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Social Combinations of Individuals in the Process of Production,
in Patriarchal, Theocratic, Feudal, and Capitalistic Systems respectively.–Vindication of the latter, and its relative Importance considered.—The State.-State-help, and Self-help. -Analogies between Constitutional Government and Capitalistic Organization.-Social Disharmonies.-Reforms proposed
by Socialism. “ One man is no man!” “Unus homo nullus homo !” is the verdict of the ancient sages. Plato especially has pointed out that the full nature of man is developed in the "great man,” society, and on this point Aristotle agrees with him in calling man a political being by nature (äv@pwntos ζώον φύσει πολιτικόν); and ever since the sixteenth century this idea has again and again found its exponents in modern philosophy. And practically we find that community of interests unites mankind in science, literature, and religion. Language, as the medium of intercourse among contemporaries, memory, as a link between past and present generations, and the facility of the human species for acclimatization drawing together men of different zones—all these point out that man is intended for social intercourse. Thus political economy, as the name implies, has for its object the welfare not of isolated individuals but of a whole community. And it is worth our notice that this science scarcely dates further back than two centuries, that is, it only rose into existence with the wider extension of economic communion of different climes and peoples in the course of a long historical process.
To give an illustration of this economic intercourse between man and man, extending all over the world : I wake in the morning and put on my dressing-gown. Its wool has been taken from sheep reared some years ago in Australia ; it was shipped thence perhaps in foreign vessels, prepared in English factories, and dyed with African colours. I take a cup of tea out of porcelain of Bohemia, tea prepared in China and conveyed hither in British vessels. I proceed to my toilette, and see several pieces of ancient furniture around me. There is ebony, the work of negroes from the depths of Africa, who may have died three hundred years ago ; there are some materials which are of Arabic workmanship; there is mahogany wood felled by the hand of Central-Americans, and shaped and carved by European artisans. I take my morning walk on a street made two hundred years ago. I pay a piece of money which has been coined out of silver, used and re-used often for the same purpose, digged may-be originally by convicts in Roman mines. The civilized man need only take off the concrete mask from the useful things about him, to see himself surrounded by the energetic efforts of human life of distant ages and countries; and the question rises within himself whether his head and hand too will provide the products which shall serve future ages and generations, may-be in distant lands.
The spring of economic life is the demand after the necessaries, the comforts, and the luxuries of life. That demand is regulated again by fashion more or less; and fashion itself is only the outcome of social life, it decrees what shall be the standard of life in different classes and in different countries. The demand is supplied by the persons or things around us. An Italian lady, for example, wears stays containing whalebones got in
BENEFITS OF SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COMBINATION.' 55
the high latitudes of the Pacific. Northern nations eat the sweet oranges of the south, Englishmen drink the tea of China, and the Chinese use English calicoes and cutlery. The clever hand of the country surgeon heals the farmer's ailments, and the farmer grows the vegetables which are put on the former's table in return. Thus all work for all, and by a wise distribution of labour the demands of all are best supplied for the furtherance of health and wealth, and the increase of happiness and mental improvement in an increasing population.
And this is true of consumption as well as production. Services and things may be best used in common too. One public institution may supply the wants of many, one policeman may serve for the protection of a whole village, at a moderate price. Similarly, the marvellous results of a just distribution of labour are to be ascribed to this tendency of man to combine for a common object. An organized body of working men represent one collective force, consisting of various well-regulated parts, all engaged in the same work of production.
The same tendency for social combination also aids in calling forth a variety of forms of fixed capital, and their most economic application. Many speculators all over the world are engaged in producing the various component parts of every article of merchandise, before it is ready for sale in the market. For this purpose each one of them must have an organizing apparatus, adapted to the existing conditions of time and place, so as to perform their part in the social organism with the least expenditure of bodily and mental forces, and with a view of directing their exertions into a proper channel. Thus two hundred different employers of labour contribute towards the manufacture of one single watch. Every one of these, therefore, assists in bringing into existence a variety of instruments, machinery, and peculiar commodities required for their respective operations. This leads to an increase of forms of fixed capital property, the collective resultant of which is the most effective and fertilizing mode of production by the most adequate instruments for
In a similar manner, as has been pointed out before, value becomes fixed by a calculating process of the community, and this is preferable to its remaining dependent upon the personal whims of individuals, the market price serving as the true exponent of popular estimates as to the value of things. By the use of money as a standard of value, the judgment of the whole social community as to the utility of commodities may be conveniently expressed, and the market price will determine the expansion or contraction in the production of any one of them. All will be regulated according to the laws of demand and supply. So too the use of circulating capital is heightened by the existing social process of economy, for it is here applied for special purposes and directed towards special objects. Instead of every individual person producing for himself all the articles of consumption he requires for personal use, everybody in the social organism produces that for which he has a special aptitude. One invests his capital in the manufacture of leather, another applies himself to the culture of vineyards, and so on.
This affords opportunities for increased skill, and a certain degree of perfection in any given speciality, which greatly assists the technical process of economy. In a similar manner it could be pointed out that the process by means of which income is created and used in consumption receives considerable help from the social connection between man and man, though living in different parts of the world
SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS PAST AND PRESENT.
and separated by distant ages, but united by the bond of commercial interests, a common industry, and a world
This leads to the question, by what force or forces is the economic universe held together so as to benefit one and all by utilizing and organizing all individual powers of production in the most economical manner? In short, which is the best social organization? Not any one particular organization could be pointed out as satisfying the conditions of every age. On the contrary our own age seems to demand the combined co-operation of various forms of social organization. Historically no doubt the family is the primitive form of social combination, and it has not lost its importance yet. The aggregate of family economies or households forms the political economies or households of states, just as the beehive consists of the manifold cells, each forming an integral part of the whole organism. With the extension of social combination beyond the family and the tribe for carrying out the practical arts of life, other powers arise besides the patriarchal, namely, the spiritual power of the priesthood, and the political power of military leaders who succeed in founding dynasties. The authority of the church, and the power of a landed aristocracy in the feudal system, the privileges of the free citizen in the slave systems of antiquity, and the despotisms of the still more ancient communities of the heroic ages in Greece, of India, and of Egypt, are the various organs of power arising out of different social systems.
Slavery and feudalism were undoubtedly very unfree forms of organization, and yet they were free from many glaring faults to be found in our more advanced organization, living as we do under liberal institutions. They certainly were vastly superior to the condition of disorganized