Economic and Social Importance of the Eight-Hour Movement
Frequent contact with enjoyable conditions creates desire for them, and by repeated satisfaction the desire grows into a taste, and tastes into absolute wants, which ultimately become a part of the habits and fixed character, or second nature.
Since the established wants of a people govern its industrial activities and social relations, and these in turn establish its habits or social conduct, whatever effects human wants exercises a commensurate influence upon the character of the people. Accordingly, we find the world over, that the social character of every community is elevated and refined, civilization most advanced, and of course wages the highest, and the well-being of the masses the most complete where the normal wants of the people are the most numerous, and their social life the most complex. Obviously, therefore, the real fulcrum upon which to place the lever with which to lift social character and thereby advance civilization is human wants.
Nor is the influence of a want confined to its own satisfaction. In accordance with the principle, that the strength of a desire increases with its gratification, does the complete satisfaction of a want tend to give rise to new desires. Each new want calls forth a new effort for its gratification, and thereby enlarges the field of experience by making more frequent and varied social intercourse necessary from which new desires naturally arise. Thus it is that frequent contact with enjoyable conditions creates desire for them, and by repeated satisfaction the desire grows into a taste, and tastes into absolute wants, which ultimately become a part of the habits and fixed character, or second nature. In fact, there is no conceivable limit to the development of man's social wants, and his ability to satisfy them, except those fixed by his opportunities.
The power of social influences in shaping man's desires, wants, habits and character is everywhere manifest. It is the recognition of this fact that makes us so solicitous about what our children shall hear and see, or where they shall go, the school they shall attend, the company they shall keep, the amusement they shall have, etc. Even parents who are in the habit of frequenting saloons will forbid their children going to such places, and none but the most degraded will allow their children to see them do so.
Indeed, the whole history of the human race is one continuous stream of evidence of the universal operation of this principle. Wherever man's social opportunities have been the most restricted, his wants, tastes and desires are the most limited and his industrial and political character has made the least progress, and vice versa. For the same reason that the extent of man's wants and the development of his character is the measure of social progress; so, too, the extent of his opportunities to increase those wants and develop that character is the true measure of civilization. Therefore, how to increase the wants, develop the character, and. consequently advance the wages of the laboring classes, ultimately resolves itself into the question: How can the social opportunities of the masses be enlarged?
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