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ers and in securing larger social progress for humanity. Wherever there is organized capital on a considerable scale I believe in the principle of organized labor and in the practice of collective bargaining, not merely as a desirable thing for the wage-earners, but as something which has been demonstrated to be essential in the long run to their permanent progress. Where capital is organized, as it must be organized under modern industrial conditions, the only way to secure proper freedom proper treatment for the individual laborer is to have labor organize also.
This does not mean that I unequivocally endorse any or all practices that labor organizations may happen to adopt, or any or all principles that they may choose to enunciate. Labor organizations have the weaknesses and defects common to all forms of human organizations. When any man tells you that the laboring man never goes wrong, make up your minds that he is telling you what he knows to be an untruth, and distrust him accordingly; for it is a good old principle to act upon in the long run, that the most uncomfortable truth is a safer traveling companion that the pleasantest falsehood. Sometimes labor organizations act very well, and sometimes, like the rest of mankind, they act very badly; and I am for them when they act well, and I am against them when they act badly. I believe that their existence is a necessity; I believe that their aims and purposes are generally good; and I believe that all of them have occasionally made mistakes, and that some of them have been guilty of wrongdoing. Just in so far as they are strong and effective they tempt designing men who seek to control them for their own interests,
and stimulate the desires of ambitious leaders who may be clever, crooked men, or who may be honest but visionary and foolish. In other words, in treating of labor unions, as in treating of corporations, or of humanity generally, we shall do well to remember Abraham Lincoln's saying that “there is a deal of human nature in mankind.”
I think that the next quarter of a century will be important politically in many ways (I do not use the word “politically” in the way of party politics; but I am speaking of the social development of our people); and in none more so than in the labor movement. Not only are the benefits of labor organizations more clearly understood than before, but any shortcoming or vice displayed in connection therewith is also more clearly understood and more quickly resented. Just as it is with corporations, just so it is with railroads. Forty years ago the railroads could do with absolute impunity, and without any criticism, things which would cause well nigh a revolution if they attempted them now. The public is growing more and more to understand that, in a contest between employer and employee — a corporation and a trades union - not only the interests of the contestants, but the interests of the third party — the public — must be considered. Anything like levity in provoking a strike, on the one hand or on the other, is certain more and more to be resented by the public. Strikes are sometimes necessary and proper; sometimes they represent the only way in which, after all other methods have been exhausted, it is possible for the laboring man to stand up for his rights; but it must be clearly understood that a strike is a matter of last resort, and,
of course, violence, lawlessness, and mob rule must be promptly and sternly dealt with, no matter what the cause may be that excites them. Our social organization is too complex for us to fail quickly to condemn those who, with levity or in a spirit of wanton brutality, bring about far-reaching and disastrous interference with normal processes. More and more we are growing to understand that corruption and lawless disorder are twin foes of the body politic, and that neither can be tolerated.
1 Speech at Fargo, North Dakota, September 6, 1910. From The New Nationalism. Copyright, 1910. The Outlook Company, publishers.
III. THE JUDICIARY
THE rapid changes in our social and industrial life have made it necessary that, in applying to concrete cases the great rule of right laid down in our Constitution, there should be a full understanding and appreciation of the new conditions to which the rules are to be applied. What would have been an infringement upon liberty half a century ago may be the necessary safeguard of liberty to-day. What would have been an injury to
operty then may be necessary to the employment of property now. Every judicial decision involves two terms - one, an interpretation of the law; the other, the understanding of the facts to which it is to be applied. The great mass of our judicial officers are, I believe, alive to these changes of conditions which so materially affect the performance of their judicial duties. Our judicial system is sound and effective at core, and it remains, and must ever be maintained, as the safeguard of those principles of liberty and justice which stand at the foundation of American institutions; for, as Burke finely said, when liberty and justice are separated, neither is safe.
There are, however, some members of the judicial body who have lagged behind in their understanding of these great and vital changes in the body politic, whose minds have never been opened to the new applications of the old principles made necessary by the new conditions. Judges of this stamp do lasting harm by their decisions, because they convince poor men in need of pro
tection that the courts of the land are profoundly ignorant of and out of sympathy with their needs, and profoundly indifferent or hostile to any proposed remedy. To such men it seems a cruel mockery to have any court decide against them on the ground that it desires to preserve "liberty" in a purely technical form, by withholding liberty in any real and constructive sense.
There are certain decisions by various courts which have been exceedingly detrimental to the rights of wageworkers. This is true of all the decisions that decide that men and women are, by the Constitution, “guaranteed their liberty" to contract to enter a dangerous occupation or to work an undesirable or improper number of hours, or to work in unhealthy surroundings; and therefore cannot recover damages when maimed in that occupation, and cannot be forbidden to work what the legislature decides is an excessive number of hours, or to carry on the work under conditions which the legislature decides to be unhealthy. The most dangerous occupations are often the poorest paid and those where the hours of work are longest; and in many cases those who go into them are driven by necessity so great that they have practically no alternative. Decisions such as those alluded to above nullify the legislative effort to protect the wage-workers who most need protection from those employers who take advantage of their grinding need. They halt or hamper the movement for securing better and more equitable conditions of labor. The talk about preserving to the misery-hunted beings who make contracts for such service their "liberty" to make them, is either to speak in a spirit of heartless irony or else to show an utter lack of knowledge of the conditions of life