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    Chapter 41

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    Chapter 41
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    Presently the young agitator began telling about an investigation he had been making in the lumber country of the Northwest. He was writing a pamphlet on the subject of a massacre which had occurred there. A mob of ex-soldiers had stormed the headquarters of the "wobblies," and the latter had defended themselves, and killed two or three of their assailants. A news agency had sent out over the country a story to the effect that the "wobblies" had made an unprovoked assault upon the ex-soldiers. "That's what the papers do to us!" said John Colver. "There have been scores of mobbings as a result, and just now it may be worth a man's life to be caught carrying a red card in any of these Western states."

    So there was the subject of non-resistance, and I sat and listened with strangely mingled feelings of sympathy and repulsion, while this group of rebels of all shades and varieties argued whether it was really possible for the workers to get free without some kind of force. Carpenter, it appeared, was the only one in the company who believed it possible. The gentle Comrade Abell was obliged to admit that the Socialists, in using political action, were really resorting to force in a veiled form. They sought to take possession of the state by voting; but the state was an instrument of force, and would use force to carry out its will. "You are an anarchist!" said the Socialist lawyer, addressing Carpenter.

    To my surprise Carpenter was not shocked by this.

    "If I admit no power but love," said he, "how can I have anything to do with government?"

    More visitors called, and were admitted, and presently the little room was packed with people, and a regular meeting was in progress. I heard more strange ideas than I had ever known existed in the world. I tried not to be offended; but I thought there ought to be at least a few words said for plain ordinary human beings who carry no labels, so I ventured now and then to put in a mild suggestion--for example, that there were quite a few people in the world who did not love all their neighbors, and could not be persuaded to love them all at once, and it might be necessary to put just a little restraint upon them for a time. Again I suggested, maybe the workers were not yet sufficiently educated to run the industries, they might need some help from the present masters. "Just a little more education," I ventured--

    And John Colver laughed, the first ugly laugh I had heard from him. "Education by the masters? Education at the end of a club!"

    "My boy," I argued, "I know there are plenty of employers who are rough, but there are others who are good men, who would like to change the system, would like to do something, if they knew what it was. But who will tell them what to do? Take me, for example. I have a great deal of wealth which I have not earned; but what can I do about it? What do you say, Mr. Carpenter?"

    I turned to him, as the true authority; and the others also turned to him. He answered, without hesitation: "Sell everything that you have and give it to the unemployed."

    "But," said I, "would that really solve the problem. They would spend it, and we should be right where we were before."

    Said Carpenter: "They are unemployed because you have taken from them wealth which you have not earned. Give it back to them."

    And then, seeing that I was not satisfied, he added: "How hard it is for a rich man to understand the meaning of social justice! Indeed, it would be easier for a strike leader to get the truth published in your 'Times', than for a rich man to understand what the word social justice means."

    The company laughed, and I subsided, and let the wave of conversation roll by. It was only later that I realized the part I had just been playing. It had been easy for me to recognize T-S as St. Peter, but I had not known myself as that rich young man who had asked for advice, and then rejected it. "When he heard this, he was very sorrowful; for he was very rich." Yes, I had found my place in the story!
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