Skip to main content

Full text of "Men versus the man; a correspondence between Robert Rives La Monte, socialist, and H.L. Mencken, individualist"

See other formats


L 

MEN versus THE MAN 



A CORRESPONDENCE 

BETWEEN 
ROBERT RIVES LA MONTE, Socialist 



AND 

H. L. MENCKEN, Individualist 




NEW YORK 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 
1910 



COPYRIGHT, zgio 

BY 
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 



BY 



IT 

Published March, iqio 



INTRODUCTION 

THIS book is precisely what it pretends to be : a 
series of letters between friends. They were writ- 
ten because the general subject of the organization 
of society was one which vastly attracted both of 
us, and because a space of three hundred miles 
made a more intimate discussion impossible. Into 
them there went, not so much a learned review of 
the evidence and the prophets, as a record of per- 
sonal, and often transient opinions and impressions. 
Changes of position are to be noticed in more than 
one place, but inasmuch as the purpose of each 
disputant was to shake the stand of the other, this 
proof of occasional success may be accepted, it is 
hoped, without impatience. It was thought best 
to print the letters without attempting to trans- 
form their epistolary freedom into a more sedate 
dialectic manner. They offer few new contribu- 
tions of either fact or theory to the great questions 
they presume to discuss, but it is possible that they 
may be of some interest as showing how variously 
the accepted facts and theories appear and appeal 
to two somewhat eager inquirers. 

LA MONTE. 
MENCKEN. 



MEN VS. THE MAN 

LA MONTE'S FIRST LETTER 

MY DEAR MENCKEN: 

You and I are fairly typical of the hosts of edu- 
cated young men and women of upper and middle 
class antecedents who are so far from satisfied with 
life as it is that the man in the street who styles us 
" knockers " does not come very wide of the mark. 
But yet we differ, and differ widely; you, in spite 
of your sturdy independence of mind, are in the 
main a disciple of Nietzsche, or, in other words, 
you are an Individualist whose ideal is a splendid 
aristocratic oligarchy of Beyond Men ruling over 
a hopelessly submerged rabble; I am a Socialist 
and a faithful disciple of Marx not that I believe 
Marx to have been superhuman or infallible, but 
simply that I have found him to be right in so many 
cases, that I feel that there is a strong presump- 
tion that he is right even where I cannot clearly 
see that he is. 

Let us first examine the grounds of our basic 
agreement, and then it will be easier to recognize 
the reason for the very wide divergence of our con- 



2 Men vs. the Man 

elusions. We are both idealists in the sense that 
Don Quixote and Jesus Christ and Thomas Jeffer- 
son were idealists, but there are idealists and ideal- 
ists. The difference depends upon the nature of 
the ideal. If the ideal be one capable of attain- 
ment or at least of reasonably close approxima- 
tion, the idealist is what we call a practical man 
he may even be a scientist, a materialist, or an 
atheist, as are many of the most effective and 
determined fighters for Socialism. If the ideal be 
one hopelessly beyond reach of attainment, if the 
idealist hitches his wagon to a star without having 
studied astronomy sufficiently to ascertain whether 
the orbit of the star is along a road over which his 
poor man-made wagon may pass in safety, then we 
call him a dreamer, a visionary, a Utopian, or a 
madman. It is probable that in our secret hearts 
this is the view each of us takes of the other. 

You, recognizing that within historical times 
there has ever been a rabble of well-nigh sub-human 
men and women, believe that the only ideal that 
you, as a practical man, can accept is one including 
such a rabble. To you the man who proposes 
the abolition of this sub-human herd is a mystical 
dreamer who ignores the stern teachings of his- 
tory. It must be admitted that much of the cur- 
rent Socialist literature H. G. Wells' "New 
Worlds for Old, 11 for instance which presents So- 
cialism as a scheme for human amelioration which 
Society is free to adopt or reject as it will, as a 



Men vs. the Man 3 

sort of patent panacea for human ills which the 
patient may or may not elect to imbibe; it must 
be admitted that the great bulk of this literature 
of polite propaganda goes far toward justifying 
your view. 

But the typical Socialist of Germany, France, 
England, and America, the man or woman who 
gives his or her energies to educating and organiz- 
ing and disciplining the wonderful, world-wide 
army, ever growing, ever marching forward, un- 
dismayed by defeat, sure of ultimate victory, al- 
ready thirty million strong the largest army under 
a single banner the world has ever seen this typ- 
ical, work-a-day, militant Socialist does not look 
upon himself or herself as a patent medicine ven- 
der, but as a John the Baptist proclaiming with no 
uncertain sound the advent of a New Order. Such 
an army inspired by a common faith, even though 
the faith be a delusion, animated by a common 
purpose, even though the purpose be incapable of 
realization, is a force that you as a practical man 
must reckon with. 

But is the faith a delusion? Is the purpose in- 
capable of realization? Let us see. If it is im- 
possible for the Old Order to persist, then it fol- 
lows that a New Order must come. I will post- 
pone for the present discussing what that New 
Order is to be, and will proceed to show you that 
the Old Order cannot continue. I will give you 
as little history, political economy, and statistics 



4 Men vs. the Man 

as may be for two reasons ; first, I know very little 
of such things myself; second, I wish to be agree- 
able to you, and I have found by experience that 
practical people have an extreme distaste for exact 
facts. 

In a broad way the great difference between the 
economy of the Middle Ages and the economy of 
to-day, is that then production was chiefly for use 
for local use while to-day production is almost 
solely for sale. So that the smooth working of 
our modern industrial and commercial complexus 
depends upon the possibility of an adequate and un- 
interrupted sale of goods. Whenever the sale of 
goods is interrupted, as it was signally in 1873, 
1893, and 1907, we have great panics. 

Since the latter part of the eighteenth century 
we have had a continuous series of great mechan- 
ical inventions which have revolutionized and are 
day by day revolutionizing ever more rapidly our 
mode of production. The great net result of these 
changes is that the productive power of man has 
been hugely multiplied. I think I am well within 
the mark in saying that one hour's work to-day 
produces as much as one hundred hours' work in 
Adam Smith's day. Let us see what the concrete 
effect of this is. If we turn to the statistics gath- 
ered by our government at Washington, we find 
that in 1900 the average annual product per worker 
employed was in round numbers $2,000, while 
the average wages were about $400. The diffi- 



Men vs. the Man 5 

culty of disposing of the product is already begin- 
ning to appear. It is obvious that a man with 
$400 cannot purchase $2,000 worth of goods. 
Over fifty per cent, of our population actually be- 
long to the working class. Add to them the 
farmers, whose purchasing power is not propor- 
tionally much greater, and you have all but a 
handful of our people. It is obvious that if our 
total product were composed of articles of personal 
consumption, and if we were limited to the home 
or domestic market, the disposition of the product 
by sale would be impossible. But we have for- 
eign markets, and we produce pig-iron as well as 
pig-meat. The dependence of the first great manu- 
facturing country, England, upon her foreign sales 
was recognized in her proud boast that England 
was the workshop of the world. But to-day in 
every market in the world England is meeting the 
ever-fiercer competition of Germany and America, 
while Japan is wresting the markets of the Orient 
from both Europe and America, and the coming 
industrial development of China the true Yellow 
Peril is already the nightmare of every far-seeing 
European and American conservative. The for- 
eign market has been an immensely serviceable 
safety-valve, but inexorable economic develop- 
ment or Fate or Kismet, if you will is rapidly 
screwing it shut. 

The other safety-valve the application of cap- 
ital and labor to the production of pig-iron instead 



6 Men vs. the Man 

of pig-meat has been greatly developed in the 
past decade, and as a means of partial relief prom- 
ises to outlast the foreign market safety-valve. 
The more capital and labor can be withdrawn 
from the production of articles of common every- 
day consumption, and employed in producing 
permanent industrial or transportation plant, the 
less becomes the immediate difficulty in disposing of 
our annual product. There can be no doubt that 
our recent period of prosperity was prolonged 
and the panic of 1907 postponed by the wholesale 
employment of capital and labor in such vast un- 
dertakings as the tunnels under the East and North 
rivers. But once such works are completed, they 
facilitate the production and distribution of goods, 
or save time or labor in some way, and thus in 
the long run accentuate the difficulty they tem- 
porarily relieve. 

In our separate productive establishments a part 
of the capital employed must always be invested in 
permanent plant and a part paid out for wages 
day by day and week by week. Competition be- 
tween rival plants has always compelled the con- 
stant improvement and development of machinery, 
and has thus compelled the owners constantly to 
invest larger and larger portions of their total 
capital in permanent plant. This change in what 
economists call the composition of capital has been 
forced upon the captains of industry irrespective 
of their wishes, and its effect has been to in- 



Men vs. the Man 7 

crease steadily and tremendously the disproportion 
between the value of the product and the purchas- 
ing-power of the wage-earners employed. Alike in 
the separate industrial plant and in the nation as 
a whole the constantly progressing change in the 
composition of capital a change necessitated by 
the process itself and that must go on in the long 
run makes ever more difficult the sale of the total 
product. 

We are thus confronted by a condition, not a 
theory. The masses of the people are unable to 
purchase more than about one-fifth of the annual 
product, and this fatal lack of purchasing power 
is destined to increase steadily irrespective of any 
human will. 

Are we not forced, my dear Mencken, to the 
conclusion that we are upon the threshold of 
economic changes so vast that no word short of 
Revolution is adequate to describe them? I sin- 
cerely believe that purely as a matter of economics 
the progressive and inexorable change in the tech- 
nical composition of capital makes a Social Revolu- 
tion inevitable, and further that this revolution is 
so close upon us that it behooves you and me, as 
prudent men, to prepare for it. 

What sort of a revolution is it to be? Will it 
place in power an oligarchy of Nietzschean Im- 
moralists ancestors of the Beyond Men to-be? 
Something of this sort was predicted a few years 
ago by W. J. Ghent in his " Our Benevolent Feu- 



8 Men vs. the Man 

dalism," and has just been far more vividly de- 
scribed as a possibility by Jack London in that 
vigorous and brilliant, if depressing book, " The 
Iron Heel." 

Or will it make the means of life the common 
possession of all, and thus abolish poverty forever, 
and usher in the era of fellowship so long fore- 
told by bards and seers ? 

To answer these questions we must make a slight 
excursion into the field of psychology. Econom- 
ics tell us that with all our male population be- 
tween the ages of twenty-five and forty-five work- 
ing three or four hours daily, we could produce 
enough to keep our whole population in such com- 
fort as to-day requires an income of $5,000 a 
year. 

If this is possible, and no statistician or econ- 
omist is foolhardy enough to deny it, whether or 
not the coming Social Revolution will bring it to 
pass depends upon the intelligence or desires of 
the masses. Let us see how these are determined. 
A man's mode of thought depends upon his mode 
of life. The man who depends largely upon 
changes in weather or climate, which seem to him 
to be utterly beyond the power of the human will 
to control, will be superstitious, whether he be a 
red Maori savage in New Zealand, or a bar- 
barian tan-tinted grower of vegetables on Long 
Island or in Connecticut. But the man who works 
with machinery which runs with uniform regular- 



Men vs. the Man 9 

ity and is almost absolutely under human control 
and direction, ceases to be superstitious, reasons 
straight from cause to effect or from effect back to 
cause, ceases to go to church or chapel to pray to 
God for daily bread, and grows rudely and om- 
inously unwilling to go barefooted because of an 
over-production of shoes, or hungry because of a 
plethora of beef and corn. 

Now, as Professor Veblen has pointed out, the 
Machine Process is dominating directly and af- 
fecting indirectly ever more and more of our pop- 
ulation, and the significant point is that these are 
just the people who suffer most from the continu- 
ance of the present system and who have every- 
thing to gain by making the factories and railroads 
and farms the common property of all the people. 
The factory worker is disciplined in co-operation 
in his daily work in the factory, he lives gregari- 
ously in tenements, and is accustomed to collective 
bargaining through the medium of his union. If 
he thinks at all, he must think toward Socialism. 
Often for years he hardly thinks at all, but panics 
come and bring unemployment. Unemployment 
is a powerful mental stimulus. When the panic 
passes and the unemployed man gets work, he is 
very likely to become a dues-paying member of the 
Socialist party. 

Our argument has thus far brought us to the 
conclusion that a Social Revolution is imminent, 
and that the very conditions of their lives are com- 



io Men vs. the Man 

pelling to socialistic thought and desires that ever 
growing host of the population employed in con- 
nection with machinery the very part of the pop- 
ulation who have nothing to fear from a revolu- 
tion, who, in the words of Marx, " have nothing 
to lose but their chains, and a whole world to 
gain." But to-day no one wholly escapes the per- 
vasive psychological effects of the Machine Process. 
Every twentieth century man and woman thinks 
more or less after the fashion of the factory worker 
of the nineteenth century. The thought-life of 
our time is day by day more and more affected by 
proletarian ideals and proletarian modes of ratioci- 
nation. Here and there individuals shielded by 
a favorable economic situation from direct contact 
with the hard facts of contemporary bread-win- 
ning are but little affected by the new tendencies, 
but no one wholly escapes this influence. Thus 
the economic and social forces which are organiz- 
ing and drilling a mighty host of militant Socialists 
are at the same time making the rest of the pop- 
ulation more or less mentally indisposed to combat 
with zeal and earnestness the forces making for a 
new social order. 

Of the active components of our population the 
group which most nearly escapes the revolutionary 
psychological influences we have been considering, 
is the class of independent small producers and 
traders. But this class is fast disappearing before 
the advance of the trust and the department 



Men vs. the Man n 

store. Where here and there we still find sur- 
vivals of this formerly dominant typical American 
group, we find they have lost their sturdy inde- 
pendence of mind and character. They live in 
daily and hourly fear of economic extinction; they 
dread to open their daily papers lest they see in 
them that the manipulations of a Morgan or the 
enterprise of a Strauss shall have doomed them to 
bankruptcy. It is quite true that this little dying 
group is psychologically the bulwark of con- 
servatism, but they are no longer a self-reliant 
militant group, and within a decade, as a social 
force or factor, they will be negligible. 

The educated professional classes formerly could 
be relied on to think and write and speak in de- 
fense of the established order, but what of them 
to-day and to-morrow? The constant enlarge- 
ment and growth of our facilities for higher edu- 
cation are overcrowding all the liberal professions, 
and are causing unemployment to be at least as 
common in professional life as it is in proletarian 
life. This difficulty is aggravated by the decreas- 
ing power of the middle classes to employ and 
support the professional men and women. Most 
of the ephemeral reform movements of the last 
two decades have been inspired and led by men 
of this class, but with the ever extending psycho- 
logical influence of the Machine Process more and 
more of these discontented intellectuals will adopt 
the proletarian point of view, and place their 



12 Men vs. the Man 

trained minds at the disposal of the revolutionary 
forces. 

We have surveyed very briefly the forces mak- 
ing for collectivism. What of the opposition? 
The number of those who have any real interest 
in opposing a Social Revolution is constantly grow- 
ing, and must constantly grow, relatively smaller. 
But their political incompetence is even more strik- 
ing than their numerical weakness. This surely 
needs no further illustration than a reference to 
the recent Congressional debates on railway rebate 
legislation and on the panic currency bill. The 
nearer the Social Revolution approaches, the 
smaller the body of its active opponents becomes, 
so that it seems likely that before the final struggle 
is begun the forces of reaction will number little 
more than the small group of the multi-millionaires 
and the cowardly slum-proletariat. 

My conclusion, as you will have already seen, 
my dear Mencken, is that we are hard up against 
the Day of Judgment, and that the only issue pos- 
sible is some form of collectivism or communism. 
Even if you and I felt that this outcome were de- 
plorable, would it not be our duty, if we recog- 
nized its inevitability, to do our part toward pre- 
paring the public mind for the coming change? 
To oppose a change that we cannot prevent is but 
to dam up the mighty social forces and thus make 
violence and incendiarism and bloodshed the more 
likely. To work with the current of progress is 



Men vs. the Man 13 

to facilitate a peaceful revolution which will pre- 
serve for posterity unimpaired the priceless her- 
itage we have received from the culture of the 
ages. In the words of Karl Marx, the Socialist 
is merely a sort of midwife helping the Old Order 
to give birth to the New with as little pain as 
may be. 

But is the coming Social Revolution to be de- 
plored? Is the present state of affairs so perfect 
that educated men such as you should give of their 
talent and energy to prolong it artificially? Is the 
socialistic ideal so abhorrent that it is to be post- 
poned at any cost? 

I feel that it is useless to quote to you from Rob- 
ert Hunter's " Poverty " the dreadful statistics of 
the hosts who every year go to fill paupers' graves, 
or from H. G. Wells' " New Worlds for Old " 
the still more appalling statistics of the number 
of English school children who are underfed, 
diseased, and verminous. You would but repeat 
Nietzsche's commandment, " Be hard ! " and say 
4 These are the weak; let them go to the wall! " 
But surely even you would be unable to deafen 
your ears to " The Bitter Cry of the Children," so 
brilliantly made articulate by John Spargo. But 
I do confidently appeal to you in the name of aris- 
tocracy, of art, literature, and the drama. You 
believe that the aristocrats should rule because 
you deem them worthy to rule; you believe the 
mob should be abandoned to its lot because it is fit 



14 Men vs. the Man 

for nothing better. Go beneath the surface, my 
friend. To what do the aristocrats owe the noble 
and refined traits I freely admit and even rejoice 
that they possess? To the facts that they and 
their ancestors for several generations have had 
ample food and leisure. I do not say that a full 
stomach and time for idleness are all that is needed 
to make a gentleman or lady. But I do say that a 
gentleman or lady cannot be made without three 
generations of stomachs that have not suffered from 
innutrition, and three generations of hands that 
have not been so worn with toil as to make them 
unfitted for other occupations. The Socialist ideal 
would mean full stomachs and ample leisure for all. 
I do not say that with a Presto, Change ! the So- 
cial Revolution will make the Bowery tough a 
Chesterfield. But I do say that it will give to all 
mankind the material foundation upon which alone 
aristocratic character can be built. I am a So- 
cialist, not because I am an enemy of aristocracy, 
or because I undervalue it, but because I wish the 
proportion of aristocrats to reach the highest pos- 
sible maximum. 

Surely it is needless for me to point out to you 
that to-day commercialism has so tainted and pol- 
luted art, literature, and the drama, that most 
of our artists, fiction-writers, and playwrights are 
mental prostitutes, and, saddest of all, some of 
them are so degraded that they do not even know 
they are prostitutes, but seriously talk of their art! 



Men vs. the Man 15 

I feel as though I were indulging in a platitude 
when I venture to remind you that it was because 
every Athenian freeman was a cultured and com- 
petent critic that sculpture and painting and the 
drama attained to such perfection in the days of 
Pericles. The socialistic ideal is that no man or 
woman, to say the least, shall be less cultivated than 
the average citizen of the Athens of Pericles. To- 
day, as you know but too well, a play of the better 
sort can only be put on for an occasional matinee 
at an hour when our commercialized men cannot 
attend the theater, for to-day the only appreciable 
portion of the American community that has 
leisure to attain anything worthy of the name of 
culture is made up of the women of the upper 
classes. 

If you wish to see better manners, more worthy 
fiction, higher art, and nobler drama, as I know 
you do, your only course is to become a Socialist 
comrade, and give us your aid in hastening the 
advent of the Social Revolution. 

Will you do it? 

Yours faithfully, 
ROBERT RIVES LA MONTE. 



MENCKEN'S REPLY TO LA MONTE'S 
FIRST LETTER 

MY DEAR LA MONTE : 

In one thing, at least, you and I are in agree- 
ment, and that is in our common belief that the 
world is by no means perfect. This, at first glance, 
seems to convict us of pessimism, but, as a matter 
of fact, we are thoroughgoing optimists, for both 
of us are firmly convinced that, however lamentable 
its present degree of imperfection, the world may, 
should, and will grow better. So far, indeed, we 
agree fully, but when we come to discuss the pre- 
cise method and manner of this betterment, and to 
define the goal which lies ahead when we strive, 
in brief, to lay bare the anatomy of human progress 
our divergence, it quickly appears, is abysmal. 
Your ideal picture of the best possible world seems 
to me a very fair picture of the worst possible 
world, and I have no doubt that, until I convert 
you and lead you up to grace, my ideal picture, 
as I have sketched it elsewhere in the past, and as 
I shall try to draw it, bit by bit, once more, bears 
and will bear to you much the same aspect. 

But before I go into an exposition of my own 
theory of progress, I want to point out to you a 

16 



Men vs. the Man 17 

certain fault in the argument of your letter a cer- 
tain fault which seems to me to reach its max- 
imum virulence to-day in the writings of Socialists, 
just as it reached a maximum sixty years ago in the 
writings of Christian theologians. It may be 
called, for want of a better label, a magnificent 
faith in incredible evidence. At its worst, it leads 
to a ready acceptance of generalizations that are 
supported by nothing more logical than a wish 
that they were true. At its best, it seems to infect 
you Socialists with a willingness to adopt and de- 
fend any alleged fact or group of facts, however 
dubious, so long as it seems to prove your 
case. 

This fault, my dear La Monte, is not peculiar to 
you, and I am firmly convinced that, if you are ever 
hanged, it will be for some other offense. As a 
matter of fact, I have found it in far more glorious 
flower in the compositions of those older and 
more enraptured Socialists whose works you have 
sent me, for the good of my soul, from time to 
time. But you are guilty, too, if only in the sec- 
ond or third degree, and this I hope to prove to 
you. 

You begin the argument of your letter, for ex- 
ample, by quoting a government report, by which 
it appears that the average American workingman 
turns out $2,000 worth of goods a year, and gets 
$400 for his labor. I am utterly unable to verify 
these figures (in which embarrassment I am ex- 



1 8 Men vs. the Man 

actly on a footing with the statistician who fathers 
them), but they seem very plausible, and so I shall 
join you in accepting them. Your own belief in 
their accuracy is plainly without reservation, for 
you proceed to make them the foundation of your 
argument. " It is obvious," you say at the start, 
" that a man with $400 cannot purchase $2,000 
worth of goods," and then you go on to examine 
this fact in the light of the Socialist philosophy, 
and to demonstrate its immorality. Setting aside, 
for the present, your final conclusions, I am per- 
fectly willing to admit that you are right about 
the man with $400. His money will buy but $400 
worth of goods, and this leaves $1,600 worth to be 
sold to someone else. Two interesting questions 
now arise. The one is, What other man buys 
this $1,600 worth? and the other is, What does 
this sum of $1,600 represent? 

The second question is the more important, since 
a consideration of it reveals the answer to the 
first. Your answer to it, if I understand you 
rightly, is that the $1,600 represents the individual 
workingman's annual contribution to the nation's 
store of goods, over and above the amount he is 
able to buy back with his $400 and consume. 
This is what Karl Marx calls " surplus produce," 
and its value he calls " surplus value." You very 
properly observed that a surplus of $1,600 in every 
$2,000 is a very large one, and point out that, 
lacking a ready market, the accumulation of such 



Men vs. the Man 19 

surpluses is bound to get the nation into the un- 
enviable position of a merchant with an enormous 
and unsaleable stock. In all of this your logic is 
sound enough, but you start out, unfortunately, 
from fallacious premises, for the surplus of $1,600 
about which you and the government statisticians 
discourse in such alarm is almost entirely an aca- 
demic myth. In a word, it has no actual existence, 
save in small part. Outside of books on political 
economy it is never heard of. 

As a matter of sober fact and I speak here 
from experience in one very typical line of manu- 
facturing, as I shall show the value of the aver- 
age workman's contribution to the nation's store of 
goods, over and above the amount he buys back 
with his wages, is seldom equal to the value of the 
goods he thus buys back and consumes. The $400 
man's contribution to the national surplus, far from 
being $1,600 a year, is probably little more than 
$160, and certainly a good deal less than $400. 
You assume that, by the mere exercise of his 
necromancy upon an empty void, he creates a value 
of $2,000, but here you assume altogether too 
much. What he really does do is this: he takes 
$1,200 worth, more or less, of raw material, adds 
to it (let us be generous and say) $800 worth of 
skill, and takes back $400 for his labor. His em- 
ployer now owns a lot of goods which has cost him 
$1,600 $1,200 for raw material and $400 paid 
to the workman and he offers it for sale at 



2O Men vs. the Man 

$2,000. The difference $400 covers the inter- 
est upon the employer's capital, the cost of selling 
the goods, the cost of light, heat, and taxes, and 
the cost of rent. Whatever is left over represents 
the employer's reasonable wage for his enterprise, 
industry, and skill. As I hope to show you later 
on, this wage is as much a true wage as the work- 
man's, no matter how large it may be. But of this 
more anon. 

What we have to consider here is the $1,200 
worth of raw material. You may argue, I fear, that 
this is a preposterously excessive valuation, but let 
me assure you that it is not. It so happens that I 
once enjoyed, for three years, a rather intimate ac- 
quaintance with the workings of a successful cigar 
factory a very typical example of the American 
manufacturing plant of moderate capital. Well, 
in that factory at the time, let us say, there was be- 
ing produced a brand of cigars which cost about 
$22 a thousand to manufacture I say " to manu- 
facture " and not " to sell," and the workmen 
who made them were getting $6 a thousand for 
their labor. What did the balance of $16 repre- 
sent? Was it the profit of the employer? Was 
it the workman's free contribution to the hoard 
of capital? Not at all! What it actually did 
represent was the cost of the material used by the 
workman in making cigars of the raw material 
brought to the factory and made ready for the 
tables, with all duties, taxes, transportation, and 



Men vs. the Man 21 

insurance charges paid. It represented almost ex- 
actly the cost of producing the cigars, packed, 
stamped, and ready for the selling department 
less the wages paid to the cigar-maker! This 
sum, you will note, was almost thrice the amount 
paid to the cigar-maker for the actual rolling of 
the cigars. Therefore, my assumption of a ratio 
of $400 to $1,200 in the preceding paragraphs 
was not without some justification in fact. 

But what did the cost of the raw material, of the 
taxes, and of the packing represent? My answer 
is simple: it represented labor. The money paid 
for the actual tobacco represented the labor of the 
farmers who had wrung it from a reluctant earth, 
and the labor of the handlers and experts who had 
sorted it and cured it, and of the trainmen and mar- 
iners who had transported it. Without this labor, 
the tobacco would have had no existence; it was, lit- 
erally, the incarnation of hours of toil. The money 
paid for it by the manufacturer went, in great part, 
straight back to these laborers. Putting the profits 
of landowners, of brokers, and of stockholders in 
transportation companies at the maximum, the la- 
borers got at least a half. And the tale of the 
wood used in the boxes, of the labels pasted upon 
them, of the gum used to fasten the labels was 
the same. Again, it was the same with the money 
paid as taxes. It went directly into the hands of 
the government's employees, who were engaged, 
day and night, in producing that one commodity 



22 Men vs. the Man 

without which all other commodities cease to be 
civilized security. 

Therefore, let us assume that of all the $1,200 
paid for raw material, $600 goes to workingmen 
as wages, and $600 goes to middlemen and cap- 
italists as profits. We have yet to account for 
$800 of the $2,000, but of this, as we have seen, 
$400 goes to the workingman principally under 
consideration. There remains, then, after all else 
has been accounted for, the sum of $400. What is 
this? Are we to regard it as the profit of the 
manufacturer? In part, yes; but in part no ! It 
is profit, true enough, but it is gross profit, and 
out of it must come the cost of selling and of up- 
keep. 

To get some notion of this cost, let us go back 
to our cigar factory. We saw there, you will re- 
call, that a cigar-maker got $6 a thousand for 
making cigars, and that the raw material, brought 
to his table, together with the work of sorting and 
packing his cigars afterward, cost $16. This 
made the cost of the cigars, so far, $22 a thou- 
sand. The employer, let us say, got $30 a thou- 
sand for these cigars in his market, and his gross 
profit was thus $8 a thousand. But was his actual 
profit $8 ? By no means ! It cost him, to begin, 
fully $3 a thousand to maintain his office and sell 
his goods, and he had to write off $1.50 more for 
bad bills, and another dollar or so for those ex- 
penses and hazards which no man can foresee. 



Men vs. the Man 23 

Who got the $3 charged to upkeep and selling 
costs? Practically every cent, I believe, went to 
workingmen to coal miners for digging coal for 
his furnaces, to clerks for keeping his books, to 
salesmen for visiting his customers, to locomotive 
engineers for hauling his salesmen, to hotel cooks 
for cooking their meals, and so on ad infinitum. 
And the net profit that remained what of that? 
I shall show you some day, I hope, that this was 
wages, too the wages of the employer him- 
self, paid to him for his skill at managing his 
capital, for his skill at buying raw material 
cheaply, and at inducing customers to buy his 
product, and for his skill, finally, at cajoling and 
coercing his workingmen into laboring for the $6 
he paid them. 

Now, to what have all of our figures brought us? 
Simply to this fact : that the $2,000 worth of goods 
produced by the $400 workman of your parable 
represents, not $400 worth of labor plus $1,600 
worth of inflation, but $400 worth of labor plus 
at least $1,000 worth of other labor. The $400 
man may be the principal actor in the drama, and 
his skill may be the principal factor in the con- 
version of sunlight and human energy into market- 
able commodities, but the men whose toil pre- 
pares his raw material and the men whose toil 
makes it possible for him to work at peace and 
sell his product have had their share, too. What 
remains over, after all of them have been paid, is 



24 Men vs. the Man 

very little. And so we come to a conclusion which 
makes all of your argument about panics, crises, 
and changing social orders vain, and it is this : that, 
while your $400 workman can buy back but $400 
worth of the $2,000 worth of goods, all of the 
workmen who have had a hand in producing it are 
perfectly able to buy back, with their collective 
wages, nearly all of it. I am not much of a hand 
at statistics, but I venture the guess that in every 
$1,000 worth of goods produced under normal 
conditions in America to-day, fully $800 represents 
the wages of workmen. Thus your original sur- 
plus value of $1,600, which you regard with such 
trembling and in which you see such staggering 
portents, shrinks, on cold inspection, to $400 ! 

No doubt you will say at once, as a good Marx- 
ian, that this surplus value, whether large or small, 
stands for capitalistic exploitation of the working- 
man, and that as such it is an evil. You may even 
argue, with Marx, that its evil lies, not in its actual 
size, bu* in its very existence that any surplus 
value is immoral, and that the workingman should 
get all he produces. I shall try to answer this in 
a future letter, but meanwhile it may be well for 
me to record my earnest and enthusiastic dissent. 
As a matter of fact, the possibility of exploiting 
the workingman seems to me to be the one thing 
that justifies an optimistic view of human progress. 
It is this thing that gives existence a goal and a 
zest. It is this that insures to the human race all 



Men vs. the Man 25 

of those comforts and privileges which make it (at 
least in all save its lowest orders) superior to the 
race of milch cows. It is this that gives us the 
agreeable assurance that, however passionately we 
may occasionally embrace altruism, either as a 
religious creed or as a political doctrine, we are 
still being driven forward and upward, unceasingly 
and willy-nilly, by the irresistible operation of the 
law of natural selection. 

Your facts and figures puzzle me in places other 
than the one we have been considering, not be- 
cause they seem to me to prove anything, but be- 
cause I find it utterly impossible to put any faith in 
their accuracy. You say in one paragraph, for in- 
stance: " Economics tell us that with all our male 
population between the ages of twenty-five and 
forty-five working three to four hours a day, we 
could produce enough to keep our whole population 
in such comfort as to-day requires an income of 
$5,000 a year." Let us look into this a bit, and 
see what it means. You have already laid it down, 
you will recall, that the average American workman 
earns $400 a year, and you say in your letter that 
" over fifty per cent, of our population actually be- 
long to the working class." Let us suppose that 
the number is exactly fifty per cent, and that each 
man produces $2,000 worth of goods a year, as 
you say. 

Well, then, you propose to restrict labor to those 
between twenty-five and forty-five, and so cut our 



26 Men vs. the Man 

working force in two by making idlers of those 
under twenty-five and those over forty-five. But 
at the same time you propose to double the force 
that remains by requiring every able-bodied per- 
son of the fifty per cent, now idle, between twenty- 
five and forty-five years old, to join the workers. 
Thus your working force will be substantially the 
same as it is at present. 

But you then propose to reduce its working hours 
to " three or four " a day, and so divide its pro- 
ducing capacity by two. What will be the result? 
Simply that your workman's yearly output will be 
$1,000 worth of goods, instead of $2,000 worth, 
as at present, and that his income, even supposing 
him to get every cent of it back, will be but $1,000. 
On $1,000 a year how is he to obtain " such com- 
fort as to-day requires an income of $5,000? " 

In this I have given you the benefit of the doubt 
at every step. I have assumed, for instance, that 
fifty per cent, of the population is now made up of 
idlers, even though you yourself admit, in one 
place, that these idlers make up " but a handful of 
our people." I have assumed, too, that Socialism 
could achieve the impossible feat of paying for the 
same thing twice of paying the farmer, that is, 
for raising tobacco, and then paying the cigar- 
maker for raising it. I have assumed everything 
you could desire, and yet I come to an absurdity at 
the end. 

" Economics tell us," you say, and therein I see 



Men vs. the Man 27 

your fundamental error. You have too much faith 
in the so-called science of economics, and you ac- 
cept the wildest notions of its most extravagant 
sages as gospel truth. If " economics tell us " 
that our present army of workers, working half 
time, will be able, under Socialism, to earn twelve 
and a half times as much as at present well, then, 
it is high time to demand proofs. My personal 
view is that no such proofs exist. The whole 
idea, in a word, is sheer nonsense. There is no 
more ground for it, in the actual facts of existence, 
than for the doctrine that, if I had brown eyes in- 
stead of blue, I would be a Methodist bishop at 
$8,000 a year. 

The science of economics, as I understand it, is 
based upon a series of deductions from human 
experience. These deductions vary with the econ- 
omist's education, environment, religion, and poli- 
tics, and are often irreconcilable. In those de- 
partments of the science, indeed, in which the most 
distinguished professors have exercised their in- 
tellects, the divergence is most marked. I need 
only refer, in support of this, to the appalling 
debates regarding the currency which break forth 
every now and then. The conclusion a layman 
must necessarily derive from these debates is that 
the vast majority of experts are wrong. This con- 
clusion grows firmer on reflection, for it is apparent 
that each economist's fiscal theory is but the deduc- 
tion he has personally drawn from facts open to 



28 Men vs. the Man 

all. Therefore, why pay too much heed to him ? 
Why not examine the facts themselves and evolve 
your own theories? 

You may reply to this that my argument is 
foolish, and that its application to any other 
science say pathology, for instance will reveal 
its fatuity. My answer is that I am not applying 
it to pathology, for the facts of pathology are, in a 
sense, available only to the man specially trained 
to observe accurately. The facts of political econ- 
omy, on the other hand, are the facts of every- 
day life. If my meaning is not clear, let me direct 
your attention to Adam Smith's Theory of Rents 
and Ehrlich's Theory of Immunity. If you will 
find me one man, of average intelligence and edu- 
cation, who fails to understand Smith at his first 
reading, I will give you a dollar. If, on the other 
hand, you find me one man, of average intelligence 
and education, who understands Ehrlich on a first 
reading, I will give you another dollar. The one 
requires only a reasonable degree of sanity; the 
other requires special training and a wealth of 
actual experience. 

For these reasons I am chary of accepting 
economic theories, and much prefer the evidence to 
the verdict. I have no doubt that the gentleman 
who prepared the government report you quote was 
an expert hired at enormous expense, and yet I 
can't rid myself of the notion that the money paid 
to him was wasted. 



Men vs. the Man 29 

But I must have done with this series of ob- 
jections to your authorities, else this letter will have 
exhausted you without any statement of the creed 
I propose to offer in opposition to Socialism. This 
creed consists, first and last, in a firm belief in 
the beneficence and permanence of the evolutionary 
process. I believe, in other words, that the human 
race is incomparably the highest race of beings at 
present existing in the world, and I believe further 
that, as the years come and go, its superiority to 
the lower races of animals is growing constantly 
greater. I believe that you and I are far superior 
men, in many ways, to our great-grandfathers, and 
that our superiority over Christopher Columbus, 
Julius Caesar, and Moses, in many more ways, is in- 
finite. 

But what do I mean by superiority? What, in 
other words, is my definition of progress ? Natur- 
ally enough, it is hard to frame such a definition 
in a few words, but I may throw some light upon 
my notion of the thing itself by showing how it is 
to be measured. Progress, then, as I see it, is 
to be measured by the accuracy of man's knowledge 
of nature's forces. If you examine this sentence 
carefully you will observe that I conceive progress 
as a sort of process of disillusion. Man gets 
ahead, in other words, by discarding the theory of 
to-day for the fact of to-morrow. Moses believed 
that the earth was flat, Caesar believed that his 
family doctor could cure pneumonia, and Columbus 



30 Men vs. the Man 

believed that devils often entered into harmless 
old women and turned them into witches, and 
that the lightning was a bomb hurled by a wrath- 
ful God at sinful man. You and I, knowing 
that all three of these distinguished men were 
wrong in their beliefs, are their superiors to that 
extent. 

Now, all the illusions which have afflicted the 
human race since its days of nonage may be divided 
into two classes. First come those which have 
arisen out of the imperfection of our powers of 
perception; and secondly come those that have 
arisen out of errors made in the interpretation of 
facts accurately observed. An excellent example 
of the first class is the familiar doctrine, held to- 
day by the ignorant, and until very recently by 
all, that the disease called malaria is caused by 
breathing impure air. Tested by the evidence of 
the naked eye, this doctrine seemed entirely sound. 
But by and by men began to use microscopes to aid 
their eyes, and one day, seized by a happy thought, 
an enterprising man took the trouble to place a 
drop of blood from a malaria patient's veins be- 
neath his glass. Since then the old doctrine has 
been put aside forever by all whose beliefs are 
worth hearing, and we know that malaria is caused, 
not by impure air, but by various minute parasites 
of the class of sporozoa. The human race, within 
historic times, has rejected thousands of delusions 
of this class, but many yet remain. As we perfect 



Men vs. the Man 31 

apparatus to reinforce our dull senses they will go 
overboard, one by one. 

The delusions and illusions of the second class 
resolve themselves into two grand, or king delu- 
sions. One of them is the notion that a human 
being, by his words or acts, is capable of suspend- 
ing or modifying the immutable laws which govern 
the universe. The other is the notion that a human 
being is able to make laws for himself which shall 
have the force of the immutable laws aforesaid. 
Out of the first of these delusions springs the 
doctrine of the efficacy of prayer, and with it all of 
the world's vast and bizarre stock of religions. 
Out of the second springs the ancient science of 
morality, with all its multitude of efforts to com- 
bat the eternal and inexorable law that the strong 
shall prevail over the weak. The latest of such 
efforts is comprehended in the political theory 
called Socialism. It is the most fatuous of 
the whole lot, for it proposes, not only to make 
human laws as immutable as natural laws, but actu- 
ally to make them supersede and nullify those 
natural laws. Here, indeed, we behold human be- 
ings on the topmost pinnacle of bombastic folly. I 
can imagine no more stupendous egotism. 

In this you may perceive, though perhaps only 
dimly, for my exposition may be none too clear, 
the reasons which impel me to decline your in- 
vitation to join your crusade. I am no apologist 
for the existing order of things. Like Huxley, I 



32 Men vs. the Man 

believe that the management of the universe is by 
no means perfect, but such as it is, we must ac- 
cept it. If you point out that human progress, as 
I have defined it, involves the practical enslavement 
of two-thirds of the human race, my answer is 
that I can't help it. If you point out that a slave 
always runs the risk of being oppressed by a par- 
ticularly cruel master, I answer that a master al- 
ways runs the risk of having his brains knocked 
out by a particularly enterprising slave. If you 
point out that, by my scheme of progress, it is 
only the upper stratum that actually progresses, I 
answer that only the upper stratum is capable of 
progressing unaided. 

The mob is inert and moves ahead only when it 
is dragged or driven. It clings to its delusions with 
a pertinacity that is appalling. A geological epoch 
is required to rid it of a single error, and it is so 
helpless and cowardly that every fresh boon it re- 
ceives, every lift upon its slow journey upward, 
must come to it as a free gift from its betters 
as a gift not only free, but also forced. Great men 
have fought and died for the truth for a thousand 
years, and yet the average low-caste white man of 
to-day, throughout Christendom, still believes that 
Friday is an unlucky day, still believes that ghosts 
walk the earth, and still holds to an immovable 
faith in signs, portents, resurrections, redemptions, 
miracles, prophecies, hells, gehennas, and political 
panaceas. 



Men vs. the Man 33 

It may be true that the existing order of things 
demands bloody human sacrifices, but, so far as I 
am able to see it, the thing is inevitable. What- 
ever you may say against it, you cannot deny that 
the existing order of things at least produces prog- 
ress. It produced, for instance, a Pasteur, and if, 
directly and indirectly, in the course of long ages, 
a million serfs had to be used up to make this 
Pasteur possible, I, for one, believe that the result 
was worth the cost. The work that Pasteur did 
in the world put the clock of time ahead a hundred 
years, and conferred a permanent and constantly 
cumulative benefit upon the whole human race, 
freeman and slave alike, now and forevermore. 
Would the lives of a million serfs have been of 
equal value? Not at all! They would have 
given to the world only the matter and energy that 
they took out of it, and their influence on progress, 
if they exerted any influence at all, would have 
been reactionary. 

You latter-day Socialists have all sorts of ex- 
cuses and compromises to offer. You say, for 
instance, that under Socialism the Pasteurs of the 
world would be cherished and encouraged just as 
much as under the law of natural selection. But 
the objection to this is that, after two generations 
of Socialism, there would be no more Pasteurs. 
To produce the things the world needs to-day and 
to-morrow we must have workmen who toil. But 
to produce the things that will make the world a 



34 Men vs. the Man 

hundred years hence a better place to live in than 
the world of to-day we must have men who, by ex- 
ploiting, either directly or indirectly, the work of 
these toilers, may have the ease and leisure to 
make great plannings and to find out great truths. 
Yours sincerely, 

H. L. MENCKEN. 



LA MONTE'S SECOND LETTER 

MY DEAR MENCKEN: 

I have derived infinite delight from your 
sanguine letter. Although your statistics have 
confused me where they have not amused me, the 
latter part of your letter has made my future task 
far easier by helping me to place your mental posi- 
tion chronologically. I have no intention of being 
offensive when I tell you that you appear to me to 
belong in part to the Greece of Pericles and in 
part to the France of Diderot. 

When you assert that it is necessary to exploit 
and dehumanize millions of proletarians in order 
to produce here and there a Pasteur or two, you 
merely paraphrase the defense of human slavery 
that we find again and again, now explicit and 
now implicit, in the works of Aristotle, Plato, and 
Xenophon. In their mouths the argument was a 
good one, for in their times the productivity of 
human labor was so pitifully small that only by 
keeping hordes in slavery was it possible for any 
to enjoy the leisure requisite for the attainment of 
culture. But, though you, my dear Mencken, live 
in an age when steam and electricity have been 
harnessed by man, you still repeat arguments that 

35 



36 Men vs. the Man 

were obsolescent in the days of Cicero; for Antip- 
aros, a Greek poet of that era, saw in the inven- 
tion of the water-mill the promise that humanity 
might be freed from the curse of slavery, and sang 
thus in praise of the leisure that gracious Demeter 
was bestowing upon mankind : 

" Spare the arm which turns the mill, O millers, 
and sleep peacefully. Let the cock warn you in 
vain that the day is breaking. Demeter has im- 
posed upon the nymphs the labor of the slaves, 
and behold them leaping merrily over the wheel, 
and behold the axle-tree, shaken, turning with its 
spokes and making the heavy-rolling stone revolve. 
Let us live the life of our fathers, and let us re- 
joice in idleness over the gifts that the Goddess 
grants us." 

How many eons does it take for a Mencken 
to catch up to an Antiparos? 

When you measure progress by the increase of 
accurate knowledge, and thus apotheosize human 
reason, you reproduce perfectly the spirit that 
animated Rousseau and Diderot and the great 
French Encyclopedists. In the words of Engels, 
" the French philosophers of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, the forerunners of the Revolution, appealed 
to reason as the sole judge of all that is. A ra- 
tional government, rational society, were to be 
founded; everything that ran counter to eternal 
reason was to be remorselessly done away with." 
When once this was done, all would be for the 



Men vs. the Man 37 

best in the best of all possible worlds. This was 
an entirely justifiable conception in their day. But 
since then the experiment has been tried ; the French 
Revolution has turned Christendom upside down, 
and the Third Estate has been enthroned in every 
civilized land; but the reality attained is far from 
corresponding to the noble dreams of the great 
French materialists of the eighteenth century. 
Most of us have learned something from this ex- 
perience, and have begun to suspect that human 
progress is more dependent upon the development 
of the processes whereby human stomachs are filled 
and human backs are covered than it is upon the 
increase of academic knowledge. But you, dear 
child of the eighteenth century, continue to com- 
pose in unruffled serenity your charming odes to 
Eternal Reason. 

Possibly you will understand now why I smile 
when I read your profession of faith, " that you 
and I are far superior men, in many ways, to our 
great-grandfathers, and that our superiority over 
Christopher Columbus, Julius Caesar, and Moses, 
in many more ways, is infinite." 

Do you think I am unreasonable in asking this 
superior twentieth century man to produce some 
arguments against Socialism, not borrowed bodily 
from the Greece of Pericles and the France of 
Rousseau? 

In my first letter I introduced a few figures 
merely to illustrate and make plain my argument. 



38 Men vs. the Man 

Your letter leads me to believe that instead of 
serving the purpose I had intended, they have on 
the contrary confused you and obscured my argu- 
ment. This is not to be wondered at, as I am no 
statistician and have always found figures a burden. 
In order to make my position quite clear, I hope 
you will permit me to recapitulate my argument 
without figures. 

The object of introducing improved methods 
of production, such as machinery, is, as Antiparos 
clearly saw two thousand years ago, to save labor. 
If the work done by any given machine does not 
cost its owner less than it would cost him to have 
the same labor done by men and women by the 
former methods, the machine will not be used. 
But, in a society where the different producers of 
goods sell competitively on the market, each in- 
dividual owner of a productive plant is driven, 
whether he likes or not, to make continuous im- 
provements in his machinery. If he does not he 
will be undersold and driven into bankruptcy. 
Every such improvement means an increase in the 
product relatively to the wages paid out in that 
establishment, so that the proportion of the total 
product in society at large, that is in excess of the 
quantity that the wage-earners are able to pur- 
chase for their own consumption, is growing and 
must continue to grow until it eventually reaches 
such proportions as to compel a Social Revolution. 
The more developed is the mechanical equipment, 



Men vs. the Man 39 

the industrial technique of a country, the larger 
becomes the proportion of the national produce 
that the working-class are unable to purchase; in 
other words, the smaller becomes the fraction of 
their own product that the workers receive. For 
this reason the workers of England and Germany 
receive a far smaller fraction of the product of 
their labor than do the workers of the compara- 
tively backward countries, such as Italy, Spain, and 
Portugal; and the American workers of 1908 are 
able to buy a much smaller fraction of the product 
of their labor than could the American workers 
of 1850. You will kindly note that I did not ad- 
vance in my former letter, and I do not advance 
now, any argument based on the immorality of 
such an arrangement. I would think as readily of 
questioning the morality of the law of gravitation. 
It matters very little to my argument just what 
the exact share of the workers may be at any given 
time, but what my argument is based on is the 
constant decrease in the ratio between the pur- 
chasing power of the working-class and the value 
of the total national product; and this ratio 
must decrease as long as we continue to im- 
prove our machinery, and competition makes such 
improvement of our industrial technique impera- 
tive. As I said in my first letter, it is the " pro- 
gressive and inexorable change in the technical 
composition of capital that makes a Social Rev- 
olution inevitable." 



40 Men vs. the Man 

The figures as to average wages and product 
per worker that I used for illustrative purposes 
in my former letter were quoted by memory from 
Tables i and 2 in Census Bulletin No. 150 (Sec- 
ond edition, September 15, 1902). This Bulletin 
No. 150 is based on manufactures alone, and shows 
the average wages to be $432, and the product per 
worker to be something in excess of $2,000. The 
figures in these census bulletins are gathered 
chiefly to show the growth of industry, and for 
other commercial purposes, and not to meet the 
needs of economic study, so that it is somewhat 
difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain just what 
elements other than the new value added by the 
worker this $2,000 contains. Lucien Sanial, of 
Northport, Long Island, one of our ablest statisti- 
cians, has made a careful study of the census of 
1900 in connection with Bradstreet's and Dun's 
reports, and other sources, and his conclu- 
sion is that our total product in 1900 was 
$24,500,000,000, and the total value of the labor- 
power used in its production, $5,815,000,000, and 
that the portion of the product that Labor was in 
a position to purchase was 23.74 per centum. 

It should be remembered that the workers pur- 
chase everything at the very highest retail prices, 
while the value of product given in the census is 
based on factory prices; so that in order to ascer- 
tain how much of the product the workers can 
purchase, one must add to the census valuation 



Men vs. the Man 41 

of the product a certain percentage to cover the 
cost of transporting the product to market and 
the costs of distribution in the form of wholesale 
and retail profits. I have found by calculation 
that the percentage thus added by Mr. Sanial was 
forty-two per cent. Using this percentage, I have 
figured from Census Bulletin No. 150 the work- 
ers' share of the total value of our manufactured 
product at every decade from 1850 to 1900. 
Even if this percentage is not accurate, it does 
not vitiate my conclusion that the share of the 
workers is decreasing, for the calculation for each 
tenth year is made on exactly the same basis. 
Here are my results tabulated : 

Percentage of product workers could purchase in 1850. . 36.1 

1860.. 31.2 

1870.. 31.3 

1880.. 33-7 

1800.. 30.5 

1900.. 27.0 

You will of course at once note that the work- 
ers' share rose 2.4 per centum in the decade from 
1870 to 1880, but if we turn to the figures for 
capital invested in manufacture, we will find that 
in that decade the capital invested only rose from 
$2,118,208,769 to $2,790,272,606, which was 
scarcely enough to keep abreast of the growth of 
population, so that as a matter of fact there was 
little, if any, advance in industrial technique dur- 



42 Men vs. the Man 

ing that decade, while in the decade from 1850 to 
1860, when Labor's share decreased nearly five 
per centum, the capital invested nearly doubled, 
growing from $533> 2 4535 I to $1,009,855,715, 
showing a tremendous improvement in machinery. 
I have no idea that these figures are strictly cor- 
rect, but I think that they do show beyond cavil 
that the purchasing power of the working-class 
is, to say the least, growing constantly more in- 
adequate to perform its economic function in a 
society based on private ownership of the means of 
production. If we take the figures for particular 
industries, the same result is more strikingly 
brought out. Fred D. Warren of Girard, Kansas, 
has extracted from the " Eighteenth Annual Re- 
port of the Commissioner of Labor " the follow- 
ing information in regard to the pig-iron industry : 

1870 1880 1890 1900 

Product per man (in tons) ... 66 81 260 395 

Average wages $453 $304 $460 $506 

Average profit made from 

each worker $322 $360 $405 $900 

I take it that pig-iron is a far more typical mod- 
ern industry than is the cigar-making industry, 
which you discuss, as the latter has been far less 
revolutionized by machinery and chemistry. At 
any rate, I do not feel competent to enter upon 
a discussion of the cigar business, as my only con- 
nection with it has been that of a consumer 



Men vs. the Man 43 

when Fortune smiled and you give no source of 
your statistics save your own experience; so that I 
am compelled to leave this field to you. 

You will, I think, admit that by the methods of 
economists and statisticians I have shown that 
there is a growing surplus of goods, and that the 
disposition of this surplus constitutes a very real 
difficulty, even if you are not ready to admit that 
it is of itself sufficient to compel a Social Revolu- 
tion. But, curiously enough, you, the panegyrist 
of Eternal Reason, who measure progress by the 
growth of accurate knowledge, distrust this same 
human intelligence when it is applied to economics 
and sociology, and would appear to hold that in 
this one domain more credence is to be given to the 
man in the street than to the man with trained in- 
telligence who has devoted years to the study of 
these very questions. I am free to admit that it 
is rather disconcerting for an opponent of Social- 
ism who looks for the increase of knowledge to 
bring about a Nietzschean millennium to find that 
knowledge of economics is in inverse ratio to 
prejudice against Socialism that as the former 
rises, the latter melts away. But this seems to 
be the sad fact. Listen to this tale of woe poured 
out not long ago by Leslie M. Shaw, ex-Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, at an alumni dinner of 
Dickinson College at the Hotel Saint Denis in 
New York. 

" Socialism is being taught on every hand, and 



44 Men vs. the Man 

I am alarmed by the general trend of things in 
this connection. At our Chautauquas the lecturers 
are all preaching the doctrine. Teachers of So- 
ciology in our schools and colleges are doing the 
same thing. With a few exceptions, they are So- 
cialists, as you can find out by a few moments of 
conversation with them; and the exceptions are 
anarchists. 

" Our public libraries are full of socialistic lit- 
erature. Why, in a large city recently, where 
there was a strike, the reading-room was packed 
day after day with all kinds of people. When the 
librarian was asked what they were reading, he 
replied : * Socialism, every one of them. There is 
not a book on Socialism in any language that is not 
here.' 

" Sociology, as it is taught in our colleges, is 
nothing more than a fad and a dangerous one, 
too. You cannot build up men's minds with fads. 
Mr. Wilshire, the socialistic editor, recently asked 
a friend of mine if he would arrange for a joint 
debate on Socialism with a professor in one of our 
large universities. When my friend went to the 
professor, the latter said: 

" * No, I won't debate on Socialism, because 
Wilshire and I agree.' 

" Even the pulpit nowadays reflects some so- 
cialistic doctrines, and it is too bad." 

No doubt Mr. Shaw would agree with you 
that the troublesome " surplus " of goods about 



Men vs. the Man 45 

which I " and the government statisticians dis- 
course in such alarm is almost entirely an academic 
myth " ; that, in a word, " it has no actual ex- 
istence, save in small part," that " outside of books 
on political economy it is never heard of." But 
both you and he would have to admit that Chaun- 
cey M. Depew's reputation for virginal ignorance 
of economics is spotless, and yet Senator Depew 
in what many of his fellow-citizens call " his great 
speech " at the Republican Convention of 1900 in 
Philadelphia, that renominated President McKin- 
ley, said: "We produce in this great country of 
ours every year $2,500,000,000 more of goods 
than we can consume." It seems that knowledge 
of the existence of that surplus had leaked out- 
side of purely academic circles eight years ago. 
And the New York Sun of December 20, 1908, 
contained a long letter from Berlin, explaining 
that the reason there had been at that time so 
much adverse criticism of the Kaiser was that Ger- 
many had been passing through a severe business 
crisis, and that therefore many indiscreet acts of 
his majesty that would have been passed over 
lightly in prosperous times had been the target 
for the most venomous attacks. Here is one 
sentence from this letter which I commend to your 
careful attention : " Existing markets are crowded 
with wares for which there are no profitable 
buyers." 

In Germany it would appear that even news- 



46 Men vs. the Man 

papermen had heard of this troublesome surplus, 
which, in the opinion of the writer of the Sun let- 
ter, must sooner or later drive Germany into a 
war with England in her desperate struggle to 
find an outlet into which she can pour this plethora 
of commodities. 

I think it is now evident that knowledge of this 
pestilential superabundance is not confined to 
economists, statisticians, and Socialists. I think 
that the figures I have already given you prove it 
to be a most pregnant reality. It may be well for 
me to say that in preparing my figures of the 
workers' share of the product of our manufactur- 
ing industries for 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 
and 1900, I, in every instance, deducted from the 
total value of the product as given in the Census, 
first, the value of the partially manufactured goods 
used as materials in those industries, and, second, 
the value of the true raw materials used in them, 
so that my figures represented as nearly as possible 
nothing but the new value added by the workers in 
the process of manufacture. But, if you will still 
remain skeptical about the real existence of this 
" academic myth," permit me to quote to you a 
few figures from the " Fifth Annual Report of the 
United States Steel Corporation for the Fiscal 
Year ended December 31, 1906," which, thanks 
to the kindness of Fred D. Warren, is lying be- 
fore me as I write. 

From page 5, I quote: 



Men vs. the Man 47 

" The total net earnings of all properties after 
deducting expenditures for ordinary repairs and 
maintenance (approximately $28,000,000), em- 
ployees 1 bonus funds, and also interest on bonds 
and fixed charges of the subsidiary companies, 
amounted to $156,624,273. 18." 

On page 24 the average number of employees 
for the same year (1906) on all the properties 
of the Corporation is given as 202,457, and the 
total annual salaries and wages as $147,765,540. 

If you add together the net profits (from which 
you will note all possible deductions have been 
made), and the wages (which include the princely 
salaries of the Steel Trust officials), you will find 
that the profits are 51.46 per cent, of the whole 
and the wages are 48.54 per cent. 

Of course the Steel Trust profits are figured 
on the basis of factory prices for the product, 
which accounts for this apparently high ratio of 
the workers' share to the total. Allowing for this 
fact, these figures agree fairly closely with those 
for our manufactures in general which I have 
made above from Bulletin 150. 

But I care not what the exact percentage may 
be. The fact that this Steel Trust report estab- 
lishes beyond a peradventure is that there is a tre- 
mendous surplus to be marketed. 

In discussing the cigar business, after allowing 
for " interest upon the employer's capital, the 
cost of selling the goods, the cost of light, heat, 



48 Men vs. the Man 

taxes, and the cost of rent " and various other 
items you say: "Whatever is left over represents 
the employer's reasonable wage for his enterprise, 
industry, and skill. As I hope to show you later 
on, this wage is as much a true wage as the work- 
man's, no matter how large it may be." 

Let me call your attention to the fact that 
every particle of " enterprise, industry, and skill " 
used in managing and superintending the vast busi- 
ness of the Steel Trust is furnished by salaried 
employees, and that those salaries for " enterprise, 
industry, and skill " are included in the wage ac- 
count I have quoted, and that after this " true 
wage," as you call it, has been paid in full and 
most liberally, our old friend " the Troublesome 
Surplus " still stands there, with undiminished 
girth, smiling at us, and asking, " Well, and what 
are you going to do with me?" Do you not 
think he is entitled to a serious answer? 

The answer our captains of industry have been 
making for the past few years, as I pointed out in 
my former letter, has been to devote capital more 
and more to the improvement and enlargement of 
what we may call our permanent industrial and 
transportation plant, but while this effectively re- 
lieves the symptoms of distress for the time being, 
it unfortunately aggravates the disease in the long 
run by facilitating production and transportation. 
There are two other answers you may be tempted 
to make: one is that it is possible for the leisure 



Men vs. the Man 49 

class to increase its wasteful expenditure suffi- 
ciently to meet the requirements of the case, the 
other is that war and calamity may intervene 
and cause an adequate destruction of goods. Pro- 
fessor Thorstein Veblen has discussed both of these 
possible remedies very interestingly in his remark- 
able book, " The Theory of Business Enterprise " 
(Scribners', New York, 1904). His conclusions 
are that it is out of the question for private ex- 
travagance and waste to be raised to an adequate 
pitch, but that we may look hopefully to war and 
calamity as palliatives. 

" The persistent defection of reasonable profits," 
he says, in discussing the former point, " calls for 
a remedy. The remedy may be sought in one or 
the other of two directions : ( i ) in an increased un- 
productive consumption of goods; or (2) in an 
elimination of that ' cutthroat ' competition that 
keeps profits below the * reasonable ' level. If 
enough of the work or of the output is turned to 
wasteful expenditures, so as to admit of but a 
relatively slight aggregate saving, as counted by 
weight and tale, profitable prices can be main- 
tained on the old basis of capitalization. If the 
waste is sufficiently large, the current investment 
in industrial equipment will not be sufficient to 
lower prices appreciably through competition. 

" Wasteful expenditure on a scale adequate to 
offset the surplus productivity of modern industry 
is nearly out of the question. Private initiative 



50 Men vs. the Man 

cannot carry the waste of goods and services to 
nearly the point required by the business situation. 
Private waste is no doubt large, but business prin- 
ciples, leading to saving and shrewd investment, 
are too ingrained in the habits of modern men to 
admit an effective retardation of the rate of saving. 
Something more to the point can be done, and in- 
deed is being done, by the civilized governments 
in the way of effectual waste. Armaments, pub- 
lic edifices, courtly and diplomatic establishments, 
and the like, are almost altogether wasteful, so far 
as bears on the present question. 

" The waste of time and effort that goes into 
military service, as well as the employment of the 
courtly, diplomatic, and ecclesiastical personnel, 
counts effectually in the same direction. But how- 
ever extraordinary this public waste of substance 
latterly has been, it is apparently altogether in- 
adequate to offset the surplus productivity of the 
machine industry, particularly when this productiv- 
ity is seconded by the great facility which the mod- 
ern business organization affords for the accumula- 
tion of savings in relatively few hands. There is 
also the drawback that the waste of time involved 
in military service reduces the purchasing power of 
the classes that are drawn into the service, and so 
reduces the amount of wasteful consumption which 
these classes might otherwise accomplish. 

" So long as industry remains at its present level 
of efficiency, and especially so long as incomes con- 



Men vs. the Man 51 

tinue to be distributed somewhat after the present 
scheme, waste cannot be expected to overtake pro- 
duction, and can therefore not check the untoward 
tendency to depression." (Pages 255-258.) 

But what waste is unable to do for us, war 
fortunately has proved itself able to accomplish. 
But is the present generation of men, who, you 
tell us, are infinitely superior to Christopher Co- 
lumbus, Julius Caesar, and Moses, going to re- 
main long contented with a system that depends 
for its perpetuation on the frequent recurrence of 
war, fire, earthquake, and calamity? 

What war has done for us of late is well brought 
out by Veblen in the following passage : 

" Since the seventies as an approximate date 
and as applying particularly to America and in a 
less degree to Great Britain, the course of affairs 
in business has apparently taken a permanent 
change as regards crises and depression. iDuring 
this recent period, and with increasing persistency, 
chronic depression has been the rule rather than 
the exception in business. Seasons of easy times, 
* ordinary prosperity,' during this period are pretty 
uniformly traceable to specific causes extraneous 
to the process of industrial business proper. In 
one case, the early nineties, it seems to have been 
a peculiar crop situation, and in the most notable 
case of a speculative inflation, the one now 
(1904) apparently drawing to a close, it was the 
Spanish-American War, coupled with the ex- 



52 Men vs. the Man 

penditures for stores, munitions, and services 
incident to placing the country on a war footing, 
that lifted the depression and brought prosperity 
to the business community. If the outside 
stimulus from which the present prosperity takes 
its impulse be continued at an adequate pitch, the 
season of prosperity may be prolonged; otherwise 
there seems little reason to expect any other out- 
come than a more or less abrupt and searching 
liquidation." (Pages 250-251.) 

This was written in 1904. We were soon 
blessed with the Russo-Japanese War, the San 
Francisco Earthquake, and the Baltimore Fire, so 
that the " stimulus " was " continued at an ade- 
quate pitch," and the " season of prosperity " was 
"prolonged" until November, 1907, when there 
occurred " a more or less abrupt and searching 
liquidation." In spite of his unfortunate handi- 
cap of an unusually thorough knowledge of politi- 
cal economy, do you not think Professor Veblen 
was able to make a fairly accurate analysis of the 
situation? 

Relying upon my own far more limited knowl- 
edge of economics, I have no hesitation in predict- 
ing that the present period of depression will last 
at least seven years unless (i) in the meantime 
the " increase of accurate knowledge " or the hard 
facts of adversity lead us to establish the Co- 
operative Commonwealth, or (2) unless a great 
war, such as the Sun (N. Y.) Berlin correspond- 



Men vs. the Man 53 

ent suggests between Germany and England, breaks 
out. I confess the second alternative appears to 
me to be far the more probable. 

This letter is already so unconscionably long that 
I can but touch upon the question of the prob- 
able hours of labor and the standard of comfort 
in the society of the future. In my former let- 
ter I suggested that from three to four hours a 
day with all the male population between the ages 
of twenty-five and forty-five working usefully 
would suffice to keep all our people in such com- 
fort as to-day requires an income of $5,000 a 
year. This arouses your incredulity, naturally 
enough, and you devote several pages to proving 
its impossibility. Perhaps I should have made it 
plainer that I had in mind the income per family, 
and not per capita. But, had I done so, I doubt 
not my statement would have appeared scarcely 
less incredible to you. One fundamental difficulty 
is that the life of the future such a life as is 
pictured in William Morris' " News from No- 
where " is in all respects so different from life 

" In the days of the years we dwell in, 
that wear our lives away," 

that the two quantities are really incommensurable, 
but I can think of no feasible way of giving you 
an idea of the standard of comfort that I believe 
will be universal in " the wonderful days a-coming 



54 Men vs. the Man 

when all shall be better than well " save by suggest- 
ing in dollars an income that enables an American 
family to-day to approach a similar standard of 
comfort and well-being I say " approach," be- 
cause I do not believe any income, however large, 
will to-day make possible the joy of living that 
will be world-wide in the wonderful days to be. 
My own opinion is that in my former letter I 
named too low a figure. In many of our cities to- 
day it takes $5,000 a year to pay the rent of 
such a house as every family ought to demand. 

The trouble with your mathematical demonstra- 
tion of my folly is that you make no allowance for 
the amount of labor that is now wasted by the 
anarchy of our competitive system. The simplest 
illustration of this is the oft-used milk-business. 
Count the number of wagons delivering milk on 
your block some morning, and compare it with the 
number of postmen delivering letters, and you will 
begin to form some faint idea of the vast aggregate 
of unnecessary labor that is being done to-day. I 
believe it impossible to estimate exactly the quan- 
tity of this wasted labor that could be eliminated 
under a co-operative system. Sidney A. Reeve, 
in his book "The Cost of Competition " (New 
York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1906), states that 
the amount of labor thus wasted is at least double 
that actually usefully employed in production. I 
do not vouch for the accuracy of this calculation, 
but I am sure you will feel the more inclined to 



Men vs. the Man 55 

give it credence when I gladly assure you that Mr. 
Reeve is not an economist. I have ascertained by 
reference to " Who's Who " that he was Professor 
of Steam and Hydraulic Engineering at Wor- 
cester Polytechnic Institute from 1896 to 1906, 
and Lecturer on Steam Engineering at Har- 
vard University in 1907. These subjects would 
seem to me to require an aptitude for acquiring 
your summum bonum, accurate knowledge. 

Another vast economy we will make, and that 
you did not take into consideration, is to close up 
all the smaller and more poorly equipped plants, 
and do all our work in the most perfect plants that 
science can devise. The trusts have already be- 
gun this process for us. The Sugar Trust closed 
up about seventy-five per cent, of the plants it con- 
trolled a few years ago, and the Whiskey Trust 
put out of operation sixty-eight distilleries out of 
eighty. It is impossible to set a limit to the econ- 
omy possible in this direction. 

I believe it impossible to prove my estimate ac- 
curate, but I feel sure that a very little thought 
along the lines I have suggested will convince you 
that it is distinctly moderate. 

Professor Hertzka of Austria some years ago 
in his " Laws of Social Evolution " calculated 
what the (then) 22,000,000 people of Austria 
might do, if properly organized. 

" It takes," he estimates, " 26,250,000 acres of 
agricultural land, and 7,500,000 of pasturage, for 



56 Men vs. the Man 

all agricultural products. Then I allowed a house 
to be built for every family, consisting of five 
rooms. I found that all industries, agriculture, 
architecture, building, flour, sugar, coal, iron, ma- 
chine-building, and chemical production, need 
615,000 laborers employed eleven hours per day, 
300 days a year, to satisfy every imaginable want 
for 22,000,000 inhabitants. 

"These 615,000 laborers are only 12.3 per 
cent, of the population able to do work, excluding 
women and all persons under sixteen or over fifty 
years of age; all these latter to be considered as 
not able. 

" Should all the 5,000,000 able-bodied men in 
the country be engaged in work, instead of 615,000, 
they need only to work 36.9 days every year to 
produce everything needed for the support of the 
population of Austria. But should the 5,000,000 
work all the year, say 300 days which they would 
probably have to do to keep the supply fresh in 
every department each one would only work one 
hour and twenty-two and a half minutes per day. 

" But to engage to produce all the luxuries, in 
addition, would take, in round figures, 1,000,000 
workers, classed and assorted as above, or only 
twenty per cent, of all those able, excluding every 
woman, or every person under sixteen or over 
fifty, as before. The 5,000,000 able, strong male 
members could produce everything imaginable for 
the whole nation of 22,000,000 in two hours and 



Men vs. the Man 57 

twelve minutes per day, working 300 days a 
year." 

It is nearly impossible to judge of the accuracy 
of such an estimate, but there are some accurate 
data forthcoming to show what we could do in 
this country. J. L. Franz has shown by figures 
taken from the " Thirteenth Annual Report of the 
Commissioner of Labor " for 1898 (Washington, 
1899) that by using the methods actually used 
on the big western wheat farms in 1898, to pro- 
duce the wheat (350,000,000 bushels) actually 
used for home consumption in 1898, would have 
required only the labor of 1,000,000 persons work- 
ing one hour a day on every week-day of the 
year. (See International Socialist Review, Vol. I, 

P-357-) 

Work to-day is such a curse that it is very 
natural and pardonable to hail extremely short 
hours of labor as the chiefest of blessings, but we 
err in doing so, for, as my good friend, Henry L. 
Slobodin of New York, reminded me in a letter 
the other day, " those who emphasize the short 
hours of labor which will be necessary in future 
society as a great advantage miss the point of the 
Socialist position. The modern Socialist's position 
is that whereas labor is and is considered at present 
a hardship and almost a calamity, in the future 
it will be a glad and joyous exercise of natural 
functions. The tendencies which may be perceived 
now in a very weak form are to make labor pleas- 



58 Men vs. the Man 

ant and attractive. On the other hand, there is a 
tendency to make pleasures useful. These two 
tendencies converge and will meet in the society of 
the future. So that generally speaking in the 
future all labor will be more of a pleasure than the 
pleasures are now, and the pleasures of the future 
will be more productive than the labor is now. 
From that point of view, to discuss how short the 
hours of labor will be in the future is unneces- 
sary." 

Space will not permit me to take up here your 
startling assertion that " after two generations of 
Socialism, there would be no more Pasteurs." 
Surely you do not mean to contend that adversity 
and penury are favorable to the development of 
scientific genius, and that by abolishing poverty we 
will make the genesis of genius impossible ? But I 
am comforted by the thought that, even if you 
are right, and we are to produce no more Pasteurs 
in the society of the future, at any rate we shall 
have far less need for them than we have to-day. 
When we shall have definitely abolished poverty 
from the earth those medical and chemical savants 
who have hitherto found their chief occupation in 
devising means of fighting or curing diseases that 
are in large part the products, direct or indirect, 
of poverty and the filth caused by poverty, will 
have leisure to devote to devising chemical 
processes for performing the dirty work which is 
to-day done by cheap and dirty men and women. 



Men vs. the Man 59 

They will also find a fertile field in discovering 
chemical methods of producing nutritive sub- 
stances. 

How the abolition of poverty will compel our 
Pasteurs to change their occupations was strik- 
ingly brought home to his hearers by Dr. Linsly 
Williams of the Vanderbilt Clinic in a speech he 
made before the delegates of the Brooklyn Central 
Labor Union in the Auditorium Hall of the Mu- 
seum of Natural History. The occasion was 
Brooklyn Labor Union Day of the International 
Tuberculosis Exhibition. I quote briefly from 
the newspaper account of his speech: 

" Dr. Williams began by saying that although 
everybody was more or less affected by the rav- 
ages of tuberculosis, the working class suffered 
particularly, as thirty-three per cent, of the work- 
ers died from the dread disease. . . . Then, 
striking the keynote of his discourse, the doctor de- 
clared that the greatest predisposing cause of the 
white plague was low wages and working under 
unsanitary conditions. He told of the unhealthful 
way in which a great deal of the work of the 
world was done, and as a proof of his statements 
said that while the average annual death rate per 
thousand from tuberculosis was two and a half for 
the general public, the rate for stone-cutters was 
5.4, for cigar-makers 5.3, and for printers, 4.3, 
with the majority of the workers in the other 
trades also above the average rate. On the other 



60 Men vs. the Man 

hand, the death rate for doctors was 1.6, and for 
farmers only i.i. 

" In conclusion Dr. Williams made an impressive 
plea for cleanliness and concerted effort in the work 
of fighting the white plague, and also took occa- 
sion to score those * superior ' individuals who 
calmly assert that everybody can be clean and have 
fresh air if they want to. ' It is easy to tell people 
to be clean/ said he, * but when one has to work 
long hours for low wages I tell you it is almost 
impossible to be clean and have plenty of fresh 
air. When people are huddled together in the 
crowded tenements it is no easy thing to take a 
bath, and if one opens the windows for air, 
instead of real air, a volume of smoke and dirt 
makes one close them again. The main thing in 
this fight is to get better pay for your labor so that 
you can live in better houses and have better food 
and thus be enabled to resist the attacks of the 
disease. 1 " 

There are several other things I would like to 
say to you in regard to this Pasteur argument of 
yours, but they will have to wait for another letter, 
as this one is already far too long. I hope you 
will pardon its excessive length and believe me 
when I promise not to sin in this particular way 
again. 

Let me hear from you soon. 

Faithfully, 

R. R. LA MONTE. 



MENCKEN'S REPLY TO LA MONTE'S 
SECOND LETTER 

MY DEAR LA MONTE : 

When I dropped my last epistle into the letter 
box there went with it a pious hope that the mod- 
est reductio ad absurdum I had attempted might 
rescue you from your maze of fantastic statistics, 
or, at least, that it might implant in you a certain 
salutary distrust of statisticians. But I see now 
that this hope was a vain thing, and doomed to an 
early death, for you return to the attack with fig- 
ures that are even more fantastic than those you 
discharged in your first salvo. Perhaps, however, 
I have no right to dispute these figures in such an 
offhand manner, for I have no doubt that, at bot- 
tom, there may be a good deal of truth in them. 
But I am on the safe side, I believe, when I main- 
tain that, whatever their degree of accuracy may 
be, you and your Socialist friends demand no proof 
of it, but take it on trust, and that the deductions 
you draw from them show a great deal more en- 
thusiasm than logic. 

You begin, for instance, by summoning to the 
witness stand a professor from faraway Austria, 
and he, in turn, starts out by announcing a discov- 

61 



62 Men vs. the Man 

ery. He has found, he says, that a lot of energy 
is wasted in Austria, and that the work of that 
country, which now engages all but a small minor- 
ity of its inhabitants, might be done very well by 
comparatively few of them. Following the cus- 
tom of statisticians, he does not offer us the facts 
upon which this conclusion is based, but as for the 
conclusion itself, he is very sure of its truth. Given 
an eleven-hour work-day, he says, and 300 work- 
days a year, and it would be possible for 615,000 
Austrians to provide all the necessities of life 
for the 22,000,000 inhabitants of the empire. 
From this he reaches the conclusion that, if 
5,000,000 men lent a hand (there are just about 
5,000,000 able-bodied men of working age in the 
empire), instead of but 615,000, each man would 
have to labor but one hour and twenty-two and a 
half minutes a day. 

All of this makes an interesting experiment in 
simple arithmetic, but when you cite it, in all seri- 
ousness, as proof of your argument that, under So- 
cialism, the average workingman of America, 
working but three or four hours a day, would earn 
$5,000 a year, you exhibit a lamentable inability to 
differentiate between the possible and the probable, 
the abstract and the actual, the conceivable and the 
ponderable. Your Austrian professor discourses so 
glibly, not of real human beings, but of algebraic 
#'s of his own creation, and you follow him in mis- 
taking these #'s for men and women. He sets 



Men vs. the Man 63 

aside, as of no account whatever, almost every one 
of the multitude of yearnings, ambitions, desires, 
and appetites which distinguish man from the red 
ant, and you follow him in holding them to be 
negligible. He draws figures on a slate and you 
assume they are alive. 

It would take a long letter to show, in detail, 
how widely your professor's elaborate syllogism 
varies from the facts of existence. I need only 
point out here the absurdity of supposing that it 
would be possible to find 5,000,000 men who would 
be at once capable of doing their work efficiently, 
and willing to do it, day after day, even for but 
an hour and a half a day, without some effort to 
rid themselves of the necessity for doing it at all. 
To make this clear, let me recall to you the strong 
human impulse which Friedrich Nietzsche (whom 
you despise) denominated " the will to power." 
This will to power is more than a mere emotion 
or idea, for it exists in practically every man, even 
the most degraded, and the mere fact that a man 
makes some effort to keep alive shows that he pos- 
sesses it. It is, indeed, the primal life instinct, 
which Arthur Schopenhauer, long before Nietzsche 
was born, called " the will to live." 

But how does this " will to power " or " will 
to live" manifest itself? In civilized human so- 
cieties, I believe, it shows itself chiefly in a sort of 
constant emulation and rivalry, which, beginning 
as a lowly effort to exchange the minimum of 



64 Men vs. the Man 

muscular effort for the maximum of food, expands, 
higher up, into the complex and powerful thing 
called ambition. That is to say, there lies, deep 
down in the soul of every man who deserves to 
be regarded as human, an irresistible and never- 
failing impulse to sell his energy and ability as 
dearly as he can. The more he gets in payment, 
the more consideration and comforts he will en- 
joy, and the more desirable his position will appear 
when compared to the condition of other men. 
Herein we perceive Nietzsche's reason for chang- 
ing Schopenhauer's " will to live " into " will to 
power," for he saw clearly that the only way a 
man may accurately measure his success in this ef- 
fort is by observing the extent of his mastery of 
his environment which includes, as one of its prin- 
cipal factors, his fellow-men. No matter how 
slight the degree of a man's victory over the 
natural and social forces which work for his de- 
struction or enslavement, he is to that extent the 
superior of the man who has been destroyed or en- 
slaved. It is the constant effort of every man to 
gain such victories to increase his comparative 
safety and importance. Even the saint whose cult 
is self-sacrifice has a yearning to be, to some ap- 
preciable extent, more sacrificing than his rival on 
the next pillar. Even the Pope, at the very pin- 
nacle of human eminence, would be glad, no doubt, 
to exchange places with an archangel. 

Well, you will find, on looking into the matter, 



Men vs. the Man 65 

that the average workingman has before him two 
practicable methods for satisfying his will to power. 
By the first method he enters into a conspiracy 
with other workingmen which has for its object an 
artificial " bulling " of the market wherein their 
skill is sold. That is to say, they endeavor to 
raise the market value of their skill without offering 
any corresponding improvement in its quality. By 
the second method, the individual workman seeks 
so to improve his own skill that it shall bring more 
than the average price. 

The second method would seem to be the more 
attractive, for experience shows that it frequently 
has the result of lifting the man who adopts it 
out of the ranks of workingmen altogether, since 
a man who is wise enough to sacrifice imminent 
ease for permanent benefit is a man of forethought, 
and forethought is a quality so valuable and so 
rare that its possessor rises in the world almost 
automatically. But as a matter of fact, compara- 
tively few workmen adopt this method of making 
secure their livelihood and safety. The vast 
majority adopt the first method. Instead of seek- 
ing to increase their efficiency, they try to force 
their employer (who is but the spokesman or rep- 
resentative of the rest of humanity) to take it for 
granted. In other words, they try to do as little 
as they can for their wages, and to do that little 
with the least possible expenditure of skill and at- 
tention. 



66 Men vs. the Man 

The average workingman, indeed, particularly 
in America, is notable chiefly for his firm faith 
that his need for working is an intolerable evil, 
which has been laid upon him by diabolical task- 
masters, and which he is justified in shirking as 
much as possible. It is his constant effort to give 
less energy to his work to-day than he gave to it 
yesterday, and he forces society to condone and 
even encourage this effort by a sort of permanent 
threat to cease working altogether. Search the 
whole history of trades-unionism in America, and 
you will find scarcely half a dozen attempts, 
by unions, to increase the efficiency of their 
members. But you will find a million attempts 
to penalize society for calling that efficiency in 
question. 

And so, after a long journey, we come upon one 
very serious difficulty in your professor's maze of 
figures. He has brought forward his proofs 
mathematical and he has forgotten the objections 
psychological. He has shown that 5,000,000 
faithful and efficient workingmen could do all the 
work of Austria in less than two hours a day 
and he has overlooked the fact that there are not 
5,000,000 faithful and efficient workingmen in the 
country. He has, in a word, made the colossal 
mistake of assuming that, during one hour of work, 
the workingman does all the work that it is pos- 
sible to do in an hour. He has made no allow- 
ance for inefficiency, for shirking, for laziness, for 



Men vs. the Man 67 

drunkenness, for illness. He has made no allow-, 
ance for the fact that, in a large number of neces- 
sary industries, seasonal and climatic variations 
make long and unavoidable periods of inactivity. 
He has forgotten the ineradicable tendency of the 
workingman to go on strikes and holidays. He 
has wasted all of his fine logic upon a purely 
theoretical workman, who never was on land or 
sea. Putting the efficiency of this monster at 100, 
I think I am safe in assuming that the efficiency 
of the real workman of flesh and blood may be 
set down at fifteen. And if this is true, the pro- 
fessor's theoretical workday of one hour and 
twenty-two and a half minutes becomes a real 
workday of more than nine hours. 

But anticipating all this, you answer in one place 
that, under Socialism, men will look upon work as 
a pleasure, and hint that the present effort to shirk 
will disappear. If I were convinced, my dear La 
Monte, that you actually held to any such belief, 
I would certainly not give over my scant leisure 
to this correspondence. As a matter of fact, you 
must be well aware that the traits and weaknesses 
which make the workman of to-day an unwilling 
and inefficient laborer are ingrained character- 
istics of all low-caste men as plainly so, indeed, 
as their superstitiousness, grossness, emotional sug- 
gestibility (particularly in political matters), and 
fear of hell and that no social cataclysm, how- 
ever appalling, will convert them at one stroke 



68 Men vs. the Man 

into new beings. That they will improve in the 
course of time, I am firmly convinced, for they have 
improved steadily in the past, but their progress 
toward perfect efficiency, like their progress toward 
perfect knowledge, will always be behind that of 
the classes above them. The average working- 
man of to-day is a better man than Moses in at 
least one respect, for he is far less superstitious, 
but the Pasteurs of to-day are still as far ahead 
of him as Moses was ahead of the slaves who built 
the pyramids. 

Herein you will discern my first and last ob- 
jection to Socialism. I believe, in a word, that it 
overlooks certain ineradicable characteristics of the 
human animal, and certain immutable laws of the 
biological process. Going further, I believe that 
these characteristics and laws deserve to be fostered 
and obeyed rather than opposed, for to their in- 
fluence we owe all that we have of progress. 
Every comfort that we have to-day was devised 
by some man who yearned to get more out of life 
than the men about him; every great truth that 
helps us face existence bravely and confidently was 
unearthed by some philosopher who yearned to be 
honored above all other philosophers; every law 
that gives us safety and order was written by some 
law-maker who yearned to see his own notion of 
security and order prevail over the notions of 
others. Just as every micro-organism in the sea 
ooze fights for that pin point of space which will 



Men vs. the Man 69 

give it life while its fellows die, just so every 
man fights for that microscopic degree of superi- 
ority which gives him eminence over his fellow- 
man better food, a better coat, more leisure, 
greater honor, respect and love, and a more poign- 
ant and widespread feeling of something lacking 
after he is gone. You Socialists, seeing part of 
this dimly, talk of a " materialistic conception of 
history," and say Karl Marx invented it. But you 
are wrong, for it was invented for all time on the 
day that the first living cells began to fight over 
their first meal. 

Such is the law of the survival of the fittest, and 
so it stands immutable. Socialism is only one of 
a hundred plans for ameliorating it, and since all 
of the others have failed, I believe that Socialism 
will fail too. That Antiparos whose maunderings 
you quote against me thought the invention of the 
water-wheel would turn all of the mill-slaves of 
Greece into gentlemen of leisure, lolling all day in 
ease and idleness, but Antiparos was wrong, for, 
like all the Greeks, he was entirely ignorant of the 
laws which govern living organisms. Had he 
lived after Malthus, instead of thousands of years 
before him, he would have known that the water- 
wheel, by making bread cheaper, would soon de- 
crease the death-rate and increase the birth-rate 
of Greece, and that this increased population, 
needing other things beside bread, would quickly 
turn the idle millers to profitable industry. This 



70 Men vs. the Man 

process has been repeated over and over again 
ever since. 

You Socialists make a somewhat similar mistake. 
You propose to wipe out competition, with its frank 
acceptance of the law of natural selection, and to 
put co-operation in its place. By this plan, you 
say, life will be relieved of most of its present haz- 
ards, and every man in the world will enjoy per- 
fect security, peace, and comfort. Well, supposing 
all this to be true, what will be the result ? First 
and foremost, I believe, an enormous increase in 
population. Even admitting the possibility of 
curbing the actual birth-rate, it is apparent that 
the concerted efforts to put an end to the struggle 
for existence will, for a time at least, reduce the 
death-rate among what are now the lowest orders 
toward that of what is now the highest, and that 
this reduction will quickly swell the population of 
the world. 

For a time, perhaps, things will go on serenely, 
for these extra people, let us assume, will all do 
their share of the work of the world. But soon 
or late, I take it, the human race will make the 
startling discovery that the satisfaction of human 
desires is limited, not only by the finiteness of 
human energy, but also by the finiteness of the 
earth in size and resources. That is to say, there 
will come a time when the wheat fields of the world 
will be too small to raise all the wheat needed by 
the race. And when that time comes a struggle 



Men vs. the Man 71 

for the wheat that they can raise will come with 
it, and your Socialist state will disappear. You 
may say that the same impasse will be reached 
eventually with things as they are, but a moment's 
reflection will show you that that is no answer at 
all. I am not trying to prove that this is the best 
of all possible worlds ; I am merely trying to show 
you that Socialism cannot hope to change it. 
Whether we adopt Socialism or accept things as 
they are, we must come eternally upon periods of 
stress and storm, and during these periods the 
strong will prevail over the weak, and every man- 
made law that seeks to stay them will be swept 
away. 

This happened after the French Revolution, as 
you yourself point out. You seem to think that 
the fact constitutes a criticism of my argument, but 
in reality it supports me. The French Revolution, 
as you know, had its seed back in the Middle Ages, 
when certain citizens of France, by reason of their 
superior intelligence and craft, began to acquire 
a vast power over the rest of the population. The 
sons of these medieval lords of the soil maintained 
their supremacy after them, and it was maintained 
by so many succeeding generations that, after 
awhile, it came to be regarded as a matter of 
course. Even after the race of barons began to 
degenerate, no one thought of disputing their sway. 
Meanwhile, they kept going downhill, and by the 
beginning of the eighteenth century they were a 



72 Men vs. the Man 

race of incompetent, helpless parasites, whose 
power over the masses rested, not upon any superi- 
ority of their own, but upon the eternal fact that 
the common people are ever thick of wit, ever long- 
suffering, and ever slow to advocate a change. The 
aristocracy of France was so inefficient in the time 
of Louis XIV that the peasants of France might 
have overthrown it with ease, but it took a long 
series of outrages and the urging of many men to 
make them act, and so it was not until the reign 
of Louis XVI that they declared open war. 

Well, this old race of overlords proved an easy 
foe, and the victorious commoners, staggered by 
their almost instantaneous conquest, at once jumped 
to the conclusion that there was no such thing as 
aristocracy that because this one had turned out 
to be a hollow sham, all were shams. The im- 
mediate result was the grotesque mob-rule of the 
few months following the murder of Louis XVI. 
Here was an actual experiment in Socialism, for 
all advantages of birth, wealth, and rank were 
swept away. Every citizen of France was the 
equal of every other citizen, and each was ex- 
pected to serve the state according to his particular 
talents and training. 

Well, did this mob-rule last? Not at all! It 
was soon found that a populace, as a populace, 
could no more govern itself than a drunken man 
could drag himself home, or a sober man could 
pull his own teeth. Strong men were needed to 



Men vs. the Man 73 

make laws and enforce them, to deal with matters 
above the comprehension of the rabble, to decide 
between parties and factions and in a very short 
while these strong men began to move toward the 
top, while the weak went back to their old station 
underfoot. In place of the artificial aristocracy of 
strong men's great-grandsons, there arose a new 
and actual aristocracy of strong men. In the end, 
the strongest of them lorded it over all France, 
and nearly all of Europe. 

Napoleon Bonaparte, under the influence of the 
old order of things, tried to perpetuate his su- 
premacy in his descendants, but here he overlooked 
a new idea which had come into the world. That 
idea was this: that an aristocracy must constantly 
justify its existence. In other words, there must 
be no artificial conversion of its present strength 
into perpetual rights. The way must be always 
open for the admission of strong men from the 
lower orders, and the way must be always open, 
too, for the automatic expulsion of men whose 
strength fails. Our governmental hierarchy, here 
in the United States, partially satisfies this descrip- 
tion of a sound aristocracy. That is to say, it is 
a despotism so long as it rules at all, but it must 
constantly prove its right to rule. Some day in 
the future, I am convinced, there will arise a man 
strong enough to hold the supreme power as long 
as he lives, just as Sefior Diaz seems likely to 
do in Mexico at present. In the department of 



74 Men vs. the Man 

commercial enterprise we have plenty of such men. 
James J. Hill, I suppose, will be able to keep his 
immense power until he dies, for it is unlikely 
that, in the course of the few years remaining to 
him, he will encounter a foe efficient enough to 
wrest it from him, but, for all his potency, he can 
do nothing whatever to safeguard it against the 
inefficiency of his descendants after he is gone. 

The word aristocracy, to an American, always 
suggests the European nobility, with its peculiar 
system of titles and its peculiar privileges in the 
affairs of government. But there are aristocrats 
of many other sorts, and aristocracy, in itself, by 
no means presupposes a patent of nobility and a 
seat in the House of Lords. As a matter of fact, 
I have shown that these things are evidences, not of 
real aristocracy, but of that old, artificial aristoc- 
racy which, in some countries, has managed to sur- 
vive though always with lessened powers. The 
aristocrats of social rank and governmental influ- 
ence are by no means omnipotent. In their own 
field they constitute the first estate, but in some 
other field they may be slaves. 

The French Encyclopedists who spurred the 
peasants of France on to the massacre of the old 
nobility did the world a service by wiping out a 
sham, but at the same stroke they gave it a new 
sham to take the place of the old one. This new 
sham was the theory that all men were equal before 
the Lord. Voltaire, Diderot, and the others called 



Men vs. the Man 75 

themselves materialists, and I have no doubt that 
they were sincere in saying that they couldn't ac- 
cept the absurdities of Christian theology, but all 
the same they accepted, whether openly or tacitly, 
the corner-stone of that theology, which is the 
doctrine that every man has a soul. Their whole 
philosophy, indeed, was based upon a belief in 
the sacredness of that soul. Every man, they 
argued, had a soul, and since every soul was of 
infinite sacredness, each one was as good as any 
other. Upon this they erected the theory of 
human equality. 

These men were bold and ingenious, but, as I 
have tried to show in another place, they were 
vastly handicapped by their ignorance. They could 
scoff at Christianity all they pleased, but in the end 
they had to admit that they couldn't disprove it. 
This was because they lived a hundred years too 
soon. Had they written their books after in- 
stead of before the day of Charles Darwin, they 
would have been free from that anthropomorph- 
ism, which, despite their great powers of ratiocina- 
tion, constantly colored their thoughts. Before 
Darwin it was easy enough for anyone to main- 
tain that the fundamental Christian doctrines were 
incapable of proof, but it was only after his life- 
work gave us a wholly new view of the universe, 
and set men, for the first time, to exploring its 
mysteries in an orderly fashion, that it became pos- 
sible for anyone to argue of Christianity not only 



76 Men vs. the Man 

that it was unreasonable, but also that it was actu- 
ally impossible. 

I have wandered into this reference to Chris- 
tianity not by accident, but intentionally, and be- 
cause it seems to me that, as schemes of civilization, 
Christianity and Socialism are identical. You So- 
cialists call yourselves agnostics, but you still main- 
tain the fundamental tenet of Christian theology, 
which is the notion that all men are God's chil- 
dren, and equal in his sight ; and you still advocate 
the primary rule of Christian ethics, which is the 
command that every man shall love his neighbor as 
himself. My objection, then, to Socialism, is my 
objection to Christianity. It starts out with an 
incredible assumption and it ends with a command 
that no human being, so long as he remains a hu- 
man being, can possibly obey. 

That Christianity is impossible is shown by the 
fact that the world has never beheld a single real 
Christian. Even Christ himself fell short, for 
there is abundant proof that, whatever the degree 
of his love for humanity in general, he had a 
strong and quite human dislike of the money- 
changers in the Temple, and that he gave way to 
this dislike and tried to do them injury. Like 
Christianity, Socialism suffers from this irreconcil- 
able difference between its doctrines and the nature 
of man. Every human being comes into the world, 
indeed, with instincts which both Christianity and 
Socialism denounce as sinful But as all moralists 



Men vs. the Man 77 

discover to their horror, soon or late, it is one thing 
to invent and denounce a sin, and quite another 
thing to destroy it. 

This letter is already very long, and so there is 
very little space left to deal with your mass of 
statistics regarding surplus values and other such 
socialistic scarecrows. All you manage to prove is 
this: that under our present free competition and 
with our efficient machines, we Americans produce 
a great deal more than we can use. Well, is this 
to be lamented? For my part, I think not. On 
the contrary, it seems to me to be a good cause 
for congratulation, for it is indubitable proof that, 
in the struggle for existence, we Americans are 
measurably superior to certain other races. As we 
forge ahead in productiveness, these other races 
will become more and more dependent upon us 
for the necessities of life, and in the end they will 
become our serfs. That is to say, practically all 
of their energy will be devoted to earning the 
money we demand for the things they need 

You may say that this can never happen, since 
tariff walls and national pride will always stand 
in the way. If that is your answer, I advise you to 
go to your history books and see what becomes of 
national pride and tariff walls when a strong, rich 
nation looks about for an outlet for its over-produc- 
tion. If the poorer, less efficient nations do not, at 
once and without resistance, open their gates and 
begin to buy, as China has but recently done, they 



78 Men vs. the Man 

are forced to do so by the sword, and reduced, as 
security for their future complaisance, to the posi- 
tion of vassals, as has been the case in India. If 
it is true, as you say, that Germany is showing 
super-efficiency, I venture to predict that some day 
Germany will conquer England, for in England 
the whole social fabric has been made rotten by 
Christian sentimentality, with its accompanying 
coddling of the inefficient and parasitical. 

Your proof that the profits of the United States 
Steel Corporation exceed the amount paid out as 
wages to its workmen is interesting, but far from 
portentous. You seem to regard the Steel Cor- 
poration as a mysterious, gigantic ogre which sucks 
the blood of the people, and does no public service 
whatever. As a matter of fact, it is no ogre at 
all, but a collection of quite human persons, such 
as you and I, and many of these persons belong to 
the class whose wrongs you deplore. That is to 
say, a great deal of the Corporation's stock is 
owned by its employees, who are thus doubly paid 
for their labor first in wages and then in profits. 
No law prevents an employee from buying more 
stock. You yourself must admit that his wages 
are commonly more than sufficient to keep him 
alive, and that, in consequence, he should have a 
surplus for investment at the end of each year. 
Why doesn't he buy stock with it? Well, in many 
cases he does but in other cases he invests his 
money in crayon portraits of his parents, or kegs 



Men vs. the Man 79 

of beer. He is, in brief, an ignorant and improv- 
ident man and yet you weep over his wrongs. 

That share of the Steel Corporation profits 
which goes to the very rich men and this is the 
share, I have no doubt, which you regard as the 
worst menace to humanity is not lost to the 
world forever, for these rich men, like poor men, 
have to die in the end, and even while they live 
they commonly give back, either willingly or un- 
willingly, most of the money they thus acquire. 
In a republic, it is impossible to devote much pub- 
lic money to those large but not immediately 
profitable enterprises which advance culture and 
civilization such things, for instance, as the estab- 
lishment of libraries and museums, the erection of 
monuments, the cleansing of cities, and the sys- 
tematic study of the higher scientific (and partic- 
ularly medical) problems. This is because the 
common people, and their elected representatives, 
being entirely ignorant of human history, see 
nothing in these things but idle vanities. 

Well, here is where the predatory rich pay back 
their debt to humanity in general. They know the 
vast value of such enterprises, and their money 
goes into them. In this way the common people 
profit by the forced taxes they must pay to men of 
superior ingenuity and foresight. In this way the 
millions so feloniously acquired by Mr. Rockefeller 
paid for the Rockefeller Institute, which squared 
the account by giving the world a specific for 



80 Men vs. the Man 

cerebro-spinal meningitis. It seems to me that, 
before this old planet vanishes into empty air, the 
value of that one specific, to the human race, will 
be a hundred thousand times the value of all the 
securities a hundred Rockefellers could possibly 
amass in a lifetime. 

You seem to fancy that the money acquired by a 
single rich man is value lost to the race in general 
for all time. Nothing could be more erroneous. 
The millions of Mr. Carnegie are going back to 
the public even while he lives, and a hundred years 
hence, perhaps, there will not be a single rich man 
of his blood in the world. When George Wash- 
ington died he was the richest man in the New 
World, and yet to-day the head of the Washington 
clan is a small-fry druggist in a one-horse country 
town. The whole clan, indeed, has been so quickly 
absorbed into the commonalty that few Americans 
have ever even heard of this man. 

Such is the law of evolution, which works back- 
ward as well as forward, for in order that one may 
gain, another must lose. Say what you will 
against it, you must at least admit that it has 
worked for human progress. And say what you 
will against it, you can never hope to set it aside. 

Wherefore, my dear La Monte, I must again 
decline your courteous invitation to call you 
comrade. 

Sincerely, 

MENCKEN. 



LA MONTE'S THIRD LETTER 

MY DEAR MENCKEN: 

I was very glad to receive your entertaining let- 
ter, and hasten to congratulate you on your com- 
plete freedom from that weakness of small minds 
consistency. But I regret to see that you are 
growing old before your time. When Tennyson 
was your age he 

dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, 
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonders 
that would be; 

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies 

of magic sails; 
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down 

with costly bales; 

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there 

rain'd a ghastly dew 
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the 

central blue; 

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south- 
wind rushing warm; 

With the standards of the peoples plunging 
through the thunder storm; 
81 



82 Men vs. the Man 

Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the 

battle-flags were furl'd 
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of 

the world. 

There the common sense of most shall hold a 

fretful realm in awe, 
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in 

universal law. 

There you have the sublime optimism that is the 
glory of the youthful mind. It was not until 
forty-four years later in his extreme old age that 
Tennyson allowed himself to be frightened by the 
Malthusian bogey of over-population which so per- 
turbs your soul, and even then he himself half sus- 
pected that the change of view was due to his fast- 
coming dotage, " for," he tells us, 

doubtless I am old, and think gray 

thoughts, for I am gray; 
After all the stormy changes shall we find a 
changeless May? 

After madness, after massacre, Jacobinism and 

Jacquerie, 
Some diviner force to guide us thro' the days I 

shall not see? 

When the schemes and all the systems, king- 
doms and republics fall, 

Something kindlier, higher, holier all for each 
and each for all? 



Men vs. the Man 83 

All the full-brain, half-brain races, led by Jus- 
tice, Love, and Truth; 

All the millions one at length with all the 
visions of my youth? 

All diseases quench'd by Science, no man halt, 

or deaf, or blind, 
Stronger ever born of weaker, lustier body, 

larger mind? 

Earth at last a warless world, a single race, a 

single tongue 
I have seen her far away for is not Earth as 

yet so young? 

Every tiger madness muzzled, every serpent 

passion kill'd, 
Every grim ravine a garden, every blazing desert 

till'd, 

Robed in universal harvest up to either pole 

she smiles, 
Universal ocean softly washing all her warless 

isles. 

Warless? when her tens are thousands, and 

her thousands millions, then 
All her harvest all too narrow who can fancy 

warless men? 

Warless? war will die out late then. Will it 

ever? late or soon? 
Can it, till this outworn earth be dead as yon 

dead earth, the moon? 



84 Men vs. the Man 

But, in spite of your nightmare of over-pop- 
ulation, and your fear that we Socialists in our 
blindness will " reduce the death-rate among what 
are now the lowest orders toward that of what is 
now the highest, and that this reduction will quickly 
swell the population of the world," you lavish the 
most extravagant eulogy upon the scientists and 
their capitalist patrons for discoveries that make 
possible just this very reduction of the death-rate 
at which you stand aghast ! " The work that 
Pasteur did in the world," you tell us, " put the 
clock of time ahead a hundred years, and conferred 
a permanent and constantly cumulative benefit upon 
the whole human race, freeman and slave alike, 
now and forevermore." Your conscience evidently 
troubled you over the mildness of this praise, for 
in your second letter you went it one better by 
telling us that the Rockefeller Institute had squared 
Mr. Rockefeller's account with mankind " by giv- 
ing the world a specific for cerebro-spinal menin- 
gitis. It seems to me," you add, " that, before 
this old planet vanishes into empty air, the value 
of that one specific, to the human race, will be a 
hundred thousand times the value of all the securi- 
ties a hundred Rockefellers could possibly amass 
in a lifetime." 

Were yours a smaller nature and therefore 
more cursed with consistency I would expect to 
find you using your influence with that Senor Diaz, 
who, you tell us, is one day to be our Dictator, to 



Men vs. the Man 85 

induce him to punish with death any doctor who 
should give to the rabble the benefit of any of these 
discoveries. But, knowing you as I do, I know 
that in spite of all your invective hurled at the mob 
you would be the first to put your hand into your 
pocket to help a poor printer threatened with 
rabies to get to the nearest Pasteur Institute. 

Speaking of Pasteur reminds me of your fear 
that after two generations of Socialism there will 
be no more Pasteurs. How many boys who might 
develop into Pasteurs ever get the chance to? By 
good luck the wealthy Cimabue chanced to come 
along and look over the shoulder of the poor little 
shepherd lad, Giotto, and see the picture of a 
sheep the lad had drawn on a stone. Cimabue 
took Giotto to Florence, and Giotto's paintings 
still delight the race. How many Giottos, do you 
suppose, have drawn pictures equally good that no 
Cimabue chanced to see ? I still fail to understand 
what you meant by your startling assertion that 
Pasteurs would fail us. It must be that you think 
a bitter struggle for bare existence necessary to the 
development of talent or genius, or that you think 
the necessary productive work that will be de- 
manded of every one in the future will prevent 
the devotion of the necessary time to science. 

In regard to the first point, Lester F. Ward, 
who is the only sociologist America has produced 
(except the late Lewis H. Morgan) whom Con- 
tinental scholars quote with respect, in his " Ap- 



86 Men vs. the Man 

plied Sociology " tells us that " about eleven times 
as many talented persons belong to the wealthy or 
well-to-do classes as to the poor or laboring classes, 
although the latter are about five times as numer- 
ous as the former. The chances of success for the 
same degree of talent are fifty-five for the former 
class to one for the latter. The extremes, of 
course, are very much greater, and for absolute 
poverty or uninterrupted labor at long hours the 
chance of success is necessarily zero, no matter how 
great may be the native talent or even genius. In- 
digence is an effective bar to achievement. On the 
other hand, the resources of society may be enor- 
mously increased by abolishing poverty, by reduc- 
ing the hours of labor, and by making all its mem- 
bers comfortable and secure in their economic rela- 
tions. Any sacrifice that society might make in 
securing these ends would be many times repaid by 
the actual contributions that the few really talented 
among the hundreds of thousands thus benefited 
would make to the social welfare. For talent is 
distributed all through this great mass in the same 
proportions as it exists in the much smaller well- 
to-do or wealthy class, and the only reason why 
the latter contribute more is because their economic 
condition affords them opportunity." (Page 
228.) * 

*This calculation of Lester Ward's is based on data taken 
from Professor A. Odin's monumental work, " Gentsc des 
Grands Hommes" Paris, 1895. See especially Vol. I. page 
529- 



Men vs. the Man 87 

As examples of talented persons who did not 
have to struggle for an existence, he names Tasso, 
Petrarch, Boccaccio, Cervantes, Dante, Chaucer, 
Hegel, Fichte, Kant, Buckle, Bacon, Milton, 
Hobbes, Galileo, Adam Smith, Harvey, Darwin, 
Newton, Descartes, Byron, Shelley, Macaulay, 
Comte, Herbert Spencer, Gibbon, Disraeli, Rob- 
ert Browning, John Ruskin, Victor Hugo, and 
many others." * 

In regard to the second point, an hour or two 
of productive labor will keep our savants in the 
pink of physical condition for their intellectual 
labors, and their experiences of real, practical life 
will make their studies far more fruitful for hu- 
manity. 

Is your bogey of over-population any more sub- 
stantial than a phantom? I will not say posi- 
tively that it is not; but I do say confidently that 
that bridge is so far ahead that we need not be 
preparing to cross it now. What reason have I 
for saying that this is an extremely remote danger? 
Compare the number of offspring a single pair of 
codfish are responsible for in a year with the 
number a single pair of rabbits bestow upon the 
earth in a like time; and then compare the rabbit 
from this point of view with the higher apes or the 
elephants or man. What do you find? Is it not 

1 Ward takes this list from " Genius, Fame, and the Com- 
parison of Races," by Charles H. Cooley. Annals of the Am. 
Acad. Pol and Soc. Science, Philadelphia. Vol. IX. May, 
1897, PP. 317-358. 



88 Men vs. the Man 

that the higher the type, the lower the rate of 
increase? Again compare different races and 
classes of men. Do you not find that highly civ- 
ilized countries such as France have extremely low 
birth-rates? If you will go to the Antipodes, 
where the average standard of comfort is the high- 
est in the world, you will find a birth-rate almost 
as low as that of France. I well remember that 
Mr. Kelley, the able editor of the New Zealand 
Times, was as much of an alarmist on this sub- 
ject as our own Roosevelt, and seldom let a day 
go by without an editorial warning on the subject, 
but his warnings were in vain, for the people were 
far too comfortable to breed as prolificly as Irish 
and Hungarian peasants. The historical fact, my 
dear Mencken, is that comfort and education de- 
crease the birth-rate. Socialism will give comfort 
and education to all. Surely, you can draw the 
conclusion for yourself. 

Chemistry and intensive agriculture promise to 
enable us to defy Malthus by an almost unlimited 
multiplication of the food supply. And Mr. Gif- 
ford Pinchot, in a speech recently reported in the 
Sun, told of an amount of preventable waste 
now going on so vast, that if we should stop 
it, it is difficult to say how enormous would 
be our increased capacity for sustaining popu- 
lation. 

I have so many things that I want to say to you, 
that I grudge every bit of space and time given to 



Men vs. the Man 89 

commenting on your arguments. But I must note 
in passing your assumption that because many 
Austrian workingmen now are drunken, lazy, and 
inefficient, therefore Professor Hertzka's hypo- 
thetical 5,000,000 in the future would suffer from 
the same vices. Do you really think they would? 
What hope for the future has the average Austrian 
workingman now? What inducement has he to 
be anything but lazy and drunken? What gives 
me my firm and unshakeable faith in his high po- 
tentialities as an efficient worker in the future, is 
the very fact that he has sense and manhood enough 
to be discontented with the conditions under which 
he works now, and his laziness, inefficiency, and 
drunkenness are the very best possible proofs of 
that discontent, so pregnant with hope for hu- 
manity. 

Your statement that I despise Friedrich 
Nietzsche can scarcely be called ingenuous, and it 
pains me because I am sure you cannot be ig- 
norant that in the International Socialist Review 
for July, 1908, I, writing as a Socialist to Social- 
ists, said: 

11 I do not see how any of us can help feeling 
that Nietzsche, the magnificently assured prophet 
of BEYOND-MAN, is our Comrade, though we 
cannot but grieve that his ideal included a vast 
mass of suffering and exploited humanity, a * herd ' 
or ' rabble ' over which his beyond-men were to 
reign in glory and dionysian joy." 



9O Men vs. the Man 

I submit that this is scarcely the language of 
contempt. 

You say that we Socialists " propose to wipe out 
competition," and later on in the same letter you 
admit that Mr. Hill has so effectually wiped out 
competition in the railway business, that " he will 
be able to keep his immense power until he dies." 
How are we Socialists to destroy that which Cap- 
italism has already destroyed? 

I cannot allow to pass unchallenged your state- 
ment that we Socialists " still advocate the primary 
rule of Christian ethics, which is the command that 
every man shall love his neighbor as himself." On 
the contrary we know only too well that the only 
practical ethics in a society based on the produc- 
tion of goods for profit are the tooth, fang, and 
claw ethics of the jungle. You have but strength- 
ened the Socialist argument by showing that even 
Christ himself could not practise the Golden Rule. 
We know that ethics are relative and changing, 
that every stage of economic development has its 
own code of ethics, and we are revolutionists be- 
cause we believe the Social Revolution will lay the 
economic foundation on which all men will practise 
the Golden Rule as naturally and with as little 
thought of duty as they now breathe. 

I am sorry that I should once more have to re- 
peat that I have never made any moral argument 
against the existence of surplus-value per se. I 
did not represent the " Steel Corporation as a 



Men vs. the Man 91 

mysterious, gigantic ogre which sucks the blood of 
the people, and does no public service whatever." 
But I did prove right up to the hilt from their own 
figures that after every bit of what you and Mai- 
lock would call " ability " had been paid for at 
the highest market rates, the profits from owner- 
ship alone were far in excess of the wages for both 
muscle and " ability," and that this excess of pro- 
duction over purchasing power as represented by 
wages made a Social Revolution inevitable. 

But now that you have suggested it I am entirely 
willing to admit that drawing profit from owner- 
ship without service rendered may be called, with 
perfect propriety, " sucking the blood of the 
people." 

I can scarcely restrain a smile when you tell me 
that all is well with the Steel Trust employees be- 
cause they are given the opportunity to become 
minority stock-holders in the Trust. Ask those 
who were minority stock-holders in the Erie Rail- 
road when Jay Gould got control of it what this 
privilege is worth? Or, if that is ancient history, 
ask those who were minority stock-holders in the 
Chicago and Alton when it was captured by Harri- 
man. If one fact stands out above another in 
modern financial history it is that stock companies 
are the most efficient means ever devised to trans- 
fer the savings of the middle and working classes 
to the pockets of the lords of finance. 

When you say that rich men in the long run pay 



92 Men vs. the Man 

back to the community all the wealth they have 
drawn from it, you do not bear in mind that the 
great bulk of real wealth has to be reproduced 
every year. It cannot be paid back " in the long 
run." Its physical nature forbids it. Moreover, 
intelligent workingmen (which is merely another 
way of saying Socialists or Revolutionists) do not 
ask or expect rich men to give or pay them back 
anything, but they are irrevocably determined to 
prevent rich men or any men in the future from 
taking from them the lion's share of the wealth 
that their labor produces and reproduces every 
year. 

What vast wealth in practice consists of are 
certain legal papers that give their holders the 
power to compel other men to work for them ; and 
in the case of fortunes such as those of the Astors 
and the Vanderbilts and the great landlords of 
England this power is handed down from genera- 
tion to generation, so that no sane man looks for- 
ward to the day when the head of the Rockefeller 
clan shall be nothing more than " a small-fry drug- 
gist in a one-horse country town " unless per- 
chance that is the occupation he happens to prefer 
in the Co-operative Commonwealth, and in that 
case I think I am safe in promising you that no 
Socialist shall say him, Nay. 

I hope you will pardon me for saying that I 
have thus far written nothing in this letter that 
need have been written had you read my former 



Men vs. the Man 93 

letters more carefully. And now I would gladly 
enter more fruitful fields, but, alas, I cannot yet 
do so, for I have not yet touched upon your 
gracious intimation that you would refuse to give 
over your scant leisure to this correspondence if 
you were convinced that I actually believed that 
" under Socialism " (by the way, Socialism is not 
an umbrella or an awning) " men will look upon 
work as a pleasure," and that " the present effort to 
shirk will disappear." 

Much as I should regret to see this correspond- 
ence cut short (and I would regret it most deeply), 
I am compelled to assure you that I do most 
sanguinely expect work to become a pleasure, nay, 
I hold that all work that has been worth the doing 
has always given pleasure to the worker, and I 
do expect that the worker in the days when " all 
shall be better than well " will fear the imputation 
of shirking even more than most women do to-day 
the imputation of unchastity. But, in spite of my 
firm faith that work of the right kind should give 
a normal being pleasure, I am wholly willing to 
concede with William Morris that " whatever 
pleasure there is in some work, there is certainly 
some pain in all work, the beast-like pain of stirring 
up our slumbering energies to action, the beast-like 
dread of change when things are pretty well with 
us." And here I am going to depart from my 
regular custom and ask you to do a little reading 
for yourself. I am sure you will get a far better 



94 Men vs. the Man 

comprehension of the Socialist point of view on 
this subject of work from reading William Mor- 
ris's Lecture on " Useful Work versus Useless 
Toil " than it is possible for me to give you in the 
limits of a letter. You will find this lecture in the 
volume entitled " Signs of Change," published by 
Longmans, Green & Company. 

William Morris discriminates between "two 
kinds of work one good, the other bad, one not 
far removed from a blessing, a lightening of life; 
the other a mere curse, a burden to life. 

"What is the difference between them, then? 
This: one has hope in it, the other has not. It is 
manly to do one kind of work, and manly also to 
refuse to do the other. 

" What is the nature of the hope which, when it 
is present in work, makes it worth doing? 

" It is threefold, I think hope of rest, hope of 
product, hope of pleasure in the work itself; and 
hope of these also in some abundance and of good 
quality; rest enough and good enough to be worth 
having; product worth having by one who is neither 
a fool nor an ascetic; pleasure enough for all for 
us to be conscious of it while we are at work; not a 
mere habit, the loss of which we shall feel as a 
fidgety man feels the loss of the bit of string he 
fidgets with." 

William Morris anticipated that the idea of 
pleasure in work would come as a shock to men 
like yourself, for he added: 



Men vs. the Man 95 

" The hope of pleasure in the work itself, how 
strange that hope must seem to some of my read- 
ers to most of them. Yet I think that to all liv- 
ing things there is a pleasure in the exercise of 
their energies, and that even beasts rejoice in be- 
ing lithe and swift and strong. But a man at 
work, making something which he feels will exist 
because he is working at it and wills it, is exer- 
cising the energies of his mind and soul as well as 
of his body. Memory and imagination help him 
as he works. Not only his own thoughts, but 
the thoughts of the men of past ages guide his 
hands; and, as a part of the human race, he 
creates. If we work thus we shall be men, and 
our days will be happy and eventful." 

I rejoice with you in the conquests of Science 
over Nature, but I hold with Morris that " Nature 
will not be finally conquered till our work becomes 
a part of the pleasure of our lives." And I hold 
with Morris that " if there be any work which can- 
not be made other than repulsive, either by the 
shortness of its duration or the intermittency of its 
recurrence, or by the sense of special and peculiar 
usefulness (and therefore honor) in the mind of 
the man who performs it freely, if there be any 
work which cannot be but a torment to the 
worker," it were better to " leave it undone." 
1 The produce of such work cannot be worth the 
price of it." 

But you go on to say that I " must be well 



96 Men vs. the Man 

aware that the traits and weaknesses which make 
the workman of to-day an unwilling and inefficient 
laborer are ingrained characteristics of all low- 
caste men." I am aware of nothing of the kind; 
what I am aware of is that all men in a state of 
nature have an almost ineradicable hatred of toil 
without hope, and that in what you would call 
high-caste men this hatred is never wholly rooted 
out, but that in what you would call low-caste men 
centuries and centuries of discipline have made even 
hopeless toil a habit, the loss of which they " feel 
as a fidgety man feels the loss of the bit of string 
he fidgets with." 

It is precisely among the working class (whom 
you describe as " low-caste men") that work for 
work's sake has become a true nervous disease, 
and the great task before us is to cure the prole- 
tariat of its diseased and depraved appetite for 
work. 

The free citizens of Greece and Rome in the 
days of their glory had a most healthy hatred for 
work. " I could not affirm," says Herodotus, 
" whether the Greeks derived from the Egyptians 
the contempt which they have for work, because 
I find the same contempt established among the 
Thracians, the Scythians, the Persians, the 
Lydians; in a word, because among most bar- 
barians, those who learn mechanical arts and even 
their children are regarded as the meanest of 
their citizens. All the Greeks have been nur- 



Men vs. the Man 97 

tured in this principle, particularly the Lace- 
daemonians." 

" Nature," said Plato in his noble * Republic ' 
(Book V), "has made no shoemaker nor smith. 
Such occupations degrade the people who exercise 
them. Vile mercenaries, nameless wretches, who 
are by their very condition excluded from political 
rights. As for the merchants accustomed to lying 
and deceiving, they will be allowed in the city only 
as a necessary evil. The citizen who shall have 
degraded himself by the commerce of the shop 
shall be prosecuted for this offense. If he is con- 
victed, he shall be condemned to a year in prison; 
the punishment shall be doubled for each repeated 
offense." 

In his " Economics " Xenophon writes, " The 
people who give themselves up to manual labor 
are never promoted to public offices, and with good 
reason. The greater part of them, condemned to 
be seated the whole day long, some even to endure 
the heat of the fire continually, cannot fail to be 
changed in body, and it is almost inevitable that 
the mind be affected." 

* What honorable thing can come out of a 
shop? " asks Cicero. " What can commerce pro- 
duce in the way of honor ? Everything called shop 
is unworthy an honorable man. Merchants can 
gain no profit without lying, and what is more 
shameful than falsehood? Again, we must regard 
as something base and vile the trade of those who 



98 Men vs. the Man 

sell their toil and industry, for whoever gives his 
labor for money sells himself and puts himself in 
the rank of slaves." 

There is no use in multiplying these quotations, 
which Paul Lafargue has collected from the 
classics, to show you that just those traits which 
you regard as the special attributes of low-caste 
men were in fact the characteristic traits of high- 
caste men in ancient Greece and Rome, just as they 
are in Europe and America to-day. 

But I deny the validity of " high-caste " and 
" low-caste " as divisions of humanity. I recog- 
nize not high-caste men and low-caste men, but 
men who have had a chance to live human lives, 
and men who have been condemned to live the 
lives of beasts. If the term " low-caste n 
can properly be applied to any human beings it is 
surely to those pitiable members of the upper 
classes who have been so cut off from all contact 
with the masses of humanity that in their breasts 
the broad human sympathies, the sense of human 
fellowship and solidarity, of racial oneness, have 
atrophied and died out until in their relations 
with all mankind outside their narrow social cir- 
cles they are able to obey the great command of 
your master, Nietzsche, u Be Hard!" 

I have no doubt that you would classify the pri- 
vate soldiers in the Italian Army as " low-caste 
men." Let us judge them by their actions. Right 
after the Messina Earthquake the New York Sun 



Men vs. the Man 99 

sent its London correspondent to the scene, and his 
letter (the best piece of newspaper work I have 
ever seen) appeared in the issue of January 17, 
1909. 

" I stopped for half an hour on Monday after- 
noon," he writes, " to watch the dramatic climax 
of a rescue operation which had been going on for 
forty-eight hours. It was in the ruins piled forty 
feet high adjoining the principal theater in Gari- 
baldi street. On Saturday morning a faint re- 
sponse was heard deep down in the debris to the 
constant cry of the rescue parties, ' Is any one 
there?' The original building had been a very 
solid one of six stories of stone and mortar. Its 
destruction had been as complete as if a rock the 
size of a house had been dropped upon it from 
the sky and then rolled away. It seemed impos- 
sible that anything could remain alive beneath that 
apparently solid mass of pulverized walls, blocks 
of granite, and a few splinters of wood. 

" But the cry was human and fifty men set to 
work. They dug valiantly for hours above where 
the voice came. They seemed to get no nearer 
and night came. Searchlights were brought and 
the work went on. On Sunday morning the loca- 
tion of the sufferer was fixed more definitely. They 
could talk with him, and he told them he was not 
much hurt, there were a few inches of space 
about his head, and his hands were free. He 
pleaded not so much for release as for drink and 



ioo Men vs. the Man 

food. The dust was suffocating and he feared he 
would choke if they came closer. The soldiers 
forced a pipe down through the debris and the im- 
prisoned man succeeded in reaching the end of it. 
Beef tea and brandy were poured down in suc- 
cession. 

" The gratitude that came in response was as 
heartfelt as if the poor fellow was already in the 
free light and air instead of crushed down beneath 
twenty feet of ruins. That additional twenty feet 
amid material impossible to excavate by ordinary 
methods required another thirty hours to conquer. 
The impalpable powder which filled every crevice 
of the more solid material slipped back almost as 
fast as it was taken out. Besides, it was necessary 
to proceed with the utmost caution for the victim's 
sake. It was just as the rescuers had come in 
sight of the poor fellow that I happened to climb 
over that section of debris. A few moments ap- 
parently would effect his release, and a stretcher 
was hastily brought to the entrance of a little tun- 
nel which had been driven through the side of the 
excavation. And then, when safety was in sight, 
the treacherous sides of the great hole began to 
slip, and in a few seconds the man was buried anew. 
There was a cry of horror on all sides. A dozen 
soldiers buried their faces in their hands and wept. 
The downpour of powdered lime and stones 
stopped for a moment. Suddenly the officer in 
charge cried: 



Men vs. the Man 101 

" ' Who will go in with this rope and fasten it 
beneath his arms underneath the dirt? It may 
mean death, for if the dust comes down again it 
will mean suffocation for whoever goes? ' 

" ' Let me go ! Let me go ! I don't mind 
what happens to me ! ' were the cries from almost 
every man in the detachment. 

" A noose was quickly made in a stout rope 
and a lithe young private went quickly into the 
bottom of that suffocating funnel. He dug away 
with his hands around the head of the victim. He 
found, fortunately, that a small arch had protected 
him from the worst of the last dust slide. In a 
few moments the rope was fixed and a dozen men 
dragged the poor creatures into freedom." 

If those soldiers were " low-caste " men, then 
so were Jesus Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi. 

It is but too obvious, my dear Mencken, that 
you cherish what Dr. Lester F. Ward calls u the 
great sullen stubborn error, so universal and in- 
grained as to constitute a world view, that the dif- 
ference between the upper and lower classes of 
society is due to a difference in their intellectual 
capacity, something existing in the nature of things, 
something preordained and inherently inevitable." 
("Applied Sociology," page 96.) 

On page 100 of the same work he tells us: 

" The essential fact, however, is that there is 
no valid reason why not only the other partially 
emerged eight-tenths but the completely submerged 



102 Men vs. the Man 

tenth should not completely emerge. They are all 
equally capable of it. This does not at all imply 
that all men are equal intellectually. It only in- 
sists that intellectual inequality is common to all 
classes, and is as great among the members of the 
completely emerged tenth as it is between that 
class and the completely submerged tenth. Or, 
to state it more clearly, if the individuals who con- 
stitute the intelligent class at any time or place had 
been surrounded from their birth by exactly the 
same conditions that have surrounded the lowest 
stratum of society, they would inevitably have 
found themselves in that stratum; and if an equal 
number taken at random of the lowest stratum of 
society had been surrounded from their birth by 
exactly the same conditions by which the intelligent 
class has been surrounded, they would in fact have 
constituted the intelligent class instead of the par- 
ticular individuals who happen actually to consti- 
tute it. In other words, class distinctions in soci- 
ety are wholly artificial, depend entirely on environ- 
ing conditions, and are in no sense due to differ- 
ences in native capacity. Differences in native 
capacity exist, and are as great as they have ever 
been pictured, but they exist in all classes alike." 

" The proposition that the lower classes of soci- 
ety are the intellectual equals of the upper classes," 
he says in another place, " will probably shock 
most minds. At least it will be almost unanimously 
rejected as false. Yet I do not hesitate to main- 



Men vs. the Man 103 

tain and defend it as an abstract proposition." 
(Page 95.) 

Ferdinand Lassalle long ago pointed out that 
the upper classes in order to defend their class 
privileges were obliged to oppose human progress. 
It is true that, here and there, there shines out like 
a beacon-light on the tragic pages of human his- 
tory the name of a truly noble noble who rose above 
his petty class interests and gave his life and talents 
freely to humanity; but it is but too true that the 
majority of the upper classes in all times have been 
led, consciously sometimes, but far more often un- 
consciously, by their class interests to oppose the 
forward march of humanity. Fortunately for 
those whom you describe as " low-caste men " they 
are free from this demoralizing influence, for, to 
quote Lassalle, " the working class is the last and 
outside of all, the disinterested class of the com- 
munity, which sets up and can set up no further ex- 
clusive condition, either legal or actual, neither no- 
bility nor landed possessions nor the possession of 
capital, which it could make into a new privilege 
and force upon the arrangements of society. 

" We are all workingmen in so far as we have 
even the will to make ourselves useful in any way 
to the community. 

" This working class in whose heart therefore 
no germ of a new privilege is contained, is for this 
very reason synonymous with the whole human 
race. Its interest is in truth the interest of the 



IO4 Men vs. the Man 

whole of humanity, its freedom is the freedom of 
humanity itself, and its domination is the domina- 
tion of all. 

" Whoever therefore invokes the idea of the 
working class as the ruling principle of society, in 
the sense in which I have explained it to you, does 
not put forth a cry that divides and separates the 
classes of society. On the contrary, he utters a 
cry of reconciliation, a cry which embraces the 
whole of the community, a cry for doing away with 
all the contradictions in every circle of society, a 
cry of union in which all should join who do not 
wish for privileges, and the oppression of the peo- 
ple by privileged classes; a cry of love which, 
having once gone up from the heart of the people, 
will forever remain the true cry of the people, and 
whose meaning will make it still a cry of love, even 
when it sounds the war cry of the people." 

Weismann pointed out the biological reasons for 
the sociological facts stated by Lester F. Ward 
in the passages I have quoted when he tried to show 
that acquired characteristics were not inherited, 
but Weismann's theories have always been dis- 
puted, though unquestionably the majority of mod- 
ern scientists have inclined to agree with him. 
But it was left for Gregor Mendel to establish by 
proof almost as clear as a demonstration in Euclid 
that the characteristics, talents, aptitudes, and 
graces acquired by education and environment can- 
not be transmitted by heredity. But, as Mendel 



Men vs. the Man 105 

was both an Austrian and a Christian monk, I shall 
expect you to give but scant attention to the re- 
markable results of his biological studies. At any 
rate I shall not prolong this letter to tell you more 
about him here. 

In my next letter I may tell you more about 
him, and I shall certainly admit your charge that 
Socialists are prone to accept evidence and theories 
that tend to help their side of the argument, and I 
shall show you that this peculiarity is not confined 
to Socialists, and I shall draw some interesting de- 
ductions from these facts. 

In closing permit me to commend to your prayer- 
ful consideration the following excerpt from the 
editorial columns of the esteemed Boston Tran- 
script: 

11 Whatever the outcome of the Socialist move- 
ment in this country, ill-considered opinions on the 
subject are likely to be less frequent in the future 
than they have been. President Roosevelt, ac- 
cording to an apparently well authenticated story, 
recently wrote a paper on Socialism, severely ar- 
raigning what he supposed to be its fundamental 
propositions. His article was submitted for 
criticism to two sociologists, neither of them pro- 
fessed Socialists, as it happened, but both con- 
versant with the literature of the subject. So ad- 
verse was their judgment regarding the Presidential 
effort that Mr. Roosevelt tore it up, against the 
time when he could more thoroughly investigate 



io6 Men vs. the Man 

the actual status of present-day Socialist doc- 
trine." 

While I know that you greatly admire Mr. 
Roosevelt for his insistent and incessant preaching 
of the Nietzschean doctrine of the strenuous life, 
I sincerely trust that in this instance you will not 
permit yourself to be tempted to follow his il- 
lustrious example. 

Ever, 

LA MONTE. 



MENCKEN'S REPLY TO LA MONTE'S 
THIRD LETTER 

MY DEAR LA MONTE : 

Your letter, like the book of Leviticus, deals 
with a multitude of subjects, and I cannot hope to 
make a comprehensive reply to all the propositions 
it lays down. In this emergency I shall have to 
adopt the method known to professors of wrestling 
as catch-as-catch-can. That is to say, I shall be- 
gin at the beginning and proceed, as gracefully as 
possible, to the end; maintaining, all the while, a 
careful look-out, and dealing, from time to time, 
deft wallops at such of your arguments, theories, 
and ideas as may appear to stand in greatest need 
of chastisement and controversion. 

At the very start you accuse me of a violent, 
and even vile, inconsistency, and by all the rules of 
evidence, in such cases made and provided, you 
also convict me. But I shall show you, I believe 
(and if you have ever sat in a court of justice and 
listened to its endless comedy, you will scarcely 
need this proof) , that the rules of evidence have 
nothing whatever to do with the laws of logic and 
common sense. 

Specifically, you make allegation that I have 
107 



io8 Men vs. the Man 

been blowing both hot and cold. In one place, 
you point out, I maintain that a sudden and rapid 
increase of population, among the lower orders, 
would be a menace to human progress ; and in some 
other place I pay eloquent tribute to Pasteur and 
his ilk, whose delving into culture-tubes has re- 
duced the death-rate of all orders, high and low. 
On the face of the thing, I seem to argue here, (a) 
that it is well to let the ape-men die; and (b) that 
we should encourage pathologists to save them. 
But this seeming, my dear La Monte, is only 
seeming. 

Your error lies in your neglect of the vast dif- 
ference between an increase in population in which 
the lowest caste makes the greatest strides, and an 
increase in population in which, if there is any rela- 
tive advantage at all, the highest caste enjoys it. 
It is an increase of the first sort that would appear 
if all the wealth in the world to-day were dis- 
tributed among the loafers and incompetents. But 
it is an increase of the second sort that appears 
when the doctors happen upon some new antitoxin, 
vaccine, rule of clean living or health resort. 

It must be plain to you, I am sure, that the 
epoch-making medical discoveries of the last half- 
century have benefited the lowest caste far less 
than they have benefited the highest caste. If you 
have never given the matter thought, just consider, 
for a moment, the case of tuberculosis. Fifty 
years ago the mortality in this wide-spread disease, 



Men vs. the Man 109 

among all who developed the secondary symptoms, 
high and low, rich and poor alike, was probably 
not far from sixty per cent. To-day, among in- 
telligent persons of the higher castes, the mortality 
is not much above twenty per cent.; but among 
the lowest caste of negroes and foreigners it is still 
well over fifty per cent. 

And why ? The ready answer is that the treat- 
ment of tuberculosis is a tedious and exceedingly 
expensive business, and that those patients who are 
poor and friendless must perforce die. This is a 
fair enough answer, so far as it goes, but it does not 
go very far. In place of it I wish to offer an- 
other answer, and it is this: that the majority of 
persons who succumb to preventable and curable 
diseases to-day go down to their graves, not so 
much because they are poor, as because they are 
ignorant because they are handicapped by the 
low-caste man's chronic and ineradicable suspi- 
ciousness, orthodoxy, stupidity, lack of foresight, 
and inability to learn. 

My own city of Baltimore, on account of its 
wealth of hospitals and clinics, has been called the 
medical capital of the New World. Its hospitals 
are open to all, and those who cannot pay are given 
treatment free. It is possible for a man without 
a cent in his pocket to profit by the skill of the 
greatest physicians and surgeons in America. Be- 
yond the city boundaries are free sanitoria for the 
treatment of tuberculosis and other infectious dis- 



no Men vs. the Man 

eases. Medicines and nursing are free. Those 
too ill to move are treated and nursed in their 
homes. The attentions for which visitors from 
all parts of the country pay thousands of dollars 
are free to every indigent citizen. And yet the 
death-rate of Baltimore is higher than that of any 
other city of its size in the United States. 

The Christian Scientists, of course, say that this 
is because there are so many hospitals, but the real 
reason lies in the fact that among Baltimore's 
600,000 inhabitants there are 100,000 negroes 
and 200,000 ignorant and superstitious foreigners. 
The negroes, when they grow ill, take patent medi- 
cines or send for some frowsy quack of their own 
race. When they grow worse, they summon a 
filthy black ecclesiastic and begin to pray to God. 
The result is that the death-rate among the lowest 
classes of these semi-human savages is fully sixty 
per thousand per annum. This is just about five 
times the normal death-rate among civilized white 
men. 

Is the negro or low-caste white man to blame 
for his poverty and ignorance ? No more, I think, 
than he is to blame for his filthiness and dishonesty. 
He can't help being lazy and he can't help being 
stupid, for he is a low-caste man, and he has a 
low-caste mind. That mind is unable to grasp any 
but the most elemental concepts. Tell him, as his 
pastors tell him, that if he gives five cents to the 
church he will be saved from hell, and he can un- 



Men vs. the Man in 

derstand it. But try to make him grasp the com- 
plicated chains of ratiocination whereby civilized 
man has determined that vaccination will almost 
infallibly prevent smallpox and rabies, that quinine 
will cure malaria, and that a long and complex 
treatment will arrest tuberculosis and he is as 
pitifully helpless as the average college professor 
in the presence of a problem not solved in the text- 
books. 

I think you perceive, by now, that I do not 
regard Pasteur and his fellow-explorers as saviours 
of the great masses. Their work, true enough, 
has perceptibly alleviated the sufferings of even the 
lowest castes, but its chief value, by long odds, has 
been to the higher castes. It is only, indeed, by 
reason of the despotic intimidation of these higher 
castes an intimidation, it may be said, which al- 
ways has its chief spring in notions of self-defense 
that the lower castes have been compelled, willy 
nilly, to enjoy any benefit at all. We vaccinate 
negroes, not because they want to be vaccinated or 
because we harbor a yearning to preserve their 
useless lives, but because we don't want them to 
fall ill of smallpox in our kitchens and stables, and 
so expose us to inconvenience, danger, and ex- 
pense. With few exceptions, they are piously op- 
posed to baring their arms, and regard the neces- 
sity for so doing as proof positive that they are 
down-trodden and oppressed. Let them choose 
for themselves, and they would be dying of small- 



ii2 Men vs. the Man 

pox to-day just as copiously as they are dying of 
tuberculosis. 

In their vain rebellion against the very things 
which make life bearable for them, they reveal the 
eternal philosophy of the low-caste man. He is 
forever down-trodden and oppressed. He is for- 
ever opposed to a surrender of his immemorial 
superstitions, prejudices, swinishness, and inertia. 
He is forever certain that, if only some god would 
lend him a hand and give him his just rights, he 
would be rich, happy, and care-free. And he is 
forever and utterly wrong. 

I am glad you made necessary all this explana- 
tion of my apparent inconsistency, for it gives me 
a chance to explain another matter in which you 
probably misunderstand me. The thing I refer 
to may be best indicated, perhaps, by the question, 
what factors determine the caste of a man? You 
Socialists are prone to assume that all who stand 
without your ranks subscribe to what you call the 
capitalistic or bourgeois theory of civilization, and 
I have no doubt that you regard me as one of its 
advocates. That is to say, you probably believe 
that I judge a man's importance by his material 
success in life that I look upon all poor men 
as men of low caste, ipso facto, and all million- 
aires, nobles, and governmental functionaries 
as men of high caste. But that is by no means 
true. 

As a matter of fact, the standards I should like 



Men vs. the Man 113 

to set up are far more complicated than this bour- 
geois test. They admit many a relatively poor 
man to the highest of all castes, and they place 
many a very rich man in that nadir caste which 
offers a refuge for the congenital idiot, the scrofu- 
lous, the faith-curist, and the believer in signs, 
hunches and St. Anthony of Padua. They are 
standards, as I have said, of a certain complexity, 
and if, at times, they seem to admit one and the 
same man to both a very high caste and a very low 
one, I have only to urge in their defense that human 
existence is a very complex and puzzling thing, 
and that I have no faith whatever in the socialistic 
idea that it will be possible, some day, to solve all 
of its riddles with one master-equation. 

Well, then, what virtues do I demand in the 
man who claims enrollment in the highest caste? 
Briefly, I demand that he possess, to an unusual and 
striking degree, all of those qualities, or most of 
them, which most obviously distinguish the average 
man from the average baboon. If you look into 
the matter, you will find that the chief of these 
qualities is a sort of restless impatience with things 
as they are a sort of insatiable desire to help along 
the evolutionary process. The man who possesses 
this quality is ceaselessly eager to increase and 
fortify his mastery of his environment. He has a 
vast curiosity and a vast passion for solving the 
problems it unfolds before him. His happiness 
lies in the consciousness that he has made some 



ii4 Men vs. the Man 

progress to-day in comprehending and turning to 
his uses those forces which menaced him yesterday. 
His eye is fixed, not upon heaven, but upon earth; 
not upon eternity, but upon to-morrow. He enters 
the world infinitely superior to a mere brute, and 
when he leaves it his superiority may be expressed 
(in bad algebra) by infinity plus x. By his life 
and labors, the human race, or some part of it, 
makes some measurable progress, however small, 
upward from the ape. 

You will observe that this fine frenzy for im- 
provement, for change, for progress, is entirely 
absent in even the highest of the lower animals. 
It is also absent, perhaps, in the very lowest types 
of human beings ; but here, at least, it certainly be- 
gins to appear far down the scale. The most ig- 
norant and miserable slave in central Asia is able, 
I take it, to formulate some idea of a state of 
being preferable to his own; just as the most de- 
graded American negro is equal to the concept of a 
land flowing with milk and honey. But here we 
begin to note a distinction which differentiates the 
merely sentient man from the unmistakably higher 
man. The one dreams chaotic dreams, without 
working out practicable plans for their realiza- 
tion. The other, having efficiency as well as 
imagination, makes the thing itself arise out of the 
idea of it. The one pins his faith to Christianity, 
Socialism, or some other vaporous miracle-cult. 
The other peers through microscopes, builds great 



Men vs. the Man 115 

steamships, reclaims deserts, makes laws, and over- 
turns the gods. 

And so I arrive at my definition of the first- 
caste man. He is one whose work in the world 
increases, to some measurable extent, that ever- 
widening gap which separates civilized man from 
the protozoon in the sea ooze. It is possible, you 
will note, for a man to amass billions, and yet 
lend no hand in this progress; and it is possible, 
again, for a man to live in poverty, and yet set 
the clock ahead a thousand years. It is possible, 
once more, for a man to aid progress in one way 
and aid reaction in some other way. And so, to 
sum up, it is possible for a poor man to belong to 
the highest caste of men, and for a rich man to 
belong to the lowest; and it is possible, again, 
for one and the same man to belong, at different 
times or even at the same time, to both castes. If 
you think this last idea an absurdity, let me cite 
John D. Rockefeller as an example. His vast im- 
provements in the interchange of commodities en- 
title him to a place in the front rank of those whose 
lives have made for human progress; and yet his 
belief, as a good Baptist, that total immersion in 
water is a necessary prerequisite for entry into 
heaven, places him, quite unmistakably, in the low- 
est caste of superstitious barbarians. 

Now, what I want to insist upon, in all this, is 
that the distinction I have described is the product, 
not so much of varying environment as of inborn 



n6 Men vs. the Man 

differences. I admit freely enough that, by care- 
ful breeding, supervision of environment and edu- 
cation, extending over many generations, it might 
be possible to make an appreciable improvement 
in the stock of the American negro, for example, 
but I must maintain that this enterprise would be 
a ridiculous waste of energy, for there is a high- 
caste white stock ready to hand, and it is inconceiv- 
able that the negro stock, however carefully it 
might be nurtured, could ever even remotely ap- 
proach it. The educated negro of to-day is a 
failure, not because he meets insuperable diffi- 
culties in life, but because he is a negro. His brain 
is not fitted for the higher forms of mental effort; 
his ideals, no matter how laboriously he is trained 
and sheltered, remain those of the clown. He is, 
in brief, a low-caste man, to the manner born, and 
he will remain inert and inefficient until fifty gen- 
erations of him have lived in civilization. And 
even then, the superior white race will be fifty gen- 
erations ahead of him. 

I have used the negro as an example because in 
him the inherited marks of the low-caste man are 
peculiarly conspicuous. In some of the European 
peasants who are now coming to America and 
particularly in those from Russia the same marks 
are to be seen. These peasants differ as much 
from the high-caste white man as a mustang differs 
from a Kentucky stallion, and this difference is the 
product, not of their actual environment, but of 



Men vs. the Man 117 

their forefathers' environment through innumer- 
able generations. They represent a step in the lad- 
der of evolution below that of the civilized white 
man, and no conceivable change of environment 
could lift them to the top en masse, in a lifetime. 
Individuals of extraordinary capacity occasionally 
appear among them the naturalists call such ab- 
normal individuals " sports " and pass over auto- 
matically and at once into some higher caste. But 
they can get no higher than a caste in which in- 
dividuals fully equal to them are the rule instead 
of the exception; and the generality of their race 
must forever remain below. 

Castes are not made by man, but by nature. 
They will be inevitable so long as every genus of 
living beings in the world is divided into species, 
and every species is made up of individuals whose 
resemblance to one another, however close it may 
be, never reaches identity. It is this variation 
which makes progress possible, for it gives certain 
individuals an advantage in the struggle for ex- 
istence, and these individuals tend to crowd out 
their weaker brothers, and to make their own 
heartier qualities dominant in the general racial 
strain. Among the lower animals the struggle for 
existence is frankly a matter of dog eat dog. 
Among men, it is more elusive, and the alert, curi- 
ous, intelligent man I have described has an even 
greater advantage, perhaps, than the man of mere 
physical vigor. But whether the weapons in the 



n8 Men vs. the Man 

struggle be sharp teeth or efficient brains, there 
must always be a caste of victors and a caste of 
vanquished. Any effort to suspend the struggle is 
empty vanity and I here use the word in both of 
its common meanings. 

But Professor Ward dissents. He holds that 
" class distinctions in society are wholly artificial, 
depend entirely upon environing conditions, and 
are in no sense due to differences in native capacity." 
At first sight this sentence seems to be an un- 
qualified denial of the law of natural selection a 
thesis, I fancy, that not even a Socialist would care 
to maintain but, as a matter of fact, Professor 
Ward is merely trying to argue that congenital 
differences, while actually existing, are counter- 
balanced by class privileges and vested rights. In 
other words, he believes that a man's place in the 
world is determined, not by the intelligence and 
capacity he brings into the world, but by the for- 
tuitous circumstances, opportunities, and surround- 
ings he encounters after his arrival. A man with 
the intellect of a Huxley, born to a family of 
Baptist farm laborers, may remain ignorant, super- 
stitious, and degraded until the end of his days. 
And a man but a hair's breadth removed from 
imbecility, born to a noble house, may square the 
circle or change the map of the world. 

This theory, as I have before indicated, is the 
favorite fallacy and chief solace of all degenerate 
and inefficient races of men. " If I had a million 



Men vs. the Man 119 

dollars " but you know the rest of it as well as I. 
It is one of the multitude of sophistries that meet 
the pragmatic test of truth, for it plainly makes 
life more bearable. The man who formulates it 
enjoys a comforting glow of relief, of conscious 
virtue, of martyrdom. He has found a scapegoat 
to bear the blame for his inability to rise above 
the morass in which he wallows, and that scape- 
goat he variously denominates fate, luck, civiliza- 
tion, plutocracy, privilege, the protective tariff, civil 
service reform, or the devil. 

If, as the pragmatists and supernaturalists would 
have us believe, the mere persistence and agreeable- 
ness of an idea were proofs of its truth, this 
one would be perpetually and indubitably true. 
But I cannot bring myself to accept so ingenuous a 
gnosiology. As a matter of fact, I am firmly 
convinced that the idea we are discussing tends to 
become, not true, but false, in exact ratio to its per- 
sistence and agreeableness. That is to say, in the 
case of a man to whom it occurs but occasionally 
and then only in moments of emotional weakness, 
it may be true very often. But in the case of the 
man who adopts it as his working philosophy of 
life, it is not true more than once in ten million 
times. 

The efficient man of highest caste makes it his 
rule to accept the world as he finds it, and to work 
out his own salvation with a light heart. His joy 
is in effort, in work, in progress. A difficulty over- 



Men vs. the Man 

come, a riddle solved, an enemy vanquished, a fact 
proved, an error destroyed in such things he 
finds the meaning of life and surcease from its 
sorrows. But the inefficient man, unable by his 
own hand and brain to cope with the conditions 
which beset and menace him, seeks refuge, soon or 
late, in the notion that the world is out of joint. 
Sometimes he concludes, finally, that the horrors of 
existence are irremediable, and then he is ripe for 
religion, with its promises of repayment in some 
gaseous paradise beyond the grave. At other 
times he arrives at the idea that all would be well 
if there were some abysmal reconstruction of the 
scheme of things some new deal of the cards, with 
four aces pushed his way. When this madness 
falls upon him he gropes about for a ready guide 
to the Utopia that arises nebulously in his brain. 
And thus it is that discontented, ignorant, helpless 
men subscribe to the poetical fancies of imaginative 
dreamers, and become single-taxers, Christian 
Scientists, Anarchists, or Socialists. 

The great objections to Socialism, as a philoso- 
phy, are that it encourages and aggravates the feel- 
ing of martyrdom which burns in the breasts of 
all such incompetents, and that it inflames them, at 
the same time, with the idea that their discomfort 
is due, not to the operation of natural laws, which 
benefit the world by ridding it automatically and 
harshly of the unfit, but to the deliberate and devil- 
ish cruelty of their betters. Your true Socialist is 



Men vs. the Man 121 

firmly convinced, before everything else, that his 
personal existence is of vast and undoubted value 
to the world, and that the world, if it were not a 
swindling felon, would reward him handsomely 
for remaining alive. 

Now, since the majority of all Socialists belong 
to the laboring class, and get their living by join- 
ing their muscle-power to the natural forces which 
man has harnessed because of this circumstance, 
the general idea I have set forth is transformed, 
by Socialists, into the specific doctrine that the only 
truly valuable man is the " producer." That is to 
say, the only human service which fully earns and 
deserves the reward provided by the law of sup- 
ply and demand, is that sort of service which re- 
sults in the production of some commodity neces- 
sary to the actual day-to-day existence of mankind. 
Such a service deserves, not some definite reward, 
but all the reward that those who require it may 
be bludgeoned into paying for it. Thus the 
farmer who hoes a cabbage patch, and by taking 
advantage of the hunger of his fellow-men, makes 
them pay for his cabbages, is, by the socialistic 
philosophy, a virtuous man. His fellow-men have 
less cabbages than they need and the farmer him- 
self has more than he needs. Very well, then, let 
them pay his price ! But the man who has a sur- 
plus of some other valuable thing, say shrewdness, 
capital, forethought, intelligence, or cunning, and 
demands a fair profit on the exchange from those 



122 Men vs. the Man 

who have less than they need, and desire to buy of 
him this man, by the socialistic philosophy, is a 
criminal. 

You Socialists, my dear La Monte, here over- 
look the fact that no man worthy of the name is 
content to stand still. He wants to be richer, more 
learned or more powerful to-morrow than he was 
yesterday. In other words, he looks, not only for 
a fair equivalent, but also for a profit, in all of his 
exchanges with his fellow-men. Your laboring 
brothers are demanding that profit to-day. They 
want, not only fair wages, but the whole value 
of the things they produce. Well, the same selfish 
weakness afflicts their masters, too. The latter, 
when they buy muscle-power, want enough to bal- 
ance the money they pay for it and a profit be- 
side. The laboring man has nothing to give ex- 
cept muscle-power, and so, after he has given 
enough of it to balance his pay, he must give a lit- 
tle more to make up his master's profit. As I have 
told you in the past, I think you greatly exagger- 
ate the actual percentage of profit, in all such trans- 
actions; but that there always is a profit, and a 
distinctly appreciable one, I admit very readily. 
If there were none at all, no efficient, high-caste 
man would engage in industrial enterprises; for 
no man of that sort could possibly rest content 
with standing still. 

Sincerely, 

MENCKEN. 



LA MONTE'S FOURTH LETTER 

DEAR MENCKEN : 

I must apologize for some slight delay in an- 
swering your last very interesting letter. The fact 
is that your great and good friend, Mr. Roosevelt, 
did not take the advice of his sociological friends 
and destroy his anti-socialist manuscripts, but in- 
stead unloaded them on the Outlook, with the 
result that on the very day I had set apart to 
write to you I received a hurry-up call for a reply 
to that eminent Nietzschean, our ex-President. 

And now, when I should be planting potatoes 
and peas, I must devote a few hours to your en- 
lightenment, but my little encounter with Mr. 
Roosevelt has vastly increased my respect for you. 
In your three letters thus far you have not made 
as many blunders as Mr. Roosevelt perpetrated in 
the first Outlook article alone, and you have never 
shown a tithe of the bitterness. 

After reading your letter there arose in my 
mind a picture of you which, had I the pencil of a 
Ryan Walker or a McCutcheon, I should draw 
for you. In this picture you are hotly pursued by 
hostile and malevolent Socialists, and seeing no 
escape elsewhere you have sought rescue and shel- 

"3 



124 Men vs. the Man 

ter by throwing yourself into the arms of a good 
old Baltimore colored " mammy." Really, this pic- 
ture has so captivated my imagination that I have 
not the heart at once to tear you from her pro- 
tecting arms. For the present, I shall content 
myself by warning you that even there you are not 
safe from the terrible Socialists. 

I should never have guessed from the appear- 
ance of the Baltimore darky that he (or she) was 
the Palladium of our sacred institutions. But, in 
the language of Bernard Shaw, " You never can 
tell." This important role has, by most critics of 
Socialism, been forced upon that humble and use- 
ful person, the scavenger. 

" I have seldom," says Robert Blatchford in 
" Merrie England," " heard an argument or read 
an adverse letter or speech against the claims of 
justice in social matters, but our friend the 
scavenger played a prominent part therein. Truly 
this scavenger is a most important person. Yet 
one would not suppose that the whole cosmic 
scheme revolved on him as on an axis; one would 
not imagine him to be the keystone of European 
society at least his appearance and his wages 
would not justify such an assumption. But I begin 
to believe that the fear of the scavenger is really 
the source and fountain head, the life and blood 
and breath of all conservatism. Good old 
scavenger! His ash-pan is the bulwark of cap- 
italism, and his besom the standard around which 



Men vs. the Man 125 

rally the pride and the culture and the opulence 
of British society." 

Poor old scavenger ! His occupation has gone ; 
you have given his job of " saving society " to the 
Baltimore darky. 

But we shall return to the " colored man and 
brother " later. At present I want to express my 
gratification at having at last discovered what you 
mean by your favorite phrase, " high-caste men." 
It is now obvious to me that the perfect type of 
your first-caste man is the Christian priest or 
clergyman. 

You say that his distinguishing characteristic is 
" a sort of insatiable desire to help along the evolu- 
tionary process." In other words he shows primi- 
tive animistic habits of thought by exhibiting what 
I described in " Socialism : Positive and Nega- 
tive " (page 97) as "the tendency to give a tele- 
ological interpretation to evolution, to attribute a 
meliorative trend to the cosmic process, as in Ten- 
nyson's ' through the ages one increasing purpose 



runs.' 



That this cropping out of a semi-theological 
habit of thought in your last letter is not a mere 
fortuitous phrase, but is on the contrary part and 
parcel of your habitual view of the universe, is 
shown by your statement in your first letter that 
your " creed consists, first and last, in a firm belief 
in the beneficence and permanence of the evolu- 
tionary process." 



126 Men vs. the Man 

Thorstein Veblen has this to say of the origin 
of this habit of attributing ethical purposes or ef- 
fects to " natural laws " : 

" Along with the habits of thought peculiar to 
the technology of handicraft, modern science also 
took over and assimilated much of the institutional 
preconceptions of the era of handicraft and petty 
trade. The ' natural laws,' with the formulation 
of which this early modern science is occupied, are 
the rules governing natural ' uniformities of se- 
quence/ and they punctiliously formulate the due 
procedure of any given cause creatively working 
out the achievement of a given effect, very much 
as the craft rules sagaciously specified the due 
routine for turning out a staple article of merchant- 
able goods. But these * natural laws ' of science 
are also felt to have something of that integrity 
and prescriptive moral force that belongs to the 
principles of the system of ' natural rights ' which 
the era of handicraft has contributed to the insti- 
tutional scheme of later times. The natural laws 
were not only held to be true to fact, but they were 
also felt to be right and good. They were looked 
upon as intrinsically meritorious and beneficent, 
and were held to carry a sanction of their own. 
This habit of uncritically imputing merit and 
equity to the 4 natural laws ' of science continued 
in force through much of the nineteenth century; 
very much as the habitual acceptance of the prin- 
ciples of * natural rights ' has held on by force of 



Men vs. the Man 127 

tradition long after the exigencies of experience out 
of which these ' rights ' sprang ceased to shape 
men's habits of life. This traditional attitude of 
submissive approval toward the ' natural laws ' of 
science has not yet been wholly lost, even among 
the scientists of the passing generation, many of 
whom have uncritically invested these ' laws ' with 
a prescriptive rectitude and excellence; but so far, 
at least, has this animus progressed toward disuse 
that it is now chiefly a matter for expatiation in 
the pulpit, the accredited vent for the exudation of 
effete matter from the cultural organism." * 

You, my dear Mencken, do not appear to be yet 
wholly free from anthropomorphic habits of 
thought, as it is obvious you give the clergy no in- 
considerable aid in their onerous task of exuding 
effete matter from the cultural organism. 

My own ideal man would be a man wholly de- 
voted to promoting human happiness (and mind 
I have said human happiness, not a hog's concep- 
tion of happiness), and who would be entirely pre- 
pared, in case it should be necessary to achieve his 
goal, to strive manfully to modify, avert, or de- 
feat the * natural ' results of the evolutionary 
process. The man who feels " a sort of insatiable 
desire to help along the evolutionary process " is 
still fast enmeshed in the bonds of superstition, and 

'THORSTEIN VEBLEN. "The Evolution of the Scientific 
Point of View." University of California Chronicle, Vol. X, 
pp. 4U-4I4. 



ia8 Men vs. the Man 

has merely made a fetish of " the evolutionary 
process " to erect upon the altar from which he has 
hurled the old gods. 

If the hypotheses of Mr. Percival Lowell in his 
recent brilliant book on Mars are correct, the 
u evolutionary process " there, had it not been 
modified and interfered with by intelligence, would 
by this time have almost wholly exterminated both 
vegetable and animal life on that interesting planet. 
But whether his hypotheses be right or wrong, this 
illustration will enable you to conceive that circum- 
stances may arise that will make the opposing of 
the " evolutionary process " the highest function 
of the " high-caste man." 

But, although it would be difficult to find many 
educated and intelligent men to-day outside the 
ranks of the clergy who could give in an unquali- 
fied allegiance to your creed the creed of your 
" men of the first caste " I know well enough 
that it is not your belief that the whole scheme of 
things should be shaped with a view to producing 
the maximum number of clergymen. For you, in- 
deed, increase of the priesthood is synonymous with 
retrogression. 

By " high-caste men " you really mean men of 
intelligence and energy truly emancipated men, 
and if the increase of such men is to produce the 
effects you expect, you must also impute to them 
kindly emotions. 

But will not your " high-caste man " of the 



Men vs. the Man 129 

future be terribly lonesome amid the " rabble " ? 
Without insulting the good people of Baltimore, 
may I ask if you do not at times feel impelled to 
imitate Bernard Shaw's Eugene Marchbanks in 
" Candida " and talk to yourself out loud? " That 
is what all poets do," Marchbanks said, " they 
talk to themselves out loud; and the world over- 
hears them. But it's horribly lonely not to hear 
someone else talk sometimes." 

That remark pierces the fundamental weak spot 
in your ideal and Nietzsche's; could you realize 
fully your ideal to-morrow, loneliness would turn 
your paradise for Supermen into a veritable 
hell. 

Any ideal that does not include the closest pos- 
sible approximation to economic equality suffers 
from this same vice. Without economic equality, 
you may mitigate but you cannot eradicate the hell 
of loneliness which to-day makes discontented per- 
sons of you and me and hosts of others. " A 
wholly emancipated person," says Lester F. Ward, 
" finds himself almost completely alone in the 
world. There is not one perhaps in a whole city 
in which he lives with whom he can converse five 
minutes, because the moment anyone begins to talk 
he reveals the fact that his mind is a bundle of er- 
rors, of false conceits, of superstitions, and of 
prejudices that render him utterly uninteresting. 
The great majority are running off after some pop- 
ular fad. Of course the most have already abro- 



130 Men vs. the Man 

gated their reasoning powers entirely by accepting 
some creed. The few that have begun to doubt 
their creed are looking for another. They may 
think they are progressing, but their credulity is 
as complete as ever, and they are utterly devoid 
of any knowledge by which to test the credibility 
of their beliefs." ("Applied Sociology," page 
8 1. Boston, 1906.) 

And here we come back for a minute or two to 
the " colored man and brother." As long as you 
are compelled to live in the same city with some 
thousands of negroes, whom you appear to find 
more or less uninteresting as fellow-citizens, would 
it not be wise to see if by increased opportunities 
they might not be made more interesting? If 
poverty-stricken, drunken negroes spreading ver- 
min and syphilis and other contagion throughout 
your city are, as they undoubtedly are, a perpetual 
menace to your peace and happiness, would it not 
be wise to make a brave and honest attempt to free 
the negroes from poverty and syphilis and 
drunkenness? Would not Baltimore then be a 
pleasanter city in which to dwell ? 

Unless you have the courage to go to the 
Nietzschean extreme and boldly advocate the ex- 
termination of the negro (and the Russian peas- 
ant, whom you place in the same category) you 
must join the Socialists in their efforts to enable 
the negroes to live human lives under human con- 
ditions. For the people of Baltimore this is 



Men vs. the Man 131 

merely a question of self-defense or rather self- 
preservation. 

To demand for the negro a chance to live a truly 
human life is not to assert his equality in all re- 
spects with the white race. Says Enrico Ferri, 
" Socialism says: Men are unequal, but they are all 
men. 

" And, in fact, although each individual is born 
and develops in a fashion more or less different 
from that of all other individuals, just as there 
are not in a forest two leaves identically alike, so 
in the whole world there are not two men in all re- 
spects equals, the one of the other, nevertheless 
every man, simply because he is a human being, has 
a right to the existence of a man, and not of a 
slave or a beast of burden." ("Socialism and 
Modern Science," pages 20, 21. New York, 
1904.) 

But as a matter of fact up to the present time 
negroes as a race have enjoyed so few opportuni- 
ties that it is utterly unscientific to dogmatize about 
their potentialities. It is just as unwarranted to 
deny their potential future equality as it is to 
deny their present inequality. 

Lester F. Ward, after reviewing the evidence 
for and against racial inequality, sums up the 
matter as follows : 

" It is not therefore proved that intellectual in- 
equality, which can be safely predicated of all 
classes in the white race, in the yellow race, or in 



132 Men vs. the Man 

the black race, each taken by itself, cannot also be 
predicated of all races taken together, and it is 
still more clear that there is no race and no class 
of human beings who are incapable of assimilating 
the social achievement of mankind and of profita- 
bly employing the social heritage. " ("Applied 
Sociology," page no.) 

That is all that Socialism demands for the 
negro, and the South will never be a desirable 
place of residence till that demand is granted. 

That is my honest belief, and I probably im- 
bibed in my youth as much prejudice on the negro 
question as you did, for I passed three years at a 
Southern boarding school and at the University of 
Virginia. 

In closing my last letter, I promised in this to 
admit your charge that Socialists are prone to ac- 
cept evidence and theories that tend to help their 
side of the argument, and to show you that this 
peculiarity was not confined to Socialists, and to 
draw some deductions of importance from these 
facts. 

The fact is that all beliefs that have been held 
by considerable bodies of people have been be- 
gotten by desires, and that these desires are the 
emotional expressions of economic interests. Al- 
though I would not blame you if you should be 
growing weary of my frequent quotations from 
Lester F. Ward, I cannot refrain from quoting his 
admirable exposition of this point. 



Men vs. the Man 133 

" It may be said," he writes, " that the uni- 
versal world ideas which are said to lead or rule 
the world are simply beliefs. This is very nearly 
true, and therefore we need to inquire specially into 
the nature of beliefs. The difference between be- 
lief and opinion is slight, at least in popular usage. 
Belief might be defined as fixed or settled opinion, 
but there is also embraced in it a certain disre- 
gard of the evidence upon which it rests, while in 
opinion a certain amount of evidence is implied. 
Opinions admit of comparison as regards their 
strength depending upon the evidence, and may be 
very feebly held, the ' weight ' of evidence in their 
favor being nearly balanced by that against them. 
This cannot be said of beliefs. In these the evi- 
dence is not thought of. They are absolute and 
independent of all proof. Upon what, then, do 
they rest? Here we reach the kernel of our 
problem. Beliefs rest on interest. But what is 
interest? It is feeling. World views grow out 
of feelings. They are the bulwarks of race safety. 
You cannot argue men out of them. They are the 
conditions to group as well as to individual salva- 
tion. 

" Now it is just this element of interest that 
links beliefs to desires and reconciles the ideological 
and economic interpretations of history; for 
economics, by its very definition of value, is based 
on desires and their satisfaction. Every belief 
embodies a desire, or rather a great mass of de- 



134 Men vs. the Man 

sires. In this lies the secret of its power to pro- 
duce effects. The belief or idea, considered as a 
purely intellectual phenomenon, is not a force. 
The force lies in the desire. And here we must 
be careful not to invert the terms. The belief 
does not cause the desire. The reverse is much 
nearer the truth. Desires are economic demands 
arising out of the nature of man and the condi- 
tions of existence. They are demands for satis- 
faction, and the sum total of the influences, in- 
ternal and external, acting upon a group or an in- 
dividual, leads to the conclusion, belief, or idea 
that a certain proposition is true. That proposi- 
tion, though always reducible to the indicative 
form, is essentially an imperative, and prompts 
certain actions regarded as essential to the preserva- 
tion of the individual or the group. The fact that 
the interests involved are sometimes transcendental 
interests and become increasingly so with the in- 
tellectual development of the race, does not affect 
the truth of all this. All interest is essentially 
economic, and seen in their true light religious in- 
terests are as completely economic as the so-called 
material interests. All conduct enjoined by reli- 
gion not only the most primitive but also the 
most highly developed religions aims at the satis- 
faction of desire, of which the avoidance of pun- 
ishment is only a form, for economic considera- 
tions are always both positive and negative in this 
sense. And if in the higher religions the positive 



Men vs. the Man 135 

interests come to predominate over the negative 
ones, this only renders them more typically eco- 
nomic in their character." (" Applied Sociology/' 
pages 45;46.) 

This idea that religious ideals have economic 
roots cannot be unfamiliar to such a student of 
Friedrich Nietzsche as yourself. Do you not re- 
call that wonderful passage in " A Genealogy of 
Morals " in which he tells us how " ideals are 
manufactured" on earth? He shows how the 
early converts to Christianity, being weak and 
slaves and helpless, falsified " weakness into 
desert" and " impotence which requiteth not into 
* goodness ' ; timorous meanness into ' humility,' ' 
and called " not-to-be-able-to-take-revenge " " not- 
to-will-revenge, perhaps even forgiveness." 

But while the idea that religious beliefs have 
been moulded by economic conditions is familiar 
to you, you will probably be startled when I assert 
that this is equally true of scientific beliefs. I de- 
veloped this thesis very inadequately in a paper on 
" Science and Revolution " in the Social-Demo- 
crat (London) for March 15, 1909, and after I 
had mailed the manuscript I received from Pro- 
fessor Veblen a copy of his paper on " The Evo- 
lution of the Scientific Point of View" (from 
which I have already quoted in this letter) , which 
develops the same thesis with far greater clearness 
and ability. 

In the former paper I wrote : 



136 Men vs. the Man 

I have no disposition to deny the essential truth of 
Modern Science and the great potential benefits it has 
conferred upon humanity, when I assert that the form of 
scientific theories has been largely determined by the 
economic conditions amid which they arose, and that 
this is the important point their acceptance by large 
bodies of adherents has depended upon their fitness to 
meet the desires desires produced by economic needs 
of those adherents. 

This general position was assumed by Karl Kautsky 
in his " Social Revolution," and, with more facts at 
his disposal, Arthur Morrow Lewis has elaborated it 
still further in his lecture on De Vries' " Mutation " in 
his excellent little handbook " Evolution : Social and 
Organic" (Chicago, 1908); but even since those books 
were written the development of scientific theory has 
overwhelmingly reenforced the view that science responds 
to economic stimuli. 

Space will not permit me to give here any save the 
briefest sketch of scientific theory during the last century 
and a quarter. 

When the bourgeoisie were fresh from their revolu- 
tionary conflict with feudalism the great French Revo- 
lution and were still extending their dominion, they 
were iconoclastic and revolutionary in spirit. It was 
precisely then that the cataclysmic theories of Cuvier 
in geology and biology became the generally accepted 
theories of science. Cuvier accounted for the existence 
of fossil remains of animals different from any living 
species by assuming that from time to time in the past 
great cataclysms (earthquakes and eruptions) had oc- 
curred and wiped out all living forms of life, and that 



Men vs. the Man 137 

fresh creations had filled the vacancies. This theory 
at the same time accounted for the conformation of 
the earth's surface. The same cataclysms had dug oceans 
and lakes and piled up mountains. 

Contemporary with Cuvier was Lamarck, and Lamarck 
proclaimed the true theory that animals had descended 
from ancestors unlike themselves, but there was no large 
class of people to whom this doctrine was acceptable, 
and Lamarck died disgraced, and Cuvier in the height 
of his glory was called upon to pronounce his eulogy, 
and took advantage of the opportunity to malign him. 

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the bourgeoisie 
were firmly seated in the saddle; the last vestige of 
feudalism and the restrictions of the guild system (and 
in England of protective tariffs) had been wiped out; 
the bourgeoisie had the proletariat just where they wanted 
them. In a word, they had no more use for revolutionary 
theories in their business; if changes must come, let 
them come a step at a time. Thus the conditions for 
the wide acceptance of evolutionary theories in biology 
and geology were ripe, so that in spite of the rage of the 
clergy nothing could prevent the general conquest of 
the scientific world by the natural selection of Darwin 
and Wallace, and the uniformitarian geology of Sir 
Charles Lyell. So true is this that on last Fpriday 
(February 12, 1909), the centenary of the births of 
Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, many of the 
clergy who had been called upon to deliver Lincoln ora- 
tions were unable to restrain themselves from adding a 
word of tribute to Charles Darwin. 

Darwin, like Lamarck, taught that animals had de- 
scended from ancestors unlike themselves, and that the 



138 Men vs. the Man 

changes in animals leading to new species had been 
very slow and gradual. It is true that Darwin and 
Lamarck differed as to the means by which these changes 
had been brought about, but in the particulars I have 
named they were at one. Yet Lamarck was dishonored, 
and to-day most men look upon Darwin as the greatest 
genius of the nineteenth century. Why this difference? 
Economic conditions is the only possible answer. 

Sir Charles Lyell laid great stress upon the minute 
changes in the earth's surface that are always in progress, 
and reduced the role of cataclysms to an extremely in- 
significant one and he became the recognized father 
of modern geology. Sir Charles Lyell taught us much 
and valuable truth; the small changes he noted are 
actually constantly going on, and their accumulated 
effects are tremendous, and before Lyell's day they had 
been unnoticed and neglected. But his great reputation 
raised to a sacred dogma the utterly indefensible doctrine 
that (to translate the pedantic Latin) " Nature makes 
no leaps." 

Darwin taught that natural selection seizes upon the 
minutest variation that gives the individual even the 
slightest imaginable advantage in the struggle for exist- 
ence, and that the fixing and accumulation of these in- 
finitesimal variations in time brings about the introduc- 
tion of new species. At the very time when Darwin 
was pursuing his researches, the laws of heredity were 
being experimentally worked out in a monastery garden 
in Briinn, Austria, by a monk who had previously studied 
natural science in Vienna. This monk was Gregor 
Mendel, the discoverer and formulator of the laws of 
heredity. His studies have enabled us to predict mathe- 



Men vs. the Man 139 

matically the results of almost any conceivable experiment 
in hybridization. Incidentally, his studies showed that 
slight variations in height, etc., that might be of marked 
advantage to the individual in whom they occurred, were 
no more likely to appear again in his progeny than they 
were in the progeny of less favored individuals. The 
remarkable results of Mendel's studies were published 
in the " Proceedings of the Natural History Society of 
Briinn " in 1865, just six years after the publication 
of Darwin's famous " Origin of Species." It is only fair 
to note that, so far as we know, Darwin never knew 
anything of the work of Mendel. But the important 
point for us is that there was at that time, as it were, 
no market for the discovery that the raw material for 
natural selection to work upon must consist of " leaps " 
or, in other words, of much more marked and considerable 
variations than Darwin and Wallace had worked so hard 
to prove the adequacy of. And the fact is that Mendel's 
remarkable paper was forgotten and buried, and was not 
exhumed and resurrected until the dawn of the twentieth 
century by some earnest scientific workers at the Uni- 
versity of Cambridge. 

What had happened in the meantime to bring about 
a readiness in the minds of large bodies of intelligent 
men and women to accept cataclysmic theories in the 
natural sciences? There can be but one answer the 
appearance of the ever-growing International Social De- 
mocracy. Economic conditions had created an army of 
30,000,000 or 40,000,000 earnest men and women stead- 
fastly striving for revolution, and among them were 
to be numbered the cream of the intellectuals of both 
hemispheres. Here was the " demand " for cataclysmic 



140 Men vs. the Man 

theories, and with the closing decade of the nineteenth 
century science began to furnish the " supply." This 
supply is now increasing so rapidly that the task of 
keeping abreast of the new theories is bewildering, and 
the danger appears to be that by the close of this, the 
first decade of the twentieth century, our most advanced 
scientists will be teaching that nature makes nothing 
but leaps, that all development is by cataclysms or revo- 
lutions. At all events, we are reasonably sure that the 
charge of being unscientific will not much longer be 
hurled at the revolutionists in the Socialist ranks. In the 
second decade of the twentieth century we may expect 
to see the opportunists and reformers using their utmost 
ingenuity to answer the very charge they have so often 
hurled at our heads. 

Toward the close of the nineteenth century a Dutch 
botanist, Hugo De Vries, noticed some new varieties of 
evening primroses in his garden near Amsterdam. They 
came from some self-sown plants of the common American 
Lamarckiana. " In the test condition of De Vries' own 
garden," Mr. Lewis tells us, " in an experiment covering 
thirteen years, he observed over fifty thousand of the 
Lamarckiana spread over eight generations, and of these 
eight hundred were mutations divided among seven new 
elementary species. These mutations when self-fertilized, 
or fertilized from plants like themselves, bred true to 
themselves, thus answering the test of a real species. 
De Vries also watched the field from which his original 
forms were taken, and saw that similar mutations occurred 
there, so that they were not in any way due to cultivation." 

That was the main contribution of the nineteenth 
century to cataclysmic biology. De Vries held that 



Men vs. the Man 141 

Darwin admitted the possibility of such mutations in addi- 
tion to the ordinary lesser variations or " fluctuations " 
which Wallace and most Darwinians have held to be 
the only raw material that Nature provides for natural 
selection to work upon, and in this he is probably correct, 
though it is beyond question that Darwin devoted most 
of his life to proving the adequacy of " fluctuations." 

Mr. Punnett, of Cambridge, who is the leading ex- 
ponent of Mendelism, in his book on that subject, " Men- 
delism " (Cambridge, 1907), says that where fluctuations 
appear to be inherited they are probably " in reality small 
mutations." He summarizes the case in this way: "Of 
the inheritance of mutations there is no doubt. Of the 
transmission of fluctuations there is no very strong evi- 
dence. It is therefore reasonable to regard the mutation 
as the main, if not the only, basis of evolution." 

Remember, this is the extreme swing of the pendulum. 
He really admits that natural selection preserves some 
small changes, too, but he re-christens such changes " small 
mutations." But it would be just as fair for a revolu- 
tionist to infer from this that Nature works only by 
revolutions, as it ever was for an opportunist reformer 
to infer from Darwin's teaching that Nature works only 
by evolution. As a matter of fact, in neither case is 
there any justification for transferring a law of biology 
to a totally different science, sociology. 

Space will not permit me to give more than a glimpse 
at similar changes in other sciences. Professor T. J. J. 
See, who has been in charge of the United States Astro- 
nomical Observatory at Mare Island, near San Francisco, 
has made a profound study of earthquakes, and published 
his results in the " Proceedings of the American Philosoph- 



142 Men vs. the Man 

ical Society" at Philadelphia. He has also summarized 
them in more popular form in the September (1908) 
number of the Pacific Monthly. His conclusion is that all 
mountains have been formed by earthquakes caused by 
the secular leakage of the ocean bottom. Is not that 
cataclysmic enough for you? Is it true? I do not 
know, but it appears to have the indorsement of such 
scientists as the Swedish physicist, Arrhenius, and the 
French astronomer, Camille Flammarion. At least, it 
seems beyond question that s^me mountains are formed 
in that way, so we must bid a long farewell to the old 
uniformitarian geology. 

Astronomy has shown itself equally unable to resist 
the cataclysmic tendency of the day. In Harper's Mag- 
azine for January, 1909, Professor Robert Kennedy 
Duncan, of the University of Kansas, tells us that " the 
nebular hypothesis of Laplace is no longer tenable," 
that its place has been taken by the " planetesimal hy- 
pothesis " of Professor T. C. Chamberlain, of the Univer- 
sity of Chicago. This means that astronomers now be- 
lieve that our solar system has been formed, not by the 
infinitely slow cooling down of a vast sphere of fiery 
vapor, forming one ring and then one planet after another 
during almost an infinity of time, but by a sudden ex- 
plosion in our ancestral sun which formed all our planets 
at once by a single cataclysmic stroke! To describe the 
character of their production Professor Duncan uses the 
word " catastrophic." 

. . . It is difficult to name a branch of science in 
which the cataclysmic theory is not triumphant to-day. 

Hegel's maxim that "Nothing is; everything is be- 
coming " has become the fundamental assumption of all 



Men vs. the Man 143 

science. The chemists who have investigated the radio- 
active bodies have shown us one chemical element turning 
into another in a fashion to make rejoice the heart of an 
old-time alchemist. Discussing this point, M. Lucien 
Poincare says: "We shall have to abandon the idea 
so instinctively dear to us that matter is the most stable 
thing in the universe, and to admit, on the contrary, 
that all bodies whatever are a kind of explosive decom- 
posing with extreme slowness." ("The New Physics," 
Appleton, 1908.) 

Let us be careful not to go to extremes and deny the 
fact and the fruitfulness of slow evolution, but let us 
with equal determination assert the necessity and efficacy 
of cataclysmic revolution! 

You see, my dear Mencken, I freely admit that 
we Socialists believe in the theories and arguments 
making for Socialism because we want to believe 
in them, because we believe it is to our interest or to 
the interest of humanity for us to believe in them. 
But those who oppose Socialism do so because they 
believe it to their interest to do so. 

I believe I have demonstrated the economic 
foundation of beliefs in the field in which such a 
foundation would have been least suspected that 
of the natural sciences so that I think we may 
regard Lester Ward's view of beliefs as holding 
good universally. 

But while the beliefs of both the friends and 
foes of Socialism rest on economic foundations, 
there is this prime difference between them: the 



144 Men vs. the Man 

Socialist foundation is steadily spreading in area 
and growing in strength and solidity, while the 
anti-Socialist foundation is disintegrating and 
crumbling away. The pervasive influence of the 
Machine Process is extending ever farther and 
deeper and making more thoroughgoing the 
standardization of life, and is thus ever multiplying 
and invigorating the desires that make for So- 
cialism at the same time that it is sapping the 
strength of the desires that stand in the way of 
Socialism. Unless you can point to some new 
force that will intervene and retard the spread of 
the influence of the Machine Process, you are 
compelled to admit that the time when the vast 
majority of mankind will be Socialists is not far 
distant. This is the sort of an " evolutionary 
process " that I and my comrades (whether you 
regard them as "high-caste" or "low-caste") 
have " a sort of insatiable desire to help along." 

But though I saw plainly enough the effect of 
economic conditions upon scientific theory when I 
wrote the paper from which I have quoted so lib- 
erally, it was not until I read the illumining paper 
by Thorstein Veblen on " The Evolution of the 
Scientific Point of View " that I saw that so long 
as science was a mere shuttlecock tossed hither and 
thither by varying class interests nothing worthy 
of the name of science was so much as possible. 
Not until the Social Revolution shall have wiped 
out class lines forever, will a true science, that 



Men vs. the Man 145 

is a broadly human, instead of a class, science, 
arise. 

Literature too awaits the vivifying breath of 
the Social Revolution. " Under class civiliza- 
tion," says Marcus Hitch, " all literature as well 
as all science may be called toy work; it does not 
make for human progress directly but only inci- 
dentally. The sciences and inventions are ex- 
ploited by corporations primarily for profit, and 
all new discoveries merely broaden the field of ex- 
ploitation and give rise to larger corporations. 
The toy literature and arts merely serve for the 
diversion of the same class; they affect the upper 
surface of society only and do not rise to the dig- 
nity of really human productions, because they are 
not participated in by humanity, nor is it intended 
that they should be." (Goethe's " Faust." Chi- 
cago, 1908, pages 38-39.) 

The same point is possibly more clearly brought 
out by M. Alfred Odin, Professor in the University 
of Sofia, in his great work, Genese des grand 
hommes,gens de lettres frangais moderns. (Paris, 
1895.) 

" Literature then is not," he writes, " in its 
origin, and hence in its essence, that vague, ethereal, 
spontaneous thing whose phantom so many his- 
torians and literary critics have been pleased to 
evoke. It is in the full force of the term an arti- 
ficial creation, since it is derived essentially from 
causes due to the intentional intervention of man, 



146 Men vs. the Man 

and has not resulted from the simple natural evo- 
lution of mankind. It is a natural phenomenon 
only as it faithfully reflects the inner mental work- 
ings of certain social strata. It possesses nothing 
national or popular. Literature can only be na- 
tional when it springs from the very bosom of the 
people, when it serves to express with equal ardor 
the interests and the passions of the whole world. 
French literature does not do this. With rare 
exceptions it is only the mouthpiece of a few priv- 
ileged circles. And this explains why, in spite of 
so many efforts of every kind to spread it among 
the people, it has remained upon the whole so un- 
attractive and so foreign to the masses. Born in 
the atmosphere of the hotbed it cannot bear the 
open air. Not until, from some cause or other, 
the whole population shall be brought to interest 
itself actively in intellectual affairs will it be pos- 
sible for a truly national literature to come forth 
which shall become the common property of all 
classes of society." (Page 564.) 

The same story is to be told of art as of litera- 
ture and science. But this letter is already over- 
long, so I shall content myself by giving William 
Morris's reason why to-day we can have no true 
art. " In one word," he says, " slavery lies be- 
tween us and art." 

Do you wish to live to see a true science flour- 
ish? Then, become a soldier of the Social Revolu- 
tion! 



Men vs. the Man 147 

Do you wish to see a great human literature 
blossom? Then, become a soldier of the Social 
Revolution ! 

Do you wish to see all life made beautiful by 
noble art? Then, become a soldier of the So- 
cial Revolution! 

The recruiting office is always open. 
Yours, &c., 

R. R. LA M. 



MENCKEN'S REPLY TO LA MONTE'S 
FOURTH LETTER 

MY DEAR LA MONTE: 

You begin your letter by discoursing of 
scavengers, and I shall imitate your example. 
The scavenger, you point out quite accurately, is 
the favorite bugaboo and Exhibit A of many of 
the principal opponents of Socialism. They won- 
der who will volunteer to do the scavenging in the 
Socialist state, and their wonderment is soon 
transformed into a denial that any scavenging will 
be done at all. So pictured, the socialistic land- 
scape takes on a disagreeable aspect. Heaps of 
garbage disfigure the highroads; there are dead 
cats in the reservoirs, and the Louvre is full of 
tomato cans. The nose cries out aloud for mercy 
and the human race falls prey to zymotic disease. 

This seems to be the idea at the bottom of the 
Rev. Thomas Dixon's anti-socialist novel, " Com- 
rades." The comrades of his socialistic island, 
when the time comes to choose avocations, forget 
entirely the daily drudgery of the world. More 
than half of the women want to be chorus girls, 
college professors, and wealthy widows, and ten 
per cent, of the men immolate themselves upon the 

148 



Men vs. the Man 149 

altar of national banking. Not a hero asks an 
option on the ash-cart. Not a soul offers to look 
after the plumbing. 

There is humor in the scene, but not a great 
deal of truth. As a matter of fact the scavenger 
is by no means the most ignoble of men, and his 
profession never lacks willing recruits. His so- 
cial position, indeed, is palpably higher than that 
of the prostitute, male or female, the pickpocket 
or the mendicant. The undertaker, a scavenger 
with a touch of poetry, is a respected citizen in 
every American village, and even in so large a 
town as Philadelphia the freemen once chose an 
undertaker for mayor. The scavengers who have 
rid the Canal Zone of mosquitoes will live in his- 
tory, and not many years hence their effigies will 
grace the public places of Colon. The trained 
nurse spends half of her waking hours in scaveng- 
ing, and so do the doctor, the sailor, the dairyman 
all honorable men. The housewife's eternal 
foe, so the soap advertisements tell us, is dirt. 
You and I are scavengers, too you, when you ap- 
ply the whisk-broom to your raiment, and I when 
I flick my cigar ashes out of the window, instead 
of behind the piano. 

No, there is no prejudice against scavenging, 
but rather, among the fastidious, a passion for it; 
and so far as I have been able to observe, no very 
active ostracism of scavengers. The man who 
calls each morning to empty my garbage can is a 



150 Men vs. the Man 

high dignitary in the Patriotic Order Sons of 
America, and has ten times as much political in- 
fluence as I have. On election day he ceases from 
his labors and devotes himself to inoculating the 
great masses of the plain people of whom I have 
the honor to be one with enthusiasm. At public 
gatherings of the electorate he bears a torch and 
howls like a wolf. On election day I find that he 
has already voted when I reach the polling-place, 
and I enjoy the soothing consciousness that his bal- 
lot has nullified mine. Later on, perhaps, he will 
vote again, for he has nothing else to do all day. 
As for me, I must get back to my desk and finish 
my article on " The Republic versus Despotism." 

Considering all this, I agree with you that the 
reverend, but fanciful Dixon, and all those other 
critics of Socialism who hail the scavenger as their 
deliverer, are trusting themselves to a far from 
triumphant hero. 

But all the same, I am forced to appear, if un- 
willingly and as a traitor, in the camp of these 
critics, for I, too, fasten an argument against So- 
cialism upon the scavenging gentleman. My argu- 
ment, however, differs materially from theirs, for 
while they see in Socialism a scheme of things that 
would annihilate him, I see in it a scheme that 
would elevate him to the high estate and dignity 
of the gods. Under our present democracy the 
scavenger, if he have ambition in him, may become 
the equal of an Edison or a Cyrus Field on cer- 



Men vs. the Man 151 

tain limited occasions and in certain limited re- 
spects. Under Socialism he would be the peer of 
these infinitely superior men at all times and in all 
respects ! 

In other words, Socialism is indissolubly linked 
with the doctrine that a man, merely by virtue of 
being a man, is fitted to take a hand in the ad- 
judication of all the world's most solemn and dif- 
ficult causes. It insists that the voice of the ig- 
norant shall be heard as respectfully as the voice 
of the learned. It contends that the yearning of 
the hod-carrier for a high hat and a keg of beer 
shall receive as much consideration as the yearning 
of an Ehrlich for the secret of cancer. It main- 
tains that the Russian-born tailor, filthy to his finger 
tips and the devotee of an outlandish, incompre- 
hensible creed of nonsensical text-searching, shall 
be the equal of the men who conquer the wilder- 
ness and harness the lightning. It sees some- 
thing portentous and holy in the trivial accident 
that the negro loafer, drowsing in his wallow, was 
born without a tail. It fastens a transcendental 
importance upon the word " human " and con- 
verts it into a synonym for " intelligent," " honest," 
" wise " for every adjective that distinguishes 
one caste of men from the caste below it. You 
may protest all you please, and qualify your mean- 
ing of " equality " however you please, but the 
fact remains that if this notion that one man is as 
good as another " before God," or " as a citi- 



Men vs. the Man 

zen " be taken away, Socialism ceases to be in- 
telligible to rational creatures. 

But am I arguing, I hear you ask, against gov- 
ernment by the consent of the governed? Do I 
propose the overthrow of our democracy and the 
erection in its place of some form of absolute 
monarchy or oligarchy? Not at all. All things 
considered, I am convinced, as you are, that the 
republican form of government in vogue in the 
United States and England to-day is the best, 
safest, and most efficient government ever set up 
in the world. But its comparative safety and ef- 
ficiency lie, not in the eternal truth of the some- 
what florid strophes of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, but in the fact that those strophes must 
ever remain mere poetry. That is to say, its prac- 
tice is beneficent because its theory is happily im- 
possible. Once a year we reaffirm the doctrine 
that all men are free and equal. All the rest of 
the twelvemonth we devote our energies to prov- 
ing that they are not. 

It is lucky for civilization that democracy must 
ever remain a phantasm, to entertain and hearten 
the lowly like the hope of heaven, but to fall short 
eternally of realization. If it were actually pos- 
sible to give every citizen an equal voice in the 
management of the world if it were practicable to 
provide machinery whereby the collective will of 
the majority could be registered accurately, and 
made effective automatically and immediately 



Men vs. the Man 153 

the democratic ideal would reduce itself to an ab- 
surdity in six months. There would be an end 
to all progress. Emotion would take the place 
of reason. It would be impossible to achieve 
coherent governmental policies. The mind of the 
government, as a government, would be the mind 
of the average citizen of the nether majority a 
mind necessarily incapable of grasping the com- 
plex concepts formulated by the progressive 
minority. The more childish the idea the more 
eagerly it would be adopted and put into execu- 
tion. The more unreasoning the prejudice, the 
more desperately it would be cherished and the 
longer it would survive. 

An example may make this somewhat more clear. 
You are familiar, I suppose, with the enormous 
value of the work done by the national Depart- 
ment of Agriculture. It has multiplied our na- 
tional wealth, it has reduced the labor of our 
farmers and increased their leisure, and it has 
greatly elevated our standards of living. And yet, 
as you know, its efforts were ridiculed and opposed 
by nine-tenths of the farmers in the United States 
when it began, and even to-day the majority of 
them look upon it as their officious enemy. But 
a few months ago, when experts went through 
Maryland showing the peasants how to increase 
the yield of their cornfields, a howl of objurga- 
tion went up. 

Let us suppose that the project of establishing a 



154 Men vs. the Man 

Department of Agriculture had been referred to a 
universal manhood plebiscite, and that all the votes 
had been counted fairly. Do you believe that the 
farmers of the country, with their seven-tenths 
majority, would have said aye? I think not. And 
supposing the Department established, do you be- 
lieve that a referendum would have supported it 
in its infinitely useful, but iconoclastic, and hence 
obnoxious, work? Again, I think not. 

Fortunately, it is impossible, under our exist- 
ing system of denaturized democracy, for the 
freemen of the land to record their judgment upon 
all the countless administrative issues that arise 
or even upon the major issues of general policy. 
Theoretically, true enough, they determine the lat- 
ter by their votes, but actually, it is always possi- 
ble for the intelligent minority to drive them, buy 
them, or lead them by the nose. The use of brute 
force against the mob is a constant, but seldom 
recognized expedient of civilized government. A 
President of honesty and intelligence sacrifices his 
chance of re-election in order to execute some plan 
for the national benefit. The electors will cast 
him out on that impending November day, but 
meanwhile he has the power of the State behind 
him, and so his plan is put through. Again, there 
comes a crisis, in some division of the State, in the 
conflict between the intelligent minority and the 
lowest caste of the majority. The latter attempts 
to assert its god-given " rights " to substitute 



Men vs. the Man 155 

barbarism for civilization. Well, the shot-gun 
does a solemn work and disfranchisement appears 
as a foot-note to the Declaration of Independence. 
Marcus Brutus and the Ku Klux Klan were of a 
piece. In despotism it is assassination that stands 
between the slave and his ultimate, unbearable 
wrong, and in republics it is despotism that saves 
civilization from the slave. 

The lesser weapons that I have mentioned are 
bribery and sophistry. You know, as well as I, 
how each is wielded, and you know, too, that each, 
in the long run, works as much good as harm. 
If it were not possible for politicians to hoodwink 
and bamboozle the electorate, the Secretary of 
State at Washington would practise the statecraft 
of the village grocery store. Luckily for all of 
us, the truly vital problems of government are sel- 
dom left to the decision of the majority. If, by 
chance, they enter into a campaign, it is always 
possible to drag a herring across the trail, and so 
send the plain people galloping after it. Their 
actual choosing, when it is done, narrows down to 
a choice between a fat man and a lean man, a 
platitude and a fallacy, tweedledum and tweedle- 
dee. One candidate proposes to curb the trusts, 
and his opponent proposes to curb the trusts. 
There is a noisy wrangle over identities and the 
luckier of the two aspirants gets his chance. Once 
he is in office, the actual issues of the campaign en- 
gage him no more. Instead, he devotes his time 



156 Men vs. the Man 

to the execution of ideas which he has scarcely 
mentioned, perhaps, in his canvass, but which he 
knows to be of importance and value. The plati- 
tudes of the platforms have served their purpose, 
and no one will hear of them again until the next 
campaign. 

Bribery, I believe, is often more efficient, in com- 
bating the eternal running amuck of the Chan- 
dala caste, than either brute force or sophistry. 
Certainly, it is more subtile than the former and 
more honorable than the latter. The minority de- 
cides what it wants and what it can afford to pay 
and the majority gratefully accepts its money. 
In my own glorious State of Maryland fifty per 
cent, of the voters expect nay, demand to be 
paid for their votes. If, by any accident, there 
were no competitive bids on election day, it would 
puzzle them sorely to decide how to vote. In 
some of the counties, I am told, fully ninety per 
cent, accept honorariums from the party disburs- 
ing officers. Horrible? Not at all. Just sup- 
pose that these swine actually recorded their own 
thoughts in the ballot-box! Just suppose that the 
honest opinions of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, 
white and black, were transformed into laws upon 
the statute-books of the State 1 If they were, it 
would be a misdemeanor to call a Baptist clergy- 
man an ass, and a felony to put a lock on a hen- 
house door. 

And yet you Socialists, whether you are disposed 



Men vs. the Man 157 

to admit it or not, propose to wipe out the just 
and providential disabilities which now differ- 
entiate all such vermin from their betters. You 
tell the whining, inefficient man, with his constant 
cry of injustice and oppression, that he must get 
the things he wants through the ballot-box. " Vote 
for Debs," you say to him, " and you will be paid, 
not only your fair wage, but your employer's profit 
also. Vote for Debs, and you will be able to live 
at the rate of $5,000 a year. Vote for Debs, and 
your hours of labor will be cut to two a day. Vote 
for Debs, and the by-laws of your trades-union 
will become the constitution of the Republic." 

Well, suppose he does it, and gets all that he 
now seeks. Will he be content, then, to loll con- 
tentedly in his new luxury, with his $5,000 a year, 
his twenty-two hours of idleness, his crayon por- 
trait of his grandmother, his automatic piano, his 
diamond shirt studs, his automobile, and his half- 
hourly can of beer? I think not. Once he be- 
comes the economic and political equal of his 
former employer he will proceed to enforce his 
equality, politically as well as economically. He 
will become, in brief, a statesman, a disputant, a 
philosopher and after that, God help us! His 
heroes will be the men who think as he thinks. 
He will send the intellectual giant in the next ditch 
to Congress. The boss of his union will aspire 
to the Presidency. The secretary of the scene- 
shifters will go to the Court of St. James. 



158 Men vs. the Man 

This picture, my dear La Monte, is not fan- 
tastic. The clod-hopper's distrust of his betters 
will be accentuated, rather than ameliorated by So- 
cialism. Our scavenger, even after he is the 
political and economic equal of Dr. Eliot and Mr. 
Rockefeller, will still view such men with suspicion 
if there be, indeed, any men of their sort in the 
socialistic state because it is an inherent and in- 
eradicable characteristic of all low-caste men to 
look with suspicion upon those whose ambitions, 
ethics, and ideals are more complex than theirs. 
The old hatred of the man who would rather read 
a book than bask in the sun has not died out in 
the world. The old cry of sorcery is still raised. 
And the low-caste man, whenever he has the chance, 
still prefers to trust himself to a delegate from his 
own caste, whose yearnings are his, and whose 
mental processes he can follow. Socialism can 
never change this. It is a matter of anatomy 
more than of economics. 

At the present time, when an election district 
peopled in overwhelming majority by low-caste 
men, sends one of them to a state legislature, his 
power for evil is obscured and neutralized by two 
things. In the first place, he meets few of his fel- 
lows there, for the average low-caste electoral body 
is so corrupt that its class-feeling is easily overcome 
by money, and in consequence he cannot make him- 
self felt. In the second place, he is commonly 
corrupt himself. If you have any practical ac- 



Men vs. the Man 159 

quaintance with politics in any American state, you 
must be well aware that the legislators who are 
most easily purchased are those who come from 
the ranks of the workingmen and farmers. The 
bucolic statesman, when he gets to the state cap- 
ital, makes his fight for the trivial local laws that 
his own self-interest demands, and after that he 
is for sale to the highest bidder. The more im- 
portant matters before the law-making body are 
entirely beyond his comprehension. He doesn't 
understand them, and he doesn't want to under- 
stand them. I know, indeed, of a case wherein a 
large city, seeking authority from the state legis- 
lature to make improvements demanded urgently 
by the public safety, was unable to get that author- 
ity because it was impossible, under its charter, for 
it to pay certain county members for their votes. 
If there had been time, I have no doubt, these 
county members would have obligingly amended 
the charter to make the payments legal. 

Socialism will not convert such simple bar- 
barians into civilized men. Despite their $5,000 
a year and their twenty-two hours of leisure, they 
will still cling to their rag-time, their yellow jour- 
nals, their medicated flannels, and their fear of 
hell, learning, and the bath-tub. But under So- 
cialism, you say, they will have leisure for educa- 
tion. Even supposing they still hold to their pres- 
ent custom of devoting an hour a day to pinochle, 
they will yet devote some other hour to John Stuart 



160 Men vs. the Man 

Mill and August Weismann. It is a beautiful 
theory, but the facts, I fear, do not point to its 
truth. Education, considered in its broad sense, 
and not as a mere piling up of special knowledge, 
is not a matter of leisure and money, but of in- 
clination and capacity. It is perfectly possible in 
the United States to-day for the average boy, 
white or black, to obtain, without cost to his par- 
ents, just as much education as Herbert Spencer 
ever had from others from beginning to end of 
his life. In many states it is compulsory. But 
for all that, we produce very few men comparable 
to Spencer. 

As a matter of fact, the typical low-caste man 
is entirely unable to acquire that power of ordered 
and independent reasoning which distinguishes the 
man of higher caste. You may, by dint of heroic 
endeavors, instil into him a parrotlike knowledge 
of certain elemental facts, and he may even make 
a shift to be a schoolmaster himself, but he will 
remain a stupid and ignorant man, none the less. 
More likely, you will find that he is utterly un- 
able to assimilate even the simplest concepts. The 
binomial theorem is as far beyond his comprehen- 
sion as an epigram in Persian. And this inability 
to understand the concepts formulated by others is 
commonly but the symptom of a more marked in- 
capacity for formulating new concepts of his own. 
In the true sense, such a being cannot think. With- 
in well-defined limits, he may be trained, just as 



Men vs. the Man 161 

any other sentient creature may be trained, but 
beyond that he cannot go. 

The public school can never hope to raise him 
out of his caste. It can fill him to the brim but 
then it must stop. He is congenitally unteachable. 
A year after he has left school, he has forgotten 
nearly all that he learnt there. At twenty-one, 
when the republic formally takes him into its coun- 
cils, he is laboring with pick and shovel in his pre- 
destined ditch, a glad glow in his heart and a 
strap around his wrist to keep off rheumatism. 

The barriers of caste are not artificial, my dear 
La Monte, but natural. Sitting in school beside 
the Sudra I have been discussing is a boy whose 
future will rise above ditches. He is from the 
lowest caste, too, but he is a variation, a mutation. 
He has a thirst for learning, and a capacity for it. 
He may be the Galileo of to-morrow, and then 
again he may be only a nascent Napoleon of ditch- 
ing a dealer in the toil of ditch-diggers. But 
whether his progress beyond the actual toilers be 
great or small, he must forever stand as a living 
proof that there is a caste of men higher than 
theirs a caste of men more intelligent than they, 
and more nearly approaching the maximum of 
human efficiency. His superiority owes nothing to 
vested rights, and nothing to special privileges. 
It is based entirely upon the eternal biological 
truth that, in all the more complex varieties of liv- 
ing beings, there are enormous differences between 



1 62 Men vs. the Man 

individuals, and that these differences, at their ex- 
tremities, produce a caste barely entitled to life 
and a caste far advanced upon the upward path 
which the species seems to follow. 

The negro loafer is not a victim of restricted 
opportunity and oppression. There are schools 
for him, and there is work for him, and he dis- 
dains both. That his forty-odd years of freedom 
have given him too little opportunity to show his 
mettle is a mere theory of the chair. As a mat- 
ter of fact, the negro, in the mass, seems to be 
going backward. The most complimentary thing 
that can be said of an individual of the race to- 
day is that he is as industrious and honest a man 
as his grandfather, who was a slave. There are 
exceptional negroes of intelligence and ability, I 
am well aware, just as there are miraculous Rus- 
sian Jews who do not live in filth; but the great 
bulk of the race is made up of inefficients. In the 
biological phrase, the negro runs true to type. 
There are few variations, except downward. I 
have known, I should say, at least five hundred 
negroes in my time, and of all these not more than 
ten have displayed any inclination whatever to 
rise above their racial level. 

Socialism, as I understand it, proposes to let 
these savages plunder civilization. It holds that 
they should get more pay for their loafing; that 
the comforts and luxuries which represent the ideals 
and ingenuity of the highest caste of human be- 



Men vs. the Man 163 

ings should be handed over, gratuitously, to these 
parasites. It proposes to heed and satisfy their 
yearnings, to take account of their opinions, to 
give them a hand in the government of the state, 
to dignify their laziness with sounding names, to 
hail them as brothers. I am unable, my dear La 
Monte, to subscribe to this scheme. I am far from 
a Southerner in prejudice and sympathies, though 
born on the borders of the South, but it seems to 
me that, so long as we refrain, in the case of the 
negro loafer, from the measures of extermination 
we have adopted in the case of parasites further 
down the scale, we are being amply and even 
excessively faithful to an ethical ideal which 
makes constant war upon expediency and common 
sense. 

And now let me return to your letter. In one 
part of it, I note, you accuse me of harboring an- 
thropomorphic ideas, and proceed to elect me a 
member of some Methodist synod. Herein, my 
ingenuous friend, you juggle with words, for you 
are certainly well aware of the meaning of an- 
thropomorphism, and if you are, you are certainly 
well aware that my belief in " the beneficence and 
permanence of the evolutionary process " does not 
make me an anthropomorphist. But I shall as- 
sume that you are actually in error regarding the 
meaning of the word, and so expound it. 

Anthropomorphism, then, is a name for a the- 
ological theory which assumes that the universe is 



164 Men vs. the Man 

managed by a definite being or beings whose men- 
tal processes and emotions are similar to those of 
human beings. That is to say the anthropomor- 
phic god is merely an omnipotent and omniscient 
man. The Greeks believed that there was a whole 
race of such gods, and that they spent their time 
on Olympus much as the Athenians spent their time 
in Athens carousing, drabbing, playing politics, 
fighting, intriguing, and indulging in all sorts of 
outbreaks of passion. The modern soldier of the 
Salvation Army believes there is only one god, 
and this god he pictures as an enlarged and 
gaseous simulacrum of General William Booth 
as a venerable but somewhat dictatorial and re- 
vengeful old man with a white beard and a large 
corps of favorites and assistants. The Salvation- 
ist believes that this god manages the world just 
as General Booth manages the Army rewarding 
the faithful, denouncing the traitor, and watching 
eternally for fidelity and treason. 

The other anthropomorphic sects draw pictures, 
more or less fantastic and incredible, of other man- 
made gods, and there are endless differences in de- 
tail. One holds that its god sometime enters the 
body of an actual man that he has done so in the 
past or will do so in the future. Apostolic Chris- 
tianity and Mohammedanism are examples. 
Others hold that he elevates favored human be- 
ings to his own rank, and places them at his right 
hand. Of such are Mormonism and Catholicism. 



Men vs. the Man 165 

Yet another sect maintains that its god is a sort 
of glorified chief of its own race, and that all 
other races are inferior in consequence. This 
comforting doctrine is taught by Judaism. 

As you will notice, the central fact in anthropo- 
morphism is that the god is given essentially human 
attributes. He is not only intelligent, but also 
extremely emotional. He has fits of temper, pas- 
sions, prejudices, even superstitions. He is bland 
and forgiving to those he holds in affection, and 
furiously vengeful upon those he dislikes. It is 
necessary, in order to get a favor, or even com- 
mon justice from him, that he be put in a good 
humor by abasing one's self before him, by mak- 
ing some sort of sacrifice to him, or by actually 
bribing him. He has hordes of spies, agents, and 
emissaries, who collect his fees, denounce his ene- 
mies, and manage his business. He is, in a word, 
an exceedingly inflammatory being, with the hot 
passions, arbitrary likes and dislikes, and violent 
rages of a medieval bishop. 

Now, it seems to me that the cosmic process 
shows no traces at all of this human emotionalism. 
It is, indeed, utterly unemotional, and its lack of 
emotion is its principal characteristic. Since the 
dawn of history men have been trying to read into 
it some notion of right and wrong some anthropo- 
morphic ideal but they have always failed. 
Judged by those human standards which we ap- 
ply to sociological processes the operation of the 



1 66 Men vs. the Man 

state laws, for example it is utterly immoral and 
meaningless. Try as we may, we can never show 
that our particular god punishes the guilty and 
rewards the righteous, or even that he compre- 
hends the concepts represented by these words. 
We may assume it, but all the evidence is against 
it. No Huxley was needed to point out that the 
weather, for one thing, is managed, humanly speak- 
ing, in an ignorant and outrageous manner. No 
Johan Bojer was needed to prove that the wicked 
often triumph in the world, and the righteous often 
perish. And no Joseph Conrad was needed to 
show us that human destiny is one with the fall 
of the die. 

Fortunately, it is not necessary for a civilized 
human being of the twentieth century to believe 
in a man-like god. I may observe and study the 
workings of the universe, and still make no at- 
tempt to explain them in terms of passion and 
emotion. It would interest me immensely to learn 
how and why the globes are kept spinning, but in 
view of the limits which hedge in my perceptions, I 
doubt that I shall ever find out. Meanwhile, how- 
ever, I can make note of the fact that they always 
spin in a certain way, and that they have done so 
ever since the first human observers began to 
study them, and from this I can deduce the not 
unreasonable idea that they will continue to spin 
in that way for a good while to come. Thus, very 
simply, I may arrive at my notion of the perma- 



Men vs. the Man 167 

nence of the cosmic process. And, going further, 
I can note that the spinning of these globes, how- 
ever much it has inconvenienced and tortured in- 
dividual men, from time to time, has at least re- 
sulted in the gradual development of a race which 
seems to me to be measurably superior, in its higher 
ranks, to the asexual cell from which it has sprung. 
And so I may come to the notion that the cosmic 
process, considered broadly, is beneficent. Yet I 
have not touched anthropomorphism, directly or 
indirectly, at any place. 

You yourself are the anthropomorphist ; not I. 
You still hold to the ancient theological doctrine 
that the human race is a race apart that because 
it is molded " in the image of God " it is superior 
to natural laws which govern other races. In the 
days when men believed that Jerusalem was the 
capital of the universe this was a credible 
doctrine; but the history of all exact knowledge is 
the history of its gradual decay. When ad- 
venturers proved, despite St. Augustine's masterly 
logic, that the earth was a sphere, it received a 
telling blow. When they proved, despite Moses, 
that the earth was but one of countless worlds, it 
received another. And when Darwin came, and 
his like, it ceased to be a living doctrine, and be- 
came a mere empty shell upon the garbage-pile of 
dead ideas. But you Socialists want to resurrect 
it. You ask us all to believe it, as John the Baptist 
believed it despite a mass of evidence so enormous 



1 68 Men vs. the Man 

that one man can scarcely hope to master even its 
daily accretions. 

And so I find myself at the end of my letter 
with many of the arguments in your last epistle 
unanswered. One or two brief notes must suf- 
fice. You say in one place, for example, that your 
ideal man is one " wholly devoted to promoting 
human happiness," and then proceed to explain, 
with somewhat unparliamentary innuendo, that 
you mean " human happiness, and not a hog's hap- 
piness." My answer here must be the " You're 
another," of the small boy, for it is your scheme 
of things, and not mine, that considers the yearn- 
ings of the hog. My own philosophy disregards 
the hog entirely. Its concern is with the aims 
and aspirations of the higher man, and with those 
expedients which permit him to widen the gap 
which separates him from the hog. But you are 
for the nether swine. Their desire for forty acres 
and a mule, for ten hours of pinochle instead of 
one, for leisure to be hoggish, for a chance to 
plunder their betters this desire appears to you 
as a holy thing. You want to strike an average 
between the topmost man and the hog, and to 
achieve a level of civilization in which intelligence 
and hoggishness shall be blended in equal portions. 
Let us have no more talk of hogs. 

Your argument that the individualist must suffer 
agonizing loneliness demands a more extensive an- 
swer than I can give. For the present, I can only 



Men vs. the Man 169 

point out that you are assuming too much when you 
assume that solitude is inevitably painful. The 
low-caste man's insatiable desire for company, for 
fraternity, for brotherhood, is a proof of his 
low caste. He has no resources within himself. 
Save in association with his fellows he has no 
means of defending himself, or amusing himself. 
Even in his own sight, he is inconceivable save as 
an undifferentiated molecule in a larger mass. So 
he joins fraternal orders, goes to church, and af- 
filiates with a political party. A man of greater 
complexity is in better case. Human intercourse 
is open to him when he desires it, but it is not the 
only thing that stands between him and unbearable 
ennui. When he is alone, it is because he wants 
to be alone, and he is not lonely. 

The long argument of Lester F. Ward, that all 
human beliefs are grounded upon the appetites 
and emotions, is entirely unconvincing, and so is 
your dissertation in support of it. The progress 
of such exact sciences as astronomy and biology is 
due, in the main, to the fortuitous collocation 
(humanly speaking) of apparently disconnected 
observations and discoveries, and has nothing 
whatever to do with the food supply of the state or 
the political theories of the people. The discovery 
of the bacillus of tuberculosis was made possible by 
the microscope, and not by the French Revolution. 
As for your argument that the present age is 
" catastrophic " and that, in consequence, " cata- 



1 70 Men vs. the Man 

clysmic " theories are dominant in all departments 
of science, I am unable to offer a serious answer to 
it, because it seems to me to be utterly gratuitous 
and ridiculous. What is the " cataclysmic " ele- 
ment in Metchnikoff's theory of phagocytes, or in 
Wright's theory of opsonins ? What had political 
economy to do with Dr. Remsen's discovery of 
saccharin? And what had the war on the bour- 
geoisie to do with the rise of abdominal surgery? 
I fear you are joking. If you are not, you have 
been sadly led astray by the sound of words. 
As always, 

H. L. M. 



LA MONTE'S FIFTH LETTER 

MY DEAR MENCKEN : 

Permit me to grovel before you in apologizing 
for my long delay in replying to your last very 
interesting denunciation of the herd. The fact 
is my garden has absorbed my energies so com- 
pletely I have had no time to write. 

Much of what you say in your last letter is un- 
deniably true. Were our legislation to become the 
crystallization of the cultural stage reached by the 
majority of the denizens of the Eastern Shore of 
Maryland, it would be well-nigh fatal to such civ- 
ilization as we have. That is why we Socialists 
are so eager to raise the cultural level of, not only 
the Eastern Shore, but of America and the World. 
It is also true that in a society divided into classes 
democracy must be tempered by bribery and cor- 
ruption or perish. We prefer to put an end to the 
class-divisions that necessitate bribery, sophistry, 
and intimidation rather than to give up democracy 
on account of evils that spring not from its nature, 
but from its incompleteness. Make our democ- 
racy industrial as well as political, and corruption, 
bribery, and sophistry will disappear. That is the 
way the thing looks to me, and I fear I shall be 

171 



172 Men vs. the Man 

unable to rid myself of that point of view even if 
you hurl at me your favorite and somewhat over- 
worked javelin by branding my reasoning as that of 
a " low-caste man." Incidentally let me remind 
you that on your own showing there is a large 
majority of low-caste men in the country and that 
we still have the simulacrum of democracy, so that 
it seems entirely possible that the country may yet 
be ruled by that low-caste reasoning that avers that 
all men by virtue of their humanity ought to have 
a chance to lead human lives. 

In your last letter you conjure up a bogey and 
tremble before it like good Doctor Faust before 
Mephistopheles. You draw a grotesque picture 
of the emancipated proletariat sending ditch- 
diggers to Congress. (Do you really think ditch- 
diggers would be less intelligent and honest than 
some of the millionaires who now adorn the Sen- 
ate?) "The boss of the union," you tell me, 
" will aspire to the Presidency. The secretary of 
the scene-shifters will go to the Court of Saint 
James." 

I feel tempted to drop into slang to express the 
horror with which this picture thrills my bosom, 
but I will refrain, and instead inquire how much 
truth there is in it? For a quarter of a century 
the working-class Socialists have been sending their 
chosen representatives to the Parliaments of Ger- 
many, France, and Belgium. Have they chosen 
" low-caste men " ? Have they shown what you 



Men vs. the Man 173 

term the " inherent and ineradicable character- 
istics of all low-caste men to look with suspicion 
upon those whose ambitions, ethics, and ideals are 
more complex than theirs"? The facts are 
against you, my dear Mencken. No greater ora- 
tors or abler parliamentarians than Liebknecht, 
Bebel, and Singer have ever sat in the German 
Reichstag. Vandervelde is the greatest statesman 
Belgium has yet produced, and Jaures in France is 
probably the greatest living orator. These are the 
men my " low-caste " comrades have freely chosen 
to represent them. When the Clemenceau Cab- 
inet fell, upon whom did the President of the 
French Republic call to form a cabinet? Upon 
that great statesman, Briand, to whom more than 
to any other one man is due the accomplishment 
of the separation of Church and State in France; 
and Briand was originally sent to the French 
Chamber by the votes of Socialist workingmen. 

In the face of these facts you solemnly assure 
me that your picture " is not fantastic." It is to 
smile. 

In my second letter I essayed the role of the 
prophet, and fell into error by failing to take into 
account all of the factors in the problem. I pre- 
dicted " that the present period of depression will 
last at least seven years unless (i) in the mean- 
time * the increase of accurate knowledge ' or the 
hard facts of adversity lead us to establish the Co- 
operative Commonwealth, or (2) unless a great 



174 Men vs. the Man 

war breaks out." Shortly after I had written 
that prediction my good friend, Gaylord Wilshire, 
suggested to me in conversation that the costs of 
preparation for war might rise so tremendously 
as to be quite as adequate as actual war in caus- 
ing business revival. This is precisely what has 
happened, and we have now started on another 
great boom. Germany's need for an outlet for 
her surplus production was fast driving her toward 
war with England. This caused a great war 
scare, and the result has been an unprecedented and 
almost incredible increase in military and more 
especially naval expenditure. Incredible as it ap- 
pears the excess of the world's military and naval 
expenditure in 1909 over that of 1906 is more 
than equal to what Russia and Japan both spent in 
the year of the Russo-Japanese War. The exact 
figures with their sources are given in a leading 
article in a recent issue of Wilshire' s Magazine. 
I frankly confess my error an error due to in- 
excusable ignorance, for I ought to have been keep- 
ing track of the increase in military and naval ex- 
penditure and I must now revise my prophecy. 
We are now launched on as wild an era of inflated 
prosperity as that of 1905 and 1906 which 
brought us to the collapse of 1907 and 1908. How 
long it will last I cannot tell. It is certain that 
an industrial boom such as we are now having will 
lead to the introduction of much improved machin- 
ery and methods, and thus the more rapid widen- 



Men vs. the Man 175 

ing of the ever growing gulf between annual prod- 
uct and annual wage-account, and that this must 
sooner or later lead to a more disastrous crisis than 
that through which we recently passed. But it is 
also true that this crisis could be almost in- 
definitely postponed could we go on indefinitely 
constantly increasing the stimulus by ever larger 
military and naval expenditures. Here is the ele- 
ment of uncertainty. How much increased taxa- 
tion will the ruling classes of Europe and Amer- 
ica permit? 

These taxes must be paid by the propertied 
classes, for the propertiless have nothing to pay 
them with, and in every parliament in Christendom 
we have recently witnessed the most frantic op- 
position to the increase in taxation made necessary 
by the new naval programmes. It appears fairly 
certain that under representative government it will 
be impossible to keep the stimulus to business at an 
adequate pitch. So that it is safe to say that after 
a somewhat prolonged boom we will have the most 
disastrous panic the world has ever known, and 
that the middle classes will be so weakened by the 
taxation necessary in the meantime that they will 
be even worse prepared for the next panic than 
they were for the last one. 

As a good Nietzschean this crushing of the 
middle classes is a most vital matter to you. 
Where are you going to breed your Immoralists or 
Supermen after the middle class is annihilated? 



176 Men vs. the Man 

They cannot come from the gutter. The condi- 
tions of working-class life are, I feel sure you will 
agree, not favorable for their production. Our 
billionaires may be immoral enough to breed Im- 
moralists, but unfortunately there are not enough 
of them to answer your purpose. Besides I suspect 
they have not the right brand of immorality. 
Where can you find more conventional and ortho- 
dox people than John D. Rockefeller and J. Pier- 
pont Morgan? Surely you are not sanguine 
enough to expect to breed Supermen from such 
sires ? 

If your Nietzschean philosophy of aristocracy 
is to be a workable philosophy, and you have often 
assured me that therein lay its vast superiority over 
Socialism, then its workableness is absolutely de- 
pendent upon the preservation of the middle class, 
for from that class alone can you hope to breed the 
progenitors of your Supermen. 

America was formerly the paradise of the mid- 
dle class. Our typical American ideals are mid- 
dle class ideals. Our great achievements in his- 
tory were the work of the middle class. But even 
to-day it requires a careful search to find here and 
there a survival of the sturdy middle class who 
made American history. The railway, the trust, 
and the department store have either annihilated 
or transformed beyond recognition that sturdy, 
admirable class among whom you and I grew up. 
As independent producers or traders they can only 



Men vs. the Man 177 

exist to-day by exceeding the rate of exploitation 
of employees practised by the trust and the de- 
partment store. They exist economically only by 
the contemptuous sufferance of their more powerful 
rivals. Whether they wish it or not the condi- 
tions of their economic existence compel them to be 
either sycophants or vampires or more often both. 
This is a far cry from the men who elected Jack- 
son and Lincoln to carry out their will at Wash- 
ington. 

Do you think that this change in their character 
makes them more or less fit to be the ancestors 
of Supermen? 

But the worst is yet to come. Within a decade 
a new and ominous figure has loomed upon the 
economic horizon. He as yet has no accepted 
name, but I will use the name that Professor Veb- 
len has bestowed upon him in his brilliant paper, 
" On the Nature of Capital." Veblen calls him 
the Pecuniary Magnate. 

The difference between Marx's Capitalist and 
Veblen's Pecuniary Magnate is this : they are both 
owners of factories and railways, etc., and ac- 
cumulate money by taking the surplus-value pro- 
duced by the workers, but the Pecuniary Magnate 
is more than a capitalist. Besides the money that 
he makes as a capitalist (a la Marx) he makes 
far more tremendous profits as a dealer in capital 
securities. What he makes as a capitalist comes 
from the workers and in most cases has no per- 



178 Men vs. the Man 

ceptible relation to his business ability. He makes 
just as much if he is in Europe or confined in an 
asylum. What he makes on the market as a 
Pecuniary Magnate comes from the middle class 
(up to and including the lesser millionaires, and 
at times including his brother Magnates), and the 
amount of this profit depends very directly and 
perceptibly on his ability, or on that of his brokers 
and lawyers. It is not infrequently to his interest 
as a Pecuniary Magnate to wreck an industry from 
which he draws revenue as a capitalist. 

Such Pecuniary Magnates as we have yet had, 
Veblen points out, have spent their years of 
strength and virility in amassing sufficient capital 
to make them formidable as Pecuniary Magnates, 
and by the time the accumulation has reached the 
requisite dimensions, they have lost the vigor to 
use this vast power energetically. We have yet to 
see the power of the typical Pecuniary Magnate 
wielded by a young man of Napoleonic grasp and 
energy. But Harriman has given us a hint or 
two of what we may expect in the not distant 
future. 

From the time that Jay Gould wrecked the Erie 
up to the time that Harriman wrecked the Chi- 
cago and Alton, most of our railway stocks and 
bonds were fairly safe investments for middle 
class people. Since the Alton coup few investors 
have been wholly free from insomnia. 

Sooner or later there is bound to appear a Pe- 



Men vs. the Man 179 

cuniary Magnate who will combine the energy and 
brutality of a Roosevelt with the Napoleonic grasp 
and Nietzschean hardness of a Harriman and the 
sagacity of a Jim Hill. With his advent insomnia 
will become epidemic in all classes save the work- 
ing class. Men will seek for safe investments, 
and they shall not find one. 

The feeling of utter insecurity among the lesser 
millionaires will become wholly unbearable. All 
intelligent men and women will become Socialists, 
and the Social Revolution will be accomplished so 
peaceably that few will know till years afterward 
that a revolution has taken place. 

This is my creed, my philosophy, and it seems 
to me both workable and inevitable. Given the 
Napoleonic Pecuniary Magnate, and denying the 
socialistic denoument, your philosophy of Aristoc- 
racy seems to me not only unworkable but utterly 
impossible. Again I ask, where will you breed 
your Immoralists? 

But it is not merely on economics that we differ. 
Ethically and philosophically we are as far asunder 
as the poles. I hold that it is profoundly true that 
" No man lives unto himself alone," and that the 
most insane sentence that was ever penned is Max 
Stirner's " Nothing is more to me than myself." 
I hold that Nietzsche taught an insane philosophy, 
and that the most logical thing he ever did was to 
go insane himself. The most sacred thing we 
know is the individual, but the individual can never 



180 Men vs. the Man 

reach a high or noble development by trampling 
upon his infinitely complex obligations to other in- 
dividuals. The whole cosmos and all that therein 
is, is dialectically interrelated throughout all time 
and space. You and I are bound by countless ties 
to all the men and women, aye, and apes and mon- 
keys and reptiles and fishes, who have lived on the 
earth before us, and we have just as close and in- 
escapable ties with all those who shall follow us, 
and with equal firmness are we bound up with all 
the men and women and beasts and birds and trees 
and flowers now on earth. Disregard of human 
solidarity and of cosmical inter-relation ends 
logically in insanity. 

The introduction of the Machine Process tended 
to standardize all life and thus to cramp Individu- 
ality just as a Chinawoman's feet are deformed in 
her shoes. The revolt, the movement to assert 
individuality, found noble expression in literature. 
Byron and Shelley and Goethe are full of it. But 
it was not carried to a false and insane extreme 
until the middle of the last century by Max 
Stirner. Nietzsche has done little more than re- 
peat the extravagances of Stirner, though he has 
clothed them in more poetic beauty in his " Thus 
Spake Zarathustra." Curiously enough the ex- 
treme Individualists always claim Ibsen as one of 
their prophets. They forget that while he en- 
riched the world with " A Doll's House " the 
noblest expression of the right and even the duty 



Men vs. the Man 181 

of the individual to be herself and live out her own 
life he also gave us " Little Eyolf " and " The 
Lady from the Sea " to complement " A Doll's 
House " by showing us that happiness was only to 
be found in love and work for others. 

Ibsen should have been safe from the misunder- 
standing of his teaching that is so wide-spread, for 
long before he preached his gospel of healthy In- 
dividualism in " A Doll's House," he had given 
us in " Peer Gynt " the deepest, truest, and most 
delicious satire upon the absurd attempt to " be 
oneself " at all costs. He had shown that it led 
to moral instability (if not degeneration) and to 
mental insanity. 

Surely you remember how Peer with his mania 
for " being himself " was greeted by Professor 
Begriffenfeldt, the Director of the Mad-house at 
Cairo, as the Kaiser of the lunatics. 

"Kaiser?" says Peer. "Of course!" replies 
the professor. 

PEER. 
But the honor's so great, so entirely excessive 

BEGRIFFENFELDT. 

Oh, do not let any false modesty sway you 
At an hour such as this. 

PEER. 

But at least give me time 

No, indeed, I'm not fit; I'm completely dumbfounded! 



1 82 Men vs. the Man 

BEGRIFFENFELDT. 

A man who has fathomed the Sphinx's meaning, 
A man who's himself ! 

PEER. 

Ay, but that's just the rub. 
It's true that in everything I am myself; 
But here the point is, if I follow your meaning, 
To be, so to phrase it, beside oneself. 

BEGRIFFENFELDT. 

Beside ? No, there you are strangely mistaken ; 

It's here, sir, that one is oneself with a vengeance. 

Oneself and nothing whatever besides. 

We go, full sail, as our very selves. 

Each one shuts himself up in the barrel of self, 

In the self-fermentation he dives to the bottom, 

With the self-bung he seals it hermetically, 

And seasons the staves in the well of self. 

No one has tears for the other's woes ; 

No one has mind for the other's ideas. 

We're our very selves, both in thought and tone, 

Ourselves to the spring-board's uttermost verge, 

And so, if a Kaiser's to fill the Throne, 

It is clear that you are the very man. 

The same philosophy made both Peer Gynt and 
Friedrich Nietzsche kings of the lunatics. 

You will also, no doubt, remember that when 
the Button-Molder came to fetch Peer's soul and 



Men vs. the Man 183 

melt it up in the casting-ladle, Peer insisted upon 
his answering the question : 

" What is it, at bottom, this ' being oneself ' ? " 
The Button-Molder's answer was: 
"To be oneself is: to slay oneself." 

This is the highest word of wisdom of the 
greatest and sanest Individualist of modern times, 
and it is but a paraphrase of the words of Jesus: 

" For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; 
and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall 
find it." 

By writing " Peer Gynt " and " Little Eyolf " 
the author of " A Doll's House " has shown us 
that he realized as fully as Jesus that love was 
the only soil upon which true and noble Individu- 
ality could flourish. 

Marx and Engels expressed the same thought 
with equal clearness, though with less warmth, in 
that classic of the Socialist movement, the Com- 
munist Manifesto, when, in describing the society 
of the future, they said : 

" In place of the old bourgeois society, with its 
classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an as- 
sociation, in which the free development of each is 
the condition for the free development of all." 

Solidarity is the condition precedent for the 



184 Men vs. the Man 

blossoming of individuality. Jesus, Ibsen, Marx, 
and Engels were all Individualists, but they were 
sane enough to recognize that Love is the highest 
and noblest expression of Individuality. Nietzsche 
and Peer Gynt were blind to this simple truth and 
they became Princes in Bedlam. 

Many a Giotto to-day has no chance to develop 
his individuality, because he has not the luck to 
be discovered by a Cimabue. The Socialist aim 
is not to provide a Cimabue for every Giotto, but 
to make the conditions of life so equal that no 
Giotto shall need a Cimabue. We do not hold 
that every boy and girl has the genius of a Giotto, 
but we do hold that every human being has an 
individuality worth developing, and that every 
stunted, dwarfed, or atrophied individuality makes 
the world measurably poorer. The present reck- 
less sacrifice of individuality robs life of interest 
and distinction. 

So that, my dear Mencken, it is in the name of 
Individualism, strange as it may appear to you, 
that I call upon you once more to become the com- 
rade of 

Yours faithfully, 

R. R. LA M. 



MENCKEN'S REPLY TO LA MONTE'S 
FIFTH LETTER 

MY DEAR LA MONTE : 

Saving only psychical research, no modern cult 
seems to be so well outfitted with college professors 
as Socialism. Early in this correspondence, if I 
remember rightly, you began to set them at my 
heels Prof. What's-His-Name, the assassin of the 
doctrine of inherited traits; Prof. This-and-That, 
the Austrian statistician, rhapsodist and seventh 
son of a seventh son, half Diophantus of Alex- 
andria and half Tom Lawson, with his crusade 
for $5,000 plowboys and a workday of one 
hour, twenty-two minutes and thirty seconds; and 
sundry other instructors of 'rah-' rah boys, first and 
last, specified and anonymous, whiskered and aston- 
ishing, cocksure and preposterous. Now, near the 
end, comes Prof. Veblen, with his discovery of the 
Pecuniary Magnate, a fantastic and apparently 
novel beast of prey, gorged to the gullet with bleed- 
ing hearts. 

The name of Prof. Veblen is familiar; I have 
encountered his speculations more than once. And 
his Pecuniary Magnate is no stranger, either, for 
Col. Henry Watterson, the last of the Jeffersoni- 

185 



1 86 Men vs. the Man 

ans, whose compositions I read diligently, has long 
excoriated him under the style or appellation of 
the Hell Hound of Plutocracy. Col. Watter- 
son, I believe, is a man of quite respectable an- 
tiquity, but his Hell Hound was ancient long be- 
fore he was born. In medieval Venice they called 
him Shylock, and there he preyed upon Antonio, 
the merchant, who preyed, in turn, upon the 
groundlings of that fair city. Shylock was not a 
captain of industry, for the Jews, in his time, 
had not yet invented ready-made clothing. He 
was, on the contrary, a purely Pecuniary Magnate 
a gambler in credits, a fattener upon panics, a 
star performer at financial inquests and autopsies. 
Your description of the Magnate of Veblen would 
have fitted him exactly, as the paper fits the wall. 
When Antonio's " argosies with portly sail " 
were posted as overdue, the gods seemed to smile 
upon Shylock, for it was out of just such mis- 
fortunes that his potency arose. Antonio, the 
honest ship-owner, who deprecated speculation and 
tried to put an end to it by lending money, when 
he had it, without interest, was now in hard case, 
and had to make terms with the Jew. And, hav- 
ing the advantage, the Jew drove it home. Nothing 
less than the complete annihilation of his victim 
would content him. The lust for mere money 
was transcended and forgotten: the thing that 
moved him now was a yearning to achieve a stag- 
gering and unprecedented coup. He wanted to 



Men vs. the Man 187 

wreck a great merchant, as Jay Gould, years after, 
was to wreck a great railroad, for thereby it would 
be proclaimed to all Venice that he, Shylock, was 
a financial czar of czars. He had the " Napole- 
onic grasp and energy " of which you speak. He 
had not only money, but also imagination. 

But Shylock came a cropper, and I rather fancy 
that any Pecuniary Magnate who tries to imitate 
him in his plan will also imitate him in his failure. 
The reason for this is not far to seek. It lies in 
the fact that a Pecuniary Magnate, no matter how 
enormous his resources and how magnificent his 
immorality, is still a merely mortal man, whose 
life, like yours and mine, hangs by a single hair. 
Cut that hair, and he is no longer worth fearing 
as an Antichrist, for, as you have yourself pointed 
out, the might and menace of capital, when all is 
said and done, are not so much in the capital it- 
self as in the ambition and cunning behind it. 
Shylock made that discovery when he demanded 
his pound of flesh. The laws of Venice ordered 
that he have it, but the laws of Venice, reflecting 
the public opinion of that republic, ordered also 
that it be the last entry upon his cashbook. Thus 
Shylock faced a perfectly simple situation: either 
he could give up his pound of flesh or he could 
give up his life. He chose the latter alternative. 

Strange as it may seem, I believe that much the 
same choice will confront the Pecuniary Magnate 
of the future who essays to achieve the cosmic lar- 



1 88 Men vs. the Man 

cenies of Prof. Veblen's nightmare. He will go 
on gobbling lesser millionaires until he has sent 
them all back to work, and then he will proceed to 
inoculate the middle classes with those insomnia 
germs you mention, and then he will push up the 
price of a wheaten loaf to six cents, to eight, to 
ten, and the price of a can of beer to twenty-five 
cents, to $i, to $10, to $100 and then, one fine 
morning, a nickel-tipped bullet, proceeding from a 
Mauser pistol " in the hands of some party or 
parties unknown to this jury" will go whistling 
through his viscera, and he will cease to trouble this 
harassed world. Sic semper tyrannis! Men will 
triumph over the man ! 

I see you shudder. You are a philosopher and 
detest melodrama and bloodshed. You are an ag- 
nostic and have none of the demonologist's flair 
for executions and butchery. You believe that the 
sorrows of the world are to find their surcease, not 
in assassinations, but in laws. Like the lamented 
William J. Bryan, and other prophets of the new 
order, you put your faith in legislation. You pro- 
pose to abolish castes by an amendment to the Con- 
stitution. You propose to perform sanguinary 
major operations upon the body politic, using one 
Act of Congress as saw, sponge, and scalpel, and 
another Act of Congress as anaesthetic. 

This sweet faith in whereases and therefore-be- 
it-resolveds, my dear La Monte, seems to me to 
be as magnificently fatuous as the old faith in 



Men vs. the Man 189 

divine revelations, holy shrines, and all the other 
gimcrackery of Christian sorcery. In a large 
sense, I am convinced, legislation is always an ef- 
fect rather than a cause, and as such, it can play 
but a minor role in the reformation of the world. 
It is inevitably a good distance behind the event, 
and very often it is shockingly inaccurate in in- 
terpreting the event. Witness, for example, the 
Fifteenth Amendment. Witness, again, the ef- 
forts of the Liberal Party in England to overcome, 
by bills in Parliament, the operation of the law of 
natural selection in the lower orders. The pos- 
session of the franchise did not make the American 
negro a civilized man, though every one knows that 
the franchise is an important part of every civilized 
man's heritage. And by the same token, the 
state's effort to keep England's loafers and incom- 
petents from starving to death has certainly not 
transformed them into efficient men, with palpable 
claims upon life and happiness, though every one 
knows that efficient men are principally notable for 
the fact that they never starve to death. 

But here I go sky-hooting into the interstellar 
spaces of political quasi-science when my actual 
purpose is merely to show that, by virtue of his 
very mortality, the ultimate Pecuniary Magnate of 
Prof. Veblen's dreams must ever remain more 
phantom than actual felon. It is undoubtedly 
true, I suppose, that men who combine his enor- 
mous wealth and his epic immorality will be born 



190 Men vs. the Man 

into the world in days to come, but that they will 
ever find it possible to realize their anthropoph- 
agous ambitions is more than I am willing to 
admit. Human existence is not a solo a capella, 
but a battle, and even the under-dog can inflict 
dangerous wounds. Given certain changes in the 
time, place, conditions or weapons of the contest 
and the under-dog, in truth, may suddenly become 
the upper-dog. I may best explain what I mean, 
perhaps, by dropping dogs and going back to Pe- 
cuniary Magnates. In a struggle for money, let 
us say, between a Pecuniary Magnate and the great 
masses of the plain people, it is obvious that the 
Magnate has enormous advantages, for struggling 
for money is his profession, and he has not only 
acquired extraordinary skill in it, but he has also 
attained to a monopoly of the necessary materials 
and apparatus. But suppose the efforts of this 
Magnate are suddenly shifted from the struggle 
for money to a struggle to remain alive, or to keep 
out of jail. Has he any advantages now? Not 
at all. On the contrary, he suffers enormous dis- 
advantages so enormous that they place him com- 
pletely at the mercy of his foes. If more than half 
of them decide, for instance, that he must go to jail 
for the rest of his life, or that he must pay a half 
or all of his fortune into the common treasury in ex- 
piation of his misdeeds, he must inevitably do these 
things. Nothing in the world can save him then, 
for once in jail, his stock market generalship be- 



Men vs. the Man 191 

comes as useless as his automobile, arid once his 
money is gone, it can no longer buy him liberty. 
Going further, it is demonstrable, I think, that if 
but one solitary man in all his host of foes decides 
firmly that he must die for the public good, he will 
inevitably die on schedule time. And once dead, 
he is no longer a Pecuniary Magnate. 

The easy answer to all this is that the experi- 
ence of the past and present proves the Magnate 
to stand in no such perils. There is John D. 
Rockefeller, for example. Has he been sent to 
jail? Has anyone tried to kill him, or even ad- 
vocated killing him? When that $32,000,000 
fine was assessed against him did anyone save 
Judge Landis believe seriously that he would ever 
have to pay it? As a sincere friend, my dear La 
Monte, I warn you to steer clear of this easy an- 
swer, for lurking beneath it there is a very serious 
criticism of Socialism, which criticism, I may as 
well explain at once, lies in the fact that the vast 
majority of sane persons hold all of your socialistic 
scarecrows and bugaboos to be harmless. The 
American people, in a word, permit John D. 
Rockefeller to live because, after giving a great 
deal of attention to him and listening to all of 
the pleas for his extinction, they have decided (that 
is, through the medium of their regular staff of 
leaders, bosses, and law-makers) that it would be 
childish and useless to kill him, or even to send him 
to jail, or to confiscate his millions. True enough, 



192 Men vs. the Man 

he makes an excellent profit on the oil he sells, but 
it is hard to convince a nation of traders that such 
an accomplishment, in itself, is felonious, or even in 
bad taste. True enough, he devotes a good deal 
of money to evangelistic futilities, but what tax- 
payer, paying policeman and fireman to guard un- 
taxed convents, mosques, and mission houses, will 
throw the first stone? No; John will never do 
as a Hell Hound. He is valuable as a herring, to 
drag across the trail in political campaigns, and 
he provides a livelihood, as Immoralist, to a few 
dozen Juniuses of the uplift magazines, but the 
only permanent emotion that his life and deeds 
nourish in the breast of the average healthy Amer- 
ican is that of envy. There, but for the unfair- 
ness of God, go I. So says the ultimate con- 
sumer. He envies John, but does not hate him. 

Do I hear you say that John is not the worst 
that his industrial enterprise and wise spending 
in some measure mitigate his money-changing 
that he is not, at bottom, true to the Pecuniary 
Magnate type? Shame on you! The spectacle 
of a good Socialist defending Rockefeller, even 
with reservations and apologies, is indecent. I 
shall save you the threatened disgrace by defend- 
ing him myself. That is to say, I shall concede 
that Rockefeller is not a fair specimen of the 
Veblenian Magnate, for his principal business is 
that of selling oil, and not that of raiding the 
stock market. Such raiding as he has essayed has 



Men vs. the Man 193 

been prompted, indeed, chiefly by lawful, and even 
laudable, notions of self-defense. He is not a 
speculator and his activities have seldom pro- 
duced the insomnia of which you speak in the re- 
tired shop-keepers, widows, and superannuated 
clergymen who invest their all in the securities of 
Mexican mines and other rosy enterprises. 

But John's disqualification need not halt us. He 
fails to meet Prof. Veblen's specifications, but that 
does not prove the Pecuniary Magnate to be a 
mere John Doe of the Socialist indictment. This 
Magnate, you may argue, actually does exist, 
healthy, happy, and immoral, with his atrophied 
conscience, his exaggerated ego, and his sneer upon 
his face. One day we find him cornering the 
wheat market in Chicago; and next day he is bear- 
ing Coppers in New York. In legitimate com- 
merce and industry he has no interest whatever. 
His business is to sell, at famine prices, commodi- 
ties that he does not own ; to lend at usurious rates 
money that he doesn't possess ; to prey, in a word, 
upon fear, poverty, hunger, and sore need; to profit 
inhumanly by droughts, catastrophes, and acts of 
God. His name, in the wheat pit or on the curb, 
is Joe Leiter, or Curtis Jadwin, or Charlie Morse. 
He is as nefariously useless as an archbishop, and 
as indecently unpatriotic as a politician. 

Is there anything to be said for this man? Does 
any extant system of political economy, ethics, or 
theology defend him? Does anyone propose a 



194 Men vs. the Man 

vote of thanks to him for his perilous and painful 
labors ? I think not. Not even the church, which 
has room on its roll of honor for witch-burners, 
tyrants, and cut-throats unspeakable, for the sav- 
ages who killed Bruno and drove Galileo to his 
knees not even the church undertakes to clasp 
this adventurer to its bosom. It will take his 
money, true enough, and it will even point out to 
him the prudence of being liberal, but it will not 
guarantee him safe conduct beyond the Styx. In 
a word, the whole world is this man's foe but 
only when it sits down calmly f as moralist, to pon- 
der his misdeeds. 

You catch my meaning, of course. It is this: 
that the world seldom sits down calmly, as moral- 
ist, to ponder anything ; that the world, as a world, 
finds any serious meditation a toilsome and fever- 
ish business. Its acts, like those of a woman, are 
the product, not of ratiocination, but of emotion. 
Now and then, a gust of violent anger strikes it, 
and then it is for stamping out this Pecuniary Mag- 
nate on the instant, as one stamps out a spider, and 
without paying any regard whatever to the laws 
it has made in the past, or to the rights that may 
belong to its victim as criminal. At such times he 
appears in but one aspect; he is a villain undiluted, 
a wretch beyond mercy, a felon unpardonable. The 
fact that he may also bear other aspects that he 
may be a freeman and a tax-payer, guaranteed by 
law in the enjoyment of his property; that he 



Men vs. the Man 195 

may have a wife or wives and innumerable children 
depending upon him for support, that he may hold 
excellent views regarding total immersion, the glory 
of the Stars and Stripes, and the curse of rum 
all of this is forgotten. He appears merely as a 
captured outlaw, waiting to be lynched, and while 
the public anger flames, nothing is thought of but 
the rope. 

But the emotion of anger, luckily for all such 
gentlemen, is short-lived. You and I, for all our 
self-indulgence and lack of piety, find it impossible 
to be thoroughly angry for more than the fraction 
of an hour. Ten minutes after the drum ceases to 
thunder beneath my window I cease to damn the 
Salvation Army and the laws which permit it to 
torture me. Ten minutes after the first spurt of 
blood you rescue your offending razor from its 
exile in the ash-barrel. The public sticks to anger 
longer, but not much longer. By dint of heroic 
effort, it sometimes manages to remain desperately 
enraged for a month, but that is the limit of its 
capacity. Before the chance assassin can summon 
up his courage, or the slow-moving court can get to 
No. 2367, or the conservative committee is ready 
to report H. B. 6667, the public's temperature is 
back at 98.5, its pulse has sunk to 75, and the re- 
action has set in. By that time, as a rule, the 
Pecuniary Magnate has gone broke. His widowed 
mother, to save him from ignominious toil, must 
give him alms from her scanty millions. 



196 Men vs. the Man 

No; the public's anger doesn't last long, and is 
seldom very violent while it lasts. Nine times out 
of ten, indeed, the Pecuniary Magnate doesn't 
anger it at all. To the farmers whose wheat he 
doubles in value, he appears in the light of an 
economic Messiah; and to the consumers whose 
bread he fills with gases well, setting aside the 
Socialists and other connoisseurs of outrage among 
them, how do these consumers actually regard their 
oppressor? Do they denounce him as a criminal 
and demand his banishment? I think not. Do 
they call upon their representatives to make laws 
against him, or even to enforce the laws already 
existing? Seldom. Do they burn him in effigy, 
sack his palaces, guillotine his morganatic wives, 
and teach the young to loathe him? I fear they 
do not. And the reason for their doing not, my 
dear La Monte, lies in the fact that they are too 
busy cheering the sport. It is the king of all 
games, this cornering of the wheat market. It is 
made brilliant by stroke and counter-stroke, thrust, 
parry, and surprise. It has the dramatic grip of 
a colossal melodrama, with a hero twelve feet tall, 
and as strong as an aurochs. It is better than a 
battle for the heavy-weight championship, or a 
minor war. It has suspense, action, climax. It is 
sport made sublime. 

This, I presume to maintain, is the customary at- 
titude of the public toward the Pecuniary Mag- 
nate's most ruthless rapines. When it gives seri- 



Men vs. the Man 



197 



ous and thoughtful consideration to him, and at- 
tempts to estimate the morality, utility, and ulti- 
mate effect of his activity, it is apt, as I have ad- 
mitted, to advocate his demolition; but it is quite 
extraordinary, you must grant, for the public, as 
a public, to undertake any such elaborate medita- 
tions. To the common man, reflection is a pain- 
ful and uninviting business. There is, indeed, 
some flavor of the sinister about it. Its natural 
fruit seems to be paradox, predicament, doubt. 
His inclination is to get his emotional thrill out of 
the event itself, and to let its inner significance 
go hang. He has found, by experience, that any 
inquiry into causes is bound to engender a feeling 
of discomfort as acute as that which accompanies 
his Sunday clothes. It is an enterprise as tedious 
as standing on one leg. What ho ! the band brays 
and the clowns are in the ring ! Away to the big 
show ! Who cares ? 

But the Pecuniary Magnate what of him? 
Does all of this prove him harmless? Not at all. 
It merely proves that, taking one year with an- 
other, the great masses of the plain people choose 
to treat him as if he were so. When he is a Mor- 
gan, gobbling trusts by the dozen, and disgorging 
them again, after absorbing their proteids, as 
super-trusts and trust-trusts, he is a hero, pure and 
simple. The drama of it overcomes them; they 
pass into a state of emotional ecstasy, as at the 
apotheosis of Little Eva or at Monte Cristo's 



198 Men vs. the Man 

blood-curdling " One 1 " If he is a young Chicago 
gambler, staking his millions upon the price of 
wheat next month, he becomes a sort of glorified 
Sharkey, with a flavor, too, of Dr. Cook and the 
Wright Brothers. Some hold that he will win, 
and others hold that he will lose, but all hope for 
a hot fight. If he wins he remains a public char- 
acter until the next prodigy appears. If he loses, 
he is mourned for a day as a David foully mur- 
dered by an army corps of Goliaths. 

So much for the public. But what of your 
" lesser millionaires," racked by their epidemic of 
insomnia ? Are they equally fascinated by the rat- 
tle and the roar, and equally forgetful of morals 
and balance-sheets? Experience proves that they 
are not. So long as the performing Magnate ob- 
serves the rules made and provided, and leaves 
enough openings for reprisals, their attention is 
concentrated upon plans for fattening, to-morrow 
or next day, upon his accumulated winnings. But 
if he presumes to play unfairly, or to put an end 
to the game by laying about him with a bludgeon 
then his undoing comes swiftly and certainly. 
Beginning as a stimulating antagonist, he ends as 
an outlaw, with a posse at his heels. If he is a 
James J. Hill, he is relieved of his Illinois Central 
and provided with a few gray hairs. If he is a 
Charlie Morse, he is railroaded to the Tombs. 

I once enjoyed the acquaintance to my cost, 
alas ! of a Pecuniary Magnate who flourished in 



Men vs. the Man 199 

a provincial city. The father of this magnate left 
him a comfortable fortune, and some more remote 
ancestor a pirate, perhaps, or a militant evangel- 
ist left him a powerful thirst for dominion. Out- 
wardly he was a sober, home-loving, god-fearing 
man of strict chastity and Methodist principles, but 
within the fires of ambition raged. The result 
was one of the most fascinating characters imag- 
inable. He had no vices and no virtues. Profan- 
ity made him shudder, and yet in matters of busi- 
ness he was so appallingly ruthless that he made 
all other persons shudder. Still the man was not 
merely avaricious, for it was not money, but power, 
that he craved. He wanted to fix prices, juggle 
stocks, nominate senators. He yearned for im- 
measurable might, not only in business, but also in 
politics and society. 

Well, this Pecuniary Magnate began by getting 
control of a commodity without which life would 
be unendurable. The plain people simply had to 
have it, and in a short while they had to buy it of 
him. He forced up the price slowly and scien- 
tifically. When competition arose he crushed it 
out. When protests came from the consumer, and 
sociologists and muck-rakers began to denounce 
him, he was ready with mazes of statistics in his 
defense. Meanwhile, he grew rich and eminent. 
The plain people were angry with him now and 
then, but taking one day with another, the emotion 
that he most steadily inspired in them was that of 



2OO Men vs. the Man 

envy. He became a Prominent Citizen. He was 
turned to for advice when public improvements 
were planned, or a mayor was to be elected. He 
was himself pressed to accept high office. The 
public, in a word, licked his hand. 

Having achieved this eminence, he sought to 
take a step still higher. That is to say, he pro- 
posed to reduce the " lesser millionaires " of his 
city to that same vassalage which the masses had 
accepted so amicably. No easier said than done. 
He bought a bank, he began promoting stock com- 
panies; he went into the stock market and began 
to prey upon less astute operators. At the start 
there was much ill-natured opposition, for the 
financiers of this city were an old-fashioned lot, 
and their methods and ideals, like their actual bank 
accounts, were three or four generations old. But 
before long, the more ambitious came to the conclu- 
sion that it would be better to join the rising Mag- 
nate than to fight him. He needed their capital 
and he let them in. An inspiring journey to the 
pink clouds of illimitable opulence was an- 
nounced, and the airship was crowded to the 
guards. Venerable bankers hung upon the ropes. 
Brisk young stock-brokers begged to be taken 
along, if only as ballast. Small investors went as 
stowaways. 

And then, with the journey just begun, the gas- 
bag burst and the airship came tumbling down. 
With what result? Did the " lesser millionaires " 



Men vs. the Man 201 

blame it all on fate, as the groundlings had done? 
Not at all. They began howling for revenge be- 
fore the first gust of gas was out of their lungs, 
and by the time they reached the ground they were 
at the luckless Magnate's throat. It was all against 
one. They took his bank away from him, they 
forced some of his other enterprises into bank- 
ruptcy, they gave him his first gray hairs. He is 
to-day but the melancholy shell of a Pecuniary 
Magnate. No doubt he still dreams his old 
dreams, and plans epoch-making coups for the 
future ; but no one fears him any more. He made 
the epic mistake of trying to enslave his own kind. 
Had he confined his efforts to the plain people he 
might have been a billionaire by now a billionaire 
snoozing comfortably in a Senate cloak-room, with 
a horde of press agents inventing a log-cabin biog- 
raphy for him and whispering aloud that he 
would make an excellent President. 

I confess that I am not prepared to deduce a 
hard and fast moral from all this. Does the cos- 
mic process prove that the millionaire is necessary, 
or beneficent? I am sure I don't know. But it 
does prove, I think, that he is inevitable at least, 
at our present stage of progress. He is one of the 
concrete facts which inevitably arise to visualize 
world-ideas. He is the incarnation of the dom- 
inant concept of mankind to-day, the palpable sym- 
bol of the race's current philosophy of life. He is 
as authentic, I believe, as any other god, past or 



2O2 Men vs. the Man 

future. Legislation can injure him no more than 
papal bulls injured Luther. He will live and 
flourish until the ideals of humanity are changed 
as changed they must be, over and over again, 
so long as nature knows no standing still, but only 
progress and retrogression. 

Time was when the race of white men had other 
ideals and yielded to other gods. Once the ideal 
was an eternity of bliss at the right hand of the 
Lord Jehovah. At that time the material prizes 
of the earth seemed paltry, and men were esteemed 
in proportion to the extent of their renunciation. 
This was the hey-day of Christianity, for Jesus 
Christ was then a perfectly comprehensible char- 
acter, and men actually tried to follow him. Some 
left homes and families and went to live in caves 
and on pillars. Others sought to slay the Mes- 
siah's enemies, at home and abroad. Still others 
had to be content with imitating his humility in 
the face of outrage and persecution. 

At that time, the gods of to-day, had anyone 
sought to preach them, would have seemed gro- 
tesquely obscene. The Pecuniary Magnate, as we 
know him now, was then well-nigh unthinkable, 
not only because the laws of the land scourged him 
with dire penalties and forfeitures, but also because 
the sacred laws pronounced him anathema for all 
eternity. If it were true that a rich man could 
never hope to enter heaven and few men, in that 
day, doubted its truth what invitation could pos- 



Men vs. the Man 203 

sibly lurk in usury? Heaven was every man's 
goal, and the man shut out suffered a punishment 
which no worldly prosperity, however magnificent, 
could quite make him forget. The Jews, being 
accomplished sophists, invented excuses for them- 
selves. They could not escape the penalties of the 
law of the land, but their rabbis found means 
whereby, despite their usury, they might evade the 
plain law of heaven. These quibbles gave them 
such a great advantage over the races surrounding 
them that they managed to survive the most earnest 
efforts to stamp them out. That advantage they 
have never lost. They are still a bit more firm 
than the rest of us in their grip upon reality. 

After the age of faith, there followed an age of 
military endeavor, brought on by the gradual 
crowding of western Europe. Then came the dis- 
covery of America, and the submergence of the 
military ideal in commercial ideas. Columbus 
showed the marks of all three ages. He was at 
once evangelist, military conqueror, and gold- 
seeker. 

To-day we have lost our old faith, and there 
are no more hemispheres to explore. The whole 
energy of the race is thus directed toward complet- 
ing its mastery over the habitable lands it pos- 
sesses. It seeks to increase its profits from the 
soil, to improve its devices for exchanging com- 
modities, to organize and systematize the business 
of living. The effort is one which produces Rocke- 



2O4 Men vs. the Man 

fellers, Havemeyers, and Harrimans as inevitably 
as it produces airships, canned vegetables, tele- 
phones, and antitoxins. These latter-day barons 
are merely men who are able to do more efficiently 
than the average man the things that the race, as 
a race, is trying to do. They are as truly race- 
heroes, in twentieth century America, as Ulysses 
was a race-hero in military Greece, or Jesus of 
Nazareth in dreaming, hopeful, down-trodden 
Judea. They visualize the aspirations of their fel- 
low-men. 

That the commercial idea will rule mankind 
forever I by no means assert. How long it will 
remain more powerful than all other ideas I don't 
know, and neither do I know what other idea will 
take its place. It is constantly conditioned and 
modified by lesser concepts, any or all of which 
may one day conquer it. The military idea, for 
example, often rises to rivalry with it. For a few 
brief weeks in the summer of 1898, most Amer- 
icans envied Dewey more than Rockefeller, and 
thought him a more useful and honorable citizen. 
Even the old religious idea of sacrifice and post 
mortem reward occasionally has its meager innings. 
Millionaires, longing for heaven, disgorge their 
gold. Whole nations, sunk into Christian bathos, 
pension their doddering inefficients, and encourage 
the nether swine, with orphan asylum, hospital, and 
almshouse, to beget copiously and riotously, to the 
extreme limit of sub-human capacity. 



Men vs. the Man 205 

My own private view (the child, I must admit, 
of a very ardent wish) is that the idea of truth- 
seeking will one day take the place of the idea 
of money-making. That is to say, I believe that 
the Huxleys and Behrings of the world will one 
day loom up, in the eye of the race, as greater 
heroes than the St. Pauls and Augustines, the Will- 
iam Conquerors and Alexanders, the Rockefellers, 
Cecil Rhodeses, Krupps, and Morgans. But that 
day is far distant. As yet there is scarcely a sign 
of its dawn. The name of Huxley is still as 
strange, to the common people, as that of Duns 
Scotus. His influence upon their daily thought is 
still infinitely remote and infinitesimal. They still 
pay numbskulls to mount pulpits and preach down 
at them the dead fallacies of a primeval necro- 
mancy. They still insist that Friday is an unlucky 
day, that blasphemy is a crime, that the Book of 
Revelation is authentic. The race is yet in its 
childhood. Its yearning for the truth is yet swal- 
lowed up by its yearning for a rock and a refuge. 

Meanwhile the commercial idea is doing its best. 
It is, indeed, a necessary forerunner of that truth 
ideal I have mentioned. Before we may seek the 
ultimate verities with any hope of success, we must 
first put our house in order. We must complete 
our mastery of those natural forces which will help 
us, being enchained, just as readily as they now 
destroy us, being free. We must solve the prob- 
lems of food-supply, of transportation, of govern- 



206 Men vs. the Man 

ment. We must so organize the business of living 
that it will adapt itself, constantly and auto- 
matically, to the vicissitudes of terrestrial life. At 
present, if I may be permitted a metaphor, the 
body politic suffers from stiff knees, a bad stom- 
ach, and a disordered mind. It is our present ef- 
fort to give it clean, red blood, flowing freely 
clean, red blood, hard muscles, an alert brain, and 
a sound digestion. 

Would Socialism lend a hand in this gigantic 
therapy ? I think not. It would merely make the 
cure more difficult. To-day the law of natural 
selection is aiding the man-made laws of artificial 
selection. Under Socialism the unfit would sur- 
vive. Under Socialism the efficient man would 
have a price upon his head. 

Faithfully, 

H. L. M. 



LA MONTE'S SIXTH LETTER 

MY DEAR MENCKEN: 

I have been highly entertained by your vivacious 
trituration of the hapless Pecuniary Magnate, 
though I was greatly surprised that you so mag- 
nified his importance as to devote over six thou- 
sand words to replying to an argument that I pre- 
sented in six hundred. 

But, before commenting briefly on your argu- 
ment on this subject, will you permit me to remind 
you that your promise in your first letter " to draw, 
bit by bit, once more," your " ideal picture " 
(of future society) is still unfulfilled? It may be 
that I am obtuse, but certainly I have no more 
definite idea of your ideal than I had before this 
correspondence began. I hope that you will de- 
vote your next letter to enlightening me on this 
point. 

I will anticipate your reply that I have given 
you no definite picture of my own ideal, by re- 
minding you that the Socialist ideal has been so 
frequently sketched by master hands that I have 
felt it unnecessary and a waste of space once again 
to draw it here. But, while it is absurd to attempt 
to give a detailed description of a future stage of 

207 



2o8 Men vs. the Man 

social evolution, and, while no ideal is to be consid- 
ered ultimate or final, but rather as the starting 
point for new and indefinite progress, it is still 
entirely reasonable for the opponents of Socialism 
to demand some sort of concrete picture of the sort 
of society Socialists expect to see succeed Capital- 
ism. The picture drawn by William Morris in 
" News from Nowhere " seems to me so infinitely 
preferable in every way to the conditions surround- 
ing us, that I, for one, would be delighted to see it 
realized to-morrow. 

But, let me repeat, this is not my ultimate ideal, 
for I have no ultimate ideal, as I do not expect 
social evolution to come to a standstill till this old 
world shall be, in the words of Tennyson, " as dead 
as yon dead earth, the moon." 

Let me guard against a probable misapprehen- 
sion. By reading " News from Nowhere " you 
might not unnaturally get the idea that in my ideal 
society but little use would be made of machinery. 
On the contrary, as I have said elsewhere, I believe 
the Machine Age to be still in its infancy. I be- 
lieve that after the Social Revolution machinery 
will be so developed that practically all the un- 
attractive and toilsome work of the world will be 
'done by machinery, and that the work that will be 
left for manual labor will all come under the 
category of Art, using that word in a broad and 
true sense. 

J believe that this was also not very far from 



Men vs. the Man 209 

the expectation of William Morris, for, writing 
of machinery in "Signs of Change," he said: 

" In a true society these miracles of ingenuity 
would be for the first time used for minimizing 
the amount of time spent in unattractive labor, 
which by their means might be so reduced as to 
be but a very light burden on each individual. All 
the more as these machines would most certainly 
be very much improved when it was no longer a 
question as to whether their improvement would 
4 pay ' the individual, but rather whether it would 
benefit the community." 

So much for my ideal; will you give me an 
equally definite idea of your own? 

Now, to return to the Pecuniary Magnate, if I 
have analyzed your somewhat rambling (pardon 
me) remarks correctly, they amount in substance to 
this. You do not deny that sooner or later he is 
bound to appear; neither do you dispute the 
economic effects that Prof. Veblen and I have 
ascribed to him. But you do say, first, if his 
career proves too devastating, assassination will 
remove him. This does not meet the question, 
for his successor will have equal power. 

Secondly, and somewhat inconsistently, you say 
he does not alarm the people, but that on the con- 
trary they admire and envy him, and are conse- 
quently unlikely to interfere with him. If this 
be true, and I will not dispute it here, he will have 
precisely the annihilating effects upon the middle 



2io Men vs. the Man 

class (the progenitors of your Supermen) that I 
predicted. 

Thirdly, you say that while the masses admire 
him and will not impede his mad career, the lesser 
millionaires will turn and rend him. Did the 
lesser millionaires enjoy a cannibal orgy with 
the late Mr. Rogers of Standard Oil and the late 
Mr. Harriman of the Pacific Roads as victims? 
Ask Mr. Lawson of Boston and Mr. Fish of New 
York. 

You imply that Mr. James J. Hill once fell a 
victim to the direful wrath of the lesser million- 
aires. I wish you had been more explicit. The 
obituary notices of Mr. Harriman led me to be- 
lieve that it was that prince of Pecuniary Mag- 
nates, and not the small-fry millionaires, who oc- 
casionally defeated the able plans of Mr. Hill. But 
I stand open to correction on this point. 

You also say that Mr. Rockefeller's activities 
have seldom caused insomnia among investors. 
Permit me to commend to you the history of 
Amalgamated Copper. 

Finally, you say the Pecuniary Magnates are 
" truly race-heroes in twentieth century America. 
They visualize the aspirations of their fellow-men. 
That the commercial idea will rule mankind for- 
ever I by no means assert. How long it will re- 
main more powerful than all other ideas I don't 
know, and neither do I know what other idea will 
take its place." 



Men vs. the Man 211 

Here, we Socialists have the advantage of you, 
for we do know, in the language of Friedrich 
Nietzsche, " how ideals are manufactured on 
earth." We do know that human ideals are deter- 
mined by the modes of production and exchange; 
and, therefore, we know that the commercial ideal 
of boundless wealth will persist just as long as 
the means of production and distribution remain 
private property, and we do know that the Social 
Revolution, now close at hand, which will trans- 
form these into common or collective property will 
usher in the new and glorious ideal of social 
service an ideal that includes your ideal of 
" truth-seeking," just as it includes the Hellenic 
ideal of beauty and the Dionysian ideal of joy. 

Only by becoming a soldier in the comrade- 
hosts, can you hasten the realization of your own 
ideal. It is because you feel the imperious 
strength of this inward urge toward Socialism that 
you argue so desperately against it. I rejoice at 
this unconscious testimony to the resistless might of 
the lure of Socialism. 

In attempting to cure what you conceive to be 
my boundless faith in the omnipotence of legisla- 
tion you tell me that " legislation is always an ef- 
fect rather than a cause " and that " it is inevitably 
a good distance behind the event." You are mak- 
ing progress, my dear Mencken, and I venture to 
hope that it will not be long before you are able 
to comprehend the meaning of Marx's pregnant 



212 Men vs. the Man 

statement that " the economic structure of society 
is the real foundation, on which rise legal and 
political superstructures and to which correspond 
definite forms of social consciousness." But, let 
me remind you that every effect is also a cause, and 
that while the roots of legislation are to be delved 
for in the economic soil, legislation also exercises 
a potent influence upon the course of economic de- 
velopment. 

We Socialists do not put our whole faith in 
legislation. Our eggs are not all in one basket. 
We want the Co-operative Commonwealth, and we 
want it soon, and we do not scorn or disdain any 
weapon that may be of service in the struggle to at- 
tain our goal. We regard the ballot as one of our 
most important weapons ; we even think it might be 
almost our sole weapon if our adversaries would 
play the game of political democracy fairly. But 
we are not so naive as to expect this. Accordingly 
we shall use every weapon that the evolution of the 
struggle develops. The recent history of Russia, 
Sweden, and the Latin countries of Europe has 
shown that the strike, in its later forms, is capable 
of rivaling, if not surpassing, the ballot as a means 
of Social Revolution. We shall certainly use both 
ballot and strike, and I have no doubt that other 
and equally powerful weapons will be evolved in 
the future. 

But the ballot has this distinct advantage: by 
using it we demonstrate our strength, and the 



Men vs. the Man 213 

mightier the power we show at the ballot-box, the 
less likely are our opponents to force us to make 
use of our auxiliary methods. So that it is true 
that we do lay great stress upon the ballot as a 
means to Social Revolution. But we are quite 
sure that after the Social Revolution there will be 
little room or need for legislation in the sense in 
which that term is now used. 

In the struggle for Socialism, as in all other 
struggles, the victory must go to the stronger of 
the contesting parties. From this point of view 
both the ballot and the strike are crude ther- 
mometers for registering our rising strength. 
When either of these thermometers shows that we 
possess the superior social force, there will be need, 
not so much for legislation, as for a parley to ar- 
range the terms of surrender of the Capitalist 
Class. 

For, blink it, as we Americans try to, this 
struggle in which we are engaged is and must re- 
main a class-struggle until the Social Revolution 
wipes out class antagonisms forever. 

The greatest contribution that America has made 
to anthropology and sociology was made by the 
late Lewis H. Morgan of Rochester, New York. 
Unfortunately, the biography of this transcendent 
scientific genius is yet unwritten. His more im- 
portant works were published over thirty years ago 
by Henry Holt and Company. Chiefest among 
them stands out " Ancient Society." In this monu- 



214 Men vs. the Man 

mental work Morgan through his study of the gens 
and the marriage systems of the Iroquois Indians 
and the Kanakas of Hawaii for the first time en- 
abled us to understand the social organization of 
the Greeks of Homeric and pre-Homeric times. 

He broadly sketched the development of human 
institutions through three stages of savagery and 
three stages of barbarism up to civilization, and 
thus enabled us to forecast the future. How did 
he differentiate the divers stages of advance? By 
the tools that men had invented and employed, 
and the animals they had domesticated and made 
subservient to human ends. He demonstrated that 
these were the most important determining factors 
of all social institutions. Man makes tools, and 
the sort of tools that man has made determines 
what sort of a society man shall live in. Since 
this great discovery of Morgan's it is possible for 
us when we know the tools in use at any given era, 
to draw in broad outline the whole cultural scheme 
of life of that era, just as Owen could reconstruct 
the skeleton of an extinct species from a single 
fossil bone. 

Given small hand tools and no motor power, and 
there inevitably result handicraft production, an- 
thropomorphic religion, and the natural rights 
philosophy of seventeenth century England and 
eighteenth century France. 

When the technique of production reaches its 
present titanic development, the very nature of the 



Men vs. the Man 215 

tools (huge plants that can only be run by vast 
armies of co-operating men and women) makes 
the social ownership of those plants necessary and 
inevitable. " Private property in the instruments 
of production," says Kautsky, " has its roots in 
small production. Individual production makes 
individual ownership necessary. Large produc- 
tion on the contrary denotes co-operative, social 
production. In large production each individual 
does not work alone, but a large number of work- 
ers, a whole commonwealth, work together to pro- 
duce a whole. Accordingly, the modern instru- 
ments of production are extensive and gigantic. 
With them it is wholly impossible that every single 
worker should own his own instruments of pro- 
duction. Once the present stage is reached by 
large production, it admits but of two systems of 
ownership : 

" First, private ownership by the individual in 
the instruments of production used by co-opera- 
tive labor; that means the existing system of cap- 
italist production, with its train of misery and ex- 
ploitation as the portion of the workers, idleness 
and excessive abundance as the portion of the cap- 
italist; and 

" Second, ownership by the workers in the com- 
mon instruments of production; that means a co- 
operative system of production, and the extinction 
of the exploitation of the workers, who become 
masters of their own products, and who themselves 



216 Men vs. the Man 

appropriate the surplus of which, under our sys- 
tem, they are deprived by the capitalists. 

" To substitute common for private ownership 
in the means of production, this it is that the 
economic development is urging upon us with ever 
increasing force." 

This substitution, my dear Mencken, is inevi- 
table, and it cannot be much longer deferred. But, 
as Kautsky says elsewhere, " when the Socialist de- 
clares the abolition of private property in the in- 
struments of production to be unavoidable, he does 
not mean that some fine morning, without their 
helping themselves, the exploited classes will find 
the ravens feeding them. The Socialist considers 
the breakdown of the present social system to be 
unavoidable, because he knows that the economic 
evolution inevitably brings on those conditions 
that will compel the exploited classes to rise against 
this system of private ownership; that this system 
multiplies the number and the strength of the ex- 
ploited, and diminishes the number and strength of 
the exploiting classes, both of whom are still ad- 
hering to it; and that it will finally lead to such 
unbearable conditions for the masses of the pop- 
ulation that they will have no alternative but 
either to go down in silence, or to overthrow that 
system of property." 

This is what Marx and Engels meant when 
they wrote in the Communist Manifesto, " What 
the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are 



Men vs. the Man 217 

its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of 
the proletariat are equally inevitable." 

Our present ethics and our present jurisprudence 
are both legacies from the era of handicraft. Un- 
der handicraft it seemed wholly right and natural 
that the laborer who owned his own tools and 
worked with his own hands should own absolutely 
his own product. Property rested, as it were, on 
the right of creation. But to-day the great mass 
of property has not been created by its owners, but 
by the labor of others. But we still adhere to the 
old ethics and jurisprudence begotten by handi- 
craft. " Political economy," said Marx, " con- 
fuses on principle two very different kinds of pri- 
vate property, of which one rests on the producer's 
own labor, the other on the employment of the 
labor of others. It forgets that the latter not only 
is the direct antithesis of the former, but absolutely 
grows on its tomb only." 

The economic history of the seventeenth, 
eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries is simply the 
story of the divorce of the peasant from the 
land and the artisan from his tools. This di- 
vorce was accomplished with much violence and 
suffering, but it was absolutely necessary for the 
development of the highly productive powers of 
modern industry. When this process neared com- 
pletion, there began the divorce of the middle 
class capitalist from his capital a process that 
is still rapidly proceeding. " This expropria- 



2i 8 Men vs. the Man 

tion," Marx tells us in " Capital," " is accom- 
plished by the action of the immanent laws of cap- 
italistic production itself, by the centralization of 
capital. One capitalist always kills many." I 
have dwelt so often upon this tendency of our mod- 
ern commercial life, and all American business men 
are so painfully familiar with it, that no more need 
be said of it here. 

Here in America these two processes the di- 
vorce of the worker from the means of produc- 
tion and the divorce of the smaller capitalists from 
their capital have proceeded so far that the 
further development of our productive powers is 
seriously impeded. The limited purchasing power 
of the proletarians who have been freed from their 
petty property compels the pecuniary magnates who 
control our great industrial trusts to curtail produc- 
tion, while the fear of the crushing competition of 
the trusts prevents our lesser capitalists from ven- 
turing upon new productive enterprises. We are 
indeed hard up against the day of judgment. We 
have reached here in America to-day the condition 
that Marx predicted over forty years ago in these 
memorable words : " The monopoly of capital be- 
comes a fetter upon the mode of production, 
which has sprung up and flourished along with it, 
and under it. Centralization of the means of 
production and socialization of labor at last reach 
a point where they become incompatible with their 
capitalist integument. This integument is burst 



Men vs. the Man 219 

asunder. The knell of capitalist private property 
sounds. The expropriators are expropriated. 

" The transformation of scattered private prop- 
erty, arising from individual labor, into capitalist 
private property is, naturally, a process incom- 
parably more protracted, violent, and difficult than 
the transformation of capitalistic private property, 
already practically resting on socialized production, 
into socialized property. In the former case, we had 
the expropriation of the mass of the people by a 
few usurpers; in the latter, we have the expropria- 
tion of a few usurpers by the mass of the people." 

But besides showing us the tremendous im- 
portance of the nature of man's tools, Lewis H. 
Morgan, in " Ancient Society," also shed a flood of 
light on the nature of political government. The 
two distinguishing marks of political government, 
or the State, as we moderns conceive it, are, first, 
the power to levy and collect taxes, and, second, 
the power to make and enforce laws. Morgan 
showed that among the Iroquois Indians and other 
primitive societies in which the institution of pri- 
vate property was not developed, while there was 
a fairly elaborate social organization, the two dis- 
tinguishing marks of the modern State were ut- 
terly lacking. The public power of coercion was 
only developed after the powers of production were 
so developed as to enable the worker to produce 
more than his own subsistence and thus to make 



220 Men vs. the Man 

it more expedient to enslave the prisoners of war 
than to kill or eat them, and after the breeding on 
a large scale of domestic animals had given rise to 
large private property in flocks and herds. 

Political government has its genesis in the divi- 
sion of society into privileged classes and non- 
privileged classes. As Deville puts it, " for the 
security of a social order involving the division of 
the population into classes, a public power cal- 
culated to compel the respect of the non-privileged 
is necessary." Political government, in the mod- 
ern sense, does not exist so long as there are no 
classes in society; it makes its appearance in a 
more or less developed form with the emergence of 
classes and the antagonisms they involve. The 
product of a definite social order, it will last as 
long as the conditions that have rendered it in- 
evitable. 

" When, in the course of development," says the 
Communist Manifesto, " class distinctions have 
disappeared, and all production has been concen- 
trated in the hands of a vast association of the 
whole nation, the public power will lose its political 
character. Political power, properly so called, is 
merely the organized power of one class for op- 
pressing another. If the proletariat during its 
contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the 
force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, 
if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the 
ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force 



Men vs. the Man 221 

the old conditions of production, then it will, along 
with these conditions, have swept away the condi- 
tions for the existence of class antagonisms, and 
of classes generally, and will thereby have abol- 
ished its own supremacy as a class. 

" In place of the old bourgeois society, with its 
classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an as- 
sociation, in which the free development of each 
is the condition for the free development of all." 

Since political government is in essence an organ 
of conservation whose chief function has been to 
defend economic privilege, it follows that we can- 
not destroy economic privilege without first cap- 
turing the powers of political government. Here 
you have the key to the political tactics of the So- 
cialist movement. We despise no reform that 
makes more tolerable the life-conditions of the 
masses, but we know also that we cannot remove 
the source of poverty and misery private owner- 
ship of tools and machinery so long as we leave 
the powers of political government in the control 
of the propertied classes. Hence, the immediate 
goal of the Socialist party in every country is the 
conquest of political power. 

We aim to capture political government that we 
may compel political government to commit sui- 
cide. As I have written elsewhere, " the state is 
destined, when it becomes the state of the work- 
ing-class, to remove its own foundation economic 
inequality and thus, to commit suicide." In the 



222 Men vs. the Man 

words of Friedrich Engels, " the government of 
persons will be replaced by the administration of 
things." 

I hope I have now made it clear that we urge 
the workers to vote for Debs, not for the sake of 
such crumbs of reform as we may attain by im- 
mediate legislation (though I repeat we do not 
despise or spurn such reforms), but because we 
know the powers of government in the hands of 
our opponents constitute an insurmountable bar- 
rier between us and our goal. 

But, I repeat, the fundamental difference be- 
tween your position and mine is ethical rather than 
economic. You hold that the individual can reach 
a high development and happiness by making high 
individual development and happiness his conscious 
goals. I hold that the individual man can only 
reach a high and worthy, a noble, development, 
not by conscious self-sacrifice (which I agree with 
you and Nietzsche is morbid and pathological), 
but by such whole-souled devotion to the welfare 
of others as leads to forgetfulness of one's own 
interests. 

Socialist ethics, as I conceive them, are well ex- 
pressed in what W. D. Howells tells us was the 
lesson Ibsen taught in " Little Eyolf " : " that you 
must not and you cannot be happy except through 
the welfare of others, and that to seek your bliss 
outside of this is to sin against reason and right- 
eousness both." 



Men vs. the Man 223 

I hold that, even if the goal of Socialism should 
prove an iridescent dream, it has already enriched 
the world immeasurably by the nobility of char- 
acter it has so abundantly brought forth. It is 
because it leads individuals to forget themselves in 
their complete devotion to a great cause and a 
noble ideal, that it is to-day the most vital regen- 
erating religious force in the world. 

Socialism will abolish poverty and satiety, and 
make joyousness the dominant note of humanity; 
it will make it impossible for self-interest to clash 
with social welfare, and will thus make the Golden 
Rule work universally and automatically. " May 
we not expect," asks Kautsky, " that under such 
conditions a new type of mankind will arise which 
will be far superior to the highest type which cul- 
ture has hitherto created? An Over-man (Ueber- 
mensch), if you will, not as an exception but as a 
rule, an Over-man compared with his predecessors, 
but not as opposed to his comrades, a noble man 
who seeks his satisfaction not by being great among 
crippled dwarfs, but great among the great, happy 
among the happy who does not draw his feeling 
of strength from the fact that he raises himself 
upon the bodies of the down-trodden, but because 
a union with his fellow-workers gives him courage 
to dare the attainment of the highest tasks." 

Awaiting with serene confidence the soon-com- 
ing day when I can sign myself " your comrade," 
Yours as ever, LA MONTE. 



MENCKEN'S REPLY TO LA MONTE'S 
SIXTH LETTER 

MY DEAR LA MONTE : 

In the matter of the Pecuniary Magnate I am 
well content to leave you in possession of the field. 
This is not because I think you have disposed of 
the few modest suggestions I ventured to put forth 
in my last letter, but because I see no hope of 
rescuing you from your errors by the ordinary 
processes of disputation. You Socialists, when you 
come to discuss the magnates, surplus values, bour- 
geoisie, and other fantastic fowl in your aviary of 
horrors, too often borrow a dialectic device from 
your blood brothers, the Christian Scientists. That 
is to say, you insist upon using private brands of 
epistemology and logic, unknown and incompre- 
hensible to mere human beings, in the conduct of 
your philosophical feuds. Point out to a Christian 
Scientist that the influence of the mind upon the 
liver is infinitely less powerful than the influence 
of the liver upon the mind, and he will bowl you 
over with the staggering answer that the liver is a 
mere delusion of the mind. It seems to me en- 
tirely impossible for an everyday disputant, handi- 
capped by a reverence for Aristotle, to controvert, 

224 



Men vs. the Man 225 

or even to denounce such a theory. How are you 
going to lay hold of it? How are you going to 
measure or weigh it? It wipes out the whole uni- 
verse, as you know that universe, and suspends all 
the laws of evidence, logic, and causation. It 
leaves you, in a word, gasping in an empty void. 
The only thing to do is to steal away in silence. 

The same fate, I fear, sometimes overtakes the 
controversialist who engages a Socialist in debate. 
My own case offers sorry proof of it. In my last 
letter, for instance, I pointed out that the Pecuniary 
Magnate's capacity for evil, while boundless in 
theory, would be ever limited in practice, for not 
even class legislation could afford him absolute 
safety from some groaning hero's bullet. This 
argument, I flattered myself, would give you pause, 
but I was wrong. In the single paragraph that 
you take to answer it, you wipe it completely from 
the record, just as a Christian Scientist, with one 
shattering denial, wipes out the whole science of 
physiology. My argument, you maintain, is vain 
and futile, for it is not an argument at all. As- 
sassination a remedy? Pooh! What's the use? 
As soon as one Magnate is assassinated, " his suc- 
cessor will have equal power." 

Well, let us look into this a bit. Let us suppose 
a horde of potential Magnates, all eager to feast 
upon the public. Many of them have the will and 
many of them have the means, but the combination 
of will and means is comparatively rare. But by 



226 Men vs. the Man 

and by, one of them with the will, by dint of toil- 
some effort, achieves the means also, and in his face 
we at once behold the lineaments of the true Veb- 
lenian monster. He loses no time; he is at the 
throat of the great masses instanter. A period of 
barbarous pillage ensues. The price of beer goes 
up to twenty-five cents a can. The unemployed 
stalk the earth in tragic misery. Many of them, 
facing despair, are forced to accept work from 
their conqueror. Others, more idealistic, starve. 
Desperate men murder and rob. Children are 
eaten. Socialism grows popular. . . . One day 
a bomb explodes beneath the private train of the 
Nameless One, and he rolls a thousand feet down 
the Alleghany Mountains. A month after his 
funeral, his wealth is divided into two parts. One 
swells the endowment of a Baptist u university " in 
Arkansas, and the other goes to his son a young 
man whose wildest dream is to be the lover of a 
prima donna. Thus passeth the means. The will 
is already moldering in its grave. 

But another Magnate springs into the saddle. 
He is even worse than the first one. He rowels 
the proletariat mercilessly. The cries of starving 
children are music to his ears. He delights in 
human misery, in unmentionable horrors, in un- 
namable suffering. . . . One day his fore- 
ordained bullet reaches him, and he troubles no 
more. 

A third! He has "equal power." ... So 



Men vs. the Man 227 

has the bullet that finds him. ... A fourth ! A 
fifth! A one-hundredth! A five-hundredth! 
. . . We come to large numbers. Four hun- 
dred million Magnates have been slain. The earth 
is littered with their carcasses. By their wills they 
have established 5,000,000 Baptist " universities," 
sent out 50,000,000 missionaries to the heathen, 
and founded the fortunes of a whole race of show 
girls, shyster lawyers, head waiters, and alienists. 
What a fate ! What a taste of ashes in the mouth ! 
And yet the four-hundred-million-and-first Mag- 
nate, by your astonishing theory of infinite series, 
is ready and willing to face the same fate and 
taste the same ashes. That monster who at the 
moment you introduced him was rare to the point 
of actual non-existence, is now as common as 
heresy. Once crafty and selfish beyond expression, 
he is now willing to face certain death for an idea. 
Frankly, my dear La Monte, I do not think 
that you have disposed of my contention. Unless 
I am vastly mistaken, a very real fear of death 
(made real by practical examples) is apt to shake 
the determination of even the most determined 
man. And unless I am mistaken again, a public 
execution, whether official or unofficial, is certain 
to end the activity of even the most active, and to 
make his particular form of activity lose its lure 
for others. The case of General Trepoff may oc- 
cur to you. General Trepoff, true enough, has a 
successor in the office of Chief of the Russian 



228 Men vs. the Man 

Secret Police, but I fancy that even the most rabid 
Russian patriot will admit that the administration 
of his successor, while still leaving much to be de- 
sired, is measurably less murderous than that of 
Trepoff himself. If you maintain, in answer, that 
there is but one Chief of the Secret Police in 
Russia, while the United States offers pasturage 
for a large number of Pecuniary Magnates, of 
varying ambitions and degrees of evil, I need only 
remind you that in the cemetery of Picpus in Paris 
you will find the headless skeletons of 1,306 French 
nobles of the Terror year, who were also of vary- 
ing ambitions and degrees of evil. Bullets are 
cheap to-day. One or ten thousand what are 
the odds? 

And yet the Terror did not turn France into 
Paradise. Of course not! No more would So- 
cialism. The French peasants got rid of their 
feudal masters, and it was good riddance, but new 
masters appeared next day. The name of the 
thing was changed, but the thing itself remained. 
The same phenomenon would be observed if there 
were a wholesale slaughter of millionaires in the 
United States to-morrow, followed by a grand in- 
auguration of Socialism. In that case, my dear 
La Monte, you yourself would become a Magnate. 
You edit a Socialist paper to-day and write Socialist 
books, and the high privates and corporals of the 
Socialist army quite naturally attach a good deal 
of value to your technical skill and judgment as 



Men vs. the Man 229 

a virtuoso and connoisseur of economic disgust. 
In the Socialist state they would still look to you 
for guidance, for they would still be common 
men and as such still in need of counselors, leaders, 
and masters. You would be, we will say, Secre- 
tary of the Treasury or Governor of the State of 
New York with a presidential bee buzzing in your 
ears. . . . Let me confess it candidly; the pros- 
pect does not please me. Between communism 
dominated by Robert Rives La Monte and a 
democracy tempered by John D. Rockefeller I am 
constrained to choose the latter not because I 
hate you, but because a patient and painful inquiry 
has convinced me that, on the whole, the philosophy 
lived by John is safer, saner, and more wholesome 
for the human race than the philosophy preached 
by you. . . . The average American, I take it, 
agrees with me. Maybe that is why a proposal 
that Rockefeller be assassinated would seem a joke 
to him a joke in bad taste, perhaps, but still a 
harmless one. Do not worry: John is safe. So 
long as we proletarians can laugh we are an in- 
offensive lot. 

Your other objections in rebuttal, in the matter of 
Veblen and his Magnates, I must submit to pos- 
terity and a just God without further argument, for 
this correspondence is already o'er-long, and be- 
fore closing this letter I must try to answer your 
charge that I have no philosophy of life to offer in 
place of Socialism. This charge, at least in part, 



230 Men vs. the Man 

is true enough, for I must confess that I have no 
infallible formula, like your " materialistic concep- 
tion of history," to solve all the problems of human 
existence. Life impresses me, most of all, by its 
appalling complexity. It is not static but dynamic ; 
not a being, but an eternal becoming. The con- 
stant reaction of diversified individuals upon a fluent 
environment produces a series of phenomena which 
seems to me, at times, to be beyond all ordering 
and ticketing. When one attempts to interpret 
these phenomena, and to reduce them to ordered 
chains and classes, the result is too often a futile 
waste of words. Unlike things are given the same 
name, and their possession of that name in com- 
mon is taken to be a proof of their identity. Again, 
the same thing is given two names, x and y, and 
elaborate equations are built up from them, with- 
out anyone noticing the fallacies that fairly bristle 
in both members. Most of the absurdities of the 
quack-science of sociology, as it is taught by vapid 
college professors, and of the quasi-science of 
political economy, as it is taught by professors, la- 
bor leaders, editorial writers, and rhapsodists, arise 
out of just such errors. 

You Socialists often blunder into the trap. In 
your last letter, for example, you say that, " given 
small hand tools and no motive power, and there 
inevitably results handicraft production." On the 
surface, this seems to be a sound enough generali- 
zation, but a moment's inspection will show that its 



Men vs. the Man 231 

soundness is a mere appearance. What you actu- 
ally say, in fact, is this : that given hand tools and 
nothing else, there must inevitably result the use 
of hand tools. There is just as much intelligibil- 
ity in that statement, and no more, as you will find 
in the statement that all one-eyed men must see 
out of one eye. 

But you are not alone in your errors. Others 
just as gross are made by all other men who seek 
to reduce the complex and disorderly phenomena 
of life to rigid rules. I fall into them myself 
whenever I set pen to paper as you have noticed 
full often in these letters of mine and only the 
soothing knowledge that I am not alone in my blun- 
dering that even the Huxleys, the Newtons, and 
the Darwins are sometimes with me keeps me 
from abandoning controversy as an art impos- 
sible by the very nature of things. Generaliza- 
tions, indeed, all have their limits even this one. 
Apply them often enough, and you will come in- 
evitably upon some disconcerting exception, some 
radioactive anarchist. The cosmic process is made 
up of innumerable acts, and the more we ex- 
amine any of them, the more we become convinced 
that, in many respects, it is unique. But because 
philosophy is long and life is short we must as- 
sume, even when we can't entirely believe, that 
they fall into groups and classes, else we could 
never hope to study them at all. In Prof. James' 
phrase, we must use short cuts in our reasoning. 



232 Men vs. the Man 

But we may still take care, in using them, that 
they are not needlessly short. 

And now for the philosophy which I choose to 
regard as more accurate and more satisfactory than 
Socialism. You complain that I have failed to 
state it in my letters, simply and unequivocably, 
but you must admit that I have given you more 
than one glimpse of its outlines. These glimpses, 
I make no doubt, have long ago informed you 
that it is, in the rough, a square denial of 
practically all the doctrines and ideals at the bot- 
tom of Christianity and Socialism. Whenever and 
however Christianity and Socialism differ, my vote 
is for Socialism, and to that extent, perhaps, I may 
claim membership in your fraternity. Like you, I 
hold in abhorrence the false promise that " the 
meek shall inherit the earth " the one ingredient 
which effectually separates Christian morality from 
all other moralities and like you, I hold that life 
upon the earth is a very agreeable thing, and that 
men should concentrate their greatest efforts upon 
making it more agreeable a notion which no hon- 
est Christian, with his belief in the ineradicable 
vileness of humanity, and the futility of human ef- 
fort, can harbor without a feeling of guilt. In 
all this we are one, but when it comes to the doc- 
trines, which Christianity and Socialism hold in 
common, we are two. I refer here, of course, to 
the doctrines that all men are equal " before the 
Lord," that a man's duty to his brother is greater 



Men vs. the Man 233 

than his duty to himself, that the hopeless yearn- 
ings of a stupid, helpless, and inefficient man are, 
in some recondite manner, more pleasing to the 
Master of the universe than the well-ordered, in- 
telligible plans and achievements of an efficient 
man. I cannot believe these things. It seems to 
me, indeed, that they are palpably untrue, and that, 
by reason of their untruth, they are dangerous foes 
to human progress. 

You Socialists, in the very first paragraph of 
your philosophy, make one of the errors that I 
have mentioned in a preceding paragraph. That 
is to say, you give very unlike things the same 
name, and then assume that they are like. As ex- 
amples of these unlike things, I can do no better 
than mention Thomas Henry Huxley and a man 
whom we may call the Rev. Jasper Johnson. On 
the surface you will find many points of resem- 
blance between the two. Huxley was a male of 
the genus homo, and so is Johnson; Huxley had 
five fingers on each hand, and so has Johnson; 
Huxley expressed his ideas in the English language, 
and so does Johnson ; Huxley was carnivorous and 
so is Johnson. Reckon up all these points of re- 
semblance and you will find them almost infinite in 
number. But, reckon up, then, the points of dif- 
ference between the two men, and you will find 
them equal to # n plus a million. In every char- 
acteristic, instinct, habit, and quality which serves 
to differentiate any man from any ape, Huxley 



234 Men vs. the Man 

was more lavishly endowed, perhaps, than any 
other individual man that ever lived; but in John- 
son these characteristics, instinct, habits, and qual- 
ities, when they appear at all, are so faint that 
it is well-nigh impossible to detect them. Huxley, 
in a word, was an intellectual colossus ; while John- 
son, intellectually, scarcely exists at all. The one 
pushed the clock of progress ahead a hundred 
years ; the other is a foul, ignorant, thieving, super- 
stitious, self-appointed negro preacher of the Black 
Belt, whose mental life is made up of three ambi- 
tions to eat a whole hog at one meal, to be a 
white man in heaven, and to meet a white woman, 
some day, in a lonely wood. 

And yet, by the socialistic and Christian philoso- 
phies, these men are equal. According to the 
Christian seers, they will kneel before the throne 
of God side by side, and spend eternity as brothers. 
According to the Socialist seers, they are equally 
fitted to deal with the great problems of society and 
the state, equally worthy of ease, protection, and 
leisure, and equally entitled to have the aid of their 
fellow-men in the achievement of their ambitions. 

I am unable, my dear La Monte, to grant this 
much. It seems to me, indeed, that the man who 
attempts to prove merely that Huxley and Johnson 
belong to the same order of living creatures has 
a staggering task ahead of him. The gap be- 
tween them, I am convinced, is greater than that 
between Johnson and the anthropoid apes. Phys- 



Men vs. the Man 235 

ically, true enough, there is probably only a dif- 
ference in degree, but mentally there is an abysmal 
difference in kind. No conceivable course of train- 
ing, however protracted, could convert Johnson 
into an imitation of Huxley. The one came into 
the world with certain inherited traits, certain in- 
valuable forms of congenital efficiency, which the 
other can never hope to acquire. The one be- 
longed to a caste of men whose value to the human 
race, and whose consequent right to life, no sane 
person would venture to deny; the other belongs 
to a caste whose value is obviously nil, and whose 
right to life, in consequence, must be proved be- 
fore it is admitted. 

Here, then, I arrive at that doctrine of human 
rights which seems to me to be most in accord with 
the inflexible and beneficent laws of nature which 
rule man in his complex communities just as rigidly 
as they rule staphylococci in their culture tubes. 
Of these rights there are two classes first, those 
which a man (or a class of men) wrests from his 
environment by force; and secondly, those which 
he obtains by an exchange of values. A man is 
exercising rights of the first class when he kills the 
wolf that seeks to devour him, or wrings a living 
directly from the earth; he is exercising a right 
of the second class when he takes his skill and in- 
dustry into the open market and sells them for 
whatever they will bring. If the service that he 
offers is of small value to his fellow-men, he must 



236 Men vs. the Man 

be content with a small return for it. And if, per- 
chance, it has no value, he must accept nothing as 
his reward. There is, in a word, no irreducible 
minimum of compensation, due to every man by 
virtue of his mere existence as a human being. 
No man has any right to life, save that which he 
proves by mastering his environment. 

This view of the world and its people is not 
quite so anthropophagous as my bald statement of 
it may make it seem. It does not exclude those 
feelings of pity, charity, and good-will which grow 
out of habit and association, nor does it exclude 
that wise foresight which sometimes prompts the 
strong man to aid the weak man, that the latter, 
perchance, may shake off his weakness and become 
a helper instead of a pensioner. But it does ex- 
clude that sentimental reverence for the human be- 
ing, per se, which credits him with a long cata- 
logue of gratuitous and complex rights, all 
grounded upon the ancient theological notion that 
he is, in some sense, divine. This notion, I be- 
lieve, is to blame for nine-tenths of the wretched- 
ness in the world to-day. It is to blame for that 
unhealthy charity which coddles the degenerate, 
half-human pauper of England, and encourages 
him, in the name of God, to beget more of his 
kind; it is to blame for that maudlin theory of 
liberty which, in the United States, makes the vote 
of a negro loafer as potent as that of a Charles 
Eliot or a Thomas Edison; and it is to blame, 



Men vs. the Man 237 

finally, for that insidious and paralyzing unrest 
which, as Socialism or what not, is making the in- 
efficient man still more inefficient by convincing him 
that efficiency is valueless and even criminal. No 
great eloquence is needed to make a roustabout be- 
lieve that he is as good a man as the governor of 
his state, but his belief in that absurdity is no proof 
of its truth, and in the process of instilling it into 
his foggy mind you have ruined him as a roust- 
about. 

In order that the human race may go forward, it 
seems to me desirable that the rewards of extraor- 
dinary efficiency should be magnificently alluring, 
and that the penalties of complete inefficiency 
should be swift, merciless, and terrible. It is not 
sufficient that the unusual man be given enough to 
eat, and a roof to shelter him from the weather, 
for such things are within the easy reach of prac- 
tically all men. He must have, in addition, a re- 
ward which effectively marks him off from the 
common man. It is for him to nominate the qual- 
ity of that reward, and it is for his fellow-men to 
determine its quantity. If he wants money, let 
him have money. If he wants power, honor, 
glory, worship, let him have what he wants. Per- 
haps that incomparable but, to the common man, 
incomprehensible joy which comes with the con- 
sciousness of work well done will suffice him. Per- 
haps, on the contrary, he will demand, not only 
riches for himself, but also a guarantee that his 



238 Men vs. the Man 

children shall be rich for generations. What- 
ever he desires, he proves title to it by getting 
it. In the free market of the world he finds his 
price. 

The man of less efficiency makes a less splendid 
bargain, for the things that he offers for sale have 
less value. If he is at the bottom of the scale 
his wares have scarcely any value at all, since they 
are within the reach of nearly every one: There 
is no art at which he is appreciably more skilful 
than any other man. Therefore, he must seek his 
living at drudgery, at which all men of normal 
health are equally efficient. Men who desire to 
escape their share of the world's drudgery, because 
more agreeable and more profitable work invites 
their skill, give it over to him. The thing that he 
offers for sale, in a word, is exactly that elemental 
functional energy which a draught horse offers for 
sale, and nothing more; and the price that he 
gets for it, as Adam Smith showed long ago, is the 
same price paid to the horse food and shelter, 
and nothing more. If he superimposes upon that 
functional energy the slightest skill, his pay begins 
to include something beside the bare means of ex- 
istence, and as his skill increases, his pay in- 
evitably follows it. 

It seems to me that this is an admirable arrange- 
ment. If I had the power to change it, I should 
not make the slightest alteration. If I were told 
off to create a new universe, I should adopt the 



Men vs. the Man 239 

whole plan bodily. We human beings may well 
offer our thanks to it for our emergence from the 
dumb brutes. It has lifted us up in the past, and 
it will lift us up for all time to come. It stamps 
out, automatically and certainly, not only the in- 
efficient individual but also the useless class and 
the weakling race. Its tendency is to accentuate 
and make more conspicuous all of those traits and 
forms of skill which best differentiate the human 
being from all other beings. It offers enormous 
premiums to the man who can do well the things 
which all other men can do only badly, or not at 
all. It reduces to slavery the man who has only 
the strength of a weak ox to sell. And in its deal- 
ings with the countless individuals between this 
master-man and this slave-man, it determines every 
man's value, not by his yearnings or his intentions, 
but by the immediate value of his acts. 

Dealing thus with countless individuals, it sets 
them off, roughly, into castes, but there are no 
palpable barriers about these castes. A man born 
into the lowest may die in the highest. A race as 
generally inefficient as the African may produce 
an occasional Hannibal or Dumas, and a race at 
the top of the scale may have its hordes of idiots. 
In one century, when the general environment of 
humanity puts a premium upon a certain kind of 
skill, the race best displaying it may rule the world, 
and two centuries later, when changes in environ- 
ment make some other kind of skill more valuable, 



240 Men vs. the Man 

that same race may sink to practical slavery. The 
great reward is always to the race, as to the in- 
dividual, which best masters the present difficulty 
and meets the present need. 

Civilization, growing conscious of the natural 
castes, erects them into classes, and then seeks to 
make their prerogatives and disabilities permanent. 
But this effort, in the long run, inevitably fails. 
There was a time in the history of the world, for 
example, when its priest class possessed absolute 
power over all other classes power infinitely 
greater than that wielded by the military class in 
the middle ages, or by the commercial class to-day. 
It seemed utterly incredible, at that time, that 
the priest class would one day become a rabble of 
scarcely tolerated parasites, and yet that thing has 
come to pass. The military class, in the same 
way, has lost its old kingship, and to-day its very 
existence depends upon the good-will of the com- 
mercial class. Perhaps the latter, too, will be de- 
throned in time. I am sure I don't know. It is 
even possible that the " producer " class may have 
its innings. Again, I don't know. 

But this I do know: that the plan of Socialism 
to lift up the " producer " class to sovereignty by 
an act of human volition is as absurd as the old 
ecclesiastical plan to solve the riddles of the uni- 
verse by revelation and anathema. If the thing 
ever comes to pass at all, it must come by slow 
stages and as a symptom of changes in the needs 



Men vs. the Man 241 

and desires of the human race. At present the 
race seems to stand most in need of improvements 
in the art of life. To the man who offers it a 
secret password to heaven, it gives little, for it is 
little interested in heaven, but for him who offers it 
some new scheme to attain ease and comfort some 
improvement in marketing petroleum, some device 
for making travel safer, some new food, some 
new plan of investing savings it has rewards as 
large as those that once went to popes and em- 
perors. And in this favored class of services, it 
esteems most the unique service. To the man 
who makes shoes which, whatever their excellence, 
are no more comfortable than the shoes made at 
the next bench, it gives a comparatively small re- 
ward. And so, too, it has no prize for the man 
who raises wheat in the old, old way, and stores 
it in his bin. But to the man who, by inventing 
new machinery or by better organizing the work, 
improves the comfort of shoes, and to the man 
who buys the wheat of the farmers and hauls it 
craftily to where it is most needed to these men 
it gives extraordinary rewards. 

The effort to lift the man of common service 
to the level of the man of uncommon service seems 
to me not only pernicious, but also, in the long run, 
inevitably futile. When the workingman, going 
into the market to sell his skill, attempts, by fair 
means, to strike the best bargain he may, he has 
my unfeigned sympathy. But when, as a man 



242 Men vs. the Man 

of common skill, he demands the rewards and con- 
sideration due only to the man of uncommon skill, 
it seems to me that the more efficient men on the 
other side of the counter are within their rights 
when they use their power and cunning to oppose 
his exactions. His notion that in addition to his 
just wages he deserves a definite reward for the 
mere act of remaining alive is one to which I can- 
not subscribe. And his further notion that his 
mere condition of aliveness makes him as fit to 
solve the most difficult problems of existence as 
those men whose extraordinary efficiency has lifted 
them up in this matter, too, I must diverge from 
him. No one, I am sure, regards it as an act of 
tyranny that bricklayers have no vote in the deter- 
mination of the treatment of pneumonia. In the 
same way it seems to me equally natural that negro 
farm hands should have no voice in the determina- 
tion of those great questions of government, com- 
merce, and the art of living which sorely tax even 
the highest men. 

But do the great rewards always go to the most 
efficient and worthy? How about the idle rich. 
And how about luck and brute strength? Is there 
any excuse for the besotted master of inherited 
millions, dragging out his useless days in self- 
indulgence? And isn't it a fact that the bitter 
struggle for existence, in destroying a weak body, 
may also destroy an incomparable mind? And 
finally, isn't it true that the sole difference between 



Men vs. the Man 243 

master and slave is sometimes a mere difference in 
opportunity ? 

The idle rich first. What of them? Does my 
scheme of things justify them? To be sure it 
does not but neither does it demand their im- 
mediate and melodramatic extinction. Admitting 
them to be as sinister as you Socialists accuse them 
of being, two factors, it seems to me, tend to dilute 
their capacity for actual evil-doing. One is the 
fact that they are few in number, and the other is 
the fact that their hold upon their opulence is al- 
ways precarious. In other words, the utterly idle 
man, who, despite his idleness, retains his riches, 
is an excessively rare individual. You must go to 
the stage and the uplift magazines to find him in 
force. In real life he is met with as seldom as a 
married philosopher or the horrid behemoth of 
Holy Writ. 

The vast majority of our millionaires are not 
idle parasites, but simply well-paid workmen. 
The money that rolls in upon them is their wage 
for devoting extraordinary talents to extraordinary 
acts. That these acts are sometimes judged to be 
immoral by eminent (though self-appointed) ex- 
perts has nothing to do with the case, for in the 
struggle for existence an act is never actually moral 
or immoral, but only (in the broadest sense of the 
words) profitable or unprofitable, worth doing or 
not worth doing. The view of it taken by a 
moralist, however accomplished he may be, is al- 



244 Men vs. the Man 

ways a mere opinion, and you can always find some 
other moralist to contradict it. To show you how 
nearly this is true, I need only recall to you that 
practically every act possible to human beings has 
been the storm-center of furious moral debates. 
To one man the act of eating flesh seems indecent, 
while to another it appears as the most agreeable 
operation imaginable. To one man the habit of 
taking money from ignorant folk, on the promise 
of getting them into heaven, seems the most dig- 
nified and honorable of human avocations, while to 
me it bears the aspect of a peculiarly heartless and 
nefarious form of fraud. To one man the soldier 
is a hero; to another, he is a vile loafer and 
chronic criminal. To one, marriage is a holy 
sacrament; to another, it is a dangerous vice. In 
view of all this, is it for you or me to determine, 
once and for all time, that the manner in which a 
particular millionaire makes his money is im- 
moral? I think not. So long as the millionaire 
himself thinks he earns it honestly, it is probably 
best to give him the benefit of the doubt. For all 
I know, even the cornering of the wheat market 
may have some recondite value; and whether in- 
trinsically valuable or not, it is certainly valued, 
for the public pays for it lavishly. 

No; the average millionaire is no inert leech, 
but a busy toiler. Even when his wealth comes 
to him as a free gift from his father, he must 
work hard to retain it. If you have ever had the 



Men vs. the Man 245 

care of any amount of capital, however small, you 
will have to admit that this is true. A further 
and familiar proof is offered by the fact that great 
fortunes seldom remain intact for more than a 
few generations. The rich man can be entirely 
idle only at enormous expense. It sometimes costs 
him a million dollars to nurse a bad cold, for 
while he is incommunicado all the rest of humanity 
joins in a desperate effort to relieve him of his 
fiscal burdens. The noble families of England, 
protected in their properties by the most cunning 
laws ever devised by man, are yet far from secure. 
According to one painstaking investigator, not 
more than five per cent, of the great fortunes of 
that country's peerage have come down unbroken 
for two generations. Noble and rich clans, as a 
rule, are quickly absorbed into the proletariat. 
The great-grandson of a duke may be a barber. 

But even admitting the idle and rich son of a 
millionaire to be entirely and perniciously useless, I 
fail to see what can be fairly done about it. His 
father received from the public certain enormous 
sums for certain services, which, by the law of 
supply and demand, bore a high market value, and, 
as I have shown before, they went to him upon the 
distinct understanding that he was to have the free 
use of them. If he had chosen to devote them to 
useful public purposes, no one would have objected; 
and if he had chosen to pay them, on his deathbed, 
into the public treasury, even you Socialists would 



246 Men vs. the Man 

have hailed him as moral. Why should he be de- 
nounced, then, because he chose to hand them over 
to his dissolute and half-imbecile son? Would it 
be fair or honest, after making a definite treaty 
with him, to abrogate it without his consent? 
And would it be even expedient? Isn't it plain 
enough that his idle son is the worst of all possible 
foes to impregnable wealth ? 

And now for the other objections. Do the 
greatest rewards really go to the most efficient and 
worthy? Doesn't the struggle for existence, by 
warring upon weak bodies, sometimes rob the 
world of incomparable minds? And doesn't luck 
play the principal part in the struggle? I an- 
swered most of these questions, I believe, in a 
former letter, but it may be well to repeat my gen- 
eral answer here. It is this : that I am concerned 
in this discussion with the world as it is, and not 
with the world as it might or should be. If it 
were possible, by a human act, to nullify the law 
that the fittest shall survive, Socialism and all other 
schemes of that sort would become reasonable 
I grant only their reasonableness, mind you, and 
not their truth but as things stand it seems to me 
that they are almost beyond the pale of debatable 
ideas. Whether for woe or weal, nature pro- 
vides that the strong shall have an advantage over 
the weak, and that the fortunate shall outrun the 
luckless in the race. It is scarcely worth while 
for us to attempt to judge nature here. All we 



Men vs. the Man 247 

may safely do is to make a note of the fact that 
this scheme of things, whatever its horrors, at least 
makes for progress; and to thank whatever gods 
there be that we, personally, are measurably re- 
moved from the bottom of the scale. 

I am not a religious man, but I cannot think 
upon my own good fortune in life without a feeling 
that my thanks should go forth, somewhere and to 
someone. Wealth and eminence and power are 
beyond my poor strength and skill, but on the side 
of sheer chance I am favored beyond all computa- 
tion. My day's work is not an affliction, but a 
pleasure; my labor, selling in the open market, 
brings me the comforts that I desire; I am assured 
against all but a remote danger of starvation in 
my old age. Outside my window, in the street, a 
man labors in the rain with pick and shovel, and 
his reward is merely a roof for to-night and to- 
morrow's three meals. Contemplating the differ- 
ence between his luck and mine, I cannot fail to 
wonder at the eternal meaninglessness of life. I 
wonder thus and pity his lot, and then, after 
awhile, perhaps, I begin to reflect that in many 
ways he is probably luckier than I. 

But I wouldn't change places with him. 
Sincerely, 

MENCKEN. 



INDEX 



Ability, reward of, 48, 91, 

237, 238, 241 
Altruism, 25, 222 
Anarchists, 44, 120 
Animism, 125 
Anthropomorphism, 75, 127, 

163-167 

Antiparos, 36, 38, 69 
Aristocracy, 13, 14, 72, 73, 

74, 176, 179 
Aristotle, 35, 224 
Army (see Militarism), 50 
Arrhenius, 142 
Art, 14, 146, 208 
Astronomy, 128, 142 
Athens, 15 

Ballot (see Suffrage) 
Baltimore, 109, 129, 130 
Bebel, August, 173 
Beliefs, economic basis -of, 

133-135, 143, 169 
Beyond-man, I, 7, 89, 129, 

175, 176, 177, 223 
Biology, 141 
Birth-rate, 70, 87 
Blatchford, Robert, 124 
Bonaparte, Napoleon, 73 
Briand, Aristide, 173 
Bribery, 155, 156, 159, 171 
Bryan, W. J., 188 

Caesar, Julius, 29, 37, 51 
Capital, composition of, 6, 7, 

"Capital," Karl Marx, 

quoted, 217, 218, 219 
Carnegie, Andrew, 80 
Caste, 98, 101, no, 112, 113, 
115, 116, 117, 125, 128, 161, 
162, 240 



Catastrophism, 140, 142, 170 
Centralization, 55, 218 
Chamberlain, T. C, 142 
Child-labor, 13 
Christianity, 75, 76, 114, 135, 

232 

Cicero, 36, 97 

Cigar manufacture, 20-23, 42 
Cimabue, 85, 184 
Class struggle, 213 
Collectivism, 12 
Columbus, Christopher, 29, 

37, 5i,. 203 
Communism, 12 
"Communist Manifesto," Marx 

and Engels, quoted, 10, 183, 

216, 217, 220, 221 
Competition, 38, 49, 54, 70, 77, 

90 

Cooley, Charles H., 87 
Co-operation, 70 
Co-operative Commonwealth, 

92 

Culture, 13, 15 
Cuvier, 136, 137 

Darwin, Charles, 75, 137, 138, 

139, 141, 167, 231 
Death-rate, 84, 108 
Debs, E. V., 157 
Demeter, 36 
Democracy, 152, 171 
Department store, 10, 176 
Depew, C. M., 45 
Deville, Gabriel, 220 
De Vries, Hugo, 136, 140 
Diaz, Porfirio, 73, 84 
Diderot, 35, 36, 74 
Disease, due to poverty, 58 
Dixon, Rev. Thomas, 148, 150 
Don Quixote, 2 



249 



250 



Index 



Drama, The, 14 

Duncan, Robert Kennedy, 142 



Earthquakes, 142 

Economic determinism, 8, 37, 
86, 105, 133, 135, 212, 214 

Economics, 8, 27, 43 

Education, u, 88, 160 

Ehrlich, 28, 151 

Eliot, Charles W., 158 

Employees as share-holders, 
78, 91 

Emulation, 64, 68 

Engels, Friedrich, 36, 183, 
184, 216, 221, 222 

Equality, 75, 131, 151; eco- 
nomic, 129 ; intellectual, 
iqi, 102; racial, 131, 132 

Ethics, 76, 232; of capital- 
ism, 90, 243, 244; of So- 
cialism, 222; economic basis 
of, 90, 135 

Evolution, 29, 80, 113, 127, 
128, 141, 143, 167 

Exploitation, 4, 7, 24, 34, 122, 
177, 215, 216, 238 

Expropriation, 217, 219 

Factories, 9, 215 
Ferri, Enrico, 131 
Feudal economy, 4 
Flammarion, Camille, 142 
Foreign markets, 5, 77, 78 
France, 35, 37 

Francis, Saint, of Assisi, 101 
French Revolution, 37, 71, 
136, 169 

Genius, waste of under capi- 
talism, 86 
Geology, 142 
Ghent, W. J., 7 
Giotto, 85, 184 
Golden Rule, The, 90 
Gould, Jay, 91, 178, 187 
Greece, 35, 37, 69 



Harriman, E. H., 91, 178, 

179, 210 
Hegel, 142 
Heredity, 104, 138 
Herodotus, 96 
Hertzka, Prof., 55, 89 
Hill, James J., 74, 90, 179, 108 
Hitch, Marcus, 145 
Housing, in the future, 54 
Hunter, Robert, 13 
Huxley, T. H., 31, 118, 166, 

205, 231, 233, 234 

Ibsen, Henrik, 180-184, 222 
Ideals, 2, 89, 202, 204, 205, 

207, 208, 209, 211 
Immoralists, 7, 175, 179 
Incentive, 89, 239 
Individualism, 179, 180, 184 

222 

Inevitability, of Socialism, 7, 

38, 91, 216 
Intellectuals, n, 139 
Intemperance, 67, 89, 130 
International Socialist Re- 
view, 57, 89 
Intimidation, 154, 171 

Jaures, Jean, 173 

Jefferson, Thomas, 2 

Jesus Christ, 2, 76, 101, 184, 

202 
Jews, The, 203 

Kautsky, Karl, 136, 215, 223 

Labor, its share of product, 
40-42; hours of, 8, 25, 26, 
53, 56, 57, 62; pleasure in, 
58, 67, 93, 95 
Lafargue, Paul, 98 
Lamarck, 137, 138 
Lassalle, Ferdinand, 103 
Legislation, 189, 211, 212 
Lewis, Arthur Morrow, 136, 

140 

Lincoln, Abraham, 137, 177 
Literature, 14, 145, 146 



Index 



251 



London, Jack, 8 
Lonesomeness, 129, 168, 169 
Louis XIV., 72 
Louis XVI., 72 
Lowell, Percival, 128 
Lyell, Sir Charles, 137, 138 

Machine Process, 9, 10, n, 

144, 180 
Machinery, economic effects 

of, 4, 36, 38, 69, 208 
Mallock, W. H., 91 
Malthus, 69, 88 
Manufacture, capital invested 

in, 41 
Mars, 128 
Marx, Karl, i, 10, 13, 18, 24, 

69, 177, 183, 184, 2ii 
Materialist Conception of 

history, 69, 230 (see Eco- 
nomic determinism) 

Mendel, Gregor, 104, 138, 139 

Messina earthquake, 98-101 

Middle ages, 4 

Middle classes, 10, n, 175, 
176 

Militarism, 174 

Morality, 243 (see Ethics) 

Morgan, J. P., n, 176, 205 

Morgan, Lewis H., 85, 213, 
214, 219 

Morris, William, 93, 94, 95, 
146, 208 

Moses, 29, 37, 51, 68, 167 

Mutations, 141, 161 

Natural Selection, 25, 33, 69, 

70, 117, 118, 206, 246 
Naval expenditures, 174-5 
Negro, The, no, 116, 124, 

130, 132, 151, 162, 234 
Nietzsche, Friedrich, I, 43, 
63, 64, 89, 98, 129, 135, 179, 
180, 211 

Odin, A., 86, 145 
Over-man, 223 (see Beyond- 
man) 



Ovtr-population, 70, 82, 87, 
108 



Panics, 4, 24, 51, 175 
Pasteur, 33, 35, 58, 60, 68, 84, 

85, 108, in 
Peasant, The Russian, 116, 

130 
Pecuniary Magnates, 177-179, 

185-201, 207, 209, 210, 224- 

229 

Pericles, 15, 35, 37 
Pig-iron, production and 

wages, 42 

Pinchot, Gifford, 88 
Planetesimal hypothesis, 142 
Plato, 35, 97 
Poincare, Lucien, 143 
Politics, Socialist, 221 
Pragmatism, 119 
Productive powers, growth 

of, 4 
Progress, 12, 16, 29, 32, 80, 

114, 247 
Proletariat, 12, 96, 103, 172, 

220 

Punnett, R. C, 141 
Purchasing power, 5, 7, 18, 

38, 39 



Rabble, The, 2, 89, 129 
Race suicide, 88 
Reason, Eternal, 36, 37, 43 
Reeve, Sidney A., 54 
Reform, 222 

Representative government, 
limits of taxation under, 

Rockefeller, John D., 79, 84, 

115, 158, 176, 191, 203, 205, 

210, 229 

Rogers, H. H., 210 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 88, 105, 

106, 123 
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 36, 

37 



252 



Index 



School children, under-fed, 

13 

Schopenhauer, Arthur, 63,64 
Science and economics, 136- 

143 

See, T. J. J., 141 
Shaw, G. Bernard, 124, 129 
Shaw, Leslie M., 43 
Shylock, 186 
Slavery, 35 

Slobodin, Henry L., 57 
Smith, Adam, 4, 28 
Social Democracy, 139 
Social development, 214 
Socialist Party, 9 
Social Revolution, The, 7, 8, 

9, 12, 13, 15, 38, 39, 43, 

90, 91, 144, 145, 147, 179, 

211 

Social Utopias, 120, 208 

Solidarity, 180 

Spargo, John, 13 

Spencer, Herbert, 160 

State, The, 219 

Steel Corporation, U. S., 46, 

78, 90 

Stirner, Max, 179, 180 
Strauss, N., n 
Strike, The, 212, 213 
Suffrage, 154, 189, 212, 242 
Super-man (see Beyond- 

man) 
Surplus produce, 18, 43, 44, 

47 
Surplus, Troublesome, 44, 46, 

48 
Surplus value, 24, 77, 90 



Tennyson, Alfred, 81-83, 208 
Third Estate, The, 37 
Trades-unionism, 9, 66 
Trusts, 10, 155, 176 
Tuberculosis, death-rate in, 
59, 109 

Unemployment, 9 
University of Virginia, 132 

Vandervelde, E., 173 
Veblen, Thorstein, 9, 49, 51, 

126, 135, 144, 177, 185, 188, 

189, 193, 209, 229 
Voltaire, 74 

Wages, 4, 17, 40, 47, 9L 238; 

of employer, 20 
Wallace, Alfred R., 137, 139, 

141 

War, 49, 52, 174 
Ward, Lester R, 85, 101, 104, 

118, 129, 131, 132, 143, 169 
Warren, Fred D., 46 
Washington, George, 80 
Waste, 49, 50, 54, 88 
Wealth, as an ideal, 201, 202, 

210; dissipation of, 80, 92, 

245 

Weismann, August, 104, 160 
Wells, H. G., 2, 13 
Wheat, labor necessary to 

produce, 57 

Williams, Dr. Linsly, 59 
Wilshire, Gaylord, 44, 174 
Work, contempt for, 96-98 

Xenophon, 35, 97 



THE MIRAGE OF THE MANY 

BY WILLIAM T. WALSH 

A novel placed in a large American city during a supposed 
Socialistic regime, and showing results inevitable in the present 
state of human nature. It is hard to tell whether the greater 
interest is in the story or the problems. The characters are 
from all classes of society and cover a wide range of occupations. 

STUDIES IN AMERICAN TRADE-UNIONISM 

J. H. HOLLANDER and G. E. BARNETT (Editors) 

Twelve papers by graduate students and officers of Johns 
Hopkins University, the results of original investigations of 
representative Trade Unions. There are also chapters on 
Employers' Associations, the Knights of Labor, and the 
American Federation of Labor. (380 pp., 8vo, $2.75 net. By 
mail, $2.98.) 

" A study of trade-unions in the concrete. Impartial and thorough . . . 
expertly written." New York Times Review. 

"Though confined to particular features of particular trade unions, the 
data dealt with are comprehensive and typical; so that the result is a sub- 
stantial contribution to our knowledge of trade-union structure and func- 
tion. . . . Excellent studies.'' New York Evening Post. 

" It is doubtful if anything approaching it in breadth and co-ordination 
has yet found its way into print. ... A very useful book." San Francisco 
Chronicle. 

THE FATE OF ICIODORUM 

By DAVID STARR JORDAN, President of Stanford 
University 

goc. net ; by mail g6c. 
The story of a city made rich by taxation. 

" After reading this book, no man who wishes to get at the fundamental 
theory of protection can plead ignorance." New York Evening Post. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



McPherson's Railroad Freight Rates 

In Their Relation to the Industry and Commerce of the United 
States. 

By LOGAN G. MCPHERSON, author of "The Working of the Rail- 
roads." 8vo. With maps, tables, and a full index. $2.25 net, by 
mail, $2.42. 

This study of the freight rate structure is so comprehensive and 
thorough as not only to be exceedingly valuable to anyone having to 
do with railroad freight traffic either as a railroad official or as a 
shipper, but it is also a most fascinating exposition for the general 
reader of a subject which has not hitherto received a popularly in- 
telligible presentation. It offers to younger men the only means of 
knowing how the present freight rate system has been evolved 

"An exceedingly important book. . . . Not only the best existing account, 
but it is easily the best book on American railway traffic. . . . We have 
little hesitation in expressing the opinion that it will stand as the standard 
reference work for a good many years, and from the standpoint of public 
policy we are exceedingly glad that the book has been written. The country 
if 



would be better governed if the legislator, state and national, had to pass an 
examination upon it before taking his oath of office." -Railroad Age Gaff tie. 
"A book the nation has needed." New York Suu. 

McPherson's The Working of the Railroads 

By LOGAN G. MCPHERSON, Lecturer on Transportation at Johns 
Hopkins. I2mo. #1.50 net ; By mail $1.63. 

" Simply and lucidly tells what a railroad company is. what it does, and 
how it does it. Cannot fail to be of use to the voter. Of exceeding value to 
the young and ambitious in railroad service. The Travelers' Official Rail- 
way Guide. 

" The most important contribution to its branch of the subject that has 
yet been made." The Dial. 

"The author's connection with practical service gives this a value which no 
other book quite equals. Up-to-date, informing. ... an excellent piece 
of work." Wall Street Journal. 

Carter's When Railroads Were New 

By CHARLES FREDERICK CARTER, with an Introductory Note by 
Logan G. McPherson. 16 full-page illustrations, 8vo, 312 pp. $2.00 
net, by mail $2. 16. 

A history of the every-day difficulties, discouragements and 
triumphs of the pioneers who built and ran the early railroads. With 
many anecdotes that add to the abundant human interest. 

"Full of interest. Besides the general chapter on the beginnings, it gives 
the early history of the Erie, the Pennsylvania, and the Baltimore and Ohio, 
of the Vanderbuilt lines, the first Pacific railroad, and of the Canadian 
Pacific. Very readable. N. Y. Suu. 

"Invaluable. o 
a human interest into 
human and personal document, not a dry 
anecdotes." Baltimore Sun. 

"No book of adventure contains more exciting episodes or more varied in- 
terest. Every page is of live interest. So replete with curious information, 
thoroughly entertaining and instructive." Brooklyn Eagle. 



It gathers the floating fragments of railroad history, weaving 
into a coherent record of every day trials and triumphs. A 
>nnl document, not a dry historical treatise or a batch of 



HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



WILLIAM R. HEREFORD'S THE DEMAGOG 

An absorbing romance of newspaper and political life of 
to-day. The main figure aspires to the presidency. In a 
vigorous campaign his chief opponent is an eloquent and 
forceful district attorney. There is a strong love interest. 
I2mo, $1.50. 

" Instinct with the life of to-day, and parts of this story are re- 
counted with a verve and power that fairly sweep the reader off his 
feet. . . . The chapter entitled ' Wormwood ' is a remarkable pic- 
ture . . . worthy to stand by itself as a human vignette portrayed 
with remarkable poetic insight. The Convention chapter is another 
tour de force." The Bookman. 

" Distinctly a tale for the times. As a discussion of current politics 
the book makes something the same appeal as ' The Honorable Peter 
Stirling.' Substantial and meritorious and repays a reading." Spring- 
field Republican. 

" Interesting incidents in a tale well worth reading." New York 
Sun. 

" Memorable novel. . . . Throughout it is an engrossing tale . . . 
it is a master hand that has traced the gradual retrogression of David 
Holman." Chicago Record-Herald. 

" Well written and should take its place among those forces which 
tend to heighten the standard of political honesty." Living Age. 

" Told with compelling force. The scene at the convention is 
described with graphic power and the characters are well drawn . . 
a virile novel." San Francisco Bulletin. 



WILSON VANCE'S BIG JOHN BALDWIN 

A historical romance with peculiarly engaging characters, 
stirring incidents, and a big, lovable, and unconsciously 
humorous Cromwellian soldier as hero. I2mo, $1.50. 

" His splendid sister, Betty. Mr. Vance gives his book an atmosphere 
of the times . . . the love story is charming with its intimate analysis 
of the big fellow's emotions and honest awkwardness, never folly. His 
wit is clumsy . . . but it is wit, and, slowly perhaps, it gets there." 
Hartford Courant. 

" A book to read leisurely, as one sips and enjoys good wine." 
Detroit Free Press. 

" A rattling romance. The action is quick and spirited." Chicago 
Record-Herald. 

" Incident is piled upon incident, with abundance of familiarity with 
the life, conditions, happenings, thoughts, convictions, and speech of 
the period." The Outlook. 

" Is an admirable historical romance, full of interest and charm, 
and bubbling with genuine humor." WILLIAM LYON PHELPS, Pro- 
fessor of English Literature at Yale. 



HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

34 WEST 33D STREET NEW YORK 



A POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE STATE 

OF NEW YORK (1774-1882) 
De Alva Stanwood Alexander, A.M. 

{*'f f /L U 7 J 4 '*861). 840 pp. , 8vo. $5. OO net (carriage 4Oc. extra) 
VoL III. (1861-1882). 56 1pp.. 8 vo. $2.50 net (carriage 28c. extra) 

A history of the movements of political parties in New York 
State from 1774 to 1882, and embraces a series of brilliant char- 
acter studies of the leaders, most of them of national importance, 
who, from the days of George Clinton, have drawn the attention of 
the nation to New York. The astute methods and sources of power 
by which George Clinton, Hamilton, Burr, DeWitt Clinton, Van 
Buren, Seymour and Thurlow Weed each successively controlled the 
political destiny of the State are clearly and picturesquely set forth. 
The third volume narrates, fully and entertainingly, the futile 
efforts of Weed and Dean Richmond to reorganize existing parties, 
the rise and fall of the Tweed Ring, Conkling's punishment of 
Greeley and defeat of Fenton, Tilden's defiance of Tammany and 
struggle with Kelly, and the overthrow of the Stalwart regime by 
the crushing victory of Grover Cleveland. Throughout it is char- 
acterized, too, with a fairness which must appeal to the strongest 
partisan. (Circular with sample pages on application.) 

" It meets a want widely felt and repeatedly expressed during 
the past hundred years. ... It would be impossible in a dozen 
notices to render any sort of justice to the extensive scope of this 
work and to the multiplicity of its interesting details." From two 
leading articles, aggregating over ten columns, in the New York 
Sun. 

" Will undoubtedly take its place as the authoritative work upon 
the subject." Boston Transcript. 

" The most entertaining story of state politics in American 
history." Review of Reviews. 

" Will be read with great interest and profit outside the Empire 
State." Cleveland Plain Dealer. 

JOHN DAVIS' TRAVELS OF FOUR YEARS AND A HALF 
IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (1798-1802) 

Dedicated by permission to Thomas Jefferson, Esq. First Pub- 
lished, London, 1803. With Introduction and Notes by Alfred J. 
Morrison. 8vo, 429 pps. $2.50 net, by mail $2.65. 

The only book of the period written by a traveller in the United 
States the object of which is not so much statistical narrative as 
narrative purely. It is a story of wanderings from New York to 
South Carolina, and as such affords a most interesting picture of 
the greater part of the United States at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century. The author was a novelist and shows it in his 
book. A necessary book for even an exclusive collection of Amer- 
icana. Measured by any standard an unusual book of travel. 

Trevelyan in his " American Revolution " says of this book : 
" Among accounts of such voyages, none are more life-like ; an ex- 
quisitely absurd book, which the world, to the diminution of itg 
gaiety, has forgotten." ^^^^^ 

If the reader will send his name and address, the publishers will 
Bend, from time to time, information regarding their new books. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



JANE G. PERKINS'S 
THE LIFE OF THE HONOURABLE MRS. NORTON 

With portraits, 8vo. $3.50 net ; by mail, $3.68. 

Mrs. Norton was the great Sheridan's grand-daughter, 
beautiful and witty, the author of novels, poems and songs, 
contesting contemporary popularity with Mrs. Browning ; her 
influence was potent in politics ; Meredith undoubtedly had 
her in mind when he drew " Diana of the Crossways." 

" Reads like a novel . . . seems like the page from an old romance, and 
Miss Perkins has preserved all its romantic charm. . . . Miss Perkins has 
let letters, and letters unusually interesting, tell much of the story. ... In- 
deed her biography has all the sustained interest of the novel, almost the 
irresistible march of fate of the Greek drama. It is eminently reliable." 
Boston Transcript. 

Brilliant, beautiful, unhappy, vehement Caroline Norton. . . . Her 
story is told here with sympathy, but yet fairly enough . . . interesting 
glimpses ... of the many men and women of note with whom Mrs. Norton 
was brought into more or less intimate association." Providence Journal. 

" The generous space allowed her to tell her [own story in the form of 
intimate letters is a striking and admirable feature of the book." The Dial. 

" She was an uncommonly interesting personage, and the memoir . . . 
has no dull spots and speedily wins its way to a welcome." New York 
Tribune. 

" So exceptional and vivid a personality ... of unusual quality . . . very 
well written."- The Outlook. 



YUNG WING'S MY LIFE IN CHINA AND AMERICA 

With portrait, 8vo. $2.50 net ; by mail, $2.65. 

The author's account of his early life in China, his education at 
Yale, where he graduated in 1854 (LL.D., 1876), his return 
to China and adventures during the Taiping rebellion, his 
intimate association withTsang Kwoh Fan and Li HungChang, 
and finally his great work for the ' ' Chinese Educational Move- 
ment " furnish highly interesting and good reading. 

" It is his native land that is always the great heroic character on the stage 
his mind surveys ; and his mental grasp is as wide as his domiciliation. A 

freat life of action and reflection and the experiences of two hemispheres, 
t is not so much a knowledge of isolated facts that is to be got from the 
book as an understanding of the character of the Chinese race. 'Hartford 
Courant. 

"There is 'not a dull line in this simply told but fascinating biography." 
Literary Digest. 

" He has given Occidental readers an opportunity to behold the machinery 
of Chinese custom and the substance of Chinese character in action. No 
foreigner could possibly have written a work so instructive, and no un- 
travelled native could have made it intelligible to the West ... a most in- 
teresting story both in the telling and in the acting. . . . Mr. Yung presents 
each of his readers with a fragment of China herself." Living Age. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



Bmerican public problems Series 

Edited by RALPH CUETIS RINGWALT 

Chinese Immigration 

By MARY ROBERTS COOLIDGE, Formerly Associate Professor 
of Sociology in Stanford University. 531 pp., $1.75 net; by 
mail, $1.90. (Just issued.} 

Presents the most comprehensive record of the Chinaman in 
the United States that has yet been attempted. 

"Scholarly. Covers every important phase, economic, social, and 
political, of the Chinese question in America down to the San Francisco 
fire in 1906." New York Sun. 

"Statesmanlike. Of intense interest. "Hartford Courant. 

"A remarkably thorough historical study. Timely and useful. En- 
hanced by the abundant array of documentary facts and evidence." 
Chicago Record- Herald. 

Immigration: And Its Effects Upon the United 
States 

By PRESCOTT F. HALL, A.B., LL.B, Secretary of the Immi- 
gration Restriction League. 393 pp. $1.50 net; by mail, $1.65. 

" Should prove interesting to everyone. Very readable, forceful and 
convincing. Mr. Hall considers every possible phase of this great 
question and does it in a masterly way that shows not only that he 
thoroughly understands it, but that he is deeply interested in it and has 
studied everything bearing upon it." Boston Transcript. 

"A readable work containing a vast amount of valuable information. 
Especially to be commended is the discussion of the racial effects. As a 
trustworthy general guide it should prove a god-send." New York 
Evening Post. 

The Election of Senators 

By Professor GEORGE H. HAYNES, Author of ' Representation 
in State Legislatures." 300 pp. $1.50 net; by mail, $1.65. 

Shows the historical reasons for the present method, and 
its effect on the Senate and Senators, and on state and local 
government, with a detailed review of the arguments for and 
against direct election. 

" A timely book. . . . Prof. Haynes is qualified for a historical and 
analytical treatise on the subject of the Senate." Nrw York Evening Sun. 



HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

84 WEST 83D STREET NEW YORK 



THE THEORY OF THE THEATRE 

And Other Principles of Dramatic Criticism 

By CLAYTON HAMILTON. Author of " Materials and Methods 
of Fiction." Probable Price, $1.50 net. 

CONTENTS : 

THE THEORY OF THE THEATRE. What is a Play? The Psychology 
of Theatre Audiences. The Actor and the Dramatist. Stage Con- 
ventions in Modern Times. Economy of Attention in Theatrical Per- 
formances. Emphasis in the Drama. The Four Leading Types of 
Drama: Tragedy and Melodrama; Comedy and Farce. The Modern 
Social Drama. 

OTHER PRINCIPLES OF DRAMATIC CRITICISM. The Public and the 
Dramatist. Dramatic Art and the Theatre Business. The Happy End- 
ings in the Theatre. The Boundaries of Approbation. Imitation and 
Suggestion in the Drama. Holding the Mirror up to Nature. Blank 
Verse on the Contemporary Stage. Dramatic Literature and Theatric 
Journalism. The Intention of Performance. The Quality of New 
Endeavor. The Effect of Plays upon the Public. Pleasant and Un- 
pleasant Plays. Themes in the Theatre. The Function of Imagination. 

DRAMATISTS OF TO-DAY 

ROSTAND, HAUPTMANN, SUDERMANN, 
PINERO, SHAW, PHILLIPS, MAETERLINCK 

By PROF. EDWARD EVERETT HALE, JR., of Union College. With 
gilt top, $1.50 net. (By mail, $1.60.) 

An informal discussion of their principal plays and of the perform- 
ances of some of them. The volume opens with a paper " On Stand- 
ards of Criticism," and concludes with " Our Idea of Tragedy," and 
an appendix of all the plays of each author, with dates of their first 
performance or publication. 

New York Evening Post: " It is not often nowadays that a theat- 
rical book can be met with so free from gush and mere eulogy, or so 
weighted by common sense ... an excellent chronological appendix 
and full index . . . uncommonly useful for reference." 

Dial: " Noteworthy example of literary criticism in one of the 
most interesting of literary fields. . . . Well worth reading a second 
time." 

THE GERMAN DRAMA OF THE 
NINETEENTH CENTURY 

By GEORG WITKOWSKI. Translated by PROF. L. E. HORNING. 
I2mo. $1.00. 

Kleist, Grillparzer, Hebbel, Ludwig, Wildenbruch, Sudermann, Haupt- 
mann, and minor dramatists receive attention. 

New York Times Review: "The translation of this brief, clear, and 
logical account was an extremely happy idea. Nothing at the same time 
so comprehensive and terse has appeared on the subject, and it is a 
subject of increasing interest to the English-speaking public." 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



By R. M. JOHNSTON 

Assistant Professor in Harvard University 

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 

A Short History. I2mo. 278 pp., with special bibliographies 
following each chapter, and index. $1.25 net; by mail, $1.37. 

"An almost ideal book of its kind and within its scope ... a clear 
idea of the development and of the really significant men of events of that 
cardinal epoch in the history of France and Europe is conveyed to readers, 
many of whom will have been bewildered by the anecdotal fulness or the 
rhetorical romancing of Professor Johnston's most conspicuous predecessors." 
Churchman. 

"Deserves to take rank as a little classic and as such to be given a place 
in all libraries. Not only is this admirably written, but it singles out the 
persons and events best worth understanding, viewing the great social up- 
heaval from a long perspective." San Francisco Chronicle. 

NAPOLEON 

A Short Biography. I2mo. 248 pp., with special bibliographies 
following each chapter, and index. $1.25 net ; by mail, $1.37. 

"Scholarly, readable, and acute." Nation. 

"It is difficult to speak with moderation of a work so pleasant to read, so 
lucid, so skillful." Boston Transcript. 

"A quite admirable book." London Spectator. 

"The style is clear, concise and readable." London Athenaeum. 

"In a small volume of less than 250 pages he gives us a valuable key to 
the history of the European Continent from the Reign of Terror to the 
present day." London Morning Post. 

LEADING AMERICAN SOLDIERS 

Biographies of Washington, Greene, Taylor, Scott, Andrew 
Jackson, Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, McClellan, Meade, Lee, 
"Stonewall" Jackson, Joseph E. Johnston. With portraits. I vol. 
$1.75 net ; by mail $1.88. 

In the "Leading Americans" series. Prospectus of the series 
on request. 

"Performs a real service in preserving the essentials." Review of 
Reviews. 

"Very interesting. . . . Much sound originality of treatment, and 
the style is clear." Springfield Republican. 

** If the reader will send his name and address, the publisher* will send, from 
time to time, information regarding their new books. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS FEW YORK 



WIILLAM DE MORGAN'S IT NEVER CAN HAPPEN AGAIN 

The story of the great love of " Blind Jim" and his little girl, 
and of the affairs of a successful novelist. Fourth printing. 
$1.75- 

"William De Morgan at his very best." Independent. 

"Another long delightful voyage with the best English company. The 
story of a child certainly not less appealing to our generation than Little 
Nell was to hers." New York Times Saturday Review. 

WILLIAM DE MORGAN'S SOMEHOW GOOD 

The dramatic story of some modern English people in a 
strange situation. Fourth printing. $1.75. 

" A book as sound, as sweet, as wholesome, as wise, as any in the range of 
fiction." The Nation. 

"Our older novelists (Dickens and Thackeray) will have to look to their 
laurels, for the new one is fast proving himself their equal. A higher quality 
of enjoyment than is derivable from the work of any other novelist now liv- 
ing and active in either England or America." The Dial. 

WILLIAM DE MORGAN'S ALICE-FOR-SHORT 

The story of a London waif, a friendly artist, his friends and 
family. Seventh printing. $1.75. 

" Really worth reading and praising . . . will be hailed as a masterpiece. 
If any writer of the present era is read a half century hence, a quarter 
century, or even a decade, that writer is William De Morgan." Boston 
Transcript. 

" It is the Victorian age itself that speaks in those rich, interesting, over- 
crowded books. . . . Will be remembered as Dickens's novels are 
remembered." Springfield Republican. 

WILLIAM DE MORGAN'S JOSEPH VANCE 

A novel of life near London in the 5o's. Tenth printing. 
$1.75- 

" The book of the last decade ; the best thing in fiction since Mr. Meredith 
and Mr. Hardy ; must take its place as the first great English novel that has 
appeared in the twentieth century." LEWIS MELVILLE in New York Times 
Saturday Review. 

" If the reader likes both ' David Copperfield ' and ' Peter Ibbetson,' he 
can find the two books in this one." The Independent. 

*** A twenty-four page illustrated leaflet about Mr. De Morgan, with 
complete reviews of his books, sent on request. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



RECENT VOLUMES IN 

THE AMERICAN NATURE SERIES 

(Prospectus on request) 

SHELL-FISH INDUSTRIES By 

Large I2mo. Illustrated by half-tones and original draw- 
ings. Just published. $1.75 net. 

Covers classification, propagation and distribution. For the person 
who eats oysters, clams or scallops, there is information on their 
structure, life-histories and habits. A chapter is devoted to shell-fish 
as collectors and carriers of disease organisms. The oyster culturist 
will find the life history of bivalves, a comparison of various culture 
methods, and a description of oyster fields in various parts of the 
world. Several facts concerning the habits of bivalves, here presented 
for the first time, will be of interest to naturalists. 

FISH STORIES: Alleged and Experienced, with a Little 
History, Natural and Unnatural 

By CHARLES F. HOLDER, Author of "The Log of a Sea 
Angler," etc., and DAVID STARR JORDAN, Author of " A Guide 
to the Study of Fishes," etc. With colored plates and many 
illustrations from photographs. $1.75 net. 

" A delightful miscellany, telling about fish of the strangest kind, 
with scientific description melting into accounts of personal adventure. 
Nearly everything that is entertaining in the fish world is touched upon 
and science and fishing are made very readable." New York Sun. 

INSECT STORIES By VERNON L. KELLOGG. 

Illustrated, $1.50 net. 

Strange, true stories, primarily for children, but certainly 
for those grown-ups who like to read discriminatingly to their 
children. 

" The author is among a few scientific writers of distinction who 
can interest the popular mind. No intelligent youth can fail to read 
it with delight and profit." The Nation. 

THE LIFE OF A FOSSIL HUNTER CHARLES H^STERNBERG, 

With introduction by PROF. H. F. OSBORN. 48 Illustrations, 

$1.60 net. 

The most interesting autobiography of the oldest and best 
known explorer in this field. 

" One of the most interesting books to be found anywhere." William 
Allen White. 

THE FRESH WATER AQUARIUM By OTTO EGGELING and 
AND ITS INHABITANTS FREDERICK EHRENBERG. 

A Guide for the Amateur Aquarist. With 100 illustrations, 
large I2mo, $2.00 net. 

" The best guide to the aquarium." The Independent. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



<D 



Q\ tf\ 

J5 ? 

O M 

& ^ 



S 



co to 



University of Toronto 
Library 



DO NOT 

REMOVE 

THE 

CARD 

FROM 

THIS 

POCKET