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"Undigested leisure", according to an article by Mr. George W. Alger in the April Atlantic Monthly, is responsible for most of the present lawlessness in the United States, and unless turned toward a cultural ideal, will be the destroyer of democracy. "Except for a relatively small group," he says, "our souls sit on the bleachers and watch a game played no longer by us but for us."
The perfecting of industrial processes will soon produce a five-hour working day, and Mr. Alger fears that the great surplus of time will be used for aimless amusement instead of self-improvement. The greatest danger to the growth of culture is of course the multiplication of devices for amusement or distraction--the radio, automobiles, professional baseball, and a host of others, all "spectator" amusements. Mr. Alger declares that people have no conception of the obligations as well as the pleasures of leisure, and insist on being amused instead of improved, with the same degenerating effects as those found in slave-owning peoples.
Although Mr. Alger's point on the danger of untrained leisure is very well taken, he makes two mistakes. The small group who do not sit on the bleachers is not so small as he thinks, and it is growing by leaps and bounds. Neither is the five-hour day, of any thing approaching it, an accomplished fact as yet. Let Mr. Alger count, if he can, the number of new golf courses and tennis courts for workmen as well as employers, let him find out from any art institute the amazing number of courses in drawing offered within the past five years for business men, or let him look into the growth of the "little theatre" movement. It is not unreasonable to assume, from present evidence, that when the five-hour day eventually becomes a reality, the majority of the people will be able to make the best possible use of the new-found leisure.
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