صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

exhausting. On the other hand, the surplus value was not yet differentiated into its component economic parts, and went in an

divided stream of profit all to the master. Advancing civilisation, itself rendered possible only by chattel slavery, gradually made this form of servitude incompatible with intellectual and moral development, and inadequate to industrial needs. The slave became the feudal serf or the tribal dependent. As a chattel he had ceded all but his maintenance to his master : as a serf he rendered to his lord three or four days' unpaid labour per week, maintaining himself on the product of the rest.

The further development of the social organism proved no more favourable to feudalism than to chattel slavery; and the modern “ free labourer" came into existence. But the economic servitude of the worker did not drop off with his feudal fetters. With the chains of innate status, there disappeared also its economic privileges; and the free labourer” found himself, especially in England, in a community where the old common rights

over the soil were being gradually but effectually extinguished. He became a landless stranger in his own country.

The development of competitive production for sale, and the industrial revolution of the past century, have made subsistence dependent, not merely upon access to the land, but upon the use, in addi. tion, of increasingly large masses of capital, at first in agriculture, then in foreign trade, then in manufacture, and now, finally, also in distributive industries. The mere worker became steadily less and less industrially independent as his legal freedom increased. From an independent producing unit, he passed into a mere item in a vast industrial army, over the organisation of which he had no control, He was free, but free only to work at the market wage or to starve. Other resource he had none; and even now the freedom to work at all is denied to many at a time for varying periods, and we have the constantly recurring phenomenon of the unemployed. When it suits any person having the use of land and capital to employ the worker, he does so only on condition that two important deductions, rent and interest, can be made from the product for the gratuitous benefit of those possessing the legal ownership of land and capital. The reward of labour being thus reduced on an average by at least one third, the remaining eightpence out of the shilling is then shared between the various classes who have co-operated in the production, that is, the inventor, the managing employer, and the mere wage. worker-but in the competitive struggle it is shared in such a way that at least fourpence goes to a favoured set of educated workers numbering one-fifth of the whole, leaving four-fifths to divide less than fourpence out of the shilling between them. We have the direct consequence in the social condition around us. A fortunate few, owing to their legal power over the instruments of wealth production, are able to command the services of thousands of industrial slaves whose faces they have never seen, without rendering any return whatever to them or to society. A larger body of persons contribute some labour, but are able, from their education or their cultivated ability, to choose occupations for which the competition wage is still high, owing to the relatively small number of possible competitors. These two classes together number only one-fifth of the whole. On the other side is the great mass of the people, the weekly wage-earners, four out of every five* of the nation, toiling perpetually for less than a third of the aggregate product of labour, at an annual wage averaging at most £35 per adult, hurried into unnecessarily early graves by the severity of their lives, and dying, as regards, at least, one-third of them, destitute or actually in receipt of poor-law relief. case.

When we have bound tho labourer fast to his wheel; when we have practically excluded the average man from every real chance of improving his condition; when we have virtually denied to him the means of sharing in the higher feelings and the larger sympathies of the cultured race; when we have shortened his life in our service, stunted his growth in our factories, racked him with unnecessary disease by our exactions, tortured his soul with that worst of all pains, the constant fear of poverty, condemned his wife and children to sicken and die before his eyes, in spite of his own perpetual round of toil—then we are aggrieved that he often loses hope, gambles for the windfall that is denied to his industry, attempts to drown his cares in drink, and, driven by his misery irresistibly down the steep hill of vice, passes into that evil circle where vice begets poverty, and poverty intensifies vice, until Society unrelentingly stamps him out as vermin. Thereupon we lay the flattering unction to our souls that it was his own fault, that he had his chance; and we preach to his fellows thrift and temperance, prudence and virtue, but always industry, that industry of others which keeps the industrial machine in motion, so that we can still enjoy the opportunity of taxing it. Nay, so that we may not lose his labour, we keep him when we can from absolute starvation; and when the world has taken his all, we offer him the pauper's dole. Nothing gives a more striking picture of his condition than the official statistics of our pauperism We have clogged our relief with irksome and humiliating conditions, so that the poor often die lingering deaths rather than submit to them. Yet there is a class in receipt of this bitter bread during any one year, numbering between three and four millions, one in ten of the whole population, one in eight of the wage-earning class In some rural districts every aged labourer is a pauper.' Of all persons over 70 years of age, 40 per cent. are per. manent paupers. When the Queen in June, 1888, passed in review the whole population of London, she may, perhaps, have reflected that for one in every five of that whole crowd, a pauper's death was waiting. One fifth of the population of the richest city in the world die in the workhouse or the hospital (not including recipients of outdoor relief), and the proportion for the wage-earning class alone must, of course, be much greater."

[ocr errors]

2

Prof. Leone Levi, Times, 13th January, 1885; and see for the authorities for all these facts, "Facts for Socialist: ” (Fabian Tract No. 5).

+ See the statistics given in “Facts for Londoners." (Fabian Tract, No.8); and in article “The Reform of the Poor Law" (Contemporary Riri?w, June 1890).

[ocr errors]

This is the nett result of our social arrangements after a generation of gradual improvement, greater, we are otold, than England ever before knew. The distress is only inormal. IcThe condition of the people exhibits a marked advance in prosperity. It may be that this is true; nay, owing to the silent progress of Socialism, it pro bably is true; yet the problem for us is no lighters li sAre things now such as we can dare to be responsible for? ... Let a sober, nons Socialisti authority of weight answer. Mr. j Frederic Harrison, writing just five years ago, said: "To me at least, it would be " enough to condemn modern society as hardly an advance on “ slavery or serfdom, if the permanent condition of industry were "to be that which we now behold, that: 90 per cente of the actual “ producers of wealth have no bome that they can call their own

beyond the end of a week; hável no bit of soil or so much as a "room that belongs to them; have nothing of value of any kind

except as much old furniture as will go in a carti; bave the pre".carious chance of weekly wages which barely suffice to keep them "! in health ; are housed for the most part in places that no man " thinks fit for his horses are separated by so narrow a margin " of destitution that a month of bad trade, sickness or unexpected “ loss, brings them face to face with hunger and pauperism. 47:12 "!: This is the normal state of the average workmen in town or

country.” (Report of Industrial Remuneration Conference, 1886, p. 429).

Dit hoort

b.) 27 Such then is our position to-day. Those who believe it possible that the festering evils of social ulceration can be cured without any fundamental change in property relations, rely mainly on three leading remedies, Trade Unions, Co-operation, and a general recrudescence of a Christ-like unselfishness, What does the dry light of science say to these homeopathic “pills against the earthquake"?

The belief in universal Trade Unionism as a means of greatly and permanently raising wages all round must be at once dismissed. as involving a logical fallacy. Certainly, the workers in some trades have managed to improve their economic position by strict Trade Unions. We are never allowed to forget the splendid incomes earned by these aristocrats of labour, a mere tenth of the whole labour class. But those who merely counsel the rest to go and do likewise forget that the only permanently effective Trade Union victories are won by limitation of the numbers in the particular trade, and the excluded candidates necessarily go to depress the condition of the outsiders, The Trade Unionist can usually only raise himself on the bodies of his less fortunate comrades. If all were equally strong, all would be equally powerless-a point clearly proved by Prof. Cairnes,* and obvious to all Trade Unionists them selyes, Wo 511, care

Body Co-operation is a more seductive means of escape : and most sociale reformers cannot, even now, refrain from keeping alive lingering hopes that some solution may here be found. But a whole generation of experiment has done little more than show the futility of

تر تا 13

[ocr errors]

“Some Leading Principles of Political Economy," p. 293,71% IV

[ocr errors]

expecting real help from this quarter. Less than one four-hundredth part of the industry of the country is yet carried on by Co-operation. The whole range of industrial development in the larger industries seems against it; and no ground for hope in Co-operation as a complete answer to the social problem can be gained from economic science. It fails to deal even with the real elements of the

It may claim to obviate competition ; but, as Mill himself quotes," the deepest root of the evils and iniquities which fill the industrial world is not competition, but the subjection of labour " to capital, and the enormous share which the possessors of the

instruments of production are able to take from the produce."* Co-operation can make no real defence against the continuance of the exaction of this:" enormous share".-rent and interest--the con tinued individual enjoyment of which it, indeed, actually presupposes. It affords a valuable moral training, a profitable savings bank for investments, and a temporary means of interesting the worker in the industrial affairs of his country. But ordinary joint stock in. vestment is now rapidly outgrowing it, and is already a hundred and sixty times as great as Co-operation. Now even the most enthusiastic believer in the virtues of association will hardly expect salvation merely from a régime of Joint Stock Companies ; and this, and not Co-operation, is clearly the line in which our industrial dovelopment is rapidly travelling, 50 far as all large enterprises are concerned The final goal of many industries is, moreover, obviously not the Co-operative Society, but the municipality. Nearly twice as much capital is already invested by town councils in a single industry (gas supply) as the whole twelve millions of the accumulations of the 1,500 co-operative societies. A larger extension of municipal industry", is made every year than the progress, great as it is, of the Co-operative industry. Already where there is most Co-operation, there is also most municipalisation. Nevertheless, it may be some time before the more enthusiastic co-operators realise the industrial tendency, or even become aware that modern economic science turns regretfully against them; yet such eminent authorities as Cliffe Leslie, Professor Walker, Mr. Leonard Courtney, and Dr. J. K. Ingram, concur in dismissing the idea of universal Co-operation as chimerical. Nor is Co-operation really a riyal of Socialism. The real import of the Co-operative movement is not profit-sharing, but the collective control of the consumer over industry, not the division of so-called “profits” among a larger number, but their elimination as far as is safely possible. Similarly, the division of wealth among the

purpose of Socialism is not the poor but the assertion of the right of the community to the complete control over the pieans of production by which the community lives. Both movements had their rise in the inspiring propaganda of Robert Owen, which, seeming at the time to fail, had really so splendidly succeeded an Owen's advocacy of faetory legislation, national education, and other measures, now rightly described as

"Povinciples of Political Economy,'last edition (1865) p9477.904 to trois # Article on Political Economy" in Encyclopædia Britannica, by Dr. J. K. Ingram. Vol. xix, p. 382", 7 no, I way to 29.99.61DSONT 00

[ocr errors]

فدوی فر، با

Socialistic in principle, led the way to the tremendous development of uncor sciously Socialist legislation which has since taken place. His constant insistance on the corporate duty of the community to its individual members was really the forerunner of the successful

municipal Socialism ” which our great cities have since taken up. In all these matters" consumers co-operate as citizens. But Owen lacked the teachings of Democracy, and when his followers learnt this lesson, they turned from his kind paternalism to the ". collective freedom" asserted by the Chartist movement. It was largely from the Chartist followers of Owen that the modern Co-operative movement has derived its most enduring inspiration. Many of the founders of the most successful stores had been Chartist agitators. With its completely democratic organization, its assertion of the principle of public control over industry, and its repudiation of even benevolent dictation, modern Co-operation shows its affinity, not only to Chartism, but also to modern Socialism of the English type. The two movements have not only the same ends, but also the same principle—the main idea of each being the control of industry neither by individuals nor for individuals, but by the public for the public. Both express the economic and industrial obverse of political democracy: Both recognise that political freedom can be but a mockery to the poorer worker so long as he has no control over the industry by which alone he can live. The two movements differ rather in their spheres than in their methods. No reasonable Socialist thinks it possible for the State immediately to take over the grocers' shops. The “democratisation of retail trade, and of some other branches of industry, can, it has been triumphantly proved, be effected by the store and the Wholesale," where neither the national government nor the local authority could yet venture to step in. On the other hand, co-operators easily recognize that there are industries for which the appropriate unit of administration is not the store, but the town council. The co-operators of Lancashire and Yorkshire have made greater strides in municipal Socialism than they have even in Co-operation. Municipal Socialism is, indeed, already twenty-five times as great as Co-operation, but its sphere lies outside that of the co-operative society, and every co-operator is bound by his principles to be also a good citizen, taking as keen an interest in the election of his town council as in that of his store committee. Nor is the National Government without its sphere in this progressive “democratisation" of industry. Co-operators need not refuse to admit that, for some services, the most convenient unit of administration is neither the store nor the town council, but the central executive. Our post office, and soon our railways, our Factory Acts and our taxation of unearned incomes, must all be national, not local. The greatest possible extension of the co-operative movement would therefore still leave an enormous sphere for both national and municipal collectivism.

[ocr errors]

There remains the ideal of the rapid spread of a Christ-like unselfishness. Of this hope let us speak with all the respect which so ancient a dream deserves. If it were realised it would, indeed,

« السابقةمتابعة »