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Petr Alekseevich Kropotkin.

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travellers, supervisors and so on), nearly 100,000 work-
men (94,757) who are employed in the coal mines, we
find that out of the remaining 290,308 workers very
nearly one-half, i.e., 132,840 persons, work in workshops
in which less than fifty persons are employed, while
84,500 persons out of these last are employed in 25,959
workshops, which thus have an average of three workers
per workshop.* We may thus say that taking the
mines out of account more than one-fourth part of the
Belgian industrial workers (three-tenths) are employed
in small workshops which have, on the average, less thai)
three workers each, besides the master.!

What is still more remarkable is, that the number
of small workshops, in which from one to three aids
only are employed by the master, attains the consider-
able figure of 2293 in the textile industries, notwith-
standing the high concentration of these industries, the
fact being, as was already mentioned on a preceding
page, that factories which used to employ 500 or 600
cloth weavers are silent, while cloth is being woven by
the clothiers in their houses. As to the machinery and
hardware trades, the small workshops in which the master
works with from two to four assistants or journeymen
are very numerous, to say nothing of the gun trade which
is a petty trade -par excellence (265 workshops with
less than three workers), and the furniture trade which
has lately taken a great development. A highly concen-
trated industry, and a high productivity, as well as a
considerable export trade (9 per head of population),
which all testify to a high industrial development of



* Out of this number, 16,220 workshops occupy 58,545 workers.
Moreover, there are 5975 artisans.

f When shall we have for the United Kingdom a census as complete
as we have it for France and Belgium? that is, a census in which the
employed and the employers will be counted separately, instead of throw-
ing into one heap the owner of the factory, the managers, the engineers
and the workers.



SMALL INDUSTRIES AND INDUSTRIAL VILLAGES. 173

the country, thus go hand in hand with a high develop-
ment of the domestic and petty trades.

It hardly need be said that in Austria, Hungary,
Italy, and even the United States, the petty trades
occupy a prominent position, and play in the sum total
of industrial activity an even much greater part than
in France, Belgium, or Germany. But it is especially
in Russia that we can fully appreciate the importance
of the rural industries and the terrible sufferings which
would be quite uselessly inflicted on the population if
the policy of the State were to follow the advice of some
arch-reactionary economists of the Moscow Gazette
school, and to throw the tremendous weight of the State
in favour of a pauperisation of the peasants and an
artificial annihilation of the rural trades, in order to
create a centralised great industry.

The most exhaustive inquiries into the present state,
the growth, the technical development of the rural in-
dustries, and the difficulties they have to contend with,
have been made in Russia. A house-to-house inquiry
which embraces nearly 1,000,000 peasants' houses has
been made in various provinces of Russia, and its re-
sults already represent 450 volumes, printed by different
county councils (Zemstvos). Besides, in the fifteen
volumes published by the Petty Trades Committee, and
still more in the publications of the Moscow Statistical
Committee, and of many provincial assemblies, we find
exhaustive lists giving the name of each worker, the
extent and the state of his fields, his live stock, the value
of his agricultural and industrial production, his earnings
from both sources, and his yearly budget ; while hun-
dreds of separate trades have been described in separate
monographs from the technical, economical, and sanitary
points of view.

The results obtained from these inquiries are really
imposing, as it appears that out of the 80,000,000
population of European Russia no less than 7,500,000



174 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

persons are engaged in the domestic trades, and that
their production reaches, at the lowest estimate, more
than 15 0,000,000, and most probably 200,000,000
(2,000,000,000 roubles) every year.* It thus exceeds
the total production of the* great industry. As to the
relative importance of the two for the working classes
suffice it to say that even in the government of Moscow,
which is the chief manufacturing region of Russia (its
factories yield upwards of one-fifth in value of the
aggregate industrial production of European Russia),
the aggregate incomes derived by the population from
the domestic industries are three times larger than the
aggregate wages earned in the factories.

The most striking feature of the Russian domestic
trades is that the sudden start which was made of late
by the factories in Russia did not prejudice the domestic
industries. On the contrary, it gave a new impulse to
their extension ; they grow and develop precisely in
those regions where the factories are growing up fastest.
Another most suggestive feature is the following .-
although the unfertile provinces of Central Russia have
been from time immemorial the seat of all kinds of petty
trades, several domestic industries of modern origin are
developing in those provinces which are best favoured
by soil and climate. Thus, the Stavropol government
of North Caucasus, where the peasantry have plenty of
fertile soil, has suddenly become the seat of a widely
developed silk-weaving industry in the peasants' houses,
and now it supplies Russia with cheap silks which have
completely expelled from the market the plain silks
formerly imported from France. In Orenburg and on



* It appears from the house-to-house inquiry, which embodies 855,000
workers, that the yearly value of the produce which they use to manu-
facture reaches ^"21,087,000 (the rouble at 2^d.), that is, an average of
25 per worker. An average of 20 for the 7,500,000 persons engaged
in domestic industries would already give 150,000,000 for their aggregate
production ; but the most authoritative investigators consider that figure
as below the reality.



SMALL INDUSTRIES AND INDUSTRIAL VILLAGES, 1/5

the Black Sea, the petty trades' fabrication of agricultural
machinery, which has grown up lately, is another instance
in point

The capacities of the Russian domestic industrial
workers for co-operative organisation would be worthy
of more than a passing mention. As to the cheapness
of the produce manufactured in the villages, which is
really astonishing, it cannot be explained in full by the
exceedingly long hours of labour and the starvation
earnings, because overwork (twelve to sixteen hours of
labour) and very low wages are characteristic of the
Russian factories as well. It depends also upon the
circumstance that the peasant who grows his own food,
but suffers from a constant want of money, sells the
produce of his industrial labour at any price. Therefore,
all manufactured goods used by the Russian peasantry,
save the printed cottons, are the production of the rural
manufactures. But many articles of luxury, too, are
made in the villages, especially around Moscow, by
peasants who continue to cultivate their allotments.
The silk hats which are sold in the best Moscow shops,
and bear the stamp of Nouveautes Parisiennes, are made
by the Moscow peasants ; so also the " Vienna " furniture
of the best " Vienna " shops, even if it goes to supply the
palaces. And what is most to be wondered at is not
the skill of the peasants agricultural work is no obstacle
to acquiring industrial skill but the rapidity with which
the fabrication of fine goods has spread in such villages
as formerly manufactured only goods of the roughest
description.*

As to the relations between agriculture and industry,
one cannot peruse the documents accumulated by the
Russian statisticians without coming to the conclusion
that, far from damaging agriculture, the domestic trades,
on the contrary, are the best means for improving it,

* Some of the produces of the Russian rural industries have lately bee.a
introduced in this country, and find a good sale.



1/6 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

and the more so, as for several months every year the
Russian peasant has nothing to do in the fields. There
are regions where agriculture has been totally abandoned
for the industries ; but these are regions where it was
rendered impossible by the very small allotments granted
to the liberated serfs, and especially the bad quality of,
and the want of meadows in them, as by the general
impoverishment of the peasants, following a very high
taxation and very high redemption taxes. But wherever
the allotments are reasonable and the peasants are less
overtaxed, they continue to cultivate the land and their
fields are kept in better order, as also the average
numbers of live stock are higher where agriculture is
carried on in association with the domestic trades.
Even those peasants whose allotments are small find the
means of renting more land if they earn some money
from their industrial work. As to the relative welfare,
I need hardly add that it always stands on the side of
those villages which combine both kinds of work. Vors-
ma and Pavlovo two cutlery villages, one of which is
purely industrial, while the inhabitants of the other
continue to till the soil could be quoted as a striking
instance for such a comparison.*

Much more ought to be said with regard to the rural
industries of Russia, especially to show how easily the
peasants associate for buying new machinery, or for
avoiding the middleman in their purchases of raw pro-
duce as soon as misery is no obstacle to the association.
Belgium, and especially Switzerland, could also be quoted
for similar illustrations, but the above will be enough to
give a general idea of the importance, the vital powers,
and the perfectibility of the rural industries.

* Prugavin, in the Vyestnik Promyshlennojti, June, 188^,



SMALL INDUSTRIES AND INDUSTRIAL VILLAGES. 177

Conclusions.

The facts which we have briefly reviewed show, to
some extent, the benefits which could be derived from a
combination of agriculture with industry, if the latter
could come to the village, not in its present shape of
a capitalist factory, but in the shape of a socially or-
ganised industrial production, with the full aid of
machinery and technical knowledge. In fact, the most
prominent feature of the petty trades is that a relative
well-being is found only where they are combined with
agriculture : where the workers have remained in pos-
session of the soil and continue to cultivate it Even
amidst the weavers of France or Moscow, who have to
reckon with the competition of the factory, relative
well-being prevails so long as they are not compelled \
to part with the soil On the contrary, as soon as high \
taxation or the impoverishment during a crisis has com-
pelled the domestic worker to abandon his last plot of /
land to the usurer, misery creeps into his house. The /
sweater becomes all-powerful, frightful overwork is re- /
sorted to, and the whole trade often falls into decay.

Such facts, as well as the pronounced tendency of
the factories towards migrating to the villages, are very
suggestive. Of course, it would be a great mistake to
imagine that industry ought to return to its hand-work
stage in order to be combined with agriculture. When-
ever a saving of human labour can be obtained by means
of a machine, the machine is welcome and will be re-
sorted to, and there is hardly one single branch of industry
into which machinery work could not be introduced with
great advantage, at least at some of the stages of the
fabrication. In the present chaotic state of industry,
nails and cheap pen-knives can be made by hand, and
plain cottons be woven in the hand-loom ; but such an
anomaly will not last. The machine will supersede
hand-work in the manufacture of plain goods, while hand-

12



178 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

work probably will extend its domain in the artistic
finishing of many things which are now made entirely
in the factory, as well as in thousands of young and
new trades.

But the question arises, Why should not the cottons,
the woollen cloth, and the silks, now woven by hand
in the villages, be woven by machinery in the same
villages, without ceasing to remain connected with work
in the fields? Why should not hundreds of domestic
industries, now carried on entirely by hand, resort to
labour-saving machines, as they already do in the knit-
ting trade and many others? There is no reason why
the small motor should not be of much more general
use than it is now, wherever there is no need to have a
factory; and there is no reason why the village should
not have its small factory wherever factory work is pre-
ferable, as we already see it occasionally in certain
villages in France. More than that. There is no
reason why the factory, with its motive force and ma-
chinery, should not belong to the community, as is already
the case for motive power in the above-mentioned work-
shops and small factories in the French portion of the
Jura hills. It is evident that now, under the capitalist
system, the factory is the curse of the village, as it comes
to overwork children and to make paupers out of its
male inhabitants ; and it is quite natural that it should
be opposed by all means by the workers, if they have
succeeded in maintaining their olden trades' organisa-
tions (as at Sheffield, or Solingen), or if they have not
yet been reduced to sheer misery (as in the Jura). But
under a more rational social organisation the factory
would find no such obstacles : it would be a boon to the
village. And there is already unmistakable evidence to
show that a move in this direction is being made in a
few village communities.

The moral and physical advantages which man would
derive from dividing his work "between the field and the



SMALL INDUSTRIES AND INDUSTRIAL VILLAGES. 179

workshop are self-evident. But the difficulty is, we are
told, in the necessary centralisation of the modern in-
dustries. In industry, as well as in politics, centralisation
has so many admirers! But in both spheres the ideal
of the centralisers badly needs revision. In fact, if we
analyse the modern industries, we soon discover that
for some of them the co-operation of hundreds, or even
thousands, of workers gathered at the same spot is really
necessary. The great iron works and mining enter-
prises decidedly belong to that category; oceanic
steamers cannot be built in village factories. But very
many of our big factories are nothing else but agglomera-
tions under a common management, of several distinct
industries ; while others are mere agglomerations of
hundreds of copies of the very same machine ; such are
most of our gigantic spinning and weaving establish-
ments. The manufacture being a strictly private enter-
prise, its owners find it advantageous to have all the
branches of a given industry under their own manage-
ment; they thus cumulate the profits of the successive
transformations of the raw material. And when several
thousand power-looms are combined in one factory, the
owner finds his advantage in being able to hold the
command of the market But from a technical point
of view the advantages of such an accumulation are
trifling and often doubtful. Even so centralised an
industry as that of the cottons does not suffer at all from
the division of production of one given sort of goods
at its different stages between several separate factories :
we see it at Manchester and its neighbouring towns.
As to the petty trades, no inconvenience is experienced
from a still greater subdivision between the workshops
in the watch trade and very many others.

We often hear that one horse-power costs so much
in a small engine, and so much less in an engine ten
times more powerful ; that the pound of cotton yarn
costs much less when the factory doubles the number of



180 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

its spindles. But, in the opinion of the best engineering
authorities, such as Prof. W. Unwin, the hydraulic, and
especially the electric, distribution of power from a cen-
tral station sets aside the first part of the argument.
As to its second part, calculations of this sort are only
good for those industries which prepare the half-manu-
factured produce for further transformations. As to
those countless descriptions of goods which derive their
value chiefly from the intervention of skilled labour,
they can be best fabricated in smaller factories which
employ a few hundreds, or even a few scores of opera-
tives. Even under the present conditions the leviathan
factories offer great inconveniences, as they cannot
rapidly reform their machinery according to the con-
stantly varying demands of the consumers. How many
failures of great concerns, too well known in this
country to need be named, were due to this cause ! As
for the new branches of industry which I have mentioned
at the beginning of the previous chapter, they always
must make a start on a small scale ; and they can pros-
per in small towns as well as in big cities, if the smaller
agglomerations are provided with institutions stimulating
artistic taste and the genius of invention: The pro-
gress achieved of late in toy making, as also the high
perfection attained in the fabrication of mathematical
and optical instruments, of furniture, of small luxury
articles, of pottery and so on, are instances in point
Art and science are no longer the monopoly of the great
cities, and further progress will be in scattering them over
the country.

The geographical distribution of industries in a given
country evidently depends to a great extent upon a
complexus of natural conditions ; it is obvious that there
are spots which are best suited for the development of
certain industries. The banks of the Clyde and the
Tyne are certainly most appropriate for shipbuilding
yards, and shipbuilding yards must be surrounded by a



SMALL INDUSTRIES AND INDUSTRIAL VILLAGES. l8l

variety of workshops and factories. The industries will
always find some advantages in being grouped, to a
limited extent, according to the natural features of sepa-
rate regions. But we must recognise that now they are
not grouped according to those features. Historical
causes chiefly religious wars and national rivalries
have had a good deal to do with their growth and their
present distribution, and still more considerations as to
the facilities for sale and export ; that is, considerations
which are already losing their importance with the
increased facilities for transport, and will lose it still
more when the producers produce for themselves,
and not for customers far away. Why, in a rationally
organised society, ought London to remain a great centre
for the jam and preserving trade, and manufacture
umbrellas for nearly the whole of the United Kingdom ?
Why should the countless Whitechapel petty trades re-
main where they are, instead of being spread all over
the country ? There is no reason whatever why the
mantles which are worn by English ladies should be
sewn at Berlin and in Whitechapel instead of in Devon-
shire or Derbyshire. Why should Paris refine sugar for
almost the whole of France ? Why should one-half of
the boots and shoes used in the United States be manu-
factured in the 1500 workshops of Massachusetts?
There is absolutely no reason why these and like
anomalies should persist. The industries must scatter
themselves all over the world, and the scattering of
industries amidst all civilised nations will be necessarily
followed by a further scattering of factories over the
territories of each nation.

Agriculture is so much in need of aid from those
who inhabit the cities, that every summer thousands
of men leave their slums in the towns and go to the
country for the season of crops. The London desti-
tutes go in thousands to Kent and Sussex as hay-
makers and hop-pickers, it being estimated that Kent



1 82 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

alone requires 80,000 additional men and women for
hop-picking; whole villages in France and their cot-
tage industries are abandoned in the summer, and the
peasants wander to the more fertile parts of the
country; hundreds of thousands of human beings are
transported every summer to the prairies of Manitoba
and Dacota; and in Russia there is every year an
exodus of several millions of men who journey from
the north to the southern prairies for harvesting the
1 crops ; while many St Petersburg manufacturers re-
duce their production in the summer, because the
operatives return to their native villages for the culture
of their allotments. Agriculture cannot be carried on
without additional hands in the summer; but it still
more needs temporary aids for improving the soil,
for tenfolding its productive powers. Steam-digging,
drainage, and manuring would render the heavy clays
in the north-west of London a much richer soil than
that of the American prairies. To become fertile, those
clays want only plain, unskilled human labour, such
as is necessary for digging the soil, laying in drainage
tubes, pulverising phosphorites, and the like; and that
labour would be gladly done by the factory workers
if it were properly organised in a free community for
the benefit of the whole society. The soil claims that
aid, and it would have it under a proper organisation,
even if it were necessary to stop many mills in the
summer for that purpose. No doubt the present factory
owners would consider it ruinous if they had to stop
their mills for several months every year, because the
capital engaged in a factory is expected to pump money
every day and every hour, if possible. But that is the
capitalist's view of the matter, not the community's
view. As to the workers, who ought to be the real
managers of industries, they will find it healthy not
to perform the same monotonous work all the year
round, and they will abandon it for the summer, if



SMALL INDUSTRIES AND INDUSTRIAL VILLAGES. 183

indeed they do not find the means of keeping the fac-
tory running by relieving each other in groups.

The scattering of industries over the country so as
to bring the factory amidst the fields, to make agri-
culture derive all those profits which it always finds
in being combined with industry (see the Eastern States
of America) and to produce a combination of industrial
with agricultural work is surely the next step to be
made, as soon as a reorganisation of our present condi-
tions is possible. It is being made already, as we saw
on the preceding pages. That step is imposed by the
very necessity of producing for the producers them-
selves ; it is imposed by the necessity for each healthy
man and woman to spend a part of their lives in manual
work in the free air ; and it will be rendered the more
necessary when the great social movements, which have
now become unavoidable, come to disturb the present
international trade, and compel each nation to revert
to her own resources for her own maintenance. Hu-
manity as a whole, as well as each separate individual,
will be gainers by the change, and the change will take
place.

However, such a change also implies a thorough
modification of our present system of education. It
implies a society composed of men and women, each
of whom is able to work with his or her hands as
well as with his or her brain^ and to do so in more
directions than one. This " integration of capacities "
I am now going to analyse.



CHAPTER VIII.

BRAIN WORK AND MANUAL WORK.

Divorce between science and handicraft Technical education Complete
education The Moscow system : applied at Chicago, Boston, Aber-
deen Concrete teaching Present waste of time Science and
technics Advantages which science can derive from a combination
of brain work with manual work.

IN olden times men of science, and especially those
who have done most to forward the growth of natural
philosophy, did not despise manual work and handi-
craft. Galileo made his telescopes with his own hands.
Newton learned in his boyhood the art of managing
tools ; he exercised his young mind in contriving most
ingenious machines, and when he began his researches
in optics he was able himself to grind the lenses for
his instruments, and himself to make the well-known
telescope, which, for its time, was a fine piece of work-
manship. Liebnitz was fond of inventing machines :
windmills and carriages to be moved without horses


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Online LibraryPetr Alekseevich KropotkinFields, factories, and workshops; or, Industry combined with agriculture and brain work with manual work → online text (page 15 of 22)