Economy as Viewed by an Anarchist

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By C. L. James.


CERTAIN leading ideas of this essay must be familiar to all who have done me the honor of reading my publications during the last twenty years. Among the first thoughts which occurred to me about the beginning of that period was that unsettled language is responsible for considerable vagueness in economic theory. A critique on previous reasonings ought, then, to begin with definitions upon that principle sought by Socrates: — a word in ordinary currency, like "capital," must neither be assumed intelligible nor defined arbitrarily—a very misleading practice, for the familiar sense is sure to play fast and loose with the unfamiliar. The popular meaning should be cleared of ambiguities by discovering what is common to all uses of the word; and if any of these have other meanings, they must be served by other terms. The most necessary definitions thus attained here follow, together with the grounds for their adoption.

1. Economy is generally allowed to be the science which treats of Wealth, the laws of its Consumption, Production, Exchange, and Distribution.

2. Evidently, however, this definition necessitates others. You may have observed that whether economy deserves to be called a science is now a question often raised by certain persons who cannot be treated as unworthy answering, though I remember when this would have only excited ridicule. To the question suggested, what is a science? I reply, with Herbert Spencer, that a science is a study of the facts—it does not differ essentially from their common knowledge—thus, the fact that the days are longer in summer than in winter is as much a part of astronomy as that the solar system moves towards the star Alpha Centauri. Economy, then, certainly is a science, according to this view. The ground of unnecessary controversy is that a great difference, though one of degree alone, exists between knowledge such as that many common wares will rust, sour, putrefy, or evaporate, and such knowledge as that water contains equal chemical units of oxygen and hydrogen, the former being eight times the weight of the last. Popularly, knowledge of the latter sort alone is recognized as scientific; but this involves the misleading use of class-names for what are really stages in one process. These stages overlap to a considerable extent; yet, for our purposes, the following are necessary to observe. In the earliest stage, only unrelated facts are known. When seeking more facts of the same sort, the inquirer finds need of a language in which to describe them. Accordingly he classifies them, calling by the same name those in which he perceives a suitable resemblance; and such is human nature that these classifications always depend on a theory of cause and effect—whales were once called fish, because their shape and place of living made it supposed their "substance" was fishy: they are not called fish now, because their mode of generation, their warm blood, their lungs, their milk, are recognized as better indications of their evolution; and these place them in another class. Finally, when a relation of cause and effect is surely established, we can reason authentically from so much cause to so much effect, and thus predict the future. It often happens, however, that a science is retarded by a premature attempt to reach this "rational" stage through an unsound hypothesis, like the existence of "phlogiston," in chemistry, or the motion of the heavens around the earth, in astronomy: nor is suspicion wanting, now, that Ricardo has been the Ptolemy or Galen of Economy, whose haste in theorizing proved no speed—a view, by the bye, which does not disparage but rather emphasizes the ability whence he derived such influence.

3. Wealth, the next thing requiring definition, has for its most easily recognized characteristic, Value; and popular speech accordingly describes as Wealth whatever can be sold. But economists are unanimous in saying that this involves a vulgar error. Slaves, where there are any, can be sold. So can land. So can what lawyers call choses in action—accounts, notes, mortgages, reversions. With them, there is none but a technically legal objection to classing bank-notes, government bonds, all patents, charters, and monopolies. None of these things are called Wealth in the strict language of science, because they cannot for a moment be supposed wealth except to, for, or from the peculiar standpoint of, their possessors (whereas certain other things are Wealth universally,—to, for, or from the standpoint of, all mankind). This distinction must be made thoroughly intelligible; for it is the most vital point in our argument. My whole claim to have advanced knowledge of Economy rests upon my having carried application of the distinction further than other economists; though, we see, they recognize it. What, then, exactly, does it mean? for such a qualification as "from some one's standpoint" sounds rather vague and metaphysical. Happily, the case is perfectly illustrative. If a planter in Virginia fifty years ago had (l) slaves, (2) land, (3) negotiable paper, (4) bank paper, (5) a patent for a machine, (6) a bill against the State, (7) bills against individuals, (8) a house, (9) machinery, (10) livestock, (11) growing crops, all these might be considered parts of his wealth, because he was the richer for having them all. But, objects the scientific economist, he, only, was richer for his having slaves, land, bills, or a patent. The act of the United States in emancipating his slaves, putting his land on the market, repudiating his claim upon the Rebel government, releasing his debtors, cancelling his patent,— to suppose that all this was done—made the State of Virginia neither poorer nor richer; for whatever he lost some one else gained; and whatever was gained by other Virginians was lost to this one. Very different would be burning his house, killing his mules, destroying his machinery or crops. These are acts which may be justified by war, or by certain exigencies of peace. But, right or wrong, wise or foolish, they are always thus far to be regretted that the whole country and world is poorer for them. The poorest man is absolutely, if not relatively, "worse off" because of them. Reversely—to build a house, make a machine, raise a valuable animal, or a crop, is always a clear addition to the total of wealth: but wealth is not increased when men are enslaved,<ref>A country may be richer for capturing slaves. But since she can become rich in this way only at expense of some other country, the world is no richer. Land, indeed, is the source of all wealth. But if land itself were wealth, then the more good land a country contained the richer it would be, without reference to the number of people; whereas we know that, however good the land, the more there is of it in ratio with the population, the poorer the country must be. Land if saleable, enriches its owners, though not the country, but it becomes saleable, and thus appears to be wealth, only when there is not enough of the best left free for all the people; and so the apparent wealth is not a substance but a distribution making some poor in the same proportion as it makes others rich. The rise of true wealth does not work that way. The man who has a house is not richer because his neighbors live in pigsties—he is poorer for that circumstance—it is a disadvantage to live in a poor country. Similarly, the pigsty-dweller is not poorer because there are houses. Their splendor may mock his poverty; but he is the better for their existence, and would miss them if they were burnt.</ref> debts contracted, land deeded by the people to individuals, or any kind of monopoly established. Whatever some gain by that, others lose.<ref>Neither the justice nor the final expediency of any act here mentioned is discussed as yet. Emancipation may be right and wise, repudiation may be wrong and foolish; but either leaves this sum total of wealth just what it was.</ref>

About those valuable things which economists do not call wealth, observe that all of them have the nature of claims by the possessor upon some other person's labor —as by the master on the slave's, the landlord on the tenant's, the creditor on the debtor's, the patentee on the user's. Contrariwise, all valuable things which economists do call wealth, are immediate results of previous human labor.<ref>Thus Land is not Wealth, but a house on the land is, "Land," then, must always here be understood to mean either unimproved land, or that part of an improved estate which remains after deducting the improvements.</ref> This distinction, between value imparted by past labor to some Thing which, so far as it has values of that sort, is always Wealth, and Value inherent in a claim on future labor, which is never Wealth, will be found fundamentally important. Value in Wealth is measurable (partially) by that labor which was expended in obtaining the Wealth from land. Value in claims on labor still to be done except, indeed, for other, previous, labor, is value because they enable their possessor—slave owner, landlord, monopolist, usurer, etc.—to obtain a surplus value over the results of his own labor—of course from other peoples'!—which Surplus Value is what makes the classes of rich and poor, as we shall see.

As all Wealth, in a scientific sense, is a result of labor, so all (material) results of labor are Wealth.<ref>Labor which yields no material result, as that of an actor or singer, is called Unproductive. It would be a great mistake to infer that such labor is useless. There are kinds of it which actually confer Happiness, while increasing Wealth only removes some hindrances to happiness. But such labor does not increase Wealth. The kind which results in Wealth is called Productive.</ref> Even mummies and pyramids, often cited as examples of wasted labor, have some Value; nor is there any offsetting reason why they should not be called Wealth—the worst possible result of human labor applied to valuable substances is that it may diminish (it never wholly destroys) the value previously contained in any Thing which, if not itself a labor-result, owed all its value, as land does, to the fact that labor would fain use it. Since, then, all (material) results of human labor are Wealth and nothing but a result of human labor is Wealth, we might define Wealth as the material result of Labor. True, this definition is not synthetic, like that of a circle, which not only distinguishes a circle from anything else but exhibits the source of all its properties. That the definition can be made synthetic will appear, however, when we have defined Labor, which evidently it renders very necessary.

4. Labor means more than mere exertion. The latter is inseparable from life: but when it has no ulterior purpose it is Play. Labor, then, is exertion with an ulterior purpose. But the only ulterior purpose in applying exertion to the raw material of Wealth (called by economists Land<ref>As the term Land, in Economy, excludes every product of Labor, so it includes all raw material given man by nature without labor—not only earth, but water, air, fire spontaneously kindled, also the wild plants and animals. This is the common use, sifted so as to allow no ambiguity.</ref>) is to fit it for the satisfaction of desire; and, human desires being part of our common nature, whatever will satisfy the desire of him who makes it may also satisfy the desire of others, thus acquiring the two characteristics of Wealth—it may be sold to satisfy the desire of buyers; and if the maker should die without heirs it will still be Wealth to whoever gets it, unlike claims on slaves, lands, etc.—possessions not economically called Wealth—which are "of no value to anyone but the legal owner." From the definition of Labor as exertion with a purpose it follows that "men seek to gratify their desires with the minimum labor"—a fundamental economic maxim, evidently true, for it only translates into subjective language the mechanical law that motion follows the line of least resistance.<ref>Henry George makes this observation. It should be observed that scientific treatment of human and social phenomena is always materialistic; not because its employers are necessarily materialists in their metaphysics, but because metaphysics is not science: and the latter, proceeding by observation or experiment, regards always the objective (matter) on which alone experiments are practicable. Vague metaphysical terms like "the reward of abstinence," are among hindrances to progress in economic theory.</ref> But by the distinction between Labor and Play we see it is by no means true that men always perform the least exertion possible. What they perform "for the fun of it" is Play; and that is neither a small amount nor unimportant. "The play-instinct," said Froebel, "is the creative instinct!" Mediocrity labors, but genius, in its highest flights, is at play. (I may observe, in passing, that the now rationalized economic distinction between Wealth, as the result of labor, and claims to labor or its results (which claims are not Wealth) has lately, and only lately, affected that most backward among human processes, legislation. It is getting to be pretty well understood that a tax on mortgages or other claims amounts to a double tax on the debtor, who has to satisfy lenders for this loss, while his own possessions are taxed as if they were unincumbered.)

5. Consumption is the process by which Wealth is destroyed as Wealth, and returned to the pristine state of raw material or Land. It includes waste, which is to some extent inevitable, and against which, therefore, prudent people always provide a margin. But, of course, the chief significance of Consumption depends on its occurrence in actually satisfying desire.

The reader will be apt to remark that I have taken an unusual course in putting Consumption before Production. I maintain that, though perhaps paradoxical, this course is neither illogical nor unimportant—that, for two reasons, it is an error fraught with mischief to consider Production before Consumption, as has commonly been done. The first reason is that Consumption is what Aristotle would call the final cause of Wealth—Production being only the efficient cause. To explain this, since I suppose we are all (worse luck!) too wise to have read Aristotle nowadays,—this great thinker says there are always four causes for every completed result, without whose cooperation it could not be. The final cause is that purpose for which the result is effected— in our case, of Wealth, Consumption. The material cause is the substance needed for the result—in this case what economists call Land. The formal cause is the maker's skill; and the efficient cause his labor. Among these it is evident that the cause called final is really the first, which sets all the others going—even the material cause, which alone exists independently, is not a cause until the final puts the efficient at work upon it. We ought, therefore, always to begin with the final cause, if we can tell what it is, as we can in all cases where man is the maker and his purpose is the final cause. The ill results of doing otherwise may be illustrated immediately and plentifully. All the obsolete errors of the exploded Mercantile school in Economy began with forgetting that not money but consumption is the final cause of labor and trade; that a country may easily have more money than its purposes justify; that Spain and India, those countries which had the greatest "balance of trade in their favor" were visibly growing poor before the eyes of the whole world, just when, on Mercantilist principles, they should have been growing rich. But, besides, that whole vague notion of "accumulated wealth" which still haunts "orthodox" Economy, like a Sibyl muttering unintelligible spells, is due to forgetting that to be consumed is what Wealth is made for. There is no accumulated Wealth which does not fall under some of the following heads: (i) things in the process of unproductive consumption, as food, clothes, houses, by their users, (2) stocks of such things, destined to be unproductively consumed before long; for none will keep without care, and to bestow care upon them pays only when they are either being actually used up or will soon be sold, (3) things destined to be consumed productively, as seeds, breeding or working cattle, and machinery, (4) money, which is a machine or appliance of exchange. Let the rate of unproductive consumption slacken, as it does during "hard times," and the loss in all of these becomes tremendous. Unproductive consumption is the end, without which there would be no wealth. It is only as desires, exchange, and consumption increase, that the world becomes any richer. The idea, half entertained in earnest, half known to be fallacious, by writers who use its language, that wealth is accumulated through the parsimony of those who choose to save money is, therefore, an error, which we shall find, for I intend pursuing it much further, to be often very mischievous in practice, and utterly misleading in theory.

(To be continued.)


By C. L. James. (Continuation.)

THE second reason why the practice of considering any other economic process before that of Consumption misleads, is that it illustrates the vulgar but inveterate error of reasoning, not "from the standpoint of" "The Consumer," who alone is Universal Man, but from that of a class—in Socialistic Economy, the productive laborer, in "orthodox" Economy, the capitalist or middleman who conducts exchanges between producers. Because the productive laborer is usually, under present conditions, a hired proletaire, Socialism reasons that what he needs is a boss with whom he will have influence, that is one elected by workers, forgetting these important points (i) that the hired proletaires employed at productive labor are only a minority of the people; (2) that the system of gang-labor under bosses, though often very efficacious for particular jobs, depresses the average efficiency of the men to that of the weakest, least willing, and least intelligent, among them; (3) that it is therefore a system under which no man can rise,—for those proletaires who invent and improve do not rise under it but out of it; (4) that these original geniuses among productive laborers are the people who have raised their vocation out of barbarian conditions, and must be relied upon to raise it higher, if that is ever done; (5) that a system which would make us all proletaires, under bosses elected by the mere routine workers, is unfavorable to such improvement; as may be seen in countries like France, where it has been partly realized, on comparing them with the countries of freest competition, like England and America; (6) that the original men among the proletaires, whose chief social function is not the routine Labor of a gang, but the Play of genius, are quite sensible of this; and, accordingly, though they may use democratic weapons against hereditary privilege, their feeling is not democratic, but is either aristocratic or Anarchistic;—that they do not want to continue proletaires, but to become either bosses or independent workers; (7) that, together with those who are not proletaires at all, they are abundantly strong enough to outvote Social Democracy when it aims at being thorough, and reduce it to a mere party among the parties, whose remedies for proletarian grievances can be only partial and palliative.

On the other hand, the "orthodox" economist reasons that (1) because the capitalist grows rich by taking in more money than he pays out, any man might grow rich in the same way; (2) that those who choose to do otherwise must be poor; (3) that those who elect to remain poor must work for wages paid them by the capitalists, a natural aristocracy of talent and will; (4) that labor thus becomes a commodity whose price is regulated by the ratio between the demands of the employers, which raise it, and the number of the employed, which depresses; (5) that if the lot of the poor be hard, there is no remedy but to show them the folly of increasing their numbers, and persuade as many as possible to raise themselves out of the proletairan ranks by saving. Such reasoning overlooks the facts (1) that for all men to save money is impossible. Money is an instrument of exchange which no man can get legitimately otherwise than by selling something,<ref>Except, of course, its original makers, who would not exist but that others want money to use—that is, to spend.<ref> and which no man spends otherwise than by buying. If nobody were willing to spend, there would be no money, and the condition on which any man can save is that there are others who do not save; (2) that the experiment of saving all around has nevertheless been tried on quite a large scale by communities like the Chinese coolies and the poor Hebrews in such places as "Jewtown," New York. Of course, they could not have done this but that there is an outside world which lives on different principles; yet the effect, even among themselves, is that, except a few of the best starvers, all are miserably poor; (2) that those who "choose to spend their money" are obliged to let out their labor to "those who have saved their money," not by a natural law but a factitious. Long before there was any money, war and conquest, the result of war, divided mankind permanently into the classes of rich and poor,—those who got Surplus Value and those who furnished it,—those who "had land and slaves," that is, had claims on the labor of others, and those who were slaves or tenants, on whose labor others had claims. But saving money will not, alone, make any man rich. Except as his money will buy such claims on the labor of others, the miser is poor to starvation. It is also among the economic commonplaces that the rich do not, as a rule, keep much money nor much of the products which money will buy:—that, if a communistic mob should rob them it would get very little, because what makes them rich is their claims upon the labor of others, and these claims are of such a nature that, though they may be cancelled by a revolution, they cannot be forcibly transferred.<ref>It is, therefore, the law that there is no larceny of a chose in action. A note or deed is not property to any one but the legal owner, for the claim which it represents is all the value in it; and the claim cannot be stolen.</ref> The orthodox doctrine of "saving" is merely a relic of the Mercantilist error (so called because generalized from the narrow standpoint of merchants or capitalists), which identified money with riches.

The practice of generalizing, not from the standpoint of universal man, but from that of a class, I have designated as the Original Sin of Political Economy, because it is an error engendered by those passions of the classes Rich and Poor which suggested economic speculation. Political Economy was conceived in the iniquity and born in the sin of desiring a Surplus Value over the results of labor. "And this corruption of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos, doth remain, yea, in them which are regenerate." The progress of economic science has consisted in partially overcoming the onesided feeling and consequent one-sided thinking of a class: but we have just seen that neither "orthodox" economists nor Socialists have got over it by any means altogether. The Anarchist alone generalizes from the standpoint of the abstract individual, a type of no particular class, but of Universal Man whose economic title is the Consumer because every man, whether rich or poor, capitalist, landlord, or proletaire; the king or the beggar is, at least, a Consumer; and, regarding him economically, that is all he necessarily is.

6. Production is the modification of Land (in the economic sense) by labor, which, we remember, makes it Wealth, even though the modification be very slight— thus cocoa-nuts on the tree (a wild one) are not, economically, Wealth but Land; while even so slight a modification as picking them up to store or sell when they fall spontaneously makes them Wealth. Of course a further modification of any labor-result is a continued Production. Thus the production of cocoa-nut pie or candy, the toys and vessels made out of cocoa-nut shells, etc., extends back to the tree, and to speak of the cook or carver as producing the pie or the dipper is merely an inaccuracy excusable because not likely to be misunderstood—we should say, if we mean to be strict, that he is the last among the producers. The Wealth produced in any case of production is called the Product.

7. Exchange is a special kind of Production, effected not by changing, chemically, the substance, or, mechanically, the form of anything, but by changing its possession, through a geographical or topographical change in its place, which may be very slight, as where eggs are laid in a garden and sold in a store on the same lot, or marvelously great, as where sheep killed in Australia are transported fresh to England in ice sent over from England for the purpose. It is a kind of Production because the products exchanged are always more of Wealth to the producer who receives each than was that which he gave for the same, and thus both parties are enriched—as is also the world containing both. This is very paradoxical, but has long since been explained and proved by the following illustrative process. Suppose the world contained only two trading countries, France and England, which exchanged only two products, as English coal for French wine; then the balance-sheet would be like this:

[ missing table ]

Now, it makes no difference to the principle that there are many nations and many imports. The value of each nation's imports, on her own soil, exceeds the (home) value of her exports; and the balance is her gain. Frequently it happens that there is a balance or exchange of goods not money, which she has to pay another country in cash; and the sum of such balances may be greater than the sum of those "in her favor." But all that proves is, what it does prove conclusively, that she has a surplus of circulating medium, and finds exporting it more profitable than using it at home. Americans would no more send money to England unless they found this the easiest way to satisfy their desires than wheat if they did not have a surplus of wheat. It is indeed true that there is a hankering in America for English money, which leads to borrowing, often at extravagant rates (in the form of land-grants and other premiums), that very money which has been sent away. This looks, and is, unprofitable. But, so far as it is not a relic of the discarded Mercantilist bullion-worship, it means that there are in America characters like Colonel Sellers, possessed with the "development of our resources" mania, and doing business which is not legitimate but speculative: nor is there any reason to fear that England will gain at our expense by getting our money to lend us again. She long since found out that she burns her own fingers by accommodating Colonel Sellers, and has ceased to regard American speculative enterprises as good investments.

8. The knotty term Value has been qualitatively explained, as much as was yet necessary, by considering that valuable which can be sold. But in arriving at our last definition we were compelled to show that it is of the essence of value to be measureable. The term "value in use" or "use-value," is accordingly incorrect; for "use" is a subjective relation which does not admit of being measured (as has been very satisfactorily proved for us by Bentham, Dumont, and other philosophers whose system required them to try measuring usefulness). This, indeed, is shown by the economic writers, Ricardo, DeQuincey, Marx, and others who employ the term "value in use," but it is shown only after frightfully long arguments throughout which the reader supposes the words so often used must mean something. I think we can save all that. "Use-value" should be called Utility, and defined as capacity to satisfy desire. That Value for which we are seeking a definition is what these writers call value in exchange, an objective relation easily measured by experiment—"a thing is worth what it will sell for." And as nothing is properly Value except exchange-value, we will drop the unnecessary word "exchange," and speak simply of Value. Value, then, is the rate of exchange.

9. Value thus is a strictly relative term;—the value for a given quantity, x, of anything is always a quantity, y, in (or of) something else. There is no truly absolute value though value in Labor is sometimes so-called. But all values may be reduced to a common standard, as money, the value of anything in which is its Price. (Since the value of A is always in B, C, D, etc., there can be no general rise or fall of values—an important proposition. If the value of A in B, C, D, etc., rises or falls, their values [in A] must fall or rise to just the same extent. But there can be a general rise or fall in prices, which means a fall or rise in the value of the common standard, money. By money, understand here the metals, whose value is intrinsic. A rise or fall of coin values in their representative, paper, is a fall or rise in its value, not affecting the value of commodities in coin.)

10. Still we are only beleaguering this strongly fortified point, the definition of value. To open a breach, we must remember, that value is relative, that its conception arises in the process of exchange, and that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion. From the last of these propositions it follows that no man will give more labor in the product of his own than he gets (in product of another man's) as often as exchange occurs—this, of course, on elimination of such accidents as cheating, which, in a view of the world's affairs, may be understood to cancel by favoring different parties equally, —an assumption far from as arbitrary as it looks; for rascality, though often very remunerative on a pinch, is proverbially bad policy in the long run. The point, then, at which "higgling" between any two sets of producers, each trying to get as much of the other's product as possible for as little of their own, will produce an agreement, or Bar-Gain, is equality of labor by each,—the paradox of exchange being now as follows:

France obtains from England, Labor devoted to producing coil=jr=labor devoted to producing wine, which

England obtains of France; Subtract above from: English labor necessary to produce French labor necessary to produce coal=y

wine=y English gain=y—jt=French gain.

But this equality is only an average result. The labor actually offered for anything (called in Economy the Demand<ref>To operate as Demand and occasion Value, the labor must actually be offered. Mere profession of willingness to work (called sometimes "impotent demand") will not raise value, unless the work proposed be definite and available. Thus the fact that many people are hungry because their usual food is scarce, does not necessarily raise its price.</ref>), is always greater than the net labor employed in producing it,—the Supply—; or else it will not sell. (See below on the relation of Supply to Cost.) Trade in those products of which there never occurs a considerable glut is kept up by slight fluctuations continually diverting excess of demand over supply from one to the other; while, with those products in which trade is more speculative, these fluctuations are frequently sudden and great, arresting the sale of large stocks by a fall of demand below supply. It is usually said that Value, quantitatively considered, depends on the ratio, or marks the equation of supply and demand: but this is an example of loose phraseology allowing no translation into tangible symbols. Value, regarded as a quantity, is the ratio of demand to its excess over supply. This excess I call Scarcity. The obvious truth that Scarcity seems the inverse proposition of Supply, does not make this formula only a new way of putting the common one. That there is a real difference: and that the Supply and Demand formula is inaccurate may be shown as follows:

Supply remaining constant, value rises as demand rises and falls as demand falls. Demand remaining constant, value rises as supply falls and falls as supply rises. Value is then, evidently, a ratio (balance, equation, or what you will) not between Demand and Supply, which normally create each other, but Demand and its opposite, Minus Supply, or Scarcity,— rising and falling with either of these terms indifferently; and the distinction is of practical importance, because a scarcity or deficit of supply below demand never fails to make value; but increase of supply does not necessarily reduce value—in the familiar case of food during a good season it often does not, owing to increase of demand. We shall also see it is not necessary to value that there should be any supply at all. (To be continued.)


By C. L. James. (Continuation.)

ii. We have spoken so far only about the exchange and value of products. But we remarked at the very outset that sundry things which can be sold (exchanged) and therefore have a Value, are not products. Of such things there is evidently no supply, according to our definition of Supply; and the definition, though novel, will justify itself by harmony with common language. The valuable non-products mentioned previously are slaves, land, accounts, some of which are represented by paper acknowledgments and guarantees, finally privileges of monopoly; but analysis shows that, excepting accounts for work, they are all really privileges of monopoly, and do not consist in material objects, as land or slaves, but, where there is any such object, only in a claim upon it. Claims are what they, valuable property, not product, really are; and if not for labor done, they are claims having the nature of monopoly. Among these things, slaves, or rather the right to them, are the only species of which even an "orthodox" economist, using the loose language of his carelessly constructed science, would talk about a supply.10 He would acknowledge there

"Because a slave, though not truly a labor-product, is more like one than land or other valuable non-products. To make an American slave of an African savage certainly did require labor. To feed a negro baby up to the time it became fit for work was to establish a very plausible right to its labor during a considerable period afterwards. By such operations, also, the number of slaves could be increased, as the amount of land cannot—what the "orthodox" economist would probably have in view when speaking of their "supply." Slaves, however, are not labor-products. To enslave a man by actual force is not to increase, but lessen his utility. To do so by the threat of force has a similar, though less decided, effect:

"Jove fixed it certain that whatever day Makes man a slave, takes half his worth away." And to raise a slave-baby at one's own expense is what nobody did. It was done at expense of other slaves. As to increasing the number of slaves in such ways, observe that the "supply," like the "wealth" supposed to be in slaves, is only a distribution,

is no supply of Land. This deficiency of any supply for an article of which there is such lively demand, gives rise to a curious, hydra-headed, often very mischievous, but still very common delusion—the delusion that the value of land is, or should be, infinite. This is what makes people so hungry for land, and occasions the existence of "land-paupers." It crops out in innumerable crank financial schemes, of which some extraordinary examples are preserved in Macaulay's History. It deeply misled Henry George. It pervaded the various fallacies of John Law, who was not, as those who know nothing about him suppose, a charlatan, but a financier of considerable merit— chief discoverer of the great truths that credit is just as good a medium of exchange as money, and that it goes further. But if we bear in mind that value varies as the demand to its own excess over the supply, we shall see that in these cases where there is no supply, value varies as demand itself.

12. The Cost of anything is the gross labor consumed in causing it to exist—Supply being the net; thus the cost of grain after a bad harvest may be the same as after a good, but the supply is less. Where there is no supply, then, there is no cost. But there may be cost and supply, where there is no product. There is a supply of unproductive labor,—singing, acting, teaching, preaching, fighting, etc.—and such labor has a cost, being itself brought into being (ordinarily) by payment in other labor or products of other labor. Observe, then, that the Cost of labor itself is not prima facie the same thing as its value—much less its utility. The value of labor is measured, like the value of labor products, and of non-products, such as Land, by the ratio of Demand, or labor offered for it, to excess of such Demand over the supply, or labor available to meet the Demand. Accordingly the value goes up with the scarcity—the labor of a Nilson is great because Nilsons are few;—and with the Demand—the labor of a Socrates, though posterity esteem it more useful11 than that of a great singer, has no value, owing to lack of Demand. It is repaid only with the hemlock cup. But the Cost of Labor has an obvious measure—labor-time—which is quite independent both of the utility and the value. It is well to pause upon this for a moment, because here many people—mostly Socialists and would-be labor reformers—fall into grotesque errors. They say the man who ditches ten hours a day all his life ought to be paid more than the man who spends ten minutes in finding a diamond and ascertaining that it is one. Perhaps he "ought"; but certainly not on the ground taken. It is not the ten minutes of finding, but the many years of seeking which makes the wages of him who finds a Koh-i-nor enormous. Before ridiculing the ignorance shown in such reasoning, however, let us be sure that we rightly understand this weighty question "What is the Cost of Labor?" The Utility of labor is metaphysically incommensurable. The Value of labor varies with the kind: and this may perhaps be always, when such or such labor has any value,—what it certainly is in some cases,—because the services of skilled labor are scarce; which again is owing to the fact that the skilled laborer's toil is not measured by hours of employment, but by years of preparation. However, given that I want a certain amount of work done—a ditch dug, wall built, field plowed, or anything else,—I am the person whose will causes the work to be done: for which reason I am very properly and commonly said to do it; though another does it with his own hands: then the Cost of the labor means the labor which, in that case I must give, directly, or as product, to have the job done. And how much is that? The example of international trade has shown us that, under the deductive economist's favorite assumed condition of free competition—which nowhere else exists—I must give as much labor as I get. It is also stated by the Brassey Bros., contractors who have employed labor all over the world, that though free competition does not exist,

"Popularly, Science knows that, as above stated, utility is subjective, and does not admit of being measured.

the cost of labor, in this sense, is everywhere the same. The cash value of labor (called by economists Nominal Wages) may be only a few cents in India to five dollars in California: the produce value of labor (real wages) may be higher in one of these countries than the other; but to get something done requires the same outlay, measured in labor time, on both coasts of the Pacific—the advantage to the employer of low nominal wages is offset by the inefficiency of cheap labor—illustrated in India by the fact that caste rules make twenty times as many men necessary as if such rules did not exist—also by the high interest which the capitalist pays if he uses borrowed money, but sacrifices if he uses his own; and by other conditions which always appear in company. The Brassey's law of labor-cost is much at variance with a formula held up at one time by Ricardo's disciples as the best settled thing in political economy—that the capitalist's profits sustain an opposite ratio to nominal wages, rising as these fall and falling as they rise. It was, accordingly, disputed by Cairnes, the last person of much fame among Ricardians; but there is strong evidence in its favor aside from the high authority of the Brasseys upon a matter in which they have had so much experience, as against a dogma deductively arrived at from the questionable premise that product, less rent, divides into wages and profit. The prejudice against Brassey's law is, however, so strong, that we might be rash in treating it as settled without looking further into the whole conception of Distribution.

13. It is difficult to define this term without the viciously circuitous use of a tantamount, such as "share" or "division." But we may begin by understanding that Distribution is between productive laborers and some one else. This some one else, moreover, is not the class of unproductive laborers— actors, singers, teachers, preachers, lawyers, doctors, etc.—nor the class of women and children not productively employed. Whatever goes to any of these went first either to the productive laborers or the some one else whom we are seeking. Who, then, is this some one else? and how does he come to exist? Why should there be any distribution? Why do not the productive laborers get all the product? Why are there any non-producers but those whom they choose to keep? The usual answer is that production could not rise above the lowest stage of savages' industry without the aid of Capital. Capital is defined as wealth employed to produce more wealth. It includes, therefore, all seed of cultivated plants; all food-animals which have been domesticated; all breeding and working cattle; all tools from the forked stick with which a Digger Indian excavates toads to an Atlantic cable or a Pacific railroad. There is a tolerable agreement, founded on the definition, that it does not include wealth in the process of unproductive consumption, as food in a private larder, horses kept for amusement, or dwellings; but it does include all dealer's stocks; for their sale increases the quantum of wealth. It also includes coined money; for this is a form of wealth used to increase wealth by facilitating exchange. Land, most economists do not include, on the ground that it is not wealth. For the same reason, slaves were not reckoned capital, except apologetically by some writers in slave-holding countries. And the economists generally are quite earnest in assuring us that choses in action, including bonds and bank notes, are not capital, though they may represent capital. Capital, or wealth employed to produce wealth, is accumulated, we are told, by saving. If it were consumed unproductively it would not produce wealth, and therefore would not be capital. Since a great part of the world's present daily and annual product is certainly derived from wealth employed in production, it is then just, and also inevitable, that those who by saving added to the sum of such wealth, should receive, for their abstinence, a reward, viz., a share of the product, which is called the profits of capital;—what is left for labor being called Wages. A third share falls to owners of land, though they may be neither laborers nor capitalists, as follows. Men, seeking to gratify their desires with the least exertion, take up the best land first. To equal outlay, the inferior land will not, of course, yield as much. When, by improved methods, capitalists continue to get their former usual rate of profit out of it, that is at the expense of the laborers, whose wages fall. This further cut from wages is realized also by the occupants of the best land,—who are at liberty to apply the improved methods,—and thus they still obtain a surplus over the gains of those cultivating the inferior land; which surplus is called Rent, because it is what a tenant might pay for use of the better land without making his position worse than if he squatted on the poorest used, which is assumed to yield no Rent. I have not taken this theory from any particular economist, but picked it out of their collected works as that having the best authority and logic; for in fact they differ a good deal. Some, to illustrate, call the gains of capital Interest, Wages of Superintendence, Assurance, and Profit—thus virtually saying that Interest is not part of Profit, which seems to me a mistake.1"

"Besides this objection to the analysis, Wages of Superintendence are merely wages, and no part of capital's gain, as such ; for they might, and often do, fall to a factor who is not a capitalist . Neither is Assurance anything but a provision against loss; which does not benefit all capitalists, but only those who do not need it. Henry George's scheme is a modification of the fallacious analysis.

(To be continued)

== [4] == There was also a dispute between two great Fathers of the orthodox economic church, Ricardo and Malthus as to whether Rent cuts into Profit and Wages. Malthus denied that it affected either. Ricardo, by asserting that it reduced both, supplied the premises of an important Socialistic school whose best known representative is Henry George. The fallacies which make these controversies possible appear to me very largely founded in confusion of thought and language between such terms as (aggregate) rent and rent (per acre), interest (aggregate) and (per cent.), even real wages and nominal, though that is acknowledged to be a vulgar error. But they have a deeper root. The orthodox economists, having contracted the habit of generalizing from the capitalist's standpoint, are rarely able to see any other part of an universal truth than what concerns the capitalist, as such. And the Socialistic writers have not been able to correct them, because they, too, generalized from a special standpoint. Endeavoring myself to set both right by taking the Standpoint of Universal Man, or the Consumer, I shall most cheerfully acknowledge every anticipation I can find: for it will give me an opportunity to show that a view too limited and partial was what kept from the truth men who often got so very near it.

14. Rent, Profit, and Wages, are commonly assumed to be the shares in Distribution, falling respectively to landlords, capitalists, and laborers.13 But surely there are others. The share which falls to thieves is much too important to be justifiably ignored, if among thieves we include bad governments, corrupt monopolies, pestilent sinecurists, warriors employed in anything else than defense of their own countries, and these are, most deservedly, so classed by the orthodox Economy, which was the precursor and almost became the phoenix progenitor of Anarchism. This share is not like that of children, nursing mothers, beggars, unproductive laborers, who can get only what the producers or the producer's exploiters have had first. If conquerors and their creatures be thieves, as orthodox Economy teaches, the thief gets his share before the producer. There is also an impersonal sharer, Waste, which devours not what the producers choose to give it, for that would be nothing, but all it -can take against their will. Floods, flames, moths, rust, mice, kings, nobles, and pirates, must have their undivided share first. The producer gets only what they leave. The Socialistic writers are not insensible to part of this truth. Before Saint Simon gave them anything like a scientific method , they perceived that existing institutions were founded by barbarians whose, only trade was war, and that the taint of origin pervades them all. Adam Smith partly saw this, too." The reason neither he nor they have adequately reasoned from this historical premise, is that both the main economic schools were in a hurry to begin generalizing either from the capitalist's standpoint or the laborer's. Waste and Plunder, so important to the Consumer, i. e., to man, as man, were dismissed with the remark that they took only from the gross product, and that the laws of the net could be ascertained without considering them. But if, as Adam Smith, all Socialists, and all Historic Economists, perceive, the landlords and capitalists derive peculiar powers from government, an institution whose original purposes were war and Plunder, it evidently is not correct to say that we can get at the law of their share in Distribution without first considering the laws of Plunder.

15. This error, springing direct from the Original Sin of Political Economy, has been the fruitful parent of others. The definition of Capital as wealth employed to produce more wealth, is incorrect. The wealth consumed in war is not employed to produce wealth but to destroy it; and a bond given by the government to those who lend it money during war is not wealth at all. But to say, as Henry George does actually say, that the bonds of a government are not Capital, is to deny that Rothschild is a capitalist-a palpable reductio ad absurdum; for he is a typical capitalist-a capitalist who is nothing else than a capitalist, whereas most capitalists are also landowners and laborers; which embarrasses us when we wish to class them, while he is classable at once and forever as a capitalist. And, as all Capital is not wealth employed to produce wealth, so much wealth employed to produce more wealth-for example, the tools belonging to a man who lets out the work he does with them-are capital in no ordinary tenable sense. For a correct definition of Capital we are indebted to Karl Marx. Capital is that which acquires Surplus Value, or a share in Distribution not due to labor. It may be wealth employed to produce wealth, but is not necessarily. It includes, therefore, slaves, accounts bearing interest, and Land, though this is a peculiar kind, needing, frequently, to be distinguished with much care from (other) Capital." This definition certainly has the disadvantage of leaving us without a short term for wealth employed to produce wealth, After considerable embarrassment from this lack, I determined to employ the symbol W. P. W.; and I find it very convenient. I shall maintain that W. P. W., as such, works, though it may be Capital, in quite the opposite way to Capital, as such. Capital is, in Wall street phrase, a "bear": W. P. W. is a "bull." W. P. W. raises the value of labor: Capital, as such, always tends to beat it down. "Orthodox" economy, having thus committed a non distributis medii, in identifying with Capital what is only sometimes a part of Capital, and fallen into the ambiguity of using the word Capital in two inconsistent senses, proceeds to give an incorrect account of the process by which both W. P. W. and Capital are brought into being. Because under the existing "bourgeois" methods of production and trade, most Capital is W. P. W., and because the individual capitalist often becomes one by saving money, this theory, still failing to distribute the middle term, asserts that Capital is created by saving money. But in whichever sense the word Capital is to be understood, Capital existed long before there was any money to save. Does Capital mean W. P. W.? Then the forked stick of the Digger; the bow of a more advanced barbarian; a tame horse, dog, cow; a boat, a net, is Capital. What had saving money to do with making these? They were made not by "adding parsimony to production," but wholly by production, of that peculiar kind which is called Invention. Now, it is a truth of the first importance that the economic functions are always essentially the same-that they advance, not by creation but only evolution,-a "simple indefinite homogeneity" becoming a "complex definite heterogeneity." All W. P. W., from a raft to a Great Eastern, an Esquimaux sled to a Union Pacific R. R.; a bow to a quick-firing rifled cannon, is produced by Invention, and by nothing but Invention. All the processes of trade-the opening of new markets, the use of bills, notes, banks, stocks, clearing houses, were brought into existence by invention, and by nothing else. Money owes its existence to Invention and its use has very largely given way to that of credit, a somewhat later invention which is admitted to serve all the same purposes. An imperfect system of credit-exchanges still makes cash payments periodically necessary, and the great cash accumulations of bankers very useful; but of these accumulations only a very small part is due to saving; which, moreover, to give it all the praise it has, can accumulate nothing but money, could not do that if all the people tried to save, and would be useless but for that series of exchanges whose end is always unproductive consumption. To suppose an extreme casea favorite device in economic reasoning,-we have seen what not only would happen if all tried to save money-they could not do it, and they would all be poor-but what actually does happen where this process is approached, as in "Jewtown"-they all are desperately poor. Now suppose, then, that nobody saved money -- that every one bought whatever he fancied-what would happen? Since it is evident that if a man who starts with nothing proposes to build or buy a house he must meanwhile abstain from gratifying many desires of a more evanescent character, there might be less substantial comfort than there is. But this does not seem to me quite certain, for the number of such men who build or buy houses has never been great; and, if we inquired into their antecedents we should be apt to find they differed from less provident neighbors rather in their natural tastes than their acquired habits. At any rate, there would then, as now, be productive labor, without which no man starting poor in a pacific society could gratify his desires at all; trade, without which only the simplest desires can be gratified; and invention, which is what improves all the means of gratifying desire. In short, the effect of parsimony even in assisting production of W. P. W. is much exaggerated.


By C. L. James. (Continuation.)

The chief purpose and result of parsimony actually is to buy into privileges of monopoly—stocks of a chartered corporation, land, slaves, if there are any, etc.; then, since both the existence of these privileges, and the parsimony itself checks trade and therefore production, we may well doubt whether relaxation of the parsimony would not on the whole make the world richer—this, at least, is a most powerful argument secundum magis et minus, that those countries where the standard of proletarian comfort is highest, as the United States and England, grow rich faster than those where it is lower, as France, Spain, Italy, Holland; but those of the far east, like China, where the standard touches bottom, are the poorest among civilized nations — the solitary exception, Japan, dating her increase in wealth chiefly from recent Europeanizing of her practises. I suspect those who especially praise parsimony of a further confusion in thought. The luxury of non-producers impoverishes a country, because their existence does; but that of producers makes the difference between barbarism and civilization. If, again, we take Capital to mean not W. P. W., but the magnet of Surplus Value, it is clearly much older than money, and can by no possibility owe its being to the practise of saving money. Homer knows nothing about money;18 but in his time there were slaves and masters, landlords and hired agricultural laborers (thetes), merchants of Egypt and Tyre and savages whom they skinned in Greece and Italy, even as there have been since. It is idle to look for another origin of Surplus Value when such obvious sources as war, plunder, conquest, government, and law, confront us since the beginning of history.

16. The Distribution of Wealth is therefore into the following shares—to put first those which are supplied first—Waste, Plunder, and Wages. Between

"The talents paid in the Iliad to settle a feud were not coined nor currency.

these last afterwards intervene Rent and Profits, which began indeed as Plunder—the first Rent being simply all a barbarous king could take from cultivators without making his dominion a desert; the first Profit being realized in the slave-trade,—but which have become "differentiated" from other Plunder, in a manner now to be described. We have seen that Demand exceeds Supply wherever there is an exchange, that trade is kept alive by fluctuations of this excess from certain products whose value falls, to others, whose value rises; that in steady conservative trades these fluctuations are small, short, frequent; but in those of a less settled character they are comparatively rare, great, and sudden. To anticipate such fluctuations, buying into the rising market, selling off betimes upon the falling, is therefore the essence of the merchant's art. It is a branch of Invention, making wealth not only for him, but the community, as orthodox economists have saved me the trouble to prove when they were fighting the old laws against "forestalling and regrating." So far as it does that, it is not a source of Surplus Value or of Prof1t. But it is a chief source of Profit, and therefore of Surplus Value! The entire process of its evolution may be illustrated thus. The gains of the man who keeps a little store in the backwoods receiving, as all such men do, produce of various kinds for his goods and also to sell on commission, are well known to be almost wholly wages—i. e., he could not hire a man to do his work for much less than he himself gets out of the business. Neglecting, as capable of exclusion from the case without affecting the principle, whatever small percentage over his wages he makes on his original investment, such a man is just as simply a productive laborer as the hunters and "crackers" who bring him pelts and corn for the hats and boots they buy. If he makes something by reducing the rate of purchase on corn because he sees the crop will be redundant, and raises his bids for furs because the paper shows him that they will go up during the winter, still this is but his wages "of superintendence," as manager of an exchange. But if the prospect of a great advance in furs induces him to pay more for them than he could recover in case of disappointment, this is Speculation. He no longer expects to gain with, but from, his customers. Taking his case at random, he will probably lose—more than ninety per cent, of these even in business not highly speculative fail—but he may, with reason, too, feel so confident of success that he can judiciously borrow money to increase his purchases of furs. The practise of borrowing and lending at interest no doubt began in other ways than this. It began in the needs of distressed proletaires, who being wholly at the mercy of a privileged class, like the banyans of India, the eupatridae of Athens, the plebs in early Rome, were fleeced by them, till they either rebelled, as at Athens and Rome, or began themselves to decay, as in India. But though this is the historic origin of interest, interest might arise in the demands of speculators as just supposed; and this, which may be called its theoretical origin, modifies the effect of the historic, thus. The robber-interest imposed by monopolists who, like the banyans, eupatrida;, and patricians, have the game for a time in their own hands, is, we have seen, suicidal;—it either provokes resistance, which, being for life, is successful, as it did in Athens and Rome, or it kills the goose which lays the golden eggs, as it is doing in India. It strikes an increasing number of the lenders, accordingly, as less inviting than that lower rate at which speculators are willing to borrow on more or less good security. And thus there comes to be established a customary rate, determined by, and of course less than, the average profit in all successful trades. This average share in profit is already known as Economic Interest—much lower than exceptional profits, but always somewhat higher than what is called Commercial Interest, and which is recognized, in any country, as obtainable entirely without work, by invention or otherwise, on absolutely reliable18 security.

(To be continued.)

"This theory of the origin of interest is my own. All other theories I have ever met with, as Bastiat's, Senior's, and George's, appear to me wildly fanciful or even rhetorical and destitute of any definite meaning.


By C. L. James, (Continuation.)

As suicidal Plunder works out its destruction, these rates of Profit remain — the Speculative, usually attended with great risk, and largely consisting in Assurance, the ordinary — a little more than Economic Interest, and the certain — Commercial Interest.

Rent arises, we have said, and we may see in India, like usury; that is to say, it was originally nothing but a form of robbery. The conquerors stripped the cultivators of all they could get except a minimum which, ignorant barbarians though they were, they perceived was needed to keep agriculture from ceasr- ing. It proved actually too little; and accordingly, in the progressive countries, rent, we shall see at more length, has for some centuries been gravitating towards what Ricardo, forgetting plunder by codper- ating tyrants, thought it needs must be, — the surplus yield of good land, approximately equal to commer- cial interest on the estimated value. (Roscher has shown that the equation is not exact, owing mostly to that exaggerated value set on land by cranks and speculators, of which we have made mention: but it is in the main correct — thus, in England, where the rate of commercial interest is [about] five per cent., twenty years' free use of land is held as good as the fee simple.) I need scarcely remark that the rate of interest fixed by the demands of speculators is that which every borrower must pay except in peculiar cases. If his situation be desperate, robber-interest may still be exacted from him by usurers of a class adapted to their clients; but the common borrower on security of property or a good financial name can obtain loans at the commercial rate ; and he must pay that, because those who have money to lend know they can invest it as well with agents or middlemen who act for speculators.

17. Such, cleared of questionable dogmas and un- intelligible language, appear to me the statics — the definitions and first principles — of economic science.

Mother Earth 123

From them we can deduce the dynamical laws of the subject, which, we shall also find, are illustrated by the actual history of economic progress. As before, we begin with the laws of Consumption. The first law of Consumption evidently is that the consumers must have food sufficient to sustain (i) life, (2) prop- agation, and (3) their previous rate of production. (The alternative is that they perish, which is not at all impossible, but is immaterial to our inquiry be- cause it takes them out of the economic aggregate). The second law of consumption is that the number of consumers tends to increase. Observe, this is not to say that it does increase. It tends to increase, — that is it would do so if the consumers had as many children as their passions incline them to engender, and if all the children lived out the normal time. As a rule, to be sure, it does increase. But it can do so only on condition that food increases sufficiently to satisfy the more imperative first law. If that be not the case, increase of population is stopped by various Checks, which resolve themselves into two kinds — Positive, raising the death-rate, and Preventive, low- ering the birth-rate. Nor is it necessary that there should be actual starvation in order to set the Positive Check at work. Most people die prematurely. Any lowering in the standard of comfort, not only actual, but even impending as a result of increase, will raise the death-rate, by inducing (i) famine, (2) pestilence, (3) vices, like the desperate intemperance so common in low social strata where cheap liquor acts as a tem- porary substitute for dearer food, or, most common of all, (4) war. The true teterrima causa belli, we shall see abundantly illustrated in history, is not love, as the Latin poet would have it, but distress, actual or apprehended. Barbarians fight because they are hun- gry; more advanced nations because they fear they will be if they do not secure economic advantages for which other nations are their competitors. Not understanding these distinctions is an extremely com- mon blunder, and a plentiful source of others. The third law of Consumption, then, is that the first will stop operation of the second, unless something else does, or unless food is increased proportionally to the

124 Economy as Viewed, by An Anarchist

number of consumers. The fourth law, partly em- pirical, but founded on good statistics, is the law of Malthus. The birth rate is too high to continue with- out invoking the Positive Check on increase; there- fore the operation of the Positive Check — the double agony of undesirable births and premature deaths — can be lessened only by inviting the Preventive, or having fewer births. As I have already given this subject a paper in Mother Earth, I will only remind the reader that such suggestions as the times being indefinitely distant or that the food-supply is capable of indefinite increase, are ignorant nonsense. The time is the present and the past. It always was the present. And the increase of one Adam and Eve, at the Colonial rate of America, would, not in geologic seons, but in less time than has elapsed since the dissolution of the Roman Empire, stock the world beyond all possibility of finding food or even standing room, — if it did not encounter such positive checks as war, famine, pestilence, misery and vice in less degrees, which, of course, therefore, it soon must. The fifth law of consumption is the law of human progress. War makes conquest. Conquest makes leisure. Leisure induces new desires, which imply that that of food is less pressing, and render that of sex more controllable. Fear of remote consequences, reaction from the excesses of idle luxury, ambition to rise in life or do good work, induce the Preventive Check of sexual moderation, at first among the domi- nant class : but by degrees they extend to the subject class. For the latter, always threatened with actual starvation by the rapacity of the other, holds very tenaciously to ever}^ security for life it may have acquired. It will not have its standard of comfort reduced. It learns, slowly and spasmodically, but it does learn, every method, such as delay of marriage, combination, strikes, cooperation, by which it can improve its means of defense. Thus, by a series of accidents, often very terrible in themselves, but ulti- mately beneficial, have mankind advanced from the lowest savage state to their present degree of knowl- edge, morals, and wealth. By this change the upper class has gained the more absolutely; but the lower

Mother Earth 125

has gained more relatively — the difference between an English gentleman and an African king is greater than that between a cannibal and such a proletaire as the murderer Burke ; but even a landlord in Ireland can be no such despot to his tenants as the King of Ashantee to his subjects. How far application of this law has been extended by Darwin, how radically it has changed our conceptions of Biology, History, Ethics, and Theology, and how absurd, therefore, are attacks upon it in the usual temper of Malthus re- futers, as if Gibraltar could be overthrown with a popgun, ought really, on reflection, to be pretty evi- dent.

18. The laws of Production are founded on those of Consumption. The first is that Production is limited by Consumption, which is its Final Cause. The second law is that Production is limited by the bounty of Nature, or by Land, which is its Material Cause. The third is that Production is limited by Labor, itc Efficient Cause. In other words, scarcity of Labor — that is, of men — where population is thin or the number of idlers inordinate, as it is in Egypt ; scarcity of Land, where the population is redundant; or scarcity of Demand, where ignorance makes a rude population, like the Anglo-Saxons, abun- dantly content with beef and beer; will, all or any of them, prevent Production from immediately rising above a certain point? The Fourth Law of Production might, with much regard to logic, be stated thus. Production is limited by knowledge (skill), which is its Formal Cause. But there is another way of putting the matter, which I prefer, because the first three laws of Production, espe- cially the second, have been made to sound rather pes- simistic ; while the Fourth is encouraging. It is that Production increases with Consumption. With Demand, indeed, it cannot be uniformly increased. No labor, whether directly or indirectly offered, will perform im- possibilities, such as squaring the circle, constructing a perpetual motion, increasing the lift without lessening the speed, or producing food enough to sustain forever a population increasing at the maximum rate. But it is not more certain that Supply is wholly created by De- mand than that it generates Demand in turn. As acorns produce oaks and oaks acorns, so Demand and Supply

126 Books Received.

forever reproduce each other — the satisfaction of primary- desires at once kindling new, which increases Produc- tion, which increases Consumption, and so on forever. Thus the world grows richer. But with the increase of W. P. W., which makes it so, Parsimony, aiming not to be absolutely, but relatively richer, interferes. It checks increase of the world's wealth that parsimonious indi- viduals may grow rich faster than their neighbors; and "a penny saved" is literally "two pence lost."^" For this the thriftless have certainly no ground of holding them- selves indebted to the thrifty. Happily, however, neither ambition to be rich by making others poor, nor that praise of thrift which is among anodynes employed to keep the vulgar quiet in their proper stations, avail to prevent the Law of Progress from taking effect. The standard of comfort rises. The title of "miser," bestowed on those who do not live up to the standard, becomes more odious ; and misers become rarer in every generation.

^° That the penny does not (now) go into a buried flower-pot, but a bank, which soon restores it to circulation, is only a mitigating circumstance. That it is taken out of circulation at all means that two producers lose the benefit of it for a longer or shorter time.

(To be continued.)


By C. L. James. (Continuation.)

The second and third laws of Production have been expounded a good deal by orthodox economists, and the Fourth by that school in Economy which is called the Optimistic. But the first, and such logical corollaries from all as our otherwise empirical analysis of Distribution is now seen to be, I might claim for my own. Some previous writers have, as it were, stumbled over them; but no one before me has enlarged as I have enlarged on these principles: (1) That Invention, not Parsimony, differentiates W. P. W. from other wealth; (2) that the end of Invention, as of all Production, is consumption; (3) that the end of Productive consumption is unproductive; (4) that Parsimony recommended as a general remedy for poverty is the glaring absurdity of saying the cart draws the horse or the tail wags the dog; (5) that W. P. W. throughout the cycle of economic history has "bulled" the rate of real wages, but (6) that Parsimony "bears" them; (7) that it is germane to Capital only through being the way in which people now buy into the great labor-"bearing" machine, Monoply—to W. P. W. only because Capital now is largely W. P. W.

19. The first three laws of Exchange evidently are (1) that there must be as many as two parties; (2) that each must have at his disposal a surplus, over his own needs, of something (3) for which the other offers him more labor than the getting it cost—because since men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion, no surplus is produced or, in the case of non-products, offered, except with a view to getting more than is given —at least, not on economic principles; while charity or any other unselfish act is not Exchange, and concerns Economy only on account of economic effects, as a rule, widely unlike what it contemplates. The fourth and most important law of Exchange is the familiar one, that "Competition reduces prices to the cost of production." Though Exchange implies a Demand,—that is, an excess of labor offered over supply, or labor given,—the progress of economic function is reducing them to equality. (It is also raising Supply to equality with Cost, though the latter always has exceeded the former.) The fifth law of Exchange is its paradox, above explained. While in each Exchange between any two parties, one ("the buyer") offers more labor than another ("the seller"), the end of exchanges, eliminating the accidents of cheating, which cancel, is always equality in the labor given and received; nevertheless, both parties gain by the transactions. The remaining laws of Exchange cannot be understood without first understanding those of Distribution. Generally speaking, the laws of Exchange are the same for non-products as for products. Labor, whether productive or unproductive, is equally exchanged as a Supply, for greater labor offered as a Demand, fluctuations in these factors keeping the trade alive. Thus a great singer, as is well known, charges what people call exorbitant prices, meaning much more than the cost of making one will explain. But this is not the case with an artist whose popularity has begun to decline. Now between the point of Demand for the singer's work, greatly ahead of the Supply, and Demand for money which exceeds Supply, when the reduced artist is glad to take what the cost fully explains, there intervenes a nodal point, at which, but for this shift in relations, the trade would stop. Similarly, other laws for the Exchange of products apply equally to non-products—the price of slaves is measured by the relation of Demand, that is, labor directly or indirectly offered for them, to the Scarcity or such demand's excess over the net labor of getting them to market by capture or breeding; to which, plus waste equals cost, competition reduces their price.21

"This applies just as much to illicit trades as legal ones. It is, therefore, among the capital absurdities of human law to punish him who furnishes the Supply in an unlawful trade. Economists recognize this in regard to Usury. They see that laws against this practise only increase the risk, therefore the remuneration, therefore the temptation. But this is equally true of any unlawful trade. I need not mention liquor selling or prostitution. Stealing is a great organized business in which the "fence" (receiver) is the employing capitalist, and the thief only the proletaire. Punishing the thief doubly encourages the crime by raising his wages, and by putting him at the absolute service of an accomplice whom it is vain to make laws against, unless all who like to buy cheap could be punished.

Yet there is in all cases where claims on the labor of others (not for service done) exchange; that is, where any non-product of labor other than labor itself is bought and sold; the element of Surplus Value, derived not from W. P. W., but its antagonist, Capital. The slave-buyer and slave-seller exchange with one another on just the same principles as though the goods exchanged were wheat. But why is there any demand for slaves? Because a surplus value comes out of their unpaid labor. It is the same with land, which owes its value to surplus derived from the tenant's labor; and with all the monopolies' privileges, which derive theirs similarly from the labor of the people in general. I undertook, and propose, to prove that such claims on the labor of others make the difference between rich and poor. Evidently, they do govern the Exchange of the great income-yielding fountains—land, slaves until lately, Government bonds, stock in great corporations like the Standard Oil Company. To pursue the subject further, therefore, we must take up the laws of Distribution.

20. Distribution of Product, or Wealth, we remember, is among the shares of (1) Waste, (2) Plunder, (3) Rent, (4) Profit, and (5) Wages. I will not say there are no others, but these are certainly the chief. Each has its own laws, which, together, make up the chief laws of Distribution. The first law of Waste is that it implies the existence of Product; the second that, habitually, it must be less than the product. The third law (deducible from the simple premises that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion, and that experience teaches) is that the ratio of Waste to Product declines, either through diminution of the former, increase of the latter, or both.

The first law of Plunder is that it must fall below net Product, after deducting Waste. But this is not quite all. That the Plunder may continue, it must be considerably less than the product—it must leave the producers enough to live upon—else there will soon be nothing to take from them—at their accustomed standard of comfort, for about this they are very tenacious. Coolies may live on rice-gruel, but, though negroes have been called slaves, which coolies are not, it would never pay to treat negroes in that manner. Unless well fed, they are too refractory to be worked with profit. This law of Plunder is among the laws of Nature, or of God, which, unlike human laws, have the admirable property of executing themselves. They may be disregarded, but they cannot, like the laws of a State, be disobeyed; and if they are disregarded, the penalty is a certain consequence, while that of disregarding a human law is uncertain. Barbarians, however, understand little of this. Their Plunder usually does disregard the law; therefore it is suicidal. Slavery actually kills a civilization founded on it. Serfdom does not necessarily kill, but it petrifies. The nations which practise it make no progress till its weight is taken off. And its worst forms, like the ryot system of India, are almost as fatal to a country as slavery. The general process by which it falls towards Ricardo's "economic" rent has been already traced. The most considerable criticism on Ricardo's law of Rent, originally propounded by Richard Jones, was simply that it does not harmonize with the facts. The actually existing kinds of Rent may be described as Ryot Rent, Cottier's Rent, Metayer's Rent, and Farmer's or Economic Rent, which last is according to Ricardo's law. But there is scarcely a country where it can be said to exist; and the other kinds are not determined by this assumed natural law. In the petrified East ryot rent of half or more than half the crop is exacted, either by the Government (most usually) or by a class of aristocratic landlords who long since established the rate as a fixture. Cottier's Rent, in like manner, is exacted in Ireland and Scotland, its typical countries, not through the operation of contract, but of monopoly. The landlords do not compete; they combine; they exact from the tenant all he produces above a minimum long since determined by the low standard of comfort which they, as conquerors, found existing among a barbarous people; and there is no remedy, for the whole land is monopolized, and its owners, knowing that their tenure will not bear investigation, simply dare not compete against each other. Metayer rent, in which the landlord takes half or more of the crop, but is required by custom to find the working "capital" (W. P. W.), is a transparent relic of mediseval serfdom. The very process of its evolution can be traced quite historically from the time when the Roman Emperors, unable to get taxes out of the small farmers whom they had beggared, declared them servi, adscripts glebae; taxed the proprietors for them, as for slaves, and left settlement of farming terms to be regulated by a custom which since then various "accidents," such as the Peasants' Wars and the Black Death, with the general rise of wages which followed, have, no doubt, considerably improved. The English rents come nearer than any others, except perhaps the Russian, to being "economic." But the English practise is evidently an improved, or mitigated, metayerism. The smartest tenants have leases, which probably show the "economic" rent, at time of granting, with approximate correctness; the tenants at will would be cottiers, but that they are more united to resist and the lordlords less united to oppress than in Ireland or Scotland. The result is that the landlord is expected to do a good deal for the tenant, as under the metayer system; but what and how much is unsettled. Whether farmers' rent could be confiscated, as Henry George proposed, without fatally discouraging genius applied to the selection of land for improvement, may well be doubted. There can be no doubt, however, that rent, as we see it, is not farmers' rent, but a monopoly tribute exacted with little regard to natural economic laws (though it pays some respect to conventions and treaties), at first by government, later by government's grantees. Before we inquire what might be necessary if buying and selling annual or other naturally designated terms of use on land were regulated by free competition, let us ask what would be the consequence of letting it be so? The answer is not difficult.


By C. L. James. (Continuation.)

Anarchism is no patent scheme for introducing "the reign of the Prince of Peace." It does not ignore the bitter fruits of sin. It does not deny that personal ignorance and stupidity are the prime causes of all our sufferings. It does not imagine that man can be free and woman be a slave. It makes no Omnipotent Goodness out of a popularly elected legislature. But it does perceive that when men combined to enslave other men they first laid upon their own necks a yoke called Government, which it is pitiful to hear them beg their drivers will by some never clearly designated hocus-pocus convert into a defense; that it is the worse and not the better part of human nature which is organized for perpetuity by such combinations as States; that the spontaneous tendency of desire working in individuals is towards improvement; that the weight which forever drags us back into our old afflictions is Law, the petrified tradition of a barbarous past! Before proceeding to illustrate this through a brief review of economic history, observe that interest is the fruit of artificial monopoly just as much as rent. We may inquire whether anything can be done for its complete extinction when we have cleared away its factitious bulwarks—the chartered monopolies whose constantly accumulating Surplus .Value makes them the fountain heads of usury; whose high profits on such illicit speculation as the Credit Mobilier renders possible the ravaging rate of loans;22 and whose traditional methods express themselves in conspiracies as much disapproved by the very government to which they owe their own existence as are those of the Standard Oil Company.

21. It is remarkable how small a part of economic history can be rationalized from the premises of orthodox Economy; and how much light is cast upon true methods of generalization as soon as we begin seeking them

"The world's wealth hardly increases three per cent, a year. Three per cent, is reckoned a very low interest. Why does not Interest eat up the world ? Because it is not paid! What becomes of it? Ask the ruined speculators after a financial "crisis." among the facts! I suppose it is no longer imagined that man's primitive condition was anything else than the lowest state of savagery; but what that means is not quite easily made intelligible. Cannibalism is far from being the lowest state. It requires an amount of courage, energy, and aspiration, not possessed by the most degraded races of men, and accordingly does not seem to exist, certainly not on a large scale, among the negrittoes of Melanesia or Central Africa. They are mere grazers upon Land. But there is evidence that cannibalism did once prevail among the Negroes, Polynesians, Indians, Turanians, the Semitic and Aryan races. Occasionally, as among the Aztecs, it persists into somewhat advanced social states but, as a rule, it gives way to hunting, in countries where large animals (there were none in early Mexico) can be killed with the rude weapons of the savages. Progress from the grazing to the hunting state illustrates at every step the rujes that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion, and that their desires are enlarged by the increase of their powers, brought about, as yet, mainly through natural and sexual selection, but already in some degree effected by Invention, a sure mark of knowledge increased through experience. A great change takes place when men have discovered that some large animals, as the horse, the dog, the sheep, and the bovine kinds, can be domesticated. This is easier than the chase. Cannibalism, an occasional resort of hunting nomads, wholly ceases. There is now, for the first time, a considerable accumulation of wealth, in the form of W. P. W.— breeding cattle—which is also Capital, enabling the patriarch to obtain a Surplus Value from the labor of his sons, wives, slaves, naturalized aliens, and unlucky members of the horde. The subjection of women, the earliest among wrongs and the parent of all others, becomes a little mitigated. Even before that the young savage was required to prove himself fit for his father's trade of war before he could marry; but now something else becomes necessary, not through arbitrary regulation, but natural law. For the cattle-raising nomad to have a family is simply impossible until he has acquired stock enough for the support of one; while from the marriage contracts or settlements spring certain customary rights of dower and separation which are favorable to the weaker sex. Up to the cattle-raising stage, increase of population is slow. Except for requiring young men to show their proficiency in arms and endure the cruel rites of barbarian confirmation, there is, indeed, no Preventive or Prudential Check, but barbarians below the stage of cattle keeping are desperately poor, and their multiplication is continually checked by famine, pestilence, which they are too ignorant to combat; war, infanticide, cannibalism, and accidents of the chase. After they begin to keep cattle, these animals, propagating much faster than the men, enable men also to increase rapidly; nor have they learned any reason why they should not. The migratory patriarch of a horde whose members are all actual or adopted members of one family, measures his power by his posterity; he is a polygamist who buys or captures women whenever he can; his descendants quickly multiply, and, like all subjects, they imitate their king as much as they can, so that the rapidity with which a pair becomes a nation is often quite startling. But there is a limit to the possibility of such life. The cattle must be fed, as well as the people; so, when their numbers become too great for land, uncultivated and mostly poor, it becomes necessary that the tribe should divide or else decamp bodily. The emigrating portion either gets a better country or perishes in a great defeat, and the native pasture land of nomads remains as little improved as formerly. Agriculture, however, originates in regions especially favorable to the simpler kinds. Rice in India, dates through northern Africa, corn in the tropical belt of America, poi in the Sandwich Islands, etc., are so easily raised that a few nations, as the Aztecs and Polynesians, have attained some degree of agricultural proficiency without becoming masters of large laboring animals ; but this is rare. In most cases, people have discontinued nomadism only after acquiring considerable knowledge of how to gather and thresh grain, weed fields, hoe, plow, harrow, etc., in aid of which operations they had cattle. Leisure and experience have diversified their desires, and it becomes easier to gratify them by the agricultural life than that of shepherds, which, accordingly, is left to the backward inhabitants of the poorest sections. The settled habits of agriculturists are very favorable to individualism, and in the same proportion opposed to the communism of savages. It is easy for grazers, cannibals and hunters to have almost all their scanty possessions in common. The maker of weapons cannot, indeed, live on his product, and therefore, since all want it, he must be paid for it. But he is a salaried functionary, paid, not by individuals, but the tribe; and the same is true of the weaver, potter, basket-maker, and what other workmen, excepting fighters and hunters, there are. In the stage of shepherd nomadism there is, indeed, as we saw, a great accumulation of what is at once W. P. W. and Capital. But almost all belongs to one person, who, moreover, holds it in a sort of trust, as the head and representative of the tribe. So conservative are barbarians that they do not give up the most inconvenient practises without shame and fear of offending the gods. Such institutions as the prytanaeum—the public hotel where officials during their term, foreign ambassadors, pensioners, and other guests of the community live free of cost to themselves—as the temple of Vesta, a reminiscence of the old village campfire, kept by revered and sacred characters, show how the forms of community life persist after the substance has passed away. A really serious matter, however, is that in many countries— India, Persia, the Ottoman Empire, etc.—land, though occupied and cultivated by individuals, continues to be the property of the people's Great Father, the king, to whom the heavy ground rent is paid. That this system would be a good one under a democratic government with socialistic maxims, as its advocates propose, may be possible, and may not be true. But there can be no question that where it actually exists it is a bad one. More defensible from the quasi-moral point is the reservation of common lands. But everywhere we can see that the tendency of agriculture towards individuality is too much for this ancient practise. Commons continue to be divided and enclosed, despite the Corn Law rhymer's well-known complaint; and this not because monopolizing landlords buy venal legislators, though this doubtless assists a deeper process; but because W. P. W. can get more out of the commons than the unsystematic work of those few poor people to whom the enclosure is a hardship. (To be Continued.)

== [9] == ECONOMY AS VIEWED BY AN ANARCHIST By C. L. James. (Continuation.) With change from shepherd nomadism to agriculture there comes, accordingly, a marked change in the distribution of Wealth. Common, when there was almost none of it; nominally common but really almost all that of one man when, in shape of cattle, there began to be a good deal, it now belongs, with its rapidly growing increase, to a class—the class of ambitious, rapacious, favored or cunning individuals and their descendants— while the rest of the people remain almost as poor as formerly, and a portion become, thus far, worse that they lose the right to themselves and become slaves. To a certain extent slavery has been practised at least ever since men ceased to be cannibals.23 But neither in MAn example of the change has occurred in Africa during our time. A benevolent slave trader, observing how many fine young men were killed and eaten after a battle, thought it, as he said, "a pity"; and put the idea into some ambitious king's head of organizing a slave army, which others soon imitated.

the hunting nor the shepherd state is slavery very profitable nor, therefore, extensively practised. Its great uses are for great public works, like those of the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian, and the Roman Emperors— for private undertakings on a similarly great scale, as management of the best Romane states and the extensive plantations of our South. Both require settled governments able to enforce extradition over a long radius. There are three considerable slave systems whose history is well known, the old Egyptian, the Roman, and the American. Our assertion that slavery kills a civilization founded on it is abundantly illustrated by their record. Meagre and full of gaps as the Egyptian annals are, we find proof enough that the people had spirit, patriotism, piety, and genius, until their independence of the Hyksos conquerors was restored by the eighteenth dynasty. Nor do the monuments, until then, give us any evidence of hardship. Even those prehistoric tyrants alleged to have exhausted their resources in building pyramids, are not accused of robbing the poor, but only the gods, who should have been able to stand it or punish it. But with the dreadful slave-trade introduced by Thothmes III., of this dynasty, a change for the worse becomes continuous. Under the great Ramessides we see the horrors of an extensive slave system, portrayed by the still graphic pencil of its beneficiaries. Next come plots and libels against one who seems to have been the best of all the kings (Rameses III.), and conspiracies of priests to rob the tombs. Under the later Ramessides native art dies out, never to be restored. The last free national dynasty was deserted by its native military caste. Ever since it has been well understood (1) that Egyptians will not fight if they can run, and (2) that they will, in the true spirit of helpless but stubborn and crafty slaves, bear anything rather than submit to more exactions. For this reason they will die rather than surrender, and the fellah who could not show stripes received for tax-dodging would be a "scab," unable to hold up his head in company. Stubbornness and cowardice between them alone preserve the race of Pharaoh from being actually eaten up by the Arabs, Turks, and other foreigners, none of whom will work, and whose proportion to that of the laborers is greater than the loafers' anywhere else. Not less evident are those steps by which slavery destroyed the Roman Empire. Under the republic it had ruined Italy. The days when eight hundred thousand native farmers sprang to arms at the name of a Punic invasion were over. The army which Pompey expected to rise out of the ground when Csesar crossed the Rubicon did not come. Under the second Emperor there was difficulty about raising those taxes which the existence of slavery made it absolutely necessary should be kept up to preserve this institution by the sword. Under the fifth, even the debauched population of the overfed metropolis heard with consternation that two thousand persons owned almost the entire valuation of his dominions. In this memorable reign began the practise of building immense structures, like baths and theatres, for the pleasure of a pauper city population already numerous enough to be dangerous. It also witnessed the beginnings of those great insurrections in Gaul, Britain, and elsewhere, whose soldiers became the Bagaudae (brigands) of the declining empire, and which the best authorities attribute to distress. After the "Five Good Emperors" there was no pretense of accumulating a treasure. After the first Christian sovereign the process of enslaving the tenants and small farmers who could not pay their taxes went on apace. After Theodosius the country was left a prey to the Barbarians, whose first acts always were to abolish the imperial taxes and emancipate the slaves. That both were eminently popular is proved in ways innumerable; but perhaps the most signal proof is that, excepting perhaps the Huns, the barbarians always crossed the frontier with small armies, which they never found the least difficulty in making great. They had but to choose from among the volunteers, slaves or peasants, who came to their standards. The decayed government had long relied chiefly on Germany and other countries outside the Roman system for soldiers, partly because their warriors came cheap, partly because they had no wrongs to redress. They were now paid in land, for want of anything else to pay them in. But having got land, they would not move off it. Their own chiefs became provincial kings and nobles, whose independence soon was a fact too palpable for denial. Thus the Empire was broken up. Slavery, though it continued legal throughout the Middle Ages, ceased to exist on a large scale within very few years. The taxes were abolished. The new local gov- ernments became extremely poor. The Roman peace was succeeded by universal petty war. The Mediterranean swarmed again with pirates. The pauper population, whom the Emperors had pampered, perished like flies in autumn. The suffering, of course, was fearful, but the incubus was off, and the economic Nadir past. The five centuries after Clovis were a period of slow improve- ment. The five preceding had been a period of rapid decline. In the United States slavery, which had seemed in a fair way to die out of its own accord, no sooner de- rived new life from the cotton gin that it proclaimed itself unable to live without extension. Extended, accord- ingly, it was, until the tension became entirely too great. At last the union was rent asunder. A debt was incurred which would have bought the slaves. The slave-owning portion of the country was reduced almost to a wilder- ness. Every portion received some exceedingly bad les- sons from the moral point of view. The one mitigating circumstance is that slavery, with a part of the ills it caused, is gone.

(To be Continued.)

== [10] == The classic example of serfdom and its petrifying effect is Europe during the Middle Ages. Other countries, equally backward, either had worse and more primitive institutions—the ryot system of India, the bureaucratic tyranny of China, the military systems of the Mussulmans,—or else they were not so fortunately situated as to have outgrown the nomadic condition. Serfdom was the weight which stayed the advance of Europe during many centuries. The new masters were the most practically inventive race that ever existed. The compass, the clock, the clepsydra, gunpowder, paper, the pump, spectacles, glass windows, are but a few of the improvements between the downward turn of Rome and the general discontinuance of serfdom. Notwithstanding the success of a gloomy superstition well adapted to the melancholy time, men had good teachers. They could still read the Latin and, in Eastern countries, the Greek classics. There were still libraries which contained these standard works. The Jews and Saracens had already rejuvenated the science of the buried world with a very vigorous Asiatic graft. But not much could be expected while serfdom remained intact; and the successive waves of invasion from beyond the Volga, which continued until the fifteenth century, tended to strengthen in by strengthening the local (feudal) form of government, with which its affinities are strongest. The dreadfully disguised liberator was the Black Death (1348). In the year of this great pestilence wages were low, industry suspended, the whole framework of society broken down. In almost deserted cities the poor feasted on the spoils of the rich who had fled. In the country, landlords, who doubted if the world would see another season, allowed the serfs, for whose reduced number provisions were exuberant, to do about as they would. A very rare thing happened—the world really was living on its accumulated wealth. But next year, when hope and tranquility had returned, the immense demand for labor and its sudden scarcity sent wages quite out of serf possibilities. In a year or two more landlords, frightened at the independence of the tenants, attempted to reinforce their own obsolete prerogatives by the usual method of legislation. They were for a time more successful in England, the chief seat of contention, than I should have expected; seeing that the proletariate resisted attempts to put them on the old footing with a stubbornness they always show in stickling for permanency of an advantage gained. This was also the chief historic period of the Swiss revolution, the period of those the Jacquerie and of Wat Tyler’s rebellion, the beginning of those societies which, under the like names of Joss Fritz and Bundschuh, maintained the prospects of liberty along the Rhine. The result was that everywhere, excepting Switzerland, the nobles were victorious in battle; but everywhere they found that something more than battles would be required to reverse the effects of the Black Death. Relics of serfdom remained, perhaps even to our own time, as weapons to the extortioner, hardships to the producer, and annoyance to pestered legislators. But considered as a system of production and distribution, serfdom died by the great plague of 1348. The next hundred and seventy years witnessed progress as rapid as might have been expected. Gunpowder turned the balance of war from the mailed knights to the citizens who had knowledge to make and money to pay for this tremendous chance. The local tyrants were overthrown. The modern kingdoms were firmly established. There was a great advance in secular feeling and wisdom; a great decline in superstition. Printing gave its aid to the good work. Knowledge became popular, ignorance ridiculous. The power and influence of the Church, long since a strictly conservative institution, was greatly lessened. A Portuguese fleet doubled the Cape of Good Hope. A Spanish vessel returned in safety and triumph after crossing the Atlantic. A flood of current-metal, which since the decline of the Roman Empire had been inconveniently scarce, was poured in from America. Prices rose, exchange was facilitated, business of every sort revived. Science, already a young Titan, but hitherto entangled in the nets of the alchemist and astrologer, began to find practical uses for his powers. New inventions—the pendulum, the telescope, the tourniquet—show the new direction of intellectual power. Then the Reformation came. Throughout half Europe the yoke of a greedy, idle, and mischievously charitable theocracy was shattered. The new proprietors were connected by no ancestral sentiment with the cultivators. There was nothing to check their natural penchant for getting all they could out of their tenants except the tenants’ equally natural indisposition to let them have any more than could be helped. Thus began the bourgeois system of our time; which indicates itself in the inanity of making out that things present differ widely from what they are everywhere else, by reasoning that our’s alone is a free system, under which every one does as he pleases, save only that a few things which no one ever did without resistance and danger, but on which tyrants often ventured, are now equally punished, whoever does them, by impartial law. If, therefore, under this system people suffer, it must be by their own fault. Now, it is certain that, if the premises be correct, the conclusion is made out. He who can be a Socialist, praying the Blessed Government to make men happy and equal, just after proving out of his Ricardo that they are unequal and the majority unhappy by a natural law whose operation is contingent upon characteristic misconduct of this majority, must, at any rate, have much greater faith in the divine attributes of the B. G. than I have. But the premises evidently are not correct. The bourgeois system may be freer than the primitive communal, the despotic, the slave system, the feudal and serf systems, or, in short, any which preceded it. That would be quite harmonious with its being, as we all admit it is, the system under which the world has become the richest, the distribution of wealth the most equitable, the standard of comfort highest, the diffusion of knowledge most general, the march of improvement most rapid. And yet that is not really saying much, as will appear if we reflect how slow improvement is; what ridicule and persecution those who effect it still commonly have to go through; what depths of ignorance and superstition lie close to the very highest stratum over which knowledge has spread a filthy net; how destitute of aspiration are still the bulk of the common people; what scenes of misery may still be witnessed within pistol shot of palatial hotels and colleges; how poor we all still feel ourselves; how generally we are struggling to keep our heads above water so hard that if by chance we get fairly upon terra firma we find it impossible to discard old habits, and continue struggling with wave and tempest, wind and rock, for money which is no longer of any service to us! This unsatisfactory state of things we are in now way justified in laying upon the faults of individuals if it have, perchance, a sufficient explanation in the faults of institutions inherited from the barbarous past; and, in particular, it is odious mockery to hold up for specimens of these faults in individuals the leaving undone of what institutions have made impossible. Now, it is very certain (1) that we still have institutions (2) which are the relics of the barbarous past, (3) that some of these are inconsistent with personal liberty, (4) and with advance in knowledge, wealth, or social evolution beyond a certain point, (5) but that they are powerfully buttressed by vested interests, so that (6) they alone are sufficient to explain any existing backwardness in the world’s condition.

22. The bedrock which supports the entire fabric is the subjection of women. The orthodox economists themselves being witnesses, increase of population beyond the means of living, by the older methods, at the old standard, is the force which has constantly impelled nations to fight, conquerors to enslave, discoverers to invent. It is this which has divided, and still does divide, mankind into the classes of rich and poor. A salient point in the same doctrine, moreover, is that prudence about adding to population—care not to do so without making it sure previously that the new mouths will receive the old amount of meat—has been increased by experience, and is a chief cause of improvement. This prudence, however, is much more to be expected from the female sex than the male. The female sex is much the less amorous, as Darwin has shown by a comparison extending throughout the entire animal kingdom. It is on the female sex that fall by far the larger part of the pains, anxieties, difficulties, and responsibilities of propagation; while the pleasures belong chiefly to the male. This difference also increases with civilization. Man in quite advanced states puts little more restraint upon his passions than an animal; but woman, whose foremothers, even back to the ascidian, made the male submit in some measure to their selection, shows far more foresight here and now than exists even among barbarians representing pretty well her human ancestors. That slang about women’s desire to catch husbands, which not long since was common, in no way contradicts this. It was rich husbands only that they wanted, even according to their libelers. (To be Concluded)

[24] Among all the extravagant errors which have been stated with serene confidence as adamantine foundations for social science, none are more preposterous than that men were once solitary savages enjoying absolute personal freedom. They never appear as anything else than gregarious, and the customs of their most primitive hordes, in which what we usually understand by a government never was organized, are the most exacting, minute and unreasoning tyrannies to be found anywhere.