H.M. Hyndman

England For All

Chapter III

Capital is the produce of past labour devoted to present production. “The wealth which has been accumulated with the object of assisting production, is termed capital; and therefore the capital of the country is the wealth which is not immediately consumed unproductively, and which may consequently be devoted to assist the further production.” Capital is in fact the saving of past labour, for the special purpose of increasing the future store. Undoubtedly capital originally may have been acquired by saving or by inheritance, though that is only pushing the accumulation a step further back; and the grain pits of Northern India, the yarn barrows and tabu cocoa-nut groves of Polynesia, the stores of the Mexican aborigines, represent early and useful forms of capital. “Nothing,” says Mr. Fawcett, “more distinctly marks the superiority of man over the brute creation than the prudent foresight which causes an adequate provision to be made for the future. The more civilized men are, the more is this foresight shown. Civilized men anticipate with keen perception the wants of the future. To provide against the contingencies of the future, engrosses perhaps the too anxious care of the nation.”

In these sentences Mr. Fawcett expresses far too favourable a view of the foresight of the present generation of civilized men. Never perhaps since civilization was first seen on the planet, have so many human beings been passing through life at the same time on insufficient food, as at the present moment. Nothing, indeed, is more striking than the want of foresight displayed under our present capitalist system of production. Whichever quarter of the globe we look to, we see the future entirely disregarded. We in England, for example, a vast industrial community, are content to base our supplies more and more upon countries thousands of miles from our shores. America, which affords us our chief quantity of food, is using up wheat centre after wheat centre in a fashion similar to that not long since in vogue in South Australia; forests, which can perhaps never be replaced, are swept away, in every direction, to the permanent injury of the climate. In England, manure to the value of at least £25,000,000 a year, is sent down into the sea, though our soil is deteriorating for want of it. Foresight, therefore, in any extended sense, cannot certainly be claimed for our existing civilization, unless the Romans showed foresight when they worked out the Campagna to ruin, and destroyed the future of Sicily by their exactions. What capital has done for India I shall show later on; what it would do, if left unrestrained, for our own people has been seen, in part, in the last chapter. But granting that the capital which begins work is the result of past frugality on the part of some hard-working man with a keen eye to the good of his species, as well as to his own immediate interest, what is the next capital, and the next, and the next, which rolls up so rapidly in this island of ours? Let us go back to the great cotton industry once more, and look about us there.

A man has a capital of say £10,000, inherited from his thrifty parent, who bequeathed it to him after a long life of usefulness, with many prayers that he would make it fructify. He does. Four-fifths he devotes to buying machinery, raw cotton, &c., and one-fifth he expends in wages. Every year he produces 240,000 pounds of cotton yarn of the value of £12,000. His £10,000 has been reproduced, and his surplus value is in the 40,000 pounds of yarn, which are sold for the sum of £2,000. This £2,000 of surplus value forms a new capital, which, when set to work in like manner, will produce in its turn a surplus value of £400 – and so on, and so on, as may seem convenient to the capitalist. The original £10,000 came from the pious parent, but the history of the new capital of the £2,000, of the £400 &c., stares us in the face. It is simply surplus value, other people’s unpaid extra labour, capitalized. The means of production in which this additional extra labour is embodied, as well as the means which support it, are only portions of the tribute levied every year from the working class by the capitalist class. It is, of course, perfectly in accordance with the economical laws which govern the production of commodities, and with the ever sacred rights of property which follow thereupon. Nevertheless there are the following results:–

  1. That the product belongs to the capitalist, and not to the producer.
  2. That the value of this product includes both the value of the capital and the surplus value, which costs the workmen labour, but the capitalist whose lawful property it becomes, nothing.
  3. That the labourer has kept up his force of labour and can sell it again on the market, if he is lucky enough to find a buyer.

Thus capital rolls up by crystallizing unpaid labour in the hands of the capitalist.

That the general position of the modern labourer in dealing with his master the capitalist is bad enough, has been shown only too clearly. Whenever the Government slackens its intervention for a moment, even with existing Factory Acts in full force, the employers, as a class, strive their utmost to extend the hours of labour, and thus to get more unpaid work out of their hands. Not the slightest regard is paid to the health or well-being of the men, women, and children whose lives are used up thus relentlessly; the truck system, which filches wages, is resorted to wherever possible; and adulteration has become the rule rather than the exception in trade. To increase the rate of surplus value produced per head employed is of course a great gain; the average amount of profit on the variable capital used is at once increased likewise. Who can wonder then that having the control of the powers of the country, and the recognized political economists as their submissive fuglemen, the capitalist class should so long have ridden roughshod over the working class in the name of freedom?

In considering, however, the origin of the capitalist system, it becomes clear that without a minimum amount of variable capital wherewith to pay wages, that mode of production cannot soon begin. A man who works for himself alone, need work only the eight hours which we may assume to be required, on the average, to provide him with the necessaries of subsistence. He would need then only the means of production for his eight hours’ work; whilst the capitalist, who makes him work an extra four hours, needs an additional sum of money to provide the means of production for those four hours. Moreover, the capitalist, even if he lived no better than the workmen he employed, would have to keep two of them at work for twelve hours a day, in order that he himself might have the necessaries of life in idleness. Even so there would be no surplus wealth. So that. according to this calculation, the lazy capitalist, in order to be able to live without work even twice as well as his workmen, and turn into capital half the surplus value produced, must advance eight times the amount of capital required for a single independent workman, though only four hands will be employed in producing surplus value. This done, capital at once becomes master of the situation. The workman no longer turns the means of production to account, but they turn him to account, and work up his force of labour into surplus value to an extent which has never been brought about under any system of forced labour known to history.

The history of the development of capitalist production, from simple cooperation and manufacture up to the present preponderance of the great machine industries, shows an enormous growth of wealth for the capitalist class, combined with steady pressure upon the labourer to produce more surplus value by low wages and overwork. At first the true capitalist method scarcely makes head; but when once labourers are collected together in one building, to do separate tasks at the bidding of an employer, they cease to be separate individuals, and become an organism, bound to exercise their collective capacity in accordance with the rules of capital. Here comes in that minute division of manual labour, so advantageous to production, which has been described with so much enthusiasm by many economists. The object of the collection of the labourers together was, of course, to cheapen the production of merchandise. The extra ability which the workman derives from devoting his attention to one operation instead of to several, the time saved by the juxtaposition of the labourers, &c., all tell in favour of the capitalist, whose interest is henceforth exclusively consulted. For the labourer has already become a mere tool. He no longer produces commodities himself, as he did before, but embodies his work in bits of commodities, or in helping to make a complete commodity, only valuable when put together. To carry on perpetually one petty operation in a complicated whole, working day in and day out to produce surplus value for the capitalist by a series of purely mechanical operations, such is the labourer’s portion in this system of manufacture. He still seems to be an independent agent working with his own tools, but this is precisely what in reality he is not.

Glass-making, watch-making, pin-making, and other trades, are still to a great extent conducted on this transition method, and afford illustrations of what was not long since general. Whilst then the social division of labour, with or without the exchange of commodities, belongs to the economical forms of most various societies, the manufacturing division of labour is the special creation of the capitalist system of production. The workshop is in fact a machine, of which the parts are human beings. Dissociate the individuals from the machine as a whole, and they become almost as useless as a crank, a pin, or an eccentric, detached from a steam-engine. The labourer, to start with, sells his force of labour to capital because he is destitute of the means of production himself; now his labour has become absolutely useless unless it is sold. He can work henceforth to advantage only in the workshop of the capitalist. It is also the tendency of manufacture thus conducted to employ more and more hands as capital accumulates and the minimum of capital needed to commence, increases.

This sort of co-operation was a historical necessity, in order to convert isolated labour into social work. It begins about the middle of the sixteenth century, and lasts to the latter half of the eighteenth century, as the chief method of production in capitalist countries. During the whole of this period, and far on into the nineteenth century, the most atrocious laws were enacted by the small minority of the population who owned the Houses of Parliament, against the increase of wages, or any combination on the part of the working classes to secure for themselves justice and consideration. Capitalists might combine at their pleasure; employers might break their contract at will; but, woe betide those unlucky workmen who thought that freedom meant the right to strike to get better wages, or to step out of a contract which imperilled their health. For them the prison, flogging, branding, forced labour at the filthiest tasks. But for the capitalist? – he went on his way rejoicing, with more and yet more of other men’s labour at his mercy, and in due course of time he “founded a family,” figured as an Abolitionist, and died in the odour of sanctity.

Steam machinery gave a new turn to the screw which pressed down the working class, and began those periods of inflation and stagnation, of over-production and depression, which many have come to regard as inevitable accompaniments of all production. The machine sprang naturally out of manufacture, but the use of steam as a motive power gave it a development in many directions which could never have been obtained in any other way. At first sight it would appear that machines must of necessity improve the lot of the bulk of mankind – that as they so vastly enhance the productive power of human labour, men would be relieved from excessive drudgery, and yet wealth would abound more than at any previous period.

This was the view of the ancients. Aristotle foresaw that slavery could be done away if machines were invented; and others have dreamed of a state of society where, by their help, the history of the people should cease to be one of perpetual poverty and degradation. As machines save labour alike in agriculture and in working up the raw material, there is nothing necessarily chimerical in such ideas. But capital has stepped in and taken order with these vain imaginings. The riches due to machinery have gone to the few: the many have become mere slaves to the machine. For that is the result: human beings no longer make use of their implements; they themselves are made to serve the machine.

The machine of course, though it increases the productive power of the human labour employed, adds no more value to the commodity produced than the wear and tear during the process of work. But the first effect of its introduction is to bring into competition with adult male labour that of women and children, who could, and do, serve machines as well as the superior force of the men, and serve also to reduce their wages – the main object of the capitalist. But another advantage is afforded by the machine to the employer. We have seen that the profit of the capitalist depends upon the amount of unpaid labour he can exact from the free workman. In ordinary circumstances this can only be increased by the lengthening of the hours of labour. But by the aid of machines the labour can be intensified as well as prolonged. Thus a man may produce the necessary amount of labour-value in a shorter period, and leave a larger portion of the working day as surplus value to his employer, by an improvement in machinery which renders the labour rapid and severe. Ever since the law stepped in to shorten the hours of labour for women and children, and men combined to shorten their own hours, the endeavour to intensify labour by increasing the rapidity of machines has been unceasing. This has produced in the cotton and silk factories a state of nervous excitement among the workers which has greatly augmented the proportion of chest complaints. Twelve hours’ work are now compressed into ten hours. This work, too, is of the most monotonous, uninteresting character. In return for that exhausting labour the working classes as a body suffer as the Bishop of Manchester has so graphically described.

But the effect of the introduction of new machines of greatly improved capacity, used not for the benefit of the whole community, but primarily for that of the dominant class, has a far more serious influence upon the working class than even the competition of women and children which it admits of, or the intensity of labour which results therefrom. A new labour-saving machine means so much labour thrown upon the market without the means of earning subsistence. This effect of improved machinery is admitted by Ricardo, who, after having previously held the contrary opinion, satisfied himself “that the substitution of machinery for human labour is often very injurious to the class of labourers.” This view is taken less clearly by Macculloch, and Mill, and Fawcett; but they contend that the compensations are rapid, and in the end beneficial. The labouring classes, according to them, are therefore benefited, not injured, by the introduction of improved machinery in every case. The labourers whom the machine displaces are nevertheless thrown upon the market, where they certainly increase the amount of labour available for the capitalist. This is in itself a terrible matter for them all. But the amount of capital invested in the machine ceases also to be available for wages; and if the machine works up an increased amount of raw material with far fewer hands, the constant capital is clearly greatly augmented at the expense of the variable, or that which is immediately available for the payment of wages. The men thus thrown out of work are good for very little in other employments, and consequently fall to a lower grade. If they get fresh work in the same trade, that is owing to the introduction of some new capital, not certainly to that which is, already locked up in the machine, and employed in obtaining food for it in the shape of raw materials. The machine itself has nothing to do with the sad effect produced. The result of its employment is that the product is cheaper and more abundant than ever before; yet the workman is thrown aside into penury, and the capitalist pursues his triumphant career. For this temporary inconvenience is now of perpetual recurrence; and the fate of the miserable hand-loom weavers of India, starved in the interests of Manchester manufacturers, is reproduced in a milder form among the labourers whose interests these very cotton-lords were pretending to serve. The necessary influence of the machine under present conditions is to place the labourers at an increasing disadvantage – a disadvantage which they can never overcome, save by political and social combinations and rearrangements, carried out with steadfastness and zeal for at least a generation.

For this brings the question home to that miserable see-saw of inflation and depression to that sad condition of the mass of the labouring poor in the ever-growing population of our great cities, to which reference has so often been made. “Oh yes,” say the followers of Malthus, by no means confined to Mr. Bradlaugh and Mrs. Besant, “but this over-population is at the root of the whole mischief. If only the working class would keep itself under restraint, and not breed at such a terrible pace, they would at once raise their wages by the eternal law of supply and demand. They have to thank their own early marriages and excessive birth-rate for much of their present misery.”

Is this so? The evidence is really all the other way. There is nothing whatever to show that these islands are overpeopled in proportion to the wealth that is being accumulated. Very much the contrary. The population of Great Britain and Ireland has doubled in the last seventy years. It is now increasing at the rate of about one-and-a-half per cent. in every ten years. But the riches, the income, the accumulations of the country, are they increasing at a less rate so that abstention from marriage and Malthusian devices are so essential? Why, it is notorious to all that our wealth has increased out of all calculable proportion to our population during the present century. The whole world is laid under contribution, to furnish additional wealth for the exported savings of unpaid labour made by the comfortable classes here at home. English capital brings back its return from all quarters of the globe; whilst in these islands, the comparison between what was and what is, can scarcely be expressed in sober language. Nay, even during this late period of prolonged depression, when the hard, rough men of the iron districts, as well as the distressed cotton-spinners and miners, were declaring that they would not go into the workhouse, and yet could not “clem” for another winter – even in those hardest of hard times, it was calculated by an expert that in addition to ordinary investments, which were going on all the time, no less than £250,000,000 were watching the opportunity to be laid out to a profit when, to use the cant phrase, business once more recovered. Whilst population is now increasing at the rate of one-and-a-half per cent. in every ten years, capital and wealth squandered in luxury are rolling up at the rate of ten, twenty, thirty per cent. per annum.

A few figures will make this quite clear. Taking the years 1848 and 1878, the period of one generation since last there was an agitation in favour of justice to the multitude, we find that the total gross annual value of property and profits assessed to Income Tax in Great Britain and Ireland – about half the actual gross annual value, or less – was in round figures £275,000,000 in 1848, against £578,000,000, in 1878, or an increase on assessment for income alone of upwards of 110 per cent. in the thirty years. A truly enormous increase. Yet the total population in 1848 was 28,000,000, as against nearly 34,000,000 in 1878. Here, then in the United Kingdom, an increase of the annual assessed income of 110 per cent. or of £303,000,000, since 1848, has been accompanied by an increase in the population of only 6,000,000, or at the rate of less than twenty per cent. in the thirty years.

What fatal nonsense then is it to talk of overpopulation in such a case as this. If the increased capital had been used for the benefit of all, then these extra 6,000,000, as well as the 28,000,000, would have been living in comfort, health, and well-being – well-housed, well-clothed, well-fed, well-educated. The over-population which the Malthusians think to check by their wrong and mistaken methods, is due to the special system of production under which we groan, and will continue so long as, and no longer than, it is brought under restraint for the advantage of all. It is the deprivation of the means of selling their labour on fair terms that does the mischief to the mass of the population. Let the people remember, that if no one were overworked in this free land of ours, there would not at this moment be hands enough in the country to carry on its business – that if only one-half of the livers in luxury and idleness on the excessive labour of others turned to some higher ideal of patriotism, there would be plenty for all. It is not the population that crowds on the means of subsistence, but the concentration of the produce of their toil in so few hands, that is obnoxious; though the way out to a better and fairer distribution is not so simple as some of the easy handlers of the complicated machinery of our modern society would imagine.

This over-population then, which occasions such sad scenes in times of depression, and is ever close at hand in the flushest days of trade, is not actual but relative, and is directly due to the employment of machines and the growing proportion of constant to variable capital. Natural causes – great famines in the East, serious wars in Europe, short harvests at home, may aggravate the depression, as sloth and unthriftiness add to the misfortunes of the working class. But such decennial crises as those now observable date from the present century, and owe their development to the circumstances stated.

The reproduction of capital necessarily carries with it the simultaneous reproduction of the source of surplus value – force of labour. Accumulation of capital is at the same time increase of the mere wage-earning class. And the payment of wages presupposes that a certain amount of labour is given for nothing. Wages, therefore, can only rise because there is an increase of capital in excess of the labour offered. Yet the rise of wages and consequent diminution of unpaid labour does not mean that the domain of capitalism is restricted; the small profits only necessitate bigger capitals, and the workman sees in the wealth of his master his only hope of safety. Or on the other hand, the rate of wages retards the amount of accumulation, and then the excessive amount of capital seeking employment in comparison to the labour on offer – and then wages fall to the level which suits the views of capital. Thus the see-saw goes on. Now an excess of capital arising from accelerated accumulation, which renders the labour on offer insufficient and raises its price; again a slackened accumulation makes the labour on offer relatively excessive and reduces its price. All this has nothing to do with the increase and decrease of population, but may occur, and does occur, when the population is stationary.

The real law of capitalist production is this:- The relation between the accumulation of capital and the rate of wages is only a relation between unpaid labour converted into capital and the overplus of paid labour that this additional capital needs in order to set to work. This then is not a relation between two matters quite independent of one another – that is to say, on the one side the magnitude of the capital, on the other the number of the working population; but a relation only between the paid and the unpaid labour of the same working population. If the quantity of unpaid labour which the working class supplies and the capitalist class accumulates increases with sufficient rapidity for its conversion into additional capital to necessitate an extraordinary addition to the quantity of paid labour, wages rise. Other things remaining the same, unpaid labour diminishes in proportion. So soon, however, as this diminution reaches the point when the extra labour which furnishes the additional capital is no longer forthcoming in the usual quantity, a reaction ensues. A less part of the return is converted into capital, and the rise of wages is checked. Thus – and this is the point of most serious import to the working classes of this country – the price of labour can never rise except between limits which leave quite untouched the groundwork of the capitalist system and ensure the reproduction of capital on a progressive scale. Never then until the working class shake themselves clear of the notion that a mere rise of wages is all they have to strive for, will they be able to control the capitalist class. The labourer is thus really the slave of his own production in existing economical conditions.

For, as has been stated more than once, the demand for labour is occasioned, not by the actual amount of capital but by that of its variable portion, which alone employs labour. But the magnitude of this portion relatively to the whole is constantly decreasing. At times, however, the conversion of variable into constant capital is less felt, machines are introduced less frequently. Then there arises that greater demand for labour which under ordinary conditions follows upon the accumulation of capital. But at the very moment when the number of the workmen employed by the capital reaches its maximum, there is such a glut of produce that at the slightest check in disposing of the goods the whole social machinery seems to come to a dead stop, the discharge of workmen comes suddenly on a vast scale and in a violent manner, and the very upset forces capitalists to excessive efforts to economize labour. Improved machinery is introduced again, and the wheel works round.

Thus the tendency of our system of production and the increasing accumulation of capital, is to increase at the same time the amount of the over-population relatively to the means of employment. An industrial army of reserve is maintained of increasing dimensions, ever at the disposal of capital, ready to be absorbed during times of expansion, only to be thrown back in periods of collapse. Only under the control of the great industrial movement of our time, does the production of a superfluous population become a definite means for the development of wealth. During periods of stagnation this industrial army of reserve presses on the army in active employment to restrain its demands, when at length comes the period of over-production and great apparent prosperity. Thus, then, the law according to which an ever-increasing mass of riches can be produced with a less and still lessening expenditure of human force – this law which enables man as a social being to produce more and more with less labour, is turned by our capitalist system – where the means of production are not at the service of the labourer, but the labourer at the mercy of his means of production – directly to his disadvantage. As a direct consequence, the more power and resources placed at the command of labour, and the greater the competition of labourers for means of employment, the more precarious becomes the condition of the wage-earner, and his opportunities of selling his labour. The productive population is always increasing in a more rapid ratio than the capital has need of it.

All recent events do but serve to exhibit the general truth of this in more striking shape. Look at the movement of population; take note of the operation of strikes; observe the world-wide effect of crises at the present time: how the numbers of those who live from hand to mouth, or minister as domestic servants to the luxuries of the comfortable classes, grow in proportion to the rest of the population; how the strikes invariably fail on a falling market, and often leave the workmen in a worse condition than they were before they began; how, when a crisis begins in Vienna it is felt at once through the world, to the United States, and we see, even in that great territory 3,000,000 of tramps, without house or home, wandering through the country, exposed to the most furious laws enacted by the well-to-do, and waiting till capital shall be good enough to employ them again, and again turn them adrift; how we ourselves. discovered that the capitalized unpaid labour taken from our people to lend to rotten States, like San Domingo, Honduras, Paraguay, and Peru, had merely brought about here at home a fictitious industrial prosperity, to be followed by the longest, and for the mass of the working people the most trying, crisis known in recent times; how – but it is needless to go further; the facts, the bare hard facts, condemn unceasingly our unregulated system of capitalist production, which, based solely on selfishness and gratifying greed, takes no account of the morrow, nor any note whatever of the mischief inflicted on the human race. Where the State has interfered to control and change the baleful conditions of life for the mass of our countrymen, there, and there alone, has some little good been done.

What then, say the let-alone school, would you stop the operation of machinery, throw back the evolution of the race, and return to the natural savage for a reorganization of modern society? They who ask such questions are as silly as those who think all attempts to change our social organization must be necessarily traced to the French Revolution, and that those who, like myself, are determined to modify existing political and social conditions, must wish and strive for a general overturn. It is not so. But the working of capital is essentially immoral. It moves on irrespective of all human considerations, save the accumulation of wealth and the provision for ease and luxury. For fifty years England has been under the domination of the classes who live and trade upon unpaid labour. Surely it is high time that those people who provide it should be heard in their turn as to the system which weighs them down. To expect that the nation will at once abandon its idea of fancied individual freedom, in favour of a real collective freedom which shall consult and care for the interests of all, is a chimera. But seeing, as we cannot but see, the plain economical basis of so much of the misery all deplore, is it not reasonable that more rapid steps should be made in the direction of general improvement? So far all the sacrifices have been made by the working class. What they in their turn may rightfully demand at once as reasonable and practicable remedies for some portion of their ills, are:–

  1. A curtailment of the hours of labour, eight hours being the working day.
  2. Free and compulsory education in its widest sense.
  3. A compulsory construction by the municipalities and county assemblies of fitting dwellings for the working classes, including a good and free supply of light, air, and water, and garden-ground where possible.
  4. Really cheap transport, so that artisans may live at a distance from their work without incurring heavy expenditure.

Such social reforms would produce an effect more speedily than might be supposed; and the expenditure would be far more than repaid to the community at large by the increased physical strength, the superior intelligence and morality, and the greatly enhanced patriotism, in its best sense, of the mass of the community. That these changes would check the fearful crises consequent upon the capitalist system of production is nowise probable; but they would lead the way gradually to a better system, when all might enter more fully upon their duties to the whole country.

Men who are now deprived of the fruits of their labour, who live under bad social conditions, who are forced to resort to stamped work and adulterated manufacture in order that their employers may make a profit, would feel very differently if for their honest labour invested in sound goods they could obtain a rightful return themselves. The magic of property could then be felt in the general as well as the individual improvement. That industry will always have the better of laziness, that thrift must be more beneficial than extravagance, are truths which no political or social changes can shake. But as we stand, our laws and customs are directly calculated to foster excessive wealth on the one side and miserable poverty on the other. What wonder that the people should begin to ask themselves the why and the wherefore of all this disparity between the men who work and those who use them? None are more ready to pay for mental toil than those who work with their hands, none more ready to give up a portion of their labour for the benefit of their fellows. Now, however, the perpetual conflict of wages, the strife with capital, where the possibility of final success is pushed farther and farther into the distance, necessarily blunts that feeling of national greatness in the best sense which does so much to sweep away, even as it is, the meanness engendered by mere narrowness and greed. Those who are never certain of continuous employment, and have little time left for education, might well be pardoned if they thought only of their own selfish interests. That in the mass they do not do so, is the best hope for the future.

But in coming changes it behoves us to be careful, lest, in getting rid of the excessive influence of one dominant class, we do but strengthen the power of a meaner and a worse one in its place. If possession of land – as all reformers agree – should be regulated in the interests of the country in time to come, so also must capital, machinery, and the national highways. Conservatism has come to mean the dominance of landowners: Liberalism has been degraded to the service of capitalists. There is little perhaps to choose; but for the people it is to the full as important in the future that capital should be controlled as the land. Mere destruction for its own sake – anarchy, where the demon of Socialism may take the foremost and the hindmost together – is not in accordance with the views of Englishmen. To pull down a system, however bad, they must see that something is ready to take its place. The infinite mischiefs of capitalism must be removed as a better method of production grows up from below. We have sad experience that our so called individual liberty means too often only the development of monopoly and the tyranny of wealth. But that faculty of organization, that ingenuity in turning science and invention to account, may as well be used in the service of the many as to the selfish gratification of personal desires. There is room enough for the use of the highest powers, without the perpetual money-getting now in the ascendant. No man can live out of the current of his age; but it is time that a higher ideal were placed before the nation, and that the common sense of the community at large should save the next generation from the power of oppression now accorded to a system which develops in those who handle it neither foresight, patriotism, nor honesty. The very tendency of capital itself renders this essential. Each year sees it rolling up into larger and larger masses. The great joint-stock enterprises, where enormous capital is obtained from many contributors, gradually crush out smaller houses; large emporiums undersell small; large factories dwarf smaller. With. this increase too, the personal relation between employers and employed ceases, and powerful corporations begin to assert themselves as a political influence solely for selfish ends, and with the cold persistence and disregard for human interests which such associations invariably display. England, the greatest capitalist country, may well show the world how to take order with this dangerous growth that threatens to overshadow human progress, and regulate without injustice those purely selfish motives which hitherto have been looked to as the sole hope of advance in civilization.

Last updated on 29.7.2006