Yet this does not compel us to forsake the hopeful thing we have, for which all men have striven, these centuries through. Must we confess that revolution is still necessary? Are we no further ahead for all that Pym and Hampden and Sam Adams and Washington and all the rest of the glorified ones have done? This land is truly a land of promise because it may be a land of fulfilment. It shows the way by which without murder and robbery and class hatred and the burning up of what has been, men may go right on making experiments, and failing, making others and failing, and learning something all the time.
So, I’m for America, because, if nationalization of land and industry are wise experiments to make, no one can stop us from making them, if partial nationalization of either, or both, appeals to us as something that will right manifest wrongs, we can try that solution. And to cry quits on the best that civilization has done, because all that is wished for may not be realized or realizable today, is to lose perspective and balance, and jump out the window because the stairs go round and round.
There is really no use, and therefore no sanity, in being too gay or too grave over this old world of ours. That smart Devil, who is for the static life, is just now particularly active in his favorite old line of propaganda. He knows that the fruit of the tree will bring the millennium. Eat it and you will be happy. He knows the short cuts to freedom and justice. He knows that the curses that are promised for the breaking of the laws of the hunt will be turned into songs. So he is urging and urging, telling you, with your imagination and sensitiveness, that all is so bad that it is best to take the great risk, telling the poor sightless ones that their very primitive feelings and powers are the only safe guides, their last ultimate reliance and hope. And out of despair comes the bitter fruit we find in Russia, where they have wrought what they call an economic revolution, but have in fact produced nothing, for chaos is nothing. The wise Tinker who wrote of the Pilgrim’s Progress was too true a Christian Scientist, a Christian and a Scientist, if you please, to picture his hero reaching the gate of gold by adopting Despair as his guide.
Progress means the discovery of the capable. They are our natural masters. They lead because they have the right. And everything done to keep them from rising is a blow to what we call civilization. Bolshevism is the supremacy of the least capable who have the most power, most physical power. The thing Democracy will do is to breed capacity, give capacity its “show.” The premiums, the distinctions, must go to capacity to promote it, to bring it forth, to make it grow, to be its sunshine. A chance at the sunshine, that’s the motto. Sincerely yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
Washington, 20 [March, 1919]