Document 51: J. WILLIAM LLOYD THE RELATION OF HANDICRAFT TO THE MACHINE
The characteristic touch of the Tribe comes out in all they do. Everything here, you know, is made on honor, with the greatest honesty and artistic skill. And all work is marked with the worker's name or private mark, as far as that is possible.
But everything must be good, and as beautiful as may be according to the maker's ideal. And such a reputation has this honest and artistic work attained that there is never any trouble about sales.
1904 book : The Dwellers in Vale Sunrise
Practically every man in the colony is an artist, in his own line, and does his work well and beautifully for the love of it. That is the ideal here?not quick work or cheap work. " Not the cheap, but the good." " Take your time and love the doing." Have your conscience in your hands." "True work is true art." " Build yourself into your work and you build yourself by your work." " The joy of the workman is the cut of his tool and the color of his pigment." " Art is for the artist." "Your work is your credential." "Work is the written word of the inner voice."
These are a few of the many mottoes which you will find in every shop, or chiseled on stones and rocks, and all breathing the same inspiration to sincere and self expressive work. These people make their life a poem.
Most of their work, as you notice, is hand work, but they are beginning to use machinery for work that is mere drudgery or repetition, but even here everything is done to make the work attractive and the worker happy.
I had always heard that in socialism, the spur of acute necessity lacking, men would grow lazy and poor workers. On the contrary, here, work is the joy of life, and after working for the community all the forenoon the majority spend the afternoon also in the enthusiastic doing of some bit of private work that objectifies the ideal. Make a tour in the afternoon, or leisure time, and you shall find one writing a poem, another carving, another modeling or chiseling, another painting, another in deep study, another practicing music, another beautifying his home. The mere production of things to sell, the mere lust of possession, the mere accumulation of tiresome luxuries these people indeed despise. Their joy is in living a beautiful life, taking pleasure in their labor and the fruit of it as they go along, and their wealth and their luxury is that everything about them should suggest the attained ideal.
But too-much is a nuisance and so, while as esthetic as Greeks, they are as simple as savages, avoiding pomps and conventional cares.
I believe heartily in evolution; I accept the supremacy of man; and I accept the Modern Age and believe that logically, when completed, it will be the best of all. It is not ripe yet, that is what we fault in it, for unripeness is always crude and unpalatable. It will leave out nothing that was valuable in the past, while adding its own most important contributions. Like Forrest, then, :I believe it is natural for man to evolute, use tools, and combine materials in creative work and therein this age is also natural. This is the Age of Machinery, that is its distinction, and there is nothing abnormal about machinery. Kropotkin is right when he says our present killing servitude to the machine is a matter of bad organization, purely, and has nothing to do with the machine itself;" and Oscar Wilde is right when he claims that the machine is the helot on which our future civilization shall rise. The steam engine is as natural a production as a bird's nest and as normal a tool as Karl's flint.
You think machinery is complex and you want simplicity, but let me tell you what I think about that. In evolution simplicity is attained in successive stages. Progress is rhythmic, in cycles, and as life progresses it reaches out and includes more than previously, not uniformly and continuously, but in successive periods of growth and ripening, of start and finish.
You delight in hand labor and I fully agree with you as to its artistic preferability, but when you come to use it for many of the practical works of life it is by comparison a failure. And here, my friends, is where the new age will advance us and simplify. I prophesy that the new age will apply machinery to all the drudgery of daily work, and do it vastly better and faster and easier and cheaper than it could possibly be done by hand; and this will liberate an immense amount of time and human force now employed distastefully upon it. A great deal of human work cannot possibly be made artistic and this dish-washing and scrubbing and wood-chopping of life can better be done by machines. Then all this released human energy will have a chance to be employed on the hand work which can be artistic. So I prophesy that when the Machine Age is fully ripened we shall not only be altogether released from drudgery, and the stupid lines of work, but there will be vastly more artistic hand work done, and by more individuals, than is anyway possible now. Those who fear that the machine will ever supercede the artistic hand are foolish and those who think the hand can remove the machine are equally so. The machine is the friend of the hand and has come to help it and to liberate it for higher uses. Have you never noticed that when the hand workers on some line are ousted by some machine, those very workers naturally go to another line of the same sort of work, but always on a higher plane, requiring more taste and intellect and manipulative skill than that from which the machine drove them? In competition with the machine the man rises; he cannot do otherwise, for there is no place for him below; and that forced rise makes the machine a blessing to him Nor can the man be ever dominated by the machine for it is made by him and for him and inevitably hr will be above it and use it for his own benefit. It cannot survive save it serve him. So there is nothing to to fear from the machine and nothing but good can ever come from it, and everything that now opposes it will be benefited by it.
It isn't the machine or the organization, remember that, but the spirit behind these
that grinds men. When man is free he i above his tool and when man is kind he will never
use his tool as a weapon of offence, therefore where man is free and kind he is bound to
use all tool (social organization is only a tool) for his own good and the equal good of
all and that is the whole of it. Where men are left free they are certain to use the tools
best adapted in their judgment to attain their ideals and gratify their desires, and that
means the ever increasing use of machines in human labor and the ever increasing intricacy,
complexity and unity of human organization and cooperation in social action and relation.