Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/658

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

all thinking men that further moral development was absolutely essential, and, in the absence of legislation, an energetic moral growth would have followed a recognition of the permanent benefits to be derived by this further extension of trust. The rich, by fair dealing and strict integrity, would aim to prove their worth and show to their fellows that with added trust they would perform the corresponding duties. The artisans and mechanics would have been stimulated to energy and moved to thrift, prudence, and abstemiousness, in order to secure the capital with which to render their mutual trust available for industrial co-operation; and while ten men with ten thousand dollars became convinced of each other's worth, a thousand workmen would have saved one hundred dollars each, and in this manner in action and reaction each class would have developed the weak sides of its character, and, the growing integrity of the one meeting the increased energy and prudence of the other, would have gradually lessened the disparities of condition which then existed, instead of which we now find them constantly widening, and co-operation would have been the normal growth.

It is frequently claimed by the unthinking that co-operative unions are unable to select proper leaders for direction, whereas all history belies the claim. Whether in the playground, in the feudal ages, in times of great public peril, or in popular revolutions, the leader is recognized spontaneously, and the masses have seldom failed to make a wise selection. It is true that the co-operative concerns which have their origin in the hot-beds of experimental legislation have generally failed. But who shall say that failure would have resulted with the hardy plant which has been shown to be indigenous to the soil of the present age?

The natural evolution of material progress seemed too slow, and legislation was called into play to hasten the day of industrial activity. Since each class possessed one of the essential elements of industrial progress, it is evident that two ways were open to accelerate its growth. It could have been accomplished by providing the artisans of the age with government aid in money, in which way the state would have provided men a substitute for thrift, energy, and prudence; but government has no more right to do this than she had to furnish the rich a substitute for honesty and justice, and, as limiting the liability of the one has united dishonest elements and given additional power to the strong, so would and so has government aid in money led to a union of the shiftless and improvident and made still weaker those who for want of aggressive individuality have thus far failed to assert themselves; for, being provided with the results of energy and prudence, those qualities would no longer be developed in an environment which furnished them without effort or activity. We