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OBJECTIONS STATED AND ANSWERED.
labour of producing the commodity. This proportion of price to the utmost costliness of production proves true also where the rise is constant, as in the case of landed property in consequence of situation and nature of the soil. It is represented here by the ground rent which, as we shall presently see, is specially exposed to socialistic attacks.
But there is yet another exceptional case, which may seem to be antagonistic to our theory of value. There are commodities, few indeed and those of a less important nature, which nature provides freely, which cost nothing Whence then arises their value ? We reply that with the exception of air every commodity is valuable in this sense from its comparative scarcity, and in proportion to the pain of deprivation which a nonpossession of it produces in any individual mind. And nearly all such commodities demand a certain amount of labour. Wood in primeval forests requires hands to fell it; wild nuts too must be gathered by the consumers. But the number of such commodities is very limited, and becomes more so in consequence of an increase in the population. But we do not intend to evade the difficulty in this way. Our answer is this : want of, and the discomfort occasioned by the absence of, any commodity leads to exertion or labour in order to obtain it. And before any exertion is made towards the attaining of such an object, a conscious or unconscious estimate of its value is formed in the mind. Whether commodities are ready for use but rare, or whether they must be first created, the mind weighs carefully the respective values of the exertion for attaining and the pleasure in using them. Everything therefore is of value, either because it requires labour directly, or (on account of its natural rarity being difficult to procure) it requires for its attain
ment labour indirectly. Hence it appears evident that both nature, with its limited resources, and population, which may be indefinitely increased, must be ever regarded as two antagonistic factors in every calculation towards solving the social problem. Socialism, only busy with the rights of labour, has been led away from the main question, namely, the proper equipment of all with the proper means of production, limited as we find them to exist in fact,-in other words the question of property.
And this will form the subject for consideration in the next chapter.
Property; Private Income; Collective Property.-Income of the
Family, and National Property.-Importance of the Family
in the Distribution of Wealth. The attacks of modern socialism, as everybody knows, are chiefly directed against property as such, or, in other words, against the accumulation of private income and its use, prevalent in the present day. We must, however, never lose sight of the great fact that man not property (or those commodities which are comprehended under the word wealth) is the great object of political economy. For the production and consumption of commodities are to be regarded only as the means to an end, that end being the highest personal improvement of the individual, and the best social organization of the human family. Property, from this point of view, is itself a part of the individual possessor; it forms that circle of external goods which centres in him personally.* It is the apparatus of personal life. Socialists recognise this in part, and attack not
much property per se, but rather the exclusive possession and use of it by a few private persons, belonging to the landed aristocracy, in the shape of ground rent, and to the plutocracy in the shape of capital.
* The following is the definition of property given by Dr. Schäffle: “Der um eine Person gezogene, von ihr benützte, durch sie beherrschte Kreis von äusseren Gütern, der ihr dem gemäss rechtlich und wirthschaftlich eigenthümlich ist, heisst Vermögen.”—“ Kapitalismus und Socialismus,” p. 60.
The fact is recognised on all hands that throughout the individual existence of every human being a plurality of wants must be supplied by private income, and in a similar manner the public wants of a community must be supplied by the collective property or income of the state. It used to be the fashion even of economists to consider · property from the legal point only. Nor is this view in itself incorrect, since without legal protection wealth would not be created and accumulated; without safety there would be no saving. But we must consider property from another point of view too,-its strictly economic aspect. Regarded in this light, property, or a certain amount of ready-made commodities, becomes indispensable in order to the most effective development of the personal life in consumption, and also as the starting point of the most extensive production. The economic progress could not be carried on at all, technically, without some previously existing property in the form of buildings, raw stuffs, machinery, and other aids besides the capital to maintain the hands (which produce ultimate wealth) by prepaid wages. Even a small tradesman must have an available stock of property to commence business, and the destruction of private property would become ultimately the extinction of personal life.
The real difficulty in this question is: how are all individually to be provided with an adequate apparatus of ready-made instruments for productive purposes and the necessary commodities for domestic purposes in consumption ? Marlo, a moderate socialist, is against the absurd notion of consigning property to destruction by a levelling down process.
He rather recommends a levelling up process in the formation of private property by, and a more extensive acquisition of it among, what
now the moneyless classes. What in classic and
PROPERTY THE RESULT OF LABOUR AND NATURE. 37
mediæval ages was claimed as a right of the privileged citizen, reasonable socialists claim now as the legal right of proletarians. And certainly, judging from the general tone of the early Christian writings, the problem how to arm every individual with the adequate means for its own physical support and moral development ought to have been discussed centuries ago. True, the solution of the problem may remain as far off as ever after thousands of years' discussion; still the duty remains, to give it due consideration.
Some liberal optimists have opined that “liberty of labour” is the best guarantee of a sufficient endowment of property for every individual proportionate to its wants. But the first principles of political economy show the futility of this opinion; for wealth is the , product not of labour only but of nature also. of nature, however, are limited; and unless part of the soil, and other natural agents, are within reach of the working man, he has not the proper means for acquiring property. If nature with a prodigal liberality supplied all alike with her gifts, everybody might become in a short time the forger of his own fortune. But the supplies of nature are limited and unequally distributed, and hence the inequality in the struggle of life between the privileged and the working classes. No doubt Adam Smith is quite correct in asserting that "nature does not "create values,” that the value of commodities depends on labour. On the other hand, Quesnay, the founder of an opposite school, asserts with almost equal justice that “ the soil is the sole source of wealth.” The truth is, property is the outcome of these two factors conjointly. To a fund of nature limited in quantity is added human labour; and, as population increases, there will be an urging and pressing towards exclusive posses