Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION 8.—REVOLUTION EFFECTED IN MANUFACTURE, HANDICRAFTS. AND DOMESTIC INDUSTRY BY MODERN INDUSTRY. - Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume I: The Process of Capitalist Production
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SECTION 8.—REVOLUTION EFFECTED IN MANUFACTURE, HANDICRAFTS. AND DOMESTIC INDUSTRY BY MODERN INDUSTRY. - Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume I: The Process of Capitalist Production 
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume I: The Process of Capitalist Production, by Karl Marx. Trans. from the 3rd German edition, by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, ed. Federick Engels. Revised and amplified according to the 4th German ed. by Ernest Untermann (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co., 1909).
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SECTION 8.—REVOLUTION EFFECTED IN MANUFACTURE, HANDICRAFTS. AND DOMESTIC INDUSTRY BY MODERN INDUSTRY.
a. Overthrow of Co-operation based on Handicraft and on the Division of Labour.
We have seen how machinery does away with co-operation based on handicrafts, and with manufacture based on the division of handicraft labour. An example of the first sort is the mowing-machine; it replaces co-operation between mowers. A striking example of the second kind, is the needle-making machine. According to Adam Smith, 10 men, in his day, made in co-operation, over 48,000 needles a-day. On the other hand, a single needle-machine makes 145,000 in a working day of 11 hours. One woman or one girl superintends four such machines, and so produces near upon 600,000 needles in a day, and upwards of 3,000,000 in a week.166 A single machine, when it takes the place of co-operation or of manufacture, may itself serve as the basis of an industry of a handicraft character. Still, such a return to handicrafts is but a transition to the factory system, which, as a rule, makes its appearance so soon as the human muscles are replaced, for the purpose of driving the machines, by a mechanical motive power, such as steam or water. Here and there, but in any case only for a time, an industry may be carried on, on a small scale, by means of mechanical power. This is effected by hiring steam power, as is done in some of the Birmingham trades, or by the use of small calorie-engines, as in some branches of weaving.167 In the Coventry silk weaving industry the experiment of "cottage factories" was tried. In the centre of a square surrounded by rows of cottages, an engine-house was built and the engine connected by shafts with the looms in the cottages. In all cases the power was hired at so much per loom. The rent was payable weekly, whether the looms worked or not. Each cottage held from 2 to 6 looms; some belonged to the weaver, some were bought on credit, some were hired. The struggle between these cottage factories and the factory proper, lasted over 12 years. It ended with the complete ruin of the 300 cottage-factories.168 Wherever the nature of the process did not involve production on a large scale, the new industries that have sprung up in the last few decades, such as envelope making, steel-pen making, 8c., have, as a general rule, first passed through the handicraft stage, and then the manufacturing stage, as short phases of transition to the factory stage. The transition is very difficult in those cases where the production of the article by manufacture consists, not of a series of graduated processes, but of a great number of disconnected ones. This circumstance formed a great hindrance to 15 years ago, a machine was invented that automatically performed 6 separate operations at once. The first steel-pens were supplied by the handicraft system, in the year 1820, at £7 4s, the gross; in 1830 they were supplied by manufacture at 8s., and to-day the factory system supplies them to the trade at from 2s. to 6d. the gross.169
b. Re-action of the Factory System on Manufacture and Domestic Industries.
Along with the development of the factory system and of the revolution in agriculture that accompanies it, production in all the other branches of industry not only extends, but alters its character. The principle, carried out in the factory system, of analysing the process of production into its constituent phases, and of solving the problems thus proposed by the application of mechanics, of chemistry, and of the whole range of the natural sciences, becomes the determining principle everywhere. Hence, machinery squeezes itself into the manufacturing industries first for one detail process, then for another. Thus the solid crystal of their organisation, based on the old division of labour, becomes dissolved, and makes way for constant changes. Independently of this, a radical change takes place in the composition of the collective labourer, a change of the persons working in combination. In contrast with the manufacturing period, the division of labour is thenceforth based, wherever possible, on the employment of women, of children of all ages, and of unskilled labourers, in one word, on cheap labour, as it is characteristically called in England. This is the case not only with all production on a large scale, whether employing machinery or not, but also with the so-called domestic industry, whether carried on in the houses of the workpeople or in small workshops. This modern so-called domestic industry has nothing, except the name, in common with the old-fashioned domestic industry, the existence of which presupposes independent urban handicrafts, independent peasant farming, and above all, a dwelling-house for the labourer and his family. That old-fashioned industry has now been converted into an outside department of the factory, the manufactory, or the warehouse. Besides the factory operatives, the manufacturing workmen and the handicraftsmen, whom it concentrates in large masses at one spot, and directly commands, capital also sets in motion, by means of invisible threads, another army; that of the workers in the domestic industries, who dwell in the large towns and are also scattered over the face of the country. An example: The shirt factory of Messrs. Tille at Londonderry, which employs 1000 operatives in the factory itself, and 9000 people spread up and down the country and working in their own houses.170
The exploitation of cheap and immature labour-power is carried out in a more shameless manner in modern Manufacture than in the factory proper. This is because the technical foundation of the factory system, namely, the substitution of machines for muscular power, and the light character of the labour, is almost entirely absent in Manufacture, and at the same time women and over-young children are subjected, in a most unconscionable way, to the influence of poisonous or injurious substances. This exploitation is more shameless in the so-called domestic industry than in manufactures, and that because the power of resistance in the labourers decreases with their dissemination; because a whole series of plundering parasites insinuate themselves between the employer and the workman; because a domestic industry has always to compete, either with the factory system, or with manufacturing in the same branch of production; because poverty robs the workman of the conditions most essential to his labour, of space, light and ventilation; because employment becomes more and more irregular; and, finally, because in these the last resorts of the masses made "redundant" by Modern Industry and Agriculture, competition for work attains its maximum. Economy in the means of production, first systematically carried out in the factory system, and there, from the very beginning, coincident with the most reckless squandering of labour-power, and robbery of the conditions normally requisite for labour—this economy now shows its antagonistic and murderous side more and more in a given branch of industry, the less the social productive power of labour and the technical basis for a combination of processes are developed in that branch.
c. Modern Manufacture.
I now proceed, by a few examples, to illustrate the principles laid down above. As a matter of fact, the reader is already familiar with numerous instances given in the chapter on the working day. In the hardware manufactures of Birmingham and the neighborhood, there are employed, mostly in very heavy work, 30,000 children and young persons, besides 10,000 women. There they are to be seen in the unwholesome brass-foundries, button factories, enamelling, galvanizing, and lackering works.171 Owing to the excessive labour of their workpeople, both adult and non-adult, certain London houses where newspapers and books are printed have got the ill-omened name of "slaughter-houses."172 Similar excesses are practised in bookbinding, where the victims are chiefly women, girls, and children; young persons have to do heavy work in rope-walks and night-work in salt mines, candle manufactories, and chemical works; young people are worked to death at turning the looms in silk weaving, when it is not carried on by machinery.173 One of the most shameful, the most dirty, and the worst paid kinds of labour, and one on which women and young girls are by preference employed, is the sorting of rags. It is well known that Great Britain, apart from its own immense store of rags, is the emporium for the rag trade of the whole world. They flow in from Japan, from the most remote States of South America, and from the Canary Islands. But the chief sources of their supply are Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Belgium, and Holland. They are used for manure, for making bed-flocks, for shoddy, and they serve as the raw material of paper. The rag-sorters are the medium for the spread of small-pox and other infectious diseases, and they themselves are the first victims.174 A classical example of over-work, of hard and inappropriate labour, and of its brutalising effects on the workman from his childhood upwards, is afforded not only by coal-mining and miners generally, but also by tile and brick making, in which industry the recently invented machinery is, in England, used only here and there. Between May and September the work lasts from 5 in the morning till 8 in the evening, and where the drying is done in the open air, it often lasts from 4 in the morning till 9 in the evening. Work from 5 in the morning till 7 in the evening is considered "reduced" and "moderate." Both boys and girls of 6 and even of 4 years of age are employed. They work for the same number of hours, often longer, than the adults. The work is hard and the summer heat increases the exhaustion. In a certain tile field at Mosley, e.g., a young woman, 24 years of age, was in the habit of making 2000 tiles a day, with the assistance of 2 little girls, who carried the clay for her, and stacked the tiles. These girls carried daily 10 tons up the slippery sides of the clay pits, from a depth of 30 feet, and then for a distance of 210 feet. "It is impossible for a child to pass through the purgatory of a tile-field without great moral degradation...the low language, which they are accustomed to hear from their tenderest years, the filthy, indecent, and shameless habits, amidst which, unknowing, and half wild, they grow up, make them in after life lawless, abandoned, dissolute.... A frightful source of demoralization is the mode of living. Each moulder, who is always a skilled labourer, and the chief of a group, supplies his 7 subordinates with board and lodging in his cottage. Whether members of his family or not, the men, boys, and girls all sleep in the cottage, which contains generally two, exceptionally 3 rooms, all on the ground floor, and badly ventilated. These people are so exhausted after the day's work, that neither the rules of health, of cleanliness, nor of decency are in the least observed. Many of these cottages are models of untidiness, dirt, and dust.... The greatest evil of the system that employs young girls on this sort of work, consists in this, that, as a rule, it chains them fast from childhood for the whole of their after-life to the most abandoned rabble. They become rough, foul-mouthed boys, before Nature has taught them that they are women. Clothed in a few dirty rags, the legs naked far above the knees, hair and face besmeared with dirt, they learn to treat all feelings of decency and of shame with contempt. During meal-times they lie at full length in the fields, or watch the boys bathing in a neighboring canal. Their heavy day's work at length completed, they put on better clothes, and accompany the men to the public houses." That excessive insobriety is prevalent from childhood upwards among the whole of this class, is only natural. "The worst is that the brickmakers despair of themselves. You might as well, said one of the better kind to a chaplain of Southallfield, try to raise and improve the devil as a brickie, sir!"175
As to the manner in which capital effects an economy in the requisites of labour, in modern Manufacture (in which I include all workshops of larger size, except factories proper), official and most ample material bearing on it is to be found in the Public Health Reports IV. (1863) and VI. (1864). The description of the workshops, more especially those of the London printers and tailors, surpasses the most loathsome phantasies of our romance writers. The effect on the health of the workpeople is self-evident. Dr. Simon, the chief medical officer of the Privy Council and the official editor of the "Public Health Report," says: "In my fourth Report (1863) I showed, how it is practically impossible for the workpeople to insist upon that which is their first sanitary right, viz., the right that, no matter what the work for which their employer brings them together, the labour, so far as it depends upon him, should be freed from all avoidably unwholesome conditions. I pointed out, that while the workpeople are practically incapable of doing themselves this sanitary justice, they are unable to obtain any effective support from the paid adminstrations of the sanitary police.... The life of myriads of workmen and workwomen is now uselessly tortured and shortened by the never-ending physical suffering that their mere occupation begets."176 In illustration of the way in which the workrooms influence the state of health, Dr. Simon gives the following table of mortality.177
d. Modern Domestic Industry.
I now come to the so-called domestic industry. In order to get an idea of the horrors of this sphere, in which capital conducts its exploitation in the background of modern mechanical industry, one must go to the apparently quiet idyllic trade of nail-making,178 carried on in a few remote villages of England. In this place, however, it will be enough to give a few examples from those branches of the lace-making and straw-plaiting industries that are not yet carried on by the aid of machinery, and that as yet do not compete with branches carried on in factories or in manufactories.
Of the 150,000 persons employed in England in the production of lace, about 10,000 fall under the authority of the Factory Act, 1861. Almost the whole of the remaining 140,000 are women, young persons, and children of both sexes, the male sex, however, being weakly represented. The state of health of this cheap material for exploitation will be seen from the following table, computed by Dr. Trueman, physician to the Nottingham General Dispensary. Out of 686 female patients who were lace makers, most of them between the ages of 17 and 24, the number of consumptive ones were:
This progress in the rate of consumption ought to suffice for the most optimist of progressists, and for the biggest hawker of lies among the Free Trade bagmen of Germany.
The Factory Act of 1861 regulates the actual making of the lace, so far as it is done by machinery, and this is the rule in England. The branches that we are now about to examine, solely with regard to those of the workpeople who work at home, and not those who work in manufactories or ware-houses, fall into two divisions, viz., (1), finishing; (2), mending. The former gives the finishing touches to the machine-made lace, and includes numerous sub-divisions.
The lace finishing is done either in what are called "Mistresses' Houses," or by women in their own houses, with or without the help of their children. The women who keep the "Mistresses' Houses" are themselves poor. The workroom is in a private house. The mistresses take orders from manufacturers, or from warehousemen, and employ as many women, girls, and young children as the size of their rooms and the fluctuating demand of the business will allow. The number of the workwomen employed in these workrooms varies from 20 to 40 in some and from 10 to 20 in others. The average age at which the children commence work is six years, but in many cases it is below five. The usual working hours are from 8 in the morning till eight in the evening, with 1½ hours for meals, which are taken at irregular intervals, and often in the foul workrooms. When business is brisk, the labour frequently lasts from 8 or even 6 o'clock in the morning till 10, 11, or 12 o'clock at night. In English barracks the regulation space allotted to each soldier is 500-600 cubic feet, and in the military hospitals 1200 cubic feet. But in those finishing styes there are but 67 to 100 cubic feet to each person. At the same time the oxygen of the air is consumed by gas-lights. In order to keep the lace clean, and although the floor is tiled or flagged, the children are often compelled, even in winter, to pull off their shoes. "It is not at all uncommon in Nottingham to find 14 to 20 children huddled together in a small room, of, perhaps, not more than 12 feet square, and employed for 15 hours out of the 24, at work that of itself is exhausting, from its weariness and monotony, and is besides carried on under every possible unwholesome condition.... Even the very youngest children work with a strained attention and a rapidity that is astonishing, hardly ever giving their fingers rest or slowering their motion. If a question be asked them, they never raise their eyes from their work for fear of losing a single moment." The "long stick" is used by the mistresses as a stimulant more and more as the working hours are prolonged. "The children gradually tire and becomes as restless as birds towards the end of their long detention at an occupation that is monotonous, eye-straining, and exhausting from the uniformity in the posture of the body. Their work is like slavery."180 When women and their children work at home, which now-a-days means in a hired room, often in a garret, the state of things is, if possible, still worse. This sort of work is giving out within a circle of 80 miles radius from Nottingham. On leaving the warehouses at 9 or 10 o'clock at night, the children are often given a bundle of lace to take home with them and finish. The Pharise of a capitalist represented by one of his servants, accomplices this action, of course, with the unctuous phrase: "That's for mother," yet he knows well enough that the poor children must sit up and help.181
Pillow lace making is chiefly carried on in England in two agricultural districts one, the Honiton lace district, extending from 20 to 30 miles along the south coast of Devonshire, and including a few places in North Devon; the other comprising a great part of the counties of Buckingham, Bedford, and Northampton, and also the adjoining portions of Oxfordshire and Huntingdonshire. The cottages of the agricultural labourers are the places where the work is usually carried on. Many manufacturers employ upwards of 3000 of these lace makers, who are chiefly children and young persons of the female sex exclusively. The state of things described as incidental to lace finishing is here repeated, save that instead of the "mistresses' houses," we find what are called "lace schools," kept by poor women in their cottages. From their fifth year and often earlier, until their twelfth or fifteenth year, the children work in these schools; during the first year the very young ones work from four to eight hours, and later on, from six in the morning till eight and ten o'clock at night. "The rooms are generally the ordinary living rooms of small cottages, the chimney stopped up to keep out draughts, the inmates kept warm by their own animal heat alone, and this frequently in winter. In other cases, these so-called schoolrooms are like small store-rooms without fire-places.... The overcrowding in these dens and the consequent vitiation of the air are often extreme. Added to this is the injurious effect of drains, privies, decomposing substances, and other filth usual in the purileus of the smaller cottages." With regard to space: "In one lace school 18 girls and a mistress, 35 cubic feet to each person; in another, where the smell was unbearable, 18 persons and 24½ cubic feet per head. In this industry are to be found employed children of 2 and 2½ years."182
Where lace-making ends in the counties of Buckingham and Bedford, straw-plaiting begins, and extends over a large part of Hertfordshire and the westerly and northerly parts of Essex. In 1861, there were 40,043 persons employed in straw-plaiting and straw-hat making; of these 3815 were males of all ages, the rest females, of whom 14,913, including about 7000 children, were under 20 years of age. In the place of the lace-schools we find here the "straw-plait schools." The children commence their instruction in straw-plaiting generally in their 4th, often between their 3rd and 4th year. Education, of course, they get none. The children themselves call the elementary schools, "natural schools," to distinguish them from these blood-sucking institutions, in which they are kept at work simply to get through the task, generally 30 yards daily, prescribed by their half-starved mothers. These same mothers often make them work at home, after school is over, till 10, 11, and 12 o'clock at night. The straw cuts their mouths, with which they constantly moisten it, and their fingers. Dr. Ballard gives it as the general opinion of the whole body of medical officers in London, that 300 cubic feet is the minimum space proper for each person in a bedroom or work-room. But in the straw-plait schools space is more sparingly allotted than in the lace-schools, "12 2/3, 17, 18½ and below 22 cubic feet for each person." The smaller of these numbers, says one of the commissioners, Mr. White, represents less space than the half of what a child would occupy if packed in a box measuring 3 feet in each direction. Thus do the children enjoy life till the age of 12 or 14. The wretched half-starved parents think of nothing but getting as much as possible out of their children. The latter, as soon as they are grown up, do not care a farthing, and naturally so, for their parents, and leave them. "It is no wonder that ignorance and vice abound in a population so brought up.... Their morality is at the lowest ebb,...a great number of the women have illegitimate children, and that at such an immature age that even those most conversant with criminal statistics are astounded."183 And the native land of these model families is the pattern Christian country of Europe so says at least Count Montalembert, certainly a competent authority on Christianity!
Wages in the above industries, miserable as they are (the maximum wages of a child in the straw-plait schools rising in rare cases to 3 shillings, are reduced far below their nominal amount by the prevalence of the truck system everywhere, but especially in the lace districts.184
e. Passage of modern Manufacture, and Domestic Industry into Modern Mechanical Industry. The hastening of this revolution by the application of the Factory Acts to those Industries.
The cheapening of labour-power, by sheer abuse of the labour of women and children, by sheer robbery of every normal condition requisite for working and living, and by the sheer brutality of over-work and night-work, meets at last with natural obstacles that cannot be overstepped. So also, when based on these methods, do the cheapening of commodities and capitalist exploitation in general. So soon as this point is at last reached—and it takes many years—the hour has struck for the introduction of machinery, and for the thenceforth rapid conversion of the scattered domestic industries and also of manufactures into factory industries.
An example, on the most colossal scale, of this movement is afforded by the production of wearing apparel. This industry, according to the classification of the Childrens' Employment Commission, comprises straw-hat makers, ladies'-hat makers, cap-makers, tailors, milliners and dressmakers, shirt-makers, corset-makers, glove-makers, shoemakers, besides many minor branches, such as the making of neck-ties, collars, 8c. In 1861, the number of females employed in these industries, in England and Wales, amounted to 586,299, of these 115,242 at the least were under 20, and 16,650 under 15 years of age. The number of these workwomen in the United Kingdom in 1861, was 750,334. The number of males employed in England and Wales, in hat-making, shoe-making, glove-making and tailoring was 437,969; of these 14,964 under 15 years, 89,285 between 15 and 20, and 333,117 over 20 years. Many of the smaller branches are not included in these figures. But take the figures as they stand; we then have for England and Wales alone, according to the census of 1861, a total of 1,024,277 persons, about as many as are absorbed by agriculture and cattle breeding. We begin to understand what becomes of the immense quantities of goods conjured up by the magic of machinery, and of the enormous masses of workpeople, which that machinery sets free.
The production of wearing apparel is carried on partly in manufactories in whose workrooms there is but a reproduction of that division of labour, the membra disjecta of which were found ready to hand; partly by small master-handicraftsmen; these, however, do not, as formerly, work for individual consumers, but for manufactories and warehouses, and to such an extent that often whole towns and stretches of country carry on certain branches, such as shoe-making, as a specialty; finally, on a very great scale by the so-called domestic workers, who form an external department of the manufactories, ware-houses, and even of the workshops of the smaller masters.185
The raw material, 8c., is supplied by mechanical industry, the mass of cheap human material (taillable à merci et miséricorde) is composed of the individuals "liberated" by mechanical industry and improved agriculture. The manufactures of this class owed their origin chiefly to the capitalist's need of having at hand an army ready equipped to meet any increase of demand.186 These manufactures, nevertheless, allowed the scattered handicrafts and domestic industries to continue to exist as a broad foundation. The great production of surplus-value in these branches of labour, and the progressive cheapening of their articles, were and are chiefly due to the minimum wages paid, no more than requisite for a miserable vegetation, and to the extension of working time up to the maximum endurable by the human organism. It was in fact by the cheapness of the human sweat and the human blood, which were converted into commodities, that the markets were constantly being extended, and continue daily to be extended; more especially was this the case with England's colonial markets, where, besides, English tastes and habits prevail. At last the critical point was reached. The basis of the old method, sheer brutality in the exploitation of the workpeople, accompanied more or less by a systematic division of labour, no longer sufficed for the extending markets and for the still more rapidly extending competition of the capitalists. The hour struck for the advent of machinery. The decisively revolutionary machine, the machine which attacks in an equal degree the whole of the numberless branches of this sphere of production, dressmaking, tailoring, shoemaking, sewing, hat-making, and many others, is the sewing-machine.
Its immediate effect on the workpeople is like that of all machinery, which, since the rise of modern industry, has seized upon new branches of trade. Children of too tender an age are sent adrift. The wage of the machine hands rises compared with that of the house-workers, many of whom belong to the poorest of the poor. That of the better situated handicraftsmen, with whom the machine competes, sinks. The new machine hands are exclusively girls and young women. With the help of mechanical force, they destroy the monopoly that male labour had of the heavier work, and they drive off from the lighter work numbers of old women and very young children. The overpowering competition crushes the weakest of the manual labourers. The fearful increase in death from starvation during the last 10 years in London runs parallel with the extension of machine sewing.187 The new workwomen turn the machine by hand and foot, or by hand alone, sometimes sitting, sometimes standing, according to the weight, size and special make of the machine, and expend a great deal of labour-power. Their occupation is unwholesome, owing to the long hours, although in most cases they are not so long as under the old system. Wherever the sewing machine locates itself in narrow and already over-crowded workrooms, it adds to the unwholesome influences. "The effect," says Mr. Lord, "on entering lowceiled workrooms in which 30 to 40 machine hands are working is unbearable.... The heat, partly due to the gas stoves used for warming the irons, is horrible....Even when moderate hours of work, i.e., from 8 in the morning till 6 in the evening, prevail in such places, yet 3 or 4 persons fall into a swoon regularly every day."188
The revolution in the industrial methods which is the necessary result of the revolution in the instruments of production, is effected by a medley of transition forms. These forms vary according to the extent to which the sewing machine has become prevalent in one branch of industry or the other, to the time during which it has been in operation, to the previous condition of the workpeople, to the preponderance of manufacture, of handicrafts or of domestic industry, to the rent of the workrooms, 8c.189 In dressmaking, for instance, where the labour for the most part was already organised, chiefly by simple co-operation, the sewing machine at first formed nearly a new factor in that manufacturing industry. In tailoring, shirtmaking, shoemaking, 8c., all the forms are intermingled. Here the factory system proper. There middlemen receive the raw material from the capitalist en chef, and group around their sewing machines, in "chambers" and "garrets," from 10 to 50 or more workwomen. Finally, as is always the case with machinery when not organised into a system, and when it can also be used in dwarfish proportions, handicraftsmen and domestic workers, along with their families, or with a little extra labour from without, makes use of their own sewing machines.190 The system actually prevalent in England is, that the capitalist concentrates a large number of machines on his premises, and then distributes the produce of those machines for further manipulation amongst the domestic workers.191 The variety of the transition forms, however, does not conceal the tendency to conversion into the factory system proper. This tendency is nurtured by the very nature of the sewing machine, the manifold uses of which push on the concentration, under one roof, and one management, of previously separated branches of a trade. It is also favoured by the circumstance that preparatory needlework, and certain other operations, are most conveniently done on the premises where the machine is at work; as well as by the inevitable expropriation of the hand sewers, and of the domestic workers who work with their own machines. This fate has already in part overtaken them. The constantly increasing amount of capital invested in sewing machines,192 gives the spur to the production of, and gluts the markets with, machine-made articles, thereby giving the signal to the domestic workers for the sale of their machines. The over-production of sewing machines themselves, causes their producers, in bad want of a sale, to let them out for so much a week, thus crushing by their deadly competition the small owners of machines.193 Constant changes in the construction of the machines, and their ever-increasing cheapness, depreciate day by day the older makes, and allow of their being sold in great numbers, at absurd prices, to large capitalists, who alone can thus employ them at a profit. Finally, the substitution of the steam-engine for man gives in this, as in all similar revolutions, the finishing blow. At first, the use of steam power meets with mere technical difficulties, such as unsteadiness in the machines, difficulty in controlling their speed, rapid wear and tear of the lighter machines, 8c., all of which are soon overcome by experience.194 If, on the one hand, the concentration of many machines in large manufactories leads to the use of steam power, on the other hand, the competition of steam with human muscles hastens on the concentration of workpeople and machines in large factories. Thus England is at present experiencing, not only in the colossal industry of making wearing apparel, but in most of the other trades mentioned above, the conversion of manufacture, of handicrafts, and of domestic work into the factory system, after each of those forms of production, totally changed and disorganized under the influence of modern industry, has long ago reproduced, and even overdone, all the horrors of the factory system, without participating in any of the elements of social progress it contains.195
This industrial revolution which takes place spontaneously, is artificially helped on by the extension of the Factory Acts to all industries in which women, young persons and children are employed. The compulsory regulation of the working day as regards its length, pauses, beginning and end, the system of relays of children, the exclusion of all children under a certain age, 8c., necessitates on the one hand more machinery196 and the substitution of steam as a motive power in the place of muscles.197 On the other hand, in order to make up for the loss of time, an expansion occurs of the means of production used in common, of the furnaces, buildings, 8c.; in one word, greater concentration of the means of production and a correspondingly greater concourse of workpeople. The chief objection, repeatedly and passionately urged on behalf of each manufacture threatened with the Factory Act, is in fact this, that in order to continue the business on the old scale a greater outlay of capital will be necessary. But as regards labour in the so-called domestic industries and the intermediate forms between them and Manufacture, so soon as limits are put to the working day and to the employment of children, those industries go to the wall. Unlimited exploitation of cheap labour-power is the sole foundation of their power to compete.
One of the essential conditions for the existence of the factory system, especially when the length of the working day is fixed, is certainty in the result, i.e., the production in a given time of a given quantity of commodities, or of a given useful effect. The statutory pauses in the working day, moreover, imply the assumption that periodical and sudden cessation of the work does no harm to the article undergoing the process of production. This certainty in the result, and this possibility of interrupting the work are, of course, easier to be attained in the purely mechanical industries than in those in which chemical and physical processes play a part; as, for instance, in the earthenware trade, in bleaching, dyeing, baking, and in most of the metal industries. Wherever there is a working day without restriction as to length, wherever there is night work and unrestricted waste of human life, there the slightest obstacle presented by the nature of the work to a change for the better is soon looked upon as an everlasting barrier erected by Nature. No poison kills vermin with more certainty than the Factory Act removes such everlasting barriers. No one made a greater outcry over "impossibilities" than our friends the earthenwares manufacturers. In 1864, however, they were brought under the Act, and within sixteen months every "impossibility" had vanished. "The improved method," called forth by the Act, "of making slip by pressure instead of by exaporation, the newly-constructed stoves for drying the ware in its green state, 8c., are each events of great importances in the pottery art, and mark an advance which the preceding century could not rival....It has even considerably reduced the temperature of the stoves themselves with a considerable saving of fuel, and with a readier effect on the ware."198 In spite of every prophecy, the cost price of earthenware did not rise, but the quantity produced did, and to such an extent that the export for the twelve months, ending December, 1865, exceeded in value by £138,628 the average of the preceding three years. In the manufacture of matches it was thought to be an indispensable requirement, that boys, even while bolting their dinner, should go on dipping the matches in melted phosphorus, the poisonous vapour from which rose into their faces. The Factory Act (1864) made the saving of time a necessity, and so forced into existence a dipping machine, the vapour from which could not come in contact with the workers.199 So, at the present time, in those branches of the lace manufacture not yet subject to the Factory Act, it is maintained that the meal times cannot be regular owing to the different periods required by the various kinds of lace for drying, which periods vary from three minutes up to an hour and more. To this the Children's Employment Commissioners answer: "The circumstances of this case are precisely analogous to that of the paper-stainers, dealt with in our first report. Some of the principal manufacturers in the trade urged that in consequence of the nature of the materials used, and their various processes, they would be unable, without serious loss, to stop for meal times at any given moment. But it was seen from the evidence that, by due care and previous arrangement, the apprehended difficulty would be got over; and accordingly, by clause 6 of section 6 of the Factory Acts Extension Act, passed during this Session of Parliament, an interval of eighteen months is given to them from the passing of the Act before they are required to conform to the meal hours, specified by the Factory Acts."200 Hardly had the Act been passed when our friends the manufacturers found out: "The inconveniences we expected to arise from the introduction of the Factory Acts into our branch of manufacture, I am happy to say, have not arisen. We do not find the production at all interfered with; in short, we produce more in the same time."201 It is evident that the English legislature, which certainly no one will venture to reproach with being overdosed with genius, has been led by experience to the conclusion that a simple compulsory law is sufficient to enact away all the so-called impediments, opposed by the nature of the process, to the restriction and regulation of the working day. Hence, on the introduction of the Factory Act into a given industry, a period varying from six to eighteen months is fixed within which it is incumbent on the manufacturers to remove all technical impediments to the working of the Act. Mirabeau's "Impossible! ne me dites jamaisce bête de mot!" is particularly applicable to modern technology. But though the Factory Acts thus artificially ripen the material elements necessary for the conversion of the manufacturing system into the factory system, yet at the same time, owing to the necessity they impose for greater outlay of capital, they hasten on the decline of the small masters, and the concentration of capital.202
Besides the purely technical impediments that are removable by technical means, the irregular habits of the workpeople people themselves obstruct the regulation of the hours of labour. This is especially the case where piece wage predominates, and where loss of time in one part of the day or week can be made good by subsequent overtime, or by night work, a process which brutalises the adult workman, and ruins his wife and children.203 Although this absence of regularity in the expenditure of labour-power is a natural and rude reaction against the tedium of monotonous drudgery, it originates, also, to a much greater degree from anarchy in production, anarchy that in its turn pre-supposes unbridled exploitation of labour-power by the capitalist. Besides the general periodic changes of the industrial cycle, and the special fluctuations in the markets to which each industry is subject, we may also reckon what is called "the season," dependent either on the periodicity of favourable seasons of the year for navigation; or on fashion, and the sudden placing of large orders that have to be executed in the shortest possible time. The habit of giving such orders becomes more frequent with the extension of railways and telegraphs. "The extension of the railway system throughout the country has tended very much to encourage giving short notice. Purchasers now come up from Glasgow, Manchester, and Edinburgh once every fortnight or so to the wholesale city warehouses which we supply, and give small orders requiring immediate execution, instead of buying from stock as they used to do. Years ago we were always able to work in the slack times, so as to meet the demand of the next season, but now no one can say beforehand what will be the demand then."204
In those factories and manufactories that are not yet subject to the Factory Acts, the most fearful overwork prevails periodically during what is called the season, in consequence of sudden orders. In the outside department of the factory, of the manufactory, and of the warehouse, the so-called domestic workers, whose employment is at the best irregular, are entirely dependent for their raw material and their orders on the caprice of the capitalist, who, in this industry, is not hampered by any regard for depreciation of his buildings and machinery, and risks nothing by a stoppage of work, but the skin of the worker himself. Here then he sets himself systematically to work to form an industrial reserve force that shall be ready at a moment's notice; during one part of the year he decimates this force by the most inhuman toil, during the other part, he lets it starve for want of work. "The employers avail themselves of the habitual irregularity in the home-work, when any extra work is wanted at a push, so that the work goes on till 11, and 12 p.m. or 2 a.m., or as the usual phrase is, "all hours," and that in localities where "the stench is enough to knock you down, you go to the door, perhaps, and open it, but shudder to go further."205 "They are curious men," said one of the witnesses, a shoemaker, speaking of the masters, "they think it does a boy no harm to work too hard for half the year, if he is nearly idle for the other half."206
In the same way as technical impediments, so too, those "usages which have grown with the growth of trade" were and still are proclaimed by interested capitalists as obstacles due to the nature of the work. This was a favorite cry of the cotton lords at the time they were first threatened with the Factory Acts. Although their industry more than any other depends on navigation, yet experience has given them the lie. Since then, every pretended obstruction to business has been treated by the Factory inspectors as a mere sham.207 The thoroughly conscientious investigations of the Children's Employment Commission prove that the effect of the regulation of the hours of work, in some industries, was to spread the mass of labour previously employed more evenly over the whole year;208 that this regulation was the first rational bridle on the murderous, meaningless caprices of fashion,209 caprices that consort so badly with the system of modern industry; that the development of ocean navigation and of the means of communication generally, has swept away the technical basis on which season-work was really supported,210 and that all other so-called unconquerable difficulties vanish before larger buildings, additional machinery, increase in the number of workpeople employed,211 and the alterations caused by all these in the mode of conducting the wholesale trade.212 But for all that, capital never becomes reconciled to such changes—and this is admitted over and over again by its own representatives—except "under the pressure of a General Act of Parliament"213 for the compulsory regulation of the hours of labour.
[166.] "Ch. Empl. Comm. IV. Report, 1864," p. 108, n. 447.
[167.] In the United States the restoration in this way, of handicrafts based on machinery is frequent; and therefore, when the inevitable transition to the factory system shall take place, the ensuing concentration will, compared with Europe and even with England, stride on in seven-league boots.
[168.] See "Rep. of Insp. of Fact., 31st Oct., 1865," p. 64.
[169.] Mr. Gillott erected in Birmingham the first steel-pen factory on a large scale. It produced, so early as 1851, over 180,000,000 of pens yearly, and consumed 120 tons of steel. Birmingham has the monopoly of this industry in the United Kingdom, and at present produces thousands of millions of steel pens. According to the Census of 1861, the number of persons employed was 1428, of whom 1268 were females from 5 years of age upwards.
[170.] Ch. Empl. Comm., II. Rep. 1864, p. LXVIII., n. 415.
[171.] And now forsooth children are employed at file-cutting in Sheffield.
[172.] Ch. Empl. Comm. V. Rep. 1866, p. 3, n. 24, p. 6, n. 55, 56, p. 7, n. 59, 60.
[173.] L. c. pp. 114, 115, n. 6, 7. The commissioner justly remarks that though as a rule machines take the place of men, here literally young persons replace machines.
[174.] See the Report on the rag trade, and numerous details in Public Health, VIII. Rep. Lond. 1866, app. pp. 196, 208.
[175.] Ch. Empl. Comm. V. Rep., 1866, xvi., n. 96, 97, and p. 130, n. 39, 61. See also III. Rep., 1864, p. 48, 56.
[176.] Public Health. Sixth Rep. Lond. 1864, p. 31.
[177.] l. c., p. 30. Dr. Simon remarks that the mortality among the London tailors and printers between the ages of 25 and 35 is in fact much greater, because the employers in London obtain from the country a great number of young people up to 30 years of age, as "apprentices" and "improvers," who come for the purpose of being perfected in their trade. These figure in the census as Londoners, they swell out the number of heads on which the London death-rate is calculated, without adding proportionally to the number of deaths in that place. The greater part of them in fact return to the country, and especially in cases of severe illness. (l. c.)
[178.] I allude here to hammered nails, as distinguished from nails cut out and made by machinery. See Child. Empl. Comm., Third Rep. p. xi, p. xix, n. 125-130, p. 53, n. 11, p. 114. n. 487. p. 137, n. 674.
[180.] Ch. Empl. Comm., II. Rep., 1864, pp. xix., xx., xxi.
[181.] l. c., pp. xxi., xxvi.
[182.] l. c., pp. xxix., xxx.
[183.] l. c. pp. xl, xli.
[184.] Child, Empl. Comm. I. Rep. 1863, p. 185.
[185.] In England millinery and dressmaking are for the most part carried on, on the premises of the employer, partly by workwomen who live there, partly by women who live off the premises.
[186.] Mr. White, a commissioner, visited a military clothing manufactory that employed 1000 to 1200 persons, almost all females, and a shoe manufactory with 1300 persons; of these nearly one half were children and young persons.
[187.] An instance. The weekly report of deaths by the Registrar General dated 26th Feb., 1864, contains 5 cases of death from starvation. On the same day the "Times" reports another case. Six victims of starvation in one week!
[188.] Child. Empl. Comm., Second Rep., 1864, p. lxvii. n. 406-9, p. 84, n. 124, p. lxxiii., n. 441, p. 66, n. 6, p. 84, n. 126, p. 78, n. 76, n. 69, p. lxxii., n. 483.
[189.] "The rental of premises required for workrooms seems the element which ultimately determines the point; and consequently it is in the metropolis, that the old system of giving work out to small employers and families has been longest retained, and earliest returned to." (l. c. p. 83, n. 123.) The concluding statement in this quotation refers exclusively to shoemaking.
[190.] In glove-making and other industries where the condition of the workpeople is hardly distinguishable from that of paupers, this does not occur.
[191.] l. c. p. 2, n. 122.
[192.] In the wholesale boot and shoe trade of Leicester alone, there were in 1864, 800 sewing machines already in use.
[193.] l. c. p. 84, n. 124.
[194.] Instances: The Army Clothing Depot at Pimlico, London, the Shirt factory of Tillie and Henderson at Londonderry, and the clothes factory of Messrs. Tait at Limerick which employs about 1200 hands.
[195.] "Tendency to factory system" (l. c. p. lxvii.). "The whole employment is at this time in a state of transition, and is undergoing the same change as that effected in the lace trade, weaving, 8c." (l. c. n. 405.) "A complete revolution" (l. c. p. xlvi. n. 318). At the date of the Child. Empl. Comm. of 1840, stocking making was still done by manual labour. Since 1846 various sorts of machines have been introduced, which are now driven by steam. The total number of persons of both sexes and of all ages from 3 years upwards, employed in stocking making in England, was in 1862 about 129,000. Of these only 4063 were, according to the Parliamentary Return of the 11th February, 1862, working under the Factory Acts.
[196.] Thus, e.g., in the earthenware trade, Messrs. Cochrane, of the Britain Pottery, Glasgow, report: "To keep up our quantity we have gone extensively into machines wrought by unskilled labour, and every day convinces us that we can produce a greater quantity than by the old method." ("Rep. of Insp. of Fact., 31st Oct., 1865," p. 18.) "The effect of the Fact. Acts is to force on the further introduction of machinery" (l. c., p. 13-14).
[197.] Thus, after the extension of the Factory Act to the potteries, great increase of power-jiggers in place of hand-moved jiggers.
[198.] "Report of Insp. of Fact., 31st Oct., 1865," pp. 96 and 127.
[199.] The introduction of this and other machinery into match-making caused in one department alone 230 young persons to be replaced by 32 boys and girls of 14 to 17 years of age. This saving in labour was carried still further in 1865, by the employment of steam power.
[200.] "Ch. Empl. Comm., II. Rep., 1864," p. ix., n. 50.
[201.] "Rep. of Insp. of Fact., 31st Oct. 1865," p. 22.
[202.] "But it must be borne in mind that those improvements, though carried out fully in some establishments, are by no means general, and are not capable of being brought into use in many of the old manufactories without an expenditure of capital beyond the means of many of the present occupiers." "I cannot but rejoice," writes Sub-Insp. May, "that notwithstanding the temporary disorganization which inevitably follows the introduction of such a measure (as the Factory Act Extension Act), and is, indeed, directly indicative of the evils which it was intended to remedy, 8c." (Rep. of Insp. of Fact, 31st Oct., 1865.)
[203.] With blast furnaces, for instance, "work towards the end of the week being generally much increased in duration in consequence of the habit of the men of idling on Monday and occasionally during a part or the whole of Tuesday also." (Child. Empl. Comm., III. Rep., p. vi.) "The little masters generally have very irregular hours. They lose two or three days, and then work all night to make it up.... They always employ their own children, if they have any." (l. c., p. vii.) "The want of regularity in coming to work, encouraged by the possibility and practice of making up for this by working longer hours." (l. c., p. xviii.) "In Birmingham...an enormous amount of time is lost...idling part of the time, slaving the rest." (l. c., p. xi.)
[204.] "Child Empl. Comm., IV. Rep. p. xxxii.," "The extension of the railway system is said to have contributed greatly to this custom of giving sudden orders, and the consequent hurry, neglect of meal times, and late hours of the workpeople." (l. c., p. xxxi.)
[205.] Ch. Empl. Comm. IV. Rep. p. xxxv. n. 235, 237.
[206.] Ch. Empl. Comm. IV. Rep. p. 127, n. 56.
[207.] "With respect to the loss of trade by non-completion of shipping orders in time, I remember that this was the pet argument of the factory masters in 1832 and 1833. Nothing that can be advanced now on this subject, could have the force that it had then, before steam had halved all distances and established new regulations for transit. It quite failed at that time of proof when put to the test, and again it will certainly fail should it have to be tried." (Reports of Insp. of Fact., 31 Oct., 1862, pp. 54, 55.
[208.] Ch. Empl. Comm. IV. Rep. p. xviii. n. 118.
[209.] John Bellers remarked as far back as 1699: "The uncertainty of fashions does increase necessitous poor. It has two great mischiefs in it. 1st, The journeymen are miserable in winter for want of work, the mercers and master weavers not daring to lay out their stocks to keep the journeymen employed before the spring comes, and they know what the fashion will then be: 2ndly, in the spring the journeymen are not sufficient, but the master-weavers must draw in many prentices, that they may supply the trade of the kingdom in a quarter or half a year, which robs the plough of hands, drains the country of labourers, and in a great part stocks the city with beggars, and starves some in winter that are ashamed to beg." (Essays about the Poor, Manufactures, 8c., p. 9.)
[210.] Ch. Empl. Comm. V. Rep. p. 171, n. 34.
[211.] The evidence of some Bradford export-houses is as follows: "Under these circumstances, it seems clear that no boys need be worked longer than from 8 a.m. to 7 or 7.30 p.m., in making up. It is merely a question of extra hands and extra outlay. If some masters were not so greedy, the boys would not work late; an extra machine costs only £16 or £18; much of such overtime as does occur is to be referred to an insufficiency of appliances, and a want of space." Ch. Empl. Comm. V. Rep. p. 171, n. 31, 36, 38.
[212.] l. c. A London manufacturer, who in other respects looks upon the compulsory regulation of the hours of labour as a protection for the workpeople against the manufacturers, and for the manufacturers themselves against the wholesale trade, states: "The pressure in our business is caused by the shippers, who want, e.g., to send the goods by sailing vessel so as to reach their destination at a given season, and at the same time want to pocket the difference in freight between a sailing vessel and a steamship, or who select the earlier of two steamships in order to be in the foreign market before their competitors."
[213.] "This could be obviated," says a manufacturer, "at the expense of an enlargement of the works under the pressure of a General Act of Parliament." l. c. p. x. n. 38.