REVIEW of REVIEWS

Diplomacy or War—Which?

How Capital and Labor Can Work in Closer Harmony

April 1 1918
REVIEW of REVIEWS

Diplomacy or War—Which?

How Capital and Labor Can Work in Closer Harmony

April 1 1918

Diplomacy or War—Which?

How Capital and Labor Can Work in Closer Harmony

A REMARKABLE article on the adjustment of relations between capital and labor appeared in Cotton Factory Times, from the pen of Sir Charles Macara. It is interesting to note that it was Sir Charles Macara who was referred to in the article by Colonel Maclean in February MACLEAN’S in connection with the cotton embargo and the war. He writes:—

Last week you published a letter from me in which I vindicated the rights of Labor. Perhaps you will kindly grant me space this week to say something about the rights of Capital, and to show how urgent is the demand to-day for effecting a reconciliation between the conflicting claims of Capital and

Before entering upon that subject I would like briefly to refer to a statement made in a letter which appears in your last issue. Replying to my argument that this war had disproved the Socialist view that all wars are sought after and deliberately encouraged by the Capitalist class, and will “cease only with the suppression of the Capitalist system,” the writer of the letter advances the statement that wars are the “result of capitalism.” It would be no less true to say that wars are the result of maintaining navies and armies, but it would not be true to say that our armed forces are wholly maintained by and for any one class in the State, or that these forces are waiting to exterminate a people and devastate a country at the call of vany one class.

Again, my letter clearly showed that I was not concerned in any way with the German inducements to wage a war of extermination and destruction, but to show that the entry into the war of this country was not the outcome, as the writer of the letter would seem to suggest, of the machinations of the Capitalist class. Great Britain had the choice between war and an intolerable alternative. For her it was not, and is not, in its essence a war of interests; it is a war of ideals. Not a war of aggression, but a war in defence of principles, the maintenance of which is vital to civilization. The German nation— militarists, capitalists, professors, priests, students, and the large class which is usually embodied under the general term of “workers”

had cultivated a warlike, restless, ambitious spirit of conquest, and the nation in arms was turned into a pack of wolves instead of watchdogs.

I am asked if my suggestion is that “it is purely a military caste in Germany who forced the war ?” and the questioner answers it by saying that it was the capitalist class in Germany who persuaded the military class that war was necessary. Perhaps my interrogator will allow Mr. H. M. Hyndman to answer his question. About the time Germany sprung the war upon us, Mr. Hyndman wrote an article in which he spoke of the military caste “which, holding Germany in its grip, had resolved to make war upon Europe.” That, according to Mr. Hyndman, was the position in spite of the fact that the Social Democrats, with nearly five million votes in the election immediately preceding, formed the largest party in the Reichstag.

Sir Max Waechter, in an article (“Fortnightly Review," May, 1913) written to prove that the nations of Europe were being crushed by the burden of militarism, that militarism is perpetuated and increased by their divisions, and that armament can be restricted only when the European nations become united, said: “In Germany antagonism against England is very widespread, principally among the masses, and it is so intense that during the recent Morocco crisis the German populace would have enthusiastically welcomed a war with England without thought of the consequences. This may appear exaggerated, but the writer happened to be

in Germany at the time, and noticed the prevailing excitement with great concern. Happily the German Government did not allow itself to be carried away by popular passion, but the danger lies in this that at some other occasion the Government might be unable to withstand the war clamor and be forced into war in order to save its existence. The prejudice among the German masses against England has been artificially created. . . Happily a large proportion of

the cultured and business classes are friendly to the British nation.” I was in Berlin myself at the pulmination of the Morocco crisis, and know how near we were to war at that

But it is not my immediate purpose to defend war between nations, but to put in a plea for a peaceful issue out of all our industrial afflictions. In the past it cannot be said that all our ways have been ways of pleasantness, and all our paths have led to peace. We have been too prone to array our forces on the field of war. Would it not be a good thing for the nation—for employers and workers alike—if instead of perpetuating industrial strife and thereby weakening our commercial supremacy, we were to turn to the field of diplomacy?

In my last letter I spoke of the rights of Labor. There are also quite distinctive rights which belong to Capital. There has been too great a tendency among the workers to countenance the ruthless violation of treaties of peace; to regard the settlement of a grievance as binding only upon the employer and leaving the worker free to ignore the pledge made on his behalf by his duly accredited trade union representative. Strikes and lockouts are alike a state of war. They are essentially barbarous and inhuman expedients, and the misery and suffering which follow in their train indiscriminately' involve the innocent as well as the guilty section of the community who are held to be responsible for the disaster.

The “sympathetic” strike is the latest form of tyranny, and the evils caused by this weapon of Labor, whilst ignoring all the principles upon which a sound system of collective bargaining can be set up, create a profound feeling of suspicion and distrust between employers and their workpeople, bring widespread distress to the class of people in the community who can least afford to suffer the deprivations which this industrial manoeuver of war entails, and weaken our stability as a nation.

My contention is that without direct State intervention the employers of the country on the one side and the workers on the other, and to the great advantage of both, could adius.t their grievances without resorting to antiquated and merciless methods of force, the evils of which are so apparent. We should demand that the wheels of the machinery of the Industrial Council might be made to revolve when there is a danger of a serious breach between the principal parties of industry. The workers in the cotton industry will know that I have long since advocated the establishment of a tribunal for dealing with deadlocks in labor disputes, and that in 1911 the Government, acting on my proposal, decided that the best means to strengthen and improve the existing official machinery for settling and shortening industrial disputes by which the general public are adversely affected was by the formation of an Arbitration Board. I do not close my eyes to the fact that arbitration in the past has been disappointing. The workpeople have distrusted it. They had a suspicion that it too often proceeded on the principle of “Heads I win; tails you lose.” On the other hand, the employers distrusted it because of the growing repudiation by the workers of many of the settlements.

In the cotton industry we have taken a lead in improving the relations between capital and labor. The industry is highly organized; the leaders of the trade unions are men possessing the highest qualifications for the work they have to do. This the em-

ployers have always recognized and appreciated. The workers’ interests have not suffered in their hands, and will not suffer in' the future provided they receive the cordial support of the rank and file of the vast army of operatives. In the conference room they have proved their ability in the past, and the introduction of a court of arbitration will not in any way lessen their influence or that of their unions. All I ask is that instead of paralyzing industry by having recourse to strikes and lockouts which belong to the age of barbarism we should bring all the wisdom possible to bear on our grievances, whether real or imagined, and thereby secure peace with honor.

A remarkably good illustration of the way in which the employers’ and operatives’ representatives can work together for the general welfare of the industry is provided for us in the admirable way in which the Cotton Control Board has accomplished the most difficult task of steering the industry clear of the rocks which at one time threatened to wreck it. The employers alone could not have steered the ship of industry into safety. Nor could the operatives’ representatives unassisted have supplied the ballast necessary to secure a safe passage. Employers’ and operatives’ leaders combined have fought successfully against a turbulent sea of controversy, and relieved a terrible period of anxiety by their statesmanlike conduct and grasp of essentials. When we consider what has been accomplished by the Cotton Control Board it is idle to suggest that it is necessary to appeal to the strike and the lockout to adjust any differences that may occur in the future.

But wherein lies the secret of the success of the work of the Cotton Control Board? It is surely to be found in the fact that arrangements were made by the Board of Trade compulsorily to bring the whole of the cotton industry—the federated and the non-federated firms—the unionist and the non-unionist workers—into line. The imtance of this was made manifest in the report of the inquiry on industrial agreements. The newly-formed Industrial Council in 1912 urged that any agreement that was reached in behalf of the employers and workers in any one industry, provided it received the sanction of three-quarters of the persons employed in that industry, should be held to be binding on the remaining quarter. If this advice had been acted upon when war broke out, many millions of money would have been saved to the cotton industry, which is admitted to have been the most hardly hit of all our industries.

If many years’ observation and reflection entitle me to make a recommendation, it is that we should henceforth resolve voluntarily to abandon the wasteful and expensive methods of the past in the future conduct of our industrial affairs. We have to accept one of two alternatives—conciliation or alienation—a drawing together of the forces of industry or to risk the danger of a wider breach between them. The latter would hamper trade at one of the most critical times in our history. Besides playing into the hands of those nations who are to-day trying permanently to cripple us, such a policy would make our organizations practically useless, and the increased competition which we will have to meet when our armies return from the field of action would find us unprepared to meet it, inasmuch as we would be engaged in a guerilla warfare among ourselves. Conciliation, on the other hand, would open up a new and happier era, and when once established would not be departed from, since it would place our industries on a higher, firmer, a more secure and lasting basis, because the evil which had for so long been troubling us and conspiring to our ruin had been eliminated.