their en- 
terprises were the easy and speedy and royal ways to riches 


for those who were clever enough, and were the basis of all 
large and rapid accumulations." 

" So we read," said the doctor ; " but the desire of getting 
rich also stimulated capitalists to more or less productive 
activity which was the source of what little wealth you had. 
This was called production for profit, but the political-econ- 
omy class the other morning showed us that production for 
profit was economic suicide, tending inevitably, by limiting 
the consuming power of a community, to a fractional part 
of its productive power to cripple production in turn, and so 
to keep the mass of mankind in perpetual poverty. And 
surely this is enough to say about the incentives to wealth- 
making which the world lost in abandoning private capital- 
ism, fii'st general poverty, and second the profit system, which 
caused that poverty. Decidedly we can dispense with those 

" Under the modern system it is indeed true that no one 
ever imagined such a thing as coming to want unless he de- 
liberately chose to, but we think that fear is on the whole 
the weakest as well as certainly the cruelest of incentives. 
We would not have it on any terms were it merely for 
gain's sake. Even in your day your capitalists knew that 
the best man was not he who was working for his next din- 
ner, but he who was so well off that no immediate concern 
for his living affected his mind. Self-respect and pride in 
achievement made him a far better workman than he who 
was thinking of his day's pay. But if those motives were as 
strong then, think how much more powerful they are now ! 
In your day when two men worked side by side for an em- 
ployer it was no concern of the one, however the other 
might cheat or loaf. It was not his loss, but the employer's. 
But now that all work for the common fund, the one who 
evades or scamps his work robs every one of his fellows. 
A man had better hang himself nowadays than get the 
reputation of a shirk. 

"As to the notion of these objectors that economic 
equality would cut the nerve of zeal by denying the indi- 
vidual the reward of his personal achievements, it was a 
complete misconception of the effects of the system. The 
assumption that there would be no incentives to impel indi- 


viduals to excel one another in industry merely because 
these incentives would not take a money form was absurd. 
Every one is as directly and far more certainly the bene- 
ficiary of his own merits as in your day, save only that the 
reward is not in what you called 'cash.' As you know, 
the whole system of social and official rank and head- 
ship, together with the special honors of the state, are de- 
termined by the relative value of the economic and other 
services of individuals to the community. Compared with 
the emulation aroused by this system of nobility by merit, 
the incentives to effort offered under the old order of things 
must have been slight indeed. 

" The whole of this subject of incentive taken by your 
contemporaries seems, in fact, to have been based upon the 
crude and childish theory that the main factor in diligence 
or execution of any kind is external, whereas it is wholly 
internal. A person is congenitally slothful or energetic. 
In the one case no opportunity and no incentive can make 
him work beyond a certain minimum of efficiency, while 
in the other case he will make his opportunity and find 
his incentives, and nothing but superior force can prevent 
his doing the utmost possible. If the motive force is not 
in the man to start with, it can not be supplied from with- 
out, and there is no substitute for it. If a man's main- 
spring is not wound up when he is born, it never can be 
wound up afterward. The most that any industrial system 
can do to promote diligence is to establish such absolutely 
fair conditions as shall promise sure recognition for all 
merit in its measure. This fairness, which your system, 
utterly unjust in all respects, wholly failed to secure, ours 
absolutely provides. As to the unfortunates who are born 
lazy, our system has certainly no miraculous power to make 
them energetic, but it does see to it with absolute certainty 
that every able-bodied person who receives economic main- 
tenance of the nation shall render at least the minimum of 
service. The laziest is sure to pay his cost. In your day, 
on the other hand, society supported millions of able-bodied 
loafers in idleness, a dead weight on the world's industry. 
From the hour of the consummation of the great Revolu- 
tion this burden ceased to be borne." 


" Doctor," I said, " I am sure my old friends could do 
better than that. Let us have another of their objections." 


"Here, then, is one which they seem to have thought a 
great deal of. They argued that the effect of economic 
equality would be to make everybody just alike, as if they 
had been sawed off to one measure, and that consequently 
life would become so monotonous that people would all hang 
themselves at the end of a month. This objection is beauti- 
fully typical of an age when everything and everybody had 
been reduced to a money valuation. It having been pro- 
posed to equalize everybody's supply of money, it was at 
once assumed, as a matter of course, that there would be left 
no points of difference between individuals that would be 
worth considering. How perfectly does this conclusion ex- 
press the philosophy of life held by a generation in which 
it was the custom to sum up men as respectively ' worth ' so 
many thousands, hundred thousands, or millions of dollars ! 
Naturally enough, to such people it seemed that human 
beings would become well-nigh indistinguishable if their 
bank accounts were the same. 

" But let us be entirely fair to your contemporaries. 
Possibly those who used this argument against economic 
equality would have felt aggrieved to have it made out 
the baldly sordid proposition it seems to be. They appear, 
to judge from the excerpts collected in this book, to have 
had a vague but sincere apprehension that in some quite 
undefined way economic equality would really tend to 
make people monotonously alike, tediously similar, not 
merely as to bank accounts, but as to qualities in general, 
with the result of obscuring the differences in natural en- 
dowments, the interaction of which lends all the zest to 
social intercourse. It seems almost incredible that the obvi- 
ous and necessary effect of economic equality could be 
apprehended in a sense so absolutely opposed to the truth. 
How could your contemporaries look about them with- 
out seeing that it is always inequality which prompts the 
suppression of individuality by putting a premium on servile 
imitation of superiors, and, on the other hand, that it is 


always among equals that one finds independence ? Sup- 
pose, Julian, you had a squad of recruits and wanted to 
ascertain at a glance their difference in height, what sort 
of ground would you select to line them up on ? " 

" The levelest piece I could find, of course." 

" Evidently ; and no doubt these very objectoi's would 
have done the same in a like case, and yet they wholly failed 
to see that this was precisely what economic equality would 
mean for the community at large. Economic equality with 
the equalities of education and opportunity implied in it 
was the level standing ground, the even floor, on which the 
new order proposed to range all alike, that they might be 
known for what they were, and all their natural inequalities 
be brought fully out. The charge of abolishing and obscur- 
ing the natural differences between men lay justly not 
against the new order, but against the old, which, by a 
thousand artificial conditions and opportunities arising 
from economic inequality, made it impossible to know how 
far the apparent differences in individuals were natural, and 
how far they were the result of artificial conditions. Those 
who voiced the objection to economic equality as tending 
to make men all alike were fond of calling it a leveling 
process. So it was, but it was not men whom the process 
leveled, but the ground they stood on. From its introduc- 
tion dates the first full and clear revelation of the natural 
and inherent varieties in human endowments. Economic 
equality, with all it implies, is the first condition of any true 
anthropometric or man-measuring system." 

"Really," I said, "all these objections seem to be of the 
boomerang pattern, doing more damage to the side that used 
them than to the enemy." 

" For that matter," replied the doctor, " the revolution- 
ists would have been well off for ammunition if they had 
used only that furnished by their opponents' arguments. 
Take, for example, another specimen, which we may call 
the aesthetic objection to economic equality, and might re- 
gard as a development of the one just considered. It was 
asserted that the picturesqueness and amusement of the 
human spectacle would suffer without the contrast of con- 
ditions between the rich and poor. The question first sug- 


gested by this statement is: To whom, to what class did 
these contrasts tend to make life more amusing ? Certainly 
not to the poor, who made up the mass of the race. To them 
they must have been maddening. It Was then in the in- 
terest of the mere handful of rich and fortunate that this 
argument for retaining poverty was urged. Indeed this 
appears to have been quite a fine ladies' argument. Ken- 
loe puts it in the mouths of leaders of polite society. As 
coolly as if it had been a question of parlor decoration, 
they appear to have argued that the black background of the 
general misery was a desirable foil to set off the pomp of 
the rich. But, after all, this objection was not more brutal 
than it was stupid. If here and there might be found some 
perverted being who relished his luxuries the more keenly 
for the sight of others' want, yet the general and universal 
rule is that happiness is stimulated by the sight of the hap- 
piness of others. As a matter of fact, far from desiring to 
see or be even reminded of squalor and poverty, the rich 
seem to have tried to get as far as possible from sight or 
sound of them, and to wish to forget their existence. 

" A great part of the objections to economic equality in 
this book seems to have been based on such complete mis- 
apprehensions of what the plan implied as to have no sort of 
relevancy to it. Some of these I have passed over. One 
of them, by way of illustration, was based on the assumption 
that the new social order would in some way operate to en- 
force, by law, relations of social intimacy of all with all, 
without regard to pei*sonal tastes or afiinities. Quite a num- 
ber of Kenloe's subjects worked themselves up to a frenzy, 
protesting against the intolerable effects of such a require- 
ment. Of course, they were fighting imaginary foes. There 
was nothing under the old social order which compelled 
men to associate merely because their bank accounts or in- 
comes were the same, and there was nothing under the new 
order that would any more do so. While the universality 
of culture and refinement vastly widens the circle from 
which one may choose congenial associates, there is nothing 
to prevent anybody from living a life as absolutely unsocial 
as the veriest cynic of the old time could have desired. 



"The theory of Kenloe," continued the doctor, "that 
unless he carefully recorded and authenticated these objec- 
tions to economic equality, posterity would refuse to believe 
that they had ever been seriously offered, is specially justi- 
fied by the next one on the list. This is an argument 
against the new order because it would abolish the com- 
petitive system and put an end to the struggle for exist- 
ence. According to the objectors, this would be to destroy 
an invaluable school of character and testing process for the 
weeding out of inferiority, and the development and sur- 
vival as leaders of the best types of humanity. Now, if your 
contemporaries had excused themselves for tolerating the 
competitive system on the ground that, bad and cruel as it 
was, the world was not ripe for any other, the attitude would 
have been intelligible, if not rational ; but that they should 
defend it as a desirable institution in itself, on account of 
its moral results, and therefore not to be dispensed with 
even if it could be, seems hard to believe. For what was the 
competitive system but a pitiless, all-involving combat for 
the means of life, the whole zest of which depended on the 
fact that there was not enough to go round, and the losers 
must perish or purchase bare existence by becoming the 
bondmen of the successful ? Between a fight for tlie neces- 
sary means of life like this and a fight for life itself with 
sword and gun, it is impossible to make any real distinc- 
tion. However, let us give the objection a fair hearing. 

" In the first place, let us admit that, however dreadful 
were the incidents of the fight for the means of life called 
competition, yet, if it were such a school of character and 
testing process for developing the best types of the race as 
these objectors claimed, there would be something to have 
been said in favor of its retention. But the first condition 
of any competition or test, the results of which are to com- 
mand respect or possess any value, is the fairness and equal- 
ity of the struggle. Did this first and essential condition of 
any true competitive struggle characterize the competitive 
system of your day ? " 


" On the contrary," I replied, " the vast majority of the 
contestants were hopelessly handicapped at the start by 
ignorance and lack of early advantages, and never had even 
the ghost of a chance from the word go. Differences in eco- 
nomic advantages and backing, moreover, gave half the race 
at the beginning to some, leaving the others at a distance 
which only extraordinary endowments might overcome. 
Finally, in the race for wealth all the greatest prizes were 
not subject to competition at all, but were awarded without 
any contest according to the accident of birth." 

" On the whole, then, it would appear," resumed the doc- 
tor, " that of all the utterly unequal, unfair, fraudulent, 
sham contests, whether in sport or earnest, that were ever 
engaged in, the so-called competitive system was the ghast- 
liest farce. It was called the competitive system apparently 
for no other reason than that there was not a particle of 
genuine competition in it, nothing but brutal and cowardly 
slaughter of the unarmed and overmatched by bullies in 
armor; for, although we have compared the competitive 
struggle to a foot race, it was no such harmless sport as 
that, but a struggle to the death for life and liberty, which, 
mind you, the contestants did not even choose to risk, but 
were forced to undertake, whatever their chances. The old 
Romans used to enjoy the spectacle of seeing men fight for 
their lives, but they at least were careful to pair their 
gladiators as nearly as possible. The most hardened attend- 
ants at the Coliseum would have hissed from the arena a 
performance in which the combatants were matched with 
such utter disregard of fairness as were those who fought 
for their lives in the so-called competitive struggle of your 

"Even you, doctor," I said, "though you know these 
things so well through the written record, can not realize 
how terribly true your words are." 

"Very good. Now tell me what it would have been 
necessary to do by way of equalizing the conditions of the 
competitive struggle in order that it might be called, 
without mockery, a fair test of the qualities of the con- 

"It would have been necessary, at least," I said, "to 


equalize their educational equipment, early advantages, and 
economic or money backing." 

" Precisely so ; and that is just what economic equality 
proposed to do. Your extraordinary contemporaries ob- 
jected to economic equality because it would destroy the 
competitive system, when, in fact, it promised the world the 
first and only genuine competitive system it ever had." 

"This objection seems the biggest boomerang yet," I 

"It is a double-ended one," said the doctor, "and we 
have yet observed but one end. We have seen that the so- 
called competitive system under private capitalism was not 
a competitive system at all, and that nothing but economic 
equality could make a truly competitive system possible. 
Grant, however, for the sake of the argument, that the old 
system was honestly competitive, and that the prizes went 
to the most proficient under the requirements of the com- 
petition ; the question would remain whether the qualities 
the competition tended to develop were desirable ones. A 
training school in the art of lying, for example, or burglary, 
or slander, or fraud, might be efiicient in its method and 
the prizes might be fairly distributed to the most proficient 
pupils, and yet it would scarcely be argued that the main- 
tenance of the school was in the public interest. The 
objection we are considering assumes that the qualities 
encouraged and rewarded under the competitive system were 
desirable qualities, and such as it was for the public policy to 
develop. Now, if this was so, we may confidently expect to 
find that the prize-winners in the competitive struggle, the 
great money-makers of your age, were admitted to be intel- 
lectually and morally the finest types of the race at the time. 
How was that ? " 

" Don't be sarcastic, doctor." 

" No, I will not be sarcastic, however great the tempta- 
tion, but just talk straight on. What did the world, as a 
rule, think of the great fortune-makers of your time ? 
What sort of human types did they represent ? As to in- 
tellectual culture, it was held as an axiom that a college 
education was a drawback to success in business, and natu- 
rally so, for any knowledge of the humanities would in so 


far have unmanned men for the sordid and pitiless condi- 
tions of the fight for wealth. We find the great prize takers 
in the competitive struggle to have generally been men who 
made it a boast that they had never had any mental educa- 
tion beyond the rudiments. As a rule, the children and 
grandchildren, who gladly inherited their wealth, were 
ashamed of their appearance and manners as too gross for 
refined surroundings. 

" So much for the intellectual qualities that marked the 
victors in the race for wealth under the miscalled competi- 
tive system ; what of the moral ? What were the qualities 
and practices which the successful seeker after great wealth 
must systematically cultivate and follow ? A lifelong habit 
of calculating upon and taking advantage of the weaknesses, 
necessities, and mistakes of others, a pitiless insistence upon 
making the most of every advantage which one might gain 
over another, whether by skill or accident, the constant habit 
of undei"valuing and depreciating what one would buy, and 
overvaluing what one would sell ; finally, such a lifelong 
study to regulate every thought and act with sole reference 
to the pole star of self-interest in its narrowest conception 
as must needs presently render the man incapable of every 
generous or self -forgetting impulse. That was the condition 
of mind and soul which the competitive pursuit of wealth 
in your day tended to develop, and which was naturally 
most brilliantly exemplified in the cases of those who car- 
ried away the great prizes of the struggle. 

" But, of course, these winners of the great prizes were 
few, and had the demoralizing influence of the struggle 
been limited to them it would have involved the moral ruin 
of a small number. To realize how wide and deadly was the 
depraving influence of the struggle for existence, we must 
remember that it was not confined to its effect upon the char- 
acters of the few who succeeded, but demoralized equally 
the millions who failed, not on account of a virtue superior 
to that of the few winners, or any unwillingness to adopt 
their methods, but merely through lack of the requisite 
ability or fortune. Though not one in ten thousand might 
succeed largely in the pursuit of wealth, yet the rules of the 
contest must be followed as closely to make a bare living as 


to gain a fortune, in bargaining for a bag of old rags as 
in buying a railroad. So it was that the necessity equally 
upon all of seeking their living, however humble, by the 
methods of competition, forbade the solace of a good con- 
science as effectually to the poor man as to the rich, to the 
many losers at the game as to the few winners. You re- 
member the familiar legend which represents the devil as 
bargaining with people for their souls, with the promise of 
worldly success as the price. The bargain was in a manner 
fair as set forth in the old story. The man always received 
the price agreed on. But the competitive system was a 
fraudulent devil, which, while requiring everybody to for- 
feit their souls, gave in return worldly success to but one 
in a thousand. 

" And now, Julian, just let us glance at the contrast be- 
tween what winning meant under the old false competitive 
system and what it means under the new and true competi- 
tive system, both to the winner and to the others. The win- 
ners then were those who had been most successful in get- 
ting away the wealtli of others. They had not even pre- 
tended to seek the good of the community or to advance 
its interest, and. if they had done so, that result had been 
quite incidental. More often than otherwise their wealth 
represented the loss of others. What wonder that their 
riches became a badge of ignominy and their victory their 
shame ? The winners in the competition of to-day are those 
who have done most to increase the general wealth and wel- 
fare. The losers, those who have failed to win the prizes, 
are not the victims of the winners, but those whose interest, 
together with the general interest, has been served by 
them better than they themselves could have served it. 
They are actually better oflP because a higher ability than 
theirs was developed in the race, seeing that this ability re- 
dounded wholly to the common interest. The badges of 
honor and rewards of rank and office which are the tangible 
evidence of success won in the modern competitive struggle 
are but expressions of the love and gratitude of the people 
to those who have proved themselves their most devoted 
and efficient servants and benefactors." 

" It strikes me," I said, " so far as you have gone, that if 


some one had been employed to draw up a list of the worst 
and weakest aspects of private capitalism, he could not have 
done better than to select the features of the system on 
which its champions seem to have based their objections to 
a change." 


" That is an impression," said the doctor, " which you 
will find confirmed as we take up the next of the arguments 
on our list against economic equality. It was asserted that 
to have an economic maintenance on simple and easy terms 
guaranteed to all by the nation would tend to discourage 
originality and independence of thought and conduct on 
the part of the people, and hinder the develojiment of char- 
acter and individuality. This objection might be regarded 
as a branch of the former one that economic equality would 
make everybody just alike, or it might be considered a corol- 
lary of the argument we have just disposed of about the 
value of competition as a school of character. But so much 
seems to have been made of it by the opponents of the 
Revolution that I have set it down separately. 

" The objection is one which, by the very terms neces- 
sary to state it, seems to answer itself, for it amounts to say- 
ing that a person will be in danger of losing independence 
of feeling by gaining independence of position. If I were 
to ask you what economic condition was regarded as most 
favorable to moral and intellectual independence in your 
day, and most likely to encourage a man to act out himself 
without fear or favor, what would you say ? " 

" I should say, of course, that a secure and independent 
basis of livelihood was that condition." 

" Of course. Now, what the new order promised to give 
and guarantee everybody was precisely this absolute inde- 
pendence and security of livelihood. And yet it was argued 
that the arrangement would be objectionable, as tending to 
discourage independence of character. It seems to us that 
if there is any one particular in which the influence upon 
humanity of economic equality has been more beneficent 
than any other, it has been the effect which secm'ity of 


economic position has had to make every one absolute lord 
of himself and answerable for his opinions, speech, and con- 
duct to his own conscience only. 

" That is perhaps enough to say in answer to an objec- 
tion which, as I remarked, rieally confutes itself, but the 
monumental audacity of the defenders of private capitalism 
in arguing that any other possible system could be more 
unfavorable than itself to human dignity and independence 
tempts a little comment, especially as this is an aspect of the 
old order on which I do not remember that we have had 
much talk. As it seems to us, perhaps the most offensive 
feature of private capitalism, if one may select among so 
many offensive features, was its effect to make cowardly, 
time-serving, abject creatures of human beings, as a con- 
sequence of the dependence for a living, of pretty nearly 
everybody upon some individual or group. 

" Let us just glance at the spectacle which the old order 
presented in this respect. Take the women in the first place, 
half the human race. Because they stood almost univer- 
sally in a relation of economic dependence, first upon men 
in general and next upon some man in particular, they 
were all their lives in a state of subjection both to the per- 
sonal dictation of some individual man, and to a set of irk- 
some and mind -benumbing conventions representing tradi- 
tional standards of opinion as to their proper conduct fixed 
in accordance with the masculine sentiment. But if the 
women had no independence at all, the men were not so 
very much better off. Of the masculine half of the world, 
the greater part were hirelings dependent for their living 
upon the favor of employers and having the most direct in- 
terest to conform so far as possible in opinions and conduct 
to the prejudices of their masters, and, when they could not 
conform, to be silent. Look at your secret ballot laws. You 
thought them absolutely necessary in order to enable work- 
ingmen to vote freely. What a confession is that fact of 
the universal intimidation of the employed by the employer ! 
Next there were the business men, who held themselves above 
the workingmen. I mean the tradesmen, who sought a liv- 
ing by persuading the people to buy of them. But here our 
quest of independence is even more hopeless than among 


the workingmen, for, in order to be successful in attracting 
the custom of those whom they cringingly styled their 
patrons, it was necessary for the merchant to be all things 
to all men, and to make an art of obsequiousness. 

"Let us look yet higher. We may surely expect to find 
independence of thought and speech among the learned 
classes in the so-called liberal professions if nowhere else. 
Let us see how our inquiry fares there. Take the clerical 
profession first — that of the religious ministers and teachers. 
We find that they were economic servants and hirelings 
either of hierarchies or congregations, and paid to voice the 
opinions of their employers and no others. Every word 
that dropped from their lips was carefully weighed lest it 
should indicate a trace of independent thinking, and if 
it were found, the clergyman risked his living. Take the 
higher branches of secular teaching in the colleges and pro- 
fessions. There seems to have been some freedom allowed 
in teaching the dead languages ; but let the instructor take 
up some living issue and handle it in a manner inconsistent 
with the capitalist interest, and you know well enough what 
became of him. Finally, take the editorial profession, the 
writers for the press, who on the whole represented the 
most influential branch of the learned class. The great 
nineteenth-century newspaper was a capitalistic enterprise 
as purely commercial in its principle as a woolen factory, 
and the editors were no more allowed to write their own 
opinions than the weavers to choose the patterns they wove. 
They were employed to advocate the opinions and interests 
of the capitalists owning the paper and no others. The only 
respect in which the journalists seem to have differed from 
the clergy was in the fact that the creeds which the latter 
were employed to preach were more or less fixed traditions, 
while those which the editors must preach changed with the 
ownership of the paper. This, Julian, is the truly exhilarat- 
ing spectacle of abounding and unfettered originality, of 
sturdy moral and intellectual independence and rugged in- 
dividuality, which it was feared by your contemporaries 
might be endangered by any change in the economic sys- 
tem. We may agree with them that it would have been in- 
deed a pity if any influence should operate to make inde- 


pendence any rarer than it was, but they need not have 
been apprehensive ; it could not be." 

" Judging from these examples of the sort of argumenta- 
tive opposition which the revolutionists had to meet," I 
observed, " it strikes me that they must have had a mighty 
easy time of it." 

"So far as rational argument was concerned," replied 
the doctor, " no great revolutionary movement ever had to 
contend with so little opposition. The cause of the capital- 
ists was so utterly bad, either from the point of view of 
ethics, politics, or economic science, that there was literally 
nothing that could be said for it that could not be turned 
against it with greater effect. Silence was the only safe 
policy for the capitalists, and they would have been glad 
enough to follow it if the people had not insisted that they 
should make some sort of a plea to the indictment against 
them. But because the argumentative opposition which the 
revolutionists had to meet was contemptible in quality, it 
did not follow that their work was an easy one. Their real 
task — and it was one for giants — was not to dispose of the 
arguments against their cause, but to overcome the moral 
and intellectual inertia of the masses and rouse them to do 
just a little clear thinking for themselves. 


" The next objection — there are only two or three more 
worth mentioning — is directed not so much against eco- 
nomic equality in itself as against the fitness of the ma- 
chinery by which the new industrial system was to be 
carried on. The extension of popular government over 
industry and commerce involved of course the substitution 
of public and political administration on a large scale for 
the previous irresponsible control of private capitalists. 
Now, as I need not tell you, the Government of the United 
States — municipal, State, and national — in the last third of 
the nineteenth century had become very corrupt. It was 
argued that to intrust any additional functions to govern- 
ments so corrupt would be nothing short of madness." 

" Ah ! " I exclaimed, " that is perhaps the rational objec- 


tion we have been waiting for. I am sure it is one that 
would have weighed heavily with me, for the corruption of 
our governmental system smelled to heaven." 

"There is no doubt," said the doctor, "that there was a 
great deal of political corruption and that it was a very bad 
thing, but we must look a little deeper than these objectors 
did to see the true bearing of this fact on the propriety of 
nationalizing industry. 

" An instance of political corruption was one where the 
public servant abused his trust by using the administration 
under his control for purposes of private gain instead of 
solely for the public interest — that is to say, he managed his 
public trust just as if it were his private business and tried 
to make a profit out of it. A great outcry was made, and 
very properly, when any such conduct was suspected ; and 
therefore the corrupt ofiBcers operated under great difficul- 
ties, and were in constant danger of detection and punish- 
ment. Consequently, even in the worst governments pf 
your period the mass of business was honestly conducted, as 
it professed to be, in the public interest, comparatively few 
and occasional transactions being affected by corrupt in- 

" On the other hand, what were the theory and practice 
pursued by the capitalists in carrying on the economic 
machinery which were under their control ? They did not 
profess to act in the public interest or to have any regard 
for it. The avowed object of their whole policy was so to 
use the machinery of their position as to make the greatest 
personal gains possible for themselves out of the community. 
That is to say, the use of his control of the public ma- 
chinery for his personal gain— which on the part of the 
public official was denounced and punished as a crime, and 
for the greater part prevented by public vigilance — was the 
avowed policy of the capitalist. It was the pride of the 
public official that he left office as poor as when he entered 
it, but it was the boast of the capitalist that he made a for- 
tune out of the opportunities of his position. In the case of 
the capitalist these gains were not called corrupt, as they 
were when made by public officials in the discharge of pub- 
lic business. They were called profits, and regarded as 


legitimate; but the practical point to consider as to the 
results of the two systems was that these profits cost the 
people they came out of just as much as if they had been 
called political plunder. 

'' And yet these wise mien in Kenloe's collection taught 
the people, and somebody must have listened to them, that 
because in some instances public officials succeeded in spite 
of all precautions in using the public administration for 
their own gain, it would not be safe to put any more public 
interests under public administration, but would be safer 
to leave them to private capitalists, who frankly proposed 
as their regular policy just what the public officials were 
punished whenever caught doing — namely, taking advan- 
tage of the opportunities of their position to enrich them- 
selves at public expense. It was precisely as if the owner 
of an estate, finding it difficult to secure stewards who 
were perfectly faithful, should be counseled to protect 
himself by putting his affairs in the hands of professional 

"You mean," I said, "that political corruption merely 
meant the occasional application to the public administra- 
tion of the profit-seeking principle on which all private busi- 
ness was conducted." 

" Certainly. A case of corruption in office was simply a 
case where the public official forgot his oath and for the oc- 
casion took a businesslike view of the opportunities of his 
position — that is to say, when the public official fell from 
grace he only fell to the normal level on which all private 
business was admittedly conducted. It is simply astonish- 
ing, Julian, how completely your contemporaries overlooked 
this obvious fact. Of course, it w^as highly proper that they 
should be extremely critical of the conduct of their public 
officials ; but it is unaccountable that they should fail to see 
that the profits of private capitalists came out of the com- 
munity's pockets just as certainly as did the stealings of dis- 
honest officials, and that even in the most corrupt public 
departments the stealings represented a far less percentage 
than would have been taken as profits if the same business 
were done for the public by capitalists. 

" So much for the precious argument that, because some 


officials sometimes took profits of the people, it would be 
more economical to leave their business in the hands of 
those who would systematically do so ! But, of course, al- 
though the public conduct of business, even if it were 
marked with a certain amount of corruption, would still be 
more economical for the community than leaving it under 
the profit system, yet no self-respecting community would 
wish to tolerate any public corruption at all, and need not, 
if only the people would exercise vigilance. Now, what 
will compel the people to exercise vigilance as to the public 
administration ? The closeness with which we follow the 
course of an agent depends on the importance of the inter- 
ests put in his hands. Corruption has always thrived in 
political departments in which the mass of the people have 
felt little direct concern. Place under public administra- 
tion vital concerns of the community touching their wel- 
fare daily at many points, and there will be no further 
lack of vigilance. Had they been wiser, the people who 
objected to the governmental assumption of new economic 
functions on account of existing political corruption would 
have advocated precisely that policy as the specific cure for 
the evil. 

" A reason why these objectors seem to have been espe- 
cially short-sighted is the fact that by all odds the most 
serious form which political corruption took in America at 
that day was the bribery of legislators by private capital- 
ists and corporations in order to obtain franchises and 
privileges. In comparison with this abuse, peculation or 
bribery of crude direct sorts were of little extent or im- 
portance. Now, the immediate and express effect of the 
governmental assumption of economic businesses would 
be, so far as it went, to dry up this source of corruption, 
for it was precisely this class of capitalist undertakings 
which the revolutionists proposed first to bring under pub- 
lic control. 

" Of course, this objection was directed only against the 
new order while in process of introduction. With its com- 
plete establishment the very possibility of corruption would 
disappear with the law of absolute uniformity governing all 


" Worse and worse," I exclaimed. " What is the use of 
going further ? " 

" Patience," said the doctor. '* Let us complete the sub- 
ject while we are on it. There are only a couple more of 
the objections that have shape enough to admit of being 


" The first of them," pursued the doctor, " was the argu- 
ment that such an extension of the functions of public ad- 
ministration as nationalized industries involved would lodge 
a power in the hands of the Grovernment, even though it 
were the people's own government, that would be dangerous 
to their liberties. 

" All the plausibility there was to this objection rested 
on the tacit assumption that the people in their industrial 
relations had under private capitalism been free and un- 
constrained and subject to no form of authority. But 
what assumption could have been more regardless of facts 
than this ? Under private capitalism the entire scheme of 
industry and commerce, involving the employment and 
livelihood of everybody, was subject to the despotic and 
irresponsible government of private masters. The very de- 
mand for nationalizing industry has resulted wholly from 
the sufferings of the people under the yoke of the capi- 

" In 1776 the Americans overthrew the British royal gov- 
ernment in the colonies and established their own in its place. 
Suppose at that time the king had sent an embassy to warn 
the American people that by assuming these new functions 
of government which formerly had been performed for 
them by him they were endangering their liberty. Such 
an embassy would, of course, have been laughed at. If any 
reply had been thought needful, it would have been pointed 
out that the Americans were not establishing over them- 
selves any new government, but were substituting a gov- 
ernment of their own, acting in their own interests, for the 
government of others conducted in an indifferent or hostile 
interest. Now, that was precisely what nationalizing indus- 


try meant. The question was, Given the necessity of some 
sort of regulation and direction of the industrial system, 
whether it would tend more to liberty for the people to 
leave that power to irresponsible persons with hostile inter- 
ests, or to exercise it themselves through responsible agents ? 
Could there conceivably be but one answer to that question ? 

"And yet it seems that a noted philosopher of the pe- 
riod, in a tract which has come down to us, undertook 
to demonstrate that if the people perfected the demo- 
cratic system by assuming control of industry in the public 
interest, they would presently fall into a state of slavery 
which would cause them to sigh for the days of Nero and 
Caligula. I wish we had that philosopher here, that we 
might ask him how, in accordance with any observed laws 
of human nature, slavery was going to come about as 
the result of a system aiming to establish and perpetuate a 
more perfect degree of equality, intellectual as well as ma- 
terial, than had ever been known. Did he fancy that the 
people would deliberately and maliciously impose a yoke 
upon themselves, or did he apprehend that some usurper 
would get hold of the social machinery and use it to reduce 
the people to servitude ? But what usurper from the begin- 
ning ever essayed a task so hopeless as the subversion of 
a state in which there were no classes or interests to set 
against one another, a state in which there was no aristocracy 
and no populace, a state the stability of which represented 
the equal and entire stake in life of every human being in 
it ? Truly it would seem that people who conceived the sub- 
version of such a republic possible ought to have lost no 
time in chaining down the Pyramids, lest they, too, defying 
ordinary laws of Nature, should incontinently turn upon 
their tops. 

" But let us leave the dead to bury their dead, and consider 
how the nationalization of industry actually did affect the 
bearing of government upon the people. If the amount 
of governmental machinery — that is, the amount of regu- 
lating, controlling, assigning, and directing under the pub- 
lic management of industry — had continued to be just 
the same it was under the private administration of the 
capitalists, the fact that it was now the people's government, 


managing everything in the people's interest under responsi- 
bility to the people, instead of an irresponsible tyranny seek- 
ing its own interest, would of course make an absolute differ- 
ence in the whole character and effect of the system and 
make it vastly more tolerable. But not merely did the 
nationalization of industry give a wholly new character and 
purpose to the economic administration, but it also greatly 
diminished the net amount of governing necessary to carry 
it on. This resulted naturally from the unity of system with 
the consequent co-ordination and interworking of all the 
parts which took the place of the former thousand-headed 
management following as many different and conflicting 
lines of interest, each a law to itself. To the workers the dif- 
ference was as if they had passed out from under the capri- 
cious personal domination of innumerable petty despots to a 
government of laws and principles so simple and systematic 
that the sense of being subject to personal authority was 

But to fully realize how strongly this argument of too 
much government directed against the system of national- 
ized industry partook of the boomerang quality of the pre- 
vious objections, we must look on to the later effects which 
the social justice of the new order would naturally have to 
render superfluous well-nigh the whole machinery of gov- 
ernment as previously conducted. The main, often almost 
sole, business of governments in your day was the protection 
of property and person against criminals, a system involving 
a vast amount of interference with the innocent. This func- 
tion of the state has now become almost obsolete. There are 
no more any disputes about property, any thefts of property, 
or any need of protecting property. Everybody has all he 
needs and as much as anybody else. In former ages a great 
number of crimes have resulted from the passions of love 
and jealousy. They were consequences of the idea derived 
from immemorial barbarism that men and women might 
acquire sexual proprietorship in one another, to be main- 
tained and asserted against the will of the person. Such 
crimes ceased to be known after the first generation had 
grown up under the absolute sexual autonomy and inde- 
pendence which followed from economic equality. There 


being no lower classes now which upper classes feel it their 
duty to bring up in the way they should go, in spite of 
themselves, all sorts of attempts to regulate personal be- 
havior in self-regarding matters by sumptuary legislation 
have long ago ceased. A government in the sense of a co- 
ordinating directory of our associated industries we shall 
always need, but that is practically all the government we 
have now. It used to be a dream of philosophers that the 
world would some time enjoy such a reign of reason and jus- 
tice that men would be able to live together without laws. 
That condition, so far as concerns punitive and coercive 
regulations, we have practically attained. As to compulsory 
laws, we might be said to live almost in a state of anarchy. 

" There is, as I explained to you in the Labor Exchange 
the other morning, no compulsion, in the end, even as to the 
performance of the universal duty of public service. We 
only insist that those who finally refuse to do their part 
toward maintaining the social welfare shall not be partakers 
of it, but shall resort by themselves and provide for them- 


" And now we come to the last objection on my list. It is 
entirely different in character from any of the others. It 
does not deny that economic equality would be practicable 
or desirable, or assert that the machinery would work badly. 
It admits that the system would prove a triumphant success 
in raising human welfare to an unprecedented point and 
making the world an incomparably more agreeable place 
to live in. It was indeed the conceded success of the plan 
which was made the basis of this objection to it." 

" That must be a curious sort of objection," I said. " Let 
us hear about it." 

" The objectors put it in this way : ' Let us suppose,' they 
said, ' that poverty and all the baneful influences upon life 
and health that follow in its train are abolished and all live 
out their natural span of life. Everybody being assured of 
maintenance for self and children, no motive of prudence 
would be operative to restrict the number of offspring. 
Other things being equal, these conditions would mean a 


much faster increase of population than ever before known, 
and ultimately an overcrowding of the earth and a pressure 
on the food supply, unless indeed we suppose new and in- 
definite food sources to be found ? ' " 

" I do not see why it might not be reasonable to antici- 
pate such a result," I observed, "other things being equal." 

" Other things being equal," replied the doctor, " such a 
result might be anticipated. But other things would not be 
equal, but so different that their influence could be depended 
on to prevent any such result." 

" What are the other things that would not be equal ? " 

" Well, the first would be the diffusion of education, cul- 
ture, and general refinement. Tell me, were the families of 
the well-to-do and cultured class in the America of your 
day, as a whole, large ? " 

" Quite the contrary. They did not, as a rule, more than 
replace themselves." 

" Still, they were not prevented by any motive of pru- 
dence from increasing their numbers. They occupied in this 
respect as independent a position as families do under the 
present order of economic equality and guaranteed main- 
tenance. Did it never occur to you why the families of the 
well-to-do and cultured in your day were not larger ? " 

" Doubtless," I said, " it was on account of the fact that 
in proportion as culture and refinement opened intellectual 
and aesthetic fields of interest, the impulses of crude animal- 
ism played less important parts in life. Then, too, in pro- 
portion as families were refined the woman ceased to be the 
mere sexual slave of the husband, and her wishes as to such 
matters were considered." 

" Quite so. The reflection you have suggested is enough 
to indicate the fallacy of the whole Malthusian theory of 
the increase of population on which this objection to better 
social conditions was founded. Malthus, as you know, held 
that population tended to increase faster than means of sub- 
sistence, and therefore that poverty and the tremendous 
wastes of life it stood for were absolutely necessary in 
order to prevent the world from starving to death by over- 
crowding. Of course, this doctrine was enormously popu- 
lar with the rich and learned class, who were responsible 


for the world's misery. They naturally were delighted 
to be assured that their indifference to the woes of the 
poor, and even their positive agency in multiplying those 
woes, were providentially overruled for good, so as to be 
really rather praiseworthy than otherwise. The Malthus 
doctrine also was very convenient as a means of turning the 
tables on reformers who proposed to abolish poverty by 
proving that, instead of benefiting mankind, their reforms 
would only make matters worse in the end by overcrowd- 
ing the earth and starving everybody. By means of the 
Malthus doctrine, the meanest man who ever ground the 
face of the poor had no difficulty in showing that he was 
really a slightly disguised benefactor of the race, while the 
philanthropist was an injurious fellow. 

" This prodigious convenience of Malthusianism has an 
excuse for things as they were, furnishes the explanation 
for the otherwise incomprehensible vogue of so absurd a 
theory. That absurdity consists in the fact that, while lay- 
ing such stress on the direct effects of poverty and all the 
ills it stands for to destroy life, it utterly failed to allow for 
the far greater influence which the brutalizing circum- 
stances of poverty exerted to promote the reckless multipli- 
cation of the species. Poverty, with all its deadly conse- 
quences, slew its millions, but only after having, by means 
of its brutalizing conditions, promoted the reckless repro- 
duction of tens of millions — that is to say, the Malthus 
doctrine recognized only the secondary effects of misery 
and degradation in reducing population, and wholly over- 
looked their far more important primary effect in multiply- 
ing it. That was its fatal fallacy. 

" It was a fallacy the more inexcusable because Malthus 
and all his followers were surrounded by a society the con- 
ditions of which absolutely refuted their theory. They 
had only to open their eyes to see that wherever the poverty 
and squalor chiefly abounded, which they vaunted as such 
valuable checks to population, humankind multiplied like 
rabbits, while in proportion as the economic level of a class 
was raised its proliferousness declined. What corollary 
from this fact of universal observation could be more ob- 
vious than that the way to prevent reckless overpopula- 


tion was to raise, not to depress, the economic status of 
the mass, with all the general improvement in well-being 
which that implied ? How long do you suppose such an 
absurdly fundamental fallacy as underlay the Malthus the- 
ory would have remained unexposed if Malthus had been a 
revolutionist instead of a champion and defender of capital- 
ism ? 

" But let Malthus go. While the low birth-rate among 
the cultured classes — whose condition was the prototype of 
the general condition under economic equality — was refu- 
tation enough of the overpopulation objection, yet there is 
another and far more conclusive answer, the full force of 
which remains to be brought out. You said a few moments 
ago that one reason why the birth-rate was so moderate among 
the cultured classes was the fact that in that class the wishes 
of women were more considered than in the lower classes. 
The necessary effect of economic equality between the sexes 
would mean, however, that, instead of being more or*" less 
considered, the wishes of women in all matters touching the 
subject we are discussing would be final and absolute. Pre- 
vious to the establishment of economic equality by the 
great Revolution the non-child-bearing sex was the sex 
which determined the question of child-bearing, and the 
natural consequence was the possibility of a Malthus and 
his doctrine. Nature has provided in the distress and in- 
convenience of the maternal function a sufficient check 
upon its abuse, just as she has in regard to all the other natu- 
ral functions. But, in order that Nature's check should be 
properly operative, it is necessary that the women through 
whose wills it must operate, if at all, should be absolutely 
free agents in the disposition of themselves, and the neces- 
sary condition of that free agency is economic independ- 
ence. That secured, while we may be sure that the mater- 
nal instinct will forever prevent the race from dying out, the 
world will be equally little in danger of being recklessly 


Bellamy HX» 

Equality. 1887