Зображення сторінки

differentiation, which has rendered the structure of industrial society organic, has wrought a change in the conception of wealth; that the term wealth to-day signifies no longer concrete articles but a quantum of exchange value.

An important corollary follows from our analysis. It is evident that the whole question of production is relative to the period of economic development. When wealth signified concrete articles of value, production was the bringing forth of new articles of value. All labor was directed toward that end. No labor was productive which did not add to the existing list of valuable articles. There was little division of labor, no coinmercial class, “no legislator, judge, or officer of justice.” But when social differentiation had given rise to a commercial class, to the army and navy, to the legislator, judge, and the officer of justice, there came into existence a class of men who, according to the current conception of wealth, must be regarded as unproductive. Their activities, however useful and important they might be, resulted in no new concrete articles. With their conception of wealth the classic philosophers, and Church Fathers, who were unable to find a legitimate basis for commercial activities, were more logical than modern economists. On the basis of the conception that wealth is concrete, it is impossible to prove to the satisfaction of the logical mind, that all labor in modern society creates wealth. But this is exactly what economists have attempted to do, and there are no chapters in economic science more unsatisfactory than those which treat of the relation of labor to wealth. For the production of wealth, in all periods of economic development nature has always furnished the substance and man the modes. Social differentiation has not only changed the conception of wealth, but it has multiplied the modes of producing wealth. With the organic conception of wealth as a quantum of exchange value, it becomes evident that any acts or any processes which result in an increase of the existing quantum of “exchange value " are productive of wealth. Every man can select that mode for creating wealth for which he is best adapted by nature. The mode he selects may be one which results in a concrete article of no use to himself. He can trust the social organism to place at his disposal the specific articles he wishes to use, of better quality and cheaper than he could have made them himself. No demonstration is needed to prove that the commercial class, the army and navy, the legislator, judge, and officer of justice increase directly the quantum of “exchange value," and are therefore productive. Is it not time to star as obsolete that conception of wealth which our text-books define and put in its place the organic conception of wealth ?

It is not necessary to show that the problem of distribution in modern society is based on the organic conception of wealth. It is evident to every one that it is the new quantum of exchange value created that is shared by the participants in production.

But another important corollary follows from our analysis. The evolution of the wealth concept has wrought a change in the relation of wealth to property Property is a legal term and signifies the right of a person to control over a concrete thing to the exclusion of all other persons. It is not an absolute right, but is defined by law and has been modified from time to time to meet the requirements of progressive society. By transfer, the term property is used to denote the things over which a person has the right of exclusive control. Using the term in this sense, we see that a person's property can be found by taking an inventory of the concrete articles over which he exercises this right. At that period of industrial development when the term wealth signified concrete articles, the very same concrete articles were both wealth and property to their owner. They were wealth so far as they had a bearing on the owner's economic condition; they were property so far as reference was had to the owner's right of control over them. Now that wealth has come to signify a quantum of “exchange value," without reference to its form of embodiment, we see that the relation of wealth to property has changed. A person's wealth is now the quantum of “exchange value” which belongs to him. A person's property comprises the concrete articles over which he has the right of exclusive control. The relation of wealth to property is not so close that a person's property must necessarily comprise the concrete articles which contain his wealth. Now that the custom of borrowing and loaning wealth has become prevalent, the concrete articles in which a person's wealth is contained may be the property of some other person. To determine a person's wealth, therefore, one must first ascertain the quantum of “exchange value” his property contains, and then deduct all debts and add all valuable claims. We thus see that a person may hold the right of property in land, buildings, and implements, and yet possess little or no wealth ; for while

i Knies, Politische Oekonomie, II. Auflage (1883), pp. 208-211. Knies, Das Geld, II. Auflage (1885), pp. 124-140.

person, the quantum of exchange value they contain may belong to the wealth of another.

To every man wealth is the sacred thing, because it is the fruit of his labor. While he has a preference in regard to the particular concrete form in which he shall invest his wealth, yet that is a matter of far less importance to him. From the multiplicity of concrete articles in the market, he is sure to find something suited to his need. He chooses to have his wealth now in one form, later in another. He enters the market, not to change his wealth, but to change his property. Instead of so many bushels of wheat, he wishes implements and clothing. If the interests of society call for the surrender of a particular concrete article for the public good, the individual submits and recognizes the justice of the demand in case his wealth is left intact. The concrete article is not the product of his labor; the value that it contains is. Let society guarantee to the individual his wealth, and the individual will be found ready to yield to public expediency in regard to the concrete articles which he may hold as his property.


Amherst College, Amherst, Mass.



The situation of higher education in Italy is attracting the attention of the best thinkers of the nation, and from one end of the kingdom to the other the question of a reform of the whole system is actively discussed. The prevailing feeling is one of discontent with present conditions, and though the remedies proposed are of the most varying complexion, it is generally believed that something must be done. The journal La Riforma Universitariahas devoted itself to the problem in its length and breadth, the periodical La Università teems with information and suggestions, Parliament is besieged with memorials and plans of reform, and in the cultivated circles of Italy the question is a burning one. Much difference of opinion exists as to the real nature of the difficulties: are they merely matters of detail or radical faults of organization? Those who take the latter view prescribe heroic remedies. Thus we find propositions to attach all existing technical schools to the universities; again the suppression of the smaller universities has been loudly demanded, and a new arrangement of faculties has been advised. With these problems we are not at present concerned. Nevertheless they point to the fact that the present is a critical time in the history of higher education in Italy. That from all this discussion no readjustment should arise seems hardly possible. How great the changes may be it is at present impossible to

1 The writer desires to acknowledge his sincere obligation to Professor Carlo F. Ferraris, of the University of Padua, for a revision of the manuscript.

9 Edited by Professor Tullio Martello, of Bologna.
& Edited by Professor Luigi Lucchini, of Bologna, now in its fourth year

« НазадПродовжити »