Synopses & Reviews
Excerpt from The Rise of the American Proletarian
The object of the following pages is to show brieﬂy the causes of the origin of this proletarian class in the United States and to describe the mode in which it has made its existence manifest up to the present time. This naturally involves a critical estimate, from the proletarian point of view, of the environment in which it has developed. It is perhaps as difficult for the modern proletarian to arrive at an impartial estimate of the value of the capitalist system as it was for a Whig to correctly appreciate the feudal nobility. While antagonisms exist, hostile regards cannot beavoided, and to exhibit correctly the modern prole tarian it is necessary, also, to make clear his attitude to the force with which he finds himself in antagonism. While the proletarian suffers the anguish of the condi tions with which he is Oppressed it would be very re markable if he could view his antagonists with philo Sophic calm and front the battle with a mind clear of animosity. Desirable as such an attitude might be, it is, in the very nature of things, impossible. Therefore, in any discussion of the proletarian position, the prole tarian psychology must also be taken into account. The introductory chapters are intended as a brief resum of industrial history. Their purpose is to point out to what extent the American industrialist, prole tarian as well as captain of industry, has been indebted to preceding epochs of human history. Given the ma chine development of the eighteenth century and the factory system, the results have been unavoidable. The course of development in this country has presented no new aspects. It has been more rapid and more in tense than in any other, except perhaps Japan, but the broad features of resemblance to that of other coun tries have been preserved. No form of government has presented any effective barrier to the advances of modern capitalism. Wherever the essential prerequi' sites of capitalistic growth have been found, the plant has ﬂourished. The economic forces which have pro duced an ambitious and energetic proletariat in Rus sia, as far as the modern system has penetrated that country; have also produced a class conscious and am bitious proletariat in the United States. Political forms prove to be merely forms in face of the ceonomic fact. The capitalist becomes master under any political system and President and King are equally his ser vants. Ouida somewhere remarks that a King is afat man who bows well and a President is a fat man who bows badly; the essential point is that they each bow equally to the dominant capitalism. But where capitalism is dominant there the proletarian move ment raises its head. In the hour of his triumph and amid the salutes to his victory, the capitalist, had he the powers of perception, might hear the tolling of his passing bell. The imperious demands which change makes upon life cannot be denied, and the young prole tariat must in the course of time come to claim its own.
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