Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Miss Ida Tarbell, a talented literary woman, though with middle class conceptions, is the authored of a powerful indictment against the Standard Oil Trust and its stupendous robbery and villainy. She has followed that up by writing in " M'Clure's Magazine" a merciless dissection of the king of the trust, the saintly Rockefeller.  The man's whole make-up is put under a searchlight which penetrates every section of his being. The words burn and blister. Rockefeller, who is 66 years old, is the richest man in the world, and, according to his latest picture, one of the most uncanny and repulsive looking. He lives simply, dividing his time between the three large structures he resides in. His internal mechanism has been ruined, compelling him to subsist upon the simplest diet, whilst a disease which attacked him destroyed every shred of hair from his head, face and eyebrows. The picture, pen and pictorial, is a rather gruesome one. Here is a concluding paragraph from Miss Tarbell's summing up:
  "Our National life is on every side distinctly poorer, uglier, meaner for the kind of influence he exercised. From him we have received no impulse to public duty, only lessons for evading it for private greed ; no stimulus to nobler ideals, only a lesson in the further deification of gold ; no example of noble living, only one of concealment and evasion; no impulse to free thinking, only a lesson in obscuring vital ethical issues by dressing them in the garb of piety and generosity. None of those higher things which the public has a right to demand from the man to whom it permits great power are returned to it by Mr. Rockefeller. For Mr. Rockefeller has none of these things to give. He has nothing but money, and never was there a more striking example of the impotence of money ! He has neither taste nor cultivation, ideals nor potent personality. He is not a great man, not a human man. He is a machine — a money-making machine — stripped by his overwhelming passion of greed of every quality which makes a man worthy of citizenship. He has not made good. He cannot make good. It's not in him. He has nothing the aspiring world needs."

What a picture! Yet, after all the lady's passionate indictment of the man, she leaves the whole capitalist system which produced him and makes such a being possible, untouched. Reformers as a rule merely scratch the surface of things which cause the whole trouble. Rockefeller is only the incarnated apex of the brutal, sordid, humanity crushing system of robbery and plunder we live under. If Rockefeller and his "tainted money" disappeared to-morrow, the system that bred him would still be in existence. Such reformers look at effects, not causes — at a section of the race, not the whole. They believe the working class was specially created to work — whilst, the big and little capitalist class were created as rulers and masters. The female middle class section believe in helping "the poor" with their left off clothes, in presiding over soup kitchens, and generally acting as patronising "lady bountifuls," etc. Labor — of man, woman, and child of labor — feeds them all, clothes and houses them all, creates their profits, and makes possible their "culchaw," soulfulness, and ideals. And what ideals ! The "aspiring world" Miss Tarbell extols is exactly the one Rockefeller dominates. The only aspiration of the world, outside the Socialist movement, is Rockefeller's : Gold — greed — grab. Get on ! no matter whom you push off. "I wish I had his luck" is the sentiment expressed when "the lucky ones" are mentioned. The biblical warning, "Thou canst not serve God and Mammon," has been subjected to " higher criticism" interpretation by striking out the word "not." Rockefeller, it is said, has given nearly forty million pounds to churches, charities, and universities — about, three years' dividends of Standard Oil stock. He is the chief pillar of the Baptists in the United States and a Sunday-school superintendent, while his son is a Sunday-school teacher. Here's an extract from a Sunday speech of Rockefeller's quoted by Miss Tarbell:
 "This Sunday school has been a help to me, greater perhaps than any other force in my Christian life (italics ours), and I can ask no better things for you than that you and all that shall come after you in this grand band of workers for Christ shall receive the same measure of blessedness which I have been permitted to have." And also: "Put something in, and according as you put something in the greater will be your dividends of salvation. You must put something in if you would take something out."
 Rockefeller's Christian life and work for Christ ! And the parasitic parsons and priesthood, etc, say Socialists are ungodly and irreligious, etc. If there is such a place and person as the conventional hell and devil, what revels of mordancy and cynicism must be held when the "saints" and "followers of the Lord" on this sphere are contemplated !
 Socialism will make men honest — make ideals possible — men and women human ! In a word : Socialism stands for honesty, full life, real ethics, and a higher spiritual development; to try to understand and penetrate more of the cosmos which surrounds us than human vision has yet seen. The riddle of the ages may not be unveiled — Whither? but it will have a nobler type of humankind to climb towards it.
 Work, strive and fight all you are worth, for the cause which makes for the welfare, happiness, and development of the whole human race : Socialism. Rockefeller and his system will pass away and be forgotten.

People (Sydney) 2 Sep 1905

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