Wanted — Leisure
BELOW we re-print a delightful editorial which appears under Temple Scott’s name in the Forum.
Making a living is not living; making a living is only a means to living. We have not thought of this, of course. We are so tasked in the work that we have not the time in which to recover ourselves for reflection. We never do recoven ourselves. Ourselves are lost, drowned in the flood of labor and the waves of competition. We are so accustomed to spend the best years of our lives in efforts to keep alive that living is come to mean working in order to be able to go on working. The wage is not the stepping-stone to inde-
pendence; it is the exchange value of the indispensable daily bread. So ingrained in us is this habit of work that we even count ourselves fortunate and think ourselves happy when we have secured a position which assures us the work. Like the negro laundress who thought herself lucky in the husband who saw to it that she did not want a day’s washing, we also are grateful that each to-morrow finds the work ready for our hands to do. For work means food and shelter; and food and a shelter mean life. Life, quotha! God help us !
The day’s work done we go home to rest, to regain the strength lost, for the
next day’s work, if we can. Perhaps anxiety about the work prevents us from resting; then we lie awake disturbed and distressed. Perhaps the work absorbs^, our whole thoughts; then is every other interest excluded—self, friends, wife and family, home and the duties of social life. We are machines that are run down each evening, to be cranked up again each morning. And we are glad thus to labor. Thank God for work, we cry, when sorrow or affliction visits us. In work, at any rate, we can drown our troubles. Work is the sustainer of hope, the comforter and soother in times of despair; the one remedy for the thousand heart-ills which afflict us in this Yale of Tears. Great writers have penned vibrating dithyrambs in praise of work. “Blessed are the horny hands of toil;” “Yet toil on, toil on; thou art in thy duty, be out of it who may;” “To labor is to pray ;” “To labor is the lot of man below;” “Labor is independent and proud.” They write the word with a capital letter as if it were in itself a splendid and inspiring truth. They have raised a new idol for us to worship. Oh, idolatrous and Sabbathless Satans!
It is a melancholy utinam, as Sir Thomas Browne would say, this inhuman craving for work—the cry of the starving for food, the prayer of the lost for success, the petition of the condemned for respite. The will to live is so strong in us, and the way to live so narrow and crowded, that the market for labor is like a battlefield with the fight still going on. For we have found out but one means of living— killing the weaker and taking his place. And yet the work we get is not for the fulfilment of the spirit; it does not ennoble us. We grasp after it with the convulsive, passionate hands of the drowning man stretching for a spar that will float him to a haven ; and when the haven is reached we find ourselves harnessed to a mortarwheel. Like stupid oxen or blind horses we go, henceforward, round and round in a daily grind. And man’s free spirit is killed. “Thou teilest for the altogether indispensable, for daily bread.” What a satire on living is this making a living !
Is it not time we took thought a little on this business of work? I am not railing against the toil for the daily bread. I am ready to agree with all the fine things that have been and can be said of it. But
I do denounce and stigmatize as contemptible and unmanly that attitude toward the work we are compelled to do, which accepts it as the be-all and the end-all of human aspiration. This is not work, it is drudgery, and as such it is degrading and enslaving. As it is practised and understood to-day in the thousands of centres of modern civilization, this drudgery is one of the most pernicious influences that can afflict mankind. There is nothing sacred in it, nothing beautiful, nothing worthy. Go through a modern department store and tell me if the work done there by the hundreds of young men and young women is either worthy or beautiful or sacred. Examine the factories, the coal mines, the railroads, the offices of merchants and newspapers and shopkeepers, and show me there the sanctity and the beauty of labor. Oh, yes, all these creatures are earning their living. Some of them have, perhaps, found the work fitted for them and have made inventions and improvements in the enterprises with which they are associated. Some have even progressed in position and have themselves become employers. What of it all? Have they done anything more than making a living? And if they have saved money, if even they have become millionaires, have they done anything more than work? Do they do anything more than go on working? If they do— then for what? For doing more work, and more work? For making more money and more money? And this is living !
I hear you! You are telling me that it is through work that these United States have become the leading country in the commerce of the globe; that it is through work America is richer and more powerful than any other country. I do not doubt it. But have these United States become a country in which men and women are freer, as they set out to be? Are the people of this country wiser, nobler, more sanely brotherly to each other, more intellectually honest and upright, more premeditatedly kindly and intelligently humane than the people of other civilized countries? I doubt it. Human nature is the same here as it is the world over. They had grafters in Rome and we have grafters in New York. They have vested interests in Europe and
we have politicians and trusts in America. They have debilitating armies and navies in the old wrorld, and we have their like in the new. We have not changed much by taking a voyage across the Atlantic and founding a new republic. This new English republic is not such an advance on the old English monarchy that we need boast much about it. We had the chance to make it an advance, but we did not use it. We did not use it because we did not know how. And we did not know how because we did not understand that the difference between a republic and a monarchy is profounder than the mere superficial difference in government; we did not realize that a democracy meant not only political and legal freedom but economic freedom also.
The old feudal system was a military system. The basic assumption of the system was that men were not equal. Under it the monarch flourished as a kind of commander-in-chief of the nation as an army, and he had his generals and captains in his barons and overlords. It developed an aristocracy and class divisions. The workingman took his place among the lower classes. He worked for his superior because he was a unit in an army in which the employer was his captain or lord or baron—he was his vassal, serf or slave. He is still in these lower classes, to-day, in monarchical countries. He is still there because the feudal system is still the system of business and "the employment of labor. The wage-earner is part of a militariat exactly similar to any military organization. As an individual he does not count. He counts only as a fraction of a larger unit—the factory, the brewery, the railway corporation, the mining enterprise, the store, the mercantile office. It is these larger units that are considered in estimating the power and prosperity of a nation. But so considered a nation is not rich and not powerful, but poverty-stricken, crime-infested and unstable as water. It cannot be otherwise when the few are enriched at the expense of the many.
The American Declaration of Independence rejected monarchy and its attendant aristocracy and class distinctions. It declared as truth—that all men are created equal. It left no room for an aristocracy or class distinctions in government. But
it did not reject the militariat system in business. That system is still in vogue in this country as it is in every country of the world. Under it the wage-earner is relegated to a class subservient to the employer in business and to the plutocrat in social life. So that the laborer is now in the same position, economically and socially, as the vassal and serf were under the old military feudal system. In other words, the laborer is the wage-slave. It is true, he is now free to remonstrate and combat by means of unions, but his remonstrance and opposition avail him little so long as the system under which he works compels him to devote the major part of his daily life to making a living. No wage-earner can be free in any real sense if he must labor for a wage from eight in the morning until six in the evening.
I have said that the difference between a monarchy and a democracy is profounder than the superficial difference in government. I mean by that that government, whether by a king or a president, is the same at bottom, so far as it affects the people governed. In republics as in monarchies the people are governed by officials; and it matters little whether these be elected by the people or selected by the king. Indeed, it is quite conceivable that a dictator would choose more wisely than the voters. The real difference between a democracy and a monarchy is in wdiat I might call the soul attitude of the individuals governed, and that attitude is altogether different in a democracy from wThat it is in a monarchy. It is different in that in a democracy the unit, for the first time, counts. He is not merely a member of a social organization ; he is not only one individual in a nation ; he is not simply a number in a regiment of soldiers; he is all these, but he is also a man. It was to preserve him and his individuality ; it was to safeguard him and his rights; it was to assert him and his soul that the democracy of the United States of America was founded. Otherwise the words of the Declaration of Independence are blasphemy. “We hold these truths to be self-evident'—that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”
Buried in foul basements and bereft of sunlight and air, hundreds of thousands of young men and young women are daily occupied in a deadly routine of employment at tasks that concern them only in so far as their accomplishment brings them a weekly wage. They are stitching garments, treading sewing-machines, pounding typewriters, inserting meaningless figures in ponderous ledgers, packing parcels, turning cranks. And they are doing these tasks from early morn till dewy eve. Without, the blue sky is effulgent in golden sunlight, and trees are blossoming, birds singing, clouds sailing and gentle breezes blowing. But the toilers see nothing and feel nothing of what is doing without. They have not the time ; they are too busy asserting their Godgiven rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” “Blessed are the horny hands of toil!”
Enclosed in the storeyed lofts of department stores are other hundreds of thousands, standing through the livelong day, serving customers, waiting on exacting and irritating women, scribbling bills, displaying articles for sale, anxiously glancing the while at the task-master who walks the lofts with the threat of punishment in his eye. Some of them catch glimpses through the windows of a gleaming river and purple hills; but they have no time to look long. They dream of these beautiful things on their way home in the evening when they are tired and worn out. Not for them are these pleasant places; they are too busy proving their rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” “To labor is the lot of man below !”
In stuffy little shops are thousands of others—husbands and wives and children —smirking, genuflexing, tricking, flattering, deceiving, begging customers into buying the wares they are offering for sale. From seven or eight in the morning until seven, eight, nine and even ten o’clock at night, they are engaged in this degrading labor. They have no time for anything else; for if they took the time their neighbor storekeeper might take customers away from them. Moreover, they must, at any cost, make good their unalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness.” “Toil on, toil on; thou art in thy duty, be out of it who may!”
Digging in mines, delving the earth, spinning in mills, forging and hammering in factories are hundreds of thousands of others, face-begrimed, calloushanded, narrow-chested creatures who may be men and women, but they look like parchment-stretched skeletons. These have never even tasted joy; they are only ravenous for existence. They are the slaves of captains of industry. Their pleasures are debilitating excitements, body-racking indulgence, and soul-destroying satisfactions. And these, too, are God-endowed with rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” “Labor is independent and proud!”
Ask any one of these millions of wageslaves if he is happy ; ask him what he is doing and why he is doing it. This will be his best answer, even when he has succeeded; in the words of the shop-keeper, Madame Bemin, in Brieux’ play, Maternité, he will say:
“No; we have not been happy, because we have used ourselves up with hunting for happiness. We meant to ‘get there’; we have ‘got there,’ but at what a price? Oh, I know the road to fortune. At first, miserable sordid economy, passionate greed; then the fierce struggle of trickery and deceit, always flattering your customers, always living in terror of failure. Tears, lies, envy, contempt, suffering for yourself and for everyone round yom I’ve been through it and a bitter experience it was. We’re determined that our children shan’t. Our children! We have only two, but we meant to have only one. That extra one meant double toil and hardship. Instead of being a husband and wife, helping one another, we have been two business partners, watching each other like enemies, perpetually quarreling, even with our very pillow, over our expenditure and our mistakes. Finally we succeeded; and now we can’t enjoy our wealth because we don’t know how to use it, and because our later years are poisoned by memories of the hateful past of suffering and rancor.”
“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”
Go into the millions of city homes, or what we may call homes as a pathetic
compliment to those who live in them, and see how they fare there, these asserters of divine rights. What are these places, when they are not just bearable? The breeding grounds of crime and the farms of prostitution—poisonous weeds that spring up in a night from the soil of poverty. Ask them what God is doing for them; and if they understand your question, they will answer: “God gives us eyes —to cry with.” They compel themselves to forget their state when they can weep no more. These are the women whose lives have been broken on the wheel of competition and crushed beneath the Juggernaut car of the militariat system. And they always carry with them an added source of suffering—the corpse of the woman they had hoped to be. “Yet toil on, toil on, thou art in thy duty, be out of it who may!”
Watch the farmer at his work and his family at their daily tasks. The pageant of landscape and of sky passes by them unseen. They are bowed and bent earthward. For a brief moment they look up; but their eyes are blind. For a short space they plod homeward a weary way and leave the world to darkness and themselves to brutish sleep. He is his own taskmaster, with the whip of anxiety to spur him on to effort after effort. His wife scarce knows what it is not to work; for there are “chores” to do every day, Sundays as well as week days. The grind of their toil has worn their faces to unlovely lines. They live on hope—the hope that marries the daughter, and educates the son for the ministry or fits him for the labor of the cities. They suck sustenance out of the earth with lifespending gasps. Each day’s labor is a crucifixion of love on the market cross. Yet they are told that “To labor is to pray!”
See the employer at his office desk, tricking, cajoling, swindling, haggling, directing, smiling, desiring, and doing the many other worthy and unworthy acts that he calls business. He also is harnessed to the mortar-wheel. He is the blind leading the blind. He is the slave of his enterprise, the creature of his success. Listen to him, in his hours of ease, at the restaurant, in the theatre, or at his own dining-table, and he is saying, “Dollars, dollars, dollars!” If other words fall from
his lips they have reference to dollars; if he talks of art, it is in terms of dollars; if he descants of pleasure it is in the language of the market-place ; if he speaks of love it is with synonyms for money. He knows no God but the Golden Calf, and no joy but the fever of desire. And he is oppressed with worry and depressed by anxiety. He makes thousands in a day and loses them in a night. He is the gambler offspring of competition and the militariat system. He is Time’s slave; he is the chained driver of the competition car, doomed for life to cross and re-cross the Bridge of Sighs. And in his wake follow the groans of the hungry and the moans of the stricken. Yet he cannot help them because he is himself stricken; he is the slave of the system which compels him to do what he does. Deep in his heart he is moved to compassion and charity, but he can only talk in the language of dollars, and he knows no other mediator. His wealth has ruined his manhood and his home is a sepulchre of still-born hopes and frustrated happiness. He also may pray for grace, but it is too late to be redeemed from the passion of his low ambition. He has sold himself for wealth, and he must remain a slave to the most terrible of all taskmasters—“Yet toil on, toil on; thou art in thy duty, be out of it who may!” And these are they who have asserted and fought for their rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”
I am not here picturing the lives of the people of a tyrannous autocracy. The people I have described are the people of an enlightened democracy, of the splendid United States. They bear the standard of freedom, “Old Glory” they proudly and rightly call it. They chant the Battle Hymn of the Republic; they devoutly honor their brave who died for liberty and emancipation; they teach their children to lisp the uplifting words of their epoch-making Declaration; they have the power to choose their own leaders and the right of a great nation’s might. And yet they have allowed themselves to be enslaved by an economic Shibboleth. They have deified Competition as a Law of Nature and have become worshippers of a heartless, hopeless idol. Even if this idol were a living god, a true ideal, what are we doing that we do not compel it to
answer our demands? We compel gravitation to irrigate our deserts; we imprison the fire of heaven to move our railways; we command the force of expansion to alleviate our suffering, and employ the lightning to bear our messages round the globe. Why have we failed to subjugate this so-called Economic Law of Competition? Why? Because it is not a Law of Nature at all. It is a false god set up by our ignorance, and enthroned by our greed. We ask it for bread and it gives us a stone; we beg it for work and it tells us the labor-market is overstocked; we pray to it for leisure and it imprisons us in cells; we petition it for freedom and it sends us to get it for ourselves; we cry to it for life and it is deaf to our cry; we plead to it for happiness and it spurns us to misery; we demand of it our rights and it calls us “wage-slaves.” And this is the Ideal we have idolized! Natural Law! If ever a law were unnatural this is that law.
I am not now attempting a detailed examination of competition. I am concerned here with one outcome of it, namely, over-production, for over-production is the immediate cause of the wage-slave’s condition. Capital has an eager eye. When it sees profits it will immediately engage itself. It can, however, only see profits when the market has already been supplied; but it is too jealous to allow one or two or three to make the profits, so it rushes into this profit-making enterprise, with the result that the market becomes over-supplied. Prices then go down and profits decrease. On the decrease the capitalists take a rest. The capitalists’ rest means either the reduction of the wageearner’s wage or his discharge. Evil number one. The reduction in prices does not much help the wage-earner who is unemployed and has no money with which to buy. If he is fortunate enough not to be discharged and has only had his wage lowered he is yet the first to feel the pinch of the situation ; and if he goes on strike for higher wages, both employer and employed are sufferers. Evil number two. Perhaps the surplus product is sold in foreign markets at below cost ; then a new situation of danger is brought about by a retaliating tariff from the foreign country that has its own economic troubles. Evil number three. When the foreign
market is closed to the over-producer he becomes a Jingo, an Imperialist, an advocate for colonization and conquest in order to find a new market for his produce ; he is the first to cry “Fight.” Evil number four.
To contend that over-production balances itself and that the period of depression is followed by a period of rise, only adds insult to the injury. Is this a Law of Nature that breaks down just when it ought to work? Surely, this is but speculating with the market and taking a chance to win the race for the profit. Why should we be content to go hungry to-day, when an industrial panic is on, because we may get a meal next week when the panic shall have quieted down? Why are we to permit ourselves to be thus gambled with? We object most strongly to the gambler in industries (for the average capitalist is nothing but a gambler) staking our lives in the game of chance he is playing. We refuse to be cast on the green table as “chips.” And there is danger to the gambler in this protest; for the protest is the protest of a proletariat army that will grow in solidarity very rapidly in the coming years. And if the idol of Competition be not quietly hidden away in some lumber room of discarded faiths, there will be trouble for the capitalist-gambler.
The wily capitalist, seeing the evils of over-production, set to work and elaborated a way for himself by which he could avoid them. He combined with other capitalists in the same industry, and formed the trust. He formed it peaceably where he could, but when he met with resistance he used drastic methods, strange and weird methods, that take us back to the middle ages for their like in coldblooded implacability. What the trust is we all know. I call it evil number five of over-production, and the worst evil of them all.
To resist the tyranny of the capitalists, and to save himself from utter slavery, the wage-earner combined with his fellow wage-earners and founded the Trade Union. So that now we have the two armies of capitalists and wage-earners opposed to each other, and hating each other, and only working together in what is in reality a state of armed peace because each cannot do without the other. And the
wage-earner has become the creature of his tyrant union. Evil number six of over-production.
Yet out of all these evils good is certain to come. The evil of the unemployed has already opened the eyes of the unemployed, and a discontent is ripening into an awareness of injustice. The evil of strikes has produced the Labor Commissions and Arbitration Boards; the evil of the retaliating tariff leads to Reciprocity and will eventually bring us to Free Trade; the evil of the Jingo fighter will make good blood in a juster and more righteous cause; the evil of the trusts will be transfigured when their public utility corporations shall have been municipalized and their magnificent organizations of industries nationalized and socialized. And with the transformation of these evils the wage-earner will no longer be the wage-slave at the mercy of capital and the competition system. He will break free from the tyranny of his unions by abolishing them, for the day of their need will have passed away. And he will give his strength to a co-operative commonwealth which, assuring him of his life and liberty, will enable him to devote his free spirit to the pursuit of his happiness.
The ruins of over-production being the result of the blind cataclysmic force of competition, it might be well to study this blind force and see how it can be prevented or directed. This has been done; but as the result of investigations points to a bouleversement, to an entire reversal of present economic methods, it is too dangerous an experiment to engage the wageearner in it, and he is not yet fit for the undertaking. It is certainly asking of the employer more than he will consent to. It will be wise for us to take a seemingly more circuitous road, especially if we desire to bring about the final result peaceably and intelligently. This road is the road of Leisure.
A signal victory over the capitalist was won by the skilled wage-earner when he secured the eight-hour day. But the advantage gained is only partial; and it is not all along the line of labor. The skilled wage-earner will have done better when he has secured the four-hour working-day ; and labor will have done better still when its unskilled shall be as happily conditioned as its skilled. A four-hour working-
day will mean the employment of more labor and give more leisure to the laborer. Prices will, of course, go up; but there is a limit to the rise, and when that limit is reached capital will find that it does not pay to engage itself too insistently in competitive markets, and labor will discover its proper place in the changed economic conditions that will follow. And if capital attempt to ignore the limit, it may find its very existence threatened. Competition will decrease and over-production cease. Wages will, of course, go down; but there is a limit to the fall, for the capitalist, in an uncompeting market, will find his profits settling to a satisfactory level, or to a level that he must eventually content himself with. The capital that is unengaged will find other fields for enterprises, which over-production has not made barren. If it does not, it will not matter, for capital is not wealth ; it becomes wealth only when transmuted by labor.
But the skilled laborer forms only a small body of the industrial population of this country. There are thirty odd millions of clerks, domestics, petty tradesmen, shop-assistants, and other unskilled workers, who are still subjected to their employers’ will in the matter of the length of the working day. Whether through indifference or incapacity, these have not organized themselves into unions, with the result that they are the flotsam and jetsam on the ocean of labor. They live in continual fear of being supplanted by a great army of unemployed always ready to take their places. Well, little good will be accomplished until these also combine and obtain the shorter working-day. Elements for strong associations undoubtedly exist among clerks, typists and shop-assistants, and these must be welded for a common purpose. Public sentiment will help them, for public sentiment is easily enlisted on the side of injustice done to the unprotected. They must, if they are to live decently, obtain, at any rate, the eighthour working-day. No store should be open after four o’clock in the summer and five o’clock in the winter; and there should be a mid-week half-holiday as well as the Saturday half day. We need not be afraid of the results of these changes. Capita^ can stand this strain, and it -will be afraid to resist a united and determined opposition. Dislocation in business is a
thing more to be dreaded than the shortening of the working day. A definite and reasonable demand and a solidarity of front are the first requisites to an alleviation of hard-pressing conditions. Unity of purpose and solidarity of effort will, in the end, overcome every economic difficulty. And if to ask these of the unskilled wage-earner is to ask too much of him, then is he lost. It is because I think I am not asking too much of him, and it is because I believe he must be saved, that I am appealing to him to take heart and be up and doing. He has not so much to lose that he should be fearful of risking it; and he has much to gain. He has his life, his liberty, his happiness to gain, and the lives, liberties and happiness of his wife and children. He has the love of country to recover; he has his pride in his citizenship to re-establish; he has the dignity of his manhood to maintain. And he can do none of these things so long as he permits the hours of his conscious life to be at the call of a master who has no interest in him except as a possibility for profit, and so long as he accepts the wages of a slave for his life as a man.
Why do I insist so much on leisure? Because leisure is time, and time is life. Leisure alone means liberty, freedom for the assertion of self; leisure is the first requisite for making possible for us the pursuit of happiness. Give a poor man time and you enrich him. Give him time and yoü will empower him so that he will move mountains by taking thought. In time he will rejuvenate the earth and make it, indeed, a jocund earth. I ask for leisure because with leisure a man can recover himself and find his right place in the society which should dignify him and he it. He can grow in understanding and grow in wisdom, with leisure. He has the time in which to be a father, a lover, a friend, and a comrade. The fine sap of his humanity can mount and nourish the tender branches of his family tree. The Home will realize his dreams of Home, for it will be the joyous place where character is made, and with the making of character will be born nobler fathers and willing mothers.
Give a man leisure and you re-create him. We may not then be able to hoodwink him with our economic shibboleths, but we shall be glad that we are not thus
able. His eyes will have been opened, and he will open our eyes in turn. We shall realize our past foolishness in the splendid co-operation of this new-born friendly helper. Work will be no longer the hateful necessity it is now; it will be acceptable, and accomplished as the expression of the workers’ sincerity. It will be honest work, giving in labor done one hundred cents for every dollar of wage received. It will be this because the worker will be fit, and willing, and bound in honor. He will give then more in four hours than he gives now in fourteen.
This time for which I ask would not be missed by the employer. Were we today to collect the time wasted in our many business enterprises and present it to the workers we should find we had lost nothing by the gift, and the gift would be no less than one-fourth of a present workingday. As a matter of fact, few human beings can possibly be equally efficient during every hour of the ten or twelve hours of a laboring day. Time is wasted in make-believe at work, in fussing and moving to and fro, in lifting and putting back what need not have been moved. Especially is time wasted in talk—the talk of the foreman, the talk of the manager, the talk of the employer, the talk of the schemer, the talk of the incompetent and hesitating and feeble and vain. It is a rare business that is really efficient. Indeed, much of the distaste for work is not so much due to the work itself as it is to the compulsory waste of time and consequent prolonged confinement imposed on the worker by incompetent employers and supervisors. We grudge the wage-earner a dollar rise in his wages, but we lose a dollar a day by our waste of his time. The shorter working-day will compel a wiser supervision, a more concentrated effort, a closer application and a more definite attention. Time wasted is money wasted, opportunity lost, enthusiasm dampened and the working spirit demoralized.
There has never been a time in the history of the world so stirred by social discontent as the present; and never before, not even during the years immediately prior to the French Revolution, was the discontent so deep-rooted and so fraught with danger to the community. Increase in population, over-crowding in cities, competition in the labor-market, over-
production, higher cost of living, the stupidity and the selfishness of the capitalist, the vicious remedy of labor strikes, all these have contributed to the sowing of discontent. How to allay it; how to bring about juster conditions for the mass of the population, are questions which have occupied and are occupying the minds of the best thinkers. Solutions without number, from Utopias to Cooperative Societies, have been propounded and tested, and yet the situation remains unaltered. No solution is, however, possible without the active sympathy and intelligent co-operation of the people to be satisfied. The solution must come from them and not from the academic philosopher, be he never so wellmeaning, and they cannot as yet know what is the best for them. Their sympathies are too easily engaged, because of the stress of their conditions, for any seemingly helpful schemes; and their co-operation cannot be intelligent because their outlook is narrowed by their immediate wants. Unintelligent sympathy is a terribly dangerous emotion to experiment with. Our first business is to refine their sympathy to the fineness of discretion, and cultivate their intelligence to the point of enthusiasm. It is not possible to produce either of these qualities so long as the wage-earner is the slave of his work, and so long as he is compelled to give to it the greater part of his day’s life. It is to rationalize his emotion and to emotionalize his intelligence that I ask for Leisure. When he acquires an intelligent enthusiasm for sendee, then will his sendee be a vital contribution ; the patient will then help the doctor. Perhaps, indeed, he will not need the doctor.
Leisure makes for health, and health is an absolute necessity to the education of intelligence. The unintelligence displayed by the average labor voter is largely due to bad health brought on by drink. Drink is the solace of the tired laborer who takes it in the first instance as a spur to his jaded body. The leisured workingman will have no need for this spur. With the decrease in drunkenness the health of the community is assured.
Leisure makes for character; not the character of the poverty-smitten creature of the competitive labor-market, but the character of the free man, the democratic
citizen, the gentleman in the best sense of the word. He will have time for social intercourse, for study, for invigorating and inspiriting exercise. He will recapture his flown youth in play with his children, and regain his lost hopes, and relive the joyous days of his early love.
Leisure is no respecter of class distinction; it is a splendid democrat. It has been made to symbolize aristocracy, but its nature is not aristocratic; its nature is humanitarian. Ignorance on the one hand, and sentimentality on the other, have accorded it aristocratic honors; but ignorance and sentimentality are responsible for most of the mistakes we make, not the least of which is the abuse of Leisure by the so-called leisured class.
Leisure is a re-distributor of power. When leisure shall be a common enjoyment and over-production ceases, wealth will be more evenly divided, and with the more even division of wealth will follow a redistribution of power. Moreover, the leisured man is thrown on his own resources and he will have the chance to make good. If he fails he will only have himself to blame. What he is to do with leisure so that he shall make good I must leave for a future consideration.
This being to be born of Leisure, and he alone, is the man we want for our revolutionary purpose. We want him because without him all our efforts at betterment are mere patching and tinkering. He, and he alone, "will have the insight tùat we lack; and he alone can help us to a happy practical issue out of all the afflictions which beset us to-day. When the leisured workingman comes he will show us how to do away with sweat-shops, how to clean slums and wash streets, and drain cities. He himself will reform our schools, regulate our traffic, reject our faithless servants. He will rebuild our cities, remake our homes, reform our parliaments. He will remodel our armies and re-establish our navies. He will re-elect our officials and redeem their broken pledges. He will plant gardens and people desert places and grow vineyards. He will do all these things with the enthusiasm of knowledge, and he will accomplish all these things because he will have the seeing power— the tremendous power secretly stored in the ballot-box. Look out for the workingman who shall say every day at four
o’clock with Charles Lamb, “I am Retired Leisure.” You will find him in libraries and art galleries, at times; and at other times he will be resting on the grassy banks of murmuring brooks, or walking smilingly in trim gardens. Otium cum dignitate. He will not be the Superannuated Man who was once doggedly content to waste his soul at the wooden
desk of drudgery and is not presented with the bonus of a few twilit years in which to sun his silvered body. He is the Superlaborated Man who cannot live without his soul. He never can be superannuated because he is always wanted; and he will be a long time growing old because he has a long time in which to be young.