Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/361

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355
INDUSTRIALISM

INDUSTRIALISM
By Professor CHARLES S. SLICHTER

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN

IT is unusual nowadays to write hopefully of our own times; it is so easy to point out the shortcomings of the industrial age, and so difficult clearly to see beyond the rapid changes of our times and properly to measure the huge forces now at work in society. To many critics, this is but the age of material things; poetry, faith, the hope eternal, have quite forsaken the human heart. Such critics look upon the industrial leader and the engineer as just so much wasted material that might have gone (in a better age, of course) to make a poet or an artist. I shall not attempt to explain industrialism, or to seek an inner meaning without admitting the transient evils—to do so would be to claim that great epochs of readjustment are not periods of discomfort and even disaster to many of the species.

Culture, in its many forms, developed and embraced no new types from the dawn of civilization until modern times, except those which burst forth in the past century. The forces that have brought the race to its present place—at least most of them—are readily agreed upon. First is war, then religion, then poetry and literature, then art, philosophy, commerce, music, capital, politics, society, science, industrialism. The first in this list I name in order of their force or potency. The final two—science, industrialism—I name last with prophetic intent. They are the new giants in modern civilization, and novel in this, that they are the first great forms of culture that are antagonistic to some of the ancient types which have so long dominated human destiny.

Must I justify placing war first among the forces that have given us the civilization of to-day? It is enough to illustrate it by our own century and a third of national experience. War it was that gave us independence. It was the Mexican War that confirmed us a Pacific, as well as an Atlantic, power—with all the consequences that must flow therefrom in the distant future. Again, it was civil war that knit us together as a nation, and made us strong to work out our destiny as a single people. And again it was war that entered us upon our career as a world power, a new nationalism at home, a new imperialism abroad. And lastly, it was war—trivial it is true, only a Panama revolution let loose from Washington, but, nevertheless, war—that gave us Panama and has led to one of the most far-reaching results of all time—namely, the proof that the white man can conquer the tropics. Thus is war the