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the same, whether expressed in silver, gold, or any other commodity, it must be something distinct from, and independent of, those different rates of exchange with different articles.”
“But how does one measure quantities of labour ? By the time the labour lasts, in measuring the labour by the hour, the day, &c. Of course to apply this measure, all sorts of labour are reduced to average or simple labour as their unit.” “Rent, Interest, and Industrial Profit are only different names for different parts of the surplus value of the commodity, or the unpaid labour enclosed in it, and they are equally derived from this source and this source alone.
“If wages fall profits will rise; and if wages rise profits will fall.”
“By what laws this division of the total amount of surplus value amongst the three categories of people is regulated is a question quite foreign to our subject.”
If Marx's hearers were willing to take for granted that the value of wheat or of any commodity always remained the same, that any meaning can be attached to “simple or average labour,” and that the laws which govern the use and fall of rent, interest and industrial profits are “foreign to the subject ” of value, then Marx must have found it easy to convince them of the truth of the conclusions which were founded on these assumptions. It is interesting to find that these obviously weak points correspond with the weak points which critics have found hidden under the dialectic of “ Das Kapital.” While criticism would naturally be directed against the latter work, this comparatively concise statement will be of great assistance to the student.
Marx sums up his practical advice to Trade Unionists on the subject of wages in three resolutions.
“ Firstly. A general rise in the rate of wages would result in a general fall of the rate of profit, but, broadly speaking, not affect the price of commodities."
“Secondly. The general tendency of capitalist production is not to raise, but to sink the average standard of wages."
“Thirdly. Trades Unions work well as centres of resistance against the encroachments of capital. They fail partly from an injudicious use of their power. They fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organised forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class, that is to say the ultimate abolition of the wages system."
F. M. BUTLIN
Ueber das Verhältnis von Wert und Preis im ökonomischen
System von Karl Marx. Von Prof. Dr. KARL DIEHL, in
This pamphlet contains yet another criticism of the third volume of “ Das Kapital.” It deals with the light which this third volume has thrown on the relation, in Marx's theory of value, between value and price. How vague this theory still remains, even in its complete form, is shown by the widely different interpretations which Professor Böhm Bawerk and Professor Sombart have given it. The author agrees with the former in condemning the theory. While, he argues, no theory of value can treat value and price as identical ; price dealing with concrete quantities [" eine Konkrete Mengenbestimung ”] while value is an abstraction, yet the true test of a theory of value is that it should account for the various phenomena of price. Whatever may be said in defence of Marx's theory it cannot be held to stand this test. Marx has only reconciled his theory of surplus value or unpaid labour as the sole source of profit with an average rate of profit by sacrificing the connection between value and price. Only in certain special cases could value as Marx conceived it, account for the price of commodities. As a careful summary of these special cases this pamphlet will make a useful supplement to former criticisms of “ Das Kapital.”
F. M. BUTLIN
The Third Factor of Production, and other Essays. By A. J.
OGILVY. With an Introductory Note by ALFRED RUSSEL
MR. A. R. WALLACE, in introducing this book, is right in saying that it will have a special interest for English readers as showing the mind of a thoughtful colonist on the position of social problems in his own colony. Tasmania, like other colonies, is being filled up, or rather, it is already filled up, if we get a just impression from this book. It has now the same blessings that we have at home, especially the ubiquitous landlord, who is the tyrant of the fields and of the towns equally. It is not (we are told) the capitalist who is to be feared. “It is not the possession of the instruments of production that gives the one man power over the other, but the denial of that natural alternative to hired employment that the land offers ” (28). It is the abuse of the third factor (the instruments of production) and not the use that our author criticises, and the offence comes by the monopolising of land. “Landlordism is the pedestal on which capitalism stands, and which, if knocked away, would bring down capitalism with a crash” (196). But since land is now so often bought and sold it is not fair to put a single tax on land, to reach only the present holders : it would be better to put it on all unearned incomes (197).
Still there lies our remedy-the nationalising of the land ;—" When once this, our own mother-earth, is recognised as the heritage of the race, not as a monopoly of the landlords, when all natural resources are forced into use, and no monopolist may withhold or extort, when work is offering for all, and the fruits of work are secured to the worker, then it will not matter whether the rich man spends or saves the money. He will get no tribute on his savings, for interest will disappear with private rent. He will give no added employment by his expenditure, for every one will find work to do who wants it, and will produce something for himself or for his neighbours if the rich man does not want anything. In short, this treatise will cease to have any practical application ” (254).
The practical application of this treatise, since nationalisation is still unaccomplished, is to saving and spending, in relation to the Australian crisis. It was the saving of the “ tribute-holder" that caused the crisis (133). Just before the crisis in Victoria, the banks were unusually full ; accumulations in banks are “accumulations of claims, not of goods, and are exactly what cause the crisis” (150). Tribute had outrun earnings ; claims had accumulated beyond the power of payment (ib). To this it might be answered that tribute could only outrun earnings if a large number of people had been respectively knaves and fools; it could only do so if there were claims for goods without any equivalent to give title to these claims. Mr. Ogilvy is against saving only because, as things now are, the claims are procured on too easy terms. He allows (200) that accumulations are due, though rarely, to abstinence, and thinks they are more often due (1) to extra-exertion when a man produces something and holds it over for future wants ; (2), to the durability of some articles, which leads to their being produced faster than they wear out; (3), to the advance of knowledge, enabling us to produce more than we want with the same labour formerly needed for mere sufficiency. Without abstinence, therefore, accumulation would still go on. It is not abstinence that is wanted but more consumption : “ The greater the consumption, the greater the demand; and the greater the demand the more active the production " (137). There was too much saving and too little consumption in Australia at the time of the crisis ;-at least, that is what we are told in this book.
Parasitisme organique et parasitisme social, par JEAN MASSART
et EMILE VANDERVELDE. (Paris : Reinwald, Bibliothèque internationale des sciences sociologiques). 1898. (1 Vol. in
16mo, 167 pp). M. MASSART is one of the most distinguished biologists of the Free University of Brussels. M. Vandervelde is the well-known Socialist Deputy, Professor at the New University of Brussels, and Sociologist. They collaborated some time back in the production of a paradox which was published in a French review. The little pamphlet above mentioned is only a reprint intended to take a place in a series entitled “ The Library of Sociological Science,” and published under the editorship of M. A. Hamon.
I arn inclined to think that MM. Massart and Vandervelde wished to amuse theinselves; or at any rate to make a novel venture. Their tactics consist in employing an over-wide definition, applying it to a biological phenomenon and to social phenomena, and then writing
each for his own part—under the same headings and with the same divisions, on the aspects which these phenomena assume in their own particular sphere.
They define the parasite as an individual living at the expense of another without destroying it and without benefiting it: which might be said with as much truth of the child at the breast as of true parasites. Then M. Massart in the biological field, and M. Vandervelde in the social field, trace for us the diverse forms of parasitism (its manner of borrowing nourishment, force and life), its evolution, and the influence of the parasitic life on the parasite itself as well as on the “ parasité."
I assume that what M. Massart so clearly sets forth is incontrovertible. Let others judge whether it is the same in regard to the picture of social parasitism when I explain that M. Vandervelde ranges as parasites, landed proprietors (who are the tæniada of the social body), courtiers holding sinecures (forming a court), those who live by prostitution, usurers, professional delinquents, stock jobbers, feudal lords (who once imposed compulsory labour), sham beggars, charlatans, pseudo-scientists, “sweaters,” of course, and the shareholders of joint stock companies, &c. At first it is all somewhat amusing, but after a time this kind of play gets fearfully aggravating because one sees too much of the wires.
To sum up, I fancy that this double-barrelled essay is of a nature tending definitely to discredit the abuse of biological metaphor in Sociology.
Overproduction and Crises. By KARL RODBERTUS, translated by
JULIA FRANKLIN, with an Introduction by J. B. CLARK. (London : Swan Sonnenschein and Co. 1898.) GREAT though the interest is attaching to the first work by Rodbertus which has been translated into English, it is impossible to avoid tempering congratulation by regret on the present occasion. This particular book is not a very happy choice on the part of the translator, partly no doubt by reason of its controversial character, though mainly because it touches but slightly and yet dogmatically on many of the cardinal features in the theory of this great socialist thinker. It is still more unfortunate that a title should be prefixed to a work which deals only in part with the subject denoted and which would be described more correctly as the second letter to von Kirchmann. If it was necessary to give another than the general title, at any rate, care should have been taken to have avoided the suggestion that this work was mainly and specifically occupied with the consideration of over-production. With regard to the matter of this volume there are two things to be noticed. It is one of a series, nominally of three, but substantially of four letters which Rodbertus wrote to his friend and opponent von Kirchmann in exposition of his views, and in this particular instance the work which he took in hand was the contrast of the accounts given by them as to the causes of the economic disorder which shows itself in the grave symptoms of pauperism and commercial crises. These, however, cannot be fully considered without reference to the general features of a theory of distribution and a social philosophy. So in justice to Rodbertus readers of this book must in the first place disregard the title, and in the second place remember that the book itself requires supplementing. Still, taking it as it is, there is in it much of interest and importance, as is shown by the contrast between the view of society he champions and that which he attacks. Von Kirchmann in his diagnosis of social ill, distinguishes two symptoms as of special gravity, namely Pauperism and Crises. In his further endeavour to trace these to their causes, he lays great stress on differential rent as the cause of the first, and on certain functional derangements as the main cause of the second. In reply to him Rodbertus first of all attacks the Ricardian theory of rent both as to its validity and as to the inportance attached to it, and then endeavours to prove that the phenomena in question can be referred to a common cause, namely the existence, or more strictly speaking, the continued existence of private ownership of land and capital, or, to use the more ordinary expression, of the instruments of production. Without entering at any length into the views he expresses as to rent, which are still further elaborated in the third letter, it may be pointed out that they are directed in the main against the grave results attributed to it by the followers of Ricardo, among whom ranks von Kirchmann. That rent is due in some measure to differences in fertility is not contested, though those are treated as cause of its increase and not of its essential existence. In answer to the question he foresaw as to the true cause he elaborates a theory of ground rent as arising from certain differences between processes of manufacture and agriculture or extraction--a theory which should be studied in his own pages inasmuch as it stands in organic relationship with the socialist difficulty with regard to interest or profits, which are first derived from labour by a method of expropriation, consequently varying in amount with labour, and are then seen to be appropriated by the interest or profit recipient in proportion to his capital and not to the labour it employs. Apart, however, from this general connection the Rodbertian theory of ground rent as distinct from profits is not important, as it is in itself mainly based on an error in calculation. Behind it and his theory of profits as due to expropriation, and behind also his assault on the positions maintained by von Kirchmann lies the implicit contention that the disorders of the state are due, not as this latter asserts to inevitable law and minor social defects, but to a radical defect in the whole organisation of society and that until this be removed society must remain a ready prey to the expropriator.