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as effectually by simple means, by a systematic restriction of the number of births.
4. A redundant population, as I have before stated, means a surplus of labour above the demand for it. When we say that the country is suffering from a redundant population, we mean, that there are labourers who cannot find employment. When such is the case for any length of time, a large portion of the labouring class, is reduced to poverty and its concomitant evils.
Now what are the causes of the present distress, if want of employment be not? The fact is evident, that there are thousands upon thousands of labourers now destitute of employment; and it is equally evident that if there were none out of employ, if the supply of labour were less than the de.nand, that the present distress would not exist. There would be a competition among capitalists, the wages of the labourer would supply him with the comforts of life, and the nation would be, compared with its present state, happy.
Thus, then, as I have shown that the present distress could not exist in the absence of a redundant population, it is clearly demonstrated that a redundant population is the principal cause of it. When a man feels a pain in his foot, which ceases when his shoe is taken off, and when he has experienced this repeatedly, does he not rationally conclude that the shoe was the cause of the pain ?
Some persons may object to this conclusion, on the ground, that though a redundant population be the immediate cause, it is not the principal cause ; that this redundancy is occasioned by the bad institutions of the country, and therefore that these ought to be considered as forming the great evil to be removed.
This is an error as old as the suffering of men in society. Whatever have been their sufferings they have attributed them to their institutions, principally to government. Governments have never yet been what they ought to be, they have been productive of many evils, and their subjects, generally incapable of embracing a clear view of an extensive question, have attributed to them evils over which they had no controul. The effects of misgovernment on population are confined to this point: if two communities start in their career, one under good government the other under bad, but in all other circumstances alike, the latter will sooner acquire a redundant population than the former : that is, the latter, its government being less congenial to the accumulation of capital, and the power of labour to increase being the same in both, will not support the same number of persons as the former. But since, in spite of the best possible government, except the power of labour to inerease be restricted to the power of capital to increase, every community must eventually suffer from a redundant population, it is evident that mis-government
is not the principal cause of this redundancy. It merely hastens that which would arrive were it not in existence.
5. But it is almost beyond the line of possibility that a good Government should exist with a redundant population.
This redundancy and misgovernment are effects of the same cause ; not both immediately resulting from the primary cause, but both being points in a sequence of etfects naturally following each other.
In order to illustrate this position, I shall suppose a community starting in its career under a good Government, and possessing all other favourable circumstances. While labour and capital increase together, the distribution of their joint products, or as it is generally termed, the distribution of wealth, will be about equal among all its members.
As the increase of labour begins to exceed the increase of capital, the ratio of distribution begins to vary. Labour loses a portion of its value, which is acquired by capital. The competition, instead of being between the capitalists, which alone can produce any thing like an equal distribution, is between the labourers. As this competition goes on, the share of the labourer is decreasing, and the share of the capitalist is increasing.
As the capitalists are but a small body of men compared with the labourers, a large portion of the production of the community falls into few hands. A few persons accumulate immense wealth; but their accumulations cannot be called capital, because they are not applied to reproduction, but accumulated to be consumed. While the same cause exists, the same effects follow. Some, to use a common phrase, make their fortune and quit the field of business; others enter it and finally do the same.
The persons, thus favoured by an unequal distribution, form a separate class, having but few interests in common with the rest of the community. They possess wealth; they feel their wealth to be power; and they naturally wish to make use of it. It is in the nature of man to desire consequence, to be something great in the eyes of those around him. The individuals, of this favoured class, can increase their consequence only by taking the command of others. Therefore, as their wealth enables them to usurp the reins of government, it is pretty certain that they will do so.
Self-interest is the governing principle of man. When his actions are conformable to the interests of-his associates, he feels that such a line of conduct will be most beneficial to himself. Thus all men acting for the interest of a community, the members of all Governments should have their own interests inseparably connected with the interests of those for whom they act. Now a Government composed of wealthy individuals, has very few interests in common with the mass of the people, and is thus naturally unfitted for the station it holds.
Instead of governing by equitable laws, such a Government will seek only its own interests; to acquire and protect, for itself,
exclusive privileges; and to maintain its power by keeping up its stock of wealth. The members of a Government thus composed of a particular class, feel it their interest to rob and otherwise oppress those whom they govern; and feeling it their interest to do so, it follows as a natural consequence that it will be done.
I repeat what I have elsewhere said on this subject :- That this is a chain of events or effects, flowing from the same cause, is as evident as that rain is occasioned by the evaporation of moisture from the earth. To prove the last effect from the primary cause, some intermediate steps are required ; but these discovered, the proof is evident. Evaporation, the rise of the aqueous vapour in the atmosphere, the loss of caloric, partial condensation, the formation of clouds, their descent towards the earth, further condensation, and fall in the shape of rain, form a sequence of events allowed by all the scientific of the day; but this, evident as it is, is not more evident than that the above is a natural train of events flowing from an excess of population. Were evaporation to discontinue, rain would cease ; and were there no excess of population, no power in mankind to increase their numbers faster than the increase of capital, misgovernment would soon cease also.
Hence, then, it is evident, that removing a bad Government, is not striking at the root of the evil. It is only like topping a weed, the root of which has the power to shoot forth again. Is he not considered a bad gardener who tops his weeds instead of drawing their roots ? No one can be more inimical than myself to bad Governments. I wish to see them all annihilated. But I do not wish to mislead my readers by telling them that misgovernment is the cause of all their evils, when I know the contrary to be the fact. - I wish to call to their attention the primary cause both of their disrress and misgovernment. I want to see them striking at the root of all their evils, endeavouring to remove the great obstacle to their improvement and happiness. Let men endeavour to reform or destroy bad Governments, but let them not think that such will do all that is necessary to be done for their happiness : for if they do so think, they will be sadly disappointed.
I have already extended my article so far that I have but little space for my promised remarks on the arguments of J. F.; but I will bestow a few lines on some of the most prominent- those on which J, F. seems to lay most stress.
Arguing on the effects of machinery, J. F. says, at p. 172, “ Show me that the whole mass of labourers and operatives throughout the kingdom, are better off, that they have more of the necessaries and comforts of life than formerly, and I will give up the point immediately."
Were there no causes affecting the happiness of the labourer, but the introduction of machinery, J. F, would be right in draw
ing his conclusions from the present state of the people; but as this is not the case, he rests for proof on a fallacious ground. I once heard an argument somewhat similar advanced against the good effects of education. See, said my opponent, the people are worse off than before those schools and cheap publications were in existence. But will J. F. presume to assert that the operatives of this country were never reduced to the verge of starvation, before the general introduction of machinery? If he cannot, what becomes of this.position ? If they were so reduced before the ral introduction of machinery, and that they most assuredly were, is it not evident that causes independent of machinery might have reduced them now? I am persuaded that J. F. is an honest inquirer on this subject, and that he will see that to give or take the point on this position, is rather an insult upon fair inference. I think also that J. F. will yet be convinced that any method, that lessens the cost of production, must be beneficial to the happiness of a community.
“ Machinery,” says J. F., "might, unquestionably, be employed for the advantage of the labouring part of the community, but is it so employed ?” In this sentence, if I mistake not, J. F. allows the power of machinery to better the condition of mankind, but would bave us believe that this power is misapplied, that it benefits only a few persons. . Whom, then, does it benefit? If those who 'manufactured goods by the aid of machinery, sold them as dearly as when manufactured by direct labour, they alone would be benefitted ; but as the less cost of production is allowed in the selling price of the article, the purchasers, one and all, share the benefits.
Aye, but all cannot be purchasers.” Perhaps not. But could they be purchasers, if no machinery had been introduced, if the articles had retained a high price? I have already shown that if there be no redundancy of population before the introduction, that introduction cannot create it: for the demand for labour remains undiminished, and when machinery lessens the quantity requisite in one line, there is a demand for it in some other.
J. F. asserts, that the present amount of taxes could not be collected in the absence of machinery. I grant all he has said of the misapplication of the taxes, and that 10 millions instead of 60 would be more congenial to the weltare of the people; but whether they could or could not be collected without the co-operation of machinery, is a point on which I am not satisfied, though I am inclined to believe, with J. F., that they could not. It is my object to show that on J. F.'s supposition that machinery enables a nation to pay taxes, it must have a beneficial tendency.
The capability of a nation to pay taxes, depends upon the quantity of its productions. If it produce no more than will support the producers, it can pay no taxes; or if, in such a case, it should pay any, if it should be compelled to support any unproductive
consumers, a portion of its producers must perish. This result is inevitable. The British nation, at the present time, cannot pay its 60 millions of taxes and support all its members, and coosequently want and disease are found among them. If all its taxes were remitted, the nation would revive, there would be more employment for labourers, and things would bear a better aspect, till population again pressed upon the means of subsistence.“ By the natural course of things this period would soon arrive, and then there would be no 60 millions of taxes to take off to remedy the existing distress. Thus if the absence of machinery would leave the nation destitute of the means of paying its taxes, its presence must be beneficial-as every thing that advances man's powers of production must be considered in this light.
The writer of the extract, quoted by J. F. from "The Courier," did not understand the subject on which he wrote. He saw the advantages of machinery in increasing the means of subsistence; but mistook the effect of a redundant population, for an effect of the introduction of machinery. He did not see that machinery does not lessen the demand of labour. I have granted that a partial evil attends a sudden change in the direction of the de: mand for labour; and this is the only evil, of which I am aware, that can attend the most extensive use of machinery, which is, it will be recollected, only labour mediately applied. J. F. maj find a plenty of paragraphs in the newspapers and elsewhere to support his view of the question; as there are, unfo:tunately, many literary men who study but very little of first principles, and are incapable of taking an extended view of any subject; but I would advise him not to be led by the opinions of others, but to examine for himself. He acknowledges that he lacks information : let him read Smith, Malthus, Mill, and Place.
It is immaterial to the argument whether the number of persons employed in the cotton trade be now greater or less than it was before the introduction of machinery; because other causes may have contributed to such a change ; and because the fact, that machinery does not lessen the demand for labour, cannot be proved by the number of labourers in any one branch of production.
J. F. speaks of the comparative comfort of the labourers of former days, and in one place mentions“ thirty years ago," as a time wben “ mothers could buy three-and-sixpenny cottons;" that is, if I mistake not his meaning, that thirty years ago the people were better off, none out of employment, no distress. If such were the case, the people of thirty years since were very inconsistent; for there was a universal complaint of distress among them at that period; “ bread! bread! give us bread !" were the cries that thirty years ago greeted George the Third as he went to the House of Commons, and were generally repeated throughout the kingdom.