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  • 1891
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Then are those who have been exploiters to retain undiminished the fruit of their ‘economic robbery’? Yes; but two things must be noted. In all ages it has been held to be the right of the community to dispossess owners of certain kinds of property without committing any offence against the sacredness of property, provided full compensation was offered to the owners. In the abolition of slavery, of serfdom, of certain burdens on the land, and the like, no one has ever found anything that was reprehensible, provided the owner of the slaves or of the land was compensated to the full value of the property taken from him. In the second place, it is to be noted that the community is bound to guarantee to the owners their property, but not the profit which has hitherto been obtained from it.

If you apply these two principles to the acquired rights which the Free Society found existing, you will find that, while the land is taken from the landowners, the value of it must be paid; the Society has nothing to do with movable capital, and the same holds good of the profit which the employers have hitherto drawn from their relation to the workers. The Society can also claim the right of obtaining possession of the movable productive property, so far as it may appear to be to the public interest to do this. Such an interest does not here come in question, for, apart from the fact that movable means of production can be created in any quantity that is required, there is no reason to fear that the owners will hold back theirs when they find what is both the only and the absolutely best employment for it in dealing with the associated workers. But, in the future, capitalists will not receive interest for their property, or, if they do, it will be only temporarily. There is as little occasion as there is right to forbid the receiving of interest; but, as every borrower will be able to get capital without interest, the paying of interest will cease automatically. Just as little can or need the Free Society forbid the former employers to hire workers to labour for them for stipulated wages; such workers will no longer be found.

ALI BEN SAFI (_Right_): Where is the Free Commonwealth to obtain the means to purchase all the land, and at the same time to furnish the workers with business capital? It is possible that some rich countries may be able to accomplish this by straining all their resources; but how could we in Persia find the 125,000,000£, at which the fixed property was estimated at the last assessment, to say nothing of the hitherto totally lacking business capital?

FRANÇOIS RENAUD (_Right_): On the contrary, I fear that the–from a legal standpoint certainly unassailable–justice to the former owners will occasion the greatest difficulties to just the richest countries. Their greater means involve the heavier claims upon those means; for in proportion as those countries are really richer will the value of the land be higher, and the workers, because more skilful in carrying on highly developed capitalistic methods of industry, will at once require larger amounts of business capital, which the community will have to furnish. So far, then, the greater strength and the heavier burden balance each other. But to this it must be added that in the more advanced countries the amount of mobile capital requiring compensation is far greater than that of poor countries. As interest is to cease, all these numberless invested milliards then bearing interest will be withdrawn: whence will the means be suddenly obtained promptly to meet all these calls?

CLARK (_Freeland_): The last two speakers entertain unnecessary fears. The sums required to get possession of the land, to pay back the circulating capital, and to furnish the workers with more abundant means for carrying on business, are certainly enormous–are at any rate larger than the material advance of any country whatever can even approximately supply quickly enough to place the country in a position to bear such burdens in their full extent. Certainly, if the transition to economic justice were followed immediately by its full results–if, for example, such transition lifted any country at once to that degree of wealth which we enjoy in Freeland–comparatively little difficulty would be experienced in responding to the heavy demands that would be made; but this condition would not be reached for years; the tasks you must undertake would be more than you could perform, if you had at once to discharge the whole of your responsibilities. But you have no reason whatever to fear this. Simply because interest will cease will neither landowner nor capitalist have any motive for insisting upon immediate payment, but will be quite content to accept payment in such instalments as shall suit the convenience of the community or the private debtors–should there be any such–and which could be easily accommodated to the interests of those who were entitled to receive the payment. When it is considered that the latter would be compelled either to let their capital lie idle or to consume it, it will appear evident that, if only the slightest advantage were offered them, they would prefer to receive their property in instalments, so far as they did not actually want to use it themselves.

You have quite as little reason to fear the demand which will be made for supplying the workers with the means of carrying on business. If your exploited masses already possessed the ability to make use of all those highly developed capitalistic implements of industry which we employ in Freeland, then certainly the Old World would have to renounce any attempt even approximately to meet at once the enormous demand for capital which would be made upon it. In such a case the milliard and a-half of souls who would pass over to the new order of things would require two billions of pounds; but the two milliards of men will not require these two billions, because they would not know what to do with the enormous produce of the labour called forth by such means of production. To dispose of so much produce it would be necessary for every family in the five divisions of the globe to possess the art of consuming a minimum of from 600£ to 700£ per year, as our Freeland families do; and, believe us, dear friends, your masses, just escaped from the servitude of many thousands of years, at present entirely lack this art. You will not produce more than can be consumed. You have not been able to do so yet, and will certainly not be able to do it when the consumption of the workers is able to supply the only reason for production. The extent and the intensity of production have been and remain the determinating factors in the extent and kind of the means of production. You will at any time be able to create what you are able to make use of; and if here and there the demand grow somewhat more rapidly than can be conveniently met out of the surplus acquired by the continually increasing productiveness of labour, you must for a time be content to suffer inconvenience–that is, you must temporarily forego the gratification of some of your newly acquired wants in order the more rapidly to develop your labour in the future.

For the rest, I can only repeat that the Freeland commonwealth will always be prepared, in its own interests, to place its means at your disposal, so far as they will go. We calculate that your wealth–that is, looking at the subject from the standpoint of _our_ material interests, your ability to purchase those commodities which we have special natural facilities for producing, and your power of producing those commodities which we can take in exchange for ours with the greatest advantage to you–will, in the course of the next two or three years, at least double, and probably treble and quadruple. From this we promise ourselves a yearly increase of about a milliard pounds sterling in our Freeland income. We have determined to apply this increase for a time, not to the extension of our consumption and of our own investments, but to place it at your disposal, as we have already done the unemployed surplus of our insurance reserve fund, and to continue to do this as long as it may seem necessary. [Tremendous applause.]

The PRESIDENT: I believe I am expressing the wish of the assembly when I ask William Stuart, the special representative of the American Congress, who arrived at Eden Vale this morning, to state to us the proposals laid before the congress of his country by the committee entrusted with the drawing up of the scheme for adopting the _régime_ of economic equality of rights.

WILLIAM STUART: In the name of the representatives of the American people, I ask the kind attention of this distinguished assembly, and particularly of the representatives of Freeland who are present, to a series of legislative enactments which it is proposed to make for the purpose of carrying us–with the energy by which we are characterised, and, at the same time, without injury to existing interests–out of the economic conditions that have hitherto existed into those of economic equality of rights. Our government found themselves obliged to take this step because our nation is the first outside of Freeland–at least, so far as we are aware–which has passed the stage of discussion, and is about immediately to take action and carry out the work. The institutions of economic justice are no longer novelties; we can follow a well-proved precedent, the example of Freeland, and we intend to follow that example, with a few unessential modifications rendered necessary by the special characteristics of the American country and people. On the other hand, we lack experience; and as, notwithstanding our well-known ‘go-ahead’ habits, we would rather have advice before than after undertaking so important a task, I am sent to ask your opinion and report it to the American Congress before the recommendations of the committee have become law.

It is proposed to declare all the land in the United States to be ownerless, but to pay all the present owners the full assessed value. In order to meet the cases of those who may think they have not received a sufficient compensation, special commissions of duly qualified persons will be appointed for the hearing of all appeals, and the public opinion of the States is prepared to support these commissions in treating all claims with the utmost consideration. It is proposed to deal with buildings in the same way, with the proviso that dwelling-houses occupied by the owners may be excepted at the owners’ wish. The purchase-money shall be paid forthwith or by instalments, according to the wish of the seller, with the proviso that for every year over which the payment of the instalment shall be extended a premium of one fifth per cent. shall be given, to be paid to the seller in the form of an additional instalment after the whole of the original purchase-money has been paid. The payment is not to extend over more than fifty years. Suppose a property be valued at ten thousand dollars; then the owner, if he wishes to have the whole sum at once, receives his ten thousand, with which he can do what he pleases; but if he prefers, for example, to receive it in ten yearly instalments of 1,000 dollars, he has a right to ten premiums of 20 dollars each, which will be paid to him in a lump sum of 200 dollars as an eleventh instalment. If he wishes the payment to be in fifty instalments of 200 dollars, then his premiums will amount to fifty times twenty dollars–that is, to 1,000 dollars–which will be paid in five further instalments of 200 dollars. The national debt is to be paid off in the same way.

The existing debit and credit relations of private individuals remain intact, except that the debtor shall have the right of immediate repayment of the borrowed capital, whatever may have been the terms originally agreed upon. As the commonwealth will be prepared to furnish capital for any kind of production whatever, the private debtor will be in a position to exercise the right above-mentioned; but, according to the proposal of the committee, the commonwealth shall, for the present, demand of its debtors the same premium which it guarantees to its creditors. The object of this regulation is obvious: it is to prevent the private creditors–in case no advantage accrues to them–from withdrawing their capital from business and locking it up. If those who needed capital had their needs at first supplied without cost, simply upon undertaking gradually to repay the borrowed capital, they would not be disposed to make any compensatory arrangement with their former creditors, whilst, should the committee’s proposal be adopted, they would be willing to pay to those creditors the same premiums as they would have to pay to the commonwealth.

The opinions of the committee were at first divided as to the amount of the premiums to be guaranteed and demanded. A minority was in favour of fixing a maximum of one in a thousand for each year of delayed payment: they thought that would be sufficient to induce most of the capitalists to place in the hands of the commonwealth or of private producers the property which otherwise they must at once consume or allow to lie idle. Eventually, however, the minority came over to the view of the majority, who preferred to fix the maximum higher than was necessary, rather than by untimely parsimony expose the commonwealth to the danger of seeing the capital withdrawn which could be so profitably used in the equipment of production. The voting was influenced by the consideration that we, as the first, outside of Freeland, among whom capital would receive no interest, must be prepared, if only temporarily, to stand against the disturbing influences of foreign capital. That such disturbing influences have not been felt in Freeland, though here no premium of any kind has ever been in force, whilst interest has been paid everywhere else in the world, was an example not applicable to our case, as we have not to decide–as you in Freeland have–what to do with capital which we do _not_ need, and which, after all conceivable demands on capital have been met, still remains disposable; but, on the other hand, we have to attract and to retain capital of which we have urgent need. But that the proposed one-fifth per cent. will suffice for this purpose we are able with certainty to infer from the double circumstance that, in the first place, the anticipated adoption of this proposal, which naturally became known at once to our world of capitalists, has produced a decided tendency homewards of our capital invested abroad. It is evident, therefore, that capitalists scarcely expect to get elsewhere more for large amounts of capital than we intend to offer. In the second place, the capitalistic transactions which have recently been concluded or are in contemplation show that our home capital is already changing hands at a rate of interest corresponding to our proposed premium. Anyone in the United States who to-day seeks for a loan gets readily what he wants at one-fifth per cent., particularly if he wishes to borrow for a long period. Such seekers of capital among us at present are, of course, in most cases companies already formed or in process of formation.

Thanks to the fact that the election for the Constituent Congress has been the means of universally diffusing the intelligence that it was intended to act upon the principle of respecting most scrupulously all acquired rights, productive activity during the period of transition has suffered no disturbance, but has rather received a fresh impetus. The companies in process of formation compel the existing undertakers to make a considerable rise in wages in order to retain the labour requisite for the provisional carrying on of their concerns; and as this rise in wages has suddenly increased the demand for all kinds of production it has become still more the interest of the undertakers to guard against any interruption in their production. These two tendencies mutually strengthen each other to such a degree that at the present time the minimum wages exceed three dollars a day, and a feverish spirit of enterprise has taken possession of the whole business world. The machine industry, in particular, exhibits an activity that makes all former notions upon the subject appear ridiculous. The dread of over-production has become a myth, and since the undertakers can reckon upon finding very soon in the associations willing purchasers of well-organised concerns, they do not refrain from making the fullest possible use of the last moments left of their private activity. Even the landlords find their advantage in this, for the value of land has naturally risen very materially in consequence of the rapidly grown demand for all kinds of the produce of land. In short, everything justifies us in anticipating that the transition to the new order of things with us will take place not only easily and smoothly, but also in a way most gratifying to _all_ classes of our people.

The PRESIDENT asked the assembly whether they would continue the debate on the fourth point on the Agenda, by at once discussing the message from the American Congress; or whether they would first receive the report which the Freeland commissioner in Russia had sent by a messenger who had just arrived in Eden Vale. As the congress decided to hear the report,

DEMETER NOVIKOF (messenger of the Freeland commissioner for Russia) said: When we, the commissioners appointed by the Freeland central government at the wish of the Russian people, arrived in Moscow, we found quiet–at least externally–so far restored that the parties which had been attacking each other with reckless fury had agreed to a provisional truce at the news of our arrival. Not merely the cannons and rifles, but even the guillotine and the gallows were at rest. Radoslajev, our plenipotentiary commissioner, called the chiefs of the parties together, induced them to lay down their weapons, to give up their prisoners, to dissolve the seven different parliaments, each one of which had been assuming the authority of exclusive representative of the Russian people; and then, after he had furnished himself for the interim with a council of reliable men belonging to the different parties, he made arrangements for the election of a constituent assembly with all possible speed.

As production and trade were nearly at a standstill, the misery was boundless. To be an employer was looked upon by several of the extreme parties as a crime worthy of death; hence no one dared to give workers anything to do. In most parts of the empire the ignorant masses, who had been held down in slavish obedience, were altogether incapable of organising themselves; and as the most extreme of the Nihilists had begun to guillotine the organisers of the free associations as ‘masters in disguise,’ it seemed almost as if mutual slaughter could henceforth be the only occupation that would be pursued in Russia.

The proclamation, in which Radoslajev called upon the people to elect an assembly, and in which he insisted upon the security of the person and of property as _conditio sine quâ non_ of our continued assistance, calmed the minds of the people, but it did not suffice to produce a speedy growth of productive activity. When, therefore, the constituent assembly met, Radoslajev proposed a mixed system as transition stage into the _régime_ of economic justice. In this mixed system a kind of transitory Communism was to be combined with the germs of the Free Society and with certain remnants of the old industrial system.

In the first place, however, order had to be restored in the existing legal relationships. During the reign of terror previous to our arrival, all fixed possessions were declared to be the property of the nation, without giving any compensation to the former owners. All existing debts were simply cancelled; and the first business now was to make good as far as practicable the injury done by these acts of violence. But at first the new national assembly showed itself to be intractable upon these points. Hatred of the old order was so universal and so strong that even those who had been dispossessed did not venture to endorse our views. The private property of the epoch of exploitation was considered to be merely robbery and theft, the claims for compensation were so obnoxious to many that a deputation of former landowners and manufacturers, headed by two who had borne the title of grand-duke, conjured Radoslajev to desist from his purpose, lest the scarcely sleeping nihilistic fanaticism should be awaked anew. The latter, nevertheless, persisted in his demands, after he had consulted us Freelanders who had been appointed to assist him. He announced to the national assembly that we were far from wishing to force our views upon the Russian nation, but that, on the other hand, Russia could not require us to take part in a work based–in our eyes–upon robbery; and this threat, backed by our withdrawal, finally had its effect. The national assembly made another attempt to evade the task of passing a measure which it disliked: it offered Radoslajev the dictatorship during the period of transition. After he had refused this offer, the assembly gave in and reluctantly proceeded with the consideration of the compensation law. Radoslajev drafted a bill according to which the former owners were to be paid the full value in instalments; and the old relations between the debtors and creditors were to be restored, and the debts discharged in full also in instalments. However, Radoslajev could not get this bill passed unaltered. The national assembly unanimously voted a clause to the effect that no one claim for compensation should exceed 100,000 rubles; if debts were owing to the owner, the amount was to be added, yet no claim for compensation for debts owing to any one creditor was to exceed 100,000 rubles. For property that had been devastated or destroyed a similar maximum of compensation was voted.

In the meantime we had made all the necessary arrangements for organising production upon the new principles. Private undertakers did not venture to come forward, though the field was left open to them; on the other hand, free associations of workers, after the pattern of those in Freeland, were soon organised, particularly in the western governments of Russia. The great mass of the working population, however, proved to be as yet incapable of organising themselves, and the government was therefore compelled to come to their assistance. Twenty responsible committees were appointed for twenty different branches of production, and these committees, with the help of such local intelligence as they found at their disposal, took the work of production in hand. The liberty of the people was so far respected that no one was compelled to engage in any particular kind of work; but those who took part in the work organised by the authorities had to conform to all the directions of the latter. At present there are 83,000 such undertakings at work, with twelve and a-half millions of workers. The division of the profits in these associations is made according to a system derived in part from the principles of free association and in part from those of Communism. One half of the net profits is equally divided among the whole twelve and a-half millions of workers; the other half is divided by each undertaking among its own workers. In this way, we hope on the one hand to secure every undertaking from the worst consequences of any accidental miscarriage in its production, and on the other to arouse the interest of the workers in the success of each individual undertaking. The managers of these productive corporations are paid according to the same mixed system.

The time of labour is fixed at thirty-six hours per week. Every worker is forced to undergo two hours’ instruction daily, which instruction is at present given by 65,000 itinerant teachers, the number of whom is being continually increased. This obligation to learn ceases when certain examinations are passed. Down to the present time, 120,000 people’s libraries have been established, to furnish which with the most needful books a number of large printing works have been set up in Russia, and the aid of the more important foreign printing establishments has also been called in; the Freeland printing works alone have already supplied twenty-eight million volumes. And as the teaching of children is being carried on with all conceivable energy–780 teachers’ seminaries either have been or are about to be established; large numbers of teachers, &c., have been brought in from other Slav countries, particularly Bohemia–we hope to see the general level of popular culture so much raised in the course of a few years that the communistic element may be got rid of.

In the meantime, the control provisionally exercised over the masses who willingly submit to it will be utilised in the elevation and ennoblement of their habits and needs. Spirituous liquors, notably brandy, are given out in only limited quantities; on the other hand, care is taken that breweries are erected everywhere. The workers receive a part of their earnings in the form of good clothing; the wretched mud huts and dens in which the workmen live are being gradually superseded by neat family dwellings with small gardens. At least once a month the authorities appoint a public festival, when it is sought to raise the aesthetic taste of the participators by means of simple but good music, dramatic performances and popular addresses, and to cultivate their material taste by viands fit for rational and civilised beings. Special care is devoted to the education of the women. Nearly 80,000 itinerant women-teachers are now moving about the country, teaching the women–who are freed from all coarse kinds of labour–the elements of science as well as a more civilised style of household economy. These teachers also seek to increase the self-respect and elevate the tastes of the women, to enlighten them as to their new rights and duties, and particularly to remove the hitherto prevalent domestic brutality. As these apostles of a higher womanhood–as well as all the teachers–are supported by the full authority of the government, and devote themselves to their tasks with self-denying assiduity, very considerable results of their work are already visible. The wives of the working classes, who have hitherto been dirty, ill-treated, mulish beasts of burden, begin to show a sense of their dignity as human beings and as women. They no longer submit to be flogged by their husbands; they keep the latter, themselves, and their children clean and tidy; and emulate one another in acquiring useful knowledge. Thanks to the maintenance allowance for women, which was at once introduced, an incredible progress–nay, a veritable revolution–has taken place in the morals of the people. Whilst formerly, particularly among the urban proletariate, sexual licence and public prostitution were so generally prevalent that–as our Russian friends assure us–anyone might accost the first poorly clad girl he met in the streets without anticipating refusal, now sexual false steps are seldom heard of. Moreover, it is particularly interesting to observe the difference which public opinion makes between such offenders in the past and those of the present. Whilst the mantle of oblivion is thrown over the former, public opinion has no indulgence for the latter. ‘The woman who sold herself in former times was an unfortunate; she who does it now is an abandoned woman,’ say the people. The woman who in former times was a prostitute but is now blameless carries her head high, and looks down with haughty contempt upon the girl or the wife who, ‘now that we women are no longer compelled to sell ourselves for bread,’ commits the least offence.

(_End of Fifth Day’s Debate_)

CHAPTER XXVIII

SIXTH DAY

The business begins with the continuation of the debate upon point 4 of the Agenda.

IBRAHIM EL MELEK (_Right_): The very instructive reports from America and Russia, heard yesterday, afford strong proof that the transition to the system of economic justice is accomplished not merely the more easily, but also the more pleasantly for the wealthy classes, the more cultured and advanced the working classes are. In view of this, it will cause no wonder that we in Egypt do not expect to effect the change of system without painful convulsions. The nearness of Freeland, with the consequently speedy advent of its commissioners, who were received by the violently excited fellaheen with almost divine honours, has preserved us from scenes of cruel violence such as afflicted Russia for weeks. No murders and very little destruction of property have taken place; but the Egyptian national assembly, called into being by the Freeland Commissioners, shows itself far less inclined than its Russian contemporary to respect the compensation claims of the former owners. In this I see the ruling of fate, against which nothing can be done, and to which we must therefore submit with resignation. But I would exculpate from blame those who have had to suffer so severely. Though no one has expressly said it, yet I have an impression that the majority of the assembly are convinced that those who have composed the ruling classes are now everywhere suffering the lot which they have prepared for themselves. As to this, I would ask whether the landlords, capitalists, and employers of America, Australia, and Western Europe were less reckless in taking advantage of their position than those of Russia or Egypt? That they could not so easily do what they pleased with their working classes as the latter could is due to the greater energy of the American national character and to the greater power of resistance possessed by the masses, and not to the kindly disposition of the masters. Hence I cannot think it just that the Russian boyar or the Egyptian bey should lose his property, whilst the American speculator, the French capitalist, or the English lord should even derive profit from the revolution.

LIONEL SPENCER (_Centre_): The previous speaker may be correct in supposing that the wealthy classes of England, like those of America, will come out of the impending revolution without direct loss. There cannot be the slightest doubt that in England, as well as in France and in several other countries in which the government has had a democratic character, nothing will be taken from the wealthy classes for which they will not be fully compensated. But I am not able to see in this the play of blind fate. Observe that the sacrifices involved in the social revolution everywhere stand in an inverse ratio to what has hitherto been the rate of wages, which is the chief factor in determining the average level of popular culture. Where the masses have languished in brutish misery, no one can be surprised that, when they broke their chains, they should hurl themselves upon their oppressors with brutish fury. Again, the rate of wages is everywhere dependent upon the measure of political and social freedom which the wealthy classes grant to the masses. The Russian boyar or the Egyptian bey may be personally as kindly disposed as the American speculator or the English landlord; the essential difference lies in the fact that in America and England the fate of the masses was less dependent upon the personal behaviour of the wealthy classes than in Russia and Egypt. In the former countries, the wealthy classes–even if perhaps less kindly in their personal intercourse–were politically more discreet, more temperate than in the latter countries, and it is the fruit of this political discretion that they are now reaping. It may be that they knew themselves to be simply compelled to exercise this discretion: they exercised it, and what they did, and not their intentions, decided the result. Those that were the ruling classes in the backward countries are now atoning for the excessive exercise of their rights of mastership; they are now paying the difference between the wages they formerly gave and the–meagre enough–general average of wages under the exploiting system.

TEI FU (_Right_): The previous speaker overlooks the fact that the rate of wages depends, rot upon the will of the employer, but upon supply and demand. That the receiver of a hunger-wage has been degraded to a beast is unfortunately too true, and the massacres with which the masses of my fatherland, driven to desperation, everywhere introduced the work of emancipation are, like the events in Russia, eloquent proofs of this fact. But how could any political discretion on the part of the ruling classes have prevented this? The labour market in China was over-crowded, the supply of hands was too great for any power on earth to raise the wages.

ALEXANDER MING-LI (_Freeland_): My brother, Tei Fu, thinks that wages depend upon supply and demand. This is not an axiom that was thought out in our common fatherland, but one borrowed from the political economy of the West, but which, in a certain sense, is none the less correct on that account. It holds good of every commodity, consequently of human labour so long as that has to be offered for sale. But the price depends also upon two other things–namely, on the cost of production and the utility of the commodity: in fact, it is these two last-named factors that in the long run regulate the price, whilst the fluctuations of supply and demand can produce merely fluctuations within the limits fixed by the cost of production and the utility. In the long run as much must be paid for everything as its production costs; and in the long run no more can be obtained for a thing than its use is worth. All this has long been known, only unfortunately it has never been fully applied to the question of wages. What does the production of labour cost? Plainly, just so much as the means of life cost which will keep up the worker’s strength. And what is the utility of human labour? Just as plainly, the value of what is produced by that human labour. What does this mean when applied to the labour market? Nothing else, it seems to me, than that the rate of wages–apart from the fluctuations due to supply and demand–is in the long run determined by the habits of the worker on the one hand, and by the productiveness of his labour on the other. The first affects the demands of the workers, the second the terms granted by the employers.

But now, I beg my honoured fellow-countryman particularly to note what I am about to say. The habits of the masses are not unchangeable. Every human being naturally endeavours to live as comfortably as possible; and though it must be admitted that custom and habit will frequently for a time act restrictively upon this natural tendency to expansion in human wants, yet I can assert with a good conscience that our unhappy brethren in the Flowery Land did not go hungry and half-clad because of an invincible dislike to sufficient food and clothing, but that they would have been very glad to accustom themselves to more comfortable habits if only the paternal wisdom of all the Chinese governments had not always prevented it by most severely punishing all the attempts of the workers to agitate and to unite for the purpose of giving effect to their demands. Workers who united for such purposes were treated as rebels; and the wealthy classes of China–this is their folly and their fault–have always given their approval to this criminal folly of the Chinese government.

I call this both folly and crime, because it not merely grossly offended against justice and humanity, but was also extremely detrimental to the interests of those who thus acted, and of those who approved of the action. As to the government, one would have thought that the insane and suicidal character of its action would long since have been recognised. A blind man could have seen that the government damaged its financial as well as its military strength in proportion as its measures against the lower classes were effective. The consumption by the masses has been in China, as in all other countries, the principal source of the national income, and the physical health of the people the basis of the military strength of the country. But whence could China derive duties and excise if the people were not able to consume anything; and how could its soldiery, recruited from the proletariate, exhibit courage and strength in the face of the enemy? This oppression of the masses was equally injurious to the interests of the wealthy classes. While the Chinese people consumed little they were not able to engage in the more highly productive forms of labour–that is, their labour had a wretchedly small utility because of the wretchedly small cost at which it was produced.

Thus the Chinese employer could pay but little for labour, because the worker was prevented from demanding much in such a way as would influence not merely the individual employer, but the labour market in general. The individual undertaker could have yielded to the demands of his workers to only a limited degree, since he as individual would have lost from his profits what he added to wages. But if wages had risen throughout the whole of China, this would have increased the demand to such a degree that Chinese labour would have become more productive–that is, it would have been furnished with better means of production. The employers would have covered the rise in wages by the increased produce, not out of their profits; in fact, their profits would have grown–their wealth, represented by the capitalistic means of labour in their possession, would have increased. Of course this does not exclude the possibility that some branches of production might have suffered under this general change, for the increase of consumption resulting from better wages does not affect equally all articles in demand. It may be that while the average consumption has increased tenfold, the demand for a single commodity remains almost stationary–in fact, diminishes; but in this case it is certain that the demand for certain other commodities will increase more than ten-fold. The losses of individual employers are balanced by the proportionately larger profits of other employers; and it may be taken as a general rule that the wealth of the wealthy classes increases in exact proportion to the increase of wages which they are obliged to pay. It cannot be otherwise, for this wealth of the wealthy classes consists mainly of nothing else than the means of production which are used in the preparation of the commodities required by the whole nation.

Perhaps my honoured fellow countryman thinks that in the matter of rise of wages we move in a circle, inasmuch as on the one hand the productiveness of labour–that is, the utility of the power expended in labour–certainly cannot increase so long as the nation’s consumption–that is, the amount which the labour power itself costs–does not increase, while on the other hand the latter increase is impossible until the former has taken place. If so, I would tell him that this is just the fatal superstition which the wealthy classes and the rulers of so many countries have now so cruelly to suffer for. Since, in the exploiting world, only a part, and as a rule a very small part, of the produce of labour went to wages, the employers–with very rare exceptions–were well able to grant a rise in wages even before the increase of produce had actually been obtained, and had resulted in a _universal_ rise in wages. I would tell him that, especially in China, on the average even three or four times the wages would not have absorbed the whole profits–that is, of course, the old profits uninfluenced by the increase of produce. The employers _could_ pay more, but they _would not_. From the standpoint of the individual this was quite intelligible; everyone seeks merely his own advantage, and this demands that one retains for one’s self as large a part of any utility as possible, and hands over as little as possible to others. In this respect the American speculators, the French capitalists, and the English landlords, were not a grain better than our Chinese mandarins. But as a body the former acted differently from the latter. Notwithstanding the fact that the absurdity that wages _cannot_ be raised was invented in the West and proclaimed from all the professorial chairs, the Western nations have for several generations been compelled by the more correct instinct of the people to act as if the contrary principles had been established. In theory they persisted in the teaching that wages could not be increased; in practice, however, they yielded more and more to the demands of the working masses, with whose undeniable successes the theory had to be accommodated as well as possible. You, my Chinese brethren, on the contrary, have in your policy adhered strictly to the teaching of this theory: you have first driven your toiling masses to desperation by making them feel that the State is their enemy; and you have then immediately taken advantage of every excess of which the despairing people have been guilty to impose ‘order’ in your sense of the word. Your hand was always lifted against the weaker: do not wonder that when they had become the stronger they avenged themselves by making you feel some small part of the sufferings they had endured.

This does not prevent us in Freeland–as our actions show–from condemning the violence that has been offered to those who formerly were oppressors, and from trying to make amends for it as well as we can. Hence we hold that the people of Russia, Egypt, and China–in short, everybody–would do well to follow the example given by the United States of America. We think thus because this wise generosity is shown to be advantageous not merely for the wealthy classes, but also for the workers. Unfortunately it is not in our power at once to instil into the Russian muzhik, the Egyptian fellah, or the Chinese cooley such views as are natural to the workers of the advanced West. History is the final tribunal which will decree to everyone what he has deserved.

As no one else was down to speak on this point of the Agenda, the President closed the debate upon it, and opened that upon the fifth point:

_Are economic justice and freedom the ultimate outcome of human evolution; and what will probably be the condition of mankind under such a régime?_

ENGELBERT WAGNER (_Right_): We are contemplating the inauguration of a new era of human development; want and crime will disappear from among men, and reason and philanthropy take possession of the throne which prejudice and brute force have hitherto occupied. But the apparent perfection of this condition appears to me to involve an essential contradiction to the first principle of the doctrine of human blessedness–namely, that man in order to be content needs discontent. In order to find a zest in enjoyment, this child of the dust must first suffer hunger; his possessions satiate him unless they are seasoned with longing and hope; his striving is paralysed unless he is inspired by unattained ideals. But what new ideal can henceforth hover before the mind of man–what can excite any further longing in him when abundance and leisure have been acquired for all? Is it not to be feared that, like Tannhaüser in the Venusberg, our descendants will pine for, and finally bring upon themselves, fresh bitternesses merely in order to escape the unchangeable monotony of the sweets of their existence? We are not made to bear unbroken good fortune; and an order of things that would procure such for us could therefore not last long. That the world if once emancipated from the fetters of servitude will again cast itself into them, that the old exploiting system shall ever return, is certainly not to be feared, according to what we have just heard; even a relapse into the material misery of the past through over-population is out of the question. But the more irrefragably the evidence of the impossibility of the return of any former kind of human unhappiness presses upon us, so much the more urgently is an answer demanded to the question: What will there be in the character of man’s future destiny, what new ideals will arise, to prevent him from being swamped by a surfeit of happiness?

The PRESIDENT (Dr. Strahl): I take upon myself to answer this question from the chair, because I hope that what I am about to say will close the discussion upon the point of the Agenda now before us, and consequently the congress itself. From the nature of the subject we cannot expect any practical result to follow from the debate upon this last question, which was added to the Agenda merely because our foreign friends wished to learn, by way of conclusion to the previous discussions, what were our ideas as to the future. No mortal soul can have any definite ideas as to the future, for we can know only the past and the present. I venture to make only one positive assertion–namely, that the order of things which we propose to inaugurate will be in harmony with the general laws of evolution, as every foregoing human order has been; that it cannot be permanent and eternal; and that consequently it will by no means put an end to human striving and change and improvement. This holds good even with respect to the material conditions of mankind. In the future, as in the past, labour will be the price of enjoyment, and there is no reason to fear that in future the wish will lag behind the effort necessary to realise it. Thus mankind will not lack even the material stimulus to progress and to further striving. But man possesses intellectual as well as material needs, and the less imperative the latter become, so much the more widely and powerfully do the former make themselves felt. Intellectual hunger is a far more influential stimulus to effort than material hunger; and at present at least we are forced to believe that the former will never be appeased.

The fear that our race will sink into stagnation when the aims which have hitherto almost exclusively dominated its circle of ideas have been attained, is like the fancy of the child that the youth will give himself up to idleness as soon as he escapes the dread of the rod. It would be useless to attempt to make the child understand those other, and to him unknown, motives for activity by which the youth is influenced; and so we, standing now on the threshold of the youthful age of mankind and still half enslaved by the ideas of the childhood of our race, cannot know what new ideas mankind will conceive after the present ones have been realised. We can only say that they will be different, and presumably loftier ones. The new conditions of existence in which man will find himself in consequence of the introduction of economic freedom, will bring to maturity new properties, notions, and ideas, which no sagacity, no gift of mental construction possessed by anyone now living, is able to prefigure with accuracy. If, nevertheless, I venture to indicate some of the features of the future, I ask you not to attach to them any greater importance than you would to the fancies of a savage who, standing on the threshold leading from cannibalism to exploitation, might thousands of years ago have undertaken to form a conception of those changes which the invention of agriculture and of slavery would produce in the circumstances of his far-off successors. In this respect I have only one advantage over our remote ancestor: I know his history, while that of his ancestors was unknown to him. I can, therefore, seek counsel of the past in order to understand the future, while for him there was merely a present. I will now make use of this advantage; the course of human evolution in the past shall give us a few hints as to the significance of that phase of evolution into which we are now passing.

The original condition of mankind was freedom and peace in the animal sense–that is, freedom and peace among men, together with absolute dependence upon nature. The first great stage in evolution reached its climax when man turned against his fellow-men the weapon which had in the beginning been employed only in conflict with the world of beasts: dependence upon nature remained, but peace among men was broken.

The second stage in evolution is distinguished by the fact that man turns against nature, who had hitherto been his sovereign mistress, the intelligence which he had employed in mutually destructive warfare. He discovers the art of compelling nature to yield what she will not offer voluntarily–he produces. The chain by which the elements hold him bound is in this way loosened; but the first use which man makes of this gleam of deliverance from the bonds of merely animal servitude is to place fetters upon himself. The relaxing of dependence upon external nature and the alleviation of the conflict among men themselves–these are the acquisition of the second period.

The third stage of development begins with the dominion over nature gradually acquired by controlling the natural forces, and ends with the deliverance of mankind from the bonds of servitude. Independence of external control, freedom and peace among men, are its distinguishing features.

Here I would point out that the theatre of each of these phases of human progress has been a different one. The original home of our race was evidently the hottest part of the earth; under the tropics, in our struggles with the world of animals, we gained our first victories, and developed ourselves into warlike cannibals; but against the forces of nature, which reign supreme in that hot zone, we in our childhood could do nothing. Production, and afterwards slavery, could be carried on only outside of the tropics. On the other hand, it is quite as certain that man could not remove himself very far from the tropics so long as the productivity of his labour was still comparatively small, and he could not compel nature to furnish him with much more than she offered voluntarily. It is no mere accident that all civilisation began and first flourished exclusively in that zone which is equally removed from the equator and from the polar circle. In that temperate zone were found united all the conditions which protected the still infantile art of production from the danger of being crushed on the one hand or stunted on the other by the overwhelming power or the parsimony of nature. But this mean temperature, so favourable to the second phase of evolution, proved itself altogether unsuitable to the last step towards perfect control over nature. As human labour met with a generous reward, there was nothing to stimulate man’s inventiveness to compel nature to serve man by her own, instead of by human, forces. This could happen only when the civilisation, which had acquired strength in the temperate zone, was transplanted into colder and less friendly regions, where human labour alone could no longer win from reluctant nature wealth enough to satisfy the claims of the ruling classes. Then first did necessity teach men how to employ the elemental forces in increasing the productiveness of human labour; the moderately cold zone is the birthplace of man’s dominion over nature.

But when the third phase of evolution has found its close in economic justice, there will be, apparently, yet another change of scene. It might be said, if we cared to look for analogies, that this change of scene will be of a double character, corresponding to the double character of the change in institutions. The perfected control over nature will be seen in the fact that the whole earth, subjugated to man, has become man’s own property; on the other hand, peace and freedom–which in themselves represent nothing new to mankind, but are as it were merely the return of the primitive relation of man to man–will find their analogies in the return to the primitive home of our race, the tropical world. That vigorous nature, which had formerly to be left lest civilisation should be killed in the very germ, can no longer be a hindrance, can only be a help to civilisation now that man, awaked to freedom, has attained to a full control over those forces which can be made serviceable to him. It will probably need several centuries before the civilised nations, whose northern wanderings and experiences have made them strangers in their birthplace, have afresh thoroughly acclimatised themselves here. In the meantime, the charming highlands which nature has placed–one might almost believe in anticipation of our attempt–directly under the equator, offer to the wanderers the desired dwelling-places, and, at any rate, the agriculture of the now commencing epoch of civilisation will have its headquarters here. Slowly but surely will man, who henceforth may freely choose his dwelling-place wherever productiveness and the charms of nature attract him, press towards the south, where merely to breathe and to behold is a delight beyond anything of the kind which the north has to offer. The notion that the torrid zone engenders stagnation of mind and body is a foolish fancy. There have been and there are strong and weak, vigorous and vigourless peoples in the north as well as in the south; and that civilisation has celebrated its highest triumphs under ice and snow is not due to anything in chilly temperatures essentially and permanently conducive to progress, but simply to the temporary requirements of the transition from the second to the third epoch of civilisation. In the future the centres of civilisation will have to be sought in proximity to the equator; while those countries which, during the last centuries–a short span of time–have held up the banner of human progress will gradually lose their relative importance.

That man, having attained to control over the forces of nature and to undivided proprietorship of the whole planet, will ever actually take possession of and productively exploit the whole of the planet, is scarcely to be expected. In fact, past history almost tempts us to believe that the population of the earth has undergone scarcely any material change since civilisation began. Certainly, Europe to-day is several times more populous than it was thousands of years ago; and in America–putting out of sight the unquestionable extraordinary diminution in the population of Mexico and Peru–there has undeniably been a large increase in the number of inhabitants. Against all this we have to place the fact that large parts of Asia and Africa are at present almost uninhabited, though they formerly were the homes of untold millions. Thus, taking everything into consideration, the variations in population can never have exceeded a few hundred million souls. But assuming that the introduction of the new order of things, with its sudden and general diminution of the death-rate, will produce a revolution in this respect, that man’s control over nature will be connected with a general increase in the number of the earth’s masters, yet it may be considered as highly improbable that this increase will be particularly rapid, and that it will go on for any great length of time.

In one respect, certainly, there can and will be a sudden and considerable increase in the number of the living. In consequence of the greater longevity which will be the necessary result of rational habits of life, generations that have hitherto been consecutive will then be contemporaneous. In the exploiting world, on the average the father, worn out by misery, toil, and vice, died ere the son had reached maturity; in the future the parents will be buried by their great-grandchildren, and thus the number of the living will be speedily rained from a milliard and a-half to two milliards or to two and a-half, without any increase in human fecundity. But assuming that there be for a time an actual growth in population over and above that caused by this greater longevity, I hold it to be in the highest degree improbable that this growth can be a rapid one, and still less a continuous one. My opinion–based, it is true, upon analogy–is that a doubling of the population is the utmost we need reckon upon, so that the maximum population of the world may grow to five milliards. This number, very small in proportion to the size and productive capacity of our planet, will find abundant room and food in the most beautiful, most agreeable, and most fertile parts of the earth. Ninety-nine per cent. of the land superficies of the earth will be either not at all or very sparsely populated–so far as the population depends upon the production of the locality–and ninety per cent, will be cultivated either not at all or only to a very trifling extent.

That under the new order the earth will be transformed into a swarming ant-hill of thickly crowded inhabitants, that complete control over the elemental forces will lead to a destruction of all primitive natural fertility, there is therefore no reason whatever to fear. On the contrary, the more rationally distributed inhabitants will not crowd upon each other in the way in which they do at present in most civilised countries; and the greater fertility of the cultivated land of the future, in connection with the improved methods of cultivation, will make it possible to obtain from a smaller area a ten-fold greater supply for a double or a triple number of people than can be now obtained by the plough. The beauty and romance of nature are exposed to no danger whatever of being destroyed by the levelling instruments of future engineers; nay, it may be anticipated that a loving devotion to nature will be one of the chief pleasures of those future generations, who will treasure and guard in every natural wonder their inalienable and undivided property.

It is impossible to predict what course the development of material progress will take under the dominion of the new social principle. So much is evident, that the spirit of invention will apply itself far more than it has hitherto done to the task of finding out fresh methods of saving labour. This is a logical consequence of the fact that arrangements for the sparing of labour will now become profitable and applicable under all circumstances–which has hitherto been the case only exceptionally. But it is probable that the future will surpass the present also in its comparative estimate of intellectual as more valuable than material progress. Hitherto the reverse has been the case: material wealth and material power have been the exclusive aims of human endeavour; intellectual culture has been at best prized merely as the means of attaining what was regarded as the real and final end. There have always been individuals who looked upon intellectual perfection as an end in itself; but there have always been isolated exceptions who have never been able to impress their character upon the whole race. The immense majority of men have been too ignorant and rude even to form a conception of purely intellectual endeavour; and the few who have been able to do so have been so absorbed in the reckless struggle for wealth and power, that they have found neither time nor attention for anything else. In fact, it lay in the essence of the exploiting system that under its dominion intellectual interests should be thrust into the background. In the mutual struggle for supremacy only those could succeed in becoming the hammer instead of the anvil who knew how to obtain control of material wealth; hence it was only these latter who could imprint their character upon the society they dominated, whilst the ‘impractical,’ who chased after intellectual aims, were forced down into the great subjugated herd. And the teaching of the history of civilisation compels us to admit that in the earlier epochs the chase after wealth could legitimately claim precedence over purely intellectual endeavour. It is true that intellectual perfection is the highest and final end of man; but as a certain amount of wealth is an indispensable condition of success in that highest sphere of effort, man must give to the acquisition of wealth his chief attention until that condition of higher progress is attained. That condition has now been attained, that amount of wealth has been acquired which makes the supply of the highest intellectual needs possible to all men; and there can be no doubt whatever that man will now awake to a consciousness of his proper destiny. That which he has hitherto striven after only incidentally, and, as it were, accidentally, will now become the object of his chief endeavour.

That this intellectual progress must produce a radical revolution in the sentiments and ideas of the coming generations is a matter of course. This holds good also of religious ideas. These have always been the faithful and necessary reflection of the contemporary conditions of human existence. In primitive times, so long as man carried on the struggle for existence only passively, like the beasts, he, like them, was without any religious conceptions. When he had taken the first step towards active engagement in the struggle for existence, and his dependence upon nature was to some extent weakened, but peace had not yet been broken with his fellow-men, he began to believe in helpful higher Powers that should fill his nets and drive the prey into his hands. When the war of annihilation broke out between man and man, then these higher Powers acquired a cruel and sanguinary character corresponding to the horribly altered form of the struggle for existence; the devil became the undisputed master of the world, which, regarded as thoroughly bad, was nevertheless worshipped as such. Next the struggle for supremacy superseded the struggle of annihilation; the first traces of humanity, consideration for the vanquished, showed itself, and in harmony with this the good gods were associated with the gods of evil, Ormuzd with Ahriman; and the more the horrors of cannibalism were forced into the background by the chivalrous virtues of the new lords of the world, the more pronounced became the authority of the good gods over the bad. But since it was the dominant classes who created the new faith, and since they needed for their prosperity the obedience of the subjugated, they naturally transplanted the principle of servitude into their heaven. The gods became severe, jealous masters; they demanded blind obedience, and punished with tyrannical cruelty every resistance to their will. This did not prevent the rulers from holding this to be the best of all worlds, despite its servitude and its vices; for to _them_ servitude was well-pleasing, and as to the vices, they would be rid of the ‘evil gods’ if only the last remnant of resistance and disobedience–the only sources of all evil–were rooted out.

This kind of despotism was first attacked when the slaves found spokesmen. The most logical of these was Buddha, who, as he necessarily must from the standpoint of the slaves, again declared the world to be evil, and thence arrived at the only conclusion consistent with this assumption–namely, that its non-existence, Nirvana, was to be preferred to its continued existence. Christ, on the other hand, opposed to the optimism of domination the optimism of redemption. Like Buddha, he saw evil in oppression, not in disobedience; whilst, in the imagination of other nations, the good gods had fought for the conquerors and the bad ones for the subjugated, he now represented the Jewish Jehovah as the Father of the poor and Satan as the idol of those who were in power. To him also the world was bad, but–and this was the decisive difference between him and Buddha–not radically so, but only because of the temporary sway of the devil. It was necessary, not to destroy the world, but to deliver it from the power of the devil, and therefore, in contrast to Buddhistic Quietism, he rightly called his church a ‘militant’ one. Both founders, however, being ignorant of the law of natural evolution, were at one in regarding the contemporary condition of civilisation as a permanent one, and therefore they agreed that oppression could be removed only by condemning riches and declaring poverty to be the only sinless state of man. The Indian king’s son, familiar with all the wisdom of the Indians of his day, saw that reversion to universal poverty meant deterioration, therefore destruction, and, in his sympathy with the oppressed in their sorrow, he did not shrink from even this. The carpenter’s Son from Galilee held the equality of poverty to be possible, and He was therefore far removed from the despondent resignation of His Indian predecessor–He proclaimed the optimism of poverty.

The later official Christianity has nothing at all in common with this teaching of Christ. The official Christianity is the outcome of the conviction, derived from experience, that the millennial kingdom of the poor preached by Christ and the Apostles is an impossibility, and of the consequent strange amalgamation of practical optimism with theoretical pessimism. Jehovah now again became the gaoler of the powerful, Satan the tempter who incites to disobedience to the commands of God; at the same time, however, the order of the world–though instituted by God–was declared to be fundamentally bad and incapable of improvement, the work of redemption no longer being regarded as referring to this world, but merely to the next. The exploiting world for the last fifteen centuries has naturally adhered to the new doctrine, leaving asceticism to a few anchorites and eccentric persons, whose conduct has remained without influence upon the sphere of practical human thought. Not until the last century, when the old industrial system approached its end, and the incipient control of man over nature gradually made the institution of servitude a curse to the higher classes, did pessimism–this time, philosophic pessimism–lift up its head once more. The world became more and more unpleasant even to the ruling classes; they were made to feel fettered and anxious by the misery around them, which they had previously been able easily to explain by a reference to the inscrutable counsels of God; they were seized by a dislike to those enjoyments which could be obtained only by the torture of their brethren, and, as they held this system, despite its horrible character, to be unchangeable, they gave themselves up to pessimism–the pessimism of Buddha, which looked for redemption only in the annihilation of just those more nobly constituted minds who did not allow themselves to be forced by the hereditary authoritative belief to mistake a curse for a blessing.

But another change is now about to be effected. The gods can no longer rule by terror over a race that has robbed the clouds of their lightning and the underworld of its fire; and, now that servitude has ceased to be the basis of the terrestrial order, it must also disappear from the celestial. The fear of God is as inconceivable as pessimism of any kind whatever as a characteristic of the coming generations, who, released from the suffering of the world, will pass their existence in the enjoyment of a lifelong happiness. For the great thinkers who, looking beyond their own times, give expression to truths the full meaning of which is understood only by subsequent generations, have never failed to see that this suffering, this ‘original sin,’ is based upon nothing else than the injustice of exploitation. The evils which mankind brought upon itself–want and vice–were what converted earth into hell; what nature imposed upon us–sickness and death–can no more embitter life to us than it can any other kind of living creatures. Sickness cannot, because it is only transitory and exceptional, especially since misery and vice no longer minister to it; and death cannot, because, in reality, it is not death, but merely the fear of it, which is an evil.

But it will be said that this fear of death, foolish as it may be in itself, is a real evil which is infinitely more painful to man, who reflects upon the future, than to the animal that lives merely in the present and knows of and fears death only when it is imminent. This was, in fact, the case, but it will not continue to be so when man, by his return to the innocence of nature, has won back his right to the painlessness of death. The fear of death is only one of the many specific instincts by which nature secures the perpetuation of species. If the beasts did not fear destruction, they would necessarily all perish, for their means of warding off the powerful dangers with which they are threatened are but weak. It is different with man, who has not merely become king of the living world, but has at last made himself master of the elements. In order to preserve the human species from perishing, nature needed to give to man the blind fear of death only so long as he had to defend himself against himself and his fellow-men. So long as he was the victim of the torture of subjection, man had also to think of death with emotions of invincible shuddering if he would not prefer destruction to suffering. Just because it was so painful, life had to be fenced round with the blind dread of death even in the case of that highest species, man, which did not need protection from external dangers. But now is this last and worst danger overcome; the dread of death has become superfluous even as a protection against suicide; it has no longer any use as a specific instinct of man, and it will disappear like every specific character which has become useless. This evil, also, will vanish with injustice from mankind; life spreads out full of serene joyousness before our successors, who, free from the crippling influence of pessimism, will spend their days in unending progress towards perfection.

But we, my friends, now hasten to open the doors to this future!

Here closed the sixth and last day of the Universal Congress of Eden Vale.

CONCLUSION

The history of ‘Freeland’ is ended. I could go on with the thread of the narrative, and depict the work of human emancipation as it appears to my mental eye, but of what use would it be? Those who have not been convinced, by what I have already written, that we are standing on the threshold of a new and happier age, and that it depends solely upon our discernment and resolve whether we pass over it, would not be convinced by a dozen volumes.

For this book is not the idle creation of an uncontrolled imagination, but the outcome of earnest, sober reflection, and of profound scientific investigation. All that I have described as really happening _might_ happen if men were found who, convinced as I am of the untenability of existing conditions, determined to act instead of merely complaining. Thoughtlessness and inaction are, in truth, at present the only props of the existing economic and social order. What was formerly necessary, and therefore inevitable, has become injurious and superfluous; there is no longer anything to compel us to endure the misery of an obsolete system; there is nothing but our own folly to prevent us from enjoying that happiness and abundance which the existing means of civilisation are capable of providing for us.

It will perhaps be objected, ‘Thus have numberless reformers spoken and written, since the days of Sir Thomas More; and what has been proposed to mankind as a panacea for all suffering has always proved to be Utopian.’ And I am willing to admit that the dread of being classed with the legion of authors of Utopian romances at first filled my mind with not a few qualms as to the form which I had chosen for my book. But, upon mature deliberation, I decided to offer, not a number of dry abstractions, but as vivid a picture as possible, which should clearly represent in concrete conceptions what abstract ideas would have shown in merely shadowy outlines. The reader who does not for himself discover the difference between this book and the works of imagination above referred to, is lost to me; to him I should remain the ‘unpractical enthusiast’ even if I were to elaborate ever so dry a systematic treatise, for it is enough for him to know that I believe in a change of the existing system to condemn me as an enthusiast. It matters not, to this kind of readers, in what form I state my proofs; for such readers, like fanatics in the domain of religion, are simply disqualified to estimate aright the evidence which is pointed against what exists.

The impartial reader, on the other hand, will not be prevented by the narrative form of this book from soberly endeavouring to discover whether my propositions are essentially true or false. If he should find that I have started from false premises, that the system of freedom and justice which I have propounded is inconsistent in any way with the natural and universally recognised springs of human action–nay, if, after reading my book, he should not have attained to the firm conviction that the realisation of this new order–apart, of course, from unimportant details–is absolutely inevitable, then I must be content to be placed in the same category as More, Fourier, Cabet, and the rest who have mistaken their desires for sober reality.

I wish once more expressly to state that the intrinsic practicability of my book extends beyond the economic and ethical principles and motives underlying it, to the actual stage upon which its scenes are placed. The highlands in Equatorial Africa exactly correspond to the picture drawn in the book. In order that ‘Freeland’ may be realised as I have drawn it, nothing more is required, therefore, than a sufficient number of vigorous men. Shall I be privileged to live until these men are found?