Without any increase in population, the progress of invention constantly tends to give a larger and larger proportion of the produce to the owners of land, and a smaller proportion to labour and capital; and, therefore, to decrease wages and interest. And, as we can assign no limit to the progress of invention, neither can we assign any limits to the increase of rent short of the whole produce. Another cause of the influence of material progress upon the distribution of wealth is the confident expectation of the future enhancement of land values which arises in all progressive countries from the steady increase of rent. This leads to speculation, or the holding of land for a higher price than it would otherwise bring. It is a force which constantly tends to increase rent in a greater ratio than progress increases production, and tends to reduce wages, not merely relatively but absolutely.
III.—The Common Right to Land
The fact that the speculative advance in land values cuts down the earnings of labour and capital, and checks production, leads irresistibly to the conclusion that this is the main cause of those periodical industrial depressions to which every civilised country seems increasingly liable.
Robbed of all the benefits of the increase of productive power, labour is exposed to certain effects of advancing civilisation which, without the advantages that naturally accompany them, are positive evils, and of themselves tend to reduce the free labourer to the helpless and degraded condition of the slave. As land is necessary to the exertion of labour in the production of wealth, to command the land is to command all the fruits of labour save enough to enable labour to exist. But there is also an active, energetic power—a power that in every country, be its political form what it may, writes laws and moulds thought—the power of a vast and dominant pecuniary interest. The great cause in the inequality of the distribution of wealth is the inequality in the ownership of land. The ownership of land is the great fundamental fact which ultimately determines the social and political, and consequently, the intellectual and moral condition of a people. The tendencies and measures at present relied on or advocated as calculated to relieve poverty and distress among the masses are insufficient. The true remedy is to substitute for individual the common ownership of land.
As man belongs to himself, so his labour when put in concrete form belongs to him. As nature gives only to labour, the exertion of labour in production is the only title to exclusive possession. When non-producers can claim as rent a portion of the wealth created by producers, the right of the producers to the fruits of their labour is to that extent denied.
The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air—it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. The right of individual proprietorship of land is the denial of the natural rights of other individuals—it is a wrong which must show itself in the inequitable division of wealth. Again, the ownership of land will always give the ownership of men, to a degree measured by the necessity, real or artificial, for the use of land. And when that necessity is absolute, when starvation is the alternative to the use of land, then does the ownership of men involved in the ownership of land become absolute. Private ownership of land is the nether millstone. Material progress is the upper millstone. Between them, with an increasing pressure, the working classes are being ground. Historically, as ethically, private property in land is robbery. It has everywhere had its birth in war and conquest, and in the selfish use which the cunning have made of superstition and law.
IV.—The Remedy for Social Ills
Private property in land is inconsistent with the best use of land. What is necessary for that is security for improvements. Where land is treated as public property it will be used and improved as soon as there is need for its use and improvement, but, being treated as private property, the individual owner is permitted to prevent others from using, or improving, what he cannot, or will not, use or improve himself. I do not propose to purchase or to confiscate private property in land. The first would be needless, the second unjust. It is only necessary to confiscate rent.
The sovereign remedy which will raise wages, increase the earnings of capital, extirpate pauperism, abolish poverty, give remunerative employment to whoever wishes it, afford free scope to human powers, lessen crime, elevate morals and taste and intelligence, purify government, and carry civilisation to yet nobler heights, is to appropriate rent by taxation, and to abolish all taxation save that upon land values. The great class of taxes from which revenue may be derived without interference with production are those upon monopolies, temporary or onerous. But all other monopolies are trivial in extent as compared with the monopoly of land. Taxes on the value of land not only do not check production but tend to increase it by destroying speculative rent.
The whole value of land may be taken in taxation, and the only effect will be to stimulate industry, to open new opportunities to capital, and to increase the production of wealth. A tax on land values does not add to prices, and is thus paid directly by the persons on whom it falls. Land is not a thing of human production, and taxes upon rent cannot check supply. On the contrary, by compelling those who hold land on speculation to sell or let for what they can get, a tax on land values tends to increase the competition between owners, and thus to reduce the price of land.
A tax on land values, while the least arbitrary of taxes, possesses in the highest degree the element of certainty. It may be assessed and collected with a definiteness that partakes of the immovable and unconcealable character of the land itself. It is the most just and equal of all taxes, because it falls only on those who receive from society a peculiar and valuable benefit, and upon them in proportion to the benefit they receive. The division of land now held on speculation would much increase the number of landowners. A single tax on the value of land would so equalise the distribution of wealth as to raise even the poorest above that abject poverty in which public considerations have no weight, while it would at the same time cut down those overgrown fortunes which raise their possessors above concern in government.
V.—Effects of the Remedy
The effects of the remedy would be to lift the whole enormous weight of taxation from productive industry. It would open new opportunities, for no one would care to hold land unless to use it, and land now withheld from use would everywhere be thrown open to improvement. The selling price of not merely agricultural, but all land, would fall. The bonus that wherever labour is most productive must not be paid before labour can be exerted would disappear. Competition in the labour market would no longer be one-sided. Rent, instead of causing inequality, would promote equality. Labour and capital would receive the whole produce, minus that portion taken by the state in the taxation of land values, which, being applied to public purposes, would be equally distributed in public benefits. The equalisation in the distribution of wealth would react upon production, everywhere preventing waste, everywhere increasing power.
Simplicity in the legislative and executive functions of government would become possible. It would at the same time and in the same degree become possible for it to realise the dream of socialism, not through governmental repression, but because government would become the administration of a great co-operative society, merely the agency by which the common property was administered for the common benefit. Give labour a free field and its full earnings, take for the benefit of the whole community that fund which the growth of the community creates, and want, and the fear of want, would be gone.
If the conclusions at which we have arrived are correct, they will fall under a larger generalisation. However man may have originated, man, as man, no matter how low in the scale of humanity, has never yet been found destitute of the power of improvement. Everywhere and at all times he has made some use of this power. The varying degrees in which the faculty is used cannot be ascribed to differences in original capacity. These are evidently connected with social development. A survey of history shows diversities in improvement, halts, and retrogression; and the law which will explain all these is that men tend to progress just as they come closer together, and by co-operation with each other, increase the mental power that may be devoted to improvement.
But just as conflict is provoked, or association develops inequality of condition and power, this tendency to progression is lessened, checked, and finally reversed. As society develops there arise tendencies which check development. The process of integration, of the specialisation of functions and powers, is accompanied by a constant liability to inequality, and to lodge collective power and wealth in the hands of a few, which tends to produce greater inequality, since aggression grows on what it feeds.
The reform I have proposed accords with all that is politically, socially, or morally desirable. It has the qualities of a true reform, for it will make all other reforms easier.
Behind the problems of social life lies the problem of individual life. Properly understood, the laws which govern the production and distribution of wealth show that the want and injustice of the present social state are not necessary, but that, on the contrary, a social state is possible in which poverty is unknown, and all the better qualities and higher powers of human nature would have opportunity for full development. Further than this, when we see that social development is governed neither by a special providence, nor by a merciless fate, but by law at once unchangeable and beneficent, a flood of light breaks in upon the problem of individual life. If we look merely at individual life we cannot see that the laws of the universe have the slightest relation to good or bad, to right or wrong, to just or unjust. By a fundamental law of our minds we cannot conceive of a means without an end. But unless man himself may rise to, or bring forth something higher, his existence is unintelligible. For it is as certain that the race must die as it is that the individual must die. What, then, is the meaning of life absolutely and inevitably bounded by death? To me it only seems intelligible as the avenue and vestibule to another life.
Thomas Hobbes was born at Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England, April 5, 1588, and died at Hardwick Dec. 4, 1679. When comparatively a young man he was secretary to Francis Bacon. He spent many years abroad, met Galileo, and corresponded with Descartes. But he did not begin to produce until in advanced middle age. "Leviathan, or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil," appeared in 1651. His special impulse to the construction of a science of politics came from the Great Rebellion, his detestation of the principles on which it was based, and his dissatisfaction with the theory of "divine right" as a bafis for the absolutism which he counted a necessity. The "Leviathan" is the commonwealth, or state, conceived as an "artificial man," and this gives the title to this famous work. But this essay towards a science of politics was only a fragment of that complete and all-inclusive structure which he contemplated. Although in this sense only a fragment, it has largely influenced all political theorising since his day: and it contains the most definite enunciation of the doctrine of the social contract, which took so different and so revolutionary a shape in the hands of Rousseau.
Nature, the art whereby God hath made and governs the world, is by the art of man so imitated that he can make an artificial animal. For by art is created that great leviathan called a commonwealth or state, which is but an artificial man; in which the sovereignty is an artificial soul, as giving life and motion; the magistrates and other officers the joints; reward and punishment the nerves; concord, health; discord, sickness; lastly, the pacts or covenants by which the parts were first set together resemble the "fiat" of God at the Creation.
To describe this artificial man, I will consider: First, the matter and the artificer, both which is man; secondly, how it is made; thirdly, what is a Christian commonwealth; lastly, what is the kingdom of darkness.
And first, of man. The thoughts of man are, singly, every one a representation of some quality or accident of a body without us, called an object. There is no conception in the mind which has not first been begotten upon the organs of sense. The cause of sense is the eternal object which presseth upon the proper organ; not that, as hath been taught in the schools, the thing, "sendeth forth a visible or audible species."
Imagination is the continuity of an image after the object is removed. When we would express that the image is decaying, we call it memory; in sleep, we call it dreams. A train of thought is the succession in the mind of images which have succeeded each other in experience.
Of all inventions the most notable is that of speech, names, the register of thoughts; which are notes for remembrance, or signs, for transference. Truth consisteth in the right ordering of names in our affirmations. Words are wise men's counters, but the money of fools.
Reasoning is the reckoning, the addition and subtraction of the sequences of words, the sum being the conclusion. Which conclusions may be absurd, because men do not start—except in geometry—from the definitions of the words. Reason, therefore, implies speech.
In animals there are two sorts of motions—vital and voluntary. The beginnings of motion within man are called "endeavour." Appetite is a motion towards; aversion a motion fromwards. Some are born in us, some are products of experience. The object of a man's appetite he calls "good"; of his aversion, "evil"; whether in promise (beautiful and ugly), in effect (pleasant, painful), or as means (useful, hurtful). Pleasures and pains arise from an object present, of the senses; or in expectation, of the mind. Thus "pity" is the imagining of a like calamity befalling oneself.
"Deliberation" is the sum of the successive appetites or aversions which are concluded by the doing or not doing of the particular thing. "Will" is the last appetite in deliberating. So, in the inquiry of the truth, opinions correspond to appetites, and the final judgment, the last opinion, to the will.
There are two kinds of knowledge; of "fact," and of "the consequence of one affirmation to another." The former is nothing else but sense and memory, and is absolute; the latter is called science, and is conditional. The register of the first is called history, natural or civil; that of the second is contained in books of philosophy, in corresponding groups—natural philosophy, and civil philosophy, or politics. Natural philosophy breaks up into a number of groups, including mental and moral science.
Power is present means, whencesoever derived, to attain some future apparent good. Value is the price that will be given for the use of a man's power. To honour a man is to acknowledge his power; to dishonour him is to depreciate it. The public worth of a man is the value set on him by the commonwealth.
By manners, I mean those qualities of mankind which are concerned with their living together in peace and unity. Desire of power tends to produce strife; other desires, as for ease, or for knowledge, incline men to obey a common power. To receive benefits, or to do injuries, greater than can be repaid or expiated, tends to make us hate the benefactor or the injured party.
II.—Of Contract and Sovereignty
Nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of body and mind that are born in them, that one man cannot in respect of these claim to himself any benefit to which another may not pretend. From this equality ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our ends. Therefore, if two men desire the same thing which they cannot both enjoy they become enemies, and seek each the destruction of the other, each mistrusting the other. So men invade each other, first for gain, second for safety, and third for reputation.
Hence, while men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in a state of war, every man against every man. In this state, notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have no place. Probably there never was actually such a universal condition; but we see it now among savage races and in the mutual relations of sovereigns. In this state of war, reason suggesteth articles of peace upon which men may agree; which articles are otherwise called the laws of nature.
The "right of nature" is the right of self-preservation. "Liberty" is the absence of impediments to the exercise of power. A "law of nature" is a precept of reason forbidding a man to do what is destructive of his own life. In the state of nature every man has a "right" to everything. Thus security comes only of the first fundamental law: "To seek peace and follow it," and "by all means we can to defend ourselves."
The second law follows: "To lay down the right to everything, claiming only so much against others as we concede to others against ourselves." This right being renounced or transferred, injustice is the revocation of that act. But since the object of a voluntary act is good to oneself, such renunciation is not valid if not good for oneself; hence a man cannot renounce the right of self-preservation.
The transferring of right, if not mutual, is free gift; if mutual, it is contract. When this is not simultaneous there is a covenant or pact. The covenant can become void only through some new fact arising after it was made. A covenant not to defend oneself against force by force is void per se.
The third law is: "That men perform their covenants made," without which covenants are vain, and the state of war continues. The definition of injustice is "the not-performance of a covenant." No covenant is valid until there exists some power that can enforce the performance of it by penalties; that is, until there is a commonwealth. What is done to a man conformable to his own will signified to the doer is no injury to him.
The fourth law is that of "gratitude"; that a man receiving a free gift endeavour that the giver may not suffer thereby. A fifth is "complaisance"—that every man strive to accommodate himself to the rest. Others are pardon on repentance, and non-vindictiveness of punishment; and the common enjoyment—or, failing that, distribution by lot—of what cannot be equally divided. Observance of these laws is virtue.
Persons are either natural and actual, or fictitious and artificial, i.e., representing someone else, or even something else: as a church, a hospital, a bridge. When the representative has authority from the represented, we call the former the "actor," and the latter the "author." One person may artificially represent a multitude.
Now, men being in the state of nature may agree together; but there is no security, unless there be a power to enforce the covenant. Such a power can be created only if they agree together to confer all their own power on one man or one assembly; so that all the acts of such person or assembly have authority as from each one of them, and each one of them submits his individual will to that of such person or assembly. The multitude so united in one person is a commonwealth. This is the generation of that leviathan or mortal god to which, under the Immortal God, we owe our peace and defence.
He that carrieth this person is called "sovereign," and everyone beside is his "subject." This sovereign power may be attained either by natural force, "acquisition," or by voluntary transference, "institution." And first of a commonwealth by institution.
They that have instituted a commonwealth by covenant cannot make a new covenant contrary thereto without permission of the sovereign, since this is a breaking of their covenant with each other. On his part there is no covenant, so that breach of covenant by him cannot be pleaded as warranting abrogation of the covenant made. The sovereign cannot do the subjects injustice because, since he has their authority, what he does to them is done by their own will; so also they cannot punish him.
Since the sovereign was instituted for peace and defence, he controls the means to war and peace, and judges of opinions as conducing to peace or endangering it. He prescribes the rules of property, since in the state of nature there is no property; he has the right of judicature; of making war and peace with other commonwealths; of choosing all counsellors in peace and war; of rewarding and punishing, according to the law he has made, and of bestowing honour. Nay, if he grants away any of these powers the grant is null.
The sovereignty may be in one man, or in a limited assembly, or in an assembly of all—monarchy, aristocracy, democracy; these three forms only, though when they are misliked they are called other names. In any case, the power of the sovereign is absolute, whether a monarch or an assembly. He is the representative of the commonwealth, not deputies who may be chosen to tender petitions.
The three forms differ not in the power of the sovereign, but in their advantageousness. In monarchy, the private interest of the sovereign must coincide with that of the commonwealth as a whole; much more so than in aristocracy or democracy. An assembly cannot receive counsel secretly; a monarchy has the benefit of a single will instead of conflicting wills. There is no government by a mixture of the types, e.g., an elective "king" is not sovereign, but a minister; and within his province a Roman pro-consul was an absolute monarch. Men submit themselves to an instituted sovereign, for fear of each other; to an acquired sovereignty, for fear of the sovereign. Acquired sovereignty or dominion is either by generation (paternal) or by conquest. A family, however, does not amount to a commonwealth, unless it be so great that it may not be subdued but by war. Acquired sovereignty is absolute, for the same reasons as instituted sovereignty.
III.—The Natural Commonwealth
Liberty is absence of impediments to motion. It is consistent with fear, also with necessity; for a voluntary act is yet necessary as having a cause which is a link in a chain of causes up to the First Cause, which is God. But men have created artificial impediments or bonds called laws. The liberty of the subject lies only in such things as the sovereign has pretermitted, for he hath power to regulate all, even life and death, at his own will. The liberty praised in Rome and Athens was the liberty of the commonwealth as against other commonwealths.
The subject has liberty to disobey the sovereign's command if it contravene the law that the right of self-preservation cannot be abrogated, unless it be to endanger himself for the preservation of the commonwealth, as with soldiers. The subjects' obligation of obedience lasts so long as the sovereign's power of defending them, that being the purpose of his being made sovereign. By systems I mean numbers of men joined in one interest. These are political, constituted by law; and private, permitted or forbidden by law. All, except a commonwealth, are subordinate to the commonwealth, and have not the character of sovereignty. The rights of governing bodies are only those expressly conceded by law, either generally or to them specifically. Systems in the commonwealth correspond to muscles in the natural body.
The nourishment of the commonwealth is its commodities or products, the distribution of which must be lit the will of the sovereign, whether of land or of commodities, exchanged internally or trafficked abroad. The procreation, or children, of a commonwealth are its "plantations," or "colonies," which may either be commonwealths themselves, as children emancipated, or remain parts of the commonwealth.
By civil laws I mean those laws that men are bound to obey as members of any commonwealth. The sovereign is the sole legislator, and is not subject to the laws which he can repeal at pleasure. The civil laws are the laws of nature expressed as commands of the commonwealth, or the will of the sovereign so expressed; whatever is not the law of nature must be expressly made known and published. Both the law of nature and written law require interpretation, which is by sentence of the judge constituted by sovereign authority.
An intention of breaking the law is a sin; issuing in a breach of the law it is crime. Violation of the laws of nature is always and everywhere sin; it is crime only when a violation of the laws of a commonwealth. Unavoidable ignorance of a law is a complete excuse for breaking it, but ignorance due to lack of diligence is not unavoidable. Terror of present death, or the order of the sovereign, are a complete excuse. And many circumstances may serve as extenuation.
A punishment is an evil inflicted by public authority on him that hath done or omitted that which is said to be by the same authority a transgression of the law, to the end that the will of men may thereby be the better disposed to obedience. Now, this right of punishment is not transferred by the subjects to the sovereign since they cannot surrender their right of self-defence against violence. But as all before had the natural right of hurting others, that right is left by the covenant to the sovereign alone, strengthened by the resignation thereof by the rest.
Punishments inflicted by man are "corporal," or "pecuniary," or "ignominy," or "imprisonment," or "exile," or mixed of these. Corporal are capital, with or without torment, and less than capital. Pecuniary includes deprivation not only of money, but also of lands or other salable goods; but such deprivation, if it is by way of compensation to the person injured, is not really punishment. Imprisonment, when it is only for the custody of a person accused, is not punishment. Exile is not so much a punishment as a command or permission to escape punishment, except when accompanied by deprivation of goods.
Infirmities of a commonwealth arise—from the first institution, when the sovereign has not assumed sufficient power; from such doctrines as that each man privately is the judge of good or evil actions, or sins if he obey the commonwealth against his "conscience"; that the sovereign is subject to the civil laws; that private property excludes sovereign rights; that sovereign power may be divided, which is the worst of all; and from other causes, as of money grudged for wars, monopolies, over-potent subjects or corporations, insatiable desire of dominion. But when a country is conquered, that is the dissolution of the commonwealth.
Of the sovereign's duties the first is to surrender none of his powers, and the second to see that they be known, to which end, and the understanding of it, the people must be rightly instructed. Further, that he administer justice equally to all people, and impose equal taxes, and make good laws (I say good, not just, since no law can be unjust), and choose good counsellors.
Subjects owe simple obedience to the sovereign in all things whatsoever, except what is contrary to the laws of God. Therefore, it remains here to speak of the kingdom of God, Whose subjects are they that believe in Him. God declareth His laws either by natural reason, or by revelation, or by the voice of prophets. He is necessarily sovereign, for the one reason that He is omnipotent.
IV.—Of a Christian Commonwealth and the Kingdom of Darkness
Of God speaking by the voice of a prophet are two signs: that the prophet worketh miracles, and that he teacheth no other religion than that established. These two must go together. And since miracles have ceased, it is clear that God no longer speaks by prophets. But He hath revealed Himself in Scripture—that is, in those books which are in the canon ordained. But whether their authority be derived from the civil sovereignty or is of a universal church to which all sovereigns are subordinate is another question. It may be seen, however, from Scripture that the kingdom of God therein spoken of is a civil kingdom, for the restoration whereof we pray daily, which is that kingdom of God by Christ which was interrupted by the revolt of the Israelites and the election of Saul.
A church is a term used in many senses, but in one only can it be treated as a person having power to will, command, or do any action whatever. And according to this sense I define a church to be "a company of men professing Christian religion, united in the person of one sovereign, at whose command they ought to assemble, and without whose authority they ought not to assemble." It follows that a church that is assembled in any commonwealth that hath forbidden them to assemble is an unlawful assembly. There are Christians in the dominions of several princes and states; but every one of them is subject to that commonwealth of which he is himself a member, and consequently cannot be subject to the commands of any other person. There is therefore no such universal church as all are bound to obey.
The original covenant with Abraham gave him the sole right, which is the inheritance of every sovereign, to punish any subject who should pretend to a private vision for the countenancing of any doctrine which Abraham should forbid. This covenant established that kingdom of God which was interrupted by the secular kingdom of Saul. The coming of Christ was to restore that kingdom by a new covenant; which kingdom was to be in another world after the Resurrection. The power ecclesiastical was left by Him to the apostles, but this is manifestly not a coercive power on earth, as Christ's own power on earth was not.
Christ, therefore, by His coming did not withdraw any of the power from civil sovereigns, and if they do commit the government of their subjects in matter of religion to the Pope, he holdeth that charge not as being above the civil sovereign, but by his authority. But as for disagreement between the laws of God and the civil laws of the sovereign, the laws of God, which must in no wise be disobeyed, are those which are necessary to salvation; and these are summed up in the will to obey the law of God and the belief that Jesus is the Christ. But the private man may not set up to judge whether the ordinance of the sovereign be against the law of God, or whether the doctrine which he imposeth consist with the belief that Jesus is the Christ.
But in the Scripture there is mention also of another power, the kingdom of Satan, "the prince of the powers of the air," which is a "confederacy of deceivers that, to obtain dominion over men in this present world, endeavours by dark and erroneous doctrines to extinguish in them the light both of nature and of the Gospel, and so to disprepare them for the kingdom of God to come." And such darkness is wrought first by abusing the light of the Scriptures so that we know them not; secondly by introducing the demonology of the heathen poets; thirdly, by mixing with the Scripture divers relics of the religion and much of the vain and erroneous philosophy of the Greeks, especially of Aristotle; and, fourthly, by mingling with these false or uncertain traditions and feigned or uncertain history.
Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was born at Florence, in Italy, May 3, 1469, and died June 22, 1527. At any early age he took an active part in Florentine politics, and was employed on numerous diplomatic missions. A keen student of the politics of his time, he was also an ardent patriot. The exigencies of party warfare drove him into temporary retirement, during which he produced a number of brilliant plays and historical studies; but the most notable of his achievements is "The Prince." "The Prince" may be regarded as the first modern work treating of politics as a science. The one question to which the author devotes himself is: How a prince may establish and maintain the strongest possible government. Moral principles, therefore, must yield entirely to the dictates of pure expediency. It follows that the ruler who acts on the doctrines laid down will pay no respect to right and wrong as such. Hence the book has been mercilessly condemned. It was written probably about 1514, and not published till 1532.
I.—Of Princedoms Won by Merit
All states and governments are either republics or princedoms. Princedoms are either hereditary or new. Hereditary states are maintained with far less difficulty than new states, but in new princedoms difficulties abound.
And first if the princedom be joined on to ancient dominions of the prince, so as to form a mixed princedom, rebellion is a danger; for men are always ready to change masters. When a state rebels and is again got under it will not afterwards be lost so easily; for the prince will use the rebellion as a pretext to make himself more secure.
Such new states when they are of the same province and tongue as the ancient dominions of the prince are easily retained. It is enough to have rooted out the line of the reigning prince. But where the language and usages differ the difficulty is multiplied. One expedient is for the prince himself to dwell in the new state, as the Turk has done in Greece. Another is to send colonies into one or two places which may become keys to the province; for the cost of troops is far greater. In such provinces, moreover, the prince should always make himself the protector of his weaker neighbours, without adding to their strength; but should humble the great, and never suffer a formidable stranger to acquire influence, as was the rule with the Romans. Whereas King Louis of France has in Italy done the direct opposite in every single respect. In especial we may draw from the French king's actions the general axiom, which never or rarely errs, that "he who is the cause of another's greatness is himself undone."
Now, all princedoms are governed in one or two ways: either by a sole prince served by ministers, or by a prince with barons who hold their rank not by favour but by right of descent. The Turk is an example of the first, the French king of the second. A state of the first kind is difficult to win, but when won is easily held, since the prince's family may be easily rooted out; but in such a state as France you may gain an entry, but to hold your ground afterwards is difficult, since you cannot root out the barons.
Hence we need not wonder at the ease wherewith Alexander was able to lay a firm hold on Asia, albeit he died before he had well entered on possession; since the dominion of Darius was of the same character as that of the Turk.
When the newly acquired state has hitherto lived under its own laws and in freedom there are three ways of holding it. The first is to destroy it; the second to reside in it; the third to leave it under its own laws, choosing for its governors from the inhabitants such as will be friendly to you. But the safest course is either to destroy it or to go and live in it.
Where the prince himself is new, either merit or good fortune is implied, and if we consider the most excellent examples, such as Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, and the like, we shall see that they owed to fortune nothing beyond the opportunity which they seized. Those who, like these, come to the princedom by virtuous paths acquire with difficulty, but keep with ease. Their difficulties arise because they are of necessity innovators. If, then, they have force of their own to employ they seldom fail. Hence it comes that all armed prophets have been victorious and all unarmed prophets have been destroyed; as was the case with Savonarola.
II.—Of Princedoms Won Otherwise than by Merit
Those who rise to princedom by mere good fortune have much trouble to maintain themselves; some lack both the knowledge and the power to do so. Yet even if such a one be of great parts, he may lose what he has won, like Cesare Borgia.
It was impossible for the duke to aggrandise himself unless the states of Italy were thrown into confusion so that he might safely make himself master of some part of them. This was made easy for him as concerned Romagna by the conduct of the French and Venetians. The next step was to weaken the factions of the Orsini and the Colonnesi. Having scattered the Colonnesi, the Orsini were so won over as to be drawn in their simplicity into his hands at Sinigaglia. Having thus disposed of the leaders, he set about ingratiating himself with the population of Romagna and Urbino. He first set over the country a stern ruler to restore order. This end being accomplished, that stern but unpopular ruler was beheaded.
Next, as a new pope might be dangerous, he set himself to exterminate the kindred of those lords whom he had despoiled of their possessions, to win over the Roman nobility, and to secure a majority among the cardinals. But before the duke had completely consolidated his power his father, Pope Alexander VI., died. Even so, the skill with which he had laid the foundations of his power must have resulted in success had he not himself been almost at death's door at that critical moment. The one mistake he made was in the choice of the new pope, Julius II., and this error was the cause of his ultimate downfall.
A man may rise, however, to a princedom by paths of wickedness and crime; that is, not precisely by either merit or fortune. We may take as example first Agathocles the Sicilian. To slaughter fellow citizens, to betray friends, to be devoid of honour, pity, and religion cannot be counted as merit. But the achievements of Agathocles can certainly not be ascribed to fortune. We cannot, therefore, attribute either to fortune or to merit what he accomplished without either. For a modern instance we may consider Oliverotto of Fermo, who seized upon that town by a piece of monstrous treachery and merciless butchery; yet he established himself so firmly and so formidably that he could not have been unseated had he not let himself be over-reached by Cesare Borgia.
Our lesson from these examples is that on seizing a state the usurper should make haste to inflict what injuries he must at one stroke, and afterwards win men over by benefits.
Next is the case of those who are made princes by the favour of their countrymen, which they owe to what may be termed a fortunate astuteness. If he be established by the favour of the people, to secure them against the oppression of the nobles his position is stronger than if he owe it to the nobles; but in either case it is the people whom he must conciliate, and this I affirm in spite of the old saw, "He who builds on the people builds on mire."
A prince who cannot get together an army fit to take the field against any assailant should keep his city strongly fortified, taking no heed of the country outside, for then he will not be readily attacked, and if he be it will be difficult to maintain a siege longer than it may be resisted.
Merit, or good fortune, are needed to acquire ecclesiastical princedoms, but not to maintain them, for they are upheld by the authority of religion. It is due to the policy of the Popes Alexander VI. and Julius II. that the temporal power of the pope has become so great; and from his holiness Pope Leo we may hope that as his predecessors made the papacy great with arms he will render it still greater and more venerable by his benignity and other countless virtues.
III.—Of Maintaining a Princedom
A prince must defend his state with either his own subjects or mercenaries, or auxiliaries. Mercenaries are utterly untrustworthy; if their captain be not an able man the prince will probably be ruined, whereas if he be an able man he will be seeking a goal of his own. This has been perpetually exemplified among the cities and states of Italy which have sought to maintain themselves by taking foreigners into their pay.
But he who would deprive himself of every chance of success should have recourse to auxiliaries; that is, to the troops of a foreign potentate. For these are far more dangerous than mercenary arms, bringing ruin with them ready made. The better such troops are the more dangerous they are. From Hiero of Syracuse to Cesare Borgia, princes have become powerful in proportion as they could dispense with such aid and place their dependence upon national troops.
A prince, then, who would be powerful should have no care or thought but for war, lest he lose his dominions If he be ignorant of military affairs he can neither be respected by the soldiers nor trust them. Therefore, he must both practise and study this art. For the practise, the chase in many respects provides an excellent training both in knowledge of the country and in vigour of the body. As to study, a prince should read histories, note the actions of great men, and examine the causes of their victories and defeats; seeking to imitate those who have been renowned.
Anyone who would act up to a perfect standard of goodness in everything must be ruined among so many who are not good. It is essential therefore for a prince to have learnt how to be other than good, and to use, or not to use, his goodness as necessity requires.
It may be a good thing to be reputed liberal, but liberality without the reputation of it is hurtful. Display necessitates the imposition of taxes, whereby the prince becomes hateful; whereas through parsimony his revenue will be sufficient. Hence we have seen no princes accomplish great results save those who have been accounted miserly.
Every prince should desire to be accounted merciful, not cruel; but a new prince cannot escape a name for cruelty, for he who quells disorder by a few signal examples will, in the end, be the more merciful.
Men are less careful how they offend him who makes himself loved than him who makes himself feared; yet should a prince inspire fear in such a fashion that, if he do not win love, he may escape hate; remembering that men will sooner forget the slaying of their father than the loss of their patrimony.
Princes who set little store by their word, but have known how to overreach men by their cunning, have accomplished great things, and in the end got the better of those who trusted to honest dealing. The prince must be a lion, but he must also know how to play the fox. He who wishes to deceive will never fail to find willing dupes. The prince, in short, ought not to quit good courses if he can help it, but should know how to follow evil courses if he must.
A prince must avoid being despised as well as being hated; therefore courage, wisdom, and strength must be apparent in all his actions. Against such a one conspiracy is difficult. That prince is wise who devolves on others those matters that entail responsibility, and may therefore make him odious either to the nobles or to the commons, but reserves to himself the matters that relate to grace and favour.
What I have said is not contradicted by the history of the Roman emperors; for they had to choose between satisfying the soldiers and satisfying the people. It was imperative that at any cost they should maintain control of the soldiery, which scarce any of them could do without injustice to the people. If we examine their histories in detail we shall find that they fully bear out the principles I have laid down.
But in our time the standing armies of princes have not the same power as the armies of the Roman empire, and except under the Turk and the Soldan it is more needful to satisfy the people than the soldiery.
A new prince will never disarm his subjects, but will rather arm them, at least in part. For thus they become his partisans, whereas without them he must depend on mercenaries.
But a prince who adds a new state to his old possessions should disarm its inhabitants, relying on the soldiers of his own ancient dominions. Some have fostered feuds among their new subjects in order to keep them weak, but such a policy rarely proves useful in the end. The prince who acquires a new state will gain more strength by winning over and trusting those who were at first opposed to him than by relying on those who were at first his friends. The prince who is more afraid of his subjects than of strangers ought to build fortresses, while he who is more afraid of strangers than of his subjects should leave them alone. On the whole, the best fortress you can have is in not being hated by your subjects.
Nothing makes a prince so well thought of as to undertake great enterprises and give striking proofs of his capacity. Ferdinand of Aragon, in our own time, has become the foremost king in Christendom. If you consider his achievements, you will find them all great and some extraordinary. First he made war on Grenada, and this was the foundation of his power. Under the cloak of religion, with what may be called pious cruelty, he cleared his kingdom of the Moors; under the same pretext he made war on Africa, invaded Italy, and finally attacked France; while his subjects, occupied with these great actions, had neither time nor opportunity to oppose them.
The prince whose ministers are at once capable and faithful may always be accounted wise, since he must be one who can discern the merits and demerits of his servant. For which discernment this unfailing rule may be laid down: When you see a minister thinking more of himself than of you, and in all his actions seeking his own ends, that man can never be a minister you can trust. To retain a good minister the prince will bind him to himself by benefits. Above all, he will avoid being deceived by flatterers, and while he consults his counsellors should reflect and judge for himself. A prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised by others.
The Italian princes who in our own times have lost their dominions have either been deficient in respect of arms, or have had the people against them, or have not known how to secure themselves against the nobles. As to the influence of fortune, it may be the case that she is the mistress of one half of our actions, but leaves the control of the other half to ourselves. That prince will prosper most whose mode of acting best adapts itself to the character of the times; so that at one time a cautious temperament, and at another an impetuous temperament, will be the more successful.
Now, at this time the whole land of Italy is without a head, without order, beaten, spoiled, torn in pieces, overrun, and abandoned to destruction in every shape. She prays God to send someone to rescue her from these barbarous cruelties; she is eager to follow anyone who could undertake the part of a deliverer; nor does this seem too hard a task for you, the Magnificent Lorenzo of the illustrious house of Medici. The cause is just; we have before us unexampled proofs of Divine favour. Everything has concurred to promote your greatness. What remains to be done must be done by you, for God will not do everything Himself.
On the Principle of Population
Thomas Robert Malthus was born near Dorking, Surrey, England, Feb. 17, 1766, and after passing through the University of Cambridge was ordained, and travelled on the Continent. His great work, "An Essay on the Principle of Population as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society," was first published Anonymously in 1798, and five years later it appeared, under the title of "An Essay on the Principle of Population, or a View of its Past and Present Effect on Human Happiness, with an Enquiry into our Prospects Respecting the Future Removal or Mitigation of the Evils which it Occasions," under the author's name. Malthus is one of the most persistently misrepresented of great thinkers, his central doctrine being nothing less moral than that young men should postpone marriage until they have the means of supporting a family. It is of the first interest in the history of thought that the reading of this great essay of Malthus should have independently suggested, first to Charles Darwin, and later to Alfred Russel Wallace, the idea of natural selection as a necessary consequence of that struggle for life so splendidly demonstrated by Malthus in the case of mankind. It is to be wondered that Malthus, having provided himself with the key to the great problem of organic evolution, should have left its use to others. One explanation is, doubtless, that his survey was not comparative, covering the whole range of life, but was practically confined to one living form. Malthus died on December 23, 1834.
I.—General Survey of the Checks to Population
Since population is capable of doubling itself at least once in every twenty-five years, and since the supply of food can increase in only arithmetical ratio, it follows that increase of population must always be checked by lack of food. But, except in cases of famine, this check is never operative, and the chief checks to increase of population are moral restraint, vice, and misery.
In spite of these checks, which are always more or less in operation, there is a constant tendency for the population to increase beyond the means of subsistence. Such increase is followed by lowered wages, dearer food, and thus a lowered marriage-rate and birth-rate; and the lowered wages, in turn, induce more agricultural enterprise, and thus means of subsistence become more abundant again.
More abundant and cheaper food, in turn, promotes marriage, and increases the population, until again there is a shortage of food; and this oscillation, though irregular, will always be found, and there will always be a tendency for the population to oscillate around the food limit.
Even among savages, where the degradation of women, infanticide, vice, famine, war, and disease are active instruments of decimation, it will be found that the average population, generally speaking, presses hard against the limits of the average food.
Among modern pastoral nations the principal checks which keep the population down to the level of the means of subsistence are: restraint from inability to obtain a wife, vicious habits with respect to women, epidemics, war, famine, and the diseases arising from extreme poverty.
In modern Europe we find similar preventive and positive checks, in varying proportions, to undue increase of population. In England and Scotland the preventive check to population prevails in a considerable degree.
A man of liberal education, with an income only just sufficient to enable him to associate in the rank of gentlemen, must feel absolutely certain that if he marry and have a family he shall be obliged to give up all his former connections. The woman whom a man of education would naturally choose is one brought up in similar refined surroundings. Can a man easily consent to place the object of his affections on a lower social plane?
Such considerations certainly prevent many of the better classes from early marriage; and those who marry in the face of such considerations too frequently justify the forebodings of the prudent.
The sons of tradesmen and farmers are exhorted not to marry till they have a sufficient sure income to support a family, and often accordingly postpone marriage till they are far advanced in life. The labourer who earns eighteenpence or two shillings a day, as a single man, will hesitate to divide that pittance among four or five, seeing the risks such poverty involves. The servants who live in the families of the rich have yet stronger inducements to forego matrimony. They live in comparative comfort and luxury, which as married men they could not enjoy.
The prolific power of nature is very far from being called fully into action in Great Britain. And yet, when we contemplate the insufficiency of the price of labour to maintain a large family, and the amount of mortality which arises directly and indirectly from poverty, and add to this the crowds of children prematurely cut off in large towns, we shall be compelled to acknowledge that, if the number born annually were not greatly thinned by this premature mortality, the funds for the maintenance of labour must increase with much greater rapidity than they have ever hitherto done in order to find work and food for the additional numbers that would then grow up to manhood.
Those, therefore, who live single, or marry late, do not by such conduct contribute in any degree to diminish the actual population, but merely to diminish the proportion of premature mortality, which would otherwise be excessive; and consequently, from this point of view, do not seem to deserve any very severe reprobation or punishment.
It has been usual to consider a great proportion of births as the surest sign of a vigorous and flourishing state. But this is erroneous. Only after great mortality, or under very especial social conditions, is a large proportion of births a favourable symptom. In the average state of a well-peopled territory there cannot be a worse sign than a large proportion of births, nor a better sign than a small proportion. A small proportion of births is a decided proof of a very small mortality, since the supply always equals the demand for population. In despotic, miserable, or naturally unhealthy countries, the proportion of births to the whole population will generally be found very great.
In Scotland emigration is a potent cause of depopulation, but any thinning out from this cause is quickly neutralised by an increased proportion of births.
In Ireland the details of population fluctuations are little known; but the cheapness of potatoes, and the ignorance and depressed, indifferent state of the people, have encouraged marriage to such a degree that the population is pushed much beyond the resources of the country, and the consequence, naturally, is that the lower classes of the people are in the most impoverished and miserable state. The checks to the population are, of course, chiefly of the positive kind, and arise from the diseases caused by squalid poverty. To these positive checks have of late years been added the vice and misery of civil war, and of martial law.
II.—Population and the Subsistence Level
That the checks which have been mentioned are the immediate causes of the slow increase of population, and that these checks result principally from an insufficiency of subsistence will be evident from the comparative rapid increase which has invariably taken place whenever, by some sudden enlargement in the means of subsistence, these checks have been in any considerable degree removed. Plenty of rich land to be had for little or nothing is so powerful a cause of population as generally to overcome all obstacles. The abundance of cheap and profitable land obtained by the colonists in English North America resulted in a rapid increase of population almost without parallel in history. Such an increase does not occur in Britain, and the reason to be assigned is want of food. Want of food is certainly the most efficient of the three immediate checks to population. Population soon increases after war and disease and convulsions of nature, because the food supply is more than adequate for the diminished numbers; but where food is deficient no increase of population can occur.
Since the world began the causes of population and depopulation have been probably as constant as any of the laws of nature with which we are acquainted.
The passion between the sexes has appeared in every age to be so nearly the same that it may always be considered in algebraic language as a given quantity. The great law of necessity, which prevents population from increasing in any country beyond the food which it can either produce or acquire, is a law so obvious and evident to our understandings that we cannot doubt it. The different modes which nature takes to repress a redundant population do not, indeed, appear to us so certain and regular; but though we cannot always predict the mode, we may with certainty predict the fact. If the proportion of the births to the deaths for a few years indicates an increase of numbers much beyond the proportional increased or acquired food of the country, we may be perfectly certain that, unless an emigration takes place, the deaths will shortly exceed the births, and that the increase which has been observed for a few years cannot be the real average increase of the population of the country. If there were no other depopulating causes, and if the preventive check did not operate very strongly, every country would, without doubt, be subject to periodical plagues and famines.
The only true criterion of a real and permanent increase in the population of any country is the increase of the means of subsistence, and even this criterion is subject to some slight variations.
Other circumstances being the same, it may be affirmed that countries are populous according to the quantity of human food which they produce or can acquire; and happy according to the liberality with which this food is divided, or the quantity which a day's labour will purchase. This happiness does not depend either upon their being thinly or fully inhabited, upon their poverty or their riches, their youth or age, but on the proportion which the population and the food bear to each other.
In modern Europe the positive checks to population prevail less, and the preventive checks more, than in past times, and in the more uncivilised parts of the world, since wars, plagues, acute diseases, and famines have become less frequent.
With regard to the preventive checks to population, though it must be acknowledged that the preventive check of moral restraint does not, at present, largely prevail, yet it is becoming more prevalent, and if we consider only the general term, which implies principally a delay of marriage from prudential considerations, it may be considered as the most potent of the checks which in modern Europe keep down the population to the level of the means of subsistence.
III.—Remedies other than Moral Restraint for Evils of Over-population
All systems of equality which have been proposed are bound to fail, because the motive to the preventive check of moral restraint is destroyed by equality and community of goods. As all would be equal and in similar circumstances, there would be no reason why one person should think himself obliged to practise the duty of restraint more than another. And how could a man be compelled to such restraint? The operation of this natural check of moral restraint depends exclusively upon the existence of the laws of property and succession; and in a state of equality and community of property could only be replaced by some artificial regulation of a very different stamp, and a much more unnatural character.
No scheme of equality, then, can overcome the population difficulty; emigration is only a palliative, and poor-law relief only a nostrum which eventually aggravates the evils of over-population.
The poor laws of England tend to depress the general condition of the poor in two ways. Their first obnoxious tendency is to increase population without increasing the food for its support. A poor man may marry with little or no prospect of being able to support a family without parish assistance. The poor laws may be said, therefore, to create the poor which they maintain, and as the provisions must be distributed to the greater numbers in smaller proportions, the labours of those who are not supported by parish assistance will purchase a smaller quantity of provisions than before, and consequently more of them will require assistance. Secondly, the quantity of provisions consumed in workhouses by the least worthy members of the community diminishes the food of the more worthy members, who are thus driven to obtain relief.
Fortunately for England a spirit of independence still remains among the peasantry. The poor laws, though calculated to eradicate this spirit, have only partially succeeded. Hard as it may appear in individual instances, dependent poverty ought to be deemed disgraceful. Such a stigma seems necessary to promote the general happiness of mankind. If men be induced to marry from the mere prospect of parish provision, they are not only unjustly tempted to bring unhappiness and dependence upon themselves and their children, but they are tempted unwittingly to injure all in the same class as themselves. Further, the poor laws discourage frugality, and diminish the power and the will of the common people to save, and they live from hand to mouth without thought of the future. A man who might not be deterred from going to the ale-house by the knowledge that his death and sickness must throw his wife and family upon the parish, might fear to waste his earnings if the only provisions for his family were casual charity.
The mass of unhappiness among common people must be diminished when one of the strongest checks to idleness and dissipation is thus removed; and when institutions which render dependent poverty so lessen the disgrace which should be attached to it. I feel persuaded that if the poor-laws had never existed in this country, though there might have been a few more instances of very severe distress, the aggregate mass of happiness among the common people would have been much greater than it is at present.
In view of all these facts I do not propose a law to prevent the poor from marrying, but I propose a very gradual abolition of the poor laws.
By means of an extending commerce a country may be able to purchase an increasing quantity of food, and to support an increasing population; but extension of commerce cannot continue indefinitely; it must be checked by competition and other economic interference; and as soon as funds for the maintenance of labour become stationary, or begin to decline, there will be no means of obtaining food for an increasing population.
It is the union of the agricultural and commercial systems, and not either of them taken separately, that is calculated to produce the greatest national prosperity. A country with an extensive and rich territory, the cultivation of which is stimulated by improvements in agriculture, manufactures, and foreign commerce, has such various and abundant resources that it is extremely difficult to say when they will reach their limits. There are, however, limits to the capital population of a country—limits which they must ultimately reach and cannot pass.
To secure a more abundant, and, at the same time, a steadier supply of grain, a system of corn laws has been recommended, the object of which is to discourage, by duties or prohibitions, the importation of foreign corn, and to encourage by bounties the exportation of corn of home growth.
Laws which prohibit the importation of foreign grain, though by no means unobjectionable, are not open to the same objections as bounties, and must be allowed to be adequate to the object they have in view, the maintenance of an independent supply. Moreover, it is obviously possible, by restrictions upon the importation of foreign corn, to maintain a balance between the agricultural and commercial classes. The question is not a question of the efficiency or inefficiency of the measure proposed, but of its policy or impolicy. In certain cases there can be no doubt of the impolicy of attempting to maintain an unnatural balance between the agricultural and commercial classes; but in other cases the impolicy is by no means so clear. Restrictions upon the importation of foreign corn in a country which has great landed resources tend not only to spread every commercial and manufacturing advantage possessed, whether permanent or temporary, on the soil, but tend also to prevent these great oscillations in the progress of agriculture and commerce which are seldom unattended with evil.
IV.—Moral Restraint and Discriminate Charity
As it appears that in the actual state of every society which has come within our view the natural progress of population has been constantly and powerfully checked, and as it seems evident that no improved form of government, no plans of emigration, no direction of natural industry can prevent the continued action of a great check to population in some form or other, it follows that we must submit to it as an inevitable law of nature, and the only inquiry that remains is how it may take place with the least possible prejudice to the virtue and happiness of human society.
All the immediate checks to population which have been observed to prevail in the same and different countries seem to be resolvable into moral restraint, vice, and misery; and if our choice be confined to those three, we cannot long hesitate in our decision. It seems certain that moral restraint is the only virtuous and satisfactory mode of escape from the evils of over-population. Without such moral restraint, and if it were the custom to marry at the age of puberty, no virtue, however great, could rescue society from a most wretched and desperate state of want, with its concomitant diseases and famines.
Prudential restraint, if it were generally adopted, would soon raise the price of labour by narrowing its supply, and those practising it would save money and acquire habits of sobriety, industry, and economy such as should ensure happy married life. Further, postponement of marriage would give both sexes a better opportunity to choose life-partners wisely and well; and the passion, instead of being extinguished by early sensuality, would burn the more brightly because repressed for a time, and attained as the prize of industry and virtue, and as the reward of a genuine attachment.
Moral restraint in this matter is a Christian duty. There are, perhaps, few actions that tend so directly to diminish the general happiness as to marry without the means of supporting children. He who commits this act clearly offends against the will of God, for he violates his duty to his neighbours and to himself, and listens to the voice of passion rather than fulfils his higher obligations. The duty is intelligible to the meanest capacity.
It is simply that he must not bring beings into the world whom he cannot support. When once this subject is cleared from the obscurity thrown over it by parochial laws and private benevolence, every man must see his obligation. If he cannot support his children they must starve; and if he marry in the face of a fair probability that he shall not be able to support his children, he is guilty of all the evils which he thus brings upon himself, his wife, and his offspring.
When the wages of labour are barely sufficient to support two children, a man marries and has five or six, and finds himself in distress. He blames the low price of labour. He blames the parish and the rich and social institutions; but he never blames himself. He may wish he had never married; but it never enters into his head that he has done anything wrong. Indeed, he has always been told that to raise up children for his king and country is a very meritorious act.
The common people must be taught that they themselves in such a case are to blame, and that no one has power to help them if they act thus contrary to the will of God. Those who wish to help the poor must try to raise the relative proportion between the price of labour and the price of provisions, instead of encouraging the poor to marry and overstock the labour market. A market overstocked with labour and an ample remuneration to each labourer are objects perfectly incompatible with each other.
It is not enough, however, to abolish all the positive institutions which encourage population, but we must endeavour at the same time to correct the prevailing opinions which have the same effect. The public must be made to understand that they have no right to assistance, and that it is the duty of man not only to propagate his species but to propagate virtue and happiness.
Our private charity must also be discriminate. If we insist that a man shall eat even if he do not work, and that his family shall be supported even if he marry without prospect of supporting a family, we merely encourage worthless poverty. We must not put a premium on idleness and reckless marriages, and we must on no account do anything which tends to remove in any regular manner that inequality of circumstances which ought always to exist between the single man and the man with a family.
Capital: A Critical Analysis
Heinrich Karl Marx was born at Treves, in Rhenish Prussia, May 5, 1818, and died in London, March 14, 1883. One of the most advanced leaders of the modern socialist movement in Germany, he was a brilliant university graduate both at Berlin and Bonn. Going at once into journalism, Marx from the outset of his career was known as a pronounced socialist. He became celebrated as collaborator with Heine in conducting the journal which has since become the most influential organ in the world of socialism, "Vorwaerts." He was expelled successively from Germany, France, and Belgium, but found a refuge in England, where he lived from 1849 till the close of his life. The keynote of Marxist economy is the advocacy of the claims of labour against those of capitalism. Marx was a skilled linguist, and his philological talent enabled him to propagate his views with special facility, so that he was the real founder of international socialism. His famous social work, "Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production" ("Das Kapital"), which was originally entitled "A Criticism of Political Economy," appeared in 1867, and has influenced the labour movement more than any other composition in literature. A keen historical survey of capital and also a vivid forecast, Marx's analysis of the economic development of modern society has been justified in many respects by subsequent events.
I.—The Genesis of Capitalist Production
Money and commodities are not capital, any more than are the means of production and of subsistence. They need to be transformed into capital. This transformation can only take place under conditions that separate labourers from all property, and from the means by which they can realise the profits of their labour; that is to say, from the possession of their means of production. The process of this separation clears the way for the capitalist system.
The economic structure of capitalistic society has developed from the economic structure of feudal society. The dissolution of the latter set free the elements of the former. The immediate producer, the labourer, could only dispose of his own person after he had ceased to be attached as a serf to the soil. Then, to be able to sell his labour wherever he could find a market, he must further have escaped from the mediaeval guilds and their rules and regulations, as from so many fetters on labour. But these new freedmen, on the other hand, only thus made merchandise of their labour after they had been deprived of their own means of production, and of all the guarantees of existence furnished under the old feudalism. And the history of this, their expropriation, is written in history in characters of blood and fire.
The industrial capitalists, the new potentates, had to displace not only the guild-masters of handicrafts, but also the feudal lords, who were in possession of the sources of wealth. But though the conquerors thus triumphed, they have risen by means as opprobrious as those by which, long before, the Roman freedman overcame his patronus. The servitude of the labourer was the starting point of the development which involved the rise of the labourer and the genesis of the capitalist. The form of this servitude was changed by the transformation of feudal exploitation into capitalist exploitation.
The inauguration of the capitalist era dates from the sixteenth century. The process consisted in the tearing of masses of men from their means of subsistence, to be hurled as free proletarians on the labour market. The basis of the whole process is the expropriation of the peasant from the soil. The history of this expropriation, differing in various countries, has the classic form only in England.
The prelude of the revolution which founded the capitalist mode of production was played at the beginning of the sixteenth century by the breaking up of the bands of feudal retainers, who, as Sir James Steuart well says, "everywhere uselessly filled house and castle." The old nobility had been devoured by the great feudal wars; the new was a child of its time, for which money was the power of all powers. Transformation of arable land into sheepwalks was therefore its cry, and an expropriation of small peasants was initiated which threatened the ruin of the country. Thornton declares that the English working-class was precipitated without any transition from its golden into its iron age.
To the evictions a direct impulse had been given by the rapid increase of the Flemish wool manufacturers and the corresponding rise in the price of wool in England. At length such a deterioration ensued in the condition of the common people that Queen Elizabeth, on a journey through the land, exclaimed, "Pauper ubique jacet," and in the forty-third year of her reign the nation was constrained to acknowledge the terrible pauperism that had arisen by the introduction of the poor-rate.
Even in the last decade of the seventeenth century, the yeomanry, or independent peasants, outnumbered the farmers, and they formed the main strength of Cromwell's army. About 1750 the yeomen had vanished, and not long afterwards was lost the common land of the agricultural labourer.
Communal property was an old institution which had lived on under the aegis of feudalism. Under the "glorious revolution" which brought William of Orange to England, the landlord and capitalist appropriators of surplus value inaugurated the new era by thefts of land on a colossal scale. Thus was formed the foundation of the princely domains of the English oligarchy. In the eighteenth century the law itself became the instrument of the theft of the people's land, and the transformation of communal land into private property had for its sequel the parliamentary form of robbery in shape of the Acts for the Enclosure of Commons.
Immense numbers of the agricultural population were by this transformation "set free" as proletarians for the manufacturing industry.
After the foregoing consideration of the forcible creation of a class of outlawed proletarians, converted into wage-labourers, the question remains,—Whence came the capitalists originally? The capitalist farmer developed very gradually, first as a bailiff, somewhat corresponding to the old Roman villicus; then as a metaver, or semi-farmer, dividing stock and product with the landowner; next as the farmer proper, making his own capital increase by employing wage-labourers, and paying part of the profit to the landlord as rent. The agricultural revolution of the sixteenth century enriched the farmer in proportion as it impoverished the mass of the agricultural people. The continuous rise in the price of commodities swelled the money capital of the farmer automatically, and he grew rich at the expense both of landlord and labourer. It is thus not surprising that at the close of the sixteenth century England had a class of capitalist farmers who were wealthy, considering the conditions of the age.
II.—The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist
By degrees the agricultural population was transformed into material elements of variable capital. For the peasants were constrained, now that they had been expropriated and cast adrift, to purchase their value in the form of wages from their new masters, the industrial capitalists. So they were transformed into an element of constant capital.
Consider the case of Westphalian peasants who, in the time of Frederic II., were all spinners of flax, and were forcibly expropriated from the soil they had owned under feudal tenure. Some, however, remained and were converted into day-labourers for large farmers. At the same time arose large flax-spinning and weaving factories in which would work men who had been "set free" from the soil. The flax looks just the same as before, but a new social soul has entered its body, for it now forms a part of the constant capital of the master manufacturer.
The flax which was formerly produced by a number of families, who also spun it in retail fashion after growing it, is now concentrated in the establishment of a single capitalist, who employs others to spin and weave it for him. So the extra labour which formerly realised extra income to many peasant families now brings profit to a few capitalists. The spindles and the looms formerly scattered over the country are now crowded into great labour barracks. The machines and raw material are now transformed from means of independent livelihood for the peasant spinners and weavers into means for mastering them and extracting out of them badly-paid labour.
The genesis of the industrial capitalist did not proceed in such a gradual way as that of the farmer, for it was accelerated by the commercial demands of the new world-market created by the great discoveries of the end of the fifteenth century. The Middle Ages had handed down two distinct forms of capital—the usurer's capital and the merchant's capital. For a time the money capital formed by means of usury and commerce was prevented from conversion into industrial capital, in the country by feudalism, in the towns by the guilds. These hindrances vanished with the disappearance of feudal society and the expropriation and partial eviction of the rural population. The new manufactures were established at seaports, or at inland points beyond the control of the old municipalities and their guilds. Hence, in England arose an embittered struggle of the corporate towns against these new industrial nurseries.
The power of the state, concentrating and organising the force of society, hastened the transition, shortening the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode.
The next development of the capitalist era was the rise of the stock exchange and the great banks. The latter were at first merely associations of private speculators, who, in exchange for privileges bestowed on them, advanced money to help the governments. The Bank of England, founded in 1684, began by lending money to the government at eight per cent. At the same time it was empowered by parliament to coin money out of the same capital, by lending it again to the public in the form of bank-notes.
By degrees the Bank of England became the eternal creditor of the nation, and so arose the national debt, together with an international credit system, which has often concealed one or other of the sources of primitive accumulation of this or that people. One of the main lines of international business is the lending out of enormous amounts of capital by one country to another. Much capital which to-day appears in America without any certificate of birth, was yesterday in England, the capitalised blood of her children.
Terrible cruelty characterised much of the development of industrial capitalism, both on the Continent and in England. The birth of modern industry is heralded by a great slaughter of the innocents. Like the royal navy, the factories were recruited by the press-gang. Cottages and workhouses were ransacked for poor children to recruit the factory staffs, and these were forced to work by turns during the greater part of the night. As Lancashire was thinly populated and great numbers of hands were suddenly wanted, thousands of little hapless creatures, whose nimble little fingers were especially wanted, were sent down to the north from the workhouses of London, Birmingham, and other towns. These apprentices were flogged, tortured, and fettered. The profits of manufacturers were enormous. At length Sir Robert Peel brought in his bill for the protection of children.
With the growth of capitalist production during the manufacturing period the public conscience of Europe had lost the last remnant of shame, and the nations cynically boasted of every infamy that reinforced capitalistic accumulation. Liverpool waxed fat on the slave trade. The child-slavery in the European manufactories needed for its pedestal the slavery, pure and simple, of the negroes imported into America. If money, according to Marie Augier, "comes into the world with a congenital bloodstain on one cheek," capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.
III.—Commodities, Exchange and Capital
A commodity is an object, external to ourselves, which by its properties in some way satisfies human wants. The utility of a thing constitutes its use-value. Use-values of commodities form the substance of all wealth, and also become the material repositories of exchange-value. The magnitude of the value of any article is determined by the labour-time socially necessary for its production. So the value of a commodity would remain constant if the labour-time required for its production also remained constant. But the latter varies with every variation in the productiveness of labour.
An article may have use-value, and yet be without value, if its utility is not due to labour, as in the case of air, or virgin soil, or natural meadows. If a thing be useless, so is the labour contained in it, for, as the labour does not count as such, it therefore creates no value. A coat is worth twice as much as ten yards of linen, because the linen contains only half as much labour as the coat. All labour is the expenditure of human labour-power in a special form and with a definite aim, and in this, its character of concrete useful labour, it produces use-values.
Everyone knows, if he knows nothing else, that commodities have a value form common to them all, and presenting a marked contrast with the varied bodily forms of their use-values. I mean their money form.
Every owner of a commodity wishes to part with it in exchange for other commodities, but only those whose use-value satisfies some want of his. To the owner of a commodity, every other commodity is, in regard to his own, a particular equivalent. Consequently his own commodity is the universal equivalent for all others. But, since this applies to every owner, there is, in fact, no commodity acting as a universal equivalent. It was soon seen that a particular commodity would not become the universal equivalent except by a social act. The social action, therefore, has set apart the particular commodity in which all values are represented, and the bodily form of this commodity has become the form of the socially recognised universal equivalent—money.
The first chief function of money is to supply commodities with the material for the expression of their values. It thus serves as a universal measure of value, and only by virtue of this function does gold, the commodity par excellence, become money. But money itself has no price. As the measure of value and the standard of price, money has two distinct functions to perform. It is the measure of value inasmuch as it is the socially recognised incarnation, of human labour; it is the standard of price inasmuch as it is a fixed weight of metal. As the measure of value it serves to convert the values of all the various commodities into prices or imaginary quantities of gold. As the standard of price it measures those quantities of gold.
The word pound was the money-name given to an actual pound weight of silver. When, as a measure of value, gold superseded silver, the word pound became, as a money-name, differentiated from the same word as a weight-name. The prices, or quantities of gold, into which the values of commodities are ideally changed are now expressed in the names of coins, or in the legally valid names of the subdivisions of the gold standard. Hence, instead of saying, "A quarter of wheat is worth an ounce of gold," the English would say, "It is worth L3 17s. 10-1/2d." In this fashion commodities express by their prices how much they are worth, and money serves as money of account whenever it is a question of fixing the value of an article in its money-form. When Anarcharsis was asked for what purpose the Greeks used money, he replied, "For reckoning."
Every labourer in adding new labour also adds new value. In what way? Evidently, only by labouring productively in a particular way: the spinner by his spinning, the weaver by his weaving, the smith by his forging. Each use-value disappears, only to reappear under a new form in some new use-value. By virtue of its general character, as being expenditure of human labour-power in the abstract, spinning adds a new value to the values of cotton and spindle. On the other hand, by virtue of its special character, as being a concrete, useful process, the same labour of spinning both transfers the values of the means of production to the product and preserves them in the product. Hence at one and the same time there is produced a twofold result.