The two greatest forces in any community are the economic force and the political force backed by military power. To develop the greatest amount of strength for the benefit of the community, they must work together, hence must be under one direction.
Germany had already accomplished this union before entering the war [ WW I ] by having her political system practically take over the industrial, and the Allies rapidly followed suit after the war began.
We also found soon after entering the war that our political system alone was not adequate to the task before it, and supplemented it by a food administrator, a coal administrator, a war labor board, a war industries board, a shipping board, and others, which were intended to be industrial, and as far as possible removed from political influences. There is no question that they handled their problems much more effectively than was possible under strictly political control.
The Soviet system is an attempt to make the business and industrial system serve the community as a whole, and in so doing to take over the functions of and entirely supplant the political syste. Whether it can be made to work or not remains to be seen. Up to date it has failed, possibly because the control has fallen into the hands of people of such extreme radical tendencies that they would probably wrek any system.
The attempt which extreme radicals all over the world are making to get control of both the political and business systems on the theory that they would make the industrial and business system serve the community, is a real danger so long as our present syste does not accomplish that end; and this danger is real irrespective of the fact that they have as yet nowhere proved their case.
Is it possible to make our present system accomplish this end? If so, there is no excuse for such a change as they advocate, for the great industrial and business system on which our modern civilization depends is essentially sound at bottom, having grown up because of the service it rendered. Not until it realized the enormous power it had acquired through making itself indispensable to the community did it go astray by making the community serve it. It hen ceased to render democratically, but demanded autocratically that its will be done. “It made tools and weapons of cities, states, and empires.” Then came the great catastrophe.
In order to resume our advance toward the development of an unconquerable democratic civilization, we must purge our economic system of all autocratic practices of whatever kind, and return to the democratic principle of rendering service, which was the basis of its wonderful growth.
Unless within a short time we can accomplish this result, there is apparently nothing to prevent our following Europe into the economic confusion and welter which seem to threaten the very existence of its civilization.
Download Henry L. Gantt’s book Organizing for Work in PDF form.