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very limited way. Overthrow right of increase thus, you would introduce into the world an equality of condition, and corresponding happiness and freedom from crime. The middle class overflowing either way would absorb the very rich and the
very poor. Why, it is asked with great earnestness, should you give to inanimate money the magic power of increasing, when it lies idle in your strong box? It does not work. It is not entitled to any increase of right. “Property engenders despotism; the government of caprice; the reign of libidinous pleasure."* It is said the non-producer produces ; this is an anomaly. The capitalist works not and yet he receives wages. Who pays him? the laborer. Certainly; there is no one else. He therefore robs the laborer, giving him no equivalent for his labor. Destroy interest in every way, shape, and manner, and you establish justice thereby, and equality, and bappiness. Here is a definite issue: Is the right of interest granted to property unjust? Proudhon proves that it is unjust to his satisfaction in a chapter entitled : “Property is impossible.” It is hardly necessary to say that he has the political economists of the day against him. Reduced to its simplest terms the ques. tion is: Has any man a right to loan anything and receive for the loan a payment by the borrower? Admitting this the question is solved. Concerning this simple right it would seem that there could be no question. It would be a matter of no moment were it not that the spirit of Socialism, a spirit of disaffection with existing institutions, bases its opposition on the alleged injustice of the right of one man to receive interest from another for money which he has loaned. The argument finds its justification mainly in the abuse of this right, showing the evil effects of usury, the tyranny of capital, the power of corporations. Yet to argue from the abuse of a right to the non-existence of it, is absurd.
The justice of interest lies in two considerations: a negative one, the individual right of abstinence from use and also a positive, the individual right for payment for service rendered. In this twofold relation lies the justice of interest. The right of abstinence from use is a main right of property, second only to right of possession. This abstinence is entitled to recom
* Pr., p. 279.
pense, as in rent when property is used, or in interest when money is loaned and there is an additional risk of loss.
Property or money: convertible terms, is merely stored production. It has potential power-call it magic, if you will, to purchase, to create, for an individual. Looked at in one way interest is a kind of wage paid by the borrower to the lender. Through the lender's capital the machine and the workman are brought into activity by the borrower. The amount of money loaned is, for the time being, equivalent to the machine and workman—they are convertible terms—the interest is a part of the product earned; for the lender's money is an efficient factor with the machine and the workman, in the total product, and therefore justly paid. Interest is also payment for service rendered. The objection is made: if the workman labors he is entitled to all he earns, his full product. If he pays interest he must take it from his product. This he is obliged to give to the capitalist; so he is virtually robbed. The capitalist, it is true takes it, but rightfully, for the capital for which interest is paid is the overplus of energy, beyond that which the laborer alone represents, with his machine ; it works with him and he is entitled to his product less the efficiency of capital entering into and being a component part of the combined labor; that subtracted from the total product is the interest which the capitalist receives. It is a difficult question to explain, running back as it does to the ultimate and original questions of land and its distribution and the unearned increment. Perhaps, in a word, the justice is best placed in the sovereignty of the individual privilege to do what he will with his own, from the economic standpoint.
From the standpoint then of Political Economy as a matter of simple right, the objection to interest is seemingly ill-founded.
But there is another phase of the question lying alongside of this, concerning which the way is not quite so clear. It is this: whether the world would not be better off if all right of increase pertaining to property were forever done away with ? Soon, then, amassing of wealth would be impossible, tyranny of corporations, vices of luxury, and idleness. This is the Socialistic claim, which they assert is rapidly growing and winnig favor in the minds of men.
In answer to this it may be said in general, the world would be better off if general benevolence prevailed, and if men un. selfishly abandoned the right of accumulating vast sums of money, and using it to the detriment of others; the rigót thus to accumulate being an individual right, inalienable. To promote general benevolence, unselfish individuality, would seem to be the first and necessary step in the Socialistic programme, but of this we hear but little.
Let us endeavor to see what would be the condition of affairs were the Socialistic paradise to be established, yet it is dangerous to prophesy. Mutual societies, like so many circles : these would be various; like seeking like. Professions, trades, occupations; in each of these individuals of superior ability acknowledged leaders. A senate to arrange difficulties between these circles. In corporations made up of employer, and workmen, superintendents. Interest and rent and profit being abolished—a supposed uniformity of comfort and expense, the vices of the rich being removed from the body politic. The evils of competition disappearing. Leisure for individual improvement would be possible. In order to facili. tate business, a bank to be established to loan money in peculiar conditions, at a rate sufficient only to cover expenses. This is the future society of the radical Socialists of the Proudhon school. It may be mentioned also that every one being well fed, housed, clothed, educated, crimes against society would disappear. It is not wholly Utopian, as one might think. Practically in New England there has been a condition of affairs not unlike this. Each man with land; each man with a voice in government; a few selectmen; farms worked on shares; the church mytual societies ; equally diffused comforts, and crime reduced to a minimum.
It must be remembered that Communism is a grosser form of Socialism, for which many of the Socialists of the day have ridicule and bitter words.
The difficulties in the way of this reform are apparent. Competition between mutual societies; the combination of these societies to control others; the difficulty of obtaining best men to superintend. As in political life, says Mr. Mill, "they will hold back irom managerial responsibility.” Tbåt
seems natural for they have little to gain and must stand much adverse criticism. Also, “ as far as the motives to exertion are concerned in the general body, Communism has no advantages which may not be reached under private property.” The Malthusian doctrine whose terrors have incited so much of persistence in social changes will not come to be a terror here, for no prudential reasons will limit the number of children, if all are moderately sure of support by the body politic. The incentives to production are much lowered. The spur to invention is removed. Many of these difficulties might be avoided by the nationalization of the land, and yet such a measure involves a strong central government and its possible tyrannies.
It has been remarked that Mr. Spencer's theorem that a movement from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous characterizes all progress, is fatal to the success of Socialism.
Considering this movement in our modern civilization, the unwonted direction of its efforts coming as it does mainly from the aggrieved classes should be noticed. It aims to construct the foundations of society de novo. Its objects are worthy and radical enough to satisfy the most exacting. It also runs in parallel lines with the hope of the age that the reign of universal peace and brotherhood may come. There may be furthermore said in its favor that the certain modification of social conditions in the near future as civilization and intelligence become wide spread, may contribute to make some of its problems less difficult. The advance in practical invention is already doing marvelous work in the changing of social conditions. Note the efforts in coöperation which is an indication of the need of social reform and a means of averting its perils.
Looking at the movement with reference to the various theories brought forward in its behalf while yet it is in doubt whether Political Economy is a science or an art or both, it is not uncommon to hear that the science of Political Economy is independent of ethical considerations. It is a science, its laws are uniform like the laws of nature, they can be calculated. Malthus has an arithinetic of despair and Proudhon an aritbmetic of destruction. Morals are relegated to another sphere. This idea pervading the social philosophy is decidedly erroneous, for as long as men are as they are to-day, selfinterest, benevolence, fraudulent competition will inevitably enter into and modify economic laws and social conditions. This idea is allied to the materialistic philosophy of the day, ignoring the transcendent force of the will as a factor in progress, and assuming too much for induction through material facts and forces.
On the other hand it is claimed also that Ethical progress is dependent on Economic reform, a complete sbifting of ground. It seems wholly erroneous to suppose that ethical reforms, radical in their nature, are to be run througb economic influences. Although there is a modifying effect, this idea is a renewal of the natural order of things—subjecting the immaterial mind to the material force---as a stronger power. The world is not quite ready to believe this. It is seen, moreover, that with the fullest carrying out of economic conditions, consequences of wealth and its accompaniment of luxury and crime ensue.
There seems to be one fallacy running through all the Socialistic arguments, that of expecting more virtue in society as a whole than in the individuals composing it. A great difficulty looms up before these earnest men, that is, in adjusting the claims of a complete individual sovereignty with the requirements of social benevolence. The philosophers agreeing as yet, that man is a very selfish animal, the absence of any strong religious element in Socialism cannot fail to be noticed. Obtaining its conception as it undoubtedly does from Christianity with its teaching of brotherly love, it yet fails to make use of the chief regenerating power in human society. It is partly a revolt against forms of Christianity, overgrown with political and traditional beliefs. Says the author of Underground Russia : “Among people in Russia with any education at all, a man who is not a materialist, a thorough materialist, would really be a curiosity,'*—and further, the Nihilist (who is an Anarchic Socialist), seeks his own happiness at whatever cost. His ideal is a reasonable realistic life. “The Revolutionist (the Socialist in action), seeks the happiness of others at whatever cost, sacrificing for it his own. His ideal is a life full of suffering and a martyr's death."
* Underground Russia, p. 7.