Abbildungen der Seite

Capital invested in Foreign Industries and Undertakings.— The dividends from these investments are, probably, not less than £20,000,000 annually, from a capital of £400,000,000.

Interest from the National Debt of England.-The money from this source of income is pure profit, without risk and speculation, and amounts to £30,000,000 annually, or £300,000,000 in ten years on a capital of £800,000,000; of which £100,000,000 are fictitious, for the state never received a farthing for this £100,000,000.

Putting all the above estimates into two columns—one showing the capital invested, and the other the profits derived therefrom in a decade-they rise to two enormous totals, viz. :

[blocks in formation]

Added together, these two sums amount to a general total of £18,160,000,000; the colossal magnitude of which will prove to the advocates of co-operation the utter hopelessness of their attempts to cope with this gigantic power of capital, either by competition or acquisition by purchase. All co-operative efforts will remain paralyzed as long as the enormous capital of nearly £20,000,000,000 keeps hold of all fixed and movable property, and, moreover, increases every ten years at the rate of £5,160,000,000.

Another hindrance to the success of co-operation is the property possessed in patents, which give to their possessors the exclusive right of using a certain process of manufacture, or of producing a certain machine, implement, tool, or article of production. The proprietors of these patent rights could

scarcely be induced to part with their property unless exacting enormous sums for compensations from the co-operators.

Co-operation is also objected to, because it would, if even successful, only benefit certain of the working classes, without improving the condition of all. If the engineers could establish extensive co-operative works of their own, from which they derived considerable profit, but if the railway servants, the drivers of locomotives, and stokers could not form a co-operative undertaking in railway business; and if they were, moreover, excluded from participating in the profits of the engineers, the latter would certainly have unjustly profitted by co-operation, from which the former were excluded; and the comparative rising of one section of the working classes in the social scale, whilst others are unable to do so, would only have added fuel to the burning hatred of class distinction.


THE national workshops (ateliers nationaux) were at one

time strenuously advocated by Louis Blanc, a French socialist. He, at the head of the Working Men's Parliament which, in 1848, sat for a short period in the Palais Luxembourg, the former chamber of French peers, made some ineffectual attempts at the organization of public workshops that were to compete with private establishments, and to supersede them in the course of time by gradual and pacific absorption.* The National Assembly of the Republic of 1848 voted several million francs for the erection of such workshops; but this grant of money being subsequently stopped, the building of the national workshops could not be undertaken. The only workshop which came into existence was one in which some hundred needlewomen were employed, and after the revolution of June which crushed the agitation for the emancipation of

"The purpose of national workshops is the successive absorption of individual workshops. When once set going, their result is easily seen. In every leading trade, such as the manufacture of cotton, silk, flax, there would be a national or associated factory competing with private business. Would the contest be a long one? No."-LOUIS BLANC.

the working classes, the subject of the national workshops was entirely abandoned. As the propounders of this system aimed at the gradual absorption of all private industrial establishments by Government factories and workshops, the plan proposed by them was nothing else but co-operation actively and powerfully organized, supported and promoted by the great resources of the state itself.

The objections raised against this mode of emancipating labour are various. In one respect they agree with the objection made against co-operation on account of the length of time it would require in order to absorb all private establishments. In another respect it may be argued that the immediate benefits experienced by working men, in the national workshops, would be so great as to cause a sudden rush of the entire working population to the well-regulated and spacious Government workshops, and that, in consequence of this spontaneous incursion, all private, ill-regulated, and unhealthy establishments would have to be immediately closed for the want of workers and artizans. Surely the advocates of national workshops never intended to bring about such a social collapse; for it would necessitate the organization of labour on a basis that should provide employment for all those whose trade and means of subsistence had been destroyed by the superior attraction and better organization of the national workshops. That a sudden transfer of private into national industry was closely following the isolated and crude attempts of national workshops in 1848, was to be seen from the great number of those workmen who deserted their former employers as soon as the national workshops were proposed, and which they thought would shortly be opened for their admittance. However, no such workshops having been erected by the state, and the number of those seeking employment by the state being alarmingly large (115,000 at one time), the Government of the Republic of 1848, having proclaimed the right of labour (le droit du travail), was in principle bound to give employment to these men. In the absence of national workshops, these multitudes of skilled artizans were sent out to the yet unfinished fortifications of Paris, where they had to do the necessary earthwork under the burning sun of the middle of June, and for a daily wage of two francs per individual. This temporary

employment, to which the Government still gave the name of "ateliers nationaux," did in no manner please the men, for they expected each one of them to be employed in his own trade the watchmaker in making watches, the shoemaker in making shoes, the tailor in making garments; and feeling highly disappointed at the non-establishment of the real national workshops, and bitterly resenting the uncongenial character of common earthwork to highly skilled operations, they rose in insurrection against the Government of the Republic on the 21st of June, but were overpowered by General Cavaignac, who directed the so-called massacres of St. John.


PRACTICAL but crude systems of exchanging labour for

labour were first inaugurated in 1832 by R. Owen in London, and in 1848 by Proudhon in Paris. The latter opened a bank, by the agency of which the exchange of labour was to be facilitated. It is, however, to be regretted that Proudhon's "Labour Exchange Bank" had not a fair trial, for no sooner was it opened, and ere any transaction of business had taken place therein, than the Government of the Republic became alarmed at the socialistic tendency of this scheme, and arbitrarily closed the establishment by the authority of the police. Enough is, however, known of this system to enable an impartial critic to arrive at the conviction that an equitable exchange of labour is an impossibility. It was proposed that time should be the standard of valuation. Nothing seems, at first, to be easier than the exchange of a day's labour of one working man with one day's labour of another. But the awkward question soon arises, Who is to be the time-keeper? Is the working man to be the valuer of his own time, or is another person to certify the number of days or hours he has spent at the production of a certain article, or in the perform

* "The equitable exchange of labour is based on the principle of labour for labour."-ROBERT OWEN.

ance of certain work? If it is left to the working man himself to state the length of time he has been at work, an untrue statement may occasionally be made, and the equitableness of exchange is thereby put in jeopardy; and if other persons have to count the hours, days, and weeks of his work, the number of time-keepers would have to be so enormously large that the whole system of supervision is at once to be dismissed as an absurdity. But even granting that the time is, on the one hand, honestly stated by the workman himself, or that, on the other, the valuation of his time were easily effected by some ingenious device, an exchange of labour on the principle of the valuation of time only would merely perpetuate the inequality of the remuneration of labour. In order to arrive at an equitable exchange, the nature of the work would have to be considered. A day's work of the shepherd in guarding his flock in the merry sunshine cannot be equitably exchanged with a day's perilous work of the sailor on the stormy sea. The time spent by the miner in the bowels of the earth is more valuable than that of the worker in the field. If this principle of justice is to be connected with the valuation of time, it is sure to introduce innumerable considerations and difficulties, without establishing a workable plan of an equitable exchange of labour. The perilous work of the sailor, the miner, the locomotive driver, and engine stoker, would have to be estimated a hundred times more precious than that of the tailor and watchmaker; and when this claim of compensation is once admitted, where is it to stop? Cannot the working men who risk their lives and injure their health in certain trades and employments raise their claims of compensation and extra reward to any extent? Is a man's life or health only worth the value of a hundred day's work of another of his fellow workmen? It is unnatural, nay, it is immoral, that a man's life and health should be risked for pecuniary compensation, or even for an advantageous gain in the exchange of labour with fellow workers. There can be only one equitable exchange of labour, and one just compensation for the risk of life and injury to health, if unavoidably connected with physical labour, and that is, if others incur the same danger, and are exposed to the same destructive influences, and have to bear the same hardships. The equitable exchange of labour, and

« ZurückWeiter »