Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VIII.: MACHINERY. - The Tyranny of Socialism
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CHAPTER VIII.: MACHINERY. - Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism 
The Tyranny of Socialism, ed. J.H. Levy (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1894).
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Hatred of Machinery—Nature of Machinery—Its Influence on Wages—Increases the Productive Capacity of Man—Increases the Number of Employments—Arkwright and his Loom—Railways and Coaches—The Value of Man is in direct Proportion to the Power of his Tools.
Machinery has been represented as sure to bring labourers to poverty. Did not Proudhon go so far as to demand that all new models should be shut up for several years in the conservatoire of Arts and Crafts before permitting them to be used! Did not excited crowds want to destroy railroads?
People do not go to quite such lengths as these now, but at any rate they still recriminate. Can we, at the present day, deny the services which machinery renders us? Are not railways preferable to coaches? Machinery stands for all we have, plus our hands and our nails. It is the perfecting of tools, and the value of a man is in proportion to the power of his tools.
If those are right who contend that machinery is a cause of low wages, wages ought to be lower in the present century than in the last.
When the employment of some machine, at a given time, displaces manual labour, a local crisis is very likely to follow. But this crisis will only be temporary. It is the crisis of all growth, of all transformation; it is the effort accompanying all struggles. There can be no progress without the disturbance of interests: it is the consequence, from the capitalist point of view, quite as much as from that of labour, of all economic evolutions which are possible among men.
When a machine is introduced into an industry, it may cause partial depression, deprive workmen of the work to which they have been accustomed, and compel them to seek the means of subsistence elsewhere; thus a new product may kill an old one, just as dye stuffs extracted from coal have taken the place of madder. What we ought to consider on the other side is the increase of general utility.
Let us examine the question from the point of view of wages. A labourer, dragging a wheelbarrow will, with this barrow, remove some cubic feet of earth, during his day’s work. Necessarily his wages cannot rise beyond the value of his work, which is extremely minute, like the number of cubic feet he removes.
An engine-driver on a railway, can, in a goods train, draw 70 waggons of 10 tons each, and in one day cover some 200, or 300 miles of ground. It is evident that the wages of the engine-driver, which may be double, treble, even quadruple those of the manual labourer, are far lower relatively to the service which he renders. This same engine-driver may drive a train of twenty-four passenger carriages; it is clear that his charge upon the value of the transport is relatively very small indeed. He can easily attain to a wage of 3, 4, or 5,000 francs, without counting other advantages.
It would be absolutely impossible to a contractor, to a man engaged in excavations, to pay such wages to a labourer whose work, to take our example, consists in simply moving a wheelbarrow to and fro.
Bear this well in mind, that the more capable a machine is, of increasing production, the more can those workmen who are attached to it command high wages, because the cost of their wages diminishes relatively to the utility of the machine. Thus, the miner who makes use of dynamite with which to extract coal can receive higher pay than if he could only extract it with his pick-axe. Contrary to the assertions of Lassalle and to current prejudices, all machinery that increases the out-put has a happy and beneficial influence upon wages.
In 1760, at the time when Arkwright took out his first patent for his loom, there were, in England, 5,200 spinsters working at spinning-wheels, and 2,700 weavers, 7,900 persons in all. Unions were formed to prevent the introduction of his machine, because people maintained that its general use would take the bread out of the mouths of the working people. Do you know how many hands are to-day employed in the English spinning factories?—500,000! Therefore, far from reducing the number of spinners, machinery has increased their numbers in a proportion of a hundred to one.
Railroads ruined coaches, it is true: but to-day the employees of railway companies number 230,000!
J. B. Say gives a striking picture of the increased value which machinery has given to labour. Suppose 300,000 francs are invested in one manufacture: one-third in raw materials, and two-thirds in wages. The manufacturer discovers a machine which economises half the wages. Will he let the 100,000 francs which he thus economises, lie idle? No, he will reduce the price of his goods in proportion, and consequently increase the consumption, and this increase will give work to his machinery, and thus create a new demand for manual labour. If he cannot employ the money in his own business, he will deposit it in a bank, or invest it in a joint stock company, and this capital, thus available, will serve to start new enterprises which will, in their turn, claim an increase in human effort.
Thus it may be asserted that the value of a man as a productive agent is in direct proportion to the power of his tools.