The evolution of industry - Henry Dyer
Attempts to estimate the value of the various factors in the industrial problem, and to coordinate or integrate their effective components, so as to be able to form some idea of the resulting organisation.
The book gives only a brief outline of the distinctive features of the different elements in the labour movement.
Goethe prophesied that the great problems at the end of the nineteenth century would be the organisation of mechanical industry and the social and economic questions connected therewith.
This prophecy has been abundantly fulfilled. The disputes and struggles connected with labour, and the conditions of the poorest classes of the community, have directed the attention of many thoughtful men and women to the social and economic problems of the day, and in all parts of the world, these are presenting themselves to educationists, social reformers, politicians and statesmen, as the matters which above all others are urgently demanding careful study and investigation. M. de Laveleye put the dominant thought into words when he said: "
The message of the eighteenth century to man was, ' Thou shalt cease to be the slave of nobles and despots who oppress thee: thou art free and sovereign.' But the problem of our times is, ' It is a grand thing to be free and sovereign, but how is it that the sovereign often starves? How is it that those who are held to be the source of power often cannot, even by hard work, provide themselves with the necessaries of life?'" Contemporary Review, March 1890.
From a survey of the chief conditions of the industry which have been brought about by the great development of machinery and of the applications of science, it is evident that the present century is in a large sense a probationary epoch, an era of beginnings. Indeed, it is not at all a question of whether the existing social order shall be changed, but of how the inevitable change shall be made.
For ages, the soil was being cleared, ploughed and harrowed, and for the past century the seed has been springing up, and in some cases coming to maturity before men were properly prepared to take advantage of it. The results have been that, while great advances have been made, there has been great turmoil in social conditions and strife and stress in industrial relations, and we are now facing to face with many problems of a very difficult nature.
The whole fields of economics, education, and even religion have been revolutionised, and these have reacted to social conditions. Hence have arisen the demands of labour for a larger share of its products, and for their more equable distribution.
It is long since Carlyle pointed out that "this that they call 'Organising of Labour' is, if well understood, the Problem of the whole Future for all who will in future pretend to govern men," but it is only now that politicians are beginning to recognise that it is the most important piece of work which lies immediately before them.
Like the Bishop of Durham, I believe "that the unique heritage which we enjoy, containing as it does the common enjoyment of the highest forces for inspiring and disciplining a generous character, not only prepares us to face the problem of the organisation of industry as a fellowship of service but lays on us the obligation of doing so.
The life of nations is a mission no less than the life of men, and unless the teaching of history misleads us, this is part of the mission of England. May the will answer the call. Men upon the whole are what they can be — nations what they would." The modern industrial community is a very complicated organism, and the interaction of cause and effect takes place in a way that is not easy to follow, either in fact or in thought.
Hence the necessity for the careful study of the various factors of the problems involved, and for the elimination as far as possible of all disturbing elements. It is necessary to educate the democracy in the duties and rights of citizenship, so that their political action may be that of patriots and not of partisans.
Too often men and women become social and political reformers and philanthropists because they have been caught by a cry of suffering or an urgent plea of wrongs to be righted, but they have seldom formed any adequate idea of the complexity of problems with which they attempt to deal, or of the delicacy of the social machine on which they depend. If these problems are to be solved in a satisfactory manner, all their factors must be taken into account, and the different aspects fully considered.
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