Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/71

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PENDING PBOBLEMS FOR WAGE-EARNERS. 59

may measure the intellectual and social relations that an indi- vidual bears to the community in which he lives.

We may freely admit the statement of the socialist that " the rich are growing richer," but it does not follow as a corollary that the poor are growing poorer. It is true that capital through combination has vastly increased its power to organize and prose- cute industrial pursuits on a scale of unprecedented magnitude, and that, especially as the result of energetic exploitation of new inventions, large rewards have been gained by bold investors ; but I claim that, in the aggregate, labor has gained a much larger share of these benefits without incurring any of the risks.

The rich pecuniary rewards which have been reaped by Sir Henry Bessemer, and by other manufacturers who were far-seeing and courageous enough to develop his cheap process of steel-mak- ing and its later modifications, make but a small item when com- pared to the countless millions paid to labor during the past thirty years as the result of the development of these discoveries through the aid of capital. The Bessemer process of steel-making did more than this for labor : it sounded the death knell of the most exhaust- ing form of toil known to man, that inferno of labor, the pud- dling of boiling iron by human hands. Many similar illustrations could be given.

I claim that modern mechanical inventions have in all cases proved to be distinctively beneficial to the wage- earner: he is, through their aid, better housed, better fed, better clothed, better educated, has more numerous and better amusements, and is thus approaching more nearly to the condition of the employer. Indeed, the wage-earner to-day enjoys many advantages of civilization which were unknown to employers of former generations.

Herr Liebknecht, the leader of the Social Democrats in the Reichstag, presented to American readers The Programme of Ger- man Socialism in The Forum. I carefully studied his paper with the view of discovering, if possible, some rational explanation of the problem, " How is socialism going to benefit the condition of the working class in America ? " but the question remains unan- swered. It is true that figures are given showing the marvelous growth of social democracy in the German Empire since 1890, and the author glories in the title which he gives to German Social- Democracy, viz., " the party of the discontented " ; he also per- ceives signs of " an impending social crisis " ; he likens the struggle between socialism and the Government to the fable of the Goblin and the Peasant ; but the introduction of such a movement into this country could, I think, be more appropriately likened to the fable of the killing of the goose that laid the golden Qg^.

The recent presence in this country of more than one agitator from abroad, and the industrious dissemination of socialistic lit-

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