Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

them in appearance, and taking hold freely with them at any part of the work, as occasion serves.1

I cannot but believe that, as the working classes advance in individual and mutual intelligence, and push their employers closer with a more searching and vital competition, more and more will the reward of the employer come to consist of the zest of intellectual activity, the joys of creative energy, the honor of directing affairs, and the social distinctions of mastership.

For after all, it must be remembered that the employ. ment of labor is an occupation, as truly as is manual labor itself; and that the body of employers must continue to employ labor, or find other ways and means to live. To assume that employers generally are going to leave business on account of a reduction of profits, would be more sensible if it were shown that they would also leave the world on that account. Not a little of the reasoning in books as to what employers will do, or capitalists will do, or laborers will do, if something happens which they cannot be expected to like, practically assumes that men have a choice whether they will be born into this world or not; and that, once in it, if they are not satisfied, they have at hand one or more eligible spheres into which they can pass, easily and gracefully, with a perfect assurance of welcome; and that indeed they will be quite likely to do so, unless treated with distinguished consideration here.

" Mr. Gould's Report, p. 346. Mr. Bonar reported in 1870: "In enumerating the highly favorable circumstances in which the Swiss working man is placed, prominence must be given to the immense extension of the principle of democracy, which, whatever may be its defects and dangers from a political point of view, when pushed to extremes, serves in Switzerland, in its economical effects, to advance the cause of the operative, by removing the barriers dividing class from class, and to establish among all grades the bonds of mutual sympathy and good will.”—Report, p. 271. Coxe, in his travels in Switzerland during the last century, notes the frank, courteous as Bumption of absolute equality on the part of the Swiss peasantry.(Pinkerton, V. 657).

non, if that is rate, the bridence, and

Whereas, the most of us, in this world, do, not what we would like, but what we must, or the best we can; and I entertain no manner of doubt that long after profits should be forced down, if that were to happen, below what might be deemed an equitable rate, the superior men of every country, the men of thought, of prudence, and of natural command, would be found directing and animating the movements of industry.

CHAPTER XV

COÖPERATION : GETTING RID OF THE EMPLOYING CLASS.

In its first and largest sense, coöperation signifies the union in production of different persons, it may be of different classes of persons, and it may be on the most unequal terms. In this sense, coöperation is compatible with the subordination of the employed to the employer and with the existence of industrial “principalities and powers.” In the sense which has been made of late years 60 popolar, and in which alone it will be used in this treatise, coöperation means union in production, upon equal terms. It is democracy introduced into labor.

It is as we turn from discussing the industrial character of the employing class, that we can most advantageously consider the schemes proposed, under the title of coöperation, for the amelioration of the condition of the wages class; and, at the same time, it is as we try to find the real significance of these schemes that we realize most fully the confusion introduced into the theory of distribution by the failure to discriminate the entrepreneur-function, and by the undue extension of the word profits. In my opinion, it is simply not possible to give an intelligible account of coöperation through the use of the definitions by the text-book writers. If what we have called the profits of business are only “the wages of supervision and management," what is it that coöperation aims to effect ? Supervision and management must still be exercised, or coöperation will come to a very speedy end. If super. vision and management are to be exercised, it must be by some one, aud if the present supervisors and managers (the employers, as I call them) are to be turned adrift or reduced to the ranks, then these duties will have to be performed by men now taking some other part in industry, and to them “the wages of supervision and management” will be paid. Wherein have the workmen gained anything? It is fairly to be presumed that these peculiar and difficult duties will not be performed any better by men chosen by caucus and ballot, than by men selected through the stern processes of unremitting business com. petition.

If the wages of supervision and management are to be paid, in manner and in amount, as heretofore, to supervisors and managers chosen by the workmen themselves, we can readily understand that the pride of the workmen may be gratified (whether that will tend to make them more easily supervised and managed, is a question we need not anticipate); but wherein is the economical advantage? If it is said, wages are not to be paid to the supervisors and managers, under the coöperative system, equal to those paid under the existing industrial organization, while yet the work is done as well, what does this amount to but a confession that the sums now received by the employers are not wages, but something more than, and different from, wages; the difference in amount representing the power given to the employer by his industrial position to wrest an undue share of the products of industry?

To repeat : if, under the coöperative system, the work of “supervision and management” is to be done by a new det of men for the same “wages,” the workmen will gain nothing; if, on the other hand, the workmen, controlling the operations of industry for themselves, can get the work done for less (and the great promises held out as to the benefits of coöperation would imply that it must be for very much less), then it must be concluded that em. ployers at present receive something more than and different from wages.

But if we find it difficult to conceive what account one could give of coöperation, using the definitions of the text-books, we find that, if we stand aside and allow the text-book writers to state it in their own way, the result is not a whit the more happy. Prof. Cairnes, so highly dis-, tinguished for his justness and clearness of reasoning, stumbles, at the very threshold of the subject, across an obstacle of his own devising. Thus in the very act of bringing forward the scheme of coöperation as a cure for the industrial ills of society, he makes a statement of coöperation which reduces it to a nullity: “It appears to me that the condition of any substantial improvement of a permanent kind in the laborer's lot is that the separation of industrial classes into laborers and capitalists shall not be maintained ; that the laborer shall cease to be a mere laborer—in a word, that profits shall be brought to reënforce the wages fund.1 And again, more tersely: “The characteristic feature of coöperation, looked at from the economic point of view, is that it combines in the same person the two capacities of laborer and capitalist.This needs but to be looked at a moment to reveal its utter fallacy. Remember, this is not the declaration of an irresponsible philanthropist that every workman ought to have a palace and a coach, but the grave statement of an accountable economist as to the manner in which the wel fare of the working class may, under economical condi

"Some Leading Principles," etc., p. 339. I“Essays on Political Economy." How singularly unfortunate this would be as a definition, even were Prof. Cairnes not mistaken in his general view of cooperation, will be seen when we say that the above would be a very good description of a peasant proprietor, or amall American farmer. He “combines in the same person the two capacities of laborer and capitalist.” Is he a coöperator?

« НазадПродовжити »