2112 Assignment 1 (1).pdf - HIST 2112 ASSIGNMENT 1...

This preview shows page 1 out of 31 pages.

Unformatted text preview: HIST 2112 ASSIGNMENT 1 DOCUMENTS Frederick Townsend Martin, excerpt from ​The Passing of the Idle Rich Eugene V. Debs, “How I Became A Socialist” Lincoln Steffens, excerpt from ​Shame of the Cities Andrew Carnegie, “Wealth” Thorstein Veblen, excerpts from ​Theory of the Leisure Class William Graham Sumner, “What the Social Classes Owe to Each Other” ASSIGNMENT Read 3 of the following documents and write a brief response, comparing and contrasting the ideas of each. Your response will be due at the time of the first exam. The Passing of the Idle Rich Frederick Townsend Martin (1911; excerpt) Chapter Five: The Awakening of Society Many are the causes that have led to this great change in the attitude of the wealthy classes toward the world at large. First and foremost, in my judgment, is the change in the attitude of the working classes themselves toward the rich. For, more assiduously than anything else in this world, we, the wealthy, seek the praise and admiration of the crowd. It may seem a strange confession from a member of the wealthy class, but it is true. And the attitude of the people at large toward the rich has been changed indeed. I remember, even in my own lifetime, a period when the people of this country looked up with admiration and respect to their wealthy classes. It was in the end of that long period of which I have spoken, in which the wealth of the nation was well distributed and had not been gathered together into the hands of the few by means of the exploitation of the masses. To-day how great the change! How wonderful the transformation! At first a few weak voices told what a few eyes saw. In unheard-of journals of the labour movement, in certain revelations of high finance, corruption of politics, dreadful tales were told — stories long since forgotten. In Henry Demarest Lloyd’s “Wealth vs. Commonwealth” we have a strong voice describing what keen eyes clearly discerned. Soon were published several profound historical studies which aroused the more thoughtful. Then, with drum and trumpet and black banners flying, came the army of the muck-rakers. And their revelations made the nation heartsick. It is but five years since the white light of the noon-day sun beat down upon the hitherto deeply buried roots of America’s industrial and social life, and eighty-five millions knew whence the social fruitage of our age draws its sustenance. Just what, in this connection, has been the effect of these five years upon American opinion? When the nineteenth century closed, America worshipped great wealth. It sanctified its possessors. It deified the hundred-millionaire. In five years’ time America has learned to hate great wealth. Plutocracy is disgorging, but public opinion is relentless. Never before in the history of the world has there been anything analogous to the campaign of the American muck-rakers. The progressive forces of French society raged at the monarchy and the Church before the French Revolution. But their propaganda took thirty years to gain power, and fifty years to accomplish its purpose. The work of destruction here seemed to be done in a night. The “pillars of Society” tumbled. From official statements of the President of the United States down to the output of ten dollar a week hack-writers, our publications teemed with the products of the popular trade of exposure. Great commercial and industrial institutions were analyzed. National and municipal governments were dissected. Universities and churches did not escape the busy seeker for sin. After submerging itself in the story of its shames, the nation turned in disgust to more pleasing visions. But it had answered the question “How?” And the answer is by no means forgotten. Some day, perhaps in the twenty-first century, some Carlyle, sitting in the shade of elms before an old country house, will head another chapter, “Printed Paper,” and describe the war made with words upon the crumbling ideals and ideas of an age. He will tell how a nation from worshipping wealth on Monday learned to hate it on Saturday. He will relate how it came that myriads of poor, blessing the alms giver as they fell asleep in low hovels and crowded tenements, awoke with their hearts full of bitterness and hatred for those whom they had worshipped. He will humorously describe how the plutocracy itself, alarmed beyond power of expression, sought to disgorge its ill-gotten gains upon the multitude; its primal virtue, acquisition, transformed to the crime, possession. He will recall for the amusement of students of history the frantic endeavour of the demagogue to raise himself in public esteem through decrying the idle rich. To us, who, through the heyday of our popularity, simply sat in the sunshine and throve and grew fat in happiness, it came as a terrible shock, this change of the popular attitude. At first we laughed at it; then we preached little sermons about it, half jesting, half serious; then we began to talk about it among ourselves; and we held indignation meetings every time we met our friends, and called down the wrath of heaven on these sharp-eyed and glib-tongued investigators. Finally — and here lies the heart of the matter — we began to read these outpourings of the popular sentiment very seriously indeed. They came, at last, from sources that we dared not disregard. Instead of mere muck-raking expeditions they assumed the proportions of crusades. Instead of the frantic mouthings of mere sensation mongers there confronted us in the columns of the press and in the more sedate and orderly pages of the magazines the speeches of a President, or sane, sober editorials written by men who knew both sides, and who commanded our respect as well as the respect and admiration of the crowd. We recognized — those of us who thought, and saw, and felt — that instead of being a passing phase, as we had dreamed or hoped, this change of popular sentiment was the beginning of a revolution. I hesitate to say how deep this arrow struck. Perhaps I can illustrate it best by telling a story that came to my ears this past winter. A lady of the old school was sending her daughter, a young girl, to one of the preparatory schools here in the East. She went herself to look at the college and to talk with some of the professors. In conversation with the principal, she said: “I want Estelle, right from the beginning of her course, to get a full understanding of where wealth comes from. I want her year by year to learn of the debt and the responsibility that she, personally, owes to the people that work. Are these things taught in your courses?” The principal was astounded. She protested that such education was entirely out of line with the principles and precepts of that college. Very delicately and tactfully she intimated that one of the foundations of a social education was the constant instillation into the minds of the young of the idea of the superiority of the aristocracy over the masses. To teach Estelle that she and her class are really dependent upon the grimy men who labour with their hands would be to turn upside down the curriculum of that college. The upshot of it was that Estelle to-day is enrolled as a student in a high school in New York City. Her mother believes that the salvation of the wealthy classes in this country depends upon the coming generation understanding the true relationship between capital and labor. This is, perhaps, an extreme case, for only a very few years ago that matron herself was absolutely immersed in the whirlpools of the most frivolous Society which has a real right to use the term in talking about itself. Always she was a woman of a most active mind, or broad sympathies, of excellent benevolent character; but her mind found its full exercise in the pursuit of social fads, her sympathies found outlet in sporadic raids upon the strongholds of misery and poverty, and her benevolence satisfied itself with much hidden largess to various and sundry charities. She did not really understand any of the problems of the day. The first awakening of this one woman came about through chance. Bored to death at a summer resort, half sick, and therefore restricted in her activities, a friend who stopped on the piazza to extend her sympathies happened to leave on the table a book. The lady picked it up and began, half absently, to turn the pages from back to front, as one will. A heading caught her eye. Here it is: “OUR BARBARIANS FROM ABOVE.” She did not understand it; and her habit of mind led her to investigate. She had lost the page, but she searched until she found it. Then she read the paragraph: If our civilization is destroyed, as Macauley predicted, it will not be by his barbarians from below. Our barbarians come from above. Our great money-makers have sprung in one generation into seats of power kings do not know. The forces and the wealth are new, and have been the opportunity of new men. Without restraints of culture, experience, the pride or even the inherited caution of class or rank, these intoxicated men think they are the wave instead of the float. To them, science is but a never-ending repertoire of investments stored up by nature for the syndicates, government but a fountain of franchises, the nations but customers in squads, and the million the unit of a new arithmetic of wealth written for them. She read on and on. She finished the book, and turned back to its beginning. She could not read it all; but she read enough to realize her profound ignorance of facts. That night, at dinner, she astounded her husband in this wise: “Who is Henry Demarest Lloyd?” “He is a Socialist writer,” was the answer, “who amuses himself attacking our class.” “I wish,” she said, “you would get me all his books.” From that time on her mind found new occupations, new interests, new ideas. A world that she did not know existed came swiftly over her horizon. She did not rush madly into extremes — she has not to this day — but her life has changed considerably. We who knew her so little time ago as one of the typical, clever, brilliant, and flashy purveyors of cheer and social joy find her to-day no less charming in the matter of mere entertainment; but we expect, when we meet her, to find in her mind many other and more serious things. She never appears in print, she is not a suffragist, she had dropped her little fads. She is not that strange abnormality of her sex that neglects the old pursuits of women to follow the strange gods of men; but she is, in every sense, a student of the true conditions that surround her. The mists of golden tradition have cleared from her eyes. To-day she has plenty of company in her own set. She did not convert them. She detests the role of a propagandist. They simply came of their own accord to read and learn. And when the educated classes really become interested, I think they study things more deeply than any other class. Even the most violent and anarchistic of the publications that pretend to portray the facts of the class relationships have thousands of readers among the very wealthy. I remember a case in point. Mr. Upton Sinclair, a pronounced Socialist of the flamboyant type, was invited to lunch one day, by a mutual acquaintance, with a young man of the most exclusive set in this city. They met in a private dining-room at the Lawyers’ Club. In the course of the lunch Mr. Sinclair referred to an article he had published in Wilshire’s Magazine, a Socialist sheet of the noisy class. “Yes,” said the other, “I read it.” “You read it?” exclaimed Mr. Sinclair, in complete surprise. “Oh, yes — I always read it,” said the other, in a matter-of-fact way. There are many like him. Five years ago you probably could have counted on the fingers of two hands the men in the wealthy classes who read the literature that comes from below. To-day it is a very common occurrence to hear in the best clubs of New York wealthy men discussing with intense earnestness and real economic sense articles of which they never would have heard five years ago. It is not that many of us really feel the danger that impends. It is simply that our armour of complacency and self-satisfaction has been pierced, and our pride has been wounded. “I used to think,” said a clubman to me last winter, “that we were well beloved; but I guess our class is the best hated class in the land. I am only beginning to find out why.” Of course, I do not want to give the reader the idea that the muck-raker wrought this change. As a matter of fact, he is but the skirmish line. The wealthy classes would have weathered his attack without much trouble and gone upon their all-complacent way if he had been the culmination, instead of the mere beginning, of the hard attack. But after him, as I have said, came a great army of sober, sedate, forceful writers, hurling volleys of stinging facts upon our careless trenches. We roused ourselves to meet the real attack. Fiercely it swept upon us. Yet even that we might have met and gone back in the end into the peace and security of our age-long self-confidence, no whit the worse for the battle. Worse — or better — was to come. When the pulpit and the press had done their worst — or best — the heavy artillery opened. Senators on the floor of the senate, governors from the chair of office, mighty lawyers before the bar, judges from the bench, and, last, a President from the White House, raked our outworn defences, and even the silliest and most fatuous of men within the walls knew, at least, that we were under fire. To-day there is a lull. Many of those who awakened to the sound of battle but two or three years ago are slipping back into fancied security. The older heads know better. We see the forces of labour and poverty forming new lines upon the plains and hill sides. We see them lashed to new fury by the whip of rising prices; we hear the stern, stentorian voices of their tribunes calling them to battle for their lives and liberties; we smell the reek of them as they crowd from the dusty mines and sweaty factories. We do not flatter ourselves, even those of us most drunk with the strong liquor of power and the sweet wine of indolence, that the forces of attack are weakened or weakening. We know full well that this great lull of renewed national prosperity has been used by the forces of the men that labour to make themselves stronger, cleaner, better caparisoned for the long battle of to-morrow. In the midst of the peace and calm of high prosperity we hear the rumble of the thunder of war. We read in the papers that a great manufacturing city of the Middle West has chosen a Socialist mayor. Over the wire there comes to us the news that an anti-corporation campaign in Denver has broken to atoms the organized power of both the great political parties which, for generations, we have used as pawns in mightier games than theirs. An able public servant is openly and publicly branded a thief and a betrayer of trust, because, the people say, he works with the larger capitalists to help their plans to completion. Public clamor and disapprobation greet the plan of one of the richest of men to incorporate his charities in order that they may be more efficient. The people refuse absolutely to believe that there is no ulterior project behind the incorporation. These are incidents of warfare, not of peace. Here, as in Denver and Milwaukee, it is an attack upon an outpost, a skirmish in force. There, as in the case of the Rockefeller Foundation, it is a determined effort to block what the leaders of popular thought believe to be a strengthening of the redoubts of wealth. Strange, it seems to me, it is that still within the gates of gold there dwells a great host of people barely roused. For I have failed of my aim if I have given the impression that Society is to-day wholly roused, wholly armed, wholly awake to its danger. It is, alas!, not true. It is no more true than it was true before the rebellion that the people of the South were all in sympathy with Helper. There were a few, to be sure, but the rank and file of the slave-holders called him a visionary and an alarmist. So to-day, perchance, the vast majority of the men of wealth in this and other cities will call me a visionary and an alarmist. I wish it were true. Would that I could bring myself to believe that the things I see about me are but the passing phases of a natural adjustment. I have tried for many years to persuade myself that all is well. I have failed. "How I Became a Socialist" Eugene Debs (1902) Eugene Debs's "How I Became a Socialist," a magazine article written in 1902, describes his early life in the union movement among railroad workers, his arrest and imprisonment after the Pullman strike, and the way his life experiences, as well as his reading and personal reflection, all combined to convince him that Socialism was the answer to American workers' problems. Much of his writing is sentimental, but his Victorian jargon was part of his strength as a speaker and writer, enabling him to appeal to people of his generation in a humane language they recognized and admired. As I have some doubt about the readers of "The Comrade" having any curiosity as to "how I became a Socialist" it may be in order to say that the subject is the editor's; not my own; and that what is here offered is at his bidding — my only concern being that he shall not have cause to wish that I had remained what I was instead of becoming a Socialist. On the evening of February 27, 1875, the local lodge of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen was organized at Terre Haute, Ind., by Joshua A. Leach, then grand master, and I was admitted as a charter member and at once chosen secretary. "Old Josh Leach," as he was affectionately called, a typical locomotive fireman of his day, was the founder of the brotherhood, and I was instantly attracted by his rugged honesty, simple manner and homely speech. How well I remember feeling his large, rough hand on my shoulder, the kindly eye of an elder brother searching my own as he gently said, "My boy, you're a little young, but I believe you're in earnest and will make your mark in the brotherhood." Of course, I assured him that I would do my best. What he really thought at the time flattered my boyish vanity not a little when I heard of it. He was attending a meeting at St. Louis some months later, and in the course of his remarks said: "I put a tow-headed boy in the brotherhood at Terre Haute not long ago, and some day he will be at the head of it." Twenty-seven years, to the day, have played their pranks with "Old Josh" and the rest of us. When last we met, not long ago, and I pressed his good, right hand, I observed that he was crowned with the frost that never melts; and as I think of him now: "Remembrance wakes, with all her busy train, Swells at my breast and turns the past to pain." My first step was thus taken in organized labor and a new influence fired my ambition and changed the whole current of my career. I was filled with enthusiasm and my blood fairly leaped in my veins. Day and night I worked for the brotherhood. To see its watchfires glow and observe the increase of its sturdy members were the sunshine and shower of my life. To attend the "meeting" was my supreme joy, and for ten years I was not once absent when the faithful assembled. At the convention held in Buffalo in 1878 I was chosen associate editor of the magazine, and in 1880 I became grand secretary and treasurer. With all the fire of youth I entered upon the crusade which seemed to fairly glitter with possibilities. For eighteen hours at a stretch I was glued to my desk reeling off the answers to my many correspondents. Day and night were one. Sleep was time wasted and often, when all oblivious of her presence in the still small hours my mother's hand turned off the light, I went to bed under protest. Oh, what days! And what quenchless zeal and consuming vanity! All the firemen everywhere — and...
View Full Document

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture