Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/639
THE eight-hour epidemic has at length subsided, and the workingmen, having failed to accomplish their object, have generally returned to their labors under the old arrangements. The infection spread through all the leading industrial crafts: carpenters, bricklayers, cabinet-makers, upholsterers, carriage-makers, iron and metal workers, piano-makers, plumbers, sugar-refiners, gas-makers, car-drivers—one after another—were drawn into the movement. Laborers have had a trial of strength with capitalists, turning out some 80,000 strong, with much agitation and the best organization that could be rallied; yet the movement collapsed in less than three months from its outbreak. The details of the struggle it is unnecessary here to specify, as they have been extensively published by the newspaper press, but its leading results may be summed up as follows: 1. The loss of a couple of million of dollars to the mechanics concerned; 2, The consequent privation and suffering of many families; 3. The demoralization of the unemployed through idleness and exposure to vicious influences; 4. Extensive loss to capitalists and the public through the closure of manufactories, non-production, and business derangement; 5. An aggravation of hostile feeling between the employed and employers; 6. An organization of employers to resist future efforts of the same kind; 7 and lastly; the disclosure of the alarming prevalence of dangerous and destructive ideas among certain portions of the laboring classes.
Of this last count it may be remarked that in the inflammatory harangues at public meetings it was constantly proclaimed that capitalists are the deadly enemies of the working-classes; that capital, of right, belongs to the producers who have created it; and the doctrine was avowed by some that, if the strikers could not get their own, the torch should prevent their robbers from enjoying it. Much of this intemperate talk should, no doubt, be credited to the excitement of the time, but it shows both the danger of such excitements and the sort of ideas that are simmering in the minds of many working-people.
As a partial compensation for all these mischiefs, it is hoped that something valuable has been learned from this experience. If it teaches laboring-men that this is not the way to promote their real interests, much will have been gained. The pathway to success is ever through failure, and to have tried a policy and proved its insufficiency is often the necessary preliminary to another and a better policy. That the relations of labor to capital are unsatisfactory, need not be denied; that the laboring-classes are often scantily and unjustly paid, and do not receive an equitable share of the profits resulting from the cooperation of operative and capitalist, is undoubtedly true. And the inequitable working of the present system is, in many cases, very hard to bear. There are evils to be overcome, and wrongs to be righted, but the great problem to be solved, in securing the remedy, is far from easy, and its solution is to be sought in quite another direction from that which has been lately taken. Laborers have a right to demand an advance of wages, to refuse to work if they do not get it, and to combine for the attainment of their end, but they have no right to re-