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formation would have been much slower and healthier. The collapse of a trust, through inherent weakness or rottenness, is not regarded by the people as an argument for laissez-faire; on the contrary, it is taken as additional evidence of the need of regulation and prevention. The people do not say: "Monopoly is impossible in the long run; therefore let us ignore these vain efforts to squeeze trade and victimize us." They say: "These trusts are conceived in wildcatism and born in economic iniquity; they benefit none but the speculative financiers and stock-jobbers, and the government should suppress them and discourage the formation of new ones."
Here, however, a real difficulty must be faced. tion, class legislation in any form, is profoundly repugnant to the American mind. "The equal protection of the law," construed by the highest courts to be equivalent to the phrase "the protection of equal laws," is generally insisted on as a bulwark of social order and harmony. Anti-trust laws from which farmers, stock raisers, and wage-workers were expressly exempted have been pronounced null and void, obnoxious to the fourteenth amendment, and contrary to public policy. If manufacturers and merchants must compete, and are forbidden to agree upon prices or methods, is it just to allow farmers and workmen to combine for similar purposes? Is not a trade union a trust? Collective bargaining is the raison d'être of the trade union, and what is this but restraint of competition in labor?
Not many decades ago the common law prohibited unions of wage-workers and punished them as conspiracies in restraint of trade. Gradually the right of workmen to combine, to determine the price of their services, to act in concert even in suspending work, was recognized by society, legislation, and the courts. There were good and sound reasons for this change of attitude, and they are still operative. But the anti-trust movement puts a new face on the matter. If, as we have seen, the law prohibits even reasonable restraint of trade, how will unions escape the manifest application of this principle to their own particular attempts to eliminate competition? There are those who perceive valid grounds for making an exception of labor
and agricultural combinations, but will the courts admit the discrimination? The United States Supreme Court has declined to approve it.
Yet who believes that any legislature will outlaw trade unions and agricultural combinations for the regulation of production and prices? "Politics," reinforced by sentiment, will continue to prompt evasion of the requirements of equality and uniformity, and this evasion will excite complaint and protest-a sense of injustice and wrong that will render the strict enforcement of anti-trust laws extremely hard and unpleasant in these days of strikes, sympathetic and general, picketing, boycotting, and the assertion of the right to deprive non-union men of their means of livelihood by threats of industrial warfare.
At the same time it is absolutely certain that there will be no repeal of anti-monopoly statutes, no general acquiescence in the claims of the trust apologists. Will there be a change in the character of the legislation aimed at trusts? Able and judicious men have been advocating such a change, in view of the acknowledged futility of the kind of remedies thus far applied. As stated above, publicity is one of the most popular prescriptions, and it is plausibly argued that the conservative and good trusts will cheerfully aid in securing publicity, as they have nothing to conceal and are but too anxious to convince the public of their utility. But, as Governor Cummins of Iowa (an independent and progressive official) has pointed out, publicity is at best only a safeguard against certain abuses affecting trust shareholders; it is not a "remedy" at all. The sort of publicity that is proposed is no bar to limitation of production or undue raising of prices. It would not even prevent overcapitalization and disregard by the majority of the interests of the minority stockholders. It did not interfere with operations which have been the subject of wide animadversion lately. In one flagrant New York case a queer merger was effected, not only against the consent of the protesting minority, but with cynical violation of the right of discussion. "Vote first, and debate afterward," was the arrogant remark of the president of the corporation in response to the minority's complaint that the transaction sought to be
foisted on them was mysterious, suspicious, and peculiar. Publicity did not prevent the United States Steel Corporation from voting to convert $200,000,000 preferred shares into bonds and from voting a $10,000,000 commission to a syndicate for the service of guaranteeing the operation, without a word of explanation to the minority, which did not see any necessity for, and questioned the wisdom of, this heavy increase of the corporation's debt and fixed charges. Other facts might be cited, but it is really quite plain that publicity of accounts, while desirable for other reasons, would not protect consumers against the aggressive tendencies of monopoly. It is interesting to note that Professor Richard T. Ely, in his valuable little book on Monopolies and Trusts, sets no store by publicity. Faith in that alleged remedy has declined greatly since the national trust conference held in Chicago in the fall of 1899. The right of the state to impose publicity as one of the conditions of incorporation is questioned by few, but the inadequacy of this remedy is now widely recognized.
Such suggestions as taxation of trusts, government regulation of prices and output, may be passed over as too radical for the conservatives and insufficient from the radical point of view. They fall between two stools, and are not compromises. On the other hand, general reforms like just taxation of general property, the acquisition by the government of patents that are made the basis of monopoly, the prohibition of "stock-watering," etc., may likewise be left on one side as measures whose effect on trusts would be indirect and uncertain. These proposals must be judged on their own merits; they would be advanced and urged if trusts had never made their appearance.
The socialist view of trusts need not detain us long. It is really summed up in the old phrase, "the worse, the better." This idea is implicit in the position of the "orthodox" Marxites, the "catastrophic" socialists, who believe in revolution and class struggle for political supremacy. Contemporary socialism, not only in Great Britain, but also in France and Germany, is parliamentary and opportunist. It is Fabian, though many of the continental leaders would warmly repudiate the characteri
zation. Modern socialism has abandoned the doctrine that "small reforms are the enemies of great ones," and is quite ready to accept concessions from the bourgeoisie. But with reference to trusts and monopolies even the self-styled Fabian socialists proceed upon the old idea that it is futile, unwise, and reactionary to resist the industrial tendency of the day. Competition, they say, is bankrupt, self-condemned. It has become economically "impossible," and industry is reorganizing itself on the basis of monopoly. The only question is: Shall this monopolized industry remain under private control, substantially if not formally so, or shall the state take charge of it and conduct it in the interest of the whole people?
Says Mr. Henry W. Macrosty, Fabian socialist, in his Trusts and the State (pp. 317, 318):
Competition came into the world to free trade from feudalism, and, having done that work, played havoc with the lives of men. It called into existence the great opposing principle of association, by which a series of bulwarks against individualism has been built up in the trade union, the co-operative society, the municipality, and the central government. Finally, competition, turning against itself, has ended in combination, and private monopoly threatens to overwhelm the state by economic and political oppression. We cannot turn back the march of economic progress; for good or for evil we must now face the concentration of industry. In the collectivization of industry lies the future hope of society, and it will be obtained by the gradual transfer of one branch of production after another under the control of the municipality or the government..
Industrial society is now in course of providing itself with a new organization which will exclude competition and yet be motived by the desire for private gain. Will the community consent to become the serf of a small class of shareholders, or will it take the new organization into its own hands, and by scientific management make both the system and the workers capable of responding to the complex needs of a higher form of civilization? That is the problem of the trust.
It will be seen that this statement of the case admits everything that has been asserted in behalf of the trust on its industrial side. It admits that trusts effect great saving; that they introduce efficiency and scientific management into industry, and that they subserve a pressing economic need. We know that these admissions are by no means reluctant or forced; they are
made with the cheerfulness characteristic of those who have a foregone conclusion to support. It is more significant to find non-socialists so far in agreement with the socialists as to affirm plainly that the trusts will drive society to collectivization of all industry unless "we can draw the fangs of the monster and tame him to good uses," in the words of Professor John B. Clark. his essay on The Control of Trusts, Professor Clark says:
Momentous beyond the power of language to measure is the question whether centralization may be allowed to go to the utmost lengths without fastening on the people the intolerable burden of monopoly. Answer this question in one way, and you will probably be a socialist; and certainly you ought to be one. [Italics mine.] Answer it in another way, and you will be an "individualist," though that is an inexact term for indicating the development for which you hope. In the latter case, you will believe in freedom of individual action, in competition, in the right of contract-in short, in the things that have made our civilization what it is.
Professor Clark, it is true, answers the question in the way which permits him to remain an individualist. He believes it to be possible to "blend efficiency in production with equity in distribution," insuring the utilization of the trust's power for good while curbing its power for evil, but his solution of the problem is not convincing. He holds that the ability of the trusts to suppress competition and oppress the public is dependent upon three kinds of unfair dealing-discriminations in prices between different localities, discriminations between different grades of goods, and discriminations between persons. He believes that the law can suppress these practices, and that, too, without violating the principle of industrial freedom.
But the consistent individualist will demur to this. No doubt certain discriminations are wrong and immoral, and there would be no violence to the principle of laissez-faire in making them illegal. But to prohibit local cutting of prices is to suppress competition. It is not wrong, if we accept the principle of industrial freedom, for a corporation to invade the special territory of a rival company and drive it out of existence by underbidding. The law cannot assume that the object of the successful corporation is monopoly in the offensive sense of the term. A monopolist may or may not abuse his power. If he