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work, and bring out the value in each case, as a carpenter measures length by the application of his foot-rule? What has labour to do with the value of beautiful china or old pictures? Then, again, an important portion of the value of a manufactured commodity is the reward which must be given to the capitalist for his abstinence in accumulating his capital by saving at the expense of enjoyment. This is measured by no labour. The use of capital must be paid for by interest, and must be rewarded in marketvalue, in price, else production would cease. Labour measures none of these values. They are values with which labour has nothing to do. They strip labour of all title to being the universal measurer.
But even supposing that all these prices are paid for work done, in what precise sense is labour their measure? There is nothing which calls for a more rigid description than a standard of measurement. The measure must be the same for all the things to which it is applied—the pound and the yard are the same for all weights and all lengths. What is this labour which measures all values ?" The length of time during which a man works in making commodities;" This definition assumes that the work is always the same, of the same quality. On that supposition only will five times the length of time consumed be a measure of five times the value of the work done. But do prices, in the hard world of fact, in any market, give the faintest hint of a sameness in the quality of the working which produced the goods, so that the amount of their prices was determined by the quantity of work,—so many hours working, so many shillings or pounds. Two barristers plead in the same court; they possess the same learning and work the same time, one earns a fee of a hundred guineas, the other of ten. Is labour the valuer here ? or is it not rather a winning manner with judges and juries—a more persuasive voice? An hour of Jenny Lind's singing was worth more—had a higher value—than many days' labour of a common singer; did labour determine the value? But even when the labour is confessedly the same, its value in wages may be exceedingly different. The Dorsetshire labourer did the same work as his fellow-workmen in a northern county; his wages were less by several shillings a week. An observant eye and a quick intelligence raise every day a common artisan into a foreman, and a young soldier into a corporal; their labour remains the same, but the market value they obtain from it is exceedingly different. Labour is no measure of value. If the time standard is applied, the numbers of the hours given to toil are identical. But the measure breaks down, because the values, which, on measurement, ought to be equally identical, prove to be of very different magnitudes indeed.
The conclusion is clear. In the world of daily life, a universal measure of value does not exist; and that for the very decisive reason that it cannot. The things to be measured, market-values, are not the effects of a uniform cause, and consequently are not and cannot be uniform. Market-value prices are the results of one cause; but that cause is most irregular and most wilful in its action. Feeling determines market value; the feeling expressed in the verb, I value; the feeling of value or esteem. That feeling acts on the two parties to every sale and exchange. The competition of the two esteems, one on each side, ultimately fixes the market value—the price of the articles sold. The feelings of the makers of commodities must, in the long run, be satisfied, else they will not be made; the feelings of purchasers must equally receive satisfaction, or they will not buy. Feeling rules over all values, but it does not measure them; for what is so variable as feeling? It is subject to endless and ever-varying influences. Necessity, want, imaginative ideas on supply and demand, taste, fashion, love of idleness, energy, indifference, speculative ardour, zeal in working, the sense of duty, social ideas, hope and discouragement, and countless other forces sway feeling to and fro, and regulate its strength and its direction. They determine the character and amount of the esteem felt by feeling for a commodity or a service, according to the pervading mood of the hour. Out of this force springs marketvalue, price in money; but it is changeable, even for the same thing, under varying circumstances, and therefore cannot measure. The market value itself of money, of gold, varies like all other values, and is itself dependent on feeling. It might well be that the gold miners all over the world struck for and succeeded in acquiring permanently higher wages; the cost of gold would then be directly affected, and a larger quantity of every other commodity would have to be given for the same price of gold. Feeling would have injured money as an accurate measure. There is no other standard for value but feeling, and feeling is by its nature disqualified for being a standard.
But it is necessary here to guardagainst a false andmisleading inference which might easily be drawn from the preceding explanation of the feeling, value. It might be supposed that it meant to describe that feeling as dwelling in the most variable of climates under constant exposure to the most changeable of winds. This is not true of an enormous amount of human conduct governed by feeling in the exchange of wealth. Feeling is essentially variable in nature: that cannot be denied. But, on the other hand, feeling has to deal with powerful material forces, with outward circumstances constantly of the same general nature, with motives generally steady in character, and other more or less stable influences. Habit is a force of great power over human action. Feeling is pretty nigh absent when a man buys a knife or a cigar, beyond the desire to purchase and possess it; so also of his sugar and his tea, his bread and his ordinary clothing. Wages have been known to remain long at the same level in many countries. Fluctuations of desire, impulses to change or to resist price, to care about shortening the hours of labour, and similar irregular mental movements are less frequent than the moods of mind generated by long habit. Nevertheless, it always remains true that the feeling value is the foundation of all industrial action, but that foundation is liable to oscillatory disturbances, and sometimes even to earthquakes. What a revolution amongst other feelings does the outburst of a passionate eagerness for war imply. In what different positions does it place men in many markets and towards numberless commodities. The feeling "I value" is always, ultimately, the dictator of all economic action; it asserts its mastery, even when the barbarian sells his children to be slaves.
EXCHANGE is the greatest and most universal function of human life. It is a necessity of man's nature. That man was born to live in society was the profound utterance of Aristotle. This great fact he regarded as the dominant principle of human conduct, as the foundation of all political and social relations of men with one another. On it he built up political philosophy. Wild animals can live in flocks and herds; but they do not live in society. With trifling exceptions they do not minister to each other's wants. Man, on the contrary, feels wants and desires which irresistibly compel him to seek the aid of his fellow-men. He cannot live in isolation, nor can he satisfy the conditions of his existence by merely living side by side with others, with no other connection with them. He cannot by his single efforts provide for himself those things which his very being forces him to desire and to seek. If men were left to what each of them singly could procure and make, miserable indeed would be their existence. "They must combine," to use the happy phrase of Mr Danson, "and combination means exchange." "Everybody exchanges," says Professor Perry; "for, 'do something for me and I will do something for you,' is the fundamental law of society."
The same thought was very happily expressed by