A MUTUAL RESPONSIBILITY
"We are Americans. We cannot fight our government. We comply with the mandate of the court, but under protest." This statement of Mr. Lewis, representative of the United Mine Workers' of America, is one which renews the faith of the nation in the patriotism of one large group in our society. So long as there is a law, it must be obeyed. A free and democratic government is that which affords opportunity to the people to strike out or change what seems to them an unjust law. Ours is such a government; if enough people can be persuaded to their side, the miners will eventually gain their point without violence through proper legislation.
Lack of faith on the part of a large section of the working class in the the motives of the capitalists, and especially in the so called public, is the underlying reason for the multitude of precipitous strikes. "We cannot delay, we cannot arbitrate; the public, because of its self-interests, will never see our point of view," was the plea of one of the leaders of the printers' strike in New York. In other words, a part of labor believes the public more interested in its own convenience and pocket-books than in seeing justice done. Such a pessimistic outlook is ruinous to the proper functioning of government. If every workingman becomes an advocate of "direct action" we will see mob rule established in a very short time.
Every faction has its duty to the public at large; no group of men have the right, as in the case of the miners, to starve and freeze the whole population of the country. But the public has its own responsibilities in regard to every unit in its composition; it must prove to every faction that it stands for fair play even above and against its own interests. When, and only when, the confidence of labor in the public has been won, will we see a tendency towards arbitration in wage and working-hour disputes.