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by successive and ever extending explosions. Certain it is, that the continued amplification of the present commercial procedure must work out its own cure, or provoke the insurgence of the masses, or produce ruin by its own success. The latter is the predominant tendency at present; the world is dying of the triumphs which constitute its proudest boast.
Et perit exemplo postmodo quisque suo.
Some remedy must be found, or society must sink beyond remedy. This is the almost universal admission of the current age. Speculation has seized upon the agencies, the processes, the routine of production; it has established a tyranny over the means of production and the producers themselves, and attracts to itself the greater part of the profits of both, without any proportionate addition of productive value. It has changed the laws and altered the character of trade, and has breathed its own appetencies into the bosoms of the traders. It has deranged or destroyed the natural articulations of society, and has substituted temporary and uncertain links, which derive their whole validity from the universal prevalence of a comunon delusion. It has perverted all industry, except daily manual labour, so as to render it a gambling operation in its essence, and it has infused the spirit of gambling into all the veins of society. It has made subsistence, and the maintenance or increase of individual prosperity, a continual game of hazard, and has thereby destroyed all tranquillity of mind, and seriously endangered all convictions of moral right. It has introduced discord and disorder into the political system of every community into which its activity has penetrated ; and has generated revolutions without definite aim, and insurrections which could only aggravate the miseries of the insurgents. It has infringed upon the prospective resources of future generations, appropriating and squandering the estate designed for posterity, and has augmented, by this invasion, only the private gains of the fortunate few, while enfeebling the public body, and rapidly augmenting the miscries of the many. It is gradually eliminating the middle classes in all countries, and is, at the same time, deciinating and depressing the proletariate, and is exhausting the physical as well as the natural capacities of States, while it is bestowing larger gains and more luxurious and selfisti gratifications upon the diminishing class, which retains the honours and the chances of the game.
From whatever aspect we contemplate the effects of the modern frenzy of speculation, as exhibited to us in their incipiency by contemporaneous facts, we discover only grievous delusions and more grievous impending dangers. They are absolutely fatal to public morals, and will be ultimately oven to public decency, they present dangerous seductions also to the private morals of the members of the community. They are utterly antagonistic to poli
tical order or the permanent prosperity of States, and must prove the ruin of all governments, if not speedily checked. They are consuming the vitals of society, and rendering the continuance of social order an impossibility. They are at variance with any just conception of healthy trade or advancing industry. They undermine the private fortunes of the majority of the people, and threaten to dissipate entirely the resources of the State. They contract the subsistence and annihilate the comforts of the multitude, increasing the competition of labour on the part of starving labourers, adding to their numbers by the rapid degradation of the immediately superiour classes, but menacing a proximate destruction of the population by the consequences of the artificially enhanced wretched
All these things are already apparent, and sufficiently demonstrate that the appearance of commercial prosperity, which has occasioned so many hosannahs and such repeated hallelujahs, is delusive, and due only to an immense artificial inflation of both the channels of production and the minds of the observers. An accident, a slight jar, a trivial puncture, may suddenly open an escape for the gas; and then a universal collapse must ensue.
The various partial schemes of correction which are enumerated in the Spéculateur à la Bourse, we pass without notice, because they are entirely local in their character and in their aims, being confined to Paris; and because they have been successful in only a few instances and to a very limited extent. Moreover, we have no faith in these semi-socialistic experiments, which attempt to redress present evils by a mere change in the mode of their acceptance, and which seek to cast out devils in the name of Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. The danger of the present menacing system cannot be avoided by any such simple jugglery as the union of capital and labour, of profits and wages, in the same hands by the association of workmen in a common establishment. The remedy, if practicable in itself, does not admit of sufficient generalization. If such extension were attainable, it would defeat its own object, because it would only transfer the injuries of collision and concurrence from individuals to the companies in which they were merged. And if even this danger could be avoided, such guilds or fraternities could not continue to operate harmoniously, because the absence of supervision and restraint, the differences of temperament, the passions and the jealousies of the constituent members, would ultimately eventuate in discord, stagnation, and dissolution.
The experiment was tried under very favourable circumstances before
any of the modern theories of communism or socialism were pressed into practical service. The limited advantages, and the uncertain duration of such projects are both exhibited by the brief history of this little effort at associated production. We give the narrative in the words in which it was first presented to our notice.
On the side of Mount Ossa, and overhanging the classic vale of Tempe, there is a small town, called Ampelakia, the city of vines. Its modern fortunes have been remarkable.
“Many of the inhabitants of this secluded spot were formerly Germans, though they wore the Eastern dress. There was a staple manufactory bere for dyeing thread of a red colour, which supported and enriched the inhabi
gave rise to a very considerable commerce. At the end of the eighteenth century, when Ampelakia was visited by Beaujour, he gave the following account of it: “Ampelakia, by its activity, appears rather a borough of Holland than a village of Turkey. This village spreads, by its industry, movement, and life, over the surrounding country, and gives birth to an immense commerce, which unites Germany to Greece by a thousand threads. Its population now (1798) amounts to four thousand, having trebled in fifteen years. In this village are unknown both the vices and cares engendered by idleness; the hearts of the Ampelakiotes are pure, and their faces serene; the slavery which blasts the plains, watered by the Peneus, has never ascended the sides of Pelion (Oss:1); and they govern themselves like their ancestors, by their primates and other magistrates. Twice the Mussulmans of Larissa attempted to scale their rocks, and twice were they repulsed by hands which dropped the shuttle to seize the musket. Every arm, even those of the children, is employed in the factories; whilst the men dye the cotton, the women prepare and spin it. There are twentyfour factories, in which, yearly, six thousand one hundred and thirty-eight cwts. of cotton yarn are dyed. This yarn finds it way into Germany, and is disposed of at Buda, Vienna, Leipsic, Dresden, Auspach, Bayreuth. The Ampelakiote merchants had houses of their own in all these places. The competition thus established reduced the common profits; they proposed, therefore, to unite under one central administration. Twenty years ago this plan was suggested, and a few years after it was carried into execution. The lowest shares in this joint stock were 5,000 piastres, (between 6001. and 7001.,) and the highest were restricted to 20,0001., that the capitalist might not swallow up the profits. The workmen subscribed their little profits, and uniting in societies, purchased single shares, and, besides their capital, their labour was reckoned in the general amount. The dividends were at first restricted to ten per cent., and the surplus was applied to augmenting the capital, which, in two years, was raised from 600,000 to 1,000,000 piastres, (120,0001.) Three directors, under an assumed firm, managed the affairs of the company; but the signature was also confided to three associates at Vienna, whence the returns were made. These two firms had their correspondents at Pest, Trieste, Leipsic, Salonica, Constantinople, and Smyrna, to receive their own staple, effect the return, and extend the market for the cotton yarn of Greece. An important part of this trust was to circulate the funds realized, from hand to hand, and from place to place, according to their own circumstances, necessities, and the rates of exchange. The greatest harmony long reigned in the association; the directors were disinterested, the correspondents zealous, and the workmen laborious. The company's profits increased every day, on a capital which had rapidly become immense.'
“Mr. Urquhart, in the Spirit of the East,' says that, at length, the
infraction of an injudicious by-law gave rise to litigation, by which the community was split into two factions. For several years, at an enormous expense, they went about to Constantinople, Salonica, and Vienna, transporting witnesses, mendicating legal decisions, to reject them when obtained ; and the company separated into as many parts as there were associations of workmen in the original form. At this period, the bank of Vienna, where their funds were deposited, broke, and along with this misfortune political events continued to overshadow the fortunes of Ampelakia, where prosperity and even hope were finally extinguished by the commercial revolution produced by the spinning-jennies of England. Turkey now ceased to supply Germany with yarn ; she became tributary for this, her staple commodity, to England.'"*
It will be observed that at Ampelakia the principle of arresting the encroachments of speculation, competition, and capital, by the association of the labourers, was only partially applied; but the restriction of the principle was favourable to success, for it permitted the use of an adequate capital, and ensured sufficient superintendence. Moreover, the industry pursued was of a distinct and special character, amounting almost to a monopoly. The market was almost coextensive with the commercial world, and allowed indefinite expansion. Nevertheless, the enterprize was ruined by local discords and the jealousy of the associates; and such, it is to be feared, must always be the fate of similar companies, if their action is not more speedily overwhelmed by the operation of other influences.
These considerations have induced us to reject and pass in silence, the projects of reform mentioned at the close of the volume we are noticing. The remedy required must be more general and durable than any modification of existing plans; it must extend rather to the morals and sentiments of the community than to their routine. We have no suggestions to make on the subject; the solution of the problem remains to be discovered, and the conditions of the problem must first be recognized. It has been with a hope of elucidating the character of the present social difficulty in some of its most urgent aspects, that we have availed ourselves of the opportunity presented by a second edition of Le Spéculateur à la Bourse, to present the foregoing reflections and dubitations to the consideration of others.
It is not very many months since the foregoing pages were written, yet the accumulating experience and the rapid movements of the times have supplied additional confirmation to every position assumed, however paradoxical in appearance, pr variant from ordinary convictions. We have watched, with anxious scrutiny, the progress of events, not contenting ourselves
* Murray's Handbook for Travellers in Greece, &c. 1854. Pp. 411–12.
with noticing merely the storms which convulse the great deep of modern history, but tracing, with still more cautious interest, those mightier tides which guide the ebb and flow of industry and commerce, and change from age to age the outline of society. At no period has the motion of these vast waters been grander, more portentous, or less readily appreciable than at present; yet at no period has the just estimation of their actual and prospective currents been more essential to the destinies of humanity. It is a great and urgent task to determine the true social condition of the nineteenth century, to discover the tendencies of contemporary cizilization, to detect the dangers to be apprehended, and the means of mitigating or averting them, without being deluded into the impracticable extravagances of the various schools of socialism, without being tempted into the blind retrogressive policy of those whose only idea of amelioration is a return to the usages of feudalism and the thirteenth century, and without being guilty of that imprudent temporizing with incipient perils which canonizes the present and leaves time and accident to heal, prevent, or aggravate the imminent calamities of the future.
The rage of speculation, which grows by what it feeds upon, has latterly been supplied with most ample nutriment by the political and commercial oscillations of nations. Peace and war have been staked, like other public stocks at the Bourse; and the settlement of the national discords of the allies and Russia, as well as of Europe and America, has been made subordinate to, and contingent upon, the factitious elevation and depression of public securities. The secrets of cabinets have been betrayed, through the strongly suspected complicity of their members; and the interests of governments and peoples imperilled by the betrayed, in order to supply, or to swell the gains of financiering accomplices. The powers of State, the executive functions of the supreme authority, confided to certain delegated personages for the general welfare of nations, have been abused for the advancement of individual fortunes by the chicanery of operations on 'change. Emperors, and kings, and potentates, have become vain names; cabinets, and governments, and parliaments, are a mere delusion they have ceased to rule the world ; they no longer control, direct, or defend the populations submitted to their care; the power has passed from their hands, the glory has departed from Israel, and the sceptre has been transferred to brokers and stock-jobbers, who anticipate, confirm, compel, or defeat the objects of nations, for the sake of a larger percentage. The offices of government are scarcely sought any longer for the honours they confer, for the opportunities they afford of advancing the general weal, but as convenient positions for enlarged and more assured speculation, and as posts which attract to themselves without effort the currents of gold and silver from all enterprises, as the magnetic rock in the