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In this year also the court, by a five to four decision, sustained the validity of the so-called "Adamson law." The country being confronted with the imminent danger of a complete interruption of interstate commerce by a threatened general strike of railway employees, Congress passed this act, which established a permanent eighthour standard for a day's work by such employees, and made a temporary regulation of the wages to be paid them pending the investigation and report of a commission to examine into the situation. This was held to be a competent exercise of the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. The decision has been the subject of much hostile criticism. On the one hand, the act has been denounced as "a mere arbitrary bestowal of millions by way of wages upon employees, to the injury
not only of the employer but of the public, upon whom the burden must necessarily fall." On the other hand, it has been no less bitterly assailed by the labor unions, because of the clear implication from the decision (even the clear statement in some of the opinions of the different justices) that it opens the door for Congress to fix maximum as well as minimum wages in such cases, to forbid or prevent strikes by workmen engaged in interstate commerce, and to require the compulsory arbitration of labor disputes. perhaps the most important doctrine which emerges is that, in cases of such great emergency, the paramount consideration is the welfare of the general public, and that all private rights and interests may by law be subordinated to its adequate protection.
Democracy, True and False
"To make the world safe for democracy"—that is the ultimate purpose of the most devastating war in the annals of time. Not for ourselves alone have we entered the struggle, not selfishly to secure for our own land freedom to perpetuate in peace our ideals of popular government, but to aid in liberating the whole earth from the tyrannous hands of autocracy and despotism, so that wherever the sun shines the peoples of the world may be forever free to establish and maintain their own governments and control their own destinies.
And that for which we fight is not a political formula nor a system of government. There are
kings among our allies, and their monarchies will not crumble in the reconstruction of the world. The name given to the titular head of the state is of no importance. That for which the world is to be made safe is not the framework of the system under which a people rule and are ruled. It is deeper than that. It is the spirit in which they build their institutions. It is their freedom and their obligation; their individual right and their civic duty; their equality before the law and their submission to the law; their ideal of organized society and their moral consciousness-in short, it is that which makes government the most powerful
agency in advancing civilization and promoting human welfare, a blessing, not a blighting curse.
We in America are much more truly a democracy at the present moment than ever before in our history. It is not that our institutions are more free, our participation in government more direct, or our individual liberties wider. On the contrary, our liberties are abridged, while our burdens are greater. Our spheres of personal freedom are circumscribed. We are more strictly governed, by more numerous laws, in a greater variety of ways, than at any previous period. But we know that this is not only justifiable but necessary. It is temporary and the occasion for it will pass. Hence we submit to it cheerfully, nay, even approve and encourage it, because we know it does not impinge upon our essential democracy. The chain is cast about our free institutions, not to strangle but to save them. But we are now more truly a democracy than ever before because we are stirred by a common impulse, motived by a just and universal wrath, thrilled by an exalting patriotism which flows like flame throughout our million hearts, we are bending our energies to a common task, and sustaining upon our shoulders a burden which, thank God, is common to us all. We have developed something better than a multicolored class consciousness; at last we have achieved a national consciousness. Millions of Millions of our young men have been set apart for war. There is no distinction of race or creed or caste or previous estate. It is a democratic army, a true brotherhood of arms. Eight or ten millions
of us have lent our money to the nation. It is the people, the whole American people, who have poured out their savings at the nation's need. This is a democracy of service. We are to learn the duty of frugality, of plain and simple living, a lesson which must be brought home, and is even now coming home, to every American household. It may prove a regenerating influence of untold good. But since all must share it alike, is it not a democracy of endurance? Not only the wealth but the genius of the country is enlisted in the country's service. The offices of government are thronged with the volunteers. with the volunteers. They are the heads of great business enterprises, great executives, great administrators, great organizers, great inventors. And among them likewise there are thousands of men and women of every lesser degree of capacity. What they have in common is the true spirit of democracy. Forsaking personal concerns, they give their time and labor to the service of the state, but they do it (this is the test) not at the state's command, but from devotion, and not that the state may be glorified, but "to make the world safe for democracy." And side by side with them stands the recognized leader of union labor, who highly declares: "I propose to do a man's duty in helping to make this war the last war of this world. All my energies will be laid at the feet of America and of our allies, to do what I can towards the establishment of democracy."
But after the war, what then? How will it fare with the body and soul of democracy when all the world returns
to the ways of peace, when abundance replaces want, when the high tension of excitement is relaxed, when the impulse to service is spent and passes with the need of service, and when the millions of men come back from the fields of death to the paths of industry? How will it be with America then? For we must be sure that we shall get what we have been fighting for, and that the democracy which prevails among us then shall have been worth the fight. It is not too soon to look forward to that day, be it near or remote. No time can be inopportune for a serious study of that ideal which is the very object of the contest. The true principles of democratic government must be kept steadily before our eyes. They cannot be too often rehearsed.
To see deeply into this question it is very necessary to recall to mind the successive waves of agitation against our existing constitutional and political systems which rose to menacing heights in the few years preceding the entrance of America into the war. Our most fundamental institutions were challenged. Extremely radical changes were advocated. Men cried: "Between constitutionalism and democracy there is a great gulf fixed which cannot be bridged." A redistribution of wealth was demanded. It was proposed to consign the Constitution to the ashheap. The doctrine of natural and personal rights was denounced as a silly notion unaccountably surviving from the eighteenth century. There were clamorous voices of discontent and change. They are not stilled even now, and it would be folly to suppose
that we shall not hear them lifted again in even more raucous and insistent cries. And in truth our American democracy has not come into the fullness of its inheritance. It was not working smoothly. Let us see then what is true democracy-not the name or the symbol, but the essence of the thing itself-and how we can best make it real for ourselves and for all the world.
First of all, it is not autocracy. There must be an end of imperialism. But tyrannical power may be exercised by the group or the multitude as well as by the solitary ruler. Imperialism is not the attribute of kings alone; it is a human tendency. It is manifested in the competition for power, if power is to be used for oppression. Its spirit is shown in the struggle for personal or class aggrandizement at the expense of others. If democracy is to be not merely a form of government, but also a state of society (and it cannot else fulfill its mission) it must not be perverted to the use of any portion of the community at the cost of any other. If American democracy is worth preserving, it can only be accomplished by strongly discouraging everything that tends to arrange society in strata, to open chasms between different orders of the people, or to array class against class. Class favoritism of every kind is unsocial and opposed to the ideals of American liberty. Whatever operates to lay burdens upon some which are not shared in their degree by all alike, or, on the other hand, to exempt favored bodies of men or occupations from the restrictions which hedge others about, is hateful to true democ
racy, and it is immaterial whether it is accomplished by an act of legislation or by misdirected efforts at social reform. It should need no argument to show that the mission of true democracy is not to create new special privileges, but to bring about a new birth of mutual respect and human kindness, not to magnify industrial disputes but to soften the exacerbated feelings from which they spring, not to accentuate, but to reconcile, conflicting interests. Only as we grasp the essential solidarity of society, and cease to divide it into fractions, shall we be able to realize the best promise of our national life. Anciently, to be called a citizen of Rome was in itself a title of honor. We should make American citizenship something to be proud of. But our
pride in it should be communal, not individual. It should be a tie to bind us all together in bonds of mutual respect and kindly interest. Nor should we forget that envy, hatred, and greed corrode like acids, and that any destructive force let loose within the body of society impairs the strength and vitality, not alone of the part against which it is immediately directed, but of the whole. Something more is needed than constitutions and laws. Democracy is not a set of formulas; it is an indwelling spirit. The attempt to legislate the millennium is not only futile, but it is wrong, in so far as it seeks to substitute governmental force for those human qualities by which alone the regeneration of society can be accomplished. The social uplift is not to be effected by the club of the policeman. For that we need a broadening of education, a higher standard of morals, a
wiser philanthropy. We need conscience, sympathy, charity, tolerance, and human kindness. We need for such a task the force of good example and unselfish devotion to the public service. For, essentially, we cannot lift men up; we can only help them up.
Again, democracy does not mean the triumph of the "bolsheviki" or the rule of the proletarians. Unhappy Russia is at hand to prove the point. The convulsions of revolution and of anarchy which rend that mighty land, so lately delivered from despotism, are an object-lesson of fearful and solemn import. Yet here at home, and very lately, there were great numbers of people who appeared to think that democracy meant mediocrity, and who were demanding that the powers of government should be confided exclusively to the "plain people" or the "common people." Perhaps these terms do not admit of very exact definition; but the evident intention was to exclude all the professional politicians and all the plutocrats (if such there be), but also all the men of genius or talent, all those who are prominent in the leadership of industry, finance, commerce, education, science, or the arts. Not only the idle rich man and the trade baron must go, but also the philosopher and poet, not only the boss but the bishop. And the thesis is that the remnant of the people, as thus obtained, would possess a keener sense of justice, be animated by a greater passion for righteousness, and at the same time display a higher capacity for the administration of government than are now vested in the people as an unexpurgated whole. Is this true?
Ask Russia. Besides, what becomes of the democracy of the Constitution and of Lincoln if any part of the people be excluded from the government of the whole? If, upon the foundations of our present life, we are to rear the superstructure of a new and more perfect social order, the task is not for weaklings, nor for men of narrow outlook and mean imagination. The builders of that house must possess constructive ability, and clear intelligence, and sympathy both broad and deep, and a conviction of justice, and insight, and vision.
It is precisely a democracy which is most in need of a strong written constitution. This is the sole contrivance which the enlightenment of mankind has been able to devise for the salvation of democracy from itself, the ultimate achievement, politically speaking, of the long upward struggle from barbarism to civilization. True, we no longer regard government as a necessary evil. To us it is a beneficent agency for the promotion of the common welfare. But the inherent power of government to crush and to destroy is what it always has been. It cannot be effectively kept in check by faith alone nor by counsels of moderation, but only by the categorical negative of the Constitution. The aim of popular government is the accomplishment of the will of the majority. The aim of constitutional government is to protect the minority in their essential rights. It is only under a constitutional democracy that these two purposes can be reconciled and government become the efficient servant of all and the master of none. But of
course constitutionalism does not mean stagnation. Human rights are put within the protection of constitutions to be vitalized, not to be embalmed. Nor is there anything in our system of government to check initiative or repress the widest play of individual thought and impulse. Once the fundamental principles are guaranteed, a democracy should welcome and encourage the free contest of differing currents of opinion and of opposing schools of political thought. But beware of tampering with those fundamentals! We Americans are an excitable and temperamental people, but somewhat lacking in poise. We are full of nervous energy, enterprising, and fond of novelty. Our business life shows the utmost alertness, an ever-present readiness to break with the traditions of the past, to discard whatever we may suspect of having outlasted its usefulness, to adapt our methods to the very latest developments, to act upon the faintest hint of what the future may bring forth. But human rights and liberties are not commodities. Up-to-date constitution making is not without its dangers. What we are too prone to forget is that the life of the nation is not a series of disconnected phases or a succession of impulses. It is continuous, having its roots in the past and its full fruition in the future. However its aspects may change, it is essentially an unbroken unit, like the life of an individual. True, the condition of life is continuous adaptation to the environment; but this adaptation is to be effected by continuous growth, not by surgery. No one attempts to fashion. an ideal body for a human being by