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XXIX. the organizing mind.

There goes through the post-office in early summer an immense interchange of views in respect to summer boarding-places in the country. It is safe to say that in one-half of these letters there appears, first or last, a remark like this: “The man of the house is not very efficient; it is his wife who carries it on.” In one case it was the man himself who frankly admitted the precise state of things to me, and volunteered the following commentary: “The reason is, you see, that it is my wife who has what I call the organizing mind.”

There is a great deal of philosophy in this honest man's admission, and he saw just the point which many of our amateur political economists and labor reformers seem to me to miss. They assume that the hands of man produce everything-clothes, food, and fuel. This may be true in certain tropical countries, where clothes and fuel are almost superfluous, and food is obtained by stretching out the hands and picking a fruit. But the theory certainly becomes false so soon as man has, or needs to have, a more [147] systematic way of living. Wherever we drive in our summer jaunts through the country we see either the farmer at work in his fields or the operative in some little factory village. Yet the factory village has not been created by the “hands,” but by some one's head or by a series of heads. If it were burned down to-morrow, those who now labor in it would probably be powerless to recreate it and carry it on, even if all the capital it cost were put into their pockets. It seems unfair that the man who lives in the largest house in the village, and who never does a stroke of bodily labor, should have more consideration than those who work with their hands from morning till night. But the reason is that he is more important to the village than all the rest: his place cannot be filled, while theirs can. He has the organizing mind, or at least represents some one else who has it.

In case of the farmer, or at least the farmer of the Atlantic States, the distinction is less obvious, because his labor is less highly organized. He not only does his own work, but plans it also. Yet he uses at every moment the tools and processes which only the highest organization has perfected ; his mower, his reaper, even his plough and pitchfork, are the result of organizing mind brought to bear in some great establishment, perhaps a thousand miles away. Not only does the organizing mind [148] control the working hand, but it controls even the merely inventive mind; and every improvement in the curves of a plough-share is the result of a series of single suggestions of separate inventors combined by some organizer into a structure which is, compared with the original sharpened stick, almost wholly the product of intellect. There is nothing which commands such power as organizing mind, unless it be that subtle faculty which we call genius in the poet or the man of science — a finer and higher force, which unconsciously remoulds the world, organizing mind and all.

I have been hoping all my life to see some signs that co-operation will one day displace competition; but that day seems as far off as ever, because it is competition, not co-operation, that knows how to avail itself of the organizing mind. All the testimony from England, where co-operation has gone much farther than here, is to the effect that while distributive co-operation-that is, the selling of goods on that method-lhas been carried very far, yet productive co-operation, or the production of goods by joint effort, has made very little progress. The explanation is very obvious. The ablest writer who has come from the ranks of hand-labor in England, so far as I know, Thomas Wright-who calls himself “The working Engineer,” and names his book “Our New masters” --charges the difficulty [149] to tie impossibility of enlisting the organizing mind on the side of co-operation. There is, he says, such a thing as “a capitalist talent,” and the existence of this is fatal to co-operation, because workmen themselves cannot be relied upon either to find out this talent or to trust it. The objection does not seem quite conclusive, when we remember that Carlyle and others have considered all republican government impracticable on the same ground — that human beings could not or would not of themselves select their ablest men to rule them. In governmental affairs this has been partly compensated by the fact that men have at least learned better to rule themselves. For some reason or other this principle does not apply itself so readily in business as in politics. Perhaps it is because business, which concerns every man's bread, is more intense and absorbing than politics, and hence is reorganized more slowly.

Undoubtedly the practical quality that needs most to be developed in women is the organizing mind. Not merely for the keeping of boarding-houses, but for all other purposes, what they need the most is the power of headship, the capacity of managing a large enterprise, and having other workers to labor under their direction. It is idle to say that they are wanting by nature in this faculty; the State has always assumed that it was a thing to be expected [150] of queens, and the Church has recognized it alike in the abbesses of the Roman Catholic faith and in the deaconesses of Protestantism. It has been developed more slowly in women, because the exigencies of home and child-bearing have largely preoccupied them and have made it necessary for men to undertake the task of organizing the life and labor of the world. But no one who sees how rapidly women have come, during the last thirty years, into the charge of great benevolent operations, such as were once left to men only, can doubt the existence of a gradually maturing power in them, which shall yet make them far more potent factors even than now in public works. Meantime, the knowledge of their own need of organizing mind should give them a good object-lesson in political economy, and enable them to understand much that is now puzzling. As society advances to greater complication we need the organizing mind more and more; we cannot ignore its existence; we must have its service; we must pay its price. For many years to come the natural organizers will have largely the management of the world; and almost all social inequalities result from the fact that there are still too few such organizers to get the world's work well done.

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