I. Industrial Slavery
The Most Wonderful Thing in the World.-The most wonderful thing in the world today is not at all "grand," "beautiful," nor "inspiring." It is the most terrible as well as the most wonderful thing in the world. At first it excites only fear and horror. We do not here mean some frightful earthquake, nor plague of disease, nor war. The most wonderful and terrible fact in the world is the present condition of the working class.
In the United States 30,000,000 people work for other people, to whom they pay more than two-thirds of their product for the privilege of working.
These working people have usually nothing at all to say as regards the amount they receive, the conditions of their labor and when they shall be at work and when at leisure. They are permitted to live in this country only so long as the few capitalists in it give them work and thus permit them to stay.
The working people of the United States produce more wealth in one year than was ever produced in any other nation in the same period in the world's history. But these workers are becoming thinner, shorter, weaker -that is, they have less life-than the American people of fifty years ago.
In the United States 750,000 workers are killed and wounded in the shops and mines and on the railroads every year.
The vast majority of the toilers in the United States die premature deaths of diseases caused by overwork, by underfeeding and diseases caused by dirt-dirt in theair, dirt in the drinking water, dirt and poison in the workers' food.
The idle rich of the United States waste more wealth than any other idle rich class have wasted in the history of the world. One woman spends $127,000 a year for "clothing." Dogs which cost $10,000 or $15,000 are now fashionable as pets among the rich. The idle rich of the United States import annually nearly $40,000,000 worth of precious stones. Many of them have, beside a great mansion in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and one or more large country estates here, a town house in Paris or London, and a country estate or two in England or France. For all this they produce nothing. Their time is occupied spending the millions others have produced.
The great wealth of the United States has been created by its toilers alone. It is being wasted by its idlers. The working people are sweating, starving and dying.
The most wonderful thing in the world is the fact that this great working class of the United States, 30,000,000 strong, should so peaceably and quietly go on in the same old way.
The Life of the Worker
The average wage earner of today is born of poor parents who work for a living. These may be "well paid" or "poorly paid." That is, the father may receive $5.00 a day and keep his family in a comfortable cottage. He may receive only $1.75 per day and be often out of a job. Then the mother and the older children must work in order to get enough for the family to live upon. In either case, sooner or later, the children of the wage worker hunt for jobs of their own.
When the worker gets his first job the world abouthim takes off its mask. He sees it as it is. Hours are long and most work is monotonous. Any child or young person naturally very much dislikes this first harsh experience of the world of the working class. His games and fun-making are given up. His physical growth is stunted and his mind dwarfed more or less. Long ago nearly all of the young men who went to work for wages, began by learning a trade. This trade was very often extremely interesting to them. It educated their minds and developed their bodies. If they were apprenticed at eighteen, then, perhaps at twenty one, they were sure of steady work and good wages. Today very few of the working people learn a trade. They work in some factory, store or office at tasks which they perform as well in a month as they do in ten years. If the young wage earner is vigorous in mind and body he revolts at this labor and makes a desperate struggle to secure an education or otherwise make it possible for himself to rise out of the working class. The stronger and healthier his body and the keener his mind, the harder does he fight. But he finds, except in very rare instances, that the doors of opportunity are closed to the children of the workers.
If the young worker learns one of the trades which still remain in modern industry, he finds after he has learned it that it also is being abolished by the invention of new machinery. He may go to night school and complete a course of study, or take a correspondence course in mechanics or some other form of applied science. If he does he will discover that his knowledge, gotten at such sacrifice of time, savings and effort, will not raise his wages. There are now so many educated poor people that their pay is on the average much less than that of skilled workers in the trades. Another hope of the young workers, men and women, is to save money and start in some small business. Others have risenI and become wealthy. Why not they? So, by giving up all pleasures, by overwork and pitiful economies, does the young worker make his start in business. If he has been fortunate enough not to lose his money through, some bank swindle, he at last, after years of effort, tries his luck. The best data we have show that more than nine-tenths of those who engage in small business fail utterly. The small portion who "succeed" do so by working night and day, Sundays and holidays. Even they make but meager livings, no better on the average than the wage-workers.
The hearts and minds of nearly all young American working people are full of hope. They cannot conceive that it would be possible for them to toil on throughout their lifetime 'for small wages and every day find the work getting harder. They do not at first realize what it is to be a wage-worker. They are unmarried and hence often have a little more money than is absolutely necessary to keep them. This the young workers usually spend for good clothes and for an occasional holiday. The daily grind of labor has not yet deadened their minds nor crushed their spirits. Plans for advancement are constantly being formed.
Then come marriage and responsibility for a family. Perhaps the care of aged parents adds to the burden. In any case by the time the worker is twenty-five years of age he has lost his grip on his hope for something better. At thirty, with growing burdens, he gets to be quite content to work along day by day without looking forward to anything but his Saturday pay envelope. He is likely to be afflicted by some chronic illness due to the nature of his work or the insanitary condition of his factory or home. Perhaps illness in his family, or the birth of a number of children, so increase his burden that his struggle becomes a pitiless daily conflict to live.At thirty-five years of age these conditions, coupled with occasional unemployment, drive the worker often to despair. But later he gets used to it. Poor food, shoddy clothing, a shack to live in, unemployment-these are his lot in life and he makes the best of it. The old saying of the poet, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast," is not at all true of the working people of today. In them hope dies. At forty or fifty years of age the average worker plods along rather carelessly. If he suffers an injury in the factory he eats without worry the bread of charity. which, twenty years before, he would have despised. lie knows that he cannot educate his children. lie may see them go early to work and injure their health. But he is so happy to receive their weekly wage to help out at home that he forgets that they are young and should be at play or at school.
This man is exactly what the owners and rulers of America now wish him to be. He is strong enough to do the work they want done. He does not demand vacations and amusement, a better home and education for his children. So he will not strike for more wages. The vast majority of the American working people over forty years of age cannot be made to understand their condition. Life for them has lost all light and beauty and hence all desire for more of its good things. Quite as hopeless is the 'state of mind of some of the younger workers. A portion of these, born of parents broken And weary from work, and themselves underfed and sent early to factories, are as careless about their conditions of life as are their parents. But with a majority of the young and a considerable minority of the older folks this is not true. They want more wages and less work. They desire rest and leisure, a chance to know their family and friends better, and an occasional vacation in the country. They wish to read, hear good musicand go to theaters. Above all they crave better food and more of it and they know that their limbs are stiff because of the lack of enough rest and exercise.
To such, and such only, are the following pages addressed. Those who are utterly broken in body and decayed in mind, those who are deadened beyond being moved by the facts of life, those who think that they somehow deserve all the labor and pain and misery of the world and that a few others should enjoy plenty and peace and opportunity, we earnestly request to at once pass this booklet along to someone else. For it can be of no interest to themselves.
We see today a working class bowed down by labor. We see it starved by poverty. We see all its efforts to improve its condition met by blows in the face. We see babies dying because their parents cannot support them. We see tender children enslaved because they toil for low wages. We see strong men committing crimes because they cannot find masters. We see the aged, after lives of long and loving service, begging for bread and craving death.
Socialism is a message of hope. It is addressed to the working class. It will save the working class, or rather, show the working class how to save itself. The world does not need to be cursed by long labor, by low wages, by starvation, by worry, and by disease. Millions now know that these conditions may be completely changed. When enough of the workers understand Socialism, believe in it, and are firmly resolved to have it, the time will be ripe for the change. That change is coming. It is coming soon Every added recruit who will read and think. brings it nearer.
"On we march then, we the workers and the rumor that ye hear Is the blended sound of battle and deliv'rance drawing near; For the hope of every creature is the banner that we bear, And the world is marching on."
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