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Vii.] RINGS AND TRUSTS. 237
mental principles arc inadequately recognized: the principle of equality of sacrifice: and the principle that indirect taxation—if resorted to at all—should fall only on luxuries, not on necessaries. V
Fifthly, it is the office of the State to break down monopolies, in which, as a matter of fact, the unchecked working of the law of Supply and Demand issues,* and which the law of England justly abhors, for three reasons, " the raising of the price, the deterioration of the commodity, the impoverishment of poor artificers." Consider the Rings and the Trusts fastened like vampires on American industries, and not altogether unknown in this country, which determine the Supply and satisfy the Demand on their own terms. Again, the monopolies enjoyed by Railway and Water Companies—to give only two examples—are utterly wrong in principle.t Such great public works ought to be owned by public authorities, and to be administered for the public benefit, not for private profit.
* On this subject see some interesting remarks in Mr. Symc's Outlines of an Industrial Science, pp. 58—63.
f Mr. Mill remarks: "A road, a canal, a railway, are always, in a great degree, practical monopolies: and a government which concedes such monopoly unreservedly to a private company does much the same thing as if it allowed an individual or an association to levy any tax thoy chose for their own benefit, on all the malt produced in the country, or on all the cotton imported into it." He add?, " that the State may be proprietor of canals or railways without itself working them," and expresses his opinion that "they will be almost always better worked by means of a company, renting the railway or canal for a limited period from the State."— Principles of Political Economy, Book V. chap. xi. § 11.
Sixthly, as I have pointed out in a previous portion of this chapter, one disgraceful result of the unfettered action of the law of Supply and Demand is that widespread debasement, sophistication, falsification, and counterfeiting of commodities called adulteration. One would have thought it impossible that any voice could be raised in defence of practices so manifestedly fraudulent, and so pregnant ^ith disastrous results of all kinds: moral, physical, and economical. But we have been.told —and told by Mr. Bright!—that, after all, adulteration is only " a form of competition." That a man, himself so genuinely honest, could have offered such an apology, is a proof how fatal to the moral sense is that branch of the Utilitarian philosophy which relates to commerce and trade. Adulteration a form of competition! Yes; if competition and cheating are synonymous. For a form of cheating it is, and one of the worst forms. The petty rogue, who makes dishonest gains by his false balance and deceitful weights, is far less peccant and less noxious than the great rogue who, prostituting scientific knowledge and commercial credit to the production of spurious wares, swindles on a colossal scale. I earnestly contend that these malefactors I should be punished not merely by fine, but by imi prisonment with hard labour: and that when the 'adulterating substances employed are such as arc
vii.] THE BRITISH ARMY. 239
notoriously prejudicial to health, the adulterator should be dealt with as severely as the garotter, and should be subjected to the pain and ignominy of flogging.
Seventhly, I venture to say that the day is over when we can abandon the British Army to the law of Supply and Demand. What an army it is! An army of mercenaries, hired by the operation of that law for a miserable pittance of a few pence a day: that is all it comes to when the various stoppages have been filehed from their pay. And what mercenaries! For the most part rakings
. . &
from the gutters of our great cities, miserable alike
• • » '>. :ti Jc«» Jc
swords that break, to say nothing of guns that burst. I put it to any candid man: Is there any more disgraceful spectacle under the sun than the British Army, as it actually exists: so miserably inefficient and so miraculously costly! Perhaps there is just one still more disgraceful spectacle: and that is exhibited, once a year, in the House of Commons, when a prim official gentleman—in private life, no doubt, most sensitive to the obligations of veracity—rises to emit the stale old lies with which his subordinates have crammed him, and to prove that all is for the best in the best of possible War Offices. Surely it is time that we should make an end of all this, if it is not to make an end of England, Surely it is time that the obligation of every adult man to serve his country in arms should be recognized and enforced. "But this would be incompatible with the commercial spirit of the country." That is precisely one of its greatest recommendations. Few heavier curses can fall upon any country than the unchecked predominance of the commercial spirit. Legibly enough is it written in the world's annals:
"what has tamed
Great nations; how ennobling thoughts depart
i ^ Nothing would do so much to revive the drooping spirit of British nationality as universal military service. And, assuredly, if England is to hold her place among the armed nations of the world, come it must, sooner or later. Whether anything short of a great disaster to the country will bring it, may well be doubted.* But what cannot be doubted is vii.] THE TASK OF PHILOSOPHY. 241
1 The cr.se of the Volunteers offers too good warrant for such dubiety, llere is admirable material which, in the judgment of the most competent authorities, might, with proper military guidance and equipment, be made an effective instrument of national defence. But no Ministry, no Minister, has ventured to jeopardise place at the call of patriotism, by proposing, or even by candidly confessing, the expenditure necessary to convert the Auxiliary Forces from a delusion and a. means of national weakness, into a reality and an clement of national strength.
that war, however horrible in itself, is an instrument of the greatest good: nay, that it is, in Hegel's phrase, "a high necessity in the world's order," human nature being what it is: purifying, tranquillising, uniting a people as nothing else **•"•! '-'•' j unites: enforcing self-sacrifice: weaning from the '*' .-'••' I*'• lust of lucre, the cult of comfort. ^U t
The seven Shibboleths which we have considere in the foregoing pages appear to me fairly to represent the body of opinion specially characteristic of the time. No doubt, in the vast majority of minds, they exist as mere nebulous notions. Like the algebraic x they denote an unknown quantity . They are symbols in problems. And the problems are never worked out. To work them out is the task of philosophy, not in the restricted sense of metaphysics, but in the larger signification properly attaching to it, of real knowledge as opposed to mere opinion.* If this book, in any degree, fulfils
* Tbv tf>i\6a'0(f>ov crofyifs ^aofjifv eTn.dv/j.tjT^v elvai, ov Trjs fi.ev, Tt}? 8'ov, a\\a Traff)"/?. — Plato, Iiep., 475 B.