Max Hirsch: Democracy versus Socialism (1911)
Content of Part III–Ethics
Chapter I— The Denial Of Natural Rights
Chapter II— Happiness Or Justice
Chapter III— The Origin And Growth Of Law
Chapter IV— Natural Rights
Chapter V— The Ethics Of Distribution
Chapter VI— The Right To The Use Of The Earth
Chapter VII— The Ethics Of Property
Chapter VIII— The Right Of Free Industry
Chapter IX— Individualism
THE DENIAL OF NATURAL RIGHTS
THE fundamental ethical conceptions of Socialism we found to be as follows:—
The denial of abstract or natural rights of individual members of the State, and the consequential assertion that all individual rights are granted by the State, which may, therefore, alter or cancel existing rights or grant new rights; the sole consideration which ought to guide the State in dealing with rights of individuals, being, “the balance of social advantages.”
The first and second of these propositions are clear cut and need no further elucidation. It is, however, different with the third proposition, for it is by no means clear what is meant by “the balance of social advantages,” or how that balance is to be ascertained.
There can be no doubt as to the body to be entrusted with the determination of the direction in which the balance of social advantages lies. Socialism confides this duty to the majority of adult individuals, for majorityrule is one of its fundamental tenets. Nor is there any doubt as to the manner in which the majority is to arrive at its decision. The existence of natural rights being denied, no general principle for the guidance of the majority is available, nor can there be any limit to its action. The question whether a particular measure, say the legalisation of infanticide, will produce greater social advantages than disadvantages, can, therefore, be decided in no other way than by the process of estimating the advantages or disadvantages, proximate and remote, which may result from this particular act. If a majority, having thus empirically investigated the question, has formed a favourable opinion of the measure, it ought to be adopted. The question of right or wrong cannot arise. For inasmuch as natural rights, such as the right of infants to life, are denied, that only is right which the majority for the time being has empirically adjudged to be socially advantageous; and wrong is only that which the majority for the time being considers to be socially disadvantageous.
Coming now to the meaning of the proposition itself, two ideas are obviously contained in it. One is, that measures may be partly advantageous and partly disadvantageous to society, and that they ought to be adopted if the foreseen advantages exceed the foreseen disadvantages. The other is, that a majority of the people can empirically determine all the sequences, proximate and remote, of the enforced application of any proposal.
The question still remains in what direction lies the advantage of society. Society itself is not a sentient being, capable of feeling pleasure and pain. Sentiency, the feelings of pleasure and pain, is confined to its constituent parts, the sentient beings which compose it, individual human beings. Hence, the welfare of society, considered apart from that of the units which compose it, is not an end to be sought. Society exists for the benefit of its members, not the members for the benefit of society. Society as such, therefore, can have no claims, except in so far as they embody the claims of the component members of society; social advantage or disadvantage has no meaning except in so far as the advantage or disadvantage of its members, present and future, is concerned.
The real meaning of the term, therefore, is, either that the majority must guide each of its acts empirically in the direction of securing advantages to the majority, even if it thereby inflicts disadvantages on the minority; or in the direction of securing to all greater advantages than disadvantages.
One more question, however, remains to be solved, viz. in what direction is the advantage or disadvantage of the individuals constituting society to be sought? Is it in the direction of increasing the sum of misery; or is it in maintaining a state of indifference by an exact balance of misery and happiness; or is it in increasing the sum of happiness, that social advantage is to be sought? No injustice will be done to socialists if it is concluded that they consider social advantage to lie in increasing the sum of happiness existing within the society, and social disadvantage to be equivalent to the increase of the sum of unhappiness.
The statements here investigated, therefore, resolve themselves into the following assumptions :—
That it is the duty of the State, acting through a majority of adult citizens, to secure the greatest possible sum of general happiness.
That this greatest sum of general happiness can be secured by empirical considerations of the sequences, proximate and remote, of any governmental act.
That there exists no general law, deducible from the nature of men and of their environment, by which the influence of governmental acts on the sum of general happiness can be measured.
Three methods of testing the validity of these postulates are available. We may try to discover whether they are really articles of socialistic belief, or whether socialists merely endeavour to persuade themselves that they believe in them; and we may submit them to the test of deduction and induction. The present chapter will be devoted to the first two of these examinations, while subsequent chapters will deal with the third.
Men having no natural rights can have no natural right to happiness. If men have no natural right to happiness, it cannot be the duty of the State to secure their happiness. The State may endeavour to do so as a matter of grace; but it cannot be bound to continue to do so, and, if it thinks fit, may devote its acts to the furtherance of their unhappiness. In assuming that it is the duty of the State to further the happiness of its members; in laying down the doctrine that the acts of the State ought to be guided towards the increase of happiness, socialists, therefore, admit a natural right to happiness in the individual members of the State.
Likewise, if the right to individual happiness is assumed to be not natural, but given by the State, the State can withdraw not only the happiness, but also the right to it. Having power to abolish the right to happiness, the State cannot labour under the duty of securing happiness. The right to happiness, therefore, cannot be given by the State, and must be a natural right antecedent to the State. The socialists’ postulate, that it is the duty of the State to secure happiness, therefore, is contradictory of the other socialistic postulate that there are no natural rights. It need not be pointed out that the cogency of this reasoning is not affected by the substitution of either misery or indifference for happiness as the ultimate object of State action. As long as it is postulated that the action of the State ought to be guided by any principle, it is tacitly admitted that there are individual natural rights; for the obligation on the part of the State can have no other origin than in the possession of such rights by the individuals composing it, as are not derived from and, therefore, cannot be abolished by the State.
A further contradiction of the denial of natural rights will be found in the claim for the rule of the majority. Socialists passionately urge the right of the majority to impose its will on the minority in all common affairs.
This right of the majority cannot, however, be a right granted by the State; for if it exists, it must be antecedent to the State, otherwise the State would be justified in abolishing it. As a matter of fact, the right is not yet fully recognised in any State in which Upper Houses, not elected by a majority of the people, possess the right of vetoing any legislative act, notably Great Britain and Germany. In these countries, therefore, the right of the majority to rule has not been granted by the State, and, therefore, according to one socialistic doctrine, the people of these countries do not possess the right to majorityrule. As Socialism nevertheless claims that they possess this right, it thereby admits that majority-rule is either itself a natural right or deducible from individual natural rights.
The following reasoning will prove the latter conclusion to be the right one, the only possible basis being the equal right of all individuals to happiness. For if the acts of the State have any influence on individual happiness, and if some men have a greater right to happiness than others, a minority may possess a greater aggregate right to happiness than a majority, and may, therefore, possess a greater right to determine the conditions conducive to general happiness than the majority. The claim for majority-rule, therefore, implies the recognition of equal individual rights to happiness; therefore it implies the recognition of individual natural right to happiness, and contradicts the denial of natural rights and the assumption that all rights are derived from the State.
This self-contradiction by socialists is still more apparent in the following case. Justice consists of respecting valid claims, and injustice of the infraction of valid claims, i.e. of rights. Only in so far as men are possessed of valid claims or rights can they be subject to just or unjust treatment. If all rights are derived from the State, if there are no natural rights, injustice can arise only from the infraction of rights granted by the State. The State itself, therefore, can neither act justly nor unjustly, either in granting rights previously denied, or in cancelling rights previously granted, or in resisting claims. For inasmuch as under this supposition there is no rule by which the validity of any claim can be gauged except the will of the State, it follows that no claim can be valid which is denied by the State. Whenever socialists, therefore, assert the injustice of existing social conditions and institutions, they contradict their own denial of natural rights. Yet, not only is this assertion of existing social injustice the basis of all socialistic theories, but it is also made in explicit terms. The following instances might be supplemented by many others :—
“A woman inherits from nature the same rights as a man.”
“We might define the final aim of Socialism to be an equitable system of distributing the fruits of labour,”implying that the existing system is inequitable, i.e. unjust.
“This then is the economic analysis which convicts private property of being unjust.”
“Of these three phases of human injustice” (chattel slavery, feudalism, wage-slavery) “that of wage-slavery will surely be the shortest.”
Justifying murder as a means of resisting the legal infliction of torture and death by Russian officials, it is stated :—
“It must be remembered that this is not a case of Socialism v. anti-Socialism, but of the most elementary rights of liberty and life.”
“The phenomenon of economic rent has assumed prodigious proportions in our great cities. The injustice of its private appropriation is glaring, flagrant, almost ridiculous.”
These quotations, as well as the preceding examinations, prove that socialists have not realised all that is involved in the denial of natural rights, and that their explicit denial does not prevent them from reasoning as if no such denial had been given.
It is a justifiable assumption to suppose that socialists condemn murder and theft for other reasons than that they have been forbidden by the State. Yet if there are no natural rights to life and property, murder and theft would deserve reprobation only to the extent to which they are forbidden by law and where they are so forbidden. If the human race has passed through a stage of isolated individualism, like that of some predatory animals, the inherent badness of murder and theft would scarcely have been recognised during such period. When, however, the gregarious instinct awoke in man, the inherent badness of such actions could not remain concealed. For not even the least organised horde could remain together under conditions in which unprovoked murder and theft were not limited by sympathy, and without the sympathetic feeling of abhorrence there would not have arisen the public opinion which reprobates such actions within the horde. Weak as this sympathetic feeling may have been at first, necessary as it may have been to support its action by fear of retaliation, it is far different with civilised men. For as man becomes habituated to the social state and sympathy develops to a larger extent, murder and theft are no longer reprobated because the law of the State forbids such acts, but because they are in themselves repulsive. The dictates of sympathy are then obeyed without any thought of acts of parliaments or penitentiaries, merely because the thought of the wrong inflicted upon others inflicts suffering upon self. This recognition of a wrong arising from the nature of the acts themselves and not from their prohibition, obviously implies the recognition of corresponding rights, likewise not arising from the prohibition, but from natural relations.
Though human societies differ widely from each other in type and development, they nevertheless have certain features in common. All of them recognise more or less fully certain rights; the right to life and property being the most common. This is not only true of existing societies, savage, barbarian, civilised, and cultured, but is equally true of all past societies of which we possess records. Even in such a society as the Fijian, where the chiefs had acquired undisputed sway over the lives and property of commoners; where certain tribes regularly furnished human victims for cannibal feasts; where aged parents were killed by their own sons as a matter of course,—life and property were safeguarded by strict customs to which these infractions were recognised exceptions.
Moreover, these rights become more fully recognised in the ratio in which the organisation of any society is developed. The higher the type of the society, the more extensive and intensive is the recognition of these rights.
The universal history of mankind, therefore, points to the conclusion that the recognition of human rights is advantageous to society, i.e. that it works good; and conversely, that the non-recognition of human rights is disadvantageous, i.e. that it works harm. If this is admitted, it must be equally admitted that there exists a causal relation between the acts of the State and their sequences, over which the State has no control. That this is admitted by socialists is shown in the absolute certainty with which they contend that the present policy of the State works harm, and that its adoption of a specified other policy will work good. Socialists, therefore, themselves contend that the results which flow from governmental acts are not determined by chance, but that such sequences form part of the universal and unalterable causal relation between acts and their results. But if such causal relations do exist, then the action of the State ought to be guided by rules deduced from these unalterable causal relations. To revert to an illustration previously used. If the universal history of mankind proves murder to be harmful, the question whether infanticide shall be permitted cannot be usefully or safely decided by balancing the advantages and disadvantages which at a particular time seem to result from it in the opinion of one or more persons, but ought to be decided by the universal rule. The socialists’ postulate that every action of the State, even those affecting the most fundamental rights of its members, ought to be guided by considerations of “the balance of social advantages,” ignores the authority and even the existence of such universally true rules of conduct. It assumes that the social utility of every act is solely recognisable by its expected results; that there is no possibility of knowing by deduction from fundamental principles the acts which must be advantageous and the acts which must be disadvantageous to the community.
Nevertheless, such causal relation as is seen throughout nature is no less manifest in the relations of social life. Where justice is expensive or uncertain, or both, contracts are broken lightly and frequently; where violence goes unpunished, disorders increase; where taxation is uncertain or unjustly apportioned, production is checked; where property is insecure, no more than the necessaries of life will be produced; where monopolies abound, wealth concentrates in the hands of a few.
In these as in all other cases the results which flow from acts do not depend upon the will of the State or of the ruling majority, and are unalterable by them. The State, therefore, cannot control the results of its acts; these results are inevitably determined by natural law. How then can it be held that the acts of the State can confer rights? If the State by sanctioning murder could improve the conditions under which social life is carried on; if by sanctioning theft and fraud it could increase the production of wealth; if by establishing private monopolies it could promote an equitable distribution of wealth; that is, if the State could control the sequences of its acts, then the State could also create rights. But when it is seen that these sequences are beyond the control of the State; that they are inevitable consequences of natural law, on which State law has no influence, and for the appreciation of which no empirical generalisation is necessary, no such proposition can be entertained. Rights are then seen to arise naturally i.e. from the inevitable connection between cause and result which prevails throughout nature, and which imposes upon man the recognition of these rights. These are then seen to be natural rights, the denial of which, injuriously affecting life, individual and social, decreases the sum of aggregate happiness; the recognition of which, beneficially affecting life, increases the sum of aggregate happiness. And it is further seen that though the natural social laws and the natural individual rights thence resulting are as eternal and unvarying as the physical laws of nature, their recognition, depending upon the experience of the race as embodied in its ethical perceptions, is a gradual process, similar to the ever-widening recognition of the unchangeable physical laws of nature.
HAPPINESS OR JUSTICE
EVERY structure of any organism and the corresponding functions, which these structures subserve bear some relation to the needs of the organism. The evolution of the structure proves the corresponding function to be an adjustment of the organism to the conditions under which its life must be carried on. The non-fulfilment, in normal proportion, of any function, therefore, causes the organism to fall short of the complete life, which is possible to it. If the discharge of any function is neglected, the structure receives an insufficient supply of blood, which, if long continued, causes atrophy; the consequent loss of power of the particular structure being accompanied by a corresponding deterioration of the organism as a whole. If the discharge of function is excessive, the increased waste is at first made good by an increase of blood-supply and corresponding hypertrophy of tissues. These compensatory movements, however, being limited in extent, further excess, leading to uncompensated waste, impairs the efficiency of the structure and injuriously affects the entire organism.
During the evolutionary process, pleasurable sensations and emotions have, necessarily, become the concomitants of the normal discharge of functions; while painful sensations and emotions have become the concomitants of deficient or excessive discharges. For adjustment to environment, subserved by the evolution of functional structures, could not have been achieved by organisms, which habitually underwent painful sensations from normal discharge of functions, and pleasurable sensations from their abnormal discharges. Likewise, organisms which experienced no sensations from the discharge of functions, normal or abnormal, could not have discharged their functions as efficiently, and would, therefore, have been less likely to survive than organisms whose discharge of functions was regulated by corresponding sensations.
Every species, however, is subject to derangements of these relations through changes in external conditions. Normal discharge of particular functions, though pleasurable, may under these new conditions lead to the destruction of the species, while defective or excessive discharges, though painful, may become necessary conditions of survival. Such derangements are, however, temporary; for unless the normal relation is sooner or later re-established by such modification of structures as will lead to corresponding sensations being derived from the due or undue discharge of functions, the species will cease to exist.
Mankind, no less than inferior creatures, is endowed with this relation between sensations and emotions on the one hand and the discharge of functions on the other. Nor is mankind exempt from the disturbance of these relations through changes in external conditions. On the contrary, as the change of such conditions has been exceptionally great and involved during the passage from savagery to the civilised state, the relation between sensations and discharge of functions has undergone exceptionally great disturbances in the case of civilised man. That his adjustment to the conditions of social life is not yet complete, is shown by the, as yet, incomplete relation between his sensations and the discharge of functions which the social state imposes upon him. In many cases actions, which must be performed yield no pleasure, and actions which must be avoided yield no pain. Nay, in some cases, necessary acts actually cause pain and injurious acts cause pleasure. But with the further progress of man’s adaptation to the social state these incongruities must diminish, as they have diminished during like progress in the past, and with complete adaptation they must disappear.
The sum of pleasurable sensations and emotions, which arise from the normal discharge of all functions constitutes happiness. Or, in other words, happiness arises from the due exercise of all the faculties. For the only happiness we know of arises from the satisfaction of desires both self-regarding and other-regarding. Desire, however, is but the need for some pleasurable sensation or emotion, and pleasurable sensations and emotions are producible only by the due exercise of some faculty. The satisfaction of desire being thus dependent upon the due exercise of some faculty, happiness, the satisfaction of all desires, consists in the due exercise of all the faculties. The first requisite of happiness, therefore, is freedom to exercise all the faculties. In the social state, however, the sphere within, which each can exercise his own faculties is limited by the spheres within which others must exercise their faculties. If every man is to realise the greatest possible happiness, mankind must be so constituted that each of them finds due exercise for all his faculties within his own sphere, without encroachment on the spheres of others. This complete adjustment to social conditions does not yet prevail, inasmuch as occasionally painful sensations arise from limiting activities to one’s own sphere, and pleasurable sensations from encroaching on the sphere of others. It results from this maladjustment, that men are not yet capable of the full degree of happiness otherwise open to them. Nevertheless is it true that the greatest aggregate sum of happiness can only arise from a strict limitation of the activities of each by the like activities of all others. For whenever pleasure accrues to one through encroachment on the spheres of others, the resulting increase of happiness to the aggressor is less than the corresponding decrease of happiness to those aggressed upon. To their loss of positive pleasure, there is added the pain arising from the feeling of injury. Not only is the aggregate of present happiness thus reduced, but there results also a decline of future happiness. For every such encroachment disturbs and delays the further adjustment of character to social conditions, upon which the attainment of complete happiness depends. The fixed condition, under which alone the greatest aggregate sum of happiness can be attained in the social state, therefore, is freedom of each to exercise all his faculties, limited by the like freedom of all others to exercise their faculties, i.e. justice, the recognition of equal natural rights.
These considerations show that happiness is not something, which the State can distribute among its members. For no action of the State can endow everyone of its members with the appropriate organisation which makes pleasurable sensations and emotions the concomitants of necessary actions, and painful sensations and emotions the concomitants of deleterious actions. Hence, any attempt to distribute happiness would produce deleterious results in various directions. By disturbing the balance between sensations and actions it would prevent the necessary further adjustment of men’s organisation to the requirements of social life. As the notion of State distribution of happiness necessarily implies the non-exercise of faculties otherwise exercised by individual men in procuring their own happiness, the happiness of each must be diminished to the extent to which these faculties remain unexercised, i.e. the attempted State distribution of happiness would result in a diminution of the aggregate sum of happiness. And further, as disuse of faculties tends to their deterioration and ultimate disappearance, State distribution of happiness, if possible, would result in a diminution of individual faculties, and, therefore, in a reduction of individual capacity for happiness.
Moreover, the idea of the State distributing happiness necessarily implies the further idea of proportionate distribution. What then is the proportion of happiness to be distributed to each? If the answer is, that happiness is to be distributed in equal parts, the impossibility of the project is obvious. For nothing that the State can do can procure the same happiness for the antagonistic as for the sympathetic; for the passive as for the active; for the lethargic as much as for the excitable temperament. If, on the other hand, happiness is to be distributed unequally, the question arises, By what rule is the distribution to be guided? Is it to be according to merit or to demerit; or are the distributers to form an exact estimate of the capacity for happiness of each member of the State, and then to apportion the available quantity of happiness accordingly? Whichever of these courses is chosen, the impossibility of any distributers making even an approximately correct apportionment is obvious.
There remains yet another difficulty. What is it that is to be distributed? Happiness cannot be cut up and distributed in parts, nor can it be measured as cloth is measured by the yard. What then is meant when the claim is made that the State shall distribute happiness, as it is made in the socialistic contention that the State ought to be guided in its actions by nothing else than “the balance of social advantages,” i.e. the measure of happiness which results from them. The only meaning, which can be imported into the proposition manifestly is, that the State shall secure for its members the greatest means to happiness.
Here again, however, it has to be recognised that no possible distribution of the means to happiness can secure the greatest sum of aggregate happiness. For if the distribution of means is to be made in equal parts, as Socialism proposes, differences in age, sex, constitution, activity, and mental organisation, would result in some receiving more and some less than their greatest possible happiness requires. As a consequence, there would be a loss of aggregate happiness; the sum of available means could procure a greater sum of aggregate happiness if it were distributed in some other way. If, on the other hand, it were contemplated to distribute the means to happiness unequally, the same impossibility of making the apportionment conform, even approximately, to any rule which may be adopted, is as manifest as it was found to be when a like distribution of happiness itself was considered.
Seeing happiness itself cannot be apportioned; seeing also that the distribution of equal means to happiness fails to secure the greatest possible aggregate sum of happiness, while no other distribution can be made; it follows, once more, that considerations of happiness or social advantage offer no guidance to the State. The question, however, still remains, How can the State secure the greatest sum of aggregate happiness? Manifestly there remains but one way: the State must secure to all the conditions under which each may obtain for himself the greatest amount of happiness, i.e. it must secure to all equal opportunities for the exercise of their faculties. Each must have as full freedom for the exercise of his faculties as is consistent with the equal freedom of all others. Therefore, once more we find, that not considerations of happiness, not “the balance of social advantages,” but justice, the recognition of equal natural right, alone can guide the State so as to secure the greatest aggregate sum of happiness to its members.
The same conclusion will be found to be inevitable when the question is approached in another way. Men have different standards of happiness; not only men differing in race, not only men differing in degree of civilisation, not only men of the same race and civilisation, but even the same men at different periods of their lives. The qualities of external things as apprehended by us are relative to our own organism, and, therefore, the feelings of pleasure and pain, which we associate with such qualities are also relative to our own organism. This is true in a double sense, for these qualities of external things are relative to the structures, as well as to the state of the structures of our organisms. Not only, therefore, is it true that “what is one man’s meat is another man’s poison,” but also, that what is pleasurable at one time is painful at another to the same individual. The painfulness of exercise, otherwise pleasurable, when the body is in a state of exhaustion; the distaste for food, after a hearty meal, which would be keenly relished when hungry; the agreeableness of a cold bath in summer, which in winter is shrunk from; as well as the pleasure derived from a fire in winter, which in summer is oppressive, are but simple examples of this general relativity of pains and pleasures to structural states.
All these circumstances render it exceedingly difficult for any individual to estimate the conduct, which will ensure the greatest happiness of himself and of the members of his immediate family. Individuals, therefore, more and more, allow their conduct to be guided by ethical considerations, in the sure expectation that conduct so regulated is more conducive to happiness than conduct aiming directly at happiness. This difficulty of the individual, however, is infinitesimal compared with that of a governmental agency undertaking to determine the actions which will ensure the happiness of all the members of the State and of their descendants. Even when the latter element is disregarded—though it is obvious that the happiness of future generations is largely affected by present actions of the State—even when the happiness of living men and women alone is considered, the difficulties are insuperable.
For the organisation of every individual differs in innumerable ways from that of all others and from that of the persons composing the governing agency. Therefore the kinds and degrees of actions which will ensure the greatest happiness of which each of them is capable, differ from those which will ensure the happiness of all the others, inclusive of that of the regulators. Nevertheless the latter must be guided by their own feelings in determining the kinds, degrees, and sequences of the countless acts, the totality of which constitutes the happiness of the innumerable persons, all differently constituted from them and from each other, the happiness of whom they endeavour to ensure.
While the difficulty of determining the conduct, which will conduce to the greatest aggregate sum of happiness is thus insuperable, the like difficulty is seen to exist when the agencies by which such conduct must be applied are considered. For the object, individual happiness, and the agencies by which it can be attained are simple when compared with the infinite complexity of the object, general happiness, and its requisite agencies. Aiming directly at general happiness, the State would require numerous subordinate agencies, each composed of a graduated body of numerous officials, most of them unknown to and unseen by the ruling agency, and acting upon millions of differently constituted individuals, equally unknown to and unseen by the rulers. Not only would the conduct determined upon be coloured and deflected in its passage through these various agencies in ways which could not be foreseen, but its ultimate application would again be determined by the character of officials and of each of the individuals on whom it is enforced. Therefore, even if it were admitted that the State could better determine what is conducive to each individual’s happiness than each can for himself, it would yet be impossible for the State so to shape its acts as to secure that happiness to each.
Therefore, it is again seen, that the only conduct by which the State can procure the greatest aggregate sum of happiness, is to secure to all its members equal opportunities for the achievement of their own happiness, i.e. equal opportunities for the exercise of their faculties; that is, the State must be guided by no other consideration than that of justice.
In further confirmation of this same conclusion, the consideration may be cited, that justice is a more intelligible aim than happiness. For justice is a question of quantitative measurement. Whenever an infraction of justice occurs, as when, in a case of individual theft or of that general theft which arises from monopoly, a benefit is taken while no equivalent benefit is given; or when, as in breaches of contract, obligations discharged by one side are not discharged or not fully discharged by the other; or when in the case of violence one assumes a greater freedom than the other; or when the State itself confers privileges upon some of its members which cannot be equally conferred upon all,—the injustice always consists in the disturbance of an equality and can be measured quantitatively.
When, however, the object aimed at is happiness, no definite measure is available. Not only is the measure of quantity indefinite, but, differing from justice, a quantitative measure also is required and is equally indefinite. As an end to be achieved, happiness is, therefore, infinitely less definite and less intelligible than justice.
Finally, the theory of “the balance of social advantages” implies the belief that the State can secure the greatest sum of aggregate happiness by methods framed so directly for this purpose, and without inquiry into the conditions from which happiness arises. If it be held that there are no such conditions, one kind of action would be as effective in securing happiness as any other kind of action, and, therefore, no balancing of advantages could be necessary or beneficial. If, on the contrary, it is admitted that there are conditions on the compliance with which happiness depends, then the first step toward happiness must be to ascertain these conditions, while the remaining steps required consist in compliance with the conditions ascertained. To admit this, therefore, equally condemns the balancing of advantages as a possible guidance, and admits that not happiness itself, but compliance with the conditions which ensure happiness, must be the immediate aim of the State, i.e. that justice must be its guide.
Expediency, the guidance by expected proximate results, proverbially delusive when guiding individual conduct, is thus seen to be still more delusive when guiding collective conduct. The theory that there are no natural rights, that as a consequence the State may usefully shape, and ought to shape, its conduct by balancing expectations of social advantage against expectations of social disadvantage, is shown to be a shallow delusion. From whatever standpoint the question is approached, there results the conviction, that, though there may be additional guidance for individual conduct, there is only one clear, safe, and infallible guide for collective conduct, the conduct of the State. That guide is justice, the recognition of equal natural rights inherent in every member of the State, and entitling each to equal opportunities with all others for the achievement of his own happiness.
THE ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF LAW
ONE more proof must be given to show that human rights are not derived from the State, but are inherent, the State merely recognising their existence as a necessary condition of its own existence and continuation. This proof is furnished by the history of human law.
If rights are not natural, i.e. arising from the conditions under which life must be carried on in the social state; if they are arbitrary gifts conferred on its members by the State,—they must be conferred through laws enacted by the State. Even if it could be shown that in every society, past and present, there existed a legal enactment corresponding to each recognised right, which manifestly is not the case even in our societies, the conclusion would not be justified that the right emanated from the law; that it had no existence before the law granted it. For it is obviously possible that the law, instead of creating new rights, has merely recorded rights previously recognised, for the purpose that fixed scales of punishment for the infraction of such rights should ensure their more uniform recognition!But if it can be shown that till a comparatively late period the State made no laws, and that, nevertheless, human rights were recognised, nay, that such rights were recognised before there was any State and any law of the State, then it is obvious that human rights are natural, i.e. that they antedate the State and are derived otherwise than from the State.
The historical proofs that customs recognising rights to life and property are antecedent to the formation of the State, and that, till a comparatively late period, men failed to entertain even the conception that laws could be made by the State or any other human agency, have been furnished by a host of modern writers.The present chapter, dealing for the sake of brevity with European States only, is mainly founded on Professor Edward Jenks’ valuable and interesting work, Law and Politics in the Middle Ages.
The first records of Teutonic law consist of the compilations known as Leges Barbarorum of the sixth century. Several of these codes contain an account of their origin. Lex Salica, the code of the Franks, contains a prologue which describes the collection of its enactments by four chosen men (whose names and abodes are stated) after lengthy discussions with presidents of local assemblies. It also contains the following general observations on the manner of their origin: “Custom is a long habit founded upon manners; it is founded upon antiquity, and an old custom passes for law.”
Lex Gundobada, the code of the Burgundians, describes itself as a definition, and bears the seals of thirty-one Counts as witnesses, and the oldest code of the Alemanni is known as a Pactus or Agreement. These codes, therefore, are not laws newly made and imposed by some authority, but a collection of ancient tribal customs. This view, now generally admitted, is confirmed by the fact that they are not territorial laws, but laws of peoples. They show us the provincials of Gaulliving under the Roman law, of which the conquerors made no attempt to deprive them. The Salic law specially refers to “men who live under the Salic law”; and the oldest part of Lex Ribuaria contains the following passage: “A Frank, a Burgundian, an Alemann, or in whatever nation he shall have dwelt, shall answer according to the law of the place where he was born. And if he be condemned, he shall bear the loss, not according to Ribuarian law, but according to his own law.”
The time and circumstances which gave rise to these compilations are also not without bearing on the question of their character. Most of them are the outcome of the Teutonic emigration to Gaul, and coincide in date with the conquests of Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, and Charles the Great.
The probable cause of their origin may, therefore, be found in the inevitable conflict between the desire of the conquerors to modify the laws of the conquered by the introduction of some of their own customs, and the resistance of the latter, as also in the necessity of reconciling conflicting practices and providing for new conditions. Such conflicts and new conditions would make the precise formulation of claims obligatory, and would thus naturally lead to the compilation of the customs upon which the latter were founded.
It is, therefore, an absolute certainty that these codes are not a collection of new edicts, but a collection of old tribal customs. The question, however, arises, How did these customs come into being? were they the conscious invention of any governing authority, or the outcome of an unconscious growth, corresponding with the growth of the tribal society? A short exposition of the organisation of Teutonic tribal societies will establish the truth of the latter conception, which, moreover, corresponds with the wider truth, fully established, that all primitive customs originate in the necessities of social life under the supposed sanction or command of tribal deities.
At the beginning of our era the Teutonic peoples, as described by Cresar and Tacitus, were living in clans. The unit of the clan was the household, consisting not of one family, but of a cluster of families, the males and unmarried females of which were descended from the same ancestor. All the households constituting the clan also are descended, or believe that they are descended, from a common ultimate ancestor. Within the household the housefather, generally the eldest male in direct descent, holds despotic sway, modified by ancient customs. The other members and the common property of the household are in his trust (mund), and he alone speaks and acts for them. Within the household every member bears the responsibility for his individual acts, but to the outside world the members of the household are jointly responsible for the acts of each of its members. The injury of one is the injury of all, as the wrong done by one is considered a wrong done by all. The household acts and is acted upon as a corporate whole.
In this limitation of the right of vengeance and liability for revenge to the members of the household, the blood-feud appears the first manifestation of public law. Anterior to it, the murder or other injury of one would be avenged by all who were interested in the victim, upon all who were in any way connected with the aggressor. General slaughter, destructive of the fighting strength of the clan, was the result. In time there arose the custom of limitation to the members of the households to which both parties to the injury belonged, and this same idea is subsequently extended to offences against property. The area of revenge and re-revenge is thus limited, and the consequences of feuds are made less disastrous to the community.
Nevertheless, the responsibility of the household is heavy; for if one is injured and vengeance is taken, the feud is carried on by the household of the original aggressor as a sacred duty. Gradually the idea must have arisen that some real advantage received by the household in compensation for the loss or injury of one of its members would lessen the responsibility of each household and redound to the advantage of the clan. For the bloodfeud weakens both households and the clan, while compensation enriches one of the households and prevents further weakening of the clan. Thus cases arise where compensation is offered and accepted. At first no doubt rare and applying to slight injuries only, these cases gradually multiply and extend to graver offences, until finally they harden into custom, and the payment of blood-money or “wer” habitually takes the place of the blood-feud. The housefathers, as elders of the clan, are the repositories of its customs. They, therefore, decide in each case what the compensation shall be, taking into account the nature of the offence as well as the status of the injured person. But there is no power to enforce their finding. If either the plaintiff or defendant refuses to acquiesce in their judgment the blood-feud takes its course.
This is the stage of development at which Teutonic customs had arrived when the Leges Barbarorum were being compiled. They are principally concerned with minute and careful regulations of the compensation to be paid for offences. But they also make it quite clear that compliance is voluntary, and that the clan has neither executive nor legislative machinery.
These facts prove the tribal customs, embodied in the Leges Barbarorum, to have grown and established themselves independent of any official authority. The immediate successors of these compilations are the Capitularies or royal and imperial edicts issued by the Karolingian rulers and others. They mostly deal with comparatively unimportant matters, and it is doubtful whether their validity extended beyond the life of the ruler who issued them. In some rare cases “capitula” became true additions to the law of the time, but it must be remembered that they were a foreign importation imbibed by the rulers from the Roman law.
During the gradual decay of the Frank Empire a new law grew up: the law of the fief or feudal law. The feudal lord administered the law of the fief—generally by deputy; a law made by no legislator, but which during these troublous times had arisen through the mutual needs of the men of the fief and their lord. It is purely local, for any dispute as to what is the law of a given fief is settled by reference to the “greffe” or register of the court, and if this is silent, the men of the fief are called together and decide what the law is (enquete par tourbe). Certain general principles, nevertheless, run through the customs developed in each fief, and the right of appeal to overlords tends to produce a certain uniformity. Still the general truth is, that the court of each fief has its own homemade law.
As the fief-law applied to men of the fief alone, other laws had to evolve for men who were not of the fief, such as priests and merchants. These laws also do not emanate from the State.
The canon law originates in resolutions of general councils of the Church and papal decretals, considered as binding by the clergy, and which, supposed to embody the divine will, harmonise with primitive conceptions of the origin of custom and law. To these must be added ecclesiastical capitularies, issued by the Karolingian and other rulers, and similar regulations in which secular authority endeavours to restrict or enforce ecclesiastical claims.
In time, however, the Church emancipates itself even from this slight interference of the secular power. The forgeries of Isidorus Mercator are followed three centuries later by the Decretum Gratiani, likewise a private work to which full authority is accorded, and is completed by the papal compilations beginning in the thirteenth century. The canon law, the binding force of which was not disputed, is thus, like the laws already considered, neither made nor administered by the State.
It is similar with the law of merchants. The rise of more settled conditions during the eleventh century, and, still more, the Crusades, greatly stimulated commercial intercourse, which had almost disappeared during the preceding period of anarchy. Neither the law of fiefs nor the elder folk-law contained provisions applicable to larger trade transactions. A new body of law had, therefore, to be evolved, and was again evolved by those whom it concerned. The usages of merchants gradually hardened into principles of conduct having the force of law. Though frequently at variance with the principles of local laws, the merchant-law was nevertheless universally acquiesced in and administered by courts of the highest eminence, such as those of the Hanseatic League and the Parloir aux Bourgeois at Paris. This, then, is another body of laws, having cosmopolitan validity like the canon law, which arises independent of the State, and receives obedience without any special sanction from the State. The separate development of law in the three kingdoms of England, France, and Germany, which have become definitely established by the end of the tenth century, must now be followed. England under Saxon rule had remained largely uninfluenced by the events which moulded the fortunes of the Continent. Such rudiments of the feudal system as had established themselves had given rise to a similarly rudimental state of feudal law. On the whole, however, the old folk-laws held sway within their several areas. This arrested development greatly facilitated the work of legal unification to which the Norman kings devoted themselves. In this endeavour they were largely aided by the fact that England, as a conquered land, was a single fief in the hands of the king. They succeeded in little more than a century in creating a “common law” of the realm, the law of the royal court.
This law, however, is by no means a collection of State enactments; it is the law of a court. At first the kings send their ministers round the country to administer local law in local courts, and to look after the financial and administrative interests of the king. Gradually differentiation takes place and is accompanied by greater coherence. Before the end of the twelfth century there has evolved a royal court with purely judicial attributes, making regular visitations through the counties, but having its headquarters at the residence of the king. It devises regular forms of procedure and keeps strict record of all the cases which come before it. In their decisions the judges unify and modify old folk-laws; precedent is followed by precedent; and by the end of Henry III’s reign, the law declared in the king’s court has superseded local law and has become the Common Law of England. No one gave the judges power to declare law, or enacted that their decisions should become the law of the realm. Nevertheless, it is the law of the realm, and all bend before its authority.
Accompanying this spontaneous growth there is, however, another development which bears some likeness to the conscious law-making of our time. England, owing to the conquest, is the domain of the king; all that he has not expressly given away belongs to him. Hence he gives charters in great numbers, which become part of the general law. Further, as the lord of a domain, he may, within certain customary limits, make rules for its management, and as all England is a royal domain, the king assumes this power over all England. Hence arise royal assizes and ordinances, which come very near to modern ideas of law.
There thus existed in Norman England various bodies of law, severally declared by kings, judges, landowners, custom, merchants, and ecclesiastics. Their unification through the establishment of one law-declaring agency would be a manifest advantage. This result flowed from the Great Parliament, where, for the first time, the representatives of the several sections of the people came together in one body. It gave to England a far more efficient law-declaring agency than any other which then existed or for centuries arose in other Teutonic countries, in spite of the fact that the canon law continued to be a rival of the national law. But even Parliament was not a law-making body at first. For two centuries it confined itself to the enforcement of old customs, or of such new customs as had met with general observance without its sanction. Not till the time of the Reformation is the modern idea of law, made by the State and imposed upon its members, realised.
The development of English law in one other direction, that of equity, has yet to be mentioned. When, in the thirteenth century, as already stated, Parliament had become the sole law-declaring agency, it still refrained from enacting new laws. Yet the rapid development of industry urgently required new laws. Suitors, therefore, petitioned the Crown whenever the common law failed to provide a remedy. When the matter was one for legislative declaration, the king, acting through his council, brought it before Parliament. When the matter was one for the king’s grace, he referred it to his chancellor, who, as ecclesiastic and president of the king’s chancery, could pronounce on the remedy which conscience would dictate in the absence of positive law. Gradually this practice assumed regular shape. Records being kept, successive chancellors follow the rules laid down by their predecessors, and failing such, declare rules of their own, which guide their successors. Thus the Court of Chancery also becomes a law-declaring court, adding its own laws, based purely on the perception of natural rights, to those declared by Parliament.
The peculiar feature in the development of English law, here briefly sketched, is, that in several directions it anticipates analogous developments in continental countries by many centuries. Earlier than elsewhere there arises a true law of the realm, though other laws also have local or sectional currency; earlier also there arises a central lawdeclaring agency, though other law-declaring bodies continue to exist. But—and this is the fact which shatters the contention that rights are created by the State—the law throughout grows and develops independent of the State. It is the creation mostly of the men who must obey it, and is mostly formulated by persons having no authority from the State to do so. Even when at last a parliament arises, possessing powers of legislation, it, for a long time, abstains from making laws, confining itself mainly to declarations of what the actual law is. Even this power it shares with an unauthorised body. The laws have been made, if they can be said to have been made, by the common people, merchants, ecclesiastics, and lawyers, and only to some slight extent by the king. Not a majority but a consensus of public opinion has evolved them, and it is this general consensus which has given recognition to individual rights, and not the State.
The absence of State-law and the recognition of individual rights through laws arising from other sources is a feature which stands out still more boldly in the legal development of Germany and France. Down to the sixteenth century there is in neither country any national law, but a medley of feudal, local, municipal, and royal law, besides the canon law and the law of merchants.
The feudal and local laws of Germany were compiled for the first time in the thirteenth century by private compilers. The German Mirror, the Saxon Mirror, the Swabian Mirror, and the Little Kaiser’s Law, are such compilations, and were accepted as actual law in spite of their private origin. Even when, a century later, official compilations were made (Landrechte), they were little more than new editions of the Mirrors.
In the fifteenth century, however, a new development takes place. Germany is invaded by the Roman law, and German law ceases to develop on its own lines. The Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian, as expanded by Italian commentators and glossarists, becomes the common law of Germany. This usurpation, however, is in nowise the work of the State. Once more it is the work of private persons: teachers and writers at the universities, as well as learned doctors practicing at the various courts, declare the law, and the people accept it.
The Roman law, however, did not displace local laws. On the contrary, the latter remain supreme. It is only when other sources fail that the Roman law is appealed to. The German maxim is: “Town’s law breaks land’s law; land’s law breaks common law.”
These town laws, again, though based on charter privileges and local customs, are the creation of local courts (Schoeffen-Gerichte) and not of any legislative authority.
After the Reformation, however, royal legislation also begins to play a part. The great feudatories of the empire, having become independent potentates, aspire to being law-givers as well. New spheres of legislation, such as aliens, marine, literature, and others, fall exclusively into their hands, and in many directions they modify local laws. But their influence is far smaller than that of the Parliament of England, for the issue of their laws did not interfere with the fullest obedience being paid to older laws.
Legal development has been closely analogous in France. Here also the first compilations of existing law are made in the thirteenth century, such as the Trés ancien Coutumierof Normandy, the Conseilfor the Vermandois, the Livre de Jostice et Pletfor the Orleanais and others. But, differing from the German practice, these text-books are not regarded as actual law. This, in disputed cases, is still ascertained by searches in the register of the court of the district, or by an enquéte par tourbe.
The first official attempt to ascertain what the laws are, was made by the French kings in the fifteenth century. Continued through four reigns (from Charles VII. to Louis XII.) these researches resulted in the compilation of the official Coutumiers. These show that each district had its own laws, administered by its feudal seigneur, who had right of pit and gallows, of toll and forfeiture. Of national law not a trace can be found; complete anarchy prevails.
These Coutumiers, though they henceforth are authoritative declarations of what the law is, are mere compilations. No new laws enter into them. The sole intention is to do away with the necessity for enquêtes par tourbe. Therefore, a final enquête par tourbeis held. Representatives of every order and rank in the district are called together; these discuss and alter the compilation, and finally declare it to be a true exposition of the ancient customs of their district.
Other laws, however, co-exist with the Coutumiers. In Southern France, the pays de droit écrit, a modification of the Roman law, continues to prevail; cities and towns have each developed their own law through their local courts, cours déchevins; there is the law of merchants and the canon law, and, finally, royal law also appears as an important factor somewhat earlier than in Germany. As, by conquest, province after province is added to the domain of the Crown, royal ordinances are extended to them. The new spheres of legislation also fall into the hands of the king, who, from time to time, also succeeds in encroaching on the domain of older laws. But, in the main, the condition is the same as in Germany. Older laws remain intact, and the royal laws mostly cover but a comparatively small area, and cover that incompletely. The revolution at last makes tabula rasaof this anarchic condition, imposes a national law, and, for the first time in France, realises the modern idea of uniform law made by the State.
This necessarily much abridged and hasty survey of the evolution of modern law reveals the following facts :—
Law, till comparatively recent times, is not made by any legislative authority. Originating in customs, the result of experience confirmed by the actual or supposed commands of ancestors, its sole authority, for a long time, is its antiquity or supposed antiquity. Even when, at last, law is recorded and loses its previous flexibility, alterations of previous law as well as new laws, required by social necessities, are not imposed by the State. They develop and grow, and when general approbation has been given to them, they are finally declared by various authorities, the last corner among which is the State. Finally, there arises the questionable notion that the State can make laws instead of merely declaring what the law is. It is clear, therefore, that, during by far the greater part of our era, the State made no laws, and that the human rights recognised during this period and transmitted to the present time were not and are not granted by the State or any other governing authority, and that, therefore, they are natural rights. Whatever test is applied to the socialistic view of human rights, shows it to be erroneous, and, therefore, the system, which is based upon that view must be a false system.
THE purpose for which organised society exists being the furtherance of the happiness of all the members of society—the only manner in which this purpose can be fulfilled being the maintenance of the equal natural rights of all the members of society,—it follows that it is the duty of organised society, the State, to secure to all the full possession of their natural rights, i.e. to secure to each of them the fullest opportunity for the exercise of all his faculties, consistent with the equal opportunity of all others for the exercise of their respective faculties. Not only must there be no invasion of the sphere of any individual by other individuals, but the State also must abstain from any further limitation of the sphere within which each is free to act than suffices to maintain the equal freedom of all.
Which are the natural rights, which, placed beyond the reach of any majority, cannot be limited or denied without injustice and consequent loss of happiness? To deal at length with all of them would transcend the scope of this inquiry. Neither Socialism nor any instructed Individualism denies the right to free speech and publication, free thought and worship; the right of marriage or the equal political rights of all adults of both sexes. Other natural rights are either denied or at any rate not so fully understood either in their extension or limitation, and must here be dealt with. This will be done in the following chapters.
THE ETHICS OF DISTRIBUTION
THE only means by which the State can assure the greatest aggregate sum of happiness to its members we found to be the observance of justice, i.e. securing to all equal opportunities for the exercise of their faculties. In order that anyone of them may exercise his faculties, he must satisfy the primary necessity of life, nutrition. In order that all may obtain food, some or all must exercise faculties in the production of food. The question arises, to whom rightfully belongs the food and other desirable things which any member of a society has produced by the exercise of his faculties?
Socialism, as already shown, replies, that the wealth produced by any and all the members of the State belongs to the State. The reasons by which this view is supported have been quoted verbatim.Before dealing with them, our independent inquiry into the ethics of the relations between State and citizens must be carried a step further than has so far been done.
From the sociological standpoint, ethics are a definite account of the forms of conduct which are fitted to the social state, i.e. which will enable each member to live the fullest and longest life, while rearing a due number of offspring. Differing from mere aggregations of animals, and even from those earliest human groups in which the purpose of contiguity is mainly mutual defence against external aggression, the social state implies effectual co-operation in defence against external and internal aggression) as well as in industrial activities. In the more highly developed social state, this latter object, industrial co-operation, is both more important and more continuous than defensive co-operation. The prosperity of any society, therefore, mainly depends on the extent to which the conditions for effectual co-operation, and especially industrial co-operation, are fulfilled. If these conditions are observed to a due extent, those individuals whose nature is most disposed to effectual co-operation will, on an average, live longer and leave greater progeny having similar tendencies. The whole society, thus brought into an ever better adaptation to the conditions of social life, will not only experience the greatest sum of aggregate happiness, but will also supplant other societies in which the conditions for effectual co-operation are less favourable.
In order that the sentiments, which make for social conduct may develop, each member of the State must reap more good than evil from social union. The loss from internal aggression, individual and social, must be less than the gain from industrial co-operation and from reduction of external aggression. The increase of egotistic satisfactions yielded by the social state is, therefore, obtainable only by an altruism, which, to some extent, recognises the claims of others. Where this altruism is developed so little that fear of retaliation is the only restraint, the gain from social union is comparatively small. Not only are aggressions frequent and extensive, causing great loss, but the gains from co-operation are small, because co-operation is limited in intensity and extensity by such aggressions. The gain increases in both directions as this pro-altruistic sentiment develops in the direction of the altruistic conception of equal rights, i.e. as the recognition of the equal rights of others becomes voluntary and general. It is greatest where the conditions are such that each can satisfy all his needs and rear a due number of offspring, not only without hindering others, but while aiding them in doing the like. What then is the conduct from which evolve the sentiments producing this highest development of social life? The following exposition will furnish the answer to this question.
The evolution of every species of higher animals is dominated by two laws, one egotistic, the other altruistic. The latter is, that during immaturity of the individual the benefits which it receives must be inversely proportioned to its capacity; for the continuance of the species depends upon a due number of offspring being reared. During infancy the life of all young animals is dependent not on their own efforts, but upon parental care. During gestation the embryo derives its nutrition gratuitously from the system of the mother. After birth, the greater or less helplessness of the young animal requires the gratuitous supply of food and defence against enemies by either or both parents; the rendering of these services becoming less and less necessary as, with the approach of maturity, the animal becomes better able to help itself. Other things being equal, therefore, that species will become most numerous and will supplant allied species in which the parental sentiment, compelling services being rendered inversely to the capacity of the offspring, is most highly developed, and similarly, within the species, the offspring of those possessing this sentiment to a higher degree will supplant the offspring of others.
The human offspring is helpless and dependent for a longer period than that of any other species, and the parental sentiment and emotions are proportionately more highly developed. In the higher races of men, the love and protecting guardianship of the parents follow their children even beyond the parental home, fostering the growth of the allied emotions, which cause children to return the parental love and its gifts when in their turn parents grow into advancing helplessness. The law, therefore, applies in every respect to the human species as well. In early infancy the care bestowed must be incessant on account of the absolute incapacity of the human baby. As the child grows older, services previously rendered by mother or nurse may now be assumed by the child itself; as the young men or women approach maturity and become able, through the performance of services, to obtain their own sustenance, the gratuitous provision of sustenance by parents is curtailed and ultimately withdrawn. Here also, benefits conferred are inversely proportioned to capacity, and those parents on an average will rear the greatest number of similarly disposed children, in whom the sentiments which prompt to this parental sacrifice are strongest; and those societies will outnumber and displace others in which these sentiments are most generally and strongly developed. Those parents in whom the sentiments prompting to sacrifices for the benefit of children are weakest, will, other things being equal, rear the fewest children; their progeny, possessing similar natures, being ultimately displaced by that of parents in whom the parental emotions are more highly developed.
Self-sacrificing parental love is the first of the emotions, which prompt to altruistic acts. The sympathy which it engenders, extending to wife, brothers, sisters, and parents, widens into sympathy with the clan, the tribe, and the nation, and blossoming at last into that general feeling of beneficence which, counting all mankind as kin, prompts generally to beneficent acts. This social altruism, however, lacking certain elements of parental altruism, never can attain the same intensity. Yet that it may generally attain a high level; that ministering to others’ happiness may become an indispensable condition of self-happiness; and that the happiness thus derived may be more intense and may be preferred to happiness derived from egotistic acts, may be seen in evermultiplying instances of men and women who thus secure their happiness. Such voluntary beneficence, however, cannot be carried permanently to an undue extent. For the more generally sympathetic being, on an average, those in whom the parental emotions are also most highly developed, will not tax their resources for the benefit of others beyond the limit which allows a better bringing-up being given to their own children than to those of others.
The other law is, that after maturity has been attained, benefit must be proportioned to capacity; capacity being measured by fitness for the conditions of life. On no other plan could the evolution of higher types of life from lower types have taken place, than that among adults the well-fitted shall profit by their fitness, and that the illfitted shall suffer through their unfitness. To see the absolute truth of this proposition, it needs but to imagine a species in which benefits were proportioned to inefficiency. In such case inferior would habitually survive superior and leave a greater number of progeny of like unfitness. A gradual retrogression would result, until the species, becoming less and less adjusted to the conditions under which the lives of its members must be carried on, would be exposed to universal suffering, ending in extinction.
When, on the other hand, the more efficient experience the benefit of their efficiency, and the less efficient suffer the penalty of their inefficiency, the progeny of the more efficient, inheriting more or less of this better adaptation, will gradually displace that of the less efficient. The species as a whole will gradually become better adjusted to the conditions under which the lives of its members must be carried on, and an increase in the aggregate sum of happiness must result, as well as the tendency to still further change with changing conditions, on which depends the evolution of higher types.
The survival of the fittest thus ensures that the faculties of every species tend to adjust themselves to the conditions under which the lives of its members must be carried on. It must be the same with men; with faculties which are termed moral as well as with those which are termed physical. From the earliest times, societies composed of men whose feelings and conceptions were congruous with the conditions to which they were exposed, must, other things being equal, have multiplied faster, and must have displaced those whose feelings and conceptions were incongruous with their conditions. Congruity, more or less, of individual nature to the conditions of social life, therefore, is the essential condition of human existence in the social state, and that society will experience the greatest aggregate sum of happiness and will survive all others, the average nature of the members of which is most congruous with the conditions of social life. In order that this highest average congruity may result, those whose nature is more congruous must, on an average, survive those whose nature is less congruous, and the former must rear a greater number of similarly adapted children than the latter. In no other way can this gradual adjustment and ultimate complete adaptation be achieved. Not only the present, but still more the future happiness of mankind, therefore, depends upon compliance with the law, that every adult shall experience the consequences of his own conduct; that the more efficient shall reap the advantage of their efficiency, and that the less efficient shall suffer the disadvantages of their inefficiency.
The laws governing the distribution of wealth in the social state, therefore, are, first, that all individuals shall enjoy full and equal opportunities for the exercise of their faculties in the production of wealth; second, that each of them shall possess all the wealth which the exercise of his faculties may produce from such equal opportunity. Not equality of wealth, as Socialism posits, but equality of opportunity and inequality of resulting wealth is thus the social condition which justice imposes.
The law here set forth may seem repulsive to persons who, much affected by suffering which they actually witness, are indifferent to all other suffering. Nevertheless does the highest altruism demand conformity of general conduct with its dictates. Private beneficence may advantageously smooth its hard edges; may in many ways soften the inevitable suffering of the inefficient, the less efficient, as well as of the more efficient when occasionally overtaken by misfortune. But a general departure from the law would be unethical in the highest sense. For a people, which in its corporate capacity abolishes the natural relation between efficiency and reward could not possibly survive. Either it will expose itself to the miseries and unhappiness of slow decay, or it will be conquered and absorbed by a people, which has not undermined its efficiency by the policy of fostering the survival of its inferior at the expense of that of its superior members.
Suffering is the inevitable concomitant of man’s as yet imperfect adjustment to the social state, and the only means by which a more perfect adjustment and consequent increase of happiness can be achieved. If mal-adjustment were not productive of unhappiness, or if it produced happiness, man’s nature could not evolve into greater congruity with the requirements of social life.
Moreover, incapacity causes unhappiness to the incapable, directly through overtaxing deficient faculties, and indirectly through non-fulfilment of certain conditions of welfare. Conversely, capacity brings corresponding happiness to the capable, directly through easy and complete performance of tasks, and indirectly through the fulfilment of conditions necessary to welfare. Not only self-happiness, but other-happiness as well, is furthered by capacity and hindered by incapacity. The healthy, capable man, overflowing with joyful energy, spreads happiness around him through sympathy with his mental state. Finding self-maintenance easy, he can still further add to others’ happiness by altruistic acts. The incapable man, on the other hand, whose faculties are overtaxed and whose spirits are depressed by non-success, becomes a source of depression to all around him, and is less capable of furthering others’ happiness by altruistic acts.
In the social state all members suffer from the incapacity and profit through the capacity of any of them. Deficiency of labouring power, physical and mental, results in a smaller aggregate of produce and in a consequent reduction of the share available for each. Exceptional labouring power, especially mental power, on the other hand, increases the aggregate produce, not only by the additional production of the more capable, but by increasing the productive power of less capable members as well. Organisation, inventions, discoveries, are all the work of the more capable, but add to the productive power of many.
Other defects of some individuals similarly reduce the productiveness of the labour of many. Selfishness produces friction; dishonesty entails the waste of labour in supervision and other precautionary employments; both defects thus reducing the aggregate produce of the general labour.
In addition to the negative evils caused by incapacity, there arise positive evils as well. Paupers, hospital patients, and lunatics must be maintained, who consume without producing, as also the widows and orphans of those who, through weakness of constitution or intemperate habits, die early. Without further prosecution of this argument, it will be apparent, that the happiness of every member of the social body is raised by increase in average capacity, intelligence, and conscientiousness, and that every reduction in the average of these qualities lowers the happiness of all.
One further result of selfishness, however, may yet be alluded to. The selfish person, missing the pleasures derived from altruistic emotions and actions, fails to experience the greatest and most enduring happiness, while suffering positive unhappiness when, during his more advanced years, selfish pleasures pall. On the other hand, those whom altruistic sentiments prompt to corresponding acts, thence derive positive happiness, while escaping much unhappiness. That others’ happiness is likewise furthered by those possessing altruistic natures and hindered by those possessing selfish natures, needs no proof.
It follows that the aggregate sum of happiness in the social state is dependent upon the aggregate adjustment of the society to the condition imposed by that state. These causes, however, extend beyond anyone generation. Parents having vivacious minds and vigorous bodies are likely to transmit like sources of happiness to their offspring, while unhappiness is entailed upon the progeny of parents having feeble minds and impaired physical constitutions. The emotional organisation, which prompts to altruistic acts is similarly transmitted from parents to offspring, and with it the happiness to which it gives rise. Likewise selfish, licentious, and dishonest parents are likely to transmit similar natures to their progeny. Future generations, therefore, are largely dependent for their happiness upon conditions transmitted from the present generation. Hence, social acts which further the multiplication of those less adapted to the social state lessen the aggregate of present and future happiness; social acts which, in due degree, further the multiplication of the better adapted increase the aggregate of present and future happiness. The former, therefore, are unethical, the latter ethical; and the law that adults take the consequences of their own nature and that their progeny, inheriting, on an average, like natures, also take such consequences, tends to raise the aggregate sum of happiness by furthering the multiplication of those capable of experiencing and conferring most happiness, and hindering the multiplication of those less capable of experiencing and conferring happiness.
One more consideration must be alluded to. If it is admitted that men’s nature is changeable under changing conditions, every proposal affecting social conditions must be examined with regard to its tendency to further or hinder progress towards the highest social conditions, and the correlative development of the highest human nature. Social conditions which, exempting men from the consequences of their own acts, withdraw the stimulus which the knowledge of such consequences supplies, must hinder the evolution of men’s nature in the direction of this final goal. Disassociating reward from service rendered, they hinder the growth of the sentiment of justice, which, contrariwise, is furthered by the daily association of reward with service arising from free contract. Inflicting injustice upon some, in order that undeserved benefits may be given to others, it hinders the development of altruistic sentiments in both directions. The development of mankind towards the highest physical, mental, and moral condition is, therefore, dependent in two ways upon the State abstaining from any general interference with the law, that every adult shall reap the consequences of his own acts: first, because the action of this law furthers the modification of men’s nature in this, the highest direction; second, because it ensures the multiplication of those possessing such modifications, ultimately making the latter permanent and general acquisitions.
The faculties and emotions which make for efficiency in the social state, while partly identical, are partly different from those which make for efficiency in the sub-human and savage states. Parental and marital affections and the sacrifices to which they prompt, alike in kind though differing in degree, make for efficiency in both states. Such traces of the sentiments of justice and beneficence as may be observed among higher animals, add to their efficiency, while in the social state these same sentiments highly developed are an essential condition of efficiency. For co-operation is furthered not only by the disapproval of aggression which the sentiment of justice implies, but also by assistance being voluntarily rendered without the expectation of an equivalent.
The greatest difference, however, arises from the fact that while animals, and to some extent savage men as well, are restricted to such food as nature produces spontaneously, man in the social state produces his own food and other means for the satisfaction of desires, and produces them co-operatively. This co-operation in satisfying desire, whether it consists of the division or combination of labour, co-ordinates efficiency with service. Whoever produces anything which enters the circle of exchanges renders a service to all other men, making it easier for all to satisfy their desires, not only the desires for this particular thing, but for all things. The efficiency of any individual for the social state, therefore, largely depends upon his possession of faculties enabling him to render services to others through the effort to sustain himself, and upon the emotions which prompt him to render such services adequately. Capacity, industry, honesty, enabling and prompting their possessors to direct their self-sustaining labours towards rendering greater services to others than are rendered by those who are less capable, less industrious, and less honest, must be accompanied by greater rewards than those others receive, if the whole community is ultimately to become more honest, capable, and industrious. The self-sustaining faculties and emotions purely egotistic in the sub-human and savage state, thus become partly altruistic in the social state. In the former they enable their possessor to survive and leave progeny at the expense of others; in the latter they enable him to do so while aiding others. Nature is “red in tooth and claw” below the social state; within that state she compels men to achieve the advantage of self by conferring advantages upon all others.
These considerations leave no doubt as to what is the clear and imperative duty of the State with regard to the distribution of wealth. For they show that any action of the State in the direction of equal distribution, demanded by Socialism, would be socially deleterious, because it deprives the more efficient members of the State of their due reward, in order to hand it over to the less efficient. Constituting non-compliance with one of the natural laws in obedience to which all life has evolved, the law that adults take the consequences of their own natures and acts, it inflicts upon society the penalties which such disobedience inevitably entails. Gradual adjustment to the necessary conditions of social life being prevented by the ‘survival of the less efficient and less congruous, progress towards a higher social state and towards a higher type of human nature ceases. The suffering entailed by existing mal-adjustment is perpetuated and the attainment of a greater sum of aggregate happiness is prevented, with the ultimate result, that a society thus made stationary; if not retrogressive, must be supplanted by societies in which conditions favourable to further evolution are maintained.
The reluctance to accept these conclusions arises largely from existing interferences of the State with the law that every adult shall reap the consequences of his own acts, through the creation of legal privileges, especially private ownership of land, and the consequent absence of equal opportunities for all. The monopoly of opportunities by a few, rendering nugatory the efforts of many whose natures are better adapted to the conditions of social life, prevents them from leaving a due number of children; while the owners of these opportunities, though they may be less adapted, are by their possession enabled to rear a larger number. Further, the acquisition of special privileges is furthered by unsocial qualities, such as cunning, dishonesty, and greed, while their possession and inheritance confer reward without service or adequate service rendered, and thus still further disturb the natural relation.
Under existing conditions, therefore, reward being largely severed from service rendered, the survival of the socially fittest is disturbed, and many, socially less fit than others, nevertheless survive, and leave a greater number of descendants. These facts, however, so far from contradicting the general theory and the conclusions based thereon, tend to their confirmation.
Moreover, the disappearance of the less fit from existing societies is nevertheless proceeding at a comparatively rapid rate. Public opinion, tending ever to become more healthy and exacting of compliance with higher ethical standards, represses unsocial conduct. Discourtesy, dishonesty, untruthfulness, laziness, cruelty, sexual misconduct, and drunkenness are visited with strong social disapproval; while courtesy, truthfulness, honesty, mercy, beneficence, application, and self-restraint excite more and more approbation. As a consequence, unsocial conduct is discouraged and social conduct encouraged; social sentiments are strengthened, and unsocial sentiments weakened. Hence heredity is modified by practice; the unsocial sentiments are weakened in their possessors, who transmit more adapted natures to their children than they themselves inherited, causing the gradual disappearance of such unsocial natures in a few generations.
On the other hand, those whose unsocial tendencies are too strong to be repressed by the general sentiment, tend to die out. The self-indulgent, the drunkard, and the profligate, as well as the criminal classes, leave few children. Though many children are born to many of them, they mostly die in infancy or adolescence, partly through want of due parental solicitude, partly through the inheritance of enfeebled constitutions. The surviving children, inheriting like tendencies, also leave few children, and in a few generations the strain has ceased to exist.
Under conditions of social justice, when no legal monopoly-rights exist, the disappearance of the un-adapted, however, would be far more rapid. Reward being apportioned to service rendered, the artificial disturbance of the survival of the fittest would terminate. Qualities which now, by the acquisition of legal monopolies, lead to the acquisition of fortunes and power, would not benefit their possessors, and would therefore tend to disappear. The comparative equality of possessions, and disappearance of involuntary poverty, creating a more homogeneous society, would add to the force of public opinion, and make that opinion still more exacting of ethical conduct. At the same time the temptation to unethical conduct, arising on the one hand from excessive riches, on the other from poverty, especially from poverty in city slums, would be materially lessened by the scarcity of either condition. All these forces would unite to the modification of inherited tendencies in the direction of gradual and better adaptation to the conditions of social life. The remainder-individuals endowed with such unsocial natures that these influences would fail to modify them would be comparatively few, and their disappearance would, therefore, be still more rapid. The more efficient would still receive the reward of their greater efficiency, and the less efficient would still suffer for their inefficiency. But as the differences in efficiency would be lessened by raising the social efficiency of the great majority, the suffering would be comparatively slight, and the time would be materially hastened when, all mankind being approximately adapted to the requirements of social life, unsocial conduct and consequent suffering would disappear. The foregoing examination shows that the distributive proposal of Socialism is in the highest degree unethical and disastrous to the present and future wellbeing of mankind. An examination, in the light of evolutionary experience, of the reasons by which the exponents of Socialism support this proposal, shows them to be as futile as they are crude. These reasons will now be dealt with in the sequence in which they have been enumerated in Part I. chap. iv. The first of these is the allegation, that under the far-reaching co-operative processes of today, it is impossible for competition to ensure to every co-operator a reward commensurate with the services rendered by him.
It is true that, under existing conditions, competition fails to assure to each co-operator in the co-operative system of production a reward accurately proportioned to the services rendered by him. This failure, however, obviously does not justify a proposal which aims at the absolute severance of reward from service rendered. On the contrary, it imposes upon society the duty to remove those interferences with the action of competition which, causing it to be one-sided, prevent its tendency to proportion reward to service coming into full play. What these interferences are, has been pointed out in Part II.
The second line of reasoning is based on the conception, that “the special ability or energy with which some persons are born” is the result of ancestral evolution, and, therefore, a social product which, as such, belongs to society as a whole.
Not only the special energy and ability of some, but all the faculties and emotions of every individual, are the result of ancestral evolution. The claim, founded on this consideration, that the results of the exercise of special ability and energy, the so-called “rent of ability,” belong to society, overlooks several important facts. The first of these, elaborated above, is, that by delaying, if not preventing, the rearing of a more numerous progeny by those possessing special ability and energy, it is detrimental to the further evolution of all members of society in this direction. The other is, that special ability and energy as such produce no results, not even any “rent of ability.”
In order that such results may be produced, these qualities must be used productively. When so used they not only benefit their possessors, but, under just conditions, all other individuals as well. The aggregate sum of happiness, therefore, is increased in two ways by the exercise of special ability and energy: first, in the greater happiness which their exercise brings to their possessors; second, in the greater means to happiness which it places within the reach of all others as well. The incentive to the exercise of these qualities is the special reward, which it brings to their possessors. If that reward is withdrawn, as by equal distribution it would be withdrawn; if it is made as well to be inferior as to be superior, the exercise of special ability and energy will be discouraged, and the happiness not only of their possessors, but of all other men as well, will be diminished.
Moreover, to compare the increased reward derived from the exercise of special ability with the so-called “unearned increment” of rent is merely another proof of the radically defective analysis of economic facts habitual to socialists. For while an increase of rent comes to the owners of land without any service rendered by them, and as a deduction from the total result of the social product; any increase in reward derived through the exercise of special ability is dependent, under natural conditions, upon additional service rendered by the possessors of special ability, which service adds more to the social fund than the reward amounts to which those who render it can possibly receive.
The third argument is, that the reward which anyone receives “depends entirely upon the desires and needs of others for his services”; the value of the services, being thus a social product, belongs not to him who renders the services, but the society.
It is undoubtedly true that the power of every individual to supply his wants in the co-operative industrial society depends mainly on the desire of others for his services. But the conclusion to which this fact points is not that he must be deprived of the reward which these others are willing to give him for his services. On the contrary, as the satisfaction of their desires for his services enhances their happiness, he who renders these services is entitled to a reward commensurate with the happiness, which he confers. It is the expectation of this reward, which stimulates his efforts to render services, i.e. to confer happiness; and it is this reward, which, enabling him who renders greater services than others to rear a greater number of offspring, will ultimately increase the services rendered by all. To deny a greater reward than the average to him who confers more than the average amount of happiness by his services, in order to increase the reward of him who confers less than the average amount of happiness by his services, must, therefore, reduce the aggregate sum of present and future happiness.
The fourth and last line of argument is that adopted by Mr. Edward Bellamy, and consists of the following reasoning: Society as such enormously increases the productive capacity of every man, and, therefore, all the produce of every man’s labour, and not merely the addition due to his participation in social advantages, belongs to society and not to the producer.
The way in which this apparently illogical contention is arrived at is shown in the following quotation :—
“This analysis of the product of industry must needs stand to minimise the importance of the personal equation of performance as between individual workers. If the modern man, by aid of the social machinery, can produce fifty dollars’ worth of product where he could produce not over a quarter of a dollar’s worth without Society, then forty-nine dollars and three-quarters out of every fifty dollars must be credited to the social fund to be equally distributed. The industrial efficiency of two men working without Society might have differed as two to one-that is, while one man was able to produce a full quarter-dollar’s worth of work a day, the other could produce only twelve and a half cents’ worth. This was a great difference under those circumstances, but twelve and a half cents is so slight a proportion of fifty dollars as not to be worth mentioning. That is to say, the difference in individual endowments between the two men would remain the same, but that difference would be reduced to relative unimportance by the prodigious equal addition made to the product of both alike by the social organism.”
The fallacy in this reasoning is so clear that he who runs can read it. The existence of the social organism increases, according to the hypothesis, the value of one man’s work from twenty-five cents to fifty dollars. Does it necessarily increase to fifty dollars also the value of the work of him who only produces half as much? If, for instance, one man makes one pair of boots a day, while another man produces two pair of boots in the same time, does the social organism increase the value of the one pair of boots to exactly the level of that of the two pair of boots? If not—and it will be admitted it does not; that, on the contrary, the two pair of boots are worth exactly twice as much as the one pair under any given social conditions—it follows that the social organism does not make an “equal addition to the product of both alike.”
In the given case, therefore, Society increases the value of the one man’s work from twelve and one-half cents to twenty-five dollars, and the value of the other man’s work from twenty-five cents to fifty dollars. By appropriating the product of the labour of both, Society, therefore, does not extend approximately the same treatment to both of them, but the inequality of treatment thus meted out is of immense importance.
For it is clear that neither the one pair nor the two pair of boots would have had any existence but for the use which each of these men made of the social organism by the exercise of their labour. Not to the social organism, therefore, but to the exercise of their respective abilities, must the existence of the boots be attributed. The social organism is merely an opportunity which all must use for the fructification of their efforts. The extent to which each does use it depends upon his own capacity and sentiments. The greater use anyone makes of this opportunity, the greater is the service, which he renders to Society. For Society to appropriate the result of the use, which anyone makes of social opportunities is therefore unjust and unwise. All that Society may and must do is, to see that these social opportunities are equally open to all, leaving to each the full reward, which his use of such opportunities may bring to him.
Moreover, the statement that Society is the only heir to the inheritance of intellect and discovery, is only true with regard to one of its parts. Intellect is a personal attribute as much as speed, imagination, muscular strength, or a good digestion. Like intellect, all these faculties are the result of the ancestral struggle for existence and consequent better adjustment to the conditions of life. If intellect is a social inheritance, all these other attributes, a good digestion included, are also social inheritances. Yet, like intellect, these faculties cannot be exercised by Society, but by their individual possessors alone. They, therefore, are not social inheritances, in the only sense which such a statement conveys, that they are common possessions to which all are equally entitled. They are, on the contrary, individual inheritances to which the individual alone can claim a right, and which no one but the individual who has inherited them can use.
If, on the other hand, the idea intended to be conveyed is that the result of the exercise of intellect is a social inheritance, the idea is negatived by the same considerations, which were found to invalidate the similar claim made with regard to the result of ability and energy.
It is, however, different with discoveries. Discoveries, inventions, and additions to knowledge are only temporarily individual possessions, and ultimately become social possessions and a social inheritance. The individual making a discovery or invention, or acquiring a new knowledge, does so by utilising antecedent discoveries and knowledge, the accumulated product of all past generations. We all stand on the shoulders of our predecessors; can reach higher than they could reach, because the knowledge transmitted to us by them places us on a higher level. This accumulated and transmitted knowledge, however, is an opportunity open to all. The individual who, using this common opportunity, makes a further discovery or invention, or acquires additional knowledge, assumes no greater freedom than any other possesses. The new discovery, arising from the exercise of his individual faculty upon an opportunity equally open to all, is the exclusive and individual possession of the discoverer by the law that everyone shall experience the results of his own acts. If he chooses to communicate the discovery, invention, or new knowledge to others, he is free to impose the terms on which he will do so, and any use of the discovery, invention, or knowledge by others, contrary to such terms, is a breach of contract, an undue interference with the law of equal freedom.
But just as all material products of labour ultimately merge again in the general stock of matter, so all new discoveries, inventions, and knowledge ultimately merge in the general fund of knowledge. The individual having made the discovery or invention, or acquired the new knowledge, must die, and with him would die the result of his exertion unless it were adopted and preserved by other men of the same generation and of succeeding generations. The accumulation of discoveries and inventions, the fund of knowledge which any society possesses, is transmitted not by particular individuals to their descendants, but by previous generations to the present one, which in its turn will transmit it, enriched and enlarged by the efforts of its members, to future generations. This fund, therefore, is a true social or common inheritance. As such all are equally entitled to use it in the only way in which it can be used, viz. acquiring it or as much of it as they will or can by their own efforts as one of the common opportunities for the maintenance of life and the achievement of happiness. For this common opportunity cannot be monopolised as other common opportunities can, in the way that its acquisition by one will prevent others from acquiring an equal share. On the contrary, the more knowledge is acquired by any man, and the greater “the number of men who acquire the fullest knowledge, the easier becomes the acquisition of like knowledge by others. In every case, however, the acquisition of knowledge can be achieved by individual effort alone. While, therefore, knowledge is a social inheritance and possession, yet all men cannot be entitled to equal knowledge, nor can knowledge be distributed among them unequally. What all are entitled to, what it is the duty of the State to bring about, is that all have an equal opportunity for the acquisition of as much knowledge as any of them may desire or can absorb. Again it must be pointed out that the right of each to an equal opportunity with all others for acquiring knowledge does not involve any common right in the products, not even the material ones, which the acquisition of superior knowledge enables its possessors to produce. For knowledge, like intellect, ability, and energy, produces nothing; the application of knowledge alone leads to material results. The product resulting from the application of superior knowledge, therefore, is in all respects subject to the same considerations as the product resulting from the exercise of superior intellect, ability, and energy; it is an individual possession to which Society can urge no claims.
With the exception of the first, all the reasons adduced in favour of social possession and equal distribution of labour-products suffer from the same defect. They all confuse the right of equal possession of desired things with the right of equal opportunities to produce desired things. The former is a spurious right, disregarding the essential conditions of life; the other is a true right, emanating from and congruous with the essential conditions of life. Ethics, therefore, utter the same condemnation of the distributive proposals of Socialism as we found Economics to do, i.e. that they are opposed to and destructive of the highest interests of mankind. Ethics as well as Economics show that there is only one true and beneficial system of distribution: the one which, founded on justice, leaves in the possession of every individual all the produce which the exercise of his faculties brings forth, or which others freely surrender to him as a gift or in return for services rendered to them, always provided that no one is granted a greater share than others in the common opportunities to produce or render services without his making full compensation to these others for any loss of opportunity which they may suffer in consequence.
THE RIGHT TO THE USE OF THE EARTH
THE dry superficial area of the earth being the only , medium through which external nature becomes accessible to man; being not merely his only foothold and restingplace, but also the means through which he obtains access to all the matter which he, through the exercise of his faculties, changes into objects fit to satisfy his desires and maintain his life,—it follows that freedom to use the earth is the indispensable condition for the exercise of man’s faculties and the maintenance of his life. Hence the right to the use of the earth is a natural right, the denial of which involves the denial of the right to the exercise of any faculty, that is, the denial of the right to live.
The right of anyone to the exercise of his faculties being limited only by the equal right of everyone else, the exercise of any faculty being dependent upon the use of the earth, it follows that the right of anyone to use the earth is limited only by the equal right of every one else. The natural right to the use of the earth, therefore, is an equal right, inherent in all. If there were only one man upon this earth he would obviously be free to use the whole earth; the right of any second man to do the like must be equal to that of the former. Nor can further multiplication bring about any change in this relation. Of all the millions inhabiting the earth to-day, each is free to use the whole earth or any part of it, provided he infringes not the equal right of any other man. And conversely, it is equally true that no one of them may so use the earth as to prevent any other from similarly using it. For to do so implies a claim to greater opportunities for the exercise of his faculties than others can enjoy.
The earth, therefore, is the common property of all men—the common property of all now living men, subject to the equal rights of all succeeding generations. For just as the human beings now living are dependent upon the use of the earth for the exercise of their faculties and the maintenance of their lives, so will succeeding generations of men be dependent upon the same condition for the maintenance of their lives. A baby, which will be born tomorrow or next year or a century hence, therefore, will have, in its turn, the same right to the use of the earth as anyone now inhabiting the earth. No arrangements made, even with the consent of all living men, can deprive any member of any future generation of his or her equal rights to the use of the earth. Likewise no arrangements made by past generations, even if all their members had consented to them, can deprive any one now living of his equal right. For every such arrangement, if enforced, would offend against the law of equal freedom, would deprive some of their right to an equal opportunity for the exercise of their faculties and the maintenance of their lives; would run counter to the law, that each adult shall experience the consequences of his own acts, and would do all this at the dictation of some past generation making them the masters of all subsequent generations.
Justice, therefore, condemns private ownership of land. For if one portion of the earth’s surface, however small may justly be made private property, then all portion may equally be made private property, and consequently the whole earth may be made the private property of some men. As private property of any portion of the earth involves the right of exclusive use of such portion, the private ownership of the whole earth likewise involves the right of exclusive use of the whole earth. All non-landowners, under this condition, would have no right to the use of any part of the earth, would have no right to live upon it. Being here on sufferance only, being dependent upon the permission of the landowners for an opportunity to maintain their lives, the landowners may deny them such permission without any infraction of justice. As mere trespassers on the earth, the owners of the earth may justly hunt them off the earth, i.e. condemn them to immediate death. If, then, the whole earth can justly be made private property—a proposition involved in the claim that a part of it may be made private property—the law of equal freedom is denied. For even if the owners of the earth were habitually to permit of its use by all others, the latter would have no right to such use—would be dependent upon such permission for the exercise of their faculties and the maintenance of their lives. Obviously, those who are dependent upon the permission of others for the exercise of their faculties and the continuance of their lives, cannot have equal freedom with these others. On the contrary, the others are absolute masters, and they are slaves without any rights. Though the whole earth has not yet been made private property, the most valuable parts of the earth have been so appropriated. As a consequence vast numbers of human beings in every civilised country are deprived of their equal right to the use of the earth, are dependent upon the permission of others for the use of any opportunity to exercise their faculties and maintain their lives. The conditions, which would arise if the whole earth were privately owned have actually arisen in civilised countries through the private ownership of all the land of such countries. For though elsewhere there is yet land not privately owned, it is too distant or too little productive to enable the majority of non-landowners to escape from the conditions prevailing in their country. In every civilised country the majority of the non-landowners, therefore, are deprived of their right to use their faculties for the maintenance of their lives, while amongst the landowners themselves there prevails the greatest disparity of right. A few, owning more or less extensive areas of valuable land; enjoy opportunities far in excess of what equity could assign to them; the majority, owning small areas of little value, enjoy opportunities of less extent than equity would assign to them. What justice requires, the recognition of the right of all to equal opportunities for the exercise of their respective faculties, is absolutely denied in all civilised countries.
This denial of justice, this abrogation of fundamental rights, has arisen, exists, and continues to exist, not in spite of the State, but through the direct action of the State. As will be shown in the next chapter, the State, by a consistent course of force and fraud, has created private property in land, and now maintains it by force. Were it not that police and soldiers are ready to enforce the claim of private owners, the institution of private ownership could not maintain itself. Men cultivating or otherwise using the land would not for long continue to pay others for the privilege of doing so, if the State did not force them; still less would men, seeking for an opportunity to maintain their lives, allow vast areas of valuable land to remain unused while they must starve.
The State, therefore, is not merely guilty of neglecting one of its fundamental duties in allowing private property in land to continue; it commits the positive wrong of maintaining this unjust condition. Yet, as it is the primary duty of the State to maintain justice, to prevent any infringement of the equal rights of all its members, the State is bound to frame and enforce regulations, which will safeguard the equal right of everyone of its members to the use of the national land. Nor would it be difficult so to do. The opportunity, which any piece of land offers for the exercise of faculties is measured by its value; the product of the exercise of faculties on any piece of land is measured by the value of such produce minus the rental value of such land. The land offering the least valuable opportunity, which must be used, having no rental value under natural conditions, the rental value of all superior land is the measure of the superior opportunity inhering in it. The State, taking for common purposes the annual rental value of all land, would equalise all natural opportunities and maintain the equal right of all to the use of the land. All would have an equal opportunity to use any part of the land, and those who obtained the privilege of using superior opportunities would pay full compensation to all others for the special privilege accorded to them.
An illustration will make this clear. A father leaves to his three sons, in common, property consisting of three houses of unequal value. Each of the sons wants to inhabit one of the houses, and the question arises, how is the common right of all three to be maintained while according to each the use of a house. They decide the issue in this way. Each of them makes an offer of what rent he will pay for the use of one or more of the houses. When the offers are compared, it is found that the highest rent offered for the largest house is £ 150, and is made by the eldest. He, therefore, is accorded the use of this house. The next eldest offers the higher rent for the second house, £ 100, while the youngest son has offered a rent of £ 50 for the smallest house. They are, therefore, granted the use of these respective houses. The rent for the three houses, £ 300 in all, is placed in a common fund, and is equally divided between the three, each of them receiving £ 100. Obviously this method safeguards the equal right of all of them, without any interference with the freedom of any.
That the equal right of all the members of the State to the use of the land may be similarly safeguarded, that such a system may be carried out without any interference by the State with the individual use of land, and while fully maintaining the individual ownership of any improvements placed on the land, will be fully shown in Part V., when dealing with what is known as the Single Tax proposal. For the present purpose it suffices to have shown that justice cannot recognise any private property in land, and imperatively demands that the State shall restore to everyone of its members his natural inherent and equal right to the use of the earth.
THE ETHICS OF PROPERTY
THE sense of proprietorship exists to some extent in the animal world. Squirrels and badgers have their hoards; dogs defend articles left in their charge, and bury bones for future consumption; and many animals, like the dogs of Constantinople, resent the intrusion of members of their own species into the quarters which they regard as their own, or belonging to their special troop or herd. It is, therefore, not surprising that a like sentiment exists even among the most primitive of men, though in a similarly rudimentary form.
The conditions of savage life cause the proprietary sentiment to be indefinite and .restricted. Deficient in imagination, savage man has no adequate consciousness of the future and its recurrent wants. The stimulus to industry, therefore, being weak, there goes with it a similarly small development and consequent indefiniteness of the proprietary sentiment. The low industrial development causes this partially developed and indefinite sentiment to be confined in extent. Beyond his arms and a few rude appliances the savage has nothing that can be accumulated. Under these circumstances he cannot have a clear or extensive consciousness of individual possession. For, like other sentiments, that of proprietorship depends for its development upon the experience, continued through many generations, of the gratifications which possession brings. Where the conditions of life restrict these experiences the sentiment must remain correspondingly weak.
Nevertheless, even amongst the lowest savages, individual property is claimed in arms, in personal decorations, frequently consisting of relics of conquered enemies, and in such appliances as minister to bodily wants and are capable of repeated use. As we ascend in the scale, other things, such as skins, huts, utensils, clothes, and others similarly adapted to recurrent use, are seen to be private property, while the hunting-ground, in which no individual claims can be marked off, is regarded as the common property of the horde or tribe.
When animals become domesticated and give rise to pastoral life, and still more when agriculture is combined with it, the field over which private possession can extend is greatly enlarged. A further extension is made possible when exchanges arise, first in the form of barter, and subsequently in the more definite form of sale and purchase.
This extension of the area of private proprietorship is accompanied by a greater definiteness in the correlative sentiment. During the hunting stage every member of the horde helps himself freely to any game killed by one or more individuals, though not infrequently the right of the successful hunter to choice parts, skin and horns, is recognised. No method of preserving meat being known, and game being frequently too large to be consumed by one family before it becomes unfit for use, this form of joint proprietorship is imposed by natural conditions. Similarly in the pastoral stage, the absence of money and market values makes it impossible to assign to every member of the patriarchal family and to its dependents such parts of the produce of the herd or of the herd itself as is proportionate to the labour expended by each. Hence all property is centred in the hands of the patriarchal housefather, who assigns to every member of the household as much of it as he, guided by ancient custom, deems fitting.
When the patriarchal group settles down to agricultural pursuits, reverence for ancient customs, strengthened by the worship of ancestors whose commands are supposed to be embodied in these customs, as well as the necessities of mutual defence, combine to maintain the system of joint production and joint consumption. Exposed to constant aggression, no individual, separated from his kindred, would be able to maintain his life or keep any property.
Nevertheless, differentiation soon begins within the communal group. Each person establishes individual ownership in things on which he has expended separate labour, in things which he has acquired in exchange for the products of his separate labour, and in things which his individual prowess has won from an enemy. Nevertheless, the greater part of every individual’s exertion being directed, in co-operation with those of others, towards common production, the principal product of each individual’s labour is enjoyed in common with these others. Compensation for injury suffered by any member of the group is similarly a joint possession of all those who are under the obligation of the blood-feud, though there can be little doubt that, when the character of the things given in compensation allowed of it, they were generally divided among the members of the group.
As soon, however, as greater external safety makes the shelter of the family group of less importance, while growing commercial intercourse and increasing differentiation of pursuits multiply the opportunities for acquiring individual possessions, an external differentiation begins. For the communal system bore within it from the first a cause of dissolution ready to operate as soon as the conditions of life allowed of it. The more restless and independent of its members must always have chafed at the restrictions placed on their activities, while the more industrious and skilful must have felt the injustice of the idle and unskilful taking equal shares with themselves. These, therefore, avail themselves sooner or later of favourable conditions, which enable them to leave the house or village community, which ultimately dissolves and divides its property amongst its members. Private ownership begins thus gradually to supplant joint ownership in all the products of labour as soon as the conditions which impose ownership are withdrawn. Each individual claims full and exclusive possession and property in the produce of his own exertions, in obedience to the law, that each adult shall experience all the consequences of his own acts.
The origin of proprietary rights in things, which are not the produce of labour must now be alluded to. The primitive savage, in whom the sentiment of justice is as yet but little developed, regards his wife and children as his absolute and exclusive property. He may kill them or sell them into slavery without fear of incurring the disapproval of his fellows. Reverence for ancient customs, ancestor worship, and the acquisition of wives by purchase or capture tend to prolong this subjection, so that it is found even in comparatively civilised communities, such as China.
As the greater physical strength of the male leads to the establishment of proprietary rights in women and children, so greater prowess in war establishes property rights over the persons and possessions of conquered enemies. Though there are some contributory causes of later origin, war is the primary as well as the more general cause of property in slaves and of private property in land. In the absence of any greater industrial development than is possible during the hunting stage slaves are almost useless, and, where game is scarce, a disadvantage. Savages, therefore, rarely make slaves of their captives; they either kill and eat them, or, in rare cases, adopt them into the tribe. Slavery gradually supplants cannibalism as the pastoral and agricultural stages are reached, and, finally, becomes a settled institution. For tribes who use their captives as producers, while their men are all warriors, have a great advantage over tribes which, killing their captives, can only bring a part of their men into the field. The conquest and displacement of the more savage and ferocious by less savage and ferocious tribes has thus been furthered by slavery. As, however, decrease of military activity, lessening the number of deaths by violence, leads to an increase in the number of native men, while at the same time the slaveclass is less frequently increased by fresh captives, some of the free population must take part in industrial activities. When, through private ownership of land, free labourers become disassociated from the soil and are forced to sell their labour to others for little more than sustenance, slavery tends to disappear. For in the competition between free labour and slave labour the latter is invariably found to be the weaker. In relative interest, intelligence, and energy the free labourer is far superior to the slave labourer, and, therefore, the more profitable productive agent. This economic cause, tending to produce the disappearance of slavery, is ultimately assisted by the developed sentiment of justice in causing the abolition of slavery, even where, as in domestic service, the economic cause, by itself, would not be active. In the hunting as well as in the pastoral stage the participation in the use of the land must be a joint participation. The hunter must be free to follow his game, and herds must be driven from place to place as the seasons and the state of grass and water dictate. When, with the agricultural stage, the individual use of particular areas of land becomes possible, many circumstances delay its adoption. Traditional usage, sanctified by ancestor worship, has formed sentiments inimical to change. Impossibility to fence off large areas plays a restraining part, and the absence of any knowledge of manures compels the frequent shifting of cultivated areas through exhaustion of the soil. Hence, throughout long stages, land is not only owned jointly by the family, village, or tribe, but it is even used jointly. Even when joint use of agricultural land is abandoned, and when, through greater fixity of structure, a house lot is used for a long time by the same family, this individual use of land fails to establish individual ownership. As soon as the crop is taken off, or planted trees have died, or the house disappears, the land reverts to the community, and agricultural land is subject to re-allotment at more or less regular periods. As a typical example, the Teutonic mark may be alluded to. The territory was owned jointly by the whole clan, composed of kindred families, every freeman having the right of use to some arable land, as well as to meadows, pastures, and wood. All but the arable land was used in common, and the latter reverted to the same condition as soon as the crop was taken off, being then used as common grazing land. Thus the right of each adult male member of the clan or village, permanent only as regards the actual homestead, was for the rest of the nature of a usufruct only, the ownership of all the land being vested in the collective body of free men.
Wherever common ownership of the land has terminated, force, either internal or external, has been the cause. Invasion and conquest give unlimited possession of the person and property of the conquered. Along with other spoils of war the land becomes a spoil, being henceforth owned by the conquering leader, chief, or king, and partly allotted by him to his followers, on conditions which, more or less effectively, preserve his supremacy.
Similarly, long-continued resistance to invasion, giving rise to those class distinctions, which always accompany the militant state, enables the more powerful to appropriate part of the common property. The personal subordination, necessary in war, becomes permanent where warfare is chronic, and produces sentiments, which lead to acquiescence in aggressions upon the common property. Such aggression, at first spasmodic, is converted into a State policy when the interests of the king induce him to endeavour to break up the village or clan organisation of society.
Conquest and internal aggression are thus, everywhere, the causes of slavery and of the individual ownership of land. The private ownership of land, established by militancy, is, however, incomplete. Qualified in one direction by the right of the suzerain to customary services by the landholders, it is qualified in the opposite direction by the rights of sub-tenants and serfs to a share in the produce of the soil. In both directions a rent-charge limits the ownership of the tenant-in-chief; that due to the suzerain being used, more or less faithfully, for common objects; that due to the sub-tenants and serfs being used for their private objects. Growing industrialism and decline of militarism afford the opportunity to the landholders, who, as the ruling class, are also either actual legislators or possessed of the greatest influence over legislators, to get rid of both limitations. Military obligations are at first exchanged for a money rent, for which, subsequently, a tax on the whole people is substituted. With the decline and ultimate disappearance of serfdom, and the substitution of money rent for obligations of service, the qualified rights of the sub-tenants and former serfs become obscured and ultimately terminate. The rent, at first fixed with due regard to their rights in the soil, is gradually increased as these tights fade from view, until at last, absorbing the value of such rights, it is equal, or even in excess, of the full value of the land. The absolute ownership of land by individuals, now existing, therefore, is a comparatively late development, having its root in conquest, force, or fraud.
Both the ownership of slaves and the private ownership of land thus stand on a different basis, and derive their existence from a different cause than the ownership of the products of labour.
It is the same with monopolies. Every monopoly created by the State, as has been shown, has for its basis a special privilege granted to some, which cannot be equally granted to all. The possession of such privileges gives to their possessors a twofold advantage over others. It gives to them a greater opportunity to exercise their faculties, greater freedom than others can enjoy; and it enables them to appropriate wealth produced by others without rendering equivalent service in return.
The distribution of wealth being an assignment of ownership, the principles, which determine the distribution of wealth must also determine proprietary rights. These principles we found to be that all the members of the State are entitled to full and equal opportunities for exercising their faculties in the production of wealth, and that each is entitled to full proprietary rights in all things that his exertions produce. All forms of wealth being he joint product of labour and of external matter, rights of property must be governed by a combination of the laws governing individual exertion and the use of the earth. Labour, therefore, can give no right to wealth, which is derived from a better natural opportunity than others are permitted to use. No man having a better right than any others to the use of the earth, the rights of all to use the earth are equal. Whatever wealth any man’s labour extracts from natural opportunities which no one else wants, belongs to him and to him alone. But if more than one desires to use any part of land—that is, if the land have any value—the one who receives the privilege of using it must compensate all others for the special privilege accorded to him. For that any part of land is desired by more than one man, that it has a value, proves that it affords a better opportunity for making wealth, or confers some other advantage greater than is open to all. Society as a whole, therefore, is entitled to that part of individual labour-products which is due to the better natural opportunities used by any of its members, while each member has full proprietary rights in all that part of the produce of his labour which the same exertion would have produced if applied to the least productive opportunity which must be used by some men. The one is rent, a common property, to which all are entitled equally; the other is the product of individual exertion, to which each is entitled individually.
It follows that property in slaves, in land, and in monopolies is in reality an infringement of the right of property. For just as slavery deprives the slave of his individual property, so does the private ownership of land, giving to a few the rent which equally belongs to all, deprive the majority of men of their common property, and so does the private ownership of monopolies deprive all other men either of a part of the one or of a part of the other.
In addition to this direct infringement of “the sanctity of property,” private ownership of land involves indirect infringements as well. These have been set forth in Part II chapter viii., but the importance of one of them justifies its further exposition. The appropriation by the landlords of the common or social property compels the State to deprive its members of their individual property. In guarding the natural rights of its members, and performing the duties consequent thereon, the State incurs expenses. These expenses increase with every addition to the population, and with every increase in social integration and differentiation. This social growth however, adds to the common fund, the rental value of land, out of which these common expenses can be met, by far more than it increases the necessary and legitimate expenditure. When, however, this common fund is a appropriated by individuals, the expenses of the State must be met in other ways. That way is taxation, i.e. the State now deprives all its members of part of their individual property. The State having, by its own act, handed to individuals the common property of all, now infringes upon the individual property of each of its members. To the theft of the common property, the theft of individual property is added.
The object of the State, the fuller ensurance of the equal rights of all its members, is defeated by the habitualcurtailment of any of these rights. Nevertheless, occasions may arise when some or all rights must be temporarily curtailed, in order to ensure their permanent recognition. Such necessity may arise from external aggression. When the existence of the State itself is threatened, the State may, in so far as appears necessary, call upon all its members to risk their lives in defence of the common rights. Property being less important than life itself, the right to property is of inferior importance to the right to life—the State has still less cause to abstain from infringing the right to property. For purposes of defensive war, therefore, when the common property is insufficient to meet the necessary expenditure, individual property may be appropriated by the State, provided that the sacrifice of time, health, life, and property, which the members of the State are called upon to make is in some manner equalised. Taxation of individual wealth, unjustifiable as a habitual measure in time of peace, may, therefore, become justifiable as a temporary measure for purposes of defensive war.
The false notions of proprietary rights engendered by the existing systems of monopoly have obscured even this truth. While some States rely upon voluntary enlistment even in time of war, others habitually practise compulsion, and in none is the right of the State to compel its members to sacrifice their lives in the common defence questioned. While thus claiming the right to infringe, or actually infringing, the equal right to life of some of its members, the State does not generally expect, nor compel a similar sacrifice of property. Instead of calling upon the owners of accumulated property to furnish the funds necessary for defence, the State generally borrows such funds from them, repaying them with interest out of the proceeds of taxation, which mainly falls, not on accumulated property, but on the labour of those classes which have borne the major part of the sacrifice of time, health, and life. The masses of the people, from whom the bulk of the active defenders are drawn, are thus compelled to sacrifice the produce of their labour as well; while the owners of accumulated property, who generally take no part in the actual defence, sacrifice little or no property, and frequently receive back, apart from interest, a greater amount of wealth than they have lent to the State. Property in things not produced by labour is a direct denial of the only true right of property, that in things produced by labour. All these forms of property-slavery, private ownership of land and of monopolies—are so many endeavours to enable some to live without labour, by the forcible appropriation of the produce of others’ labour. Being, therefore, an infringement of the law of equal freedom, as also of the law that every adult shall experience the consequences of his own acts, they have no ethical basis, and are contrary to justice. Not till all these forms of invasion of property rights are abolished does the true right of property prevail. Nor can it prevail under Socialism. For Socialism also invades the valid individual property rights of many of its members, of all those who are more able and industrious, by handing over to the less able and industrious a part of the property of the former. For the injustice now prevailing it proposes to substitute another injustice, and must, therefore, perpetuate, though probably in slightly different forms, the evils now existing.
THE RIGHT OF FREE INDUSTRY
THE law of equal freedom has, as a necessary corollary, that everyone shall be free to exercise such of his faculties as he pleases, and in such times, places, and manner as to him seems best, provided his resulting activities do not infringe the equal rights of others. Justice, therefore, cannot recognise any limitation upon or interference with the industrial and professional activities of men other than is necessary for the maintenance of equal freedom. Any ction by the State or by individuals in this direction is an infringement of the right ofequal freedom. “The right to labour,” therefore, is a natural right, not in the sense in which Socialism uses the term, that the State shall provide work for all its members, but in the sense that it is the duty of the State to prevent an equal opportunity for work being denied to anyone, and to abstain from interference with the amount, kind, and manner of work which anyone elects to do.
Socialism, by entrusting the conduct of industries to the State, proposes to abolish this natural right, and thereby, depriving all or nearly all of freedom, would establish a virtual condition of slavery.
Slavery has existed under many and widely varying forms. The difference is great between the mild and patriarchal system of slavery as it existed in many pastoral tribes and now exists in Turkey, and that which, arising when slaves are bought and sold, leads to their treatment as mere working animals without any rights, such as existed in Rome and in the southern states of America.
Serfdom, the form of slavery arising from conquest, likewise exhibits widely different forms of severity, extending all the way from the mild form which it had assumed in Russia on the eve of its abolition to the extreme degradation of the Peruvians after the Spanish conquest.
What is it that, nevertheless, enables us to recognise all those widely varying conditions as states of slavery? In other words, which are the essential features, which distinguish slavery from freedom? There are two and only two. One is the right of the owner to determine the time, place, and direction in which the slave shall exercise his industrial faculties; the other is the right of the owner to appropriate part or all of the product of the slave’s labour. These two conditions, being the persistent concomitants of slavery from its mildest to its most severe forms, are the essential conditions of slavery. Where they exist slavery exists, and the question who inflicts the slavery, who is the owner, does not affect the issue. Slavery, therefore, may arise from subjection to one individual, or to an organised body of many individuals, the State—from the subjection of an insignificant minority or of an absolute majority; may be imposed by force or voluntarily assumed. The industrial proposals of Socialism, involving, as has been shown,the determination by State officials of the time and place in which each member of the State shall carry on his industrial activities, as also what shall be the nature of the activities which each shall carry on, obviously deprive all of them of freedom and establish with regard to all one of the essential conditions of slavery. The distributive proposal of Socialism, depriving the more able and industrious members of the community of a part of the result of their labour, establishes, as far as they are concerned, the second essential condition of slavery. Socialism thus will inflict full slavery on many while inflicting partial slavery on nearly all the members of society. Its industrial proposals, therefore, again disregard the essential natural rights, the right of each to the freest and fullest exercise of all his faculties, limited only by the equal right of all others. Socialism, therefore, must reduce the aggregate sum of happiness because it disregards the conditions, which alone can secure the greatest sum of happiness.
While the law of equal freedom thus forbids the conduct of industries in general by the State, it imposes upon the State either the conduct of particular industries or participation in their results. Such industries are all those which cannot be undertaken by an individual or body of individuals without a special privilege given by the State, a privilege which cannot be granted equally to all others. For the grant of such special privileges to some is in itself an infringement of the law of equal freedom, unless all have an equal opportunity of acquiring them, and unless those who are successful give full compensation to all others for the special privilege accorded to them. The same principle, therefore, which imposes upon the State abstinence from interference with industrial activities in which all can engage, also enforces upon the State the duty to conduct, or to frame equitable regulations for the conduct of, industries which rest upon special privileges.
Such industries, having been fully described,need not be recapitulated here in detail. Suffice it to say that, consisting of railways, canals, tramways, roads, and bridges, as well as of the supply of water, gas, electricity, hydraulic and pneumatic power, all of them are dependent upon the grant of special privileges to the use of a continuous track of land of exceptionally high value. Involving the use of a specially valuable opportunity under a special privilege, it is an infringement of the right of equal freedom and equal opportunities to grant such privileges without adequately safeguarding the equal right of all others. Either such industries must be conducted by society itself for the equal benefit of all its members, or society when granting such privileges must attach to them conditions compelling the grantees to pay to the community the full annual value which such privilege may at any time possess, i.e. the full rental value of the land used for the special purpose in question. Which of these two courses is more advantageous depends upon special circumstances; but the adoption of either would manifestly prevent the infraction of the law of equal freedom involved in the grant of more advantageous opportunities to some than others can enjoy.
The ethical line of demarcation between the industries, which are beyond the interference of the State and those which are subject to the control of the State, thus coincides with the economic line of demarcation as drawn in Book II. chaps. iv. and v. Ethics as well as economics condemn the socialistic claim that all industries may rightfully be withdrawn from individual control and placed under collective control, just as they condemn the claim that all industries may rightfully be exempted from social control; enforce the claim that, while it is the duty of society to control those industries which involve the grant of special privileges, it is equally its duty to abstain from interference with industries for the conduct of which no special privilege is required.
Two objections may be raised against this conclusion. One is that non-interference by the State with unprivileged industries involves the abstention from punishing fraudulent promises and adulterations. The reply is, that both fraudulent promises and adulterations are breaches of contract, and, therefore, infringement of the law of equal freedom. In either case one party to the contract has failed to perform the service contracted for, while the other has done so. One, therefore, has assumed greater freedom than the other, has broken the law of equal freedom; and interference by the State, therefore, is not only justified but entailed by the same law which forbids general interference.
The other objection is, that the doctrine of noninterference involves the condemnation of factory legislation, such as the limitations placed upon working hours, the sanitary supervision of workshops, the enforcement of precautions against accidents. In one sense the validity of this objection must be admitted. For, however necessary and beneficial such legislation may be as a palliative of preceding injustice, it is nevertheless unjust in itself. The necessity for such interference with equal freedom arises from antecedent interferences with the law of equal freedom. The State, in various ways, having given excessive power to capitalists by infringing upon the equal rights of the majority, has destroyed the power of the masses of the people to resist oppression, and is now compelled to place still further restraints upon freedom in order to reduce oppression.
Those who oppose such irrational remedies while defending the unjust conditions which give them temporary value are themselves acting irrationally. Nevertheless is it true that such limitations placed upon the freedom of workmen and capitalists alike, in order to counteract the excessive power acquired by capitalists, are unjust, and unable to permanently and completely remedy the evils which have caused their adoption. Such complete and permanent remedy can only be found in the restoration of equal freedom to all, which, restoring independence to the masses, would destroy the excessive power of capitalists, and therefore make unnecessary any limitation of it. Under conditions such as would arise from the recognition of justice, all having free and equal access to natural as well as to social opportunities, the competition between employers for workers would be as great as, or greater than, that between workers for employment. The workers being really, and not merely nominally, free to accept or decline employment, would themselves be able to insist upon proper conditions of employment. Just as now there is no necessity to interfere with the freedom of English duchesses or of the wives of American millionaires, to prevent them from working an undue number of hours and compelling their children to do so, so there would be no necessity to so interfere with the freedom of other women and children if they were really free. That necessity exists to-day because the negation of their equal right to the natural and social opportunities for the exercise of their faculties makes workers dependent upon the will of employers and robs them of the result of their labour. When these equal rights are restored to the masses of the people, when they can retain for their own use the wealth which their labour creates, men will not consent to work under needlessly insanitary or dangerous conditions, nor will they compel wives and children to work prematurely and excessively. Even if there are some in which the sympathetic feelings are too dormant to restrain such selfish actions, the absence of the general custom of woman and child labour in factories would be a sufficient bar to their being put into practice.
The limitations on equal and full freedom embodied in such factory legislation, being made necessary by antecedent limitations of freedom, become unnecessary when these antecedent interferences are abolished. While they may be justified in the present pathological state of society, they cannot be justified when, through the establishment of justice, a physiological state of society has been achieved.
THE poverty of the masses of the people, as well as all other social and industrial evils which disgrace our civilisation, are attributed by socialists to an alleged “rampant individualism.” Individualism, they teach, superseded the comparatively beneficent, though primitive, medieval Socialism, and, substituting the will of the individual for the reign of State law, culminated in the degradation of the masses of the people, and the oppression practised by employers during the second half of the eighteenth and the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Its excesses have been curtailed since, and some slight alleviation of social injustice has been achieved by a partial return to Socialism, i.e. by the enactment of laws limiting individual freedom both of employers and employed, such as Factory Acts, Mines Regulation Acts, and others. A perusal of the essays “Historic” and “Transition to Social Democracy” in Fabian Essaysclearly yields the above results. The following quotations are from the former of these two. On page 30 it is stated :—
“The record of the century in English social history begins with the trial and hopeless failure of an almost complete industrial individualism.”
On page 60 this allegation is repeated in similar form :—
“With the masses painfully conscious of the failure of individualism to create a decent social life for four-fifths of the people, it might have been foreseen that individualism could not survive their advent to power.”
This allegation, that “almost complete individualism” was the condition recently existing and, but slightly modified, continuing at the present time; that Individualism is responsible, actively or passively, for existing social injustice and the degradation of the masses of the people, is repeated ad nauseam throughout the literature of Socialism, and forms the burden of its popular lectures. The conclusion invariably drawn is, that the failure of Individualism compels the adoption of the only alternative system, Socialism. This antithesis imposes on many besides the unthinking, yet it is based on a misconception of the existing system. Individualism, as a social organisation, has not so far had a trial, because it has not yet existed. Advance there has been from the primitive Socialism of earlier times, in the direction of Individualism;—an advance which has largely substituted voluntary co-operation for compulsory co-operation; which has freed industrial activities from the minute supervision of State officials; and has substituted a partial recognition of individual rights for their total denial. But Individualism, the full freedom of each individual, limited only by the equal freedom of all others, has never yet been reached and the social injustice now prevailing exists, not on account, nor in spite, of Individualism, but through limitations of Individualism imposed or acquiesced in by the State.
Social evolution in the past exhibits a concurrent course of political and industrial emancipation. The political ascendency of chiefs among savage and barbarian tribes is accompanied by their industrial ascendency. Industrial operations are carried on under their directions; the political authority controls the industrial activities of the community, supervises or monopolises exchanges with other tribes, and fixes prices. In many, somewhat more advanced, communities, the agency exercising this industrial control is to some extent separated from that exercising political control. Special “trading-chiefs” evolve, who direct the industry and trade of the society. Still later, the “trading-chief” evolves into the government officer, selling permission to produce, superintending cultivation, fixing markets and prices, grading goods, and generally exercising strict supervision over all industrial activities.
In France, during the feudal period, the territorial nobles, lay and clerical, being the political heads, exercised control and supervision over the industrial activities of the cultivators and artisans, of the slave and the serf, and even the partially free classes. Apart from such direct control as was exercised by their bailiffs over the cultivators and others engaged on their estates, apart also from the industrial monopolies which they reserved to themselves, they sold industrial and commercial licences. This system was continued by the State, when the subsequent growth of the royal power concentrated the government, to such an extent that it became a legal maxim that “the right to labour is a royal right, which the prince may sell and subjects can buy.” Organised on a comprehensive basis by Colbert, the authorisation of occupations, dictation of industrial processes, examination of products, and their destruction if not approved of by State officials, lasted down to the Revolution.
England, Germany, and the Low Countries, besides exhibiting similar features of control by the central political authority, show a specially great development of industrial control by local political authorities. The heads of guilds were identical with the local political heads, and the guilds themselves were partly political bodies taking part in municipal government. The guilds, in their political capacity, restricted the right to labour at their respective occupations to their own members; admission was sold for money-payments and services. Infractions of the monopoly of the guild were punished by fines and other penalties, and the guild-master dictated processes, controlled production, and examined products. Purchases and bargains were made in the presence of officials, and manufacturing processes were controlled by law.
Social evolution in the field of industry, therefore, as well as elsewhere, has been from a primitive Socialism in the direction of Individualism. The advance made in this particular sphere has been great, but its beneficial effects, great and obvious as they are, have been counteracted by the persistence of restrictions in other directions.
The inquiry pursued in the preceding chapters has shown the contrasting characters of Individualism and Socialism. The essential ethical difference between these two systems of social organisation we saw to e as follows :—
Socialism, denying the existence of individual, natural rights, seeks to reconstruct society in a direction opposite to its past evolution; to make the individual absolutely subservient to the State; to deprive him of his equal right with all others of exercising his industrial faculties as he will, and to compel him to exercise them in such manner, time, and place as he is directed; to annul his right to benefit by his own beneficial acts; and to allot him a reward bearing no reference to the service rendered by him.
Individualism, affirming the existence of equal, natural, individual rights, seeks the further evolution of society in the direction of its past evolution until society shall have become fully subservient to the welfare of the individuals composing it; seeking to attain such general welfare through the removal of the remaining infractions of the natural and equal rights of all individuals—”the freedom of each to exercise all his faculties as he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other”; the right of each to the fullest opportunities for the exercise of his faculties, limited only by the equal right of all others; and the unlimited right of each to benefit by his own beneficial acts, reward being proportioned to service rendered.
The prevailing condition of the vast majority of every people, so far from being that at which Individualism aims, is practically identical with that which Socialism proposes to make general. They are not free to choose their occupations, because in the one direction private ownership of land, in the other the cost of a suitable education, closes many occupations to the masses of the people; they have no full and equal opportunity, frequently no opportunity at all, for the exercise of all their faculties, for the same reasons; and private ownership of land and monopolies deprives them of the beneficial results of their acts, and reduces their reward to below the value of the services which they render. Individual freedom exists, but, far from being equal and general, it is confined to a small minority of every people, to whom the rest have been subjected and made tributary by organised society—the State. Organised society having established these infractions of equal rights, likewise now maintains them, and it is, therefore, social action, the unjust action of the State, which is responsible for the evils, which flow from them. Not such approach to Individualism as has arisen in the slow evolution of social organisation, but the survival of primitive Socialism, is the cause of existing social injustice.
Individualism, regarding the State as a means towards an end; holding that end to be, not the greatest happiness of the greatest number, but the greatest possible happiness of all the members of the State; holding further that this end can be subserved by the State in no other way than by the maintenance of “the freedom of everyone to do all he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other,”—accuses the State of sins of omission as well as of sins of commission. Interfering where its interference infringes upon the equal rights of all, the State fails to interfere where such interference is necessary to maintain the equal rights of all. It fails to carry on some of the industries which rest upon special privileges, and to procure adequate compensation for the community with regard to others; it fails to establish equal opportunities of justice by making judicial trials free of charge; it fails to procure equal opportunities for the acquisition of knowledge by making education free in all its branches; in these and in hundreds of minor ways the State has so far failed to assume the functions incumbent on it for the maintenance of equal rights and freedom, while in many other ways, the most important of which alone have been examined, it has assumed functions which unjustly curtail individual freedom and establish inequality of rights.
Social injustice, therefore, prevails, not on account, nor in spite, of Individualism, but through the absence of Individualism, through the active and passive disregard of equal individual freedom by the State. The removal of social injustice, therefore, is not to be obtained by still further interference with equal individual freedom, and still less by the abolition of individual freedom which Socialism contemplates; it can be obtained only by the removal of all interference with individual freedom which exceeds that necessary for the maintenance of equal freedom for all.
This conclusion is not invalidated by the admission that remedial measures involving further restrictions of individual freedom, such as those already alluded to, may have had beneficial results. For if State limitations of individual and equal freedom have deprived the majority of the people of independence and power to resist capitalistic oppression, as they have done and are still doing, restrictions placed upon the oppressors, otherwise unnecessary, may to some extent alleviate the oppression. Nevertheless it is clear that such consequential interferences would be unnecessary if, through the removal of the original interferences, the balance of power were restored. At their best, moreover, they are merely attempts to alleviate symptoms without touching the cause of social disease.
A true view of social conditions and their causes, however, cannot be obtained by the examination of existing causes alone; past causes also must be taken into account. For in the evolution of social life, as in the evolution of life in general, results do not disappear with their causes, but persist beyond them, and may, in their turn, become causes of further results. The hereditary character of the race under the influence of external conditions produces its customs and laws; but these laws and customs in their turn modify character and conditions. Past infringements of equal freedom, therefore, join existing infringements, as still active causes of social injustice. Let us then glance at some of these past actions of the State in Great Britain, which, though now discontinued, have contributed to the existing degradation of the masses of the people in the mother country and in her colonies.
The origin of the modern machine industry is contemporaneous with the state of greatest degradation of the working classes in Great Britain. For 400 years and more the State, in which first the great landowners and subsequently landowners and great capitalists held the dominant position, had been engaged in undermining the industrial independence of the peasant and artisan class, through the confiscation of their individual and collective property in the soil and of their trade-funds; through depressing their wages and increasing the price of the necessaries and comforts of life; through prohibiting their freedom of movement and combination.
Professor Thorold Rogers states :—
“The pauperism and the degradation of the English labourer were the result of a series of Acts of Parliament and acts of government, which were designed or adopted with the express purpose of compelling the labourer to work at the lowest rates of wages possible, and which succeeded at last in that purpose.”
And also :—
“I contend that from 1563 to 1824 a conspiracy, concocted by the law and carried out by parties interested in its success, was entered into to cheat the English workman of his wages, to tie him to the soil, to deprive him of hope, and to degrade him into irremediable poverty. … For more than two centuries and a half the English law, and those who administered the law, were engaged in grinding the English workman down to the lowest pittance, in stamping down every expression or act which indicated any organised discontent, and in multiplying penalties upon him when he thought of his natural rights.”An enumeration of a few only of the principal measures designed to deprive the labouring classes of their rights, and to degrade them to virtual slavery, will show that these indignant statements are warranted by fact. The right to accumulate land under settlements, dating from the Norman Conquest and prolonged as a consequence of the Wars of the Roses, as well as the ready acquiescence of corrupt judges in illegal conveyancing tricks, have made land artificially scarce and dear to the mass of the people who want to use it.
By successive Enclosure Acts the common land of England was handed over to the lords of the manor, and the people, deprived of their immemorial right to the rent-free use of the greater part of English soil, were made dependent upon wage-labour as their sole means of existence.
The confiscation of Church lands in 1536, 1539, and 1548, and their bestowal upon private persons, deprived the people of funds used to a considerable extent for educational and charitable purposes, and hastened the rise in the rental of agricultural land which first impoverished and ultimately extinguished the yeoman class.
By the substitution of excise for feudal dues, 12 Charles II. 1660, and the Redemption Acts of 1692 and 1798, the whole system of land tenure and taxation was revolutionised. Instead of tenants of the Crown, the landholders now became landowners; and instead of the expenditure of the government being defrayed out of the rent which they paid for their land, it was now met out of taxes placed on the labour and consumption of the whole people. As if to leave a permanent record of their turpitude, the landowners left upon the Statute-book, the rudiment of their former obligations in a land-tax of 4 s. in the pound of annual value-on the valuation of 1692.
The destruction of the guilds and confiscation of their property by Henry VIII. deprived the artisan class of the advantage of these “friendly society” funds, from which they had largely obtained support in youth and old age, loans, widows’ allowances, and apprentice fees for their sons.
The debasement of the coinage by Henry VIII. and Edward VI. “was potent enough to dominate in the history of labour and wages from the sixteenth century to the present time, … for sixty years prices were more than doubled, while a very miserable increase was effected in the wages of labour.”
While these enactments deprived the labouring masses of all power of independent employment, fastened the yoke of landlordism on their neck, and accustomed them to a lower standard of life, other measures, aiming more directly at their degradation, were devised in plenty.
The Statute of Labourers, 22 Edward Ill. 1349constantly re-enacted in subsequent reigns with increased penalties both on labourer and employer-fixes the maximum wages of labour at those customary in 1347, both for agricultural labourers and artificers, and makes their refusal to accept employment at these wages a punishable offence.
Statutes of Henry VIII., Elizabeth, and James I. visit refusal to work for wages practically fixed by a council of employers, with slavery, branding, whipping at the carttail, and ultimately death.
The Acts of Settlement 13, 14 Charles II. and 8, 9 William III., forbidding the labourer to leave his parish, made him, for all practical purposes, once more the serf of the local landowners.
Numerous Acts, beginning with 33 Edward I. 1305, and continuing to the beginning of the nineteenth century, forbade labourers, under’ savage penalties, to combine for purposes which might affect the conditions under which their labour was sold and purchased.
While the wages of labour were thus depressed directly and indirectly by legislative enactments, the labourers’ food, clothing, and all other necessaries of life were largely increased in price by so-called protective legislation, of which the detested Corn Laws were only the most prominent.
The continued action of past interferences with the equal natural rights of all, thus combines with the interferences still maintained to produce the prevailing social injustice. Individualism, by removing the interferences still existing, seeks so to stimulate social life that it may, in due time, cast out the evil results which have flowed from both. As the past and partial social evolution has been in the direction of better maintenance of equal individual rights, as a gradual diminution of social injustice and of the degradation of the people has accompanied this gradual approach towards Individualism, so further evolution in this direction must produce further amelioration; and the complete organisation of society on individualistic lines, on the maintenance of the fullest freedom of each limited only by the equal freedom of all others, must ultimately remove social injustice and give to all the opportunity of leading higher and nobler lives.
These, as well as other long-continued efforts to enslave the working classes of England, bore fruit at last in their abject condition during the second half of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century. Utterly impoverished and pauperised, starved physically and morally, they found themselves suddenly confronted with new industrial conditions which, substituting factory for home work, concentrated industry in the hands of a comparatively small number of employers. The State had done its work so well, that the workers had no power of resistance left; could not possibly raise themselves out of the abyss into which they had been thrust by the State itself. The only hope of ameliorating their condition, therefore, lay in remedial action by the State, i.e. legislation, which should remove some of the laws through which they had been enslaved, or which should mitigate some of the worst symptoms of this State-created slavery.
Fortunately for the peace of Great Britain, the rivalry between the capitalistic and landowning classes enabled a few far-seeing or philanthropic reformers to induce the State to thus mitigate the disasters which its own action had deliberately provoked. In Great Britain, where the earlier development of machine-industry had intensified these evils more than elsewhere, this reaction also found its earliest expression in Factory Laws, Mines Regulation Acts, Truck Acts, the repeal of Anti-Combination Laws, of laws fixing wages, and of laws of settlement, as well as in the re-establishment of Free Trade. But though these beneficial enactments have removed some of the causes and mitigated some of the symptoms of the degradation of the working classes, other and far more powerful causes of this degradation remain in full force, while others have been added since. The recovery, wonderful as it is, has therefore been partial, and cannot become complete till after the removal of the remaining limitations of and encroachments on equal individual rights. Moreover, as in social matters the removal of a cause is not followed at once by a cessation of its effects, the long-continued repressive action of the State has lowered the moral standard of the masses of the people, largely preventing the cooperative action now open to them, and has established a customary standard of wages and working hours which it has taken fifty years of comparative freedom to modify, but which has not yet been broken through.
Continued: Part IV: The outcome of Socialism
 See Part I. chap. iv.
 Bebel, Woman, p. 122.
 Kirkup, An Inquiry into Socialism, p. 105.
 Fabian Essays, p. 23.
 Ibid. p. 121.
 Bax, The Ethics of Socialism, p. 70.
 Fabian Essays, p. 188.
 “Hence there is really but one code of ethics and morals which has been and always will be as fixed and unchangeable as the forces of nature. But if, nevertheless, there have been temporary and local differences in ethical views, it is, first, because knowledge of nature has not everywhere reached the same stage of advancement, and men often yield to the grossest self-deception in respect of it; secondly, because there are whole spheres of human life, like the social sphere, which on account of meagre knowledge are not considered natural, in which the sway of nature is not conjectured or presupposed,”—Ludwig Gumplowicz, The Outlines of Sociology, pp. 176, 177.
 “The Common Law, which had its origin with the Judges, made the following presumptions in all actions between the State and the subject:—First, that all privileges such as personal liberty, freedom of speech, liberty to trade, right of public meeting, were the property of the subject and not the gift of the State” (p. 10).
“Those charters of our liberties, Magna Charta, the Petition of Rights, and the Bill of Rights, are merely declaratory of the existence of these rights … Hence, to the State British subjects owe none of the fundamental rights which some call natural” (p. 14).
Attack on Liberty, an address by Thomas J. Smyth. LL.B.; Dublin University Pres., 1890.
“Thus the comparative study of law showed that rights arise historically in the collective or ‘folk mind.'”—Ludwig Gumplowicz, The Outlines of Sociology, p. 9t.
 Alexander Sutherland, Origin and Growth of the Moral Sense, volume ii.
 Law and Politics, p. 9.
 Jenks, Law and Politics, p. 53.
 Part I. chap. v. p. 41.
 Equality, p. 81.
 The great landowner is the creature of the State; the village group of farmers is not. The individual proprietor of a vast domain cannot maintain his position unless he can obtain the powerful assistance of the State Courts and the strong support of the military power. His interests conflict too evidently with the interests of those who serve him, and without whose labour his domain would be worthless. He is the favourite of the State, and every step of State progress is marked by a corresponding increase in his ranks. When the State extends its conquests into hostile lands it plants its faithful soldiers as landowners on the conquered soil. When it annexes the domains of the Church it distributes them among a new territorial aristocracy. When it finally breaks the power of the clan it converts the clan chief into a landlord. On the other hand, the clan and the household are older than the State, and utterly opposed to it in principle.—Jenks, Law and Politics during the Middle Ages, pp. 162, 163.
 “In the first place property in land is, in our opinion, the only form which serves as an instrument of control. ‘Property’ in movable goods should be distinguished from ‘property’ in immovable goods. What is there in common between the unlimited possession and free disposal of chattels and that juridical relation, in virtue of which a person may keep a piece of land exclusively for his own benefit? Yet for these fundamentally different conceptions the European languages use but one term, with consequent indistinctness and confusion of ideas in science.
“Common property (Eigentum, proprium) is a contradiction in terms; yet even separate or private ‘property’ has been discussed as a simple concept, and what might be true of property in movable goods has been applied without distinction to property in land, a very different thing. This is certainly a great mistake.
“To justify private property as the natural right of the individual to the fruit of his own exertions sufficiently explains property in movable goods, including the product of the land which a man’s own labour has tilled, but does not explain property in land or in the fruit of another’s labour; while to trace its origin to the actual possession of weapons, ornaments, etc., an attempt which Dargun has recently renewed, leaves a gap between movable goods and immovable which no analogy can bridge over, for they are totally different. No doubt individual property in movable goods has always existed, for the conditions of human life require it. But the conditions of property in land are quite different. Land is not the product of human labour, and its use is temporary; it can be occupied, detained, or possesed only in a limited and figurative sense; it might be possible to defend a small portion of land against trespassers; but it would be impossible to defend the larger tracts, which alone are under consideration here. Property in land is not a physical fact, and cannot be explained by physical facts—occupation, labour, etc. To say that land is occupied or possessed, as is currently done, is to use a metaphor or a legal fiction. Land, by its nature, admits of only one relation to man, the enjoyment of its use, the common enjoyment of many.”—Ludwig Gumplowicz, The Outlines of Sociology, pp. 114, 115.
 Part I. chaps. ii. and iii.
 Part II. chaps. iv. and v.
 Six Centuries of Work and Wages, p.6.
 Ibid. p. 398.
 For a list (not full) of Enclosure Acts, see Cunningham, England’s Industry and Commerce, p, 476. He enumerates 3431 separate Acts in addition to the general Act of 1801.
 Rogers, Six Centuries, pp. 345, 346.