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First Regime For Fear In The Labor World

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



The Employer's Responsibility. If you are an employer, it is suggested that you begin the effort to lift yourself above the level of mere business.

I do not undervalue the business world. That world is of the very greatest importance, since, as things are at present, it supports all other worlds of human activity. Nevertheless, to be a mere business man is to be a very poor thing; as poor a thing as to be a mere artist, musician, poet, lawyer, physician, minister. No vocation can be as great a thing as is this thing: that of being a whole human. Your supreme vocation is the making the most of yourself and your life. What men call their vocations should be their avocations simply — the chief business being the unfoldment of individuality to its best estate.

If you say, or think, "rubbish," the rubbish is in your own head.

Business goes on for the accumulation of money. The cause of its great bulk is not the support of others and the fostering of culture; the bulk is purposed in money-making. Everywhere mere money-making absorbs the business world.

Money-making is certainly legitimate and praise-worthy as an avocation. As a vocation, it is degradation.

The mere business-man money-maker sacrifices the cream of life for the golden pitcher. The pitcher is needful,— gold or pewter,— but of what value is it if you have nothing within? This man swamps himself in effort which cannot possibly build the greater self so long as that effort is the main thing. And so, we come to one of two bottom facts in the realm of employment — that;

The business man often puts his mere business above humanity; and that;

The employee does not care for his work as work: he cares for it as only money-getting.

Both facts constitutes selfishness — which is the sole hell of a struggling universe.

When the employer is conscious that he inspires fear of any sort in any employee, the fact calls for effort on his part to dispel that fear. You must face the responsibility of the relation. And all responsibilities have this rather uncanny character: they are neither settled nor disposed of by denial or neglect. They are always there — just where they were born. The only way in which to get rid of a responsibility is to take it up and do the thing required. If you would get past a duty, you must eat it, absorb its essence into character. This is the whole of life — digesting and assimilating responsibility. Duty has been called "hardtack," but if you take the right view of life you will find the hard-tack turned into truth, love, service, self-development: it will appear in brains and heart and manhood and womanhood. I do not preach in these words; I simply speak common sense. The principle runs clean up to the top of things. There is only one true God: That Which Lives By Doing Right Always.

You are invited as an employer, then, to resolve upon the removal, so far as your ability permits, of all occasion for fear of you in any man, woman or child whose labor you employ. If you cannot rule except through fear, that fact calls on you to surrender the position you hold: you are too weak for the place. The resolution indicated involves several important details.

First Detail for the Employer. To the end suggested, you are invited to regard your people from henceforth as altogether human, entitled to the best life that they can win, with their endowments, under the circumstances, and with your reasonable assistance.

Second Detail for the Employer. You are invited to put your business, in every single transaction, up on the level of an uncorrupted conception of right. A politician said of a great soul who had come to high office, and who yet repudiated all evil schemes: "Why, he simply does right the whole damn time." This second regime is fitted to awaken a similar surprise — perhaps in yourself — but it is the only way. The satisfaction that comes to a rotten life is not worth the candle.

Your business would go to pieces on that plan? On any other plan you will go to pieces. Let us see:

You desire that your wife and daughter shall be virtuous "the whole damn time." Doubtless they are. Yet some women are not. Among these there are some who declare the ideal life impossible. They cannot live as they want to live and be rigidly right every single time. Here we have the prostitutes among women: known or unknown, housed or homed, kept or married.

And the business man who is dishonorable, less than honest, slack in exact right dealings with public or employees, puts himself on the level with women who are housed, not homed, kept, not married. Differences of opinion on this subject are valueless. The thing is precisely as written. Should these statements and the present detail be repudiated by some chance reader with the remark, "This would destroy business," the reply is, "So much the worse for business"— and the man. Unyielding virtue destroys the social evil. But there are thouands of employers — business men — who contradict the objection. The business world would be infinitely better were the contradiction universally carried out.

The philosophy which has come to be called Pragmatism holds that any claim, proposition, law, truth, can only prove itself right by its practical working-out in human affairs. There is no other test.

But the application of the test is critical. It is hastily concluded that a man's life or methods have been right or justifiable because they work out for some elements of "good." The formal statement needs analysis and illustration, therefore. The world of employment validates the statement, in claim, but really shows that the usual illustrations should be reversed. Let us see.

Example One: A man accumulates a tremendous fortune and builds public libraries over all the world — with his name somewhere on the building walls. This is a good. A vaster good might be — an unmonopolized market, many independent enterprises, labor better paid and pensioned. The pragmatic philosophy here is somewhat clarified. Example Two: A man accumulates satanic wealth and founds colleges and universities. This is a good outcome. Perhaps it would prove better in the end for schools of learning if they could practically represent their own scorn for the mere money-getter and look to sound business and the people for their support. A substitute for the "good" in this case would be, again, an unmonopolized market, independent enterprises, better paid and pensioned labor. Thus further with the pragmatic philosophy as usually applied in such cases.

Many men define "good" as the thing they want.

The world does not exist because of business, whether honest or dishonest, but in spite of dishonest business and because always there are business men who try to do right "the whole damn time."

Third Detail For the Employer. Any man's relation toward labor demands equity. Equity is no more than justice. Equity in the English Common Law, however, sprang from two facts: interpretation of law was always a matter of opinion; the opinion tended to crystalize into rigid forms. Only as interpretation could find a door opening toward improvement — to-ward a higher ideal of justice — could real justice be done without violation of established precedent. Equity and Equity Jurisprudence were the outcomes of an effort to find that door.

No matter what a man's notion or acceptance of truth may be, if his attitude is not free and open to new conceptions, his "truth" may become error and his love of truth mere jealousy for a dogma.

Here arise the falsities of science and religion. The scientific attitude sometimes petrifies and becomes totally unscientific, so that love of truth is lost in the bigoted worship of a fetish. The phenomena of spiritualism, to cite an instance, were scouted, scorned and wilfully ignored by great scientific minds for many years until the age of the psychic factor inspired courage in a few investigators. Religion, again, has always been cursed by the theological bony system strapped on the outside, and theology, absolutely man-made, with no more God in it than in art, literature, science, or a hen-house, although with just as much,— now and then,—has been first a vital necessity of inquiring thought, then inevitably a marbleized mummy: Pharaoh trying to rule the world of later history — and so in every age. Always opinion issues from interpretation, and always interpretation hardens into fixed forms. If that which acts behind interpretation is to live, there must be the open door of re-adjustment. Nothing is true merely because it has been true. Truth now is because it is now-truth — and none otherwise.

The question of justice from employer to employee, to return to our. regime, must always be idealized by the attitude of equity. When not so idealized, justice becomes rigid, an iron hoop all round the heart of business, and inevitably, thus, becomes injustice. Equity is not some sentimental ideal. Equity is justice striving to realize itself in new situations.

When you subject yourself to a fixed system of rules for the regulation of your conduct, you eschew the one fine thing in that system — the desire to do a little better. The ten commandments had to be completed by two other laws — and centuries of improving interpretation of those two additions. When you say, "The highest right thing I can make out— `the whole damn time—' you have all the rules plus this one saving thing, the desire to do a little better. Then your "Common Law" unfolds its flower, "Equity."

The detail, you see, calls for equity in your dealings with labor. This equity does not put itself on the usual financial basis: As big a fortune as possible what-ever becomes of labor. Equity is demanded because that statement (Equity does not put itself on the usual financial basis) represents common notions of justice. No man starts in business for the sake of being unjust. The man wants to do justice by all. Methods which mean "success" come gradually to define what justice is, then opinions about justice petrify, and then the real justice — that of equity, that of new and human conditions — disappears.

The Equity-Detail thus suggested involves: (1) A reasonable return on the capital : money, time, effort and brains. But the valuation of brains does not Some of Life's Relations. Not base on a crook's notion of skill in robbery, since this would " in equity" give the Universe to one or two men in history. Such a true reasonable return may represent a fortune of millions; it is right to say, but it can never carry with it a gigantic monopoly, corrupt legislation, dishonesty of any sort, nor scanty wages, long hours, and the death of human sympathy as its legitimate price.

(2) Conditions of labor conducive to the best of body and mind, so far as possible, and consistently with reasonable equity-success.

(3) Shouldering responsibility usually shirked under the fellow-employee law.

(4) Hours of labor free from the coercion of labor societies and selfish business: long enough for capital's rights, short enough for labor's welfare. Equity! Equity!

(5) Wages of labor based on the ideal of cooperation. This may not involve the actual cooperative plan, since employees seldom reveal sufficient wisdom for that plan. It involves a fair (Equity!) distribution of the final net products of the cooperation of employer and employee.

(6) Interest in every employee outside the business plant.

(7) Advancement in position and reward conditioned on worth.

(8) An attitude toward every man, woman and child which shall, thus based on downright good-will, encourage all true courage and independence, yet demand personal respect and perfect adjustment to authority.

These details will infallibly work wonders toward the development of courage in all the world of labor.

If they should be labeled, "sentimental," "ideal," "impossible," "rubbish," very well. The author is not striving to coerce his readers, who rightfully have their own opinions; he is endeavoring with friendly motive strictly to adhere to his task, the inspiration of courage and the slaying of devilish fear.

SECOND REGIME FOR FEAR IN THE LABOR WORLD: The Employee's Responsibility. In the work of driving fear out of the world of business, the employee's responsibility is exactly equal to that of the employer. Hence we come to Labor's Responsibility for Courage. The mere business money-getter is evidently selfish. Unite this fact with labor's indifference to its work as work, and you have the twin supports of fear in both employer and employed. If the former is called upon to do what he can, as in the preceding regimes, to eliminate fear in his people, the latter should avoid occasion in the employer of fear for the employed. A master's fear of his servants is not even natural. The fact that he is in business indicates his initiative and courage. In him, then, fear is inspired by something which his people are or which they do.

No wage-earner or salary-earner should fear any man on earth. No employer should fear any wage-earner or salary-earner, since he also is a man, and as well an employee.

But the business man is constantly aware of the occasion for fear in his relation with business. This occasion for fear is two-fold.

First Occasion for Fear on Part of Employer : The employee is not always practical and sane in his attitude toward the employer. He also both wants and withholds things unjustly. His notion of justice also often lacks the sense of equity. He sees his own case: there 's an end! He does n't know as much in regard to the relation as he should seek to know. He does not try to know. Associations and unions back of him (or which he backs) represent these statements because such associations and unions are his own building. Organization is essential to his welfare, but he can and he will organize only himself. He organizes all his faults and follies and ignorance, so far as his relations with business are concerned. Conceding that he and his unions have their splendid points, yet squaring to facts, you see that labor is about as often wrong as right, about as insane as capital. Business courage may be willing to face equity, but employers, for the most part, fear the inequity of organized labor, insistent often on what cannot be granted, fully as much as they fear the unexpected in trade. If the employee, then, wishes to remove fear from his own soul, he must establish such relations with the employer as will re-move the cause of fear from his own ranks. And so, our invitations:

First Invitation. You are urged, therefore, to take your stand as an individual for equity in your working life. No man can develop courage while conscious that he is wrong, or even that he may be wrong as a matter of practical fact. This invitation signifies independence of organized tyranny, whether that of wealth or that of labor. If you fear the business world, -you have equal cause for fearing the tyranny of your own ranks. So far as courage goes,— which is the motive of these pages,— it is imperative that you permit no society to dictate to you the number of hours you shall work, nor wages, nor conditions of labor. You are urged to be and to remain a free man, working when you will, where you will, for whom you will, at what wages and for the number of hours you will, and under conditions as you will, with fears for no demagogue or organization whatsoever. The cost may be heavy, since you have to do with human passions, but this book holds that the goal is worth the cost.

He who suffers labor organizations to supplant his human sovereignty proclaims the coward. He who essays to control the sovereign individual in the world of wage and salary by organized capital or organized labor proclaims the tyrant. Tyranny has no real courage.

Second Invitation. You are thus invited to stand in your labor world, organized or otherwise, for sanity, fairness, full justice, which is full equity.

Second Occasion for Fear on the Part of Employer: The second phase of the occasion for the employer's fear of the employee is the fact that labor does not care for its work as work. The prevailing goal of labor is the pay.

This goal has a fair look. For what does a man toil if not for wage or salary? But this, again, is mere money-getting. And it is in the majority of cases small money-getting. Seemingly justifiable might be the striving for a mere fortune. When the striving is for a mere little sum, manhood sinks in degradation. By so much as labor becomes merely an effort for money, the thing assumes this equational form: As little labor as possible for as much money as possible =-dishonesty.

The employer whose rule is, As much as I can get for as little as I must pay, is guilty of that dishonest type of business which dishonors finance. This proposition will carry the laboring man as truly as the business man. One personality is as low as the other.

The Difference Between Labor and Work. The wage-earner and the salary-earner fall into confusion in the use of the words, "labor" and "work." It is everywhere assumed that an employee is paid for his labor or for his work as one and the same thing. Hence the notion of little labor, much pay.

No business man in the world pays his employee for his labor. Labor and work ought to identify; but they do not, as a general thing. Labor is muscular or mental effort; it is the expenditure of force. The phrase, "the labor of a machine" is never used, because machinery is valued for its work, and it does not labor at all. In the machine energy is engaged in doing work. We measure energy solely by its work. That is to say, energy is gauged by what it does, machinery is valued for what it accomplishes. Labor being mere effort, nobody pays a cent for it. Work being the doing of something, is entitled to wage, salary, fortune.

You are not paid for eight hours of labor. As well might a business man hire you to swing dumb bells. You are paid for the things you accomplish.

This is the true discrimination between labor and work. Nevertheless, employees manage their effort in a way to contradict the proposition. In many instances they are actually paid for mere labor rather than for the real value, work, because their aim is, " As little done as possible for the effort I make." Thus they are tempted to think of their employment as so much time put in at so much per unit of time. In order to meet this fact, the employer plans to get as much out of his people as he can at as small expense as the situation will permit.

I hired a carpenter in the construction of a small building. I worked with him day after day. I did not want to kill the man. He did want to get in as many "hours" as possible! He put in a bill for "work," I paid him for a lot of needless muscle effort.

The element of time is purely incidental in the business world. Employers do not pay wages in order that employees may get through eight hours of time. Wages and salaries are based on the idea of values secured during the day, month, year. To meet this rightful claim by time-killing is robbery.

The cause of the confusion indicated is the fact that labor does not care for its work as work.

Work, properly viewed, involves four things (a) Enjoyment of a finished product, as the artist's enjoyment of his picture, marble, music;

(b) Pride in the finished product, as the handicraftsman's pride in the result of his skill;

(c) Pride in the skill involved, as the journey-man's pride in the technique of his craft;

(d) The honest purpose to give value for value — which means, to do one's very best.

No employee who seeks to practicalize these factors and stands for equity in his own relations and those of his organization toward his employer, will inspire or prove an occasion for fear in the business man.

The invitation, therefore, looks to employer and employee alike:

(1) To the employer: to demonstrate his own equity and to refuse manifest injustice, with this resolve: Fiat justitia ruai coelum — "Let justice be done, though the heaven falls."

One class of people especially needs an infusion of back-bone in this matter: employers of household help. Women are afraid of such help, from cook to lady's maid. Two things will instantly remove this fear: A fully human treatment of help; ability and willingness to get on without such help. The consciousness of being right, and so of being independent — this is the nursery of courage.

(2) To the employer, again, to decline to entertain fear for any human in his employ. You are invited to face labor with equity and to hold fast the courage-attitude against all inequitable demands from the labor world. Many a business man has won out on precisely that ground.

(3) But the invitation also looks toward the employee. The latter must love his work. Hence Third Invitation. You are invited to get rid totally of the notion that you are paid for your time. Practically that is what labor is paid for, but this is not be-cause business has agreed to the plan, and it is wholly dishonest.

Fourth Invitation. You are invited to hold steadily in mind that you ought to be paid only for valuable things accomplished in the shortest possible time, reason-ably speaking. The muscle-action of slavery is justly measured by mere time — since all value goes to the master, and the slaves' energy must be renewed. You are a workman on the level of equality involved by freedom, and this fact demands brains and the use of them and the equity which ought to go with brains. Hence, you are invited to substitute the idea, work, for the notion, time-labor, both in your thought of your occupation and in the activities involved. Only thus can the human machine become a man. The best way in which to get out of the machine-life is to cease being a mere machine-man.

Fifth Invitation. You are invited to seek enjoyment of the finished product of your effort. There is nothing a man does in which he may not put some skill, and there is nothing requiring skill that he may not enjoy. If your best goes into your work, enjoyment is surely there.

Sixth Invitation. You are invited to cultivate pride in the finished product of your effort. You can-not enjoy that product unless it merits your pride, and you cannot take pride in it without enjoyment as well.

Seventh Invitation. You are invited to take pride in the skill employed in the very best thing you can do. Such pride is the wine that stimulates human evolution. Nothing is more conducive to the magnetism of art and craftsmanship than pride in bare technique of skill. It begets a fine personal feeling which infallibly lifts the person to a higher level and establishes superior etheric activities that must in the very nature of the case magnetically influence all persons susceptible to the higher values of life.

Eighth Invitation. And you are invited to enter the ranks of the sovereign few in this world whose law is : the best of myself in every undertaking of body and mind.

These invitations bear directly on the culture of courage. He whose service is thus determined has built for himself a foundation rock of courageous independence. This man may say three things against all odds:

My will is — an honest day's work for an honest man's pay.

My pride is — an able man's skill in an honest man's task.

My courage is — a free man's claim for an honest and skilled man's work.

If, now, the usual selfish indifference and brutal selfishness of capital confronts you, you are invited persistently to resort to the powers of your own psychic self for the culture, through sheer assumption and will, of the courage that may be demanded by the very condition in which your difficulty lies. The time for courage is when things go badly. And kindly observe that the theme of this book is courage, and, directly, nothing else. It seeks, not to solve problems, but only to instruct for courage. Were conditions not adverse, courage were not called for. It is because things are as they are that you need to specialize on the unfold-ment of courageous independence. This, then, be your talismanic sentence: "I offer the world, not time nor toil, but work — the best thing I can do to-day, and better to-morrow; and I will be no man's machine, and I will fear no employer, and I am power amid all conditions whether of muck or of gold. Man lives here but. once. Therefore, here I live high the life of an honest soul."



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