Open main menu

Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/346

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
320
EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

The natural man, when endowed with this power, is very apt to look at it as a New Haven councilman did, whom I heard say, in the lobby of the city hall, when a street railroad question was pending: "It is very queer that we are making this thing and giving it away, and that we do not get any of it." The fact that the city council did not make the franchise was only a trifling mistake; the philosophy of the situation, as it appeared to an uneducated man, endowed with political power, was the important point.

It is a universal rule that he who needs protection, and accepts it, falls into subserviency under dominion. The chiefs who regulated industry under the system which I have referred to, came to be regarded as the owners of the land. They claimed a share in the product and exacted gifts and tribute. In higher civilization it came about that kings, priests, and nobles assumed the function of deciding quarrels which arose between producers, or in the market; and they got large fees for this function. To regulate the production became an easier way to get a share in the product than to participate in such production. The political functionaries got a very large share by magnifying their office.

In our modern state the function of organizing and regulating industry has lost none of its importance. The impersonality of modern industry has increased the importance of all the rules by which the parts of the industrial organization are held in harmonious relations. The interests have been subdivided, multiplied, and recombined into new and intricate relations, and of course the rights and duties have followed parallel lines of refinement and complication. The dependence of industry on political action has become greater and greater. Industry looks to the political organization for security,