Puslapio vaizdai

humane, and religious duty of all men and women, whether rich or poor, to engage in some useful work, manual, mental, or moral, as God has given them strength. Any other conception of life is low, materialistic, false, and Godless. Work is the law of earth, rest is the law of Heaven, idleness is the law of hell.


It was doubtless this unjust and wicked inequality in society that led John Bright to say in an assembly of working men, "Just now, as I was on my way to this place to speak to you, I watched in the street a magnificent carriage pass me; and in that carriage were two splendidly dressed ladies. Who made that carriage? You did. made those splendid dresses? You did. Have your wives any such carriages to drive in? Do your wives ever wear clothes of this kind? I watched that carriage farther, and I saw where it stopped. It stopped before a stately house with an imposing portico. Who built that house? You did. Do you and your wives live in any such houses as that?" These words were greeted with tumultuous applause.

An eminent American divine, Dr. A. J. F. Behrends, in his candid but inconclusive work on this general subject, says of this language, "Here again is Marx's doctrine that capital is the spoliation of labor, and Proudhon's maxim that property is theft. Let these utterances take shape in the platform of a great political party, and, under a suffrage sufficiently extended, the ballot-box might introduce a revolution whose mischief imagination cannot picture." 1

The "mischief" of the ballot-box in this case consists in breaking down monopoly, overthrowing industrial tyranny, causing a more equal distribution of wealth, banishing enforced idleness and pauperism, and putting an end to ninety per cent of all drunkenness and crime. This is the "Mischief that imagination cannot picture."

It would further deprive the strong of the natural right of oppressing his weaker brother, and of eating the bread earned by the sweat of another's brow; it would bring untold distress upon capitalists and employers, simply because they could no longer pile up colossal wealth, revel in luxury,

1 "Socialism and Christianity," p. 56.

and live in idleness, while their employees and families were toiling and suffering. It would consist in bringing sunshine and gladness, peace and plenty, love and good-will into the hearts and homes of the people, the vast majority of whom are wage-workers.

Mr. Bright's utterance finds a quick and hearty response in the minds of those who see that a gigantic wrong is being done to wage-workers in the distribution of wealth. The sooner this wrong is recognized on the political platform, in the pulpit, and by the press, the safer it will be for free institutions.


Private Capital is a Social Crime.

"Property, when first instituted, was endurable; it did not then take away from anybody the right and the means of becoming a land-owner, for there was no money, while there was vacant land in abundance. From the moment, however, that every free man could no longer appropriate a part of the soil, property has ceased to be a right. It has become a crying evil, and the cause of the misery and destitution of the masses. - WEITLING.

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"Iniquity alone has created private property.". ST. CLEMENT.

The second Postulate of Socialism is that Private Capital is a Social Crime, and should be abolished. "Property is.robbery because it enables him who has not produced to consume the fruits of other people's toil. What I produce is worth what it costs; i.e., the time and economic goods which enter into it. If a capitalist or landlord takes away ten per cent, then the product costs me more than it is worth. I am robbed of this ten per cent. The proprietor is a thief!"1

Marx says, "The foundation of the capitalistic method of production is to be found in that theft which deprived the masses of their rights in the soil, in the earth, the common heritage of all." He claims that increase of value in the process of production comes not from the dead materials, but from labor, and it is virtually stolen from the laborers by the owners of the material.

1 As quoted in "French and German Socialism" (Ely), p. 133.

This is a stinging charge. But what do Socialists mean by theft? They certainly do not use the word in its literal sense, which is the "felonious taking and carrying away of the personal goods of another." It is essentially clandestine and legally criminal.


This is not the socialistic indictment against private property, much less against individual capitalists. The charge is against the capitalistic system, under and in consequence of which the laborers who produce all, and are therefore entitled to all, receive only a part, and in the case of multitudes only a bare subsistence.

Thus, this second postulate is only a logical inference from the first, that Labor is the Source of all Value. Under the capitalistic system it is claimed that the laborer who works ten hours per day receives the fruit of only five hours, while the fruit of the other five goes into the pocket of the capitalist; thus laborers are exploited. In the language of a Socialist, there is a tree which bears golden fruits, but when those who have planted it reach out their hands to pluck it, it draws back and escapes them. Wound about the tree there is a serpent which keeps every one away from it. This tree is society; the serpent is our present economic organization, which prevents us from enjoying the golden fruit. Gentlemen, we are determined to enjoy the golden fruit and to drive away the serpent." 2

It will be seen that Socialism is not opposed to capital as such, nor to capitalists, but to the industrial system in which the wrongs of labor are inherent, and admit of no remedy so long as private capital, which is the corner-stone of the system, exists.

Marx states the difficulty with conciseness and simplicity in saying that labor is a simple commodity, but has two values - value in use and value in exchange. The exchange value is its market price what will support the laborer: this the capitalist buys.

The value in use is what it is really worth, all that the capitalist can get out of it, which is what he receives in

1 Blackstone.

2 As quoted in "French and German Socialism," p. 233.

the products. This value in use is greatly in excess of the value in exchange.

This difference the capitalist pockets. The laborer would gladly get the last price for his labor, but the capitalist has all the means of production, and the laborer must take the exchange value of his work or starve.1 This cruel injustice is a part of the economic system. Individual capitalists cannot remedy it. Any man who should attempt to conduct business on any other plan would not only ruin himself, but in no way benefit society.

Trade's unions can avail little, for they leave the toiling millions below them untouched. Labor legislation can only allay irritation and ease friction by oiling the axle while the great Juggernaut rolls on.

By private property Socialists intend only private capital; that is, lands, buildings, and machinery used in production. They do not propose to abolish private ownership in personal belongings, including furniture, clothings, books, works of art, and all other private property not employed as capital.

Socialists are not opposed to capital as such. The enemies of Socialism have purposely misrepresented them in this respect.

When Marx says, "Capital is the most terrible scourge of humanity; it fattens on the miseries of the poor, the degradation of the worker, and the brutalizing toil of his wife and children," it is capital in individual hands, private capital, against which he is inveighing.

Public capital, as we shall soon see, is the one goal of Socialism.

The abolition of private capital in land is urged, not only by Socialists, but by sociologists and philanthropists of widely different schools. All means of production spring originally from the earth; whoever, therefore, owns the land has an advantage over his fellow-man. He not only controls the means of production, but he may fence in the land, force off all other persons, cut off supplies of food, and thus hold in his hands the bodies and souls of men.

1 "Capital," Part III. Chapter vii.

It is claimed that this is the most cruelly unjust and wickedly oppressive monopoly of society, and in view of the natural selfishness, greed, and inhumanity of man, it is certain that, as long as it exists, the greater part of the race must be consigned to poverty and misery.

The institution of private capital derives one of its strongest supports from inheritance. If, therefore, private capital is wrong, inheritance of capital, though not of property, is wrong and should be abolished.

At the Socialists' Congress of Basel in 1869 a majority of the delegates voting declared, "That the rights of inheritance ought to be completely and radically abolished." This refers of course only to capital, property which yields an income, and not to furniture, plate, books, and other articles of enjoyment.

We have now stated fully and fairly the Socialist's views of private capital. Let us examine them in the light of the most advanced sociological science.

Two ideas of property must be distinguished: the Roman, which regards property as a subjective right, and the Christian, which regards it as a trust imposing obligations. Until the beginning of the present century the Roman idea held undisputed sway: wealth, as well as birth, belonged to the possessor by divine right. Social castes were the product of natural laws. Property and poverty were alike ordained of God.

Wealth might feel pity, but it acknowledged no obligations. The poor might justly starve before the bursting granaries of the rich. True, God was no respecter of persons; but in the current philosophy this could have no reference to things so worldly as food, clothing, and shelter. If Christ came into this world, he did not come into industry. Now and then a man devoted his property to charitable uses; but this was regarded not as a social duty, but as a purely religious act, and the donor was commiserated in life and canonized in death. But with the dawn of the present century the Christian principles of equality and fraternity had so permeated society that their application began to be extended to industrial relations. They had already found political expression in democracy.

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