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April 1, 1903
“What Do These Things Mean?” The Signs of the Times 29, 13, p. 2.
The Spirit of Combine.
TO-DAY many remarkable things are occurring, so openly before the eyes of all, that every thoughtful person is compelled to query, What do these things mean? One, among the most remarkable of these remarkable things of to-day, may be best defined as the universal spirit of combine. Everywhere, among all classes, and in all lines of effort, there prevails this spirit of combine.SITI April 1, 1903, page 2.1
This spirit of combine is not merely an expansion of the sound principle of co-operation of unity of action of individuals acting effectively toward a common purpose. It is not, in any sense, the principle of co-operation or unity of action of individuals acting as such, collectively toward a common purpose. It is instead the principle of one mind, of one intellect, dominating all others possible, and using all them to the one purpose of that one mind as individual.SITI April 1, 1903, page 2.2
This truth and this domination is demonstrated in the universally-known fact that the first effort of this spirit is to deny, to execute, and to crush out, all right and all freedom of the individual; is instanced in the trust, whether it be the Standard Oil Trust, the Steel Trust, or a fruit trust. Whatever business it may be that is comprehended in the trust, no individual is allowed to do anything in that line of work, except as the servant of the trust, and absolutely subject to the dictation of the trust. If the “combine” takes the form, not of the trust as such, but of the labor union, then no individual is allowed to work, except as the servant of the union and under the absolute dictation of the union.SITI April 1, 1903, page 2.3
The second effect of this spirit, wherever entertained, is to destroy all individuality of the individual himself; so that he can not do the simplest and easiest thing, a thing the virtue of which consists entirely in its being individually done, unless a combine, a club, or a society, is first created, and he do that simple and easy individual thing in the name and by the power of the combine. If, for instance, a person wants to rest one day in the week, he insists that he can not rest unless everybody else rests at the same time; and so a combine must be formed, requiring everybody to rest when he rests to, so that he can rest because they do. A member of the church knows that it is only plain, simple Christianity to visit and help the afflicted, the poor, and the needy; and he knows that this is what the church is for; yet he can not do this simple, Christian thing as an individual Christian; but must first form within the church a combine, called a “band” or of “society,” for the purpose, and then do it in the name of this combine, and because the combine requires it.SITI April 1, 1903, page 2.4
Another effect, and the direct logic of the combine, is a one-man power. This is to-day manifest on every hand; the head of the trust can dictate daily what the whole people shall pay for their sugar, their kerosene, their nails, etc; the head of the union can dictate just what the employer shall do, and how he shall conduct is business, or whether he shall conduct it at all. In the railroad strike of 1894, that reached from Buffalo to San Francisco. It occurred that two governors of sovereign states could not travel on official business within their own respective states without permission of the one-man head of the strike combine, who dominated from Chicago the greater part of the whole country of the United States.SITI April 1, 1903, page 2.5
The logic of a one-man power is always a despotism. This is certain, because of the nature of man himself. And it has proved so universally true that it is universally understood. Indeed, it was the character of the rule of the man who held the innocent office of despot that gave to that word its terrible meaning.SITI April 1, 1903, page 2.6
The logic of a one-man power is a despotism, and it is a despotism in all relations, religious as well as other. This, too, is inevitable, because, as we have already seen, the spirit of the combine is the spirit that leads one mind to usurp the place and power of God over the minds, the rights, the persons, and the property of others, and by force compel them to his one purpose. And as it is certain that a man in the place of God will always act unlike God, it is also certain that his power will always be exerted in compelling that his power will always be exerted in compelling them to do things contrary to the righteousness of God. This has been the unvarying history of it from the mighty despotism of Nimrod, the first that arose since the Flood, to be partly but growing ones of to-day. For Nimrod was not only a mighty hunter of beasts, but of men, also. He pursued and compelled men to recognize his authority in all things; they must worship as he dictated, and his example has been invariably followed. It was followed by Pharaoh, by Nebuchadnezzar, by Darius, by the Cesars, and by the popes.SITI April 1, 1903, page 2.7
It never has failed, and it never will fail, that a one-man power develops a despotism, and a despotism in religion as well as other affairs of life. And those who disregarded the spirit of the combine and maintained their individual integrity, have always been in the right, and are the true heroes of the ages. Abraham disregarded the spirit and power of the combine established by Nimrod, and maintained his individual integrity with God; and God vindicated him, called him out of it unto an eternal reward, and made him an example unto all men, “the father of all them that be of faith,” and “the friend of God.” Moses did it in Egypt. God maintained his cause, delivered him and his whole people from it, made him the greatest legislator of all times, and took him to an eternal reward. In the face of a blazing furnace of sevenfold heat the three Hebrews did it in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. God vindicated their course, preserved them in the midst of the fire, brought them forth unscathed, changed the king’s word, and made the circumstance a lesson to all kings and all combines forever. Daniel did it individually alone in the presence of the Medo-Persian combine and the den of hungry lions. God vindicated him, because of his “innocency” in the matter, and again made the individual an example to all men, and the circumstance a lesson to all one-man powers and combines, forever. John the Baptist did it, Jesus Christ did it, Stephen did it, all the apostles and early Christians did it, not in a “combine,” but wholly as individuals, each for himself alone, in disregard of the greatest one-man power, and so the greatest despotism, of all ancient times. John Wycliffe, John Huss, and Martin Luther did it against the greatest one-man power, and so the greatest despotism, of all time, ancient or modern. These are the ones who have kept alive liberty and the rights of mankind through the ages, and have saved the world from being engulfed long ago in the vortex of unmitigated despotisms.SITI April 1, 1903, page 2.8