Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

dangerously upon political institutions, are seen to be sources of imminent peril to society.

Private monopoly, the industrial monstrosity now preying upon society, is the legitimate but ill-omened offspring of laissez-faire. The social body has become so compacted and complicated; the conditions of life are so changed; moral, political, and educational forces have so entered into the life of the people that discontent becomes dangerous, individualism becomes treason. Social justice requires that the State shall assume more of a fraternal character. It needs to be continually emphasized that the highest possible degree of personal liberty consistent with the public good is alone obtainable under a fraternal popular government.

The modern theory of the State as an organism is utterly inconsistent with the theory of laissez-faire. Herbert Spencer, although an individualist, lays the sure foundation of the socialistic state in showing that it is an organism. He compares the body politic with the highly developed animal body, and traces the analogies between them, but he shrinks from the conclusions of his own logic which would forbid one part of the animal organism to pursue its own interests independently of the other.

The "let alone" policy would make havoc with the human body. Professor Huxley, remarking upon this inconsistency, pertinently says, "Suppose that in accordance with this view, each muscle were to maintain that the nervous system had no right to interfere with its contraction except to prevent it from hindering the contraction of another muscle; or each gland that it had a right to secrete as long as its secretion interfered with no other; suppose every separate cell left free to follow its own interest and be let alone,' lord of all! what would become of the body physiological?" 1

There is of course a limit to State activity. Aristotle declared only a half truth when he said that man was a "political animal."

The lives of men are not completely expressed and bounded by the term citizenship.

1 As quoted in "Modern Socialism" (Gröland), p. 89.

The politico-economic motto, each for all, no more destroys one's individuality in the community than does the command to love thy neighbor as thyself. It simply cuts up economic selfishness by the roots.

Socialism strikes primarily at economic injustice and touches other interests only in a secondary and resultant

manner.

A thousand interests that make for human happiness. would, under the co-operative commonwealth, be left as they now are to individual capacity and freedom.

"The State can confer on no one the delights of friendship and love, the charm of scientific study, or of political and artistic creation, the consolations of religion, or the purity and sanctification of the soul united with God."1

Personal choice in all that pertains to the enjoyment of society, to marriage and domestic life, to recreation, travel, culture, religion, labor, the possession and use of all economic goods necessary to man's mental, moral, and physical wellbeing, will not be limited or controlled by the Socialistic State.

The co-operative commonwealth therefore furnishes abundant room for a newer and truer doctrine of laissez-faire. It is not the general happiness but the general misery that Socialism attempts to eliminate from society, and it advocates no changes not deemed absolutely necessary to this end.

1 "The Theory of the State" (Bluntschli), p. 297.

CHAPTER V

THE INADEQUACY OF VARIOUS REMEDIES PROPOSED FOR SOCIAL ILLS

"When the object is to raise the permanent condition of a people, small means do not merely produce small effects; they produce no effect at all." - JOHN STUART MILL.

THE various remedies proposed by those who are not yet willing to avow themselves Socialists, to cure social ills, are either Socialistic in character, by tending to unite the functions of employer and employee, or in harmony with the principles of Socialism.

Although inadequate, they serve to allay irritation on the surface, and are generally prompted by a sincere desire to restore peace and promote social justice. Let us consider these insufficient measures respecting each of which volumes have been written.

[blocks in formation]

"There is no reason why the least charitable and least philanthropic of masters should not adopt some form of extra payment for extra results, some simple form of profit-sharing, any more than that he should adopt piece-work instead of time wage.” – Westminster Review.

[ocr errors]

Profit-sharing is or three kinds: first, without wages; second, with wages; third, through stock-owning. An example of the first kind is seen in fishing ventures, where the product divided among the crew is their only reward. This is, strictly speaking, product-sharing.

The second kind consists of a percentage of profits voluntarily given by employers in addition to wages.

The third kind takes place when the employees carry on the business themselves, thus uniting the functions of employer and employee. Profit-sharing, as we shall now con

sider it, and which is generally intended by industrial partnership, is the division of a certain per cent of the profits among employees, in addition to wages.

In France, where it was first introduced in 1842, it is known as participation; In England, as industrial partnership; and in Germany and the United States, as profitsharing. It is voluntary on the part of the employer. It is generally adopted as a purely business expedient, although a philanthropic motive plays an important part with some.

Many employers realize the injustice of the wage-system, and do everything in their power, consistent with business, to mitigate its evils. They establish reading-rooms, insurance and other relief societies for the benefit of their employees. Profit-sharing has several advantages. It increases the efficiency of the laborers; it increases their real wages; it renders them more contented, and therefore less likely to strike.

The greater attention and interest bestowed on the work diminishes the cost of superintendence; it diminishes the loss from waste; it brings employer and employee into more sympathetic and harmonious relations; it increases the profits of employers; and finally, because always proposed by employees, it supplies the long-felt desideratum of finding a way of benevolence without sacrifice, of giving without impoverishing.

Many of the advocates of profit-sharing see in it an escape from our industrial troubles. Rev. N. P. Gilman, in the introduction to his excellent treatise on "Profit-Sharing," says, "It is surely one of the most promising methods of securing the peaceful and fruitful union of the productive forces of modern industry;" and he quotes (p. 412) the economist J. H. von Thünen as saying it is "the only salvation of the laboring classes."

We cheerfully admit that profit-sharing is a step in the right direction; that its general adoption would be an immense gain to industrial society. It tends toward that union of employer and employee which finds complete and logical expression in Socialism. But would profit-sharing solve the

Would it satisfy the just demands of

labor question?

wage-workers and thus restore industrial harmony?

That it would do neither of these things is evident from the following considerations:

1. Profit-sharing has no sound economic basis.

There is only one party to it, and that is the employer. He proposes it; he decides when a surplus of profits exists, and how much it is; he lays down rules for apportionment and distribution among employees; in a word, he manages the business and the books, without any right of interference or question by employees, and from his decision there is no appeal.

All these things give profit-sharing the appearance of a gift bestowed, whereas it is a payment earned if it has any economic validity. It is not legally a gift which must take effect immediately; it is a mere promise without consideration and cannot be enforced.

2. Wage-workers demand not merely greater wages, which they have already obtained, but a greater proportionate share of products in accordance with the new ethics of social justice.

The parties engaged in a joint enterprise are better satisfied with nothing than with an unjust division of the spoils. The social question is one of proportion, of comparison. Profit-sharing not only offers no balm for this, the real wound of industrial society, but aggravates the difficulty. Mr. Gilman, in the work just quoted (pp. 415, 416), says that employers who have adopted profit-sharing "generally agree that the division of a bonus among the working men is good business policy; in most cases they claim that their own share is greater than the whole profits were under the simple wage-system." By what means has their share. become "greater"? Through whose efforts are they enriched by extra profits? Let Mr. Gilman answer. "Out of this extra profit comes the share of men whose diligence and care have created it." The italics are ours.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

This means that the share of the employee is increased by more work, while the share of the employer is increased by less work, since he is relieved in a measure of superintendence and anxiety.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »