Open main menu

Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/371

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
345
THE POWER OF CAPITAL

tions of policy. All this remains just the same now as it ever was. Discord, strife, and war break up the orderly and co-operative effort to reach a higher satisfaction of our interests—which seems to be alone worthy of intelligent and civilized men. The ignorance, folly, and strife destroy capital; the orderly and well-organized efforts to satisfy, create and preserve capital. The presence of capital does not insure the extension of civilization, for the capital may be wasted by error or it may be employed entirely in an increase of population; but an extension of civilization without an increase of effective capital or a diminution of members is impossible.

It may seem to you that the course of thought on which I have so far led you was somewhat too academical or philosophical for this occasion, but I am now ready to return to the orator and the savings bank depositors whom I mentioned at the outset. The facts and ideas which I have presented to you show that the savings bank depositor is a hero of civilization, for he is helping in the accumulation of that capital which is the indispensable prerequisite of all we care for and all we want to do here on earth. The more convinced you are that the notions and devices which are offered to us by social speculators as the means of social progress are all vain, and that the whole effort to find some means of easily making everybody happy is a waste of time, the more you will be thrown back on the industrial virtues as the only moral resources at our command which enable us men to fight the battle of life with success. The industrial virtues are industry, frugality, prudence, and temperance. We cannot, however, deny the presence of another element which is powerful in determining our success—the element of good or ill fortune. It is true that men have fortune, or destiny, or Divine Providence at hand as a convenient