Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

themselves. In the distribution, a certain minimum is first assigned for the subsistence of every member of the community, whether capable or not of labour. The remainder of the produce is shared in certain proportions, to be determined beforehand, among the three elements, Labour, Capital, and Talent. The capital of the community may be owned in unequal shares by different members, who would in that case receive, as in any other joint-stock company, proportional dividends. The claim of each person on the share of the produce apportioned to talent, is estimated by the grade or rank which the individual occupies in the several groups of labourers to which he or she belongs; these grades being in all cases conferred by the choice of his or her companions. The remuneration, when received, would not of necessity be expended or enjoyed in common; there would be separate menages for all who preferred them, and no other community of living is contemplated, than that all the members of the association should reside in the same pile of buildings; for saving of labour and expense, not only in building, but in every branch of domestic economy; and in order that, the whole of the buying and selling operations of the community being performed by a single agent, the enormous portion of the produce of industry now carried off by the profits of mere distributors might be reduced to the smallest amount possible.

This system, unlike Communism, does not, in theory at least, withdraw any of the motives to exertion which exist in the present state of society. On the contrary, if the arrangement worked according to the intentions of its contrivers, it would even strengthen those motives; since each person would have much more certainty of reaping individually the fruits of increased skill or energy, bodily or mental, than under the present social arrangements can be felt by any but those who are in the most advantageous positions, or to whom the chapter of accidents is more than ordinarily favourable. The Fourierists, however, have still another resource. They believe that they have solved the great and fundamental problem of rendering labour attractive. That this is not impracticable, they contend by very strong arguments; in particular by one which they have in common with the Owenites, viz., that scarcely any labour, however severe, undergone by human beings for the sake of subsistence, exceeds in intensity that which other human beings, whose subsistence is already provided for, are found ready and even eager to undergo for pleasure. This certainly is a most significant fact, and one from which the student in social philosophy may draw important instruction. But the argument founded on it may easily be stretched too far. If occupations full of discomfort and fatigue are freely pursued by many persons as amusements, who does not see that they are amusements exactly because they are pursued freely, and may be discontinued at pleasure? The liberty of quitting a position often makes the whole difference between its being painful and pleasurable. Many a person remains in the same town, street, or house from January to December, without a wish or a thought tending towards removal, who, if confined to that same place by the mandate of authority, would find the imprisonment absolutely intolerable.

According to the Fourierists, scarcely any kind of useful labour is naturally and necessarily disagreeable, unless it is either regarded as dishonourable, or is immoderate in degree, or destitute of the stimulus of sympathy and emulation. Excessive toil needs not, they contend, be undergone by any one, in a society in which there would be no idle class, and no labour wasted, as so enormous an amount of labour is now wasted, in useless things; and where full advantage would be taken of the power of association, both in increasing the efficiency of production, and in economizing consumption. The other requisites for rendering labour attractive would, they think, be found in the execution of all labour by social groups, to any number of which the same individual might simultaneously belong, at his or her own choice: their grade in each being determined by the degree of service which they were found capable of rendering, as appreciated by the suffrages of their comrades. It is inferred from the diversity of tastes and talents, that every member of the community would be attached to several groups, employing themselves in various kinds of occupation, some bodily, others mental, and would be capable of occupying a high place in some one or more; so that a real equality, or something more nearly approaching to it than might at first be supposed, would practically result: not, from the compression, but, on the contrary from the largest possible development, of the various natural superiorities residing in each individual.

Even from so brief an outline, it must be evident that this system does no violence to any of the general laws by which human action, even in the present imperfect state of moral and intellectual cultivation, is influenced ;1 and that it would be extremely rash to

1 [The remainder of the paragraph as it now stands dates from the 3rd ed. 1852). In the 2nd ed. (1849) the paragraph went on from " influenced " as pronounce it incapable of success, or unfitted to realize a great part of the hopes founded on it by its partisans. With regard to this, as to all other varieties of Socialism, the thing to be desired, and to which they have a just claim, is opportunity of trial. They are all capable of being tried on a moderate scale, and at no risk, either personal or pecuniary, to any except those who try them. It is for experience to determine how far or how soon any one or more of the possible systems of community of property will be fitted to substitute itself for the "organization of industry" based on private ownership of

follows: "All persons would have a prospect of deriving individual advantage from every degree of labour, of abstinence, and of talent, which they individually exercised. The impediments to success would not be in the principles of the system, but in the unmanageable nature of its machinery. Before large bodies of human beings could be fit to live together in such close union, and still more, before they would be capable of adjusting, by peaceful arrangement among themselves, the relative claims of every class or kind of labour and talent, and of every individual in every class, a vast improvement in human character must be presupposed. When it is considered that each person who would have a voice in this adjustment would be a party interested in it, in every sense of the term—that each would be called on to take part by vote in fixing both the relative remuneration, and the relative estimation, of himself as compared with all other labourers, and of his own class of labour or talent as compared with all others; the degree of disinterestedness and of freedom from vanity and irritability which would be required in such a community from every individual in it, would be such as is now only found in the elite of humanity: while if those qualities fell much short of the required standard, either the adjustment could not be made at all, or, if made by a majority, would engender jealousies and disappointments destructive of the internal harmony on which the whole working of the system avowedly depends. These, it is true, are difficulties, not impossibilities: and the Fourierists, who alone among Socialists are in a great degree alive to the true conditions of the problem which they undertake to solve, are not without ways and means of contending against these. With every advance in education and improvement, their system tends to become less impracticable, and the very attempt to make it succeed would cultivate, in those making the attempt, many of the virtues which it requires. But we have only yet considered the case of a single Fourierist community. When we remember that the communities themselves are to be the constituent units of an organised whole, (otherwise competition would rage as actively between rival communities as it now does betweenindividual merchants or manufacturers,) and that nothing less would be requisite for the complete success of the scheme than the organisation from a single centre of the whole industry of a nation, and even of the world; we may, without attempting to limit the ultimate capabilities of human nature, affirm, that the political economist, for a considerable time to come, will be chiefly concerned with the conditions of existence and progress belonging to a society founded on private property and individual competition; and that, rude as is the manner in which those two principles apportion reward to exertion and to merit, they must form the basis of the principal improvements which can for the present be looked for in the economical condition of humanity."

Then began a new section: "And those improvements will be found to be far more considerable than the adherents of the various Socialist systems are willing to allow. Whatever may be the merit or demerit of their own schemes land and capital. In the meantime we may, without attempting to limit the ultimate capabilities of human nature, affirm, that the political economist, for a considerable time to come, will be chiefly concerned with the conditions of existence and progress belonging to a society founded on private property and individual competition ^ and that the object to be principally aimed at, in the present stage of human improvement, is not the subversion of the system of individual property, but the improvement of it, and the full participation of every member of the community in its benefits.1

of society, they have hitherto shown themselves extremely ill acquainted with the economical laws of the existing social system; and have, in consequence, habitually assumed as necessary effects of competition, evils which are by no means inevitably attendant on it. It is from the influence of this erroneous interpretation of existing facts, that many Socialists of high principles and attainments are led to regard the competitive system as radically incompatible with the economical well-being of the mass.

"The principle of private property has never yet had a fair trial," &c., as now, supra, p. 208, and the remainder of that paragraph.

The chapter ended with the following paragraph, of which the first sentence was retained later (supra, p. 209): "We are as yet too ignorant either of what individual agency in its best form, or Socialism in its best form, can accomplish, to be qualified to decide which of the two will be the ultimate form of human society. In the present stage of human improvement at least, it is not (I conceive) the subversion of the system of individual property that should be aimed at, but the improvement of it, and the participation of every member of the community in its benefits. Far, however, from looking upon the various classes of Socialists with any approach to disrespect, I honour the intentions of almost all who are publicly known in that character, the acquirements and talents of several, and I regard them, taken collectively, as one of the most valuable elements of human improvement now existing; both from the impulse they give to the reconsideration and discussion of all the most important questions, and from the ideas they have contributed to many; ideas from which the most advanced supporters of the existing order of society have still much to learn."]

1 [See Appendix K, MilVs earlier and later writings on Socialism, and Appendix L, The later history of Socialism..]

CHAPTER II

THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

§ 1. It is next to be considered, what is included in the idea private property, and by what considerations the application of the principle should be bounded.

The institution of property, when limited to its essential elements,

nsists in the recognition, in each person, of a right to the exclusive

iposal of what he or she have produced by their own exertions,

received either by gift or by fair agreement, without force or fraud,

un those who produced it. The foundation of the whole is the

;ht of producers to what they themselves have produced. It may

objected, therefore, to the institution as it now exists, that it

)ognises rights of property in individuals over things which theyve not produced. For example (it may be said) the operatives in manufactory create, by their labour and skill, the whole produce;yet, instead of its belonging to them, the law gives them only their stipulated hire, and transfers the produce to some one who has merely supplied the funds, without perhaps contributing anything to the work itself, even in the form of superintendence. The answer to this is, that the labour of manufacture is only one of the conditions which must combine for the production of the commodity. The labour cannot be carried on without materials and machinery, nor without a stock of necessaries provided in advance to maintain the labourers during the production. All these things are the fruits of previous labour. If the labourers were possessed of them, they would not need to divide the produce with any one; but while they have them not, an equivalent must be given to those who have, both for the antecedent labour, and for the abstinence by

which' the produce of that labour, instead of being expended on indulgences, has been reserved for this use. The capital may not have been, and in most cases was not, created by the labour and abstinence of the present possessor; but it was created by the

« НазадПродовжити »