« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
cept, “Don't be too bad," or, “Don't gouge too deep." No Political Economist, Financier, Moralist, or Religion. ist, has any more definite standard of right in commercial transactions than that. It is not too much to affirm that neither Political Economist, Financier, Moralist, nor Religionist knows at this day, nor ever has known, what it is to be honest. The religious teacher, who exhorts his hearers from Sabbath to Sabbath to be fair in their deal. ings with each other and with the outside world, does not know, and could not for his life tell, how much he is, in fair dealing or equity, bound to pay his washerwoman or his housekeeper for any service whatever which they may render. The sentiment of honesty exists, but the science of honesty is wanting. The sentiment is first in order. The science must be an outgrowth, a consequential development of the sentiment. The precepts of Christian Morality deal properly with that which is the soul of the other, leaving to intellectual investigation the discovery of its scientific complement.
follows from what has been said, that the Value Principle is the commercial embodiment of the essential element of conquest and war-war transferred from the battle-field to the counter-none the less opposed, however, to the spirit of Christian Morality, or the sentiment of human brotherhood. In bodily conflict, the physically strong conquer and subject the physically weak. In the conflict of trade, the intellectually astute and powerful conquer and subject those who are intellectually feeble, or whose intellectual development is not of the precise kind to fit them for the conflict of wits in the matter of trade. With the progress of civilization and develop
ment we have ceased to think that superior physical strength gives the right of conquest and subjugation. We have graduated, in idea, out of the period of physical dominion. We remain, however, as yet in the period of intellectual conquest or plunder. It has not been questioned hitherto, as a general proposition, that the man who has superior intellectual endowments to others, has a right resulting therefrom to profit thereby at the cost of others. In the extreme applications of the admission only is the conclusion ever denied. In the whole field of what are denominated the legitimate operations of trade, there is no other law recognized than the relative "smartness" or shrewdness of the parties, modified at most by the sentimental precept stated above.
The intrinsic wrongfulness of the principal axioms and practice of existing commerce will appear to every reflecting mind from the preceding analysis. It will be proper, however, before dismissing the consideration of the Value Principle, to trace out a little more in detail some of its specific results.
The principle itself being essentially iniquitous, all the fruits of the principle are necessarily pernicious.
Among the consequences which flow from it are the following:
I. It renders falsehood and hypocrisy a necessary concomitant of trade. Where the object is to buy cheap and sell dear, the parties find their interest in mutual deception. It is taught, in theory, that “honesty is the best policy," in the long run ; but in practice the merchant discovers speedily that he must starve if he acts upon the precept-in the short run. Honesty-even as
much honesty as can be arrived at-is not the best policy under the present unscientific system of commerce; if by the best policy is meant that which tends to success in business. Professional merchants are sharp to distinguish their true policy for that end, and they do not find it in a full exposition of the truth. Intelligent merchants know the fact well, and conscientious merchants deplore it; but they see no remedy. The theory of trade taught to innocent youths in the retired family, or the Sunday school, would ruin any clerk, if adhered to behind the counter, in a fortnight. Hence it is uniformly abandoned, and a new system of morality acquired the moment a practical application is to be made of the instruction. A frank disclosure, by the merchant, of all the secret advantages in his possession, would destroy his reputation for sagacity as effectually as it would that of the gambler among his associates. Both commerce and gambling, as professions, are systems of strategy. It is the business of both parties to a trade to over-reach each other—a fact which finds its unblushing announcement in the maxim of the Common Law, Caveat emptor, (let the purchaser take care.)
II. It makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Trade being, under this system, the intellectual correspondence to the occupation of the cut-throat or conqueror under the reign of physical force the stronger consequently accumulating more than his share at the cost of the destruction of the weaker—the consequence of the principle is that the occupation of trade, for those who possess intellectual superiority, with other favorable conditions, enables them to accumulate more than their
share of wealth, while it reduces those whose intellectual development of the precise kind requisite for this species of contest—and whose material conditions are less favorable—to wretchedness and poverty.
III. It creates trade for trade's sake, and augments the number of non-producers, whose support is chargeable upon Labor. As trade under the operation of this principle, offers the temptation of illicit gains and rapid wealth at the expense of others, it creates trade where there is no necessity for trade—not as a beneficent interchange of commodities between producers and consumers, but as a means of speculation. Hence thousands are withdrawn from actual production and thrust unnecessarily into the business of exchanging, mutually devouring each other by competition, and drawing their subsistence and their wealth from the producing classes, without rendering any equivalent service. Hence the interminable range of intermediates between the producer and consumer, the total defeat of organization and economy in the distribution of products, and the intolerable burden of the unproductive elasses upon labor, together with a host of the frightful results of pauperism and crime.
IV. It degrades the dignity of Labor. Inasmuch as trade, under the operation of this principle, is more profitable, or at any rate is liable to be, promises to be, and in a portion of cases is more profitable than productive labor, it follows that the road to wealth and social dis. tinction lies in that direction. Hence « Commerce is King,” Hence, again, productive labor is depreciated and contemned. It holds the same relation to commerce in this age--under the reign of intellectual superiority
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 evil 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 -equaliiy 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 bas 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