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went ahead of settlers — accumulating large fortunes at the cost of those who were driven out from the older States. It is, however, within the last ten years, and since the final adoption of the free-trade and dispersive policy, that the management and control of the public lands has passed almost wholly into the hands of men, and companies of men, doing business in New York. *
The progress of man, whether upward or downward, is one of constant acceleration. The more the dispersion, the greater are the profits of speculators, and the greater is their power to procure, from needy members of Congress, further grants of the public domain, and further legislation tending to compel the closing of mills and furnaces — thus producing further dispersive tendencies, and larger profits. “The rate of profit does not, however,” says Adam Smith, “rise with the prosperity, and fall with the declension, of society;" it being, on the contrary, "always highest in those countries which are going fastest to ruin.”+ So is it here. The rate of profit has been, for years, higher than in any country of the world, and higher, perhaps, than it has ever been known even here— the corresponding tendency towards “ruin” being shown in a growth of centralization wholly without parallel, to have been accomplished in so brief a period. Half a century since, when it was deemed expedient to purchase Louisiana, Mr. Jefferson thought it necessary that Congress should “appeal to the nation for an additional article to the Constitution, approring and confirming an act which they must previously pass for its admission ”- the Constitution, as it stood, having "made no provision for our holding foreign territory, still less for incorporating foreign nations into our Union.” For Congress, alone, to do so, “would,” as he thought, “make the Constitution blank paper by construction;" and yet, in the last ten years, the whole energies of the Union have been turned in that direction — wars having been made, negotiations haring been maintained, treaties having been concluded, and millions upon millions of dollars having been paid, for the sole and exclusive purpose of adding to a territory that was already large enough, under a different system, to enable ten times its population to live in affluence. Trading centralization having brought with it executive and legislative usurpation, the latter is now followed by judicial usurpation, in the recent decision of the Supreme Court, denying the right of the whole people to manage and direct the public property, and annihilating rights of citizenship that, at the date of the Constitution, existed in most of the original thirteen States.
* The quantity of land granted to transporting companies, in the last ten years, exceeds 50,000,000 acres.
† Wealth of Nations, book 1, chap. xi.
Progress towards wealth and freedom is marked by a diminution in the necessity for the services of the trader, the soldier, and the sailor. Progress towards poverty and slavery is marked by growing necessity for the services of those who stand between the men who produce and those who consume. In this latter direction, tend both Great Britain and the United States; and hence it is, that London and New York, Liverpool and Philadelphia, increase so rapidly, and that absentee proprietorship becomes so common.*
$ 11. The views here presented, on the subject of centralization, and its necessary attendant, absenteeism, differ totally from those of Mr. McCulloch — that gentleman being wholly unable to see that the people of Ireland could be "benefited in the least" by a domestic consumption of that portion of the produce of the soil, which goes to the landholder, as rent. “If,” says he, "you have a certain value laid out against Irish commodities in the one case, you will have a certain value laid out against them in the other. The cattle are either exported to England, or they stay at home. If they are exported, the landlord will obtain an equivalent for them in English commodities; if they are not, he will obtain an equivalent for them in Irish commodities; so that, in both cases, the landlord lives on the cattle, or on the value of the cattle; and whether he lives in Ireland or in England, there is obviously just the very same amount of commodities for the people of Ireland to subsist upon.”'ť
With these cattle, however, the landlord purchases services in
* "Capitals are necessities; but, if the head grows too large, the body becomes apoplectic, and wastes away.
What will the consequence be, if, by drawing all the talent of the kingdom to Paris, and leaving vincials no chance of reward, or motive for ambition, the latter are placed in a state of dependence, and converted into an inferior class of citizens ?” - MIRABEAU: quoted by DE TOCQUEVILLE, L'Ancien Régime, chap. vi
† Examination before Committee on the State of Ireland, session of 1825.
Paris, Rome, or London - thus quickening the circulation in the city in which he resides, and thereby economising human force, which, of itself, is capital. By withdrawing the cattle from Ireland, he, in a corresponding degree, renders the Irish circulation more sluggish — thereby producing a waste of capital. Why, however, does absenteeism stand so conspicuous among the grievances of Ireland ? Because political centralization has transferred to London the demand for mental force.
Because trading centralization has transferred the demand for mental and physical force, to Lancashire and Yorkshire. Because the two have combined for the annihilation of that demand for the potential energies of man, without which, his faculties must remain undeveloped. Because they have combined, too, to augment the wasting tax of transportation — producing a necessity for exhausting the powers of the soil, and thus diminishing the produce, while lessening the price to be realised for the things produced.
The more perfect the diversification of employments, the greater is the tendency towards augmentation in the proportion of fixed capital - towards competition for the purchase of physical and mental services and towards strength in the people and the State. The less that diversification, the greater is the tendency towards augmentation in the proportion of movable capital — the greater is the competition for the sale of human powers and the greater is the weakness of both State and people. Concentration being attractive, brings with it combination, prompt demand for human powers, and rapidly augmenting force. tralization, being repulsive, is found in company with consolidation of the land, dispersion of the people, sluggish demand for services, and declining force. Localization of the capitalist, and growing competition for the purchase of the laborer's services, attend the one; while consolidation of the land, absenteeism, and increasing competition for the sale of human service, attend the other. *
* Mbsenteeism was universal throughout France, except as regarded those provinces in which the people had retained the right to tax themselves. One of them, as the reader has seen, was Languedoc — that one in which the energies of the people were most directed towards relieving the farmer from the tax of transportation, and in which, consequently, fixed property had the largest value. How great was the strength thence resulting, may be inferred from the fact, that “the central government often applied to it for endorsements, and borrowed in the name of the province at lower rates than would have been charged to the crown.”—DE TOCQUEVILLE, L'Ancien Régime, chap. xii.
$ 1. FINDING no competitor for the purchase of his services, Friday was glad to sell himself for food and clothing — becoming Crusoe's slave. Had the island contained half-a-dozen Crusoes, their competition would have enabled him to make his election among them all — exercising, thus, that power of self-government by which the freeman is distinguished from the slave.
Will you buy? Will you sell ? The man who has a commodity, and must sell, is forced to ask the first of these questions obtaining, for that reason, ten, twenty, or thirty per cent. less than might otherwise be regarded as the fair market price. His neighbor, who buys, and is not forced to sell, waits for the second of them — thereby obtaining more, perhaps, than the ordinary price. Such being the case with commodities and things that admit of being held on hand, waiting for a purchaser, how much more must it be so, in reference to that potential energy resulting from the consumption of food, which cannot be preserved, for even a single instant, after its production ? The trader takes the market price for his perishable oranges, however great may be his loss — knowing that it will become greater with every day's delay. He stores his iron waiting for a better market. The farmer sells his peaches on the instant, low in price as they may be ; but he carries wheat and potatoes to his barn — hoping for better prices. The laborer's commodity being yet more perishable than either the oranges or the peaches, the necessity for its instant sale is still more urgent.
The merchant, having stored his sugar, and the farmer, having housed his wheat, can obtain advances, to be returned when their commodities shall be sold. The laborer can obtain no advance upon his present hour — his commodity perishing at the instant of production.
Further, the merchant may continue to eat, drink, and wear clothing - his stock, meanwhile, perishing on his hands. The farmer may eat his potatoes, after failing to sell his peaches. The laborer must sell his potential energies, be they what they may, or perish for want of food. In regard to no commodity, therefore, is the effect resulting from the presence or absence of competition so great, as in relation to human force. Two men competing for its purchase, its owner becomes a freeman. The two, competing for its sale, become enslaved. The whole question of freedom or slavery for man is, therefore, embraced in that of competition.
§ 2. The man who finds a purchaser for his own labor, competes for the purchase of that of others.
The more instant the demand for his services, the greater is his power of purchase, and the more instant become bis demands for other services — the more rapid is the circulation -- the larger the production -- and the greater the tendency towards accumulation. Each and every man who has physical or mental effort to sell, is, therefore, interested in promoting increase in the rapidity of the societary circulation—it being in that direction he is to look for such competition for the purchase of his own services, as will enable him to obtain, in exchange therefor, the largest quantity of the necessaries, conveniences, comforts, and luxuries, of life.
What is true of the individual man, is equally so in regard to communities composed of millions of men — the nation whose members find instant demand for all their powers of body and of mind, being thereby enabled to have much to offer in exchange for the labor of others, and to consume much of what is produced by those others. Each and every community is, therefore, directly interested in promoting the rapidity of circulation in each and every other — it being in that direction they are to look for increase of competition for the purchase of the commodities they have to sell. The harmony of international interests is, therefore, perfect - all the laws of nature tending towards the establishment of freedom and peace throughout the world.
Such being the case, it follows, necessarily, that a course of proceeding in any one community, tending to lessen, anywhere,