Copyright
Thomas Nixon Carver.

Principles of political economy online

. (page 43 of 48)
Online LibraryThomas Nixon CarverPrinciples of political economy → online text (page 43 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


nation can put into a war more than its total surplus social
income ; that is, more than it can produce over and above what
is necessary to maintain the life of the people. That would be
like saying that it is necessary for a country to put into the war
more than its total man power.

The real cost of the war cannot be postponed. Another
basic and indisputable fact which we should bear in mind is
that the expenses of the war, measured in productive power
and goods, or measured as all costs must ultimately be meas-
ured, namely, in energy expended, will actually be paid as we
go along, whatever our financial policy. Soldiers cannot use
guns and ammunition, nor consume rations, which are to be
produced in the future. Everything that is actually used in
the war will be produced before it is used ; the cost, in terms
of energy, will have been paid. In terms of real income, as dis-
tinct from money income, the war will actually be supported by
current income ; that is, out of the products of current industry.



526 PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY

The only question before us is, Where and how will the gov-
ernment get the money with which to pay for these things ?
It can raise it largely by taxation or largely by loans ; in any
case it will have to use a combination of both methods. The
patriotic theory is that it should raise as much as possible by
taxation and borrow only as a supplementary measure. It would
take some time to get the taxing machinery in operation, and
the money which it puts into the treasury would come in
gradually. At the beginning of a war a large sum must be
had at once. The only possible way to raise that initial sum
is by borrowing. The slacker's theory is that the war should
be financed as far as possible by loans, that taxes should be
increased only in order to pay the necessary interest on these
loans and such other necessary expenses as it seems expedient
to pay out of the proceeds of the loans.

Therefore the real question, stripped of all verbiage, is simply
this, Shall those who stay at home pay for a war as far as pos-
sible as they go along, or shall they ask the government to
borrow the money in order that they may not be too much dis-
turbed or disarranged, and that the others who go to the front
and do the fighting may help to pay for it after they return
home if they do return home ?

Keeping money in circulation. It seems to be assumed, on
the other hand, that money possesses some inherent power of
production instead of being simply a medium of exchange.

There is a story of a little girl who decided to spend her
missionary money for ice cream in order that the ice-cream
man might have money to give to the missionary cause. There
are men who try to persuade us that we must do the same thing
in order to raise money for a war. They tell us that unless we
continue spending our money freely for unnecessary things,
the sellers of these unnecessary things will not be able to buy
liberty bonds or to pay war taxes. We are told by others that
money must be kept in circulation ; otherwise our prosperity will
be destroyed, and without prosperity we cannot finance a war.



THE FINANCING OF A WAR 527

Both these arguments attribute to money a productive power
which it does not possess.- To spend money for unnecessary
things is to hire men to produce them. As fast as these men
can be used in the industries made necessary by a war they
are needed there. To keep them in the unnecessary industries
is to interfere with the expansion of the necessary industries.
Therefore it is pretty clear that during the continuance of a war,
while men are badly needed in the necessary industries, it will
be uneconomical and even criminal for private individuals to
continue to spend money for unnecessary things.

But, granting that it is important to keep money circulating,
something depends upon the channels in which it circulates.
The dollar which I spend for an unnecessary thing circulates,
it is true ; but it is equally true that it circulates if I give it to
the government, the Red Cross, or some other agency directly
connected with the war, to be spent for some necessary thing.
So far as mere circulation is concerned there is no appreciable
difference between the two cases. But something else is in-
volved besides mere circulation. The productive power which
produces the unnecessary thing is not so well employed, from
the standpoint of national economy, as the productive power
which produces the necessary thing;

Granting also that it is important to give employment to men,
something depends upon what they are employed to do. To
spend a dollar on an unnecessary thing does, it is true, give
employment to labor ; but it is equally true that the same
dollar spent for a necessary thing would employ the same
amount of labor. The only question is whether it is better
to have the labor employed in producing necessary things or
unnecessary things.

If " Business as usual " merely means that we should go on
doing precisely the same things in time of war as in time of
peace, it is a palpable absurdity. If it means that everybody is
to keep as busy as ever, or much busier than ever, it is good
advice so far as it goes. What we really need 'to consider is,



528 PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY

What shall we keep ourselves and others busy doing ? Shall we
keep ourselves and them busy producing unnecessary things,
or shall we do what we can to keep ourselves and them busy
doing the necessary things ? Obviously the latter. " Busier
than ever " is a much better motto than " Business as usual."

The only way we can possibly keep everybody doing the
necessary things in war time is, first, to do something ourselves
which is necessary, and, second, to spend all our money for
necessary things. If we have more money to spend than is
sufficient to purchase necessary things for our own consump-
tion, we can either spend the surplus for tools of production
in some necessary industry (that is, we can invest it) or we
can turn it over to the government, the Red Cross, or some
other public agency. This agency can then spend it for much-
needed things.

By all means, therefore, let us keep money circulating in
war time, not that this in itself means much, but because it
gives direction to the real productive energy of the country.
But let us see to it that every dollar which we put into circu-
lation is put where it will do the most good, where it will
direct the productive energy of the country into the necessary
rather than into the unnecessary industries.



PART SEVEN

REFORM



Which has to do with various plans for the reorganization of
industrial society



S 2 9



CHAPTER XLV

COMMUNISM

Compulsion versus freedom. The schemes for the improve-
ment of social conditions fall into two general classes : first,
those which rely upon the compulsory power either of a benevo-
lent despot or of the mass over the individual ; and, second,
those which rely upon voluntary work by individuals under the
principle of free contract. Among those which rely upon the
authority of the mass or group over the individual, commu-
nism is the most extreme. It is sometimes called cooperation,
but it is compulsory cooperation as distinguished from volun-
tary cooperation. The compulsion is made complete by the
fact that the community, or the group, owns all the property
and the individual owns none. All the processes of production
and distribution are carried on by the community as a whole
rather than by individual initiative and voluntary agreements
among individuals.

Meaning of communism. Communism may therefore be
defined as a type of social organization in which all wealth, in-
cluding both producers' goods and consumers' goods, is owned
and controlled by the community. It differs from socialism in
that the latter proposes that the community shall own and
operate only producers' goods, leaving the consumers' goods to
be owned and enjoyed by individuals. A completely commu-
nistic society, for example, would own the dwelling houses and
even the food and clothing, but would distribute these to the
individual members very much as they are now distributed
within the small group which we call the family. From a cer-
tain point of view we might say that the ideal family of to-day
is a small communistic group in which all property is held in



532 PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY

common and enjoyed in common rather than separately by the
individual members of the family.

Relation to anarchism. Theoretically, communism would be
at the opposite end of the scale from anarchism, which is an
absence of all government, at least the absence of all compul-
sory government. In actual fact, however, it is not always easy
to distinguish between a communist and an anarchist. As a
matter of fact, there is a considerable group of individuals
who call themselves communist-anarchists ; that is, they are
opposed to any kind of government which resembles those with
which we are now acquainted. They would substitute small
communistic groups, each one working more or less independ-
ently of the others, and make such voluntary arrangements
for exchange of products as they might find to their mutual
advantage. In so far as they would oppose all compulsion,
they would be called anarchists ; in so far as they would have
all wealth owned in common, at least within small groups, they
would be called communists. Unless, however, the small
group could exercise some compulsory control over the prop-
erty of the group, it would be anarchism rather than commu-
nism. If the group did exercise orderly control over its own
property to the exclusion of individuals and of rival groups,
it would be compelled to exercise compulsion and would
therefore, to that extent, cease to be anarchistic and become
purely communistic.

Utopias. Naturally enough, communism has never been tried
on a large scale. It has been advocated by many philosophers,
both ancient and modern. Many pictures have been drawn
of ideal societies in which communism was the outstanding
feature. Plato, in his " Republic," pictured such an ideal com-
monwealth ; not only was all wealth to be held in common,
but wives and children likewise. Defective children, or chil-
dren who seemed likely to be a burden rather than a help to
the State, were to be disposed of in early infancy. Sir Thomas
More, in his " Utopia," presented another picture of an ideal



COMMUNISM 533

society based upon communism. In order to give an impres-
sion of reality he pictured some travelers in South America
who had discovered a new country, in which communism pre-
vailed. Francis Bacon gave us a somewhat fragmentary picture
of his ideal of society in his " New Atlantis." Tommaso
Campanella, in "The City of the Sun," and various other
writers, have kept alive the ideal of a communistic society.
In more recent times .we have such books as " News from
Nowhere," by William Morris, "The Cooperative Common-
wealth in its Outlines," by Laurence Gronlund, and " Looking
Backward," by Edward Bellamy. This is a list of distinguished
writers, and their books make attractive reading. They show
pretty clearly how persistently the world has dreamed of social
conditions in which there should be no rivalry of interests,
no quarreling and bickerings over questions of property, of
mine and thine.

It is not very difficult to show where these pictures are
defective and how impractical such schemes of social organiza-
tion are. The world at large, or at least a great majority of the
people of the world, has put very little confidence in these pro-
posals ; but probably no generation has been without a certain
number of spirits who have retained their belief in those peculiar
ideals of justice and economy which these Utopian works have
set forth.

Experiments. The primitive Christians. Nor have actual
experiments been wanting. The primitive Christian Church is
frequently referred to as an example of communism. One or
two passages in The Acts of the Apostles indicate that the
first Christians, at least, maintained a communistic fund for
the maintenance of impecunious members. For a short time
they appear to have put practically all of their possessions into
a common fund. It will also be noticed that they not only
put their possessions into a common fund, but they stopped
working and remained together in one place, awaiting the
second coming of the Lord. This makes it appear as though



534 PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY

communism were not with them an ideal scheme of social or-
ganization but merely a convenient arrangement by means of
which they could live while preparing for the end of the world
and their sudden translation to heaven.

The Spartans. The Spartan commonwealth is likewise re-
ferred to frequently as a communistic society. According to
the account given in Plutarch's " Life of Lycurgus," there
were many communistic features about the life of the Spartans.
It appears to have been the communism of a military camp,
however, for the Spartans themselves were only a small clan,
or caste, ruling over a much larger population of subject people.
In order that they might be strong in a military sense, and
hold the masses of the people in subjection, they organized
themselves very much as a military camp has always been
organized. There was no communism whatever for the mass
of the people. It extended only to the small aristocratic and
ruling class called Spartans.

The monasteries. Most of the monasteries of the Middle
Ages were organized on a communistic basis. They also prac-
ticed celibacy, showing that they did not regard communism
as the ideal basis of a continuing human society. The whole
monastic life was organized for the purpose of promoting
spirituality rather than for the purpose of reforming human
society.

The Taborites. Certain extreme sects among the early
Protestants attempted some kind of communistic life without
celibacy, but never made much of a success. Conspicuous
among these were the Taborites, an extreme faction of the
followers of John Huss, the Bohemian reformer. They with-
drew from the city of Prague and started a community on a
hill to which they gave the name Mount Tabor. They hence
became known as the Taborites. So long as they were thor-
oughly united by their religious sentiments they worked very
successfully, not only in productive industry but even in war,
for the great Austrian Empire sent army after army against



COMMUNISM 535

them. They defeated the imperial armies because of the
superiority of their organization. But eventually dissensions
arose among them ; they were divided and overthrown, and
their community was broken up.

American experiments. America has been a fruitful field
for the trying out of all sorts of experiments. Many of the first
colonists came here because they were inspired by religious
sentiments. They founded colonies where their religious ideas
could flourish. This continent presented a virgin field where
people with peculiar ideals of religious organization or of
social economy could come and put their ideals to the test.

The outline on the following page gives a rough classifica-
tion of the more important of these experiments. There were
many not included in this list, which were either unimportant
as to numbers or so short-lived as to make them unworthy
of mention. It will be noticed that the long-lived communi-
ties were all religious in their nature. Of the nonreligious
communities only one, namely, the Icarians, lasted a single
generation, whereas several of the religious communities have
lasted half a century, and one group of communities, namely,
the Shakers, has several colonies that have survived for more
than a century.

Religious communities. Most of the religious communities,
it will be noticed, are of foreign origin, and most of these are
of German origin. The Shakers are placed among those of
American origin. As a religious sect the Shakers originated
in England, but they made their experiments in communism
in this country. They have established numerous colonies from
Maine to Kentucky. They are celibates, and therefore could
have no continuing existence unless they continued to make
converts. This they have failed to do in recent years, and
consequently the Shaker communities are dying out as the
old people drop away.

The Perfectionists originated in Vermont under the leader-
ship of Mr. John Humphrey Noyes. They afterwards moved



AMERICAN
COMMU-
NISTIC
SOCIETIES 1



Religious



Of Ameri-
can origin



The Shakers (numerous colonies), Maine

to Kentucky, 1787
The Perfectionists of Oneida, N. Y.,

1848-1879

Zion City, 111., 1890-96
Jemima Wilkinson's New Jerusalem,

N.Y., 1786-1820
Celesta, Pa., 1852-1864
Salem-on-Erie, N. Y., 1867-
The Woman's Commonwealth, Texas

and Washington, D. C., 1880-
The Lord's Farm, N.J., 1877
Shalam, or the Children's Land, N. M.,

1884-1901
Estero, Fla., 1904-

The Christian Commonwealth, Ga., 1896-
The House of David, Mich. (?)

Ephrata, Pa., 1732-
The Harmonists, Pa., 1803-
The Separatists of Zoar, Ohio, 1819-1898
The Amana Society, Iowa, 1843-
Of foreign The Bishop Hill Colony, 111., 1846-1862
origin 1 The Bruederhof Communities, S. Dak.,

1862-
The Waldensian Colonies, N. C. and

Texas, 1893-
St. Nazianz Colony, Wis., 1854

(New Harmony, Ind., 1825-1827
'Owenistic -| Yellow Springs, Ohio, 1824
[Numerous others

Brook Farm, Mass., 1841-1847
Fruitlands, Mass., 1843
Hopedale, Mass., 1841-1858

Fourieris- J North American Phalanx, N.J., 1843-1856
tic | Wisconsin Phalanx, Wis., 1844-1850

Northampton Association, Mass., 1842-

1846
^Numerous others

T , (Nauvoo, 111., 1849-1866

Icarians 1 Cheltenham, Mo., 1858-1864
' [Icaria, Iowa, 1860-1895

Skaneateles Community.N.Y., 1844-1 846
Polish Colony, Anaheim, Cal., 1876-1878
Topolobampo, Mexico, 1886-1901
The Ruskin Commonwealth, Ga., 1896-
Inde- J 1901
pendent 1 The Cooperative Brotherhood, Wash.,

1898-

Equality Colony, Wash., 1897-
The Straight Edgers, N. Y., 1899-
[The Helicon Home, 1906-1907

1 This outline is based on "American Communities," by W. A. Hinds
(Chicago, 1908).

336



Non-
religious



COMMUNISM 537

to Oneida, New York. They have given up communism and
have organized themselves in the form of a joint-stock society
and are still prosperous and doing a thriving business.

A multitude of other experiments of a more or less religious
nature have been carried out by faith healers, adventists, and
other people of rather extreme religious views.

Of the religious communities of foreign origin, that at
Ephrata, Pennsylvania, was the first to be organized on a dur-
able basis in this country. Like the Shakers, they were celi-
bates and were therefore doomed to ultimate extinction.

One of the most successful of all these experiments was
started in western Pennsylvania by some German pietists
among the followers of one Georg Rapp, from whom they
were given the name of Rappists. They afterwards moved to
Indiana, where they sojourned for a time at New Harmony
in the southwestern corner of the state. After a few years
they sold out and moved back to Pennsylvania. Their colony,
known as Economy, was a place for sightseers for many years.

The Separatists of Zoar and the Amana Society were some-
what similar in their origin and in their subsequent history.
They did not practice celibacy. They prospered amazingly and
presented a very attractive life as seen by visitors from the
outside. They were animated by intense religious enthusiasm,
and devotion to their own leaders. The Separatists of Zoar,
however, gave up communism in 1898, largely because the
younger generation had lost something of the religious zeal of
the older generations, and decided that they preferred the indi-
vidualistic type of life to the communistic. The Amana Society
is still flourishing, and the people are apparently satisfied.

The Bishop Hill Colony in Illinois was a Swedish colony ;
its character and organization resembled most of the others.
When they lost their intense religious zeal, they likewise lost
their enthusiasm for the communistic type of life and gave it up.

A series of communistic societies is still flourishing in South
Dakota. They are known as the Brotherhood Societies.



538 PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY

Several communities of North Italian Protestants have
flourished in the South, particularly in Valdese, North Carolina,
and near Gainesville, Texas.

Nonreligious communities. In 1822 Robert Owen, a great
English philanthropist and a firm believer in what was then
called socialism, came to America for the purpose of establish-
ing an ideal community. He delivered many addresses and
created much enthusiasm. In looking about for a location he
found that the Harmonists, who were then living in New
Harmony, Indiana, were desirous of selling out and moving
back to Pennsylvania. He bought all their real estate and pro-
ceeded to establish a colony of his own. He was a man of
great ability, who had made a fortune of his own, which he
devoted liberally to the propagation of his ideas. His colony,
however, was made up of idealists who were more in the habit
of talking about their theories of society than of working
to produce wealth ; it was a good illustration of the inability
of any community to live on talk. It lasted a little over two
years. Numerous other experiments of the same kind were
tried, none of which lasted for a single year. One at Yellow
Springs, Ohio, lasted for several months.

About 1841 the works of a French communist, Fourier,
were translated and published in this country. They created
great enthusiasm, and a large number of experiments were
made. The most notable of these was Brook Farm, Massachu-
setts, which was started independently but afterward adopted the
plan of Fourier. This experiment was notable mainly because
of the great names in its list of members. Some of the most
distinguished men and women of that day, in letters and in
scholarship, joined the Brook Farm community. The most
successful of the Fourier experiments, however, was the North
American Phalanx in New Jersey. It lasted for thirteen years.
An experiment at Hopedale, Massachusetts, was only partially
communistic ; it lasted seventeen years and then became a
joint-stock association.



COMMUNISM 539

As indicated above, the most successful of all the nonreli-
gious communities in this country was the Icarian community
in Iowa. They were followers of Etienne Cabet, a French
communist, who wrote a very attractive book entitled " A
Voyage in Icaria." It awoke the slumbering idealism of many
French people who desired to form a commonwealth after the
description of the life of the Icarians. Cabet led his followers
to this country and landed in New Orleans, hoping to estab-
lish them in northeastern Texas. The land proved to be in-
accessible and the climate not very agreeable. They returned
to New Orleans discouraged, but learned that the Mormons
had recently been driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois. They pro-
ceeded by boat to Nauvoo and established themselves, finding
plenty of vacant houses and factory buildings. Here they
prospered for a number of years, but they wished to find a situ-
ation where they could be more to themselves, and a tract of
land was bought in southwestern Iowa, not very far from the
present town of Corning. There they lived under the com-
munistic system until 1895, when they gave up communism
and came over to an individualistic regime.

A large number of other societies have been established,
by the followers both of Robert Owen and of Fourier, and
in recent years by the admirers of Laurence Gronlund and
Edward Bellamy.

Results. It may seem as though the experiences of these
numerous communistic societies tended to throw discredit upon
all communistic ideals. The advocates of communism, how-
ever, insist that the principles of communism are still sound,
even though a thousand communities fail. To an impartial
observer it looks as though communism might work very well
if people were built on a communistic plan. If they have a
passion for communism, or a powerful religious emotion which
will overcome their individualistic and particularistic tendencies,
they may live together peaceably under communism. Unless
they are inspired with religious zeal or a genuine passion for



540 PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY

communism, it seems as though the natural individuality, not
to say the contrariness, of human nature would continue to
break up all communistic societies in the future as it has in



Online LibraryThomas Nixon CarverPrinciples of political economy → online text (page 43 of 48)