As a part of a general movement to protect those members of the community who are neither part of the capitalist nor the labor organizations, a middle-class trade union has been formed in New York State. The situation which has given rise to this new movement is easy to understand. Capital and labor have been battling against each other without any regard for the community, prices have soared, everywhere the burden has fallen on the consumer. But a middle-class trade union will only open another antagonism.
Radicals contend that society is dividing into two rival classes; the middle-class trade unionists would apparently split it into three. If they are aiming, as they assert, to protect the consumer, they have overlooked the fact that capitalists and laborers are also consumers, who share the public interest equally with those persons who are eligible for middle-class trade unionism.
If, on the other hand, they want to establish special privileges for their class, they can do so perfectly logically. But it is doubtful whether their project could succeed, and, even if it did, whether it would help us to solve the problems of social unrest.
As to its success: the middle-class trade union must draw largely from intellectuals, teachers, and professional men. These men have for the most part very divergent interests. Moreover, they are the most individualistic element in society. Organization for them would be impractical on the one hand, and distasteful on the other.
Real progress towards a better social order cannot grow out of more antagonisms. Any advance must come through a general appreciation that all factions have a common interest in the largest possible social dividend. That requires more production. Happiness will not come to everyone unless there are enough of the good things of life to go around. An equitable distribution is of the greatest importance, but we must be sure we have something to distribute.