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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/72

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

erature among our workingmen with the evident intention of making proselytes, thereby disturbing the peace of mind of the operative, endangering the stability of our industrial laws, and tending to nullify the gain which has come to wage-earners in America through the comparative freedom from such disturbing elements, is a subject of concern to all friends of the workingmen.

In Germany the literature of socialism has not confined itself to agitation of labor questions, but has catered to the demand for popular reading and also for popular education. In this way it gained the confidence of the people. "It has abused this confidence by giving distorted views of the writings of many of the greatest thinkers and educators"; it has used popular education as a club with which to beat into ignorant skulls socialistic propaganda. The enormous socialistic vote in Germany proves the success of the force used. Such a force, if properly applied, would be immensely beneficial to humanity; but improperly used, socialism is, as Herbert Spencer declares, "the greatest calamity that has ever befallen the human race."

The most intelligible exposition of modern German socialism may be found in a little book entitled Three Months in a Workshop, written by a student, Paul Göhre. In a prefatory note to the English translation, by Prof. Richard T. Ely, it appears that "Mr. Göhre, perplexed by conflicting theories and reports touching the lot of the German wage-earners, determines to become a wage-earner himself, and, donning the garb of a workman, finds employment in a large establishment for the manufacture of machine tools in Saxony; he mingles for three months with his fellows, who never supposed him to be anything else than a wage-earner; he shares their life, participates in their amusements, attends their political meetings, and then tells what he has seen with that simplicity which is itself literary art of a high order. The narrative is plain, straightforward, truthful."

The book is more than this: it is a practical view of a subject which has been clouded in mists. The writer has shown himself a keen observer, a disinterested and enthusiastic investigator, having nerve to enter the factory on the lowest rung of the ladder and to live and toil with the humblest employees, for the definite purpose of grasping the bottom facts of socialism as it is comprehended by the workingmen themselves, not as presented to the world by the leaders in the movement, many of whom do not really belong to the class they assume to represent. That Mr. Göhre should have succeeded, under these heroic conditions, in showing in his little book a clearer insight into the labor question and social democracy in Germany than can be found in many more elaborate treatises, is not altogether surprising. In the