Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/604

This page has been validated.
586
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ties to which I alluded at the outset, difficulties which must, I think, have been present to the mind of Locke, when he recorded, in the commonplace-book published by Lord King, the remarkable aphorism that "the doctrine proves the miracles, rather than the miracles the doctrine."—Contemporary Review.

 

THE FUNCTIONS OF ASSOCIATION IN ITS RELATION TO LABOR.
By WILLIAM B. WEEDEN.

THE writer is a member of a copartnership chiefly devoted to the business of manufacturing textile fabrics. Within twenty years this firm has divided interests in different mills with eight persons, who acted as superintendents or assistant superintendents of the mills in which they were engaged. These combinations were of the nature of industrial partnerships, and proved uniformly successful. Of these eight persons, two were originally factory accountants, two were finishing overseers, and four were weaving overseers; all were men who had served long in the factories, and were outgrowths from factory-life. If it be true that in the armies of Napoleon every private carried a marshal's báton in his knapsack, or, as Sydney Smith puts it, if every English curate is a possible bishop, then these industrial combinations must have produced better cloth for the people and a better life in the makers of the cloth, or the laborers who were confined in the factories. The firm owned or controlled ample capital for their enterprises, and employed the laborers. It needs no argument to show that the business was more thoroughly done because these industrial partners were taken from among the laborers; and it is likewise evident that each rank of laborers was elevated and stimulated by these promotions.

Under that modern system of organization which unites the laborers into one mass, striving to obtain the highest price for their services, and combines employers in another assembly seeking to obtain labor at the lowest price, our industrial partnerships would have been impossible. If close combinations resulting in certain antagonism, such as has prevailed in England for a generation, had existed here, then no links could have reached across from the chain of laborers on the one side to the chain of employers and capitalists on the other. These combinations are growing in America; the life they foreshadow must differ from the industrial life described above. It was this thought which led me to consider the matter, and to try to ascertain the true functions of association. The topic is broader than my theme, and enters into all phases of civilized society, but I would con-