This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
But this union creates the competing interests of labor and capital, since they are generally found in different hands. An interest is, in scientific meaning, a share. Each has now only a share. Before, each had the whole of its own product, but a most melancholy whole. They are competitors ; for those shares are not determined absolutely in the nature of the union to which they have consented. It is by the earnestness and persistency of competition alone that either can secure its remuneration, or maintain its existence.
But they are not antagonists. All their effort, even in the severest assertion of their individual claims, goes to the increase of the common property, and the advancement of their mutual service. Antagonism tends to destroy. Its purpose is, so far as it proceeds, to remove one or the other of the parties. The competition of labor and capital never ceases; but it respects the bond of union in which only each has its own full development.
Here we see the folly of the supposed antagonism. They are partners, and should divide the results of industry in good faith and good feeling. False philosophy, or unprincipled politics, may alienate their interests, and set them at discord. Capitalists may encroach on labor. Laborers may, in their madness, destroy capital. Such is the work of ignorance and evil passions. It is the surpassing folly of the members that combined to cut off supplies from the stomach.
However far such a strife may be carried, it must result in mutual injuries; and health can only be restored by obtaining the recognition of the full rights and obligations of each. The condition of well-being is peace. A false philosophy has set the world at war for ages, proclaiming that what one nation may gain another must lose. Such a philosophy has had its trial, extending over centuries of waste and terror; and is now, fortunately, dishonored through the whole civilized world.
Akin to it is the belief that hatred and retaliation are the normal relations of capital and labor, and that mutual distrust and hurtfulness are inevitable in all the developments of industry. Such a belief blasphemes against the harmonies of Providence, — is sightless before the glorious order of man and nature. It was the popular faith in such a principle of hurt, not help, between the two great divisions of industrial power, that effected the Revolution in France. The cruel, shallow selfishness of capital has robbed labor by means of law. Labor, impoverished, ignorant, degraded, has often turned upon its tyrant, and laid in a common waste church and state, letters and wealth.