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Mr. Kyne Joins the Head-Hitters
By JOHN NICHOLAS BEFFEL
'N California the popular sport among the leisure He finds a sailor named “Frenchy” packing his
class is to hit the head of the nearest I. W. W. things. From this point the story proceeds thus:
with any object that happens to be handy. Now 'I'm going to search you,' said the Viking. and then the best citizens get together with tar and “ 'You can't search me without a search warrant. feathers or a rope, or with baseball bats, and hold I'll have the police on you,' the man screamed a merry party. Again, they vary this diversion by angrily. invoking the magicians of the local county pro- You damned sea lawyer. Shut up.' The Viking secutor's office, who with the presto-wand known as cuffed the man with his open hand gently, as a the criminal syndicalism law can transform any man mother bear cuffs her cubs. Then, holding Frenchy who helped to build the roads into a poisonous rep fast with his left arm and leg, he went through the tile with promptness and dispatch.
man's pockets until he found a battered pocketbook. Baseball bats have been found exceedingly effec- " 'It ought to be in here,' he mused; and with a tive, especially among the smart set of Los Angeles, shove sent his prisoner reeling back into the sternin battering the fingers of Wobblies who, having castle, 'Ah! It is. Here is his membership card in fied a sportsmen's party of superior numbers, are the I. W. W. showing his dues paid to date. Damned hanging by the hands from lofty window ledges of rotten French anarchist. Well, he'll never cripple the I. W. W. Hall with a nice, soft pavement below another ship—the rat!' on which to fall when their fingers give out under "Frenchy pulled an automatic pistol from his the hammering.
pocket.—But Valdemar did not stand aside. This genial sport in a multitude of forms has been “ 'No,' he said patiently, 'you can't get away with in vogue in California these 14 years. The I. W. W. this. Shoot and be damned to you. Even if you get have been regarded as the poor relations of those me through the heart, I'll live long enough to get who ride the roads in high-priced cars. They are my hands on you; then I'll break your neck and convenient figures on which to blame any untoward you'll die lingeringly. You're an enemy of this happening, such as a forest fire set going by loco- world, you crazy swine, and I'm going to destroy motive sparks; the collapse of a reviewing stand built you.' by a contractor who is a good politician; or the "Frenchy fired one bullet, missing. The next was poisoning of guests with soup from copper kettles
defective. Valdemar knocked the gun out of at a banquet tendered to notables from England Frenchy's hand, and the man fell to the deck screamand Iowa.
ing. Almost every newspaper editor in California is “ 'Get up,' said Valdemar Sigurdson, 'and die like both a golf enthusiast and an ardent hunter of I. W. a man.'' W. heads. And the Head-Hitters' Club membership
There is much more of this chivalric action. And is open to any writer who can wield a typewriter
at the end: with a preponderance af accuracy in the direction “Old Man Hickman walked up to the moaning of an Industrial Worker's ear.
Frenchy and spurned him contemptuously in the Peter B. Kyne is a recent notable addition to the ribs. 'Score one for capitalism,' he piped.” ranks of the Head-Hitters. He qualifies for mem- The Cosmopolitan's editors liked that story so well bership in Hearst's Cosmopolitan Magazine in a
that they asked Mr. Kyne to write a series along marine short story entitled, "The Thunder God.” the same lines. But on completing that one Mr. Thus a million onlookers watch while Mr. Kyne Kyne was taken ill. So it seems that the Headswings his bludgeon; and Mr. Hearst's native heath Hitters' Club will have to struggle along without him is saved once more from the "menace” which inter- for a while. feres so often with the comfortable enjoyment of
Nina Wilcox Putnam has been invited to become wealth brought home by shackled oarsmen in one's a member of the California club, in view of her chaingalleys.
shot hurling in a fiction story in the Saturday EveIn Mr. Kyne's story there is to be a ship launching ning Post—the chain-shot being aimed at Sacco and in San Francisco harbor. Something happens. The
Vanzetti while they were on trial for murder comlow pressure turbine gets jammed so the boat can't mitted by payroll bandits in Massachusetts. And start. Valdemar Sigurdson, whom Old Man Hickman
Emerson Hough, who lately died, was a worthy elig
ible by reason of his book, “The Web,” which celebhas raised from a pup, is now port captain, and he
rates the achievements of the illustrious American gets wrought up. He sets out to find the cur who Protective League during the European unpleasantdid this thing.
“A Working Machine Must Not Play the Piano, Must Not Feel Happy, Must Not Do A Whole Lot of
\HE time will never come when scientific research will have evolved a method of manufac
turing human beings quicker and cheaper than is done by nature. Yet from the time when the primitive cave-dweller turned a stone into a tool, the human mind has been at work putting inert matter and the living forces of nature in the service of society. In the play "R. U. R.”—Rossum's Universal Robots—which has created such a stir both in Europe and America, a scientist by the name of Rossum daringly conceives the idea of manufacturing artificial workers, human automatons, known as robots. This is but a figment of the human brain, a far-fetched fantasy, but the moral that it points out is of tremendous importance.
What could be more alluring to our present cap tains of industry than to obtain a formula whereby an army of standardized, model workers could be manufactured on a large scale, equipping them with only such physical organs and mental attributes as would make them useful working machines, devoid of everything that tends to hinder the making of profits? They would be creatures without ideals or souls, lacking even the slightest interest in themselves.
The play is the product of the intrepid mind of a young Czecho-Slovakian playwright, Karel Capek. He has succeeded in weaving a most lurid and, at the same time, ironical melodrama around the theme of the class struggle—the degradation of the present
day industrial worker into a veritable mechanical machine-like workers. As a result he produces a working machine which lives and moves and has its few hundred that are nearly human. In fact, the being with but one end in view—to make profits specimens of this new brand are in mind and body for the master class. With an uncanny insight into superior to "people", and they are also provided with this profit-mad world, he produces a sociological a certain amount of emotions and sentiments, which fantasy full of old ideas in new attire: The suprem
were absent in the other robots. As a consequence, acy of one class over another; the resentment felt they become conscious of their position in this manby class-conscious slaves toward their masters; the made society and rebel. They form a nucleus for an subsequent revolt and destruction of "those who do international workers' organization. This they find not work but live off the labor of others."
a comparatively easy task, since they are all made The action in the play takes place on an island alike- universal—which fact their makers the where Rossum's Universal Robots are being manu- capitalists recognized as a mistake only too late. As factured on a large scale, at cost of one hundred and one of the capitalists fittingly bewails: “Ours was fifty dollars apiece. The impregnation of these ro- a colossal achievement, but we are about to burst bots takes place in the test-tubes in the factory with our greatness.” The more optimistic of them laboratories. They are then put through various pro- plan to make “national robots" in the future: cesses of manufacture; bones are supplied by the Negroes, Chinese, and of all other races and langubone factory and nerves, brains, and all the neces- ages, in order to prevent international revolts in the sary accessories, including a "high class human future. finish,” in their respective departments. A perfect This, however, cannot be realized, because the "human" machine is produced to supply the world's formulae for making these workers have been desindustries with docile mechanical workers.
troyed. The fate of the manufacturers is now fully The factory heads are typical. They range from in the hands of the robots. These latter now seize a general manager, who holds idealistic theories all the industries, telegraph and radio stations; they about liberating “mankind”—from the “drudgery" man the army and navy; in short, they exchange of labor by letting the robots do all the work, to a places with the capitalist class of the world. They psychological experimenter who provides these work. kill all the "people” on the face of the earth-by. ing machines with pain nerves—without them they "people” being understood the members of the ruling would wastefully break off their fingers and other class, members. Little thought is given to anything else It is interesting to follow the discourse and but industrial efficiency and the satisfaction of an reasoning of the doomed manufacturers on Rossum's insatiable greed for profits. Their motto is: “The island. They are all barricaded within the home of cheaper the labor power, the greater the output, and the general manager. Doors and windows are bolttherefore the greater the profit.”
ed to keep out the enraged mob of workers, who The making of the robots goes on unhindered, until have surrounded the building. One of the capitalists a young woman, a member of a "humanity league,” peers through the window at the relentless mob becomes into their midst to remonstrate with the low. “One hundred thousand faces
alike," he factory managers on the inhuman treatment of the groans, “one hundred thousand expressions alike." robots. Her appeal, to provide these workers with The denunciation by the robots of the parasite more human feeling, with ideals, is met with amus- class is profound, Radius, a robot with a superior ing ridicule. They explain, that were the robots to intellect, and later one of the active revolutionists, have ideals, to have a will of their own, to dis- is an outstanding character. He has had a “breaktinguish happiness from misery, they would be too down in his mechanism," as his makers put it. In expensive; that is, a robot is a working machine, and other words, he has become class-conscious and prohappiness in a machine is not necessary. They are ceeds thus to give his oppressors
a piece of his made for the specific purpose of producing dividends mind”: “I won't work for you.
not and profit. She is further informed by the manu- strong as the robots. You are not as skillful as the facturers that these workers are sexless, but that the robots. The robots can do everything. You only reason female robots are manufactured is because give orders. You do nothing but talk. I don't want society is accustomed to the services of chamber- any master. I know everything for myself. We maids, domestic servants, and other female "help." ourselves, the robots, want to be the masters." And again, unlike other mortals, the robots do not The revolting slaves kill off all but one man, an die; they "just get used up."
architect whom they have seen working with his To afford the play a convenient turning point, the hands—the only man in the Rossum establishment playwright throws in a little romance. After a they respect. rapid-fire courtship, the young woman who came to The play winds up with an epilogue much as any liberate the robots becomes the wife of the general other play ends. After the revolution the "soulless" manager. However, she does not abandon her hope army of workers are in a predicament. They cannot to humanize the robots. She conspires with the reproduce themselves; neither can they manupsychological experimenter to improve these facture any more robots because the formula is lost.