Source: Gunton’s Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “A Warning to Tyro ‘Reformers’”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 21
Issue number: 4
|“A Warning to Tyro ‘Reformers.’” Gunton’s Magazine Oct. 1901 v21n4: pp. 308-09.|
|Click here to see the preceding editorial appearing in the magazine (whose discussion this editorial continues).|
A Warning to Tyro “Reformers”
But responsibility goes still deeper. The demagogues and the sensational
press have not had to rely wholly on the ignorant masses for encouragement,
nor even for moral justification. Great numbers of men of intelligence and standing,
who ought to know better, have added fuel to the flame and lent the weight of
their influence to a crusade against modern industry and institutions, inspired
chiefly by prejudice and feeling, and drawing their opinions from the most superficial
study of industrial conditions. With an instinctive sympathy for the poor, they
have been content to accept the easiest surface explanation of these hardships,
charging them all to plunder by the rich, and enthusiastically hail every new
radical propaganda as one more promising sign of the golden era just in sight.
They have assumed, on this trivial basis of information, to scatter social firebrands
with no more thought of the consequences than disturb a child playing with matches
around a powder magazine.
These cultivated gentlemen would be horrified at the idea of putting a coal shoveller in charge of a passenger locomotive, or sending a first-year medical student to perform a delicate surgical operation; yet there is nothing in the mechanical world or the physical world more delicate or sensitive than the complex fabric of modern society. For the most part, the so-called social reformers and “advanced thinkers,” championing various revolutionary propaganda, are continuously rushing into print and speech, trying to be the engineers or surgeons of organized society, upon the meagerest acquaintance with economic principles or even with the literal facts of industrial conditions. It  is high time for public sentiment to demand that the entire brood of social prophets, heralds of new eras, messengers of hope, and “white-slave” emancipators begin to equip themselves with the rudiments of economic science and laws of social evolution before experimenting any further on the nervous system of society. At least, the public sense of discrimination ought from now on to recognize that anyone who proposes social revolution as a cure for social imperfections is in the same class with the tyro who would cut off the head to cure earache, and treat the propositions with equal contempt.