Story type: Essay
Far off in the distance shines the goal of present human ambition.
It is a shining, golden light. Toward that light the millions struggle, trampling each other, sacrificing everything in the harsh fight for the dollar.
Here and there a preacher thunders, here and there a philosopher proses against the money struggle. But they might as well whisper at the brink of Niagara. And often the preacher changes his thundering when a RICH church calls him, often the philosopher grasps the first chance to forget philosophy in Wall Street.
The men admired to-day are the men who have made millions–some are admired because they find excitement in giving the millions away, others because they silently pile more millions upon the others already gained.
“Society,” the class devoted to pleasure, consists now, in America, of those who have much money.
Literary success depends upon the money which the writer accumulates.
The man talked about is he who has SOLD a hundred thousand books.
The rich boy at school is followed by toadies. In college he learns contempt for human nature from the sycophancy of others.
“Representatives” of the People may be found dogging the footsteps of those who need to buy laws, or to steal the people’s rights. —-
It is a fierce and remorseless climb up the steep road to wealth.
There are many corpses, many crimes, many broken hearts, haggard faces and bitter disappointments on that road.
The man with the “Good-money-making idea” struggles on with it over the bodies of suicides and of those who have fallen in despair.
At the bottom of the road the murderer plies his trade with knife or poison–to make money. And the murderer who has tried for MUCH money calls forth special interest and special privileges, special new trials, special newspaper headings.
At the top of the road to wealth, another, more intelligent class, work with equally remorseless energy. They murder no individual. But they rob entire classes of society.
They tax others to fatten their pockets–they add to the cost of food that children eat–they coin human life into cash–smoothly and nicely, using law-makers as tools. Envy and admiration are theirs–such admiration as the retail murderer can never earn. —-
The struggle for money is the struggle of THE WHOLE WORLD to-day.
And of the money-making movement, as of ALL WORLD-WIDE MOVEMENTS, there is a side that is good and necessary.
Divine wisdom guides the world, and the human race, working out its destiny in seeming blindness, is not allowed to wander from the track of actual progress.
The money-making mania is one phase of human advancement.
This is the age of industrial progress. Money is simply the means of perfecting industry. It is human labor condensed and put into compact, transferable shape.
The man with the hundred millions can build the great railroad across the continent. There is no more important work now than the building of that road.
The man with the thousand millions can control the great oil trust and a dozen other trusts. He taxes the people–but his hundreds of millions do an important and necessary work.
It is well for us all that such a man has sacrificed health, digestion, happiness and all idea of self-indulgence to the accumulation of a vast industrial army of dollars.
The scramble for money, looked at without understanding, is a horrid sight. But horrid also is the sight of a battle that frees slaves.
When the battle of money shall end, the score will be on the right side of humanity’s ledger.
A few forgotten billionaires will have struggled and died. Some millions of men will have died disappointed.
But industry will have been brought to perfection. Universities, libraries and other benefactions will abound, pleading for recognition of the money-making dyspeptics. Human ingenuity will have contrived some means for freeing men’s minds from the dread of destitution.
The money struggle will have ended and humanity will be much better off, much further advanced–as it is at the end of all great and painful struggles.