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nation adopted by our modern employers for the human instruments of labour whom they use.
Such is the historical view presented, and the essence of the criticism on successive economic systems, as drawn from the writings of Lassalle and the socialists generally. The picture is not without a certain artistic distribution of light and shade. Still there are some true touches, and it would be unjust to socialism to assert that its object is to bring back the past, with all its evils, in the place of the capitalism which it attacks. Still we must question, in conclusion, some of the above assertions, and our right to do so will be proved more fully in the contents of subsequent chapters of this volume.
The concluding refrain of all these criticisms is this : capitalism lies at the root of decay, both of ancient and mediæval society. Well, we ask, how was it that capitalism was constantly required in order to the carrying on of commercial relations on any considerable scale ? Why, on your own admission, was it that those earlier organizations could only provide for the most limited conditions of society, and were altogether insufficient in themselves for the more extensive national and international combinations for production and the higher development of industry? How did it happen that the united forces of the conservative privileged orders in church and state, together with the guild organization of the trades, were not powerful enough to hinder the “ destructive invasion of capital” ?
Again, did not that patriarchal state of society which you idealize so much owe its short-lived existence to the fact that privileged classes and communities flourished at the expense of the masses of the people ? May it not rather be presumed that the development of so many defects in capitalism in its first appearance is owing
COMPARATIVE SUPERIORITY OF CAPITALISTIC SYSTEM. 79
rather to the miserable condition of the masses, as it found them oppressed by the laws of those earlier constitutions which left them without the means of education, strangers to civil liberty and political rights? Has not the alliance of capitalism with the remains of a decayed former order of society been the cause of a creation within itself of another bad aristocracy in modern times? Thus, for example, is not the system of standing armies, with the consequent abuse of public credit, and fraudulent rise in the rate of interest and profit, the cause of the general deterioration and inequality of income under the system of modern capitalism ? Then again, is there not in those former monopolistic institutions an enormous waste of productive power, from an economical point of view ? Was not the condition of the serf deplorable enough, and scarcely superior to that of the brute? And why do you not show how the guild system was instrumental in suppressing a vast amount of talent, freedom, exertion, and progress of the apprentices, journeymen, and masters? Whence that cry of the guilds through centuries, that trade is "overstocked,” which amounts to the confession that the distribution of labour was uneconomic in those days? In fact, how can you speak of an economic superiority of a system which had not economy for its first object, and a social organization which had not economic motives for its primary spring of action ?
Why those blind accusations, overshooting the mark, against capitalism, which is only one of those forms of organization which the constitution of human society needs, and which no reasonable economist would set up as the sole form of social combination, but which, like every other great social civilizing force, is subject to the laws of society and humanity? Why not rather solve for us the problem how it is possible, under the existing conditions of society and a combination of the productive forces all over the world, and that intensified economy which in the present day requires the wisest individual utilization of land, capital, and labour-how it is possible otherwise to bring about the highest effectiveness of every individual power of production than by according to all full individual liberty, and leaving the rest to social and personal impulse ? Besides, you have not yet proved that capitalism is beyond reform; nor have you shown how the masses of the people, all enjoying equal rights, can be controlled by any but economic laws. You have not yet been able to point to a modern positive socialism, which could under a system of ecumenical commerce dispense altogether with capitalism. You have even failed to show how that which appears sound in your proposals, the co-operative system, is anything more than an improved capitalism.
Therefore do not expect that we shall do away with this mechanism of society, the first in the history of our race which secures for political economy the free exercise of its principles, do not suppose that we shall abolish this capitalistic form of production and commerce, and so throw away the baby with the bath, simply because in your genial historical sketch you have only criticised the darkest points of capitalism, which, however irregular and unprincipled in some of its abuses, is by no means so irretrievably bad as you have painted it.
Modern ideas of Individual Rights.—No Prerogatives.-Two one
sided Views.—Liberalism and Communism.-Old Liberalism, or the Mercantile System.- Pure Liberalism.—Quesnay and the Physiocrats in France.-Adam Smith, Ricardo, Malthus,
and their Followers in England.—Liberalism criticised. The idea, Christian in its origin, that all mankind have the same rights of self development, is the outcome of modern civilization. After a warfare carried on for thousands of years about the distribution of labour and enjoyment, the consciousness of the moral dignity of man has only gradually and recently worked its way to general recognition. It is the fundamental principle of modern society, although remnants of ancient privileges still remain. It rests on the truly Christian idea* that all men have as individuals a moral and reasonable vocation.
Now this may be viewed from two sides. On the one hand, every individual is henceforth to be free, a moral end to himself, and not subject to another to serve another's private interests. Or, on the other hand, every individual has an equal right, morally, of pursuing his mission in life, and no one has a right to prevent his sharing in those common resources which serve as the aliment of every member of the human family. Thus, liberty and equality, both derived from the original idea of a morally independent existence, rest upon a common basis, and ought not to be separated from each
* Compare Gaizot’s “Méditations sur la Religion Chrétienne." Troisième Série. Première Méditation, Le Christianisme et la Liberté, pp. 1-52.
other. Liberty is an empty nothing, without an object in life to render man happy; and equality without selfdevelopment would be wanting both in beauty and dignity. But the close logical connection of the two has not been always recognised by mankind; one or the other rather, by itself, has from time to time been
accepted and defended with a one-sided enthusiasm. · And only when the practical futility of such one-sided
views is found out by experience, the mind becomes prepared for the reception of the whole truth, that the union of liberty and equality alone leads to a nation's happiness and to complete individual satisfaction.
It was left for our present age to make vast strides of progress in the direction of liberty, and to pursue it with the utmost fervour and zeal. Our age is intensely liberal, and would reduce authority to a mere shadow. But this liberal tendency of modern days does not by any means exclude great inequalities. In a liberal state which does not take the necessary precautions a few free citizens may appropriate to themselves solely the limited resources which are intended for all, and thus render nugatory the liberty of the rest, whom to call free would be but bitter irony. The hired labourer having that “effectual chain, and scourge, hunger," before his eyes, begins to estimate “equality,” or “material liberty,' above that empty shadow, abstract liberty, which only aids in making him more miserable and wretched. He wants to have an equal share of enjoyment secured to him by the will and power of the people. In order to effect it, he advocates common property, which provides a natural endowment for every individual, to be rendered permanent by an “organization of labour," conducted by the state. This is communism.
But just as liberalism in its relation to the state becomes