"To Caesar All or Nothing"
El Renacimiento
(Nov. 13, 1908)

Excerpts from the Original Electronic Text at the web site of Anti-Imperialism in the United States (1898-1935), ed. by Jim Zwick, Syracuse University.

Note: El Renacimiento was a Philippine newspaper.

It is not through the dread of any fair competition that the entire Philippine Press expresses its fears of the policy of "equal chances for all" so emphatically urged by the present Secretary of War, Luke E. Wright. That principle would be just and would without doubt promote competition of a desirable sort in the case of any definite and well regulated national existence. In a country conquered by armed force, while its people aspire to a national existence -- securing its own economic and social life, this principle is unfair and pernicious.

We ask whether the doctrine of a like chance for all can really call forth the stimulus of competition -- whether this principle can apply under a government entrenched in a policy of the most radical protectionism. A mere superficial analysis shows that this principle is belied by its practical application. In America, individuality, the efficiency and skill of the workman, political freedom, and an education intended to develop all possible energy for the struggle of life, have not sufficed to maintain in practice the principle of "equal chances for all" and, by a possibly atavistic phenomenon, the very same freedom, individualism and unrestricted materialism, have called forth powerful monopolies, known as trusts, which kill all free initiative and competition.

As a result of this abnormal condition America is today known as the country of the great "combinations," powerful agencies which impoverish and absorb the blood of the people.

In our country, subjugated by a conqueror without moral or ethnological affinity with us, what value can that phrase of "equal chances for all" possibly have? Even supposing that Americans and Filipinos had the same training and skill, and supposing that they had the same resources so as to enter the strife under equal conditions, is it to be believed that the natives would find the same protection that American enterprise, coming here to do business on a large scale, could reckon upon? Let facts speak for themselves. A government of commercial expansion, a government greedy of gold and riches, a government that at home fails to hinder absorption and to kill monopoly, a government fanatic in protectionalism, that builds tariff walls in order to protect special interests and trust controlled products, is even less likely to concern itself with our interests than with those of its own people.

This principle, entirely aside from the fact that it is in direct contradiction to the spirit of American political economy, is an absurdity in its application here. How are we, the Filipinos, going to start competition when we have no large capital such as the trusts possess, when we are unskilled in the control of the forces that have evolved the large combinations which decide the final outcome of competition? You Americans are abreast of all these things. You know and possess the means for this purpose. You have at your disposal all your many departments of investigation. If you want to know the value of woodland, with mathematical exactness for a safe investment and exploitation, you have at your disposal experts who will make a technical report and give all information necessary in the case; if you want to know the wealth of a mine, its availability, its exact situation, the steps that must be taken to secure the concession therefor, you have at your disposal the same experts who will report on the inwardness of the matter, all that is hidden from the eye of the layman and inaccessible to us; if you with to know the resources of a tract of land that some company or other wished to exploit, desiring to find out the chances it offers and the best place for the railroad to cross it, you have at your disposal bureaus of technical information with all their resources and plans to give whatever knowledge is desired. If you are interested in some park scheme supposed to be a public convenience, to develop which tramways are indispensable, you have the means to get estimates, to have the necessary sums voted and cause the purchase of what may be a worthless swamp without the public becoming "wise," all requirements of the law to the contrary notwithstanding.

You say we are afraid of competition. No, competition does not exist not can it ever exist under a foreign government. What we are afraid of is absorption, monopolies, special privileges given "for good," the death of our nationality, our annihilation as a nation, economic slavery, -- the most barbarous of all slaveries. When you with your energy, your skill and labor efficiency, -- your wealth and your national power, close your doors to the oriental who comes to your country, not in search of equal chances but of any chance at all for making a living, lest your own welfare should be jeopardized ever so little, why should we Filipinos not be afraid when we are challenged to what you choose to call a battle of "equal chances"?

Aut Caesar aut nihil. This is the true meaning of the principle of equal chances applied in subjugated countries. Everything else is illusory and wrong. To Caesar everything or nothing!

Preferred citation: El Renacimiento. "To Caesar All or Nothing." (Boston: Anti-Imperialist League, n.d.). http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/unofficial/students/fjzwick/vof/er111308.html In Jim Zwick, ed., Anti-Imperialism in the United States, 1898-1935. http://web.syr.edu/~fjzwick/ail98-35.html (January 1996).

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