Read CHAPTER II of Creative Impulse in Industry A Proposition for Educators, free online book, by Helen Marot, on ReadCentral.com.

ADAPTING PEOPLE TO INDUSTRY THE AMERICAN WAY

As machine power rivalled hand work, promoters of industry until recently relied for its advancement on the perfection of technology, giving little thought to the perfection of labor. It was confidently assumed that labor, out of its own necessities, would adapt itself automatically to the new requirements of the machine, and to the shifts of business interest. When it was discovered that there were limitations to labor’s voluntary adaptation under the conditions laid down, intelligent business in America decided that the responsibility for realizing labor’s adaptation or “labor’s cooeperation” as they call it, must be assumed by the management of industry and that that management must be scientifically worked out and applied.

Scientific management is scientific as it subjects the labor operations on each job, each specific job to be performed in a factory, to a testing out of the energy consumed; to discovering how to secure labor’s maximum productivity without waste of time or energy. It is scientific as the manager’s state of mind towards the physical and psychological reactions of the workers is one of inquiry and a readiness to accept, as facts of mechanical science are accepted, the reaction of the workers. A scientific manager, or engineer as he is often called, bears the same relation to the labor force in a factory that an electrical engineer bears to the electrical equipment. If his attention to the emotional reaction of the workers is less detached than scientific standards require, it must be remembered that he is trying to make adjustments which must first of all meet definite business conditions. Where the reactions of the workers interfere with the whole scheme of business administration, (and interfere they ceaselessly do), he has to substitute measures which are not strictly speaking scientific. On these occasions he adopts humanitarian schemes, which are generally spoken of as welfare work. It is the introduction of these schemes which look like a “slop over” from science to charity, that makes it difficult for outsiders to tell just what scientific management is and what it is not.

Mr. Frederick W. Taylor, the founder of scientific management, was capable of scientific detachment in studying working men in relation to the specific job. He was able more notably than others had been before him, and more than many who have followed him, to extend the impersonal state of mind, which he enjoyed in the study of inorganic energy, to his study of human energy. Mr. Taylor’s interest did not emanate from sympathy with labor in its hardships; his interest was centered in an effort to conserve and apply labor energy with maximum economy for wealth production. Mr. Taylor awakened the consciousness of industrial managers to the fact that the energy of workers like the power of machinery is subject to laws. He demonstrated that it was possible in specific operations to discover how the highest degree of energy could be attained and the largest output result, without loss through fatigue. He showed how efficiency could be enhanced by transferring the responsibility of standards of work from the workers to the managers. He formulated, as a business and industry doctrine, that a definite relation between the expenditure of labor energy and the labor reward could be established; that the wage incentive, if applied to labor in relation to energy expended, would yield, or might be expected to yield increased returns. These incentives, rewards, stimuli, which employers could apply would produce, he stated with unscientific fervor, the workers’ initiative. The inability of Mr. Taylor and other scientific managers to distinguish between initiative and short lived reaction to stimulus is simple evidence that their scientific experiments were confined to comparisons which they could make between a yield in wealth where the stimulus to labor is weak, and a yield where it is strong. They will not discover what a worker’s productivity is, or might be, when incited by his impulse to work, nor will they secure labor’s initiative, until they release the factors, latent in industry, which have inspirational, creative force.

The attitude of Mr. Taylor and his followers, however, differs from that of the ordinary manager who maintains an irritated disregard of the disturbing elements instead of accepting them and, as far as is consistent with business principles, allaying or cajoling them. The significant contributions which scientific management has made are in line with the experiments originally introduced by Mr. Taylor. They call for the study of each new task by the management, for discovering the economy in the expenditure of labor energy before it is submitted to the working force; the standardizing of the task in conformity with the findings; the teaching of the approved methods to the working force; the introduction of incentives which will insure the full response of labor in the accomplishment of the task. Beside the standardizing of tasks and the relating the wage to the fixed standard, scientific management has made intensive experiments in the scheduling of the various operations to be performed, which are divided among the working force, so that no one operation is held up awaiting the completion of another. It has shown in this connection that work can be “routed” so that the time of workers is not lost. The most successfully managed factories also plan their annual product so that employment will be continuous. They have discovered that the periods of unemployment seriously affect the personnel of a labor force and they estimate that the turnover of the labor force which requires the constant breaking in of new men is an item of serious financial loss. The Ford Automobile Works at one time hired 50,000 men in one year while not employing at any one time more than 14,000. They estimated that the cost of breaking in a new man averaged $70.00. To reduce this cost, they instituted profit sharing, as an incentive for men to remain. Other factories have estimated the cost of replacing men from $50.00 to $200.00. A rubber concern in Ohio has a labor turnover of 150 per cent. In connection with the effort to reduce the turnover in the labor force the management of well organized factories takes great care to estimate a worker’s value before employing him. The policy of transferring a man from one department to another where he is better suited yields evidently valuable results. In factories where there is effort to hold labor, to make employment continuous, the turnover has been reduced in some cases to as low as 18 per cent. Generally, however, it is still high; frequently as high as 50 per cent, and 50 per cent is still considered low, even in factories which have given the subject much consideration.

There is a tendency in developing the mechanics of efficiency, as they relate to labor, to establish for machine production standards of workmanship. Long and weary experience has proved that wage earners under factory methods and machine conditions are not interested in maintaining standards of work. The standards which are set by the scientific management schemes of efficiency are not, to be sure, the qualitative standards of craftsmanship but they are qualitative as well as quantitative standards of machine work. The tendency to establish standards should have educational significance for workers. It would have, if the responsibility for setting standards as well as maintaining them rested in any measure with the workers; it would have, that is, if the workers had the interest in workmanship, which as things now stand they have not. The point in scientific management is that efficiency depends, wholly depends they believe, on centralizing the responsibility for setting and maintaining workmanship standards, on transferring the responsibility for standards of work from workers who do it, to the management who directs it done. I have learned of only one manager who realizes that although the factory workers are not to be trusted to maintain standards, a management nevertheless will fail to get the workers’ full cooeperation until it arouses their interest in maintaining them.

The manager is Mr. Robert Wolf, who illustrated this point at a meeting of the Taylor Society in March, 1917. In describing the process of extracting the last possible amount of water from paper pulp, he said:

“Our problem was to determine the best length of time to keep the low pressure on, as the high, pressure is governed entirely by the production coming from the wet machine. After having determined that three minutes of low pressure ... gives maximum moisture test, we furnished each man on the wet machines with a clock and asked him to leave this low pressure on just three minutes. As long as the foremen kept constantly after their men and vigilantly followed them up we obtained some slight increase in the test; but it required a constant urging upon our part to focus the attention of the men upon this three minute time of low pressure.... We realized finally that in order to get the results we were after, it was necessary for us to produce a desire upon the part of our men to do this work in the proper way ... so we designed an instrument which would give us a record of the time lost between pressing operations, also the number of minutes the low pressure was kept on. It took us something over a year to perfect this machine, but after it was finally perfected and a record of the operations made, we found that the men actually were operating at an average efficiency of 42 per cent, and our moisture test was running about 54 per cent. Our next step was to post a daily record of the relative standing of the men in the machine room, putting the men who had the best record at the top of the list, in the order of their weekly average efficiencies. (The efficiency of low pressure, which proved to be the most important factor, was computed by calling three minutes of low pressure 100 per cent and two minutes either way 0 per cent.) As a result of simply posting this record our efficiencies rose to over 60 per cent and our moisture test increased a little less than 1 per cent. Some of the best and most skilled men had an efficiency of over 80 per cent, but quite a large percentage of them were down below 50 per cent. We therefore decided that it was necessary to have the foreman give more detailed information to the men as to what the machine meant and how their efficiencies were obtained and to put the instrument which did the recording into a glass case in the machine room where all the men could see it. Each foreman took a portion of the chart and one of the celluloid scales by which, we obtained the efficiencies and explained in detail to each one of the men how their records were calculated. As a result of this, our efficiency rose from 60 per cent to 80 per cent in less than four weeks, and it has remained at 80 per cent ever since (ever since being over two years) enabling us to get a moisture of over 56 per cent."

This was accomplished, Mr. Wolf told them, without resorting to piece work or bonus or any of the special methods of payments, their men being hired by the day throughout the entire plant. Mr. Wolf accomplished the result by giving meaning to a meaningless task, by letting the men see for themselves how they arrived at results, letting them see the different processes of getting results and knowing on their own account which were the most valuable.

There may be other managers who appreciate the value of letting men in on the experimental effort of getting results but it is not the practice to do so and it is opposed to the idea of transferring the responsibility from the workshop to the manager’s office or laboratory. Because of this practice the educational value of establishing standards of workmanship is lost so far as the workers are concerned. Mr. Wolf’s criticism of orthodox scientific management and his conclusions are illuminating; they are indeed revolutionary in nature as they come from a manager of a successful industrial enterprise:

“Our efforts, ever since we began to realize the workman’s point of view, have been not to take responsibility from him. It is our plan to increase his responsibility and we feel that it is our duty to teach him to exercise his reasoning power and intelligence to its fullest extent. There is no advantage gained by stimulating a man’s reasoning power, and through this means his creative faculty, if the management relieves the man of the responsibility for each individual operation. The opportunity for self expression, which is synonymous with joy in work, is something that the workman is entitled to, and we employers who feel that management is to become a true science must begin to think less of the science of material things and think more of the science of human relationships. Our industries must become humanized, otherwise there will be no relief from the present state of unrest in the industries of the world.

“In this connection it might be well to observe that our experience in the pulp industry has been that instructions which go too much into detail tend to deaden interest in the work. We realize fully the value of sufficient instructions to get uniform results, but we try to leave as much as possible to the judgment of the individual operator, making our instructions take more the form of constant teaching of principles involved in the operation than of definite fixed rules of procedure. It is necessary to produce a desire in the heart of the workman to do good work. No amount of coercion will enlist him thoroughly in the service.

“The new efficiency is going to reckon a great deal more with the needs of the individual man; but in order to do this, it must have some philosophical conception of the reason for man’s existence. It is beginning to be understood that when we deny to vast numbers of individuals the opportunity to do creative work, we are violating a great universal law.”

Scientific management is sacrificing educational opportunity latent in the realization of workmanship standards in the same way that machinery sacrificed it. They both curtail the workers’ chance to discover first-hand what the processes of fabrication are, the processes in which they are involved; they must adopt ready-made methods of doing their work, they must accept them out of hand without questioning, or chance to question, their validity. Workers endowed with good health and moral vigor resist these attempts to put something over on them, irrespective of their good or evil results.

The workers have resisted machinery not only because as individuals they were thrown, out of jobs for a time or lost them permanently, but because the machine imposed on them a method of work, of activity over which they had no control. Scientific management has undertaken to gather up whatever bits of initiative the machine had not already taken over and to hand back to the workers at the bench directions for them to follow with a blind ability to accept instruction. It is incredible to factory managers that workers object to being taught “right” ways of doing things. Their objection is not to being taught, but to being told that some one way is right without having had the chance to know why, or whether indeed it is the right way. This resistance to being taught, it seems, is nothing more nor less than a wayward desire of a worker to do his own way because it is his way, and of course from the managers’ point of view, that is stupid. It is stupid, but the stupidity is in the situation. What does this waywardness of the worker to do his own way suggest? Not that he has a way worth bothering about but that he wants to exercise the quality which all industrial managers agree he does not possess his initiative. Now a man who has the desire to exercise initiative and does not know how to put anything through is not only a useless person in society but the most pestiferous fellow in existence. Allowing that he is does not mean that he has not the power of initiative or that he could not have learned to put this initiative to good use, if at any time in his manhood or youth he had been taught to use it, instead of being required to follow the accepted ways of doing things without having had the experience of trial and error. Schools and factory management give workers scant opportunity to discover whether they have initiative or have not.

Mr. Wolf finds that “while it is possible, under certain conditions, to compel obedience, there is no possible way in which a man can be compelled to do his work willingly and when he does it unwillingly he is far from being efficient. He must have the opportunity to enjoy his work and realize himself in its performance.” “In our plant,” he remarks, “we never made it a practice to determine arbitrarily standard methods for performing an operation, for we believe that the men who are actually doing the work have generally as much to contribute as the foremen and department heads in deciding standard practices; and because we give the workman the chance to have the most to say about the matter, he is willing to conform to the standard, because it really represents a concensus of opinion of the men in his particular group.” It is significant in this connection to remember that he does not pay the men by special methods to get the return. “I am not necessarily opposed to piece work or task and bonus methods of payment.... We have been able to obtain splendid results without resorting to a system of immediate money rewards.” He thinks it is better to pay the workers liberally so that they “can forget this economic pressure and do good work because of the joy that comes from the consciousness of work well done.”

Scientific management like ordinary management as a matter of fact does not want to cultivate initiative in the rank and file of workers; it would like to find more of it; and its eternal expectation is that enough of it will rise out of the oppressive atmosphere of the factory system to supply its limited needs. Scientific management especially wants this, as it must have more foremen and teachers to carry forward its advanced schemes of organization. But every manager will tell you that industry does not produce men with sufficient initiative to fill these positions. Their estimates of the number of men found in industry who have initiative varies from one to five per cent. The rest they believe are born, routine workers. They speak of their limitations as native. Managers do not stop to consider that their judgments are based wholly on the reaction of the mass of wage workers to the special stimuli which they offer. They say also that high school and college boys show up very little if any better in respect to initiative than the lower school product. The truth is that schools and colleges are more concerned with passing on the standards of an older generation to a younger, and the younger that generation is the less it is entrusted with opportunity to make its own first hand inquiries. That is, the lower schools which deal with a generation at its most plastic time, furnish the higher schools with minds inured to the pressure of accepting subject matter without independent inquiry or curiosity.

Factory management like college and school management, instead of depending on the subject matter to interest the workers, instead of opening up to them the factors of interest in industrial enterprise, has adopted incentives for getting the required work done. Enlightened school practice, out of long failure to get the children’s initiative by the artificial stimulus of rewards for work done, now depends upon the content of the subject matter and the children’s experiments with it, to develop their desire to do the work. The practice of depending on school rewards instead of interest in subject matter is largely responsible for superficial knowledge and lack of ability to think as well as to act. As schools fail to incite the interest of the children they train them to put through this and that task and reward them for it without having added to their power of undertaking tasks on their own account. Indeed, as they fail to give them the chance to do that, they actually decrease whatever power they may have had.

The doing of tasks in factories for the sake of rewards, gives the workers experience in winning rewards. As they are interested only in the reward, they carry away no desire or interest in the work experience. As the method of doing the work is prescribed in every detail and their only requirement, under scientific management, is to follow directions with accuracy, they are trained to do their tasks as the children in school are trained. They are trained in routine, and to do each task as it is given. This is not education, it is training to do tricks. The worker does not take over what can be called experience from one task to another. He forms certain motor habits, called skill. But under the efficient methods of scientific management the acquirement of this skill is robbed even of the educational value that it had under the unscientific method of factory work, which within its limited field, left the worker to discover by trial and error what were the best methods of getting results. Moreover, the standards of workmanship which scientific management sets up are not the worker’s own standards; he has had no part in the making of them or in deciding on the comparative merits of the results. He accomplishes the results as he follows directions, not for the sake of the result, not for the sake of good workmanship, but for the reward.

As I have said scientific management has given the subject of incentives the same careful thought that it has given to the study of lost energy. The two important incentives for inducing the response of labor to productive enterprises which scientific management has carried forward in their applications, are wages and promotion. The general assumption is that the wage as an incentive has no limitations, except the physical limitation of a human being in response to stimulus. And surely it is true that the chance to “make money” is to-day the most powerful stimulus in use. But thoughtful managers of industrial enterprise tell you, incredible as it may seem, that the worker’s objection to applying himself to his task is not invariably overcome by anticipation of the wage return; he will slack or be perverse or throw over a job in the face of opportunities to earn as good a wage or a better one than he can get elsewhere. It is well known that workers joint unions in the face of opposition of employers and at the risk of losing permanent positions.

A resourceful manager in one of the most intelligently managed plants in the United States told me that women were less susceptible than men to the wage incentive. He found that many of them are content when their wage covers a sum which represents for them their personal requirements; that they cannot interest them in trying for more. On that account the manager takes up the case of the individual girl to see if her ambition to earn more money cannot be stimulated. They find sometimes that a mother requires her daughter to give in her whole wage at the end of the week and that the girl has no pleasure in the spending of it; they visit the mother and persuade her to let the girl keep a proportion of her wage and point out to the mother that she is limiting the girl’s ambition. They also find girls who have entire control over the spending of their wages, who are without ambition to earn over and above a certain sum because that sum will meet their own recognized needs. The case of these girls the management tries to cover by encouraging them to save for vacations and other purposes which they offer by way of suggestion. In both of these instances the management undertakes to create new wants or ways of realizing wants which were not recognized by the workers themselves. The satisfaction of these wants may or may not be in the direction of extending experience and expanding contacts. But that is neither here nor there. The point is, the manager of the industry has used an incentive for increasing production which has no relation to production itself. He is forced to do this because he fails to make the process of production a matter of interest to the worker. The processes of production do not of themselves as we know compel the workers’ application or stimulate their desire for productive enterprise.

It is in the nature of the case impossible to increase the wage incentive indefinitely. One large and scientifically managed plant has made remarkable provisions for staving off the time when the dead line is reached. They have taken stock account of the labor power they require, the amount of energy which each worker possesses, for the purpose of evaluation and payment. They have undertaken to cover as separate items each condition which affects a worker’s relation to his job. They rate as separate items the worker’s proficiency, reliability, continuity in service, indirect charges, increased cost of living, and periods of lay-off; they rate him according to the number of technical processes he is proficient in, whether or not he is engaged on more than one; they rate him if he attends the night school connected with the factory and shows in this way a disposition to learn other operations than, those he already knows. Why, they wonder, does only ten per cent of the force take advantage of the school and what, they are eager to find out, can they do further to secure the men’s cooeperation. For “cooeperation,” they say, “in a special way deserves credit, since it is unexpected ... certain well defined acts of cooeperation will bring extra reward.” Their rewards so carefully calculated did not seem to enlist response as spiritual in its nature as cooeperation. It seemed that they had reached “the dead line” where wage stimulus fails to draw its hoped for response.

To get from the workers the highest efficiency the scientifically managed plants pay for a task a stated rate based on piece or time; if the task is performed within the time set and the directions for doing the task as laid out by the management, are followed, the worker receives in addition to the regular rate, a bonus. Mr. H.L. Grant, while working with Mr. Taylor, discovered that there was weakness in the system of paying bonuses, and the weakness was not overcome until he devised a method of paying the workman for the time allowed plus a percentage of that time according to what he did. This method he declares constantly induced further effort and overcame what they discovered was the weakness in a flat bonus. As fair or as superior as this bonus may be in relation to the prevailing rate in the market, managers say that the workers are apt in time to fall below the standard as their work becomes routine, unless the incentive after a time is increased or changed in character. In other words the wage incentive is like a virus injection. The dose is not continuously effective, except as the amount is increased or altered.

A usual method of keeping alive the financial incentive is profit sharing and schemes for participation in profits, but they are rewards of general merit and bids for continuity of service; they have no direct relation to the workers’ efficiency and compliance with standards which distinguish the wage rewards of scientifically managed plants.

Promotion, the incentive second in importance to the wage incentive, is of assistance in postponing the time when the dead line for the worker is reached. Nothing better illustrates the limitations of promotion in this respect than the fact that in factories where the turnover is the lowest, the opportunity to promote the workers decreases; it falls in proportion to the length of their term of service. That is, chances for promotion are the lowest in factories where conditions otherwise are favorable to the worker. In the factory where the turnover is only 18 per cent the management says that promotion is a negligible factor. Where the turnover is high there is greater opportunity in plants scientifically managed than in others to promote men, as the scheme of organization calls for a larger number of what they call “functionalized foremen” and teachers in proportion to the working force.

It is as I have said, on account of the necessity of these positions in the general scheme that managers of factories are interested in finding more men who have initiative, than industry under their direction has produced.

Before scientific management was discovered, business management and machinery already had robbed industry of productive incentives, of the real incentive to production; a realization on the part of the worker of its social value and his appreciation of its creative content. All that was left for scientific management to gather together for its direction were bits of experience which workers gained by their own experimental efforts at how best to handle tools. Their efforts it is true were not sufficiently great in this direction to promise progressive industrial advance. The margin for experiment which was still theirs was not sufficiently largo to insure continued effort inspired by an interest in the work.

When we have taken into full account the repressive effect of scientific management on initiative, we may well admit an advantage: educationally speaking, the repression is direct. The workers are fully aware that they are doing what some one else requires of them. They are not under the delusion that they are acting on their own initiative. They are being managed and they know it and all things being equal (which they are not) they do not like it. The responsibility they may clearly see and feel rests with them to find a better scheme for carrying industry forward. The methods of scientific management are calculated to incite not only open criticism from the workers but to suggest that efficient industry is a matter of learning, and that learning is a game at which all can play, if the opportunity is provided.

Scientific managers have hoped that their plans to conserve energy and increase the wage in relation to expenditure of energy would meet little opposition. They also have hoped that the paternalistic feature of welfare work would allay opposition. But I am not inclined to include the welfare schemes in a consideration of scientific management; they have little light to throw on what educational significance there is in the efficiency methods which scientific management has introduced in industry. The playgrounds attached to factories, the indoor provisions for social activity, the clubs, while not having an acknowledged relation to the scientific management of the factory and while repudiated by some managers, are a common feature of plants which claim to be scientifically managed. There are scientifically managed plants which object to the recreational and other features which have to do with matters outside the province of the factory, on the ground that it is a meddling with the personal side of people’s lives. “A baseball game connected with the factory,” said the educational manager of a certain plant, “has the effect of limiting the workers’ contacts; it is much better for them, as it is for every one, not to narrow their relationships to a small group, but to play ball with the people of the town.” It is significant that this concern deals with the union and conforms to its regulations. Whether this more generous concept of the workers’ lives yields more in manufactured goods than one that confines the activity of the workers to the factory in which they labor, scientific management, so far as I know, has not discovered.

The very nature of the welfare schemes suggests that they are inspired more out of fear of the workers’ freedom of contact than launched on account of comparative findings which relate strictly to the economy of labor power. The policy of leaving the workers free, it was clear in the instance just cited, had been adopted out of a personal preference for freedom in relationships. The introduction of clinics, rest rooms, restaurants, sanitary provisions, and all arrangements relating directly to the workers’ health have a bearing on efficiency and productivity which is well recognized and probably universally endorsed by efficiency managers, even if they are not invariably adopted.

Scientific management wants two things; more men in the labor market to fill the positions of functionalized foremen, more men than modern industrial society has produced; and it wants an army of workers who will follow directions, follow them as one of the managers said, as soldiers follow them. It wants this army to be endowed as well with the impulse to produce. It may by its methods realize one of its wants, that is, an army of workers to follow directions; but as it succeeds in this, as it is successful in robbing industry of its content, and as it reduces processes to routine, it will limit its chances to find foremen who have initiative and it will fail to get from workers the impulse to produce goods.

During the last four years, under the stress of a consuming war every stimulus employed by business management for speeding up production has been advanced. Organized efficiency in the handling of materials has increased the output, as increased rewards to capital and labor have stimulated effort. But the quantitative demand of consumption requirements is insatiable. It is not humanly possible under the present industrial arrangements to satisfy the world’s demand for goods, either in time of war or peace. It was never more apparent than it is now, that an increase in a wage rate is a temporary expedient and that wage rewards are not efficient media for securing sustained interest in productive enterprise. It is becoming obvious that the wage system has not the qualifications for the cooerdination of industrial life. As the needs of the nations under the pressure of war have brought out the inefficiencies of the economic institution, it has become sufficiently clear to those responsible for the conduct of the war and to large sections of the civil population, that wealth exploitation and wealth creation are not synonymous; that the production of wealth must rest on other motives than the desire of individuals to get as much and give as little as particular situations will stand.

In England and in the United States, where the individualistic conception of the industrial life has been an inherent part of our national philosophy, the governments, with cautious reservations, have assumed responsibilities which had been carried in normal times by business. Because business administration had been dependent for its existence on a scheme of profiteering it is not in the position where it can appeal to labor to contribute its productive power in the spirit of patriotic abandon. But governments as they have taken over certain industrial responsibilities are in a better position to make such appeals to capital as well as to labor.

The calculable effect of the appeal to capital to assume the responsibility is in the long run of passing importance, as under the present business arrangement that is the position capital occupies. In other words, the appeal will mark no change in capitalist psychology as it promises to do in the case of labor.

The calculable effect on labor psychology may have revolutionary significance. It is quite another sort of appeal in its effect from the stereotyped and familiar one of employers to labor to feel their responsibility. That appeal never reached the consciousness of working men for the reason that it is impossible to feel responsible or to be responsible where there is no chance of bearing the responsibility. Experiencing responsibility in industry means nothing more nor less than sharing in the decisions, the determination of procedure, as well as suffering from the failure of those decisions and participating in their successful eventuation. As the governments in the present case have made their appeals to labor they have carried the suggestion of partnership in responsibility because the government is presumably the people’s voice and its needs also presumably are the common needs and not the special interests of individuals. It is hardly necessary to point out that it was not the intention of government officials who made the appeal to excite a literal interpretation; they did not expect to be taken so seriously and up to date they have not been taken more seriously than they intended by American labor. All they mean and what they expect to gain, is what employers have meant and wanted; that is labor’s surrender of its assumed right to strike on the job, its surrender of its organized time standards and its principle of collective bargaining. But when officials speak in the name of a government what they mean is unimportant; what it means to the people to have them speak, and the people’s interpretation of what they say, is the important matter.

These appeals of the governments in this time of war to the working people have the tendency to clear the environment of the suggestion that common labor, that is the wage earning class (as distinguished from salaried people, employers and the profiteers pure and simple) are incompetent to play a responsible part in the work of wealth production. A responsible part does not mean merely doing well a detached and technical job; it means facing the risks and sharing in the experimental experience of productive enterprise as it serves the promotion of creative life and the needs of an expanding civilization. As the appeals of the governments at this time bear the stamp of a nation’s will, its valuation and respect for common labor, there is the chance, it seems, that they may carry to the workers the energizing thought that all the members of the industrial group must assume, actually assume, responsibility for production, if production is to advance. Equally important in the interest of creative work is the power of these appeals to shift the motive for production from the acquisitive to the creative impulse. In the midst of the world’s emergency, driven by the fear of destruction the nations have turned instinctively to the unused creative force in human and common labor, that is to the ability of the wage earner to think and plan. If the response of labor is genuine, if with generous abandon it releases its full productive energy, it is quite certain as matters now stand that neither the governments nor the financiers are prepared to accept the consequence.

If labor in answer to these appeals gains the confidence that it is competent to carry industrial responsibility, or rather that common labor, together with the trained technicians in mechanics and industrial organization are competent as a producing group to carry the responsibility, one need we may be sure will be eliminated which, has been an irritating and an unproductive element in industrial life; I mean the need the workers have had for the cultivation of class isolation. As the workers become in the estimation of a community and in their own estimation, responsible members of a society, their more rather than less abortive effort to develop class feeling in America, will disappear. Under those conditions concerted class action will be confined to the employers of labor and the profiteers, who will be placed in the position of proving their value and their place in the business of wealth creation. On this I believe we may count, that labor will drop its defensive program for a constructive one, as it comes to appreciate its own creative potentiality.

Judging from recent events in England, where the government appeals to labor have had longer time to take effect, it seems that new brain tracks in labor psychology have actually been created. English labor apparently is beginning to take the impassioned appeals of its government seriously and is making ready to assume the responsibility for production. The resolutions adopted by the Labor Party at its Nottingham Conference in November in 1917 covered organized labor’s usual defense program relating to wage conditions. The Manifesto which was issued was first of all a political document, written and compiled for campaign purposes. But the significance of the party’s action is the new interpretation which it is beginning to give industrial democracy. It is evident where state ownership is contemplated that the old idea that industry would pass under the administrative direction of government officials, is replaced by the growing intention and desire of labor to assume responsibility for administration whether industry is publicly or privately owned. The Party stands for the “widest possible participation both economic and political ... in industry as well as in government.” In explanation of the Manifesto, the leader of the Party is quoted in the Manchester Guardian as saying, that when labor now speaks of industrial democracy it no longer means what it did before the war; it does not mean political administration of economic affairs; it means primarily industrial self-government.

Perhaps an even better evidence of the intention of English labor in this direction is the movement towards decentralization in the trade union organization. This movement, known as the “shop-stewards” movement is essentially an effort of the men in the workshops to assume responsibility in industrial reconstruction after the war, a responsibility which they have heretofore under all circumstances delegated to representatives not connected directly with the work in the shops. As these representatives were isolated from actual problems of workshop production and alien therefore to the problems in their technical and specific application, they were incapable of functioning efficiently as agents of productive enterprise. This “shop stewards” movement recognizes and provides for the interdependence of industrial interests, but at the same time it concerns itself with the competent handling of specific matters.

Such organization as the movement in England seems to be evolving, the syndicalists have contended for as they opposed the German idea of state socialism. But the syndicalists in their propaganda did not develop the idea of industry as an adventure in creative enterprise. Instead they emphasized, as did the political socialists and the trade unionists, the importance of protecting the workers’ share in the possession of wealth. They made the world understand that business administration of industry exploited labor, but they did not bring out that both capital and labor, so far as it was possible for each to do, exploited wealth. That was not the vision of industry which they carried from their shops to their meetings or indeed to their homes. Their failure at exploitation was too obvious.

An interesting illustration of what would happen in the ranks of the syndicalists if the business idea of labor’s intellectual and emotional incapacity for functioning, gave way before a community’s confidence in the capacity of labor we have in the case of the migratory workers in the harvesting of our western crops. The harvesters who follow the crops with the seasons from the southern to the northern borders of the United States and into Canada are members of the most uncompromisingly militant organization of syndicalists, The Industrial Workers of the World. On an average it takes ten years for these harvesters to become skilled workers and these men, members of this condemned organization, are the most highly skilled harvesters in the country. On account of their revolutionary doctrines and their combined determination to reap rewards as well as crops, they are considered and treated like outlaws, and outlaws of the established order they are in spirit. When the owners of the farms of North Dakota realized that their own returns on the harvests were diverted in the marketing of their grain, they combined for protection against the grain exchanges and the elevator trusts. While developing their movement they discovered that the natural alliance for their organization to make was with the men who were involved with them in the production of grain. And as the farmers have accepted the harvesters as partners they have formed in effect a cooerdinated producing combination. Without finally settling the problem of agriculture, they have strengthened the production group and eliminated strife at the most vital point.

In the period of reconstruction the industrial issues of significance to democracy will be whether or not management of industry as it has been assumed by the state for the purpose of war shall revert after the war to the condition of incompetency which the war emergency disclosed or whether state management shall be extended and developed as it was in Germany after the Franco-Prussian War. Fortunately, these evidences of a new interest of labor in industry as a social institution, give us some reason to hope that we shall not be confined to a choice between business incompetency and state socialism. The evidence of the desire on the part of the labor force to participate in the development of production is the factor we should keep in mind in any plans for democratic industrial reconstruction. It is inevitable that an effort to open up and cultivate this desire of labor will be regarded by the present governing forces with apprehension. The movement of labor in this direction is now looked upon with suspicion even by people who are not in a position of control. The general run of people in fact outside of those who recognize labor as a fundamental force in industrial reconstruction, conceive of the labor people as an irresponsible mass of men and view their movements as expressions of an irresponsible desire to seize responsibility. They are the men who are not experienced in business affairs and therefore cannot, it is believed, be trusted. The arguments against trusting them are the same old arguments advanced for many centuries against inroads on the established order of over-lordship. But over-lordship has flourished at all times, and in the present scheme of industry it flourishes as it always has, in proportion to the reluctance of the people to participate as responsible factors in matters of common concern. Corruption and exploitation of governments and of industry are dependent upon the broadest possible participation of a whole people in the experience and responsibilities of their common life. It is for this reason that we need to foster and develop the opportunity as well as the desire for responsibility among the common people.

After the war, it is to be hoped that America will undertake to realize through its schemes for reconstruction its present ideals of self-government. As it does this, we shall discover that the issues which are of significance to democracy are of significance to education; for democracy and education are processes concerned with, the people’s ability to solve their problems through their experience in solving them. If America is ever to realize its concept of political democracy, it can accept neither the autocratic method of business management nor the bureaucratic schemes of state socialism. It cannot realize political democracy until it realizes in a large measure the democratic administration of industry.