82 THE CLASS STRUGGLE mercial classes to devour the substance of England, to oppress and exploit the toiling masses, and use the nobility and priesthood as a means for cover in this nefarious work. There are those who are willing, who are determined, whatever it may cost them, to fraternize with those whom they take shame to themselves for having neglected; to preach and to organize, in concert with them, a Holy War against the Social abuses which are England shame; and, first and foremost, against the fiend of competition.
Now it is only a question of the workingman joining hands with these good men in the fight on the common enemy plutocracy. Will you working brothers co operate with these men? Are they, do you think, such bigots as to let political differences stand between them and those who fain would treat them as their brothers; or will they fight manfully side by side with them in the battle against Mammon. And in order that the workers may not shrink from fighting against Mammon side by side with nobles and priests, a poetic picture is drawn of idyllic old England feudal England when everyone had his place and everybody did his duty particularly nobles and priests.
The greatest poet and philosopher of this cult of the past was Thomas Carlyle, who never tired of painting the beauties of the Middle Ages and of extolling them at the expense of the capitalistic present. Under his pen the two typical products of the Middle Ages, the baron and the mony, became the embodiment of all the virtues; and he never tired of preaching a return to the social order in which the lay aristocracy took care of the bodies of men and the spiritual aristocracy of their souls.
Carlyle hated the theory and practice of Capitalism with such a burning hatred that he was ready to idealize and idolize everything that was its negation. The feudal order was in every way the exact opposite of the bourgeois order, it must therefore have been good and beautiful, and Carlyle could see nothing in it THE COMMON ENEMY 83 that was not either good and beautiful. Its very servitudes, the cuffs and kicks which the serf received from his noble master, had a certain beauty in them. On the other hand everything connected with the present order is and must be of the Evil One even its freedoms and liberties. Carlyle therefore never tires of ridiculing the ballot box as an utterly absurd manner of choosing rulers for the people and of extolling the incomparable superiority of the governmental system of feudal England, where ballot boxes and. such like stupid devices of modern democracy were unknown, but real worth counted.
Samson, the poor man of St. Edmondsbury, is easily recog nized by the King to be a true Governor and he is immediately made Lord Abbot of that great monastery and the ruler of the country around. Is not this, asks Carlyle exultingly, at any rate a singular aspect of what political and social capabilities, nay, let us say, what depth and opulence of true social utility, lay in those old barbarous ages, that the fit Governor could be met with under such disguises, could be recognized and laid hold of under such?
Here he is discovered with a maximum of two shillings in his pocket, and a leather script round his neck; trudging alongthe highway, his frock skirts looped over his arm. They think this is he nevertheless, the true Governor; and he proved to be so.
Brethren, have we no need of discovering true Governors, but will sham ones forever do for us? These were absurd supersti tious blackheads of monks; and we are enlightened Tenpound Franchisers, without taxes on knowledge! Where, say, are our superior, are our similar or at all comparable discoveries?
We also have eyes or ought to have; we have hustings, telescopes; we have lights, link lights, and rush lights of an enlightened free Press, burning and dancing everywhere, as in a universal torch dance; singeing your whiskers as you traverse the public thoroughfares in town and country. Great souls, true Governors, go about in all manner of disguises now as then.
Such telescopes, such enlightenment and such discovery! How comes it, say; how comes it? Is it not lamentable. is it not even, in some cases, amazing.