Puslapio vaizdai
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bear is the same as charging what will yield the largest net profit.

There stand over two main questions touching the nature and uses of these vested interests: - Why do not these powerful business concerns exercise their autocratic powers to drive the industrial system at its full productive capacity, seeing that they are in a position to claim any increase of net production over cost? and, What use is made of the free income which goes to them as the perquisite of their vested interest? The answer to the former question is to be found in the fact that the great business concerns as well as the smaller ones are all bound by the limitations of the price system, which holds them to the pursuit of a profitable price, not to the pursuit of gain in terms of material goods. Their vested rights are for the most part carried as an overhead charge in terms of price and have to be met in those terms, which will not allow an increase of net production regardless of price. The latter question will find its answer in the well-known formula of the economists, that "human wants are indefinitely extensible," particularly as regards the consumption of superfluities. The free income which is capitalised in the intangible assets of the vested interests goes to support the well-to-do investors, who are for this reason called the kept classes, and whose keep consists in an indefinitely extensible consumption of superfluities.

VI

THE DIVINE RIGHT OF NATIONS

THIS sinister fact is patent, that the great war has arisen out of a fateful entanglement of national pretensions. And it is a fact scarcely less patent that this fateful status quo ante arose out of the ordinary run of that system of law and custom which has governed human intercourse among civilised nations in our time. The underlying principles of this system of law and custom have continued to govern human intercourse under a new order of material circumstances which has come into effect since these principles were first installed. These enlightened principles that go to make up the modern point of view as regards law and morals are of the eighteenth century, whereas the new order in industry is of the twentieth, and between these two dates lies an interval of unexampled change in the material conditions of life.

To all this it will be said, of course, that warfare is not a new invention, and that the national ambitions and animosities out of which wars have always arisen are of older date than the modern point of view and the machine industry; but it will also not be denied that the great war which is now coming to a provisional close is the largest and most atrocious epoch of warfare known to history, and that it has, in point of fact, arisen out of this status quo which

has been created by these enlightened principles of the modern point of view in working out their consequences on the ground of the new order of industry.

The great war arose within that group of nations which have the full use of the industrial arts, which conduct their business and control their industries on the lines of these enlightened principles of the eighteenth century, and whose national ambitions and policies are guided by the preconceptions of national self-determination and self-assertion which these modern civilised peoples have habitually found to be good and valid. The group of belligerents has included primarily the great industrial nations, and the outcome of the war is being decided by the industrial superiority of the advanced industrial peoples. A host of slightly backward peoples-backward in the industrial respect - have been drawn into this contest of the great powers, but these have taken part only as interested outliers and as auxiliaries to be drawn on at the discretion of the chief belligerents. It has been a contest of technological superiority and industrial resources, and in the end the decision of it rests with the greater aggregation of industrial forces. Frightfulness and warlike abandon and all the beastly devices of the heathen have proved to be unavailing against the great industrial powers; partly because these things do not enduringly serve the technological needs of the contest, partly because they have run counter to that massive drift of sentiment which animates the great industrial peoples.

The center of the warlike disturbance has been the same as the center of growth and diffusion of the new order of industry. And in both respects, both as regards participation in the war and as regards their share in the new order of industry, it is not a question of geographical nearness to a geographical center, but of industrial affiliation and technological maturity. The center of disturbance and participation is a center in the technological respect; and in the end the battle goes to those few great industrial peoples who are nearest, technologically speaking, to the apex of growth of the new order. These need be superior in no other respect; the contest is decided on the merits of the industrial arts. And in this connection it may be in place to call to mind again that the state of the industrial arts is always

joint stock of knowledge and proficiency held, exercised, augmented and carried forward by the industrial community at large as a going concern. What the war has vindicated, hitherto, is the great efficiency of the mechanical industry.

But the ambitions and animosities which precipitated this contest, and which now stand ready to bring on a renewal of it in due time, are not of the industrial order, and eminently not of the new order of technology. They have been more nearly bound up with those principles of self-help that have stood over from the recent past, from the time before the new order of industry came into bearing. And there is a curious parallel between the consequences worked out by these principles in the economic system within each of these nations, on the one hand, and in the concert of nations, on the other hand. Within the

nation the enlightened principles of self-help and free contract have given rise to vested interests which control the industrial system for their own use and thereby come in for a legal right to the community's net output of product over cost. Each of these vested interests habitually aims to take over as much as it can of the lucrative traffic that goes on and to get as much as it can out of the traffic, at the cost of the rest of the community. After the same analogy, and by sanction of the same liberal principles, the civilised nations, each and several, are vested with an inalienable right of "self-determination"; which being interpreted means the self-aggrandisement of each and several at the cost of the rest, by a reasonable use of force and fraud. And there has been, on the whole, no sense of shame or of moral obliquity attaching to the use of so much force and fraud as the traffic would bear, in this national enterprise of self-aggrandisement. Such has been use and wont among the civilised nations.

Meantime the new order of industry has come into bearing, with the result that any disturbance which is set afoot by any one of these self-determining nations in pursuing its own ends is sure to derange the conditions of life for all the others, just so far as these others are bound up in the same comprehensive organization of trade and industry. Full and free self-determination runs counter to the rule of Live and let live. After the same fashion the businesslike manoeuvres of the vested interests within the nations, each managing its own affairs with an eye single to its own advantage, deranges the ordinary conditions of life for the common man, and

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