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have incidentally hit upon truths, unregarded and unprized by themselves, which will be valuable in the hands of more practical and less sanguine men. It is remarkable, that the political economists, who generally assume labor to be the most just and correct measure of value, should not have discovered that the profits of capital represent no labor at all. To be consistent, the political economists should denounce as unjust all interests, rents, dividends and other profits of capital. We mean by rents, that portion of the rent which is strictly income. The amount annually required for repairs and ultimately to rebuild the house, is not profit. Four per cent. will do this. A rent of ten per cent. is in such case a profit of six per cent. The four per cent. is but a return to the builder of his labor and capital spent in building. “The use of a thing, is only a fair subject of change, in so far as the article used is consumed in the use ; for such consumption is the consumption of the labor or capital of the owner, and is but the exchange of equivalent amounts of labor.”
These socialists, having discovered that skill and capital, by means of free competition, exercise an undue mastery over labor, propose to do away with skill, capital, and free competition, altogether. They would heal the diseases of society by destroying its most vital functions. Having laid down the broad proposition, that equal amounts
of labor, or their results, should be exchanged for each other, they get at the conclusion that as the profits of capital are not the results of labor, the capitalist shall be denied all interest or rents, or other profits on his capital, and be compelled in all cases to exchange a part of the capital itself, for labor, or its results. This would prevent accumulation, or at least limit it to the procurement of the coarsest necessaries of life. They say, “the lawyer
and the artist do not work so hard and continuously as the ploughman, and should receive less wages than he-a bushel of wheat represents as much labor as a speech or portrait, and should be exchanged for the one or the other.” Such a system of trade and exchange would equalize conditions, but would banish civilization. Yet do these men show, that, by means of the taxation and oppression, which capital and skill exercise over labor, the rich, the professional, the trading and skillful part of society, have become the masters of the laboring masses : whose condition, already intolerable, is daily becoming worse. They point out distinctly the character of the disease under which the patient is laboring, but see no way of curing the disease except by killing the patient.
In the preceding chapter, we illustrated their theory of capital by a single example. We might give hundreds of illustrations, and yet the subject is so difficult that few readers will take the trouble
to understand it. Let us take two well known historical instances : England became possessed of two fine islands, Ireland and Jamaica. Englishmen took away, or defrauded, from the Irish, their lands; but professed to leave the people free. The people, however, must have the use of land, or starve. The English charged them, in rent, so much, that their allowance, after deducting that rent, was not half that of Jamaica slaves. They were compelled to labor for their landlords, by the fear of hunger and death-forces stronger than the overseer's lash. They worked more, and did not get half so much pay or allowance as the Jamaica negroes. All the reports to the French and British Parliaments show that the physical wants of the West India slaves were well supplied. The Irish became the subjects of capital—slaves, with no masters obliged by law, self-interest or domestic affections, to provide for them. The freest people in the world, in the loose and common sense of words, their condition, moral, physical and religious, was far worse than that of civilized slaves ever has been or ever can be for at length, after centuries of slow starvation, three hundred thousand perished in a single season, for want of food. Englishmen took the lands of Jamaica also, but introduced negro slaves, whom they were compelled to support at all seasons, and at any cost. The negroes were comfortable, until philanthropy taxed the poor of England and Ireland
a hundred millions to free them. Now, they enjoy Irish liberty, whilst the English hold all the good lands. They are destitute and savage, and in all respects worse off than when in slavery.
Public opinion unites with self-interest, domestic affection and municipal law to protect the slave. The man who maltreats the weak and dependant, who abuses his authority over wife, children or slaves, is universally detested. That same public opinion, which shields and protects the slave, encourages the oppression of free laborers—for it is considered more honorable and praiseworthy to obtain large fees than small ones, to make good bargains than bad ones, and all fees and profits come ultimately from common laborers)—to live without work, by the exactions of accumulated capital, than to labor at the plough or the spade, for one's living. It is the interest of the capitalist and the skillful to allow free laborers the least possible portion of the fruits of their own labor; for all capital is created by labor, and the smaller the allowance of the free laborer, the greater the gains of his employer. To treat free laborers badly and unfairly, is universally inculcated as a moral duty, and the selfishness of man's nature prompts him to the most rigorous performance of this cannibalish duty. We appeal to political economy; the ethical, social, political and economic philosophy of free society, to prove the truth of our doctrines. As an ethical and social
guide, that philosophy teaches, that social, individual and national competition, is a moral duty, and we have attempted to prove that all competition is but the effort to enslave others, without being encumbered with their support. As a political guide, it would simply have government 'keep the peace;' or, to define its doctrine more exactly, it teaches “that it is the whole duty of government to hold the weak whilst the strong rob them”—for it punishes crimes accompanied with force, which none but the weak-minded commit; but encourages the war of the wits, in which the strong and astute are sure to succeed, in stripping the weak and ignorant.
It is time, high time, that political economy was banished from our schools. But what would this avail in free society, where men's antagonistic relations suggest to each one, without a teacher, that "he can only be just to himself, by doing wrong to others." Aristotle, and most other ancient philosophers and statesmen, held the doctrine, “that as money would not breed, interest should not be allowed.” Moses, no doubt, saw as the modern socialists do, that all other capital stood on the same grounds with money. None of it is self-creative, or will “breed.” The language employed about “usury" and "increase” in 25th Leviticus, and 23d Deuteronomy, is quite broad enough to embrace and prohibit all profits of capital. Such interest or