Read LETTING THE CROWDS BE GOOD - CHAPTER X of Crowds A Moving-Picture of Democracy, free online book, by Gerald Stanley Lee, on


The imagination of crowds may be said to be touched most successfully when it is appealed to in one of four ways: 


Of these four ways, the stupendous, or the unusual, or the successful are the most in evidence, and have something showy about them, so that we can look at them afterward, and point out at a glance what they have done.  But probably the underhold on the crowd, the real grip on its imagination, the one which does the plain, hard, everyday work on a crowd’s ideals, which determines what crowds expect and what crowds are like inside-is the Monotonous.

The man who tells the most people what they shall be like in this world is not the great man or the unusual man.  He is the monotonous man.

He is the man, to each of us, who determines the unconscious beat and rhythm with which we live our daily lives.

If we wanted to touch the imaginations of crowds, or of any particular crowd, with goodness, the best way to do it would probably be, not to go to the crowd itself, but to the man who is so placed that he determines the crowd’s monotony, the daily rhythm with which it lives-the man, if we can find him, who arranges the crowd’s heart-beat.

It need not take one very long to decide who the man is who determines the crowd’s heart-beat.  The man who has the most dominion over the imaginations of most of us, who stands up high before us out in front of our lives, the man who, as with a great baton, day after day, night after night, conducts, as some great symphony, the fate of the world above our heads, who determines the deep, unconscious thoughts and motives, the inner music or sing-song, in which we live our lives, is the man to whom we look for our daily bread.

It is the men with whom we earn our money who are telling us all relentlessly, silently, what we will have to be like.  The men with whom we spend it, who sell things to us, like the department stores, those huge machines of attention, may succeed in getting great sweeps of attention out of crowds at special times, by appealing to men through the unusual and through the stupendous or the successful.  But what really counts, and what finally decides what men and what women shall be, what really gets their attention unfathomably, unconsciously, is the way they earn their money.  The feeling men come to have about a fact, of its being what it is, helplessly or whether or no-the feeling that they come to have about something, of its being immemorially and innumerably the same everywhere and forever, comes from what they are thinking and the way they think while they are earning their money.  It is out of the subconscious and the monotonous that all our little heavens and hells are made.  It is our daily work that becomes to us the real floor and roof of living, hugs up under us like the ground, fits itself down over us, and is our earth and sky.  The man with whom we earn our money, the man who employs us, his thinking or not thinking, his “I will” and “I won’t,” are the iron boundaries of the world to us.  He is the skylight and the manhole of life.

The monotonous, the innumerable and over and over again, one’s desk, one’s typewriter, one’s machine, one’s own particular factory window, the tall chimney, the little forever motion with one’s hand-it is these, godlike, inscrutable, speechless, out of the depths of our unconsciousness and down through our dreams, that become the very breath and rumble of living to us, domineer over our imaginations and rule our lives.  It is decreed that what our Employers think and let us know enough to think shall be a part of the inner substance of our being.  It shall be a part of growing of the grass to us, and shall be as water and food and sleep.  It shall be to us as the shouts of boys at play in the field and as the crying of our children in the night.  To most men Employers are the great doors that creak at the end of the world.

It is not the houses that people live in, or the theatres that they go to, or the churches to which they belong, or the street and number-the East End look or the West End look the great city carves on the faces of these men I see in the street-that determines what the men are like.

Their daily work lies deeper in them than their faces.  One finds one’s self as one flashes by being told things in their walk, in the way they hold their hands and swing their feet.

And what is it their hands and feet, umbrellas, bundles, and the wrinkles in their clothes tell us about them?

They tell us how they earn their money.  Their hopes, their sorrow, their fears and curses, their convictions, their very religions are the silent, irrevocable, heavenly minded, diabolical by-products of what their Employers think they can afford to let them know enough to think.

“Fight for yourselves.  Your masters hate you.  They would shoot you down like rabbits, but they need your labour for their huge profits.  Don’t go in till you get your minimum.  No Royal Commission, no promise in the future.  Leaders only want your votes; they will sell you.  They lie.  Parliament lies, and will not help you, but is trying to sell you.  Don’t touch a tool till you get your minimum.  Win, win, win!  It is up to all workers to support the miners.”

If a man happens to be an employer, and happens to know that he is not this sort of man, and finds that he cannot successfully carry on his business unless he can make five hundred men in his factory believe it, what can he do?  How can he touch their imaginations?  What language is there, either of words or of action, that will lead them to see that he is a really a fair-minded, competent employer, a representative of the interests of all, a fellow-citizen, a Crowdman, and that his men can afford to believe in him and cooeperate with them?

If they think he would shoot them down like rabbits, it is because they have not the remotest idea what he is really like.  They have not noticed him.  They have no imagination about him, have not put themselves in his place.  How can he get their attention?