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R. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) Ensor.

Modern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; online

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and be varied to suit the peculiarities of the country people.

The agrarian question, as a necessary ingredient of the
social question, will only be finally solved when the land, with
all the means of work, is given back to the producers, who now
as wage-workers or small peasantry cultivate it in the service
of capitahsts. But at present the necessitous condition of the



I



THE GERMAN PARTY 221

rural worker must be alleviated by fundamental reforms. The
immediate object of the party is to formulate a special pro-
gramme of agrarian policy, explaining and completing the
immediate demands of the Erfurt Programme, which are very
advantageous for the peasants as well as for the country
labourers, in an exposition adapted to the comprehension of
the rural population.

The law protecting peasants ought to safeguard the peasant,
whether as taxpayer, debtor, or agriculturist.

The law protecting rural labourers should afford the rural
labourer the right of combination and of public meeting ;
should place him on a level with the industrial workers
(removal of the Ordinance of Servants) ; and by special
protective social legislation (as to work-time, conditions of
work and inspectorates) should safeguard him from unbridled
exploitation.

A special Agrarian Committee is to lay its proposals before
the next Congress.

The Committee appointed was a very strong; and representative
one. It divided Germany into three areas, and itself into three sub-
committees, who drew up for the Breslau Congress {1895) the
following three draft programmes : —

Draft Programme of the Sub-committee for
North Germany.

The sub-committee consisted of Bebel, Liebknecht, Molkenbuhr,
Schippel, and Schoenlank ; the area which they considered was that
east of the Elbe.

1. Organization by the (Imperial) State of loans on mort-
gage. Interest on loans to cover costs only.

2. Organization by the (Imperial) State of the insurance
of movable and immovable property against fire, hail, or
floods, and the insurance of cattle.

3. Construction and maintenance of public streets, roads,
and watercourses by the (Imperial) State.



222 MODERN SOCIALISM

4. The maintenance of common property (common lands),
and common rights over water, woods, and pasture.

5. Transformation of property in mortmain, of lands
belonging to institutions and churches, into public property-
Abolition of fideicommissa.

6. Founding of compulsory co-operative societies for
improvements, irrigation, and draining ; and support of these
co-operative societies by State loans.

7. The establishment of public technical agricultural
schools and experimental stations, and the holding of regular
lectures upon agriculture. Teaching, school appliances, and
maintenance free.

8. Lowering of the rates for personal and goods traffic.

9. Transference to the public of all private forests. Free
sporting rights on lands owned or rented. Full compensation
for all damages done in hunting and by game.

10. Chambers of Agriculture, where all persons engaged
in agriculture shall be on an equal footing.

11. Agricultural arbitration courts for the settlement of
all disputes arising out of conditions of wages, work, or
service.

12. Compulsory insurance against sickness of workmen
and servants, and also of independent cultivators whose
income does not exceed 2000 marks (;^ioo).

13. Veterinary attendance and medicines without charge.

Draft Programme of the Sub-committee for
Central Germany.

The sub-committee was composed of Bock, Hug, Katzenstein,
Schulze, and Dr. Quarck. The area examined included Saxony,
Thuringia, Oldenburg, Brunswick, Westphalia, and Hanover.

After the concluding section of the Erfurt Programme the
following is to be added : —

In the interest of the small peasants and rural labourers,
as well as to preserve and develop agricultural production :



J



THE GERMAN PARTY 223

r. Retention and increase of public property in land
(every kind of State and communal property — municipal
lands, commons, common forest, etc.) under control of the
popularly elected bodies ; abolition of all laws and ordinances
promoting sub- division and alienation ; communes to be given
a right of pre-emption in respect of the lands of bankrupts
sold by auction.

2. Farming of their domains by the State and communes
on their own account ; or lease of them to co-operative asso-
ciations of agricultural labourers or peasants farming per-
sonally, under State and communal inspection ; clearing and
improvement of domains ; creation of irrigation works ;
encouragement of forestry, tillage, horticulture, and grass
culture ; improvement of cattle ; care of water-supply and
rural transport ; establishment and support of agricultural
colleges ; compulsory continuation schools, and model farms,
with instruction and materials provided free of charge by the
State or the communes.

3. Nationalization of mortgages and landed debts.

4. Nationalization of every branch of agricultural in-
surance ; maximum extension of this to all branches of work ;
gratuitous veterinary service ; and State grants to those
impoverished by devastating natural occurrences.

5. ]\Iaintenance and extension of the existing rights of
forestry and turbary, to be equally shared by all members of a
commune ; right of purchasing leafage, firewood, and timber
from State and communal woods at fixed prices ; prevention
of or, as the case may be, full compensation for damage done
by game ; sport to be free, and harmful animals to be exter-
minated.

6. Restriction and gradual abolition of the dependence
of farm produce upon middlemen, by support of the co-
operative system and purchase of produce needed for public
purposes, by preference from the producers.

7. Removal of the land-tax.

8. Right of the tenant farmer, if the net yield persistently



2 24 MODERN SOCIALISM

deteriorates, or severe natural damages are incurred, to demand
the reduction of his rent by an agricultural arbitration court.

g. Extension of legislation protecting workmen, and the
right of combination, to agriculture ; State supervision of all
agricultural businesses ; rural arbitration courts ; investiga-
tion and regulation of rural conditions of employment and
work by an imperial Agricultural Department, district agricul-
tural bureaux, and chambers of agriculture.

ID. Abolition of all pubUc privileges connected with
private possession of land, and suppression of property-
districts.

Draft Programme of the Sub-committee for
South Germany.

The sub-committee consisted of Bassler, Birk, Eduard David,
Geek, and Von Vollmar ; the area which it examined included Baden,
Bavaria, the Palatinate, and Wiirtemberg.

In regard to the agrarian question, the Social Demo-
cratic party of Germany makes the following immediate
demands : —

1. Systematic organization of national food-supply by the
State, which is progressively to increase its influence over
agricultural production and the marketing of its produce.

2. Prohibition of the sale of public property in land
(belonging to communes, corporations, or the State).

3. Owners of giant properties (Jatifimdia) to be expro-
priated; the larger estates to be subject to the rules of the law
protecting industrial workers, as well as to the State-inspection
of its machinery and working.

4. Abolition of all magisterial functions connected with
landed property and other privileges, such as independent
property districts, privileges on representative bodies, patronage,
Jidei-cojumissa, etc. .-

5. Progressive nationalization of debts secured on land,
and the whole credit system, with a lowering of the rate of



THE GERMAN PARTY 225

interest. The State to acquire rights over agricultural products.
Peasant properties sold by auction on bankruptcy to be
purchased up to the limit of their appraised value by the
communes ; the procedure may be proposed by the debtor
himself, to whom, if solvent, the land may be leased.

6. Agricultural land owned by the State to be applied to
the establishment of model farms, to the enlargement of the
property of communes, and also to the leasing of land at its
economic rent to lessees cultivating it personally. Such
allotments are to be calculated to provide the cultivator's
family with their entire subsistence.

7. Establishment of extensive agricultural colleges in con-
nection with the model farms, for gratuitous technical education.

8. State loans to be given to communes to purchase and
manage estates of tenure, to reclaim wastes, to improve the
soil, the breed of cattle, and all other branches of farming, and
to encourage co-operation under State inspection.

9. Purchase of the agricultural products required for the
provisioning of public institutions, of suitable quality, direct
from the producers.

10. Regulation of private contracts of tenancy, according
to the value of the yield from time to time, and compensation
for outlay incurred by tenant farmers for the improvement of
the soil.

11. Nationalization of every branch of agricultural in-
surance, and State intervention in cases of impoverishment
through devastating natural occurrences.

12. Uncurtailed maintenance of existing rights over forests
and heaths. Prevention of, or, as the case may be, full
compensation for damage done by game.

13. Complete legal equalization of agricultural labourers
with industrial wage-workers. Settlement of all disputes
arising out of conditions of work by arbitration courts, to be
composed in equal parts of workers and employers.

14. Bureaux and Chambers of Agriculture, in which pro-
prietors, tenants, and workers participate on an equal footing,

Q



226 MODERN SOCIALISM

to investigate and regulate conditions of work, wages, tenancy,
and industry, and to represent all professional interests.

All these draft programmes, but especially the South German one
inspired by Von Vollmar, encountered extreme opposition as soon as
they were published, because of their attempt to prop the small
independent cultivators. At the Breslau Congress every compromise
or modification of this idea ■was rejected, and the following resolution,
moved by Kautsky, became the official expression of the party's
attitude.

The draft Agrarian Programme proposed by the Agrarian
Commission is to be rejected, because it sets before the eyes
of the peasantry the improvement of their position, that is, the
confirmation of their private ownership ; it proclaims the
interest of agriculture in the modern social system to be an
interest of the proletariate; and yet the interest of agriculture,
like that of industry, is, under the rule of private property in
the means of production, an interest of the possessor of the
means of production, who exploits the proletariate. Further,
the draft Agrarian Programme suggests new weapons for the
State of the exploiting class, and thereby renders the class-war
of the proletariate more difficult ; and, lastly, it sets before the
capitalistic State objects which can only be usefully carried
out by a State in which the proletariate has captured political
power.

The Congress recognizes that agriculture has its peculiar
laws, differing from those of industry, which must be studied
and considered if the Social Democracy is to develop an
extended operation in rural districts. It therefore suggests to
the Committee of the party that, having regard to the impetus
already given by the Agrarian Committee, it might entrust a
number of suitable persons with the task of undertaking a
fundamental study of the matter available concerning German
agrarian conditions, and publishing the results of this study in
a series of articles as a " Collection of works on agrarian
policy by the Social Democratic party of Germany."

The Committee of the party is fully empowered to make



THE GERMAN PARTY 227

the necessary expenditure to enable the comrades entrusted
with the work in question to complete their task.^

' Little has since been done oflicially ; l)ut two important works have
appeared, Kaulsky's Die Agrarfrage (189S), against peasant proprietorship,
and Dr. Eduard David's Socialismus und Landwirthscliaft (1903), in favour
of it. Both writers have kept up, with others, a considerable debate in the
party's journals.



XVII

THE FREE TRADE CONTROVERSY IN RELA-
TION TO INDUSTRIAL PARASITISM AND
THE POLICY OF A NATIONAL MINIMUM

By Sidney and Beatrice Webb

This striking dissertation appeared as an appendix to Mr. and
Mrs. Webb's Industrial Democracy (1897). For the subject, cp.
Introduction, pp. xxix-xxxi ; and for the authors, cp. supra, p. 90.

The existence of parasitic trades supplies the critic of inter-
national Free Trade with an argument which has not yet been
adequately met. To the enlightened patriot, ambitious for
the utmost possible development of his country, it has always
seemed a drawback to Free Trade, that it tended, to a greater
or lesser extent, to Umit his fellow-countrymen's choice of
occupation. Thus, one community, possessing great mineral
wealth, might presently find a large proportion of its population
driven underground ; another might see itself doomed to be-
come the mere stock-yard and slaughter-house of the world ;
whilst the destiny of a third might be to have its countryside de-
populated, and the bulk of its citizens engaged in the manufac-
ture, in the slum tenements of great cities, of cheap boots and
ready-made clothing for the whole habitable globe. To this
contention the answer has usually been that the specialization
of national function, whilst never Hkely to be carried to an
extreme, was economically advantageous all round. Such a
reply ignores the possibility of industrial parasitism. If

228



SIDNEY AND BEATRICE WEBB 229

unfettered freedom of trade ensured that each nation would
retain the industry in which its efficiency was highest, and its
potentiaUties were greatest, this international "division of
labour " might be accepted as the price to be paid for getting
every commodity with the minimum of labour. But under
unfettered freedom of competition there is, as we have seen,
no such guarantee. Within a trade, one district may drive all
the rest out of the business, not by reason of any genuine
advantage in productive efficiency, but merely because the
workers in the successful district get some aid from the rates
or from other sources. Within a community, too, unless care
be taken to prevent any kind of parasitism, one trade or one
process may flourish and expand at the expense of all the rest,
not because it is favoured by natural advantages or acquired
capacity, but merely by reason of some sort of " bounty."
Under Free Trade the international pressure for cheapness is
always tending to select, as the speciality of each nation in
the world-market, those of its industries in which the employers
can produce most cheaply. If each trade were self-supporting,
the increased efficiency of the regulated trades would bring
these easily to the top, notwithstanding (or rather, in conse-
quence of) the relatively high wages, short hours, and good
sanitary conditions enjoyed by their operatives. If, however,
the employers in some trades can obtain labour partially
subsisted from other sources, or if they are free to use up in
their service not only the daily renewed energy, but also the
capital value of successive relays of deteriorating workers, they
may well be able to export more cheaply than the self-support-
ing trades, to the detriment of these, and of the community
itself. And this, as we have seen, is the direct result of the
very freedom of Individual Bargaining on which the Free
Traders rely. Indeed, if we follow out to its logical conclusion
the panacea of unlimited freedom of competitive industry both
within the country and without, we arrive at a state of things
in which, out of all the various trades that each community
pursues, those might be " selected " for indefinite expansion,



230 MODERN SOCIALISM

and for the supply of the world-market, in which the employers
enjoyed the advantage of the greatest bounty ; those, for
instance, which were carried on by operatives assisted from
other classes, or, still worse, those supplied with successive
relays of necessitous wage-earners standing at such a dis-
advantage in the sale of their labour that they obtained in return
wages so low and conditions so bad as to be positively insuffi-
cient to maintain them permanently in health and efficiency.
Instead of a world in which each community devoted itself
to what it could do best, we should get, with the " sweated
trades," a world in which each community did that which
reduced its people to the lowest degradation. Hence the
Protectionist is right when he asserts that, assuming unfettered
individual competition within each community, international
free trade may easily tend, not to a good, but to an exceedingly
vicious international division of labour.

This criticism is not dealt with, so far as we are aware, in
any of the publications of the Cobden Club, nor by the
economic defenders of the Free Trade position. Thus
Professor Bastable, in his lucid exposition of TAe Theory of
Internatio7ial Trade (2nd edition, London, 1897), assumes
throughout that the prices of commodities in the home
market, and thus their relative export, will vary according to
the actual " cost of production," instead of merely according
to their " expenses of production/' to the capitalist entrepreneur.
Yet it is evidently not the sum of human efforts and sacrifices
involved in the production that affects the import or export
trade, but simply the expenses that production involves to the
capitalist. This absence of any reference to the possibility of
the cheapness being due to underpaid (because subsidised or
deteriorating) labour, enables Professor Bastable optimistically
to infer (p, 18) that "the rule is that each nation exports those
commodities for the production of which it is specially suited."
Similarly Lord Farrer, in The State in its Relation to Trade
(London, 1883), when stating the argument against Protection,
simply assumes (p. 134) that the industry for which the country



SIDNEY AND BEATRICE WEBB 231

is specially suited pays higher wages than others. "One
thing is certain, viz. that we cannot buy the French or Swiss
ribbons without making and selling something which we can
make better and cheaper than ribbons, and which consequently
brings more profit to our manufacturer, and better wages to our
workmen." And Mr. B. R. Wise, seeking in his Industrial
Freedom to revise and restate the Free Trade argument in the
light of practical experience, is driven to warn his readers that
" it cannot be too often repeated that the competition of
abstract political economy — that competition through which
alone political economy has any pretension to the character
of a science — is a competition between equal units," . . . and
nothing could be further from the truth than to suppose that
" free competition " in the labour market bore any resemblance
to the competition between equal units that the current
expositions of Free Trade theory required.^

But though the existence of parasitic trades knocks the
bottom out of the argument for laisser faire, it adds no weight
to the case for a protective tariff. What the protectionist is
concerned about is the contraction of some of his country's
industries ; the evil revealed by our analysis is the expansion
of certain others. The advocate of a protective tariff aims at
excluding imports ; the opponent of " sweating," on the other
hand, sees with regret the rapid growth of particular exports,
which imply the extension within the country of its most highly
subsidised or most parasitic industries. Hence, whatever
ingenious arguments may be found in favour of a protective
tariff,'-^ such a remedy fails altogether to cope with this

* B. R. Wise, Inihistrial Freedom (London, 1882), pp. 13, 15.

- For any adequate presentment of the case against international free
trade, the student must turn to Germany or the United States, notably to
Friedrich List, TJie National System of Political Economy, published in
Germany in 1841, and translated by Sampson Lloyd (London, 1885) and
the works of H. C. Carey. The arguments of List and Carey were
popularised in America by such writers as Professor R. E. Thompson,
Political Economy with Especial Reference to the hidustrial History of
Nations (Philadelphia, 1882) ; H. M. Iloyt, Protection and Free Trade



232 MODERN SOCIALISM

particular evil. If the expansion of the industries which England
pursues to the greatest economic advantage — say, for instance,
coal mining and shipbuilding, textile manufacture and machine-
making — is being checked, this is not because coal and ships,
textiles and machinery are being imported into England from
abroad, but because other less advantageous industries, within
England itself, by reason of being favoured with some kind of
bounty, have secured the use of some of the nation's brains
and capital, and some of its export trade. This diversion
would clearly not be counteracted by putting an import duty
on the small and exceptional amounts of coal and shipping,
textiles and machinery that we actually import, for this would
leave unchecked the expansion of the subsidised trades, which
if the subsidy were only large enough, might go on absorbing
more and more of the nation's brains and capital, and more
and more of its export trade. To put it concretely, England
might find its manufactures and its exports composed, in
increasing proportions, of slop clothing, cheap furniture and
knives, and the whole range of products of the sweated trades,
to the detriment of its present staple industries of cotton and
coal, ships and machinery. In the same way, every other
country might find its own manufactures and its own exports
increasingly made up of the products of its own parasitic trades.
In short, the absolute exclusion by each country of the imports
competing with its own products would not, any more than
Free Trade itself, prevent the expansion within the country of
those industries which afforded to its wage-earners the worst
conditions of employment.^

the Scientific Validity atid Economic Operation of Defensive Duties in the
United States, 3rd edition (New York, 1886) ; whilst another line has been
taken by Francis Bowen, Am€rica?i Political Eco7iomy. The whole position
has been restated by Professor Patten, in The Economic Basis of Protection
(Philadelphia, 1890), and other suggestive works which deserve more
attention in England.

' It is unnecessary to notice the despairing suggestion that a protective
duty should be placed on the products of the sweated trades themselves.
But these, as we have seen (if they are really parasitic industries like the



SIDNEY AND BEATRICE WEBB 233

A dim inkling of this result of international competition is
at the back of recent proposals for the international application
of the Device of the Common Rule. During the past seven
years statesmen have begun to feel their way towards an
international uniformity of factory legislation, so as to make
all cotton mills, for instance, work identical hours, and work-
men are aspiring to an international Trade Unionism, by
means of which, for example, the coalminers, cotton-operatives,
glass-workers, or dock-labourers of the world might simul-
taneously move for better conditions. If, indeed, we could
arrive at an International Minimum of education and sanitation,
leisure and wages, below which no country would permit any
section of its manual workers to be employed /;/ any trade
whatsoever, industrial parasitism would be a thing of the past.
But internationalism of this sort — a " zollverein based on a
universal Factory Act and Fair Wages clause" — is obviously
Utopian. What is not so generally understood, either by
statesmen or by Trade Unionists, is that international uni-
formity of conditions within a partiadar trade, which is all
that is ever contemplated, would do little or nothing to remedy
the evil of industrial parasitism. In this matter, as in others, a
man's worst foes are those of his own household. Let us
imagme, for instance, that^ by an international Factory Act, all
the cotton mills in the world were placed upon a uniform basis
of hours and child-labour, sanitation, and precautions against
accidents. Let us carry the uniformity even a stage further,
and imagine what is impossible, an international uniformity of
wage in all cotton mills. All this would in no way prevent a

wholesale clothing manufacture, and not merely self-supporting but un-



Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 22 of 35)