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Labor And Capital

( Originally Published Late 1800's )

Labor is the law of life. Without it the world would still be in dark and hopeless barbarism. All that we enjoy, as civilized and enlightened beings, we owe to the labors of those who have lived before us. One generation has lived and labored and brought the arts along to a certain stage of development. They then die and the next generations enter into their labors and take up the work of civilization where they left it off. So the fruits of toil are perpetuated and all the grand privileges and high opportunities and glorious liberties of these later days are but the results of labors performed and battles won all along from the world's morning until now. It so happens in the history of our race that the men who inaugurate a reform seldom live to enjoy its full privileges. Those who fought the decisive battles of the world and turned back, here the tide of barbarian invasion and there the usurpations of tyranny, may have died in battle; but, if not, the people of an after time are those who enter into the full fruition of their valorous deeds. Labor thus becomes the chief instrument of progress and the highest honor to our race.

Labor is also a burden and a glory to the individual.

We are all born to a life of toil. It is the prime necessity of our existence and upon it we depend for our daily bread and for all the benefits that we can get out of life. It is no disgrace to labor: it is rather a dignity and an honor. And there, is no reason on earth why the so-called laboring classes should be looked upon as inferior classes, unless it be that ignorance and evil habits have laid upon them their accumulated disgraces. A wise man could never regret that he was born a laborer. If he were improvident, and forever poor, laboring like a beast, in ignorance and darknesss of mind, and making no effort to accumulate wealth or learning, then he might well regret his stupidity and that lazy contentment with present degradation that keeps our laboring classes in the gutter and poverty. Labor needs to be enlightened and elevated, nobody doubts that; but it will be accomplished not in adding higher wages to spend-thrift habits; but in teaching the laboring man to save as other men save and get the pry of a bank account under his ignorance and squalor. Oh, it is the pipe and glass and saloon and wasteful habits that degrade American labor ten hundred times more than the tyrannies of Capital ! And from a close observation, lasting through some years, the writer has seen strikes organized in the interests of more dissipation and bestiality, rather than in very pressing need for better food and shelter.

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