But no undertaking requires more care, more prudence, more tact, more patience, more watchfulness, than the application of the joint-stock principle to labour. In the first place, persons whose means are exceedingly slender have to make a sacrifice for an object highly advantageous if it can be secured, but the success of which is always problematical and generally doubtful. In the next, they have to surrender their judgment to the determination of those who have to interpret the most difficult of problems,—the question whether the market for labour will bear the cessation of labour. My readers are aware that the leaders and managers of labour partnerships have very rarely formed a correct estimate of the powers at their disposal, and the powers which they strive to resist and overcome, for the immediate object of a
strike has only occasionally been obtained. In the next, they who combine for these ends have the mortification of knowing and seeing that their sacrifices and labours in the machinery of their organization are made by a small portion of the order to which they belong, while the benefit of their action, if it be successful, is shared by those who decline to participate in the movement, and even take advantage of the occasion to baffle those who assert, and with perfect sincerity, that they are labouring for the common good of all their fellows. I do not wonder that passion and violence have in past times accompanied the action of trade unions, when the promoters and members of them have felt that they were thwarted, not by the resistance of employers, but by the selfishness, as they hold it, of those who profit by their policy and take advantage of them in the crisis of their struggles.