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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/363

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357
INDUSTRIALISM

organization of banking, the perfected method of handling insurance and trust companies, the public service corporations, the modern stock exchange, are some manifestations of the great vacuum cleaner that is sucking away at the savings of the middle classes. This, I say, is the richest field of exploitation yet discovered. Do not misunderstand me, however. I do not mean that at a meeting of the Directors of the Biggest National Bank, or of the Greatest Life Insurance Company, or of the United States Industrial Corporation, the captain of the captains of industries arises and says: "Gentlemen, the exploitation of the middle classes is the greatest discovery of modern times. What can we do to-day to further this cause? What is next to do to tap the savings of this class?" I say I do not mean that this actually happens. A thing need not be done consciously in order to be done. The result is the same whether done consciously or unconsciously. What I mean is, for example, that a monopoly price for steel against a world market considerably less is an instance of the exploitation of the middle classes. Remember, also, that formerly the savings in the cost of production by improved methods and new inventions largely accrued to the consumer. Under modern organization of industries, this saving goes very largely to increased profits and, more than that, to increased capitalization—that is, from the pockets of the middle classes. Formerly, the leaders in the industries were manufacturers, men not far removed from the middle classes themselves. Now the leaders in the industries are not manufacturers, but so-called financiers, artists in handling funds, men interested in profits, not products—and profits in large part made from the middle class by the nursing of stocks and the shuffling of securities, and not alone by the manufacturing and selling of realities. Again the control of banks and insurance companies, for the purpose of industrial adventure and for strategic ends, works primarily against the middle classes. The irony of the new force, which makes the cleaning-up process almost perfect, is seen in the unloading upon the middle classes themselves, through organized underwriting campaigns and the short circuiting of the market, of the very obligations created in the organization of the exploiting machinery.

There are many other counts that might be added to the true bill against industrialism. Many of these are often brought to our attention by those who dote on the apparent shortcomings of the present era. Industrialism has augmented and aggravated city life, and has put the moral and physical fibers of men to new tests. It has attracted the brightest intellects to leadership in its army, much to the loss of politics, and the professions and the arts. All these things are, in a way, true. But it is not the purpose of this paper to convict industrialism, but to acquit it, so I must not catalogue its apparent shortcomings. I shall now attempt to show that industrialism, moving forward on the