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of men, women, or things in the concrete. Mr. Mill would be very capable, like Condorcet, of deriving from the doctrine of human perfectibility the inference that there was no demonstrable reason why the duration of human life might not be prolonged indefinitely by discoveries (hereafter to be made) in hygiene. And to all objections drawn from universal human experience of the growth and decay of vital power within a limited period, it would be quite in the character of his mind and temper to reply calmly that the life of man, like the genius of woman, had not hitherto been developed under such conditions as to draw out its capabilities to the full extent. Like Condorcet, too, while dealing perturbation all round him, Mr. Mill is imperturbable, and might be described as he was, as'un mouton enragé-un volcan couvert de neige.'
There is a curious playing at cross-purposes between the recent economical champions of the claims of labour to rank as something else than labour, and receive as its reward something that shall not be called wages, and the practical assertors for their class, so far as combined in Trades' Unions, of the simpler claim of a maximum of wage for a minimum of work. The former (we borrow the words of Mr. Mill) cannot think that the working classes will be permanently contented with the condition of labouring for wages as their ultimate state. They may be willing to pass through the class of servants in their way to that of employers, but not to remain in it all their lives.'
On the other hand, the whole action of the latter-the Trades Unionists—tacitly assumes for all who enter their combinations (and rightly assumes in the great majority of cases) the position of life-long wage-receivers. If Unionism is an authentic expression of the views and wishes of the more stirring section of the working classes, it is an expression contradictory of the views and wishes which the school of political economists, headed by Mr. Mill, think those classes must entertain.
Never did a pair of poor correlative terms become the subject of such unreasoning or wrong-reasoning animosity as those of Labour for Wages. In the novel vocabulary of national and international labour-leagues, work for wages by manual labourers in the employ of capitalists is denounced as a badge of slavery, and political economists who swear by Mr. Mill are taking up the same strain in milder language. Whereas the only man who works not for wages, as M. Edmond About justly observes, is the slave.* Labour for wages-for pay received as the equivalent of work done—as the same lively and acute writer says with perfect truth-is the general rule of service, public or private, in the whole social hierarchy; and the one class incited by some who should know better to revolt against that rule as a special injustice and indignity to itself is precisely the class whose simple manual service comes most distinctly under it.
* A, B, C du Travailleur,' p. 234.
If wage-receiving labour, according to the new doctrine, is the slave, wage-paying capital (according to the same doctrine) is the tyrant of the modern organization of industry. Here, again, that doctrine is precisely the reverse of truth. Everywhere, and at all times, capital is labour's most submissive help' or servant. Everywhere, and at all times, the advances of capital are at the service of the effective worker : and to give proof of possession of the qualities of the effective worker is to command the power of the purse. The tyranny of capital is only true in the sense that, by laws as old as the world, those must obey who have not qualities to command ; those must be soldiers who are not fit to be officers in the army of industry. Mr. Mill has said that the labourers need only capital, not capitalists.'* Like most smart sayings of the social-revolutionary sort, this is quite beside the mark. What labourers need, speaking generally, is neither capital nor capitalists, so much as the qualities which inspire confidence in capitalists, or even confidence in each other. Capital is always, at least as eagerly as labour, in quest of employment; and, so far from tyrannizing over labour, is always willing to serve it at the lowest living wages, if only coupled with security. It is that security which the ordinary manual labourer is unable to afford. He must look somewhere above him, not so much for capital as for guarantee and guidance. Somebody must be found, whom the capitalist, not himself employing his capital, can feel himself morally safe in trusting with funds to employ profitably in his stead. That somebody is not the hand-worker but the head-worker-the ' captain of industry' in the now well-worn Carlylian phrase. He it is who can alone afford a moral guarantee to the capitalist that the funds entrusted to him shall be employed with a discretion ensuring their replacement with a profit. And everywhere the man who can be trusted with capital is the man whom capital helps to wealth. Working men may organize trades-unions against him, abuse him as their tyrant, echo Mr. Mill's dictum that they want capital only, not capitalists ; but work under him they must, if they would bave their hand-labour facilitated in its processes, and forwarded to its markets, by the
Fortnightly Review,' June, 1869, p. 689.
aid of capital, machinery, and commercial knowledge and connection.
As to Mr. Mill's notion that the working classes generally are not likely to be permanently contented with the condition of labouring for wages as their ultimate state, it may be replied, firstly, that men and classes are seldom contented with any state in which they happen to find themselves; but, secondly, that what men or classes may be willing,' and what they may be able for, are apt to be two different things. Few people perhaps, at the outset of life, would be found exactly willing to accept what, nevertheless, proves to be their ultimate place in it.
No anticipated organization of the labour of the future can be more ungrounded on any induction from the past than that which imagines the main body of the employed as merely passing through the class of servants in their way to that of employers. These latter must always be the élite of their class in industrial and intellectual faculties. While there is a mass of manual labour to be done, those must continue to do it, whose economical circumstances or intellectual culture raise them least above their work. Certainly the lowest stratum in the social order should not be a caste; and when Mr. Mill talks of two hereditary classes, employers and employed,' he assumes the existence of that which does not exist in any free country-some impassable barrier of caste forbidding the ascent of superior minds to superior positions. But there always must remain a lowest social stratum naturally forming the manual labouring class, the reward of whose labour inay as well be called wages as by any other name—the thing to be named requiring to be distinguished in degree, if not in nature, from the profits of capital, or the payment of managerial direction and superintendence.
We have said, in degree if not in nature, since, in truth, of no class in a free country can it be said with accuracy that it is a class exclusively devoted to labour, and destitute of capital. As the exertion of the comparatively rare faculties required for the superintendence of industrial establishments, and the conduct of commercial transactions, entitles capitalist employers (or employers whose credit commands the use of capital) to the title of labourers of the most elevated and the most indispensable order, so the fact of having made savings, or acquired skill, at more or less cost of training, entitles provident and skilled labourers to the designation of capitalists. It is one of the most weighty and serious accusations brought against Trades' Unionism, that it is an actual, if not avowed part of its system,
to prevent such men from earning or saving as much as they otherwise might do in comparison with the less skilled or provident, and, therefore, from rising to that position in the social scale due to their individual energies, were those energies left unshackled.
· It seems inaccurate,' says Sir William Erle, in his “Memorandum on the Law Relating to Trades' Unions,' 'to contra-distinguish labourers or working men from capitalists or employers, as if they were separate classes; for both classes labour; and the labour of the brain for the employing class may be immeasurably more severe than the labour of the muscles of motion for the working class. The accumulated stores of the mental labour of past ages exceed in value all money capital, or past labour accumulated. These stores must be used by the employer in the degree required by his business; but muscular action may be supplied with very slight recourse to accumulated knowledge in many departments of labour.'
We are not amongst those who regard Trades' Unionism as a monstrous and portentous birth from its very origin. Nothing can be more natural in its first growth than union in some shape amongst men employed in one common occupation, and sensible of one common interest. And nothing could be more certain, in the modern progress of industry, to give concentrated force to that principle of union amongst the working population than the operative multitudes assembled in vast establishments at our great seats of industry. A mill or foundry, collecting workpeople by the thousand within one enclosure, may be said to constitute a Trades' Union in itself,* and all the artificial
* On this point we are able to cite the testimony, unexceptionable to that purpose, of Mr. George Potter, who probably did not perceive the inference which the following words must at once suggest to the reader:
• Take the case of one master on one side, and a thousand men on the other: his position as proprietor, capitalist, and employer, gives bim a power which, if not quite equal to the united pencer
his thousani men, is immensely 100 great for any one among the tbousand to cope with singlehanded; whereas, lel the whole number combine in one demand for what they conceive to le no more than their due, and then the parties would be equally matched'—Contemporary Review,' June, 1870, p. 409.
It is not very easy to understand what more can be wanted in the shape of effective representation of the feelings and interests of employed and employers than such an agency as has for some years been supplied by the Boards of Conciliation established in Nottingham, the Staffordshire Potteries and Wolverhampton, of the satisfactory working of which full evidence was given to the Trades' Union Commissioners by Mr. Mundella, M.P., Mr. Hollins, and Mr. Rupert Ketile. “These Boards,' say the Commissioners in their Final Report, "require no complicated machinery, no novel division of profits, 10 new mode of conducting business; they need no Act of Parliament, no legal powers or penalties. All that is needed is that certain representative employers and work men should meet at regular stated times, and amicably discuss around a table the common interests of their common trade or business. There is not a trade or business in the United Kingdom in which this system might not at once be adopted; and we see no reason why, in every case, results should not
extension and elaborate officialism of the later Union organization, seeking to embrace whole trades, nay, to constitute national and even international federations, can add little or nothing to the power possessed already by the operative masses on the spot where employed, by the mere fact of their conscious indispensableness to keep profitably at work the capital engaged in large concerns, and sunk in buildings, machinery, and material. That there will always be union in their common interest amongst masses of work people we hold to be as certain as that no ambitiously extended organization of that union can give it a force which does not already belong to it in the nature of things. And it would really seem as if the great body of workpeople were of the same opinion. As yet,' says Mr. Thornton, there are very few trades in the United Kingdom in which more than 10 per cent. of the men employed are Unionists ; there is but one, that of the plasterers, in which as many as half are. In counting up their future conquests they are decidedly reckoning without their hosts. Their progress hitherto has been due less to their own strength than to their opponents' weakness of
Nr. Thornton, in his last publication. On Labour,' &c., which has attracted more attention from its dashing style of moral paradox and social prophecy than his plea for Peasant Proprietors' did, some score and odd years back, till Mr. Mill endorsed its most hazarded and amazing statements (of which more anon), somewhere likens himself to Saul sitting at the feet of Mill, his Gamaliel. In this last publication the modern Saul requites in a singular manner the flattering acceptance by his Gamaliel of his former agrarian lucubrations, by taking into his bands the task of showing up the baselessness of a theory on which Mr. Mill (with other economists) had founded his doctrine of wages, and his disbelief of the power of Trades' Unions to effect their artificial elevation. Now, Mr. Thornton has taken it into his head to turn champion of Trades' Unionsthough on grounds upon which they certainly would not accept his championship. `In assuming it, however,--with ulterior objects which we shall presently see-he had first of all to disarın Mr. Mill of his Wage-fund theory. Very opportunely he found that theory already demolished, and had only to appropriate a demonstration already done to his hand.
We think we hear the unsophisticated reader exclaim, “What
follow from the establishment of Boards of Conciliation, as satisfactory as those at Nottingham and in the Potteries to which we have before referred. Under such a system we should look hopefully for a peaceful, prosperous future for the industry of this country.'