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The independent. [volume] (Lincoln, Neb.) 1902-1907, November 20, 1902, Image 1

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Vol. XIV.
LINCOLN, NEB., NOV. 20, 1902.
No. 26.
BENlVGLENT feudalism
Mr. Ghent Write an Interesting: Hook on
the Sign of the Times os He
Views Them
Not in recent years has The Inde
pendent reviewed a book which caused
bo many contradictory feolings as
"Our Benevolent Feudalism," by W. J.
Ghent (The Macmillan Company, N.
Y October, 1902). What effect it will
have is difficult to determine, because
the reader cannot decide whether the
delicate sarcasm which ., manifests it
self on every page is intended to spur
him on to greater efforts, or whether
the author really feels as hopeless as
a cursory reading of his book would
indicate. It is hardly fair to call Mr.
Ghent a pessimist, but he is rather to
be classed with men like H. Gaylord
Wilshire who believe in the inevitabil
ity of certain things. Of course these
two see the future through different
spectacles. Wilshire is sure of the
inevitability of socialism. "Let the na
tion own the trusts," is his slogan.
Mr. Ghent is equally certain, or pro
fesses to be, of the inevitability of
feudalism. The trusts will own the
nation, no matter how much we rebel
against it.
No man ever made a clearer presen
tation of existing conditions than has
Mr. Ghent in this book, or made it
with less of what might be termed
mere ranting.. Mr. Ghent, does . not
want the trusts to own the nation
far from it but he sees no way of es
cape. And The Independent is in
clined to agree with him unless such
books as his will, by their very de
spondency, act as an irritant on the
apathetic victims of trust domination
and spur tnem on to a successful re
sistance. If Mr. Ghent's book will
have this effect, it will be to the over
throw of baronial power what "Uncle
Tom's Cabin" was to the overthrow of
the slave power.. God grant that it
may. have this effect.
In arrangement "Our Benevolent
Feudalism" is admirable, and is so
perfectly brought down to date as to
include, comrzent on President Roose
velt'B action in relation to the' coal
strike. It consists of nine chapters,
202 page3, including a comprehensive
index. In the preface Mr. Ghent says:
"The germ of this book was contained
in an article in the (N. Y.) Indepen
dent, April 3, 1902. The wide interest
which that article awakened prompted
the elaboration and arrangement of its
briefly considered and somewhat dis
jointed parts into the present form."
Briefly Mr. Ghent's idea , is that we
are rapidly going back to the ancient
feudalism, except that the barons will
now be wiser than in the days of old
and by skillfully avoiding the mistakes
of their predecessors will be able to
keep the villeins in a state of subjec
tion with little show of force, but
rather by keeping them in a state of
comparative contentment. The slogans,
L,et well enough alone," and, "Keep
on letting well enough alone," are cer
tainly in harmony with such a ten
dency. Chapter I., "Utopias and Other Fore
casts," comments on the great divers
ity of social ideals and consequently
of social forecasts. "Whoever, blessed
with hope," says Mr. Ghent, "spec
ulates upon the future of society, tends
to imagine it iff the form of his social
ideals. It matters little what the cur
rent probabilities may be the strong
influence of the ideal warps the judg
ment." Hence, Mr. Ghent must be un
blessed with hope, because it is evident
that his forecast is little to his liking.
He pays some attention to "Anticipa
tions," by H. Q. Wells, Benjamin
Kidd's "Principles of Western Civili
zation." Professor John B. Clark's
"Society of the Future," "A Modified
Individualism," by Henry- D. Lloyd,
and other works in which some at
tempt has bean made to forecast the
future -in all of which Mr. Ghent be
lieves "the ideal warps the judgment"
to a r;reat extent.
"The dominant tendencies will be
clearly seen," says Mr. Ghent, "only
by those whe for the time detach
themselves from their social ideals.
What, theii, in this republic of the
United States, may socialist, individ
ualist, and conservative alike see, if
only they will look with unclouded
vision? In brief, an irresistible move
mentnow almost at its culmination-
toward great combinations in specific
trades; next toward coalescence of
kindred industries, and thus toward
the complete integration of capital.
Consequent upon these changes, the
group of captains and lieutenants of
industry, attains a daily increasing
power, social, industrial and politi
cal, and becomes the ranking order in
a vast series of gradations. The state
becomes stronger in its relations to
the prcpertylcss citizen, weaker in its
relations to the man of capital. . . .
The result is a renascent feudalism,
which, though it differs in many forms
from that of the time of Edward I., is
yet based upon the same status of lord,
agent, and underling. It is a feudal
ism somewhat graced by a sense of
ethics and somewhat restrained by a
fear of democracy."
Chapter II., "Combination and
Coalescence," treats of the enormous
growth of industrial, commercial, and
financial combinations. A thorough
analysis is made of Census Bulletin
No. 122 (trusts), and some startling
facts stated. For example, the yearly
net profits of the steel trust are dou
ble the amount of the total net revenue
of the United States government in
the year Lincoln was elected. . "Its
wage-roll carries on an average of the
round year over 158,000 names an
army of employes larger by 45,000 than
serves the national government in ev
ery branch of its civil service, classi
fied and unclassified, except only fourth
class postmasters." Its wage-payments
(?113,000,00O) are thirteen millions
greater than the annual city budget of
Greater New York. It produces 67 per
cent of the total steel production of
the country, and pays 54 millions a
year in- freight alone. Mr. Ghent
quotes from Moody's Manual of Cor
poration Securities for 1902 to the ef
fect that there are about 850 different
going combinations with a capitaliza
tion of nine billions, and, including
railroad consolidations, an aggregate
of over $15,000,000,000.. . Interstate
Commerce Commissioner J.. A. Prouty
believes that five men control all the
railroads of the country; , John W.
Gates believes that two men. are, real
ly tr, ntmi And Professor Francis
L. Patton, formerly at the -head nf.
Princeton university, oeneves me uwe
is not far distant "when there will
not be a thing that we eat, drink, .or
wear that will not be made by a trust .
"In r-ennsylvania," says Mr. Ghent,
"coal is mined and railroads operated
by practically the same companies,
and in Colorado and West Virginia
nearly as complete an identity is dis
covered. The steel corporation owns
coal lands, limestone quarries, rail
roads, and docks; it is allied with the
great Atlantic shipping trust; it is
related not distantly to the Standard
Oil company; and the beginnings of a
public opinion trust are indicated, for
already its chief magnate has acquired
several newspapers and a prominent
Granting that there is a counter
tendency toward the persistence of
small-unit farming and of small-shop
production, Mr. Ghent points out the
growth of farm tenancy and of salar
ied management of large estates as
proof that farming is not an exception
to t general trend toward combina
tion, but simply differs in degree Own
ers operated 74.5 per cent of all farms
in 1880; 71.6 per cent in 1890; but only
64.7 per cent in 1900. Since 1880 ten
antry has increased relatively in ev
ery state and territory except Arizona,
Florida and New Hampshire, and in
these the relative decrease is only a
fraction of 1 per cent.
Chapter III. deals with-"Our Mag
nates," and here the author's powers
of sarcastic utterance are given full
play "Frequently his (the mag
nate's) benefactions increase," says
Mr Ghent, "and always he takes on a
more Jovian air, and views with a
more providential outlook the phenom
ena passing before and about him He
is a part not only, as Tennyson makes
Ulysses say, of all that he has met, but
of the primary causes of things, ne
is at once the loaf-giver to the needy,
the regulator of temporal affairs, the
lord protector of church and society;
and he holds his title directly from
the Creator A flattering unction
that all lay to their souls is the dictum
that success in business is a matter of
honesty, intelligence and energy -quoting
Carnegie, Sage, Dodd, and
Chapter IV., "Our Farmers and
Wgae-Earners," is equally instructive
and interesting. "In most ages." says
the author, "the working farmer has
been the dupe and prey of the rest of
mankind. Now by force and now by
(Continued on Page 3.)
Mr. De If art Review the Kemilt in Several
Stales lielleves the Trut Question
is Out of I'olilic-i
Editor Independent : On the day be
fore election (November 3) the New
York World said:
"The campaign has put tariff reform
and trust regulation to the front as the
two corelated questions, which, from
now on, are to be the battle ground of
the two parties."
If ue World really thinks that trust
regulation "is to be an issue in our
future-politics," it is very much mis
taken. That issue, like the Philippine
question, will soon be an issue of the
past The people, here, have recently
become so much aroused, that the re
publican party will be compelled, in
the next congress, to take up the
question of monopolist trusts and dis
pose of them in such a way as to bo
satisfactory to the people, and to take
the matter out of our politics. The
beef combine demonstrated to the peo
ple what a trust is, and showed that
the democrats here are incompetent
to "smash the trusts." For instance,
our member of congress came home
here last spring and tried to prove at
a "mass meeting," that the beef com
bine could be smashed by, taking off
the tariff duty of two cents a pound on
foreign meat, while we had plenty of
meat in this country and did not have
to go abroad and buy meat and pay the
duty. Our democratic member of con
gress did not have intelligence enough
to know that the high price of meat
was due to a monopoly of meat.in the
west. If they had brought Grover
Cleveland here, he would have exhib
ited no more Intelligence -than Allan
L. McDermott, our representative in
congress. The democrats here don't
seem to know how to break up a mo
nopoly, except by adopting free trade
Of all the" foolish things in this world
the most foolish is to think that mo
nopolies can be destroyed by free
trade in trust-made articles. It is
really free trade in almost everything,
because almost everything is made by
a trust and sold here at. a higher
price than abroad. Admitting, for the
sake of the argument, that free trade
would destroy the trusts, and admit
ting that it would not destroy our in
dustries, close our mills and factories
and reduce our working t people to
starvation, it would at least destroy the
government, because there would be
no revenue or income, with which to
support the machinery of government,
not even to pay the wages and salaries
of those who are working for the pub
lic. This would leave us without a
government and throw us into anarchy,
unless we could borrow money as we
did in the second administration of
Grover Cleveland. We have not for
gotten how he borrowed two hundred
and sixty-two millions and issued U.
S. bonds to that amount, which are
not paid yet.
Before we can have free trade, we
must inaugurate some kind of an in
ternal tax with which to support the
government. Tariff duties are an ex
ternal tax. a tax upon foreign com
merce. We are now collecting two
hundred millions annually in this
way. If we are to have free trade and
abolish this system of taxation, we
must first inaugurate a system of in
ternal taxation, falling upon wealth in
stead of business and consumption, by
which we can raise at least two hun
dred millions annually. It is folly to
talk about free trade until we have
first inaugurated an income tax or
some kind of an internal tax falling
upon wealth, by which we can raise at
least two hundred millions annually
and be certain of having the money
when the time comes for paying it out
to the employes of the government.
Of all the most impotent things in
this world is a government that can
not pay its own laborers. Therefore
before we begin to talk about free
trade, as to trust-made articles, we
must first get a law upon the statute
book, by which the government can be
If the trusts (or monopolies) are
making goods and selling them cheaper
abroad than here, we had better be
doing business in this way, than by
undertaking to do it in such a way,
that the government will have nothing
with which to pay its own expenses
to say nothing about the expenses or
revenues of private citizens. I be
lieve that If we should put all trust-;
made articles on the free list, without,
first providing some other mode of .
taxation, we would not only. destroy
the trusts but everything else. . :
The true remedy for the trust evil:
is strict enforcement of the Sherman;
anti-trust law. This the people are
beginning to see. If President Roose-,
velt had used this law against the coal
combine, as he did against the meat
combine, we would soon have had.
plenty of coal. The Insolence of the
coal barons' taught the "president a les
son he will remember; and if he fails;
to remember," the people In 1904 will'
elect a president who can read -the.
Sherman law." I have no doubt now,
(after our bitter experience , here In,
the east), that the law will be strictly,
enforced. I think the judges of the,
supreme court will see more power in;
this law than they have been able to
see heretofore. The strike and coal
question will open their eyes.
The recent strike did more to open
the eyes of the people here than the
meat trust. We could do without meat,
but we couldn't do without coal.
No coal meant famine. Until the
strike was over, vc didn't know who
to blame, whether to blame the strik
ers or the coal monopoly. But after the'
strike was over, we found that the
coal barons were in fault that they,
were wrong, because they wouldn't ar
bitrate. We saw, at the conclusion,
that they wanted a strike; and that
they wanted it for an excuse of put
ting up the price of coal. It Is now
quite certain that the people in this
part of the country will not stop, un
til the president orders a suit to be
commenced against the coal trust,
which will go to the very bottom of
the whole matter, and show that there
has been an illegal combination,
which may send some of the offenders
to prison. As soon as this is done:
and I have no doubt that it will be
done before 1904 and if it Is done, the
trust evil will be taken out of poli
tics, and we will hear no more of
trusts in connection wlth-the- tariff , or .
of the tariff In connection with trusts.
The . recent election has Its lessons.
For instance, the republicans in New
York can see that they must break up
the monopolies, without fear or favor,
or there will be no more republican
governors elected in New York, and
no more United States senators from
New York. It must also be evident to
them that Mr. Roosevelt cannot carry
New York in 1904, unless he enforces
the Sherman law against the trusts
in real earnest.
David B. Hill has learned that "tar
iff reform," with the Pennsylvania
coal mines thrown In, will not carry
New York. Bird S. Coler was a good
nomination, but he was heavily loaded
with Hill and "tariff reform." He
nevertheless comes out of the contest
with honor and will be heard from
hereafter. The only difficulty with
Coler is that he believes in "tariff re
form," which means not free trade,
but tariff-for-revenue-only a worse
doctrine than free . trade, because, if
we undertake to have free trade, we
will very soon learn .that we must
have an income tax or some kind of
an equitable tax that will fall upon
wealth instead of consumption. Bird
S. Coler will make a good candidate
for mayor of New York city next year, -but
he will not do to spread all over
New York state, because the state will
not support tariff for revenue only.
Mr. Coler, if he wants to get further
than the mayoralty of New York city,
must believe in either free trade or
protection. He received a larger plu
rality in New York city than any can
didate has ever received, but the large
pluralities outside overcame his plu
rality in the city. The farmers of
New York didn't want any of David B.
Hill's "tariff reform." Besides, the
farmers of the state didn't know Coler
as well as the people of New York
city knew him, and therefore he
couldn't run as well in the state as In
the city.
Fowler, in the Fifth New Jersey
congressional district, was elected, but
this was no indorsement of his bill.
He was elected because he advocated
protection as against Grover Cleve
land's "tariff reform." which meant
tariff for revenue only. It was not
necessary for Fowler to say one word
in favor of his bill In order to be
elected; and if he had spoken in favor
of it, not one voter In a thousand
would have known what he was talk
ing about. He might as well have

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