Updated: Apr 20
Davis, John (1892). Pp 30-32. In The People's cause. Boston, MA: Arena Pub.
The current politics of today were preceded by the current politics of other days. Advances in politics are made step by step through organized parties, which gradually arise in consequence of great public grievances. Without the existence of grievances there can be no new party. All history attests that men never right their wrongs as long as the wrongs are sufferable. No man can build a new party at will. It is far more probable that a new party, rising and growing through great public exigencies, will build or find a new man as the champion to enforce its demands.
All political progress is made through new parties. Men advance, but party organizations do not. The first political party in America was favorable to monarchy. Children were taught to lisp "His Majesty," and "God save the King! " was the song of loyalty. From kingly tyranny came a party demanding the " redress of grievances." The grievances were not redressed, and hence came the party of Independence. This was a new party. It achieved American liberty. Through a new party, also, came freedom on the high seas; and another new party relieved the country of chattel slavery.
When new parties have arisen, and have performed their respective missions by abolishing the grievances which gave them birth, they do not disorganize and pass out of existence, but their early and patriotic leaders drop out of power, or, maybe, forget their former patriotism. New leaders come to the front, seeking the honors and emoluments of office through the "majority party." In this way an old party becomes a party of no principle — a party of spoils — merely an organized appetite, feeding on the dead issues of the past. Today we have in America two great and greedy organized appetites, differing in nothing except to "put the rascals out," on one side, and, to "keep the rascals out," on the other. In the pursuit of game, they run in couples. It is only in the division of the spoils that these old organizations indulge in snarling and snapping at each other. All new parties in America have believed in the equality of men before the laws, and, while new, they have made such progress as has dimmed in some small degree the separating lines of nationality, race, and color.
But in the meantime, there has grown up another person, little known to the fathers of the republic. It is a legal entity, endowed with more privileges and powers, and fewer responsibilities than belong to common men. This artificial person, created by law, is stronger than Samson and Hercules combined. It is more tyrannical than King George, and less merciful than chattel slavery — a monster, powerful, aggressive, and grasping, which today dominates society, politics, industry, and commerce. Political parties tremble in its presence. Party leaders do its bidding. Finance, transportation, and all industry fatten it with billions in tribute.
This new creation, in a multitude of forms, sends its representatives into every state legislature, and into the national Congress, corrupting and poisoning the very sources of power, and making justice between man and corporate power unusual, if not impossible. Even the lands and homes of the people are passing into the fatal clutches of this insatiable devil-fish. If it is invisible, it is also all-pervading, irresistible, and unmerciful. It may "sue and be sued," but never punished, as its crimes deserve. Men, women, and children, guilty of crime, may be fined, imprisoned, and hanged. This new tyrant does not even come into court, except by proxy. Without body, it cannot be imprisoned or hanged. Without conscience, it cannot suffer the pangs of remorse. Without soul, it is not concerned as to the rewards and punishments of the future.
Among the readers let me choose five of the smartest brains and heaviest pockets. By a legal charter these may be combined into one personage or corporation for business purposes. This is a new creation made by law. But the law cannot create either a soul or a conscience. Hence our new artificial creation has five times the usual amount of brains, with neither soul nor conscience. It is not subject to disease or death, or to any of the evils to which flesh is heir. Yet God's children, men, women, and infants, must live or die as best they can in business competition with this new-born tyrant.
If, by some sort of miracle, I should unite five, ten, or fifty stout men into one physical giant, without soul or conscience, and subject to neither disease nor death, and should turn him loose on society, fully armed for combat, who would dare to contend with him?
Through unjust laws and practices the common people of America are taxed and robbed to penury, despite their best efforts to obtain the fair rewards of honest industry. A Chicago journal has recently published a list of three hundred and forty millionaires in the state of Illinois. Those dangerous aggregations of wealth were garnered through class laws or the violations of law, through the "protected industries," and through the various forms and devices of "investments" and speculations, so well known to the crafty and unscrupulous, while on agriculture and other forms of industry have fallen all the losses.
These are but hints as to some of the phases and grievances of current politics. The old parties of rapacious greed are friendly to their offspring, and will not afford relief. Is it any wonder that society is organizing against this new form of tyranny — this "communism" of capital? and that a new political party is rapidly forming for defensive purposes?