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ism, the administering authority was supposed to be a monarchy or aristocracy, not of birth but of capacity; the remuneration of each member of the community being by salary, proportioned to the importance of the services supposed to be rendered by each to the general body.
$ 3. It would be too much to affirm that communities constituted on either of these principles could not permanently subsist. That a country of any large extent could be formed into a single “Coöperative Society," is indeed not easily conceivable. The nearest approach to it ever realized seems to have been the government of Peru under the Incas, a despotism held together by a superstition; not likely to be erected into a type for modern aspirations, although it appeared mild and beneficent to those who contrasted it with the iron rule which took its place.* But a country might be covered with small Socialist communities, and these might have a Congress to manage their joint concerns. The scheme is not what is commonly meant by impracticable. Supposing that the soil and climate were tolerably propitious, and that the several communities, possessing the means of all necessary production within themselves, had not to contend in the general markets of the world against the competition of societies founded on private property, I doubt not that by a very rigid system of repressing population, they might be able to live and hold together, without positive discomfort. This would be a considerable improvement, so far as the great majority are concerned, over those existing states of society in which no restraint at all is placed on population, or in which the restraint is very inadequate.
The objection ordinarily made to a system of community of property and equal distribution of the produce, that each
• See Prescott's “ History of the Conquest of Peru."
person would be incessantly occupied in evading his fair share of the work, is, I think, in general considerably overstated. There is a kind of work, hitherto more indispensable than most others, that of fighting, which is never conducted on any other than the coöperative system; and neither in a rude nor in a civilized society has the supposed difficulty been experienced. Education and the current of opinion having adapted themselves to the exigency, the sense of honor and the fear of shame have as yet been found to operate with sufficient strength; and common sentiment has sanctioned the enforcement by adequate penalties, upon those not sufficiently influenced by other motives, of rules of discipline certainly not deficient in rigidity. The same sanctions would not fail to attach themselves to the operations of industry, and to secure, as indeed they are found to do in the Moravian and similar establishments, a tolerable adherence to the prescribed standard of duty. The deficiency would be of motives to exceed that minimum standard. In war, the question lies between great success and great failure, between losing a battle and gaining it, perhaps between being slaves and conquerors; and the circumstances of the case are stirring and stimulating to the feelings and faculties. The common operations of industry are the reverse of stirring and stimulating, and the only direct result of extra exertion would be a trifling addition to the common stock shared out among the mass. Mankind are capable of a far greater amount of public spirit than the present age is accustomed to suppose possible. But if the question were that of taking a great deal of personal trouble to produce a very small and unconspicuous public benefit, the love of ease would preponderate. Those who made extra exertions would expect and demand that the same thing should be required from others and made a duty; and in the long run, little more work would be performed by any, than could be exacted from all; the limit to all irksome labor would be the amount which the majority would consent to have made compulsory on themselves. But the majority, even in our present societies, where the intensity of competition and the exclusive dependence of each on his own energies tend to give a morbid strength to the industrial spirit, are almost everywhere indolent and unambitious; content with little, and unwilling to trouble themselves in order to make it more. The standard of industrial duty would therefore be fixed extremely low. There are, no doubt, some kinds of useful exertion, to which the stimulus would not be weakened in the same degree. Invention is one of these. Invention is in itself an agreeable exercise of the faculties; and when applied successfully to the diminution of labor or the satisfaction of the physical wants of the community, it would in any society be a source of considerable eclat. But though to invent is a pleasant operation, to perfect an invention and render it practical is a dull and toilsome one; requiring also means and appliances which, in a society so constructed, no one would possess of his own. The many and long-continued trials by which the object is at last attained, could only be made by first persuading the majority that the scheme would be advantageous; and might be broken off at the very time when the work approached completion, if the patience of the majority became exhausted. We might expect, therefore, that there would be many projects conceived, and very few perfected; while, the projects being prosecuted, if at all, at the public expense and not at the projector's, if there was any disposition to encourage them, the proportion of bad schemes to good would probably be even greater than at present.
It must be further observed, that the perfect equality contemplated in the theory of the scheme could not be really attained. The produce might be divided equally, but how could the labor? There are many kinds of work, and by what standard are they to be measured one against another? Who is to judge how much cotton spinning, or distributing goods from the stores, or bricklaying, or chimney sweeping, is equivalent to so much ploughing? In the existing system of industry these things do adjust themselves with some, though but a distant, approach to fairness. If one kind of work is harder or more disagreeable than another, or requires a longer practice, it is better paid, simply because there are fewer competitors for it; and an individual generally finds that he can earn most by doing the thing which he is fittest for. I admit that this self-adjusting machinery does not touch some of the grossest of the existing inequalities of remuneration, and in particular the unjust advantage possessed by almost the commonest mental over almost the hardest and most disagreeable bodily labor. Employments which require any kind of technical education, however simple, have hitherto been the subject of a real monopoly as against the mass. But as popular instruction advances, this monopoly is already becoming less complete, and every increase of prudence and foresight among the people encroaches upon it more and more. On the Communist system the impossibility of making the adjustment between different qualities of labor is so strongly felt, that the advocates of the scheme usually find it necessary to provide that all should work by turns at every description of useful labor; an arrangement which, by putting an end to the division of employments, would sacrifice the principal advantage which coöperative production possesses, and would probably reduce the amount of production still lower than in our supposition. And after all, the nominal equality of labor would be so great a real inequality, that justice would revolt against its being enforced. All persons are not equally fit for all labor; and the same quantity of labor is an unequal burthen on the weak and the strong, the hardy and the delicate, the quick and slow, the dull and the intelligent.
Assuming, however, all the success which is claimed for this state of society by its partisans, it remains to be considered how much would be really gained for mankind, and whether the form that would be given to life, and the character which would be impressed on human nature, can satisfy any but a very low estimate of the capabilities of the species. Those who have never known freedom from anxiety as to the means of subsistence, are apt to overrate what is gained for positive enjoyment by the mere absence of that uncertainty. The necessaries of life, when they have always been secure for the whole of life, are scarcely more a subject of consciousness or a source of happiness than the elements. There is little attractive in a monotonous rontine, without vicissitudes, but without excitement; a life spent in the enforced observance of an external rule, and performance of a prescribed task; in which labor would be devoid of its chief sweetener, the thought that every effort tells perceptibly on the laborer's own interests or those of some one with whom he identifies himself; in which no one could by his own exertions improve his condition, or that of the objects of his private affections ; in which no one's way of life, occupations, or movements, would depend on choice, but each would be the slave of all; a social system in which identity of education and pursuits would impress on all the same unvarying type of character, to the destruction of that multiform development of human nature, those manifold unlikenesses, that diversity of tastes and talents, and variety of intellectual points of view, which by presenting to each innumerable notions that he could not hare conceived of himself, are the great stimulus to intellect and the mainspring of mental and moral progression. The perfection of social arrangements would be to secure to all persons complete independence and freedom of action, subject to no restriction but that of not doing injury to others: but the scheme which we are considering abrogates this