Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

socialism, which constantly tempts downward and downward upon the descent, still hiding the abyss that yawns at its foot. A member of the provisional government recently remarked, 'Socialism is the plague !" Ay, it is the plague ; but who of you is quite free from the infection ?” p. 222.

The venom has extended far and wide. The whole tone and spirit of society is tinged with it.

“The ranks of socialism have increased, and will increase if their error and falsehood be not speedily unmasked. There is no need of study in order to dream, to hope, to build castles in the air and pictures of social felicity. The most untaught and simplest mind may group these around it, and thus for a while raise itself upon this stepping. stone to felicity. But alas ! at how high a price must these fleeting visions, so eagerly grasped at, be paid. In the deepest sincerity we believe that a little light thrown upon the subject would speedily lead back from these wanderings every true heart, every upright mind, to be found among the people, and these are many, very many." p. 15. Alcide Fonteyraud.

In all questions between free trade and protection, socialism of course sides with the latter, whose every principle is based upon its favorite system of crippling the individual to increase governmental power.

“Mr. Billault, a friend of the right to labor,' very logically proved its necessary connection with the theory of protection, as Mr. Proudhon had already exhibited a similar connection with the violation of pro. perty." p. 220.

Political economy answers still with its constant“laissez faire, laissez passer.Laissez faire to thought, genius, labor; laisscz passer, food, capital, ideas !"

Labor will find its way. The nature of production pushes it to the supply of demand.

Labor for labor is the law of production.” “When we hear, upon the banks of the Mersey or the Rhone, the groans of a manufacturing population, with the bitterness of conviction, we feel that these groans too surely find their echo among the agricultural population of Poland, Russia, Egypt. The sufferings of Lyons and Manchester find their way to the heart of the fellah or the coolie; and let the cotton jenny but anywhere cease to work, it is a certain sign that somewhere else. the plough and the hoe are idle."

“We confess that we are utterly unable to comprehend what is meant by the words, 'fatal competition,' 'antagonism of labor and capital.' We believe that there has never existed in this world such a thing as superabundant supply, inordinate production. The horn of abun.

dance, the lamp of Aladdin, the wonders of Cana, the wand of the enchanter Merlin, and, more powerful perhaps than all, the steam machine, might act in concert for a long time before they could give lodging, clothing, fire, food and light to all mankind. England, that industrial Titan, whose hundred arms work every lever of production, and whose extensive machine power does the work of one hundred and twenty millions of men, accomplishes but a fraction of what is wanted for the fulfilment of the above enumerated simple wants." " Where, then, is this unlimited competition, this overproduction which we hear of ?"

"Is it the result of industrial freedom, or rather, is it not the result of privileges and monopolies, that Ireland, like a Lazarus in rags, lies in the sgonies of its death-pang near the overburthened stores of Leeds and Coventry ? that corn becomes almost valueless in Poland, while Silesia, Flanders and the Alps echo but one cry of starvation ?" pp. 231-2. Alcide Fonteyraud.

Among the innumerable points of difference between the two systems we have under review, a very important one lies in the opposing views which they take of capital. While socialism regards capital as inimical to labor, and cries out against its tyranny, political economy, with clearer view, considers it as the circulating life-blood of society, the prop, and stimulant, and life of labor. Socialism attacks riches as monopolized capital; political economy, wisely sees capital consisting, not alone in accumulated possessions or money, the mere representative of value, but in every thing possessing value in itself, in every auxiliary to labor. Not only tools and machines, but earth, air, water, steam, when once called into requisition, and, by man's mind and power turned to man's benefit,-all valueless, but by his exertion,--are, as soon as used, capital. The very exertion too, and power of calling these into use,- that is to say, energy, industry, skill,—these also are capital. The head that thinks and the hand that acts, both are capital ; both having value, as capable of contributing their share in man's service; both laboring in his causefor surely labor is not, as socialism interprets it, mere manual exertion.

The experience of France has proved the disastrous consequences of this mistake of the socialists. Capital every where attacked for the benefit of labor—which interpreted by them meant simply and solely manual-labor—as a necessary consequence, credit, which can only exist with con

fidence, sank under the meddling dictation of the State. Mr. A. Clement, in the volume we are reviewing, (p. 181-2) remarks,

“The sudden check received by the credit of the State can easily be explained by the acts of the provisional government. What solid gua. ranties could be offered by a government which, beginning by proclaim. ing the absolute right of labor and its claims to assistance, thus took upon itself the charge of maintaining all who cither could not or would not do this for themselves ; which organized national workshops to spend 170,000 francs per day, to produce nothing; which was contemplating gratuitous instruction, numerous benevolent institutions; the liberation of slaves and indemnity to the colonists; the loan of capital to work. men; the creation of new establishments of credit ; the formidable increase of army and navy; the suppression of taxes; and all this while the principal sources of the public revenue were rapidly becoming exextinct? Was it not plain enough that it was rusbing to inevitable bankruptcy?” “Public and private credit can only be re-established when public authority will have completely abandoned the perilous path into which socialism has drawn it; when society can find some security for the maintainance of those conditions which are the basis of its ex. istence, viz : respect for property, family, liberty of labor and business transactions; and when government shall seriously set about seeking the true means for ameliorating its financial condition by the reduction of its expenses, and the re-arrangement in the most perfect simplicity of a just system of taxation. As long as, on any other conditions, it seeks to re-establish credit, it pursues only impalpable chimeras, and prepares a cruel deception for all who place their trust in it."

This opposition to capital has found its climax in the often quoted saying of Proudhon; "property is robbery," It may seem to many almost ludicrous to meet such an assertion by grave argument, and yet, even in our own country, it is received by some as true, by many as partially true; and countless numbers give more or less into its folly, arguing against accumulation of funds, exaction of interest, &c. To all such we would say,pause before you step, you are on a dangerous path ;

“Once raise the cry against competition and capital, you give up the whole at once. For the honor of your logic, you are forced to sweep on from conclusion to conclusion, from negation to negation, down to the bottomless pit of communism. You give your han to the solemn figure, which moving towards you invites to its splendid banquet. The band is icy! The figure marble! You shudder and would fly from this contact with death! But its grasp is upon you; you are forced to

litical econogs to me, se an hour, Jenies the rhat princ

follow your guide and sup, like Don Juan, with annihilation.” p. 242. Alcide Fonteyraud.

Political economy strikes boldly at this shallow fallacy. If my life belongs to me, so also must the result, the proceeds of that life. To give an hour, to give a day, these are common expressions, and no one denies the right existing in me of thus disposing of my time. On what principle then can I be denied the right of disposing of the labor, or the proceeds of the labor of that hour? I may give my life to my country or my friend, and this is acknowledged to be a noble or generous action. I may give it by a sudden and abrupt sacrifice of life, or by a long, patient, and laborious one. The last I do for my wife or children, when passing a life of toil in their service. What matters it whether I give it in the form of food or raiment, immediately grasped from my labor, and as immediately consumed in their service, or whether, from the representative of this labor, put aside for the time of need, they are enabled to procure future necessities, comforts, or luxuries? In either case it is equally my life devoted in their service; honestly mine to give, honestly theirs to receive. Charity, benevolence, generosity, may, if the proceeds are large, suggest a wider circulation of them. I may give to the needy, I may share with the suffering, but still it is mine which I give; my life thus freely distributed, -law and justice can have nothing to do in such a question.

It has cost me a year of toil and effort, to amass a certain sum, the representative of this toil and effort. This sum, if I give to my child, I, in so doing, give him a year of my existence. Perhaps I see fit to put up this ycar of my strength and youth, for the uses and necessities of age; or perhaps, in dying, see fit to transfer it to my dependant child or necessitous friend ; who, if my life is my own, can dispute with me the right of so doing?

“If in dying, I leave to those whom I love, house, merchandize, land, money, what you will, have I not given a part of the time I had to spend upon earth, in order to obtain these? Do I not, in reality, thus bequeath a portion of my life and my faculties? I might, by avoiding the effort requisite to their production, have made life easier, or by consuming the result of that effort, have increased my enjoyments, but I am happier in bestowing upon those I love, this portion of my existence. Generous and consoling idea, which inspires courage, sustains virtue, prompts to noble sacrifices, and uniting generation to generation

leads to the amelioration of mankind by the gradual increase of Capital!"' p. 305. Louis Leclerc.

Mr. Proudhon, in his efforts to enforce his system in France, in order to suppress interest and rents on land, proposed the establishment of what he terms “a bank of exchange,” which was destined to furnish gratuitous loans to all who might need them! (See p. 58.) “ Individuals, instead of borrowing from each other at interest, would naturally go to the bank, which, absorbing gradually the capital of the nation, would finally be all-sufficient for the demands of production.” The State, be it understood, was expected to furnish the first capital of this bank. But how, in the depressed and disastrous condition of France, could this be done? This establisher of banks must surely have had in reserve, for the use of the State, some Fortunatus' purse or alchymist power. He must command,

“Gold ! gold! and gold without end !
Gold to lay by, and gold to spend-
Gold to give, and gold to lend

And reversions of gold in futuro !" But, no~Mr. Proudhon's system seems to have been based much more upon

“ The good old rule, the simple plan-
That they should take who have the power,

And they should keep who can." Let quittance, says he, be given to all debtors of onethird their debits, on condition that one-half of this third, amounting to seven hundred and fifty millions, or even less, say five hundred millions, shall be put into the treasury of the State. Of this five hundred millions, let three hundred be employed in indemnification of certain taxessalt tax, custom-house, &c.—which weigh heavily upon the poor. The two hundred remaining millions would serve to found the “Bank of Exchange.” Let this quittonce be renewed for the remaining portion of debt, in the same manner, for the second and third year, and thus at the end of three years the “Bank of Exchange” will find itself with a capital of six hundred millions. (See p. 59.) Admirable invention for the manufacture of capital ! All debtors would no doubt be loud in praise of the liberality and judicious management of so generous a government. And creditors ? Ah! never mind creditors, hard-hearted accumulators of capital, as they are! Besides, Mr. Proud.

« ElőzőTovább »