Part 1, Chapter 2 : Capitalism--Its Development In The United States. --Continued
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Part 1, Chapter 2
With the termination of the war of 1861 began the second epoch of capitalism in the United States. The ex-chattel slave was enfranchised,--made a political sovereign. He was now a "freeman" without an inch of soil, a cent of money, a stitch of clothes or a morsel of food. He was free to compete with his fellow wage-worker for an opportunity to serve capital. The conditions of his freedom consisted in the right to work on the terms dictated by his employer, or--starve. There no longer existed any sectional conflicts or other conflicts of a disturbing political nature. All men were now "free and equal before the law." A period of unprecedented activity in capitalistic circles set in. Steam and electricity applied to machinery was emplowed in almost every department of industry, and compared with former times fabulous wealth was created.
Political parties, no longer divided in interest upon property questions, all legislation was centered upon a development of the resources of the country. To this end vast tracts of goverment land, amounting to many million acres, equaling in extent seven states the size of Illinois were donated as subsidies to the projectors of railways. The national debt, incurred to prosecute the rebellion, and amounting to three billion dollars was capitalized, by creating interest upon the bonds. Hundreds of millions were given as bonuses to proposed railways, steamship lines, etc. A protective tariff law was enacted which for the past twenty years has Imposed a tax upon the people amounting to one billion dollars annually. A National Banking system was established which gave control of finance to a banking monopoly. By means of these and other laws capitalist combinations, monopolies syndicates, and trusts were created and fostered, until they obtained absolute control of the principle avenues of industry, commerce and trade. Arbitrary prices are fixed by these combinations and the consumers--mainly the poor--are compelled by their necessities to pay whatever price is exacted. Thus during the past twenty-five years,--since the abolition of the chattel-slave labor system--twenty-five thousand millionaires have been created, who by their combinations control and virtually own the fifty billion dollars estimate wealth of the United States, while on the other hand twenty million wage workers have been created whose poverty forces them into a ceaseless competition with each other for opportunity to earn the bare necessities of existence. What had, therefore, required generations to accomplish in Great Britain and the continent, was achieved during the past twenty-five years in the United States, to wit: The practical destruction of the middle-class (small dealers, farmers, manufacturers, etc.), and the division of society into two classes--the wage worker and capitalist. While the fabulous fortunes resulting from legislation enacted in the name of the people were being acquired, the people were not conscious of the evil effects which would flow from those laws. Not until the evil effects were felt were they aware of the slavery to which they had been lawfully reduced. The first great pinch of the laws was felt throughout the whole country in the financial panic of 1873-77, resulting in the latter year in wide-spread strikes of the unemployed and poorly paid wage class. In response to the demand for information upon economic matters, Bureaus of Labor were established in many States, as also for the general government at Washington. These statistics related to operations and effects of capitalism in the chief departments of industry and trade. The absorption of the smaller industries etc., etc., into the great corporations, syndicates, etc., was very rapid. The National commercial agency (Bradstreet's) furnished statistics showing unprecedented bankruptcies. The Agricultural Bureaus of the various States gave accounts of simular depressions in agriculture. Illinois, the richest agricultural State in the United States and for that reason a criterion for the others, is shown by the statistics of the State Board of Agriculture for 1886 to have over three-fourths of its farms mortgaged, and that the crops for the last five years have not paid the cost of production! Illinois is the greatest corn producing State in the Union and the statistics given by the State Board of Agriculture on that crop is as follows:
|For the year 1882 at a loss of
For the year 1883 at a loss of
For the year 1884 at a loss of
For the year 1885 at a loss of
For the year 1886 at a loss of
Total loss in five years
The Bureau also states that more than two-thirds of the farms which have suffered these losses are mortgaged. Investigation shows the same condition exists in every State. Statistics show that the condition of the farming class, as a class, is far worse than it was twenty or thirty years ago. The American farmer as a class is enslaved by mortgages, and rapidily drifting into peasantry and serfdom agriculture. Meanwhile the stupendously increasing aggregation of wealth into the bands of a few is going on.
In manufacture statistics it is shown that while the number of manufacturers ax diminishing from 10 to 30 per cent every year the remainder are increasing their wealth enormously, and that while the wages of labor lave been diminishing yearly the number of workers wanting work and unable to procure it have rapidly increased. The United States census for 1880, gives in Census Bulletin 302 elaborate details of capital invested, number of persons employed, the amount of wages paid, value of materials used, the value of all the establishments of manufacturing industry, gas excepted, in each of the States and Territories as follows:
The number of industrial establishments is 253,840, having a capital of $2,790,223,506. Of this number New York has 42,739, with a capital of $514,246,575, employing 364,551 males above sixteen years of age, and 137,393 females above the age of fifteen years. The total amount paid in wages during that year aggregated $298,634,029, and the value of the products was $1,080,638,696.
Pennsylvania follows the Empire state with 31,225 workshops, 387,112 employes and a capital of $447,499,993. The value of its products is $744,748,045, or $335,890,651 less than that of New York. In the northern states, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, there are 153,453 places of industry, or 8,982 more than in the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and Texas.
Rhode Island, the smallest State in the Union, has 2,205 workshops, which is 1,459 more than Delaware, the next smallest, and only 791 less than Texas, the largest State in the Union. In amount of capital involved, however, Rhode Island is $66,330,382 ahead of Texas, and the value of her products is $104,163,621, while that of Texas is only $20,719,128.
The District of Columbia, with 971 establishments and $5,552,526 capital, is ahead of Florida and Colorado in the value of its products and in the number of workshops. The District employs 5,495 males above sixteen years of age, and 1,389 females above fifteen years of age, and 1,389 children and youths. The establishments pay to these hands $33,924,612 in wages yearly, and the products manufactured aggregate $11,882,316, the value of materials used being $3,365,400.
Colorado, the youngest State, which was admitted into the Union in 1876, can show but very little increase in the value of its products over that of the District of Columbia. This State has 599 establishments and a capital of $4,311,714. It employs 4,625 males, 266 females, 156 children, and pays in wages $2,314,427, or $1,610,185 less than is paid for wages in this District.
Forming the rear of this long line of States and Territories comes Arizona with 66 workshops and an invested capital of $272,600. There are 216 men employed in the Territory, which, added to the two females and the two children, make a total of 220 persons actively engaged in industrial occupations. The total amount of wages is $111,180, while the value of the products from these establishments is $615,655.
In the 253,840 workshops throughout the country, the average number of hands employed is 2,738,950. Of this number 2,025,279 are males, 531,753 females, and 181,918 children. The total amount of wages paid out during the year is $947,919,674, and the value of the products is $5,369,667,706.
The list quotes the value of the materials used in manufacturing as aggregating $3,394,340,029, which leaves a profit on products or. $1,975,327,677. When the amount paid for wages is deducted from this, there remains a clear margin on the figures quoted of $1,027,408,003.
From the statistics given above we learn that the average wages of each wage worker amounts to $304 per annum, and the average annual met profit on the labor product of each wage worker is $374. The United States census for the year 1880 contains tables which show that the dailyaverage product of each wage worker in manufacturing industry is valued at $10, and the daily average wage at $1.15. The increase in the quantity of wealth which a wage laborer can now produce as compared to 1880 is ascribed to the increased application of machinery and the increased sub-division and consequent simplification of the process of production. To this fact is also due the diminution of the share (wages) of their product, which the workers now receive, as well as the increase of the number of enforced idle since 1880.
The United States Census for 1880 gives the annual average wages of each laborer engaged in manufacture at $304, and the annual average net profit on capital invested at $374. In other words, each laborer produced values amounting to $678, for which they received $304 in wages, the, remaining $374 being the amount which the owners of capital charged them for its use.
The wage system is the foundation upon which the United States. Government, in common with all other governments, rests. This foundation was laid in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, as described by John Adams when he said: "What matters it whether you give the food and clothes to the slave direct, or whether you just give him enough in wages to purchase the same?" Nearly one hundred years later the citizens of the United States appealed to armed revolution; the Constitution was set aside and millions of property and nearly a million human lives were sacrificed in order to place the chattel slave upon the same industrial plane as the wage worker. Before the inauguration of the war of the rebellion offers were made to the slaveholders to pay them $1,000 a piece for their slaves, as being far cheaper and more humane than to embroil the nation in civil war. That price was indignantly rejected, as being too small; besides the slaveholders held that chattel slavery was a, "divine institution," and it would, therefore, be sacrilege to attempt its abolition. In 1880, sixteen years after the close of the rebellion, the United States Census states there was invested in the woolen industries of the country capital amounting to $159,000,000, and the number of wage, workers employed 100,000. The capital represented an average investment of $995 to each wage laborer. The cost of raw material was $164,000,000; the value of manufactured material was placed at $267,000,000. The increased value of the manufactured material over the raw is placed at $107,000,000. That upon $995 invested, an annual profit of $343 was obtained, while the average annual wages of each operative was $293, or fifty dollars less than the income derived from the $995.
Chattel slaves before the war were valued at $1,000 apiece. Sixteen years after the abolition of chattel slavery, wage workers employed in manufactures in John Adams' State (Massachusetts) were worth, commercially, $850, or $150 less than the former chattel slave. These statistics prove the claim made by the supporters of the wage, system of labor that wage labor is cheaper than chattel labor. They demonstrate the economic law of competition, which is the rule of the cheapest. The propertyless class-the wage workers-are by competition forced to sell their labor--themselves--to the lowest bidder or starve.
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