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You know that many men now pay high premiums to insurance companies. This is to provide for their widows and chil. dren. Under socialism the state would provide for the widows and children. That is to say, that socialism is the finest scheme of life insurance ever yet devised.

Suppose you had by dint of great care succeeded in saving two or three hundred pounds. Would you not cheerfully pay that for a state promise of support for yourself when old-of ample and honorable support-and of support and education for 'your children after your death?

But I don't think it is at all likely that a socialist state would take the worker's savings.

And again I ask you to turn your attention to the present system, under which every worker is robbed of two-thirds of all he earns.

Then as to the worker's cottage. Assuming that he has bought it with his savings, and assuming that the state nationalized it. What then? A workman now buys a house that he and his children may be sure of a home.

Under socialism every man would be sure of a home.

Once more consider our present system. A few men own their own houses. But the great bulk of the people cannot own a foot of land.

When I was in Ireland I visited some “estates" upon the Galtee Hills. I saw farms which had been made by the "tenants." I saw places where the peasants had gone up into the bleak hills, where the limestone blocks lay thick and only a thin layer of sandy turf covered the rock, and had spent twenty years in making the land. They removed the boulders, they dug soil in the valleys, and carried it up the steeps in baskets; they bought manure and lime and they built their own hovels out of mud and stones.

And then the estate and houses were the property of the land. lord, and he raised their rents from 200 to 500 per cent.

And we are asked whether socialism would rob the frugal worker of his home!

It is strange that men should attach importance to such trivial points as these; but yet I believe that these small errors are a great hindrance to the spread of socialism.

Here is another droll question:

4. Under socialism, who would get the salmon, and who would get the red-herrings?

Let us follow the system I suggested, and reverse the question. Who gets the salmon and who gets the red-herrings now?

Is it not true that the salmon and all other delicacies are monopolized by the idle, while the coarse food falls to the lot of the worker? Perhaps under socialism the salmon might be eaten by those who catch it. At present it is not.

Or perhaps the dainties would be reserved for invalids and old people, or for delicate women and children.

But certainly we should not see a lot of big, fat, strong aldermen gorging turtle and champagne while frail girls worked sixteen hours a day on a diet of crusts and coffee.

It is quite possible that even under socialism there might not be enough salmon and pineapple for all. But it is quite certain that there would be enough bread and beef and tea for all, which there certainly is not now.

And so much for that question; and, if you care to follow it out more fully, I must refer you to my answer to Richter's “ Pictures of the Future.”

CHAPTER XXV.

PAID AGITATORS. You will find, if you think deeply of it, that the chief of all the curses of this unhappy age is the universal gabble of its fools, and of the flocks that follow them, rendering the quiet voices of the wise men of all past time inaudible.-Ruskin.

The capitalist press, probably because they cannot controvert the theory of socialism, are in the habit of abusing socialists. Socialist writers and socialist speakers, and very often trade union leaders, are commonly described as "paid agitators "; and our labor papers are charged with “pandering to the worst passions of the mob,” and with “battening on the earnings of ignorant dupes.”

This is pretty much the same kin of language as that which the press employed against John Bright, Ernest Jones, C. S. Parnell, Charles Bradlaugh, and other advanced reformers. It is the kind of language which reformers expect from the press, and also, I am sorry to say, from the church. It is the natural language of shallow, or timid, or interested people, who are startled by the dreadful apparition of a new idea.

The agitator is not a nice man. He disturbs the general calm; he shakes old and rotten institutions with a rude hand; he drags into the light of day some loathsome and dangerous abuse which respectable rascality or cowardly conservatism has carefully covered up and concealed under a film of humbug. He tramples upon venerable shams; he injures oldestablished reputations; he bawls out shameful truths from the house-tops; he is fierce and noisy; uses strong language, and

very often in his rage against wrong or in the heat of his grief over unmerited suffering, he mixes his own truth with error, and carries his righteous denunciations to the point of injustice. The privileged classes hate him; the oppressed classes do not understand him; the lazy classes shun him as a pest. He finds himself standing, like Ishmael, with every man's hand against him,

Oliver Wendell Holmes compares the dawning of a new idea to the turning over of a stone in a field. After describing all the blind and wriggling creatures which live beneath the stone,

he says:

“But no sooner is the stone turned and the wholesome light of day let in upon this compressed and blinded community of creeping things, than all of them which enjoy the luxury of legs—and some of them have a good many-rush round wildly, butting each other and everything in their way, and end in a general stampede for underground retreats from the region poisoned by sunshine.

You never need think you can turn over any old falsehood without a terrible squirming and scattering of the horrid little population that dwells under it.

“Every real thought on every real subject knocks the wind out of somebody or other. As soon as his breath comes back he very probably begins to expend it in hard words. These are the best evidences a man can have that he has said something it was time to say."

But though the agitator is not a nice man, he is a useful man. Your pleasant, cultured, courteous, easy gentleman is a nice man, but he is the unconscious upholder of all that is bad, as well as of a little that is good.

There was a time when women were tortured for witchcraft; when prisoners were tortured into the confession of crimes of which they were innocent; when good men and women were burnt alive for being unable to believe the dogmas of other men's religion; when authors had their ears cut off for telling the trnth; when English children were worked to death in the factories ; when starving workmen were hanged for stealing a little food; when boards of capitalists and landlords fixed the workers' wages; wher trade unionism was conspiracy, and only rich men had votes. Those days are gone; those crimes are impossible; those wrongs are abolished. And for these changes we have to thank the agitators.

The agitators, from Christ downward, have been the salt of the earth. It is only such as they who save society from dry rot and putrefaction.

Then, again, there is the practical, hard-headed man who always comes forward to prove every new thing impossible. We English have done many impossible things. Was it not demonstrated to the general satisfaction of the hard-headed ones that Stephenson could not make a train go twelve miles an hour?

Was it not proved that railways would exterminate horses ? Was it not proved that the Atlantic cable could not be laid? Was it not made manifest that the Catholic emancipation acts, the ballot act, the factory acts, and the repeal of the corn laws would plunge the nation into popery, and anarchy, and ruin? Yet all these reforms were accomplished by little bands of agitators, in the face of tremendous opposition, and in spite of yells of execration, and virulent charges of “battening” and “incendiarism.” To return to our own time. There were never any men more virulently assailed than are the present leaders of the labor movement. The favorite lie is the charge of charlatanism. The man who conducts a strike or organizes a trade union is alluded to by the press as a "paid agitator ;” the labor paper is accused of “battening on the earnings of ignorant dupes.

When a paper calls a man a paid agitator, what does the charge imply? It implies that he is a liar and a rogue, who is preaching what he knows to be false and preaching it for the sake of making money. So when a writer is accused of battening on the earnings of ignorant dupes, he is accused of willfully gulling poor men for the sake of profit.

Such charges are uttered and reiterated with such malicious persistence, that thousands of worthy people have come to believe that the “paid agitator” has an easy and lucrative trade and that the labor paper is rolling in ill-gotten wealth as the result of its deliberate treachery to the poor. Now, I will simply confront the slanders with the facts:

If labor leaders were dull and incapable men, who could not hope to make money and position except as demagogues; if the work of the paid agitator were easy and showed no signs of zeal and talent; if the “paid agitator" and the labor writer preached only to ignorant people; if they preached doctrines which could not be maintained, against the cleverest and best informed leaders of the parties of privilege and plunder; if the salaries of the “paid agitators” and the “labor writers were high and their lives luxurious and easy-then there might be as much ground to suspect the bona fides of these men as there now is to suspect the bona fides of professional patriots, and of pressmen, who are bound by the tenets of their agreements always to prove Mr. Gladstone in the right, or always to prove him in the wrong.

But if "paid agitators" and labor writers are proved to be men of industry and ability, who choose the thorny path instead of the flowery one; if their doctrines can withstand successfully all the attacks of their enemies; if they can be shown to be living sparely, working hard, and earning very little—then it seems to me it will be unnecessary to defend their honor against the furtive slanders of nameless and incompetent writers who are well

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paid, and who do sell their consciences in the open market and to the highest bidder.

It is a very effective picture, that of the paid agitator feasting on champagne aná turtle, or of the labor writer driving his carriage along the Brighton promenade. But it has the fault common to press pictures—it is a lie.

Let us begin with the paid agitator. Is the trade so easy? Is it well paid? Take John Burns. He is an engineer. Being a good workman, John Burns could earn two pounds a week easily and not work more than fifty-five hours. Now, I don't believe John has averaged two pounds a week as a labor leader; and his wages have not been promptly paid; and I can remember an appeal for subscriptions to raise his present income of one pound a week, paid by the dockers' union, to two pounds; while as far as work is concerned, his labor is endless and his working hours are all the hours he can spare from sleep.

The first time I saw him was during the Glasgow strike. He had made five long speeches that day. He was so hoarse that I could hardly hear him speak. He looked utterly fagged out, and at night he went to a second-rate temperance hotel and had weak tea and bread and butter for supper. This is not so fine a picture as the other ; but it is true.

A paid agitator gets hard work, low pay, ingratitude, and vilification. He will be an old man before his time; but a rich man

So much for the paid agitator. Now as to the labor papers. We are confronted with the assertion that we batten on the earnings of misguided dupes. The men who write for the party papers do not batten on the misguided dupes. The rank and file of the political parties are not dupes.

They are intelligent and discerning men. The writers on the party press are not hireling hacks. They are honorable men. It is merely a coincidence that their consciences always happen to fit in with the exigencies of the liberal or tory situation! They are quite different from the labor writer. He “panders to the mob.” He battens on the foolish. He rolls in ill-gotten wealth.

Well, let some of the superior pressmen try it. Let them seek out the “dupes " and go in for “battening.” They will find that the “dupe” does not yield much “batten" to the square inch. They will very soon have cause to sing the song of the disappointed pirate :

“We boiled Bill Jones in the negro-pot,
To see how much fat Bill Jones had got,

But there wasn't much fat upon Jones.” To prove that all labor writers are honest and earnest men may be difficult; but to prove that the British workman is not in the habit of bestowing his money on labor leaders and labor writers is quite easy.

never.

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