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


The men who are ahead make goodness start, but it is the crowds that make it irresistible.

The final, slow, long, imperious lift on goodness is the one the crowd gives.  Of course, for the most part, modern business is largely done with crowds.  Crowds are doing it and crowds are nearly always watching it.

The factory is slower than the department store in being good because the men in it deal with crowds of things and crowds of wheels and not with crowds of people.

All responsible people are forced to be good, with crowds around them, expecting it of them.

Crowds at the very least are a kind of vast, insinuating, penetrating, omnipresent, permeating police force of righteousness.

In a department store, the crowds, twelve thousand a day, are like some huge coil of hose or vacuum cleaner, lying about the place, sucking up, drawing out, and demanding goodness from the clerks.  Clerks develop human insight and powers faster in department stores than machinists do in factories because they are exposed to more people and to larger crowds.  The stream clears itself.

The last forms of business to yield to the new spirit are to be the lonely ones, the ones where light, air, human emotions, and crowds are shut out.

The lonely forms of business will at last be vitalized and socialized by men of organizing genius, who will invent the equivalent of crowds going by, who will contrive ways of putting a few responsible persons in sight or in a position where they will feel crowds going by their souls, looking into them as if they were shop windows.  Crowds can keep track of a few.  The crowds will see that these few are the kind of men who will keep track of all.

Crowds in the end will not accept less than the best.  With crowds of people and crowds of places and crowds of times we are good.  In all things crowds can see or be made to see we are safe.  Progress lies in making crowds see through people, making crowds go past them.  While they are going past them, they lure their goodness on.