صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

alarmed at some of the issues to which our investigation, seem to be tending, as if in their bearing against the power of wealth they had something in common with those of socialism, I wish him to know, in accurate terms, one or two of the main points which I have in view.

Whether socialism has made more progress among the army and navy (where payment is made on my principles), or among the manufacturing operatives (who are paid on my opponents' principles), I leave it to those opponents to ascertain and declare. Whatever their conclusion may be, I think it necessary to answer for myself only this : that if there be any one point insisted on throughout my works more frequently than another, that one point is the impossibility of Equality. My continual aim has been to show the eternal superiority of some men to others, sometimes even of one man to all others; and to show also the advisability of appointing more such persons or person to guide, to lead, or on occasion even to compel and subdue, their inferiors, according to their own better knowledge and wiser will. My principles of Political Economy were all involved in a single phrase spoken three years ago at or getting the pay for it. Does he consider occupation itself to be an expensive luxury, difficult of attainment, of which too little is to be found in the world ? or is it rather that, while in the enjoyment even of the most athletic delight, men must nevertheless be maintained, and this maintenance is not always forthcoming ? We must be clear on this head before going farther, as most people are loosely in the habit of talking of the difficulty of “ finding employment.” Is it employment that we want to find, or support during employment ? Is it idleness we wish to put an end to, or hunger ? We have to take up both ques. tions in succession, only not both at the same time. No doubt that work is a luxury, and a very great one. It is, indeed, at once a luxury and a necessity; no man can retain either health of mind or body without it. So profoundly do I feel this, that, as will be seen in the sequel, one of the principal objects I would recommend to benevolent and practical persons, is to induce rich people to seek for a larger quantity of this luxury than they at present possess. Nevertheless, it appears by experience that even this healthiest of pleasures may be indulged in to excess, and that human beings are just as liable to surfeit of labour as to surfeit of meat ; so that, as on the one hand, it may be charitable to provide, for some people, lighter dinner, and more work, -for others It may be equally expedient to provide lighter work, and more dinner.

:

Manchester : “Soldiers of the Ploughshare as well as soldiers of the Sword :" and they were all summed in a single sentence in the last volume of Modern Painters—“Government and cooperation are in all things the Laws of Life ; Anarchy and competition the Laws of Death.”

And with respect to the mode in which these general principles affect the secure possession of property, so far am I from invalidating such security, that the whole gist of these papers will be found ultimately to aim at an extension in its range ; and whereas it has long been known and declared that the poor have no right to the property of the rich, I wish it also to be known and declared that the rich have no right to the property of the poor.

But that the working of the system which I have undertaken to develop would in many ways shorten the apparent and direct, though not the unseen and collateral, power, both of wealth, as the Lady of Pleasure, and of capital as the Lord of Toil, I do not deny: on the contrary, I affirm it in all joyfulness ; knowing that the attraction of riches is already too strong, as their authority is already too weighty, for the reason of mankind. I said in my last paper that nothing in history had ever been so disgraceful to human intellect as the acceptance among us of the common doctrines of political economy as a science. I have many grounds for saying this, but one of the chief may be given in few words. I know no previous instance in history of a nation's establishing a system. atic disobedience to the first principles of its professed religion. The writings which we (verbally) esteem as divine, not only denounce the love of money as the source of all evil, and as an idolatry abhorred of the Deity, but declare mammon service to be the accurate and irreconcileable opposite of God's service : and, whenever they speak of riches absolute, and pove erty absolute, declare woe to the rich, and blessing to the poor. Whereupon we forthwith investigate a science of be coming rich, as the shortest road to national prosperity.

“ Tai Cristian dannerà l'Etiòpe,

Quando si partiranno i due collegi,
L'UNO IN ETERNO RICCO, E L'ALTRO INOPE.'

а

ESSAY IV.

AD VALOREM.

In the last paper we saw that just payment of labour con sisted in a sum of money which would approximately obtain equivalent labour at a future time : we have now to examine the means of obtaining such equivalence. Which question involves the definition of Value, Wealth, Price, and Prod

uce.

None of these terms are yet defined so as to be understood by the public. But the last, Produce, which one might have thought the clearest of all, is, in use, the most ambiguous ; and the examination of the kind of ambiguity attendant on its present employment will best open the way to our work.

In his chapter on Capital,* Mr. J. S. Mill instances, as a capitalist, a hardware manufacturer, who, having intended to spend a certain portion of the proceeds of his business in buying plate and jewels, changes his mind, and “pays it as wages to additional workpeople.” The effect is stated by Mr. Mill to be, that ! more food is appropriated to the consumption of productive labourers."

Now, I do not ask, though, had I written this paragraph, it would surely have been asked of me, What is to become of the silversmiths? If they are truly unproductive persons, we will acquiesce in their extinction. And though in another part of the same passage, the hardware merchant is supposed also to dispense with a number of servants, whose “ food is thus set free for productive purposes,” I do not inquire what will be the effect, painful or otherwise, upon the servants, of

[ocr errors]

* Book I. chap. iv. s. 1. To save space, my future references to Mr. Mill's work will be by numerals only, as in this instance, I. iv. 1. Ed in 2 vols. 8vo. Parker, 1848.

this emancipation of their food. But I very seriously inquire why ironware is produce, and silverware is not ? That the merchant consumes the one, and sells the other, certainly does not constitute the difference, unless it can be shown (which, indeed, I perceive it to be becoming daily more and more the um of tradesmen to show) that commodities are made to be sold, and not to be consumed. The merchant is an agent of conveyance to the consumer in one case, and is himself the consumer in the other : * but the labourers are in either case equally productive, since they have produced goods to the same value, if the hardware and the plate are both goods.

And what distinction separates them? It is indeed possible that in the “comparative estimate of the moralist,” with which Mr. Mill says political economy has nothing to do (III. i. 2) 2 steel fork might appear a more substantial production than a silver one: we may grant also that knives, no less than forks, are good produce ; and scythes and ploughshares serviceable articles. But, how of bayonets? Supposing the hardware merchant to effect large sales of these, by help of the “setting free" of the food of his servants and his silversmith,-is he still employing productive labourers, or, in Mr. Mill's words, labourers who increase “ the stock of permanent means of enjoyment” (I. iii. 4). Or if, instead of bayonets, he supply bombs, will not the absolute and final “enjoyment” of even these energetically productive articles (each of which coste ten pounds )t be dependent on a proper choice of time and

* If Mr. Mill had wished to show the difference in result between consumption and sale, he should have represented the hardware merchant as consuming his own goods instead of selling them ; similarly, the silver merchant as consuming his own goods instead of selling them. Had he done this, he would have made his position clearer, though less tenable ; and perhaps this was the position he really intended to take, tacitly involving his theory, elsewhere stated, and shown in the sequel of this paper to be false, that demand for commodities is not demand for labour. But by the most diligent scrutiny of the paragraph now under examination, I cannot determine whether it is a fallacy pure and simple, or the half of one fallacy supported by the whole of a greater one ; so that I treat it here on the kinder assumption that it is one fallacs only.

+ I take Mr. Helps' estimate in his essay on War.

[ocr errors]

place for their enfantement ; choice, that is to say, depending on those philosophical considerations with which political economy bas nothing to do? *

I should have regretted the need of pointing out inconsistency in any portion of Mr. Mill's work, had not the value of his work proceeded from its inconsistencies. He deserves honour among economists by inadvertently disclaiming the principles which he states, and tacitly introducing the moral considerations with which he declares his science has no connection. Many of his chapters are, therefore, true and valuable; and the only conclusions of his which I have to dispute are those which follow from his premises.

Thus, the idea which lies at the root of the passage we have just been examining, namely, that labour applied to produce luxuries will not support so many persons as labour applied to produce useful articles, is entirely true ; but the instance given fails—and in four directions of failure at once—because Mr. Mill has not defined the real meaning of usefulness. The definition which he has given—"capacity to satisfy a desire, or serve a purpose” (III. i. 2)—applies equally to the iron and silver; while the true definition—which he has not given, but which nevertheless underlies the false verbal definition in his mind, and comes out once or twice by accident (as in the words “any support to life or strength ” in I. i. 5) --applies to some articles of iron, but not to others, and to some articles of silver, but not to others. It applies to ploughs, but not to bayonets; and to forks, but not to filigree.t

The eliciting of the true definition will give us the reply to

* Also when the wrought silver vases of Spain were dashed to frag, ments by our custom-house officers, because bullion might be imported free of duty, but not brains, was the axe that broke them productive ?the artist who wrought them unproductive? Or again. If the wood. man's axe is productive, is the executioner's ? as also, if the hemp of a cable be productive, does not the productiveness of hemp in a halter do pend on its moral more than on its material application ?

+ Filigree : that is to say, generally, ornament dependent on com plexity, not on art.

« السابقةمتابعة »