Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/561

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
557
EDUCATIONAL ADVANCE

attempts which have been made to cope with the question in a more or less intelligent manner.

The entrance of the United States and other important industrial nations upon a policy of commercial expansion, the growth of imperialism and the prevalence of the desire to exploit the less industrially progressive nations, mark the beginning of a new epoch in our national life. Specialization of industry and subdivision of labor now assume new aspects. Capital becomes international; while labor still remains upon a national basis. Mr. Hobson and others have pointed out that the backward nations will now assume the place hitherto occupied by the great mass of the unskilled in the home country. Humanitarian and democratic tendencies are in danger of receiving a check. Capital in a new, rapidly developing country finds opportunity for investments in improvements; but in a more highly developed, but still progressive country, it is obliged, unless there are opportunities for investments in foreign countries, to seek investment in directly productive enterprises which produce articles for the consumption of the great mass of the people. If there is no opportunity for foreign investment of capital, industrial progress will necessitate an improvement in the consumptive power of the masses. Economic and ethical aims begin to draw into closer relationship. The possibility of enormous investments of capital in South America and Asia is something which threatens to affect the industrial, social and educational welfare of the American people. "Once encompass China with a network of railroads and steamer services, the size of the labor market to be tapped is so stupendous that it might well absorb in its development all the spare capital and business energy the advanced European nations and the United States can supply for generations."[1] China and the Chinese workers are a danger because of the low standards of living which prevail in the Asiatic nation, and the consequent ease with which the Chinese people may be exploited. If increased manufacturing and commercial activity in China is not accompanied by a corresponding increase in the standard of living, the American farmer and the American workman are doubtless imperilled by the situation. The educational movement of the last two or three decades is essentially a working class movement; and its future is bound up in the welfare of the industrial and agricultural classes.

  1. Hobson, "Imperialism," p. 334.