Struggle between Labour and Capital
With the coming-in of labour governments in certain countries, with the growth of democracy and the demand for freedom, with the uprising of the rule of the proletariat in Russia, and the higher educational standard of the race, it might well appear that new, better and different methods may now be used to implement the Four Freedoms and to insure right human relations. If there is a realization that there should be right human relations among nations, it is obvious that such relations should exist also between capital and labour (composed as both groups are of human beings) and between the quarrelling labour organizations.
Certain questions arise. In the answering of these questions, humanity will solve its problems or, if they remain unsolved, the human race will come to an end.
1. Is the capitalistic system to remain in power? Is it entirely evil? Are not capitalists human beings?
2. Will labour itself, through its unions and its growing power, vested in its leaders, become a tyranny?
3. Can labour and capital form a working agreement or amalgamation? Do we face another type of war between these two groups?
4. In what way can the Law of Supply and Demand be implemented so that there is justice for all and plenty for all?
5. Must some form of totalitarian control be adopted by the various world governments in order to meet the requirements of supply and demand? Must we legislate for material ends and comfort?
6. What standard of living will—in the New Age—seem essential to man? Shall we have a purely materialistic civilization or shall we have a spiritual world trend?
7. What must be done to prevent the monied interests from again mobilizing for the exploitation of the world?
8. What really lies at the very heart of the modern materialistic difficulty?
This last question can be answered in the well known words: "The love of money is the root of all evil". This throws us back on the fundamental weakness of humanity—the quality of desire. Of this, money is the result and the symbol.
From the simple process of barter and exchange (as practised by the primeval savage) to the intricate and formidable financial and economic structure of the modern world, desire is the underlying cause. It demands the satisfaction of sensed need, the desire for goods and possessions, the desire for material comfort, for the acquisition and the accumulation of things, the desire for power and the supremacy which money alone can give. This desire controls and dominates human thinking; it is the keynote of our modern civilization; it is also the octopus which is slowly strangling human life, enterprise, and decency; it is the millstone around the neck of mankind.79
From the rich to the poor, from the intelligent to the ignorant, one thing is now clearly grasped and will increasingly colour human thinking: happiness and success are not dependent upon the possession of things or upon material good. That idea is the mistake of organised labour as it fights and strikes for more money in order to live more richly; it is also the mistake of the general public as it reacts to the action of labour, for it rebels against the curtailment of the steady inflow of MATERIAL goods. Humanity has made this mistake for untold ages, and has erred grievously in its emphasis upon that which benefits the form.80
To own, to possess, and to compete with other men for supremacy has been the keynote of the average human being—man against man, householder against householder, business against business, organization against organization, party against party, nation against nation, labour against capital—so that today it is recognized that the problem of peace and happiness is primarily related to the world's resources and to the ownership of those resources.
The dominating words in our newspapers, over our radios, and in all our discussions are based upon the financial structure of human economy: banking interests, salaries, national debts, reparations, cartels and trusts, finance, taxation—these are the words which control our planning, arouse our jealousies, feed our hatreds or our dislike of other nations, and set us one against the other. The love of money is the root of all evil.81
I seek to deal with money as the Hierarchy sees the problem, and to consider it as a form of energy, prostituted at this time to material ends or to the selfish aspirations and ambitions of well-meaning servers.82
There are, however, large numbers of people whose lives are not dominated by the love of money and who can normally think in terms of the higher values. They are the hope of the future but are individually imprisoned in the system which, spiritually, must end. Though they do not love money they need it and must have it; the tentacles of the business world surround them; they too must work and earn the wherewithal to live; the work they seek to do to aid humanity cannot be done without the required funds; the churches are materialistic in their mode of work and—after caring for the organizational aspect of their work—there is little left for Christ's work, for simple spiritual living. The task facing the men and women of goodwill in every land today seems too heavy and the problems to be solved seem well-nigh insoluble.83
The most spiritual use of money now to be found in the world is the application of money to the purposes of education. When it is turned away from the construction of the form side and the bringing about solely of material well-being of humanity and deflected from its present channels into truly spiritual foundations much good will be done, the philanthropic ends and the educational objectives will not suffer, and a step forward will be made. This time is not yet, but the spiritualising of money and its massing in quantities for the work of the Great Ones, the Disciples of the Christ, is part of a much needed world service and can now make a satisfactory beginning; but it must be carried forward with spiritual insight, right technique and true understanding. Purity of motive and selflessness are taken for granted.84
First of all, it must be recognized that the cause of all world unrest, of the world wars which have wrecked humanity and the widespread misery upon our planet can largely be attributed to a selfish group with materialistic purposes who have for centuries exploited the masses and used the labour of mankind for their selfish ends. From the feudal barons of Europe and Great Britain in the Middle Ages through the powerful business groups of the Victorian era to the handful of capitalists—national and international—who today control the world's resources, the capitalistic system has emerged and has wrecked the world. This group of capitalists has cornered and exploited the world's resources and the staples required for civilized living; they have been able to do this because they have owned and controlled the world's wealth through their interlocking directorates and have retained it in their own hands. They have made possible the vast differences existing between the very rich and the very poor; they love money and the power which money gives; they have stood behind governments and politicians; they have controlled the electorate; they have made possible the narrow nationalistic aims of selfish politics; they have financed the world businesses and controlled oil, coal, power, light and transportation; they control publicly or sub rosa the world's banking accounts.
The responsibility for the widespread misery to be found today in every country in the world lies predominantly at the door of certain major interrelated groups of business-men, bankers, executives of international cartels, monopolies, trusts and organizations and directors of huge corporations who work for corporate or personal gain. They are not interested in benefiting the public except in so far that the public demand for better living conditions will enable them—under the Law of Supply and Demand—to provide the goods, the transportation, light and power which will in the long run bring in heavier financial returns. Exploitation of man-power, the manipulation of the major planetary resources and the promotion of war for private or business profit are characteristic of their methods.
In every nation, such men and organizations—responsible for the capitalistic system—are to be found. The ramifications of their businesses and their financial grasp upon humanity were, prior to the war, active in every land and though they went underground during the war, they still exist. They form an international group, closely interrelated, working in complete unity of idea and intention and knowing and understanding each other. They constitute the greatest menace mankind faces today.
The above is a terrible indictment. It can, however, be substantiated a thousand times over; it is breeding revolution and a growing spirit of unrest. The masses of the people in every land are aroused and awakening and a new day is dawning. A war is starting between the selfish monied interests and the mass of humanity who demand fair play and a right share of the world's wealth.
There are those, however, within the capitalistic system who are aware of the danger with which the monied interests are faced and whose natural tendency is to think along broader and more humanitarian lines. These men fall into two main groups:
First, those who are real humanitarians, who seek the good of their fellowmen and who have no desire to exploit the masses or to profit by the misery of others. They have risen to place and power through their sheer ability or through inherited business position and they cannot avoid the responsibility of the disposal of the millions in their hands. They are frequently rendered helpless by their fellow executives and their hands are largely tied by the existing rules of the game, by their sense of responsibility to their stockholders and by the realization that, no matter what they do—fight or resign—the situation remains unchanged. It is too big for the individual. They remain, therefore, relatively powerless. They are fair and just, decent and kind, simple in their way of life and with a true sense of values, but there is little of a potent nature that they can do.
Second, those who are clever enough to read the signs of the times; they realize that the capitalistic system cannot continue indefinitely in the face of humanity's rising demands and the steady emerging of the spiritual values. They are beginning therefore to change their methods and to universalize their businesses and to institute cooperative procedures with their employees. Their inherent selfishness prompts the change and the instinct of self-preservation determines their attitudes. In between these two groups are those who belong to neither the one nor the other; they are a fruitful field for the propaganda of the selfish capitalist or the unselfish humanitarian.
It might be well to add here that the selfish thinking and the separative motivation which distinguishes the capitalistic system is also to be found in the small and unimportant business men—in the corner grocery, the plumber and the haberdasher who exploits his employees and deceives his customers. It is the universal spirit of selfishness and the love of power with which we have to contend. The war has, however, acted like a purge. It has opened the eyes of men to the underlying cause of war—economic distress, based on the exploitation of the planet's resources by an international group of selfish and ambitious men. The opportunity to change things is now present.85
The major asset which labour has over capital is that it is working for countless millions whilst the capitalist works for the good of a few. The norm of humanity lies at the heart of the labour movement.86
For thousands of years, if history is to be believed, the wealthy landowners, the institutional heads of tribes, the feudal lords, the slave owners, merchants or business executives have been in power; they exploited the poor; they searched for the maximum output at the minimum cost. It is no new story. In the Middle Ages, the exploited workmen, the skilled craftsmen and cathedral builders began to form guilds and lodges for mutual protection, for joint discussion and frequently to promote the finest type of craftsmanship. These groups grew in power as the centuries slipped by yet the position of the employed man, woman or child remained deplorable.
With invention of machinery and the inauguration of the machine age during the 18th and 19th centuries, the condition of the labouring elements of the population became acutely bad; living conditions were abominable, unsanitary and dangerous to health, owing to the growth of urban areas around factories. They still are, as witness the housing problem of munitions workers during the past several years and the situation around the coal fields both in the States and Great Britain. The exploitation of children increased. The sweat-shop flourished; modern capitalism came into its own and the sharp distinction between the very poor and the very rich became the outstanding characteristic of the Victorian era. From the angle of the planned evolutionary and spiritual development of the human family, leading to civilized and cultural living and to fair play and equal opportunity for all, the situation could not have been worse. Commercial selfishness and wild discontent flourished. The very rich flaunted their superior status in the faces of the very poor, paralleled with a patronizing paternalism. The spirit of revolution grew among the herded, overworked masses who, by their efforts, contributed to the wealth of the rich classes.
The spiritual principle of Freedom became increasingly recognized and its expression demanded. World conditions tended in the same direction. Movements of every kind became possible, symbolizing this growth and the demand for freedom. The machine age was succeeded by the age of transportation, of electricity, of railroads, the automobile, and the airplane. The age of communications paralleled this also, giving us the telegraph, the telephone, the radio and today, television and radar. All these merged into the present age of science which has given us the liberation of atomic energy and the potentialities inherent in the discovery. In spite of the fact that a machine can do the work of many men, which greatly contributed to the wealth of the man with capital, fresh industries and the growth of worldwide means of distribution provided new fields of employment and the demands of the most materialistic period the world has ever seen gave a great impetus to capital and provided jobs for countless millions. Educational facilities also grew and with this came the demand by the labouring classes for better living conditions, higher pay and more leisure. This the employers have constantly fought; they organized themselves against the demands of the awakening mass of men and precipitated a condition which forced labour to take action.
Groups of enlightened men in Europe, Great Britain and the United States began to agitate, to write books which were widely read, to start discussions, and to urge the monied classes to awaken to the situation and to the appalling living conditions under which the labouring class and peasantry lived. The abolitionists fought slavery—whether of Negroes or of whites, of children or of adults. A rapid developing free press began to keep the "lower classes" informed of what was going on; parties were formed to end certain glaring abuses; the French Revolution, the writings of Marx and of others, and the American Civil War all played their part in forcing the issue of the common man. Men in every country determined to fight for freedom and their proper human rights.
Gradually employees and labourers came together for mutual protection and their just rights. The Labour Union movement came into being eventually with its formidable weapons: education for freedom and the strike. Many discovered that in union there is strength and that together they could defy the employer and wrest from the monied interests decent wages, better living conditions and that greater leisure which is the right of every man. The fact of the steadily increasing power of labour and of its international strength is well known and a primary modern interest.87
It has been interesting to note how the idea of the controlled and beneficently applied power of those who work with and through ideas has—during the past few years—materialised on the physical plane through the medium of the dictatorship of the proletariat, of the workers of a nation, as set up in Russia. This has been subversive of the rule and control of the aristocracy, of the bourgeoisie and of the intelligentsia; it has glorified work and the workers, and has driven out of the country (by death or exile) some of its best elements. Yet behind all the mistakes and cruelty, and behind the rank materialism, there lie great ideals,—the supply of the need of all, the beauty of mutual service, and the divinity of constructive work.88
Power in the future lies in the hands of the masses. These masses are moving forward and by the sheer weight of their numbers, by their planned thinking and the rapidly growing interrelation now established between labour movements all over the world, nothing today can stop their progress.
Labour and Labour Unions have done noble work. Labour has been elevated into its rightful place in the life of the nations and the essential dignity of man has been emphasized. Humanity is being rapidly fused into one great corporate body under the influence of the Law of Supply and of Demand which is a point to be remembered. The destiny of the race and the power to make national and international decisions, affecting the whole of mankind, is passing into the hands of the masses, of the working classes and of the man in the street. The inauguration of the labour unions was, in fact, a great spiritual movement, leading to the uprising anew of the divine spirit in man and an expression of the spiritual qualities inherent in the race.
Yet all is not well with the labour movement. The question arises whether it is not sorely in need of a drastic housecleaning. Labour is today a dictatorship, using threat, fear and force to gain its ends. Many of its leaders are powerful and ambitious men, with a deep love of money and a determination to wield power. Bad housing, poor pay and evil conditions still exist everywhere and it is not in every case the fault of the employer.
The fight of the workers is still going on; gains are steadily being made; shorter hours and better pay are constantly being demanded and when refused the weapon of the strike is used. The use of the strike, so beneficent and helpful in the early days of the rise of labour to power, is now itself becoming a tyranny in the hands of the unscrupulous and self-seeking. Labour leaders are now so powerful that many of them have shifted into the position of dictators and are exploiting the mass of workers whom they earlier served. Labour is also becoming exceedingly rich and untold millions have been accumulated by the great national organizations everywhere. The Labour Movement is itself now capitalistic.
A powerful group, representing the capitalistic system, both national and international, and an equally powerful group of labour unions and their leaders, face each other today. Both groups are national and international in scope. It remains to be seen which of the two will eventually control the planet or if a third group made up of practical idealists may not emerge and take over. The interest of the spiritual workers in the world today is not on the side of the capitalists nor even of labour, as it is now functioning; it is on the side of humanity.
Men and women of goodwill are now asking the question: Can the conflict between capital and labour be ended and a new world be thereby reborn? Can living conditions be so potently changed that right human relations can be permanently established?89
The fight between capital and labour will reach its climax in the United States, but will also be fought out in Great Britain and France. Russia already has her own solution but the lesser nations of the world will be guided and conditioned by the result of this battle in the British Commonwealth of Nations and in the United States.90
THE PROBLEM OF FAIR DISTRIBUTION OF RESOURCES
Certain facts are obvious. The old order has failed. Our period is simply one in which human selfishness has come to its climax and must either destroy humanity or be brought intelligently to an end.
It is solely due to man's selfishness that (in these days of rapid transportation) thousands are starving whilst food is rotting or destroyed; it is solely due to the grasping schemes and the financial injustices of man's making that the resources of the planet are not universally available under some wise system of distribution. There is no justifiable excuse for the lack of the essentials of life in any part of the world. Such a state of lack argues short-sighted policy and the blocking of the free circulation of necessities for some reason or other. All these deplorable conditions are based on some national or group selfishness and on the failure to work out some wise impartial scheme for the supplying of human need throughout the world.91
Security, happiness and peaceful relations are desired by all. Until, however, the Great Powers, in collaboration with the little nations, have solved the economic problem and have realized that the resources of the earth belong to no one nation but to humanity as a whole, there will be no peace. The oil of the world, the mineral wealth, the wheat, the sugar and the grains belong to all men everywhere. They are essential to the daily living of the everyday man.
The true problem of the United Nations is a twofold one: it involves the right distribution of the world's resources so that there may be freedom from want, and it involves also the bringing about of a true equality of opportunity and of education for all men everywhere. The nations which have a wealth of resources are not owners; they are custodians of the world's riches and hold them in trust for their fellowmen. The time will inevitably come when—in the interest of peace and security—the capitalists in the various nations will be forced to realize this and will also be forced to substitute the principle of sharing for the ancient principle (which has hitherto governed them) of greedy grabbing.
Yet it must be remembered that there are statesmen in Great Britain, the United States and Russia who are endeavouring to work for the common man and to speak on his behalf in the conclaves of the nations. As yet selfish opposition has rendered their work futile and the monied interests in many countries have negated their efforts. Russia has no monied interests, but she has vast resources in men and arms and these she plays off against the capitalistic interests. Thus the war goes on, and the man in the street waits hopelessly for a decision which will lead to peace—a peace based on security and right human relations.92