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ECONOMICS, TRADE, AND FINANCE
THE ETHICAL ASPECT OF
BY F. J. C. HEARNSHAW
SIMULTANEOUSLY with the conclusion of international peace there appear all over the world ominous symptoms of the outbreak of industrial war. Never before within the era of recorded history have strikes been so numerous; never have they arisen on pretexts so manifestly trivial; never have they been conducted in so malignant a spirit; never have they shown themselves so hardly amenable to reasonable settlement; never have settlements when achieved given so little promise of permanent tranquillity.
One curious phenomenon which these lamentable social and economic conflicts present is that they are generally organized and led by men who made themselves prominent during the recent world-war as pacifists, who refused to render military service, who defended the extreme individualism of the conscientious objector, and denied the authority of the state to exercise the coercion of conscription. I call it a curious phenomenon, because the industrial strike is essentially an act of war. It is a belligerent attack upon the employers; it embodies a resort to force, as opposed to reason, for the determination of the points at issue; it involves the employment of militant methods the elimination of non-unionists, the terrorization of blacklegs, and the picketing of dissentient workerswhich are indistinguishable from conscription or martial law, and that without any concession to conscien
tious objection. To say this is not necessarily to condemn strikes, any more than it is necessarily to justify war. The conscience of the community held that both the deeds and the designs of the Germans in 1914 made it a matter of duty to resist them even to the death. It may well be that the same communal conscience may find in the deeds and designs of capitalists and profiteers a similar justification for an industrial war.
All that I urge is that there should be a clear recognition of the fact that the problem of war and peace is the same in the two cases. All the arguments for international pacification apply with full validity to the prevention of the class war. It suggests a strange incapacity for coherent thinking to find the same persons advocating the formation of a League of Nations and the compulsory settlement of all disputes between states by means of arbitration, and simultaneously repudiating the authority of the government in economic affairs, and insisting on the retention by each individual trade union (even in nationalized industries) of the 'right to strike' in order to maintain its own interests, against the employers, against other groups of workers, against even the community at large.
The explanation of this anomaly is, I take it, that the pacifism of the labor extremist is not the pacifism of Christ, but of Karl Marx. The devotee of Marx objects, not to war as such, but merely to war waged for national purposes. He advocates arbitration, not as a universal substitute for violence, but only as a device applicable to disputes which he regards as of
little importance. He opposes conscription, not from any abhorrence of the principle of compulsion, but solely because he wishes to coerce the conscripts himself into a different kind of army. He denounces war between states because it interferes with that war between classes on which his heart is set.
The deadly Marxian dogma of the 'class-war' is the root from which has sprung, and is springing, that fatal crop of industrial disputes that threaten schism to the nation and rain to its prosperity. It is a dogma essentially anti-Christian, instinct with ethical error and economic fallacy. It proclaims the necessary antagonism of employees to employers; it asserts the uselessness and corruption of the capitalist order as a whole; it declines to recognize the importance of the parts played in production by captains of industry, inventors, organizers of markets, and the thrifty multitudes from whose careful savings the material for future enterprises is provided; it demands for the proletariat the whole of the wealth in the creation of which it performs but a subordinate function. Those who have been infected with the poison of the Marxian creed — atheistic, materialistic, irrational, inhuman-are necessarily revolutionists. Whether they call themselves advanced Socialists who wish to capture the government, or whether they call themselves Syndicalists who aim at the total destruction of government, they logically and avowedly aim at the subversion of existing society and the appropriation of the wealth of the world. The chosen weapon of their warfare is the strike. By means of it they hope to make the present organization of industry impossible. They foster it and employ it on every available occasion. They make it as destructive and widespread as they can.
They intend to develop it ultimately into the grand 'general strike' which in one vast catastrophe shall bring all established institutions to the ground. To Syndicalists like M. Georges Sorel in France, Signor Labriola in Italy, and Mr. Tom Mann in England, the 'general strike' has become a mythological obsession, a sort of Armageddon, which is to inaugurate in a field of blood the proletarian Paradise. It is dangerous dreamers of this type, full of misguided enthusiasms and perverted zeal, who have captured the machinery of the great trade unions, and have employed it as the engine of their anti-political purposes. They have succeeded in transmuting the trade unions from peaceful benefit societies into industrial armies permanently mobilized for war. Their purpose is not the securing of conditions of labor which shall make for a stable tranquillity, but the fomenting of a chronic unrest which shall culminate in a revolutionary upheaval. The original object of trade unions was collective bargaining; under the deplorable influence of the new leaders this has been abandoned in favor of the organization of strikes.
In the early days of trade unionism, strikes, of course, were not unknown. The ultima ratio of regimented labor was from the first its power of withholding its services, and thereby of stopping the processes of industry. It was a power which it was necessary for the manual workers in corporate groups to possess; for experience had shown, particularly during the transitional period of the industrial revolution (1750-1850), that the isolated workman was economically weak, and was not in a position to hold his own in conflict with an unscrupulous employer. But the fact that this reserve of power was in existence was usually sufficient to adjust the economic bal
ance, and to secure an equality in bargaining between employer and employed which facilitated settlements and insured their observance.
Both the trade union leaders and the representative masters were agreed in the acceptance of the general organization of industry. None of them had any quarrel with the so-called 'capitalist system,' which is, indeed, the natural and proper method whereby the vast and generally beneficent worldeconomy of modern times has developed. It was a comparatively rare thing for collective bargaining to break down and for a trial of brute force to be instituted by means of the strike of the workmen or the lockout on the part of the masters. These industrial wars were recognized as mortally injurious to both the sides that were involved in them, and the sober leaders of the great societies had recourse to them only in the last resort. Their habitual reluctance to appeal to the arbitrament of the strike was increased by the disastrous failure of several of the great industrial struggles into which, against their better judgment, they were from time to time dragged. All this, however, was changed when, in the last decade of the nineteenth century, the 'new unionism'at first ultra-Socialist, then Syndicalist -began to supplant the old. The trade unions came to be regarded as convenient engines ready to hand for the enforcement of political programmes and the realization of social utopias. The strike, from being the weapon of last resort, was advanced to the forefront as the instrument of universal and instantaneous application. Hence the epidemic of 'lightning strikes' with which the world is at present afflicted.
That workingmen still have their disabilities and their grievances no one will deny. In spite of the unparalleled
progress of the past century the conditions of labor, especially in our great industrial centres, are but too often intolerable to enlightened intelligence. I have no room here to discuss causes or apportion blame; suffice it to say that the causes are not simple, and that the blame is by no means to be laid all on one side. Even conditions which seemed satisfactory a generation ago are quite properly regarded as unsatisfactory now, owing to advance of knowledge and to a rise in the standard of living. The question then is: 'How can conditions be improved, and improved most rapidly and most generally?' There is an immense temptation to answer this question by saying: 'through the agency of the strike.' The temptation is strong, because many great strikes in recent years have appeared to achieve notable success. Again and again, miners, railwaymen, transport workers, engineers, and finally (in August, 1918), even the police, have gained by means of strikes large increases of wages, reductions of hours, privileges and prerogatives, concerning which they had long and vainly negotiated with employers and petitioned Parliament.
It is a matter of deep regret that, if the demands of these groups of industrial workers or public servants were just, they were not granted more speedily and in the course of constitutional procedure. It is a matter of still deeper regret that, if they were unjust and excessive, they were secured at all, at the expense of other sections of the community, by means of violence and terror. For it is the fatal defect of the method of progress by means of the strike- as it was of the old method of deciding judicial issues by means of single combat or trial by battle- that it is indiscriminate in its operation. Might takes the place of right, and the most flagrant iniquity can be enforced
by the same means as the most reasonable equity. Moreover, it is a method open only to the comparatively small sections of the community that are capable, in virtue of their occupation, of high organization. It thus tends to benefit the few at the cost of the many, and to impose the will of the minority upon the majority. This is bad enough when it is limited to the sphere of economics; for it means that the community as a whole tends to be taxed to pay an unearned increment to favored monopolists.
When, however, the strike method is extended from the economic to the political sphere, and when a general stoppage of essential industries is threatened in order to compel the country to accept the programme of a particular party (heavily defeated at the polls), the position becomes impossible: the very existence of national existence of national democracy is at stake.
The successes of the strike method, however, though spectacular, are illusory. They resemble the successes which the Germans obtained in the early months of the war. They are due to superior preparation and to surprise. Just as the overwhelming onslaught of the drilled and well-equipped Teutonic hosts called forth from the victims an answering and in the end victorious counter-organization, so in the case of strikes the suffering community, working and middle class alike, will be driven to regiment and arm itself in order to save itself from exploitation and destruction, unless the government, that is, the League of Classes, is strong enough to curb the aggressors and to enforce social and industrial peace. If government is weak and allows its functions to be usurped by Triple Alliances and Soviets, then the circumstances of conflict and anarchy in which mediæval
feudalism arose will be repeated, and modern civilization will go down in a ruin of misery and social war similar to that which overwhelmed the ancient world.
This brings us to the crux of the situation. Is modern civilization so hopelessly rotten and corrupt that it is beyond redemption? Is it necessary to sweep it all away and replace it by some such new ideal as Lenine and Trotzky are trying to realize amid the ruins of Russia? Yes, says the Marxian revolutionary, and he seeks to destroy what he calls 'capitalist society,' with all its churches and its states, by means of a shattering series of strikes. No, says the Christian democrat, who sees in the social and political evolution of the last 2,000 years a steady movement toward the good. He refuses to believe that all this time the world has been wandering unguided on wholly wrong lines. He holds that the same Christly principle of brotherly love which has transformed so many lives and purified so many institutions during the era of salvation is sufficient for the continued redemption and reform of modern society. He maintains that the modes. of self-government provided by the modern democratic state are the proper and adequate means by which wrongs may be redressed and rights secured. Just as he looks to the superstate authority, or the League of Nations, to prevent future conflicts of peoples, so does he look to the authority of the national state, or the League of Classes, to obviate industrial war. He condemns the strike method as barbaric, and declares it to be as little justified in a duly constituted democratic state as would be an armed conflict between states in a properly ordered and federated world.
The London Quarterly Review
TALK OF EUROPE
A RECENT Handelsblad prints the following article regarding the ex-Kaiser:
'What a totally different light the question of the trial and extradition of the German Emperor has gradually come to be regarded in since it first captured public interest here and elsewhere, after the Kaiser's astonishing flight to Holland. It seemed then as if the whole world desired his trial and would demand that we should hand him over to the international tribunal which was to be instituted by his enemies, in spite of the unwritten right of asylum, our pride in the past, and in spite of the constitution, law, and treaties which oppose his extradition. The whole world against us thus the situation appeared to be when the Allied and Associated Powers in Articles 227 of the Peace Treaty openly arraigned Wilhelm II of Hohenzollern, formerly German Emperor, for the gravest violation of international morality and the sanctity of treaties, and Germany, compelled by circumstances, put her signature to this act of arraignment.
'And now? One by one the accusers are falling off. America long since stated openly that she wished to have no part in the trial. The same was known of Japan. Belgium, the country that had the first right to raise an avenging hand, adopted the same standpoint. And now it appears, from the report of Signor Luzzatti to the Italian Parliament, that Italy regards the trial and extradition of the ex-Kaiser as in conflict with the law. France and England remain over. France is practically indifferent, while there are many people of authority in England who are firmly opposed to the trial. But Lloyd George has promised the trial to his constituents. Can we believe that he will be able to take the first step toward the fulfillment of this promise? The tribunal must be composed, not of Great Britain alone, but of the five Great Powers, of whom three are opponents of the trial. Not England alone, but the Allied and Associated Powers, the most impor
tant of whom acknowledge that they have no right to do so, must ask Holland to extradite the ex-Kaiser. It is inconceivable that they will now decide to do so. And should they so decide, because they have all put their signatures to the Peace Treaty, Holland, relying on law and treaty, will then refuse the extradition. And she will know that she has the whole world, not against her, but on her side.
'What a striking example of the force of moral principles, what a pleasing phenomenon in these sad times! In Article 227 of the Peace Treaty the moral basis was lacking, and for that reason it also lacks the moral authority which is necessary for its application. One cannot with impunity tread underfoot the two chief principles of modern criminal law. There must be no punishment without a fixed form of punishment beforehand that is, before the crime has been committed. There must be no judge other than an impartial one, appointed independently of accusers or accused. Article 227 of the Peace Treaty was in direct opposition to these two principles, and for that reason it can never be applied.'
THE church of the Sacré Coeur, the great Byzantine basilica which dominates Paris from the height of Montmartre, has at last been consecrated. To the actual ceremony of the consecration, the public, according to the rules of the Church, were not admitted. The long and complicated ceremony, consisting of a whole series of mystic rites, was performed by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris. These included a number of symbolic acts, such as the blessing of the water and salt, the sprinkling of the walls with holy water, and the threefold knocking at the door before admission is granted again, the spreading of a cross in cinders on the floor of the nave, on which the Archbishop traced the Greek alphabet in one direction, and in the other the Latin alphabet to serve as the symbol of Christ, the beginning and