« PreviousContinue »
HERE is known to me a
prominent business house that by the very force of its directness and worth has incurred the enmity of many rivals. In fact, there is a very general conspiracy on hand to put
the institution down and out. In talking with a young man employed by this house, he yawned and said, “Oh, in this quarrel I am neutral.” “But you get your bread and butter from this firm, and in a matter where the very life of the institution is concerned, I do not see how you can be a neutral.” And he changed the subject. I think that if I enlisted in the Japanese army I would not be a neutral. Business is a fight-a continual struggle—just as life is. Man has reached his present degree of development through struggle. Struggle there must be and always will be. The struggle began as purely physical; as man evolved it shifted ground to the mental, psychic, and the spiritual, with a few dashes of cave-man
proclivities still left. But depend upon it, the struggle will always be-life is activity. And when it gets to be a struggle in well-doing, it will still be a struggle. When inertia gets the better of you it is time to telephone to the undertaker. The only real neutral in this game of life is a dead one. Eternal vigilance is not only the price of liberty, but of every other good thing. A business that is not safeguarded on every side by active, alert, attentive, vigilant men is gone to As oxygen is the disintegrating principle of life, working night and day to dissolve, separate, pull apart and dissipate, so there is something in business that continually tends to scatter, destroy and shift possession from this man to that. A million mice nibble eternally at every business venture. The mice are not neutrals, and if enough employes in a business house are neutrals, the whole concern will eventually come tumbling about their ears. I like that order of Field-Marshal Oyama “Give every honorable neutral that you find in our lines the honorable jiu-jitsu hikerino."
ENAN has said that truth
Second, we say the matter really amounts to nothing, anyway. Third, we declare that we always believed it.
Two hundred years ago partnerships in business were very rare. A man in business simply made things and sold them-and all the manufacturing was done by himself and his immediate family. Soon we find instances of brothers continuing the work the father had begun, as in the case of the Elzevirs and the Plantins, the great bookmakers of Holland. To meet this competition, four printers, in 1640, formed a partnership and pooled their efforts. A local writer by the name of Van Krugen denounced these four men, and made savage attacks on partnerships in general as wicked and illegal, and opposed to the best interests of the people. This view seems to
have been quite general, for there was a law in Amsterdam forbidding all partnerships in business that were not licensed by the state. The legislature of the State of Missouri has recently made war on the department store in the same way, using the ancient Van Krugen argument as a reason, for there is no copyright on stupidity. In London in the seventeenth century men who were found guilty of pooling their efforts and dividing profits, were convicted by law and punished for “contumacy, contravention and connivance," and were given a taste of the stocks in the public square. When corporations were formed for the first time, only a few years ago, there was a fine burst of disapproval * The corporation was declared a scheme of oppression, a hungry octopus, a grinder of the individual. And to prove the case various instances of hardship were cited; and no doubt there was much suffering, for many people are never able to adjust themselves to new conditions without experiencing pain and regret. But we now believe that corporations came because they were required. Certain things the times demanded, and no one man, or two or three men could perform these tasks alonehence the corporation. The rise of England as a manufacturing nation began with the plan of the stock company. The aggregation known as the joint-stock company, everybody is willing now to admit, was absolutely necessary in order to secure the machinery, that is to say, the tools, the raw stock, the buildings, and to provide for the permanence of the venture. The railroad system of America has built up this country—on this thing of joint-stock companies and transportation, our prosperity has hinged. “Commerce, consists in carrying things from where they are plentiful to where they are needed,” says Emerson. There are ten combinations of capital in this country that control over six thousand miles of railroad each. These companies have taken in a large number of small lines; and many connecting lines of tracks have been built. Competition over vast sections of country has been practically obliterated, and this has been done so quietly that few people are aware of the change. Only one general result of this