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But despite all of this, despite the sluggishness of the workers themselves, the four-hour day is bound to come. It's just as certain as that waters flow to the seas, because men are ever learning, ever thinking, ever struggling upwards—even painfully so; and it will come because it is in accord with our main line of development, in accord with the development of history. Just before he died, Dr. Charles Steinmetz, the electrical wizard of Schenectady, made this statement: "I say that the workers will work but four hours a day and 200 days a year. There will be no back-breaking drudgery. All hard labor will be done by electricity." Thomas Edison and other scientific men reaffirm this view and declare the four-hour day is now in sight.
So don't despair, the day of labor is going to come. Although we are now going through fire and misery, the day is going to come when the wage workers of the land will refuse to accept the silly and childish excuses now offered them; they will refuse to swallow the soft bunkum that is being fed the people today. Then they will not work like mad men to pile up a huge surplus, only to be suddenly thrown out of a job; they will receive enough to keep them living in decency and to keep away the fear of want in old age, and our women and children will not be madly competing with strong men for jobs, but will be in the homes and schools where they belong. I have faith enough in the latent power and good sense of men to believe that that day is not far off.
No Light—No Brains
H. H. Broach
Address given before a public protest
It's too bad that anyone would want to stop this meeting; that anyone would consider it dangerous to listen to what will be said this afternoon. But the danger, my friends, comes not from listening to any man's opinions or his theories, because if they are wrong they will sink and disappear; they cannot stand up under free discussion, and if by chance anyone should be converted, surely you will agree that he needs converting. The real danger comes from suppression of thought, suppression of speech, because suppression always leads to violence. Violence is simply the child of suppression. Violence is the natural form of protest when men are long denied their rights and when they are suppressed in trying to right the wrongs. The state, the government, will survive only so long as we can meet, think and speak freely. Every government in all history that ever failed or was overthrown, failed and was overthrown because of suppression, because men and women had been denied rights which they conceived to be theirs. Always it has been force and suppression that caused men to be driven from high places of power and brought wreckage of the established order. Always the powerful and mighty have been overthrown because they abused their power, because they suppressed freedom of assembly, free press and free speech.
Unlike your leading citizens and authorities, we have no desire to prove our case by putting locks on their doors, by branding them dangerous men, traitors, and by throwing them into jail. We say to them: "Believe what you may; preach what you please; what you believe and preach is none of our business; have all the forms and ceremonies you wish; exercise your own liberties in your own way, but extend the same rights to all others-even to union people.” Of course, I do not accept opinions of all who speak. I bitterly oppose many of them. But I do defend their right to express their opinions. As completely as I differ from our opponents, I stand by the principle that they should be allowed to argue their claims, as we want to argue ours. We will take our chances of being able to answer them. We do not have to prove our case by adopting their silly, underhanded and violent methods.
Before I go further, let me bluntly tell you that it is always the ignoramus or the coward who is afraid to listen to and allow another man to talk freely; always he is afraid his dear ignorance and hypocrisy will be exposed. He hates light. He is a stranger to reason; he despises facts; and investigation-never. Always he acts as if he had a corner on all that is right and pure; as if he had a monopoly of brains and intelligence, and as if the divine water of authority had been poured on his head from above. He and his type say, “Don't listen; don't investigate; don't inquire; just shut your eyes and believe us, and you are safe. If you don't you are an enemy to peace and prosperity and are sure to be burned in Hell.” And the less these leading, superpure citizens know, the fewer ideas they have, the surer they are that they are right.
Always they want to quibble about freedom, about free speech; always it is “If this or if that, provided this or provided that"; or they say, "The only kind of freedom we can allow is legal freedom.” But freedom is freedom; there are no "ifs" or "ands" attached to it. And who was it that attached the word "legal" to freedom? Who ever heard anyone talk about "legal" freedom except an unscrupulous lawyer or judge, a fat politician or a comfortable business man, a sneaking detective or an empty headed policeman? I wonder if you know that the worst sins and crimes that have been committed all through the ages have been committed in the name of righteousness, in the name of law and order, in the name of patriotism, and by using the word "legal.” Not so long ago when a poor devil refused to believe what some idiots said, when he doubted and cried, “I won't close my eyes and blindly believe; I want to think and talk freely." When he said this the super-wise and respectable citizens promptly applied the thumb screws, pulled out his tongue and stuck splinters deep into his quivering flesh. When another doubting, liberty loving soul said, “I don't believe any man's strength was ever in his hair, or that a fish ever swallowed a man to save his life”—when he said this the righteous gentlemen said, “Well, we'll show you," and then they proceeded to tear his arms and legs from his body or boil him in oil.
That was the treatment given to thinkers and doubters, to the brave souls who wanted truth and justice to prevail, who hated ignorance and hypocrisy. Whenever they dared speak out they found the "citizens' committee” right on hand to throw them on to the torture rack, to attach the chains to their ankles, to their waists and wrists, and then stand by while the twisting and pulling went on, while the victim's ankles, knees and hips, elbows and shoulders were dislocated, and until he was red with the sweat of agony and drew his last breath.
And all this was done, my friends, when the victims were enjoying "legal” freedom, or it was done in the name of righteousness, in the name of law and order, and under "legal” freedom. So it has been all down through the ages; always these comfortable gentlemen of finance have closed the doors to investigation, to the haters of hypocrisy and to the lovers of free speech. And now, as always, they sit like owls on dead limbs hooting the hoots that have been hooted for hundreds and hundreds of years. They tortured Christ and hounded Lincoln, and all the restcondemned them to their graves and then later built expensive monuments to their names.
But all the torture that could be inflicted could not stop men from thinking and speaking their thoughts. They can no more be stopped than you can arrest the movement of the sun. This is because the desire to speak out freely is in every man who has love for his fellows, whose sympathy goes out to others. It is in every man who hates poverty, not because he is poor, but because others are poor. It is born of sympathy and love and will live so long as mothers love their children, so long as men hope and dream.
Now what I plead for, what our labor unions plead for, is freedom-freedom for everyone. We want light, we want reason and investigation. That is all. And anything or creature that will not stand the light, anything or creature that cannot stand free speech, is not fit for any honest person to associate with or support. We want to see people govern and control themselves completely. They have brains enough to do it; nerve and courage enough to do it. We want to see them free from fear; we want to see their minds and tongues free, for no man can think when he is afraid. Fear always drops on its knees and says, “Yes, I believe.” It is only the unafraid man that can think and speak freely what is in him. We want to see all men thinkers and investigators, not cringers and crawlers.
We simply claim that if I have an idea I have a right to express it, and any man who attempts to deny me that right is an intellectual thief, robber and scoundrel. Suppose I have no right to think my way, why have I been given any thinking faculties? If I should not speak out freely, why have I been given a tongue? Nature gave birds wings to fly, because Nature intended for them to fly; and Nature gave us brains and tongues, and she intended for us to use them. And personally, I had rather use mine and go hungry and walk in rags, than live in luxury and be a slimy hypocrite, bending and crawling on my knees through life.
Now after all, this is simply a question of honesty, for the small bunch of men in your city who are not willing that I and all others should be heard, that we should have the same rights as themselves, are a bunch of dishonest scoundrels, and you people know it. They cannot force you citizens to believe their way, no matter what influences they might wield. They cannot change one conclusion reached honestly by the brain; but they can make liars and hypocrites by the millions.
You also know that you cannot be free unless you help to protect the freedom of others; that if you do not fight for the rights of others you will have none of your own, and the man or woman who is not willing to stand up and fight for the rights and liberties of others, is entitled to none for himself, and he ought to have no place on the earth.
So I urge you to fight with us for the right of all men to think their thoughts and speak out boldly, for the right to expose base selfishness and rottenness; for the right of men to be masters of themselves, to live and die free; for there is no right so precious as this, and no other cause that ever engaged man is so noble and worthwhile.