Page:The forerunners.djvu/64

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never existed." It is by law established. "But in practice there reigns a contempt for law, to the advantage of the strong and to the detriment of the weak." We have long known this through the revelations of the Italian and Russian socialist press, in connection with the scandalous sentences passed on working men. Do pacifists give trouble? They are arrested as anarchists! Does a periodical refuse to bow to the opinion of the state? It is suppressed without parley; or sometimes, by a more refined procedure, it is prosecuted for obscenity![1] And so on.

Max Eastman's chief collaborator, John Reed, endeavours to throw light on the preponderating role played by American capitalism in the war. In an article which adopts as title that of Norman Angell's book The Great Illusion, Reed declares that the pretence of fighting kings is maudlin, and that Money is the true king. Putting his finger on the sore spot, he adduces figures showing the colossal profits made by the great American companies. Under the bizarre title The Myth of American Fatness,[2] he shows that it is not, as Europe fancies, the American nation which battens on the war, but only two per cent of the population. Ninety-eight per cent of the inhabitants of the States are thin folk, and grow thinner daily. During the years 1912 to 1916, wages increased nine per cent, whilst the cost of food increased seventy-four per cent during the years 1915 and 1916. From 1913 to 1917, the general rise in prices was 85.32 per cent (flour 69 per cent, eggs 61 per cent, potatoes 224 per cent! Between January 1915 and January 1917, the rise in the price of coal was from $5 to $8.75 per ton). The bulk of the population has suffered cruelly, and serious hunger strikes have taken place in New York. Of course the European press has either said nothing about these or has ascribed them to German plots.

  1. This is said to have happened in the case of "Pearson's Magazine." (Consult the article on Free Speech, "The Masses," July, 1917.)—It is hardly necessary to refer to the masterly manner in which all independent persons who displease the authorities are implicated in imaginary plots.
  2. Issue of July, 1917.