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Freeland by Theodor Hertzka

Part 8 out of 9

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KURT OLAFSOHN (_Freeland_): I must agree with Satza-Muni, the honourable
member for Japan, so far as to admit that the bare fact that such a
contingency has not yet been realised cannot set our minds completely at
rest. The consideration advanced by the two following speakers as to
whether an exploiting society in which the consumption by the wealthy
increases indefinitely must, under all circumstances, succumb to the
influence of the free order of society, appears arbitrary and inconclusive.
I venture to think that the free society does not possess the aggressive
character of the exploiting society, and that therefore the latter, even
though it should prove to be decidedly the weaker of the two, may continue
to exist for some time side by side with the other so far as it does not
itself recognise the necessity of passing over to the other. And this
recognition would be materially delayed by the fact that the ruling classes
profit by the continuance of exploitation. The change could then be
effected universally only by sanguinary conflicts, whilst we lay great
stress upon the winning over of the wealthy to the side of the reformers.
It is the enormous burden of over-production that opens the eyes of
exploiters to the folly of their action; should this spur be lacking, the
beneficial revolution would be materially delayed. The member for Japan is
also correct in saying that repeatedly in the course of history the surplus
production which could not be consumed in a reasonable manner has led the
exploiting lords of labour to indulge in senseless methods of consumption.
It may therefore be asked whether what has repeatedly happened cannot
repeat itself once more; but a thorough investigation of the subject will
show that the question must be answered with a decided _No_.

No, it _can_ never happen again that full employment for highly productive
labour will be found except under a system of economic justice; for since
it last occurred, a new factor has entered into the world which makes it
for all times an impossibility. This factor is the mobilisation of capital
and the consequent separation of the process of capital formation from the
process of capital-using. Anyone who in Ancient Egypt or Ancient Rome had
surplus production to dispose of and wished to invest it profitably,
therefore in the form of aids to labour, must either himself have had a
need of aids to labour, or must have found someone else who had such a need
and was on that account prepared to take his surplus, at interest of
course. It was impossible for anyone to invest capital unless someone could
make use of such capital; and if this latter contingency did not occur, it
was a matter of course that the possessor of the surplus production,
unusable as capital, should seek some other mode of consuming it. Many such
modes offered themselves, differing according to the nature of the several
kinds of exploiting society. If the constitution of the commonwealth was a
patriarchal one, the labour which had become more productive would be
utilised in improving the condition of the serfs, in mitigating the
severity of their labour. In a commonwealth of a more military character
the increasing productiveness of labour would serve to enlarge the
non-labouring, weapon-bearing class. If--as was always the case when
civilisation advanced--the bond between lord and serf became laxer, the
lord merely increased his luxury. But, in any case, the surplus which could
not be utilised in the augmentation or improvement of labour was consumed,
and there could therefore be no over-production. As now, however, the
possessor of surplus produce can--even when no one has a need of his
savings--obtain what he wants, viz. interest, he has ceased to concern
himself as to whether that surplus is really required for purposes of
production, but is anxious to capitalise even that which others can make as
little use of as he can.

And this, in reality, is the result of the mobilisation of capital. Since
this discovery has been made, all capital is as it were thrown into one
lump, the profits of capital added to it, and the whole divided among the
capitalists. No one needs my savings, they are absolutely superfluous, and
can bear no fruit of any kind; nevertheless I receive my interest, for the
mobilisation of capital enables me to share in the profits of
profit-bearing, that is, of really working, capital. I deposit my savings
at interest in a bank, or I buy a share or a bill and thereby raise the
price of all other shares or bills correspondingly, and thus make it appear
as if the capital which they represent had been increased, while in truth
it has remained unchanged. And the produce of this working capital has not
increased through the apparent addition of my capital; the interest paid on
the whole amount of capital including mine is not more than that paid on
the capital before mine was added to it. The addition of my superfluous
capital has lowered the _rate_ of interest, or, what comes to the same
thing, has raised the price of a demand for the same rate of interest as
before; but even a diminished rate of interest is better than no interest
at all. I continue, therefore, to save and capitalise, despite the fact
that my savings cannot be used productively as capital; nay, the
above-mentioned diminution of the rate of interest impels me, under certain
circumstances, to save yet more carefully, that is, to diminish my
consumption in proportion as my savings become less remunerative. It is
evident that my surplus produce cannot find any productive employment at
all, yet there is no way out of this circle of over production. Luxury
cannot come in as a relief, because the absence of any profitable
employment for the surplus renders that surplus valueless, and the ultimate
result is the non-production of the surplus. Only exceptionally is there an
actual production of unconsumable and, consequently, valueless things; the
almost unbroken rule is that the things which no one can use, and which
therefore are valueless, will not be produced. Since the employer leaves to
the worker only a bare subsistence, and can apply to capitalising purposes
only so much as is required for the production of consumable commodities,
every other application of the profits being excluded by capitalism, he
cannot produce more than is enough to meet these two demands. If he
attempts to produce more, the inevitable result is not increased wealth,
but a crisis.

We have, therefore, no ground to fear that the ruling classes will again,
as in pro-capitalistic epochs, be able to enjoy the fruits of the
increasing productiveness of labour without allowing the working masses to
participate in that enjoyment. Capitalism, though by no means--as some
socialistic writers have represented--the cause of exploitation, is the
obstacle which deprives modern society of every other escape from the fatal
grasp of over-production but that of a transition to economic justice. It
is the last stage in human economics previous to that of social justice.
From capitalism there is no way forward but towards social justice; for
capitalism is at one and the same time one of the most effectual
provocatives of productivity and the bond which indissolubly connects the
increase of the effective production of wealth with consumption.

WILHELM OHLMS (_Right_): Then how is it that the Freeland institutions,
which are to become those of the whole of civilised mankind, have broken
with capitalism?

HENRI FARR (_Freeland_): So far as by capitalism is to be understood the
conversion of any actual surplus production into working capital, we in
Freeland are far from having broken with it. On the contrary, we have
developed it to the utmost, for much more fully than in the exploiting
capitalistic society are our savings at all times at the disposal of any
demand for capital that may arise. But our method of accumulating and
mobilising capital is a very different and much more perfect one: the
solidarity of interest of the saver with that of the employer of capital
takes the place of interest. This form of capitalism can never lead to
over-production, for under it--as in the pre-capitalistic epoch--it is the
demand for capital that gives the first impulse to the creation of capital.
But that this kind of capitalisation is impracticable in an exploiting
society needs no proof. For such a society there is no other means of
making the spontaneously accumulating capital serviceable to production
than that of interest; and as soon as the mobilisation of capital dissolves
the immediate personal connection between saver and employer of capital,
creditor and debtor, interest inevitably impels to over-production, from
which there is no escape except in economic justice--or relapse into
barbarism. [Loud and general applause.]

The PRESIDENT here asked if anyone else wished to speak upon point 1 of the
Agenda; and, as no one rose, he declared the discussion upon this subject

The Congress next proceeded to discuss point 2:--

_Is not the success of the Freeland institutions to be attributed merely to
the accidental and therefore probably transient co-operation of specially
favourable circumstances; or do those institutions rest upon conditions
universally present and inherent in human nature?_

GEORGE DARE (_Right_) opened the debate: We have the splendid success of a
first attempt to establish economic justice so tangibly before us in
Freeland, that there is no need to ask whether such an attempt _can_
succeed. It is another question whether it _must_ succeed, and that
everywhere, because it has succeeded in this one case. For the
circumstances of Freeland are exceptional in more than one respect. Not to
mention the pre-eminent abilities, the enthusiasm and the spirit of
self-sacrifice which marked the men who founded this fortunate
commonwealth, and some of whom still stand at its head, men such as it is
certain will not everywhere be found ready at hand, it must not be
overlooked that this country is more lavishly endowed by nature than most
others, and that a broad band of desert and wilderness protected it--at
least at first--from any disturbing foreign influence. If men of talent,
enjoying the unqualified confidence of their colleagues, are able on a soil
where every seed bears fruit a hundredfold to effect the miracle of
conjuring inexhaustible wealth for millions out of nothing, of
exterminating misery and vice, of developing the arts and sciences to the
fullest extent,--all this is, in my opinion, no proof that ordinary men,
given perhaps to squabbling with each other, and to being mutually
distrustful, will achieve the like or even approximately similar results on
poorer land and in the midst of the turmoil of the world's competitive
struggle. My doubts upon this point will appear the more reasonable when it
is remembered that in America we have witnessed hundreds upon hundreds of
social experiments which have all either proved to be in a greater or less
degree miserable fiascos, or at least have only assumed the proportion of
isolated successful industrial enterprises. It is true that some of our
efforts at revolutionising modern society have had remarkable pecuniary
results; but that has been all: a new, practicable foundation of the social
organisation they have not furnished, not even in germ. I wished to give
expression to these doubts; and before allowing ourselves to be intoxicated
by the example of Freeland, I wished to invite you to a sober consideration
of the question whether that which is successful in Freeland must
necessarily succeed in the rest of the world.

THOMAS JOHNSTON (_Freeland_): The previous speaker makes a mistake when he
ascribes the success of the Freeland undertaking to exceptionally
favourable conditions. That our soil is more fertile than that of most
other parts of the world is, it is true, a permanent advantage, which,
however, accrues to us merely in the item of cost of carriage; for, after
allowing for this, the advantage of the fertility of our soil is equally
shared by all of you everywhere, wherever railways and steam-vessels can be
made use of. Isolation from the market of the world by broad deserts was at
first an advantage; but it would now be a disadvantage if we had not made
ourselves masters of those deserts. And as to the abilities of the Freeland
government, I must--not out of modesty, but in the name of truth--decline
the compliments paid us. We are not abler than others whom you might find
by the dozen in any civilised country. Only in one point were we in advance
of others, namely, in perceiving what was the true basis of human
economics. But the advantage which this gave us was only a temporary one,
for at present you have men in abundance in every part of the civilised
world who have become as wise as we are even in this matter. The advantage
we derived from being the first in this movement was that we have enjoyed
for nearly a generation the happiness in which you are only now preparing
to participate. Freeland's advantages are due simply to the date of its
foundation, and have now lost their importance. Now that the establishment
of a world-wide freedom is contemplated, there will no longer be any
national advantages or disadvantages. What belongs to us belongs to you
also, and what is wonderful is that we as well as you will become richer in
proportion as each of us is obliged to allow all the others to share
quickly, easily, and fully our own wealth. We have suffered from being
compelled to enjoy our wealth alone, and we shall become richer as soon as
you share that wealth; and in the same way will you become richer as others
share in your wealth. For herein lies the solidarity of interest that is
associated with true freedom, that every existing advantage in
production--such as wealth is--can be the more fully utilised the wider the
circle of those who enjoy its fruits.

That those attempts, of which the last speaker spoke, all miscarried is due
to the fact that they were all based upon wrong principles. The only thing
they have in common with what we have carried out in Freeland, and what you
now wish to imitate, is the endeavour to find a remedy for the misery of
the exploiting world; but the remedy which we seek is a different one from
that which they sought, and in that--not in exceptional advantages which we
may have had--lies the cause of our success and of their miscarriage.

For it was not by the aid of economic justice that they sought to attain
their end; they sought deliverance from the dungeon of exploitation,
whether by a way which did not lead out of it, or by a way which, though it
led out of that dungeon, yet led into another and more dreadful one. In
none of those American or other social experiments, from the Quaker
colonies to the Icaria of Cabet, was the full and undiminished produce of
labour ever assured to the worker; on the contrary, the produce belonged
either to small capitalists who, while themselves taking part in the
undertaking as workers, shared the produce according to the amount of
capital they had invested, or it belonged to the whole as a body, who as
such had a despotic right of disposal over both the labour and the produce
of the labour of every individual. These reformers were, without exception,
associated small capitalists or communists. They were able, if they had
specially good fortune, or if they were under specially able direction, to
achieve transient success; but a revolution of the current industrial
system by them was not to be thought of.

(_End of Second Day's Debate_)



(_Debate on Point 2 of the Agenda, continued_)

JOHANN STORM (_Right_): I think that the lack of any analogy between the
frequent attempts to save society undertaken by small capitalists or
communists and the institutions of Freeland has been made sufficiently
clear. I think also that we are convinced that the exceptional external
advantages, which may have at any rate favoured and assisted the success of
Freeland, are not of a kind to suggest a fear that our proposed work will
fail for the want of such advantages. But we do not yet know whether the
success of social reform is exposed to danger from any conditions inherent
in human nature, and therefore universally to be met with. We have, in our
discussion upon the first point of the agenda, established the fact that,
thanks to the control which has been acquired over the forces of nature,
exploitation has become an obstacle to civilisation, and its removal a
necessity of civilisation. But severe criticism cannot be satisfied with
this. For is everything which is necessary to the progress of civilisation
consequently also possible? What if economic justice, though an
extraordinary vehicle of civilisation, were for some reason unfortunately
impracticable? What if that marvellous prosperity, which astonishes us so
much in Freeland, were only a transient phenomenon, and carried in itself
the germ of decay, despite, nay, because of, its fabulous magnitude? In a
word, what if mankind could not permanently, and as a whole, participate in
that progress the necessary condition of which is economic justice?

The evidence to the contrary, already advanced, culminates in the
proposition that the exploitation of man by man was necessary only so long
as the produce of human labour did not suffice to provide abundance and
leisure for all. But what if other influences made exploitation and
servitude necessary, influences the operation of which could not be stayed
by the increased productiveness of labour, perhaps could never be stayed?
The most powerful hindrance to the permanent establishment of a condition
of economic justice, with its consequences of happiness and wealth, is
recognised by the anxious student of the future in the danger of
over-population. But as this is a special point in the agenda, I, like my
colleagues who have already spoken, will postpone what occurs to my mind
upon the subject. There are, however, other and not less important
difficulties. Can a society, which lacks the stimulus of self-interest,
permanently exist and make progress, and succeed in making public spirit
and rational enlightenment take the place thoroughly, and with equal
effectiveness, of self-interest? Does not the same apply to private
property? Self-interest and private property are not altogether set aside
by the institutions of Freeland. I readily admit this, but they are
materially restricted. Even under the rule of economic justice the
individual is himself responsible for the greater or less degree of his
prosperity--the connection between what he himself does and what he gets is
not altogether dissolved; but as the commonwealth unconditionally protects
every man in all cases against want, therefore against the ultimate
consequences of his own mistakes or omissions, the stimulating influence of
self-responsibility is very materially diminished. Just so we see private
property abolished, though not entirely, yet in its most important
elements. The earth and all the natural forces inherent in it are declared
ownerless; the means of production are common property; will that, can
that, remain so everywhere, and for all time, without disastrous
consequences? Will public spirit permanently fill the office of that
affectionate far-seeking care which the owner bestows upon the property for
which he alone is responsible? Will not the gladsome absence of care, which
has certainly hitherto been brilliantly conspicuous in Freeland, eventually
degenerate into frivolity and neglect of that for which no one in
particular is responsible? The fact that this has not yet happened may
perhaps be due--for it is not yet a generation since this commonwealth was
founded--to the dominant enthusiasm that marked the beginning. New brooms,
it is said, sweep clean. The Freelander sees the eyes of the whole world
fixed upon him and his doings; he feels that he is still the pioneer of new
institutions; he is proud of those institutions, every worker here to the
last man holds himself responsible for the way and manner in which he
fulfils the apostolate of universal freedom to which he is called. Will
this continue permanently: in particular, will the whole human race feel
and act thus? I doubt it; at least, I am not fully convinced that it must
necessarily be so. And what if it is not so? What if, we will not say all,
but many nations show themselves to be unable to dispense with the stimulus
of want-inspired self-interest, the lure of unconditioned private property,
without sinking into mental stagnation and physical indolence? These are
questions to which we now require answers.

RICHARD HELD (_Centre_): The previous speaker finds that self-interest and
private property are such powerful spurs to activity that, without their
full and unrestricted influence, permanent human progress is scarcely
conceivable, and that it is extremely uncertain whether public spirit would
be an effective substitute for them. I go much farther. I assert that
without these two means of activity no commonwealth can be expected to
thrive, unless human nature is radically changed, or labour ceases to
require effort. Every attempt in the domain of economics to substitute
public spirit or any other ethical motive for self-interest must
immediately, and not merely in its ultimate issue, prove an ignominious
fiasco. I think it quite unnecessary to give special proof of this; but for
the very reason that self-interest and its correlative, private property,
are the best incitements to labour, and can be effectively replaced by no
surrogate--for this very reason, I contend, are the institutions of
economic justice immensely superior in this respect to those of the
exploiting system of industry. For they alone really give full play to
self-interest and the right of private ownership: the exploiting system
only falsely pretends to do this.

For servitude is, in truth, the negation of self-interest. Self-interest
assumes that the worker serves his 'own' interest by the trouble he takes;
does this apply to the _régime_ of exploitation: does the servant work for
his _own_ profit? With reference to the question of self-interest, anyone
who would show that economic justice was less advantageous than servitude
would have to assert that labour was the most productive and profitable
when the worker produced, not for his own, but for some one else's profit.
But it will perhaps be objected that the employer produces for his own
profit. Right. But, apart from the fact that this, strictly speaking, has
nothing to do with the stimulating effect of self-interest upon labour--for
here it is not the profit of his own but of some one else's labour that
comes in question--it is clear that a system which secures to only a
minority the profit of work must be infinitely less influential than the
one we are now considering, which secures the profit to every worker. In
reality the exploiting world, with very few exceptions, knows only men who
labour without getting the profit themselves, and men who do not labour
themselves yet get profit from labour; in the exploiting world to labour
for one's own profit is quite an accidental occurrence. With what right,
then, does exploitation dare to plume itself upon making use of
_self_-interest as a motive to labour? _Some one else's_ interest is the
right description of the motive to labour that comes into play under
exploitation; and that this should prove itself to be more effective than
the self-interest which economic justice has to introduce into the modern
world as a novelty it would be somewhat difficult to demonstrate.

It is nearly the same with private property. What boundless presumption it
is to claim for a system which robs ninety-nine per cent. of mankind of all
and every certainty of possessing property, and leaves to them nothing that
they can call their own but the air they breathe--what presumption it is to
claim for such a system that it makes use of private property as a stimulus
to human activity, and to urge this claim as against another system which
converts all men without exception into owners of property, and in fact
secures to them unconditionally, and without diminution, all that they are
able in any way to produce! Or does, perhaps, the superiority of the
'private property' of the exploiting system lie in the fact that it extends
to things which the owner has _not_ himself produced? Unquestionably the
adherents of the old system have no clear conception of what is _mine_ and
what is _thine_. What properly belongs to _me_? 'Everything you can take
from anyone, 'would be their only answer, if they were but to speak
honestly. Because this appropriation of the property of others has, in the
course of thousands of years, been formulated into certain established
rules, consecrated by cruel necessity, the adherents of the old system have
completely lost the natural conception of private property, the conception
which is inherent in the nature of things. It passes their comprehension
that, though force can possess and make use of whom it pleases, yet the
free and untrammelled use of one's own powers is the inalienable property
of everyone, and that consequently any political or social system which
overrides this inalienable personal right of every man is based, not upon
property, but upon robbery. This robbery may be necessary, nay, useful--we
have seen that for thousands of years it actually was useful--but
'property' it never will be, and whoever thinks it is has forgotten what
property is.

After what has been said, it seems to me scarcely necessary to spend many
words in dispelling the fear that frivolity or carelessness in the
treatment of the means of production will result from a modified form of
property. As to frivolity, it will suffice to ask whether hopeless misery
has proved itself to be such a superior stimulus to economic prudence as to
make it dangerous to supersede it by a personal responsibility which,
though it lacks the spur of misery, is of a thoroughly comprehensive
character. And as to the fear lest carelessness in the treatment of the
means of production should prevail, this fear could have been justified
only if in the former system the workers were owners of the means of
production. Private property in these will, it is true, not be given to
them by the new system, but instead of it the undiminished enjoyment of the
produce of those means; and he whose admiration of the beauties of the
existing system does not go so far as to consider the master's rod a more
effective stimulus to foresight than the profit of the workers may rest
satisfied that even in this respect things will be better and not worse.

CHARLES PHUD (_Right_): I do not at all understand how the previous speaker
can dispute the fact that in the former system self-interest is that which
conditions the quantity of work. No one denies that the workers must give
up a part of the profit of their labour; but another part remains theirs,
hence they labour for their own profit, though not exclusively so. At any
rate they must labour if they do not wish to starve, and one would think
that this stimulus is the most effectual one possible. So much as to the
denial that self-interest is the moving spring of so-called exploited
labour. As to the attack upon the conception of property advanced by those
of us who defend, not exactly the existing evil condition of things, but a
rational and consistent reform of it, I would with all modesty venture to
remark that our sense of justice was satisfied because no one compelled the
worker to share with the employer. He made a contract as a free man with
the employer.... [General laughter.] You may laugh, but it is so. In
countries that are politically free nothing prevents the worker from
labouring on his own account alone; it is, therefore, at any rate incorrect
to call the portion which he surrenders to the employer robbery.

BÉLA SZÉKELY (_Centre_): It seems to me to be merely a dispute about a word
which the previous speaker has attempted to settle. He calls wages a part
of the profit of production. It may be that here and there the workers
really receive a part of the profit as wages, or as an addition to the
wages. With us, and, if I am rightly informed, in the country of the
speaker also, this was not generally customary. We rather paid the workers,
who were quite unconcerned about the profits of their work, an amount
sufficient to maintain them; profits--and losses when there were any--fell
exclusively to the lot of the production, the employers. He could have said
with nearly as much justice that his oxen or his horses participated in the
profits of production. When I say 'nearly,' I mean that this could as a
rule be said _more_ justly of oxen and horses, for, while those useful
creatures are for the most part better fed when their labour has enriched
their master, this happens very rarely in the case of our two-logged
rational beasts of labour.

Then the previous speaker made hunger absolutely identical with
self-interest. The masses _must_ labour or starve. Certainly. But the slave
must labour or be whipped: thus this strange logic would make it appear
that the slave is also stimulated to labour by self-interest. Or will the
arguer fall back upon the assertion that self-interest refers merely to the
acquisition of material goods? That would be false; self-interest does not
after all either more or less prompt men to avoid the whip than to appease
hunger. But I will not argue about such trifles: we will drop the rod and
the whip as symbols of activity stimulated by self-interest. But how does
it stand with those slave-holders who--probably in the interest of the
'freedom of labour'--do not whip their lazy slaves, but allow them to
starve? Is it not evident that the previous speaker would, under their
_régime_, set self-interest upon the throne as the inciter to work? That
hunger is a very effectual means of _compulsion_, a more effectual one than
the whip, no one will deny; hence it has everywhere superseded the latter,
and very much to the advantage of the employer. But self-interest? The very
word itself implies that the profit of the labour is the worker's own. So
much as to hunger.

And now as to the security against the injustice of exploitation; for my
own part I do not understand this at all. The workers were 'free,' nothing
compelled them to produce for other men's advantage? Yes, certainly,
nothing but the trifle--hunger. They could leave it alone, if they wished
to starve! Just the 'freedom' which the slave has. If he does not mind
being whipped, there is nothing to compel him to work for his master. The
bonds in which the 'free' masses of the exploiting society languish are
tighter and more painful than the chains of the slave. The word 'robbery'
does not please the previous speaker? It is, indeed, a hard and hateful
word; but the 'robber' is not the individual exploiter, but the exploiting
society, and this was formerly, in the bitter need of the struggle for
existence, compelled to practise this robbery. Is the slaughter in battle
any the less homicide because it is done at the command, not of the
individual, but of the State, which is frequently acting under compulsion?
It will be said that this kind of killing is not forbidden by the penal
law, nay, that it is enjoined by our duty to our country, and that only
forbidden kinds of killing can be called 'homicide.' _Juridically_ that is
quite correct; and if it occurred to anyone to bring a charge of killing in
battle before a court of justice he would certainly be laughed at. But he
would make himself quite as ludicrous who, because killing in war is
allowed, would deny that such killing was homicide if the point under
consideration was, not whether the act was juridically penal, but how to
define homicide as a mode of violently putting a man to death. So
exploitation is no robbery in the eye of the penal law; but if every
appropriation to one's self of the property of another can be called
robbery--and this is all that the present case is concerned with--then is
robbery and nothing else the basis of every exploiting society, of the
modern 'free' society no less than of the ancient or mediaeval
slave-holding or serf-keeping societies. [Long-continued applause, in which
Messrs. Johann Storm and Charles Prud both joined.]

JAMES BROWN (_Right_): Our colleague from Hungary has so pithily described
the true characteristics of self-interest and property in the exploiting
society, that nothing more is to be said upon that subject. But even if it
is correct that these two motive springs of labour can be placed in their
right position only by economic justice, it still remains to be asked
whether the only way of doing this--namely, the organisation of free,
self-controlling, unexploited labour--will prove to be everywhere and
without exception practicable. Little would be gained by the solemn
proclamation of the principle that every worker is his own master, and the
complete concession to all workers of a right of disposal of the means of
production, if those workers were to prove incapable of making an adequate
use of such rights. The final and decisive question, therefore, is whether
the workers of the future will always and everywhere exhibit that
discipline, that moderation, that wisdom, which are indispensable to the
organisation of truly profitable and progressive production? The exploiting
industry has a routine which has taken many thousands of years for its
development. The accumulated experience of untold generations teaches the
employer under the old system how to proceed in order to control a crowd of
servants compelled dumbly to obey. He, nevertheless, frequently fails, and
only too often are his plans wrecked by the insubordination of those under
him. The leaders of the workers' associations of the future have as good as
no experience to guide them in the choice of modes of association; they
will have as masters those whom they should command, and yet we are told
that success is certain, nay, success must be certain if the associated
free society is not to be convulsed to its very foundations. For whilst the
exploiting society confines the responsibility for the fate of the separate
undertakings to those undertakings themselves, the so-often-mentioned
solidarity of interests in the free society most indissolubly connects the
weal and the woe of the community with that of every separate undertaking.
I shall be glad to be taught better; but until I am, I cannot help seeing
in what has just been said grounds for fear which the experience of
Freeland until now is by no means calculated to dissipate. The workers of
Freeland have understood how to organise and discipline themselves: does it
follow from this that the workers everywhere will be equally intelligent?

MIGUEL SPADA (_Left_): I will confine myself to a brief answer to the
question with which the previous speaker closed. It certainly does not
follow that the attempt to organise and discipline labour without
capitalist employers must necessarily succeed among _all_ nations simply
because it has succeeded among the Freelanders, and will unquestionably
succeed among numerous other peoples. It is possible, nay, probable, that
some nations may show themselves incapable of making use of this highest
kind of spontaneous activity; so much the worse for them. But I hope that
no one will conclude from this that those peoples who are not thus
incapable--even if they should find themselves in the minority--ought to
refrain from such activity. The more capable will then become the
instructors of the less capable. Should the latter, however, show
themselves to be, not merely temporarily incapable, but permanently
intractable, then will they disappear from the face of the earth, just as
intractable cannibals must disappear when they come into contact with
civilised nations. The delegate who proposed the question may rest assured
that the nation to which he belongs will not be numbered among the
incapable ones.

VLADIMUR TONOF (_Freeland_): The honourable member from England (Brown) has
formed an erroneous conception of the difficulties of the organisation and
discipline now under consideration, as well as of the importance of any
miscarriage of individual enterprises in a free community. As to the former
matter, I wish to show that in the organisation of associated capital,
which is well known to have been carried out for centuries, there is an
instructive and by no means to be despised foreshadowing of associated
labour, so far as relates to the modes of management and superintendence to
be adopted in such cases. Of course there are profound distinctions which
have to be taken into consideration; but it has been proved, and it is in
the nature of things, that the differences are all in favour of associated
labour. In this latter, for instance, there will not be found the chief
sins of associations of capitalists--namely, lack of technical knowledge
and indifference to the objects of the undertaking on the part of the
shareholders; and therefore it is possible completely to dispense with
those useless and crippling kinds of control-apparatus with which the
statutes of the companies of capitalists are ballasted. As a rule, the
single shareholder understands nothing of the business of his company, and
quite as seldom dreams of interfering in the affairs of the company
otherwise than by receiving his dividends. Notwithstanding, _he_ is the
master of the undertaking, and in the last resort it is his vote that
decides the fate of it; what provisions are therefore necessary in order to
protect this shareholder from the possible consequences of his own
ignorance, credulity, and negligence! The associated workers, on the
contrary, are fully acquainted with the nature of their undertaking, the
success of which is their chief material interest, and is, without
exception, recognised as such by them. This is a decisive advantage. Or
does anyone see a special difficulty in the fact that the workers are
placed under the direction of persons whose appointment depends upon the
votes of the men who are to be directed? On the same ground might the
authority of all elective political and other posts be questioned. The
directors have no means of _compelling_ obedience? A mistake; they lack
only the right of arbitrarily dismissing the insubordinate. But this right
is not possessed by many other bodies dependent upon the discipline and the
reasonable co-operation of their members; nevertheless, or rather on this
very account, such bodies preserve better discipline than those
confederations in which obedience is maintained by the severest forcible
measures. It is true that where there is no forcible compulsion discipline
cannot so easily pass over into tyranny; but this is, in truth, no evil.
Moreover, the directors of free associations of workers can put into force
a means of compulsion, the power of which is more unqualified and absolute
than that of the most unmitigated tyranny: the all-embracing reciprocal
control of the associates, whose influence even the most obstinate cannot
permanently withstand. It is certainly indispensable that the workers as a
whole, or a large majority of them, should be reasonable men whose
intelligence is sufficient to enable them to understand their own
interests. But this is the first and foremost _conditio sine quâ non_ of
the establishment of economic justice. That economic justice--up to the
present the highest outcome of the evolution of mankind--is suitable only
to men who have raised themselves out of the lowest stage of brutality, is
in no respect open to question. Hence it follows that nations and
individuals who have not yet reached this stage of development must be
educated up to it; and this educational work is not difficult if it be but
undertaken with a will. We doubt that it could altogether fail anywhere, if
undertaken seriously and in the right way.

And now let us look at the second side of the question which has been
thrown out. Is it correct that, in consequence of the solidarity of
interests which exists in the free community, the weal and woe of the whole
are indissolubly bound up with the success of any individual undertaking?
If it be meant by this that in such a community everyone is interested in
the weal of everyone else, and consequently in the success of every
undertaking, then it fully expresses what is the fact; but--and this was
evidently the meaning of the speaker--if it is meant that the weal of such
a community is dependent upon the success of every single undertaking of
its members, then it is utterly groundless. If an undertaking does not
thrive, its members leave it and turn to one that is more prosperous--that
is all. On the other hand, this mobility of labour, bound up with the
solidarity of interests, protects the free community from the worse
consequences of actual miscarriage. If there should be an ill-advised
choice of directors, the unqualified officials can do but relatively little
mischief; they see themselves--that is, the undertaking under their
control--promptly forsaken by the workers, and the losses are insignificant
because confined within a small area. In fact, this mobility proves itself
to be in the last resort the most effectual corrective of all kinds of
mistakes, the agency by which all the defective forms of organisation and
the less capable minds are thrust aside and automatically superseded by
better. For the undertakings which, from any cause whatever, fail to thrive
are always in a comparatively short time absorbed by better, without
involving in ruin--as happens under the exploiting system of society--those
who were engaged in the former undertakings. Hence it is not necessary that
these free organisations should in all cases strike the highest note at the
very beginning in order eventually to attain to perfect order and
excellence; for in the friendly competition what is defective rapidly
vanishes from sight, being merged in what is proved to be superior, which
then alone holds the field.

JOHN KILMEAN (_Right_): Let us grant, then, that the associations of free
labour are organised as well as, or better than, the capitalists'
associations of the old exploiting world. Is there, nevertheless, no ground
to fear that they will exhibit serious defects in comparison with
undertakings conducted by individual employers? That self-interest, so far
as concerns the workers themselves, can for the first time have full play
in stimulating activity is true; but with respect to the management the
reverse is the fact. At least one would think that the interest of the
individual undertaker in the success of the business belonging to him alone
must be a keener one than that of directors, who are nothing more than
elected functionaries whose industrial existence is in no way indissolubly
connected with the undertaking. The advantages which the private
undertaking conducted by the individual proprietor has hitherto exhibited
over the joint-stock company, it must, in the nature of things, also have
over the free associations.

THEODOR YPSILANTI (_Freeland_): Let us assume, for the present, that this
is so. But are the advantages of the individual undertaker over the
joint-stock company really so great? It is not necessary to theorise for
and against, since practice has long ago pronounced its verdict. And what
is this? Simply that the joint-stock undertaking has gradually surpassed,
nay, in the most important and the most extensive branches of business
totally superseded, the much-lauded private undertaking. It can be
confidently assorted that in every kind of undertaking which is large
enough to support the--certainly somewhat costly--apparatus of a
joint-stock company, the joint-stock company is undisputed master of the
field, so that there remains to the private undertaking, as its domain,
nothing more than the dwarf concerns with which our free society does not
meddle. It cannot be said that this is due to the larger money power of the
combined capital, for even relatively small undertakings, whose total
capital is many times less than that of a great many private millionaires,
prefer, I may say choose exclusively, the joint-stock form. It is quite as
great a mistake to ascribe this fact to the reluctance of private
capitalists to run the risk involved in certain undertakings, and to their
consequent preference for joint-stock undertakings; for, in the first
place, it is generally the least risky branches of business in which the
joint-stock form most exclusively prevails; and in the second place, we see
only too often that individual capitalists place enormous sums in single
companies, and even found undertakings in a joint-stock form with their own
capital. But a decisive proof of the superiority of the joint-stock company
is the universal fact that the great capitalists are everywhere entrusting
the control of their property to joint-stock companies. If the
account-books of the wealthy in every civilised exploiting country were to
be examined, it would unquestionably be found that at least nine-tenths of
the capitalists had employed the greatest part of their capital which was
not invested in land in the purchase of shares. This, however, simply shows
that the rich prefer not to manage their wealth themselves, but to allow it
to be managed by joint stock companies.

The orthodox theory, spun out of the flimsiest fictions, is not able to do
anything with this fact; it therefore ignores it, or seeks to explain it by
a number of fresh fictions, such as the fable of divided risk, or some
other similar subterfuge. The truth is that the self-interest of the
employer has very little to do with the real direction of the businesses
belonging to him--so far as concerns great undertakings--for not the
employer, but specially appointed wage-earners, are, as a rule, the actual
directors; the alleged advantage of the private undertaking, therefore,
does not exist at all. On the other hand, the undertaking of the private
capitalist is at a very heavy disadvantage in competition with that of the
joint-stock company, inasmuch as the latter almost always attracts by far
the greater amount of intelligence. The capitalist, even the largest, is on
the average no cleverer than other men--that is, generally speaking, he is
_not_ particularly clever. It may, perhaps, be objected that he would
scarcely have attained to great wealth had he not possessed superior
abilities; but apart from the fact that it has yet to be established
whether in the modern exploiting society it is really special mental gifts,
and not rather other things, that lead to the accumulation of great wealth,
most large fortunes are no longer in the hands of the original acquirers,
but in those of their heirs. Consequently, in private undertakings, if not
the actual direction, yet certainly the highest authority, and particularly
the final decision as to the choice of the actual directors, lies in the
hands of men who, shall we say, half of them, possess less than the
average, nine-tenths of the rest about the average, and only one-twentieth
of them more than the average of human intelligence. Naturally
nineteen-twentieths of the undertakings thought out and established by such
men will be either indifferent or bad. It will be further objected that it
is in the main the same men to whom a similar _rôle_ falls in the creation
and officering of joint-stock companies. Very true. But here it is usual
for the few able men among the wealthy to take the _rôle_ of leaders; the
stupid or the moderately gifted are changed from autocratic despots into a
herd of common docile cattle, who, led by the instinct of self-interest,
blindly follow the abler men. And even when it is otherwise, when the
incapable rich man stubbornly insists upon thrusting forward his empty
pate, he finds himself compelled to give reasons for what he does, to
engage in the game of question and answer with his fellow shareholders, and
ordinarily he is thus preserved from the gross follies which he would be
sure to commit if the whole responsibility rested upon himself. In a word,
capitalists acting together as joint-stock companies as a rule exhibit more
ability than capitalists acting independently. But even if it were not so,
the selections which they make--as shareholders--in appointing the chief
managers of their business are infinitely better than those made by private
capitalists, because a whole category of intelligences, and that of the
highest and best kind, stands at the disposal of the joint-stock company,
but not of the private undertaker. Many persons who offer themselves as
directors, members of council of administration, presidents, of joint-stock
companies, would never condescend to enter into the service of an
individual. The general effect of all this is, that joint-stock companies
in the greater number of cases possess far abler, more intelligent managers
than private undertakings--a circumstance which no one will overlook who is
but even moderately well acquainted with the facts of the case.

The alleged superiority of the private undertaking, supposed to be due to
the personal care and oversight of the owner, is therefore nothing more
than one of the many fables in which the exploiting world believes in spite
of the most obvious lack of truth. But even the trifling advantages which
the private undertaking really has over the joint-stock company cannot be
claimed as against freely associated labour. Colleague Tonof has already
pointed out that ignorance and indifference, those most dangerous
characteristics of most shareholders, are not to be feared in those who
take part in labour associations. Here it can never happen that an
unscrupulous minority will obtain control of the management and exploit the
undertaking for the benefit of some private interest; here it is natural
that the whole body of members, who are interested in the successful
conduct of the business, should incessantly and attentively watch the
behaviour of the officials they have elected; and in view of the perfect
transparency of all the business transactions in the free community, secret
practices and crooked ways--those inevitable expedients of dishonour--are
not to be thought of. In a word, the form of labour organisation
corresponding to the higher stage of civilisation proves itself to be
infinitely superior in every respect to the form of organisation prevalent
in the past--a fact which, strictly speaking, is a matter of course.

It does not follow that this form of organisation is the most suitable for
every kind of labour; there are branches of production--I mention merely
the artistic or the scientific--in which the individual must stand by
himself; but we do not apply the principle of association to these
branches. For no one would forcibly impose this principle, and the
individual freedom that is nowhere interfered with is able of itself to
take care that what is done is everywhere done in the way that has been
found to be most consistent with nature, and best.

MIGUEL DIEGO (_Right_): We know now that the new system unites in itself
all the natural requisites of success; it has been shown before that its
introduction was demanded by the progress of civilisation. How comes it
that, in spite of all, the new system enters the world, not as the product
of the co-operation of elementary automatically occurring historical
events, but rather as a kind of art-product, as an artificially produced
outcome of the efforts of certain individuals? What if the International
Free Society had not been formed, or if its appeal had been without
response, its work crushed in the germ, or in some other way made to
miscarry? It will be admitted that these are conceivable contingencies.
What would have become of economic justice if any one of these
possibilities had occurred? If social reform is in truth an inevitable
necessity, it must ultimately be realised in spite of the opposition of the
whole world; it must show itself to be indissolubly bound up with forces
which will give it the victory over prejudice, ill-will, and adverse
accident. Thus alone would proof be given that the work in which we are
engaged is something more than the ephemeral fruit of fallible human
ingenuity--that rather those men who gave it the initial impulse and
watched over its development were acting simply as the instruments of the
universal force which, if _they_ had not done the work, would have found
other instruments and other ways to attain the inevitable end.

HENRI NEY (_Freeland_): If the existence of economic justice as an
established fact depended upon the action of the founders of Freeland,
little could have been said, not merely as to its necessary character, but
also as to the certainty of its continuance. For what individual men
attempt, other men can frustrate. It is true that, as far as outward
appearances go, all historical events are human work: but the great
necessary events of history are distinguished from merely accidental
occurrences by the fact that in them all the actors are clearly seen to be
simply the instruments of destiny, instruments which the genius of mankind
calls into being when it is in need of them. We do not know who invented
language, the first tool, writing; but whoever it was, we know that he was
a mere instrument of progress, in the sense that, with the same certainty
with which we express any other natural law, we can venture to assert that
language, the tool, writing, would have been invented even if their
respective accidental inventors had never seen the light. The same holds
good of economic freedom: it would have been realised, even if none of us
who actually realised it for the first time had existed. Only in such a
case the form of its entrance into the world of historical fact would
probably have been a different, perhaps a more pacific, a more joyous one
still than that of which we are the witnesses; but perhaps it might have
been a violent and horrible one.

In order to show this in a manner that excludes all doubt, it must first be
demonstrated that the continuance of modern society as it has been evolved
in the course of the last century is in the very nature of things an
impossibility. For this purpose you must allow me to carry you back some

In the original society of barbarism, when the productiveness of labour was
so small that the weaker could not be exploited by the stronger, and one's
own prosperity depended upon the suppression and annihilation of
competitors, a thirst for blood, cruelty, cunning, were not merely
necessary to the self-preservation of the individual, but they were
obviously serviceable to the society to which the individual belonged. They
were, therefore, not only universally prevalent, but were reckoned as
virtues. The most successful and most merciless slayer of men was the most
honourable member of his tribe, and was lauded in speech and song as an
example worthy of imitation.

When the productiveness of labour increased, these 'virtues' lost much of
their original importance; but they were not converted into vices until
slavery was invented, and it became possible to utilise the labour instead
of the flesh of the conquered. Then bloodthirsty cruelty, which hitherto
had been profitable, became injurious, since, for the sake of a transient
enjoyment--that of eating human flesh--it deprived the victorious
individual, as well as the society to which he belonged, of the permanent
advantage of augmented prosperity and increased power. Consequently, the
bestial thirst for blood gradually disappeared in the new form of the
struggle for existence, and from a cherished virtue it passed into a
characteristic which met with increasing disapproval--that is, it became a
vice. It necessarily became a vice, for only those tribes which were the
subjects of this process of moral transformation could enjoy all the
advantages of the new forms of labour and of the new social institution,
slavery, and could therefore increase in civilisation and power, and make
use of their augmented power to extirpate or to bring into subjection the
tribes that persisted in their old cannibal customs. In this way, in the
course of thousands of years, there grew up among men a new ethics which,
in its essential features, has been preserved until our days--the ethics of

But to call this ethics 'philanthropy' is the strangest of mistakes. It is
true that the savage bloodthirsty hatred between man and man had given
place to milder sentiments; but it is a long way from those sentiments to
genuine philanthropy, by which we understand the recognition of our
fellow-man as our equal, and not merely that chilly benevolence which we
entertain towards even dumb animals. Real philanthropy is as inconsistent
with exploitation as with cannibalism. For though the new form of the
struggle for existence abhors the death of the vanquished, it substitutes
for it the oppression and subjugation of man by man as an imperative
requirement of social prosperity. And it should be clearly understood that
real and unselfish philanthropy is not merely not demanded by the kind of
struggle for existence which is carried on by the exploiting society, but
is known to be distinctly injurious, and is quite impracticable as a
universally operative race-instinct. Individuals may love their fellow-men
as themselves; but as long as exploitation is in force, such men must
remain rare, and by no means generally esteemed, exceptions. Only hypocrisy
or gross self-deception will question this. Certainly the so-called
civilised nations of the West have for more than a thousand years written
upon their banners the words 'Love thy neighbour as thyself,' and have not
shrunk from asserting that they lived up to those words, or that at least
they endeavoured to do so. But in truth they loved their fellow-man, in the
best of cases, as a useful domestic animal, have without the slightest
scruple profited by his painful toil, by his torture, and have not been
prevented by any sentiment of horror from slaughtering him in cold blood
when such a course was or seemed to be profitable to them. And such were
not the sentiments and feelings of a few particularly hard-hearted
individuals, but of the whole body of society; they were not condemned but
imperatively demanded by public opinion, lauded as virtues under all sorts
of high-sounding names, and, so far as deeds and not empty phrases were in
question, their antithesis, the genuine philanthropy, passed at best as
pitiable folly, or more generally as a crime worthy of death. He who
uttered the words quoted above, and to Whom prayers were offered in the
churches, would have been repeatedly crucified, burnt, broken on the wheel,
hanged by them all, in the most recent past perhaps imprisoned, had He
again ventured, as He did nineteen centuries ago, to preach in the
market-place, in burning living words that could not be misunderstood, that
which men's purblind eyes and their minds clouded by a thousand years of
ancient self-deception read, but did not understand, in the writings of His

But the decisive point is, that in the epoch of exploitation mankind could
not have thought or felt, not to say acted, otherwise. They were compelled
to practise exploitation so long as this was a necessity of civilisation;
they were therefore unable either to feel or exercise philanthropy, for
that was as little in harmony with exploitation as repugnance to homicide
was with cannibalism. Just as in the first barbaric epoch of mankind that
which the exploiting period called 'humanity' would have been detrimental
to success in the struggle for existence, so, later, that which _we_ call
humanity, the genuine philanthropy, would have placed any nation that had
practised it at a disadvantage. To eat or to be eaten--that was the
alternative in the epoch of cannibalism; to oppress or to be oppressed, in
the epoch of exploitation.

A change in the form and productiveness of labour has recently been
effected; neither social institutions nor moral sensibilities can escape
the influence of that change. But--and here I come to the last decisive
point--there are certainly several alternatives conceivable. The first is
that with which we have hitherto been exclusively occupied: the social
institutions accommodate themselves to the change in the form of labour,
and the modification of the struggle for existence thus brought about leads
to a corresponding revolution in moral sentiments; friendly competition and
perfect solidarity of interests supersede the reciprocal struggle for
advantage, and the highest philanthropy supersedes the exploitation of man.

If we would once for all remove the last doubt as to the unqualified
necessity of this phase of evolution, let us suppose that the contrary has
happened, that the adaptation of the social institutions to the modified
form of labour is not effected. At any rate the mind can imagine such a
possibility; and I hold it to be superfluous, at this point in the
demonstration, to discuss the probability or the improbability of such a
supposition--we simply assume the case. But it would be absurd likewise to
assume that this persistence of the old form of the social institutions
could occur without being necessarily accompanied by very material
reactions both upon the forms of labour and upon the moral instincts of
mankind. Those over-orthodox but not less thoughtless social politicians
who accept the above assumption, hold it to be possible for a cause of such
enormous and far-reaching importance as is an increased productiveness of
labour, that makes it possible for all men to enjoy abundance and leisure,
to remain without the slightest influence upon the course of human
evolution. They overlook the fact that the struggle for existence in human
society must in any case be changed under the influence of this factor,
whether the social institutions undergo a corresponding adaptation or not,
and that consequently the inquiry must in any case be made what reaction
this changed form of the struggle for existence can or must exercise upon
the totality of human institutions?

And in what consists the change in the struggle for existence, in such a
case as that indicated above? _Simply in a partial reversion to the form of
struggle of the first, the cannibal, epoch of mankind!_

We have seen that exploitation transformed the earlier struggle, that aimed
at annihilating the competitor, into one directed towards his subjugation.
But now, when the productiveness of labour is so great that the
consumption, kept down by exploitation, is no longer able to follow it, the
suppression, the--if not the physical, yet the industrial--annihilation of
the competitor is once more a necessary condition of everyone's prosperity,
and the struggle for existence assumes at once the forms of subjugation and
annihilation. In the domain of industry it now profits little to have
arbitrary authority over any number of human subjects of exploitation; if
the exploiter is not able to drive his co-exploiter from the market, he
must succumb in the struggle for existence. And the exploited now have not
merely to defend themselves from the harsh treatment of their masters: they
must, if they would ward off hunger, fight with tooth and claw for the only
too few places at the food-crib in the 'labour market.' Is it conceivable
that such a terrible alteration in the fundamental conditions of the
struggle for existence can remain without influence upon human ethics?
Cause and effect _must_ correspond--the ethics of the cannibal epoch _must_
triumphantly return. In consequence of the altered character of the
conflict of annihilation, the former cruel and malicious instincts will
undergo a modification, but the fundamental sentiment, the unqualified
animosity against one's fellow-man, must return. During the thousands of
years when the struggle was directed towards the making use of one's
neighbour, and especially when the exploited had become accustomed to
reverence in the exploiter a higher being, there was possible between
master and servant at least that degree of attachment which exists between
a man and his beast. Neither masters nor servants had any necessary
occasion to hate each other. Mutual consideration, magnanimity, kindness,
gratitude, could in such a condition become--certainly very
sparingly--substitutes for philanthropy. But now, when exploitation and
suppression are at one and the same time the watchwords of the struggle,
the above-mentioned virtues must more and more assume the character of
obstacles to a successful struggle for existence, and must consequently
disappear in order to make room for mercilessness, cunning, cruelty,
malice. And all these disgraceful characteristics must not merely become
universally prevalent: they must also become universally esteemed, and be
raised from the category of the most shameful kinds of baseness to that of
'virtues.' As little as it is possible to conceive of a 'humane' cannibal
or of an exploiter under the influence of real philanthropy, so little is
it possible to think of a magnanimous and--in the former sense--virtuous
exploiter permanently under the colossal burden of over-production; and as
certainly as the cannibal society was compelled to recognise the thirst for
murder as the most praiseworthy of all virtues, so certainly must the
exploiting society, cursed by over-production, learn to reverence the most
cunning deceiver as its ideal of virtue. But it will be objected that,
logically unassailable as this position may be, it is contradicted by
facts. Over-production, the disproportion between the productivity of
labour and the capacity for consumption as conditioned by the existing
social institutions, has practically existed for generations; and yet it
would be a gross exaggeration to assert that the moral sensibilities of
civilised humanity had undergone such a terrible degeneration as is
indicated above. It is certainly true that, in consequence of the
increasingly reckless industrial competitive struggle, many kinds of
valueless articles are produced in larger and larger quantities--nay, that
there is beginning to prevail a certain confusion in public opinion, which
is no longer able clearly to distinguish between honest services and
successful roguery; but it is equally true, on the other hand, that never
before was humanity in all its forms so highly esteemed and so widely
diffused as it is in the present. These undeniable facts, however, do not
show that over-production can ultimately lead to any other than the
above-indicated results--which would be logical nonsense; they only show,
on the one hand, that this dreadful morbid phenomenon in the industrial
domain of mankind has not yet been long enough in existence to have fully
matured its fruit, and that, on the other hand, the moral instinct of
mankind felt a presentiment of the right way out of the economic dilemma
long before that right way had become practicable. It is only a few
generations since the disproportion between productivity and consumption
became unmistakably evident: and what are a few generations in the life of
mankind? The ethics of exploitation needed many centuries in order to
subvert that of cannibalism: why should the relapse into the ethics of
cannibalism proceed so much more rapidly? But the instinctive presentiment
that growing civilisation will be connected, not with social stagnation and
moral retrogression, but with both social and moral progress--this yearning
for liberty, equality, and fraternity ineradicably implanted in the Western
mind, despite all the follies and the horrors to which it for a time gave
rise--it was just this 'drop of foreign blood in the European family of
nations,' this Semitic-Christian leaven, which, when the time of servitude
was past, preserved that Western mind from falling even temporarily into a
servile and barbarous decay. Things will _not_ follow the last indicated
course of evolution--exploitation will _not_ persist alongside of increased
productivity; and that is the reason why the indicated moral consequences
will not ensue. If, however, it be assumed that material progress and
exploitation combined are the future lot of mankind, this cannot logically
be conceived otherwise than as accompanied by a complete moral relapse. Yet
a third form of evolution may be assumed as conceivable: in the antagonism
between the productivity of labour and the current social rights, the
former--the new form of labour--might succumb; in the face of the
impossibility of making full use of the acquired industrial capacity,
mankind might lose this capacity again. In such a case, the concord between
productivity and consumption, labour and right, would have recovered the
old basis, and as a consequence the ethics of mankind might also remain in
the same track. Progress towards genuine philanthropy would necessarily be
suspended, for the struggle for existence would, as before, be based upon
the subjugation of one's fellow-men, but the necessity for the struggle of
annihilation would be avoided. The presentiment of the possibility of such
a development was not foreign to the Western mind; there have not been
wanting, particularly during the last generations, attempts, partly
conscious and partly unconscious, to load men's minds in this direction.
Alarmed and driven nearly to distraction by the strangling embrace of
over-production, whole nations have at times attacked the fundamental
sources of production, sought to choke the springs of the fruitfulness of
labour, and persecuted with violent hatred the progress of civilisation,
whose fruits were for the time so bitter. These attacks upon popular
culture, upon the different kinds of division of labour, upon machinery,
cannot be understood except in connection with the occasional attempts to
end the discord between production and distribution by diminishing the
former. It is impossible not to see that in this way morality also would be
preserved from a degeneracy the real cause of which this sort of reformers
certainly did not understand, but which hovered before their mind's eye as
an indistinct presentiment. And now, having noticed _seriatim_ the three
conceivable forms of evolution--namely, (1) the adaptation of social rights
to the new and higher forms of labour and the corresponding evolution of a
new and higher morality; (2) the permanent antagonism between the form of
labour and social rights, and the corresponding degeneracy of morality; (3)
the adaptation of the form of labour to the hitherto existing social rights
by the sacrifice of the higher productivity, and the corresponding
permanence of the hitherto existing morality--we now ask ourselves whether
in the struggle between these three tendencies any but the first can come
off as conqueror. They all three are conceivable; but is it conceivable
that material or moral decay can assert itself by the side of both moral
and material progress, or will ultimately triumph over these? It is
possible, we will say even probable, that but for our successful
undertaking begun twenty-five years ago, mankind would for the most part
still longer have continued to traverse the path of moral degeneracy on the
one hand, and of antagonism to progress on the other; yet there would never
therefore have been altogether wanting attempts in the direction of social
deliverance, and the ultimate triumph of such attempts could be only a
question of time. No; mankind owes us nothing which it would not have
obtained without us: if we claim to have rendered any service, it is merely
that of having brought about more speedily, and perhaps with less
bloodshed, that which must have come. [Vehement and long-continued applause
and enthusiastic cheers from all sides. The leaders of the opposition one
after another shook the hands of the speaker and assured him of their

(_End of Third Day's Debate_)



The PRESIDENT (Dr. Strahl): We have reached the third point in the agenda:
_Are not want and misery necessary conditions of existence; and would not
over-population inevitably ensue were misery for a time to disappear from
the earth?_ I call upon Mr. Robert Murchison.

ROBERT MURCHISON (_Right_): I must first of all, in the name of myself and
of those of my colleagues who entertained doubts of the practicability of
the work of social reform, formally declare that we are now thoroughly
convinced, not only of the practicability, but also of the inevitable
accomplishment of that reform. Moreover, what has already been advanced has
matured our hope that the other side will succeed in removing as completely
the doubts that still cling to our minds. In the meantime I hold it to be
my duty, in the interest of all, to seek explanations by strongly stating
the grounds of such doubts as I am not yet able to free myself from. By far
the most important of these doubts, one which has not yet been touched
upon, is the subject now before us for discussion. It refers not to the
practicability, but to the durability of the work of universal freedom and
prosperity. Economic justice must and will become an accomplished fact:
that we know. But have we a right to infer that it will permanently assert
itself? Economic justice will be followed by wealth for all living. Want
and misery, with their retinue of destructive vices, will disappear from
the surface of the earth. But together with these will disappear those
restraints which have hitherto kept in check the numerical growth of the
human race. The population will increase more and more, until at
last--though that day may be far off--the earth will not be able to support
its inhabitants. I will not trouble you with a detailed repetition and
justification of the well-known principle of my renowned countryman,
Malthus. Much has been urged against that principle, but hitherto nothing
of a convincing character. That the increase in a geometric ratio of the
number of living individuals has no other natural check than that of a
deficiency of food is a natural law to which not merely man but every
living being is inexorably subject. Just as herrings, if they could freely
multiply, would ultimately fill the whole of the ocean, so would man, if
the increase of his numbers were not checked by the lack of food,
inevitably leave no space unoccupied upon the surface of the globe. This
cruel truth is confirmed by the experience of all ages and of all nations;
everywhere we see that it is lack of food, want with its consequences, that
keeps the number of the living within certain limits; and it will remain so
in all future times. Economic justice can very largely extend the area
included in these sad limits, but can never altogether abolish the limits.
Under its _régime_ the food-supply can be increased tenfold, a hundredfold,
but it cannot be increased indefinitely. And when the inevitable limit is
reached, what then? Wealth will then gradually give place to privation and
ultimately to extreme want; a want that is the more dreadful and hopeless
because there will be no escape from its all-embracing curse--not even that
partial escape which exploitation had formerly offered to a few. Will,
then, mankind, after having passed from cannibalism to exploitation and
from that to economic justice, revert to exploitation, perhaps even to
cannibalism? Who can say? It seems evident that economic justice is not a
phase of evolution which our race could enjoy for any great length of time.
It is true that Malthus and others after him have proposed to substitute
for the repressive law of misery certain preventives of over-population.
But these preventives are all based upon artificial and systematic
suppression of the increase of population. If they could be effectively
employed at all, such an employment of them is conceivable only in a poor
population groaning under the worst consequences of misery; I cannot
imagine that men enjoying abundance and leisure, and in possession of the
most perfect freedom, will subject themselves to sexual privations. In my
opinion, this kind of prevention could not under the most favourable
circumstances, come into play in a free society until the pressure of
over-population had become very great, and the former prosperity, and with
that perhaps the sense of individual liberty also, had been materially
diminished. This is not a pleasant prospect, quite apart from the moral
repulsiveness of all such violent interference with the relations of the
sexes--relations which would be specially delicate under the _régime_ of
economic justice. The perspective shows us in the background a picture
which contrasts sadly with the luxuriant promise of the beginning. Do the
men of Freeland think that they are able to defend their creation from
these dangers?

FRANZISKO ESPERO (_Left_): Man differs from other living beings in having
to prepare food for himself, and, in fact, in being able, with increasing
civilisation, to prepare it the more easily the denser the population
becomes. Carey, an eminent American economist, has pointed this out, and
has thereby shown that the otherwise indisputably operative natural law,
according to which a species has an inevitable tendency to outgrow its
means of sustenance, does not apply to man. The fact that want and misery
have, notwithstanding, hitherto always operated as checks upon the growth
of the population is not the result of a natural law but of exploitation.
The earth would have produced enough for all if everyone had but been able
to make free use of his powers. But, as we have seen, exploitation is an
institution of men, not of nature. Get rid of that, and you have driven
away the spectre of hunger for ever.

STEFAN VALÓ (_Freeland_): I think it will be well at once to state what is
the Freeland attitude towards the subject now under discussion. The
honourable member from Brazil (Espero) is correct in connecting the actual
misery of mankind--in the epoch of exploitation--with human institutions
instead of with the operation of natural forces. The masses suffered want
because they were kept in servitude, not because the earth was incapable of
yielding more copious supplies. I will add that this actual misery never
prevented the masses from multiplying up to the point at which the further
increase of population was checked by other factors--nay, that as a rule
misery acted as a stimulus to the increase of the population. Our friend
from Brazil is in error, however, when, relying upon the empty rhetoric of
Carey, he denies that the growth of the population, if it could go on
indefinitely, would necessarily at last lead to a lack of food. The first
of the speakers of to-day has rightly remarked that in such a case the time
must come when there would no longer be space enough on the earth for the
men who were born. But can we conceive the condition possible in which our
race should cover the surface of the earth like a plague of locusts? Nay, a
really unlimited and continuous increase in the number of human beings
would not merely ultimately cover the whole surface of the earth, but would
exhaust the material necessary for the crowded masses of human bodies. The
growth of the population _must_, therefore, have some limit, and so far are
Malthus and his followers correct. Whether this limit is to be found
exactly in the supply of food is another question--a question which cannot
be satisfactorily answered in the affirmative until it has been positively
shown, or at any rate rendered plausible, that other factors do not come
into play long before a lack of food is felt--factors whose operation is
such that the limit of necessary food-supply is never, except in very rare
cases, even approximately reached, to say nothing of its being crossed.

ARTHUR FRENCH (_Right_): What I have just heard fills me with astonishment.
The member of the Freeland government admits--what certainly cannot
reasonably be denied--that unlimited growth of population is an
impossibility; and yet he denies that a lack of food is the sought-for
check of over-population. It may be at once admitted that Malthus was in
error in supposing that this natural check had already been operative in
human society. Men have suffered hunger because they were prevented from
supplying themselves with food, not because the earth was incapable of
copiously--or, at least, more copiously--nourishing them all. Exploitation
has therefore proved to be a check upon over-population operating before
the limit of necessary food has been reached; it has been a kind of
hunger-cure which man has applied to himself before nature had condemned
him to suffer hunger. I am less able to understand what the speaker means
when he says the misery artificially produced by exploitation has sometimes
proved to be, not a check, but rather a stimulus to the growth of
population. But I should particularly like to hear more about those other
factors which are alleged to have acted as effective checks, and which the
speaker evidently anticipates will in future regulate the growth of the
population. These factors are to produce the wonderful effect of preventing
the population from ever getting even approximately near to the limit of
the necessary food-supply. They cannot be artificial and arbitrarily
applied means, otherwise a member of the Freeland government, of this
commonwealth based upon absolute freedom, would not speak of them so
confidently. But apart from all this, how can there be any doubt of the
operation of such an elementary factor of restriction as the lack of food
in human society, whilst it is to be seen so conspicuously throughout the
whole of organic nature? Is man alone among living beings exempt from the
operation of this law of nature; or do the Freelanders perhaps know of some
means that would compel, say, the herrings so to control their number as
not to approach the limit of their food-supplies, or, rather, induce them
to preserve such a reasonable rate of increase as would be most conducive
to the prosperous continuance of their species?

This cutting apostrophe produced a great sensation. The tension of
expectancy was still further increased when several members of the Freeland
government--including Stefan Való, who had already spoken--urgently begged
the President to take part in the debate. The whole assembly seemed
conscious that the discussion--not merely the special one of the day, but
the general discussion of the congress--had reached its decisive point. If
the advocates of economic justice were able successfully to meet the
objections now urged by their opponents, and to show that those objections
were groundless, then the great argumentative battle was won. What would
follow would not concern the question _whether_, but merely the question
_how_, the new social order could be well and lastingly established. But if
the Freeland evidence failed upon this point--if the structure of
Opposition argumentation could not in this case be blown down like a house
of cards--then all the previous successes of the advocates of economic
justice would count for nothing. To remove the misery of the present merely
to prepare the way for a more hopeless misery in the future, was not that
which had aroused men's enthusiasm. If there remained only a shadow of such
a danger, the death-knell of economic justice had been sounded.

Amid breathless silence, Dr. STRAHL rose to speak, after he had given up
the chair to his colleague Ney, of the Freeland government.

Our friend of the Right (he began) ended his appeal to us with the question
whether we in Freeland knew of any means which would compel the herrings to
confine the increase in their numbers within such bounds as would best
conduce to the prosperous continuance of their species. My answer is brief
and to the point: Yes, we know of such a means. [Sensation.] You are
astonished? You need not be, dear friends, for you know of it as well as we
do; and what leads you to think you do not know of it is merely that
peculiar mental shortsightedness which prevents men from perceiving the
application of well-known facts to any subject upon which the prejudices
they have drunk in with their mother's milk prevent them making a right use
of their senses and their judgment. So I assert that you all know of the
means in question as well as we do. But I do not say, as you seem to
assume, that either you or we were in a position to teach this prudence to
the herrings--a task, in fact, which would be scarcely practicable. I
assert, rather, that our common knowledge of the means in question is
derived not from our gift of invention, but from our gift of
observation--in other words, that the herrings have always acted in the way
in which, according to the opinion of the propounder of the question, they
need to be taught how to act by our wisdom; and that, therefore, in order
to attain to a knowledge of the mode of action in question, we need merely
first, open our eyes and see _what_ goes on in nature, and secondly, make
some use of our understanding in order that we may find out the _how_ of
this natural procedure.

Let us, then, first open our eyes--that is, let us remove the bandages with
which inherited economic prejudices have blinded us. To make this the
easier, my friends, I ask you to fix your mind upon any living thing--the
herring, for example--without thinking of any possible reference which it
may have to the question of population in human society. Do not seek among
the herrings for any explanation of human misery, but regard them simply as
one of the many kinds of boarders at the table of nature. It will then be
impossible for you not to perceive that, though this species of animal is
represented by very many individuals, yet those individuals are not too
numerous to find places at nature's table. Nay, I assert that--always
supposing you keep merely the herring in mind, and are not at the same time
looking at human misery in the background--you would think it absurd to
suppose for a moment that the herrings, if they were more numerous than
they are, would not find food enough in the ocean--that there were just as
many of them as could be fully fed at the table of nature. Or let us take
another species of animal, the relations between which and its food-supply
we are not obliged to arrive at by reflection, but, if necessary, could
easily discover by actual observation--namely, the elephant. Malthus
calculated how long it would take for a pair of elephants to fill the world
with their descendants, and concluded that it would be lack of food which
would ultimately check their indefinite increase. Does not the most
superficial glance show you that nowhere on the earth are there nearly so
many elephants as would find nourishment in abundance? Would you not think
anyone a dotard who would try to convince you of the contrary? Thus you all
know--and I wish first of all to make sure of this--that every kind of
animal, whether rare or common, more or less fruitful, regularly keeps
within such limits as to its numerical increase as are far, infinitely far,
removed from a deficiency in the supply of food. I go further: you not
merely know that this is so--you know also that it must be so, and why it
must be so. Careful observation of natural events teaches you that a
species which regularly increased to the very limit of the food-supply, and
was, therefore, regularly exposed to hunger and privations, must
necessarily degenerate--nay, you cannot fail to see that to many kinds of
animals such an increase to the limit of the food-supply would mean sudden
destruction. For the animals sow not, neither do they reap; they do not
store up provisions for the satisfaction of future needs: and if at any
time they were obliged to consume all the food that nature had produced for
them, they would thereby, as a rule, destroy the source of their future
food-supply, and would not merely suffer hunger, but would all starve. You
know, therefore, that that inexhaustible abundance which, in contrast to
the misery of human society, everywhere prevails in nature, and which,
because of this contrast, the thinkers and poets of all ages have spoken
and sung about, is not due to accident, but to necessity; and it only
remains now to discover that natural process, that causal connection, by
virtue of which this state of things necessarily exists. Upon this point
men were treated to nothing but vague phrases when Malthus lived. The veil
which hid the history of the evolution of the organic world had not then
been lifted; men were therefore obliged to content themselves with
explaining all that took place in the kingdoms of animals and plants as the
work of Providence or of the so-called vital force--which naturally even
then prevented no one from seeing and understanding the fact as well as the
necessity of this formerly inexplicable natural phenomenon. But you, living
in the century of Darwin, cannot for a moment entertain any doubt upon this
last point. You know that it is through the struggle for existence that the
living beings have developed into what they are--that properties which
prove to be useful and essential to the well-being of a species are called
forth, perfected, and fixed by this struggle; and, on the other hand,
properties which prove to be detrimental to the well-being of a species are
suppressed and removed. Now, since the property of never increasing to the
limit of the food-supply is not only advantageous but absolutely necessary
to the well-being--nay, to the existence--of every species, it must have
been called forth, perfected, and fixed as a permanent specific character
by the struggle for existence. You knew all this, my friends, before I said
it; but this knowledge was so consciously present to your mind as to be of
use in the process of thinking only when purely botanical or zoological
questions were under consideration: as soon as in your organ of thought the
strings of social or economic problems were struck, there fell a thick,
opaque veil over this knowledge which was so clear before. The world no
longer appeared to you as it is, but as it looks through the said veil of
acquired prejudices and false notions; and your judgment no longer obeyed
those universal laws which, under the name of 'logic,' in other cases
compelled your respect, but indulged in singular capers which--if the said
veil had not fallen over your senses--could not have failed to make you
laugh. Indeed, so accustomed have you become to mistake the pictures which
this veil shows to you for the actual world that you are not able to free
yourselves from them even after you have roused yourselves to tear the veil
in pieces. The false notions and erroneous conclusions of the Malthusian
theory arose from the fact that its author was not able to discover the
true source of the misery of mankind. He asked himself why did the Irish
peasant and the Egyptian fellah suffer hunger? He was prevented by the
above-mentioned veil from seeing that they suffered hunger because the
produce of their labour was taken away from them--because, in fact, they
were not permitted to labour. But he perceived that the masses everywhere
and always suffered hunger--in some places and at some times less severely
than in other places and at other times: yet, in spite of all their painful
toil and industry, they perpetually suffered hunger, and had done so from
time immemorial. Hence he at last came to the conclusion that this
universal hungering was a consequence of a natural law. He further
concluded that the fellah and the Irish peasant and the peoples of all
parts of the world and of all times had suffered and still suffer hunger
because there are too many of them; and there are too many of them because
it is only hunger that prevents them from becoming still more numerous.
That the world, perplexed by the enigma of misery, should believe _this_
becomes intelligible when one reflects that misery must have a cause, and
erroneous explanations must obtain credence when right ones are wanting.
But it is remarkable, my friends, that you, who have recognised in
exploitation and servitude the causes of misery, should still believe in
that strange natural law which Malthus invented for the purpose of
constructing out of it the above-mentioned makeshift. This means that,
though you have torn the veil in pieces, your mind and your senses are
still enveloped in its tatters. You have released yourselves sufficiently
to see why the fellah and the Irish peasant suffer hunger to-day, but you
tremble in fear that our posterity will have to endure the horrors of
over-population. You still see the herring threatened with starvation, and
the elephant wandering with an empty stomach over the bare-eaten
forest-lands of Hindostan and Africa; and you pass in thought from the
herring and the elephant to our poor over-populated posterity.

Tremendous applause burst forth from all parts of the hall when Dr. Strahl
had finished. As he passed from the speaker's tribune to the President's
chair, he was cordially shaken by the hand, not only by his friends who
crowded around him, but also by the leaders of the Opposition, who gladly
and unreservedly acknowledged themselves convinced. The excitement was so
great that it was some time before the debate could be resumed. At last the
President obtained a hearing for one of the previous speakers.

ROBERT MURCHISON (_Right_): I rise for the second time, on behalf of those
who sit near me, first to declare that we are fully and definitively
convinced. You will readily believe that we do not regret our defeat, but
are honestly and heartily glad of it. Who would not be glad to discover
that a dreadful figure which filled him with terror and alarm was nothing
but a scarecrow? And even a sense of shame has been spared us by the
magnanimity of the leader of the opposite party, who laid emphasis upon the
fact that not merely we, but even his adherents outside of Freeland, still
cherished in their hearts the same foolish anxiety, begotten of acquired
and hereditary prejudices and false notions. The phantoms fled before his
clear words, our laughter follows them as they flee, and we now breathe
freely. But, if we might still rely upon the magnanimity of the happy
dwellers in Freeland, the after-effects of the anxiety we have endured
still linger in us. We are like children who have been happily talked out
of our foolish dread of the 'black man,' but who nevertheless do not like
to be left alone in the dark. We would beg you to let your light shine into
a few dark corners out of which we cannot clearly see our way. Do not
despise us if we still secretly believe a little in the black man. We will
not forget that he is merely a bugbear; but it will pacify us to hear from
your own mouths what the true and natural facts of the case are. In the
first place, what are, in your opinion, the means employed by nature, in
the struggle for the existence of species, to keep the growth of numbers
from reaching the limit of the food-supply? Understand, we ask this time
merely for an expression of opinion--of course, you cannot, any more than
anyone else, _know_ certainly how this has been done and is being done in
individual cases; and if your answer should happen to be simply, 'We have
formed no definite opinion upon the subject,' we should not on that account
entertain any doubt whatever as to the self-evident truth that every living
being possesses the characteristic in question, and that the origin of that
characteristic must be sought somewhere in the struggle for existence. In
order to be convinced that the stag has acquired his fleetness, the lion
his strength, the fox his cunning, in the struggle for existence, it is not
necessary for us to know exactly how this has come about; yet it is well to
hear the opinions as to such subjects of men who have evidently thought
much about them. Therefore we ask for your opinions on the question of the
power of adaptation in fecundity.

LOTHAR WALLACE (_Freeland_): We think that the characteristic in question,
as it is common to all organisms, must have been acquired in a very early
stage of evolution of the organic world; from which it follows that we are
scarcely able to form definite conceptions of the details of the struggle
for existence of those times--as, for example, of the process of evolution
to which the stag owes his swiftness. We can only say in general that
between fecundity and the death-rate an equilibrium must have been
established through the agency of the mode of living. A species threatened
with extinction would increase its fecundity or (by changing its habits)
diminish its death-rate; whilst, on the other hand, a species threatened
with a too rapid increase would diminish its fecundity or (again by
changing its habits) increase its death-rate. Naturally the death-rate in
question is not supposed to depend upon merely sickness and old age, but to
be due in part to external dangers. The great fecundity, for example, of
the heiring would, according to this view, be both cause and effect of its
habits of life, which exposed it in its migrations to enormous destruction.
Whether the herring and other migratory fishes adopted their present habits
because of their exceptional fecundity--the origin of which would then have
to be sought in some other natural cause--or whether those habits were
originally due to some other cause, and provoked their exceptional
fecundity, we cannot tell. But that a relation of action and reaction
exists and must necessarily exist here is evident, since a species whose
death-rate is increased by an increase of danger must die out if this
increase of death-rate is not accompanied by an increased fecundity; and,
in the same way, increased fecundity, when not followed by an increased
death-rate, must in a short time lead to deterioration. At any rate, it can
be shown that, whether deterioration or extermination has been the agent,
species have died out; and it can be inferred thence that some species do
not possess this power of effecting an equilibrium between fecundity and
death-rate. But this conclusion would be too hasty a one. All natural
processes of adaptation take place very gradually; and if a violent change
in external relations suddenly produces a very considerable increase in the
death-rate, it may be that the species cannot adapt its fecundity to the
new circumstances rapidly enough to save itself from destruction. To infer
thence that the species in question did not possess this power of
adaptation at all would be as great a mistake as it would be to argue that,
for example, because the stag, or the lion, or the fox, notwithstanding
their fleetness, strength, or cunning, are not protected from extermination
in the face of overpowering dangers, therefore these beasts do not possess
swiftness, strength, or cunning, or that these properties of theirs are not
the outcome of an adaptation to dangers called forth in the struggle for

Since there can be no doubt that the power of adaptation, of which we have
just spoken, was absolutely necessary to the perpetuation of any species in
the struggle for existence in the very beginning of organic life upon our
planet, it must have been acquired in immemorial antiquity, and must
consequently be a part of the ancient heritage of all existing organisms.
There certainly was a time, in the very beginning of life, when this power
of adaptation was not yet acquired; but nature has an infallible means of
making not only useful but necessary characters the common property of
posterity, and this means is the extirpation of species incapable of such a
power of adaptation. The selection in the struggle for existence is
effected by the preservation of those only who are capable of development
and of transmitting their acquired characters to posterity until those
characters become fixed, such individuals as revert to the former condition
being exterminated as they appear.

The reciprocal adaptation of fecundity to death-rate has thus belonged
unquestionably for a long time to the specific character of all existing
species without exception. Its presence is manifested not merely in the
great universal fact that all species, despite many varying
dangers--leaving out of view sudden external catastrophes and attacks of
special violence--are preserved from either extermination or deterioration,
but also in isolated phenomena which afford a more intimate glimpse into
the physiological processes upon which the adaptation in question depends.
Human knowledge does not yet extend very far in this direction, but
accident and investigation have already given us a few hints. Thus, for
example, we know that, as a rule, high feeding diminishes the fecundity of
animals; stallions, bulls, etc., must not become fat or their procreative
power is lessened, and the same has been observed in a number of female
animals. As to man, it has long been observed that the poor are more
fruitful than the rich, and, as a rule, notwithstanding the much greater
mortality of their children, bring up larger families. The word
'proletarian' is derived from this phenomenon as it was known to the
Romans; in England, Switzerland, and in several other countries the upper
classes--that is, the rich--living in ease and abundance, have relatively
fewer children--nay, to a great extent decrease in numbers. The census
statistics in civilised countries show a general inverse ratio between
national wealth and the growth of the population--a fact which, however,
will be misinterpreted unless one carefully avoids confounding the wealth
of certain classes in a nation with the average level of prosperity, which
alone has to be taken into account here. In Europe, Russia takes the lead
in the rate of growth of population, and is without question in one sense
the poorest country in Europe. France stands lowest, the country which for
more than a century has exhibited the most equable distribution of
prosperity. That the English population increases more rapidly, though the
total wealth of England is at least equal to that of France, is explained
by the unequal distribution of its wealth. Moreover, it is not merely
wealth that influences the growth of population--the ways in which the
wealth is employed appear to have something to do with it. In the United
States of America, for example, we find--apart from immigration--a large
increase with an average high degree of prosperity, offering thus an
apparent exception to our rule. Yet if we bear in mind the national
character of the Yankees, excitable and incapable of calm enjoyment, the
exception is sufficiently explained, and it is brought into harmony with
the above principle. But the study of this subject is still in its infancy,
and we cannot expect to see it clearly in its whole complex; nevertheless
the facts already known show that the connection between the habits and
life of fecundity is universally operative.

JOHN VUKETICH (_Right_): Certain phenomena connected with variations in
population appear, however, to contradict the principles that disastrous
circumstances act as stimuli to fecundity. For example, the fact that the
number of births suddenly increases after a war or an epidemic, in short
when the population has been decimated by any calamity, is to be explained
by the sudden increase in the relative food-supply on account of the
diminution of the number of the people. In this case, the greater facility
of supplying one's wants produces a result which our theory teaches us to
expect from a greater difficulty in doing so.

JAN VELDEN (_Right_): I know that this is the customary explanation of the
well-known phenomenon just mentioned, and I must admit that an hour ago I
should have accepted this explanation as plausible. Now, however, I do not
hesitate to pronounce it absurd. Or can we really allow it to be maintained
that, after a war or an epidemic, it is easier to get a living, wealth is
greater, than before these misfortunes? I think that generally the contrary
is the fact; after wars and epidemics men are more miserable than before,
and on that account, and not because it is easier to get a living, their
fecundity increases.

The conception to which our friend has just appealed is exactly like that
concerning the famishing herrings or elephants; it has been entertained
only because economic prejudice was in want of it, and it prevails only so
far as this prejudice still requires it. If we were not now discussing the
population question, but were speaking merely of war and peace, disease and
health, the previous speaker would certainly regard me with astonishment,
would indeed think me beside myself, if I were to be guilty of the
absurdity of contending that, for example, after the Thirty Years' War the
decimated remains of the German nation enjoyed greater prosperity and found
it easier to live, or that the survivors of the great plagues of antiquity
and the Middle Ages were better off than was the case before the plagues.
His sound judgment would at once reject this singular notion; and if I
showed myself to be obstinate, he could speedily refute me out of the old
chronicles which describe in such vivid colours the fearful misery of those
times. But since it is the population question which is under
consideration, and some of the shreds of that veil of which our honoured
President spoke seem to flutter before his eyes, he heedlessly mistakes the
absurdity in question for a self-evident truth which does not even ask for
closer examination. The misery that follows war and disease now
becomes--and is treated as if it must be so, as if it cannot be imagined
otherwise--a condition in which it is easier to obtain a supply of food,
since--thus will the veil of orthodoxy have it--misery is produced only by
over-population. Since men suffer want because they are too numerous, it
_must_ be better for them when they have been decimated by war and disease.
From this categorical 'must' there is no appeal, either to the sound
judgment of men, or to the best known facts; and should rebellious reason
nevertheless venture to appeal, something is found wherewith to silence her
too loud voice, as for example the reminder that the survivors would find
their wealth increased by what they inherited from the dead, that the
supply of hands--the demand is simply conveniently forgotten in this
connection--has been lessened, and so on.

EDMOND RENAULD (_Centre_): I wish to draw attention to another method of
violently bringing the fact that the growth of the population bears an
inverse ratio to the national prosperity into harmony with the Malthusian
theory of population, or at least of weakening the antagonism to this
theory. For example, in order to explain the fact that the French people,
'in spite of their greater average well-being,' increase more slowly than
many poorer nations, the calumny is spread abroad that the blame attaches
to artificial prevention, the so-called 'two-children system.' Even in
France many believe in this myth, because they--ensnared by Malthus's false
population law--are not able to explain the fact differently. Yet this
two-children system is a foolish fable, so far as the nation, and not
merely a relatively small section of the nation, is concerned. It is true
that in France there are more families with few children than there are in
other countries; but this is very easily explained by the fact that the
French, on account of their greater average prosperity, are on the whole
less fruitful than most other peoples. But that the Frenchman intentionally
limits his children to two is an absurdity that can be believed only by the
bitter adherents of a theory which, finding itself contradicted by facts,
distorts and moulds the facts in order to make them harmonise with itself.
It should not be overlooked that such a limitation would mean, where it was
exercised, not a slow increase, but a tolerably rapid extinction. Nothing,
absolutely nothing, exists to prove that French parents exercise an
arbitrary systematic restraint; the irregularity of chance is as
conspicuous here as in any other country, with only the general exception
that large families are rarer and small ones more frequent than elsewhere,
a fact which, as has been said, is due to diminished fecundity and not to
any 'system' whatever.

At the same time, I do not deny that the wealthy classes, particularly
where the bringing up of children is exceedingly costly, do to some extent
indulge in objectionable preventive practices, which, however, are said to
be not altogether unknown in other countries.

ALBERT MOLNÁR (_Centre_): The just mentioned fable of the two-children
system is also prevalent among certain races living in Hungary,
particularly among the Germans of Transylvania and among the inhabitants of
certain Magyar districts on the Theiss. The truth here also is,
that--apart, of course, from a few exceptions--the cause of the small
increase in population must be sought in a lower degree of fecundity, which
fecundity--and I would particularly emphasise this--everywhere in Hungary
bears an inverse proportion to the prosperity of the people. The slaves of
the mountainous north, who live in the deepest poverty, and the Roumanians
of Transylvania, who vegetate in a like miserable condition, are all very
prolific. Notwithstanding centuries of continuous absorption by the
neighbouring German and Magyar elements, these races still multiply faster
than the Germans and the Magyars. The Germans, living in more comfortable
circumstances, and the few Magyars of the northern palatinate, are far less
prolific, yet they multiply with tolerable rapidity. The Germans and
Magyars of the plains, in possession of considerable wealth, are almost
stationary, as are the already mentioned Saxons of Transylvania.

ROBERT MURCHISON (_Right_): In the second place, we would ask whether,
contrary to the former assumption that man in his character of natural
organism was subject to a universal law of nature imposing no check upon
increase in numbers but that of deficiency of food--we would ask whether,
on the contrary, the power acquired by man over other creatures does not
constitute him an exception to that now correctly stated law of nature
which provides that an equilibrium between fecundity and death-rate shall
automatically establish itself before a lack of food is experienced. Our
misgiving is strengthened by the fact that among other animals, as a rule,
it is not so much the change that occurs in the fecundity of the species,
as that which occurs in the relation of the species to external foes, that
restores the equilibrium when the death-rate has been altered by any cause.
Let us assume, for example, the herrings have lost a very dangerous
foe--say that man, for some reason or other, has ceased to catch them--it
is probable that their indefinite increase will not in the first instance
be checked by a change in their fecundity, but an actual large increase in
the number of the herrings will most likely lead to such an increase in the
number and activity of their other natural foes that an equilibrium will
again be brought about by that means.

Man, as lord of the creation, especially civilised man, has generally no
other foe but himself to fear. Here, then, when the death-rate happens to
be diminished by the disappearance of evils which he had brought upon
himself, the equilibrium could be restored _only_ by a diminution of
fecundity; here it would be as if nature was prevented from employing that
other expedient which, in the world of lower animals, she, as a rule,
resorts to at once, the increase of the death-rate by new dangers. I admit
that several facts mentioned by the last speaker belonging to the Freeland
government show that nature would find this, her only remaining
expedient--the spontaneous diminution of fecundity--quite sufficient. It
cannot be denied that the number of births decreases with increasing
prosperity; but is it certain that this will take place to a sufficient
extent permanently and radically to avert any danger whatever of
over-population? For, apart from very rare exceptions which tire too
insignificant to make a rule in such an important matter, the births have
everywhere a little exceeded the deaths, though the latter have hitherto
been everywhere unnaturally increased by misery, crime, and unwholesome
habits of life; and if in future it remains the rule that the births
preponderate, let us say to only a very small extent, then eventually,
though not perhaps for many thousands of years, over-population must occur,
for the lack of any external check.

In order permanently to prevent this, there must be established sooner or
later an absolute equilibrium between births and deaths. Can we really
depend upon nature spontaneously to guarantee us this? Is it absolutely
certain that nature will, as it were, say to man: 'My child, you have by
the exercise of your reason emancipated yourself from my control in many
points. You have made ineffectual and inapplicable all but one of those
means by which I protected your animal kindred from excessive increase, and
the one means you have left untouched is just that which I have been
accustomed to employ only in extreme cases. Do not look to me alone to
furnish you with effectual protection against that evil, but make use of
your reason for that purpose--_for that also is my gift_.'

The supposition that, in this matter, nature really indicates that man is
to exercise some kind of self-help gains weight when one recalls the course
of human evolution. Our Freeland friends have very appositely and
strikingly shown us how the men of the two former epochs of civilisation
treated each other, first as beasts for slaughter and then as beasts of
burden. And what was it but want that drove them to both of these courses?
Is not the conviction forced upon us that our ancestors were compelled at
first to eat each other, and, when they refrained from that, to decimate
each other, simply because they had become too strong to be saved from
over-population by the interposition of nature? In the first epoch of
civilisation man protected himself against a scarcity of food by slaying
and, driven by hunger, straightway devouring, his competitor at nature's
table. What happened in the second epoch of civilisation was essentially
the same: men were consumed slowly, by piecemeal, and a check put upon
their increase by killing them and their offspring slowly through the pains
and miseries of servitude. In short, since man has learnt to use his reason
he has ceased to be a purely natural creature, his own will has become
partly responsible for his fate; and it seems to me that in the population
question of the future he will not be left to the operation of nature
alone, but must learn how to help himself.

LOTHAR MONTFORT (_Freeland_): That man, by the exercise of his reason, has
made himself king of nature, and has no special need to fear any foe but
himself, is certainly true; and it is just as true that he can and ought to
use this reason of his in all the relations of the struggle for existence.
Moreover, I do not doubt that if it were really true, as the previous
speaker apprehended, that man has become too strong for nature to save him
from over-population in the same way in which she saved his lower
fellow-creatures, then man would be perfectly able to solve this problem by
a right use of his own reason. Should he actually be threatened by
over-population after he had left off persecuting his fellow men, recourse
could and would be had to the voluntary restriction of the number of

In the first place, it is not too much to expect that physiology would be
able to supply us with means which, while they were effectual, would not be
injurious to health or obnoxious to the aesthetic sentiment, and would
involve the exercise of no ascetic continence; though all the means
hitherto offered from different quarters, and here and there actually
employed, fail to meet at least one or more of these conditions. In the
second place, it is certain that public opinion would be in favour of
prevention as soon as prevention was really demanded in the public
interest. That the declamations of the apostles of prevention, powerful as
they have been, have not succeeded in winning over the sympathies of the
people is due to the fact that those apostles have been demanding what was
altogether superfluous. There has hitherto been, and there is now, no
over-population; the working classes would not be in the least benefited by
refraining from the begetting of children; hence, prevention would in truth
have been nothing but a kind of offering up of children to the Moloch of
exploitational prejudice. The popular instinct has not allowed itself to be
deceived, and moral views are determined by the moral instincts, not by
theories. On the other hand, if there were a real threat of
over-population, in whatever form, the restriction of the number of births
would then be a matter of general interest, and the public views upon
prevention would necessarily change. Should such a change occur, it would
be quite within the power of society to regulate the growth of population
according to the needs of the time. It may safely be assumed that no
interference on the part of the authorities will be called for; the
exercise of compulsion by the authorities is absolutely foreign to the free
society, and cannot be taken into consideration at all. The modern opinion
concerning the population question, the opinion that is gradually acquiring
the force of a moral principle--viz. that it is reprehensible to beget a
large number of children--must prove itself to be sufficiently powerful for
the purpose, it being taken for granted, of course, that means of
prevention were available which were absolutely trustworthy, and did not
sin against the aesthetic sentiment. But if this did not suffice, the
incentive to restriction would be furnished by the increased cost of
bringing up children, or by some other circumstance.

But it is really superfluous to go into these considerations, for in this
matter nature has no need whatever of the conscious assistance of man. Man
is, in this respect, no exception; what he expects from nature has been
given in the same degree to other creatures, and all that is essential has
already been furnished to him.

As to the first point, I need merely remark that, though man is the king of
animals, he is in no way different from all the others as to the point
under consideration. There are animals which, when the danger from one foe
diminishes, may be exposed to increased danger from other foes, and in the
case of such, therefore, as the previous speaker quite correctly said, the
restoration of the disturbed equilibrium does not necessarily presuppose a
diminution of fecundity. But there are other animals which, in this matter,
are exactly in the same position as man. They have no foes at all whom they
need fear, and a change of death-rate among them can therefore be
compensated for only by a corresponding change in the power of propagation.
The great beasts of prey of the desert and the sea, as well as many other
animals, belong to this category. What foe prevents lions and tigers,
sperm-whales, and sharks from multiplying until they reach the limit of
their food supply? Does man prevent them? If anyone is really in doubt as
to this, I would ask who prevented them in those unnumbered thousands of
years in which man was not able to vie with them, or did not yet exist? But
they have never--as species--suffered from lack of food; consequently
nature must have furnished to them exactly what _we_ expect from her.

In fact, as I have said, she has already furnished us with it. For it is
not correct that, in the earlier epochs of civilisation, man assisted
nature in maintaining the requisite equilibrium between the death-rate and
the fecundity of his species. It is true that men assisted in increasing
their own death-rate by slaying each other, and by torturing each other to
death; but they did not in this way restore an equilibrium that had been
disturbed by too great fecundity or too low a mortality; on the contrary,
they disturbed an equilibrium already established by nature, and compelled
nature to make good by increased fecundity the losses occasioned by the
brutal interference of man. The previous speaker is in error when he
ascribes the rise of anthropophagy in the first competitive struggles in
human society to hunger, to the limitation of the food supply, by which the
savages were driven to kill, and eventually to eat, their fellow savages.
Whether the opponent was killed or not made no material difference in the
relations between these two-legged beasts of prey and their food supply.
Nature herself took care that they never increased to the actual limit of
their food supply; if they had been ten times more numerous they would have
found the food in their woods to be neither more nor less abundant. They
opposed and murdered each other out of ill-will and hatred, impelled not by
actual want but by the claim which each one made to everything (without
knowing how to be mutually helpful in acquiring what all longed for, as is
the case under the _régime_ of economic justice). Whether there were many
or few of them is a matter of indifference. Put two tribes of ten men each
upon a given piece of land, and they will persecute each other as fiercely
as if each tribe consisted of thousands. It is true that the popular
imagination generally associates cannibalism with a lack of food or of
flesh; but this mistake is possible only because the doctrine of
exploitation fills the minds of its adherents with the hallucination of
over-population. Certainly cannibals do not possess abundance in the sense
in which civilised men do, but this is because they are savages who have
not, or have scarcely, risen out of the first stage of human development.
To suppose that they were driven into cannibalism by over-population and
the lack of food, is to exhibit a singular carelessness in reasoning. For
it is never the hungry who indulge in human flesh, but those who have
plenty, the rich; human flesh is not an article of food to the cannibal,
but a dainty morsel, and this horrible taste is always a secondary
phenomenon; the cannibal acquires a taste for a practice which originally
sprang from nothing but his hatred of his enemy.

Again, neither is the action of the exploiter induced by a diminution of
the food supply, nor would such a diminution prevent future
over-population. Men resort to mutual oppression, not because food is
scarcer, but because it is more abundant, and more easily obtainable than
before; and the misery which is thereby occasioned to the oppressed does
not diminish but increases their number. It is true that misery at the same
time decimates those unfortunates whose fecundity it continually increases;
but experience shows that the latter process exceeds the former, otherwise
the population could not increase the more rapidly the more proletarian the
condition of the people became, and become the more stationary the higher
the relative prosperity of the people rose.

That, apart from insignificant exceptions, an actually stationary condition
has never been known is easily explained from the fact that actual
prosperity, real social well-being, has never yet been attained. When once
this becomes an accomplished fact the perfect equilibrium will not be long
in establishing itself. The same applies to every part of nature in virtue
of a great law that dominates all living creatures; and there is nothing to
justify the assumption that man alone among all his fellow-creatures is
_not_ under the domination of that law.

(_End of Fourth Day's Debate_)



The fourth point in the Agenda was: _Is it possible to introduce the
institutions of economic justice everywhere without prejudice to inherited
rights and vested interests; and, if possible, what are the proper means of
doing this?_

ERNST WOLMUT (_belonging to no party_) opened the debate: I do not think it
necessary to lay stress upon the fact that the discussion of the subject
now before us cannot and ought not materially to influence our convictions.
Whether it be everywhere possible or not to protect vested interests will
hinder no one from adopting the principle of economic justice, and that at
once and with all possible energy. We are not likely to be prevented from
according a full share of justice to the immense majority of our working
fellow-men by a fear lest the exploiting classes should suffer, any more
than the promoters of the railroads were stayed in their work by the
knowledge that carriers or the innkeepers on the old highways would suffer.
It is, however, both necessary and useful to state the case clearly, and as
speedily as possible to show to those who are threatened with inevitable
loss what will be the extent of the sacrifice they will have to make. For I
take it to be a matter of course that such a sacrifice is inevitable. No
one suffered anything through the establishment of the Freeland
commonwealth; but this was because there were here no inherited rights or
vested interests to be interfered with. There were no landlords, no
capitalists, no employers to be reckoned with. It is different with us in
the Old World. What is to be done with our wealthy classes, and how shall
we settle all the questions concerning the land, the capital, and the
labour over which the wealthy now have complete control? Will it not be
humane, and therefore also prudent, to make some compensation to those who
will be deprived of their possessions? Will not the new order work better
if this small sacrifice is made, and embittered foes are thereby converted
into grateful friends?

ALONSO CAMPEADOR (_Extreme Left_): I would earnestly warn you against such
pusillanimous sentimentality, which would not win over the foes of the new
order, but would only supply them with the means of attacking it, or shall
we say allow them to retain those means. If we would exercise justice
towards them, we should give to them, as to all other men, an opportunity
of making a profitable use of their powers. They cannot or will not labour.
They are accustomed to take their ease while others labour for them. Does
this constitute a just claim to exceptional treatment? But it will be
objected that they ask for only what belongs to them, nay, only a part of
what belongs to them. Very well. But what right have they to this so-called
property? Have they cultivated the ground to which they lay claim? Is the
capital which they use the fruit of _their_ labour? Does the human
labour-force which carries on their undertakings belong to them? No; no one
has a natural right to more than the produce of his own labour; and since
in the new order of things this principle deprives no one of anything, but,
on the contrary, leads to the greatest possible degree of productiveness,
no one has any ground for complaint--that is to say, no one who is content
with what is his own and does not covet what rightly belongs to some one
else. To acknowledge the claims of those who covet what is not theirs would
be like acknowledging the claims of the robber or thief to the property he
has stolen.

It will be said that owners possess what they have _bonâ fide_; their claim
is based upon laws hitherto universally respected. Right. Therefore we do
not _punish_ these _bonâ fide_ possessors; we simply take from them what
they can no longer possess _bonâ fide_. But the owners have paid the full
value for what they must now give up: why should they lose their
purchase-money, seeing that the purchase was authorised by the law then in
force? Is the new law to have a retrospective force? These are among the
questions we hear. But no one need be staggered by these questions unless
he pleases. For the purchase-money rightly belonged to the possessor of it
as little as the thing purchased; he who buys stolen goods with stolen
money has no claim for compensation. If he acts in good faith he is not
obnoxious to punishment--but entitled to compensation?

Yet--and this is the last triumph of the faint-hearted--the purchase-money,
that is, the capital sunk in land or in any business, can be legally the
property of the possessor even in our sense of the term. The possessor may
have produced it by his own labour and saved it: is he not in that case
entitled to compensation? Yes, certainly; in this case, to refuse
compensation for such capital would be robbery; but is not the
establishment of economic justice, which gives a right to the produce of
any kind of future labour, a fully adequate compensation for that capital
which has really been produced by the possessor's own labour? Consider how
poorly a man's own labour was remunerated under the exploiting system of
industry, what capital could be saved out of what was really one's own
labour, and you will not then say that a real worker who possessed any such
savings will not find a sufficient compensation in the ten-fold or
hundred-fold increase of the produce of his labour. But perhaps a
difficulty is found in the possibility that this small capitalist might no
longer be capable of work? Granted; and provision is made for this in the
new order of things. The honest worker receives his maintenance allowance
when his strength has left him; even he will have no occasion to sigh for
what he had saved in the exploiting times of the past. To these maintenance
allowances I refer also those other exploiters whose habits have robbed
them of both desire and ability to work. The free community of the future
will be magnanimous enough not to let them suffer want; even they have, as
our fellow-men, this claim upon the new order; but any right beyond this I

STANISLAUS LLOWSKI (_Freeland_): We in Freeland take a different
standpoint. The exploiting world could, without being false to itself,
forcibly override acquired rights in order to carry out what might be the
order of the day; it could--and has almost always done so--carry into force
any new law based upon the sword, without troubling itself about the claims
of the vanquished; it could do all this because force and oppression were
its proper foundation. Its motto was, 'Mine is what I can take and keep';
therefore he who took what another no longer had the power to keep acted in
perfect accordance with his right, whether he could base his claim upon the
fortune of war or upon a parliamentary majority. If we recognised this
ancient right, matters would be very simple: we have become the stronger
and can take what we please. The hypocrisy of the modern so-called
international law, which has a horror of brutal confiscations, need not
stand in our way any more than it has ever stood in the way of anyone who
had power. Conquerors no longer deprived the conquered of their land, they
no longer plundered or made men their slaves; but in truth, it was only in
appearance that these practices had ceased: it was only the form, not the
essence of the thing, that had changed. The victor retained his right of
legislating for the vanquished; and the earnings of the vanquished were
more effectually than ever transferred to the pockets of the victors in the
forms of all kinds of taxes, of restrictions, and rights of sovereignty.
'Property' was 'sacred,' not even that of the subjugated was touched;
merely the fruits of property were taken by the strong. This we, too, could
do. Take the property from its owners? How brutal; what a mockery of the
sacred rights of property! But to raise the taxes until they swallowed up
the whole of the property--who in the exploiting world would be able to say
_that_ was contrary to justice? Yet we declare it to be so, for we
recognise no right to treat the minority of possessors differently from the
minority of workers; and as in our eyes property is sacred, we must respect
it when it belongs to the wealthy classes as much as when it belongs to

But--objects the member on the Left--the victorious majority make no claim
of right of private property in the land and in the productive capital.
Certainly; but they do not possess anything which they will have to
renounce in the future, while the minority does; hence to dispossess the
possessors in favour of those who did not possess, in order that equality
of right might prevail in future, would not be to treat both alike.

But--and this is the weightiest argument in the eyes of our friend--the
minority is said to have at present no valid title to their property; they
owe it to exploitation, and we do not recognise this as a just title;
exploitation is robbery, and he who has stolen, though he did it in good
faith, possesses no claim to compensation. This reasoning is also false.
Exploitation is robbery only in an economic, not in a juridical, sense; it
was not merely _considered_ to be permissible--it _was_ so. The exploiter
did not act illegally though in good faith; rather he acted legally when in
his day he exploited; and acted legally not merely on the formal ground
that the law, as it then existed, allowed him thus to act, but because he
could not act otherwise. This appropriation of other men's earnings, which,
in an economic sense, we are compelled, and rightly so, to call robbery,
was--let us not forget that--the necessary condition of any really
productive highly organised labour whatever, so long as the workers were
not able to freely organise and discipline themselves. Economic robbery,
the relation of master held by the few towards the many, constituted an
effective economic service that had the strongest right to claim the profit
of other men's labour, which was in fact rendered profitable by it.
Subsequently to confiscate the thus acquired compensation for the services
rendered, because such services had become superfluous or indeed
detrimental, would in truth be robbery, not merely in an economic sense,
but in a legal sense--an offence against the principles of economic

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