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Petr Alekseevich Kropotkin.

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Americans did, we must still recognise that their copies
are good and that they very successfully compete in
cheapness with the tools and machinery produced in this
country. (See Appendix D.) I hardly need mention
the superior make of German scientific apparatus. It
is well known to scientific men, even in France.

In consequence of the above, all imports of manu-



* Cf. Schulze Gawernitz, Der Grossbftrieb, etc. Sec Appendix E.

f The imports of German woollen stuffs into this country have steadily
grown from 607,444 in 1890 to 907,569 in 1894. The British exports
to Germany (of stuffs and yarns) were valued at 2,769,392 in 1890 and
3,017,163 in 1894.



20 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

factured goods into Germany are in decline. The
aggregate imports of textiles (inclusive of yarn) stand so
low as to be compensated by nearly equal values of
exports. And there is no doubt that not only the
German markets for textiles will be soon lost for other
manufacturing countries, but that German competition
will be felt stronger and stronger both in the neutral!
markets and those of Western Europe ! One can easily
win applause from uninformed auditories by exclaiming
with more or less pathos that German produce can
never equal the English! The fact is that it competes
in cheapness, and sometimes also where it is needed
in an equally good workmanship ; and this circumstance
is due to many causes.

The " cheap labour " cause, so often alluded to in
discussions about " German competition " which take
place in this country and in France, must be dismissed
by this time, since it has been well proved by so many
recent investigations that low wages and long hours do
not necessarily mean cheap produce. Cheap labour
and protection simply mean the possibility for a number
of employers to continue working with obsolete and:
bad machinery ; but in highly developed staple indus-
tries, such as the cotton and the iron industries, the
cheapest produce is obtained with high wages, short
hours and the best machinery. When the number of
operatives which is required for each 1000 spindles can
vary from seventeen (in many Russian factories) to
three (in England), no reduction of wages can possibly
compensate for that immense difference. Consequently,
in the best German cotton-mills and iron-works the
wages of the worker (we know it directly for the iron-
works from the above-mentioned inquiry of the British
Iron Trade Association) are not lower than they are in
Great Britain. All that can be said is, that the worker
in Germany gets more for his wages than he gets in this
country the paradise of the middleman a paradise



THE DECENTRALISATION OF INDUSTRIES. 21

which it will remain so long as it lives chiefly on im-
ported food produce.

The chief reason for the successes of Germany in the
industrial field is the same as it is for the United States.
Both countries just now enter the industrial phase of
their development, and they enter it with all the energy
of youth and novelty. Both countries enjoy a widely-
spread scientifically-technical or, at least, concrete
scientific education. In both countries manufactories
are built according to the newest and best models which
have been worked out elsewhere; and both countries
are in a period of awakening in all branches of activity
literature and science, industry and trade. They enter
on the same phase in which Great Britain was in the first
half of this century, when British workers invented so
touch of the wonderful modern machinery.

We have simply before us a fact of the consecutive
development of nations. And instead of decrying or
opposing it, it would be much better to see whether
the two pioneers of the great industry Britain and
France cannot take a new initiative and do something
new again ; whether an issue for the creative genius of
these two nations must not be sought for in a new
direction namely, the utilisation of both the land and
the industrial powers of man for securing well-being to
the whole nation instead of to the few.



CHAPTER II.

THE DECENTRALISATION OF INDUSTRIES (continued).

Italy and Spain India Japan The United States The cotton, wool
and silk trades The growing necessity for each country to rely
chiefly upon home consumers.

THE flow of industrial growths spreads, however, not
only east ; it moves also south-east and south. Austria
and Hungary are rapidly gaining ground in the race for
industrial importance. The Triple Alliance has already
been menaced by the growing tendency of Austrian
manufacturers to protect themselves against German
competition ; and even the dual monarchy has recently
seen its two sister nations quarrelling about customs
duties. Austrian industries are a modern growth, and
still they show a yearly return which exceeds
100,000,000. Bohemia, in a few decades, has grown
to be an industrial country of considerable importance ;
and the excellence and originality of the machinery used
in the newly reformed flour-mills of Hungary show that
the young industry of Hungary is on the right road, not
only to become a competitor to her elder sisters, but
also to add her share to our knowledge as to the use of
the forces of nature. Let me add, by the way, that the
same is true to some extent with regard to Finland.
Figures are wanting as to the present state of the ag-
gregate industries of Austria-Hungary ; but the rela-
tively low imports of manufactured goods are worthy of
note. For British manufacturers Austria-Hungary is,
in 'fact, no customer worth speaking of ; but even with

(22)



THE DECENTRALISATION OF INDUSTRIES. 23

regard to Germany she is rapidly emancipating herself
from her former dependence. (See Appendix F.)

The same industrial progress extends over the
southern peninsulas. Who would have spoken twenty
years ago about Italian manufactures? And yet the
Turin Exhibition of 1 884 has shown it Italy ranks now
among the manufacturing countries. " You see every-
where a considerable industrial and commercial effort
made," wrote a French economist to the Temps.
" Italy aspires to go on without foreign produce. The
patriotic watchword is, Italy all by herself! It inspires
the whole mass of producers. There is not a single
manufacturer or tradesman, who, even in the most
trifling circumstances, does not do his best to emanci-
pate himself from foreign guardianship." The best
French and English patterns are imitated and improved
by a touch of national genius and artistic traditions.
Complete statistics are wanting, so that the statistical
Annuario resorts to indirect indications. But the rapid
increase of imports of coal (9,000,000 tons in 1896, as
against 779,000 tons in 1871) ; the growth of the mining
industries, which have trebled their production during
the last fifteen years'; the increasing production of steel
and machinery (nearly 3,000,000 in 1886), which
to use Bovio's words shows how a country having no
fuel nor minerals of her own can have nevertheless a
notable metallurgical industry ; and, finally, the growth
of textile industries disclosed by the net imports of raw
cottons and the number of spindles having nearly
doubled within five years * all these show that the
tendency towards becoming a manufacturing country
capable of satisfying her needs by her own manufac-
tures is not a mere dream. As to the efforts made for

* The net imports of raw cotton reached 291,680 quintals in 1880, and
594,118 in 1885. Number of spindles 1,800,000 in 1885, as against
1,000,000 in 1877. The whole industry has grown up since 1859. Net
imports of pig-iron from 700,000 to 800,000 quintals during the five years
1881 to 1885.



24 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

taking a more lively part in the trade of the world,
who does not know the traditional capacities of the
Italians in that direction ?

I ought also to mention Spain, whose textile, mining
and metallurgical industries are rapidly growing ; but
I hasten to go over to countries which a few years ago
were considered as eternal and obligatory customers
to the manufacturing nations of Western Europe. Let
us take, for instance, Brazil. Was it not doomed by
economists to grow cotton, to export it in a raw state,
and to receive cotton goods in exchange ? Twenty
years ago its nine miserable manufactories could boast
only of an aggregate of 385 spindles. But already in
1887 there were in Brazil 46 cotton manufactories, and
five of them had already 40,000 spindles; while alto-
gether their nearly 10,000 looms threw every year on
the Brazilian markets more than 33,000,000 yards of
cotton stuffs. Nay, even Vera Cruz, in Mexico, under
the protection of customs officers, has begun to
manufacture cottons, and boasted in 1887 its 40,200
spindles, 287,700 pieces of cotton cloth, and 212,000 Ib.
of yarn. Since that year progress has been steady, and
in 1894 Vice-Consul Chapman reported that some of
the finest machines are to be found at the Orizaba
spinning mills, while " cotton prints," he wrote, " are
now turned out as good if not superior to the imported
article " *

The flattest contradiction to the export theory has,
however, been given by India. She was always con-
sidered as the surest customer for British cottons, and
so she has been until now. Out of the total of cotton
goods exported from Britain she used to buy more than
one-quarter, very nearly one-third (from 17,000,000

* The Economist, i2th May, 1894, p. g : "A few years ago the Orizaba
mills used entirely imported raw cotton ; but now they use home-grown
and home-spun cotton as much as possible ".



THE DECENTRALISATION OF INDUSTRIES. 25

to 22,000,000, out of an aggregate of about
75,000,000 in the last decade, and from 16,100,000
to 18,242,000 during the years 1893 and 1894). But
things have begun to change. The Indian cotton
manufactures, which for some causes not fully ex-
plained were so unsuccessful at their beginnings, sud-
denly took firm root

In 1860 they consumed only 23,000,000 Ib. of raw
cotton, but the quantity was nearly four times as much
in 1 887, and it trebled again within the next ten years :
283,000,000 Ib. of raw cotton were used in 1887-88.
The number of cotton mills grew up from 40 in 1877
to 147 in 1895; the number of spindles rose from
886,100 to 3,844,300 in the same years; and where
57,188 workers were employed in 1887, we find, seven
years later, 146,240 operatives ; while the capital en-
gaged in cotton mills and presses by joint-stock com-
panies rose from 7,000,000 tens of rupees in 1882 to
14,600,000 in 1895.* As for the quality of the mills, the
blue-books praise them ; the German chambers of com-
merce state that the best spinning mills in Bombay " do
not now stand far behind the best German ones " ; and
two great authorities in the cotton industry, Mr. James
Platt and Mr. Henry Lee, agree in saying "that in no
other country of the earth except in Lancashire do the
operatives possess such a natural leaning to the textile
industry as in India ".f

The exports of cotton twist from India more than
doubled in five years (1882-1887), and already in 1887
we could read in the Statement (p. 62) that " what
cotton twist was imported was less and less of the
coarser and even medium kind, which indicates that the
Indian (spinning) mills are gradually gaining hold of
the home markets ". Consequently, while India con-



* Ten rupees are, as is known, nearly equal to i sterling,
i Schulze Gawernitz, The Cotton Trade, etc., p. 123.



26 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

tinued to import nearly the same amount of British
cotton goods (slightly reduced since), she threw already
then (in 1887) on the foreign markets no less than
3.63 5>5 10 worth of her own cottons of Lancashire
patterns ; she exported 33,000,000 yards of grey cotton
piece goods manufactured in India with Indian work-
men. And the export has continued to grow since, so
that in the years 1891-93, 73,000,000 to 80,000,000
yards of cotton piece goods were exported,* as well as
from 161,000,000 to 189,000,000 Ib. of yarn. Finally,
in 1897, the value of the yarns and textiles exported
reached the respectable figure of 14,073,600 tens of
rupees.

The jute factories in India have grown at a still
speedier rate,t and the once flourishing jute trade of
Dundee was brought to decay, not only by the high
tariffs of continental powers, but also by Indian com-
petition. Even woollen mills have lately been started,
while the iron industry took a sudden development in
India, since the means were found, after many experi-
ments and failures, to work furnaces with local coal. In
a few years, we are told by specialists, India will be self-
supporting for iron. Nay, it is not without apprehen-
sion that the English manufacturers see that the imports
of Indian manufactured textiles to this country are
steadily growing, while in the markets of the Far East
and Africa India becomes a serious competitor to the
mother country. But why should she not? What
might prevent the growth of Indian manufactures? Is



* 312,000 bales were exported to China and Japan in 1893, instead of
1 12, 100 bales ten years before.

f In 1882 they had 5633 looms and 95,937 spindles. Two years later
(1884-85) they had already 6926 looms and 131,740 spindles, giving occu-
pation to 51,900 persons. Now, or rather in 1895, -the twenty-eight
jute mills of India have 10,580 looms and 216,140 spindles (doubled in
twelve years) and they employ a daily average number of 78,809 persons.
The progress realised in the machinery is best seen from these figures.
The exports of jute stuffs from India were 1,543,870 in 1884-85 and
5,213,900 in 1895. (See Appendix H.)



THE DECENTRALISATION OF INDUSTRIES. 2?

it the want of capital ? But capital knows no father-
land ; and if high profits can be derived from the work
of Indian coolies whose wages are only one-half of those
of English workmen, or even less, capital will migrate
to India, as it has gone to Russia, although its migration
may mean starvation for Lancashire and Dundee. Is
it the want of knowledge ? But longitudes and latitudes
are no obstacle to its spreading ; it is only the first steps
that are difficult As to the superiority of workmanship,
nobody who knows the Hindoo worker will doubt about
his capacities. Surely they are not below those of the
86,500 children less than thirteen years of age, or the
363,000 boys and girls less than eighteen years old, who
are employed in the British textile manufactories.*

Ten years surely are not much in the life of nations.
And yet within the last ten years another powerful
competitor has grown in the East I mean Japan.
In October, 1888, the Textile Recorder mentioned in
a few lines that the annual production of yarns in the
cotton mills of Japan had attained 9,498,500 lb., and
that fifteen more mills, which would hold 156,100
spindles, were in course of erection.! Two years later,
25,000,000 lb. of yarn were spun in Japan; and while
in 1886-88 Japan imported five or six times as much
yarn from abroad as was spun at home, next year two-
thirds only of the total consumption of the country were
imported from abroad. + From that date the production

* The number of boys above thirteen but under eighteen, working full
time, was, in the year 1890, 86,998.. The number of girls of that age is
not given ; they are considered as " women," and work full time. But
the proportion of women to men being as two to one in the textile
factories of the United Kingdom, the number of girls of that age (thirteen
to eighteen) may be taken as twice the number of boys, that is, about
190,000. This would give a total of at least 363,000 boys and girls less
than eighteen years of age, out of a total of 1,084,630 operatives employed
in all the textile trades of the United Kingdom. More than one-third.
(Statesman's Year-book for 1898, p. 75.)

f Textile Recorder, i5th October, 1888.

J 17,778,000 kilogrammes of yarn were imported in 1886 as against
2,919,000 kilogrammes of home-spun yarn. In 1889 the figures were:
35,687,000 kilogrammes imported and 12,160.000 kilogrammes home-spun.



28 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

grew up regularly. From 6,503,300 Ib. in 1886, it
reached 91,950,000 Ib. in 1893, and 153,444,000 Ib. in
1895. In nine years it had thus increased twenty-four
times. The total production of tissues, valued at
1,200,000 in the year 1887, rapidly rose to 14,270,000
in 1895 cottons entering into the amount to the extent
of nearly two-fifths. Consequently, the imports of
foreign cotton goods from Europe fell from 1,640,000
in 1884 to 849,600 in 1895, while the exports of silk
goods rose to 3,246,000. Moreover, the coal and iron
industries grow so rapidly that Japan will not long
remain a tributary to Europe for iron goods ; nay, the
ambition of the Japanese is to have their own ship-
building yards, and last summer 300 engineers left the
Elswick works of Mr. Armstrong in order to start ship-
building in Japan. But they were engaged for five years
only. In five years the Japanese expect to have learned
enough to be their own shipbuilders.* As to such plain
things as matches, the industry, after its failure in 1884,
has risen again, and in 1895 the Japanese exported over
15,000,000 gross of matches valued at 1,246,550.

All this shows that the much-dreaded invasion of
the East upon European markets is in rapid progress.
The Chinese slumber still ; but I am firmly persuaded
from what I saw of China, that the moment they will
begin to manufacture with the aid of European ma-
chinery and the first steps have already been made
they will do it with more success, and necessarily on a
far greater scale, than even the Japanese.

But what about the United States, which cannot be
accused of employing cheap labour or of sending to
Europe " cheap and nasty " produce ? Their great

* The mining industry has grown as follows : Copper extracted : 2407
tons in 1875; 11,064 * n I 887 > Coal: 567,200 tons in 1875; 1,669,700
twelve years later ; 4,259,000 in 1894. Iron: 3447 tons in 1875 ; 15,268
in 1887 ; over 20,000 in 1894. (K. Rathgen, japan's Volkwirthschaft
nnd Staatshaushaltung, Leipzig, 1891 ; Consular Reports.)



THE DECENTRALISATION OF INDUSTRIES. 29

industry is of yesterday's date; and yet the States al-
ready send to old Europe constantly increasing quan-
tities of machinery, while this year they began even to
send iron. In the course of twenty years (1870-90)
the number of persons employed in the American
manufactures has more than doubled, and the value of
their produce has nearly trebled.* The cotton industry,
supplied with excellent home-made machinery.t is
rapidly developing, and the exports of cottons of do-
mestic manufacture attained last year about 2,800,000.
As to the yearly output of pig-iron and steel, it is already
in excess of the yearly output in Britain,? and the
organisation of that industry is also superior, as Mr.
Berkley pointed out in November, 1891, in his address
to the Institute of Civil Engineers.

But all this has grown almost entirely within the
last twenty or thirty years whole industries having
been created entirely since 1860. H What will, then,
American industry be twenty years hence, aided as it
is by a wonderful development of technical skill, by
excellent schools, a scientific education which goes hand
in hand with technical education, and a spirit of enter-
prise which is unrivalled in Europe ?

Volumes have been written about the crisis of 1886-
87, a crisis which, to use the words of the Parliament-
ary Commission, lasted since 1875, with but "a short



* Workers employed in industries: 2,054,000 in 1870; 4,712,600 in
1890. Value of produce : 3,385,861,000 dollars in 1870, and 9,372,437,280
dollars in 1890. Yearly production per head of workers: 1648 dollars in
1870, and 1989 dollars in 1890.

f Textile Recorder.

I It was from 7,255,076 to 9,811,620 tons of pig-iron during the years
1890-94; 4,051,260 tons of "Bessemer and Clapp-Griffiths steel" were
obtained in 1890.

" The largest output of one blast-furnace in Great Britain does not
exceed 750 tons in the week, while in America it had reached 2000 tons "
(Nature, igth Nov., 1891, p. 65).

|| J. R. Dodge, Farm and Factory: Aids to Agriculture from other
Industries, New York and London, 1884, p. in. I can but highly
-recommend this little work to those interested in the question.



30 FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.

period of prosperity enjoyed by certain branches of
trade in the years 1880 to 1883," and a crisis, I shall
add, which extended over all the chief manufacturing
countries of the world All possible causes of the crisis
have been examined; but, whatever the cacophony of
conclusions arrived at, all unanimously agreed upon one,
namely, that of the Parliamentary Commission, which
could be summed up as follows : " The manufacturing
countries do not find such customers as would enable
them to realise high profits". Profits being the basis
of capitalist industry, low profits explain all ulterior
consequences. Low profits induce the employers to
reduce the wages, or the number of workers, or the num-
ber of days of employment during the week, or eventu-
ally compel them to resort to the manufacture of lower
kinds of goods, which, as a rule, are paid worse than
the higher sorts. As Adam Smith said, low profits
ultimately mean a reduction of wages, and low wages
mean a reduced consumption by the worker. Low
profits mean also a somewhat reduced consumption by
the employer ; and both together mean lower profits
and reduced consumption with that immense class of
middlemen which has grown up in manufacturing
countries, and that, again, means a further reduction of
profits for the employers.

A country which manufactures chiefly for export,
and therefore lives chiefly on the profits derived from
her foreign trade, stands very much in the same posi-
tion as Switzerland, which lives to a great extent on the
profits derived from the foreigners who visit her lakes
and glaciers. A good " season " means an influx of from
1,000,000 to 2,000,000 of money imported by the
tourists, and a bad " season " has the effects of a bad
crop in an agricultural country : a general impoverish-
ment follows. So it is also with a country which manu-
factures for export. If the " season " is bad, and the
exported goods cannot be sold abroad for twice their



THE DECENTRALISATION OF INDUSTRIES. 31

value at home, the country which lives chiefly on these
bargains suffers. Low profits for the innkeepers of
the Alps mean narrowed circumstances in large parts
of Switzerland ; and low profits for the Lancashire and
Scotch manufacturers, and the wholesale exporters,
mean narrowed circumstances in Great Britain. The
cause is the same in both cases.

For many decades past we had not seen such a
cheapness of wheat and manufactured goods as we saw
lately, and yet the country was suffering from a crisis.
People said, of course, that the cause of the crisis was
over-production. But over-production is a word utterly
devoid of sense if it does not mean that those who are
in need of all kinds of produce have not the means for
buying them with their low wages. Nobody would
dare to affirm that there is too much furniture in the
crippled cottages, too many bedsteads and bedclothes
in the workmen's dwellings, too many lamps burning
in the huts, and too much cloth on the shoulders, not
only of those who used to sleep (in 1886) in Trafalgar
Square between two newspapers, but even in those
households where a silk hat makes a part of the Sunday
dress. And nobody will dare to affirm that there is too
much food in the homes of those agricultural labourers
who earn twelve shillings a week, or of those women
who earn from fivepence to sixpence a day in the cloth-
ing trade and other small industries which swarm in the
outskirts of all great cities. Over-production means
merely and simply a want of purchasing powers amidst
the workers. And the same want of purchasing powers
of the workers was felt everywhere on the Continent
during the years 1885-87.

After the bad years were over a sudden revival of
international trade took place ; and, as the British
exports rose in four years (1886 to 1890) by nearly 24
per cent, it began to be said that there was no reason
for being alarmed by foreign competition ; that the



FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS.



decline of exports in 1885-87 was only temporary, and
general in Europe ; and that England, now as of old,
fully maintained her dominant position in the inter-
national trade. It is certainly true that if we consider


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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 3 of 22)