Mormon and Caesar
Mormon and Caesar.
Caesar's spirit still stalks the earth. Having scaled Olympus and brought the gods into unity, its imperial claims will not relax for man. Driven from the Church, it sought refuge in the State; the power ecclesiasticism lost, politics gained. Progress for centuries has been toward greater freedom. In America, legislation is tending toward greater restriction. Fifty years ago present legislative schemes would have been impossible. "The American Idea" of that day was—"the best government is that which governs least"; hence men looked with jealousy on encroachments on individual rights. Why this eddy in the stream of progress; this rejuvenance of Caesar's ghost urging centralization and reliance on might?
The answer is plainly to be seen. The spirit of Caesar, rendered powerless in religious systems, castrated of divine right in forms of political government, is entrenching itself in the economic system of the age. British and German empires, Spanish and Italian kingdoms, French and American republics, are but dead forms; the animating soul in each is the same. A common (economic) feeling has made them all akin. Statecraft exists for the furtherance of economic interests; forms of government are recognized as of secondary importance to "vested interests." Harrington's apothegm: "Empire follows the balance of property," is no longer disputable.
With the opening of the Slavery discussion between North and South came the inevitable conflict. The North, as representative of our transitional economic regime, demanded room. In the way of the extension of cheap labor stood the dear labor of slavery. The non-extension of slavery into the territories was not a sentimental issue, but an economic one.
In the name of freedom the construction of the constitution was twisted into the furtherance of power. Our fathers ate sour grapes, and we wonder that our teeth are set on edge. The anti-slavery sentiment gave the government power to secure ideal freedom. The North, true to the ideal, rushed to the front and established, with the non-extension and final extinction of slavery, the extension and permanence of — cheap labor! And for this we display our wounds!
The precedents thus formed, the forced grafts on the constitution (logically necessary), and the exigencies of our alleged commercial competition form the justification of the Edmunds bill. Republican rule has shaped our history; Democracy can but administer on the legacy bequeathed. The whole Mormon system, social, religious, industrial, is essentially based on cooperation. Necessarily in the eyes of monopoly-restricted competition this is a foe. The old cry for freedom through increase of power — the anti-slavery justification—cannot well be urged again; hence the moral standard is unfurled. Monogamy (with its "twin-relic," Prostitution) is no more a question in the minds of the worshippers at the shrine of the commonplace than Catholicism was a few centuries ago. No man doubted the right to use force to insure Catholic unity, unless his mind was tainted with heretical doctrines. So no man can today assert that monogamy is but an article of belief, a private credo, but lo! he is a defender of polygamy or promiscuity.
But let us not waste words on polygamy. That is not the issue! That is but the gaudily-colored bait to catch the inexperienced denizens of economic waters. The issue is again an economic one—the extension of cheap labor—the necessities of legalized privilege — the cent, per cent, freedom of commercial intercourse, confronted in Utah by an antagonistic system of social and commercial activity.
The writer served three years to establish centralization of power at Washington, and the extension of free trade in labor at the South, under the glamor of the cry of freedom. Other fools stand ready to obey the behests of Caesar's spirit, if need be, to again make the Republic the pathway to an Empire, their alleged minds lit by the ignis fatuus of social morality. The Mormon protest is one of deep significance, out of which, I hold, will yet arise the struggle for freedom. The Eastern demand is that of Caesar. The Mormon is an unconscious ally in—shall it be—a Lost Cause?
Dyer D. Lum.