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not have sufficed unless there had been also a concurrence of occasions and chances which falls to the lot of only a small number. If persons are helped in their worldly career by their virtues, so are they, and perhaps quite as often, by their vices: by sevility and sycophancy, by hard. hearted and close-fisted selfishness, by the permitted lies and tricks of trade, by gambling speculations, not seldom by downright knavery. Energies and talents are of much more avail for suocess in life than virtues; but if one man succeeds by employing energy and talent in something generally useful, another thrives by exercising the same qualities in out-gencralling and ruining a rival. It is as much as any moralist ventures to assert, that, other circumstances being given, honesty is the best policy, and that with parity of advantages an honest person las better chances than a rogue. Even this in many stations and sircumstances of life is questionable; anything more than this is out of the question. It cannot be pretended that honesty, as a means of success, tells for as much as a difference of one single step on the social ladder. The connection between fortune and conduct is mainly this, that there is a degree of bad conduct, or rather of some kinds of bad conduct, which suffices to ruin any amount of good fortune; but the converse is not true : in the situation of most people no degree whatever of good conduct can be counted upon for raising them in the world, without the aid of fortunate accidents.
These evils, then-great poverty, and that poverty very little connected with desert-are the first grand failure of the existing arrangements of society. The second is human misconduct; crime, vice, and folly, with all the sufferings which follow in their train. For, nearly all the forms of misconduct, whether committed towards ourselves or towards others, may be traced to one of three causes: Poverty and its temptations in the many ; Idleness and désoeuvrement in the few whose circumstances do not compel them to work ; bad education, or want of education, in both. The first two must be allowed to be at least failures in the social arrangements, the last is now almost universally admitted to be the fault of those arrangements—it may almost be said the crime. I am speaking loosely and in the rough, for a minuter analysis of the sources of faults of character and errors of conduct would establish far more conclusively the filiation which connects them with a defective organization of society, though it would also show the reciprocal dependence of that faulty state of society on a backward state of the human mind.
At this point, in the enumeration of the evils of society, the mere levellers of former times usually stopped: but their more far-sighted successors, the present Socialists, go farther. In their eyes the very foundation of human life as at present constituted, the very principle on which the production and repartition of all material products is now carried on, is essentially vicious and anti-social. It is the principle of individualism, competition, each one for himself and against all the rest. It is grounded on opposition of interests, not harmony of interests, and under it every one is required to find his place by a struggle,
by pushing others back or being pushed back by them. Socialists con. sider this system of private war (as it may be termed) between every one and every one, especially fatal in an economical point of view and in a moral. Morally considered, its evils are obvious. It is the parent of envy, hatred, and all uncharitableness ; it makes every one the natural enemy of all others who cross his path, and every one's pathi is constantly liable to be crossed. Under the present system hardly any one can gain except by the loss or disappointment of one or of many others. In a well-constituted community every one would be a gainer by every other person's successful exertions; while now we gain by each other's loss and lose by each other's gain, and our grcatert gains come from tho worst source of all, from death, the death of those who are nearest and should be dearest to us. In its purely economical operation the principle of individual competition receives as unqualified condemnation from the social reformers as in its moral. In the competition of labourers they see the cause of low wages; in the competition of producers the cause of ruin and bankruptoy; and both eyils, they affirın, tend .constantly to increase as population and wealth make progress; no person (they conceive) being bene. fitted except the great proprietors of land, the holders of fixed money incomes, and a few great capitalists, whose wealth is gradually enabling them to undersell all other producers, to absorb the whole of the operations of industry into their own sphere, to drive from the market all employers of labour except themselves, and to convert the labourers into a kind of slaves or serfs, dependent on them for the means of support, and compelled to accept these on such terms as they choose to offer. Society, in short, is travelling onward, according to these specu. lators, towards a new feudality, that of the great capitalists.
As I shall have ample opportunity in future chapters to state my own opinion on these topics, and on many others connected with and subor. dinate to them, I shall now, without further preamble, exhibit the opinions of distinguished Socialists on the present arrangements of society, in a selection of passages from their published writings. For the present I desire to be considered as a mere reporter of the opinions of others. Hereafter it will appear how much of what I cite agrees or differs with my own sentiments.
The clearest, the most compact, and the most precise and specific statement of the case of the Socialists generally against the existing order of society in the economical department of human affairs, is to be found in the little work of M. Louis Blanc, Organisation du Travail. My first extracts, therefore, on this part of the subject, shall be takon from that treatise.
“Competition is for the people a system of extermination. Is the poor man a member of society, or an enemy to it? We ask for an answer.
". All around him he finds the soil preoccupied. Can he cultivate the earth for himself? No; for the right of the Arst occupant has become a right of property. Can be gather the fruits which the hand of God ripens on the path of man? No; for,
like the soil, the fruits have been appropriated. Can he hunt or fish? No; for that is a right which is dependent upou the government. Can he draw water from a spring enclosed in a field ? No; for the proprietor of the field is, in virtue of his right to the field, proprietor of the fountain. Can he, dying of hunger and thirst, stretch out his hands for the charity of his fellow-creatures ? No; for there are laws against begging. Can he, exhausted by fatigue and without a refuge, lie down to sleep upon the pavement of the streets ?. No; for there are laws against vagabondage. Can he, flying from the cruel native land where everything is denied him, seek the means of living far from the place where life was given hin? No; for it is not permitted to change your country except on certain conditions which the poor man cannot fulfil.
“What, then, can the unhappy man do? He will say, 'I have hands to work with I have intelligence, I have youth, I have strength; take all this, and in return give me a morsel of bread.' This is what the working men do say. But even here the poor man may be answered, “I have no work to give you.' What is he to do then ?”
“What is competition from the point of view of the workman? It is work pat up to auction. A contractor wants a workman; three present themselves.-How much for your work ?-Half-a-crown: I have a wife and children.-Well; and how much for you ?-Two shillings : I have no children, but I have a wife.- Very well; and now how much for yours? One and eightpence are enough for me; I am single. Then you shall have the work. It is done: the bargain is struck. And what are the other two workmen to do? It is to be hoped ty will die quietly of hunger. “But what it they take to thieving? Never fear; we have the police. To murder? We have got the hanginan. As for the lucky one, his triumph is only temporary. Let a fourth workman make his appearance, strong enough to fast every other day, and his price will run down still lower: then there will be a new outcast, a new recruit for the prison perhaps !
“Will it be said that these melancholy resnlts are exaggerated; that at all events they are only possible when there is not work enough for the hands that seek employment ? but I ask, in answer, Does the principle of competition contain, by chance, within itself any inethod by which this murderous disproportion is to be avoided ? If one branch of industry is in want of hands, who can answer for it that, in the confusion created by universal competition, another is not overstocked? And if, out of thirty-four millions of men, twenty are really reduced to theft for a living, this would suffice to condemn the principle.
“But who is so blind as not to see that under the system of unlimited competition, the continual full of wages is no exceptional circumstance, but a necessary and general fact? Ias the populatiou a liinit which it cannot exceed? It is possible for us to say to industry-industry given up to the accidents of individual egotisin and fertile in ruin--can we say, “This far shalt thou go, and no further?' The population increases constantly ; tell the poor mother to become sterile, and blasphème the God who made her fruitful, for if you do not the lists will soon become too narrow for the combatants. A machine is invented : command it to be broken, and anathematize science, for if you do not, the thousand workmen whom the new mer chine deprives of work will knock at the door of the neighbouring workshop, and lower the wages of their companions. Thus systematic lowering of wages, ending in the driving out of a certain number of workmen, is the inevitable effect of unlimited competition. It is an industrial system by means of which the working classee are forced to exterminate one another.”
“If there is an undoubted fact, it is that the increase of population is much more rapid among the poor than among the rich. According to the Statistics of European Population, the births at Paris are only one-thirty-second of the population in the rich quarters, while in the others they rise to one-twenty-sixth. This disproportion is a general fact, and M. de Sismondi, in his work on Political Economy, bas explained it by the impossibility for the workmen of hopeful prudence. Those only who feel themselves assured of the morrow can regulate the number of their children according to their income; ho who lives from day to day is under the yoke of a mysterious fatality, to which he sacrifices his children as he was sacrificed to it himself. It is trne the workhouses exist. menacing society with an inundation of bogen uswhat way is there of escaping from the cause ? . It is clear that way
society where the means of subsistence increase less rapidly than the numbers of tho population, is a society on the brink of an abyss.
Competition produces destitution; this is a fact shown by statistics. Destitution is fearfully prolific; this is shown by statistics. The fruitfulness of the poor throws upon society unhappy creatures who have need of work and cannot find it; this is shown by statistics. At this point society is reduced to a choice between killing the poor or maintaining them gratuitously-between atrocity or folly.”
So much for the poor. We now pass to the middle classes.
“ According to the political economists of the school of Adam Smith and Léon Say, cheapness is the word in which may be summed up the advantages of unlimited competition. But why persist in considering the effect of cheapness with a view only to the momentary advantage of the consumer? Cheapness is advantageous to the consumer at the cost of introducing the seeds of ruinous anarchy among the producers. Cheapness is, so to speak, the hammer with which the rich among the producers crush their poorer rivals. Cheapness is the trap into which the daring speculators entice the hard-workere. Cheapness is the sentence of death to the pro dacer on a small scale who has no money to invest in the purchase of machinery that his rich rivals can easily procure. Cheapuess is the great instrument in the hands of monopoly; it absorbs the small manufacturer, the small shopkeeper, the small proprietor; it is, in one word, the destruction of the middle classes for the advantage of a few industrial oligarchs.
“Ought we, then, to consider cheapness as a curse? No one would attempt to maintain such an absurdity. But it is the specialty of wrong principles to turn good into evil and corrupt
all things. Under the system of competition cheapness is only a provisional and fallacious advantage. It is maintained only so long as there is a struggle; no sooner have the rich competitors driven out their poorer rivals than prices rise. Competition leads to monopoly, for the same reason cheapnd's leads to high prices. Thus, what has been made use of as a weapon in the contest between the producers, sooner or later becomes a cause of impoverishment among the con
And if to this cause we add the others we have already enumerated, first among which must be ranked the inordinate increase of the population, we shall be compelled to recoguise the impoverishment of the mass of the consumers as a direct consequence of competition.
“But, on the other hand, this very competition which tends to dry up the sources of demand, urges production to over-supply. The confusion produced by the universal strnggle prevents each producer from knowing the state of the market. He must work in the dark and trust to chance for a sale. Why should he check the supply, especially as he can throw any loss on the workman whose wages are so preeminently liable to rise and fall ? Eveu when production is carried on at a loss the manufacturers still often carry it on, because they will not let their machinery, &c., stand idle, or risk the loss of raw material, or lose their customers : and because prodactive industry as carried on under the coinpetitive system being nothing else than a game of chance, the gambler will not lose his chance of a lucky stroke.
* Thus, and we cannot too often ingjet upon it, competition necessarily tends to increase supply and to diminish consumption ; its tendency therefore is precisely the opposite of what is sought by economic science; hence it is not merely oppressive bat foolish as well.”
“And in all this, in order to avoid dwelling on truths whịch have become commonplaces and sound declamatory from their very truth, we have said nothing of the frightful moral corruption which industry, organized, or more properly speaking disorganized as it is at the present day, has introduced among the middle classes. Everything has become venal, and competition invades even the domain of thought. “The factory crushing the workshop; the showy establishment absorbing
the humble shop; the artisan who is his own master replaced by the day-labourer; caltivation by the plough fuperseding that by the spade, and bringing the poor man's fuld under disgraceful homage to the money-lender; bankruptcies muviplied; manufacturing indnetry transformed by the Ill-regulated extersion of credit into a sy she
See Louis Blunc, “Organisation du Travail,” 4me odation, pp. 6, 11, 53, 54.
tem of gambling where no one, not even the rogue, can be sure of winning; in short a vast confusion calculated to arouse jealousy, mistrust, and hatred, and to stifle, little by little, all generous aspirations, ail faith, self-sacrifice, and poetry-sach is the hideous but only too faithful picture of the results obtained by the application of the principle of competition."*
The Fourierists, through their principal organ, M. Considérant, enu merate the evils of the existing civilisation in the following order :
1. It employs an enormous quantity of labour and of human power unproductively, or in the work of destruction.
“In the first place there is the army,which in France, as in all other countries, absorbs the healthiest and strongest men, a large number of the most talented and intelligent, and a considerable part of the public revenue.
The existing stata of society develops in its impure atinosphere innumerable outcasts, whose labour is not merely unproductive, but actually destructive; adventurers, prostitutes, people with no acknowledged means of living, beggars, convicts, swindlers, thieves, and others whose number tends rather to increass than to diminish.
* To the list of unproductive labour fostered by our state of Society must be added that of the judicature and of the bar, of the courts of law and magistrates, the police, gaolers, executioners, &c.-functions indispensable to the state of society as it is.
“Also people of what is called 'good society'; those who pass their lives in doing nothing; idlers of all ranks.
“Also the numberless custom-house officials, tax-gatherers, bailiffs, excise-men ; in short, all that army of men which overlooks, brings to account, takes, but pro duces nothing.
“Also the labours of sophists, philosophers, metaphysicians, political men, working in mistaken directions, who do nothing to advance science, and produce nothing but disturbance and sterile discussions; the verbiage of advocates, pleaders, witnesses, &c.
“And finally all the operations of commerce, from those of the bankers and brok. ers, dową to those of the grocer behind his counter.” 7
Secondly, they assert that even the industry and powers which in the present system are devoted to production, do not produce more than a šmall portion of what they might produce if better employed and directed :
“Who with any good-will and reflection will not see how much the want of coherence—the disorder, the want of combination, the parcelling out of labour and leaving it wholly to individual action withont any organization, without any large or general views—are causes which limit the possibilities of production and destroy, or at least waste, our means of action ? Does not disorder give birth to poverty, as order and good management give birth to riches ? Is not want of combination a source of weakness, as combination is a source of strength ? And who can say that industry, whether agricultural, domestic, manufactnring, scientific, artistic, or commercial, is organized at the present day either in the state or in municipalities? Who can say that all the work which is carried on in any of these departments is executed in subordination to any general views, or with foresight, economy, and order? Or, again, who can say that it is possible in our present state of society to develope, by a good education, all the faculties bestowed by nature on each of its members; to employ each one in functions which he would like, which he would be the most capa. ble of, and which, therefore, he could carry on with the greatest advantage to himself and to others? Has it even been so much as attempted to solve the problems presented by varieties of character so as to regulate and harmonize the varieties of
* See Louis Blanc, “Organisation du Travail," pp. 68-61, 65–66, 4me édition. Paris, 1845.
+ See Considérant, "Destinée Sociale,” tome i. pp. 35, 36, 37, 3me éd., Paris, 1846