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the power of production, is an offence against mankind at large, and should be so regarded.
§ 3. The greater the competition for the purchase of labor, the more perfect is the power of the laborer to select for himself the pursuit in which his powers shall be employed, and the person with whom, or for whom, he will work—and to exercise control over the distribution of the things produced. Competition for the purchase of labor leads, therefore, towards wealth, freedom, and civilization. The greater the competition for the sale of labor, the less is the power of the laborer to determine how, for whom, or on what terms, he will work. Competition for the sale of labor leads, therefore, towards poverty, slavery, and barbarism. The planter of Alabama, or of Texas, of Cuba or Brazil, tolerates no competition for the purchase of the labor of the persons who till the land upon which he has placed himself. Requiring each and all of them to bring to him, alone, the products of their toil, he makes the division in the manner that best may suit himself. The consequences of this are seen in the fact, that he and they have little to sell, and can, therefore, purchase little of the products of others—the destruction of competition for the purchase of labor at home, being thus attended by diminution in the competition for its purchase abroad. Slavery in any one community of the world, tends, therefore, towards the production of slavery in all. The trader, in like manner, tolerates no competition, when he can, by any means, prevent it. The history of the world is a record of contrivances for the maintenance of monopolies — beginning with the secret expeditions of the Phoenicians, and closing, for the present, with the annihilation of the cotton manufacture of India, and the extension, over the whole of that vast country, of patent laws, in virtue of which machinery cannot be improved without the consent of people who are many thousands of miles distant. It is, too, a record of wars for the same purpose—the Carthaginians having been as fully determined to prevent, at any cost, competition for the purchase of the potential energies of Central Africa, as were the Venetians and Genoese, for those of Eastern and Western Europe—the Dutch, for those of the Asiatic islands—or the people of England, for those of Jamaica, or of the occupants of the lands on Hudson's Bay.* Turning now, once more, to the diagram representing the gradual changes of society, here once more given—
we find, on the left, no competition for the purchase of labor— the trader being there sole master, and sole director of the division between himself and the men who do his work.t Further, we find an almost total absence of circulation — a most trivial amount of production—and an entire inability to become competitors for the purchase of the labor of others— the slavery of the people of the West tending, thus, to the production of slavery among those of the East. Turning towards the right, we meet a condition of things that is widely different—competition for the purchase of labor being there found — production being large—consumption being great —and the power of competition for the purchase of the produce of foreign climes, being found existent in a high degree. Such being the case, it is obvious, that the interests of mankind at large are to be promoted, and the love of freedom, and of peace, to be increased, by the close approximation of the prices of rude products and finished commodities, not only throughout the region here embraced, but throughout the world. Looking to France in the days of the Valois, or to England in those of the Plantagenets, we find a state of things nearly approaching that now found on the left of the diagram—competition for the purchase of labor there scarcely at all existing— — production being small — and the power to make demand for the products of other countries, being most insignificant.* Tracing, upwards, both those countries, we find competition for the purchase of the laborer's services increasing, as the rude products of the earth command higher prices—the freedom of man thus keeping pace with the growth of value in the land. The higher the wages, and the greater the amount of rent, the greater, necessarily, becomes the power of competition for the purchase of the produce of other lands, and the greater the tendency towards freedom abroad — that, in turn, tending to increase of freedom at home. Every community is, therefore, directly interested in the adoption of measures tending towards increase in the value of land and labor in each and every other; while all are equally interested in the resistance, by all, of every measure tending to produce the reverse effects — the harmony of real, and permanent national interests, being most perfect.
* “It would be easy to fill a goodly volume with interesting accounts of this sealed country, this region hidden from the knowledge and industry of mankind, during nearly two hundred years, in order that a body of private individuals might realise handsome profits. * * * It is impossible to look without interest on a country containing three millions of square miles, abounding in mineral wealth, and capable of growing corn enough to feed the whole of Europe, yet whose sole destiny it is to furnish four shiploads of skins annually, of the value of five hundred thousand pounds.” —Household Words, vol. viii. p. 453.
+ “Living in rude tents, subsisting on kammas, or preserved bulbs, pemmican, and dried fruits, they [the aborigines of the Hudson's Bay settlements] had little desire for civilised luxuries. Of athletic form, and taking abundant exercise, they enjoyed robust health, and the calling of the ‘medicine-man' amongst them was entirely confined to the healing of wounds obtained in the chase or war. Their weapons for slaughtering the buffaloes or deer were bone-point arrows and spears, which latter were formidable instruments of destruction in their hands. These animals being found in great numbers, often in thousands at a time, it was seldom they ran short of a good store of dried pemmican for the long winter months.
“For upwards of a century, the fate of these once-happy races was hidden from Europe. All within that great “beaver preserve’ was a sealed book in this country. But, in the course of time, the truth oozed out slowly but sadly. Tales reached England of the extermination of entire tribes and races by starvation, intemperance, and disease introduced from Europe. Stories were listened to, but scarcely credited, of cannibalism from sheer starvation, of wholesale murders in the madness of intoxication, and it was said that, at the then rate of human destruction, the footprint of a native would not be seen on the wastes of the Indian territories by the end of the present century.”—Ibid.
§ 4. Centralization tending, as it does, to produce competition for the sale of labor, is adverse to the freedom of man. Centralization being, however, of two kinds, political and trading, it is essential that they be distinguished from each other, and that most carefully. The sovereign, desiring to centre power in himself, imposes heavy taxes; but, beyond the interference required for their collection, or that resulting from their expenditure, he derives no advantage from any measure tending to lessen the power of association among his subjects. On the contrary, it is desirable to him, that their labor should become productive — their ability to contribute to the public revenue being, thus, increased. Leaving to him the administration of the government, his people may combine for peaceful purposes—his power growing with every increase in the rapidity of circulation, and in the quantity of things produced. Certain exceptions being allowed for, his interests, and those of his subjects, are one and the same; and therefore it is, that we see, in some of the most despotic countries of Europe, such constant effort for facilitating every movement tending to increase the competition for the purchase of the services of the laborer, and of the rude products of the farm. Directly the reverse of this, is trading centralization – its primary object being that stoppage of the circulation which, in political centralization, is but an incidental result. The trader desires to keep the people apart from one another—thus producing a necessity for numerous changes of place and ownership, at each of which their produce may be taxed. The power of the sovereign grows with the growing diversity of employment—with the development of human faculties—with increase in the proportions of fixed property — and with the growth of wealth. That of the trader grows with the growing necessity for circumscribing the range of employment—with increase in the proportions of movable property — with the dwarfing of human faculties—and with the growth of poverty and wretchedness among his slaves. Of all the forms of slavery, the most searching and exhaustive is that of trading domination —seeking, as it does, to annihilate competition for the purchase of the rude products of the earth, and thus destroying the value of both labor and land. To what extent it does so, we may now inquire. Less than half a century since, an account of the cotton manufacture would have included “no less than a description of the lives of half the inhabitants of Hindostan.” + India then exported cotton cloth to all the world—having first clothed the hundred millions of a population, described, by one of the most eminent of all the men that England has sent to that country, as being “not inferior in civilization to the people of Europe.”f Political centralization then existed in its fullest force; but trading centralization was greatly modified by the exercise of a sovereign power, that yet stood between the trader and those who were engaged in the production, conversion, and consumption of cotton wool. Trade, however, subsequently carried the day, compelling its unhappy subjects to submit to the free importation of cotton cloth from Europe, while prohibiting the export of machinery of any kind, or of the artisans by whom it might be made. The domestic manufacture, consequently, disappeared—carrying with it, all competition for the purchase of labor, or its products. As a consequence of this, the potential energies of a tithe of the human race, are almost wholly wasted, to the essential injury of the world at large—the man who cannot sell his labor, being unable to compete for the purchase of things produced by that of others. § Fifty years since, the people of the United States had established, among themselves, competition with Europe for the purchase of cotton wool—that, in turn, bringing with it competition for the purchase of human faculties, to be employed in its conversion into cloth. Undisturbed, it would, long since, have grown to such extent, as to have produced, throughout the planting States, that competition for the purchase of labor which leads to freedom. Obliged, however, on repeated occasions, to * See ante, vol. i. p. 339. + “I do not exactly know what is meant by civilising the people of India. In the theory and practice of good government they may be deficient; but if a good system of agriculture — if unrivalled manufactures — if a capacity to produce what convenience or luxury demands—if the establishment of schools for reading and writing—if the general practice of kindness and hospitality—and, above all, if a scrupulous respect and delicacy toward the female sex, are amongst the points that denote a civilised people, then the Hindoos are not inferior in civilization to the people of Europe.”—SIR Thomas MUNRo; quoted by SLEEMAN : Rambles in India, vol. i. p. 4. Colonel Sleeman, himself, says: “I am much attached to the agricultural classes of India generally, and I have found among them some of the best men I have ever known. The peasantry in India have generally very good manners, and are exceedingly intelligent, from having so much more leisure,
* See diagram, ante, p. 118.