The Masses (periodical)/Volume 1/Number 2/The Boy Scout Movement

The Boy Scout Movement

To Perpetuate Docility, Stupidity and Brutality

(Illustrations from War—What For?)

THE BOY Scout movement is an organized, craftily subsidized effort for creating the kill-lust in boys, the love of arms, the desire for the military life, and the brainlessly automatic obedience of soldiers. As many boys as possible are to be blinded with steel-glitter, deafened with drum-roar, dazzled with uniforms and flattery, fooled with drills and marches, seduced with ribbons, sashes, "Teddy" hats, khaki, medals, pictures, picnics and wild tent life in the woods—betrayed into stupid gratitude to the crafty, dollar-marked subsidizers of the movement, who plan thus to have a host of trained armed guards ready for use in the swiftly coming future when millions have their wages cut and millions more are forced into the street to the ranks of the unemployed army.

The pretense—of course there is some fine pretense—is that "the boys are to be physically developed." That is the sly cry of the promoters—"the ennobling physical development of the youth."

While the boys are to be physically developed they are to have their intellects ossified and their sociability suffocated.

The boys are to have their wills killed by a thousand drills in a slave's crowning virtue—obedience.

Obedience—word of infinite import in the history of organized robbery of the workers by the shirkers.

Obedience, automatic obedience, has been and is now the damnation of the workers.

Caesar is alarmed. The industrial despot shivers with fear. Why?

Because the slave begins to think and more and more refuses the rôle of professional cutthroat. The Department of Murder is shriveling in popularity. The fist of blood and iron is decreasingly dependable. The right hand of national and international working class fellowship and working class loyalty begin to charm the toilers of the world. The eyes of the socially damned multitude begin to blaze with intelligent and fascinated realization of the fact that war means suicide for the working class, that hell's sleet of lead and steel from Gatling guns is for the working class, that the jaws of death spread wide for the working class—and only for the working class—in any and all wars.

The slave thinks. Caesar is startled.

Therefore catch the slave's son and kill the kindness of his soul, destroy his sociability, resurrect the savage in his heart, rouse the beast that slumbers in his breast, fire his passions, befog his intellect and kill his will.

Let Mars seduce the boy.

Let the blood-stained god of war blast the boy's fraternalism and plant in his soul the cheap aspirations of a proud-strutting, gilt-braided butcher—afire with desire for bloody deeds.

Sting dead the bud of love in the small boy—the helpless small boy.

A human fool-tool is needed in the shop, mill and mine.

Therefore, step forth, you cheap prostitutes of the various intellectual professions, all of you who bow the knee to the steel and gold gods of industry, and shout aloud the incomparable excellences, advantages, superiorities, and desirabilities of the Boy Scout enterprise. Take the boys to the woods and train them, take them to the street and train them, take them to the armory and train them—and also and especially

A Boy Scout—In the Making (1911).png

A Boy Scout—in the Making

A Boy Scout—Finished Product (1911).png

A Boy Scout—Finished Product

take them to the basement of the churches and train them, mockingly train them there to "love their fellow men" and carefully prepare them to butcher their fellow men. In substance teach each helpless boy to think and say and agree to this:—

"Obedience is beautiful. Blind obedience to superiors is perfection. I am inferior, I agree that those who are appointed over me ought to be over me. I will make no inquiries.

"I will obey anybody who is said to be (or who may be appointed by somebody to be) my superior. I will obey any and all orders from my superiors—without question. I will obey my employer and be loyal to him. I will obey my captain, because (no matter how cheap, vulgar, ignorant, cruel and vicious he may be) he is my superior.

"I will always believe that well-dressed people know more than I know, and more than I should be permitted to know. I will always let others inform me what my duty is. I will forget that I have a brain (if I have one). I will gladly learn to handle the sword, rifle and bayonet—for I may be needed, my superiors tell me.

"I will gladly learn the glory of arms, the splendor of war, the grandeur of red-stained patriotism, and the nobility of narrow-brained, low-browed race prejudice and cheap jealousy. I accept my employer as my best friend, as my ideal and my idol. I will make a faithful effort to become a fool—or a loyal endeavor to remain one—for my employer's sake.

"Proudly I accept the high honor of being an automatic jackass, ready for the dull rôle of armed guard for the coward ruling class. And all I ask is flattery and a "good time" sometimes—if it suits my employer."

At the age of three the tiny boys of all races and colors gleefully romp and play together; sociability has its own glad way with them in happy laughter, sweet caresses, and a thousand gracious amiabilities promising the poetry and fraternalism and the ever more glorious levels of life for the human family. But at the age of twenty these same children, shrewdly poisoned with geographic and ethic "patriotism," cursed by the embrace of Mars, damned by the false teachings of prideless intellectual prostitutes, are proudly ready to slaughter one another at the nod of syphilitic kings, cheap queens, at the order of coarse-grained presidents, pot-house statesmen and small-brained commanders.

A boy scout is an incipient assassin, a budding jingo, a germinating butcher of men—a boy, innocent and excellent fruit of love, being transformed into a blood-lusting fool and tool to serve in the great class struggle as an iron fist for the employer class against the working class.

A boy scout is helpless. Ignorance is always helpless. The boy scout movement is the very latest, blessed, annointed and baptized method of flattering the working class into cutting its own throat when it raises its head too high to suit the employer class.

All the "best" people are encouraging the movement—from President Taft to the pettiest political and sacerdotal snivelings willing to sell their souls for bread and popularity with the kings of industry. The boy scout movement is a recent handsome wrinkle on the snout of the beast of capitalism.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.


The author died in 1937, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.