True Civilization : Chapter 04 : The Principle of Equivalents
(1798 - 1874) ~ Early American Individualist Anarchist Publisher and Writer : Equally notable as an inventive genius, a social philosopher, and a peaceful revolutionist, Josiah Warren stands forth, by descent, by his practical, all-round talents, by the force of an earnest life's work, as an American of the sturdy pioneer type whose brawn and brains have formed the true foundation of the republic. (From : William Bailie Bio.)
• "It is not till after long and painful experience and study that we discover that the precedents, traditions, authorities, and fictions upon which society has been allowed to grow up, do not coincide with each other, nor with the great unconquerable primitive or divine laws." (From : "True Civilization," by Josiah Warren.)
• "It is worse than useless, it is calamitous, to legislate as if it were possible to divest ourselves of this involuntary instinct of self- preservation or self-sovereignty, and those who accept or act on such pledge commit as great an error as those who give it, and all contracts to this effect being impossible of fulfillment are null and void." (From : "True Civilization," by Josiah Warren.)
• "Primitive nature insists on an Individuality in a personal lead, and it is in vain for us to contend against it." (From : "True Civilization," by Josiah Warren.)
184. We can bold an object so near to our eyes that we cannot see it. Analogous to this is the often-noticed fact that things with which we are most familiar attract the least attention
185. I feel the force of the above most painfully, in approaching a subject of greater magnitude than an other that can occupy the mind of this generation ; and yet, children are the first to comprehend it! The principal obstacle to the appreciation of it is its extreme simplicity!
186. When we consider the present internal war in this country, which is increasing in blind ferocity every hour, and which threatens to desolate every hearth in it, and that other countries are in continuous convulsions, -all from INJUSTICE TOWARDS LABOR; and when we reflect that the whole of what is called civilization rests upon labor, and that it is everywhere prostrate - starving - groaning, and imploringly lifting Up its hands in silent agony for help; that it has no longer the strength to give voice to its sufferings, and that as it dies civilization dies with it ; and that this frightful con. dition is the natural and inevitable result, not so much of de. liberate design as for want of the means of determining what would constitute justice towards labor, and how to apply a remedy, we catch a glimpse, and only a glimpse, of the immense magnitude of the subject before us.
187. STRANGE as the statement may appear, civilization to-day knows no other principle or formula for the regulation of prices than that 11 the price of a thing should be what it will bring" or that the price should be measured and limited by the demand, or the necessities of the receiver. Therefore John Al. Searing (in a case on trial by the U. S. Government against another party for extortion against itself ), when questioned about price, replied, 11 If I thought the Government wanted the property and must have it, and could not possibly do without it, if I had given only fifteen dollars for it, I would ask two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for it, or as much more as I thought I could get. I would take advantage of the necessities of the Government just as I would of the necessities of a private individual in any business transaction."
188. Mr. Searing has here stated the present ethics of price so frankly and simply that it demands children, or childlike minds that have never become contaminated by 11 trade," to understand its inherent iniquity. It is a simple, clear, frank exhibition of the germ of the Cannibalism which underlies all the world's iniquity and confusion. It is said that Mr. Searing lost his popularity by his frankness; there is, therefore, some ground to suppose that civilization has not lost all power to blush, but that when it is generally perceived that this hideous principle is the root of all public evils, and that rectification is possible, it will, from the mere instinct of self-preservation, pursue its interests in a new direction.
189. There is a germ of true civilization also existing among us, but in humble life, and all unconsciously because so naturally.
190.If a traveler, in a hot day, stop at a farmhouse for a drink of water, he generally gets it without any thought of price. Why ? Because it costs nothing, or the cost is immaterial. If the water was brought from a great distance, over difficult passes, there might be a price set upon it which every One would sanction, if that price was governed by its Cost, or the labor of procuring and delivering it.
191.If the traveler asked for wine, he would expect to pay for it, because it. costs more than water; and if this cost was made the limit of its price, all would seem just and harmonious. But if the farmer, when asked for water, were to endeavor to find out how thirsty the traveler was, and how much money he could induce him to pay for the water rather than not get a drink, and then charge him accordingly, this price would be 11 what it would bring; " and if the farmer were to monopolize all the water in the neighborhood, or fill up or conceal some of the springs, and cut off all access to water except through him, and then charge a fainting traveler a thousand dollars for a drink to save his life, he would be carrying out the rule that 11 the price of a thing is what it will bring," which is the motto and spirit of all the principal business of the world! It is limiting price by the worth or value to the receiver instead of the COST to the giver.
192. The water or the wine must possess a value to the receiver in order to give rise to any transaction in the case: but to make this value or worth the measure of its price, constitutes the glaring iniquity of the case, and would class the farmer among the wreckers on the coast of Norway, who first sink rocks in order to wreck. vessels, and then demand of the crews all their cargoes and vessels for saving their lives! And it would class him with flour-dealers and every other huckster of provisions or clothing, with bankers and all other moneymongers and systematic speculators, from John M. Searing to the huckster of candies and apples on the sidewalks; they all act on the same principle. The only difference between them is that the wrecker must know that he ought to be shot, while the others may suppose that they are following a very 11 legitimate business "!
193. The most common exhibition of this iniquitous principle is seen in the newspapers in the 11 prices current." The following is a sample:--
194. 11 No new arrivals of FLOUR - demand increasing; prices rose accordingly, since yesterday at twelve o'clock, 25 cts. per barrel. No change in COFFEE since our last. SUGAR raised on Thursday 1-2 cent in consequence of news received of short crops; but later arrivals contradicted the report, and prices fell again. MOLASSES in demand, and holders not anxious to sell. PORK - little in market, and prices rising. BACON - Plenty and dull ; fell since our last from 15 to 13 cts. COTTON - All in few hands, bought up on speculation." Again, from a newspaper nearest at hand: -
195. "The stock market advanced this morning, and for a time was quite buoyant. The agents of British houses here assert that instead of selling their stocks, the English will take, advantage of our panic to buy more. This stimulates speculators to buy New York Central, Erie, Illinois Central, and other stocks which are held abroad, and at one time to-day all these stocks were considerably higher. . . . . . .The advance in Cotton was based on the probability of a reduction in the supply," etc.
196. These are only average specimens, but they exhibit the principle under consideration : they show that worth or value to the receiver, rather than COSTS to the producer and vendor, is made the basis and measure of exchangeable price. They show a systematic watchfulness of the fluctuations of this value, and that the price is set, accordingly, up to the last point the receiver can bear ; and we see the degrees of their wants or necessities as closely calculated as the pulsations of the victims of torture, where the physician stands to examine and report how much the victim can bear and live ; and the part which the physician acts in the one case, the newspapers act in the other.
197. "Buying up on speculation" means creatingwant in order to profit by its supply; and he is the most successful speculator who can create the most distress and extort the most from it. This is CIVILIZED CANNIBALISM.
198. As prices are raised, the rich have the best chances of life. The chance of the poor is to suffer, and hence the general scramble to avoid unpaid labor, and to become rich at any cost; and what is called 41 society 11 resembles a large basket of slimy worms, each one wriggling and struggling to get at the top rather than to be crushed at the bottom.
199. Making COSTS the basis and limit of all price. Would upset the basket, and each struggler would find the natural level and his appropriate sphere of life.
200. The word cost is used in its most philosophical and most comprehensive and exact sense - Signifying the endurance of whatever is distkgreeable.
201. Fatigue of mind or body is Cost. Responsibility which causes anxiety is Cost. To have our time or attention taken up against our preferences -to make a sacrifice of any kind - a feeling of mortification - painful suspense - fear- suffering or enduring anything against our inclination, is here considered COST.
202. If a barrel of flour cost its producers, carriers, and vendors thirty hours' labor, then thirty hours of any other labor, whether with the hands or the mind, which was equally painful, disagreeable, or repugnant (if Wanted by the other parties), would constitute an equitable and legitimate price for the flour.
203. The value of a loaf of bread to a starving man is equal to the value of his life : and if the price of a thing should be what it will bring, then a vendor might demand of the passengers of a wrecked vessel, the whole of their future lives in servitude, as the proper price of the bread that saved their lives! But any one who should make such a demand would be looked upon as insane -- a Cannibal; and one simultaneous voice would denounce the outrageous injustice, and Would cry aloud for retribution. Why ? What is it that constitutes the cannibalism in this case ? Is it not measuring the price of the bread according to its value instead of its cost, or setting a price upon the "thing" according to 11 what it would bring " ?
204. If the producers, carriers, and vendors of the bread had bestowed one hour's labor upon that given. to each passenger, then one hour's labor from each, Which was equally repugnant, would constitute the just compensation for the bread.
205. A WATCH has a cost and a value. The cost consists of the cost of the labor bestowed on the minerals in converting them into metals, the costs (either physical or mental) endured by the workmen in constructing the watch, the costs in the wear of tools, rent, firewood, insurance, taxes, clerkship, superintendence, and various other contingent expenses of its manufacture, together with the labor and other costs of its transmission to the one who uses it. In some of these departments, the labor is more disagreeable or more deleterious to health than in others, and therefore should be higher paid; but all these items, or more, constitute the Cost of the watch.
206. The value of a well-made watch depends upon the natural qualities of the metals or minerals employed; upon the natural principles of its mechanism; upon the uses to which it is applied, and upon the fancy and wants of the purchaser, and would be different with every different purchaser, and would change every day in the hands of the owner, and with every different use to which he applied it. Now who will undertake to set a price upon the Value of the watch ? The Cost we can measure and estimate satisfactorily, but who can determine the value of copper and zinc ore? or who has any right to set any price upon them, or any other natural wealth, before he has bestowed any labor upon it? Who has any right to charge for the principles of mechanism, except for his labor in applying them? Who has the capacity to measure, and who has any right to set a price according to this value of the watch? The attempt is as ridiculous as the principle is iniquitous.
207. Cost, then, is the true basis and limit of price, even in the most complicated transactions. The value of a thing is no more fit to measure its price than a floating log is fit for a boundary of a piece of land.
208. An article must have a value to the receiver equal to its cost to induce any purchase at all; but Cost, not value, should set the limit of the price.
209. A man may inform his neighbor that his house is on fire. The information may be of great value to the occupants, but to make this a ground of proportional price, or of an indefinite obligation, would be setting a price according to the "worth of a thing."
210.The performance of a piece of music in which the performer feels pleasure but no pain, and which is attended with no contingent cost, has no legitimate ground of price, although it may be of great value to all within hearing.
211. A word of sympathy to the distressed may be of great value to them; but to make this value a ground of price, or of an indefinite obligation, is getting what the "thing will bring," and contaminating one of the most holy departments of human intercourse.
212. A man has a lawsuit pending, upon which hangs his property, his security, his personal liberty, or his life. The lawyer who undertakes his case may demand ten, twenty, fifty, five hundred, or five thousand dollars, for a few hours' attendance on the case. This price would be based chiefly on the value of his services to his client. Now there is nothing in this statement that sounds wrong, because our cars are familiarized with wrong. But let us analyze it. The Costs to the lawyer might be twenty hours' labor in attendance at court, which, if repugnant, would entitle him to compensation; and allowing a portion for his apprenticeship, say twenty-two hours in all, with all contingent expenses, would constitute a legitimate, a just ground of price; but the very next step beyond this rests on value, and is the first stop in Cannibalism.
213. The laborer, when he comes to dig the lawyer's cellar, never thinks of setting a price upon its future value to the owner; lie only considers how long it will take him, how hard the ground is, what will be the weather to which he will be exposed, what will be the wear of the teams, tools, clothes, etc.; but in all these items he considers nothing but the different items of cost to himself.
214. RENTS Of land and buildings, especially in the cities, are generally "what they will bring; 'I and these rents are based chiefly on the value of the use of the property, according to the necessities of the occupants, instead of the costs to the owners, which consist of natural decay, insurance, taxes, and the labor of letting the property, collecting rents, etc.
215. The doctor demands of the woodcutter the proceeds of five, ten, or twenty days' labor for the attendance of an hour, and asks, in excuse, if the sick man would not prefer to pay this price rather than submit to continuous disease or death. This, again, is basing a price upon an assumed value of his attendance instead of its Cost. It is common to plead the 11 skill" required to prescribe for the sick. . Without waiting to determine how much skill might be employed in the case, it may be sufficient to show that skill or talents which result from labor of body or mind, whether employed in cutting wood or cutting off a leg or an arm, all contingencies considered, so far as they cost the pos. sessor, are a legitimate ground of estimate and of price; but Skill or talents which cost nothing are natural wealth, and should be accessible (if at all), like water in our neighbor's brook, without price.
216. All patents and copyrights give to the inventor, discoverer, or the author whatever he "can get," and only what he can get, for his production: and he may get a thousand times paid, or not a thousandth part paid. His proper compensation would be an equivalent for the costs of his physical or mental labor added to that of his materials, the expenses of experiments, investigations, and other contingencies.
217. A speculator buys a piece of land for a trifle, and holds it till surrounding improvements, made by others, increase its value, and it is then sold "accordingly," for five, ten, or a hundred times its original price; yet this is only "what it will bring;" but, from this operation of civilized cannibalism whole families live from generation to generation, in idleness and luxury, upon the labor of the surrounding people, who must have the land at any price. This is one form of slavery. Instead of this, the prime cost of land, the taxes, and other contingent expenses of surveying, etc., together with the labor of making contracts, would constitute the true basis for the price of land purchased for sale. If I purchase a lot for my own use, and you want it, I may properly consider what would compensate me for the sacrifice I should make, or the cost of parting with it; but this is a very different thing from purchasing it on purpose to part with it, and when no such sacrifice is made.
218. The products of machinery are now sold for what they will bring," and its advantages go chiefly to its owners. If these products were priced by the wear of the machinery, its attendance, and other contingent items of cost, the owners would not be interested in grinding down the wages of its attendants; and in proportion as it threw the working classes out of employment, it would work for them. Here is the long-sought solution of the antagonism between machinery and manual labor!
219. An importer writes a letter to a foreign country for goods to the amount of forty thousand dollars. On their arrival he sells them for 11 what they will bring." Perhaps they "bring" forty-five thousand, perhaps seventy thousand. If sixty thousand, then, allowing say two thousand for costs of importation and sale, he obtains eightteen thousand dollars for perhaps eight or ten hours' labor or thought in merchandizing!
220. With this sum he could obtain thirty-six thousand times as much labor of the hardest working men, or seventy-two thousand times an equivalent from women who work for twenty-five cents a day, or a hundred and forty-four thousand times an equivalent from children at twelve cents a day!
221. A. lends to B. ten thousand dollars, at six per cent., for one year. At the end of the year he receives back the ten thousand lent, and six hundred dollars more! For what? Because it was of that or more value to the borrower. For the same reason, why not charge a thousand dollars for a box of pills, because they save the life of the patient ?
222. With this six hundred dollars, which the laws declare not to be usury, the capitalist can keep three of the hardest working men constantly drudging for him a whole year or he could command the constant watchful and slavish attendance and dependence and labor of eight destitute women for a whole year, or he could enthralled sixteen destitute children for a whole year, for five or six hours of his labor in lending money. Or for this five or six hours' (of not the hardest) labor, he would obtain at the rate of about a hundred dollars per hour, or about one thousand six hundred times an equivalent from the hardest working men, or about four thousand five hundred times an equivalent from the hardest working women, or nine thousand five hundred times an equivalent from suffering and defenseless children!
223. If you sacrifice twenty dollars (to which you are equitably entitled) in lending me a hundred, then not six per cent., but twenty dollars, or twenty per cent., together with pay for your labor, would be your proper compensation.
224. One, in getting all his labor 11 will bring," gets a thousand times an equivalent, while another, following the same principle, does not get a thousandth part paid, while all are involved in a degrading scramble to avoid the unpaid and more repugnant pursuits, and to crowd into the more profitable and less repugnant ; and the main business of life is to conduct this warfare to the best advantage, although the most successful are never secure from being victimized, upon the same principle by which they succeeded! Laws and governments are professedly invented to remedy the insecurity thus produced, but they confirm the very principle that produces it, and add all their own elements of confusion and violence to the general anarchy.
225. Costs being made the basis and limit of price, there would be no disturbing preference for one pursuit rather than another; the Strife would be at an end - the supply in all departments would be in proportion to the demand -no disturbing fluctuations in prices would ever occur - wars for the profits of trade would be at an end -the poorest would be abundantly richtemptations to frauds and encroachments of all kinds would cease, and laws and governments for the 11 protection of person and property" would be unnecessary, and their desolating career might be brought to a close! This simple justice (cost - the limit of price) would make it necessary for every one to earn as much as he consumed, and -would irresistibly abolish every form of slavery under the sun, even the most degrading of all -the slavery of holding and depending on slaves!
226. AVARICE (supposed by some to be the root of all human evils), being one of the effects of insecurity of condition, would naturally die away when the future should repose on a publicly approved principle which should ensure an abundance to every one at less cost than that of taking care of large accumulations. In other words, the primary object of large accumulations of property is for future security. If the future is secured without it, no such accumulations would be thought worthy of pursuit.
227. Costs being made the limit of price, every one becomes interested to reduce cost, - to lighten each other's burdens ! Then, every man's hand acts with instead of "against every man," and HUMAN INTERESTS ARE HARMONIZED!
228. Legislators! Framers of institutions ! Leaders of the public mind! behold your most fatal error! You have suffered Value instead of Cost to become the measure of price in all the business of the world! Hence the ruinous rage of competition, and the destructive fluctuations in business, and the remote origin and principal cause of the wars of nations and of individual antagonisms! Hence, also, the insecurity in all conditions of life, and the universal scramble for unlimited accumulations of property, as the highest attainable good! 'Hence, too, the teaching and perpetuation of ignorance for the sake of profit, and all the degradation and crime and the horrors of punishments arising from these causes! Behold, also, the ORIGIN OF RICH AND POOR! - The deep- seated germ of speculation, at once the curse of individuals and of nations!The diabolical charm that works -unseen even by those who use it!- The fatal pit-fall of the working classes!The people's mistake! - The legislative fraud! -The political blunder!--The hereditary taint of Barbarism - The subtle and all-pervading poison of civilization!
229. These statements may be too brief, and the conclusions too suddenly drawn for many minds, but they will be more elaborately considered in the following pages.
230. Let us now proceed to consider what a circulating medium or money, should be.
231. The experiments were begun in Cincinnati, in 1827, upon the simple basis of hour for hour in all pursuits, without any element of measurement but that of time, according to a suggestion believed to have originated in England. It soon appeared, however, that the more pleasant pursuits would be overcrowded by competitors who would ruin each other, while the equally necessary professions were shunned, and a large portion of wants would be left unsupplied. For instance, a steam saw- mill was to be kept running night and day in the winter time. The night tour was a great deal more disagreeable or uncomfortable than the day tour. All hands preferred the day tour at the same price. It was arranged so that the compensation for ten hours at night would equal that for fourteen hours of the daytime. Here was one recognition of the element of repugnance or cost as the necessary adjusting power.
232. To apply this idea as a regulator of all interchanges of labor is a matter of invention and the most ingenious inventor would probably succeed best; but thus far, it has been effected thus : -
233. Some staple article of the particular locality, such as corn or wheat, is selected as a Unit by which to compare and measure all other labors, as we now measure them by dollars and cents. For instance, after ascertaining how many pounds of corn is the average product of an hour's labor, say it is ten pounds, then any labor, which the performer of it considers as costly as corn-raising, would be rated at ten pounds per hour. If only half as costly, only five pounds, etc.
234. Of course it is necessary that both parties coincide in the prices set, which they are likely to do after investigation, for it is not exactness so much as it is permanence that we want; because, this fixedness once attained, security begins.
235. We cannot carry wheat, shoes, carpenter work, etc., about us so as to complete all our exchanges on the spot, and therefore, we need something that represents these products, which we can carry about us, and give and receive, and which will procure all these things when we need them.
236. 1 get a pair of shoes, the labor in which is estimated as equivalent to the labor costs in a hundred pounds of corn, and I give the shoemaker my note for carpenter work equivalent also to a hundred pounds.
237. The Costs of eight hours of my carpenter work may equal the Costs of ten hours of the shoemaker. This would give him ten pounds and me twelve and a half pounds per hour.
238. In this manner any profession whatever can be compared, measured, and exchanged with every other, each issuing notes representing his or her labor, and these notes, passing from hand to hand before they are redeemed, would constitute a circulating medium based on REALITIES--on the bone and muscle, on the manual and mental capacities, the property and property-producing powers of the whole of the people (the soundest of all foundations) ! -a money of the only kind that ever ought to have been issued!
239. The natural results to which such a money would lead are so extraordinary that they make us doubt our own reason, and, if stated, might subject us to the imputation of insanity. We ask, therefore, the judgment of others.
240. Would not every Man, Woman, and Child (to the extent of his or her usefulness) become a BANKER, and thus equalize money ?
241. Could Hot the poorest be abundantly rich ?
242. Would not the burden of necessary labor be reduced to one or two hours a day, and could there be any inducement to spend the whole day in contriving uncertain means to swindle or rob the products of labor from their proper owners ? If not, then would not this principle and this money peaceably abolish every system of fraud and slavery under the sun?
243. Could there ever be such a thing as a money panic or a money pressure?
244. Would not this natural and just distribution of money necessarily complete the true and only practical "balance of power," and solve the great problem that convulses and desolates the world ?
245. That out of this principle of Equivalents arises naturally that co- operation between the individual and the public interests, so much desired and striven for, -seems so self-evident, that to attempt illustrations may seem to some minds like the attempts to illustrate the shining of the sun; but at the risk of obscuring the subject, I Will furnish a few historical facts.
246. In the experimental stores, conducted on this principle, it was seen that, in order to put the labor of the merchant fairly against the labor of his customers, his compensation must be separated, disintegrated from the price of the goods. This Was done; and his labor in -waiting on each customer was measured by the time employed which was Shown by a clock before the eyes of both parties.
247. The goods Were sold for their first cost added to a certain fixed and publicly known percentage, sufficient to pay all contingent expenses, and every possible evidence was furnished to the customers to prove that they paid only an equivalent in. their own labor for the labor of the keeper of the store.
248. White this secured their confidence and respect, it created in some of them an interest in the principle itself, and another kind of interest which all could feel; namely, to take up as little of the keeper's time as possible, and to volunteer to roll barrels, move boxes, fold cloth, etc., to abridge the labor to be paid for. In common business, the price not being limited by costs, there are no such coinciding or co-operating interests.
249. It was amusing, and more than amusing, to see how careful some were Dot to take up the time of the keeper in 11 shopping." The customers were not at all troublesome in this respect. The goods were so arranged that they could see the prices and qualities, and the prices being positively fixed by a principle which they approved, the buyer and seller were no longer at war!
250. A man came into the store saying, as fast as he could speak, 11 1 want a barrel of your mackerel I know they are eight dollars there is the money and a cent for your time of putting it into the drawer I can get it into the wagon you needn't come out good-by." The profit or compensation for selling that barrel of mackerel was one cent! Is it wonderful that such a principle should find cooperators?
251. Another man came in and said, 11 There is a lot of most excellent sugar - nine hogsheads - for sale at H----'s auction store, cheap!"
252. What was his motive for giving this information to the keeper of this store in particular ? He felt deeply interested in its principle for the general good, and he was slightly interested as one of the consumers of the sugar, which lie knew lie would get at cost, whatever the "market-price" might be. He was interested morally and pecuniarily to co-operate for the result, which benefited all the other customers to the sugar as well as himself.
253. Observe that I am now illustrating the manner in which the principle of Equivalents neutralizes the antagonism of interests, and produces that harmony or co-operation of interests that has always been the greatest consideration for society, and without which we must look in vain for true civilization; but with which, it can reach a higher plane than many minds are now prepared to understand.
254. These co-operating interests induced two gentlemen (though unknown to the keeper before the store commenced) to offer to become security for him in the United States Bank. Here was Co-operation without a word of pledge or promise; or, Co-operation and freedom harmonized! No organization (as that word is commonly understood) of any kind was necessary; but on the contrary any proposition of the kind would only have hindered, and perhaps prevented, co-operation, for both of these gentlemen belonged to churches which they could not well disregard in forming new connections, If universal principles move us to our satisfaction, we need no other connections than such as naturally grow out of those principles.
255. A young man came in and said, 11 Here are fifty dollars that I may not have a use for at present. Perhaps you would like to use it in 'purchasing to the best advantage." What was his motive?
256. A large wholesale merchant said to the keeper of the store in New Harmony, 1842, 111 had resolved that I never would credit another man with a dollar'sworth of goods; but as you seem to be doing the safest business of any man in the world, if you want more goods than you can pay for at once, take them, and pay for them when they are sold." The keeper did take seven hundred dollars' worth, and continued to do SO. What was this merchant's motive? You may suppose that it was solely to get a quick market for his goods. It is very well if this motive also co-operates with a great beneficent revolution; but he had said, with much feeling and emphasis, in a conversation on the subject, 11 If such principles as those could be generally introduced, I would give ninety-nine dollars in every hundred I possess! " and he was reputed to be very rich.
257. An English gentleman of fortune was introduced to the keeper, and frankly offered to assist with his capital, but the keeper did not Wish to undertake the management of any larger business than he already bad. What was this gentleman's motive? He had retired from business, and did not want to accumulate more money. While all these gentlemen were co- operating from their own private motives, they put it in the power of the keeper to supply hundreds who co-operated from various motives, the whole being moved and regulated by a principle, and not by any formal organization or Clanship whatever.
258. No one denies that when we see it for our interest to Co-operate, we shall do so, if conditions allow of it. To see it for our interest and to install the conditions, then, is what we need, but to make an effort to obtain co- operation by any other stimulus is vain, wasted labor. But what do we mean by our interests? Do we mean the money we can make or get at the present moment, disregarding the sacrifice of all future opportunities? or do we mean the most money we can make now and in the future taken together? or do we mean that it is for our interest to have conditions fit for ourselves and human nature generally to live in ? Different people will act from all these different motives, and all these motives, and various others, brought multitudes to Co-operate in those stores, showing that there was no need of any conformity of motive to ensure cooperation. But any such demand would have driven the customers away; while freedom to differ made them feel free to come! But what was of still greater importance, this diversity of motive and character prevented clanship from taking root and growing up.
259. 1 should not expect, nor wish to see, great pecuniary sacrifices made where there is not compensation in some form, - either in similar sacrifices being made on occasion by the benefited party, or compensation in 'the pleasure derived from promoting good and great objects. Uncompensated sacrifices would contradict the instinct of self- preservation, and would not long continue.
260. The percentage contingent fund had accumulated in the store beyond the expenses, and the keeper had given out word that this might be used (if wellSecured) for general purposes without interest. A cooperator introduced a stranger (a friend of his), saying, 11 You tell us that you have on hand a surplus fund. accumulated beyond expenses, which you propose to use or have used in various ways, for the benefit of the dealers here who have thus overpaid the Equitable demand upon them ; and that all you require is that it should be kept safe. and available when you may be obliged to call on it to sustain losses. Therefore, if You will lend to my friend here thirteen dollars, I will guarantee that it shall be returned in two weeks."
261. The money was lent - the note and security taken. In two weeks the stranger returned, and laying down the money said, that, as it had saved him and his family from so much loss and distress, he wished to compensate the keeper in proportion to the benefits they had received. 11 And now," added he, 11 1 am ready to pay you any premium you may choose to ask."
262. "You are a stranger, Sir, to the principles upon which business is done here," said the keeper.
263. "Yes, Sir; but I shall not question any price you may set. I can never feel myself absolved from obligations to you at any price. Take whatever you please, I shall not question it."
264. "I see, Sir, that your friend has not informed you of the peculiar operations of the new principles as applied to lending money. The compensation or interest has no reference to the benefit conferred upon the borrower, but it is based on, and limited by, the costs to the lender. I employed about five minutes in lending you the money; I shall employ about five more in receiving it back again. It was secured and there was no risk or loss. I have not been obliged to borrow money in its place; you have Only to compensate me for my labor ! If you could give me an equivalent in your own labor, this would make all right; but as you cannot, I will receive ten cents instead."
265. "I do not understand you, Sir. I am really in earnest in what I say. The money has saved me and my family from the mortification of being turned into the street, and having our furniture sold for rent. I am a stranger here, disappointed in my expectations of business, which brought me from Philadelphia. Pay what I may to you, I can never feel absolved from the greatest obligations."
266. "I perfectly understand you, Sir, and shall be Equitably paid with the ten cents. Don't you think I might be satisfied with sixty cents per hour for my labor in lending money, when the hardest working men get only fifty cents for working a whole day at the most disagreeable labor, and get abused and insulted besides for being obliged to do it?"
267. "Well, this is a most extraordinary thing! And you are content to lend money by being paid only for the labor of it, without taking any advantage of the necessities of the borrower?
268. "Is it as strange, Sir, that I should be content with sixty cents per hour for my labor, as that theworld should have gone on for so many centuries in Setting the prices of things according to the neccessities of the receivers? This principle followed out in your case would have sustained me in asking you as much for the use of the thirteen dollars (which it cost me no sacrifice to lend) as you could be induced to give, rather than have your family turned out into the street, and your furniture sacrificed by the constable; which might have been as much as you could have earned in years of anxiety and labor! This would have left you little to choose between absolute ruin and borrowing thirteen dollars, -little to choose between the prison, starvation, and the usurer. No wonder that men have looked on each other as natural enemies, seeing that, whether they turn to one or another, the result is nearly the same. The landlord gets all he can from your necessities. If you turn to the usurer for relief, lie devours you on the same principle.
269. " If you turn to the lawyers they devour what is left of you. Some of them will even tell you that the great law is for the big fish to eat up the little ones, never suspecting anything wrong in their ethics till they happen to be the little ones ! The fact is that they know nothing, the world knows nothing worth knowing, on these subjects; principally for the reason that their starting--points have been wrong, consequently, all their conclusions are wrong. They have started with saying that the price of a thing should be what it will bring. It is equivalent to saying that it is right and just to demand a price for a thing proportioned to the distress of the receiver of it. This is the root of all the cannibalism of civilization, and men fall to eating each other; but, as no one lilies to be eaten, they agree to protect each other against the operation of their own principles and daily practices, and form a combination called a State, for the purpose; -the multitude cannot conduct the business of a State, but they set apart a few to see to the protection of all, and they protect all as we protect chickens, that we may eat them without the trouble of catching them.
270. "This is only another form of cannibalism. There has never been any correct thought on the subject, and never will be till we begin right. The beginning of correct thought for justice, peace, security, and successful society is, that the price of what you receive from me should be limited, not by its value to you, but by the trouble or sacrifice it has cost me. When we begin to think from this starting- point, we see that the all-pervading viciousness of trade, and dire confusion and distress that everywhere prevails, have originated, not in our primary nature, as has been so extensively thought and taught, but in this subtle and undetected error in one of the starting-points of our intercourse with each other. That this being corrected, the cannibalism ceases;-the demand for 'protection ceases along with it, and we begin to emerge from darkness and confusion into light, order, and repose.' "
271. "These thoughts, Sir, are - are - very - really, Sir, I do not know what - what to say." Here the gentleman became too much affected to speak distinctly, but in a low and very tremulous tone he very respectfully took his leave.
272. Is it not probable that gentleman has, through life, -co-operated wherever he may have been, though not belonging to any formal organization or clan, in the spread and strengthening of the principle of Equivalents, so far as he understood and felt its practical bearings?
273. It will probably be admitted that if the principle itself will prompt and secure all the desired cooperation without clanship, and neutralize all antagonism of interests, and give to all exertion its just reward, the greatest of all human problems is solved by it.
274. INTRODUCTION OF EQUITABLE MONEY. The keeper of the store was to receive the labor of his customers in exchange for his own. They could not pay iron work, mason work, doctor's work, washing, sewing, etc., on the spot in the store, and, therefore, for these kinds of labor they gave their notes, payable on demand, which the keeper issued out again to shoe. makers, tailors, woodsawyers, etc., and he had at one time, the notes of five different physicians, promising a certain number of hours of their services to the holders of the notes, and these notes passed out to washerwomen, seamstresses, draymen, woodsawyers, carpenters, masons, etc., any of whom could go to the physicians and get their services for these notes, which had cost them only equivalents in their own labor; and though the washerwoman paid, perhaps, not more than a hundredth part as much labor as the doctor's services had generally cost her, yet the physicians were content and pleased with the operation. Some customers could bring articles to the store which were in demand, the labor in which had been previously ascertained and settled, before the articles were brought. The keeper took these, and gave either some other articles which 11 cost " the same amount of labor (deducting the time of delivery), or he gave notes of other professions, or his own notes, payable in merchandizing; and these notes for merchandizing would circalate among all the customers of the store; and as nearly everybody within reach wished to be a customer, they were ready to take the notes for anything they had or could do, and the keeper could have issued any amount of them; and here is a danger to be guarded against. All is made safe by each one using such notes as he cannot make himself, and the printer or maker of them keeping an account of all the blanks issued to each person; and this amount is stated on the note itself, so that the receiver of it may know what amount the signer of it has issued,-the notes all having the printer's address upon them. If any doubt arises, the public can resort to the printer, who can tell at once what quantity of blank notes have been issued to any person.
275. Swartwouting and all similar frauds would at once be impossible, if money was simply what is required of it, namely, a circulating medium. As soon as it becomes capital to lay up, - it being in a close, compact, portable form, - it is easily stolen and carried beyond recovery! It is useless to expect improvement in the morals of public functionaries while they possess power and can be tempted to defraud the public Swartwout only established a fashion which has raged more and more ever since his treachery down to this present writing. To make such frauds impossible, as well as to secure many other great ends, when capital is to be laid by, it should consist of something as nearly imperishable as possible; something intrinsically valuable, which value can never become neutralized, nor superseded. It should be something the source of which cannot be monopolized, and which, therefore, can never be raised in price beyond compensation for the labor bestowed upon it; and if made the basis of a circulating medium, it should at all times be within reach of the public eye, subject at all times to public inspection and estimate, without danger of its being stolen. Iron is a commodity answering all these demands.
276. That the mercantile world - the men of enterprise, the financiers and legislators of continuous ages - should so long have admitted the cannibal principle as the basis of their operations, is a striking proof of the astonishing docility with which the human race receive traditions unquestioned, and follow precedents and self-erected authorities unexamined; and it exposes a weakness that lowers our respect for existing customs, and gives to the careful student of human affairs a courage and strength equal to the demands for them: but what a field it furnishes for the reckless and unscrupulous! What confusion this ready credulity and conformity bring upon all!
277. One newspaper says that such or such an authority says 11 that martial law supersedes all other laws." If this is true at all, it is true in a sense not understood by readers in general. It is true only in the sense that military force is the last and final appeal, or the absolute government: but the mere opinions, or rules, or statutes of men are not laws at all. All that were ever constructed in the world, and all the military power in the world concentrated against one individual, could not for a moment overcome or 11 supersede 11 the law of self- preservation in that individual while he retained life. It is this primitive or Divine law which rises above and 11 supersedes all other laws."
278. Again, a newspaper says the "laws Of nations" in time of war make all the members of each nation enemies to each other. This is not only inhuman but false. There are persons belonging to different nations, thanks to simple common sense, that can never be made enemies to each other; but, to remain friends, say the newspapers, is 11 treason." Thus the newspapers destroy all respect for themselves from any whose respect is worth having.
279. Another newspaper delivers itself of this sage apothegm, 11 The only freedom of speech we want now is the speech for freedom." I ask whose speech for freedom is it that is wanted just now; is it yours or mine ? One paper having spoken, others of the same party or Clan copy; the clan repeat and join in the chorus, and confusion follows; and where confusion abounds the ignorant are noisy, the prudent are silent, and impostors triumph.
280. Competition is so important an element in human affairs it deserves particular consideration. While some assert that it is the regulator of trade, others may ask where or when trade was ever regulated! Competition in trade, manufactures, and in every other pecuniary department, grinds the weaker parties to powder, while those who can move at all are in constant warfare and struggle with each other, in which the longest purses are sure to prevail; all others must yield, and what is called society, promises, even by pecuniary competition alone, to become divided into only two classes - capitalists and criminals; and the capitalist with the longest purse of 11 cowries 11 will be master of all at last, only to be ruined at last.
281. Let us see how the principle of Equivalents affects competition.
282. In one of the experimental stores, in 1842, a shoemaker, being pressed for money, offered a lot of shoes for six cents less per pair than they had usually been sold for. But as the keeper's compensation was entirely separated from the prices of the goods, and the goods sold at 11 costs," he could not put this extra six cents into his own pocket without violating the very principle upon which he preferred to act, and, therefore, had no interest in getting the shoes cheaper than usual, as long as his customers were satisfied with the prices. He therefore re paid the full usual price to the shoemaker, who, in this case, got three dollars more than he expected, at the very time that he needed money most. There was no contest or competition between buyer and seller here to reduce the price below what the customers were willing to pay. And again, had the shoes been of poor quality, such as to cheat and disappoint the customers, there was no temptation to purchase them at any price, for let the price be whatever it might, they were to be sold at cost. Competition could not act to reduce the price of the shoes, and grind down this shoemaker or his competitors, nor tempt the keeper by large profits to cheat the customers with a worthless article.
283. A man came into the store in great distress, saying that he I-lad a hogshead of excellent sugar which was in danger of being sacrificed to pay the expenses of its storage, and if the keeper would take it, he should have it at a cent less per pound than the lowest price that had been known that season. The keeper having a full supply of sugar on hand declined taking it; but the owner urged it so earnestly, he consented to look at it, and found it to be of unusually good quality and concluded to take it; but he told the owner that as he had no interest, except as one of the consumers, in taking advantage of his necessities, he should give him the full price for the sugar; and he paid him eleven dollars more than he expected to get for his hogshead of sugar; and yet the price was so low when sold at costs, that the customers were perfectly willing to pay it.
284. The little interest the keeper had as consumer of the sugar was just enough to prevent him from being entirely indifferent to the price, but it was not enough to induce him to take advantage of the necessities of the embarrassed owner. At the same time, if he had given much more than the usual price for the sugar, he could not have sold it in competition with the other sugar that he had on hand. Competition here took the sugar away from the one who was laying his plan to have it sacrificed to him at auction, and gave to its owner the usual price.
285. A piece of land was laid out, in 1847, into house lots for a village, under contract with the owner of the land that he would hold the lots at a fixed price (named in the bond) for three years. He fulfilled his contract, but at the expiration of the time, he began to raise the prices of the lots according to their increased value. One man stepped in and purchased a half of all the unsold lots, and gave a bond to the inhabitants that the lots should be held at the price he had paid for them (it being mentioned in the bond) without interest, and with no addition to the price named, except taxes and other contringent costs of deeds, etc. This immediately checked the rise in the prices of the other lots, for it was impossible for the owner to sell them at any higher rates than those sold for costs. Now competition began to 11 regulate trade," some of these lots have remained for sale ten years at costs; and though a railroad has been surveyed directly through them, this has made no difference in their prices.
286. Thus "equitable" competition becomes a check to land speculation, which no statutes or devices of legislators have ever been able to reach, where check is most needed (in house lots), and thus, too, this competition may and would necessarily become a regulator in every department of business, while it would oppress no one.
287. As long as the vendor of goods, or land, or anything else, has his compensation mixed up and combined with their prices, without any fixed limit to his income, he is interested in getting the goods or articles at the lowest rates, and selling them at the highest rates, because all that is gain over costs goes into his own pocket. The manufacturer or producer must then underwork his competitor in order to get the custom of the vendor: then comes his own dangers, anxieties, and risks, and the grinding down of wages to the lowest living point.
288. Let the products of machinery and of the land be sold for equivalents, and all this becomes changed. Competition is divested of its destructive power, yet there is still interest enough felt among all (and that interest co-operates) to get modes of production sufficiently labor-saving to afford all the leisure or exemption from drudgery that can be desired.
289. Is it asked what can induce capitalists to invest their capital in machinery, without any prospect of gain over and above pay for their oversight or cares, which might not amount to more than each of the humblest workmen received?
290. This question takes for granted that the capitalist has no capacity to see any value in all that has been said in this work, which is a poor compliment to him or to the author. However, this is a question that every person has a sovereign right to decide for himself ; but it is very questionable whether many capitalists, engaged in any useful business, are in the steady receipt of more than from four to eight dollars per day; and on the principle of equivalents, the compensation to workmen would probably be equivalent in value to a sum between these two, depending on the repugnance of the labor performed; and what he got would be secure from theft, fraud, and destruction by wars and ruinous taxation. It is well, too, to consider, in the mean time, what motive any man can have to keep up the present barbarism when the means of civilization come to be understood. Equitable competition has power to regulate all unmistakably, and the mere capitalist will be the weakest and most dependent of men as soon as true, scientific, equitable money gets into vogue. Then the hardest worker will become the greatest real capitalist, and any quantity of "cowries" or mere bits of comparatively useless metal, will give no assurance for bread for any length of time.
291. Besides all capitalists have not lost all their manhood in getting their 11 cowries." One of the richest men in Cincinnati, in a conversation relative to the experimental store then in operation on the corner of Fifth and Elm Streets, said, 11 If such a state of society could be produced, I should want to be one of the first in it."
292. The store had not been in operation a month when a wholesale merchant, who was quite familiar with it, said to a friend, 61 You and 1, Mr. C---, may not live to see it; but the time will come when all the business in the world will be conducted on that principle."
293. Another wholesale merchant of the same place said, 11 They are the true and the only true principles for the regulation of business. The sooner they prevail the better. I despise myself for the manner in which I am obliged to get my living out of my customers."
294. Another merchant of the same city said to the keeper, 111 can find no fault with the principle. I was telling Mr. C----. the other day, that it was not to be successfully disputed."
295. Another merchant said, in the presence of four customers, "There is no disputing that that is the true principle for the basis of all business. I cannot work on it as I am situated. I wish I could."
296. As I have before stated, a gentleman in a large retail and wholesale business in Indiana, said, in 1842, with great earnestness and manly feeling, 11 If such principles as those could be introduced, I would give ninetynine dollars out of every hundred I possess." Yet, at the very time of making this remark, the equitable store in New Harmony, twenty-five miles distant, had just broken up his retail trade, and he acknowledged that he could do nothing in that line! His particular pecuniary interests did not blind him to greater general interests.
297. It is often asked why these stores were discontinued.
298. They were started only with the view of bringing principles to test, trial, and criticism, and to set them. before the public in a practical, demonstrated attitude, previously to forming model villages; and to get cooperators for that purpose, with the idea that one successful model village would do the work- required more expeditiously than any other step that could at that time be taken; whereas mere storekeeping was but a small item, a Single wheel in the vast machinery of society; and, moreover, these stores very soon bring all surrounding prices down to their own level, when there is nothing left for them to work upon!
299. The one started in New Harmony in March, 1842, with only two hundred dollars cash capital, in the course of the first year, by its irresistible competilion broke up five out of the ten stores that were in operation in that town at its commencement, and brought down the prices at the remaining stores to its own level, although some of them could command unlimited capital. But, having done this, and brought the other stores in the neighboring country to the level of equivalents, the equitable store, like the 11 governor 11 of a steam-engine (not of 16 state "), ceased to operate where there was nothing to rectify; and the next purpose was to form a model village, taking it for granted that principles so very simple, so unassailable, so capable of scientific demonstration, and so indispensably necessary to order, peace, abundance, and 11 security," only needed to be seen in their beautiful and consistent symmetry to be at once approved and adopted. But that model village has never been permitted. The most subtle and (to general observation,) the most incomprehensible obstacles have been placed directly and indirectly across its path. It is probably seen, by those who can see nothing- else, that such a model village would
"Like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeriers"
and they think this would not bring them 11 cowries nor offices. Misapprehension, misrepresentation, direct falsehoods, insinuations, slanders, and cunningly contrived devices to set the public against the developmentof such a model, have resulted in a change of mode, and the adoption of one which, though demanding greater resources, is more in accordance with the universality of the objects in view and the principles to be introduced.
300. This mode is suggested in the first chapter (on government), namely, in every city, town, village, and neighborhood, to invite those supposed to be most competent to unbiassed and correct investigation to assemble as councils, or courts of inquiry, or deliberative tribunals, to investigate these subjects in the presence of all the inhabitants who choose to attend as listeners, and to continue these investigations till a general, clear understanding is had of the most important interests of life. An intelligent and correct public opinion will then become, as it were, a great balance-wheel, to regulate progress, and to nurse and protect true civilization in its infantile struggles for existence.
301. Our frightful war is now extensively thought to have been first stimulated and set going by traders who were afraid of a free port being opened at the South while Northern ports would be hampered with tariffs, and by office-seekers and by speculators looking forward to the advantages to be taken of the necessities that would arise from war.
302. From the history of the progress of 11 roast pig," may we not hope that, in the course of a thousand years or more, the example of Louis Napoleon of France will have so far progressed as to induce the "pioneer governments "of civilization to employ agents, at a fixed and limited salary, to do their large purchasing and forwarding, instead of employing men whose gains increase in proportion to the necessities of the governments, and the extravagance of the prices which they, as agents, pay for ships, etc.
303. And the newspapers! One newspaper will make " two hundred dollars extra in one day by the announcement of "TWENTY THOUSAND MEN KILLED AND WOUNDED!" While the editorship of newspapers is the direct road to office, and while the "cowry " and office are the all-absorbing objects of pursuit, who will expect common newspapers to advocate any principle tending to put an end to wars? Who will expect them to cease inflaming party against party and nation against nation ; or to pay any attention to the responsibility of public counselors?
304. One single newspaper, whose conductor should take a position before the public, giving evidence that his income was limited to a certain sum per week, even if this limit was not quite down to the level of Equivalents, -that paper (at least its advertisements) would command the confidence of the public, and could, therefore, have all the advertising patronage so far as it could supply the demand, and, as all the unprincipled papers are sustained chiefly by their advertisements, the host of these corrupt disturbers of the public peace would sink as rapidly into oblivion as did the swine of old into the sea, and its editor would find himself installed in an office of moral power and grandeur from which no vulgar temptations could seduce him. Such is the irresistible regulating power of Equitable competition. As a first step towards Equivalents, this simple one of setting a public limit to compensation will be an immense regulating power; and it is, perhaps, as great a step as can be immediately taken in the confusion of cities. Provision dealers, coal dealers, clothing stores, furniture stores, dry goods and fancy stores, lawyers, manufacturers, patentees, bankers, and speculators of all kinds, set no known limit to their demands upon the public, and hence the blind warfare everywhere carried on between them. Let every profession have some known limit set to its demands upon the public, so that competition can act understandingly, and all would soon come to the peaceful level of Equivalents, even though the principle of Equivalents might not be understood.
305. It is often asked, 11 What will induce the lawyer, the physician, the artist, the inventor, the skillful mechanic to exchange equally with the woodsawyer, the needlewoman, the poor boy or girl, the washerwoman?" etc. The question implies that these professions can be moved by nothing but mercenary considerations, and that they would necessarily have less incomes than they now have. It is probable that the principle of Equivalents would result in greater incomes to these professions than they now receive. They may not come down in their prices; it is the depressed that would come up to perhaps what would be equivalent to from three or four to eight or ten dollars a day, depending on the repugnance of their labors. These prices are probably more than these professions steadily receive. If they see no temptation to exchange Equitably, neither from their direct pecuniary interests nor from the beautiful and sublime tendencies of such justice, then EQUITABLE COMPETITION will do all that is needed.
306. If only one lawyer is willing to exchange Equitably (and several have already done it), he puts it out of the power of others to get more than equivalents, provided that he can supply all the demands for that kind of labor ; but if not, he can commence to instruct others who are suffering for employment. Physicians, artists, mechanics, one of each, acting on the same principle, doing the same, those who had ' never dreamed of anything but a life of drudgery and abuse will find themselves becoming lawyers, physicians, merchants, bankers, shoemakers, tailors, engineers, owners of homes, and responsible and comfortable citizens -each village or neighborhood where the ideas are acted on, growingby almost imperceptible degrees into a POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY for the education, or reeducation, of all who desire to prepare themselves for life, or to change their pursuits.
307. One single individual may have a building -a polytechnic college - with different rooms, and tools in each for different arts, trades, or studies, where any one, young or old, can come and learn any branch of busiHess, paying for rent, use of tools, and instruction, by the hour, on the principle of Equivalents, which the poorest can often easily pay in their own labor. Does this look remote and improbable? It is, as already being done.
308. COMPETITION, then, instead of being the fierce and terrible ogre- the Juggernaut of Civilization, crushing its victims of all ages and professions and of both sexes at every turn of its bloody wheels, it comes to a halt on the ground of Equivalents, and becomes converted into a very comfortable carriage for the conveyance of passengers to the Holy Land! i.e., the land not cursed with unscrupulous speculation.
From : Anarchy Archives
No comments so far. You can be the first!