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Nos. I to 129.
THE TRACTS ARE BOUND IN ORDER OF NUMBER.
PUBLISHED BY THE FABIAN SOCIETY
From 1884 TO 1906.
TO BE OBTAINED AT
PRICE 4s. 60.
* Fabian Election Manifesto, 1892. 40. Council Candidates. 102.
Fabianism and the Fiscal Question. 116. Questions for Parish Council Candi-
Why are the Mann Voor?
SE live in a competitive society with Capital in the
What are the results ? A few are very rich, some well off, the MAJORITY IN POVERTY, and a vast number in misery.
Is this a just and wise system, worthy of humanity ? Can we or can we not improve it?
Hitherto it has escaped condemnation only because we are so ready to accept established custom, and because such general ignorance prevails both as to the evils to which our industrial disorder inevitably gives rise and as to our power to avert them.
The competitive system, which leaves each to struggle against each, and enables a few to appropriate the wealth of the community, is a makeshift which perpetuates many of the evils of the ages of open violence, with an added plague of tricks of trade so vile and contemptible that words cannot adequately denounce them.
What can be said in favor of a system which breeds and tolerates the leisured “masher," who lives without a stroke of useful work; the wage-slave workers, who toil for the mere mockery of a human life; the abject pauper and the Ishmael-minded criminal ;-- which makes inevitable and constant a three-cornered duel of dishonesty between the producor, the middleman, and the consumer ?
What is Capital ?
It is the sum of our instruments of production, and of the advantages of the work of former years. Its use is to be found in devoting it to the benefit of all; its abuse in leaving it in the hands of a few to waste its revenues in their own personal gratification. The present system gives to the few the power to take from the workers a huge portion of the product of their labor
the labor which alone makes fruitful the capital bequeathed by generations of social industry,
What does it give to the many ? ?
Their portion is poverty. This is the inevitable outcome of their competition for wages, and none know so well as the workers the full burden of that terrible and long-continued demoralisation which is brought about, not merely by the poverty of a generation, but by generations of poverty. With the smallest of chances the
poor are expected to display the greatest of virtues. On scanty and uncertain wages they must struggle to maintain the independence, self-respect, and honesty of men and women, and to put by something for the rainy day that is sure to come.
Let the least depression take place in the labor mar. ket, and the worker is pitted against his fellow. The poverty of one is underbid by the greater need of another; and the competition for work reduces the highest wage of some and the lowest wage of all occupations to a pittance just above the starvation point, at which the least failure of health or work leads to pauperism.
This happens to nearly every worker; whilst the capitalist often retires with a fortune on which he, his children, and his children's children live without useful industry. Here is one out of many instances. The son of'an 'owner of ironworks is now in the House of Lords ; he has a fine town house and two or three country man. sions; his children are brought up in ease and
ease and luxury. But where are the children of those whose work made the fortune? They toil from morning to night for a bare living as did their fathers before them.
This ceaseless labor of the workers continually enriches those already rich, until extreme wealth enables å privileged minority to live in careless luxury, undisturbed by the struggle for existence that goes on beneath them.
Have laborers no right under the sun but to work when capitalists think fit, and on such terms as competition may determine? If the competitive standard of wage be the true one, why is it not applied all round? What, for instance, would be the competitive value of a Duke, a Bishop, or a Lord-in-Waiting ?
Do economists, statesmen, and sociologists stand bopeless before this problem of Poverty ? Must workers continue in their misery whilst professors and politicians split straws and wrangle over trifles ?
No! for the workers must and will shake off their blind faith in the Commercial god Competition, and realise the responsibility of their unused powers.
If Capital be socialised, Labor will benefit by it fully; but while Capital is left in the hands of the few, Poverty must be the lot of the many. Teach, preach and pray to all eternity in your
schools and churches : it will avail you nothing until you have swept away this blind idol of Competition, this misuse of Capital in the hands of individuals.
You who live dainty and pleasant lives, reflect that your ease and luxury are paid for by the misery and want of others! Your superfluities are the parents of their poverty. Surely all humanity is not burnt out of you by the gold your fathers left you !
Come out from your ease and superfluities and help
You who suffer, think of this also; and help forward the only cure for these evils. The time approaches when Capital can be made public property, no longer at the disposal of the few, but owned by the community for the benefit of all. You can help to do this; without you it cannot be done. The power is in your hands, and chances of using that power are constantly within your reach. Neglect those chances, and you and your children will remain the victims of Competition and Capitalism--ever struggling-ever poor!