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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 Nationalisers denounce in its form of rent, and that Socialists, and all who have the Socialist spirit, denounce in all its forms.
With the Land Nationalisers 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 organisation 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 shameducation, 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 Mr. 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 #220,000,000 a year ; and that, according to the table, at least £ 270,000,000 may be classed as pure interest on other instruments of production (apart from all reward for personal services). *
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,
* See “ Facts for Socialists,” p. 6.
amount, according to the best estimate that can be formed, to aboutt
£ 360,000,000 annually. While, out of a national income of some £1,350,000,000 a year, the workers in the manual labor class, fourfifths of the whole population, obtain in wages not more thanf 500,000,000.
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 is less than £ 40 per adult, and out of this they must pay heavy rents for the houses they live
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.
“At present the average age at death among the nobility, gentıy, 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 8 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 five of Londoners dies in the workhouse, hospital, or lunatic asylum ; one in fourteen 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 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 organisation 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.”
+ See “Facts for Socialists,” p. 7. 1 Ibid, p. 8.
Land Reform a Partial Remedy Only. How far would land restoration alone remedy this? If it were possible to nationalise soil apart from capital, the ground rents recovered for the nation might possibly amount to the present sum of our imperial and local taxation, £135,000,000, or thereabouts. The pecuniary relief certainly could not amount to more. Land nationalisation might further immensely benefit society, where it now suffers from the curmudgeonism of private owners. 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 organisation. 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 more than five-eights 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 management of industries falling into the hands of paid managers, and even the “directors " emphasise 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.
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 amusement or travel, service of menials, Royal Wedding illuminations, beer 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 about two hundred million pounds annually, according to Mr. Giffen, are “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 deny that there is adequate social advantage in a system which permits him to convert this claim into a lien for a perpetual annuity, an enduring tribute from the workers for the use of that which only their using can keep from perishing, while he retains all the time his claim to the repayment of the original "saving" undiminished.
The “saving” of capital, the increase of the instruments of production and of permanent commodities by the abstention from consumption of all wealth produced, is undoubtedly an advantage to society. If any individual, for the sake of rendering such advantages to society, abstains in any year from himself consuming all that he has earned, by all means let him be repaid in his old age, or whenever he wants the equivalent of his past activity. Why should we not, as a transitional expedient, treat such economisers as we treat inventors, and if they will not work without such a precise guarantee, if they are still purely individualist in their motive for activity, give them such a reward as we give* individualist inventors in their patent rights, so long as such encouragement is necessary for the creation and interest of our capital. But let that which society has maintained and fructified invariably pass to society within a limited period. So much may be necessary for the present to promote saving out of earned incomes ; for saving out of the unearned incomes of rent and interest, society can even now take its own measures by taxation for the increase of public capital. As soon as industrial capital is owned by those who use it, provision out of income for all necessary maintenance and increase of the instruments of production will be an ordinary and obvious element in its administration, as it is now in a joint stock company, and our present precarious dependence on the caprice or acquisitiveness of individuals will be superseded.
We appeal, therefore, to Land Nationalisers to consider their reason for hesitating to work with us for the
Nationalisation of Capital, on the ground that the evolution of industry has rendered land and capital indistinguishable and equally indispensable as instruments of production, and that, holding with J. S. Mill that "the deepest root of the evils and iniquities which fill the industrial world is . the subjection of labor to capital, and the enormous share which the possessors of the instruments of industry are able to take from the produce," we see clearly that if they would make any improvement in the condition of the agricultural laborer and his fellow wage-slave in the towns, they will be forced to abandon the illogical distinctions that are sometimes drawn between the instruments with which they work.
As instruments of production, the use and value of land and capital alike are due to human labor ; alike they are used for the hindrance or exploitation of industry by their proprietor; alike they are limited in quantity, and consequently subject to monopoly ; alike they enable a private monopolist to exact tribute from the workers for the use of that which the workers have produced.
The Political Situation. We appeal to political reformers of all parties to work with us in the spirit which is more and more merging politics in Socialism. However much they may hold aloof from the Land Nationalisation movement, and resent the imputation of Socialistic tendencies, they have yet been, and still are, and will be, forced to modify our social system in the Socialist direction. What were the Tory Factory Acts, the
Truck Acts, the Mines Regulations Acts, but limitations of the power of capital ? What are the Adulteration Acts, the
Non-individualist inventors are those who, like the late Thomas Stevenson, Michael Faraday, Sir William Simpson, and a host of others, return gratuitously to society the fruits of their inventive genius, and take out no pitents.