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much stronger passion is vanity. Yet I will not say that vanity is the chief motor of human action. Is it too harsh a word “vanity”? Perhaps it is—in some cases. Or perhaps it only sounds too harsh because often enough vanity is intertwined with other and nobler feelings. One would not call Nelson vain. He had a strong desire to win the love and admiration of his countrymen, no doubt. But twisted in with the threads of that feeling were the golden strands of patriotism, of courage, of duty. We cannot say how much of a hero's life is prompted by his wish to be loved by his countrymen, and how much by his own love for his countrymen. I am inclined to think that wherever the desire for approbation can be disentangled from other feelings, it may be fairly written down as vanity.
And how far-stretched this vanity is--this love of approbation. From the prime minister, airing his eloquence on the integrity of the empire, ot polishing up his flimsy epigrams in his study, down through all the steps of the social ladder-the ambassador in his garter, the general in his plumed hat, the actor in his best part, and the costermonger with pearl buttons on his trousersall are tinged with vanity, all have in them the desire, the yearning, to be thought well of. This desire is stronger than the thirst for pelf. Men who would scorn to be paid will not scorn to be applauded. It is so strong that no man nor woman is free from its influence. Indeed it must be of this importance, for, divested pf the love and respect of all our fellow-creatures, life would cease to be endurable. But life is quite endurable with. out wealth. And there are many people who do not desire wealth.
Do you think the whole of the prosperous and wealthy classes would resolutely oppose socialism if they understood it? I don't know about that. Do men seek or hold wealth for its own sake, or for what it will buy? For what it will buy. And the things they suppose they can buy with wealth, what are they? Admi. ration and enjoyment. Now if you could convince men that admiration and enjoyment could not be bought with wealth, but could be got without wealth, is it not possible that Mammon would lose his worshipers ?
As society is at present constituted nearly every man gets as much money as he can. What are the ordinary motives for this conduct? Plutocrat says, “I can make a fortune out of the cotton trade, and why should I not? If I don't make it some other man will; and perhaps the other man will be a rogue.' You see, men cannot trust each other. Under the operation of unfettered individual enterprise, life is a scramble. A man knows he could live on less than ten thousand a year, and he knows that multitudes are hungry. But if he foregoes the mak
ing of a fortune it will not benefit the poor. Some other man will seize on what he relinquishes, and the scramble will go on. So men amass wealth because they think they might as well do it as let anothér do it in their stead.
There is another thing. Plutocrat will tell you he has a wife and family to provide for. He knows the world too well to leave a widow and children to the tender mercies of his brother graspers. It is every man for himself and the weakest to the wall. So he will grind other people to make money to prevent other people froin grinding his children. He is right in a great
It is his duty to provide for his wife and children. And under our present system of robbery and murder by indi. vidual enterprise, the widow and the orphan will find none to pity and defend them-unless they can pay for value received.
Again, in a commercial era and in a commercial nation wealth is the reward of merit, the crown of honor and the sign of virtue. Every Englishman dreads failure. Wealth stamps him with the hall-mark of success, and truly that hall-mark is borne by some spurious metals; some most evident Brummagem jewels.
It seems, then, that to deprive money grubbing of its power to mislead we must make great social changes. We must assure men that in no case shall their children want. We must assure men that the possession of wealth will not bring them honor. We must assure men that justice will win them respect and not contempt, and that the good man who forbears to fill his coffer at the public expense need not fear to see some rascal render his generosity abortive.
The Gradgrind supposes greed to be the ruling passion because in the society he knows most men strive to get money. But why do they strive to get money? There are two chief motives. One the desire to provide for or confer happiness upon children, on friends; the other the desire to purchase applause. But in the first case the motive is not greed, but love; and in the second case it is not greed, but vanity. Only a miser covets money for its own sake. Both love and vanity are stronger passions than greed.
Will the desire of gain make progress ? Suppose a man to have a thirst for money and success, but no genius. Can he for a prize of ten thousand pounds invent a printing press? No. For though the impetus is there the genius is absent. pose he has the genius and no prize is offered! Can he then invent the machine ? Yes. Because he has the genius to do it. We see, then, that greed cannot invent machines, but genius can.
Now, if a prize be offered for a new machine, will a man of no genius make it? No. He will try for the sake of the prize; but
he will fail for lack of brains. But no prize being offered, will the man of genius, seeing a use for a new machine, invent it? He will. History proves that he will invent and does invent it, not only without hope of gain, but even at the risk of life and
It seems, then, that genius without mercenary incentives will serve the world; but that mercenary motives without genius will not.
In proof of which argument look back upon the lives of such men as Galileo, Bruno, Newton, and indeed the bulk of the explorers, scientists, philosophers, and martyrs. Love of truth, love of knowledge, love of art, love of fame, are all stronger motives than the love of gain, which is the only human motive recognized by a system of political economy supposed to be founded on human nature.
It is the mistake of a blockhead to suppose that because sometimes genius can make money therefore money can always make genius.
For the sake of love, for the sake of duty, for the sake of pity, for the sake of religion, and for the sake of truth, men and women have resigned their bodies to the flames, have laid their heads upon the block, have suffered imprisonment, disgrace, and torture, and starvation. Who will do as much for money?
Money never had a martyr. In Mammon's bible the text of the Christian bible is altered. It reads, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own life?". Men will fight for money; but they will not die for it. Now millions have died for honor, for love, for religion, for duty, for country, for fame.
And how then can any sensible person stand by the base and brutish dogma that greed is the chief motor of the human heart?
It seems an amazing thing to me, this persistence in the belief that greed is the motive power of humanity. The refutation of that error is forever under our noses. You see how men strive at cricket; you see the intense effort and the fierce zeal which they display at football; you see men nearly kill themselves in boat races, on cycling tracks and running grounds; you know that these men do all this without the hope of a single penny of gain, and yet you tell me in the face of the powerful football combinations, and rowing clubs, and cricket clubs, and with a quarter of a million of volunteers among you, and with the records of Inkerman, and Lucknow, and Marston Moor on your shelves, and with the walls of the hospitals, and the lifeboats of the Royal Humane society, and the spires of your churches, and the convents of the sisters of charity, and the statues of your Cromwells, and Wellingtons, and Nelsons, and Cobdens, all ready for you to knock your stupid heads against, that the only reliable human motive is--the desire for gain.
Look about you and see what men do for gain, and what for honor. Your volunteer force-does that exist for gain? Your lifeboat service, again-is that worked by the incentive of dirty dross? What will not a soldier do for a tiny bronze cross, not worth a crown piece? What will a husband endure for his wife's sake? a father for his children? a fanatic for his religion? But you do not believe that socialism is to destroy all love, and all honor, and all duty and devotion, do you?
And now I have addressed you in a homely, simple fashion, allow me to quote a passage or two from Carlyle, and note how he, in his magnificent language and with lavish wealth of dazzling pictures, says what I have said in my weaker and cruder way. Maybe, if you do not think my words of weight, nor my name of force sufficient, you will respect the utterances of one of the greatest thinkers and speakers England ever bred. I quote from “Past and Present":
“Let the captains of industry retire into their own hearts and ask solemnly if there is nothing but vulturous hunger for fine wines, valet reputation, and gilt carriages discoverable there. Of hearts made by the Almighty God I will not believe such a thing. Deep-hidden under wretchedest God-forgetting cants, epicurisms, dead-sea-apisms; forgotten as under foulest, fat Lethe mud and weeds, there is yet, in all hearts born unto this God's world, a spark of the godlike still slumbering."
· Buccaneers, Choctaw Indians, whose supreme aim in fighting is that they may get the scalps, the money-that they amass scalps and money-out of such comes no chivalry, and never will. Out of such come only gore and wreck, infernal rage and misery, desperation quenched in annihilation. Behold it, I bid thee; behold there, and consider. What is it that you have a hundred thousand pound bills laid up in your strong room; a hundred scalps hung up in your wigwam? I value not them or thee."
'Love of men cannot be bought by cash payment; without love men cannot endure to be together.” The incentive of gain!
CHAPTER XVI. A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF - ? In Coeur-de-Lion's day, it was not esteemed of absolute necessity to put agreements between Christians in writing! Which if it were not now, you know we might save a great deal of money, and discharge some of our workmen round Temple Bar, as well as from Woolwich dockyards.--Ruskin.
The quotation at the end of the last chapter brings us naturally to the subject of competition.
Of the many senseless and brutal theories which practical men support, the most fatuous and bestial is the theory of competition.
I use the word theory advisedly. You practical men are fond of scoffing at all humane systems of thought or government as mere “theories.” It is one of the vainest of your vanities to believe that you have no theories.
Why, John, you practical men have as many theories as any socialist. But the distinctive marks of all your theories are their falsity, their folly, and their utter impracticability.
For instance, your practical man swears by political economy. But it is by the political economy of the older writers. It is the science of the men who were only blundering over the construction of a rude and untried theory. The later and wiser political economy you practical men either do not know or will not accept. You resemble a railway director who should insist upon having his locomotives made to the exact pattern of Stephenson's “Rocket.” Your economy isn't up to date, John. You cannot grasp a new idea--you are so practical.
One of the laws of your practical school is the law that “soci. ety flourishes by the antagonism of its individuals."
That is the theory of competition. It means that war is better than peace, that a nation where every man tries to get the better of his neighbor will be happier and wealthier, more prosperous and more enlightened, than a nation where every man tries to help his neighbor.
Practical men are not usually blessed with nimble wits. Allow me to offer you new readings of a few old proverbs for use in competitive society.
Union is weakness. There's a nice terse motto for you. It means just what is meant by the imbecile axiom that “society flourishes by the antagonism of its individuals."
A house divided against itself shall stand. How does that suit your practical mind? It is the same idea-the idea upon which all opposition to socialism is built.
It is better to make one enemy than a hundred friends. The greatest good of the smallest number. Waste not, have not. Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall give his wealth to princes.
Only a practical, hard-headed people could listen to such propositions without laughing.
You are not good at theories, my practical friend. This competitive theory is rank blockheadism. Allow me to show you. I will test it first by theory, and then we will see how it comes out in practice,
Suppose two men had to get a cart up a hill. Would they get it up sooner if one tried to push it up while the other tried to push it down, or if both.men tried to pull it up?
Suppose two men had to catch a colt. Which would be the