CAPITAL AND LABOR.
“Whatsoever ye would
that men should do to you, do ye even so
to them.”—MATT. vii: 12.
The greatest war the world has ever seen is between capital and labor. The strife is not like that which in history is called the Thirty Years’ War, for it is a war of centuries, it is a war of the five continents, it is a war hemispheric. The middle classes in this country, upon whom the nation has depended for holding the balance of power and for acting as mediators between the two extremes, are diminishing; and if things go on at the same ratio as they are now going, it will not be very long before there will be no middle class in this country, but all will be very rich or very poor, princes or paupers, and the country will be given up to palaces and hovels.
The antagonistic forces are closing in upon each other. The telegraphic operators’ strikes, the railroad employes’ strikes, the Pennsylvania miners’ strikes, the movements of the Boycotters and the dynamiters are only skirmishes before a general engagement, or, if you prefer it, escapes through the safety-valves of an imprisoned force which promises the explosion of society. You may pooh-pooh it; you may say that this trouble, like an angry child, will cry itself to sleep; you may belittle it by calling it Fourierism, or Socialism, or St. Simonism, or Nihilism, or Communism; but that will not hinder the fact that it is the mightiest, the darkest, the most terrific threat of this century. All attempts at pacification have been dead failures, and monopoly is more arrogant, and the trades unions more bitter. “Give us more wages,” cry the employes. “You shall have less,” say the capitalists. “Compel us to do fewer hours of toil in a day.” “You shall toil more hours,” say the others. “Then, under certain conditions, we will not work at all,” say these. “Then you shall starve,” say those, and the workmen gradually using up that which they accumulated in better times, unless there be some radical change, we shall have soon in this country three million hungry men and women. Now, three million hungry people can not be kept quiet. All the enactments of legislatures and all the constabularies of the cities, and all the army and navy of the United States can not keep three million hungry people quiet. What then? Will this war between capital and labor be settled by human wisdom? Never. The brow of the one becomes more rigid, the fist of the other more clinched.
But that which human wisdom can not achieve will be accomplished by Christianity if it be given full sway. You have heard of medicines so powerful that one drop would stop a disease and restore a patient; and I have to tell you that one drop of my text properly administered will stop all those woes of society and give convalescence and complete health to all classes. “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”