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lightly upon the manufacturer who exchanges with him. But
as long as comparative cheapness is the one test by which an in-
dustry must stand or fall, the producer has no redress. He can-
not say that he will sell to the nearer consumer and save the cost
of transportation. His farming or planting may be a ruinous ex-
haustion of the land that does little or nothing to fill his purse,
but there is nothing else for him, so long as the foreigner can
undersell home-made goods, prevent the establishment of fac-
tories, and close those that have been established.

[2] The exchange is unfair through the unequal distribution
of risks. The producer of raw materials depends upon a
thousand contingencies for his success, of which other producers
know nothing. A bad crop or harvest may leave planter or
farmer with nothing to sell ; a good one may overstock the
market and pull wheat and cotton so low that the cost of trans-
portation absorbs nearly the whole price. But the manufacturer
can foresee demand and adjust the supply to it, running his mill
over-time at one period, under-time at another. The English
distribution of functions thus assigns all the certainties to one
nation, all the risks to another.

§ 223. This contingency is the chief element in fixing the price
of raw materials. Their supply vibrates between distant extremes
of scarcity and plenty. Their producer finds a great loss in



" BUYING BACK THE TAIL." 227

either. The manufacturer, through his larger power of adjust-
ment to demand, can ordinarily avoid these ruinous extremes.
The country that exports raw material is continually losing the
fair returns of its labor through these variations, while it takes
in pay goods at a price that is permanent and profitable to the
manufacturer. Such a country is consequently a large exporter
of the precious metals to pay for its importations.

[3] It was an old and a true jest of the manufacturing countries
at the expense of those who supplied them with raw material and
took manufactures in exchange, that these latter "sold the hide
for sixpence and bought back the tails for a shilling." Take the
ease of a planter, who raises both cotton and breadstuffs for ex-
portation, as the best illustration of the position of the whole
country. His cotton is worth from ten to twenty per cent, more
at the Manchester mill than when it left his plantation; so much
has been absorbed by the cost of transportation, and of the whole
bulk some ten per cent, is thrown out by the spinner as waste.
His corn is worth four times as much in Manchester, beinjr far
bulkier in proportion to its value, and he has no means to raise
its price above one-fourth of what it ordinarily sells for in Eng-
land, as it then comes into competition with the harvests of
England and the world. But it goes to feed Manchester work-
people, and is therefore part of the raw material of the cotton
goods that come back to clothe his family and his work-people.
He Kins it hack in buying those goods, paying a dollar for what
brought him twenty-five cents, and another dollar for what
brought him eighty. And then, besides, he must pay the cost
of bringing it back from Manchester to his plantation. He had
better have employed people to spin and weave his cotton and
consume his corn at home, even though their money cost were
much greater than that of Manchester goods. For as he is both
a producer and a consumer, his interest is in the comparative
price of the two classes of goods, not only in the cheapness of
that which he buys. And if— as must be the case— a factory
near at hand gives him, and the people dependent on him, a



228 SOCIAL SCIENCE AND NATIONAL ECONOMY.

larger share of manufactured goods, it matters very little whether
the money-price that he pays is great or small.

[4] If there were no other reason for the policy that seeks to
reduce foreign commerce to a minimum, a sufficient one would be
found in its effect upon the human material it employs. Bentham
thought the worst possible use that could be made of a man was
to hang him; a worse still is to make a common sailor of him.
The life and the manly character of the sailor has been so
adorned in song and prose, and the real excellencies of indivi-
duals of the profession have been made so prominent, that we
forget what the mass of this class of men are, and what repre-
sentatives of our civilization and Christianity we send out to all
lands in the tenants of the forecastle. How could they be other-
wise, unless gifted with superhuman powers of resistance to
temptation, since they are ordinarily shut out from all the
humanizing and elevating influences of human society and its
natural relationships ?

And then, be it remembered, their work, while the most
difficult, dangerous and severe of human employments, is also
the most unproductive, the most useless. John Fitch's applica-
tion of steam-power to navigation has rendered no greater service
to mankind than this, of reducing the number of those who are
required to conduct the interchanges of commodities between
nations.

§ 224. Domestic commerce, or the interchange of services and
commodities between persons of the same nation, is one of the
bonds that Providence employs to bring every people into closer
and firmer unity. It grows out of that differentiation of function
that characterizes organisms of a higher order of life. It weaves
across the country a web of intercommunication, binding part to
part in the bonds of mutual service and helpfulness. The national
unity rests on deeper foundations (§ 23-25), but this is one of the
natural expressions of that unity, which reacts upon and
strengthens the unity itself. It tends to produce that individu-
ality of type in the part, which again produces the strong cohe-
rence of the whole body politic. In every progressive nation



TRUE AND FALSE COMMERCE. 229

this domestic commerce is continually gaining in its amount and
in proportion upon commerce with other peoples. Its people are
continually more and more employed in serving and helping each
other — less and less in serving foreigners.

A nation that is declining in industrial coherence and inde-
dence grows faster in foreign than domestic commerce. Its
people lose their diversity of pursuits, and conform more and
inure to a single type of character as of occupation, to the loss
of true individuality. Their lines of transit run across the
country in one direction, — to the seashore; they are the warp
without the woof of the web. That people are sinking to a lower
grade of social organization; the parts grow in likeness to
each other, and their numbers, however great, are but the
numerical repetition of a single specimen.

The amount of a nation's foreign commerce is therefore the
worst possible test of its general prosperity. A disproportion
of this to domestic commerce shows that the nation is not self-
contained and self-sufficient, but dependent upon other nations
either for the supply of its necessities or a market for its labor.
Yet the increased returns of exports and imports are often
gravely offered in evidence of the beneficent effects of a cer-
tain course of national policy. A fair test is to be found in
the average consumption of articles of prime necessity per head
of the population, which continually tells quite another story.

§ 225. Every nation contains within its own providential
boundaries the means of making itself independent of all others
as regards the supply of articles of prime necessity. There is,
therefore, no need of employing a large number of its people
and a large amount of its capital in transporting those articles
across the ocean. They are always of a bulky nature, and
therefore manifestly unsuited for long transport.

Legitimate and natural commerce moves rather along the me-
ridians than along the parallels of latitude. It is the inter-
change of the products of one climate with those of another. Its
mission is to " mix the seasons and the golden hours" (Tenny-
aou), not to " carry coals to Newcastle" by bringing to each



230 SOCIAL SCIENCE AND POLITICAL ECONOMY.

people the things that it could abundantly produce at home.
From such natural commerce to ''loose her latest chain" is the
clear duty of every nation.

Or, if we take commerce in the largest sense, as meaning the
whole intercourse of nation with nation, it will include the inter-
change of ideas, the naturalization of better political and indus-
trial methods. And with this intellectual interchange there
would naturally be associated a commerce in those articles
whose artistic excellence and elaboration of workmanship cause
them to present in a concentrated shape the very flower of the
producing nation's intellectual life and spirit.



SCIENCE AND ECONOMY OF MANUFACTURES. 231



CHAPTER ELEVENTH.

The Science and Economy of Manufactures — The

Theory.

§ 226. The progress of the industrial state, as of every other
organized society, and indeed of organic life as a whole, is in the
transition from the simple to the complex, from the state in
which the parts resemble each other and the whole organism, to
that in which the difference between the parts, and between the
whole and the parts, is as great as possible. " As we see in ex-
isting barbarous tribes, society in its first and lowest forms is a
homogeneous aggregation of individuals, having like powers and
like functions; the only marked difference of function being
that which accompanies the difference of sex. Every man is
warrior, hunter, fisherman, toolmaker, builder; every woman
performs the same drudgeries ; every family is self-sufficing, and
save for purposes of aggressiou and defence, might as well live
apart from the rest" (Herbert Spencer).

With the advance of society, this uniformity disappears.
From being "Jack of all trades and master of none," each
member of the community confines his attention to a single pur-
suit, and does that one thing better and more effectively. Me-
thods of work improve; a smaller number of workers and a less
amount of labor is required to raise food for the whole commu-
nity. The rest are gradually set free for other employments,
Bome to tan skins into leather and make shoes; others to turn
wool into cloth and make clothes ; others to dig up iron and
smelt it for tools, agricultural implements and articles of house-
hold U3e ; others to mould clay into pottery or bricks, or quarry
stone for houses; others to cut down trees and fashion them into
furniture and other wood-work. Each of these trades, as the
numbers of society and the consequent demand for their pro-
ductions increase, is capable of continued subdivision of labor.
The tanner ceases to make shoes, the carpenter to cut down



232 SOCIAL SCIENCE AND POLITICAL ECONOMY.

timber, the weaver to spin his yarn or to fashion his cloth into
garments. And at every subdivision of function, the efficiency
of the workman and the skill demanded of him are increased.
Arkwright, the Lancashire barber, may or may not have in-
vented the spinning-jenny, but he stamped his name on the his-
tory of industry when he devised the first factory, and taught
the North of England weavers and capitalists to substitute coope-
ration as regular as clock-work for desultory and wasteful work.

§ 227. Every change of this sort is a real gain to society at
large and to each member of it. The members of the nation
who had before no need or less need of each other, become more
helpful and useful to each other. The farmer finds, with the
artisan within reach, a ready market for his produce. He can
buy with its price plenty of clothing, utensils and furniture, — •
plenty of the things that add to life's comfort and take away its
sordidness. He can purchase improved implements that make
his work easier and more fruitful. He is more closely associated
with his fellow-citizens than before; every wise purchase or sale
that he makes is au interchange of services, by which both par-
ties are benefited. There is a real and growing harmony of in-
terests between all classes ; the advance of either in wealth
enables the others to find a better market for what they would
sell; and as wealth leads to the expenditure of larger capital
and thus to more productive work, the prosperity of each enables
the other to buy of it to better advantage.

§ 228. The growth of the power of association is, at the
the same time, growth in individual freedom. The more closely
men are thus united, the more free each one is to give full play
to the bent of his own character. He is not forced to make his
living by au employment for which he may have no taste, and in
which he can therefore never use his natural gifts to the best
advantage. He can consult his liking. And men's employ-
ments and daily industries react powerfully upon general char-
acter; variety of work produces and cherishes individuality.
The parts of the body politic grow in diversity from each other
and from the whole body ; the societary type rises with that



THE NATURAL GROWTH OF INDUSTRIES. 233

growth. The unity of the parts in the whole becomes all the
Btronger for the difference. The body is "fitly joined together
by that which every part supplieth," when no part can say to
another : " I have no need of thee."

All history illustrates this growth in social unity, through
growth in individuality. Spain proscribed individuality and
freedom; her only philosophers were, like St. Theresa and
Ignatius Loyola, those who taught the absorption and annihila-
tion of the man in the corporation ; the consequence has been
a o-rowinir lack of vital cohesion and unity in a monarchy that
once aspired to universal empire. Germany was riven into
fragments by feudalism, but her individualistic philosophy, whose
first word is " I am I." has gone hand in hand with her indus-
trial progress, in binding her into a compact and vigorous em-
pire.

Sec Prof. F. D. Maurice's Lectures on Social Morality.

§ 229. This industrial growth is the natural course of all pro-
gressive societies. They grow more diversified in their work,
if the constitution and course of their nature be not interfered
with. Were there no possibility of interference, the whole pro-
cess might be left to nature, except so far as legislation is needed
to restrain those who are unwilling to give justice to the rest.

Interferences, however, do arise; some from within, some
from without. Unjust laws, artificial panics, badly imposed or
excessive taxes, unwise economy of labor, restrictions on home
tride, the currency of doubtful money and false theories, the
absence of general education and intelligence, and many other
things already adverted to, prevent the industrial community
from going forward ;is it might. To remove all such restrictions
must be among the first duties of the statesman as an economist.

§ 230. But interferences come from without also. Sometimes
these grow out of wars and conquests, as when the Philistines
would not allow the Israelites to carry on the trade of the smith,
lest they " should make them swords or spears," and he who
needed a smith's help had to go down to Philistia. At others
they grow out of the state of dependence in which one country



234 SOCIAL SCIENCE AND NATIONAL ECONOMY.

stands to another. Colonies have been continually cramped and
held back, that they might contribute to the profits of industry
in the mother country, rather than develop a native industry of
their own. In 1827 Mr. Huskisson of the British ministry
told our Minister " that it was the intention of the British gov-
ernment to consider the intercourse of the British colonies as
being exclusively under its control, and any relaxation from the
colonial system as an indulgence, to be granted on such terms as
might suit the policy of Great Britain at the time it was granted."

§ 231. But without the employment of either military force
or political domination, it is possible and not unusual for one
country to keep another in a state of industrial dependence and
check its growth. Were all countries equal at the start and
sure to remain so, this could not happen. If they had all the
same command of capital, had they all equal skill and intelli-
gence, were they all subject to the same taxation, then any
aggression could be but temporary and would be punished by
equal loss in some other direction. But this is by no means the
actual state even of the nations called civilized. No two of
them have reached the same point in industrial development,
some are far ahead, because of an earlier use of natural advan-
tages • others lag far behind, though they are striving with all
energy to come up.

Suppose, now, that two nations that differ thus should estab-
lish full and free commercial intercourse between each other,
what will be the necessary effect ? At first sight it might seem
that the rich nation would be conferring benefits upon the poorer
one, which the other could but feebly return; that the difference
between them would be gradually and steadily diminished
through the poorer nation coming forward in industrial develop-
ment, and taking an ever higher place, and that more rapidly
than before.

But experience shows that just the reverse of this is the case.
The rich nation becomes, for a time at least, richer by the ex-
change ; the poor nation permanently poorer. The former,
through its command of cheap capital, and, by consequence, its



DOCTRINAIRE OBJECTIONS. 235

greater division and efficiency of labor, can continually undersell
the latter in whatever it chooses to export to it, for it can send
it manufactured goods at prices with which the manufacturers
of the other cannot compete. The process of accumulating
capital in the poorer country is decisively checked ; its people
are reduced from what variety of industry and mutual exchange
of services they had possessed, to a uniformity of employment in
which no man needs or helps his neighbor. Their power of asso-
ciation is destroyed ; money, the instrument of association, is
drained out of the country. Nothing is left them but the pro-
duction of such raw materials as the richer nation chooses to
buy, and how unprofitable a commerce of that sort is, we have
already seen (§ 222). The country steadily declines in all the
elements of productive power, even in the character of the
single home industry that is left it (§ 92). " From him that
hath not" is " taken away that which he seemeth to have."

§ 232. Here a sweeping objection meets us. A number of
theorists tell us that " even if this be the result of unrestricted
trade between two such countries, the weaker has no lawful
power to put a stop to it. The sphere and duties of government
do not extend to the direction and regulation of industry. It
mi -lit as w r ell undertake to tell its people what they are to
believe, as to tell them what they must make, and where they
must buy. The right to exchange one's property wherever one
pleases, is a part of the right of property itself. It is robbery
of the individual citizen, therefore, to say that he shall so man-
age his buying and selling as to foster a native rather than a
foreign industry." "I assume," says Prof. Thorold Rogers,
'■ that there are such rights as are called natural, arid that these
are the inalienable conditions under which individuals take part
in social life. No one questions the natural right of free ex-
change."

This notion rests on the old exploded fiction that men passed
out of a state of nature into the social state by a social contract,
in which so much of their natural rights as were necessary to
the being of society were given up, and all others were



236 SOCIAL SCIENCE AND NATIONAL ECONOMY.

retained. But, as already stated (§ 23), natural rights of indi-
viduals have no existence in any real sense except in society
itself, and wherever th& well-being of society dematids it, they
must give way. It rests with the recognised authorities of the
nation, those through whom the national will expresses itself, to
say how far this is necessary, and when that decision is made,
no one has a right to complain of spoliation. Else it would be
the moral right of every citizen to refuse to pay school-tax, or a
tax for any other purpose that the bare existence of the state
did not involve.

This theory would introduce the most utter slavery, the des-
potism of the individual will, under the plea of liberty. It
would give to every individual in the state the liberum veto, by
which Poland was ruined. It would leave no choice with any
nation but to follow a policy of inaction that would expose its
people to the utmost suffering, and ultimately lead to the
destruction of the bonds of society. And even if there were not
one dissenting voice within the nation itself, still the unanimity
could take no effect for lack of a proper organ for its expression.
The uncertain agency of voluntary leagues and associations
would be the only means, — a means altogether insufficient, — to
carry out their purpose. When the sense of national necessity
was clear and strong, the people would abide by such voluntary
decisions, but in more ordinary moods they would begin to say :
" What matter will it make if I buy this of one man, and not
from another ? It is but a drop in the bucket after all." Now
the very function of the government is to express and embody
the higher and purer will of the people, and not their lower,
self-indulgent moods. The great and true ruler is the one who
can distinguish between the two, and direct his policy ac-
cordingly.

The fragment of truth that gives this error all the validity that
it has, is that the government as a rule, is concerned with the
industrial (as with the intellectual) life of its people indirectly ;
with some other provinces directly. It is, as the preamble of
the U. S. Constitution very well expresses it, to " provide for



"promote" and "provide." 237

the common defence" but to "promote the general welfare."
Theorists who run to the other extreme would have government
take as much charge of the one sphere as the other. They
would substitute national workshops, for those of individual
employers.. They would put the rights of property under great
restraints or abolish it utterly. But as the government is not
the power that propels the ship of state, but the helmsman
(gubematof) that steers it, this extreme is as false as the other,
while it grew out of the other by a necessary reaction. Well
did Edmund Burke say that to draw the line between what the
state should do as such, and what it should leave to the activity
of individuals, is one of the nicest questions in legislation.
These sweeping and wholesale solutions of it, just because of
their simplicity and directness, are under suspicion as false.

Another form that the objection takes is this : " The state should exact
a tax from no man unless it be made payable into its own treasury and
used for its own ends. But the difference between the price of the home-
made article and that at which the foreigner would have provided it is
such a tax; therefore it is unfair." In other words the state has no
right to promote but only to provide for things and actions needful to
the nation's life.

§ 233. In the state, therefore, inheres the right to promote
the industrial development of the people, as necessary to their
" general welfare." And the right is no less than a duty. If
it be the fust duty of the nation to provide for its own existence,
there is involved in that the duty to promote the largest and full-
est existence possible, the free development of all sides of the
national life. If the state exist that justice may be done, that
justice is not to be conceived merely in the jural sense; as the
popular phrase extends its application, the people must be
allowed 4 ' to do themselves justice," and all obstacles to that
end must he removed. If the state exist that freedom may be
attained and realized for its people, then it must make such
provision that its people shall possess real industrial freedom, —
the freedom of neighborhood commerce and mutual service with
each other. It puts restraint upon the international trade, that
the far more important domestic trade may exist and be free.



238 SOCIAL SCIENCE AND NATIONAL ECONOMY.

" But are not its citizens at all times free to trade wherever
they please, without its interference? If they think it best to
buy of the home producer they can do so."

They are not free, if no one can undertake to produce what
they need at home, for want of assurance and security. In such a



Online LibraryRobert Ellis ThompsonSocial science and national economy → online text (page 21 of 38)