Frederick Uttley Laycock.

Motives of mankind; a study of human evolutionary forces online

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Author of " Economics and Socialism" "Political Economy
in a Nutshell," etc.











r -v ^ i


Chap. I. Economic Man . . . . . . i

II. Man's Relation To Land .. 21




Chap. III. The Individual and Society.. 57

IV. Power and Load .. .. 81

V. Increase of Efficiency .. .. 103

VI. Towards the Highest.. .. 129

VII. The Strength of Freedom .. 171


Chap. VIII. Economic Liberty .. .. 214

IX. Labour Forced and Restricted 243

X. First Principles . . . . 283


Chap. XL " Alchemies " 316

XII. Priestcraft and Exploitation 355


Chapter I. Economic M am. Social institutions are the result of slow
growth. The natural tendencies we call economic laws are substantially
changeless. Difference between human and natural laws is important but too
much disregarded. Human need (or material subsistence is the motive of
economic activity, and the occasion of much tragedy. Adam Smith should
have commenced with this need instead of the labour used to supply it. All
conduct is traceable to motives and desires ; and each seeks to accomplish
his desires in the easiest manner known to him.

Chapter II. Mau'i Relation to Lamd.\\e thus get the economic law
of rent. Land is essential to production of subsistence but is of unequal
value. Some land is as profitable at a rent as other land rent free. This
surplus value to vitally distinguishable from the value added by human effort.
To tax the natural surplus value for common purposes cannot deter effort ;
it wfll the rather discourage idleness; but to tax the result of labour will
dimmish the endeavour. The margin of cultivation is a formula indicating
what land is for the time being worth using. The so-called law of
returns may well be disregarded in face of the progress of I
andskill. Freedom to seek the greatest advantage from the smallest expendi-
tort remit* in increased return through change of kind and improvement of
method without lowering the margin of cultivation. Demand may be enlarged
without increase of population : the growth in variety indicating progress.
The one condition of this increase in demand to freedom to produce the supply.

III. Tht Individual mod SocMy. Lower forms of life afford
no analogy for safe inference of human motives. Social efficiency at the
expense of individual efficiency or development has always resulted in national
ruin. Sell-repression per M has never made for progress. Burden of society
on individual to not an aid to social evolution. ^

Chapter IV. Powtr mad Load. Human communion furnishes motives.
But motive power and load (or burden) are distinguishable opposite*.
Increasing the burden of society is hindering the race. Some human motives
are independent of society, i.. u) need of bodily sustenance ; (a) marriage
and offspring. Society, or the community, usually means government and
its dependents. Its effect on human motives has reflex influence on parental
stock ; its constitution, operation, succession and conditions. Adverse con*
ditions do not aid evolution. Development arises from surplus vitality with

V. Increase of Efficiency. Parentage of attest being desirable
the conditions of society should not deter their marriage. Standard of sub-
sistence cannot raise wages. But, influencing different minds in different
degrees, conditions adverse to enterprise may discourage marriage of racially
superior without affecting reproduction of inferior. The latter must also,
as a result, suffer for want of industrial commanders. This is explanation
Of degeneration : also of diminishing middle classes. Restricting the stronger
means crushing the weaker. Humanitarian regard for greater number has
been perverted by attempt to fetter the stronger minority. These naturally
and inevitably throw off the burden for which they have no motive, and the
majority suffer the more. Progress demands that the burden be taken up
freely not by compulsion.



Chapter VI. Towards the Highest. The so-called struggle for exis-
tence is the life itself. It involves desire for life and gives pleasure. Religion
is highest life, but its benefit depends on guidance of reason. Christianity never
favoured repression of individual. Self-sacrifice of martyrs was highest self-
assertion. Life to be joyful must be free. Men and beasts undertake apparent
burdens for the pleasure they bring. Altruism begins with justice,
but is essentially personal. From self the regard passes to family and nation,
but altruism is beyond even that, and emphatically differentiates its object.
It is not religion. That is conception of unseen : a motive to all good if guided
by reason, but not otherwise. It absolutely cannot be forced.

Chapter VII. The Strength of Freedom. Progress is attainable only
by liberty : not by attempting to intensify struggle. We should seek con-
ditions free and favourable. Nature alone can increase the life and thus
intensify the effort which favours evolution. Exactly the same consideration
applies to economic factors. Smith and Darwin both assumed life and did
not sufficiently state the assumption. Its tendency to increase in quantity
and variety with favourable conditions indicates mischief of contrivances to
intensify the struggle or manipulate distribution and prices. Normal life
affords pleasure. Increase of life assumes and results in differentiation. This
is evolution and is not derogatory if duties correspond with fitness. All
depends on method of selection and consideration of motive. Freedom, here
again, produces efficiency. The Russo-Japanese war is an instance of operation
of this motive. At the back of it all is tendency to increased life from more
free conditions. Human progress negatives the supposed antagonism of the
individual to society. Government calling itself society is often antagonistic
to the individual and the race. Reason and religion are not antagonistic.
The antagonism arises from authority under various guises opposing reason.
Life and liberty have always been with reason. Liberty fosters life, and life
physical, mental, spiritual, if intense enough, will have liberty. But both
must be on Nature's plan and not by quack artificialities.

Chapter VIII. Economic Liberty. We must begin therefore with labour
(conditioned by knowledge and skill) working on land with the aid of tools
or capital. But first we must be rid of confusion of terms. Labour with a
capital L does not mean either labour or labourers. There is still worse con-
fusion concerning Capital. Realising the relationships between the three ele-
ments of production (i) natural objects and forces, (2) human effort, and (3)
natural objects fitted for use in aid of production, we observe concerning human
effort that it has three possible conditions. The effort may be (i) free, (2) more
or less compulsory, or (3) restricted by law or combination. Free labour is
that which affords the best reward for the labourer.

Chapter IX. Labour Forced and Restricted. {a) The hut or poll tax
is a means oi forcing the labour of the natives of certain conquered countries.
({>) Labour is restricted by (i) taxes on ttade and on the occupation of land,
works or houses, or otherwise assessed on the result of human effort ; (2) un-
taxed monopoly of land ; (3) public debt and unscientific currency; (4) mutual
compact or virtual compulsion to refrain from working in order to maintain
certain prices or terms of employment. The peacefulness of the persuasion
is illusory. Freedom to work, not to stop work, should be the ideal. Com-
bination to bargain collectively is contrary to all principles of free trade.



Chapter X. First Principle*. Production of desirable sustenance canno
be harmful. Hence restriction against working, whatever the price, is un-
warrantable interference with liberty. Demand is determinant of price. To
work at that price induces supply in exchange which is coincident with effective
demand. Refusing to work is, therefore, bad even for competitor, in that it
kills Hfp3pd It is not production but hindrance which does the injury ,
and restrictions against underselling are in effect directed against unemployed.
Increasing demand artificially is equivalent to checking supply : both ten '
to famine. Demand for commodities is not necessarily supply of subsistence.
The latter is the essential object and inevitably affords demand. The effect
of this principle on public questions is of more importance than the mere theory
as affecting private conduct.

Chapter X I. A Icbemles. Contrasts of condition impugned by economist
and historian have their effect on ptnonnd of the race. The poverty which
ought to be gone still remains with us, and the errors which cause it change
form but remain in substance. Modern social policy has, and seeks, no defence
in principles. Nothing desirable can be gained from diminishing production,
and old dread of over-production has only taken new form in artificial stimula-
tion of spending. Poverty arises from restriction, not competition. Land
monopoly is only one cause of poverty. Other restrictions act similarly.
Abundance benefits all. but chiefly the poorer producers. Alchemy of rent
divorces labourer from work, and so with other alchemies. Government in
various aspects is one such alchemy as now conducted. Increase of its sphere
extracts more and more. Protection and public debt are definitely injurious.
Projects of reform like housing, education, pensions need dose scrutiny,
Bargainer-general acts as restriction. Other problems, so-called, are included
in that of poverty. Solution b more free and abundant production.

Chapter XII. Priestcraft and R xplol tattoo. -Discovery of identity in
diversity involves definite separation of acceptable from unacceptable ; dis-
tinction between desirable and undesirable. Burden of society on individual
is evil because it operates, in direction, contrary to progressive motives. But
direction and control are essential to work, and therefore to progress. Know-
ledge and application of force are essential. Government production saves
no cost of supervision. Abuse of power by (i) physical force, and (3) operation
on human minds characterise distinct classes. Greatest danger is from Utter
class when high state of civilisation b reached. In wide but essential sense
it b priestcraft. Separation of class of wage-supervisors or bargainers-genera
is such a priestcraft. It b unnecessary, lowering, palpably mischievous
ignorant as creed and degrading as ethics. Offered as social reform it is not
only a positive injury in itself, but also a maintainer of other evils, t.g., land
monopoly and public debt. It supports doctrines kindred to itself which
stand athwart removal of these evils. Employer b natural leader, but has
been thrust aside for -members of this priesthood. Evil is palpable, but in-
calculable. Captains of industry should become leaders of reform in land
questions and public debt. Man must be free to increase surplus which is
the only hope of diminishing poverty. Highest motives of man triad urge to
this emancipation.






Economic Man.

NATIONAL institutions and social organisa-
tion are always the result of growth.
Life and time have been as necessary to
their present existence as to that of a
coral island. They are built on a solid
past submerged centuries ago. Through
successive generations, while the past has
been receding from our view, they have
come up to the time and condition in
which we now see them. Nowhere in the
whole aspect of a nation is this more
palpably true than in the case of its land
laws. No phenomenon of the relation of
human beings to each other can be fully
understood without reference to antecedent
circumstances. Indeed, the individual
himself in body and mind is modified by
the land laws and social institutions under

2 Motives of Mankind.

which he and his ancestors have lived.
The conditions determining his relation to
the earth he inhabits and the persons by
whom he is surrounded have been evolved
from previous conditions. Nor is it easy
to estimate accurately all the forces by
which the social state of the past has
been slowly moulded into that of the

But economic laws are more nearly
eternal, and infinitely more changeless
than the land laws of the oldest nation
on earth, or the most long-continuing
human institution. And when we go
back to find among barbarian ancestors,
or foreign conquerors from distant lands,
the roots of an institution or law adopted
by dynasty after dynasty with this or
that modification, and surviving conquest
after conquest, revolution and upheaval,
let us remember that it is still but an
ephemeral display of more deeply written
laws of human nature itself as presented
in that particular district and stock of
humanity. Man's antiquity is undoubt-
edly greater beyond description than the
most learned would have believed a cen-
tury ago. But the creature is neverthe-
less a recent introduction into the fauna

Economic Man. 3

of the planet. And the laws with which
the economist has to deal have their roots
in a time beyond that of man's ape-like
ancestor. Yet these are the laws which
some social reformers would essay to
destroy or uproot by acts of a legislature
which is in comparison the gnat of an
hour's sunshine. Nay, they scarcely deign
to notice these laws of man's very being
in their haste to be making some laws of
their own devising, by which they are
satisfied they can control his every doing.
Let it not be concluded that long
existent domination is to be regarded as
itself a reason for unquestioning obedi-
ence. That would be conservatism of the
blindest sort. Though the votaries of
such a creed should at least take the
trouble to ascertain the age of their
cherished idol and not offer their allegi-
ance to an evil thing of yesterday thinking
it is an elder of all the ages. But without
attaching excessive virtue to mere age it is
important to consider what is a permanent
characteristic of the human race, and
what is only a passing phase of human
development. For a ruling power may be
maintaining at great pain and sacrifice, as
though it were essential to the national

4 Motives of Mankind.

existence, what is only a temporary
excrescence, impossible to continue per-
manently, and inevitably reducing the
nation's strength while it does continue.

If, however, we are to understand
human conduct and motives, if we are
to appreciate social institutions at their
true worth, we must obtain a clear grasp
of the nature and relationship of the two
sorts of laws we have had to mention.
It is unfortunate that they are described
by the same word. They are not at all
the same thing. And the use of the
same word tends to confusion. Much
angry scorn has been poured out con-
cerning man-made laws when the refer-
ence was to laws of the sort with the
making of which man has had least to do.
It is no matter for surprise that the laws
of the particular nation or state should
be better understood than those general
truths which scientists call laws. Art
belongs to an earlier age than science.
Human beings understand better the laws
they have themselves made than those
they have only discovered or enunciated.
And this is the relationship of the two
sorts of laws. Those which the word
most easily represents to the mind are

Economic Man. 5

the laws made and recognised by the
sovereign power in the state as binding
on all the people. The punishment of
disobedience to such laws is found in the
penalties prescribed by statute book or
common law. The motive for obedience
to them is the escape from such penalties.
The force and obligation of such laws
comes from the outside of the person
whose obedience they demand. These
are the laws of the lawyer too numerous
to be mentioned. The other sort are not
laws in this sense at all. These laws of
the lawyer say what a man must do.
The others say what he probably will do.
Such are the laws of supply and demand.
And he sometimes will do what he must
not do. For instance, the laws may say
that he must not buy certain objects
outside the country in which he lives
for importation into that country without
paying a tax. The laws of supply and
demand say that the probability is he
will buy where the objects are cheapest,
if he is allowed to do so, and that without
paying any tax. Occasionally the ten-
dency to buy in the cheapest market and
pay no taxes save what one must results
in smuggling. That is a simple case of

6 Motives of Mankind.

conflict between two laws, one of each
kind. Instances might be multiplied in-

Frequently the resulting tendency of
the conflict of human-made laws with
those general truths which scientists call
laws of Nature is difficult to forecast. It
may be the human-made law will be
broken, or it may be its effect will be
found to be different from what was
intended, the reason being that a natural
law was not allowed for. These laws of
Nature have to be learnt. They cannot
be made by Parliament and rulers. It
ought to be the business of law makers
to learn the laws of Nature of which the
operation will affect or be affected by the
laws they make. Their not doing so
largely accounts for the evil effects of the
laws they establish.

Yet economists have not insisted as
clearly as they ought on the deeper truths
relating to the genus homo when they
have discussed the dealings of economic
man. Hence it has happened that later
economists have themselves thrown doubt
on the very existence of the economic
man, who is, nevertheless, an older entity
than historic man or even than prehistoric

Economic Man. 7

man ; for he was in essence the same
before he became man at all. His dis-
tinguishing features are that he must eat
and drink (a characteristic which he shares
with the animals lower in the scale of
life), and has other unmistakable cognate
wants demanding a material provision for
their supply.

There is, it is true, another side to him
in his capacity for increasing Nature's
provision. In this he stands immeasur-
ably above the brutes. There is a gulf
between them and him which they have
no prospect of passing. This side is of
comparatively recent growth. He has,
moreover, need of, or desire for, clothing
and other comforts, in respect of which
his wants far transcend those of lower
creatures, and he is, therefore, less indepen-
dent than they. The fur and feathers
with which they are protected and adorned
are their unconscious growth. Their con-
scious efforts to build themselves homes
and provide ambushes are interesting but
comparatively very simple. Yet the
ampler embellishments of man's life are
obvious developments in the course of
time from the fundamental beginnings
which he shares in essence with the birds

S Motives of Mankind.

and beasts. His animal wants stand very
much at the foundation of his being. And
lofty as the superstructure may be, if the
foundation lacks stability or loses its
support the whole is endangered.

Moreover, it must be noted when con-
sidering his power to increase the requisite
supply that the wants and needs which
create the demand stand first. They were
first. They remain first. They always
will be first. King, bishop, duke, lords
and ladies, all began their life with a very
plebeian hankering after food. This is the
motive power which carries forward much
of the work humanity performs. The
feeding, clothing, and housing of the race
stand for more than is generally under-
stood. In truth, only after it is provided
for can anything else find any consider-
able attention..

Said a nobleman to a strange boy he
found working in his grounds : " What
do they give you for your work ? "
" Meat, clothes, and lodgings/' replied the
lad. " Well/ 1 mused the master, " I don't
know that even I get more." True, much
depends on the kind and quality ; much
on the reliability of the provision. Some
are overworked and underfed. Others are

Economic Man. 9

overfed and underworked. But food is
essential to all, and there is a limit to
any one's consuming powers. Extraneous
accompaniments have to be resorted to if
the desire is to enlarge expense, while
Herr Teufelsdroch has reminded us in his
philosophy of clothes, that dignities and
authority, wealth and honour, are in some
sense little more than questions of apparel.
There is much wasteful lodgment of
persons not invariably deserving, whilst
there are others not altogether undeserving
who find no shelter at all. But under all
the variations the primary needs continue
while life lasts. These needs are at the
base, first, middle and last.

In their widest sense they are the
motive of all economic action. Only
error and mischief can result from neg-
lecting to keep these motives ever in the
mind of the economist, the statesman and
the legislator.

They are the cause and groundwork of
numberless tragedies. In recent years it
has been difficult to find a newspaper
which did not contain some account of
death from absolute starvation ; or of
murder or suicide as the result of difficulty
of providing for these needs. Perhaps

io Motives of Mankind.

the most pathetic that lingers in one's
memory is the case of an old man and
woman who had struggled through con-
stant disappointment to find the occupa-
tion necessary to earn enough for their
modest requirements until at last they
decided to take poison together. The old
man died, but the old woman recovered,
thus enabling her to be sentenced for the
murder of her husband. She was not
hanged ; but the case was a little curious.
We might call it peculiarly sad were it not
for the hundreds of others that have
regularly come to light, not less sad in
their own way.

Possibly the grimmest jest of them
all was the case of an ex-soldier who had
been wounded in the war, and was con-
sequently at a disadvantage in seeking
work. He had to face a condition of the
labour market, which owing to our culpable
ignorance of economics was overstocked
with labour. His wife was dead, but he
had two or three children. He committed
suicide, the immediate cause being a magis-
trate's summons to enforce payment of
his rates. The case is interesting as
showing how the community rewards the
victims of its own folly. But it should

Economic Man. n

have been mentioned after the discussion
of the following chapters. The com-
munity's folly must be proved, not merely
asserted. Our present point is a discussion
of man's primary needs, for the main-
tenance of his life and the support of his
physical strength.

Men do not work to produce save that
they may enjoy. Their labour is per-
formed in order that they or others
towards whom they have goodwill may
eat and drink, be clothed and comforted.

And if Adam Smith, instead of beginning
with a statement supporting the view
that labour is the creator of all wealth,
had begun somewhat further back and
had said with realisation that human need
for subsistence was that which created
the necessity and demand for such wealth,
he would have avoided several errors
of his own, and many misunderstandings
of his words by which others have
fallen into more grievous errors. Nothing
can be wealth which lacks suitability to
minister to human needs or desires. And
the value of labour is limited to its utility
towards this end. It is to this test that
every object must be brought for the
ascertainment of its value. It would have

12 Motives of Mankind.

been well for unnumbered thousands if
this had been plainly stated and constantly
brought to mind. That it was assumed
and not altogether forgotten must be con-
ceded. The pity is that it did not become
a clearly established explanation for
generations after political economy was

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Online LibraryFrederick Uttley LaycockMotives of mankind; a study of human evolutionary forces → online text (page 1 of 21)