A Cityless and Countryless World (Marie Louise)
A CITYLESS AND COUNTRYLESS WORLD.
BY MARIE LOUISE.
Under this caption, Mr. Henry Olerich, of Holstein, Iowa, writes a 447 page book on "Practical Cooperative Individualism." Like all speculative philosophers, the author believes in the forceful action of the allegoric style on the minds ol intelligent men and women. To that effect, he introduces to us a Mr. Midith, who was born on the planet Mars and had undertaken to visit our earth by means of a "projectile." The missile reached our planet, not on solid ground, but in the waves of the Pacific, about a mile from the western shores of the United States. But "being a Marsite, and consequently a good swimmer," he had no difficulty in reaching the shores.
The story opens ten years after this adventurous landing. At that time, Mr. Midith had mastered the English language and was engaged " in canvassing Herbert Spencer's Synthetic Philosophy." "In the pleasant little village of Dozen," he knocked at the door of a Mr. Nivins and solicited an order for his book. Mr. Nivins being a man of literary abilities, the name of Herbert Spencer struck a sym
Eathetic chord in his breast, and, as at that time it rained heavily, e invited the agent under his sheltering roof. Mrs. Nivins, a woman of culture and intellect, greeted the stranger and her children surrounded him, evidently attracted by a peculiarity in his features. The rain continuing to fall in torrents, Mr. Nivins invited the stranger to remain over the night and "make himself at home." Greatly impressed by the kind and intelligent faces of his hosts, Mr. Midith accepted the invitation, and, whue the rain furiously beat against the windows, he commenced relating to his new friends the story of his journey from the planet Mars to our Earth. The astonished and interested family prevailed on him to remain with them a few days and tell them all about the people on Mars.
The narrative of Mr. Midith relates to the social, industrial and economic conditions of the inhabitants of his native world. Their planet being older than our own, the inference is the higher degree of their intelligence and the greater perfection of their social status.
Mr. Olerich, transformed into Mr. Midith, ably discourses on astronomy, geology and the law of gravitation. "There is a point somewhere," he says, " between them" (the earth and Mars) "where a body would be equally attracted by both, would neither fall to the earth nor to Mars. But if moved a little towards either one from the point of equilibrium, it would fall the whole distance towards that body with a continually increasing velocity. [graphic]
Mr. Midith makes a strong plea in favor of the theory of evolutionary development in the universe, and against the hypothesis of "special creation." But his main effort is, by the aid of illustrations to raise the curtain of the future and let us behold a condition of society wherein plutocracy, monopoly, financial gambling and industrial corruption have dug their own grave and fallen into it; where man has learned how to be free and happy by building his own happiness on thai of his fellow men.
This prophecy may be but a dream, a Utopian anticipation, but Mr. Olerich, moved by the spirit of the time, is led on to dream and to tell us of his dream.
It cannot be denied, (and it were unwise to overlook the fact), that in our present society, a feeling of irrepressible unrest prevails. Modern thinkers and writers, as moved by a common impulse, diBsert on social and economic questions. From the professor in his chair of philosophy to the clergyman in his pulpit, and even the Pope in his Encyclical letters, down to the writers of romance and those of trashy fictions, one and all, strike a common chord and utter a similar cry: "Society is out of equilibrium! Wreckers are ahead!"
Heretofore, all speculations on the line of a perfectly equitable adjustment of social relations, have been based on altruism and constructed on the assumption that the interests of the individual member must be subservient to those of the collectivity. Plato's "Model Republic;" Sir Thomas More's "Utopia;" St. Simon's and Charles Fourrier's "Communities;" the schemes of Robert Owen, Josiah Warren, and the modern attempts at establishing colonies are all more or less, conceived and erected on altruistic theories.
But in his work " A Cityless and Countryless World," Mr. Olerich discards the time-honored doctrine of altruism, and boldly constructs his model commonwealth on a base of egoism, that is to say, on the assumption that the interests of the community must be subjected to the interests of the individual unit.
Clearly, he has undertaken to reconcile two theories formerly regarded as antagonistic. The adherents of altruism deprecate individualism because of the idea of isolated action it suggests to them. The votaries of individualism, on the other hand, shrink from altruistic theories of organization, because these appear to batter on all the corners of personal liberty and threaten to stunt man's beet activity.
The great perfection attained in labor-saving machinery and the large demand for commodities, leave no doubt as to the necessity for a system of industrial cooperation. Were individualists to ignore this fact (as collectivists assure us they do), their speculations would have to collapse from want of adaptability to meet modern requirements. On the other hand, were collectivists to insist on maintaining that industrial cooperation necessitates the subjection of individual liberty to associational interests, then, the practicalization ot their scheme would meet with early jarring and rebellion would shatter its structure ere the experimental phase had concluded; for the love of liberty is a burning, consuming flame in the breast of man I [graphic]
Reasoning a priori, Mr. Olerich takes for premiss that" all sentient beings of wnich we have knowledge, are in pursuit of the greatest happiness—happiness is the aim and end of all."
The question: what is happiness? at once suggests itself.
Happiness is the absence of pain, and pain, invariably results from a transgression of the laws of nature to which all organisms are subject. Hence pain is the result of sin.
This admitted, it follows logically that happiness, the antonym of pain, is the result of virtue, the antonym of sin.
"What is virtue," the dogmatist will ask, "is it not purity, chastity and integrity?"
"Virtue," answers Plato, "is phrenosis, i. e. wisdom, a practical insight."
"Virtue," answers Socrates, " is knowledge."
"Imperial heaven," says Confucius, " will assist only virtue."
"Vice is folly!" exclaims the wise Solomon.
"I myself, am heaven and hell," declares Omah Cayah, the great Persian pessimist of antiquity.
On these testimonies of the ancient philosophers which are engraven on the rock of ages, Mr. Olerich has evidently grounded the ethics of his model commonwealth. It is necessary for man to secure happiness, and, failing to do so, he must exist in a state of disturbing perplexity which has a reflex action on his fellow beings.
To be happy, man needs to be virtuous—to be virtuous is for him to understand the laws of his own being and their relation to the order of things in the universe. To acquire that knowledge, his individual liberty must needs be unfettered, and in proportion that it is free from shackles, will the individual attain happiness through knowledge.
The diversity of idiosyncracies among human animals, forbids a
Srescribed line of ethics and physical operations. According to Mr. lerich, the discovery of truth, or of what is absolutely right, depends on the relation of our mental status to the altitude in which truth is located. "A high sea level," he says, "makes a low mountain, a low sea level makes a high mountain." Men quarrel and wrangle about truths their minds have not been able to comprehend; on discovered truths, they always agree. Social harmony, therefore depends on the numbers of individuals who have acquired the knowledge of what is, and have discarded the childish notions ot speculating on what might or ought to be.
These are the fundamental principles on which Mr. Olerich has based the practical plans of his social organization and industrial cooperation. Whether, or not, he has succeeded in contriving means by which personal liberty may remain integral in the bosom of associational reciprocity and ostensible self-surrender, is a question the readers of "A Cityless and Countryless World" will have the opportunity to answer for themselves. [graphic]
To follow the chain of reasoning of the author, is certainly as interesting as it is instructive. Not content with marshalling in order numerous axiomatic truths, he sustains the force of his position by a profuse number of illustrations.
Alexander the Great, history tells us—introducing himself to Diogenes the Cynic said: "I am Alexander the Great." "And I am Diogenes the Cynic,"—the other replied unmoved.
Alexander, surprised at the philosopher's cool behavior, asked him in which way he could serve him.
"You can stand out of the sunshine," was the abrupt reply.
This curt answer was a true expression of Cynic philosophy. The underlying idea of that system of thought being that man is an unwelcome guest at the overcrowded banquet of nature, Alexander had no right to enjoy the sunshine in common with Diogenes. From that spirit of cynicism, has sprung asceticism and self-mortification within the church. Man was judged unworthy of enjoying the scanty gifts of nature. What little was allowed to him, he received as a favor which he did not merit.
In the end of the last century, Rev. Malthus, moved by the malignant spirit of cynicism, and too much blinded to distinguish cause from effect attributed the deplorable condition of the masses to the fact that only a select number of human beings may be sustained by the possible production of the earth, and that, consequently, the increase of population must be checked by the destruction of embryonic life and other devices of his morbid imagination.
Philosophic cynicism, pious asceticism and sickly Malthueianism, have in the past, battered man's dignity and stunted his best energies. The masterpiece of creation has been degraded to the level of a hopeless beggar, a humble and humiliated recipient of favors, instead of presiding over all things as the master-mind, the noble lord of earth. The religious, philosophic, industrial and t-conomic Malthuses endeavor to adjust population to the means of sustenance their pessimistic minds believe the earth capable of producing. In their bloated conceit, they have donned the almighty right of dispensing permits to live and injunctions to die.
But, from the remotest time, down to our own, thinkers have appeared now, and again, whose love of mankind impelled them to quention the soundness of the theories of woe, and to them, the truth became evident. Not the capacity of the production of the earth is faulty, but the distribution of the produced wealth. Between the wealth produced and that nect-ssary for our present population, there exists a surplus which is destroyed by becoming waste. To prevent that waste and preserve the wealth produced in its integrity, is the aim and object of all genuine philanthropists and intelligent men and women of our day.
Thinkers who dig below the surface of things, have also discovered that the earth, manipulated with intelligence, can produce, not only sufficiently to sustain our present population, but even an increase of many millions, and this, with but a few hours daily of productive labor by each individual. [graphic][graphic]
Mr. Henry Olerich is one of those earnest investigators who have arrived at that conclusion. In his book, he reveals to us his faith in, and hope for mankind. Some persons may differ from him on his conclusions; some may accept part of them and reject the rest, but all persons unbiased by preconceived notions, will give him credit for knowledge and sincerity. They may pause before features apparently objectionable, but the fascination imparted by his vivid pictures, will win them to resume reading on.
The hypothetical inhabitants of Mars are described as living in dwellings capable of accommodating, at least, one thousand persons. Tbis structure is about eight stories high; the main building measures 150x600 feet, and three wings on each side for private apartments, measure 60x300 feet. These immense dwellings are scattered from distance to distance over the land and are called " big houses." They are built about half a mile apart all round rectangular fields twenty-four miles long and six miles wide. There are double tracked electric motor lines running all round these large divisions of land, so that every "big house" is built on a motor line. Electricity is used for lighting and heating purposes, for cooking, washing and drying. It runs all the agricultural and industrial machinery; propels railway trains at the speed of over one hundred miles an hour and ships on the sea with corresponding rapidity. Electricity distributes letters and forwards them to their ultimate destination, viz: to a box attached at the door of the private apartment of each individual in the community.
Manual labor is almost eliminated and, with the help of the powerful machinery, two hours of daily productive labor are sufficient to produce all the necessaries and luxuries a person may wish.
The "big houses" are elegantly and profusely furnished with all things necessary for comfort and education. Electric cars convey their inmates from their doors to any part of the surroundings, and land them and their baggages at railway stations.
Every man, woman and child, has a private apartment which no one presumes to enter except by special invitation of the owner.
Two artificial lakes for bathing and swimming purposes, one for adults and one for children, are conveniently situated. Avenues, or promenades, 100 feet wide; a conservatory 500 feet wide; a garden 1,000 feet wide; an orchard of the same dimensions; fields reaching far away; green houses 500 feet wide; outdoor nurseries for children, etc., etc., stretch out from the " big houses."
"We have no oxen, no horses, no draught animals"—relates Mr. Midith,—"the farming is all done by electric power. A locomotive which builds and takes up its own track, does all the ploughing, sowing, harvesting, etc. Instead of fencing each little patch of land and turning our weak, tired teams before all these fences, destroying
in the act of turning the very crop we endeavor to raise, as you do here" (on earth), " we hitch up a pewerful land locomotive to a set of gang plows and plow a furrow which is from three to twenty-four miles, as the case may be. Our fifty foot header propelled by an electric engine, cuts the heads of the grain and elevates them into a large wagon rack. This wagon, when full, is taken by an engine to the warehouses."
.The narrator then draws a very striking comparison between these means and those we employ for agricultural work, and emphasises the large amount of waste resulting from the use of draught animals, from the numerous divisions of land, and from the deterioration of the idle machinery in the hands of small farmers. The benefit of cooperative labor is skillfully demonstrated.
Were we to figure up seriously the cost which the use of draught animals imposes on our society, we would stand amazed! The land and the labor required to keep and feed them; the immense number of men who drive them and whose labor is unproductive, since natural forces could be substituted,—the waste of physical energy, material wealth and intellectual possibilities in men—these and many other items, form a tremendous factor in the general wasteftdnes8 of our social and economic system. That waste redeemed, and the community is enriched by the whole amount.
The greatest liberty, explains Mr. Midith, is secured to each individual on the planet Mars. A man, a woman or a child, for two hours' labor, receives a check of ten dollars. Women, during their period of gestation and lactation, receive the same daily salary, besides a grant to defray the expenses attending their children's babyhood. "When a baby is born," says our Marsian narrator, " it always has a home waiting for it in which it can live all its lifetime."
Women being financially independent, enjoy the same liberty and have the same opportunities as men. This social feature, of course, generates a mode of marriage relation differing somewhat from our own. Those who are interested in that question will find in Mr. Olerich's book, a great deal of thought matter. The rationalist will enjoy the study; the conventionalist will, no doubt, curl his lip
criticism, truth will spring.
In industry and agriculture, each Marsian community produces the articles for which it is best adapted, and exchanges its products with the other communities. Their currency is based on labor notes and, necessarily, represents actual wealth. Currency and national wealth increase and decrease simultaneously; water finds no room in it. Rent, usury, profit, interest and taxation, are entirely obliterated from the system; industrial and commercial waste is removed.
The education of children forms a very interesting feature of the book. Based on individual liberty, the training of the young bears a great contrast with our own method. Lovers of, and believers in mankind, will find in the expressions of Mr. Olerich, a ringing echo of their own thoughts and nopes. The dogmatist will sneer, but
desirable; out of the conflicting this may be regarded as a tribute to the excellence of the theory under investigation.
The Marsian narrator concludes by the explanation of the process by which the inhabitants of Mars effected the transition from a social state similar to our own, to one so modified that political and judicial legislation have become obsolete and have made room for an industrial organization which secures plenty and happiness to all; where the security of communism is blended with the invigorating effect of ownership and competition.