bosses. Therefore I distinctly include the latter in what I have to say about labor.
It is one of the pet phrases of modern times that labor is dignified or has dignity. It is a good, safe phrase, because it sounds well, and the people for whose consumption it is provided cannot tell whether it makes any difference whether labor has dignity or not, or what would happen if it was not dignified. In truth, dignity is just what labor does not possess; for it always forces a man into strained posture, ungraceful motions, dirt, perspiration, disorder of dress and manner. It is leisure which has dignity. Moreover, if any man, no matter who he might be, was without dinner, he would undoubtedly pocket his dignity and go to work to get one.
Just how the current phrase took this form I do not know; but, although it is somewhat ludicrous when strictly analyzed, it has a history behind it which makes it anything but ludicrous. It is only in the most recent times, and then only in limited circles, that the notion has been rejected that labor is degrading. The intention of the phrase that labor is noble, or is dignified, was to contradict that traditional opinion or sentiment. In the classical states the sentiment was universal and undisputed, that manual labor in itself, and any labor when prosecuted for pay, was degrading; personal services which involved touching the person of another were also regarded as especially demeaning to him who performed them. If bread and butter were obtained in return for social functions performed, it must be disguised in some form of honorarium; it would dishonor a man to take wages. The only honorable forms of effort were fighting, ruling, and ecclesiastical functions. This is the militant theory of the comparative worth of social functions; it proceeds logically and properly