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awaken in Paul Zonbor and the like of him? Keep sight of the fact that Paul Zonbor, — now confessedly a Bolshevik, — like nearly all Bolsheviki and I.W.W.'s, waS born in an environment of hate. In his earliest childhood he saw his parents and all their world hating, bitterly hating, the rulers, the rich men, the officials of his native land. And he, in his turn and on his own account, grew up to hate them as bitterly.
Then, being perhaps something more virile than the rest, he left his native land to escape the exploiter of 'cannonfodder,' taking refuge in the Land of the Free. He had expected much of this Promised Land. He had been taught, and had taught himself, to regard it most truly as heaven on a new earth, where men were paid fabulous sums for half the work that on the Temes barely bought food enough to maintain life. Were not the dollars huge weekly, nay, daily, fortunes when translated into his native currency?
Yet once in the Promised Land, what had he found? Was it not the term 'cannon-fodder' giving pUtee, when the crane drops its load, to 'only a Hunkie,' while the mill grinds on over the dead?
Then other things happened — things that, in the dim light of the world in which he groped, nobody interpreted to him—nobody, until' they' hunted him out with the doctrine that gives fresh direction to the old, fierce faculty of hate. So that, as the New World increasingly disappointed him, as the beauties of the Old World gradually blotted out, in his memory, the grievances that drove him across the sea, he transferred his hatred, strengthened with the strength of his full maturity, to objects chosen by the only teachers that came his way.
'Who are the High Capitalists?' you ask him now. 'Is the head of this plant one?'
'He? No. He works himself. You can see that. He is only a slave, driven like the rest of us.'
'Is the president of the corporation one?'
Paul hesitates. 'I don't know. I should have to see how much stock he owns. But I can find out. In two days' time. Do you want to know?'
And so you find that the 'High Capitalist' actually has no other name, no definite identity in Paul's mind, but is, in fact, merely an imaginary figure conjured behind mists by paid revolutionary agitators.
What is the cure for this prodigious ignorance that is so genuinely misleading a great part of the foreign-born labor in America to-day?
As for those who make their livelihood by preaching a foul and destructive doctrine, — those who defile the world for greed and defilement's sake,— they are best left alone, with rope enough to hang themselves, since hang they will, if given time and space.
But as for those who are honestly deceived and misguided, like Paul Zonbor, they, surely, have a just claim on men of better understanding to be shown the truth, the way to right thinking and right living by the code of the Golden Rule.
If a right-thinking man sees a forest on fire, he will immediately take steps to quench that fire, no matter to whom the forest may belong. Yet many men who do themselves see outbreakings of the flame started in Russia and smouldering the world over, instead of jumping to help smother it, turn their heads away, either because they believe it to be none of their business, or because they are too self-occupied to care for the world at large.
That is to say, they will wait until their neighbors have been destroyed and the flames have reached their own doors, before they will stir in their common duty.
When the Reds of Buffalo were arrested, at the beginning of last year, Paul Zonbor was overlooked. Paul had been pro-German in his sympathies all through the war, although not at that time an actively dangerous man. Since the Armistice, however, the multiplied weight of Bolshevist propaganda directed upon him as a key man, influencing the thought of his fellows, had had its cumulative effect. He was now in the condition where any spark might incite him to translate his theories into bloody facts. Yet Paul was overlooked, in the arrests of the Reds, although many of his friends and followers went to jail; whence, after two weeks in the cells, they were released, to spread with increased vigor their horrible creed, with all the rage of martyrs to a cause.
The authorities of the plant in which Paul had worked for eight years, having got wind of his tendencies, determined, however, to act for themselves. He was an undesirable — a spreader of discontent among his fellow workmen. They would quietly dismiss him without any words as to the cause. They did not want to fan red coals.
Accordingly, one morning, the foreman of the department informed No. 1896, Paul Zonbor, that another man would take over his job.
'Why? Don't I give satisfaction?' asked Paul.
Paul, by the way, was one of the most valuable men in his line. He carried a string of numbers in his mind running into the thousands, was accurate, trustworthy, and in times of special pressure had scarcely an equal, in his own way, among the plant's personnel.
'Satisfaction? Oh, yes,' replied the foreman;'but we have decided that the job is only worth seventy cents an hour,
and you are getting seventy-five. You can go into the cleaning-room. They 're a man short there.'
Now the cleaning-room was the worst place in the whole plant, while the job that Paul held was by no means a bad one. In fact, he ran a sort of small department of his own, with two men under him.
'That's not the real reason you are canning me,' said Paul. 'Tell me the truth straight out. What's the matter with me?'
'I tell you that's all there is to it,' repeated the foreman.
'Then I want to see the manager.'
So Paul saw the manager, only to hear the same statement, unelaborated.
Therefore, hot with rage, believing himself the victim of a great injustice, he went his way, and actually got a better-paying job on the following Monday in a neighboring but different concern.
There, to-day, with an increased following, he carries on his crusade of revolution with increased vigor.
^o-day Paul Zonbor is indeed a dangerous man. He is personally honest. He has no weakening vices. He does not drink to excess. He loves his wife and children and is good to them. Unlike the mass of his fellows, he is not now foul-mouthed, whatever he may once have been. He is thrifty, decent, likeable, square. And he uses his brains to the best of the only light that has ever been given him. It comes from Russia and it is Red. It may one day burst into an awful flame.
This is no attempt to answer great questions with a general panacea. It is just the story — the literally true story — of one man — an obscure but, as it happens, a no longer quite negligible or insignificant man.
Perhaps it would have profited the corporation if, instead of allowing his mind to remain polluted with damnable lies, they had expended time, trouble, and money to show him how, step by step, he has been deceived and then deceived again, until nothing but blackness shows in front of him, and a Red light beyond — a Red light whose gospel he now preaches to his hungrily listening, deeply trusting fellow workers, as the Gospel of Salvation.
Many labor agencies in New York have changed since 1906, although some of them are still of the type that exploited Paul. He could now be shown in that field great and sincere efforts at improvement. He could be shown Ellis Island's schools, concerts, Americanization lectures, and the like. He could be shown the true value of the Workmen's Compensation laws, which he now distrusts. He.could be taught the meaning and sincerity of the many legislative measures passed for the prevention of accidents. If done in the right spirit, a course in economics could be so presented that even the one-time laborer on an Austrian baron's estate,who has since learned to think, could be persuaded that capital is as necessary as labor. Wholesome changes could certainly be wrought in that perverted mind; and because Paul Zonbor is honest at heart, is true, lovable, square, and decent-minded, the truth would strike root in his brain.
But, difficult as it might be to attain, there is one conceivable short cut that would be a thousand times more rapid and effective than all this. If the cor
poration, instead of handling No. 1896, Paul Zonbor, as it did, — kicking him out, furious, ready for any revenge, — had spent $2000 in sending him to Russia, it would have been repaid many times over. There let him see the actual want, misery, slavery, brutality to-day rampant in that unhappy country. There let him realize that in America he has suffered, not from Americanism, but merely from the carrying out, in America, by Europeans, of European abuses, to-day in Russia pushed to their utmost worst. And then bring him straight back to the plant again, where, after such an experience, he would be the greatest curative force, the greatest force of true Americanism that the corporation could possibly secure for a lessened labor turn-over and industrial peace.
Employers complain that the cost of production is greatly increased by the yearly labor turn-over, often 120 per cent. And nobody can dispute the fact. But it is equally indisputable that, in spite of any improved labor conditions, in spite of the most liberal welfare work, more will have to be done by the majority of employers, as well as by the government, — more and deeper thought given, more intelligent and further-reaching measures taken, more present profits devoted to the effective enlightenment of their human material, — if the labor turn-over is to be perceptibly reduced, and if the Red activities more and more permeating the personnel are to be overcome.
THE NEW ROAD TO EQUALITY
BY GROVER CLARK
'equality before the law' has been, and still is, one of the favorite battlecries of the democracy. 'Class legislation' and 'special privilege' have been equally popular as objects of attack. But there has not been a corresponding unity of interpretation of these phrases — of understanding as to what they are to mean in terms of specific legislation and social organization.
We condemn class legislation and special privilege as severely as did our predecessors. Modern industrial and social development, however, has forced us to a new conception of what belongs under these categories. We insist as strongly as they that men should be equal, before the law, in opportunity, and in all their relations with their fellows. But we are finding that a new technique, a new kind of legislation, and a new attitude on the part of the government are necessary, if that equality is to be real and not merely theoretical.
In the care-free days of rampant individualism and the laissez-faire theory in industry, the government was supposed to keep its hands off the organization and conduct of industry. Labor laws, factory laws, anti-trust laws — all such were held to be violations of the fundamental right of individuals to pursue life, liberty, and happiness in equality before the law. If some were more successful than others in securing financial or other rewards for their efforts, they were to be congratulated.
And certainly it was no part of the task of the government to handicap men in the race for success. Yet to-day we have such laws in profusion: laws that put a special handicap on some individuals, or give special advantages to others. And our Supreme Court has found it possible to approve, as constitutional, such measures.
If by 'class legislation' we mean legislation that favors or restricts some special group in the community, then many of our more important modern laws must plead guilty to this charge. Tariff laws are designed to benefit particular groups — the manufacturers. Labor laws benefit the workers. Anti. trust laws put a handicap on the organizers of business. Income and profit taxes are collected from a very small portion of the whole people. Even the woman's suffrage amendment was class legislation, since it benefited only a part of the community. Yet we find no great difficulty in approving such measures, because we feel that, while they may apply in practice to special groups, they benefit the community as a whole. And we avoid a technical infringement of the principle of equality by stating the special privileges, or the special prohibitions, in terms of ways of acting rather than of persons, even though we are well aware that in practice certain specific persons, or groups of persons, will be directly affected.
It is little more than soothing selfdelusion to say that in this respect there is any essential difference between the stipulation in the Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914, which exempted labor organizations from the prohibitions of the Sherman Act, and the provisions of the old English law, by which the nobility could plead exemption from certain penalties of the law for the common people. Nor is there, from this point of view, any essential difference between a tariff to 'protect' an 'infant industry' and the feudal law that gave the king administration of the estates of minor heirs. In each case special groups are given special advantages.
The difference, of course, is in the social results. We approve the modern regulations in each case, — if we do approve them, — and condemn the ancient, because, as I have suggested, we think the community as a whole is benefited, or injured, as the case may be. But we need to keep clearly in mind, in discussing these matters of special privilege and equality before the law, that most of the ' progressive' measures on which we are inclined to pride ourselves are in reality class legislation; and while we may not approve much of the Socialist programme, we need to be careful about throwing stones while we have so much glass in the walls of our own house.
We condemn, for example, the seizure of socially usable property by the government of the Bolsheviki on the ground that it is class legislation. Yet we approve an excess-profits tax, — at least, the majority of us do, as represented by our lawmakers and our Supreme Court, — which is a seizure, in essentially the same way, of socially usable property. We deny the claim of a monarch that his kingdom is his private property, to do with as he may choose. Of late, like the Bolsheviki, we have begun to deny the similar claim of a manufacturer as to his factory. But we grant the claim to private control of private property in most other cases. Yet there is no essential difference be
tween these claims. The difference — as in the cases cited above — is not one of kind, but of degree. The question is not whether a person or a group shall be given special privileges or be favored or handicapped by class legislation; rather it is, how far the principle of favoring one group is to be carried, and of the relative size of the group favored. In other words, we are learning that it is impossible to obtain real equality between men on an individualistic*, laissez-faire basis. And in actual practice we are seeking that equality by various sorts of special legislation, which favor one group as against another. But our interpretation of the doctrine of equality has lagged behind our practice.
This inconsistency between the older conception of equality and much of our recent legislation has not escaped the notice of able students of politics. Nor have some of them failed to point out the growth of a tendency to stratification of the American people into classes delimited, if not actually created, by legislation which definitely grants, or does not positively deny, special privileges to special groups. This, for example, is the point of Mr. George W. Alger's article on 'The Menace of New Privilege,' in a recent issue of the Atlantic Monthly.
Many see in this tendency a grave danger to American social organization as we know it, and a fundamental challenge to democracy, just because it runs counter to the older, and even now more generally accepted, interpretation of the doctrine of equality. Mr. Alger expresses this point of view most effectively in his concluding paragraph: —
'In the final analysis, the question resolves itself into whether we desire the development in America of classwar by recognizing class-distinctions,