This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
We have passed through the discussion of the advantages, the limitations, and the disadvantages of the division of labor.
If, now, we inquire on which side the balance lies, there will be no question that it is in favor of the application and extension of the law. It appears as the great multiplying power of modern industry; it has made the difference between barbarism and civilization; it resides in man's being as the principle of help; it is the only name that savage nature fears.
If we could personify the forces of matter and the treasures of the earth, holding council how they might escape being enslaved or plundered by rapacious man, we should hear them say: " Let us spread disunion among our foes; let us convince them that their interests are separate, and lie apart; let us excite among them suspicion and hatred. Then the summer sun shall make them languid, and winter shall bring torpor on them. The waves shall overwhelm them, struggling singly with the ocean; the drought shall starve, the snow shall freeze them. So will we conquer, and be safe."
And indeed, as if they had so talked, like the councillors of a state invaded by a powerful foe, and had so planned, we find them for ages deceiving the hearts of men, sowing dissension, and enkindling strife by treacherous bounties of gold and precious stones, like bribes sent into an enemy's camp. Nations fell to quarrelling about the accidental and trivial treasures scattered, in fraud of their full rights, upon their paths. Great wars were waged to secure paltry balances in coin : wealth of continents was disregarded. Men stood over against each other, hunted for gold in the dust, neglecting the mighty riches that lay deep in the soil. They had no heart to say, Let us help each other, and see what we can do. Whole peoples acted, and look now in history just as we imagine miners to do when they suspect the presence of some great treasure among them ; each hunting silent by himself, casting angry glances from under steadfast lids ; each heart beating fast with fear and wrath that some other may find it first; hateful all, and hating one another.
That this sketch is not exaggerated, let it be said, to the shame of mankind, that the Mercantile theory was undoubted till the middle of the last century ; proclaiming as truth, and pursuing as policy, the world over, the double lie that the only wealth is gold and silver, and that what one people gains in trade another must lose. So man had need of his fellow only to rob him ; so man had need of Nature only to get her gold.
Palaces and warehouses floating safely on the waves; breakwaters along the sea; coast-lines of docks and wharves; arterial railroads to the length of the continents; canals connecting oceans; bridges leaping rivers; the genii of the woods groaning in the windmills ; brook-nymphs grinding corn in the valleys; the spirit of the air hard at work pegging shoes; mountains of iron split open; precious crystals, forming for ten million years, strewn about the land, — these are the first fruits of man's confidence in his fellow.