Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

that commerce itself held a few generations since—under the reign of physical force-to military achievement, personal or hereditary. Thus the degradation of labor, and all the innumerable evils which follow in its train, in our existing civilization, find their efficient cause in this same false principle of exchanging products. The next stage of progress will be the inauguration of Equity -equality in the results of every species of industry according to burdens, and the consequent accession of labor to the highest rank of human estimation. Commerce will then sink to a mere brokerage, paid, like any other species of labor, according to its repugnance, as the army is now sinking to a mere police force. It will be reduced to the simplest and most direct methods of exchange, and made to be the merest servant of production, which will come, in its turn, to be regarded as conferring the only true patents of nobility.

V. It prevents the possibility of a scientfic Adjustment of Supply to Demand. It has been already shown that speculation is the cause why there has never been, and cannot now be any scientific Adaptation of Supply to Demand. It has also been partially shown, at various points, that speculation, or trading in chances and fluctuations in the market has its root in the Value Principle, and that the Cost Principle extinguishes speculation. It will be proper, however, in this connection to define exactly the limits of speculation, and to point out more specifically how the Value Principle creates it, and how the Cost Principle extinguishes it.

By speculation is meant, in the ordinary language of trade, risky and unusual enterprises entered upon for the sake of more than ordinary profits, and in that sense there is attached to it, among merchants, a slight shade of imputation of dishonesty or disreputable conduct. As we are seeking now, however, to employ language in an exact and scientific way, we must find a more precise definition of the term. The line between ordinary and more than ordinary profits is too vague for a scientific treatise. At one extremity of the long succession of chance-dealing and advantage-taking transactions stands gambling, which is denounced by the common verdict of mankind as merely a more specious form of robbery. It holds the same relation to robbery itself that duelling holds to murder. Where is the other end of this succession? At what point does a man begin to take an undue advantage of his fellow man in a commercial transaction? It clearly appears, from all that has been shown, that he does so from the moment that he receives from him more than an exact equivalent of cost.

But it is the constant endeavor of every trader, upon any other than the Cost Principle, to do that. The business of the merchant is profit-making. Profit signifies, etymologically, something made over and above, that is, something beyond an equivalent, or, in its simplest expression, something for nothing.

It is clear, then, that there is no difference between profit-making in its mildest form, speculation in its opprobrious sense as the middle term, and gambling as the ultimate, except in degree. There is simply the bad gradation of rank which there is between the slaveholder,

is now.

the driver on the slave plantation, and the slave dealer, or between the man of pleasure, the harlot, and the pimp.

The philanthropy of the age is moving heaven and earth to the overthrow of the institution of slavery. But slavery has no scientific definition. It is thought to consist in the feature of chattelism; but an ingenious lawyer would run his pen through every statute upon slavery in existence, and expunge that fiction of the law, and yet leave slavery, for all practical purposes, precisely what it

It needs only to appropriate the services of the man by operation of law, instead of the man himself. The only distinction, then, left between his condition and that of the laborer who is robbed by the operation of a false commercial principle, would be in the fact of the oppression being more tangible and undisguisedly degrading to his manhood.

If, in any transaction; I get from you some portion of your earnings without an equivalent, I begin to make you my slave-to confiscate you to my uses; if I get a larger portion of your services without an equivalent, I make you still further my slave; and, finally, if I obtain the whole of your services without an equivalent-except the means of keeping you in working condition for my own sake, I make you completely my slave. Slavery is merely one development of a general system of human oppression, for which we have no comprehensive term in English, but which the French Socialists denominate exploitation-the abstraction, directly or indirectly, from the working classes of the fruits of their labor. In the case of the slave, the instrument of that abstraction is force and legal enactments. In the case of the laborer, generally, it is speculation in the large sense, or profitmaking. The slaveholder will be found, therefore, upon a scientific analysis, to hold the same relation to the trader which the freebooter holds to the blackleg. It is a question of taste which to admire most, the dare-devil boldness of the one, or the oily and intriguing propensities and performances of the other.

CHAPTER IV.

INTERNATIONAL EXPLOITATION.

As individuals possessing skill or capital exploitate, or compel other individuals in the same community to work for them for nothing, or for undue consideration, precisely in the same way do nations possessed of those advantages exploitate other nations with whom they trade, who are without them.

England lends, say, five hundred millions of dollars to governments and individuals in America. In a hundred years, she will have withdrawn from us, in interest, six times the amount loaned or advanced, and at the expiration of that time she withdraws the principal itself. We pay England a tax of at least three thousand million of dollars in a century; for her loans to us are probably even larger than the amount assumed. She commands the results of our labor to that extent, and gives us not a cent of the results of her labor in return-for her principal loaned represents her labor, and that we return to her intact. We are, to that extent, her slaves, “slaves without masters;" for she commands and enjoys our labor, and is under none of the obliga

[ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »