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dained of God and of nature that must ever exist, and the same is true in a sense of classes; but for our Republic founded on political equality to sanction any principle that separates the people into classes, and produces inequalities practically more galling than slavery, is plainly to pitch its tent towards Sodom.

V. - Competition.

"What is it that the scientific people tell us always happens in the struggle for existence? Is it not that the strongest individuals and the strongest races kill off the weakest? Competition is the struggle for existence, which is the law of the inferior races, adopted as the law of industrial society." - WASHINGTON GLADDEN, D.D.

Among the causes of Socialism, Competition stands preeminent. Competition is the hub of the present industrial wheel. Work, wages, and prices revolve around it. Labor economically considered is a commodity bought and sold like wheat. Competition exists in connection with buying and selling. It exists between laborers seeking work; that is, seeking to buy money with labor. It exists between employers seeking laborers, and between laborers and employers, as when the former having labor to sell, and the latter money, vie with each other as to terms. Competition exists also among merchants, brokers, and capitalists in transactions which, in indirect ways, seriously affect laborers. In case the State does not interfere with trade and industry, competition is said to be free; we then have absolute free trade, domestic as well as foreign.

The Manchester or English free-trade school of economists have advocated this system of free competition. It laid great emphasis upon the doctrine of laissez faire, let alone; that is, the State should let labor and capital alone. It holds that the function of the State is to keep the peace, protect the rights of person and property, and allow every man to buy and sell and get gain, or labor or loaf ad libitum. The theory assumes that industrial, like natural laws are self-regulating and harmonious. Competition among employers keeps wages from being too low, and among laborers from being too high. This counteraction preserves a just

equilibrium between labor and capital. To illustrate: if a single laborer, in competition with his fellows, should sell his labor for less than the standard price of wages, competition among employers for the extra profit thus afforded would soon raise this laborer's wages to the standard. If, on the other hand, a laborer should get more than standard wages, owing to competition among employers, other laborers would immediately compete for the extra wages, which would again reduce them to the standard rate.

But suppose the standard of wages itself should be lowered, one of two things would happen - either employers would reduce the price of goods, profits remaining the same, so that the laborer would gain as a consumer what he lost in wages, or profits would increase, and this would stimulate employers to enlarge operations, which would increase the demand for laborers, and so raise the standard of wages to its proper equilibrium.

If, on the other hand, the standard should be raised, either goods would be dearer, profits remaining the same, so that the laborer would lose as a consumer what he gained in wages, or profits decreasing, employers would contract business and discharge laborers, which, by the operation of competition, would soon reduce the standard to its natural level. These are called the Economic Harmonizers of free competition. They are said to be natural industrial laws, which only require to be let alone by the State in order to work out for both labor and capital the best results that are possible. Free competition therefore is said to be the state of nature.

It rewards every one in proportion to his exertions. If the laborer does not seek his interests, his interests will seek him.

It demands freedom of contract and extols the principle of self-interest, which it is claimed is not selfishness, but the natural disposition of every one to provide for himself by the free use of the faculties God has given him.

Competition, it is claimed, confers upon society benefits of great importance. It keeps down prices, and promotes progress; it is the mother of invention; it stimulates in

dividual effort, and allows every man to exercise his natural liberty. The principle, it is said, has its root in human nature and is sanctioned by Christianity. Such is the nature of competition and the advantages claimed for it.

Now, we are so accustomed to the principle, its laws and methods are so wrought into the industrial and social life of the capitalistic system of industry under which we were born and bred, that to challenge its truth is regarded by many almost as chimerical and offensive as it was for Galileo to question the belief in the stability of the earth, or the motion of the sun.

Now, let us be fair toward competition. It has not during certain stages of the capitalistic régime been an unmixed evil; nay, it has been a most important factor in progressive industry. It has served in the industrial evolution as war has in the social evolution. But, as war has had its day as a factor in civilization, so the system of competition must yield to a better way. Whatever its relations in the past to ethics, it now conflicts with the higher idea of right prevailing at the present time.

It is felt to be the cause of nearly all waste, ill-will, and misery that threaten society. It is already yielding to trusts, the unconscious forerunner and incipient form of Socialism. It has not yielded, however, out of regard to Socialism, but because it had so much rope it has hung itself. We object to the competitive system and the whole philosophy which underlies it for the following reasons:

1. It assumes that competition unhindered will work itself nearly or quite perfect. Professor F. A. Walker says, "We want more, not less, competition; when it is perfect, like the atmosphere, it presses equally on all." In other words, it assumes that competition can be perfect among unequal competitors.

2. It assumes that labor can be separated from the laborer and treated like a mere commodity, as corn or cheese.

3. It assumes that competition among employers is as severe as among laborers, so that employers have no advantage over laborers; in other words, that the demand for labor is as great as the supply.

4. It assumes that laborers can resort to the best market as readily as merchandise.

5. It makes money, not man, the centre and circumference of its system. Mammon swallows up humanity.

6. It ignores all ethical considerations in economics, which is unscientific, and has already proved ruinous to many of the higher interests of society.


7. Competition places the individual above society. rewards not according to honest effort, fidelity in service, or character, but according to cunning, skill, and strength, thus leaving the weak to perish in the struggle for life.

8. It regards the wage-worker as a commodity subject to the law of supply and demand; assuming that, as cotton mills shut down when demand slackens, so laborers will stop being born the moment they are not wanted.

9. It assumes that free competition is a natural law, and therefore cannot and ought not to be restricted; that is, that the Manchester or English free trade school of Political Economy, the fundamental doctrine of which is laissez faire, non-interference by the State, is a politically sound and morally righteous principle.

10. It assumes that the free play of individual self-interest will result in the highest possible good of society as a whole.

11. It assumes that if a man does not seek his interest, his interest will seek him.

12. It assumes that that government is best which governs least, and this, no matter how complex society becomes and how unjustly the strong oppress the weak.

13. It assumes the validity of the maxim, "The greatest good of the greatest number," which, when analyzed, is found to contain more deadly moral poison than most of the current devil's saws.

We repudiate every one of these assumptions. They are all utterly false and most of them vicious. They are the spokes radiating from competition at the hub, and entering the rim of the industrial wheel at every point, and binding the whole capitalistic system firmly together. Is

it any wonder that political economy has been called the "dismal science"?

Competition has enriched employers and created an aristocracy of wealth on the one hand, and on the other has robbed and relatively degraded the laborer, pauperized whole classes, and is the mother of the greater part of the ills which afflict society to-day.

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"Suppose, that of ten manufacturers, nine have a keen appreciation of the evils that flow from protracted labor on the part of women and children, and, were it in their power, would gladly produce cottons without destroying family life, and without setting in motion those forces that must ultimately result in race deterioration. But the tenth man has no such apprehensions." He will grind women and children and society to powder for the sake of money. The nine men must adopt his methods, for their goods come into competition with his. Buyers ask simply the price. If the one manufacturer is grasping, inhuman, and dishonest, and these methods lead to low prices, the other nine must adopt them, or quit business.

Thus it is that in competition the lowest-toned man sets the moral standard to which all must conform. "I detest the methods of my business," said an employer, “but I am powerless." "The time will come," said Mr. Pitt, "when manufacturers will have been so long established, and the operatives not having any other business to flee to, that it will be in the power of any one man in a town to reduce the wages, and all the other manufacturers must follow." 2 And he intimates when that time comes Parliament will redress the wrong, or be wiped out by revolution. It was competition in the mills of Nottingham, within the memory of many now living, that compelled children from nine to fifteen years of age to work frequently for twenty hours on a stretch, from four A. M. to twelve at night. A witness says that going from his office at twelve and one o'clock at night in the depth of winter he often met mothers taking

1 "Relation of the State to Industrial Action" (Adams). In Publications of the American Economic Association, January, 1887, p. 41. 2 As quoted, Ibid., p. 42.

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