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Co-operative Societies (1905)*
68,251,4957 Friendly Societies (1904)*
50,458,287 Industrial Life Assurance Societies
34,913,210 they would own land and capital valued at £459,141,9089 that is to say, a little less than one thirty-second part of the land and capital with which they work. The number of persons "employed at wages" in the industries of the kingdom was estimated at about fourteen millions, including over four million women in 1891, and must be at least fifteen and a half millions now. The share of the able-bodied manual workers, in property, then, must average about £29 per head of those in employment.
What sort of a System is this? Labor politicians, Land Nationalizers, Conservatives, Radicals, all who interest themselves in social science as the study of the wellbeing of man, will agree with us that
The Use of Land and Capital should be to serve as instruments for the active, the energetic, the industrious, the intelligent of mankind to produce wealth for themselves and those who are necessarily dependent on them, and to maintain the conditions of healthy existence for the society which they compose. And will they not also agree with us that it is
The Abuse of Land and Capital that they should be made by the laws of any people a "property" often owned by entirely idle and unprofitable persons, who may exact hire for them from those who are working for the maintenance of social existence, or may even refuse the would-be workers access to these indispensable instruments of industry ? For what are the effects ?
If the access be refused_land kept out of cultivation ; tillage turned into sheepwalks, and sheepwalks into shootings; natural sources of wealth locked up from use ; the pleasant places of the earth, the mountains, the moors, the woodlands, the sea shores, parked and preserved and placarded, that the few may have space for their pride, while the many must crowd into squalid cities and dismal agricultural towns, and take their holidays in herds on the few beaten tracks left free for them. In commerce-rings, corners, syndicates, pools, and monopolies, and all the fearful social loss and
* “Eleventh Annual Report of the Labor Department of the Board of Trade," Cd-3690, 1907.
See “Statistical Abstract,"' 1907 (Cd—3691).
+ This figure includes some societies such as the Civil Services Stores, which are not Workmen's Co-operative Societies, though registered as Industrial and Provident Societies under the Friendly Societies Acts. . & This total is undoubtedly a great deal too large, and much of it is duplicate.
Thus, for instance, many of the Building Societies, Trade Unions, Co-operative Societies, Friendly Societies, and Industrial Assurance Societies, bank their surplus funds in the Post Office and the Trustee Savings Banks, and those amounts therefore are in this total counted twice over. Much of it, moreover, is owned by children and others belonging to the middle class.
waste of under-production ; lock-outs, short time, and other expedients of the reckless selfishness of capitalists who are nursing the market for private ends.
If access be granted—if the land and capital be devoted to their proper use, then it is on condition that rent and interest be paid to the proprietor, simply in virtue of his existence as such. He may or may not be doing some work of social utility, but the rent and interest are paid to him as an absolutely idle person, and it is this,
The Tribute of Industry to Idleness, that Land Nationalizers denounce in its form of rent, and that Socialists, and all who have the Socialist spirit, denounce in all its forms.
With the Land Nationalizers we are at one entirely on this point: That so much of the annual value of land as they class as rent (which is caused by the physical qualities, advantages, or position of land), is a toll taken by an idle class from the industry of the rest of the nation, and should be resumed by the nation in the quickest and most effectual manner possible.
With the non-Socialists we agree entirely on this point : That so much of the income of any landlord as is caused, not by rent as defined by the political economists, but by the exercise of his own abilities as a superintendent and director of agriculture or industry, is of the nature of a salary, the competitive price of useful work done for society. And we further agree with the non-Socialists that so much of the income of any capitalist as is caused, not by interest as defined by the economists, but by the exercise of a similar ability in the administration of capital and the organization of industry, is equally of the nature of a salary obtained by useful work.
We must, however, point out that the monopoly of land and capital has led, and still leads, to a virtual class monopoly of the opportunities of doing this kind of work, and of the education and training required for it ; and that not till these private monopolies are abolished will the remuneration of such activity reach its normal level of competition value. The same monopoly has given to the sons of the privileged classes an advantage which still keeps the wages of certain professions (the Bar, for instance), to which access is guarded by the useless convention of a long and extravagant education, above the level at which they would stand were their opportunities equally open to all.
The Amount of Tribute and its Effects. Of the tolls enumerated in Sir R. Giffen's table we cannot say what part should be classed as rent and what part as interest ; we can only state that the total income derived from real property-lands and buildings-must amount to about £310,000,000 a year; and that, according to the table, at least £ 390,000,000 may be classed as pure interest on other instruments of production (apart from all reward for personal services).*
* See Fabian Tract No. 5, “Facts for Socialists."
The profits and salaries of the class who share in the advantages of the monopoly of the instruments of production, or are endowed by nature with any exceptional ability of high marketable value, amount, according to the best estimate that can be formed, to about £490,000,000 annually. While, out of a national income of some £1,920,000,000 a year, the workers in the manual labor class, fourfifths of the whole population, obtain in wages not more than 730,000,000.*
Rent and interest alone, the obvious tribute of the workers as such to the drones as such, amount demonstrably to almost as much as this sum annually, and it may be safely said that the workers, from top to bottom of society, pay a fine of
One-half the Wealth they Produce to a parasitic class, before providing for the maintenance of themselves and their proper dependents.
Is a healthy existence secured for society by this arrangement ?
The income of the manual labor class may be put at less than £ 50 per family,t and out of this they must pay heavy rents for the houses they live in. How much is left for healthy life ? Even that little is not always vouchsafed to them. There are in London now at least 35,000 adult men who with their families (say 100,000) are slowly starving for want of regular employment. Over thirty per cent. of the whole four million inhabitants of the richest city in the world were found by Mr. Charles Booth to fall below his “ Poverty Line" of bare subsistence earnings.
"At present the average age at death among the nobility, gentry and professional classes in England and Wales is 55 years; but among the artizan classes of Lambeth it only amounts to 29 years; and whilst the infantile death-rate among the well-to-do classes is such that only eight children die in the first year of life out of 100 born, as many as 30 per cent. succumb at that age among the children of the poor in some districts of our large cities. The only real cause of this enormous difference in the position of the rich and poor with respect to their chances of existence lies in the fact that at the bottom of society wages are so low that food and other requisites of health are obtained with too great difficulty.” (Dr. C. R. Drysdale, “Report of Industrial Remuneration Conference," p. 130.)
One in three of Londoners dies in the workhouse, hospital, or lunatic asylum ; one in six of the manual labor class is a pauper, or has been one.
Hear Professor Huxley (Nineteenth Century for February, 1888) :
“ Anyone who is acquainted with the state of the population of all great industrial centres, whether in this or other countries, is aware that amidst a large and increasing body of that population there reigns supreme
that condition which the French call la misère, a word for which I do not think there is any exact English equivalent. It is a condition in which the food, warmth, and clothing, which are necessary for the mere maintenance of the functions of the body in their normal state, cannot be obtained ; in which men, women, and children are forced to crowd into dens wherein decency is abolished, and the most ordinary conditions of healthful
* See Fabian Tract No. 5, “Facts for Socialists."
Life and Labor of the People. By Charles Booth. (Macmillan ; 1894.)
existence are impossible of attainment; in which the pleasures within reach are reduced to brutality and drunkenness ; in which the pains accumulate at compound interest in the shape of starvation, disease, stunted development, and moral degradation; in which the prospect of even steady and honest industry is a life of unsuccessful battling with hunger, rounded by a pauper's grave.
When the organization of society, instead of mitigating this tendency, tends to continue and intensify it, when a given social order plainly makes for evil and not for good, men naturally enough begin to think it high time to try a fresh experiment. I take it to be a mere plain truth that throughout industrial Europe there is not a single large manufacturing city which is free from a vast mass of people whose condition is exactly that described, and from a still greater mass, who, living just on the edge of the social swamp, are liable to be precipitated into it.”
Land Reform a Partial Remedy Only. How far would land restoration alone remedy this? If it were possible to nationalize soil apart from capital, the ground rents recovered for the nation might possibly amount to the present sum of our imperial and local taxation, £240,000,00o, or thereabouts.* The pecuniary relief certainly could not amount to more. Land nationalization might further immensely benefit society, where it now suffers from the curmudgeonism of private owners. But so long as capital continued to be used for the exploitation of the workers, so long would their economic slavery continue. Those who retain the capital, without which the earth and all its products cannot be worked, will step into the place of the landlord, and the tribute of “ interest” will be augmented. Society will be relieved, but not freed.
Objections to Socialism. But the "practical" objector may ask : Does not the capitalist now administer his capital and direct industry? Was not this admitted above? And is not capital, the product of labor, maintained and augmented by saving? How will Socialists provide for the administration and increase of capital?
“Management." The question is being answered by the contemporary development of industrial organization. How much of the "management of land” is done now by the landlords, and how much by the farmer and the agent or the bailiff? The landlord's supposed function in this respect is almost entirely performed by salaried professional men.
As to capital, who manages it? The shareholders in the joint stock companies, who own nearly five-sixths of the whole industrial capital? No! The shareholding capitalist is a sleeping partner. More and more every day is the capitalist pure and simple, the mere owner of the lien for interest, becoming separated from the administrator of capital, as he has long been separated from the wage worker employed therewith. The working partner, with sleeping partner drawing interest, is every day passing into the form of the director of a joint stock company. More and more is the
• "Statistical Abstract of the United Kingdom," Cd-3691, 1907.
management of industries falling into the hands of paid managers, and even the “directors” emphazise the fiction that they are not mere money-bags and decorative M.P.'s by the humorous practice of taking fees for their labors at board meetings.
The administrator of capital can be obtained at present for a salary equivalent to his competition value, whether the concern to be managed be a bank, a railway, a brewery, a mine, a farm, a factory, a theatre, or a hotel. The transfer to the community (national or local) of the ownership of the main masses of industrial capital need make no more difference in this respect than does the sale of shares on the Stock Exchange at the present moment.
“Saving." As for the saving of capital, what does that mean? The artificial instruments of production which form the bulk of property exist certainly only because human labor has been devoted to the production of forms of wealth other than those which are for immediate consumption. Every man in receipt of an income has the option of taking out his claim on the labor of society in the form of immediate enjoyments, passing and perishing in the use, and leaving the world no richer—as luxuries of all kinds, leisure for amspement or travel, service of menials, royal wedding illuminations, gror and skittles, or else in the form of more permanent products or of Instruments which can be used for further wealth-production. All that he spends on the latter class of product is said to be saved—and at least one hundred and seventy-five million pounds annually, according to Sir R. Giffen, saved " in this way by the creation of new houses, docks, railways, roads, machinery, and other aids to future labor. If a man's income represents the competition value of work done by him, it is said that he has “produced” the amount of saving so made, and has some title to its ownership.
But just as the productive qualities of land are only maintained by the continuous application of human industry, so the most permanent forms of capital are perpetually wasting and being repaired, whilst, of the less durable forms, such as machinery, raw material, and farming stock, the whole is incessantly transformed, consumed, replaced and renewed. The capital saved by the original investor has long since disappeared.
There are, however, very few forms of consumable wealth which can be “saved" at all. Food, clothing, ordinary comforts and luxuries, amusements, and all that makes up our daily life, admit of little storage.
When we say that a man has saved so much wealth, we simply mean that he has abstained from taking out a claim which he had on society, and that its payment is by agreement deferred to the future. But the wealth which is to meet that claim does not at present exist. It is to be produced by the workers, when, where, and in the form asked for.
If we admit the fairness and advantage of guaranteeing to every man the equivalent of the result of his own industry, we should