Posts Tagged ‘Demagogues’

Labor Talk: Roosevelt Warns Against Despotism, Envy and Mob Violence

September 2, 2012


Warns His Hearers Against Despotism, Envy and Mob Violence.

A community of interest, with caste forgotten and personal worth the sole basis of class distinction, with capitalist and wage worker helping themselves by aiding each other and both content to abide by the laws, was the doctrine preached at Syracuse Monday by President Roosevelt as the prime requisite for a prosperous and permanent national life.

As a labor day creed, its acceptance was urged by a warning against a tendency toward despotism, the envy of demagogues and their bent toward mob violence being classed as a danger to the laborer far more malign than the arrogance of the affluent.

“We must act upon the motto of all for each and each for all,” was the keynote of the address, which denounced the leaders who incite class antagonism, whether the labor agitator who shouts for plunder or the unscrupulous man of wealth who seeks to subvert the laws in order to oppress.

“We must see that each man is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less,” ran the final aphorism with which President Roosevelt drove home his plea for the abolition of industrial castes.

The prosperity of the farmer and the wage worker is the index of the nation’s welfare, argued the President, and the interests of every business, trade and profession are so identical that they “tend to go up or down together.” To maintain a healthy government individuals instead of classes must be considered, and the permanency of a spirit that will conserve the rights of others as well as defend one’s own.

In the decline of defunct republics of the medieval age the President traced examples of the pernicious effect of class legislation, and gave point to his warning against demagogy by the conclusion that the result was equally fatal no matter whether the mob or the oligarchy conquered.

To unite the contending classes, the President urged that the wage worker should display sanity and a desire to do justice to others and that the capitalist should welcome and aid all legislative efforts to settle present difficulties. The currency system was cited as an example of legislation that is good because not classlike.

With his argument for the abolition of classes ended, the President launched into a characteristic eulogy of the benefits of hard work, which he styled the “best prize life has to offer.” The idler was dismissed with the quotation, “After all the  saddest thing that can happen to a man is to carry no burdens.” Breadwinners and homemakers, fathers and mothers of families, were given their tribute, the President declaring that there is a place for each among the honored benefactors of the nation.

Following are paragraphs from the President’s Labor Day address:

There is no worse enemy to the wage worker than the man who condones mob violence in any form or who preaches class hatred.

If alive to their true interests, rich and poor alike will set their faces like flint against the spirit which seeks personal advantage by overriding the laws, without regard to whether the spirit shows itself in the form of bodily violence by one set of men, or in the form of vulpine cunning by another set of men.

The outcome was equally fatal whether the country fell into the hands of a wealthy oligarchy, which exploited the poor, or whether it fell under the domination of a turbulent mob which plundered the rich.

In the long run, we all of us tend to go up or down together. It is all-essential to the continuance of our healthy national life that we should recognize this community of interest among our people.

We must keep ever in mind that a republic such as ours can exist only in virtue of the orderly liberty which comes through the equal domination of the law over all men alike and through its administration in such resolute and fearless fashion as shall teach all that no man is above it and no man below it.

Cedar Fall Gazette (Cedar Falls, Iowa) Sep 15, 1903

To My Dog, Jowler

May 14, 2012

To My Dog Jowler,

Jowler, they’ve taxed you, honest friend;
Assessed you, put you in the roll;
To exile every dog they send —
Unless some friend will pay his poll.

By all that’s good, the rascals meant
Betwixt us two to breed a strife,
And drive you into punishment,
Or bribe your friend to take your life.

But, Jowler, don’t you be alarmed!
If politicians do neglect you,
Confound your tax! you shan’t be harmed,
I know your worth, and I’ll protect you!

But taxes, by the Constitution,
Convey the right to represent;
So dogs, by this same resolution,
Might just as well as men be sent.

Now, dogs and men, and voters hear,
That Jowler’s put in nomination
To go upon the coming year,
And aid in public legislation.

Jowler, beware of demagogues,
Keep clear of the minority;
Take care to smell of other dogs,
And vote with the majority.

Hornellsville Tribune (Hornellsville, New York) May 22, 1862

Euripides, Spartacus and the Middle Class

April 16, 2012


There are three classes of citizens. The first are rich, who are indolent and yet always crave more. The second are the poor, who have nothing, are full of envy, hate the rich, and are easily led by the demagogues. Between the two extremes lie those who make the state secure and uphold the laws.

— From Euripides’ “The Supplicant Women.”

Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona) Mar 17, 1944

Spartacus To The Gladiators

When William Allen White spoke at Chicago last week his present hearers were the members of that city’s Executives Club, but his remarks were addressed to the small business men of the entire country, who everywhere are figuratively on the Mareth Line, otherwise call the “little Maginot.” Despite his great distinction and national following, as a publicist, White is both the apotheosis and the Spartacus of the little business men — a big man who owns a relatively small newspaper published in a relatively small Kansas town. His views of matters in the large are therefore projections of things in the small.

Spartacus, as you know, was a Roman gladiator, who fought without benefit of union rules and without the protection of a grievance committee in the arena, and he later rallied the Roman slaves in a considerable rebellion, which finally was put down. So for analogic purposes we may compare the present time, in the concerns of the small businessman, with the rebellious phase of the Spartacus “Fighting Rome” movement.

“The little guy,” said Spartacus White, “has always been battling with the encroachments of power. He struggled with insatiable power in the Roman Empire. He fought with the power of an ignorant and corrupt religion in the Middle Ages. It was this poor little middle-class guy who has overthrown embattled kings and routed feudal barons .  .  .  Time and again in human history we little guys have won our battles.”

As Spartacus the Roman said, “Ye do well to call me chief.”

But the little guy is not out of the woods and he probably never will be able to remit the price of liberty (including the liberty of initiative in enterprise), which is eternal vigilance. The immediate prospect is threatening. Said the embattled sage of Emporia:

“I see on every hand, whether I look toward the totalitarianism of Europe, whether I look toward the establishment of a real economic democracy in America, or whether I look toward the concentration of gigantic power in the minds of the men who are not owners, but who have absolute control — I say, wherever I look about me, I see real danger of extinction for the owner-executive. I don’t see how he can survive in this machine age. Yet if we are to live as a free and happy nation, we little fellows, you and I, must some way survive.”

Spartacus White’s reconstruction of the battle is historically correct. It is as clear as that of Gettysburg, the field of which is virtually a memorial map. There is no grand strategy for the future, for “the little guy does not know where he is going — he steps out in the dark.” His touchstone in all ages has been his native wit, sharpened by the instinct of survival and perseverance, and in the present exigencies Spartacus White in closing adjures and encourages him to “brace up, pull your vest down, and show your collar button even if it is brass.”

Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona) Mar 26, 1943