Monday, January 10, 2005

Workers and spoilers of work

I am a history major. Now, I am not one of those genius scholars who is able to develop new interpretations of past events...Nope, for me, it's all about the little nuggets. Currently I am writing my thesis...ahem...okay, not writing it yet, rather still researching it. And yesterday, while combing thru editorials in the digital (only .PDF files...arg) archives of the LA Times, I came upon this little gem...which I will have to painstakingly type in here:

[A little info for the historically impaired: Mexico was embroiled in a revolution/civil war from circa 1910 to 1920.]


May 31, 1914
Mexican Labor (the author's name isn't mentioned)

If the Mexican laborers are to be saved from the spoilers of work, if they are to get a fair reward for their labor: they will need to recognize the fact that the opportunities for turning manual labor into sufficient food and clothting and shelter are the results of the brain-work of pioneers - that the men, foreign or native, who bring capital into Mexico and spend that capital for opening up its mineral and agricultural resources are the real friends of the peon.
Not Villa with his armies of destruction; not Woodrow Wilson, who has identified himself with the cause of the rebels; not Hueta nor Zapata nor any factionalist can raise, single-handed the civilization of a backward country. The progress of a nation is the fruit of men who succeed in their work whether aider or hampered by the actions of their rulers. It is the sum of a mass of individual effort.
In the lonh run the worker will win, though schemers and dreamers for'a time get the ear of the multitude. Nations are kept sweet by undisturbed periods of work; any forcible interuption sours the milk of human kindness. The vast unrewarded work of the work establishes the theory of compensation. We have always had our workers and our spoilers of work: those who preach class hatred are the worst foes of all labor and all promise of prosperity. All work is good that is not destructive. To destroy is easy. From his latest interview, published in the Saturday Evening Post, the President of the United States seems to have allied himself with the spoilers of work in Mexico.
Certainly Mexico has suffered to a greater extent or less extent. The larger proportion of the world's work is hard and painful, and the hard jobs are too often paid at lower rates that the soft ones. The value of work is dertemined by the competition of buyers and for unskilled labor the competition is a negative quantity. Especially so in a country where 90 percent of the people come under the classification of unskilled laborers.
Villa's treatment is driving from the country the Spainards - whose brains and enterprise have helped at least to create a limited local market for unskilled laborers - will only plunge the peons into deeper mires of poverty. Sympathy will not pull them out if all enterprise is hounded from the Mexican Republic. Yet the President of the United States evidently approves of this doctrine, this weeding out of those he contemptuously dubs "overlords and aristocrats." In plain words, successful workers. We are fast approaching the era when to be a successful worker will be to carry a stigma of popular disfavor. Those who know better are doubly blameworthy for encouraging so wicked a misapprehension.
A leader whose policy is based on class hatred is an artist in high explosives; the man near the lowest rung on the ladder will suffer first, should some mischief-maker light the fuse.
[...]
The experiences of the adventurous pioneers, the soil tamers and ore extractors of Mexico, could they be collected, would be invaluable in throwing light on the present condition of things in that disturbed land. The eyes of these men are trained to see the actualities, not to spin theories of reform from a distance of three thousand miles. Their ears are attuned to catch notes throbbing with the dust and strife of the Mexican wilderness, inaudible to the man at the desk over the long distance telephone. [...]

I find all of this fascinating, for the same reason I find history so fascinating: it always parallels the present. Things change, but things also never change. I remember watching Robert McNamara in The Fog of War, and he was describing how humans deal with situations...and it went something like this: they look at it from all angles, circle completely around it, and when they come back to the beginning, it's like they are seeing it for the first time.

Reading these editorials is fascinating...most of the time they could have been written today, if you just put in different names here and there.

2 Comments:

Blogger ac blue eagle said...

As you research your thesis, I refer you to a book on Mexico about the time of the editorial you site. The book, which you may already know, is "Insurgent Mexico," by John (I think) Reed. He was later the subject of the movie "Reds" about the Russian Revolution.
Good book. Good writer.

2:29 PM  
Blogger SpotlessMind said...

I am even more curious to read and translate your thesis. Keep on writing!

2:44 PM  

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