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ON THE AIMS OF INDUSTRY
"Produce or perish!” This is the terse slogan with which M. Herriot the distinguished Mayor of Lyons in a recent book entitled Creer seeks to arouse the young men of France. A world in which tool power has become the deciding factor can hardly fail to appreciate the significance of this appeal to a nation exhausted by a well-nigh fatal struggle for its existence, and now faced with the necessity for a complete rehabilitation of its economic and industrial procedures. But it is not so certain, however, that we in this country will see in Herriot's words an immediate national challenge which we cannot afford to ignore.
True we have become strong and great, but in doing so we have expended our national resources with a shocking prodigality. Immediate gains and profits have almost exclusively held our attention. We have dubbed as dreamers and theorists and "impractical fellows,” those who would have called a halt to the mad orgy through which our streams have been polluted, our forests and mines wasted, and our political life debauched. We have attacked with an especial vindictiveness those who sought to ameliorate an industrial system which made little pretense at conserving human values. God, the pity of it! We have preached the doctrine of a power through our inheritance rather than through our own exertion and travail.
As a nation we had come to feel so keenly the reproach in all this that we actually welcomed the chastening afforded by the
Even today we hear the question asked as to whether all the precious toll of suffering and sacrifice was enough. Are we as a people now ready to alter the very foundations of our social structure if this be necessary to right admitted wrongs? Are we really convinced that the employer and those he employs can and must whole heartedly coöperate to effect great social advantages? Do we really believe that the aims of labor and capital are mutual if not identical? Do we actually believe in affording an equal opportunity to every citizen and in the elimination of every special privilege?
For unless this nation is ready to scheme out its industry along
radically new lines, and to accomplish ultimate rather than immediate rewards, it will be only a question of time until we are overtaken by those who may perhaps seem pitifully weak and disorganized today. And no present financial strength or volume of natural resources will materially affect the outcome. Modern industry is too fearsome a thing to be hedged in either by small men or narrow laws. This is not only a scientific age but a day when the value of coöperation is being demonstrated on an ever broadening international scale. The industry of the future will be grounded altogether on mutuality of interests. Force as a dominant factor is dead. Science will unlock her secret vaults only as fast as we have the initiative to ask questions and the imagination to press for answers. Herein lies the real power of the future. The supply is limitless. And the wealth of one man or of one nation under this dispensation will not mean another's undoing.
Only a little while back the workers could conscientiously, and actually did, hold back on production. “Soldiering” on an essentially international basis was practiced pending the time when labor could measurably control the division of the proceeds of a more efficient industry. But the new balance as between the employers of the world and their employes which has resulted from the war has so altered this situation that in every direction we see indications that the workers of the world-organized or unorganized--are coming to feel some measure of responsibility for production and are manifesting an increasing interest in the principles and mechanisms through which production may be increased. We need constantly to remind ourselves, however, that the employing class has been guilty of many varieties of sabotage as, for instance, when consciously placing in executive positions those not fitted properly to carry on their functions. If the employers under the new dispensation are to have a right to call on their employes for full performance, the latter certainly have the right to demand competent leadership. The day does not appear to be far distant when this right will be exerted.
One of the most outspoken recent utterances on behalf of increasing production coming from the ranks of labor was the speech of Hon. Wm. B. Wilson, Secretary of Labor, delivered at the Atlantic City Convention of the American Federation of