« PreviousContinue »
the same occupation, but because of our ways of looking at life.
The prime lesson to be taught is the lesson of treating each man on his worth as a man, and of remembering that while sometimes it is necessary, from both a legislative and social standpoint, to consider men as a class, yet in the long run our safety lies in recognizing the individual's worth or lack of worth as the chief basis of action, and in shaping our whole conduct, and especially our political conduct, accordingly. It is impossible for a democracy to endure if the political lines are drawn to coincide with class lines. The resulting government, whether of the upper or the lower class, is not a government of the whole people, but a government of part of the people at the expense of the rest. Republics have fallen in the past primarily because the parties that controlled them divided along the lines of class, so that inevitably the triumph of one or the other implied the supremacy of a part over the whole. The result might be an oligarchy, or it might be mob rule; it mattered little which, as regards the ultimate effect, for in both cases tyranny and anarchy were sure to alternate. The failure of the Greek and Italian republics was fundamentally due to this cause. Switzerland has flourished because the divisions upon which her political issues have been fought have not been primarily those of mere caste or social class, and America will flourish and will become greater than any empire because, in the long run, in this country, any party which strives to found itself upon sectional or class jealousy and hostility must go down before the good sense of the people.1
1 From The Strenuous Life. Copyright, 1900. The Century Company, publishers.
our people never to fall under the thralldom of names, and least of all to be misled by designing people who appeal to the reverence for, or antipathy toward, a given name in order to achieve some alien purpose.
Of course such misuse of names is as old as the history of what we understand when we speak of civilized mankind. The rule of a mob may be every whit as tyrannical and oppressive as the rule of a single individual, whether or not called a dictator; and the rule of an oligarchy, whether this oligarchy is a plutocracy or a bureaucracy, or any other small set of powerful men, may in its turn be just as sordid and just as bloodthirsty as that of a mob. But the apologists for the mob or oligarchy or dictator, in justifying the tyranny, use different words. The mob leaders usually state that all that they are doing is necessary in order to advance the cause of “liberty,” while the dictator and the oligarchy are usually defended upon the ground that the course they follow is absolutely necessary so as to secure "order." Many excellent people are taken in by the use of the word “liberty" at the one time, and the use of the word "order" at the other, and ignore the simple fact that despotism is despotism, tyranny tyranny, oppression oppression, whether committed by one individual or by many individuals, by a state or by a private corpora
Of course when a great crisis actually comes, no matter how much people may have been misled by names, they promptly awaken to their unimportance. To the individual who suffered under the guillotine at Paris, or
in the drownings in the Loire, or to the individual who a century before was expelled from his beloved country, or tortured, or sent to the galleys, it made no difference whatever that one set of acts was performed under Robespierre and Danton and Marat in the name of liberty and reason and the rights of the people, or that the other was performed in the name of order and authority and religion by the direction of the great monarch. Tyranny and cruelty were tyranny and cruelty just as much in one case as in the other, and just as much when those guilty of them used one shibboleth as when they used another. All forms of tyranny and cruelty must alike be condemned by honest men.
We in this country have been very fortunate. Thanks to the teaching and the practice of the men whom we most revere as leaders, of the men like Washington and Lincoln, we have hitherto escaped the twin gulfs of despotism and mob rule, and we have never been in any danger from the worst forms of religious bitterness. But we should therefore be all the more careful, as we deal with our industrial and social problems, not to fall into mistakes similar to those which have brought lasting disaster on less fortunately situated peoples. We have achieved democracy in politics just because we have been able to steer a middle course between the rule of the mob and the rule of the dictator. We shall achieve industrial democracy because we shall steer a similar middle course between the extreme individualist and the Socialist, between the demagogue who attacks all wealth and who can see no wrong done anywhere unless it is perpetrated by a man of wealth, and the apologist for the plutocracy who rails against so much as a restate
ment of the eighth commandment upon the ground that it will “hurt business.” 1
From the days when civilized man first began to strive for self-government and democracy, success in this effort has depended primarily upon the ability to steer clear of extremes. For almost its entire length the course lies between Scylla and Charybdis; and the heated extremists who insist upon avoiding only one gulf of destruction invariably land in the other — and then take refuge in the meager consolation afforded by denouncing as “inconsistent" the pilot who strives to avoid both. Throughout past history Liberty has always walked between the twin terrors of Tyranny and Anarchy. They have stalked like wolves beside her, with murder in their red eyes, ever ready to tear each other's throats, but even more ready to rend in sunder Liberty herself. Always in the past there has been a monotonously recurrent cycle in the history of free states; Liberty has supplanted Tyranny, has gradually been supplanted by Anarchy, and has then seen the insupportable Anarchy finally overthrown and Tyranny reëstablished. Anarchy is always and everywhere the handmaiden of Tyranny and Liberty's deadliest foe. No people can permanently remain free unless it possesses the stern self-control and resolution necessary to put down anarchy. Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive; special privilege for the few and special privilege for the many are alike profoundly anti-social; the fact that un
1 From History as Literature. Copyright, 1913. Charles Scribner's Sons, publishers.
limited individualism is ruinous, in no way alters the fact that absolute state ownership and regimentation spells ruin of a different kind. 1
I HAVE come from the Atlantic across this continent to the Pacific. I have greeted many audiences. I see a little diversity, but, oh, my fellow citizens, what strikes me most and pleases me most is the fundamental unity, is the fact that wherever I go I speak to an audience of Americans, be they East or be they West. And I make the same appeal with the same confidence, here beside the Golden Gate, that I should make by the Great Lakes or in the upper Mississippi Valley or on the Atlantic Ocean. This is a government of freemen, who have achieved liberty under the law, who have, by force of arms as well as by legislation, established once for all, as the fundamental principle of our government, that there shall not in this country be license; that there shall not be in this country liberty to oppress without the law; that liberty and freedom shall come under and in pursuance of the law, of the law that is no respecter of persons, under a government that is a government neither for the rich man as such nor for the poor man as such, but for every man, rich or poor, if he is a decent man and does his duty to the State. 2
1 From The Great Adventure. Copyright, 1918. Charles Scribner's Sons, publishers.
2 Address at Mechanics' Pavilion, San Francisco, California, May 11, 1903. From California Addresses by President Roosevelt. The California Promotion Committee, publishers.