Read CROWDS AND HEROES - CHAPTER VII of Crowds A Moving-Picture of Democracy, free online book, by Gerald Stanley Lee, on


I am aware that Tom Mann is not a world figure.  But he is a world type.  And as the editor of the Syndicalist, the leader of the most imposing and revealing labour rally the world has seen, he is of universal interest.  Those of us who believe in crowds are deeply interested in finding, recognizing, creating, and in seeing set free out of the ranks of men the labour leaders who shall express the nobility and dignity of modern labour, who shall express the bigness of spirit, the brawny-heartedness, the composure, the common-sense, the patriotism, the faithfulness and courage of the People.

I indict Tom Mann before the bar of the world as not expressing the will and the spirit of the People.

I do this as a labouring man.  I decline, because I spend my time daily tracing out little crooked lines on paper with a pen, because I have wrought day and night to make little patterns of ink and little stretches of words reach men together round a world, because I have sweat blood to believe, because in weariness and sorrow I have wrought out at last my little faith for a world ...  I decline not to be numbered with the labourers I see in the streets.  I claim my right before all men this day, with my unbent body and with my unsoiled hands, to be enrolled among the toilers of the earth.

I speak as a labouring man.  I say Tom Mann is incompetent as a true leader of Labour.

The first reason that he is incompetent is that he does not observe facts.  He merely observes facts that everybody can see, that everybody has seen for years.  He does not observe the new and exceptional facts about capital that only a few can see, the seeing of which, and the seeing of which first, should alone ever constitute a man a true leader in dealing with capital.  He merely believes facts that nearly everybody has caught up to believing-facts about human nature, about what works in business.  The crowd is not content with this.  It has become accustomed to seeing that the men who lead in business, and who make others follow them, whether masters or workmen, are men who do it by observing certain new and exceptional facts and acting upon them.  If these men cannot observe them, we have seen them create them.  It is the men who make new things true wherever they go that the crowd is coming to recognize and to take seriously and permanently as the real leaders of Labour and of Capital to-day.  Tom Mann is incompetent as a labour leader in dealing with capital to-day, because the things that he proposes to do all turn on three facts which, looked at on the outside, merely have or might be said to have a true look: 

First, employers are all alike;

Second, none of them ever work;

Third, they are all the enemies of Labour.

Tom Mann is incompetent to grapple with Capital in behalf of Labour as any great labour leader would have to do, because he has his facts wrong about Capital, is simple-minded and rudimentary and undiscriminating about the men with whom he deals, and sees them all alike.

This is a poor beginning even for fighting with them.

The second reason that Tom Mann is incompetent is, not that he has his facts wrong and does not think, but that he carries not-thinking about the employing class still further, has come to make a kind of religion out of not-thinking about them.  And instead of thinking how to make labouring men think better than their employers think, and making them think so well that they can crowd their way into their employers’ places, he proposes to have labour get into their places without thinking, and run a world without thinking.  All that is necessary in order to have workmen run the world, is to get workmen to stop working, to stop thinking, and then as rapidly as possible to get everybody else to stop thinking.  Then the world will fall into their hands.

The third reason that Tom Mann is incompetent is that he is unpractical and full of scorn.  And scorn, from the point of view of the practical-minded man, is a sentimental and useless emotion.  We have learned that it almost always has to be used by a man who has his facts wrong, that is, who does not see what he himself is really like, and who has not noticed what other people are really like.  No man who sees himself as he is, feels at liberty to use scorn.  And no man who sees others as they are, sees any occasion for it.  Tom Mann uses hate also, and hate has been found to be, as directed toward classes of persons as a means of getting them to do things, archaic and inefficient.  It is not quite bright.  It need not be denied that hate and scorn both impress some people, but they never seem to impress the people that see things to do and who find ways to do them.  And the people who use scorn are all too narrow, too class-bound, and too self-regarding to do things in a huge world problem like the present one.

The fourth reason that Tom Mann as a labour leader is incompetent is that he is afraid; he is afraid of capital, so afraid that he has to fight it instead of grappling with it and cooeperating with it.  He is afraid to believe in labour-so afraid that he takes orders from it instead of seeing for it, and seeing ahead for it.  He is afraid of his employers’ brains, of their having brains enough to understand and to to be convinced as to the position of the labourer.  He is afraid to believe in his own brains, in his own brains being good enough to convince them.

So he backs down and fights.

If any reader who is interested to do so will kindly turn back at this point a page or so, and read this chapter we have just gone through together, over again, and if he will kindly, wherever it occurs, insert for Tom Mann, labour leader, “D.A.  Thomas, leader of mine-owners,” he will save much time for both of us, and he will kindly make one chapter in this book which is already much too long, as good as two.  Tom Mann (unless he is changed) is about to be dropped as a typical modern leader of Labour because he is afraid, and what he expresses in the labouring class is its fear of Capital.

And what D.A.  Thomas expresses for Capital is its fear of Labour.

There are thousands of capitalists and hundreds of thousands of labour men who have something better they want expressed by their leaders, than their Fear.

Out of these men the new leaders will be chosen.