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CHAPTER XI: an analysis of socialism - Wordsworth Donisthorpe, Individualism: A System of Politics 
Individualism: A System of Politics (London: Macmillan and Co., 1889).
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an analysis of socialism
In a memorable speech delivered in the House of Lords on the 31st of July 1885-a speech that will live in the pages of history when most other utterances of the session are buried in well-earned oblivion—Lord Wemyss divided socialists into three classes: the socialists of the street; the socialists of the schools; and the socialists of the senate. The first he summarily disposed of as hardly worthy of serious consideration. “The socialism of the communist,” said he,” may be treated very shortly. There are four very happy lines which I think accurately describe the communist:—
That I believe to be a very fair description of a communist, with the exception that I greatly doubt his readiness to fork out his penny. Nevertheless, I have a great respect for him. He knows what he means. He means business. His business is the equal division of unequal earnings. There is no theory about him. He is a thoroughly practical man; and one respects practical men.”
True; but these are not the people with whom I here propose to deal. There are the theorists-the socialists of the schools, of whom Mr. J. L. Joynes is one of the ablest exponents in this country. Of these Lord Wemyss uses a very different language. Says he:—” I come next to the socialism of the professor-the socialism of the schools. Now we live in a time when, perhaps more than in any other, men feel for the sufferings of their fellow-creatures. It is essentially an era of humanitarianism. Philosophers and professors in their writings are casting aside the old school of political economy and laissez-faire, and advocating State intervention as a cure for all evils. They look to the State to protect the weak against the strong, and to equalise the conditions of life. I believe, my lords, that all these attempts will end in signal failure, and that, in the long run, it will be proved that the older school of political economy is, on the whole, sounder, ay, and more humane, than that of the modern humanitarian school of philosophy.”
It is this class of political thinkers with whom I propose to discuss the social problem in the present chapter. It must not be forgotten that the doctrines underlying neo-radicalism are the self-same doctrines which are openly expressed and consistently acted upon by the leaders of the party of scientific socialism. Hence, though i'ew neo-radicals have either the courage or the education to lay down the first principles of their own policy, it behoves us, who find ourselves opposed to them at every turn, to learn from their unacknowledged leaders what these principles are. Probably the most compact, and also the most plausible epitome of socialist principles obtainable in this country, is Mr. Joynes's Catechism. It is simply written, and appears intelligible to ordinary readers. For these reasons I propose to take it to pieces, to examine it in detail, and to expose the fallacies on which it is built up. It is contained in ten short chapters. Let us take them one by one. Chapter I. is entitled “Division of Toil.” Mark the use of the word “toil.” Adam Smith spoke of the division of labour; others have made use of the expression division of work; but Mr. Joynes chooses the word toil; it rhymes with moil, and it bespeaks a poetic pity for the toilers—the horny-handed sons of toil! I mention this only because it is one of the socialistic tricks. The middle-class tradesmen are styled bourgeois, which is French for burgher or townsman, but English ears are reminded of that sleek snob and fool, the bourgeois gentilhomme. It would be difficult to arouse antipathy amongst English audiences for the stout burgher. Then the poor are called the proletariat, because the term recalls swarms of helpless little children, born without any request on their part to fight their way through this struggling world. It is all very touching, no doubt, but ad captandum phrases are not logic after all.
The chapter about toil consists of fifteen short questions with the socialistic answers. With the first three it is not necessary to quarrel. But with the fourth answer begins the begging of the question. “How may these two sets of persons be roughly distinguished? As employers and employed; idlers and workers: privileged and plundered; or more simply still, as rich and poor.” Here we have “employers,” “idlers,” '' privileged," and "rich," used as synonymous terms. Every honest man knows that employers as a rule, so far from being idlers, work harder than their employees. Their work may be less disagreeable, and may (in some cases) occupy less time; but taking quantity and quality together, they work far harder and do far more work. Their ability to do this has, in many cases, earned them the position of superiority which they enjoy. Then again, the poor are by no means, as a rule, addicted to work. They must earn their meals or starve, but beyond that they show, as a rule, very little taste for work. As for the allegation that the employers plunder the workers, it is simply an unfair way of describing a series of transactions which by a gross straining of language might be so put. The facts are, that the workman barters all prospective profits of his labour for a consideration in cash down. It is a foolish bargain, and the workman of course gets the worst of it. In short, he forfeits the whole fruits of his labour, but he does it voluntarily, readily, and for choice, because be has neither the courage nor the industry to use his own judgment and take his own risks. To call this plunder on the part of the employer is untrue and unjust.
That the poor are in this helpless position is due, he says, to the fact that society is at present organised solely in the interests of the rich, evidently regarding the social organism as an artificial creation. Nature is not surely accused of working "in the interests of the rich." But not only does nature, or the human artificer who constructed the social organism with this class partiality, place the poor in an unenviable position; it is also necessary to arrange that they shall not find it out until the advent of Mr. Joynes. The poor cannot, he says, organise society on a system which will prevent their being robbed of their own productions, because the existing organisation itself keeps them ignorant of its own causes, and consequently powerless to resist its effects.
Now for the cure. This is to be based on the principle of justice-the principle which has ever been appealed to by each wrong-headed reformer from the days of Adam. But in order to give justice a chance, and something to go upon, another question must needs be begged; and that is that the fruits of industry are the fruits of labour. If capital contributes to the increase of wealth, clearly the capitalist has a right to at least his proportionate share of the increase. We must therefore pretend that capital does not contribute. Yet the contention is absurdly false.
I cannot see why socialists are necessarily opposed to all political parties as our'author alleges. It is true that existing parties are both opposed to them. That is to say, Conservatives deny the truth of the political doctrine on which socialism is based, while neo-radicalshave neither the consistency nor the courage to carry their principles into practice. They are afraid of being extreme! But there is no necessary antagonism between neo-radicals and socialists. Nor are we concerned to ask why the name socialist has been bestowed on these extreme advocates of compulsory co-operation. The reason adduced by Mr. Joynes is certainly not the true one; firstly, because there are many persons quite as anxious as he is to “displace the present system of competition for the bare means of subsistence, and to establish in its stead the principle of associated work,” who do not call themselves socialists, and whom nobody calls socialists; secondly, because the description of the socialistic aim is utterly inadequate. The individualist believes that the enlightened and progressive self-interest of individuals will eventually, though gradually, bring about a higher order of society-higher, probably, than any human being now living could even conceive, much less plan. The socialist, on the contrary, has no faith in this individualist evolution, or is too impatient to wait for it, and he proposes to effect a sort of artificial evolution on lines laid down by a majority in council assembled. The acts of the citizens are to be dictated by society. Hence the doctrine is called socialism.
The second chapter of the Catechism is entitled “The Capitalist System.” It abounds in fallacies, and perpetuates the ridiculous notion of “use value,” which is carefully distinguished from “exchange value.” The whole tissue of cobwebs is extracted bodily from the works of the orthodox political economists. It is the padding which forms part of their stock-in-trade.
It will be seen that the sole source of wealth is said to be labour. Now some economists define wealth as everything which is useful to man and which has exchange value. But Mr. Joynes defines it very distinctly as “everything that supplies the wants of man and ministers in any way to his comfort and enjoyment,” whether it has an exchange value or not. Hence air and water are wealth. “When he goes on to say that all wealth is derived from labour, he says that which is absurdly untrue. Let him either adopt the old definition of wealth—which is wrong—or else give up the old Ricardian theory of the origin of wealth. His present position is untenable and ridiculous. I prefer to define wealth as all that which is useful to man; we can dispense with Mr. Joyues's rigmarole. Wealth then falls into two large classes. 1. Those useful things to which man has been adapted, as all animals are adapted to their environment by the elimination of the unfit and the survival of the fit. 2. Those useful things which man has adapted to his own use. In the former class would come air and water; in the second class would fall all kinds of tools and manufactured commodities. Man has become adapted in the wild state to the fruits and other foods around him; and the berries and nuts he gathers from the trees, though wealth, are no more the result of his labour than the sun, by whose rays he is warmed and comforted. Even Mr. Joynes would hardly go so far as to base any theory of distribution among tribes of monkeys on the ground that the apples and cocoa-nuts around are the product of their labour. Farther on we shall see the object of this baseless contention that wealth is derived from labour; for yet another false premise must be improvised before the doctrine is of any use as the basis of socialism.
As for the term “use value”, it is almost meaningless, and absolutely without either use or value as an economic expression! It is impossible to measure the amount of pleasure which anything is capable of affording. Such amount varies with the individual enjoying it. Moreover the different kinds of pleasure enjoyed by a single individual are, inter sc, incommensurable. How many times does the pleasure of eating cheese-cakes go into the pleasure of gazing on a lovely landscape, or listening to a grand symphony? Let us clear our heads of all these cobwebs. The elements of plutology are not really very difficult or mysterious. Most of the dust has been kicked up by the economists themselves. Let us see. Wealth is everything which affords pleasure to man. Part of it is found ready to hand, contributed, so to speaic, by nature: and part of it is due (in part) to the labour of man. But even this latter is not, as a rule, wholly the product of labour. If the raw material had value before it was operated upon, that part of the manufactured article's value is due not to labour but to nature. The value of a thing is simply the amount (according to any standard of measurement) of other things for which it can be exchanged. And this of course varies in different localities. In London a spectroscope is wortth a good deal more than a handful of glass beads; on the Gold Coast, a good deal less. The expression ” use value “should be abolished altogether. Then value stands for exchange value, and that alone. The following statement, therefore, amounts to nothing more than that a loaf is more useful to a hungry man than to one who is satiated. This is quite true, but not very original or profound. ” Its use value to a starving man is infinitely great, as it is a question of life and death with him to obtain it; it is nothing at all to a turtle-fed alderman, sick already with excessive eating; but its exchange value remains the same in all cases.”
We have next to learn what capital is; and the definition given of it is just as accurate as the definition of wealth. It is the result, we are told, of past labour devoted to present productions. Of course capital is as much the result of past labour as wealth in general is the result of past labour, and no more so. Capital is, in truth, all that wealth whose value is due to the demand for it as an element of production, and not as an immediately enjoyable commodity. Nobody enjoys a file, or a saw, or a bale of flax; but most of us enjoy a ripe peach or a basin of turtle soup. Now coals we may enjoy directly by making a good fire on a winter night: and they also serve us elements of production. They are capital or not capital according as their value is determined by the demand for them in use in furnaces and factories or for keeping us warm. Thus jet burns quite as well as coal, and would be as useful in furnaces. So do diamonds. But they are not capital because their value is due to the demand for them as directly enjoyable or useful commodities.
However, Mr. Joynes's definition is quite good enough for the purpose he has in view, as will be seen. Having fashioned his tools, he sets to work with them. He points out that the landlord secures his profit by extorting from the labourer a share of all that he produces under threat of excluding him from the land: and that the capitalist extorts from those labourers who are excluded from the land a share of all that they produce, under threat of withholding from them the implements of production, and thus refusing to let them work at all. He then agrees, we are told, to return to them as wages about a quarter of what they have produced by their work, keeping the remaining three-quarters for himself and his class. And this is the capitalist system.
One would have supposed that even the most orthodox political economist would have been able to detect the circular form of this fallacy. How do the landlord and capitalist secure their rent and profit? By extortng from the labourers, who are excluded from the land and from the ownership of capital, the greater share of what they produce, and leaving them only sufficient to keep them alive. That is the explanation with which we are supposed to put up. But why do the silly labourers permit this extortion, seeing that they far outnumber the landlords and capitalists? Oh, the landlords and capitalists, with their ill-gotten gains, hire soldiers and policemen to keep the labourers in subjection. But why do not the labourers extort from the capitalist the whole profits of his capital, and with the proceeds hire an army to hold him in subjection? Well, you see, they have to get the profits first; the capitalist has got the start of them. And how, we further ask, did he get the start? Why did not they get the start, seeing what an advantage they had in numbers? Well, the fact is, he made a bargain with them, and they got the worst of the bargain. Quite so; the whole transaction is a voluntary one. There is no extortion, no coercion. The capitalist system merely denotes the arrangement under which each contributor to an adventure takes a share of the gross returns proportionate to the capital contributed by him.
And now from a great falsehood we come to a great truth, namely, that the amount returned to the labourer is the amount necessary to keep him and his family alive. Yes; such is the result of the iron law of wages—the terrible law which keeps the bulk of the population down close to the starvation limit. Mr. Joynes does not seem quite to understand it, or the proof of its truth, for he considers it necessary to bolster it up in a palpably superfluous way. He calls in the doctors as witnesses. Now no proof of this kind is required. The proposition can be demonstrated deductively, and is as certain as any proposition in Euclid. Given the wage system and the postulate that population presses on means of subsistence, and then the iron law of wages follows as obviously as day follows night.
It is true the “orthodox ” have woven a fabric of moonbeams wherewith to clothe the nakedness of this spectre, and they have called it “the standard of comfort.” But the hideous form gleams through the unsubstantial vesture, and the victims of wagedom are devoured as before. The fiction is comforting; and as for the fact-well, that does not affect the “orthodox political economists.” But the present system must be made to appear decent.
Setting aside the animus shown by the use of the words "extortion" and “threat,” there is little or no fault to find with Mr. Joynes's statement of the case. It is true that under the wage system now in vogue, the “iron law of wages ” does operate to keep down the reward of labour to the cost of “keeping body and soul together,” and we need not quarrel with the manner in which the truth is brought to our notice. Neither need individuals quarrel with the remedy proposed, namely, that the labouring classes should become their own employers. By all means let the workers become their own employers. By the laws of civilised communities all persons are the owners of their own bodies; but they are permitted to let themselves out for hire, though they cannot sell themselves out and out. This system of letting themselves out for hire by time is called the wage system, and it is doubtless the cause of most of the ills affecting the working classes. But the change would not abolish idleness. Idle people (and I do not admire them any more than Mr. Joynes) would continue to flourish in idleness on the fruits of capital, which is not the fruits of the labour of living persons, but (for the most part) the fruits of the labour of persons long since dead. This curious fallacy crops up again and again.
Chapter II. concludes with the observation that the work done by a company would go on just as well if the shareholders disappeared. Possibly it would; but how would the work of the Company have progressed if there had been no shareholders to begin with? Take this case. A man, who might have been tilling the ground and growing potatoes, spends his time in making a plough. It takes him many weeks to make it. “When it is finished, he lends it to his neighbour for a consideration which pays him better than if he had tilled his land. Both parties gain by the arrangement. Straightway the agriculturist says: “Very good, friend, but you are not wanted. The ploughing goes on well enough without you. Leave your plough with us, and go and improve yourself off the face of the earth.” That is just what Mr. Joynes says to the shareholders. And this is socialism!”
The third chapter deals with what socialists call surplus value. We shall see what is meant by this term. Meantime no objection is taken to capital as such. “The way in which it is used is attacked by socialists, not the thing itself, and it is only by means of a democratic state, acting in the interest of the producer, that it can be turned to the advantage of the labourer.”
Here we see the cloven hoof, bearing out my previous contention, namely, that it is not merely co-operation which socialism denotes, but compulsory co-operation-co-operation planned and enforced by the State or organised society. Here it is admitted. In the description of socialism in the first chapter this feature is entirely ignored. While admitting that under the system of wagedom, capital is not exactly used “in the interest of the labourers,” we shall see whether State socialism is really the only scheme by which a cure can be effected; whether individualism is not capable of evolving an industrial system workable “in the interest of the labourers,” and also in the interest of the capitalists, who, after all (and despite modern cant), are worth more, and a good deal more–man for man-than the much-belauded "proletariat.”
But to return to our text. How is State socialism to work? “By taking into its own hands all the land and capital, or means of production, which are now used as monopolies for the benefit of the possessing class. As the State has already taken over the Post-Office and the Telegraphs, so it might take over the Railways, Shipping, Mines, Factories, and all other industries.”
The expression, “in whose interest,” which frequently occurs throughout this Catechism, is either meaningless or misleading. If it means that there is any conscious purpose- any design on the part of those who uphold the present industrial system-it is manifestly untrue. If it merely means that the employers get the best of the wage bargain, it will not be denied. The employers do receive a profit on their investments, and the wage receivers do not. But to say that production is now carried on in anybody's interest is a most unjust insinuation, more especially when Mr. Joynes himself admits that employers are not individually responsible for the system; for he will hardly pretend that employers have consciously entered into a sort of class compact to keep the proletariat in subjection. That may be the effect of certain social causes, but it certainly is not the purpose of willed acts.
We are then told that the labourers produce the machinery, which is no more true than the statement that the female alone produces the offspring. It is apparently true, and that is all. Sometimes capital contributes less than the labourers; sometimes a great deal more. Again, to say that the employers “take it away ” from them is just as fair as to say that Mr. Joyues goes and takes what he wants from the grocer's shop Of course he does-and pays for it. We are intended to gather that the employer steals the labourer's machinery, whereas the “taking away ” is pursuant to the wage contract. When Mr. Joynes says that the cure is for the State to “take into its own hands ” the land and the capital which is now private property, he might be a little more explicit and say whether he means buy it or steal it; because in the one case the community would be ruined, in the other case only the best members of the community—just at first. There is no need to quarrel with the contention that to buy these things —all the ships, mines, railways, factories, gas-works, canals, furnaces, etc.-would be just as good a stroke of business, and just as sound a policy, as the “taking over ” of the post-office and telegraphs. I can bethink myself of no more improving task for socialists than to be set to work to go through the accounts of the department from its commencement down to the present year. And alas! when all is said and done, our teacher in the very next sentence admits that the workers would be no better off than before. Look at the poor postman.
Cannot the workers combine together by co-operation, it is asked, to defeat this principle of competition? No; not unless the whole body of workers are included in one society, and that is simply socialism, says our teacher.
Here we have the grand socialist mistake of confounding voluntary co-operation with compulsory. If the whole body of workers were included in one society of their own free will and accord, that would no more be socialism than the present system. It is really time the socialists dropped this absurd contention. Trade unionism is no more socialistic than a joint-stock company or a cricket club. But what is the conclusive reason adduced for discarding voluntary co-operation? Simply that it cannot get rid of competition. So much the better. It must be proved that competition is really the harmful principle in the existing system. That has never been done. It is some comfort to find the wage contract described as a “bargain.” It is usually described by our teacher and his fellow-socialists as an arrangement forced oil the labourer.
We are next introduced to “surplus value,” which is defined as the difference between a bare subsistence and the fruits of labour. “Necessary labour is that which would feed and clothe and keep in comfort the nation if all took their part in performing it.” It is already evident that Mr. Joynes, like all socialists, is a member of the “Daniel Lambert” school of politics. To exist is necessary; to be fat is necessary: but to be educated, cultured, something above the mere brute-that is not necessary, it is a luxury.
What do we mean by necessary labour? I mean nothing by it. I never use the expression. The labour which results in a noble work of art is in my opinion quite as necessary as the labour which results in a pair of corduroy trousers. Moreover, the very existence of most persons is by no means necessary in the sense of “indispensable.” The world could get on very well without them. Once upon a time a thief put forward the plea of necessity—“Mais, il faut rirrc '. “But the judge quietly and pertinently replied, ”Je ne vois pas la nécessité.” There is no necessity to keep alive a huge, ugly, and stupid population; and the labour spent in “feeding and clothing” the nation might well be more suitably, and even productively, spent in creating things which minister to the higher tastes. However, all these reflections fall under the still unanswered question, Is life worth living?
No individual employer, we are told, is responsible for the exploitation of the labourers; the blame applies to the whole class. Individual employers may be ruined, but the employing class continue to appropriate the surplus value. And the reason of this is because competition is as keen amongst the capitalists as among the labourers. It determines the division of the spoil; different sets of people struggling to get a share in the surplus value. It does not affect the labourers at all. It is assumed that the plunder is to be shared among the “upper classes,” and the only question is in what proportion this shall be done. All this may be quite true without justifying the language used when we are told that that which the employers take from the employed is spoil and plunder. It is nothing of the sort. It is merely the fruits of a bargain which, from the labourers' point of view, is a very foolish and bad bargain. We may admit that, without accusing those who get the best of the bargain of being plunderers.
But in what follows it is not the language only which is censurable, it is the gross fallacy on which the whole socialist argument rests. “This plunder is labelled by many names, such as rent, brokerage, fees, profits, wages of superintendence, reward of abstinence, insurance against risk, but above all, interest on capital. They are all deducted from the labourers' earnings. There is no other fund from which they could possibly come, and they are simply taken for nothing, just as a thief accumulates his stolen goods.” Here is the socialist fallacy in its nakedness. “There is no other fund from which they could possibly come!” i.e. wages of superintendence, fees for medical attendance, and legal advice and such like; as if all these payments were not for hard work and skilled work done. To say that a man who adds more to production by working with his head than perhaps one hundred men do by-working with their hands is paid necessarily out of the fruits of their labour is simply transparent nonsense.
There is quite another explanation of the payment for interest and rent, and “abstinence ” and insurance against risk. Capital, as I have said, contributes to new value, sometimes more, and sometimes less, than the labourers engaged on the work. It may be the saved result of work done a year ago, or fifty years ago. Anyhow, it has never been consumed by those who had a right to consume it. As soon as it is employed in further production it has to be destroyed. When the product emerges it may be worth less than the elements invested, or it may be worth more. As a rule, civilised man being a prudent animal, it is worth a little more, on the average about 3 per cent more. This is the average profit on capital, and it is properly called economic interest, because the element of risk may be eliminated by spreading it over a wide area of investments. Those who insure the interest reap the larger profits if any, and incur the loss if any. You cannot eat your corn and sow it; and if you sow it, you are not satisfied to receive a like amount at the end of the year. Is it not ridiculous to say that the man who sows your corn in your field for you is the sole producer of the new value next harvest? All capital fructifies—grows like a tree. If a sapling, eight-feet four in height, grows three inches in a year, it fairly represents the annual growth of capital.
Here is an interesting definition of interest. “Interest is a fine paid by the private organiser of labour out of the surplus value which his labourers supply, to the idle person from whom he borrows his capital.” “We now see what a particularly ridiculous conclusion we are driven to, if we accept this theory of surplus value. Interest a fine! Of course the expression “surplus value ” has no definite meaning-whatever. It vaguely conveys to the socialist's mind the difference between the value of the work which has to be done and the value of the work which he would not mind doing without the stimulus of hunger; that is to say, the average amount of work which would be required if everybody was satisfied to be warm and fat, and to have plenty of sleep. It is curious to observe that in such a sodden state of society prevision would be weaker, a future pleasure would compare less favourably with an equal present pleasure, and consequently interest would be higher. No one will exchange a present pleasure for a future pleasure without an extra inducement. Mr. Joynes himself, with a peach in his hand on a hot summer day, would not exchange it for the promise of an equally luscious peach on the next hot day. ”Why should he? But if the would-be purchaser agreed to give him two peaches on the next hot day, he might think it worth his while to close the bargain. That would be 100 per cent interest; and yet Mr. Joynes would hardly consider he was imposing a fine on the other party. A man must be a metaphysician, a lunatic, or a political economist to understand the stuff that has been written by the “orthodox” about interest. Thus, when we speak of interest, we must steer between Scylla and Charybdis—between the socialist contention that it is a device of the devil for enriching the rich at the expense of the poor, and the orthodox theory that it is a divine reward for the exercise of some subtle and saintly virtue called abstinence or thrift. The plain truth is (as every banker assumes in practice) that interest is the current estimate of average national profits. If, therefore, interest is a fine, profits are a fine. One cannot draw a line between two men, one of whom draws ? per cent from Government securities, and the other of whom draws? 3½ per cent from Great Western preference stock. But, after allowing for these peculiarities of thought and of language, Mr. Joynes makes one very true and important admission. The share contributed to industry by the capitalist, as compared with the share contributed by the wage slave, tends to become larger and larger. And the tendency must continue so long as the workers tolerate the present wage system. True; but socialism is not the cure or the substitute for it.
Mr. Joynes makes it clear that he shares the neo-radical delusion that factory laws have the effect of raising wages. This is untrue. I shall not take refuge behind the argument that, owing to the ease with which laws are evaded, the expected effect in the abstract fails in the concrete. ? go farther. I say that, even granting inviolable factory laws, wages would not be permanently affected. Let it be supposed that an Eight Hours' Bill is passed, prohibiting all— men, women, and children-from working more than eight hours in any one day. What is the effect? Not that of making an eight -hour day's wage equal to a ten-hour day's wage! No; the first effect is that the worker will get only four-fifths of his former wage. But this is below subsisten ce wags True: but subsistence wage includes the item for a sinking fund to enable the worker to rear up children to take his place. This is the first item to be knocked off. The workers of the required kind are not reproduced: the price of that kind of labour rises a little to meet the demand; then the price of the goods at which they work is raised. The demand shrinks: down goes the trade, and a lower level is reached—we have a smaller population, dearer necessaries and luxuries, and (it is true) shorter hours. Mr. Hyndman has over and over again pointed out that an Artisans' Dwellings Act would have no other effect than to put money into the pockets of employers. If the State paid the whole of the labourer's rent the employer would be able to reduce his wages by precisely that amount. Mr. Champion lately pointed out the same thing. If Mr. Joynes really understands and accepts the “iron law,” he should admit that he has made a mistake in speaking of degrees of exploitation, of “exploiting to the uttermost.” "Wagedom is what socialists call “exploitation to the uttermost.” There is no deeper depth to sound.
The fourth chapter in this curious Catechism is characteristically entitled “Methods of Extortion.” Capital without labour is helpless, we are told. Now, nobody ever said that capital without labour is, as a rule, productive. Nor will Mr. Joynes pretend that labour without capital is productive. As a rule, both labour and capital are helpless without the other. It is true that in certain cases capital is productive alone, as, for instance, when an owned tree of value produces fruit without any attention. So, also, labour is occasionally productive without the aid of capital, as when a sculptor creates a work of value out of some valueless stone or clay. But, as a rule, Mr. Joynes is right in saying that without labour capital is helpless. He should have added that labour without capital is helpless. He proposes as a remedy that the State should compete with the capitalist by providing employment for the labourers, and paying them the full value of their productions. Now, what in reason's name is meant by the State ''. And how is it going to acquire the capital necessary to enable it to employ the labourers? It is clear from the context that by “the full value of their production” Mr. Joynes means “the full value of the total product of industry ”; that is to say, the fruits of labour plus the fruits of capital. If so, it is obvious that the capital held by the State would rapidly dwindle away, unless made good from some other source. The question is, What source? And the only possible answer is, Taxation.
Large accumulations of wealth by individuals is an evil, says Mr. Joynes, but capital in private hands is worse. No proof, and not the smallest evidence, is given in support of this sweeping allegation. No proposition has been more keenly disputed than this. I for one certainly cannot accept Mr. Joynes's ipsc dixit on the subject. If large accumulations of wealth in private hands is an evil, it must be for some reason. What reason? I assert that so far from being an evil, it is an unmixed good. No one is forced to accept my dogmatic assertion, but there it is. Large accumulations of the particular kind of wealth denoted by the term “capital” is also a good in itself. At least we have been shown nothing to the contrary; and, moreover, we see that it is an increasing tendency, and that such tendency is accompanied by a diminishing cost of production. At the same time nobody denies that good things may be abused. Wealth may be expended in drink and debauchery. And this is true of capital. At the present time capital is expended in hiring wage slaves. If it were reserved for investing in industrial undertakings in which only free men were engaged, the larger the accumulations of capital in individual hands the better. If wagedom were suppressed any hows—by capitalisation or by socialism—then large accumulations of wealth would, we are told, not matter so much. Why not ? Because the capitalist system presupposes the existence of two factors, and is unworkable and impossible without them. First, private property in accumulated wealth: and secondly, the presence of propertyless labourers in the market, who are forced to sell their services at cost price, that is to say, at wages that will give them a bare subsistence and enable them to work on the morrow, this being the cost of the daily reproduction of the force or power to labour which constitutes their sole property. There is a slight but important omission here. The whole of the factors are not enumerated. There is the item which goes to enable the different kinds of workers to rear up children to take their place when they are used up. When this is neglected, and the item is not paid to the wage slave, the result is that the number of hands in the trade where the omission has taken place is reduced, and wages rise till the normal proportion of hands is again reached. Thus the employer cannot permanently shirk the payment of this item. As a rule, he does not try.
Still there is an element of truth in all this. The present wage system is one under which the labourer forfeits (there is no need to say that he is robbed) the whole of the profits of his labour. That is true; but he does it voluntarily. The socialists propose an alternative system in which the capitalist is to forfeit the whole of the profits on his capital. This is equally unreasonable, and inasmuch as it is proposed to deprive him by force against his will, it is robbery. Why cannot capitalist and worker pull together, and agree to take each the profits on his own contribution? The capitalisation of labour would solve the labour question without injury to any one.
Perhaps the best answer to this question is that given by Mr. Joynes himself. What has hitherto prevented the workers from combining for the overthrow of the capitalist system is ignorance, he says—ignorance due to the system itself, which compels them to spend all their lives upon monotonous toil, and leaves them no time for education.
Throughout this (Catchism a free use is made of technical terms, both economical and legal. But the use of the term "fraud “is the most unwarrantable. ”What is fraud? If a drowning man is induced to promise half his fortune before another man on the bank will throw him a rope, is the bargain a fraudulent one? Not a bit of it. It is a shameful bargain, but there is no fraud in it. If a man sells a rare book for a mere trifle to one who knows its true value, the sale is not fraudulent. The buyer may get a book worth £200 for half-a-crowd by what we should call a shabby act, but there is no fraud. Then, where is the fraud in hiring a wage slave? It is simply nonsense to use such language. “Under the slave-owning system there was no fraud involved, but only force,” says our author. “The similarity between the slave-owning and the capitalist system is complete, with the single exception that force was used in place of fraud.”
Freedom of contract is next described as a farce. Now it is not altogether a farce. First of all the labourer is free to choose his master. But, beyond that, he is perfectly free to capitalise himself if so disposed, and, by union, force the proper system on employers, who would benefit as much as the workers. His “freedom ” is limited in this respect only by his own ignorance and laziness—internally, not externally.
Having described freedom of contract as a farce, the question arises in what sense is it free? The answer given is, that the labourer is free to take what is offered or nothing. Or, let me add, the full fruits of his labour, as ascertained after the completion of the process. This he is fool enough, or coward enough, to refrain from demanding, and to reject when offered. As a class, for this reason, wage slaves deserve no pity. Folly may be a pitiable quality, but it does not always arouse the emotion of pity. Of course, failing this course, the workers must, as Mr. . Toynes says, accept the market value of their services, or nothing.
“Nor has he anything to fall back upon, except that in England Humanity has revolted against the reign of the capitalist, and provided the workhouse as a last resource for the labourer, taxing the capitalist for its support. But the capitalist has turned this piece of socialism to his own ends by rendering the workhouse so unpleasant to the poor that starvation is often thought preferable, and by insisting that no useful work done in the workhouse shall be brought into his market, where its presence would disturb his calculations and impair his profits. He only allows it to exist at all because he knows that its existence may stave off for a time the Revolution which he dreads.”
Surely there is a contradiction here. Mr. Joynes has carefully divided the population into capitalists and labourers, rich and poor, idlers and workers. He now tells us that the capitalist allows the workhouse to exist, “because he knows that its existence may stave off for a time the revolution.” He also tells us that Humanity has provided the workhouse. “Who are included in the ranks of humanity? Have the workers provided the workhouse for themselves? The fact is Mr. Joynes has not yet made up his mind whether the workhouse is a socialistic tribute to pity, or a cunning capitalistic safety-valve against revolution, or, as he prefers to call it,” the. Revolution “with a big R. Educated persons can talk about revolutions in manners, customs, habits, morals, etc., without feeling to tingle at their own daring. Just as Salvationists trade on the mob's well-known weakness for a good romping chorus, so the socialists trade on the taste of the young roughs for Jack Sheppard, blood and terror. It makes budding ” Britons strut with courage." The orator who hints with flashing eye at deeds without a name, at hidden knives and dynamite, who menacingly reminds the Duke of Broadacres and landlords in general of the fate of Foulon; such an one is already a hero in his own conceit, and half a hero to the buffle-heads who listen to him as children listen to ghost stories.
However, Mr. Joynes is not quite so far gone as that. By revolution he means what ordinary people mean-a complete change, a change which we all look forward to, one which will abolish all unjust privileges and differences, and will render the workers their own employers. That is what co-operatiobsts and capitalisationists all look forward to, but they are content to spell the word with a little modest “r,” and to risk the support of the Tichbornites, the Skeleton Army, and other “thinkers of that School.” But let Mr. Joynes explain himself. By revolution he means “the complete change in the conditions of society which will abolish all unjust privileges, distinctions of rank, or difference between wage payers and wage earners, and will render the workers their own employers.” We are next treated to a diatribe against landlordism, “of which force is the chief element, since it labels the surplus value ' rents,' and uses all the resources of civilisation in the shape of police and soldiery to enforce their payment by the people; but the element of fraud is present, since the labourer is told that he is free to give up his holding if he does not wish to pay rent.” If our author is addressing himself to the silly rabble above mentioned, his workmanship is, on the whole, too good. It is thrown away upon them. But if he is writing for educated persons, I venture to say that this last passage is an insult to their common sense. To call the bargain between landlord and tenant a fraudulent one, because the tenant is told that he need not enter into it unless he likes, is trifling with the intelligence of the reader. As for the other and “chief element,” it is absurdly untrue that force is used in this or any civilised country for the extortion of rents. No one is compelled to pay rent any more than he is compelled to buy a fiddle or to hire a cab.
There is practically no difference between the mode of enforcing rent and the mode of enforcing payment for the hire of other goods. If Mr. Joynes hires a horse or a threshing machine for a week he will be forced to pay, if he can; and whether he can pay or not, he will be forced to deliver up possession of the horse or machine, however much he may sincerely believe that the act of hiring has somehow invested him with some kind of proprietary right. The element of force enters as much into one class of cases as it does into the other. There is no appeal to police and soldiery in the one case more than in the other. When one man takes or retains what belongs to another, he must be made to surrender it—by force if necessary. Where the fraud comes in it is hard to see.
But there is another egregious fallacy herein contained. The man who pays rent and then takes the whole profits of his industry is not a wage slave at all, but a free man, more especially when his bargain with the landowner is of the nature of a lease, calculated on the average productiveness of like land. Whether he pays his rent in the shape of money or of services makes no difference whatever as to the honesty of the bargain.
I have so little criticism of a substantial kind to pass upon the gift of Mr. Joynes's fifth chapter, entitled “Machines and their Uses.” that I am almost tempted to reprint it without comment as a fair statement of the capitalisationist view of the subject. But the tone of the answers is so unsatisfactory that ? could not adopt that course without compromising myself, and moreover, the first and last portions spoil the effect of the whole. “Labour-saving machinery is used, as its name indicates, to reduce the cost of production, and by cost of production we mean the amount of human labour necessary to produce useful things.” I mean nothing of the sort. It is true that" the employment of machinery is one way of reducing cost of production, but it is only one way. Neither does the term “labour saving ” cover all the methods of reducing the cost of production. Nor is it correct to describe machinery as reducing cost of production solely through the reduction in the amount of human labour required to produce useful things. To begin with, locomotive engines save horse labour, which is not human. Furthermore, machinery effects a great saving not only in labour, but also in capital. For example, the wool-combing machine saved the whole of the noil which used to pass away with the waste. To such an extent was this the case, that whereas hand-combers were charging fourpence a pound, machine-combers were able to comb for nothing at a profit until competition compelled the whole trade to adopt the machine. So brick-making machines and certain mineral oil processes enable us to utilise materials which were formerly so much refuse.
1 have already dwelt upon the persistent socialist fallacy —shared, it is true, by the orthodox school of political economy —that the cost of production is the amount of human labour required to produce. First of all, it is not even literally true, because nature supplies some valuables without labour. But the main flaw in the statement is that it overlooks the successive processes in production, and in practice attributes the value of the product to the labour consumed in the latest process, or, at all events, in the last few processes. Having premised this, I am in complete accord with the rest of this chapter, which states very fairly and very clearly the precise position of wage receivers with respect to machinery. Labour has not benefited as it should have done through the introduction of machinery. '' It is questionable," says John Stuart Mill, “if all the improvements iii machinery have lightened the day's toil of a single man.'” Unfortunately this is by no means the worst of it. In addition to these occasional and transitory evils, there is a great and growing evil resulting from the increasing introduction of machinery. The resulting division of labour so specialises the work of the several classes of workers that there is less and less need for the exercise of intelligence. Their work tends to become more monotonous, easier, and consequently sustainable for longer hours than formerly. They are becoming less like men and more like automatons day by day. People do not make boots or shirts now; they make tops or buttonholes.
“Their employer, it is true, saves their labour in the sense of getting the same work done by the machine without having to pay their wages. But this is not a permanent advantage to him individually. As long as he has a monopoly of the machine, it is a great advantage to him, but other capitalists soon introduce it also, and compel him to share the spoil with them. The owners of the machines try to undersell each other, with a view to keeping the production in their own hands; and competition beats down prices until the normal level of capitalist profits is reached, below which they all decline to go.”
All this is very true, and altogether at variance with the teachings of the orthodox school. Nor need we quarrel with the succeeding portion, except as to the absurd and ideal division of society into two classes, idlers and workers. This is, of course, a piece of socialist stock-in-trade; but if for workers and idlers we read wage receivers and wage payers, Mr. Joynes's contentions are not very wide of the mark. He very properly exposes the orthodox fallacy which vitiates every argument of the economists, and that is the assumption that the labourers have no right to complain so long as the employers are content with taking only the normal rate of profits as their share of the surplus value. It is well that this fallacy should be pointed out and insisted upon. I have often been met, when advocating capitalisation, with the argument— No room for improvement. The “orthodox ” shakes his head. “You admit,” says he, “that profits cannot fall below their normal level. Where then, under any system, is an improvement in labour remuneration to come from? Clearly, it must come out of the consumer's pocket, or not at all.”
Again, he is right in pointing out that cheapness of production is only an apparent, not a real benefit to the workers. “It would be real if all who consumed were also workers. As it is, the working class get all the disadvantage of the low wages, and of the adulteration, which has been described as a form of competition.”
All this again is true. At the same time the manual workers do not suffer so much from adulteration as might at first sight appear. Few articles consumed by the wage receivers are adulterated with substances injurious to health; and cheap substitutes for expensive articles do not, in the end, bring extra profits to the manufacturer. Competition brings down the profits on the sham to the normal level. The calico-maker who puts 40 per cent of China clay into his goods gets in the long run 40 per cent less for them. Consumers who like these cheap goods, irrespective of their quality, get articles more than 40 per cent worse. The consumer is the chief offender and the chief sufferer; serve him right. But the workman who buys (as a rule) the best quality of goods he can, cannot long be cheated out of his money's worth. Competition does it.
“What makes the reduction of cost appear advantageous to the wage earners is the fact that their wages are paid in money. The money price of all articles has risen enormously during the last three centuries owing to the increased abundance of gold. The money wages have risen also, but not in anything like the same proportion. Again, the cheapening of bread and other necessaries is shown to have been an empty boon to the workers, because it has been proved again and again on the highest authority that the labourers, as a body, at present obtain so bare a subsistence that it does not suffice to keep them in health; therefore they could not at any time have lived on half the amount. Similarly if bread became twice as dear, wages would necessarily rise. A Wiltshire farm-labourer could not maintain his family on half their present food; and though capital cares nothing about individuals, it takes good care that the labourers shall not starve in a body.”
Here, again, the first effect of a general fall in wages is lost sight of. The population of the workers whose wage is below the normal subsistence level ceases to increase. It is not a case of wholesale death by starvation. The capitalist, so far from taking care that the thing shall not occur, watches it with indifference every day. He cannot help it. Indeed, it may be said that it is no business of his. It all goes on in accordance with “the laws of supply and demand”—laws which have a real existence, in spite of the fact that they have never yet been stated by political economists, who are content to refer to them as immutable but mysterious decrees, located somewhere, and sanctifying the existing state of mundane affairs, more especially the extravagances of the rich and the sufferings of the poor.
But in spite of all the evils resulting from machinery Mr. Joynes would not advise the workers to destroy the machinery. To destroy what they have themselves produced merely because it is at present stolen from them, would be absurd. The right course to pursue, he says, is to organise their ranks; demand restitution of their property; keep it under their control; and work it for their own benefit.
Here again we meet with the altogether unjustifiable word “stolen.” Mr. Joynes himself would never accuse an individual employer of stealing. The term has a moral connotation, and this should be borne in mind. I quite agree that that which, under a better system, would have passed into the pockets of workmen has, under the existing wage system, passed into the pockets of capitalists. It is to be regretted, because it tends to keep whole strata of society down at the level of cost of subsistence. There can be no reasonable doubt that if British wage receivers had been free workers—had broken down the wage system—at the beginning of the present century, the many, many millions of pounds' worth of produce due to machinery would now be their property. The future is likely to be quite as prolific in inventions, and it is not too late to mend. But to pretend that because labourers of one sort or another have been too indolent or too stupid to take care of their own investments, therefore they have been robbed by their employers, is the height of folly and untruth.
In disputing some of Mr. Joynes's propositions it is necessary to be very cautious for fear of doing an injustice, because terms are used in a sense which is unusual with political economists, or, at least, which ought to be. For instance, “cost of production ” is employed to mean the labour expended in the process. Ordinary people use the term as meaning the united values of the labour and capital consumed in the process. But now the question arises whether the prices of articles would be raised if the community were organised on socialist principles? Mr. Joynes thinks not— “not necessarily, nor in most cases; but in some this would certainly be the result.” But surely, if the labourer received more for the same amount of work, either the price of the product would be higher, or else the difference would have to come out of somebody else's pocket. Now I am far from denying that under a better industrial system the manual workers would receive a larger share of the proceeds of industry. I think they would. I also agree that in the present state of improved communications a large number of the middlemen are unnecessary, and consequently a useless element in cost of production. This is the case with many retail shopkeepers. If the reduction made in the cost of middlemen went into the pockets of artisans, etc., it is evident that total cost of production would remain the same, and prices would remain the same.
Substituting proper language for such words in the Catechism as “theft” and “stolen ” it is true that the poorest class of workers do actually give their labour away, or very nearly so. But this can be remedied without adopting socialism. Some of us cannot roast a sucking-pig nowadays without burning the house clown! And who, now, are these dreadful people-these middlemen who are to be so ruthlessly swept away? We ought to sympathise with individuals who have been reared to perform services which are no longer required. If cheap, safe, and rapid transport have rendered a good many distributors superfluous, they will have to learn new trades, or do as best they can. Such was the case when railways pushed on one side those who only knew the coaching business. When machinery supersedes hand - workers, the socialists proclaim unbounded pity for them. Then why anathematise the unfortunate superfluous retailers? Simply because with them are confounded in the socialist imagination a host of others, with whom they have absolutely nothing in common.
Who are the middlemen who intercept and share the surplus value produced by the labourer? They are, says our guide, the unnecessary agents and distributors, the holders of stock, bonds, and shares of every description, and all those who are supported by the wealth producers either in idleness or in useless labour, of which latter class of persons flunkeys are a conspicuous example.
Here we have the unfortunate distributors jumbled up with shareholders-that is, simple capitalists who may or may not be workers—and with flunkeys, who, poor fellows! work hard enough in all conscience. To stand and sit about for hours with tight stockings, cold feet, and “powdered'' (that is whitewashed) hair is a form of martyrdom which most workmen would fly from, even though the factory or the workhouse were the alternative. This passage alone testifies to a hopeless confusion in the mind of Mr. Joynes, which goes far to explain his strange attitude toward many classes of useful public citizens. ”Where does Mr. Joynes draw the line between the flunkey, the private gardener, the piano manufacturer, and the lacemaker
“But the rich," it seems, “do not even support their own flunkeys, and maintain in comfort those who produce luxuries for them. These people are maintained entirelv by the workers, though the maintenance is passed through the hands of the rich, who therefore imagine that they produce it.”
This statement is absolutely false. Flunkeys (under which carefully chosen term of opprobrium Mr. Joynes probably includes all classes of domestic servants) are maintained entirely out of the fairly acquired property of those who employ them. And by this I mean, of course, not that thieves do not sometimes acquire property unfairly, and even employ domestics with their ill-gotten gains, but that honest masters and mistresses pay their servants out of the fruits of capital without inflicting the smallest injury or loss on other clashes of workers. If John and “William by diligence and ability acquire more than enough to keep themselves in ordinary comfort, they are justified in resting from their labours and spending their superfluous gains in luxuries. John buys horses and carriages and works of tine art; William hires singers and dancers and “flunkeys ” to wait upon him and amuse him. In what way does” William rob or injure those who are obliged to go on earning their daily bread any more than John I Surely even socialists must see that this is a distinction without a difference. This conclusion in nowise precludes us from giving a hearty assent to the contention that expenditure on luxuries is not good for trade or beneficial to the workers.
It is clear that if rich people had better taste than they seem to have, less would be spent on “luxuries” which are not luxuries, on things which utterly fail to give the pleasure which is expected from them. The money which is spent on Brummagem trinketry, on hideous female apparel, on florid gingerbread architecture, on meretricious painting, and on gorgeous equipages and retinues, will in time to come, when the taste of mankind is elevated, be devoted to the production of things from which more true, lasting, and proportionate pleasure can be derived by educated minds. Meantime, while human nature is what it unfortunately is, we must remember that everything which affords pleasure-even to the unrefined —is useful. Economically there is no other definition of “useful” but “that which gives pleasure directly or indirectly.” Flies are useful to spiders, thistles to donkeys, glass beads to Hottentots, and sham jewellery to factory girls. A hundredweight of each would be of very little use to Mr. Joynes, except to sell to those who appreciate them. Nobody pretends that money spent on “flunkeys” benefits anybody except those who enjoy, or think they must needs enjoy, the services of the "flunkeys": just as nobody is benefited by a like expenditure on pine-apples or expensive cigars except those who eat and smoke them. At the same time it is a matter that concerns the spenders only. If they demanded even what in our opinion are more useful things, nobody else would benefit, unless, of course, they happened to be public-spirited, and were pleased to spend their surplus wealth on the gratification of their fellows. But then the question of altruism enters here, and no one has a right to complain because his neighbour is not generous. One who lays out a public pleasure-ground is a better citizen than one who lays down a cellar of port for his own drinking. Granted; but we have no right to coerce a rich man to "enjoy'' his own wealth in our own way.
There is a lamentable absence of definitions all throughout this catechism, and indeed throughout all socialist works. “What is waste?” What is useful I One cannot understand in what sense the terms are employed here. By '' useful" I mean all that affords pleasure. The barrel-angrinder is very useful in an East-end alley, but not at all useful in a West-end square. “Flunkeys” are useful to those who take a real pleasure (no matter how indirectly caused) in their services. And even the most cultured person finds domestic servants useful in doing necessary work, which he would otherwise have to perform himself-such as cooking and laundry work. Socialists cannot honestly believe that the world would be better if Mr. Herbert Spencer and Lord Tennyson blacked their own boots. Then by waste I mean the expenditure of wealth without a corresponding or proportionate attainment of pleasure. It is wasteful to use seasoned oak for fuel, because the pleasure effect is small-out of all proportion to the outlay. But socialists regard everything as wasted which does not go into a poor man's belly. It is all a question of definition.
All this is meant to lead up to the grand conclusion, the irrepressible socialist fallacy, that people who earn wealth on Monday cannot rest and spend it on Tuesday without rubbing those who are working on Tuesday. That is the whole contention in a nutshell. It ought, say they, to be obvious that a man cannot rest and eat without being indebted in those who produce the food be eats. But why to the “workers” supply the “idlers ” with food and also with luxuries?. simply because the "idlers", that is the restors give them in exchange some of the wealth for which they or their fathers worked in days gone by. The thing is simple enough, and yet it is strangely ignored.
And then follows the socialist cure for all thi–, namely, compulsory work. But what auain work? M'Cnlloch described bubble-blowing and turtle-eating as productive labour. Mr. -Toynes would not dignify the scoccupations with the title of work. Then where would he draw the line ' Is dog-training work? angling? scene-painting }. If scene-painting is work, then acting must also be work, and probably ballet-dancing; for work is defined by its old. Poet and composers and philosophers would cease to exist except as amateurs who dabbled in these studies after woik hours, unless the State undertook to define poetry and music and philosophy, and to recognise some specimens a work. It would then be necessary to declare how many lines of epic (say, the Idglls of the King) should go for an hour's work in a smithy, 01 an hour's fishing on the Dogger Bank. Would all work be measured by time. ' Then it would be necessary to measure the philosopher's work by the time he look to write out the conclusions he had reached, or else to allow him for thinking: and the State would have to take precautions to see that when he was apparently sitting still and doing nothing, he was, in f'act, thinking. And then, if the out-come- of his thinking was Mr. Joynes's Cutechsm. the State would have to decide whether it would rank as good work alongside of boot-making or as waste time alongside bubble-blowing. What an absurd slough this socialism lands us into ' Then follow the exceptions in favour of the “old,” for which one can see no justification except on the ground that, as a rule, they may be taken to have done their work in the world. And this just my case for the rich, when once it is admitted that a lawful and moral way of enjoying one's wealth is to make one's children happy. As for Mr. Joynes's exception in favour of the children of the State, I fail to see how they are a “perfectly just charge” upon those who are not responsible for their existence, and who do not happen to care very much about them. We may pass over “the infirm “till we know who they are. Are born idiots included, or confirmed drunkards or persons ruined by vice, or persons injured by accidents in the course of their work, 01 in the hunting-field: Further and better particulars, please, Mr. Joynes. It is already passing clear that under a socialist system the workers would not get the full fruit of their labour. Our mentor glides very swiftly over ”certain other deductions for measures of public utility.” Which be they? An army '?. A navy ? Courts of justice ''. Inspectors? Paid legislators? State instructors of youth? A post-office? Harbours and lighthouses? What else?
“Theories of profit “is the title of the next chapter of the catechist. It is a pity that Mr. Joynes enshrouds the problem with which he has to deal with the ”money fog.” He could have explained his position (the socialist position) without dragging in this political economist's dust-cloud. Money has nothing whatever to do with it. We are introduced to the crooked ways of those who make money by gambling either on the race-course or on the stock-exchange, in which case one gombler's gain is another's loss. “But smother form of exchange prevails, that of those who, not being workers, produce no good, but yet have command of money". They exchange their money for goods, and those goods back again into money.”
I have not the pleasure of the acquaintance of any of these lunatics. It seem to be an innocent form of amusement; but one cannot help thinking that Mr. Joynes must be unintentionally misrepresenting them. If, at the end of the double process, these amiable persons turn out to have, asarule more money than they began with, one would. suppose they must have done something in addition to what Mr. Joynes has been able to see. No wonder he asks the innocent question, "Then what is the use of the process if they only get money at the end, when they had money at the beginning '” What indeed? He thinks it may be that at the second exchange they get more money than they gave at the first. "'This fact has been explained by economist– by the mere statement that the money-monger either gave less money than the goods were worth at the first exchange or got more than they were worth at the second. But they omit to note the fact that these same money-mongers are in the market both a buyers and sellers, and that without a miracle they cannot all gain on both transaction-;, but must lose in selling precisely the amount they gain in buying.” The economists then, are represented as saying that ''the other fellow'' is the- lunatic. According i" them, there is as class of person– who pend their time in exchanging goods for money, and in buying with that money other goods winch are worth" than the good they had to start with. Now Mr. Joynes is unable to credit the existence of this class. Neither does he believe in miracles. Hence he is driven to search for another explanation. The frst that he comes across is that decaying old survival from anti-machinery days; but it is fair to remark that he dismisses it a- altogether inadequate to account for all the profits of capitalists who do not work. Indeed it is too small, he says, "to account for a tithe of it.”
“Does not this add exchange value to his productions. ' Not unless he has a i monopoly of the machine, and can thus fear no competition except that of Land labour; otherwise the exchange value of his good- sinks in proportion to the increased rapidity of their production. If he can make two yards of cloth in the time which he formerly devoted to one, and all other weavers can do the same, the price, or exchange value of two yards, sinks to the former price of one; though of course the use value of two is always greater than that of one.
“Are not monopolies frequent? No individual capitalist can keep a monopoly for any great length of time, as all inventions become common property at last; and although it is true that the capitalists as a body have a monopoly of machinery as against the workers, which adds a fictitious value to machine-made goods, and will continue to do so until the workers take control of the machinery, yet this extra value is too small to account for a tithe of the profits of the money-mongers.”
All this seems to show that, reluctantly enough, socialists recognise that capital of, at all events, one kind has the "power of creating exchange value in excess of its own cost." Mr. Joynes prefers to say that labour is itself rendered more productive by being placed in juxtaposition with this kind of capital; just as we might say (with perfect truth) that when coals are thrown into the fire-box, it is not the coals which have the power of creating more motive -power; it is the engine which accelerates its speed and increases its productiveness, owing to the fact that the coals are there. Mr. Joynes would argue that the owner of the engine should have all the resulting gains, and the owner of the coals none. Let that pass; another explanation has to be found, and this time it is to a certain extent a substantial explanation. It is not sufficient, because it does not explain nearly all the profit of the capitalist: but it is true, because it does explain a great part of it.
“There must be one thing needful which they must be able to buy in the market in order to make these profit", something which shall itself have the power of creating exchange value largely in excess of its own cost, in order that, at the end of the transaction, they may have secured more money than they have expended. There is only one thing with this power, and that is the labourer himself, who offers his labour force on the market. Competition compels him to be content with its cost price, namely, subsistence wages-that is, enough to keep himself and his family from starvation.”
This is the great truth contained in socialism-the jewel in the dungheap. There is a soul of truth in almost all false doctrines, and this is the truth which almost justifies the existence of socialism. Too much stress cannot be laid upon it. The orthodox political economists not only ignore it, but flatly deny it. Wage receivers do not receive more and never can receive more, permanently, than subsistence wages, all the fallacious arguments of the economists to the contrary notwithstanding. I sincerely trust that thorough and consistent socialism will spread and prosper until this truth is firmly grasped and acted upon by the manual workers of this and other countries. “The bargain between him and the capitalist requires him to give ten hours or more of work for the cost price of two or three; and he enters into it because, in spite of all so-called freedom of contract, he has no other choice.' To contend that the majority of citizens in a free country have no choice but to put up with a bad bargain is the height ol absurdity. I am quite ready to admit that a part of the profit which goes to the capitalist should properly go to the manual worker; and it would go to the manual worker if be had the courage and energy to ask for it. Instead of that he comepls the capitalist to hire him by time or by the piece, come luck, come loss: and for this insurance surely the employer mu$t charge. Why should he run a risk for nothing? If Mr. Joynes ran his own omnibus from Bow to Brixton he would expect to get a profit on his outlay. If, in addition, he also ran my omnibus over the same line, at a hire of £3 a week, payable to me for 'bus and horses-win or lose–he would also expect to make a profit on that. So the employer of wage receiver expects not only a profit on his own capital, but also a profit on his workpeople. He pockets the profits which they forego; but then they incur no risk of loss. And the effect of their cowardly policy is just tin-that they forfeit all along the line the average profits of trade in the country in which they work. In other words, they give away the interest on that valuable property-their own selves perhaps some blame does attach to employers as n class for not exerting themselves to enlighten their employees a to their true interest: but the chief blame rests with the workers themselves, who voluntarily submit to wagedom when the times are ripe for a higher form of industrial organisation. It must be obvious that by shirking their share of risk, wage receivers seriously impair their own efficiency, and thereby again diminish their gains. They will wake up some day without any assistance from socialism or from mawkish philanthropy.”
“Has the capitalist no conscience? asks the catechist. “Individuals cannot alter the system, even if they would, and the capitalist is now often represented by a company, which, if it had a conscience, could not pay its 5 per cent. After the labourer has produced the price of his own waiges, he goes on to produce exchange value, for which he is not paid at all, for the benefit of the capitalist.” And this, says he, is surplus value.
Mr. Joynes is very angry with the capitalist. What does be do with the surplus value? he asks. “He keeps as much a? he can for himself under the name of profits of his business.” And quite right, too. He keeps all the profits on his raw materials and tools, his land and plant, his machinery and horses, and slaves (if any) and wage slaves, and everything else which he has to buy or hire, and for the investment of which he is himself responsible. Mr. Joynes seems to think he does not keep it all, but he does, every penny of it. Of course he has to buy hi raw materials and plant, and to feed his horses and find fuel for his engines: to pay rent fur the “loan “of the land he uses (if it is not his own property), and wages or rent for the loan of the labourers be uses (if they are not his own property), and so forth. It matters little what we all these payments. He has to pay them, and he expects his profit, and, as a rule, he gets it; and when he gets it he sticks to it. Mr. Joynes thinks be does not keep quite all, because out of it he has to pay landlords, other capitalists from whom he has borrowed capital, bankers and brokers who have effected these loans for him, middlemen who sell his wares to the public, and finally, the public, in order to induce them to buy from him instead of from rival manufacturers. ”And he tries to justify this appropriation of surplus value by his class on the ground that capital ha the power of breeding and producing interest by as natural a process as the reproduction of animals.”
Yes, so far as the profits on his own capital are concerned, he does so persuade himself, if he thinks at all. Some do not. He has seen apples grow on an apple-tree without any human assistance whatever, and he has seen a windmill working away without any more than the smallest help from man: he has seen machinery producing wealth out of all proportion to the labour which is expended in attending to it. He fails to see anything absolutely inconceivable in the idea of a monster engine worked by concentrated solar heat or tidal action which, without any assistance from living men, shall produce, continuously, articles of use to a lazy generation. He regards this as highly improbable, even in the distant future; but inasmuch as it is not inconceivable, it completely knocks the bottom out of the socialist notion that only the living workers have a right to the products of industry.
It is odd, thinks our author, that the capitalist can find any dupes to believe in so absurd a theory, but he instils a genune belief into himself and others that this is the case. “From which the inference is, that the labourer ought to be grateful to the capitalist for furnishing him with employment. Whereas, the labourers really have to thank the capitalist for defrauding them of three-quarters of the fruits of their toil, and rendering leisure, education, and natural enjoyment almost impossible for them to attain.” I am glad to be among the "dupes" and am much obliged to Mr. Joynes for giving some of us credit for a genuine belief. But the inference as to the lain labours gratitude does not follow. No thanks are due either way. Each does the best he can for himself, and asks for no testimonials.
The eighth chapter of the catechism deals with “objections”: but that title would not be enough. Mr. Joynes must knock his antagonist down before shaking hands; so the chapter is entitled “Inadequate Objections.” Most people would prefer to prove the inadequacy of the objections before stigmatising them: but socialists will be socialists. If socialists happen to be poor, he says, they are described as interested schemers for the overthrow of an excellent society in order that, being themselves idle and destitute, they may be able to seize upon the wealth accumulated by more industrious people. If rich, they must obviously be insincere in their socialism, or they would at once give away all their capital, instead of denouncing what they themselves possess. The charge of interested motives is invariably brought by socialists against all who uphold existing" institutions. And how should individualists meet the charge? With contempt. The idea that those who prosper under the present just system have no right to uphold it because they are gainers by it, is too absurd to require refutation. Persons who fling this charge about on either side may safely be left out of calculation. But the charge against the rich socialists requires a little more attention.
“In a capitalist society, the mere purchasing of an article in the market involves the exploitation of the labourers who produced it; and this is not in any way remedied or atoned for by giving away the article afterwards to somebody else. The owner of capital cannot prevent it from exploiting the labourers by giving it away. It cannot be used as socialism enjoins, except under an organised system of socialism. The wealthy socialist can mitigate the severity of competition in all his personal relations. Beyond that he could do nothing except UPC his wealth in helping on the socialist cause.''
There is an element of truth in all this; but it is not quite accurate. It is correct to say that the wealthy capitalist witli socialist leanings cannot, after making his profits by wagedom. remedy or atone for it by giving it away to somebody else, but there are two things he might do: he might give back his profits, not to somebody else, but to the workpeople who earned it for him; or, secondly, he could refrain from employing wage earners at all, and insist on co-operating with free labourers for the production of new wealth. Of course I do not recommend either expedient, but ? say that they are both open to honest and wealthy socialists.
Clearly, if a capitalist adopted the first course, namely, that of returning the interest on labour to the labourers, he would be running all their risk for nothing, while they would have lacked all the stimulus to industry which such risk (and corresponding chance of gain) affords. If he adopted the second course, which at some future time will be a prudent course, he would have to spend most of his time in looking round for thrifty, provident, honest, and industrious co-workers, who know their own value, and are willing to invest their labours and take the risks. . Such men are not easy to find to-day, because our manual workers have hardly yet emerged from the wagedom stage of industrialism. Just as slaves could not be converted into wage earners in a generation, so neither can wage earners be transmuted at once into free workers. They lack mutual trust.
How may socialists reply to the taunt that their scheme is impracticable ? “By quoting the opinion of J. S. Mill that the difficulties of socialism are greatly over-rated; and they should declare that, so far from being an impracticable Utopian scheme, it is the necessary and inevitable result of the historical evolution of society,” Now the quotation from Mill merely shows either that Mill himself under-vated the difficulties of socialism, or that he used the term in a sense different from that in which it is nowadays understood. For the second retort, namely, that socialism is inevitable, I cannot give Mr. Joynes much credit. ? might with equal eloquence rejoin, "It isn't.”
And now we are introduced to a remarkable confusion of ideas. with which socialists invariably try to cajole the advocates of any form of co-operation—the pretence that all co-operation is socialistic. As though there were no difference between voluntary co-operation and compulsory co-operation. This is exactly the whole difference between socialism and individualism; for both look forward to increased co-ordination of industry. It is therefore no proof of advancing socialism to point out the fact of an increasing tendency towards cooperative production.
And here we come to a compromising and even damning admission. Individualism has, we are told, prepared the way and rendered socialism practicable. Socialists are to take advantage of the good which individualism has done. But if the results of individualism up to the present are satisfactory, and even essential to further progress, one may be excused for suggesting that it might be as well to let it alone, and trust to its further development. A system which has worked well from the year one down to to-day may surely be tried a little longer before being condemned. “Cut it down: why cumbereth it the ground?” is; not a wise sentence, even in the case of a tree which produces no fruit: still less of one which admittedly produces good fruit.
It is not necessary to dispute the proposition that if the State were to “take into its own hands,” that is, to steal (Mr. Joynes is sometimes very fond of that word!) the capital of capitalists, and to divide its proceeds among the workers only, the workers would gain by the arrangement, pecuniarily, for a few years. Similarly, if the railways were taken away from those who own them and given to the shipowners or the omnibus conductors, the latter would be gainers. I am superstitious enough to hold that stolen riches never bring lasting prosperity; but I admit the recipients would temporarily be wealthier for the “transaction.” There is no better illustration of the inefficiency of State trading than that adduced by Mr. Joynes himself-the post-office. Is he really ignorant of the reason why private capitalists cannot compete with the State? Is he not aware that the State rigidly enforces its monoply in the most tyrannical and overbearing manner, and that, but for this, it would long ago have been so far out-distanced by private enterprise as to be a laughing-stock and an eyesore '?. The same precaution might, it is true, be taken in the case of State railways: and then, surely enough, private enterprise would be unable to compete. But remove the heavy hand of the State, and I will give Mr. Joynes the whole of the existing capital of the country to start with (without compensation), and undertake to leave him and his state miles behind in the race in half a dozen years. ? fear he has never studied the history of the railway system in India, or compared the progress of railways on the Continent and in England. I would also commend to his notice the writings of Lysander Spooner on State letter-carrying.
And now the question arises. Would the expropriated capitalists be entitled to compensation ' The reply is noteworthy. "As a matter of principle it is unjust to compensate the holder of stolen goods out of the pockets of those who have suffered the theft; but it might be expedient to grant some compensation in the shape of annuities." No. Injustice is never expedient. If capitalists have really stolen their wealth, it cannot be expedient to compensate them for restoring it to the rightful owners. Here we must be more uncompromising than the socialists themselves. But first show how a man who has refrained from at once consuming the produce of his labour can be said to have stolen it when an interval of time has elapsed between its production and its consumption. This plunder part of his program is evidently very distasteful to Mr. Joynes himself. He glides quickly over it. He proposes a compromise and compensation. And he passes rapidly on to a more congenial topic—the tendency of the evolution of society. It tends, we are told, always towards more complex organisation, and to a greater interdependence of all men upon each other; each individual becoming more and more helpless by himself, but more and more powerful as part of a mightier society. And yet, says he, it is not true that individuality would be crushed by socialism. On the contrary, it is crushed by the present state of society, and would then alone be fairly developed.
Yes, individuality is sorely crippled by wagedom: but it would be altogether paralysed by socialism. Freedom is a slow development. It must be worked out on the present lines without any breach of continuity or artificial cataclysm. The increasing dependence of man upon his fellows—upon society as an organism — is an undeniable fact, which individualists recognise as readily as socialists:—
“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore. And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.”
The whole history of civilisation is the history of a struggle to establish a relation between society and its units, which is neither absolute socialism nor absolute anarchy (in the old and absurd sense of the absence of co-ordination and voluntary regulation), but a stale in which, by action and reaction of each upon each, such an adaptation shall take place that the welfare of the whole, and that of the units, shall eventually become coincident and not antagonistic.
No class of persons, as a rule, speak so contemptuously of authority as socialists. It is therefore surprising what delight they always manifest when they can exhume any passage from the works of leading political economists which can be twisted into something like an approval of their theories. Mr. Joynes quotes Mill and Fawcett. Mill says: '' The restraints of communism would be freedom in comparison with the present condition of the majority of the human race. The generality of labourers in this and most other countries have as little choice of occupation or freedom of locomotion-are practically as dependent on fixed rules and on the will of others—as they could be in any system short of actual slavery." Fawcett is cited as saying that there is no choice of work or possibility of change for the factory hand, and that the boy who is brought up to the plough must remain at the plough-tail to the end of his days. There is nothing in this with which individualists quarrel. Every capitalisationist affirms the evil of wagedom quite as emphatically as Mill himself, or the socialists. Two medical men may agree about a disease without for a moment concurring as to the proper cure.
But let us see what these witnesses have to say about the proposed cure. Mill's essay “On Liberty” is too well known to need quotation. It is one long indictment of socialism. Take this passage from the fifth chapter: “If the roads, the railways, the banks, the insurance offices, the great joint-stock companies, the universities, and the public charities were all of them branches of the Government; if, in addition, the municipal corporations and local boards, with all that now devolves on them, became departments of the central administration; if the employees of all these different enterprises were appointed and paid by the Government, and looked to the Government for every ri–e in life, not all the freedom of the 1'ress and popular constitution of the Legislature would make this or any other country free otherwise than in name. And the evil would be greater, the more efficiently and scientifically the administrative machinery was constructed, the more skilful the arrangements for obtaining the best qualified hands and heads with which to work it.” Mr. Fawcett's pamphlet on State Socialism is less known. He ends it by saying: “The conclusion which, above all, we desire to enforce is that any scheme, however well-intentioned it may be, will indefinitely increase every evil it seeks to alleviate if it lessens individual responsibility by encouraging the people to rely less upon themselves and mure upon the State.” If these are the authorities Mr. Joynes puts forward on behalf of socialism, he is welcome to the support be obtains. But of course the case is not left to rest on authority. It has been urged against socialism that it will take away all the incentives to exertion, and induce universal idleness in consequence. “On the contrary,” says our author, “it will apply the strongest incentive to all alike, for all must work if they wish to eat, while at present large classes are exempted by the accident of birth from the necessity of working at all.” And to the objection that socialism will destroy culture and refinement by compelling the leisured classes who have a monopoly of them to do some honest work, he replies that on the contrary it will bring the opportunity of culture and refinement to all by putting an end to the wearisome labour that continues all day long; while the leisured class will learn by experience that work is a necessity for perfect culture.
Mr. Joynes has not yet mastered the moral of the fable of the Sun and the Wind. He does not distinguish between persuasion and force. He jumbles up together as incentives to industry the love of knowledge and the ambition of the scholar with the birch rod of the pedagogue. In a sense these may all be said to be incentives t$ work. But those which socialism would relax are the internal incentives; those which socialism would substitute for them are external—coercion. It would certainly be better for everybody if those among the leisured classes who, having enough to live on, prefer to idle away their time, could be induced or persunded to work at something useful to mankind. It would also be better for themselves. Most of their class do. But to coerce those who do not choose to work would be to place the libeities of one set of citizens in the keeping of another set. Possibly Mr. Joynes would make an excellent task-master. I believe be has had some experience in furnishing incentives, to industry to leisured specimens of the rising generation. I do not wish to be understood as implying that Mr. Joynes would not make the best task-master procurable. My contention is that liberty is better than any task-master; and that in the long run it will bring about the best quality and most desirable quantity of work. '' Wearisome labour that continues all day long" is inefficient labour. The best quality of labour is that which cannot be continued all day long. Slovenly, shirking, scamping drudgery can hardly be dignified with the title of labour at all. The incentives of the stick and the sack do not stimulate to the highest quality of industry. The best work is even now done by the leisured class under a short-hours' system. And if, as Mr. Joynes contends, “work is a necessity for perfect culture ” (which I admit), so culture is a necessity for perfect work. we have a great field before us in trying to reform the tastes of all classes. Labour is wasted in supplying that for which there may indeed be an effectual demand, but which affords an absurdly small amount of gratification in proportion to its labour cost. This cannot be changed by State action.
When we urge that State management would give rise to jobbery and corruption, he replies by pointing to the present State organisation of the police and the post-office, in neither of which are jobbery and corruption conspicuous features. It is odd to find a leading socialist proclaiming the purity of the police. Perhaps I may refer to the socialist organs for a refutation of this amiable contention. A Radical member of Parliament lately declared that, to his knowledge, nearly all the unfortunate women in his neighbourhood paid blackmail to the police. Mr. Joynes might find corroborative evidence of this if he would make a tour of the public-houses and ascertain the conditions of their freedom from police espionage and interference. As for the post-office, I will refer not to the organs of socialism, but to the organs of individualism for the proofs of official purity or the reverse. A few questions have in the present Parliament been asked of Mr. Raikes about some singular promotions in the post-office. But apart from corruption, what about the more crushing charge of inefficiency and incapacity? Take the telegraph department or the parcels post. Or compare the success of a private firm of letter-carriers in America with that of the State department, even when the former was handicapped to the extent of 60 per cent! If no better examples of State action can be adduced on behalf of the State socialism of the future than the police and the post-office, the less said the better. Socialists would do well to rely on the magnificence of the unknown.
Having demolished these objections to his own satisfaction, Mr. Joynes proceeds to pulverise another, which it is not my business to sustain—the cuckoo cry—that if you make all men equal to-day they will all be unequal to-morrow, because of their different natural capabilities. But, says he, what socialists aim at is equality of opportunities, not of natural powers. There are scores of unnoticed objections to socialism besides the “cuckoo cry,” which no individualist ever puts forward, except in reply to some of the cruder proposals of ignorant communists, to whom it is neither necessary nor wise to reply at all. If the “cuckoo cry ” has ever been raised by an interlocutor to the “scientific socialism ” advocated by the author of the Catrclism, it must be that such interlocutor was a bad advocate of a good cause, and not worth powder and shot.
Mr. Joynes proceeds to expound the doctrine that those who are especially gifted by nature owe a larger return to the community than those who are less naturally gifted. But why should we repay to the community what we owe to nature? Why pay B what A has lent us?
“But capitalists, instead of acknowledging this debt. arrange," says our teacher, “that persons of extra industry and talent shall have every opportunity of enslaving their less fortunate neighbours, thus adding an inequality of conditions to the natural inequality of talent.”
“Capitalists arrange! " How can capitalists arrange to enslave their fellow-citizens? Are they strong enough to resist a combination of their less fortunate neighbours, if those neighbours refuse to fall into the arrangement ? If so, Mr. Joynes may as well stop his preaching. He and the “less fortunate neighbours” will have to do as they are told. The strong will have their way. But if the “less fortunate neighbours” are capable of putting a stop to this one-sided "arrangement," why do they not do it? There is no need for socialism. Those who are capable of inaugurating a socialistic regime are equally capable of breaking up the present arrangement by which certain persons (presumably weaker than themselves) pocket the proceeds of their work. Mr. Joynes does not tell us how the weak can arrange to despoil the strong. Nor, on the other hand, if the despoilers are the strong, how the weak are going to shear them of their Samson locks by the mere process of talking socialism.
We have now reached the ninth chapter, entitled “Gluts and their Results.” It should be carefully read and considered by all. It is well and clearly put, and, but for a few hints at the cure for the evil, might have been written by a capitalisationist. It may be divided into two parts, which, unfortunately, are inextricably woven together. The one part describes the evil to be remedied, and points out the futility of the proposals of “reformers,” and is, in the main, admirably done. The other part sets forth the remedy proposed by socialism. This part is clearly and ably written, but embodies some fundamental fallacies, and would, if accepted, result in national disaster- the very first to suffer being the wage receivers, in whose interest it is put forward. The chapter now under consideration belongs for the most part to the pathological division of the subject, and demands very little adverse criticism, except in so far as it attributes the evils to the wilful malfeasance of a particular class of persons.
The periodical depression of trade, with its accompanying distress among the labourers, is said to be due to the fact that individualist capitalists are striving to enrich themselves alone, instead of co-operating to supply the needs of the community. "During a period of activity, when prices are high and the markets for goods are not overstocked, a great competition goes on among capitalists, who wish to take advantage of the high prices and produce more quickly the goods which can command them. And the effect of this competition is that all the available labourers are employed; all the machinery is set going; and no effort is spared by the manufacturers to produce the utmost quantities of the goods which are in demand on the market.”
Truly, the love of money is the root of much evil; but under a system of capitalisation, that is, of free labour, capitalists would not receive such abnormally enhanced profits (by “capitalists ” I here mean the owners of non-human capital), and the workers would be less likely to push a rising market to extremes. And what, it is asked, is the inevitable result? A glut is shortly created of these goods. Far more than were wanted have been made. All the store-houses are full and no more purchasers are to be found. The capitalists soon get tired of heaping up what they cannot sell, and wish to stop production. They turn off all their extra hands, and propose such a reduction of wages that the rest agree to strike rather than accept it. Production is stopped for a time, and the capitalists are not obliged to pay wages, or else agree to pay only for half time until the glut has gradually disappeared as the goods are absorbed by the public. A fresh demand arises. The workers are all employed again, and the glut recurs with the utmost regularity. Now there is not the smallest necessity, says Mr. Joynes, for this periodical distress.
In the main this is true, but as a statement it is surely a little dogmatic. Will it be denied that slavery itself was necessary at an earlier stage of industrial evolution? Wage—dom is necessary now; but whether the day is not nigh when it will no longer be necessary, with all its concomitant gluts and strikes and distress, is the question we want to find the answer to.
Here is a queer passage which seems to show the cloven hoof of despotism, always to be found under the garments of socialism. Mr. Joynes must be taken to aim at the enthronement of some High Priest of Humanity who knows better than his fellow-creatures what is good for them, and who is endowed with powers to compel them to make what he thinks useful or desirable instead of what they themselves choose to make: “That which vitiates the whole system of production at present is the prevailing idea that goods are not to be produced for the sake of their usefulness, hut for the sake of making a profit for capitalists and giving employment to labourers.” But surely it is the demand of the general consumer which causes things to be made; the prolit of capitalists is merely the intermediate cause. Of course if there were no effectual demand for apparently useless things, there would be no profit in making them. If a tawdry chromo gives more pleasure to the frequenters of an inn-parlour than one of Meissonier's finest masterpieces, the chromo is actually the more useful of the two for the inn-keeper's purpose. Mr. Joynes wants a high priest to forbid the creation of works of bad art. Individualists may regret the prevalence of bad taste in all things, but they hold that the consumer is the only judge of what is useful. If “cheap and nasty ” wares drive dear and sound wares out of the market, that is the fault of the consumer—of the people themselves, whose tastes are imperfectly educated. Besides, the State has no right to call things nasty if they please those who demand them. Mr. Joynes may call them nasty, and we may agree with him, but to the State nothing is nasty except that which the people dislike. Adulteration is not bad when the purchaser prefers a cheap and adulterated article. Fifteen carat gold is no nastier than eighteen carat. Some men would prefer three shoddy coats of different cut and colour to one broadcloth coat which would outwear the whole three, provided the three coats cost altogether no more than the one coat. In that case the shoddy coats are more useful than the broadcloth.
“When fraud comes in, the case is altered. But large profits are not the cause of fraudulent adulteration. The consumer is again to blame. His foible is cheapness in disregard of quality. And the manual workers are the greatest sinners in this respect. I have no wish to make light of adulteration. Union is the cure for fraudulent adulteration. For open adulteration there is no cure but steady reform of the people's taste. There is no more hideous sight on this disfigured earth than a party of workpeople in their “Sunday clothes.” And surely the abominations which do duty for “ornaments” in their houses cannot be set down to poverty. A cultured person would find it both cheaper and pleasanter to be without such ornaments.
Mr. Joynes is justly wroth with those well-meaning reformers who do not understand the labour question, but who are constantly calling on the workers to be sober and thrifty.
“A- addressed to the individual struggling against his neighbours under the capitalist system, this advice is excellent. It may enable him to rise into the capitalist class, that is, to exchange his position in the ranks of the oppressed for one in those of the oppressors. But as a panacea for the wrongs of the system, or as a cure for the sufferings of the labourers as a class, it is inadequate, because a general improvement in intelligence, thrift, and sobriety, if shared by the whole class of labourers, merely supplies the capitalist class with a better instrument for the production of surplus value.”
Such also is the result of improvement in the ability of the workers under the present system. It is not easy to improve upon all this. So long as the workers accept wages it is useless to hope for a general improvement in their condition. Individually they may become better instruments of production, in which case a larger number of them may be enabled to exist on the planet. Some people would define civilisation itself by this feature. For example, M. Eugene Simon, in his work on China, says: “We speak of that state as most civilised in which on a given area the largest possible number of human beings are able to procure and distribute most equally among themselves the greatest amount of wealth, liberty, justice and security.” It is true that this trait is, as a rule, an accompaniment of high civilisation, but it is not the essential attribute of it. If life is in itself a good, then the more the merrier. Let us have a well-packed planet:
It is hard to see of what use a large population is, unless the life is a happier and more beautiful life than that now lived in “civilised countries” by the great bulk of the people. Doubtless thrift, sobriety, hard work, and above all “Malthusianism,” give those who practise them an advantage in competing with other individual workpeople similarly situated. And to this extent the advice is sound: but it should not be overlooked that while thrift and parsimony, if general, would increase population, the Malthusian practise would not tend to diminish it. The richer classes invariably adopt the plan of late marriages, and middle-class people of moderate means adopt other prudential restraints: and it is sensible advice to the still poorer classes to follow their example. But from a Race point of view the advice must be justified (if at all) on very different grounds from those usually adduced. Is it wise to check the increase of wise people while that of the imprudent goes on with increased facility by reason of the gap left by their more provident fellows ? And yet self-control brings unforeseen blessings in its train.
Mr. Joynes excuses social reformers on the ground that they seem incapable of understanding either the inefficiency in one way or the efficacy in another of their well-meant advice to the labourers as a class. I am not disposed to credit “social reformers ” with the degree of incapacity necessary to justify them in preaching the doctrines they do. There is something a little worse than incapacity about the sleek preacher who goes up to men living on subsistence wages, or, perhaps, altogether out of work, and recommends them to try “thrift.” At the same time thrift falls into the category of the self-regarding virtues, and does not deserve all the hard things said of it by those who see that it is of no use as a class panacea.
Our author rejects the Malthusian doctrine. He says it is perfectly true that a limited space of land cannot support an unlimited number of people, but as even England, to say nothing of the world, has not reached that limit to population, it has at present no bearing on the case. The Chinese seem to have recognised this truth. “In regard to population,” says M. Simon,1 “the Chinese far exceed us (the French), and while we complain of the excess of ours, which we endeavour to restrain by wars, celibacy, and voluntary sterilisation, the Chinese continue to multiply as if the earth were without limits. Correctly enough; they have no fear of the result, for the fertility of the land depends not upon its extent but upon the quantity of labour applied to it.”
It is perfectly true, say the socialists, that in the present capitalist system the man who has no children at all is in a better pecuniary position than the man with a large family, since, just as in actual warfare, children in the modern competitive battle-field are an encumbrance where every man has to fight for his living, and maintain his family as best he may. liut the standpoint of the Maltlmsians differs from that of the socialists, inasmuch as the former accept the basis of the capitalist society—namely, the existence of two distinct classes of wage payers and wage earners—and merely advise the workers to attempt to secure a larger wage. Now this result would not be attained by following the advice of the Malthusians, except, as I have said, by individuals. The wage-earning class would gain nothing by it, except the satisfaction of being more productive instruments for the creation of wealth.
Apart from the political or social aspect of this question, there is an economic criticism on the above treatment of Malthusianism which ought to be made. Mr. Joynes makes the somewhat shallow “Georgian” observation that England has not yet reached the population limit, and that therefore Malthus's law does not apply. We may perhaps attribute this remark to carelessness; for it is obvious that all peoples, civilised and savage, have reached the limit. Possibly there are rare occasions (though it would be difficult to point to them) in which the population of a tribe or nation has doubled every twelve and a half years. This is the rate (according to Euler) at which Europeans tend to increase under a system of unlimited supply of necessaries and absolute freedom from plagues, wars, etc. If wheat and meat could be had for nothing in the British Isles, the population would be just about eighty millions at the end of this century.
The chapter closes with the usual socialistic appeal to brute force. It is a pity socialists make such a display of drapeaurouge. Every reform rests ultimately on the will of the strong. Socialism has no monopoly of democratic stability. Neither is there any reason (beyond its own inherent logical rottenness) why this doctrine should not be accepted by the effective majority in this country and put into practice without any appeal to force. It might lose its attractions for some of its supporters. Stripped of its fireworks and barricades and trumpets and little red caps, it might appear too humdrum and commonplace for the bulk of the party, but it would gain considerably in the respect of sensible men and women who have grown out of the heroic age. “The workers' claim is likely to be attended to as soon as ever the majority of the workers really understand their own position, and consequently become convinced of the advantages of socialism; and as for the capitalists, though appeals to justice may make isolated conversions of individual capitalists, nothing short of a display of organised force will enable the idlers, as a body, to perceive the advantage of taking their due share in the necessary work of society under a just system of socialism.” It is a pity to cast a damper on all this ardour. Many of us also look forward to the day when all classes of workers will rebel against wagedom. When they do this they will receive the full fruits of their labour, neither more nor less. At present they forfeit the whole of the profits on their labour, with the indirect effect of reducing their own efficiency and removing the natural incentives to healthy and happy work. The prospect at the far end of the vista opened by capitalisation is quite as ravishing as, and more “realistic ” than that painted (in lovely colours, it is true) by William Morris. It wants an equal artist. It is not the pictures in the socialist gallery, but the men at the door that shatter our nerves with the splitting trumpet and deafening drum. If only for ten minutes, please, Mr. Joynes, con sordini.
We have now reached the tenth and last chapter of this singular production. It is hardly necessary to mention the title. No work on socialism would be in order without a chapter entitled “Rvolution! ” To be orthodox, it ought to be printed in blood-colour, but we are fain to put up with black in a penny pamphlet printed in small type on flimsy paper. Unfortunately the good sense which characterises the Catechism throughout the other nine chapters (though interlaced with fallacies) is entirely absent in this final effort. It must be admitted that it is difficult for a sane man to write anything readable on such a silly theme as revolution. It is absolutely necessary to intentionally jumble up two distinct meanings of the term. All social changes, when complete, are styled revolutions. We constantly hear of the revolution brought about by the invention of the steam-engine, of revolutions in manners and in tastes, and in social habits and customs. But in another and a narrower sense the word is understood to signify the upheaval of the governed classes against their rulers—a successful rebellion. The attempt to confound the revolution of printing with the democratic irruption under Oliver Cromwell is simply to play upon words-to make a heavy joke at the expense of the gaping fat-heads who usually do duty for the advance guard of socialism. Mr. Joynes stoops to perpetrate this antic, as we shall see; but he begins by pointing out a real evil in competition. It tends to retard the evolution of altruism. No one disputes it. There is never a rose without a thorn, as the lying proverb truly says. It must be shown that the evil outweighs the good before it can be held to condemn the source of both. And as for saying that Man rises superior to Nature, and that he is not subject to natural laws, no one's ipsc dixit is enough to sustain such a contention. Men can alter their surroundings, while lower animals cannot, we are told. But if some men not only can, but do alter their surroundings for the better, and maintain the change, then it surely follows that such men were and are the fittest. If Mr. Joynes believes that it is the destiny of man to live in filth, foul air, and squalor, it is his duty to bring men into harmony with such conditions with the greatest possible expedition and the least friction. It is cruel to keep up a class of men hostile to their destiny and artificially cultured against their nature. If he does not take this low view of humanity he should be content to remove all hindrances of an artificial kind to the operation of natural laws, among which is that of natural selection.
“Capitalists defend the principle of competition on the ground that it brings into play a man's best qualities; this is occasionally its result; but it also brings out its worst qualities by stimulating him to struggle with his fellows for the relative improvement of his own position, rather than for the absolute advancement of the interests of all. Because in ordinary competition one man's gain is another's loss. The theory of the survival of the fittest is that the class of persons who are most fitted to live and propagate their race in the conditions with which it is surrounded is certain to survive the rest; but such are the existing social conditions that they favour the survival of the most valueless.”
This question of the ultimate result of the survival of the fittest has been much debated, alike in the zoological and in the social world. The common fly of the window-pane seems to be gradually exterminating his more able-bodied relative, the blue-bottle. The fine old black rat of our ancestors is as dead as Diana of the Ephesians; and his successor is as inferior to him in physique as a Cockney counter-jumper is inferior to a mailed warrior of feudal England. Can we then put our trust in natural selection? Or shall we follow the socialists, and pin our faith to artificial selection? Much has been done by that process among domestic animals and plants, and much more will be done. But we must bear in mind that in all such cases there is a selected type fixed upon by a higher mind—that of man. Is man prepared to decide the future type of humanity ? He must be a bold man or a fool who undertakes the task. Selection is either natural or artificial. Socialists professing evolutionism advocate artificial selection; whereas individualists prefer to put their trust in natural selection, because, while the good results of artificial selection are limited by human prescience, those of natural selection are unlimited.
“The final result of such conditions and surroundings as the filth, foul air, and squalor of a town rookery is the crushing out of those who are least able to adapt themselves to these surroundings, and the consequent survival of those who are most fit for filth, but least for decent social life; and the law of the survival of the fittest doe not affect men in the same way as it affects the lower animals, because it is possible for men to alter their surroundings, while other animals must simply adapt themselves to them, whatever they may be.”
But then we are confronted with the question, What is the end of life? Is it better that there should be one living being supremely happy, or a million fairly comfortable, or a thousand millions whose pains outweigh their pleasures? Is consciousness itself an evil? Would it not be better (whatever that may mean) if there were no human beings? We cannot tell. But assuming that life is worth living-as we must if politics are worth discussing-then that social system which enables the largest population to get subsistence out of a given area is prima, facie the best system. And the system of unlimited competition seems to satisfy that requirement. At all events, nobody has shown, or pretended to show, that any other system will produce a letter result- using the word better in the sense of “productive of a larger sum-total of pleasure-feeling sentient beings.” This weighing of happiness by the ton of fiesh seems a coarse proceeding, but it is also the only mode of comparison available. However, Mr. Joynes does not dwell long on this aspect of the subject: he flies off to his orthodox socialist joke:
“What is the revolution for which socialists strive ? It is a Revolution in the methods of the distribution of wealth corresponding to that which has already taken place in the means of its production. For wealth is now almost entirely produced by great numbers of men working in concert, instead of by individual effort, as in former times; while individuals still possess command of its distribution, and use their power in their own interests. Now, forms of government are changed so as to readjust them to the economical changes in the forms of production which have been silently evolving in the body of society by means of Revolutions; for instance, the French Revolution of 1789.”
Here we have it—the revolution, “which has already taken place in the means of production,” is thrown into the same category with the French Revolution of 1789. The word Revolution occurs seven times in this chapter, and each time it is spelt with a big R. The word “change ” is spelt with a small "c"; words like “feudalism,” and “capitalism,” and “aristocracy,” are not printed with capital letters. Then why is this absurd distinction conferred upon the word revolution? It is a small matter, but it is very significant. It is part and parcel of that rather ridiculous habit that socialists have contracted of tricking themselves out as heroes and swash-bucklers. It reminds one of little boys making themselves paper helmets: and there is not the slightest evidence to show that, like some of those valiant urchins, they would not run screaming away if the cat jumped out of the cupboard.
Leaving Mr. Joynes in the proud possession of his big R and his paper helmet, let us see what ground there is for saying that the structures of states are adapted to their functions, as a general rule, by revolutions. The “cataclysm ” theory is abandoned even in geology. “Sudden appearances upon the planet ” of vegetable and animal species are not now spoken of except by very ill-educated persons, and those who are paid to disseminate untruth. Then how is it that the pioneers of a new political system should be found planting their foundations on the old-fashioned doctrine of “jumps ”? The only instance furnished by Mr. Joynes is the locally-circumscribed though dramatically-thrilling bouleversement which took place in France just a century ago. We are asked to regard this irruption as the cause of the demolition of feudalism. Doubtless it did accompany the consummation of that historic change in that part of Europe; but how is it that feudalism disappeared in other parts of Europe? This sort of stuff reminds one of the old palaeontology. The Tigris and Euphrates have more than once overflowed their banks, but that does not quite explain the existence of “stone cockles ” on the Great Orme's Head. We should have more faith in “scientific socialism,” if its form and method were more in line with latter-day science.
That the French Revolution failed to attain its objects is admitted:
“But its objects were not those at which socialists aim. It was merely the political expression of the fact that feudalism was demolished, and the reign of capitalism established on its ruins. It ended in the overthrow of the political supremacy of the landed aristocracy, and the establishment of a bourgeois plutocracy; that is, putting the political power into the hands of the merchants and money-lords of the middle class. The change in the forms of production which rendered this inevitable was the fact that the possession of agricultural land had ceased to be the chief means to the attainment of wealth. The possession of capital and the use of machinery had taken its place.”
To be more accurate than Mr. Joynes, agriculture had declined relatively to other forms of industry. Trade and manufacture absorbed a larger proportion of the world's capital. The contrast between aristocracy and plutocracy is altogether misleading. When the landowners were the richest class of the community they were the plutocrats. When the manufacturers and traders take a predominant part in the Government, so long as they are comparatively few, we have an aristocracy. Mr. Joynes uses the terms as though “blue blood ” had not lost its fascination for him. The change which took place was simply a change from the rule of a few to the rule of a few more. And as time moves on, more and more are added to the number of the ruling class; till now, in this country and in France and America we have completed the change properly described as the democratic revolution. And I use the term without a palpitating heart or a flashing eye or a big ER, for I have no wish to infringe the socialists' monopoly.
Finally, we reach the grand consummation. There is something very lofty in the purity and abnegation of the classes who are next going to snatch at the tiller. There is no selfish greed about them. The “bourgeois” rebels grasped at power for their own “bourgeois ” ends. They cared nothing for the poor “proletaire.” Socialists are not as other men; they do not aim at the supremacy of their class at the expense of other sections. No; they will force other sections to adopt their views, to do as they are bid, and to fall into the socialist section, and so all will be happy. “We don't wish to persecute those who differ from us in opinion, therefore let them be quick and adopt our opinion, or take the consequences.” That is the gist of the following argument.
“The French Revolution was a selfish struggle, because after the displacement of the upper by the middle class in political and social supremacy, the latter established its own power irrespectively of the rights of any other class. But the struggle which precedes and heralds the Social Revolution is not one of selfish class interests in the same way, for socialists do not aim at the supremacy of a class or section of the community at the expense of other sections. True; they wish the workers to control the State, but this is not the supremacy of a class, for they insist that every able-bodied person of sound mind should do a faishare of necessary work. When all are workers, the workers will be no longer a class, but a nation. Selfishness will then become public spirit, when the motives which formerly led men to work for the interests and advancement of themselves alone operate for the benefit of the whole human race with which their class has become identified.”
We shall all be Czars then, and there will be no more serfs. That is the end of socialism—and of the Catechism.
China: its Sociut, Political and Religious Life. By G. Eug. Simon. Sampson Low, 1887".