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Title: Britain for the British
Author: Blatchford, Robert, 1851-1943
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Britain for the British" ***

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[Illustration: Logo]



Copyright, 1902,

Printed in the United States.




CHAP.                                                            PAGE

THE TITLE, PURPOSE, AND METHOD OF THIS BOOK                         1

FOREWORDS                                                           6

I. THE UNEQUAL DIVISION OF WEALTH                                  10



IV. THE BRAIN-WORKER, OR INVENTOR                                  45



VII. WHAT SOCIALISM IS NOT                                         74

VIII. WHAT SOCIALISM IS                                            82

IX. COMPETITION _v._ CO-OPERATION                                  90

X. FOREIGN TRADE AND FOREIGN FOOD                                  97

XI. HOW TO KEEP FOREIGN TRADE                                     102

XII. CAN BRITAIN FEED HERSELF?                                    110

XIII. THE SUCCESSFUL MAN                                          119

XIV. TEMPERANCE AND THRIFT                                        127

XV. THE SURPLUS LABOUR MISTAKE                                    135

XVI. IS SOCIALISM POSSIBLE, AND WILL IT PAY?                      141

XVII. THE NEED FOR A LABOUR PARTY                                 148

XVIII. WHY THE OLD PARTIES WILL NOT DO                            156

XIX. TO-DAY'S WORK                                                166

WHAT TO READ                                                      174


The motto of this book is expressed in its title: BRITAIN FOR THE

At present Britain does not belong to the British: it belongs to a few
of the British, who employ the bulk of the population as servants or as

It is because Britain does not belong to the British that a few are very
rich and the many are very poor.

It is because Britain does not belong to the British that we find
amongst the _owning_ class a state of useless luxury and pernicious
idleness, and amongst the _working_ classes a state of drudging toil, of
wearing poverty and anxious care.

This state of affairs is contrary to Christianity, is contrary to
justice, and contrary to reason. It is bad for the rich, it is bad for
the poor; it is against the best interests of the British nation and the
human race.

The remedy for this evil state of things--the _only_ remedy yet
suggested--is _Socialism_. And _Socialism_ is broadly expressed in the
title and motto of this book: BRITAIN FOR THE BRITISH.


The purpose of this book is to convert the reader to _Socialism_: to
convince him that the present system--political, industrial, and
social--is bad; to explain to him why it is bad, and to prove to him
that Socialism is the only true remedy.


This book is intended for any person who does not understand, or has, so
far, refused to accept the principles of _Socialism_.

But it is especially addressed, as my previous book, _Merrie England_,
was addressed, to JOHN SMITH, a typical British working man, not yet
converted to _Socialism_.

I hope this book will be read by every opponent of _Socialism_; and I
hope it will be read by all those good folks who, though not yet
_Socialists_, are anxious to help their fellow-creatures, to do some
good in their own day and generation, and to leave the world a little
better than they found it.

I hope that all lovers of justice and of truth will read this book, and
that many of them will be thereby led to a fuller study of _Socialism_.

To the Tory and the Radical; to the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, and
the Nonconformist; to the workman and the employer; to the scholar and
the peer; to the labourer's wife, the housemaid, and the duchess; to the
advocates of Temperance and of Co-operation; to the Trade Unionist and
the non-Unionist; to the potman, the bishop, and the brewer; to the
artist and the merchant; to the poet and the navvy; to the Idealist and
the Materialist; to the poor clerk, the rich financier, the great
scientist, and the little child, I commend the following beautiful
prayer from the Litany of the Church of England:--

    That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth _all_ such as
    have erred, and are deceived.

    That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand; and to
    comfort and help the weak-hearted; and to raise up them that fall;
    and finally to beat down Satan under our feet.

    That it may please thee to succour, help, and comfort _all_ that are
    in danger, necessity, and tribulation.

    That it may please thee to preserve _all_ that travel by land or by
    water, _all_ women labouring of child, _all_ sick persons, and young
    children; and to shew thy pity upon _all_ prisoners and captives.

    That it may please thee to defend, and provide for, the fatherless
    children, and widows, and _all_ that are desolate and oppressed.

    That it may please thee to have mercy upon _all_ men.

    That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and
    slanderers, and to turn their hearts.

    That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly
    fruits of the earth, so as in due time we may enjoy them.

    _We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord._

I have italicised the word "all" in that prayer to emphasise the fact
that mercy, succour, comfort, and pardon are here asked for _all_, and
not for a few.

I now ask the reader of this book, with those words of broad charity and
sweet kindliness still fresh in mind, to remember the unmerited
miseries, the ill-requited labour, the gnawing penury, and the loveless
and unhonoured lives to which an evil system dooms millions of British
men and women. I ask the reader to discover for himself how much pity we
bestow upon our "prisoners and captives," how much provision we make for
the "fatherless children and widows," what nature and amount of
"succour, help, and comfort" we vouchsafe to "all who are in danger,
necessity, and tribulation." I ask him to consider, with regard to those
"kindly fruits of the earth," who produces, and who enjoys them; and I
beg him next to proceed in a judicial spirit, by means of candour and
right reason, to examine fairly and weigh justly the means proposed by
Socialists for abolishing poverty and oppression, and for conferring
prosperity, knowledge, and freedom upon _all_ men.

BRITAIN FOR THE BRITISH: that is our motto. We ask for a fair and open
trial. We solicit an impartial hearing of the case for _Socialism_.
Listen patiently to our statements; consider our arguments; accord to us
a fair field and no favour; and may the truth prevail.


As to the method of this book, I shall begin by calling attention to
some of the evils of the present industrial, social, and political

I shall next try to show the sources of those evils, the causes from
which they arise.

I shall go on to explain what _Socialism_ is, and what _Socialism_ is

I shall answer the principal objections commonly urged against

And I shall, in conclusion, point out the chief ways in which I think
the reader of this book may help the cause of _Socialism_ if he believes
that cause to be just and wise.


Years ago, before _Socialism_ had gained a footing in this country, some
of us democrats used often to wonder how any working man could be a

To-day we Socialists are still more puzzled by the fact that the
majority of our working men are not Socialists.

How is it that middle class and even wealthy people often accept
_Socialism_ more readily than do the workers?

Perhaps it is because the men and women of the middle and upper classes
are more in the habit of reading and thinking for themselves, whereas
the workers take most of their opinions at second-hand from priests,
parsons, journalists, employers, and members of Parliament, whose little
knowledge is a dangerous thing, and whose interests lie in bolstering up
class privilege by darkening counsel with a multitude of words.

I have been engaged for more than a dozen years in studying political
economy and _Socialism_, and in trying, as a Socialist, pressman, and
author, to explain _Socialism_ and to confute the arguments and answer
the objections of non-Socialists, and I say, without any hesitation,
that I have never yet come across a single argument against practical
_Socialism_ that will hold water.

I do not believe that any person of fair intelligence and education, who
will take the trouble to study _Socialism_ fairly and thoroughly, will
be able to avoid the conclusion that _Socialism_ is just and wise.

I defy any man, of any nation, how learned, eminent, and intellectual
soever, to shake the case for practical _Socialism_, or to refute the
reasoning contained in this book.

And now I will address myself to Mr. John Smith, a typical British
workman, not yet converted to _Socialism_.

Dear Mr. Smith, I assume that you are opposed to _Socialism_, and I
assume that you would say that you are opposed to it for one or more of
the following reasons:--

    1. Because you think _Socialism_ is unjust.
    2. Because you think _Socialism_ is unpractical.
    3. Because you think that to establish _Socialism_ is not possible.

But I suspect that the real reason for your opposition to _Socialism_ is
simply that you do not understand it.

The reasons you generally give for opposing _Socialism_ are reasons
suggested to you by pressmen or politicians who know very little about
it, or are interested in its rejection.

I am strongly inclined to believe that the _Socialism_ to which you are
opposed is not _Socialism_ at all, but only a bogey erected by the
enemies of _Socialism_ to scare you away from the genuine _Socialism_,
which it would be so much to your advantage to discover.

Now you would not take your opinions of Trade Unionism from
non-Unionists, and why, then, should you take your opinions of
_Socialism_ from non-Socialists?

If you will be good enough to read this book you will find out what
_Socialism_ really is, and what it is not. If after reading this book
you remain opposed to _Socialism_, I must leave it for some Socialist
more able than I to convert you.

When it pleases those who call themselves your "betters" to flatter you,
Mr. Smith (which happens oftener at election times than during strikes
or lock-outs), you hear that you are a "shrewd, hard-headed, practical
man." I hope that is true, whether your "betters" believe it or not.

I am a practical man myself, and shall offer you in this book nothing
but hard fact and cold reason.

I assume, Mr. Smith, that you, as a hard-headed, practical man, would
rather be well off than badly off, and that with regard to your own
earnings you would rather be paid twenty shillings in the pound than
five shillings or even nineteen shillings and elevenpence in the pound.

And I assume that as a family man you would rather live in a
comfortable and healthy house than in an uncomfortable and unhealthy
house; that you would be glad if you could buy beef, bread, gas, coal,
water, tea, sugar, clothes, boots, and furniture for less money than you
now pay for them; and that you would think it a good thing, and not a
bad thing, if your wife had less work and more leisure, fewer worries
and more nice dresses, and if your children had more sports, and better
health, and better education.

And I assume that you would like to pay lower rents, even if some rich
landlord had to keep fewer race-horses.

And I assume that as a humane man you would prefer that other men and
women and their children should not suffer if their sufferings could be

If, then, I assure you that you are paying too much and are being paid
too little, and that many other Britons, especially weak women and young
children, are enduring much preventible misery; and if I assert,
further, that I know of a means whereby you might secure more ease and
comfort, and they might secure more justice, you will, surely, as a kind
and sensible man, consent to listen to the arguments and statements I
propose to place before you.

Suppose a stranger came to tell you where you could get a better house
at a lower rent, and suppose your present landlord assured you that the
man who offered the information was a fool or a rogue, would you take
the landlord's word without investigation? Would it not be more
practical and hard-headed to hear first what the bringer of such good
news had to tell?

Well, the Socialist brings you better news than that of a lower rent.
Will you not hear him? Will you turn your back on him for no better
reason than because he is denounced as a fraud by the rich men whose
wealth depends upon the continuation of the present system?

Your "betters" tell you that you always display a wise distrust of new
ideas. But to reject an idea because it is new is not a proof of
shrewdness and good sense; it is a sign of bigotry and ignorance. Trade
Unionism was new not so long ago, and was denounced, and is still
denounced, by the very same persons who now denounce _Socialism_. If
you find a newspaper or an employer to be wrong when he denounces Trade
Unionism, which you do understand, why should you assume that the same
authority is right in denouncing _Socialism_, which you do not
understand? You know that in attacking Trade Unionism the employer and
the pressman are speaking in their own interest and against yours; why,
then, should you be ready to believe that in counselling you against
_Socialism_ the same men are speaking in your interest and not in their

I ask you, as a practical man, to forget both the Socialist and the
non-Socialist, and to consider the case for and against _Socialism_ on
its merits. As I said in _Merrie England_--

    Forget that you are a joiner or a spinner, a Catholic or a
    Freethinker, a Liberal or a Tory, a moderate drinker or a
    teetotaler, and consider the problem as a _man_.

    If you had to do a problem in arithmetic, or if you were cast adrift
    in an open boat at sea, you would not set to work as a Wesleyan, or
    a Liberal Unionist; but you would tackle the sum by the rules of
    arithmetic, and would row the boat by the strength of your own
    manhood, and keep a lookout for passing ships under _any_ flag. I
    ask you, then, Mr. Smith, to hear what I have to say, and to decide
    by your own judgment whether I am right or wrong.

I was once opposed to _Socialism_ myself; but it was before I understood

When you understand it you will, I feel sure, agree with me that it is
perfectly logical, and just, and practical; and you will, I hope,
yourself become a _Socialist_, and will help to abolish poverty and
wrong by securing BRITAIN FOR THE BRITISH.



_Section A: the Rich_

Non-socialists say that self-interest is the strongest motive in human

Let us take them at their word.

Self-interest being the universal ruling motive, it behoves you, Mr.
Smith, to do the best you can for yourself and family.

Self-interest being the universal ruling motive, it is evident that the
rich man will look out for his own advantage, and not for yours.

Therefore as a selfish man, alive to your own interests, it is clear
that you will not trust the rich man, nor believe in the unselfishness
of his motives.

As a selfish man you will look out first for yourself. If you can get
more wages for the work you do, if you can get the same pay for fewer
hours and lighter work, self-interest tells you that you would be a fool
to go on as you are. If you can get cheaper houses, cheaper clothes,
food, travelling, and amusement than you now get, self-interest tells
you that you would be a fool to go on paying present prices.

Your landlord, your employer, your tradesman will not take less work or
money from you if he can get more.

Self-interest counsels you not to pay a high price if you can get what
you want at a lower price.

Your employer will not employ you unless you are useful to him, nor will
he employ you if he can get another man as useful to him as you at a
lower wage.

Such persons as landlords, capitalists, employers, and contractors will
tell you that they are useful, and even necessary, to the working class,
of which class you are one.

Self-interest will counsel you, firstly, that if these persons are
really useful or necessary to you, it is to your interest to secure
their services at the lowest possible price; and, secondly, that if you
can replace them by other persons more useful or less costly, you will
be justified in dispensing with their services.

Now, the Socialist claims that it is cheaper and better for the people
to manage their own affairs than to pay landlords, capitalists,
employers, and contractors to manage their affairs for them.

That is to say, that as it is cheaper and better for a city to make its
own gas, or to provide its own water, or to lay its own roads, so it
would be cheaper and better for the nation to own its own land, its own
mines, its own railways, houses, factories, ships, and workshops, and to
manage them as the corporation tramways, gasworks, and waterworks are
now owned and managed.

Your "betters," Mr. Smith, will tell you that you might be worse off
than you are now. That is not the question. The question is, Might you
be better off than you are now?

They will tell you that the working man is better off now than he was a
hundred years ago. That is not the question. The question is, Are the
workers as well off now as they ought to be and might be?

They will tell you that the British workers are better off than the
workers of any other nation. That is not the question. The question is,
Are the British workers as well off as they ought to be and might be?

They will tell you that Socialists are discontented agitators, and that
they exaggerate the evils of the present time. That is not the question.
The question is, Do evils exist at all to-day, and if so, is no remedy

Your "betters" have admitted, and do admit, as I will show you
presently, that evils do exist; but they have no remedy to propose.

The Socialist tells you that your "betters" are deceived or are
deceiving you, and that _Socialism_ is a remedy, and the only one

Self-interest will counsel you to secure the best conditions you can
for yourself, and will warn you not to expect unselfish service from
selfish men.

Ask yourself, then, whether, since self-interest is the universal
motive, it would not be wise for you to make some inquiry as to whether
the persons intrusted by you with the management of your affairs are
managing your affairs to your advantage or to their own.

As a selfish man, is it sensible to elect selfish men, or to accept
selfish men, to govern you, to make your laws, to manage your business,
and to affix your taxes, prices, and wages?

The mild Hindoo has a proverb which you might well remember in this
connection. It is this--

    The wise man is united in this life with that with which it is
    proper he should be united. I am bread; thou art the eater: how can
    harmony exist between us?

Appealing, then, entirely to your self-interest, I ask you to consider
whether the workers of Britain to-day are making the best bargain
possible with the other classes of society. Do the workers receive their
full due? Do evils exist in this country to-day? and if so, is there a
remedy? and if there is a remedy, what is it?

The first charge brought by Socialists against the present system is the
charge of the unjust distribution of wealth.

The rich obtain wealth beyond their need, and beyond their deserving;
the workers are, for the most part, condemned to lead laborious,
anxious, and penurious lives. Nearly all the wealth of the nation is
produced by the workers; most of it is consumed by the rich, who
squander it in useless or harmful luxury, leaving the majority of those
who produced it, not enough for human comfort, decency, and health.

If you wish for a plain and clear statement of the unequal distribution
of wealth in this country, get Fabian Tract No. 5, price one penny, and
study it well.

According to that tract, the total value of the wealth produced in this
country is £1,700,000,000. Of this total £275,000,000 is paid in rent,
£340,000,000 is paid in interest, £435,000,000 is paid in profits and
salaries. That makes a total of £1,050,000,000 in rent, interest,
profits, and salaries, nearly the whole of which goes to about 5,000,000
of people comprising the middle and upper classes.

The balance of £650,000,000 is paid in wages to the remaining 35,000,000
of people comprising the working classes. Roughly, then, two-thirds of
the national wealth goes to 5,000,000 of persons, quite half of whom are
idle, and one-third is _shared_ by seven times as many people, nearly
half of whom are workers.

These figures have been before the public for many years, and so far as
I know have never been questioned.

There are, say the Fabian tracts, more than 2,000,000 of men, women, and
children living without any kind of occupation: that is, they live
without working.

Ten-elevenths of all the land in the British Islands belong to 176,520
persons. The rest of the 40,000,000 own the other eleventh. Or, dividing
Britain into eleven parts, you may say that one two-hundredth part of
the population owns ten-elevenths of Britain, while the other one
hundred and ninety-nine two-hundredths of the population own
one-eleventh of Britain. That is as though a cake were divided amongst
200 persons by giving to one person ten slices, and dividing one slice
amongst 199 persons. I told you just now that Britain does not belong to
the British, but only to a few of the British.

In Fabian Tract No. 7 I read--

    One-half of the _wealth_ of the kingdom is held by persons who leave
    at death at least £20,000, exclusive of land and houses. _These
    persons form a class somewhat over 25,000 in number._

Half the wealth of Britain, then, is held by one fifteen-hundredth part
of the population. It is as if a cake were cut in half, one half being
given to one man and the other half being divided amongst 1499 men.

How much cake does a working mechanic get?

In 1898 the estates of seven persons were proved at over £45,000,000.
That is to say, those seven left £45,000,000 when they died.

Putting a workman's wages at £75 a year, and his working life at twenty
years, it would take 30,000 workmen all their lives to _earn_ (not to
_save_) the money left by those seven rich men.

Many rich men have incomes of £150,000 a year. The skilled worker draws
about £75 a year in wages.

Therefore one man with £150,000 a year gets more than 2000 skilled
workmen, and the workmen have to do more than 600,000 days' work for
their wages, while the rich man does _nothing_.

One of our richest dukes gets as much money in one year for doing
nothing, as a skilled workman would get for 14,000 years of hard and
useful work.

A landowner is a millionaire. He has £1,000,000. It would take an
agricultural labourer, at 10s. a week wages, nearly 40,000 years to earn

I need not burden you with figures. Look about you and you will see
evidences of wealth on every side. Go through the suburbs of London, or
any large town, and notice the large districts composed of villas and
mansions, at rentals of from £100 to £1000 a year. Go through the
streets of a big city, and observe the miles of great shops stored with
flaming jewels, costly gold and silver plate, rich furs, silks,
pictures, velvets, furniture, and upholsteries. Who buys all these
expensive luxuries? They are not for you, nor for your wife, nor for
your children.

You do not live in a £200 flat. Your floor is not covered with a £50
Persian rug; your wife does not wear diamond rings, nor silk
underclothing, nor gowns of brocaded silk, nor sable collars, nor
Maltese lace cuffs worth many guineas. She does not sit in the stalls at
the opera, nor ride home in a brougham, nor sup on oysters and
champagne, nor go, during the heat of the summer, on a yachting cruise
in the Mediterranean. And is not your wife as much to you as the duchess
to the duke?

And now let us go on to the next section, and see how it fares with the

_Section B: The Poor_

At present the average age at death among the nobility, gentry, and
professional classes in England and Wales is fifty-five years; but among
the artisan classes of Lambeth it only amounts to twenty-nine years; and
whilst the infantile death-rate among the well-to-do classes is such
that only 8 children die in the first year of life out of 100 born, as
many as 30 per cent. succumb at that age among the children of the poor
in some districts of our large cities.

Dr. Playfair says that amongst the upper class 18 per cent. of the
children die before they reach five years of age; of the tradesman class
36 per cent., and of the working class 55 per cent, of the children die
before they reach five years of age.

Out of every 1000 persons 939 die without leaving any property at all
worth mentioning.

About 8,000,000 persons exist always on the borders of starvation. About
20,000,000 are poor. More than half the national wealth belongs to about
25,000 people; the remaining 39,000,000 share the other half unequally
amongst them.

About 30,000 persons own fifty-five fifty-sixths of the land and capital
of the nation; but of the 39,000,000 of other persons only 1,500,000
earn (or receive) as much as £3 a week.

In London 1,292,737 persons, or 37.8 per cent. of the whole population,
get less than a guinea a week _per family_.

The number of persons in receipt of poor-law relief on any one day in
the British Islands is over 1,000,000; but 2,360,000 persons receive
poor-law relief during one year, or one in eleven of the whole manual
labouring class.

In England and Wales alone 72,000 persons die each year in workhouse
hospitals, infirmaries, or asylums.

In London alone there are 99,830 persons in workhorses, hospitals,
prisons, or industrial schools.

In London one person out of every four will die in a workhouse,
hospital, or lunatic asylum.

It is estimated that 3,225,000 persons in the British Islands live in
overcrowded dwellings, with an average of three persons in each room.

There are 30,000 persons in London alone whose _home_ is a common
lodging-house. In London alone 1100 persons sleep every night in casual

From Fabian Tract No. 75 I quote--

    Much has been done in the way of improvement in various parts of
    Scotland, but 22 per cent. of Scottish families still dwell in a
    single room each, and the proportion in the case of Glasgow rises to
    33 per cent. The little town of Kilmarnock, with only 28,447
    inhabitants, huddles even a slightly larger proportion of its
    families into single-room tenements. Altogether, there are in
    Glasgow over 120,000, and in all Scotland 560,000 persons (more than
    one-eighth of the whole population), who do not know the decency of
    even a two-roomed home.

A similar state of things exists in nearly all our large towns, the
colliery districts being amongst the worst.

_The working class._--The great bulk of the British people are
overworked, underpaid, badly housed, unfairly taxed but besides all
that, they are exposed to serious risks.

Read _The Tragedy of Toil_, by John Burns, M.P. (Clarion Press, 1d.).

In sixty years 60,000 colliers have been accidentally killed. In the
South Wales coalfield in 1896, 232 were killed out of 71,000. In 1897,
out of 76,000 no less than 10,230 were injured.

In 1897, of the men employed in railway shunting, 1 in 203 was killed
and 1 in 12 was injured.

In 1897, out of 465,112 railway workers, 510 were killed, 828 were
permanently disabled, and 67,000 were temporarily disabled.

John Burns says--

    This we do know, that 60 per cent. of the common labourers engaged
    on the Panama Canal were either killed, injured, or died from
    disease every year, whilst 80 per cent. of the Europeans died. Out
    of 70 French engineers, 45 died, and only 10 of the remainder were
    fit for subsequent work.

    The men engaged on the Manchester Ship Canal claim that 1000 to 1100
    men were killed and 1700 men were severely injured, whilst 2500 were
    temporarily disabled.


    Taking mechanics first, and selecting one firm--Armstrong's, at
    Elswick--we find that in 1892 there were 588 accidents, or 7.9 per
    cent. of men engaged. They have steadily risen to 1512, or 13.9 per
    cent. of men engaged in 1897. In some departments, notably the blast
    furnace, 43 per cent. of the men employed were injured in 1897 The
    steel works had 296 injured, or 24.4 per cent. of its number.

Of sailors John Burns says--

    The last thirteen years, 1884-85 to 1896-97, show a loss of 28,302
    from wreck, casualties, and accidents, or an average of 2177 from
    the industrial risks of the sailor's life.

But the most startling statement is to come--

    Sir A. Forwood has recently indicated, and recent facts confirm
    this general view, that

       1 of every 1400 workmen is killed annually.
       "      "   2500    "    is totally disabled.
       "      "    300    "    is permanently partially disabled.
     125 per 1000 are temporarily disabled for three or four weeks.

One workman in 1400 is killed annually. Let us say there are 6,000,000
workmen in the British Islands, and we shall find that no less than 4280
are killed, and 20,000 permanently or partially disabled.

That is as high as the average year's casualties in the Boer war.

But the high death-rate from accidents amongst the workers is not nearly
the greatest evil to which the poor are exposed.

In the poorest districts of the great towns the children die like flies,
and diseases caused by overcrowding, insufficient or improper food,
exposure, dirt, neglect, and want of fuel and clothing, play havoc with
the infants, the weakly, and the old.

What are the chief diseases almost wholly due to the surroundings of
poverty? They are consumption, bronchitis, rheumatism, epilepsy, fevers,
smallpox, and cancer. Add to those the evil influences with which some
trades are cursed, such as rupture, lead and phosphorous poisoning, and
irritation of the lungs by dust, and you have a whole arsenal of deadly
weapons aimed at the lives of the laborious poor.

The average death-rate amongst the well-to-do classes is less than 10 in
the thousand. Amongst the poorer workers it is often as high as 70 and
seldom as low as 20.

Put the average at 25 in the thousand amongst the poor: put the numbers
of the poor at 10,000,000. We shall find that the difference between the
death-rates of the poor and the well-to-do, is 15 to the thousand or
15,000 to the million.

We may say, then, that the 10,000,000 of poor workers lose every year
150,000 lives from accidents and diseases due to poverty and to labour.

Taking the entire population of the British Islands, I dare assert that
the excess death-rate over the normal death-rate, will show that every
year 300,000 lives are sacrificed to the ignorance and the injustice of
the inhuman chaos which we call British civilisation.

Some have cynically said that these lives are not worth saving, that the
death-rate shows the defeat of the unfit, and that if all survived there
would not be enough for them to live on.

But except in the worst cases--where sots and criminals have bred human
weeds--no man is wise enough to select the "fit" from the "unfit"
amongst the children. The thin, pale child killed by cold, by hunger, by
smallpox, or by fever, may be a seedling Stephenson, or Herschel, or
Wesley; and I take it that in the West End the parents would not be
consoled for the sacrifice of their most delicate child by the brutal
suggestion that it was one of the "unfit." The "fit" may be a hooligan,
a sweater, a fraudulent millionaire, a dissolute peer, or a fool.

But there are two sides to this question of physical fitness. To excuse
the evils of society on the ground that they weed out the unfit, is as
foolish as to excuse bad drainage on the same plea. In a low-lying
district where the soil is marshy the population will be weeded swiftly;
but who would offer that as a reason why the land should not be drained?
This heartless, fatuous talk about the survival of the fittest is only
another example of the insults to which the poor are subjected. It
fills one with despair to think that working men--fathers and
husbands--will read or hear such things said of their own class, and not
resent them. It is the duty of every working man to fight against such
pitiless savagery, and to make every effort to win for his class and his
family, respect and human conditions of life.

Moreover, the shoddy science which talks so glibly about the "weeding
out" of little helpless children is too blear-eyed to perceive that the
same conditions of inhuman life which destroy the "weeds," _breed_ the
weeds. Children born of healthy parents in healthy surroundings are not
weeds. But to-day the British race is deteriorating, and the nation is
in danger because of the greed of money-seekers and the folly of rulers
and of those who claim to teach. The nation that gives itself up to the
worship of luxury, wealth, and ease, is doomed. Nothing can save the
British race but an awakening of the workers to the dangerous pass to
which they have been brought by those who affect to guide and to govern

But the workers, besides being underpaid, over-taxed, badly housed, and
exposed to all manner of hardship, poverty, danger, and anxiety of mind,
are also, by those who live upon them, denied respect.

Do you doubt this? Do not the "better classes," as they call themselves,
allude to the workers as "the lower orders," and "the great unwashed"?
Does not the employer commonly speak of the workers as "hands"? Does the
fine gentleman, who raises his hat and airs his nicest manners for a
"lady," extend his chivalry and politeness to a "woman"? Do not the silk
hats and the black coats and the white collars treat the caps and the
overalls and the smocks as inferiors? Do not the men of the "better
class" address each other as "sir"? And when did you last hear a
"gentleman" say "sir" to a train-guard, to a railway porter, or to the
"man" who has come to mend the drawing-room stove?

Man cannot live by bread alone; neither can woman or child. And how much
honour, culture, pleasure, rest, or love falls to the lot of the wives
and children of the poor?

Do not think I wish to breed class hatred. I do not. Doubtless the
"better class" are graceful, amiable, honourable, and well-meaning
folks. Doubtless they honestly believe they have a just claim to all
their wealth and privileges. Doubtless they are no more selfish, no more
arrogant, no more covetous nor idle than any working man would be in
their place.

What of that? It is nothing at all to you. They may be the finest people
in the world. But does their fineness help you to pay your rent, or your
wife to mend the clothes? or does it give you more wages, or her more
rest? or does it in any way help to educate, and feed, and make happy
your children?

It does not. Nor do all the graces and superiorities of the West End
make the lot of the East less bitter, less anxious, or more human.

If self-interest be the ruling motive of mankind, why do not the working
men transfer their honour and their service from the fine ladies and
fine gentlemen to their own wives and children?

These need every atom of love and respect the men can give them. Why
should the many be poor, be ignorant, despised? Why should the rich
monopolise the knowledge and the culture, the graces and elegancies of
life, as well as the wealth?

Ignorance is a curse: it is a deadlier curse than poverty. Indeed, but
for ignorance, poverty and wealth could not continue to exist side by
side; for only ignorance permits the rich to uphold and the poor to
endure the injustices and the criminal follies of British society, as
now to our shame and grief they environ us, like some loathly vision
beheld with horror under nightmare.

Is it needful to tell you more, Mr. Smith, you who are yourself a
worker? Have you not witnessed, perhaps suffered, many of these evils?

Yes; perhaps you yourself have smarted under "the insolence of office,
and the spurns which patient merit of the unworthy takes"; perhaps you
have borne the tortures of long suspense as one of the unemployed;
perhaps on some weary tramp after work you have learned what it is to be
a stranger in your own land; perhaps you have seen some old veteran
worker, long known to you, now broken in health and stricken in years,
compelled to seek the shameful shelter of a workhouse; perhaps you have
had comrades of your own or other trades, who have been laid low by
sickness, sickness caused by exposure or overstrain, and have died what
coroners' juries call "natural deaths," or, in plain English, have been
killed by overwork; perhaps you have known widows and little children,
left behind by those unfortunate men, and can remember how much succour
and compassion they received in this Christian country; perhaps as you
think of the grim prophecy that one worker in four must die in a
workhouse, you may yourself, despite your strength and your skill,
glance anxiously towards the future, as a bold sailor glances towards a
stormy horizon.

Well, Mr. Smith, will you look through a book of mine called _Dismal
England_, and there read how men and women and children of your class
are treated in the workhouse, in the workhouse school, in the police
court, in the chain works, on the canals, in the chemical hells, and in
the poor and gloomy districts known as slums? I would quote some
passages from _Dismal England_ now, but space forbids.

Or, maybe, you would prefer the evidence of men of wealth and eminence
who are not Socialists. If so, please read the testimony given in the
next section.

_Section C: Reliable Evidence_

The Salvation Army see a great deal of the poor. Here is the evidence of
General Booth--

    444 persons are reported by the police to have attempted to commit
    suicide in London last year, and probably as many more succeeded in
    doing so. 200 persons died from starvation in the same period. We
    have in this one city about 100,000 paupers, 30,000 prostitutes,
    33,000 homeless adults, and 35,000 wandering children of the slums.
    There is a standing army of out-of-works numbering 80,000, which is
    often increased in special periods of commercial depression or trade
    disputes to 100,000. 12,000 criminals are always inside Her
    Majesty's prisons, and about 15,000 are outside. 70,000 charges for
    petty offences are dealt with by the London magistrates every year.
    The best authorities estimate that 10,000 new criminals are
    manufactured per annum. We have tens of thousands of dwellings known
    to be overcrowded, unsanitary, or dangerous.

Here is the evidence of a man of letters, Mr. Frederic Harrison--

    To me, at least, it would be enough to condemn modern society as
    hardly an advance on slavery or serfdom, if the permanent condition
    of industry were to be that which we behold, that 90 per cent. of
    the actual producers of wealth have no home that they can call their
    own beyond the end of the week; have no bit of soil, or so much as a
    room that belongs to them; have nothing of value of any kind except
    as much old furniture as will go in a cart; have the precarious
    chance of weekly wages which barely suffice to keep them in health;
    are housed for the most part in places that no man thinks fit for
    his horse; are separated by so narrow a margin from destitution,
    that a month of bad trade, sickness, or unexpected loss brings them
    face to face with hunger and pauperism.... This is the normal state
    of the average workman in town or country.

Here is the evidence of a man of science, Professor Huxley--

    Anyone who is acquainted with the state of the population of all
    great industrial centres, whether in this or other countries, is
    aware that amidst a large and increasing body of that population
    there reigns supreme ... that condition which the French call _la
    misère_, a word for which I do not think there is any exact English
    equivalent. It is a condition in which the food, warmth, and
    clothing which are necessary for the mere maintenance of the
    functions of the body in their normal state cannot be obtained; in
    which men, women, and children are forced to crowd into dens wherein
    decency is abolished, and the most ordinary conditions of healthful
    existence are impossible of attainment; in which the pleasures
    within reach are reduced to brutality and drunkenness; in which the
    pains accumulate at compound interest in the shape of starvation,
    disease, stunted development, and moral degradation; in which the
    prospect of even steady and honest industry is a life of
    unsuccessful battling with hunger, rounded by a pauper's grave....
    When the organisation of society, instead of mitigating this
    tendency, tends to continue and intensify it; when a given social
    order plainly makes for evil and not for good, men naturally enough
    begin to think it high time to try a fresh experiment. I take it to
    be a mere plain truth that throughout industrial Europe there is not
    a single large manufacturing city which is free from a vast mass of
    people whose condition is exactly that described, and from a still
    greater mass who, living just on the edge of the social swamp, are
    liable to be precipitated into it.

Here is the evidence of a British peer, Lord Durham--

    There was still more sympathy and no reproach whatever to be
    bestowed upon the children--perhaps waifs and strays in their
    earliest days--of parents destitute, very likely deserving, possibly
    criminal, who had had to leave these poor children to fight their
    way in life alone. What did these children know or care for the
    civilisation or the wealth of their native land? _What example, what
    incentive had they ever had to lead good and honest lives?_ Possibly
    from the moment of their birth they had never known contentment,
    what it had been to feel bodily comfort. They were cast into that
    world, and looked upon it as a cruel and heartless world, with no
    guidance, no benign influence to guide them in their way, and _thus
    they were naturally prone to fall into any vicious or criminal
    habits which would procure them a bare subsistence_.

Here is the evidence of a Tory Minister, Sir John Gorst--

    I do not think there is any doubt as to the reality of the evil;
    that is to say, that there are in our civilisation men able and
    willing to work who can't find work to do.... Work will have to be
    found for them.... What are usually called relief works may be a
    palliative for acute temporary distress, but they are no remedy for
    the unemployed evil in the long-run. Not only so; they tend to
    aggravate it.... If you can set 100 unemployed men to produce food,
    they are not taking bread out of other people's mouths. Men so
    employed would be producing what is now imported from abroad and
    what they themselves would consume. An unemployed man--_whether he
    is a duke or a docker_--is living on the community. If you set him
    to grow food he is enriching the community by what he produces.
    Therefore, my idea is that the direction in which a remedy for the
    unemployed evil is to be sought is in the production of food.

Here is the evidence of the Tory Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury--

    They looked around them and saw a _growing_ mass of _poverty_ and
    _want of employment_, and of course the one object which every
    statesman who loved his country should desire to attain, was that
    there might be the largest amount of profitable employment for the
    mass of the people.

    He did not say that he had any patent or certain remedy for _the
    terrible evils which beset us on all sides_, but he did say that it
    was time they left off mending the constitution of Parliament, and
    that they turned all the wisdom and energy Parliament could combine
    together in order to remedy the _sufferings_ under which so _many_
    of their countrymen laboured.

Here is the evidence of the Colonial Secretary, the Right Hon. Joseph
Chamberlain, M.P.--

    The rights of property have been so much extended that the rights of
    the community have almost altogether disappeared, and it is hardly
    too much to say that the prosperity and the comfort and the
    liberties of a great proportion of the population have been laid at
    the feet of a small number of proprietors, who "neither toil nor

And here is further evidence from Mr. Chamberlain--

    For my part neither sneers, nor abuse, nor opposition shall induce
    me to accept as the will of the Almighty, and the unalterable
    dispensation of His providence, a state of things under which
    _millions lead sordid, hopeless, and monotonous lives, without
    pleasure in the present, and without prospect for the future_.

And here is still stronger testimony from Mr. Chamberlain--

    The ordinary conditions of life among a large proportion of the
    population are such that common decency is absolutely impossible;
    and all this goes on in sight of the mansions of the rich, where
    undoubtedly there are people who would gladly remedy it if they
    could. It goes on in presence of wasteful extravagance and luxury,
    which bring but little pleasure to those who indulge in them; and
    private charity is powerless, religious organisations can do
    nothing, to remedy the evils which are so deep-seated in our social

You have read what these eminent men have said, Mr. Smith, as to the
evils of the present time.

Well, Mr. Atkinson, a well-known American statistical authority, has

    Four or five men can produce the bread for a thousand. With the best
    machinery one workman can produce cotton cloth for 250 people,
    woollens for 300, or boots and shoes for 1000.

How is it, friend John Smith, that with all our energy, all our
industry, all our genius, and all our machinery, there are 8,000,000 of
hungry poor in this country?

If five men can produce bread for a thousand, and one man can produce
shoes for a thousand, how is it we have so many British citizens
suffering from hunger and bare feet?

That, Mr. Smith, is the question I shall endeavour in this book to

Meanwhile, if you have any doubts as to the verity of my statements of
the sufferings of the poor, or as to the urgent need for your immediate
and earnest aid, read the following books, and form your own opinion:--

    _Labour and Life of the People._ Charles Booth. To be seen at most
    free libraries.

    _Poverty: A Study of Town Life._ By B. S. Rountree. Macmillan. 10s.

    _Dismal England._ By R. Blatchford, 72 Fleet Street, E.C. 2s. 6d.
    and 1s.

    _No Room to Live._ By G. Haw, 72 Fleet Street, E.C. 1s.

    _The White Slaves of England._ By R. Sherard. London, James Bowden.

    _Pictures and Problems from the Police Courts._ By T. Holmes. Ed.
    Arnold, Bedford Street, W.C.

And the Fabian Tracts, especially No. 5 and No. 7. These are 1d. each.



Those who have read anything about political economy or _Socialism_ must
often have found such thoughts as these rise up in their minds--

How is it some are rich and others poor? How is it some who are able and
willing to work can get no work to do? How is it that some who work very
hard are so poorly paid? How is it that others who do not work at all
have more money than they need? Why is one man born to pay rent and
another to spend it?

Let us first face the question of why there is so much poverty.

This question has been answered in many strange ways.

It has been said that poverty is due to drink. But that is not true, for
we find many sober people poor, and we find awful poverty in countries
where drunkenness is almost unknown.

Drink does not cause the poverty of the sober Hindoos. Drink does not
cause the poverty of our English women workers.

It has been said that poverty is due to "over-production," and it has
been said that it is due to "under-consumption." Let us see what these
phrases mean.

First, over-production. Poverty is due to over-production--of _what_? Of
wealth. So we are to believe that the people are poor because they make
too much wealth, that they are hungry because they produce too much
food, naked because they make too many clothes, cold because they get
too much coal, homeless because they build too many houses!

Next, under-consumption. We are told that poverty is due to
under-consumption--under-consumption of _what_? Of wealth. The people
are poor because they do not destroy enough wealth. The way for them to
grow rich is by consuming riches. They are to make their cake larger by
eating it.

Alas! the trouble is that they can get no cake to eat; they can get no
wealth to consume.

But I think the economists mean that the poor will grow richer if the
rich consume more wealth.

A rich man has two slaves. The slaves grow corn and make bread. The rich
man takes half the bread and eats it. The slaves have only one man's
share between two.

Will it mend matters here if the rich man "consumes more"? Will it be
better for the two slaves if the master takes half the bread left to
them, and eats that as well as the bread he has already taken?

See what a pretty mess the economists have led us into. The rich have
too much and the poor too little. The economist says, let the poor
produce less and the rich consume more, and all will be well!

Wonderful! But if the poor produce less, there will be less to eat; and
if the rich eat more, the share of the poor will be smaller than ever.

Let us try another way. Suppose the poor produce more and the rich
consume less! Does it not seem likely that then the share of the poor
would be bigger?

Well, then, we must turn the wisdom of the economists the other way up.
We must say over-production of wealth _cannot_ make poverty, for that
means that the more of a thing is produced the less of that thing there
is; and we must say that under-consumption _cannot_ cause poverty, for
that means that the more of a loaf you eat the more you will have left.

Such rubbish as that may do for statesmen and editors, but it is of no
use to sensible men and women. Let us see if we cannot think a little
better for ourselves than these very superior persons have thought for
us. I think that we, without being at all clever or learned, may get
nearer to the truth than some of those who pass for great men.

Now, what is it we have to find out? We want to know how the British
people may make the best of their country and themselves.

We know they are not making the best of either at present.

There must, therefore, be something wrong. Our business is to find out
what is wrong, and how it may be righted.

We will begin by asking ourselves three questions, and by trying to
answer them.

These questions are--

    1. What is wealth?
    2. Where does wealth come from?
    3. Where does wealth go to?

First, then, what _is_ wealth? There is no need to go into long and
confusing explanations; there is no use in splitting hairs. We want an
answer that is short and simple, and at the same time good enough for
the purpose.

I should say, then, that wealth is all those things which we use.

Mr. Ruskin uses two words, "wealth" and "illth." He divides the things
which it is good for us to have from the things which it is not good for
us to have, and he calls the good things "wealth" and the bad things
"illth"--or ill things.

Thus opium prepared for smoking is illth, because it does harm or works
"ill" to all who smoke it; but opium prepared as medicine is wealth,
because it saves life or stays pain.

A dynamite bomb is "illth," for it is used to destroy life, but a
dynamite cartridge is wealth, for it is used in getting slate or coal.

Mr. Ruskin is right, and if we are to make the best of our country and
of ourselves, we ought clearly to give up producing bad things, or
"illth," and produce more good things, or wealth.

But, for our purpose, it will be simpler and shorter to call all things
we use wealth.

Thus a good book is wealth and a bad book "illth"; but as it is not easy
to agree as to which books are good, which bad, and which indifferent,
we had better call all books wealth.

By this word wealth, then, when we use it in this book, we shall mean
all the things we use.

Thus we shall put down as wealth all such things as food, clothing,
fuel, houses, ornaments, musical instruments, arms, tools, machinery,
books, horses, dogs, medicines, toys, ships, trains, coaches, tobacco,
churches, hospitals, lighthouses, theatres, shops, and all other things
that we _use_.

Now comes our second question: Where does wealth come from?

This question we must make into two questions--

    1. Where does wealth come from?
    2. Who produces wealth?

Because the question, "Where does wealth come from?" really means, "How
is wealth produced?"

_All_ wealth comes from the land.

All food comes from the land--all flesh is grass. Vegetable food comes
directly from the land; animal food comes indirectly from the land, all
animals being fed on the land.

So the stuff of which we make our clothing, our houses, our fuel, our
tools, arms, ships, engines, toys, ornaments, is all got from the land.
For the land yields timber, metals, vegetables, and the food on which
feed the animals from which we get feathers, fur, meat, milk, leather,
ivory, bone, glue, and many other things.

Even in the case of the things that come from the sea, as sealskin,
whale oil, fish, iodine, shells, pearls, and other things, we are to
remember that we need boats, or nets, or tools to get them with, and
that boats, nets, and tools are made from minerals and vegetables got
from the land.

We may say, then, that all wealth comes from the land.

This brings us to the second part of our question: "Who produces
wealth?" or "How is wealth produced?"

Wealth is produced by human beings. It is the people of a country who
produce the wealth of that country.

Wealth is produced by labour. Wealth cannot be produced by any other
means or in any other way. _All_ wealth is produced _from_ the LAND _by_
human LABOUR.

A coal seam is not wealth; but a coalmine is wealth. Coal is not wealth
while it is in the bowels of the earth; but coal is wealth as soon as it
is brought up out of the pit and made available for use.

A whale or a seal is not wealth until it is caught.

In a country without inhabitants there would be no wealth.

Land is not wealth. To produce wealth you must have land and human

There can be no wealth without labour.

And now we come to the first error of the economists. There are some
economists who tell us that wealth is not produced by labour, but by

There is neither truth nor reason in this assertion.

What is "capital"?

"Capital" is only another word for _stores_. Adam Smith calls capital
"stock." Capital is any tools, machinery, or other stores used in
producing wealth. Capital is any food, fuel, shelter, clothing supplied
to those engaged in producing wealth.

The hunter, before he can shoot game, needs weapons. His weapons are
"capital." The farmer has to wait for his wheat and potatoes to ripen
before he can use them as food. The stock of food and the tools he uses
to produce the wheat or potatoes, and to live on while they ripen, are

Robinson Crusoe's capital was the arms, food, and tools he saved from
the wreck. On these he lived until he had planted corn, and tamed goats
and built a hut, and made skin clothing and vessels of wood and clay.

Capital, then, is stores. Now, where do the stores come from? Stores are
wealth. Stores, whether they be food or tools, come from the land, and
are made or produced by human labour.

There is not an atom of capital in the world that has not been produced
by labour.

Every spade, every plough, every hammer, every loom, every cart, barrow,
loaf, bottle, ham, haddock, pot of tea, barrel of ale, pair of boots,
gold or silver coin, railway sleeper or rail, boat, road, canal, every
kind of tools and stores has been produced by labour from the land.

It is evident, then, that if there were no labour there would be no
capital. Labour is _before_ capital, for labour _makes_ capital.

Now, what folly it is to say that capital produces wealth. Capital is
used by labour in the production of wealth, but capital itself is
incapable of motion and can produce nothing.

A spade is "capital." Is it true, then, to say that it is not the navvy
but the spade that makes the trench?

A plough is capital. Is it true to say that not the ploughman but the
plough makes the furrow?

A loom is capital. Is it true to say that the loom makes the cloth? It
is the weaver who weaves the cloth. He _uses_ the loom, and the loom was
made by the miner, the smith, the joiner, and the engineer.

There are wood and iron and brass in the loom. But you would not say
that the cloth was produced by the iron-mine and the forest! It is
produced by miners, engineers, sheep farmers, wool-combers, sailors,
spinners, weavers, and other workers. It is produced entirely by labour,
and could not be produced in any other way.

How can capital produce wealth? Take a steam plough, a patent harrow, a
sack of wheat, a bankbook, a dozen horses, enough food and clothing to
last a hundred men a year; put all that capital down in a forty-acre
field, and it will not produce a single ear of corn in fifty years
unless you send a _man_ to _labour_.

But give a boy a forked stick, a rood of soil, and a bag of seed, and he
will raise a crop for you.

If he is a smart boy, and has the run of the woods and streams, he will
also contrive to find food to live on till the crop is ready.

We find, then, that all wealth is produced _from_ the land _by_ labour,
and that capital is only a part of wealth, that it has been produced by
labour, stored by labour, and is finally used by labour in the
production of more wealth.

Our third question asks, "What becomes of the wealth?"

This is not easy to answer. But we may say that the wealth is divided
into three parts--not _equal_ parts--called Rent, Interest, and Wages.

Rent is wealth paid to the landlords for the use of the land. Interest
is wealth paid to the capitalists (the owners of tools and stores) for
the use of the "capital."

Wages is wealth paid to the workers for their labour in producing _all_
the wealth.

There are but a few landlords, but they take a large share of the

There are but a few capitalists, but _they_ take a large share of the

There are very many workers, but they do not get much more than a third
share of the wealth they produce.

The landlord produces _nothing_. He takes part of the wealth for
allowing the workers to use the land.

The capitalist produces nothing. He takes part of the wealth for
allowing the workers to use the capital.

The workers produce _all_ the wealth, and are obliged to give a great
deal of it to the landlords and capitalists who produce nothing.

Socialists claim that the landlord is useless under _any_ form of
society, that the capitalist is not needed in a properly ordered
society, and that the people should become their own landlords and their
own capitalists.

If the people were their own landlords and capitalists, _all_ the wealth
would belong to the workers by whom it is all produced.

Now, a word of caution. We say that _all_ wealth is produced by labour.
_What is labour?_

Labour is work. Work is said to be of two kinds: hand work and brain
work. But really work is of one kind--the labour of hand and brain
together; for there is hardly any head work wherein the hand has no
share, and there is no hand work wherein the head has no share.

The hand is really a part of the brain, and can do nothing without the
brain's direction.

So when we say that all wealth is produced by labour, we mean by the
labour of hand and brain.

I want to make this quite plain, because you will find, if you come to
deal with the economists, that attempts have been made to use the word
labour as meaning chiefly hand labour.

When we say labour produces all wealth, we do not mean that all wealth
is produced by farm labourers, mechanics, and navvies, but that it is
all produced by _workers_--that is, by thinkers as well as doers; by
inventors and directors as well as by the man with the hammer, the file,
or the spade.



We have already seen that most of the wealth produced by labour goes
into the pockets of a few rich men: we have now to find out how it gets

By what means do the landlords and the capitalists get the meat and
leave the workers the bones?

Let us deal first with the land, and next with the capital.

A landlord is one who owns land.

Rent is a price paid to the landlord for permission to use or occupy

Here is a diagram of a square piece of land--

    |          |
    |          |
    |    *L    |     W
    |          |
    |          |
       Fig. 1

In the centre stands the landlord (L), outside stands a labourer (W).

The landlord owns the land, the labourer owns no land. The labourer
cannot get food except from the land. The landlord will not allow him to
use the land unless he pays rent. The labourer has no money. How can he
pay rent?

He must first raise a crop from the land, and then give a part of the
crop to the landlord as rent; or he may sell the crop and give to the
landlord, as rent, part of the money for which the crop is sold.

We find, then, that the labourer cannot get food without working, and
cannot work without land, and that, as he has no land, he must pay rent
for the use of land owned by some other person--a landlord.

We find that the labourer produces the whole of the crop, and that the
landlord produces nothing; and we find that, when the crop is produced,
some of it has to be given to the landlord.

Thus it is clear that where one man owns land, and another man owns no
land, the landless man is dependent upon the landed man for permission
to work and to live, while the landed man is able to live without

Let us go into this more fully.

Here (Fig. 2) are two squares of land--

         _a_               _b_
    +----------+      +----------+
    |          |      |          |
    |    *W    |      |          |
    |          |      |          |
    +----------+      |  *   *   |
    |          |      |  W   W   |
    |    *W    |      |          |
    |          |      |          |
    +----------+      +----------+
                Fig. 2

Each piece of land is owned and worked by two men. The field _a_ is
divided into two equal parts, each part owned and worked by one man. The
field _b_ is owned and worked by two men jointly.

In the case of field _a_ each man has what he produces, and _all_ he
produces. In the case of field _b_ each man takes half of _all_ that
_both_ produce.

These men in both cases are their own landlords. They own the land they

But now suppose that field _b_ does not belong to two men, but to one
man. The same piece of land will be there, but only one man will be
working on it. The other does not work: he lives by charging rent.

Therefore if the remaining labourer, now a _tenant_, is to live as well
as he did when he was part owner, and pay the rent, he must work twice
as hard as he did before.

Take the field _a_ (Fig. 2). It is divided into two equal parts, and one
man tills each half. Remove one man and compel the other to pay half the
produce in rent, and you will find that the man who has become landlord
now gets as much without working as he got when he tilled half the
field, and that the man left as tenant now has to till the whole field
for the same amount of produce as he got formerly for tilling half of

We see, then, that the landlord is a useless and idle burden upon the
worker, and that he takes a part of what the worker alone produces, and
calls it rent.

The defence set up for the landlord is (1) that he has a right to the
land, and (2) that he spends his wealth for the public advantage.

I shall show you in later chapters that both these statements are

Let us now turn to the capitalist. What is a capitalist? He is really a
money-lender. He lends money, or machinery, and he charges interest on

Suppose Brown wants to dig, but has no spade. He borrows a spade of
Jones, who charges him a price for the use of the spade. Then Jones is a
capitalist: he takes part of the wealth Brown produces, and calls it

Suppose Jones owns a factory and machinery, and suppose Brown is a
spinner, who owns nothing but his strength and skill.

In that case Brown the spinner stands in the same relation to Jones the
capitalist as the landless labourer stands in to the landlord. That is
to say, the spinner cannot get food without money, and he can only get
money by working as a spinner for the man who owns the factory.

Therefore Brown the spinner goes to Jones the capitalist, who engages
him as a spinner, and pays him wages.

There are many other spinners in the same position. They work for Jones,
who pays them wages. They spin yarn, and Jones sells it. Does Jones
spin any of the yarn? Not a thread: the spinners spin it all. Do the
spinners get all the money the yarn is sold for? No. How is the money
divided? It is divided in this way--

A quantity of yarn is sold for twenty shillings, but of that twenty
shillings the factory owner pays the cost of the raw material, the wages
of the spinners, the cost of rent, repairs to machinery, fuel and oil,
and the salaries and commissions of clerks, travellers, and managers.
What remains of the twenty shillings he takes for himself as _profit_.

This "profit," then, is the difference between the cost price of the
yarn and the sale price. If a certain weight of yarn costs nineteen
shillings to produce, and sells for twenty shillings, there is a profit
of one shilling. If yarn which cost £9000 to produce is sold for
£10,000, the profit is £1000.

This profit the factory owner, Jones the capitalist, claims as interest
on his capital. It is then a kind of rent charged by him for the use of
his money, his factory, and his machinery.

Now we must be careful here not to confuse the landlord with the farmer,
nor the capitalist with the manager. I am, so far, dealing only with
those who _own_ and _let_ land or capital, and not with those who manage

A capitalist is one who lends capital. A capitalist may use capital, but
in so far as he uses capital he is a worker.

So a landlord may farm land, but in so far as he farms land he is a
farmer, and therefore a worker.

The man who finds the capital for a factory, and manages the business
himself, is a capitalist, for he lends his factory and machines to the
men who work for him. But he is also a worker, since he conducts the
manufacture and the sale of goods. As a capitalist he claims interest,
as a worker he claims salary. And he is as much a worker as a general is
a soldier or an admiral a sailor.

Well, the _idle_ landlord and the _idle_ capitalist charge rent or
interest for the use of their land or capital.

The landlord justifies himself by saying that the land is _his_, and
that he has a right to charge for it the highest rent he can get.

The capitalist justifies himself by saying that the capital is _his_,
and that he has a right to charge for it the highest rate of interest he
can get.

Both claim that it is better for the nation that the land and the
capital should remain in their hands; both tell us that the nation will
go headlong to ruin if we try to dispense with their valuable services.

I am not going to denounce either landlord or capitalist as a tyrant, a
usurer, or a robber. Landlords and capitalists may be, and very often
are, upright and well-meaning men. As such let us respect them.

Neither shall I enter into a long argument as to whether it is right or
wrong to charge interest on money lent or capital let, or as to whether
it is right or wrong to "buy in the cheapest market and sell in the

The non-Socialist will claim that as the capital belongs to the
capitalist he has a right to ask what interest he pleases for its use,
and that he has also a perfect right to get as much for the goods he
sells as the buyer will give, and to pay as little wages as the workers
will accept.

Let us concede all that, and save talk.

But those claims being granted to the capitalist, the counter-claims of
the worker and the buyer--the producer and the consumer--must be
recognised as equally valid.

If the capitalist is justified in paying the lowest wages the worker
will take, the worker is justified in paying the lowest interest the
capitalist will take.

If the seller is justified in asking the highest price for goods, the
buyer is justified in offering the lowest.

If a capitalist manager is justified in demanding a big salary for his
services of management, the worker and the consumer are justified in
getting another capitalist or another manager at a lower price, if they

Surely that is just and reasonable. And that is what Socialists advise.

A capitalist owns a large factory and manages it. He pays his spinners
fifteen shillings a week; he sells his goods to the public at the best
price he can get; and he makes an income of £10,000 a year. He makes
his money fairly and lawfully.

But if the workers and the users of yarn can find their own capital,
build their own factory, and spin their own yarn, they have a perfect
right to set up on their own account.

And if by so doing they can pay the workers better wages, sell the yarn
to the public at a lower price, and have a profit left to build other
factories with, no one can accuse them of doing wrong, nor can anyone
deny that the workers and the users have proved that they, the producers
and consumers, have done better without the capitalist (or middleman)
than with him.

But there is another kind of capitalist--the shareholder. A company is
formed to manufacture mouse-traps. The capital is £100,000. There are
ten shareholders, each holding £10,000 worth of shares. The company
makes a profit of 10 per cent. The dividend at 10 per cent. paid to each
shareholder will be £1000 a year.

The shareholders do no more than find the capital. They do not manage
the business, nor get the orders, nor conduct the sales, nor make the
mouse-traps. The business is managed by a paid manager, the sales are
conducted by paid travellers, and the mouse-traps are made by paid

Let us now see how it fares with any one of these shareholders. He lends
to the company £10,000. He receives from the company 10 per cent.
dividend, or £1000 a year. In ten years he gets back the whole of his
£10,000, but he still owns the shares, and he still draws a dividend of
£1000 a year. If the company go on working and making 10 per cent. for a
hundred years they will still be paying £1000 a year for the loan of the
£10,000. It will be quite evident, then, that in twenty years this
shareholder will have received his money twice over; that is to say, his
£10,000 will have become £20,000 without his having done a stroke of
work or even knowing anything about the business.

On the other hand, the manager, the salesman, and the workman, who have
done all the work and earned all the profits, will receive no dividend
at all. They are paid their weekly wages, and no more. A man who starts
at a pound a week will at the end of twenty years be still working for a
pound a week.

The non-Socialist will claim that this is quite right; that the
shareholder is as much entitled to rent on his money as the worker is
entitled to wages for his work. We need not contradict him. Let us keep
to simple facts.

Suppose the mouse-trap makers started a factory of their own. Suppose
they fixed the wages of the workers at the usual rate. Suppose they
borrowed the capital to carry on the business. Suppose they borrowed
£100,000. They would not have to pay 10 per cent. for the loan, they
would not have to pay 5 per cent. for the loan. But fix it at 5 per
cent. interest, and suppose that, as in the case of the company, the
mouse-trap makers made a profit of 10 per cent. That would give them a
profit of £10,000 a year. In twenty years they would have made a profit
of £200,000. The interest on the loan at 5 per cent. for twenty years
would be £100,000. The amount of the loan is £100,000. Therefore after
working twenty years they would have paid off the whole of the money
borrowed, and the business, factory, and machinery would be their own.

Thus, instead of being in the position of the men who had worked twenty
years for the mouse-trap company, these men, after receiving the same
wages as the others for twenty years, would now be in possession of the
business paying them £10,000 a year over and above their wages.

But, the non-Socialist will object, these working men could not borrow
£100,000, as they would have no security. That is quite true; but the
Corporation of Manchester or Birmingham could borrow the money to start
such a work, and could borrow it at 3 per cent. And by making their own
mouse-traps, or gas, or bread, instead of buying them from a private
maker or a company, and paying the said company or maker £10,000 a year
for ever and ever amen, they would, in less than twenty years, become
possessors of their own works and machinery, and be in a position to
save £10,000 a year on the cost of mouse-traps or gas or bread.

This is what the Socialist means by saying that the capitalist is
unnecessary, and is paid too much for the use of his capital.

Against the capitalist or landlord worker or manager the same complaint
holds good; the large profits taken by these men as payment for
management or direction are out of all proportion to the value of their
work. These profits, or salaries, called by economists "the wages of
ability," are in excess of any salary that would be paid to a farmer,
engineer, or director of any factory either by Government, by the County
Council, by a Municipality, or by any capitalist or company engaging
such a person at a fixed rate for services. That is to say, the
capitalist or landlord director is paid very much above the market value
of the "wages of ability."

These facts generally escape the notice of the worker. As a rule his
attention is confined to his own wages, and he thinks himself well off
or ill off as his wages are what he considers high or low. But there are
two sides to the question of wages. It is not only the amount of wages
received that matters, but it is also the amount of commodities the
wages will buy. The worker has to consider how much he spends as well as
how much he gets; and if he can got as much for 15s. as he used to get
for £1, he is as much better off as he would be were his wages raised 25
per cent.

Now on every article the workman uses there is one profit or a dozen;
one charge or many charges placed upon his food, clothing, house, fuel,
light, travelling, and everything he requires by the landlord, the
capitalist, or the shareholders.

Take the case of the coal bought by a poor London clerk at 30s. a ton.
It pays a royalty to the royalty owner, it pays a profit to the mine
owner, it pays a profit to the coal merchant, it pays a profit to the
railway company, and these profits are over and above the cost in wages
and wear and tear of machinery.

Yet this same London clerk is very likely a Tory, who says many bitter
things against _Socialism_, but never thinks of resenting the heavy
taxes levied on his small income by landlords, railway companies, water
companies, building companies, ship companies, and all the other
companies and private firms who live upon him.

Imagine this poor London clerk, whose house stands on land owned by a
peer worth £300,000 a year, whose "boss" makes £50,000 a year out of
timber or coals, whose pipe pays four shillings taxes on every
shilling's worth of tobacco (while the rich man's cigar pays a tax of
five shillings in the pound), whose children go to the board school,
while those of the coalowner, the company promoter, the railway
director, and the landlord go to the university. Imagine this man,
anxious, worried, overworked, poor, and bled by a horde of rich
parasites. Imagine him standing in a well-dressed crowd, amongst the
diamond shops, fur shops, and costly furniture shops of Regent Street,
and asking with a bitter sneer where John Burns got his new suit of

Is it not marvellous? He does not ask who gets the 4s. on his pound of
smoking mixture! Nor why he pays 4s. a thousand for bad gas (as I did in
Finchley) while the Manchester clerk gets good gas for 2s. 2d.! Nor does
he ask why the Duke of Bedford should put a tax on his wife's apple
pudding or his children's bananas! He does not even ask what became of
the £80,000,000 which the coal-owners wrung out of the public when he,
the poor clerk, was paying 2s. per cwt. for coal for his tiny parlour
grate! No. The question he asks is: Where Ben Tillett got his new straw

How the Duke, and the Coalowner, and the Money-lender, and the
Jerry-builder must laugh!

Yet so it is. It is not the landlord, the company promoter, the
coalowner, the jerry-builder, and all the other useless rich who prey
upon his wife and his children whom he mistrusts. His enemies, poor man,
are the Socialists; the men and women who work for him, teach him,
sacrifice their health, their time, their money, and their prospects to
awaken his manhood, to sting his pride, to drive the mists of prejudice
from his worried mind and give his common sense a chance. _These_ are
the men and women he despises and mistrusts. And he reads the _Daily
Mail_, and shudders at the name of the _Clarion_; and he votes for Mr.
Facing-both-ways and Lord Plausible, and is filled with bitterness
because of honest John's summer trousers.

Again I tell you, Mr. Smith, that I do not wish to stir up class hatred.
Lady Dedlock, wife of the great ground landlord, is a charming lady,
handsome, clever, and very kind to the poor.

But if I were a docker, and if my wife had to go out in leaky boots, or
if my delicate child could not get sea air and nourishing food, I should
be apt to ask whether his lordship, the great ground landlord, could not
do with less rent and his sweet wife with fewer pearls. I should ask
that. I should not think myself a man if I did not ask it; nor should I
feel happy if I did not strain every nerve to get an answer.

Non-Socialists often reproach Socialists for sentimentality. But surely
it is sentimentality to talk as the non-Socialist does about the
personal excellences of the aristocracy. What have Lady Dedlock's
amiability and beauty to do with the practical questions of gas rates
and wages?

I am "setting class against class." Quite right, too, so long as one
class oppresses another.

But let us reverse the position. Suppose you go to the Duke of Hebden
Bridge and ask for an engagement as clerk in his Grace's colliery at a
salary of £5000 a year. Will the duke give it to you because your wife
is pretty and your daughter thinks you are a great man? Not at all. His
Grace would say, "My dear sir, you are doubtless an excellent citizen,
husband, and father; but I can get a better clerk at a pound a week,
sir; and I cannot afford to pay more, sir."

The duke would be quite correct. He could get a better clerk for £1 a
week. And as for the amiability of your family, or your own personal
merits, what have they to do with business?

As a business man the duke will not pay £2 a week to a clerk if he can
get a man as good for £1 a week.

Then why should the clerk pay 4s. a thousand for his gas if he can get
it for 2s. 2d.? Or why should the docker pay the duke 5s. rent if he can
get a house for 2s. 6d.?

Should I be offended with the duke for refusing to pay me more than I
am worth? Should I accuse him of class hatred? Not at all. Then why
should I be blamed for suggesting that it is folly to pay a duke more
than he is worth? Or why should the duke mutter about class hatred if I
suggest that we can get a colliery director at a lower salary than his
Grace? Talk about sentimentality! Are we to pay a guinea each for dukes
if we can get them three a penny? It is not business.

I grudge no man his wealth nor his fortune. I want nothing that is his.
I do not hate the rich: I pity the poor. It is of the women and children
of the poor I think when I am agitating for _Socialism_, not of the
coffers of the wealthy.

I believe in universal brotherhood; nay, I go even further, for I
maintain that the sole difference between the worst man and the best is
a difference of opportunity--that is to say, that since heredity and
environment make one man amiable and another churlish, one generous and
another mean, one faithful and another treacherous, one wise and another
foolish, one strong and another weak, one vile and another pure,
therefore the bishop and the hooligan, the poet and the boor, the idiot,
the philosopher, the thief, the hero, and the brutalised drab in the
kennel _are all equal in the sight of God and of justice_, and that
every word of censure uttered by man is a word of error, growing out of
ignorance. As the sun shines alike upon the evil and the good, so must
we give love and mercy to all our fellow-creatures. "Judgment is mine,
saith the Lord."

But that does not prevent me from defending a brother of the East End
against a brother of the West End. Truly we should love all men. Let us,
then, begin by loving the weakest and the worst, for they have so little
love and counsel, while the rich and the good have so much.

We will not, Mr. Smith, accuse the capitalist of base conduct. But we
will say that as a money-lender his rate of interest is too high, and
that as a manager his salary is too large. And we will say that if by
combining we can, as workers, get better wages, and as buyers get
cheaper goods, we shall do well and wisely to combine. For it is to our
interest in the one case, as it is to the interest of the capitalist in
the other case, to "buy in the cheapest market and to sell in the

So much for the capitalist; but, before we deal with the landlord, we
have to consider another very important person, and that is the
inventor, or brain-worker.



It has, I think, never been denied that much wealth goes to the
capitalist, but it has been claimed that the capitalist deserves all he
gets because wealth is produced by capital. And although this is as
foolish as to say that the tool does the work and not the hand that
wields it, yet books have been written to convince the people that it is

Some of these books try to deceive us into supposing that capital and
ability are interchangeable terms. That is to say, that "capital," which
means "stock," is the same thing as "ability," which means cleverness or
skill. We might as well believe that a machine is the same thing as the
brain that invented it. But there is a trick in it. The trick lies in
first declaring that the bulk of the national wealth is produced by
"ability," and then confusing the word "ability" with the word

But it is one thing to say that wealth is due to the man who _invented_
a machine, and it is quite another thing to say that wealth is due to
the man who _owns_ the machine.

In his book called _Labour and the Popular Welfare_, Mr. Mallock assures
us that ability produces more wealth than is produced by labour.

He says that two-thirds of the national wealth are due to ability and
only one-third to labour. A hundred years ago, Mr. Mallock says, the
population of this country was 10,000,000 and the wealth produced
yearly; £140,000,000, giving an average of £14 a head.

The recent production is £350,000,000 for every 10,000,000 of the
population, or £35 a head.

The argument is that _labour_ is only able to produce as much now as it
could produce a hundred years ago, for labour does not vary. Therefore,
the increase from £14 a head to £35 a head is not due to labour but to

Now, we owe this machinery, not to labour, but to invention. Therefore
the various inventors have enabled the people to produce more than twice
as much as they produced a century back.

Therefore, according to Mr. Mallock, all the extra wealth, amounting to
£800,000,000 a year, is earned by the _machines_, and ought to be paid
to the men who _own_ the machines.

Pretty reasoning, isn't it? And Mr. Mallock is one of those who talk
about the inaccurate thinking of Socialists.

Let us see what it comes to. John Smith invents a machine which makes
three yards of calico where one was made by hand. Tom Jones buys the
machine, or the patent, to make calico. Which of these men is the cause
of the calico output being multiplied by three? Is it the man who owns
the patent, or the man who invented the machine? It is the man who
invented the machine. It is the ability of John Smith which caused the
increase in the calico output. It is, therefore, the ability of John
Smith which earns the extra wealth. Tom Jones, who bought the machines,
is no more the producer of that _extra_ wealth than are the spinners and
weavers he employs.

To whom, then, should the extra wealth belong? To the man who creates
it? or to the man who does not create it? Clearly the wealth should
belong to the man who creates it. Therefore, the whole of the extra
wealth should go to the inventor, to whose ability it is due, and _not_
to the mere capitalist, who only uses the machine.

"But," you may say, "Jones bought the patent from Smith." He did. And he
also buys their labour and skill from the spinners and weavers who work
for him, and in all three cases he pays less than the thing he buys is

Mr. Mallock makes a great point of telling us that men are not equally
clever, that cleverness produces more wealth than labour produces, and
that one man is worth more than another to the nation.

Labour, he says, is common to all men, but ability is the monopoly of
the few. The bulk of the wealth is produced by the few, and ought by
them to be enjoyed.

But I don't think any Socialist ever claimed that all men were of equal
value to the nation, nor that any one man could produce just as much
wealth as any other. We know that one man is stronger than another, that
one is cleverer than another, and that an inventor or thinker may design
or invent some machine or process which will enable the workers to
produce more wealth in one year than they could by their own methods
produce in twenty.

Now, before we go into the matter of the inventor, or of the value of
genius to the nation, let us test these ideas of Mr. W. H. Mallock's and
see what they lead to.

A man invents a machine which does the work of ten handloom weavers. He
is therefore worth more, as a weaver, than the ordinary weaver who
invents nothing. How much more?

If his machine does the work of ten men, you might think he was worth
ten men. But he is worth very much more.

Suppose there are 10,000 weavers, and all of them use his machine. They
will produce not 10,000 men's work, but 100,000 men's work. Here, then,
our inventor is equal to 90,000 weavers. That is to say, that his
thought, his idea, his labour _produces_ as much wealth as could be
produced by 100,000 weavers without it.

On no theory of value, and on no grounds of reason that I know, can we
claim that this inventor is of no more value, as a producer, than an
ordinary, average handloom weaver.

Granting the claim of the non-Socialist, that every man belongs to
himself; and granting the claim of Mr. Mallock, that two-thirds of our
national wealth are produced by inventors; and granting the demand of
exact mathematical justice, that every man shall receive the exact value
of the wealth he produces; it would follow that two-thirds of the
wealth of this nation would be paid yearly to the inventors, or to their
heirs or assigns.

The wealth is _not_ to be paid to labour; that is Mr. Mallock's claim.
And it is not to be paid to labour because it has been earned by
ability. And Mr. Mallock tells us that labour does not vary nor increase
in its productive power. Good.

Neither does the landlord nor the capitalist increase his productive
power. Therefore it is not the landlord nor the capitalist who earns--or
produces--this extra wealth; it is the inventor.

And since the labourer is not to have the wealth, because he does not
produce it, neither should the landlord or capitalist have it, because
he does not produce it.

So much for the _right_ of the thing. Mr. Mallock shows that the
inventor creates all this extra wealth; he shows that the inventor ought
to have it. Good.

Now, how is it that the inventor does _not_ get it, and how is it that
the landlord and the capitalist _do_ get it?

Just because the laws, which have been made by landlords and
capitalists, enable these men to rob the inventor and the labourer with

Thus: A man owns a piece of land in a town. As the town increases its
business and population, the owner of the land raises the rent. He can
get double the rent because the town has doubled its trade, and the land
is worth more for business purposes or for houses. Has the landlord
increased the value? Not at all. He has done nothing but draw the rent.
The increase of value is due to the industry or ability of the people
who live and work in the town, chiefly, as Mr. Mallock claims, to
different inventors. Do these inventors get the increased rent? No. Do
the workers in the town get it? No. The landlord demands this extra
rent, and the law empowers him to evict if the rent is not paid.

Next, let us see how the inventor is treated. If a man invents a machine
and patents it, the law allows him to charge a royalty for its use for
the space of fourteen years.

At the end of that time the patent lapses, and the invention may be
worked by anyone.

Observe here the difference of the treatment given to the inventor and
the landlord.

The landlord does not make the land, he does not till the land, he does
not improve the land; he only draws the rent, and he draws that _for
ever_. _His_ patent never lapses; and the harder the workers work, and
the more wealth inventors and workers produce, the more rent he
draws--for nothing.

The inventor _does_ make his invention. He is, upon Mr. Mallock's
showing, the creator of immense wealth. And, even if he is lucky, he can
only draw rent on his ability for fourteen years.

But suppose the inventor is a poor man--and a great many inventors are
poor men--his chance of getting paid for his ability is very small.
Because, to begin with, he has to pay a good deal to patent his
invention, and then, often enough, he needs capital to work the patent,
and has none.

What is he to do? He must find a capitalist to work the patent for him,
or he must find a man rich enough to buy it from him.

And it very commonly happens, either that the poor man cannot pay the
renewal fees for his patent, and so loses it entirely, or that the
capitalist buys it out and out for an old song, or that the capitalist
obliges him to accept terms which give a huge profit to the capitalist
and a small royalty to the inventor.

The patent laws are so constructed as to make the poor inventor an easy
prey to the capitalist.

Many inventors die poor, many are robbed by agents or capitalists, many
lose their patents because they cannot pay the renewal fees. Even when
an inventor is lucky he can only draw rent for fourteen years. We see,
then, that the men who make most of the wealth are hindered and robbed
by the law, and we know that the law has been made by capitalists and

Apply the same law to land that is applied to patents, and the whole
land of England would be public property in fourteen years.

Apply the same law to patents that is applied to land, and every
article we use would be increased in price, and we should still be
paying royalties to the descendants, or to their assigns, of James Watt,
George Stephenson, and ten thousand other inventors.

And now will some non-Socialist, Mr. Mallock or another, write a nice
new book, and explain to us upon what rules of justice or of reason the
present unequal treatment of the useless, idle landlord and the valuable
and industrious inventor can be defended?



Socialists are often accused of being advocates of violence and plunder.
You will be told, no doubt, that Socialists wish to take the land from
its present owners, by force, and "share it out" amongst the landless.

Socialists have no more idea of taking the land from its present holders
and "sharing it out" amongst the poor than they have of taking the
railways from the railway companies and sharing the carriages and
engines amongst the passengers.

When the London County Council municipalised the tram service they did
not rob the companies, nor did they share out the cars amongst the

_Socialism_ does not mean the "sharing out" of property; on the
contrary, it means the collective ownership of property.

"Britain for the British" does not mean one acre and half a cow for each
subject; it means that Britain shall be owned intact by the whole
people, and shall be governed and worked by the whole people, for the
benefit of the whole people.

Just as the Glasgow tram service, the Manchester gas service, and the
general postal service are owned, managed, and used by the citizens of
Manchester and Glasgow, or by the people of Britain, for the general

You will be told that the present holders of the land have as much right
to the land as you have to your hat or your boots.

Now, as a matter of law and of right, the present holders of the land
have no fixed title to the land. But moderation, it has been well said,
is the common sense of politics, and if we all got bare justice, "who,"
as Shakespeare asks, "would 'scape whipping?"

Socialists propose, then, to act moderately and to temper justice with
amity. They do not suggest the "confiscation" of the land. They do
suggest that the land should be taken over by the nation, at a fair

But what is a fair price? The landlord, standing upon his alleged
rights, may demand a price out of all reason and beyond all possibility.

Therefore I propose here to examine the nature of those alleged rights,
and to compare the claims of the landholders with the practice of law as
it is applied to holders of property in brains; that is to say, as it is
applied to authors and to inventors.

Private ownership of land rests always on one of three pleas--

    1. The right of conquest: the land has been stolen or "won" by the
    owner or his ancestors.

    2. The right of gift: the land has been received as a gift, bequest,
    or grant.

    3. The right of purchase: the land has been bought and paid for.

Let us deal first with the rights of gift and purchase. It is manifest
that no man can have a moral right to anything given or sold to him by
another person who had no right to the thing given or sold.

He who buys a watch, a horse, a house, or any other article from one who
has no right to the horse, or house, or watch, must render up the
article to the rightful owner, and lose the price or recover it from the

If a man has no moral right to own land, he can have no moral right to
sell or give land.

If a man has no moral right to sell or to give land, then another man
can have no moral right to keep land bought or received in gift from

So that to test the right of a man to land bought by or given to him, we
must trace the land back to its original title.

Now, the original titles of most land rest upon conquest or theft.
Either the land was won from the Saxons by William the Conqueror, and
by him given in fief to his barons, or it has been stolen from the
common right and "enclosed" by some lord of the manor or other brigand.

I am sorry to use the word brigand, but what would you call a man who
stole your horse or watch; and it is a far greater crime to steal land.

Now, stolen land carries no title, except one devised by landlords. That
is, there is no _moral_ title.

So we come to the land "won" from the Saxons. The title of this land is
the title of conquest, and only by that title can it be held, and only
with that title can it be sold. What the sword has won the sword must
hold. He who has taken land by force has a title to it only so long as
he can hold it by force.

This point is neatly expressed in a story told by Henry George--

    A nobleman stops a tramp, who is crossing his park, and orders him
    off _his_ land. The tramp asks him how came the land to be his? The
    noble replies that he inherited it from his father. "How did _he_
    get it?" asks the tramp. "From his father," is the reply; and so the
    lord is driven back to the proud days of his origin--the Conquest.
    "And how did your great, great, great, etc., grandfather get it?"
    asks the tramp. The nobleman draws himself up, and replies, "He
    fought for it and won it." "Then," says the unabashed vagrant,
    beginning to remove his coat, "I will fight _you_ for it."

The tramp was quite logical. Land won by the sword may be rewon by the
sword, and the right of conquest implies the right of any party strong
enough for the task to take the conquered land from its original

And yet the very men who claim the land as theirs by right of ancient
conquest would be the first to deny the right of conquest to others.
They claim the land as theirs because eight hundred years ago their
fathers took it from the English people, but they deny the right of the
English people to take it back from them. A duke holds lands taken by
the Normans under William. He holds them by right of the fact that his
ancestor stole them, or, as the duke would say, "won" them. But let a
party of revolutionaries propose to-day to win these lands back from him
in the same manner, and the duke would cry out, "Thief! thief! thief!"
and call for the protection of the law.

It would be "immoral" and "illegal," the duke would say, for the British
people to seize his estates.

Should such a proposal be made, the modern duke would not defend
himself, as his ancestors did, by force of arms, but would appeal to the
law. Who made the law? The law was made by the same gentlemen who
appropriated and held the land. As the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain
said in his speech at Denbigh in 1884--

    The House of Lords, that club of Tory landlords, in its gilded
    chamber, has disposed of the welfare of the people with almost
    exclusive regard to the interests of a class.

Or, as the same statesman said at Hull in 1885--

    The rights of property have been so much extended that the rights of
    the community have almost altogether disappeared, and it is hardly
    too much to say that the prosperity and the comfort and the
    liberties of a great proportion of the population have been laid at
    the feet of a small number of proprietors, who neither toil nor

Well, then, the duke may defend his right by duke-made law. We do not
object to that, for it justifies us in attacking him by Parliament-made
law: by new law, made by a Parliament of the people.

Is there any law of equity which says it is unjust to take by force from
a robber what the robber took by force from another robber? Or is there
any law of equity which says it is unjust that a law made by a
Parliament of landlords should not be reversed by another law made by a
Parliament of the people?

The landlords will call this an "immoral" proposal. It is based upon the
claim that the land is wanted for the use and advantage of the nation.
Their lordships may ask for precedent. I will provide them with one.

A landlord does not make the land; he holds it.

But if a man invent a new machine or a new process, or if he write a
poem or a book, he may claim to have made the invention or the book,
and may justly claim payment for the use of them by other men.

An inventor or an author has, therefore, a better claim to payment for
his work than a landlord has to payment for the use of the land he calls
his. Now, how does the law act towards these men?

The landlord may call the land his all the days of his life, and at his
death may bequeath it to his heirs. For a thousand years the owners of
an estate may charge rent for it, and at the end of the thousand years
the estate will still be theirs, and the rent will still be running on
and growing ever larger and larger. And at any suggestion that the
estate should lapse from the possession of the owners and become the
property of the people, the said owners will lustily raise the cry of

The patentee of an invention may call the invention his own, and may
charge royalties upon its use for _a space of fourteen years_. At the
end of that time his patent lapses and becomes public property, without
any talk of compensation or any cry of confiscation. Thus the law holds
that an inventor is well paid by fourteen years' rent for a thing he
made himself, while the landlord is _never_ paid for the land he did not

The author of a book holds the copyright of the book for a period of
forty-four years, or for his own life and seven years after, whichever
period be the longer. At the expiration of that time the book becomes
public property. Thus the law holds that an author is well paid by
forty-four years' rent for a book which he has made, but that the
landlord is _never_ paid for the land which he did not make.

If the same law that applies to the land applied to books and to
inventions, the inheritors of the rights of Caxton and Shakespeare would
still be able to charge, the one a royalty on every printing press in
use, and the other a royalty on every copy of Shakespeare's poems sold.
Then there would be royalties on all the looms, engines, and other
machines, and upon all the books, music, engravings, and what not; so
that the cost of education, recreation, travel, clothing, and nearly
everything else we use would be enhanced enormously. But, thanks to a
very wise and fair arrangement an author or an inventor has a good
chance to be well paid, and after that the people have a chance to enjoy
the benefits of his genius.

Now, if it is right and expedient thus to deprive the inventor or the
author of his own production after a time, and to give the use thereof
to the public, what sense or justice is there in allowing a landowner to
hold land and to draw an ever-swelling rent to the exclusion,
inconvenience, and expense of the people for ever? And by what process
of reasoning can a landlord charge me, an author, with immorality or
confiscation for suggesting that the same law should apply to the land
he did not make, that I myself cheerfully allow to be applied to the
books I do make?

For the landlord to speak of confiscation in the face of the laws of
patent and of copyright seems to me the coolest impudence.

But there is something else to be said of the landlord's title to the
land. He claims the right to hold the land, and to exact rent for the
land, on the ground that the land is lawfully his.

The land is _not_ his.

There is no such thing, and there never was any such thing, in English
law as private ownership of land. In English law the land belongs to the
Crown, and can only be held in trust by any subject.

Allow me to give legal warranty for this statement. The great lawyer,
Sir William Blackstone, says--

    Accurately and strictly speaking, there is no foundation in nature
    or in natural law why a set of words on parchment should convey the
    dominion of land. Allodial (absolute) property no subject in England
    now has; it being a received and now undeniable principle in law,
    that all lands in England are holden mediately or immediately of the

Sir Edward Coke says--

    All lands or tenements in England in the hands of subjects, are
    holden mediately or immediately of the King. For, in the law of
    England, we have not any subject's land that is not holden.

And Sir Frederick Pollock, in _English Land Lords_, says--

    No absolute ownership of land is recognised by our law books,
    except in the Crown. All lands are supposed to be held immediately
    or mediately of the Crown, though no rent or service may be payable
    and no grant from the Crown on record.

I explained at first that I do not suggest confiscation. Really the land
is the King's, and by him can be claimed; but we will let that pass.
Here we will speak only of what is reasonable and fair. Let me give a
more definite idea of the hardships imposed upon the nation by the

We all know how the landlord takes a part of the wealth produced by
labour and calls it "rent." But that is only simple rent. There is a
worse kind of rent, which I will call "compound rent." It is known to
economists as "unearned increment."

I need hardly remind you that rents are higher in large towns than in
small villages. Why? Because land is more "valuable." Why is it more
valuable? Because there is more trade done.

Thus a plot of land in the city of London will bring in a hundredfold
more rent than a plot of the same size in some Scottish valley. For
people must have lodgings, and shops, and offices, and works in the
places where their business lies. Cases have been known in which land
bought for a few shillings an acre has increased within a man's lifetime
to a value of many guineas a yard.

This increase in value is not due to any exertion, genius, or enterprise
on the part of the landowner. It is entirely due to the energy and
intelligence of those who made the trade and industry of the town.

The landowner sits idle while the Edisons, the Stephensons, the
Jacquards, Mawdsleys, Bessemers, and the thousands of skilled workers
expand a sleepy village into a thriving town; but when the town is
built, and the trade is flourishing, he steps in to reap the harvest. He
raises the rent.

He raises the rent, and evermore raises the rent, so that the harder the
townsfolk work, and the more the town prospers, the greater is the price
he charges for the use of his land. This extortionate rent is really a
fine inflicted by idleness on industry. It is simple _plunder_, and is
known by the technical name of unearned increment.

It is unearned increment which condemns so many of the workers in our
British towns to live in narrow streets, in back-to-back cottages, in
hideous tenements. It is unearned increment which forces up the
death-rate and fosters all manner of disease and vice. It is unearned
increment which keeps vast areas of London, Glasgow, Liverpool,
Manchester, and all our large towns ugly, squalid, unhealthy, and vile.
And unearned increment is an inevitable outcome and an invariable
characteristic of the private ownership of land.

On this subject Professor Thorold Rogers said--

    Every permanent improvement of the soil, every railway and road,
    every bettering of the general condition of society, every facility
    given for production, every stimulus applied to consumption, _raises
    rent_. The landowner sleeps, but thrives.

The volume of this unearned increment is tremendous. Mr. H. B. Haldane,
M.P., speaking at Stepney in 1894, declared that the land upon which
London stands would be worth, apart from its population and special
industries, "at the outside not more than £16,000 a year." Instead of
which "the people pay in rent for the land alone £16,000,000, and, with
the buildings, £40,000,000 a year." Those £16,000,000 constitute a fine
levied upon the workers of London by landlords.

A similar state of affairs exists in the country, where the farms are
let chiefly on short leases. Here the tenant having improved his land
has often lost his improvements, or, for fear of losing the
improvements, has not improved his land nor even farmed it properly. In
either case the landlord has been enriched while the tenant or the
public has suffered.

A landlord has an estate which no farmer can make pay. A number of
labourers take small plots at £5 an acre, and go in for flower culture.
They work so hard, and become so skilful, that they get £50 an acre for
their produce. And the landlord raises the rent to £40 an acre.

That is "unearned increment," or "compound rent." The landlord could not
make the estate pay, the farmer could not make it pay. The labourer, by
his own skill and industry, does make it pay, and the landlord takes the

And these are the men who talk about confiscation and robbery!

Do I blame the landlord? Not very much. But I blame the people for
allowing him to deprive their wives and children of the necessaries, the
decencies, and the joys of life.

But if you wish to know more about the treatment of tenants by landlords
in England, Scotland, and Ireland, get a book called _Land
Nationalisation_, by Dr. Alfred Russell Wallace, published by Swan
Sonnenschein, at 1s.

That private landowners should be allowed to take millions out of the
pockets of the workers is neither just nor reasonable. There is no
argument in favour of landlordism that would not hold good in the case
of a private claim to the sea and the air.

Imagine a King or Parliament granting to an individual the exclusive
ownership of the Bristol Channel or the air of Cornwall! Such a grant
would rouse the ridicule of the whole nation. The attempt to enforce
such a grant would cause a revolution.

But in what way is such a grant more iniquitous or absurd than is the
claim of a private citizen to the possession of Monsall Dale, or
Sherwood Forest, or Covent Garden Market, or the corn lands of Essex, or
the iron ore of Cumberland?

The Bristol Channel, the river Thames, all our high roads, and most of
our bridges are public property, free for the use of all. No power in
the kingdom could wrest a yard of the highway nor an acre of green sea
from the possession of the nation. It is right that the road and the
river, the sea and the air should be the property of the people; it is
expedient that they should be the property of the people. Then by what
right or by what reason can it be held that the land--Britain
herself--should belong to any man, or by any man be withheld from the
people--who are the British nation?

But it may be thought, because I am a Socialist, and neither rich nor
influential, that my opinion should be regarded with suspicion. Allow me
to offer the authority of more eminent men.

The late Lord Chief-Justice Coleridge said, in 1887--

    These (our land laws) might be for the general advantage, and if
    they could be shown to be so, by all means they should be
    maintained; but if not, does any man, with what he is pleased to
    call his mind, deny that a state of law under which such mischief
    could exist, under which the country itself would exist, not for its
    people, but for a mere handful of them, ought to be instantly and
    absolutely set aside?

Two years later, in 1889, the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone said--

    Those persons who possess large portions of the earth's space are
    not altogether in the same position as possessors of mere
    personality. Personality does not impose limitations on the action
    and industry of man and the well-being of the community as
    possession of land does, and therefore _I freely own that compulsory
    expropriation is a thing which is admissible, and even sound in

Speaking at Hull, in August 1885, the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain

    The soil of every country originally belonged to its inhabitants,
    and if it has been thought expedient to create private ownership in
    place of common rights, at least that private ownership must be
    considered as a trust, and subject to the conditions of a trust.

And again, at Inverness, in September 1885, Mr. Chamberlain said--

    When an exorbitant rent is demanded, which takes from a tenant the
    savings of his life, and turns him out at the end of his lease
    stripped of all his earnings, when a man is taxed for his own
    improvements, that is confiscation, and it is none the less
    reprehensible because it is sanctioned by the law.

These views of the land question are not merely the views of ignorant
demagogues, but are fully indorsed by great lawyers, great statesmen,
great authors, great divines, and great economists.

What is the principle which these eminent men teach? It is the principle
enforced in the patent law, in the income tax, and in the law of
copyright, that the privileges and claims, even the _rights_ of the few,
must give way to the needs of the many and the welfare of the whole.

What, then, do we propose to do? I think there are very few Socialists
who wish to confiscate the land without any kind of compensation. But
all Socialists demand that the land shall return to the possession of
the people. Britain for the British! What could be more just?

How are the people to get the land? There are many suggestions. Perhaps
the fairest would be to allow the landowner the same latitude that is
allowed to the inventor, who, as Mr. Mallock claims, is really the
creator of two-thirds of our wealth.

We allow the inventor to draw rent on his patent for fourteen years. Why
not limit the private possession of land to the same term? Pay the
present owners of land the full rent for fourteen or, say, twenty years,
or, in a case where land has been bought in good faith, within the past
fifty years, allow the owner the full rent for thirty years. This would
be more than we grant our inventors, though they _add_ to the national
wealth, whereas the landlord simply takes wealth away from the national

The method I here advise would require a "Compulsory Purchase Act" to
compel landowners to sell their land at a fair price to the nation when
and wherever the public convenience required it.

This view is expressed clearly in a speech made by the Right Hon. Joseph
Chamberlain at Trowbridge in 1885--

    We propose that local authorities shall have power in every case to
    take land by compulsion at a fair price for every public purpose,
    and that they should be able to let the land again, with absolute
    security of tenure, for allotments and for small holdings.

Others, again, recommend a land tax, and with perfect justice. If the
City Council improves a street, at the cost of the ratepayer, the
landlord raises his rent. What does that mean? It means that the
ratepayer has increased the value of the landlord's property at the cost
of the rates. It would only be just, then, that the whole increase
should be taken back from the landlord by the city.

Therefore, it would be quite just to tax the landlords to the full
extent of their "unearned increment."

In _Progress and Poverty_, and in the book on _Land Nationalisation_ by
Dr. Alfred Russell Wallace, you will find these subjects of the taxation
and the purchase of land fully and clearly treated.

My object is to show that it is to the interest of the nation that the
private ownership of land should cease.

_Books to Read on the Land_:--

    _Progress and Poverty._ By Henry George, 1s. Kegan Paul, Trench,
    Trübner, & Co.

    _Land Nationalisation._ By Alfred Russell Wallace, 1s. Swan

    _Five Precursors of Henry George._ By J. Morrison Davidson. London,
    Labour Leader Office, 1s.



There is one excuse which is still too often made for the extravagance
of the rich, and that is the excuse that "_The consumption of luxuries
by the rich finds useful employment for the poor_."

It is a ridiculous excuse, and there is no eminent economist in the
world who does not laugh at it; but the capitalist, the landlord, and
many pressmen still think it is good enough to mislead or silence the
people with.

As it is the _only_ excuse the rich have to offer for their wasteful
expenditure and costly idleness, it is worth while taking pains to
convince the workers that it is no excuse at all.

It is a mere error or falsehood, of course, but it is such an
old-established error, such a plausible lie, and is repeated so often
and so loudly by non-Socialists, that its disproof is essential. Indeed,
I regard it as a matter of great importance that this subject of luxury
and labour should be thoroughly understanded of the people.

Here is this rich man's excuse, or defence, as it was stated by the Duke
of Argyll about a dozen years ago. So slowly do the people learn, and so
ignorant or dishonest does the Press remain, that the foolish statement
is still quite up to date--

    But there are at least some things to be seen which are in the
    nature of facts and not at all in the nature of speculation or mere
    opinion. Amongst these some become clear from the mere clearing up
    of the meaning of words such as "the unemployed." Employment in this
    sense is the hiring of manual labour for the supply of human wants.
    _The more these wants are stimulated and multiplied the more
    widespread will be the inducement to hire. Therefore all outcries
    and prejudices against the progress of wealth and of what is called
    "luxury" are nothing but outcries of prejudice against the very
    sources and fountains of all employment._ This conclusion is
    absolutely certain.

I have no doubt at all that the duke honestly believed that statement,
and I daresay there are hundreds of eminent persons still alive who are
no wiser than he.

The duke is quite correct in saying that "the more the wants of the rich
are stimulated" the more employment there will be for the people. But
after all, that only means that the more the rich waste, the harder the
poor must work.

The fact is, the duke has omitted the most essential factor from the
sum: he does not say how the rich man gets his money, nor from _whom_ he
gets his money. A ducal landlord draws, say, £100,000 a year in rent
from his estates.

Who pays the rent? The farmers. Who earns the rent? The farmers and the

These men earn and pay the rent, and the ducal landlord takes it.

What does the duke do with the rent? He spends it. We are told that he
spends it in finding useful employment for the poor, and one intelligent
newspaper says--

    A rich man cannot spend his money without finding employment for
    vast numbers of people who, without him, would starve.

That implies that the poor live on the rich. Now, I maintain that the
rich live on the poor. Let us see.

The duke buys food, clothing, and lodging for himself, for his family,
and for his servants. He buys, let us say, a suit of clothes for
himself. That finds work for a tailor. And we are told that but for the
duke the tailor must starve. _Why?_

The agricultural labourer is badly in want of clothes; cannot _he_ find
the tailor work? No. The labourer wants clothes, but he has no money.
_Why_ has he no money? _Because the duke has taken his clothing money
for rent!_

Then in the first place it is because the duke has taken the labourer's
money that the tailor has no work. Then if the duke did not take the
labourer's money the labourer could buy clothes? Yes. Then if the duke
did not take the labourer's money the tailor _would_ have work? Yes.
Then it is not the duke's money, but the labourer's money, which keeps
the tailor from starving? Yes. Then in this case the duke is no use? He
is worse than useless. The labourer, who _earns_ the money, has no
clothes, and the idle duke has clothes.

So that what the duke really does is to take the earnings of the
labourer and spend them on clothes for _himself_.

Well, suppose I said to a farmer, "You give me five shillings a week out
of your earnings, and I will find employment for a man to make cigars,
_I_ will smoke the cigars."

What would the farmer say? Would he not say, "Why should I employ you to
smoke cigars which I pay for? If the cigar maker needs work, why should
I not employ him myself, and smoke the cigars myself, since I am to pay
for them?"

Would not the farmer speak sense? And would not the labourer speak sense
if he said to the duke, "Why should I employ you to wear out breeches
which I pay for?"

My offer to smoke the farmer's cigars is no more impudent than the
assertion of the Duke of Argyll, that he, the duke, finds employment for
a tailor by wearing out clothes for which the farmer has to pay.

If the farmer paid no rent, _he_ could employ the tailor, and he would
have the clothes. The duke does nothing more than deprive the farmer of
his clothes.

But this is not the whole case against the duke. The duke does not spend
_all_ the rent in finding work for the poor. He spends a good deal of it
on food and drink for himself and his dependants. This wealth is
consumed--it is _wasted_, for it is consumed by men who produce nothing.
And it all comes from the earnings of the men who pay the rent.
Therefore, if the farmer and his men, instead of giving the money to the
duke for rent, could spend it on themselves, they would find more
employment for the poor than the duke can, because they would be able to
spend all that the duke and his enormous retinue of servants waste.

Although the duke (with the labourer's money) does find work for some
tailors, milliners, builders, bootmakers, and others, yet he does not
find work for them all. There are always some tailors, bootmakers, and
builders out of work.

Now, I understand that in this country about £14,000,000 a year are
spent on horse-racing and hunting. This is spent by the rich. If it were
not spent on horse-racing and hunting, it could be spent on useful
things, and then, perhaps, there would be fewer tailors and other
working men out of work.

But you may say, "What then would become of the huntsmen, jockeys,
servants, and others who now live on hunting and on racing?" A very
natural question. Allow me to explain the difference between necessaries
and luxuries.

All the things made or used by man may be divided into two classes,
under the heads of necessaries and luxuries.

I should count as necessaries all those things which are essential to
the highest form of human life.

All those things which are not necessary to the highest form of human
life I should call luxuries, or superfluities.

For instance, I should call food, clothing, houses, fuel, books,
pictures, and musical instruments, necessaries; and I should call
diamond ear-rings, racehorses, and broughams luxuries.

Now it is evident that all those things, whether luxuries or
necessaries, are made by labour. Diamond rings, loaves of bread, grand
pianos, and flat irons do not grow on trees; they must be made by the
labour of the people. And it is very clear that the more luxuries a
people produce, the fewer necessaries they will produce.

If a community consists of 10,000 people, and if 9000 people are making
bread and 1000 are making jewellery, it is evident that there will be
more bread than jewellery.

If in the same community 9000 make jewellery and only 1000 make bread,
there will be more jewellery than bread.

In the first case there will be food enough for all, though jewels be
scarce. In the second case the people must starve, although they wear
diamond rings on all their fingers.

In a well-ordered State no luxuries would be produced until there were
enough necessaries for all.

Robinson Crusoe's first care was to secure food and shelter. Had he
neglected his goats and his raisins, and spent his time in making
shell-boxes, he would have starved. Under those circumstances he would
have been a fool. But what are we to call the delicate and refined
ladies who wear satin and pearls, while the people who earn them lack

Take a community of two men. They work upon a plot of land and grow
grain for food. By each working six hours a day they produce enough food
for both.

Now take one of those men away from the cultivation of the land, and set
him to work for six hours a day at the making of bead necklaces. What

This happens--that the man who is left upon the land must now work
twelve hours a day. Why? Because although his companion has ceased to
grow grain he has not ceased to _eat bread_. Therefore the man who grows
the grain must now grow grain enough for two. That is to say, that the
more men are set to the making of luxuries, the heavier will be the
burden of the men who produce necessaries.

But in this case, you see, the farmer does get some return for his extra
labour. That is to say, he gets half the necklaces in exchange for half
his grain; for there is no rich man.

Suppose next a community of three--one of whom is a landlord, while the
other two are farmers.

The landlord takes half the produce of the land in rent, but does no
work. What happens?

We saw just now that the two workers could produce enough grain in six
hours to feed two men for one day. Of this the landlord takes half.
Therefore, the two men must now produce four men's food in one day, of
which the landlord will take two, leaving the workers each one. Well, if
it takes a man six hours to produce a day's keep for one, it will take
him twelve hours to produce a day's keep for two. So that our two
farmers must now work twice as long as before.

But now the landlord has got twice as much grain as he can eat. He
therefore proceeds to _spend_ it, and in spending it he "finds useful
employment" for one of the farmers. That is to say, he takes one of the
farmers off the land and sets him to building a house for the landlord.
What is the effect of this?

The effect of it is that the one man left upon the land has now to find
food for all three, and in return gets nothing.

Consider this carefully. All men must eat, and here are two men who do
not produce food. To produce food for one man takes one man six hours.
To produce food for three men takes one man eighteen hours. The one man
left on the land has, therefore, to work three times as long, or three
times as hard, as he did at first. In the case of the two men, we saw
that the farmer did get his share of the bead necklaces, but in the case
of the three men the farmer gets nothing. The luxuries produced by the
man taken from the land are enjoyed by the rich man.

The landlord takes from the farmer two-thirds of his produce, and
employs another man to help him to spend it.

We have here three classes--

1. The landlord, who does no work.

2. The landlord's servant, who does work for the benefit of the

3. The farmer, who produces food for himself and the other two.

Now, all the peoples of Europe, if not of the world, are divided into
those three classes.

And it is _most important_ that you should thoroughly understand those
three classes, never forget them, and never allow the rich man, nor the
champions of the rich man, to forget them.

The jockeys, huntsmen, and flunkeys alluded to just now, belong to the
class who work, but whose work is all done for the benefit of the idle.

Do not be deceived into supposing that there are but _two_ classes:
there are _three_. Do not believe that the people may be divided into
workers and idlers: they must be divided into (1) idlers, (2) workers
who work for the idlers, and (3) workers who support the idlers and
those who work for the idlers.

These three classes are a relic of the feudal times: they represent the
barons, the vassals, and the retainers.

The rich man is the baron, who draws his wealth from the workers; the
jockeys, milliners, flunkeys, upholsterers, designers, musicians, and
others who serve the rich man, and live upon his custom and employment,
are the retainers; the workers, who earn the money upon which the rich
man and his following exist, are the vassals.

Remember the _three_ classes: the rich, who produce nothing; the
employees of the rich, who produce luxuries for the rich; and the
workers, who find everything for themselves and all the wealth for the
other two classes.

It is like two men on one donkey. The duke rides the donkey, and boasts
that he carries the flunkey on his back. So he does. But the donkey
carries both flunkey and duke.

Clearly, then, the duke confers no favour on the agricultural labourer
by employing jockeys and servants, for the labourer has to pay for them,
and the duke gets the benefit of their services.

But the duke confers a benefit on the men he employs as huntsmen and
servants, and without the duke they would starve? No; without him they
would not starve, for the wealth which supports them would still exist,
and they could be found other work, and could even add to the general
store of wealth by producing some by their own labour.

The same remark applies to all those of the second class, from the
fashionable portrait-painter and the diamond-cutter down to the
scullery-maid and the stable-boy.

Compare the position of an author of to-day with the position of an
author in the time of Dr. Johnson. In Johnson's day the man of genius
was poor and despised, dependent on rich patrons: in our day the man of
genius writes for the public, and the rich patron is unknown.

The best patron is the People; the best employer is the People; the
proper person to enjoy luxuries is the man who works for and creates

My Lady Dedlock finds useful employment for Mrs. Jones. She employs Mrs.
Jones to make her ladyship a ball-dress.

Where does my lady get her money? She gets it from her husband, Sir
Leicester Dedlock, who gets it from his tenant farmer, who gets it from
the agricultural labourer, Hodge.

Then her ladyship orders the ball-dress of Mrs. Jones, and pays her with
Hodge's money.

But if Mrs. Jones were not employed making the ball-dress for my Lady
Dedlock, she could be making gowns for Mrs. Hodge, or frocks for Hodge's

Whereas now Hodge cannot buy frocks for his children, and his wife is a
dowdy, because Sir Leicester Dedlock has taken Hodge's earnings and
given them to his lady to buy ball costumes.

Take a larger instance. There are many yachts which, in building and
decoration, have cost a quarter of a million.

Average the wages of all the men engaged in the erection and fitting of
such a vessel at 30s. a week. We shall find that the yacht has "found
employment" for 160 men for twenty years. Now, while those men were
engaged on that work they produced no necessaries for themselves. But
they _consumed_ necessaries, and those necessaries were produced by the
same people who found the money for the owner of the yacht to spend.
That is to say, that the builders were kept by the producers of
necessaries, and the producers of necessaries were paid for the
builders' keep, with money which they, the producers of necessaries, had
earned for the owner of the yacht.

The conclusion of this sum being that the producers of necessaries had
been compelled to support 160 men, and their wives and children, for
twenty years; and for what?

That they might build _one yacht_ for the pleasure of _one idle man_.

Would those yacht builders have starved without the rich man? Not at
all. But for the rich man, the other workers would have had more money,
could afford more holidays, and that quarter of a million spent on the
one yacht would have built a whole fleet of pleasure boats.

And note also that the pleasure boats would find more employment than
the yacht, for there would be more to spend on labour and less on costly

So with other dependants of the rich. The duke's gardeners could find
work in public parks for the people; the artists, who now sell their
pictures to private collections, could sell them to public galleries;
and some of the decorators and upholsterers who now work on the rich
men's palaces might turn their talents to our town halls and hospitals
and public pavilions. And that reminds me of a quotation from Mr.
Mallock, cited in _Merrie England_. Mr. Mallock said--

    Let us take, for instance, a large and beautiful cabinet, for which
    a rich man of taste pays £2000. The cabinet is of value to him for
    reasons which we will consider presently; as possessed by him it
    constitutes a portion of his wealth. But how could such a piece of
    wealth be distributed? Not only is it incapable of physical
    partition and distribution, but, if taken from the rich man and
    given to the poor man, the latter is not the least enriched by it.
    Put a priceless buhl cabinet into an Irish labourer's cottage, and
    it will probably only add to his discomforts; or, if he finds it
    useful, it will only be because he keeps his pigs in it. A picture
    by Titian, again, may be worth thousands, but it is worth thousands
    only to the man who can enjoy it.

Now, isn't that a precious piece of nonsense? There are two things to be
said about that rich man's cabinet. The first is, that it was made by
some workman who, if he had not been so employed, might have been
producing what _would_ be useful to the poor. So that the cabinet has
cost the poor something. The second is, that a priceless buhl cabinet
_can_ be divided. Of course, it would be folly to hack it into shavings
and serve them out amongst the mob; but if that cabinet is a thing of
beauty and worth the seeing, it ought to be taken from the rich
benefactor, whose benefaction consists in his having plundered it from
the poor, and it ought to be put into a public museum where thousands
could see it, and where the rich man could see it also if he chose.
This, indeed, is the proper way to deal with all works of art, and this
is one of the rich man's greatest crimes--that he keeps hoarded up in
his house a number of things that ought to be the common heritage of the

Every article of luxury has to be paid for not in _money_, but in
_labour_. Every glass of wine drunk by my lord, and every diamond star
worn by my lady, has to be paid for with the sweat and the tears of the
poorest of our people. I believe it is a literal fact that many of the
artificial flowers worn at Court are actually stained with the tears of
the famished and exhausted girls who make them.

To say that the extravagance of the rich finds useful employment for the
poor, is more foolish than to say that the drunkard finds useful
employment for the brewers.

The drunkard may have a better defence than the duke, because he may
perhaps have produced, or earned, the money he spends in beer, whereas
the duke's rents are not produced by the duke nor earned by him.

That is clear, is it not? And yet a few weeks since I saw an article in
a London weekly paper in which we were told that the thief was an
indispensable member of society, because he found employment for
policemen, gaolers, builders of gaols, and other persons.

The excuse for the thief is as valid as the excuse for the duke. The
thief finds plenty of employment for the people. But who _pays_ the
persons employed?

The police, the gaolers, and all the other persons employed in catching,
holding, and feeding the thief, are paid out of the rates and taxes. Who
pays the taxes? The British public. Then the British public have to
support not only the police and the rest, but the thief as well.

What do the police, the thief, and the gaoler produce? Do they produce
any wealth? No. They consume wealth, and the thief is so useful that if
he died out for ever, it would pay us better to feed the gaolers and
police for doing nothing than to fetch the thief back again to feed him
as well.

Work is useless unless it be productive work. It would be work for a man
to dig a hole and then fill it up again; but the work would be of no
benefit to the nation. It would be work for a man to grow strawberries
to feed the Duke of Argyll's donkey on, but it would be useless work,
because it would add nothing to the general store of wealth.

Policemen and gaolers are men withdrawn from the work of producing
wealth to wait upon useless criminals. They, like soldiers and many
others, do not produce wealth, but they consume it, and the greater the
number of producers and the smaller the number of consumers the richer
the State must be. For which family would be the better off--the family
wherein ten earned wages and none wasted them, or the family in which
two earned wages and eight spent them?

Do not imagine, as some do, that increased consumption is a blessing. It
is the amount of wealth you produce that makes a nation prosperous; and
the idle rich man, who produces nothing, only makes his crime worse by
spending a great deal.

The great mass of the workers lead mean, penurious, and joyless lives;
they crowd into small and inconvenient houses; they occupy the darkest,
narrowest, and dirtiest streets; they eat coarse and cheap food, when
they do not go hungry; they drink adulterated beer and spirits; they
wear shabby and ill-made clothes; they ride in third-class carriages,
sit in the worst seats of the churches and theatres; and they stint
their wives of rest, their children of education, and themselves of
comfort and of honour, that they may pay rent, and interest, and profits
for the idle rich to spend in luxury and folly.

And if the workers complain, or display any signs of suspicion or
discontent, they are told that the rich are keeping them.

That is not _true_. It is the workers who are keeping the rich.



It is no use telling you what _Socialism_ is until I have told you what
it is not. Those who do not wish you to be Socialists have given you
very false notions about _Socialism_, in the hope of setting you against
it. They have brought many false charges against Socialists, in the hope
of setting you against them. So you have come to think of _Socialism_ as
a thing foolish, or vile, and when it is spoken of, you turn up your
noses (instead of trying to see beyond them) and turn your backs on it.

A friend offers to give you a good house-dog; but someone tells you it
is mad. Your friend will be wise to satisfy you that the dog is _not_
mad before he begins to tell you how well it can guard a house. Because,
as long as you think the dog will bite you, you are not in the frame of
mind to hear about its usefulness.

A sailor is offering to sell an African chief a telescope; but the chief
has been told that the thing is a gun. Then before the sailor shows the
chief what the glass is good for, he will be wise to prove to him that
it will not go off at half-cock and blow his eye out.

So with _Socialism_: before I try to show you what it really is, I must
try to clear your mind of the prejudice which has been sown there by
those who wish to make you hate Socialism because they fear it.

As a rule, my friends, it will be wise for you to look very carefully
and hopefully at anything which Parliament men, or employers, or
pressmen, call bad or foolish, because what helps you hinders them, and
the stronger you grow the weaker they become.

Well, the men who have tried to smash your unions, who have written
against you, and spoken against you, and acted against you in all great
strikes and lock-outs, are the same men who speak and write against

And what have they told you? Let us take their commonest statements, and
see what they are made of.

They say that Socialists want to get up a revolution, to turn the
country upside down by force, to seize all property, and to divide it
equally amongst the whole people.

We will take these charges one at a time.

As to _Revolution_. I think I shall be right if I say that not one
Socialist in fifty, at this day, expects or wishes to get _Socialism_ by
force of arms.

In the early days of _Socialism_, when there were very few Socialists,
and some of those rash, or angry, men, it may have been true that
_Socialism_ implied revolution and violence. But to-day there are very
few Socialists who believe in brute force, or who think a revolution
possible or desirable. The bulk of our Socialists are for peaceful and
lawful means. Some of them hope to bring _Socialism_ to pass by means of
a reformed Parliament; others hope to bring it to pass by means of a
newer, wiser, and juster public opinion.

I have always been dead against the idea of revolution, for many
reasons. I do not think a revolution is _possible_ in Britain. Firstly,
because the people have too much sense; secondly, because the people are
by nature patient and kindly; thirdly, because the people are too _free_
to make force needful.

I do not think a revolution is _advisable_. Because, firstly, it would
be almost sure to fail; secondly, if it did not fail it would put the
worst kind of men into power, and would destroy order and method before
it was ready to replace them; thirdly, because a State built up on force
is very likely to succumb to fraud; so that after great bloodshed,
trouble, labour, and loss the people would almost surely slip down into
worse evils than those against which they had fought, and would find
that they had suffered and sinned in vain.

I do not believe in force, and I do not believe in haste. What we want
is _reason_ and _right_; and we can only hope to get reason and right by
right and reasonable means.

The men who would come to the top in a civil war would be fighters and
strivers; they would not be the kind of men to wisely model and
patiently and justly rule or lead a new State. Your barricade man may be
very useful--at the barricades; but when the fighting is over, and his
work is done, he may be a great danger, for he is not the man, usually,
to stand aside and make way for the builders to replace by right laws
the wrong laws which his arms have destroyed.

Revolution by force of arms is not desirable nor feasible; but there is
another kind of revolution from which we hope great things. This is a
revolution of _thought_. Let us once get the people, or a big majority
of the people, to understand _Socialism_, to believe in _Socialism_, and
to work for _Socialism_, and the _real_ revolution is accomplished.

In a free country, such as ours, the almighty voice is the voice of
public opinion. What the public _believe in_ and _demand_ has got to be
given. Who is to refuse? Neither King nor Parliament can stand against a
united and resolute British people.

And do not suppose, either, that brute force, which is powerless to get
good or to keep it, has power to resist it or destroy it. Neither
truncheons nor bayonets can kill a truth. The sword and the cannon are
impotent against the pen and the tongue.

Believe me, we can overcome the constable, the soldier, the Parliament
man, the landlord, and the man of wealth, without shedding one drop of
blood, or breaking one pane of glass, or losing one day's work.

Our real task is to win the trust and help of the _people_ (I don't mean
the workers only, but the British people), and the first thing to be
done is to educate them--to teach them and tell them what we mean; to
make quite clear to them what _Socialism_ is, and what it is _not_.

One of the things it is not, is British imitation of the French
Revolution. Our method is persuasion; our cause is justice; our weapons
are the tongue and the pen.

Next: As to seizing the wealth of the country and sharing it out amongst
the people. First, we do not propose to _seize_ anything. We do propose
to get some things,--the land, for instance,--and to make them the
property of the whole nation; but we mean that to be done by Act of
Parliament, and by purchase. Second, we have no idea of "sharing out"
the land, nor the railways, nor the money, nor any other kind of wealth
or property, equally amongst the people. To share these things out--if
they _could_ be shared, which they could not be--would be to make them
_private_ property, whereas we want them to be _public_ property, the
property of the British _nation_.

Yet, how often have you been told that Socialists want to have the
wealth equally divided amongst all? And how often have you been told
that if you divided the wealth in that way it would soon cease to be
equally divided, because some would waste and some would save?

"Make all men equal in possessions," cry the non-Socialists, "and in a
very short time there would be rich and poor, as before."

This is no argument against _Socialism_, for Socialists do not seek any
such division. But I want to point out to you that though it _looks_
true, it is _not_ true.

It is quite true that, did we divide all wealth equally to-morrow, there
would in a short time be many penniless, and a few in a way of getting
rich; but it is only true if we suppose that after the sharing we
allowed private ownership of land and the old system of trade and
competition to go on as before. Change those things: do away with the
bad system which leads to poverty and to wealth, and we should have no
more rich and poor.

_Destroy_ all the wealth of England to-morrow--we will not talk of
"sharing" it out, but _destroy_ it--and establish _Socialism_ on the
ruins and the bareness, and in a few years we should have a prosperous,
a powerful, and a contented nation. There would be no rich and there
would be no poor. But the nation would be richer and happier than it
ever has been.

Another charge against Socialists is that they are _Atheists_, whose aim
is to destroy all religion and all morality.

This is not true. It is true that some Socialists are Agnostics and some
are Atheists. But Atheism is no more a part of Socialism than it is a
part of Toryism, or of Radicalism, or of Liberalism. Many prominent
Socialists are Christians, not a few are clergymen. Many Liberal and
Tory leaders are Agnostics or Atheists. Mr. Bradlaugh was a Radical, and
an Atheist; Prof. Huxley was an opponent of Socialism, and an Agnostic.
Socialism does not touch religion at any point. It deals with laws, and
with _industrial_ and _political_ government.

It is not sense to say, because some Atheists are Socialists, that all
Socialists are Atheists.

Christ's teaching is often said to be socialistic. It is not
socialistic; but it is communistic, and Communism is the most advanced
form of the policy generally known as _Socialism_.

The charge of _Immorality_ is absurd. Socialists demand a higher
morality than any now to be found. They demand perfect _honesty_.
Indeed, it is just the stern morality of _Socialism_ which causes
ambitious and greedy men to hate _Socialism_ and resist it.

Another charge against Socialists is the charge of desiring _Free Love_.

Socialists, it has been said, want to destroy home life, to abolish
marriage, to take the children from their parents, and to establish
"Free _Love_."

"Free Love," I may say, means that all men and women shall be free to
love as they please, and to live with whom they please. Therefore, that
they shall be free to live as "man and wife" without marriage, to part
when they please without divorce, and to take other partners as they
please without shame or penalty.

Now, I say of this charge, as I have said of the others, that there may
be some Socialists in favour of free love, just as there are some
Socialists in favour of revolution, and some who are not Christians; but
I say also that a big majority of Socialists are not in favour of free
love, and that in any case free love is no more a part of _Socialism_
than it is a part of Toryism or of Liberalism.

It is not sense to say, because some Free-Lovers are Socialists, that
all Socialists are Free-Lovers.

I believe there is not one English Socialist in a hundred who would vote
for doing away with marriage, or for handing over the children to the
State. I for one would see the State farther before I would part with a
child of mine. And I think you will generally find that those who are
really eager to have all children given up to the State are men and
women who have no children of their own.

Now, I submit that a childless man is not the right man to make laws
about children.

As for the questions of free love and legal marriage, they are very hard
to deal with, and this is not the time to deal with them. But I shall
say here that many of those who talk the loudest about free love do not
even know what love _is_, or have not sense enough to see that just as
love and lust are two very different things, so are free love and free
lust very different things.

Again, you are not to fall into the error of supposing that the
relations of the sexes are all they should be at present. Free _love_,
it is true, is not countenanced; but free _lust_ is very common.

And although some Socialists may be in favour of free _love_, I never
heard of a Socialist who had a word to say in favour of prostitution. It
may be a very wicked thing to enable a free woman to _give_ her love
freely; but it is a much worse thing to allow, and even at times compel
(for it amounts to that, by force of hunger) a free woman to _sell_ her
love--no, not her _love_, poor creature; the vilest never sold that--but
to sell her honour, her body, and her soul.

I would do a great deal for _Socialism_ if it were only to do that one
good act of wiping out for ever the shameful sin of prostitution. This
thing, indeed, is so horrible that I never think of it without feeling
tempted to apologise for calling myself a man in a country where it is
so common as it is in moral Britain.

There are several other common charges against Socialists; as that they
are poor and envious--what we may call Have-nots-on-the-Have; that they
are ignorant and incapable men, who know nothing, and cannot think;
that, in short, they are failures and wasters, fools and knaves.

These charges are as true and as false as the others. There may be some
Socialists who are ignorant and stupid; there may be some who are poor
_and_ envious; there may be some who are Socialists because they like
cakes and ale better than work; and there may be some who are clever,
but not too good--men who will feather their nests if they can find any
geese for the plucking.

But I don't think that _all_ Tories and Liberals are wise, learned,
pure, unselfish, and clever men, eager to devote their talents to the
good of their fellows, and unwilling to be paid, or thanked, or praised,
for what they do.

I think there are fools and knaves,--even in Parliament,--and that some
of the "Bounders-on-the-Bounce" find it pays a great deal better to
toady to the "Haves" than to sacrifice themselves to the "Have-nots."

And I think I may claim that Socialists are in the main honest and
sensible men, who work for _Socialism_ because they believe in it, and
not because it pays; for its advocacy seldom pays at all, and it never
pays well; and I am sure that _Socialism_ makes quicker progress amongst
the educated than amongst the ignorant, and amongst the intelligent than
amongst the dull.

As for brains: I hope such men as William Morris, Karl Marx, and
Liebknecht are as well endowed with brains as--well, let us be modest,
and say as the average Tory or Liberal leader.

But most of the charges and arguments I have quoted are not aimed at
_Socialism_ at all, but at Socialists.

Now, to prove that some of the men who espouse a cause are unworthy, is
not the same thing as proving that the cause is bad.

Some parsons are foolish, some are insincere; but we do not therefore
say that Christianity is unwise or untrue. Even if _most_ parsons were
really bad men we should only despise and condemn the clergy, and not
the religion they dishonoured and misrepresented.

The question is not whether all Socialists are as wise as Mr. Samuel
Woods, M.P., or as honest as Jabez Balfour; _the_ question is whether
_Socialism_ is a thing in itself just, and wise, and _possible_.

If you find a Socialist who is foolish, laugh at him; it you find one
who is a rogue, don't trust him; if you find one "on the make," stop his
making. But as for _Socialism_, if it be good, accept it; if it be bad,
reject it.

Here allow me to quote a few lines from _Merrie England_--

    Half our time as champions of Socialism is wasted in denials of
    false descriptions of Socialism; and to a large extent the anger,
    the ridicule, and the argument of the opponents of Socialism are
    hurled against a Socialism which has no existence except in their
    own heated minds.

    Socialism does not consist in violently seizing upon the property of
    the rich and sharing it out amongst the poor.

    Socialism is not a wild dream of a happy land where the apples will
    drop off the trees into our open mouths, the fish come out of the
    rivers and fry themselves for dinner, and the looms turn out
    ready-made suits of velvet with golden buttons without the trouble
    of coaling the engine. Neither is it a dream of a nation of
    stained-glass angels, who never say damn, who always love their
    neighbours better than themselves, and who never need to work unless
    they wish to.

And now, having told you what _Socialism is not_, it remains for me to
tell you what _Socialism is_.



To those who are writing about such things as _Socialism_ or Political
Economy, one of the stumbling-blocks is in the hard or uncommon words,
and another in the tediousness--the "dryness"--of the arguments and

It is not easy to say what has to be said so that anybody may see quite
clearly what is meant, and it is still harder to say it so as to hold
the attention and arouse the interest of men and women who are not used
to reading or thinking about matters outside the daily round of their
work and their play. As I want this book to be plain to all kinds of
workers, even to those who have no "book-learning" and to whom a "hard
word" is a "boggart," and a "dry" description or a long argument a
weariness of the flesh, I must beg those of you who are more used to
bookish talk and scientific terms (or names) to bear with me when I stop
to show the meaning of things that to you are quite clear.

If I can make my meaning plain to members of Parliament, bishops,
editors, and other half-educated persons, and to labouring men and women
who have had but little schooling, and have never been used to think or
care about _Socialism_, or Economics, or Politics, or "any such dry
rot"--as they would call them--if I can catch the ear of the heedless
and the untaught, the rest of you cannot fail to follow.

The terms, or names, used in speaking of Socialism--that is to say, the
names given to ideas, or "thoughts," or to kinds of ideas, or "schools"
of thought, are not easy to put into the plain words of common speech.
To an untaught labourer _Socialism_ is a hard word, so is
_Co-operation_; and such a phrase, or name, as _Political Economy_ is
enough to clear a taproom, or break up a meeting, or close a book.

So I want to steer clear of "hard words," and "dry talk," and
long-windedness, and I want to tell my tale, if I can, in "tinker's

_What is Socialism?_

There is more than one kind of _Socialism_, for we hear of State
_Socialism_, of Practical _Socialism_, of Communal _Socialism_; and
these kinds differ from each other, though they are all _Socialism_.

So you have different kinds of Liberals. There are old-school Whigs, and
advanced Whigs, and Liberals, and Radicals, and advanced Radicals; but
they are all _Liberals_.

So you have horse soldiers, foot soldiers, riflemen, artillery, and
engineers; but they are all _soldiers_.

Amongst the Liberals are men of many minds: there are Churchmen,
Nonconformists, Atheists; there are teetotalers and there are drinkers;
there are Trade Union leaders, and there are leaders of the Masters'
Federation. These men differ on many points, but they all agree upon
_one_ point.

Amongst the Socialists are many men of many minds: there are parsons,
atheists, labourers, employers, men of peace, and men of force. These
men differ on many points, but they all agree upon _one_ point.

Now, this point on which men of different views agree is called a

A principle is a main idea, or main thought. It is like the keelson of a
ship or the backbone of a fish--it is the foundation on which the thing
is built.

Thus, the _principle_ of Trade Unionism is "combination," the combining,
or joining together, of a number of workers, for the general good of

The _principle_ of Democratic (or Popular) Government is the law that
the will of the majority shall rule.

Do away with the "right of combination," and Trade Unionism is

Do away with majority rule, and Popular Government is destroyed.

So if we can find the _principle_ of _Socialism_, if we can find the
one point on which all kinds of Socialists agree, we shall be able to
see what _Socialism_ really is.

Now, here in plain words is the _principle_, or root idea, on which
_all_ Socialists agree--

That the country, and all the machinery of production in the country,
shall belong to the whole people (the nation), and shall be used _by_
the people and _for_ the people.

That "principle," the root idea of Socialism, means two things--

    1. That the land and all the machines, tools, and buildings used in
    making needful things, together with all the canals, rivers, roads,
    railways, ships, and trains used in moving, sharing (distributing)
    needful things, and all the shops, markets, scales, weights, and
    money used in selling or dividing needful things, shall be the
    property of (belong to) the whole people (the nation).

    2. That the land, tools, machines, trains, rivers, shops, scales,
    money, and all the other things belonging to the people, shall be
    worked, managed, divided, and used by the whole people in such a way
    as the greater number of the whole people shall deem best.

This is the principle of collective, or national, ownership, and
co-operative, or national, use and control.

Socialism may, you see, be summed up in one line, in four words, as
really meaning


I will make all this as plain as the nose on your face directly. Let us
now look at the _other_ side.

To-day Britain does _not_ belong to the British; it belongs to a few of
the British. There are bits of it which belong to the whole people, as
Wimbledon Common, Portland Gaol, the highroads; but most of it is
"private property."

Now, as there are Liberals and Tories, Catholics and Protestants,
Dockers' Unions and Shipping Federations in England; so there are
Socialists and non-Socialists.

And as there are different kinds of Socialists, so there are different
kinds of non-Socialists.

As there is one point, or _principle_, on which all kinds of Socialists
agree; so there is one point, or _principle_, on which all kinds of
non-Socialists agree.

Amongst the non-Socialists there are Liberals and Tories, Catholics and
Protestants, masters and workmen, rich and poor, lords and labourers,
publicans and teetotalers; and these folks, as you know, differ in their
ideas, and quarrel with and go against each other; but they are all
non-Socialists, they are all against _Socialism_, and they all agree
upon _one point_.

So, if we can find the one point on which all kinds of non-Socialists
agree, we shall find the _principle_, or root idea, of non-Socialism.

Well, the "principle" of non-Socialism is just the opposite of the
"principle" of _Socialism_. As the "principle" of _Socialism_ is
national ownership, so the "principle" of non-Socialism is _private_
ownership. As the principle of _Socialism_ is _Britain for the British_,
so the principle of non-Socialism is _Every Briton for Himself_.

Again, as the principle of _Socialism_ means two things, so does the
principle of non-Socialism mean two things.

As the principle of _Socialism_ means national ownership and
co-operative national management, so the principle of non-Socialism
means _private ownership_ and _private management_.

_Socialism_ says that Britain shall be owned and managed _by_ the people
_for_ the people.

Non-Socialism says Britain shall be owned and managed _by_ some persons
_for_ some persons.

Under _Socialism_ you would have _all_ the people working _together_ for
the good of _all_.

Under non-Socialism you have all the _persons_ working _separately_ (and
mostly _against_ each other), each for the good of _himself_.

So we find _Socialism_ means _Co-operation_, and non-Socialism means

Co-operation, as here used, means operating or working together for a
common end or purpose.

Competition means competing or vying with each other for personal ends
or gain.

I'm afraid that is all as "dry" as bran, and as sad as a half-boiled
dumpling; but I want to make it quite plain.

And now we will run over it all again in a more homely and lively way.

You know that to-day most of the land in Britain belongs to landlords,
who let it to farmers or builders, and charge _rent_ for it.

Socialists (_all_ Socialists) say that _all_ the land should belong to
the British people, to the nation.

You know that the railways belong to railway companies, who carry goods
and passengers, and charge fares and rates, to make _profit_.

Socialists _all_ say that the railways should be bought by the people.
Some say that fares should be charged, some that the railways should be
free--just as the roads, rivers, and bridges now are; but all agree that
any profit made by the railways should belong to the whole nation. Just
as do the profits now made by the post office and the telegraphs.

You know that cotton mills, coalmines, and breweries now belong to rich
men, or to companies, who sell the coal, the calico, or the beer, for

Socialists say that all mines, mills, breweries, shops, works, ships,
and farms should belong to the whole people, and should be managed by
persons chosen by the people, or chosen by officials elected by the
people, and that all the bread, beer, calico, coal, and other goods
should be either _sold_ to the people, or _given_ to the people, or sold
to foreign buyers for the benefit of the British nation.

Some Socialists would _give_ the goods to the people, some would _sell_
them; but _all_ agree that any profit on such sales should belong to the
whole people--just as any profit made on the sale of gas by the
Manchester Corporation goes to the credit of the city.

Now you will begin to see what is meant by Socialism.

To-day the nation owns _some_ things; under Socialism the nation would
own _all_ things.

To-day the nation owns the ships of the navy, the forts, arsenals,
public buildings, Government factories, and some other things.

To-day the Government, _for the nation_, manages the post office and
telegraphs, makes some of the clothes and food and arms for the army and
navy, builds some of the warships, and oversees the Church, the prisons,
and the schools.

Socialists want the nation to own _all_ the buildings, factories, lands,
rivers, ships, schools, machines, and goods, and to manage _all_ their
business and work, and to buy and sell and make and use _all_ goods for

To-day some cities (as Manchester and Glasgow) make gas, and supply gas
and water to the citizens. Some cities (as London) let their citizens
buy their gas and water from gas and water companies.

Socialists want _all_ the gas and water to be supplied to the people by
their own officials, as in Glasgow and Manchester.

Under _Socialism_ all the work of the nation would be _organised_--that
is to say, it would be "ordered," or "arranged," so that no one need be
out of work, and so that no useless work need be done, and so that no
work need be done twice where once would serve.

At present the work is _not_ organised, except in the post office and in
the various works of the Corporations.

Let us take a look at the state of things in England to-day.

To-day the industries of England are not ordered nor arranged, but are
left to be disordered by chance and by the ups and downs of trade.

So we have at one and the same time, and in one and the same trade, and,
often enough, in one and the same town, some men working overtime and
other men out of work.

We have at one time the cotton mills making more goods than they can
sell, and at another time we have them unable to fulfil their orders.

We have in one street a dozen small shops all selling the same kind of
goods, and so spending in rent, in fittings, in wages of servants, and
other ways, about four times as much as would be spent if all the work
were done in one big shop.

We have one contractor sending men and tools and bricks and wood from
north London to build a house in south London, and another contractor in
south London going to the same trouble and expense to build a house in
north London.

We have in Essex and other parts of England thousands of acres of good
land lying idle because it does not _pay_ to till it, and at the same
time we have thousands of labourers out of work who would be only too
glad to till it.

So in one part of a city you may see hundreds of houses standing empty,
and in another part of the same city you may see hard-working people
living three and four families in a small cottage.

Then, under competition, where there are many firms in the same trade,
and where each firm wants to get as much trade as it can, a great deal
of money is spent by these firms in trying to get the trade from each

Thus all the cost of advertisements, of travellers' wages, and a lot of
the cost of book-keeping, arise from the fact that there are many firms
all trying to snatch the trade from each other.

Non-Socialists claim that this clumsy and costly way of going to work is
really the best way there is. They say that competition gets the work
done by the best men and at the lowest rate.

Perhaps some of them believe this; but it is not true. The mistake is
caused by the fact that _competition_ is better than _monopoly_.

That is to say, if there is only one tram company in a town the fares
will be higher than if there are two; because when there are two one
tries to undersell the other.

But take a town where there are two tram companies undercutting and
working against each other, and hand the trams over to the Corporation,
and you will find that the work is done better, is done cheaper, and the
men are better paid than under competition.

This is because the Corporation is at less cost, has less waste, and
does not want _profits_.

Well, under _Socialism_ all the work of the nation would be managed by
the nation--or perhaps I had better say by "the people," for some of the
work would be _local_ and some would be _national_. I will show you what
I mean.

It might be better for each town to manage its own gas and water, to
bake its own bread and brew its own beer. But it would be better for the
post office to be managed by the nation, because that has to do with
_all_ the towns.

So we should find that some kinds of work were best done locally--that
is, by each town or county--and that some were best done nationally,
that is, by a body of officials acting for the nation.

For instance, tramways would be local and railways national; gas and
water would be local and collieries national; police would be local and
the army and navy national.

The kind of _Socialism_ I am advocating here is Collectivism, or
_Practical Socialism_. Motto: Britain for the British, the land and all
the instruments of production, distribution, and exchange to be the
property of the nation, and to be managed _by_ the nation _for_ the

The land and railways, collieries, etc., to be _bought_ from the present
owners, but not at fancy prices.

Wages to be paid, and goods to be sold.

Thus, you see, Collectivism is really an extension of the _principles_,
or ideas, of local government, and of the various corporation and civil

And now I tell you that is Socialism, and I ask you what is there in it
to prevent any man from being a Christian, or from attending a place of
worship, or from marrying, or being faithful to his wife, or from
keeping and bringing up his children at home?

There is nothing in it to destroy religion, and there is nothing in it
to destroy the home, and there is nothing in it to foster vice.

But there _is_ something in it to kill ignorance and to destroy vice.
There is something in it to shut up the gaols, to do away with
prostitution, to reduce crime and drunkenness, and wipe out for ever the
sweater and the slums, the beggars and the idle rich, the useless fine
ladies and lords, and to make it possible for sober and willing workers
to live healthy and happy and honourable lives.

For Socialism would teach and train all children wisely; it would foster
genius and devotion to the common good; it would kill scamping and
loafing and jerrymandering; it would give us better health, better
homes, better work, better food, better lives, and better men and women.



A comparison of competition with co-operation is a comparison of
non-Socialism with Socialism.

For the principle of non-Socialism is competition, and the principle of
Socialism is co-operation.

Non-Socialists tell us that competition is to the general advantage,
because it lowers prices in favour of the consumer.

But competition in trade only seems desirable when we contrast it with
private monopoly.

When we compare the effects of trade competition with the effects of
State or Municipal co-operation, we find that competition is badly

Let us try to find the reasons of this.

The claim for the superior cheapness of competition rests on the theory
that where two sellers compete against each other for trade each tries
to undersell the other.

This sounds plausible, but, like many other plausible things, it is
untrue. It is a theory, but the theory is incomplete.

If business men were fools the theory would work with mathematical
precision, to the great joy and profit of the consumer; but business men
are not built on those lines.

The seller of any article does not trade for trading's sake; he trades
for profit.

It is a mistake to suppose that undercutting each other's prices is the
only method of competing between rival firms in trade. There are other

A trader, in order to defeat a rival, may

    1. Give better quality at the same price, which is equal to giving
    more for the money, and is therefore a form of underselling; or

    2. He may give the same quantity and quality at a lower price; or

    3. He may balance the lowering of his price by resorting to
    adulteration or the use of inferior workmanship or material; or

    4. He may try to overreach his rival by employing more travellers or
    by advertising more extensively.

As to underselling. This is not carried on to such extremes as the
theorists would have us believe.

The object of a trader is to make money. He only desires increased trade
if it brings more money.

Brown and Jones make soap for sale. Each desires to get as much of the
trade as he can, consistently with profits.

It will pay Brown better to sell 1000 boxes of soap at a profit of
sixpence on each box than to sell 2000 boxes at a profit of twopence a
box, and it will pay him better to sell 4000 boxes at a profit of
twopence each than it will to sell 1000 boxes at a profit of sixpence

Now, suppose there is a demand for 20,000 boxes of soap in a week. If
Brown and Jones are content to divide the trade, each may sell 10,000
boxes at a profit of sixpence, and so may clear a total profit of £250.

If, by repeated undercutting, the profit falls to a penny a box, Brown
and Jones will have very little more than £80 to divide between them.
And it is clear that it will pay them better to divide the trade, for it
would pay either of them better to take half the trade at even a
threepenny profit than to secure it all at a profit of one penny.

Well, Brown and Jones have the full use of their faculties, and are well
aware of the number of beans that make five.

Therefore they will not compete beyond the point at which competition
will increase their gross profits.

And so we shall find in most businesses, from great railways down to
tooth brushes, that the difference in prices, quality being equal, is
not very great amongst native traders, and that a margin of profit is
always left.

At the same time, so far as competition _does_ lower prices without
lowering quality, the benefit is to the consumer, and that much is to be
put to the credit of competition.

But even there, on its strongest line, competition is beaten by State
or Municipal co-operation.

Because, assuming that the State or Municipality can produce any article
as cheaply as a private firm, the State or the Municipality can always
beat the private trader in price to the extent of the trader's profit.

For no trader will continue to trade unless he makes some profit,
whereas the State or Municipality wants no profit, but works for use or
for service.

Therefore, if a private trader sells soap at a profit of one farthing a
box, the State or Municipality can sell soap one farthing a box cheaper,
other things being equal.

It is evident, then, that the trader must be beaten unless he can
produce more cheaply than the State or Municipality.

Can he produce more cheaply? No. The State or Municipality can always
produce more cheaply than the private trader, under equal conditions.
Why? For the same reason that a large firm can beat a small one, or a
trust can beat a number of large firms.

Suppose there are three separate firms making soap. Each firm must have
its separate factory, its separate offices, its separate management, its
separate power, its separate profits, and its separate plant.

But if one firm made all the soap, it would save a great deal of
expense; for one large factory is cheaper than two of half its size, and
one manager costs less than three.

If the London County Council made all the soap for London, it could make
soap more cheaply than any one of a dozen private firms; because it
would save so largely in rent, plant, and management.

Thus the State or Municipality scores over the private firm, and
co-operation scores over competition in two ways: first, it cuts off the
profit; and, second, it reduces the cost of production.

But that does not exhaust the advantages of co-operation over
competition. There are two other forms of competition still to examine:
these are adulteration and advertisement.

We all know the meaning of the phrase "cheap and nasty." We can get
pianos, bicycles, houses, boots, tea, and many other things at various
prices, and we find that many of the cheap pianos will not keep in tune,
that the bicycles are always out of repair, that the houses fall down,
the boots let in water, and the tea tastes like what it _is_--a mixture
of dried tea leaves and rubbish.

Adulteration, as John Bright frankly declared, is a form of competition.
It is also a form of rascality and fraud. It is a device for retaining
profits for the seller, but it is seriously to the disadvantage of the

This form of competition, then, has to be put to the debit of

And the absence of this form of competition has to be put to the credit
of the State or the Municipal supply. For since the State or
Municipality has no competitor to displace, it never descends to the
baseness of adulteration.

The London County Council would not build jerry houses for the citizens,
nor supply them with tea leaves for tea, nor logwood and water for port

The sale of wooden nutmegs is a species of enterprise confined
exclusively to the private trader. It is a form of competition, but
never of commercial co-operation. It is peculiar to non-Socialism:
Socialists would abolish it entirely.

We come now to the third device of the private trader in competition:
the employment of commercial travellers and advertisement.

Of two firms selling similar goods, of equal quality, at equal prices,
that firm will do the larger trade which keeps the greater number of
commercial travellers and spends the greater sum upon advertisement.

But travellers cost money, and advertising costs money. And so we find
that travellers and advertisements add to the cost of distribution.

Therefore competition, although by underbidding it has a limited
tendency to lower the prices of goods, has also a tendency to increase
the price in another way.

If Brown lowers the price of his soap the user of soap is the gainer.
But if Brown increases the cost of his advertisements and his staff of
travellers, the user is the loser, because the extra cost has to be paid
for in the price of soap.

Now, if the London County Council made soap for all London, there would

1. A saving in cost of rent, plant, and management.

2. A saving of profits by selling at cost price.

3. A saving of the whole cost of advertising.

4. A saving of the wages of the commercial travellers.

Under a system of trade competition all those four items (plus the
effects of adulteration) have to be paid for by the consumer, that is to
say, by the users of soap.

And what is true of soap is true of most other things.

That is why co-operation for use beats competition for sale and profit.

That is why the Municipal gas, water, and tram services are better and
cheaper than the same services under the management of private

That is _one_ reason why Socialism is better than non-Socialism.

As an example of the difference between private and Municipal works, let
us take the case of the gas supply in Liverpool and Manchester. These
cities are both commercial, both large, both near the coalfields.

The gas service in Liverpool is a private monopoly, for profit; that of
Manchester is a co-operative monopoly, for service.

In Liverpool (figures of 1897) the price of gas was 2s. 9d. per thousand
feet. In Manchester the price of gas was 2s. 3d.

In Liverpool the profit on gas was 8½d. per thousand feet. In
Manchester the profit was 7½d. per thousand feet.

In Liverpool the profits went to the company. In Manchester the profits
went to the ratepayers.

Thus the Manchester ratepayer was getting his gas for 2s. 3d. less
7½d., which means that he was getting it at 1s. 7½d., while the
Liverpool ratepayer was being charged 2s. 9d. The public monopoly of
Manchester was, therefore, beating the private monopoly of Liverpool by
1s. 1½d. per thousand feet in the price of gas.

In _To-day's Work_, by George Haw, and in _Does Municipal Management
Pay?_ by R. B. Suthers, you will find many examples as striking and
conclusive as the one I have suggested above.

The waste incidental to private traders' competition is enormous. Take
the one item of advertisement alone. There are draughtsmen,
paper-makers, printers, billposters, painters, carpenters, gilders,
mechanics, and a perfect army of other people all employed in making
advertisement bills, pictures, hoardings, and other abominations--for
_what_? Not to benefit the consumer, but to enable one private dealer to
sell more of his wares than another. In _Merrie England_ I dealt with
this question, and I quoted from an excellent pamphlet by Mr.
Washington, a man of splendid talents, whose death we have unfortunately
to deplore. Mr. Washington, who was an inventor and a thoroughly
practical man of business, spoke as follows:--

    Taking soap as an example, it requires a purchaser of this commodity
    to expend a shilling in obtaining sixpennyworth of it, the
    additional sixpence being requisite to cover the cost of
    advertising, travelling, etc. It requires him to expend 1s. 1½d. to
    obtain twopennyworth of pills for the same reason. For a sewing
    machine he must, if spending £7 on it, part with £4 of this amount
    on account of unnecessary cost; and so on in the case of all widely
    advertised articles. In the price of less-advertised commodities
    there is, in like manner, included as unnecessary cost a long string
    of middlemen's profits and expenses. It may be necessary to treat of
    these later, but for the present suffice it to say that in the price
    of goods as sold by retail the margin of unnecessary cost ranges
    from threepence to tenpence in the shilling, and taking an average
    of one thing with another, it may be safely stated that one-half of
    the price paid is rendered necessary simply through the foolish and
    inconvenient manner in which the business is carried on.

All this expense would be saved by State or Municipal production for
use. The New York Milk Trust, I understand, on its formation dispensed
with the services of 15,000 men.

You may ask what is to become of these men, and of the immense numbers
of other men, now uselessly employed, who would not be needed under

Well! What are these men now doing? Are they adding to the wealth of the
nation? No. Are they not doing work that is unnecessary to the nation?
Yes. Are they not now being paid wages? Yes.

Then, since their work is useless, and since they are now being paid, is
it not evident that under Socialism we could actually pay them their
full wages for doing _nothing_, and still be as well off as we are now?

But I think under Socialism we could, and should, find a very great many
of them congenial and useful work.

Under the "Trusts" they will be thrown out of work, and it will be
nobody's business to see that they do not starve.

Yes: Socialism would displace labour. But does not non-Socialism
displace labour?

Why was the linotype machine adopted? Because it was a saving of cost.
What became of the compositors? They were thrown out of work. Did
anybody help them?

Well, Socialism would save cost. If it displaces labour, as the machine
does, should that prevent us from adopting Socialism?

Socialism would organise labour, and leave no man to starve.

But will the Trusts do that? No. And the Trusts are coming; the Trusts
which will swallow up the small firms and destroy competition; the
Trusts which will use their monopolies not to lower prices, but to make

You will have your choice, then, between the grasping and grinding Trust
and the beneficent Municipality.

Can any reasonable, practical, hard-headed man hesitate for one moment
over his choice?



We have heard a great deal lately about the danger of losing our foreign
trade, and it has been very openly suggested that the only hope of
keeping our foreign trade lies in reducing the wages of our British
workers. Sometimes this idea is wrapped up, and called "reducing the
cost of production."

Now, if we must have foreign trade, and as much of it as we have now,
and if we can only keep it by competing against foreign dealers in
price, then it is true that we must try to reduce the cost of

But as there are more ways of killing a dog besides that of choking him
with butter, so there are other ways of reducing the cost of production
besides that of reducing the wages of our British workers.

But on that question I will speak in the next chapter. Here I want to
deal with foreign trade and foreign food.

It is very important that every worker in the kingdom should understand
the relations of our foreign trade and our native agriculture.

The creed of the commercial school is that manufactures _pay_ us better
than agriculture; so that by making goods for export and buying food
from abroad we are doing good business.

The idea is, that if by making cloth, cutlery, and other goods, we can
buy more food than we can produce at home with the same amount of
labour, it _pays_ us to let the land go out of cultivation and make
Britain the "workshop of the world."

Now, assuming that we _can_ keep our foreign trade, and assuming that we
can get more food by foreign trade than we could produce by the same
amount of work, is it quite certain that we are making a good bargain
when we desert our fields for our factories?

Suppose men _can_ earn more in the big towns than they _could_ earn in
the fields, is the difference _all_ gain?

Rents and prices are higher in the towns; the life is less healthy, less
pleasant. It is a fact that the death-rates in the towns are higher,
that the duration of life is shorter, and that the stamina and physique
of the workers are lowered by town life and by employment in the

And there is another very serious evil attached to the commercial policy
of allowing our British agriculture to decay, and that is the evil of
our dependence upon foreign countries for our food.

Of every 30 bushels of wheat we require in Britain, more than 23 bushels
come from abroad. Of these 23 bushels 19 bushels come from America, and
nearly all the rest from Russia.

You are told at intervals--when more money is wanted for
battle-ships--that unless we have a strong fleet we shall, in time of
war, be starved into surrender.

But the plain and terrible truth is that even if we have a perfect
fleet, and keep entire control of the seas, we shall still be exposed to
the risk of almost certain starvation during a European war.

Nearly four-fifths of our bread come from Russia and America. Suppose we
are at war with France and Russia. What will happen? Will not the corn
dealers in America put up the price? Will not the Russians stop the
export of corn from their ports? Will not the French and Russian
Governments try to corner the American wheat?

Then one-seventh of our wheat would be stopped at Russian ports, and the
American supply, even if it could be safely guarded to our shores, would
be raised to double or treble the present price.

What would our millions of poor workers do if wheat went up to 75s. or
100s. a quarter?

And every other article of food would go up in price at the same time:
tea, coffee, sugar, meat, canned goods, cheese, would all double their

And we must not forget that we import millions of pounds' worth of
eggs, butter, and cheese from France, all of which would be stopped.

Nor is that all. Do we not pay for our imported food in exported goods?
Well, besides the risk and cost of carrying raw material to this country
and manufactured goods to other countries across the seas, we should
lose at one blow all our French and Russian trade.

That means that with food at famine prices many of our workers would be
out of work or on short time.

The result would be that in less than half a year there would be
1,000,000 unemployed, and ten times that number on the borders of

And all these horrors might come upon us without a single shot being
fired by our enemies. Talk about invasion! In a big European war we
should be half beaten before we could strike a blow, and even if our
fleets were victorious in a dozen battles we must starve or make peace.

Or suppose such a calamity as war with America! The Americans could
close their ports to food and raw material, and stop half our food and a
large part of our trade at one blow. And so we should be half beaten
before a sword was drawn.

All these dangers are due to the commercial plan of sacrificing
agriculture to trade. All these dangers must be placed to the debit side
of our foreign trade account.

But apart from the dangers of starvation in time of war, and apart from
all the evils of the factory system and the bad effects of overcrowding
in the towns, it has still to be said that foreign trade only beats
agriculture as long as it pays so well that we can buy more food with
our earnings than we could ourselves produce with the same amount of

Are we quite sure that it pays us as well as that _now_? And if it does
pay as well as that now, can we hope that it will go on paying as well
for any length of time.

In the early days of our great trade the commercial school wished
Britain to be the "workshop of the world"; and for a good while she was
the workshop of the world.

But now a change is coming. Other nations have opened world-workshops,
and we have to face competition.

France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and America are all eager to take our
coveted place as general factory, and China and Japan are changing
swiftly from customers into rival dealers.

Is it likely, then, that we can keep all our foreign trade, or that what
we keep will be as profitable as it is at present?

During the last few years there have emanated from the Press and from
Chambers of Commerce certain ominous growlings about the evils of Trade
Unionism. What do these growls portend? Much the same thing as the
mutterings about the need for lowering wages.

Do we not remember how, when the colliers were struggling for a "living
wage," the Press scolded them for their "selfishness"? The Press
declared that if the colliers persisted in having a living wage we
should be beaten by foreign competitors and must lose our foreign trade.

That is what is hanging over us now. A demand for a general reduction of
wages. That is the end of the fine talk about big profits, national
prosperity, and the "workshop of the world." The British workers are to
emulate the thrift of the Japanese, the Hindoos, and the Chinese, and
learn to live on boiled rice and water. Why? So that they can accept
lower wages and retain our precious foreign trade.

Yes; that is the latest idea. With brutal frankness the workers of
Britain have been told again and again that "if we are to keep our
foreign trade the British workers must accept the conditions of their
foreign rivals."

And that is the result of our commercial glory! For that we have
sacrificed our agriculture and endangered the safety of our empire.

Let us put the two statements of the commercial school side by side.

They tell us first that the workers must abandon the land and go into
the factories, because there they can earn a better living.

They tell us now that the British worker must be content with the wages
of a coolie, because foreign trade will pay no more.

We are to give up agriculture because we can buy more food with exported
goods than we can grow; and we must learn to live on next to nothing, or
lose our foreign trade.

Well, since we left the land in the hope that the factories would feed
us better, why not go back to the land if the factories fail to feed us
at all?

Ah! but the commercial school have another string to their bow: "You
cannot go back to the land, for it will not feed you all. This country
will not produce enough food for its people to live upon."

So the position in which the workers are placed, according to the
commercial school, is this: You cannot produce your own food; therefore
you must buy it by export trade. But you will lose your export trade
unless you work for lower wages.

Well, Mr. Smith, I for one do not believe those things. I believe--

1. That we can produce most of our food.

2. That we can keep as much of our trade as we need, and

3. That we can keep the trade without reducing the wages of the workers.

In my next chapter I will deal with the question of foreign trade and
the workers' wages. We will then go on to consider the question of the
food supply.

For the argument as to our defencelessness in time of war through the
inevitable rise in the price of corn, I am indebted to a pamphlet by
Captain Stewart L. Murray of the Gordon Highlanders. I strongly
recommend all working men and women to read that pamphlet. It is
entitled _Our Food Supply in Time of War_, and can be ordered through
the _Clarion_. The price is 6d.



The problem is how to keep our foreign export trade.

We are told that unless we can compete in price with foreign nations we
must lose our foreign trade; and we are told that the only means of
competing with foreign nations in price is to lower the wages of the
British worker.

We will test these statements by looking into the conditions of one of
our great industries, an industry upon which many other industries more
or less depend: I mean the coal trade.

At the time of the great coal strike the colliers were asked to accept a
reduction of wages because their employers could not get the price they
were asking for coal.

The colliers refused, and demanded a "living wage." And they were
severely censured by the Press for their "selfishness" in "keeping up
the price of coal," and thereby preventing other trades, in which coal
was largely used, from earning a living. They were reproached also with
keeping the price of coal so high that the poor could not afford fires.

Now, if those other trades which used coal, as the iron and the cotton
trades, could not carry on their business with coal at the price it was
then at, and if those trades had no other ways and means of reducing
expenses, and if the only factor in the price of coal had been the wages
of the collier, there might have been some ground for the arguments of
the Press against the colliers.

But in the iron trade one item of the cost of production is the
_royalty_ on the iron. Royalty is a kind of rent paid to the landlord
for getting the iron from his land.

Now, I want to ask about the iron trade, Would it not be as just and as
possible to reduce the royalty on iron in order to compete with foreign
iron dealers as to reduce the wages of the iron-worker or the collier?

The collier and the iron-worker work, and work hard, but the royalty
owner does nothing.

The twenty-five per cent. reduction in the colliers' wages demanded
before the great strike would not have made a difference of sixpence a
ton in the cost of coal.

Now the royalties charged upon a ton of manufactured pig iron in
Cumberland at that time amounted to 6s. 3d.; whereas the royalties on a
ton of manufactured pig iron in Germany were 6d., in France 8d., in
Belgium 1s. 3d. Now read this--

    In 1885 a firm in West Cumberland had half their furnaces idle, not
    because the firm had no work, but simply owing to the high royalties
    demanded by the landowner. This company had to import iron from
    Belgium to fulfil their contract with the Indian Government. With a
    furnace turning out about 600 tons of pig iron per week the
    royalties amounted to £202, while the wages to everyone, from the
    manager downwards, amounted to only £95. This very company is now
    amongst our foreign competitors.

The royalties were more than twice the amount of the wages, and yet we
are to believe that we can only keep our iron trade by lowering the

The fact is that in the iron trade our export goods are taxed by the
idle royalty owner to an amount varying from five to twelve times that
of the royalty paid by our French, German, and Belgian competitors.

Now think over the iron and cotton and other trades, and remember the
analysis we made of the cost of production, and tell me why, since the
rich landlord gets his rent, and since the rich capitalist gets his
interest or profits out of cotton, wool, or iron, the invariable
suggestion of those who would retain our foreign trade by reducing the
cost of production amounts to no more nor less than a reduction of the
poor workers' wages.

Let us go back to the coal trade. The collier was called selfish because
his demand for a living wage kept up the price of coal. The reduction
asked would not have come to 6d. a ton. Could not that sixpence have
been saved from the rents, or interest, or profits, or royalties paid
at the cost of the production of other goods? I think you will find that
it could.

But leave that point, and let us see whether there are not other factors
in the cost of coal which could more fairly be reduced than could the
wages of the collier.

Coals sells at prices from 10s. to 30s. a ton. The wages of the collier
do not add up to more than 2s. 6d. a ton.

In the year before the last great coal strike 300,000 miners were paid
£15,000,000, and in the same time £6,000,000 were paid in royalties. Sir
G. Elliot's estimate of coal owners' _profits_ for the same year was
£11,000,000. This, with the £6,000,000 paid in royalties, made
£17,000,000 taken by royalty owners and mine owners out of the coal
trade in one year.

So there are other items in the price of coal besides the wages of the
colliers. What are they? They may be divided into nine parts, thus--

    1. Rent.
    2. Royalties.
    3. Coal masters' profits.
    4. Profits of railway companies and other carriers.
    5. Wages of railway servants and other carriers' labourers.
    6. Profits of merchants and other "middlemen."
    7. Profits of retailers.
    8. Wages of agents, travellers, and other salesmen.
    9. The wages of the colliers.

The prices of coal fluctuate (vary), and the changes in the prices of
coal cause now a rise and now a fall in the wages and profits of coal
masters, railway shareholders, merchants, and retailers.

But the fluctuations in the prices of coal cause very little fluctuation
in rent and _none_ in royalties.

Again, no matter how low the price of coal may be, the agents,
travellers, and other salesmen always get a living wage, and the coal
owners, railway shareholders, merchants, landlords, and royalty owners
always get a great deal more than a living wage.

But what about the colliers and the carriers' labourers, such as railway
men, dischargers, and carters?

These men perform nearly all the work of production and of
distribution. They get the coal, and they carry the coal.

Their wages are lower than those of any of the other seven classes
engaged in the coal trade.

They work harder, they work longer hours, and they run more risk to life
and limb than any other class in the trade; and yet!----

And yet the only means of reducing the price of coal is said to be _a
reduction in the collier's wage_.

Now, I say that in reducing the price of coal the _last_ thing we should
touch is the collier's wage.

If we _must_ reduce the price of coal, we should begin with the owners
of royalties. As to the "right" of the royalty owner to exact a fine
from labour, I will content myself with making two claims--

    1. That even if the royalty owner has a "right" to _a_ royalty, yet
    there is no reason why he, of all the nine classes engaged in the
    coal trade, should be the only one whose receipts from the sale of
    coal shall never be lessened, no matter how the price of coal may

    2. Since the royalty owner and the landlord are the only persons
    engaged in the trade who cannot make even a pretence of doing
    anything for their money, and since the price of coal must be
    lowered, they should be the first to bear a reduction in the amount
    they charge on the sale of it.

Next to the landlords and royalty owners I should place the railway
companies. The prices charged for the carriage of coal are very high,
and if the price of coal must be reduced, the profits made on the
carriage should be reduced.

Third in order come the coal owners, with what they call "a fair rate of
interest on invested capital."

How is it that the Press never reproaches any of those four idle and
overpaid classes with selfishness in causing the poor workers of other
trades to go short of fuel?

How is it that the Press never chides these men for their folly in
trying to keep up profits, royalties, and interest in a "falling

It looks as if the "immutable laws" of political economy resemble the
laws of the land. It looks as if there is one economic law for the rich
and another for the poor.

The merchants, commission agents, and other middlemen I leave out of the
question. These men are worse than worthless--they are harmful. They
thwart; and hinder, and disorder the trade, and live on the colliers,
the coal masters, and the public. There is no excuse, economic or moral,
for their existence. But there is only one cure for the evil they do,
and that is to drive them right out of the trade.

I claim, then, that if the price of coal must be reduced, the sums paid
to the above-named three classes should be cut down first, because they
get a great deal more, and do a great deal less, than the carriers'
labourers and the colliers.

First as to the coal owners and the royalty owners. We see that the
_whole sum_ of the wages of the colliers for a year was only £6,000,000,
while the royalty owners and the coal owners took £17,000,000, or nearly
three times as much.

And yet we were told that the _miners_, the men who _work_, were
"selfish" for refusing to have their wages reduced.

Nationalise the land and the mines, and you at once save £17,000,000,
and all that on the one trade.

So with the railways. Nationalise the railways, and you may reduce the
cost of the carriage of coal (and of all goods and passengers) by the
amount of the profits now made by the railway companies, plus a good
deal of the expense of management.

For if the Municipalities can give you better trams, pay the guards and
drivers better wages for shorter hours, and reduce penny fares to
halfpenny fares, and still clear a big profit, is it not likely that the
State could lower the freights of the railways, and so reduce the cost
of carrying foods and manufactured goods and raw material?

Our foreign trade, and our home industries also, are taxed and
handicapped in their competition by every shilling paid in royalties,
in rents, in interest, in profits, and in dividends to persons who do no
work and produce no wealth; they are handicapped further by the salaries
and commissions of all the superfluous managers, canvassers, agents,
travellers, clerks, merchants, small dealers, and other middlemen who
now live upon the producer and consumer.

Socialism would abolish all these rents, taxes, royalties, salaries,
commissions, profits, and interests, and thereby so greatly reduce the
cost of production and of carriage that in the open market we should be
able to offer our goods at such prices as to defy the competition of any
but a Socialist State.

But there is another way in which British trade is handicapped in
competition with the trade of other nations.

It is instructive to notice that our most dangerous rival is America,
where wages are higher and all the conditions of the worker better than
in this country.

How, then, do the Americans contrive so often to beat us?

Is it not notorious that the reason given for America's success is the
superior energy and acuteness of the American over the British manager
and employer? American firms are more pushing, more up-to-date. They
seek new markets, and study the desires of consumers; they use more
modern machinery, and they produce more new inventions. Are the paucity
of our invention and the conservatism of our management due to the
"invincible ignorance" or restrictive policy of the British working man?
They are due to quite other causes. The conservatism and sluggishness of
our firms are due to British conceit: to the belief that when "Britain
first at Heaven's command arose from out the azure main" she was
invested with an eternal and unquestionable charter to act henceforth
and for ever as the "workshop of the world"; and say what they will in
their inmost hearts, her manufacturers still have unshaken faith in
their destiny, and think scorn of any foreigner who presumes to cross
their path. Therefore the British manufacturer remains conservative, and
gets left by more enterprising rivals.

A word as to the superior inventiveness of the Americans. There are two
great reasons why America produces more new and valuable patents. The
first cause is the eagerness of the American manufacturer to secure the
newest and the best machinery, and the apathetic contentment of the
British manufacturer with old and cheap methods of production. There is
a better market in America for inventions. The second cause is the
superiority of the American patent law and patent office.

In England a patentee has to pay £99 for a fourteen years' patent, and
even then gets no guarantee of validity.

In America the patentee gets a seventeen years' patent for £7.

In England, out of 56,000 patents more than 54,000 were voided and less
than 2000 survived.

In America there is no voiding.

One of the consequences of this is that American firms have a choice of
thirty-two patents where our firms have _one_.

According to the American patent office report for 1897, the American
patents had, in seventeen years, found employment for 1,776,152 persons,
besides raising wages in many cases as much as 173 per cent.

These few figures only give a view of part of the disadvantage under
which British inventors and British manufacturers suffer.

I suggest, as the lawyers say, that British commercial conservatism and
the British patent law have as much to do with the success of our clever
and energetic American rivals as has what the _Times_ calls the
"invincible ignorance" of the British workman who declines to sacrifice
his Union to atone by longer hours and lower wages for the apathy of his
employers and the folly of his laws.

I submit, then, that the remedy is not the destruction of the Trade
Unions, nor the lowering of wages, nor the lengthening of hours, but the
nationalisation of the land, the abolition of royalties, the restoration
of agriculture, and the municipalisation or the nationalisation of the
collieries, the iron mines, the steel works, and the railways.

The trade of this country _is_ handicapped; but it is not handicapped by
the poor workers, but by the rich idlers, whose enormous rents and
profits make it impossible for England to retain the foremost place in
the markets of the world.

So I submit to the British workman that, since the Press, with some few
exceptions, finds no remedy for loss of trade but in a reduction of his
wages, he would do well to look upon the Press with suspicion, and,
better still, to study these questions for himself.



Is it impossible for this nation to produce food for 40,000,000 of

We cannot produce _all_ our food. We cannot produce our own tea, coffee,
cocoa, oranges, lemons, currants, raisins, figs, dates, bananas,
treacle, tobacco, sugar, and many other things not suitable to our
climate. But at a pinch, as during a war, we could do without most of

Can we produce our own bread, meat, and vegetables? Can we produce all,
or nearly all, our butter, milk, eggs, cheese, and fruit?

And will it _pay_ to produce these things if we are able to produce them
at all?

The great essential is bread. Can we grow our own wheat? On this point I
do not see how there can be any doubt whatever.

In 1841 Britain grew wheat for 24,000,000 of people, and at that time
not nearly all her land was in use, nor was her farming of the best.

Now we have to find food, or at any rate bread and meat and vegetables,
for 40,000,000.

Wheat, then, for 40,000,000. At present we consume 29,000,000 quarters.
Can we grow 29,000,000 quarters in our own country?

Certainly we can. The _average_ yield per acre in Britain is 28 bushels,
or 3½ quarters. That is the _average_ yield on British farms. It can be
increased; but let us take it first upon that basis.

At 3½ quarters to the acre, 8,000,000 acres would produce 28,000,000
quarters; 9,000,000 acres would produce 31,500,000 quarters.

Therefore we require less than 9,000,000 acres of wheat land to grow a
year's supply of wheat for 40,000,000 persons.

Now we have in Great Britain and Ireland about 33,000,000 acres of
cultivatable land. Deduct 9,000,000 for wheat, and we have 24,000,000
acres left for vegetables, fruit, cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry.

Can any man say, in the face of these figures, that we are incapable of
growing our own wheat?

Suppose the average is put too high. Suppose we could only average a
yield of 20 bushels to the acre, or 2½ quarters, we could still grow
29,000,000 quarters on less than 12,000,000 acres.

It is evident, then, that we can at anyrate grow our own wheat.

Here I shall quote from an excellent book, _Fields, Factories, and
Workshops_, by Prince Kropotkin. Having gone very carefully into the
facts, the Prince has arrived at the following conclusions:--

    1. If the soil of the United Kingdom were cultivated only as it
    _was_ thirty-five years ago, 24,000,000 people could live on
    home-grown food.

    2. If the cultivatable soil of the United Kingdom were cultivated as
    the soil is cultivated _on the average_ in Belgium, the United
    Kingdom would have food for at least 37,000,000 inhabitants.

    3. If the population of this country came to be doubled, all that
    would be required for producing food for 80,000,000 inhabitants
    would be to cultivate the soil as it is _now_ cultivated in the best
    farms of this country, in Lombardy, and in Flanders.

Why, indeed, should we not be able to raise 29,000,000 quarters of
wheat? We have plenty of land. Other European countries can produce, and
do produce, their own food.

Take the example of Belgium. In Belgium the people produce their own
food. Yet their soil is no better than ours, and their country is more
densely populated, the figures being: Great Britain, per square mile,
378 persons; Belgium, per square mile, 544 persons.

Does that silence the commercial school? No. They have still one
argument left. They say that even if we can grow our own wheat we cannot
grow it as cheaply as we can buy it.

Suppose we cannot. Suppose it will cost us 2s. a quarter more to grow
it than to buy it. On the 23,000,000 quarters we now import we should be
saving £2,000,000 a year.

Is that a very high price to pay for security against defeat by
starvation in time of war?

A battle-ship costs £1,000,000. If we build two extra battle-ships in a
year to protect our food supply we spend nearly all we gain by importing
our wheat, even supposing that it costs us 2s. a quarter more to grow
than to buy it.

But is it true that we cannot grow wheat as cheaply as we can buy it? If
it is true, the fact may doubtless be put down to two causes. First,
that we do not go to work in the best way, nor with the best machinery;
second, that the farmer is handicapped by rent. Of course if we have to
pay rent to private persons for the use of our own land, that adds to
the cost of the rent.

One acre yields 28 bushels, or 3½ quarters of wheat in a year. If the
land be rented at 21s. an acre that will add 6s. a quarter to the cost
of wheat.

In the _Industrial History of England_ I find the question of why the
English farmer is undersold answered in this way--

    The answer is simple. His capital has been filched from him surely,
    but not always slowly, by a tremendous increase in his rent. The
    landlords of the eighteenth century made the English farmer the
    foremost agriculturist in the world, but their successors of the
    nineteenth have ruined him by their extortions.... In 1799 we find
    land paying nearly 20s. an acre.... By 1850 it had risen to 38s.
    6d.... £2 an acre was not an uncommon rent for land a few years ago,
    the average increase of English rents being no less than 26½ per
    cent. between 1854 and 1879.... The result has been that the average
    capital per acre now employed in agriculture is only about £4 or £5,
    instead of at least £10, as it ought to be.

If the rents were as high as £2 an acre when our poor farmers were
struggling to make both ends meet, it is little wonder they failed. A
rent of £2 an acre means a land tax of more than 11s. a quarter on
wheat. The price of wheat in the market at present is about 25s. a
quarter. A rent charge of 21s. per acre would amount to more than
£10,000,000 on the 9,000,000 we should need to grow all our wheat. A
rent charge of £2 an acre would amount to £18,000,000. That would be a
heavy sum for our farmers to lift before they went to market.

Moreover, agriculture has been neglected because all the mechanical and
chemical skill, and all the capital and energy of man, have been thrown
into the struggle for trade profits and manufacturing pre-eminence. We
want a few Faradays, Watts, Stephensons, and Cobdens to devote their
genius and industry to the great food question. Once let the public
interest and the public genius be concentrated upon the agriculture of
England, and we shall soon get silenced the croakers who talk about the
impossibility of the country feeding her people.

But is it true that under fair conditions wheat can be brought from the
other side of the world and sold here at a price with which we cannot
compete? Prince Kropotkin thinks not. He says the French can produce
their food more cheaply than they can buy it; and if the French can do
this, why cannot we?

But in case it should be thought that I am prejudiced in favour of
Prince Kropotkin's book or against the factory system, I will here print
a quotation from a criticism of the book which appeared in the _Times_
newspaper, which paper can hardly be suspected of any leanings towards
Prince Kropotkin, or of any eagerness to acknowledge that the present
industrial system possesses "acknowledged evils."

    Seriously, Prince Kropotkin has a great deal to say for his
    theories.... He has the genuine scientific temper, and nobody can
    say that he does not extend his observations widely enough, for he
    seems to have been everywhere and to have read everything....
    Perhaps his chief fault is that he does not allow sufficiently for
    the ingrained conservatism of human nature and for the tenacity of
    vested interests. But that is no reason why people should not read
    his book, which will certainly set them thinking, and may lead a few
    of them to try, by practical experiments, to lessen some of the
    acknowledged evils of the present industrial system.

Just notice what the Tory _Times_ says about "the tenacity of _vested
interests_" and the "_acknowledged evils_ of the present industrial
system." It is a great deal for the _Times_ to say.

But what about the meat?

Prince Kropotkin deals as satisfactorily with the question of
meat-growing as with that of growing wheat, and his conclusion is this--

    Our means of obtaining from the soil whatever we want, under _any_
    climate and upon _any_ soil, have lately improved at such a rate
    that we cannot foresee yet what is the limit of productivity of a
    few acres of land. The limit vanishes in proportion to our better
    study of the subject, and every year makes it vanish farther and
    farther from our sight.

I have, I think, quoted enough to show that there is no natural obstacle
to our production in this country of all the food our people need.
Britain _can_ feed herself, and therefore, upon the ground of her use
for foreign-grown food, the factory system is not necessary.

But I hope my readers will buy this book of Prince Kropotkin, and read
it. For it is a very fine book, a much better book than I can write.

It can be ordered from the _Clarion_ Office, 72 Fleet Street, and the
price is 1s. 3d. post free.

As to the vegetables and the fruit, I must refer you to the Prince's
book; but I shall quote a few passages just to give an idea of what
_can_ be done, and _is being done_, in other countries in the way of
intensive cultivation of vegetables and fruit.

Prince Kropotkin says that the question of soil is a common
stumbling-block to those who write about agriculture. Soil, he says,
does not matter now, nor climate very much. There is a quite new science
of agriculture which _makes_ its own soil and modifies its climate. Corn
and fruit can be grown on _any_ soil--on rock, on sand, on clay.

    Man, not Nature, has given to the Belgian soil its present

And now read this--

    While science devotes its chief attention to industrial pursuits, a
    limited number of lovers of Nature, and a legion of workers whose
    very names will remain unknown to posterity, have created of late
    quite a new agriculture, as superior to modern farming as modern
    farming is superior to the old three-fields system of our
    ancestors.... Science seldom has guided them; they proceeded in the
    empirical way; but like the cattle-growers who opened new horizons
    to biology, they have opened a new field of experimental research
    for the physiology of plants. They have created a totally new
    agriculture. They smile when we boast about the rotation system
    having permitted us to take from the field one crop every year, or
    four crops each three years, because their ambition is to have six
    and nine crops from the very same plot of land during the twelve
    months. They do not understand our talk about good and bad soils,
    because they make the soil themselves, and make it in such
    quantities as to be compelled yearly to sell some of it: otherwise
    it would raise up the level of their gardens by half an inch every
    year. They aim at cropping, not five or six tons of grass on the
    acre, as we do, but from fifty to a hundred tons of vegetables on
    the same space; not £5 worth of hay, but £100 worth of vegetables of
    the plainest description--cabbage and carrots.

Look now at these figures from America--

    At a recent competition, in which hundreds of farmers took part, the
    first ten prizes were awarded to ten farmers who had grown, on three
    acres each, from 262 to 346¾ bushels of Indian corn; in other words,
    _from 87 to 115 bushels to the acre_. In Minnesota the prizes were
    given for crops of 300 to 1120 bushels of potatoes to the acre,
    _i.e._ from 8¼ to 31 tons to the acre, while the average potato crop
    in Great Britain is only 6 tons.

These are _facts_, not theories. Here is another quotation from Prince
Kropotkin's book. It also relates to America--

    The crop from each acre was small, but the machinery was so
    perfected that in this way 300 days of one man's labour produced
    from 200 to 300 quarters of wheat; in other words, the areas of land
    being of no account, every man produced in one day his yearly bread

I shall only make one more quotation. It alludes to the intensive
wheat-growing on Major Hallett's method in France, and is as follows:--

    In fact, the 8½ bushels required for one man's annual food were
    actually grown at the Tomblaine station on a surface of 2250 square
    feet, or 47 feet square, _i.e._ on very nearly one-twentieth of an

Now remember that our agricultural labourers crowd into the towns and
compete with the town labourers for work. Remember that we have millions
of acres of land lying idle, and generally from a quarter to
three-quarters of a million of men unemployed. Then consider this

Here we have a million acres of good land producing nothing, and half a
million men also producing nothing. Land and labour, the two factors of
wealth production, both idle. Could we not set the men to work? Of
course we could. Would it pay? To be sure it would pay.

In America, on soil no better than ours, one man can by one day's labour
produce one man's year's bread. That is, 8½ bushels of wheat.

Suppose we organise our out-of-works under skilled farmers, and give
them the best machinery. Suppose they only produce one-half the American
product. They will still be earning more than their keep.

Or set them to work, under skilled directors, on the French or the
Belgian plan, at the intensive cultivation of vegetables. Let them grow
huge crops of potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, onions; and in the coal
counties, where fuel is cheap, let them raise tomatoes and grapes, under
glass, and they will produce wealth, and be no longer starvelings or

Another good plan would be to allow a Municipality to obtain land, under
a Compulsory Purchase Act, at a fair rent and near a town, and to relet
the land to gardeners and small farmers, to work on the French and
Belgian systems. Let the local Corporation find the capital to make soil
and lay down heating and draining pipes. Let the Corporation charge rent
and interest, buy the produce from the growers and resell it to the
citizens, and let the tenant gardeners be granted fixity of tenure and
fair payment for improvements, and we shall increase and improve our
food supply, lessen the overcrowding in our towns, and reduce the
unemployed to the small number of lazy men who _will_ not work.

It is the imperative duty of every British citizen to insist upon the
Government doing everything that can be done to restore the national
agriculture and to remove the dreadful danger of famine in time of war.

National granaries should be formed at once, and at least a year's
supply of wheat should be kept in stock.

What are the Government doing in this way? Nothing at all.

The only remedy they have to suggest is _Protection_!

What is Protection? It is a tax on foreign wheat. What would be the
result of Protection? The result would be that the landowner would get
higher rents and the people would get dearer bread.

How true is Tolstoy's gibe, that "the rich man will do anything for the
poor man--except get off his back." "Our agriculture," the Tory
protectionist shrieks, "is perishing. Our farmers cannot make a living.
Our landlords cannot let their farms. The remedy is Protection." A truly
practical Tory suggestion. "The farmers cannot pay our rents. British
agriculture is dying out. Let us put a tax upon the poor man's bread."

Yes; Protection is a remedy, but it must be the protection of the farmer
against the landlord. Give our farmers fixity of tenure, compensation
for improvements, and prevent the landlord from taxing the industry and
brains of the farmer by increase of rent, and British agriculture will
soon rear its head again.

Quite recently we have had an example of Protection. The coal owners
combined and raised the price of coal some 6s. to 10s. a ton. It is said
they cleared more than £60,000,000 sterling on the deal. What good did
that do the workers? Did the colliers get any of the spoil in wages? No;
that money is lying up ready to crush the colliers when they next

It is the same story over and over again. We cannot have cheap coal
because the rich owners demand big fortunes; we cannot have cheap houses
or decent homes because the landlords raise the rents faster than the
people can increase our trade; we cannot grow our food as cheaply as we
can buy it because the rich owners of the land squeeze the farmer dry
and make it impossible for him to live. And the harder the collier, the
weaver, the farmer, and the mechanic work, the harder the landlord and
the capitalist squeeze. The industry, skill, and perseverance of the
workers avail nothing but to make a few rich and idle men richer and
more idle.

As I have repeatedly pointed out before, we have by sacrificing our
agriculture destroyed our insular position. As an island we may be, or
_should be_, free from serious danger of invasion. But of what avail is
our vaunted silver shield of the sea if we depend upon other nations for
our food? We are helpless in case of a great war. It is not necessary
to invade England in order to conquer her. Once our food supply is
stopped we are shut up like a beleagured city to starve or to surrender.

Stop the import of food into England for three months, and we shall be
obliged to surrender at discretion.

And our agriculture is to be ruined, and the safety and honour of the
Empire are to be endangered, that a few landlords, coal owners, and
money-lenders may wax fat upon the vitals of the nation.

So, I say, we do need Protection; but it is the protection of our
farmers and colliers, our weavers and our mechanics, our homes, our
health, our food, our cities, our children and women, yes, our national
existence--against the rapacity of the rich lords, employers, and
money-lenders, who impudently pose as the champions of patriotism and
the expansion of the Empire.

Again, I recommend every Socialist to read the new edition of Prince
Kropotkin's _Fields, Factories, and Workshops_.



There are many who believe that if all the workers became abstainers,
worked harder, lived sparely, and saved every penny they could; and that
if they avoided early marriages and large families, they would all be
happy and prosperous without Socialism.

And, of course, these same persons believe that the bulk of the
suffering and poverty of the poor is due to drink, to thriftlessness,
and to imprudent marriages.

I know that many, very many, do believe these things, because I used to
meet such persons when I went out lecturing.

Now I know that belief to be wrong. I know that if every working man and
woman in England turned teetotaler to-morrow, if they all remained
single, if they all worked like niggers, if they all worked for twelve
hours a day, if they lived on oatmeal and water, and if they saved every
farthing they could spare, they would, at the end of twenty years, be a
great deal worse off than they are to-day.

Sobriety, thrift, industry, skill, self-denial, holiness, are all good
things; but they would, if adopted by _all_ the workers, simply enrich
the idle and the wicked, and reduce the industrious and the righteous to

Teetotalism will not do; industry will not do; saving will not do;
increased skill will not do; keeping single will not do; reducing the
population will not do. Nothing _will_ do but _Socialism_.

I mean to make these things plain to you if I can.

I will begin by answering a statement made by a Tory M.P. As reported in
the Press, the M.P. said, "There was nothing to prevent the son of a
crossing-sweeper from rising to be Lord Chancellor of England."

This, at first sight, would seem to have nothing to do with the theories
regarding thrift, temperance, and prudent marriages. But we shall find
that it arises from the same error.

This error has two faces. On one face it says that any man may do well
if he will try, and on the other face it says that those who do not do
well have no one but themselves to blame.

The error rises from a slight confusion of thought. Men know that a man
may rise from the lowest place in life to almost the highest, and they
suppose that because one man can do it, _all_ men can do it; they know
that if one man works hard, saves, keeps sober, and remains single, he
will get more money than other men who drink and spend and take life
easily, and they suppose because thrift, single life, industry, and
temperance spell success to one man, they would spell success to _all_.

I will show you that this is a mistake, and I will show you why it is a
mistake. Let us begin with the crossing-sweeper.

We are told that "_there is nothing to prevent_ the son of _a_
crossing-sweeper from becoming Lord Chancellor of England." But our M.P.
does not mean that there is nothing to prevent the son of some one
particular crossing-sweeper from becoming Chancellor; he means that
there is nothing to prevent _any_ son of _any_ crossing-sweeper, or the
son of _any_ very poor man, from becoming rich and famous.

Now, let me show you what nonsense this is.

There are in all England, let us say, some 2,000,000 of poor and
friendless and untaught boys.

And there is _one_ Lord Chancellor. Now, it is just possible for _one_
boy out of the 2,000,000 to become Lord Chancellor; but it is quite
impossible for _all_ the boys, or even for one boy in 1000, or for one
boy in 10,000, to become Lord Chancellor.

Our M.P. means that if a boy is clever and industrious he may become
Lord Chancellor.

But suppose _all_ the boys are as clever and as industrious as he is,
they cannot _all_ become chancellors.

The one boy can only succeed because he is stronger, cleverer, more
pushing, more persistent, or more _lucky_ than any other boy.

In my story, _Bob's Fairy_, this very point is raised. I will quote it
for you here. Bob, who is a boy, is much troubled about the poor; his
father, who is a self-made man and mayor of his native town, tells Bob
that the poor are suffering because of their own faults. The parson then
tries to make Bob understand--

    "Come, come, come," said the reverend gentleman, "you are too young
    for such questions. Ah--let me try to--ah--explain it to you. Here
    is your father. He is wealthy. He is honoured. He is mayor of his
    native town. Now, how did he make his way?"

    Mr. Toppinroyd smiled, and poured himself out another glass of wine.
    His wife nodded her head approvingly at the minister.

    "Your father," continued the minister, "made himself what he is by
    industry, thrift, and talent."

    "If another man was as clever, and as industrious and thrifty as
    father," said Bob, "could he get on as well?"

    "Of course he could," replied Mr. Toppinroyd.

    "Then the poor are not like that?" asked Bob.

    "I regret to say," said the parson, "that--ah--they are not."

    "But if they were like father, they could do what he has done?" Bob

    "Of course, you silly," exclaimed his mother.

    Ned chuckled behind his paper. Kate turned to the piano.

    Bob nodded and smiled. "How droll!" said he.

    "What's droll?" his father asked sharply.

    "Why," said Bob, "how funny it would be if all the people were
    industrious, and clever, and steady!"

    "Funny?" ejaculated the parson.

    "Funny?" repeated Mr. Toppinroyd.

    "What do you mean, dear?" inquired Mrs. Toppinroyd mildly.

    "If all the men in Loomborough were as clever and as good as
    father," said Bob simply, "there would be 50,000 rich mill-owners,
    and they would all be mayor of the same town."

    Mr. Toppinroyd gave a sharp glance at his son, then leaned forward,
    boxed his ears, and said--

    "Get to bed, you young monkey. Go!"

Do you see the idea? The poor cannot _all_ be mayors and chancellors and
millionaires, because there are too many of them and not enough high

But they can all be asses, and they will be asses, if they listen to
such rubbish as that uttered by this Tory M.P.

You have twenty men starting for a race. You may say, "There is nothing
to prevent any man from winning the race," but you mean any one man who
is luckier or swifter than the rest. You would never be foolish enough
to believe that _all_ the men could win. You know that nineteen of the
men _must lose_.

So we know that in a race for the Chancellorship _only one_ boy can win,
and the other 1,999,999 _must lose_.

It is the same thing with temperance, industry, and cleverness. Of
10,000 mechanics one is steadier, more industrious, and more skilful
than the others. Therefore he will get work where the others cannot. But
_why_? Because he is worth more as a workman. But don't you see that if
all the others were as good as he, he would _not_ be worth more?

Then you see that to tell 1,000,000 men that they will get more work or
more wages if they are cleverer, or soberer, or more industrious, is as
foolish as to tell the twenty men starting for a race that they can all
win if they will all try.

If all the men were just as fast as the winner, the race would end in a
dead heat.

There is a fire panic in a big hall. The hall is full of people, and
there is only one door. A rush is made for that door. Some of the crowd
get out, some are trampled to death, some are injured, some are burned.

Now, of that crowd of people, who are most likely to escape?

Those nearest to the door have a better chance than those farthest, have
they not?

Then the strong have a better chance than the weak, have they not?

And the men have a better chance than the women, and the children the
worst chance of all. Is it not so?

Then, again, which is most likely to be saved--the selfish man who
fights and drags others down, who stands upon the fallen bodies of women
and children, and wins his way by force; or the brave and gentle man who
tries to help the women and the children, and will not trample upon the

Don't you know that the noble and brave man stands a poor chance of
escape, and that the selfish, brutal man stands a good chance of escape?

Well, now, suppose a man to have got out, perhaps because he was near
the door, or perhaps because he was very strong, or perhaps because he
was very lucky, or perhaps because he did not stop to help the women and
children, and suppose him to stand outside the door, and cry out to the
struggling and dying creatures in the burning hall, "Serves you jolly
well right if you _do_ suffer. Why don't you get out? _I_ got out. You
can get out if you _try_. _There is nothing to prevent any one of you
from getting out._"

Suppose a man talked like that, what would you say of him? Would you
call him a sensible man? Would you call him a Christian? Would you call
him a gentleman?

You will say I am severe. I am. Every time a successful man talks as
this M.P. talks he inflicts a brutal insult upon the unsuccessful, many
thousands of whom, both men and women, are worthier and better than

But let us go back to our subject. That fire panic in the big hall is a
picture of _life_ as it is to-day.

It is a scramble of a big crowd to get through a small door. Those who
get through are cheered and rewarded, and few questions are asked as to
_how_ they got through.

Now, Socialists say that there should be more doors, and no scramble.

But let me use this example of the hall and the panic more fully.

Suppose the hall to be divided into three parts. First the stalls, then
the pit stalls, then the pit. Suppose the only door is the door in the
stalls. Suppose the people in the pit stalls have to climb a high
barrier to get to the stalls. Suppose those in the pit have to climb a
high barrier to get to the pit stalls, and then the high barrier that
parts the pit stalls from the stalls. Suppose there is, right at the
back of the pit, a small, weak boy. Now, I ask you, as sensible men, is
there "nothing to prevent" that boy from getting through that door? You
know the boy has only the smallest of chances of getting out of that
hall. But he has a thousand times a better chance of getting safely out
of that door than the son of a crossing-sweeper has of becoming Lord
Chancellor of England.

In our hall the upper classes would sit in the stalls, the middle
classes in the pit stalls, and the workers in the pit. _Whose son would
have the best chance for the door?_

I compared the race for the Chancellorship just now to a foot-race of
twenty men; and I showed you that if all the runners were as fleet as
greyhounds only one could win, and nineteen _must_ lose.

But the M.P.'s crossing-sweeper's son has to enter a race where there
are millions of starters, and where the race is a _handicap_ in which he
is on scratch, with thousands of men more than half the course in front
of him.

For don't you see that this race which the lucky or successful men tell
us we can _all_ win is not a fair race?

The son of the crossing-sweeper has terrible odds against him. The son
of the gentleman has a long start, and carries less weight.

What are the qualities needed in a race for the Chancellorship? The boy
who means to win must be marvellously strong, clever, brave, and

Now, will he be likely to be strong? He _may_ be, but the odds are
against him. His father may not be strong nor his mother, for they may
have worked hard, and they may not have been well fed, nor well nursed,
nor well doctored. They probably live in a slum, and they cannot train,
nor teach, nor feed their son in a healthy and proper way, because they
are ignorant and poor. And the boy gets a few years at a board school,
and then goes to work.

But the gentleman's son is well bred, well fed, well nursed, well
trained, and lives in a healthy place. He goes to good schools, and from
school to college.

And when he leaves college he has money to pay fees, and he has a name,
and he has education; and I ask you, what are the odds against the son
of a crossing-sweeper in a race like that?

Well, there is not a single case where men are striving for wealth or
for place where the sons of the workers are not handicapped in the same
way. Now and again a worker's son wins. He may win because he is a
genius like Stephenson or Sir William Herschel; or he may win because he
is cruel and unscrupulous, like Jay Gould; or he may win because he is

But it is folly to say that there is "nothing to prevent him" from
winning. There is almost everything to prevent him. To begin with, his
chances of dying before he's five years old are about ten times as
numerous as the chances of a rich man's son.

Look at Lord Salisbury. He is Prime Minister of England. Had he been
born the son of a crossing-sweeper do you think he would have been Prime

I would undertake to find a hundred better minds than Lord Salisbury's
in any English town of 10,000 inhabitants. But will any one of the boys
I should select become Prime Minister of England? You know they will
not. But yet they ought to, if "there is nothing to prevent them."

But there is something to prevent them. There is poverty to prevent
them, there is privilege to prevent them, there is snobbery to prevent
them, there is class feeling to prevent them, there are hundreds of
other things to prevent them, and amongst those hundreds of other things
to prevent them from becoming Prime Ministers I hope that their own
honesty and goodness and wisdom may be counted; for honesty and goodness
and true wisdom are things which will often prevent a poor boy who is
lucky enough to possess them from ever becoming what the world of
politics and commerce considers a "successful man."

Do not believe the doctrine that the rich and poor, the successful and
the unsuccessful, get what they deserve. If that were true we should
find intelligence and virtue keeping level with income. Then the
mechanic at 30s. a week would be half as good again as the labourer at
20s. a week; the small merchant, making £200 a year, would be a far
better man than one mechanic; the large merchant, making £2000 a year,
would be ten times as good as the small merchant; and the millionaire
would be too intellectual, too noble, and too righteous for this sinful

But don't you know that there are stupid and drunken mechanics, and
steady and intelligent labourers? And don't you know that some
successful men are rascals, and that some very wealthy men are fools?

Take the story of Jacob and Esau. After Jacob cheated his hungry brother
into selling his birthright for a mess of pottage, Jacob was rich and
Esau poor. Did each get what he deserved? Was Jacob the better man?

Christ lived poor, a homeless wanderer, and died the death of a felon.
Jay Gould made millions of money, and died one of the wealthiest men in
the world. Did each get what he deserved? Did the wealth of Gould and
the poverty of Christ indicate the intellectual and moral merits of
those two sons of men?

Some of us would get whipped if all of us got our deserts; but who would
deserve applause and wealth and a crown?

In a sporting handicap the weakest have the most start: in real life the
strongest have the start and the weakest are put on scratch.

And I _have_ heard it hinted that the man who runs the straightest does
not always win.



I said in the previous chapter that if _all_ the workers were very
thrifty, sober, industrious, and abstemious they would be worse off in
the matter of wages than they are now.

This, at first sight, seems strange, because we know that the sober and
thrifty workman is generally better off than the workman who drinks or
wastes his money.

But why is he better off? He is better off because, being a steady man,
he can often get work when an unsteady man cannot. He is better off
because he buys things that add to his comfort, or he saves money, and
so grows more independent. And he is able to save money, and to make his
home more cosy, because, while he is more regularly employed than the
unsteady men, his wages remain the same, or, perhaps, are something
higher than theirs.

That is to say, he benefits by his own steadiness and thrift because his
steadiness makes him a more reliable, and therefore a more valuable,
workman than one who is not steady.

But, you see, he is only more valuable because other men are less
steady. If all the other workmen were as steady as he is he would be no
more valuable than they are. Not being more valuable than they are, he
would not be more certain of getting work.

That is to say, if all the workers were sober and thrifty, they would
all be of equal value to the employer.

But you may say they would still be better off than if they drank and
wasted their wages. They would have better health, and they would have
happier lives and more comfortable homes.

Yes, so long as their wages were as high as before. But their wages
would _not_ be as high as before.

You must know that as things now are, where all the work is in the gift
of private employers, and where wages and prices are ruled by
competition, and where new inventions of machinery are continually
throwing men out of work, and where farm labourers are always drifting
to the towns, there are more men in need of work than work can be found

Therefore, there is always a large number of workers out of work.

Now, under competition, where two men offer themselves for one place,
you know that the place will be given to the man who will take the lower

And you know that the thrifty and the sober man can live on less than
the thriftless man.

And you know that where two or more employers are offering their goods
against each other for sale in the open market, the one who sells his
goods the cheapest will get the trade. And you know that in order to
sell their goods at a cheaper rate than other dealers, the employers
will try to _get_ their goods at the cheapest rate possible.

And you know that with most goods the chief cost is the cost of the
labour used in the making--that is to say, the wages of the workers.

Very well, you have more workers than are needed, so that there is
competition amongst those workers as to who shall be employed.

And those will be employed who are the cheapest.

And those who can live upon least can afford to work for least.

And all the workers being sober and thrifty, they can all live on less
than when many of them were wasteful and fond of drink.

Then, on the other hand, all the employers are competing for the trade,
and so are all wanting cheap labour; and so are eager to lower wages.

Therefore wages will come down, and the general thrift and steadiness of
the workers will make them poorer. Do you doubt this? What is that tale
the masters so often tell you? Do they not tell you that England
depends upon her foreign trade for her food? And do they not tell you
that foreign traders are stealing the trade from the English traders?
And do they not tell you that the foreign traders can undersell us in
the world's markets because their labour is cheaper? And do they not say
that if the British workers wish to keep the foreign trade they will
have to be as thrifty and as industrious and as sober as the foreign

Well, what does that mean? It means that if the British workers were as
thrifty and sober and industrious as the foreign workers, they could
live on less than they now need. It means that if you were all
teetotalers and all thrifty, you could work for less wages than they now
pay, and so they would be able to sell their goods at a lower price than
they can now; and thus they would keep the foreign trade.

Is not that all quite clear and plain? And is it not true that in
France, in Germany, and all other countries where the workers live more
sparely, and are more temperate than the workers are in England, the
wages are lower and the hours of work longer?

And is it not true that the Chinese and the Hindoos, who are the most
temperate and the most thrifty people in the world, are always the worst

And do you not know very well that the "Greeners"--the foreign Jews who
come to England for work and shelter--are very sober and very thrifty
and very industrious men, and that they are about the worst-paid workers
in this country?

Take now, as an example, the case of the cotton trade. The masters tell
you that they find it hard to compete against the Indian factories, and
they say if Lancashire wants to keep the trade the Lancashire workers
must accept the conditions of the Indian workers.

The Indian workers live chiefly on rice and water, and work far longer
hours than do the English workers.

And don't you see that if the Lancashire workers would live upon rice
and water, the masters would soon have their wages down to rice and
water point?

And then the Indians would have to live on less, or work still longer
hours, and so the game would go on.

And who would reap the benefit? The English masters and the Indian
masters (who are often one and the same) would still take a large share,
but the chief benefit of the fall in price would go to the buyers--or
users, or "consumers"--of the goods.

That is to say, that the workers of India and of England would be
starved and sweated, so that the natives of other countries could have
cheap clothing.

If you doubt what I say, look at the employers' speeches, read the
newspapers which are in the employers' pay, add two and two together,
and you will find it all out for yourselves.

To return to the question of temperance and thrift. You see, I hope,
that if _all_ the people were sober and thrifty they would be really
worse off than they now are. This is because the workers must have work,
must ask the employers to give them work, and must ask employers who,
being in competition with each other, are always trying to get the work
done at the lowest price.

And the lowest price is always the price which the bulk of the workers
are content to live upon.

In all foreign nations where the standard of living is lower than in
England, you will find that the wages are lower also.

Have we not often heard our manufacturers declare that if the British
workers would emulate the thrift and sobriety of the foreigner they
might successfully compete against foreign competition in the foreign
market? What does that mean, but that thrift would enable our people to
live on less, and so to accept less wages?

Why are wages of women in the shirt trade low?

It is because capitalism always keeps the wages down to the lowest
standard of subsistence which the people will accept.

So long as our English women will consent to work long hours, and live
on tea and bread, the "law of supply and demand" will maintain the
present condition of sweating in the shirt trade.

If all our women became firmly convinced that they could not exist
without chops and bottled stout, the wages _must_ go up to a price to
pay for those things.

_Because there would be no women offering to live on tea and bread_; and
shirts _must_ be had.

But what is the result of the abstinence of these poor sisters of ours?
Low wages for themselves, and, for others?----

A young merchant wants a dozen shirts. He pays 10s. each for them. He
meets a friend who only gave 8s. for his. He goes to the 8s. shop and
saves 2s. This is clear profit, and he spends it in cigars, or
champagne, or in some other luxury; _and the poor seamstress lives on
toast and tea._

But although I say that sobriety and thrift, if adopted by _all_ the
workers, would result in lower wages, you are not to suppose that I
advise you all to be drunkards and spendthrifts.

No. The proper thing is to do away with competition. At present the
employers, in the scramble to undersell each other, actually fine you
for your virtue and self-denial by lowering your wages, just as the
landlords fine a tenant for improving his land or enlarging his house or
extending his business--fine him by raising his rent.

And now we may, I think, come to the question of imprudent marriages.

The idea seems to be that a man should not marry until he is "in a
position to keep a wife." And it is a very common thing for employers,
and other well-to-do persons, to tell working men that they "have no
right to bring children into the world until they are able to provide
for them."

Now let us clear the ground a little before we begin to deal with this
question on its economic side--that is, as it affects wages.

It is bad for men and women to marry too young. It is bad for two
reasons. Firstly, because the body is not mature; and secondly, because
the mind is not settled. That is to say, an over-early marriage has a
bad effect on the health; and since young people must, in the nature of
things, change very much as they grow older, an over-early marriage is
often unhappy.

I think a woman would be wise not to marry before she is about
four-and-twenty; and I think it is better that the husband should be
from five to ten years older than the wife.

Then it is very bad for a woman to have many children; and not only is
it bad for her health, but it destroys nearly all the pleasure of her
life, so that she is an enfeebled and weary drudge through her best
years, and is old before her time.

That much conceded, I ask you, Mr. John Smith, what do you think of the
request that you shall work hard, live spare, and give up a man's right
to love, to a home, to children, in order that you may be able to "make
a living"? Such a living is not worth working for. It would be a manlier
and a happier lot to die.

Here is the idea as it has been expressed by a working man--

    Up to now I had thought that the object of life was to live, and
    that the object of love was to love. But the economists have changed
    all that. There is neither love nor life, sentiment nor affection.
    The earth is merely a vast workshop, where all is figured by debit
    and credit, and where supply and demand regulates everything. You
    have no right to live unless the industrial market demands hands; a
    woman has no business to bring forth a child unless the capitalist
    requires live stock.

I cannot really understand a _man_ selling his love and his manhood, and
talking like a coward or a slave about "imprudent marriages"; and all
for permission to drudge at an unwelcome task, and to eat and sleep for
a few lonely and dishonourable years in a loveless and childless world.

You don't think _that_ is going to save you, men, do you? You don't
think you are going to make the best of life by selling for the sake of
drudgery and bread and butter your proud man's right to work for, fight
for, and die for the woman you love?

For, having sold your love for permission to work, how long will you be
before you sell your honour? Nay, is it not true that many of you have
sold it already?

For every man who works at jerry work, or takes a part in any kind of
adulteration, scampery, or trade rascality, is selling his honour for
wages, and is just as big a scamp and a good deal more of a coward than
a burglar or a highwayman.

And the commercial travellers and the canvassers and the agents who get
their living by telling lies,--as some of them do,--do you call those

And the gentlemen of the Press who write against their convictions for a
salary, and for the sake of a suburban villa, a silk hat, and some cheap
claret, devote their energies and talents to the perpetuation of
falsehood and wrong--do you call _those_ men?

If we cannot keep our foreign trade without giving up our love and our
manhood and our honour, it is time the foreign trade went to the devil
and took the British employers with it.

If the state of things in England to-day makes it impossible for men and
women to love and marry, then the state of things in England to-day will
not do.

Well, do you still think that single life, a crust of bread, and rags,
will alone enable you to hold your own and to keep your foreign trade?
And do you still think that poverty is a mark of unworthiness, and
wealth the sure proof of merit? If so, just read these few lines from an
article by a Tory Minister, Sir John Gorst--

    The "won't-works" are very few in number, but the section of the
    population who cannot earn enough wages all the year round to live
    decently is very large.

    Professional criminals are not generally poor, for when out of gaol
    they live very comfortably as a rule. There are wastrels, of course,
    who have sunk so low as to have a positive aversion to work, and it
    is people of this kind who are most noisy in parading their poverty.
    The industrious poor, on the other hand, shrink from exposing their
    wretchedness to the world, and strive as far as possible to keep it
    out of sight.

Now, contrast those sensible and kindly words with the following
quotation from a mercantile journal:--

    The talk about every man having a right to work is fallacious, for
    he can only have the right of every free man to do work if he can
    get it.

Yes! But he has other "rights." He has the right to combine to defeat
attempts to rob him of work or to lower his wages; he has the right to
vote for parliamentary and municipal candidates who will alter the laws
and the conditions of society which enable a few greedy and heartless
men to disorganise the industries of the nation, to keep the Briton off
the land which is his birthright, to exploit the brain and the sinew of
the people, and to condemn millions of innocent and helpless women and
children to poverty, suffering, ignorance, and too often to disgrace or
early death.

A man, John Smith, has the right to _be a man_, and, if he is a Briton,
has a right to be a free man. It is to persuade every man in Britain to
exercise this right, and to do his duty to the children and the women of
his class and family, that I am publishing this book.

"The right to do work if he can get it," John, and to starve if he
cannot get it.

How long will you allow these insolent market-men to insult you? How
long will you allow a mob of money-lending, bargain-driving,
dividend-snatching parasites to live on you, to scorn you, and to treat
you as "live stock"? How long? How long?

I shall have to write a book for the women, John.



Many non-Socialists believe that the cause of poverty is "surplus
labour," or over-population, and they tell us that if we could reduce
our population we should have no poor.

If this were true, we should find that in thinly populated countries the
workers fare better than in countries where the population is more

But we do not find anything of the kind.

The population of Ireland is thin. There are more people in London than
in all Ireland. Yet the working people of Ireland are worse off than the
working people of England.

The population of Scotland is thinner than that of England, but wages
rule higher in England.

In Australia there is a large country and a small population, but there
is plenty of poverty.

In the Middle Ages the entire population of England would only be a few
millions--say four or five millions--whereas it is now nearly thirty
millions. Yet the working classes are very much better off to-day than
they were in the eighth and ninth centuries.

Reduce the population of Britain to one million and the workers would be
in no better case than they are now. Increase the population to sixty
millions and the workers will be no worse off--at least so far as wages
are concerned.

I will give you the reason for this in a few words, using an
illustration which used to serve me for the same purpose in one of my

No one will deny that all wealth--whether food, tools, clothing,
furniture, machines, arms, or houses--comes from _the land_.

For we feed our cattle and poultry on the land, and get from the land
corn, malt, hops, iron, timber, and every other thing we use, except
fish and a few sea-drugs; and we could not get fish without nets and
boats, nor make nets and boats without fibre and wood and metals.

Stand a decanter and a tumbler on a bare table. Call the table Britain,
call the decanter a landlord, and call the tumbler a labourer.

Now no man can produce wealth without land. If, then, Lord de Canter
owns all the land, and Tommy Tumbler owns none, how is Tommy Tumbler to
get his living?

He will have to work for Lord de Canter, and he will have to take the
wage his lordship offers him.

Now you cannot say that Britain is over-populated with only two men, nor
that it is suffering from a superfluity of labour when there is only one
labourer. And yet you observe that with only two men in the country one
is rich and the other poor.

How, then, will a reduction of the population prevent poverty?

Look at this diagram. A square board, with two men on it; one is black
and one is white.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

Call the board England, the black pawn a landlord, and the white pawn a

Let me repeat that every useful thing comes out of the land, and then
ask this simple question: If _all_ the land--the whole of
England--belongs to the black man, how is the white man going to get his

You see, although the population of England consists of only two men,
if one of these men owns _all_ the land, the other man must starve, or
steal, or beg, or work for wages.

Now, suppose our white man works for wages--works for the black
man--what is going to regulate the wages? Will the fact that there is
only one beggar make that beggar any richer? If there were ten white
men, and _all_ the land belonged to the black man, the ten whites would
be as well off as the one white was, for the landowner could find them
all work, and could get them to work for just as much as they could live

No: that idea of raising wages by reducing the population is a mistake.
Do not the workers _make_ the wealth? They do. And is it not odd to say
that we will increase the wealth by reducing the number of the wealth

But perhaps you think the workers might get a bigger _share_ of the
wealth if there were fewer of them.

How? Our black man owns all England. He has 100 whites working for him
at wages just big enough to keep them alive. Of those 100 whites 50 die.
Will the black man raise the wages of the remaining 50? Why should he?
There is no reason why he should. But there is this reason why he should
not, viz. that as he has now only 50 men working for him, he will only
be half as rich as he was when he had 100 men working for him. But the
land is still his, and the whites are still in his power. He will still
pay them just as much as they can live on, and no more.

But you may say that if the workers decreased and the masters did not
decrease in numbers, wages must rise.

Suppose you have in the export cotton trade 100 masters and 100,000
workers. Half the workers die. You have now 100 masters and 50,000

Then you may say that, as foreign countries would still want the work of
100,000 workers, the 100 masters would compete as to which got the
biggest orders, and so wages would rise.

But bear in mind two things. First, if the foreign workers were as
numerous as before, the English masters could import hands; second, if
the foreign workers died out as fast as the English, there would only
be half as many foreigners needing shirts, and so the trade would keep
pace with the decrease in workers, and the wages would remain as they

To improve the wages of the English workers the price of cotton goods
must rise or the profits of the masters must be cut down.

Neither of these things depends on the number of the population.

But now go back to our England with the three men in it. Here is the
black landlord, rich and idle; and the two white workers, poor and
industrious. One of the workers dies. The landlord gets less money, but
the remaining worker gets no more. _There are only two men in all
England, and one of them is poor._

But suppose we have one black landlord and 100 white workers, and the
workers adopt Socialism. Then every man of the 101 will have just what
he earns, and _all_ that he earns, and all will be free men.

Thus you see that under Socialism a big population will be better off
than the smallest population can be under non-Socialism.

But, the non-Socialist objects, wages are ruled by competition, and must
fall when the supply of labour exceeds the demand; and when that happens
it is because the country is over-populated.

I admit that the supply of labour often exceeds the demand, and that
when it does, wages may come down. But I deny that an excess of labour
over the demand for labour proves the country to be over-populated. What
it does prove is that the country is badly governed and

A country is over-populated when its soil cannot yield food for its
people. At present our population is about 40,000,000 and our soil would
support more than double the number.

The country, then, is not over-populated; it is badly governed.

There are, let us say, more shoemakers and tailors than there is
employment for. But are there no bare feet and ill-clothed backs?
Certainly. The bulk of our workers are not properly shod or clothed. It
is not, then, true to say that we have more tailors and shoemakers than
we require; but we ought to say instead that our tailors and shoemakers
cannot live by their trades because the rest of the workers are too poor
to pay them. Now, why are the rest of the workers too poor to buy boots
and clothing? Is it because there are too many of them? Let us take an
instance: the farm labourer. He cannot afford boots. Why? He is too
poor. Why? Not because there are too many farm labourers,--for there are
too few,--but because the wages of farm labourers are low. Why are they
low? Because agriculture is neglected, and because rents are high. So we
come back to my original statement, that the evil is due to the private
ownership of land.

The many are poor because the few are rich.

But, again, it may be asserted that we have always about half a million
of men unemployed, and that these men prove the existence of superfluous

Not at all. There are half a million of men out of work, but there are
many millions of acres idle. Abolish private ownership of land, and the
nation, being now owner of _all_ land, can at once find work for that
so-called "superfluous labour."

All wealth comes from the land. All wealth must be got from the land by
labour. Given a sufficient quantity of land, one man can produce from
the land more wealth than one man can consume. Therefore, as long as
there is a sufficiency of land there can be no such thing as
"superfluous labour," and no such thing as over-population. Given
machinery and combination, and probably one man can produce from the
land enough wealth for ten to consume. Why, then, should there be any
such thing as poverty?

One fundamental truth of economics is that every able-bodied and willing
worker is worth more than his keep.

There is such a thing as locked-out labour, but there is no such thing
in this country as useless labour. While we have land lying idle, and
while we have to import our food, how can we be so foolish as to call a
man who is excluded from the land superfluous? He is one of the factors
of wealth, and land is the other. Set the man on the land and he will
produce wealth. At present he is out of work and the land out of use.
But are either of them superfluous? No; we need both.



Non-Socialists assert with the utmost confidence that Socialism is
impossible. Let us consider this statement in a practical way.

We are told that Socialism is impossible. That means that the people
have not the ability to manage their own affairs, and must, perforce,
give nearly all the wealth they produce to the superior persons who at
present are kind enough to own, to govern, and to manage Britain for the

A bold statement! The people _cannot_ manage their own business: it is
_impossible_. They cannot farm the land, and build the factories, and
weave the cloth, and feed and clothe and house themselves; they are not
able to do it. They must have landlords and masters to do it for them.

But the joke is that these landlords and masters do _not_ do it for the
people. The people do it for the landlords and masters; and the latter
gentlemen make the people pay them for allowing the people to work.

But the people can only produce wealth under supervision; they must have
superior persons to direct them. So the non-Socialist declares.

Another bold assertion, which is not true. For nearly all those things
which the non-Socialist tells us are impossible _are being done_. Nearly
all those matters of management, of which the people are said to be
incapable, are being accomplished by the people _now_.

For if the nation can build warships, why can they not build cargo
ships? If they can make rifles, why not sewing machines or ploughs? If
they can build forts, why not houses? If they can make policemen's
boots and soldiers' coats, why not make ladies' hats and mechanics'
trousers? If they can pickle beef for the navy, why should they not make
jam for the household? If they can run a railway across the African
desert, why should they not run one from London to York?

Look at the Co-operative Societies. They own and run cargo ships. They
import and export goods. They make boots and foods. They build their own
shops and factories. They buy and sell vast quantities of useful things.

Well, these places were started by working men, and are owned by working

Look at the post office. If the nation can carry its own letters, why
not its own coals? If it can manage its telegraphs, why not its
railways, its trams, its cabs, its factories?

Look at the London County Council and the Glasgow and Manchester
Corporations. If these bodies of public servants can build
dwelling-houses, make roads, tunnels, and sewers, carry water from
Thirlmere to Manchester, manage the Ship Canal, make and supply gas, own
and work tramways, and take charge of art galleries, baths, wash-houses,
and technical schools, what is there that landlords or masters do, or
get done, which the cities and towns cannot do better and more cheaply
for themselves?

What sense is there in pretending that the colliers could not get coal
unless they paid rent to a lord, or that the railways could not carry
coal unless they paid dividends to a company, or that the weaver could
not make shirtings, nor the milliners bonnets, nor the cutlers blades,
just as well for the nation as for Mr. Bounderby or my Lord Tomnoddy?

"But," the "Impossibles" will say, "you have not got the capital."

Do not believe them. You _have_ got the capital. Where? In your brains
and in your arms, where _all_ the capital comes from.

Why, if what the "Impossibles" tell us be true--if the people are not
able to do anything for themselves as well as the private dealers or
makers can do it for them--the gas and water companies ought to have no
fear of being cut out in price and quality by any County Council or

But the "Impossibles" know very well that, directly the people set up on
their own account, the private trader or maker is beaten. Let one
district of London begin to make its own gas, and see what will happen
in the other districts.

Twenty years ago this cry of "Impossible" was not so easy to dispose of,
but to-day it can be silenced by the logic of accomplished facts. For
within the last score of years the Municipalities of London, Glasgow,
Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham, Bolton, Leicester, and
other large towns have _proved_ that the Municipalities can manage large
and small enterprises efficiently, and that in all cases it is to the
advantage of the ratepayers, of the consumers, and of the workers that
private management should be displaced by management under the

Impossible? Why, the capital already invested in municipal works amounts
to nearly £100,000,000. And the money is well invested, and all the work
is prosperous.

Municipalities own and manage waterworks, gasworks, tramways,
telephones, electric lighting, markets, baths, piers, docks, parks,
farms, dwelling-houses, abattoirs, cemeteries, crematoriums, libraries,
schools, art galleries, hotels, dairies, colleges, and technical
schools. Many of the Municipalities also provide concerts, open-air
music, science classes, and lectures; and quite recently the Alexandra
Palace has been municipalised, and is now being successfully run by the
people and for the people.

How, then, can _Socialism_ be called impossible? As a matter of fact
_Socialism_ is only a method of extending State management, as in the
Post Office, and Municipal management, as in the cases above named,
until State and Municipal management becomes universal all through the

Where is the impossibility of that? If a Corporation can manage trams,
gas, and water, why can it not manage bread, milk, meat, and beer

If Bradford can manage one hotel, why not more than one? If Bradford can
manage more than one hotel, why cannot London, Glasgow, Leeds, and
Portsmouth do the same?

If the German, Austrian, French, Italian, Belgian, and other Governments
can manage the railway systems of their countries, why cannot the
British Government manage theirs?

If the Government can manage a fleet of war vessels, why not fleets of
liners and traders? If the Government can manage post and telegraph
services, why not telephones and coalmines?

The answer to all these questions is that the Government and the
Municipalities have proved that they can manage vast and intricate
businesses, and can manage them more cheaply, more efficiently, and more
to the advantage and satisfaction of the public than the same class of
business has ever been managed by private firms.

How can it be maintained, then, that _Socialism_ is impossible?

But, will it _pay_? What! _Will_ it pay? It _does_ pay. Read _To-Day's
Work_, by George Haw, Clarion Press, 2s. 6d., and _Does Municipal
Management Pay_? by R. B. Suthers, Clarion Press, 6d., and you will be
surprised to find how well these large and numerous Municipal
experiments in _Socialism_ do pay.

From the book on Municipal Management, by R. B. Suthers, above
mentioned, I will quote a few comparisons between Municipal and private
tram and water services.


"In Glasgow they devote all profits to making the services cheaper and
to paying off capital borrowed.

"Thus, since the Glasgow Municipality took control of the water supply,
forty years ago, they have reduced the price of water from 1s. 2d. in
the pound rental to 5d. in the pound rental for domestic supply.

"Compare that with the price paid by the London consumer under private

"On a £30 house in Glasgow the water rate amounts to 12s. 6d.

"On a £30 house in Chelsea the water rate amounts to 30s.

"On a £30 house in Lambeth the water rate is £2, 16s.

"On a £30 house in Southwark the water rate is 32s.

"And so on. The London consumer pays from two to five times as much as
the Glasgow consumer. He does not get as much water, he does not get as
good water, and a large part of the money he pays goes into the pockets
of the water lords.

"Last year the water companies took just over a million in profits from
the intelligent electors of the Metropolis.

"In Glasgow a part of the 5d. in the pound goes to paying off the
capital borrowed to provide the waterworks. £2,350,000 has been so
spent, and over one million of this has been paid back.

"_Does_ Municipal management pay?

"Look at Liverpool. The private companies did not give an adequate
supply, so the Municipality took the matter in hand. What is the result?

"The charge for water in Liverpool is a fixed rate of 3d. in the pound
and a water rate of 7½d. in the pound.

"For this comparatively small amount the citizen of Liverpool, as Sir
Thomas Hughes said, "can have as many baths and as many water closets as
he likes, and the same with regard to water for his garden."

"In London the water companies make high charges for every separate bath
and water closet."


"In Glasgow from 1871 to 1894 a private company had a lease of the
tramways from the Corporation.

"When the lease was about to expire the Corporation tried to arrange
terms with the company for a renewal, but the company would not accept
the terms offered.

"Moreover, there was a strong public feeling in favour of the
Corporation working the tramways. The company service was not efficient;
it was dear, and their bad treatment of their employees had roused
general indignation.

"So the Corporation decided to manage the tramways, and the day after
the company's lease expired they placed on the streets an entirely new
service of cars, cleaner, handsomer, and more comfortable in every way
than their predecessors'.

"The result of the first eleven months' working was a triumph for
Municipal management.

"The Corporation had many difficulties to contend with. Their horses
were new and untrained, their staff was larger and new to the work, and
the old company flooded the routes with 'buses to compete with the

"Notwithstanding these difficulties, they introduced halfpenny fares,
they lengthened the distance for a penny, they raised the wages of the
men and shortened their hours, they refused to disfigure the cars with
advertisements, thus losing a handsome revenue, and in the end were able
to show a profit of £24,000, which was devoted to the common-good fund
and to depreciation account.

"Since that time the success of the enterprise has been still more

"The private company during the last four weeks of their reign carried
4,428,518 passengers.

"The Corporation in the corresponding four weeks of 1895 carried

    In the year 1895-6 the Corporation carried       87,000,000
    In the year 1899-1900                           127,000,000
    In the year 1900-1                              132,000,000
    In 1895-6 the receipts were                        £222,121
    In 1899-1900 the receipts were                     £464,886
    In 1900-1 the receipts were                        £484,872
    In 1895 there were                      31 miles of tramway
    In 1901 there were                      44½    "      "
    In 1895 the number of cars was                          170
    In 1901       "        "   was                          322

"The citizens of Glasgow have a much better service than the private
company provided, the fares are from 30 to 50 per cent. lower, the men
work four hours a day less, and get from 5s. a week more wages, and free
uniforms, and the capital expended is being gradually wiped out.

"In thirty-three years the capital borrowed will be paid back from a
sinking fund provided out of the receipts.

"The gross capital expenditure to May 1901 was £1,947,730.

"The sinking fund amounts to £75,063.

"But the Corporation have, in addition, written off £153,796 for
depreciation, they have placed £91,350 to a Permanent Way Renewal Fund,
and they have piled up a general reserve fund of £183,428.

"Under a private company £100,000 would have gone into the pockets of a
few shareholders _on last year's working_--even if the private company
had charged the same fares and paid the same wages as the Corporation
did, which is an unlikely assumption."

If you will read the two books I have mentioned, by Messrs. Haw and
Suthers, you will be convinced by _facts_ that _Socialism_ is possible,
and that it _will_ pay.

Bear in mind, also, that in all cases where the Municipality has taken
over some department of public service and supply, the decrease in cost
and the improvement in service which the ratepayers have secured are not
the only improvements upon the management of the same work by private
companies. Invariably the wages, hours, and conditions of men employed
on Municipal work are superior to those of men employed by companies.

Another thing should be well remembered. The private trader thinks only
of profit. The Municipality considers the health and comfort of the
citizens and the beauty and convenience of the city.

Look about and see what the County Council have done and are doing for
London; and all their improvements have to be carried out in the face of
opposition from interested and privileged parties. They have to improve
and beautify London almost by force of arms, working, as one might say,
under the guns of the enemy.

But if the citizens were all united, if the city had one will to work
for the general boon, as under _Socialism_ happily it should be, London
would in a score of years be the richest, the healthiest, and the most
beautiful city in the world.

_Socialism_, Mr. Smith, is quite possible, and will not only pay but
bless the nation that has the wisdom to afford full scope to its



I am now to persuade you, Mr. John Smith, a British workman, that you
need a Labour Party. It is a queer task for a bookish man, a literary
student, and an easy lounger through life, who takes no interest in
politics and needs no party at all. To persuade you, a worker, that you
need a worker's party, is like persuading you that you need food,
shelter, love, and liberty. It is like persuading a soldier that he
needs arms, a scholar that he needs books, a woman that she needs a
home. Yet my chief object in writing this book has been to persuade you
that you need a Labour Party.

Why should Labour have a Labour Party? I will put the answer first into
the words of the anti-Socialist, and say, Because "self-interest is the
strongest motive of mankind."

That covers the whole ground, and includes all the arguments that I
shall advance in favour of a Labour Party.

For if self-interest be the leading motive of human nature, does it not
follow that when a man wants a thing done for his own advantage he will
be wise to do it himself.

An upper-class party may be expected to attend to the interests of the
upper class. And you will find that such a party has always done what
might be expected. A middle-class party may be expected to attend to the
interests of the middle class. And history and the logic of current
events prove that the middle class has done what might have been

And if you wish the interests of the working class to be attended to,
you will take to heart the lesson contained in those examples, and will
form a working-class party.

Liberals will declare, and do declare, in most pathetic tones, that
they have done more, and will do more, for the workers than the Tories
have done or will do. And Liberals will assure you that they are really
more anxious to help the workers than we Socialists believe.

But those are side issues. The main thing to remember is, that even if
the Liberals are all they claim to be, they will never do as much for
Labour as Labour could do for itself.

Is not self-interest the ruling passion in the human heart? Then how
should _any_ party be so true to Labour and so diligent in Labour's
service as a Labour Party would be?

What is a Trade Union? It is a combination of workers to defend their
own interests from the encroachments of the employers.

Well, a Labour Party is a combination of workers to defend their own
interests from the encroachments of the employers, or their
representatives in Parliament and on Municipal bodies.

Do you elect your employers as officials of your Trade Unions? Do you
send employers as delegates to your Trade Union Congress? You would
laugh at the suggestion. You know that the employer _could_ not attend
to your interests in the Trade Union, which is formed as a defence
against him.

Do you think the employer is likely to be more useful or more
disinterested in Parliament or the County Council than in the Trade

Whether he be in Parliament or in his own office, he is an employer, and
he puts his own interest first and the interests of Labour behind.

Yet these men whom as Trade Unionists you mistrust, you actually send as
politicians to "represent" you.

A Labour Party is a kind of political Trade Union, and to defend Trade
Unionism is to defend Labour representation.

If a Liberal or a Tory can be trusted as a parliamentary representative,
why cannot he be trusted as an employer?

If an employer's interests are opposed to your interests in business,
what reason have you for supposing that his interests and yours are not
opposed in politics?

Am I to persuade you to join a Labour Party? Then why should I not
persuade you to join a Trade Union? Trade Union and Labour Party are
both class defences against class aggression.

If you oppose a man as an employer, why do you vote for him as a Member
of Parliament? His calling himself a Liberal or a Tory does not alter
the fact that he is an employer.

To be a Trade Unionist and fight for your class during a strike, and to
be a Tory or a Liberal and fight against your class at an election, is
folly. During a strike there are no Tories or Liberals amongst the
strikers; they are all workers. At election times there are no workers;
only Liberals and Tories.

During an election there are Tory and Liberal capitalists, and all of
them are friends of the workers. During a strike there are no Tories and
no Liberals amongst the employers. They are all capitalists and enemies
of the workers. Is there any logic in you workers? Is there any
perception in you? Is there any _sense_ in you?

As I said just now, you never elect an employer as president of a
Trades' Council, or a chairman of a Trade Union Congress, or as a member
of a Trade Union. You never ask an employer to lead you during a strike.
But at election times, when you ought to stand by your class, the whole
body of Trade Union workers turn into black-legs, and fight for the
capitalist and against the workers.

Even some of your Labour Members of Parliament go and help the
candidature of employers against candidates standing for Labour. That is
a form of political black-legging which I am surprised to find you

But besides the conflict of personal interests, there are other reasons
why the Liberal and Tory parties are useless to Labour.

One of these reasons is that the reform programmes of the old parties,
such as they are, consist almost entirely of political reforms.

But the improvement of the workers' condition depends more upon
industrial reform.

The nationalisation of the railways and the coalmines, the taxation of
the land, and the handing over of all the gas, water, and food supplies,
and all the tramway systems, to Municipal control, would do more good
for the workers than extension of the franchise or payment of members.

The old political struggles have mostly been fought for political
reforms or for changes of taxation. The coming struggle will be for
industrial reform.

We want Britain for the British. We want the fruits of labour for those
who produce them. We want a human life for all. The issue is not one
between Liberals and Tories; it is an issue between the privileged
classes and the workers.

Neither of the political parties is of any use to the workers, because
both the political parties are paid, officered, and led by capitalists
whose interests are opposed to the interests of the workers. The
Socialist laughs at the pretended friendship of Liberal and Tory leaders
for the workers. These party politicians do not in the least understand
what the rights, the interests, or the desires of the workers are; if
they did understand, they would oppose them implacably. The demand of
the Socialist is a demand for the nationalisation of the land and all
other instruments of production and distribution. The party leaders will
not hear of such a thing. If you want to get an idea how utterly
destitute of sympathy with Labour the privileged classes really are,
read carefully the papers which express their views. Read the organs of
the landlords, the capitalists, and the employers; or read the Liberal
and the Tory papers during a big strike, or during some bye-election
when a Labour candidate is standing against a Tory and a Liberal.

It is a very common thing to hear a party leader deprecate the increase
of "class representation." What does that mean? It means Labour
representation. But the "class" concerned in Labour representation is
the working class, a "class" of thirty millions of people. Observe the
calm effrontery of this sneer at "class representation." The thirty
millions of workers are not represented by more than a dozen members.
The other classes--the landlords, the capitalists, the military, the
law, the brewers, and idle gentlemen--are represented by something like
six hundred members. This is class representation with a vengeance.

It is colossal _impudence_ for a party paper to talk against "class
representation." Every class is over-represented--except the great
working class. The mines, the railways, the drink trade, the land,
finance, the army (officers), the navy (officers), the church, the law,
and most of the big industries (employers), are represented largely in
the House of Commons.

And nearly thirty millions of the working classes are represented by
about a dozen men, most of whom are palsied by their allegiance to the
Liberal Party.

And, mind you, this disproportion exists not only in Parliament, but in
all County and Municipal institutions. How many working men are there on
the County Councils, the Boards of Guardians, the School Boards, and the
Town Councils?

The capitalists, and their hangers-on, not only make the laws--they
administer them. Is it any wonder, then, that laws are made and
administered in the interests of the capitalist? And does it not seem
reasonable to suppose that if the laws were made and administered by
workers, they would be made and administered to the advantage of Labour?

Well, my advice to working men is to return working men representatives,
with definite and imperative instructions, to Parliament and to all
other governing bodies.

Some of the old Trade Unionists will tell you that there is no need for
parliamentary interference in Labour matters. The Socialist does not ask
for "parliamentary interference"; he asks for Government by the people
and for the people.

The older Unionists think that Trade Unionism is strong enough in itself
to secure the rights of the worker. This is a great mistake. The rights
of the worker are the whole of the produce of his labour. Trade Unionism
not only cannot secure that, but has never even tried to secure that.
The most that Trade Unionism has secured, or can ever hope to secure,
for the workers, is a comfortable subsistence wage. They have not always
secured even that much, and, when they have secured it, the cost has
been serious. For the great weapon of Unionism is a strike, and a strike
is at best a bitter, a painful, and a costly thing.

Do not think that I am opposed to Trade Unionism. It is a good thing; it
has long been the only defence of the workers against robbery and
oppression; were it not for the Trade Unionism of the past and of the
present, the condition of the British industrial classes would be one of
abject slavery. But Trade Unionism, although some defence, is not
sufficient defence.

You must remember, also, that the employers have copied the methods of
Trade Unionism. They also have organised and united, and, in the future,
strikes will be more terrible and more costly than ever. The capitalist
is the stronger. He holds the better strategic position. He can always
outlast the worker, for the worker has to starve and see his children
starve, and the capitalist never gets to that pass. Besides, capital is
more mobile than labour. A stroke of the pen will divert wealth and
trade from one end of the country to the other; but the workers cannot
move their forces so readily.

One difference between Socialism and Trade Unionism is, that whereas the
Unions can only marshal and arm the workers for a desperate trial of
endurance, Socialism can get rid of the capitalist altogether. The
former helps you to resist the enemy, the latter destroys him.

I suggest that you should join a Socialist Society and help to get
others to join, and that you should send Socialist workers to sit upon
all representative bodies.

The Socialist tells you that you are men, with men's rights and with
men's capacities for all that is good and great--and you hoot him, and
call him a liar and a fool.

The Politician despises you, declares that all your sufferings are due
to your own vices, that you are incapable of managing your own affairs,
and that if you were intrusted with freedom and the use of the wealth
you create you would degenerate into a lawless mob of drunken loafers;
and you cheer him until you are hoarse.

The Politician tells you that _his_ party is the people's party, and
that _he_ is the man to defend your interests; and in spite of all you
know of his conduct in the past, you believe him.

The Socialist begs you to form a party of your own, and to do your work
yourselves; and you call him a _dreamer_. I do not know whether the
working man is a dreamer, but he seems to me to spend a good deal of his
time asleep.

Still, there are hopeful signs of an awakening. The recent decision of
the miners to pay one shilling each a year into a fund for securing
parliamentary and other representation, is one of the most hopeful signs
I have yet seen.

The matter is really a simple one. The workers have enough votes, and
they can easily find enough money.

The 2,000,000 of Trade Unionists could alone find the money to elect and
support more than a hundred labour representatives.

Say that election expenses for each candidate were £500. A hundred
candidates at £500 would cost £50,000.

Pay for each representative at £200 a year would cost for a hundred
M.P.s £20,000.

If 2,000,000 Unionists gave 1s. a year each, the sum would be £100,000.
That would pay for the election of 100 members, keep them for a year,
and leave a balance of £30,000.

With a hundred Labour Members in Parliament, and a proportionate
representation of Labour on all County Councils, City, Borough, and
Parish Councils, School Boards and Boards of Guardians, the interests of
the workers would begin, for the first time in our history, to receive
some real and valuable attention.

But not only is it desirable that the workers should strive for solid
reforms, but it is also imperative that they should prepare to defend
the liberties and rights they have already won.

A man must be very careless or very obtuse if he does not perceive that
the classes are preparing to drive the workers back from the positions
they now hold.

Two ominous words, "Conscription" and "Protection" are being freely
bandied about, and attacks, open or covert, are being made upon Trade
Unionism and Education. If the workers mean to hold their own they must
attack as well as defend. And to attack they need a strong and united
Labour Party, that will fight for Labour in and out of Parliament, and
will stand for Labour apart from the Liberal and the Tory parties.

And now let us see what the Liberal and Tory parties offer the worker,
and why they are not to be trusted.



The old parties are no use to Labour for two reasons:--

    1. Because their interests are mostly opposed to the interests of

    2. Because such reform as they promise is mostly political, and the
    kind of reform needed by Labour is industrial and social reform.

Liberal and Tory politicians call us Socialists _dreamers_. They claim
to be practical men. They say theories are no use, that reform can only
be secured by practical men and practical means, and for practical men
and practical means you must look to the great parties.

Being anxious to catch even the faintest streak of dawn in the dreary
political sky, we _do_ look to the great parties. I have been looking to
them for quite twenty years. And nothing has come of it.

What _can_ come of it? What are the "practical" reforms about which we
hear so much?

Putting the broadest construction upon them, it may be said that the
practical politics of both parties are within the lines of the following

    1. Manhood Suffrage.
    2. Payment of Members of Parliament.
    3. Payment of Election Expenses.
    4. The Second Ballot.
    5. Abolition of Dual Voting.
    6. Disestablishment of the Church.
    7. Abolition of the House of Lords.

And it is alleged by large numbers of people, all of them, for some
inexplicable reason, proud of their hard common sense, that the passing
of this programme into law would, in some manner yet to be expounded,
make miserable England into merry England, and silence the visionaries
and agitators for ever.

Now, with all deference and in all humility, I say to these practical
politicians that the above programme, if it became law to-morrow, would
not, for any practical purpose, be worth the paper it was printed on.

There are seven items, and not one of them would produce the smallest
effect upon the mass of misery and injustice which is now crushing the
life out of this nation.

No. All those planks are political planks, and they all amount to the
same thing--the shifting of political power from the classes to the
masses. The idea being that when the people have the political power
they will use it to their own advantage.

A false idea. The people would not know _how_ to use the power, and if
they did know how to use it, it by no means follows that they would use

Some of the _real_ evils of the time, the real causes of England's
distress, are:--

    1. The unjust monopoly of the land.
    2. The unjust extortion of interest.
    3. The universal system of suicidal competition.
    4. The baseness of popular ideals.
    5. The disorganisation of the forces for the production of wealth.
    6. The unjust distribution of wealth.
    7. The confusions and contradictions of the moral ethics of the
       nation, with resultant unjust laws and unfair conditions of life.

There I will stop. Against the seven remedies I will put seven evils,
and I say that not one of the remedies can cure any one of the evils.

The seven remedies will give increased political power to the people.
So. But, assuming that political power is the one thing needful, I say
the people have it now.

Supposing the masses in Manchester were determined to return to
Parliament ten working men. They have an immense preponderance of votes.
They could carry the day at every poll? But _do_ they? If not, why not?

Then, as to expenses. Assuming the cost to be £200 a member, that would
make a gross sum of £2000 for ten members, which sum would not amount to
quite fivepence a head for 100,000 voters. But do voters find this
money? If not, why not?

Then, as to maintenance. Allowing each member £200 a year, that would
mean another fivepence a year for the 100,000 men. So that it is not too
much to say that, without passing one of the Acts in the seven-branched
programme, the workers of Manchester could, at a cost of less than one
penny a month per man, return and maintain ten working men Members of

Now, my practical friends, how many working-class members sit for
Manchester to-day?

And if the people, having so much power now, make no use of it, why are
we to assume that all they need is a little more power to make them
healthy, and wealthy, and wise?

But allow me to offer a still more striking example--the example of

In the first place, I assume that in America the electoral power of the
people is much greater than it is here. I will give one or two examples.
In America, I understand, they have:--

    1. No Established Church.
    2. No House of Lords.
    3. Members of the Legislature are paid.
    4. The people have Universal Suffrage.

There are four out of the seven branches of the practical politicians'
programme in actual existence. For the other three--

    The Abolition of Dual Voting; The Payment of Election Expenses; and
    The Second Ballot--

I cannot answer; but these do not seem to have done quite as much for
France as our practical men expect them to do for England.

Very well, America has nearly all that our practical politicians promise
us. Is America, therefore, so much better off as to justify us in
accepting the seven-branched programme as salvation?

Some years ago I read a book called _How the Other Half Lives_, written
by an American citizen, and dealing with the conditions of the poor in
New York.

We should probably be justified in assuming that just as London is a
somewhat intensified epitome of England, so is New York of America; but
we will not assume that much. We will look at this book together, and we
will select a few facts as to the state of the people in New York, and
then I will ask you to consider this proposition:--

1. That in New York the people already enjoy all the advantages of
practical politics, as understood in England.

2. That, nevertheless, New York is a more miserable and vicious city
than London.

3. That this seems to me to indicate that practical politics are
hopeless, and that practical politicians are--not quite so wise as they

About thirty years ago there was a committee appointed in New York to
investigate the "great increase in crime." The Secretary of the New York
Prison Association, giving evidence, said:--

    Eighty per cent. at least of the crimes against property and against
    the person are perpetrated by individuals who have either lost
    connection with home life or never had any, or whose homes have
    ceased to be sufficiently separate, decent, and desirable to afford
    what are regarded as ordinary wholesome influences of home and

    The younger criminals seem to come almost exclusively from the worst
    tenement-house districts.

These tenements, it seems, are slums. Of the evil of these places, of
the miseries of them, we shall hear more presently. Our author, Mr.
Jacob A. Riis, asserts again and again that the slums make the disease,
the crime, and the wretchedness of New York:--

    In the tenements all the influences make for evil, because they are
    the hot-beds that carry death to rich and poor alike; the nurseries
    of pauperism and crime, that fill our gaols and police-courts; that
    throw off a scum of forty thousand human wrecks to the island
    asylums and workhouses year by year; that turned out, in the last
    eight years, a round half-million of beggars to prey upon our
    charities; that maintain a standing army of ten thousand tramps,
    with all that that implies; because, above all, they touch the
    family life with moral contagion.

Well, that is what the American writer thinks of the tenement
system--of the New York slums.

_Now_ comes the important question, What is the extent of these slums?
And on this point Mr. Riis declares more than once that the extent is

    To-day (1891) three-fourths of New York's people live in the
    tenements, and the nineteenth century drift of the population to the
    cities is sending ever-increasing multitudes to crowd them.

    Where are the tenements of to-day? Say, rather, where are they not?
    In fifty years they have crept up from the Fourth Ward Slums and the
    Fifth Points, the whole length of the island, and have polluted the
    annexed district to the Westchester line. Crowding all the lower
    wards, where business leaves a foot of ground unclaimed; strung
    along both rivers, like ball and chain tied to the foot of every
    street, and filling up Harlem with their restless, pent-up
    multitudes, they hold within their clutch the wealth and business of
    New York--hold them at their mercy, in the day of mob-rule and

So much, then, for the extent of these slums. Now for the nature of
them. A New York doctor said of some of them--

    If we could see the air breathed by these poor creatures in their
    tenements, it would show itself to be fouler than the mud of the

And Mr. Riis goes on to tell of the police finding 101 adults and 91
children in one Crosby Street House, 150 "lodgers" sleeping "on filthy
floors in two buildings."

But the most striking illustration I can give you of the state of the
working-class dwellings in New York is by placing side by side the
figures of the population per acre in the slums of New York and

The Manchester slums are bad--disgracefully, sinfully bad--and the
overcrowding is terrible. But referring to the figures I took from
various official documents when I was writing on the Manchester slums a
few years ago, I find the worst cases of overcrowding to be:--

                    District.  Pop. per Acre.
    Ancoats          No. 3          256
    Deansgate        No. 2          266
    London Road      No. 3          267
    Hulme            No. 3          270
    St. George's     No. 6          274

These are the worst cases from some of the worst English slums. Now let
us look at the figures for New York--


         Tenth Ward             522
         Eleventh Ward          386
         Thirteenth Ward        428

The population of these three wards in the same year was over 179,000.
The population of New York in 1890 was 1,513,501. In 1888 there were in
New York 1,093,701 persons living in tenement houses.

Then, in 1889, there died in New York hospitals 6102; in lunatic
asylums, 448; while the number of pauper funerals was 3815.

In 1890 there were in New York 37,316 tenements, with a gross population
of 1,250,000.

These things are facts, and our practical politicians love facts.

But these are not all the facts. No. In this book about New York I find
careful plans and drawings of the slums, and I can assure you we have
nothing so horrible in all England. Nor do the revelations of Mr. Riis
stop there. We have full details of the sweating shops, the men and
women crowded together in filthy and noisome dens, working at starvation
prices, from morning until late on in the night, "until brain and muscle
break down together." We have pictures of the beggars, the tramps, the
seamstresses, the unemployed, the thieves, the desperadoes, the lost
women, the street arabs, the vile drinking and opium dens, and we have
facts and figures to prove that this great capital of the great Republic
is growing worse; and all this, my practical friends, in spite of the
fact that in America they have

    Manhood Suffrage;
    Payment of Members;
    No House of Peers;
    No State  Church; and
    Free Education;

which is more than our most advanced politicians claim as the full
extent to which England can be taken by means of practical politics--as
understood by the two great parties.

Now, I want to know, and I shall be glad if some practical friend will
tell me, whether a programme of practical politics which leaves the
metropolis of a free and democratic nation a nest of poverty, commercial
slavery, vice, crime, insanity, and disease, is likely to make the
English people healthy, and wealthy, and wise? And I ask you to consider
whether this seven-branched programme is worth fighting for, if it is to
result in a density of slum population nearly twice as great as that of
the worst districts of the worst slums of Manchester?

It seems to me, as an unpractical man, that a practical programme which
results in 522 persons to the acre, 18 hours a day for bread and butter,
and nearly 4000 pauper funerals a year in one city, is a programme which
only _very_ practical men would be fools enough to fight for.

At anyrate, I for one will have nothing to say to such a despicable
sham. A programme which does not touch the sweater nor the slum; which
does not hinder the system of fraud and murder called free competition;
which does not give back to the English people their own country or
their own earnings, may be good enough for politicians, but it is no use
to men and women.

No, my lads, there is no system of economics, politics, or ethics
whereby it shall be made just or expedient to take that which you have
not earned, or to take that which another man has earned; there can be
no health, no hope in a nation where everyone is trying to get more than
he has earned, and is hocussing his conscience with platitudes about
God's Providence having endowed men with different degrees of intellect
and virtue.

How many years is it since the Newcastle programme was issued? What did
it _promise_ that the poor workers of America and France have not
already obtained? What good would it do you if you got it? _And when do
you think you are likely to get it?_ Is it any nearer now than it was
seven years ago? Will it be any nearer ten years hence than it is now if
you wait for the practical politicians of the old parties to give it to

One of the great stumbling-blocks in the way of all progress for Labour
is the lingering belief of the working man in the Liberal Party.

In the past the Liberals were regarded as the party of progress. They
won many fiscal and political reforms for the people. And now, when they
will not, or cannot, go any farther, their leaders talk about
"ingratitude" if the worker is advised to leave them and form a Labour

But when John Bright refused to go any farther, when he refused to go as
far as Home Rule, did the Liberal Party think of gratitude to one of
their greatest men? No. They dropped John Bright, and they blamed _him_
because he had halted.

They why should they demand that you shall stay with them out of
gratitude now they have halted?

The Liberal Party claim to be the workers' friends. What have they done
for him during the last ten years? What are they willing to do for him
now, or when they get office?

Here is a quotation from a speech made some years ago by Sir William

    An attempt is being sedulously made to identify the Liberal
    Government and the Liberal Party with dreamers of dreams, with wild,
    anarchical ideas, and anti-social projects. Gentlemen, I say, if I
    have a right to speak on behalf of the Liberal Party, that we have
    no sympathy with these mischief-makers at all. The Liberal Party has
    no share in them; their policy is a constructive policy; they have
    no revolutionary schemes either in politics, in society, or in

You may say that is old. Try this new one. It is from the lips of Mr.
Harmsworth, the "official Liberal candidate" at the last by-election in
North-East Lanark--

    My own opinion is that a _modus vivendi_ should be arrived at
    between the official Liberal Party and such Labour organisations as
    desire parliamentary representation, provided, of course, that they
    are not _tainted with Socialist doctrines_. It should not be
    difficult to come to something like an amicable settlement. I must
    say that it came upon me with something of a shock to find that
    amongst those who sent messages to the Socialist candidate wishing
    success to him in his propaganda were two Members of Parliament who
    profess allegiance to the Liberal Party.

Provided, "of course," that _they are not tainted with Socialist
doctrines_. With Socialist doctrines Sir William Harcourt and Mr.
Harmsworth will have no dealings.

Now, if you read what I have written in this book you will see that
there is no possible reform that can do the workers any real or lasting
good unless that reform is _tainted with Socialist doctrines_.

Only legislation of a socialistic nature can benefit the working class.
And that kind of legislation the Liberals will not touch.

It is true there are some individual members amongst the Radicals who
are prepared to go a good way with the Socialists. But what can they do?
In the House they must obey the Party Whip, and the Party Whip never
cracks for socialistic measures.

I wonder how many Labour seats have been lost through Home Rule. Time
after time good Labour candidates have been defeated because Liberal
working men feared to lose a Home Rule vote in the House.

And what has Labour got from the Home Rule Liberals it has elected?

And where is Home Rule to-day?

Let me give you a typical case. A Liberal Unionist lost his seat. He at
once became a Home Ruler, and was adopted as Liberal candidate to stand
against a Labour candidate and against a Tory. The Labour candidate was
a Home Ruler, and had been a Home Ruler when the Liberal candidate was a

But the Liberal working men would not vote for the Labour man. Why?
Because they were afraid he would not get in. If he did not get in the
Tory would get in, and the Home Rule vote would be one less in the

They voted for the Liberal, and he was returned. That is ten years ago.
What good has that M.P. done for Home Rule, and what has he done for

The Labour man could have done no more for Home Rule, but he would have
worked hard for Labour, and no Party Whip would have checked him.

Well, during those ten years it is not too much to say that fifty Labour
candidates have been sacrificed in the same way to Home Rule.

In ten years those men would have done good service. _And they were all
Home Rulers._

Such is the wisdom of the working men who cling to the tails of the
Liberal Party.

Return a hundred Labour men to the House of Commons, and the Liberal
Party will be stronger than if a hundred Liberals were sent in their
place, for there is not a sound plank in the Liberal programme which the
Labour M.P. would wish removed.

But do you doubt for a moment that the presence in the House of a
hundred Labour members would do no more for Labour than the presence in
their stead of a hundred Liberals? A working man must be very dull if he
believes that.

That is my case against the old parties. I could say no more if I tried.
If you want to benefit your own class, if you want to hasten reform, if
you want to frighten the Tories and wake up the Liberals, put your hands
in your pockets, find a _farthing a week_ for election and for
parliamentary expenses, send a hundred Labour men to the House, and
watch the effects. I think you will be more than satisfied. And _that_
is what _I_ call "practical politics."

Finally, to end as I began, if self-interest is the strongest motive in
human nature, the man who wants his own advantage secured will be wise
to attend to it himself.

The Liberal Party may be a better party than the Tory Party, but the
_best_ party for Labour is a _Labour_ Party.



Self-interest being the strongest motive in human nature, he who wishes
his interests to be served will be wise to attend to them himself.

If you, Mr. Smith, as a working man, wish to have better wages, shorter
hours, more holidays, and cheaper living, you had better take a hand in
the class war by becoming a recruit in the army of Labour.

The first line of the Labour army is the Trade Unions.

The second line is the Municipality.

The third line is Parliament.

If working men desire to improve their conditions they will be wise to
serve their own interests by using the Trade Unions, the Municipalities,
and the House of Commons for all they are worth; and they are worth a

Votes you have in plenty, for all practical purposes, and of money you
can yourselves raise more than you need, without either hurting
yourselves or incurring obligations to men of other classes.

One penny a week from 4,000,000 of working men would mean a yearly
income of £866,000.

We are always hearing that the working classes cannot find enough money
to pay the election expenses of their own parliamentary candidates nor
to keep their own Labour members if elected.

If 4,000,000 workers paid one penny a week (the price of a Sunday paper,
or of one glass of cheap beer) they would have £866,000 at the end of a

Election expenses of 200 Labour candidates at £500 each would be

Pay of 200 Labour members at £200 a year would be £40,000.

Total, £140,000: leaving a balance in hand of £726,000.

Election expenses of 2000 candidates for School Board, Municipal
Councils, and Boards of Guardians at £50 per man would be £100,000.
Leaving a balance of £626,000.

Now the cause of Labour has very few friends amongst the newspapers. As
I have said before, at times of strikes and other industrial crises, the
Press goes almost wholly against the workers.

The 4,000,000 men I have supposed to wake up to their own interest could
establish weekly and daily papers of _their own_ at a cost of £50,000
for each paper. Say one weekly paper at a penny, one daily paper at a
penny, or one morning and one evening paper at a halfpenny each.

These papers would have a ready-made circulation amongst the men who
owned them. They could be managed, edited, and written by trained
journalists engaged for the work, and could contain all the best
features of the political papers now bought by working men.

Say, then, that the weekly paper cost £50,000 to start, and that the
morning and evening papers cost the same. That would be £150,000, and
the papers would pay in less than a year.

You see, then, that 4,000,000 of men could finance 3 newspapers, 200
parliamentary and 2000 local elections, and pay one year's salary to 200
Members of Parliament for £390,000, or less than _one halfpenny_ a week
for one year.

If you paid the full penny a week for one year you could do all I have
said and have a balance in hand of £476,000.

Surely, then, it is nonsense to talk about the difficulty of finding
money for election expenses.

But you might not be able to get 4,000,000 of men to pay even one penny.

Then you could produce the same result if _one_ million (half your
present Trade Union membership) pay twopence a week.

And even at a cost of twopence a week do you not think the result would
be worth the cost? Imagine the effect on the Press, and on Parliament,
and on the employers, and on public opinion of your fighting 200
parliamentary and 2000 municipal elections, and founding three
newspapers. Then the moral effect of the work the newspapers would do
would be sure to result in an increase of the Trade Union membership.

A penny looks such a poor, contemptible coin, and even the poor labourer
often wastes one. But remember that union is strength, and pennies make
pounds. 1000 pennies make more than £4; 100,000 pennies come to more
than £400; 1,000,000 pennies come to £4000; 1,000,000 pennies a week for
a year give you the enormous sum of £210,000.

We _Clarion_ men founded a paper called the _Clarion_ with less than
£400 capital, and with no friends or backers, and although we have never
given gambling news, nor general news, and had no Trade Unions behind
us, we have carried our paper on for ten years, and it is stronger now
than ever.

Why, then, should the working classes, and especially the Trade Unions,
submit to the insults and misrepresentations of newspapers run by
capitalists, when they can have better papers of their own to plead
their own cause?

Suppose it cost £100,000 to start a first-class daily Trade Union organ.
How much would that mean to 2,000,000 of Unionists? If it cost £100,000
to start the paper, and if it lost £100,000 a year, it would only mean
one halfpenny a week for the first year, and one farthing a week for the
next. But I am quite confident that if the Unions did the thing in
earnest they could start a paper for £50,000, and run it at a profit
after the first six months.

Do not forget the power of the penny. If 10,000,000 of working men and
women gave _one penny a year_ it would reach a yearly income of _forty
thousand pounds_. A good deal may be done with £40,000, Mr. Smith.

Now a few words as to the three lines of operations. You have your Trade
Unions, and you have a very modest kind of Federation. If your 2,000,000
Unionists were federated at a weekly subscription of one penny per man,
your yearly income would be nearly half a million: a very useful kind of
fund. I should strongly advise you to strengthen your Trades Federation.

Next as to Municipal affairs. These are of more importance to you than
Parliament. Let me give you an idea. Suppose, as in the case of
Manchester and Liverpool, the difference between a private gas company
and a Municipal gas supply amounts to more than a shilling on each 1000
feet of gas. Setting the average workman's gas consumption at 4000 feet
per quarter, that means a saving to each Manchester working man of
sixteen shillings a year, or just about fourpence a week.

Suppose a tram company carries a man to his work and back at one penny,
and the Corporation carries him at one halfpenny. The man saves a penny
a day, or 25s. a year. Now if 100,000 men piled up their tram savings
for one year as a labour fund it would come to £125,000.

All that money those men are now giving to tram companies _for nothing_.
Is that practical?

You may apply the same process of thought to all the other things you
use. Just figure out what you would save if you had Municipal or State

    Railways        Coalmines
    Tramways        Omnibuses
    Gas             Water
    Milk            Bread
    Meat            Butter and cheese
    Vegetables      Beer
    Houses          Shops
    Boots           Clothing

and other necessaries.

On all those needful things you are now paying big percentages of profit
to private dealers, all of which the Municipality would save you.

And you can municipalise all those things and save all that money by
sticking together as a Labour Party, and by paying _one penny a week_.

Again I advise you to read those books by George Haw and R. B. Suthers.
Read them, and give them to other workers to read.

And then set about making a Labour Party _at once_.

Next as to Parliament. You ought to put at least 200 Labour members into
the House. Never mind Liberalism and Toryism. Mr. Morley said in January
that what puzzled him was to "find any difference between the new
Liberalism and the new Conservatism." Do not try to find a difference,
John. Have a Labour Party.

"Self-interest is the strongest motive in human nature." Take care of
your own interests and stand by your own class.

You will ask, perhaps, what these 200 Labour representatives are to do.
They should do anything and everything they can do in the House of
Commons for the interests of the working class.

But if you want programmes and lists of measures, get the Fabian
Parliamentary and Municipal programmes, and study them. You will find
the particulars as to price, etc., at the end of this book.

But here are some measures which you might be pushing and helping
whenever a chance presents itself, in Parliament or out of Parliament.

    Removal of taxation from articles used by the workers, such as tea
    and tobacco, and increase of taxation on large incomes and on land.

    Compulsory sale of land for the purpose of Municipal houses, works,
    farms, and gardens.

    Nationalisation of railways and mines.

    Taxation to extinction of all mineral royalties.

    Vastly improved education for the working classes.

    Old age pensions.

    Adoption of the Initiative and Referendum.

    Universal adult suffrage.

    Eight hours' day and standard rates of wages in all Government and
    Municipal works.

    Establishment of a Department of Agriculture.

    State insurance of life.

    Nationalisation of all banks.

    The second ballot.

    Abolition of property votes.

    Formation of a citizen army for home defence.

    Abolition of workhouses.

    Solid legislation on the housing question.

    Government inquiry into the food question, with a view to restore
    British agriculture.

Those are a few steps towards the desired goal of _Socialism_.

You may perhaps wonder why I do not ask you to found a Socialist Party.
I do not think the workers are ready for it. And I feel that if you
found a Labour Party every step you take towards the emancipation of
Labour will be a step towards _Socialism_.

But I should like to think that many workers will become Socialists at
once, and more as they live and learn.

The fact is, Mr. Smith, I do not want to ask too much of the mass of
working folks, who have been taught little, and mostly taught wrong, and
whose opportunities of getting knowledge have been but poor.

I am not asking working men to be plaster saints nor stained-glass
angels, but only to be really what their flatterers are so fond of
telling them they are now: shrewd, hard-headed men, distrusting theories
and believing in facts.

For the statement that private trading and private management of
production and distribution are the best, and the only "possible," ways
of carrying on the business of the nation is only a _theory_, Mr. Smith;
but the superiority of Municipal management in cheapness, in efficiency,
in health, in comfort, and in pleasantness is a solid _fact_, Mr. Smith,
which has been demonstrated just as often as Municipal and private
management have been contrasted in their action.

One other question I may anticipate. How are the workers to form a
Labour Party?

There are already two Labour parties formed.

One is the Trade Union body, the other is the Independent Labour Party.

The Trade Unions are numerous, but not politically organised nor united.

The Independent Labour Party is organised and united, but is weak in
numbers and poor in funds.

I should like to see the Trade Unions fully federated, and formed into a
political as well as an Industrial Labour Party on lines similar to
those of the Independent Labour Party.

Or I should like to see the whole of your 2,000,000 of Trade Unionists
join the Independent Labour Party.

Or, best of all, I should like to see the Unions, the Independent Labour
Party, and the great and growing body of unorganised and unattached
Socialists formed into one grand Socialist Party.

But I do not want to ask too much.

Meanwhile, I ask you, as a reader of this book, not to sit down in
despair with the feeling that the workers will not move, but to try to
move them. Be you _one_, John Smith. Be you the first. Then you shall
surely win a few, and each of those few shall win a few, and so are
multitudes composed.

Let us make a long story short. I have here given you, as briefly and as
plainly as I can, the best advice of which I am capable, after a dozen
years' study and experience of Labour politics and economics and the
lives of working men and women.

If you approve of this little book I shall be glad if you will recommend
it to your friends.

You will find Labour matters treated of every week in the _Clarion_,
which is a penny paper, published every Friday, and obtainable at 72
Fleet Street, London, E.C., and of all newsagents.

Heaven, friend John Smith, helps those who help themselves; but Heaven
also helps those who try to help their fellow-creatures.

If you are shrewd and strong and skilful, think a little and work a
little for the millions of your own class who are ignorant and weak and
friendless. If you have a wife and children whom you love, remember the
many poor and wretched women and children who are robbed of love, of
leisure, of sunshine and sweet air, of knowledge and of hope, in the
pent and dismal districts of our big, misgoverned towns. If you as a
Briton are proud of your country and your race, if you as a man have any
pride of manhood, or as a worker have any pride of class, come over to
us and help in the just and wise policy of winning Britain for the
British, manhood for _all_ men, womanhood for _all_ women, and love
to-day and hope to-morrow for the children whom Christ loved, but who
by many Christians have unhappily been forgotten.

    That it may please thee to succour, help, and comfort _all_ that are
    in danger, necessity, and tribulation.

    That it may please thee to defend, and provide for, the fatherless
    children, and widows, and _all_ that are desolate and oppressed.

    That it may please thee to have mercy upon _all_ men.

I end as I began, by quoting those beautiful words from the Litany. If
we would realise the prayer they utter, we must turn to _Socialism_; if
we would win defence for the fatherless children and the widows,
succour, help, and comfort for _all_ that are in danger, necessity, or
tribulation, and mercy for _all_ men, we must win Britain for the

Without the workers we cannot win, with the workers we cannot fail. Will
you be one to help us--_now_?


The following books and pamphlets treat more fully the various subjects
dealt with in _Britain for the British_.

TO-DAY'S WORK. G. Haw. Clarion Press, 72 Fleet Street. 2s. 6d.

DOES MUNICIPAL MANAGEMENT PAY? By R. B. Suthers. 6d. Clarion Press, 72
Fleet Street.

LAND NATIONALISATION. A. R. Wallace. 1s. London, Swan Sonnenschein.

FIVE PRECURSORS OF HENRY GEORGE. By J. Morrison Davidson. 1s. _Labour
Leader_ Office, 53 Fleet Street, E.C.

DISMAL ENGLAND. By R. Blatchford. Clarion Press, 72 Fleet Street, E.C.

THE WHITE SLAVES OF ENGLAND. By R. Sherard. London, James Bowden. 1s.

NO ROOM TO LIVE. By G. Haw. 2s. 6d.

FIELDS, FACTORIES, AND WORKSHOPS. By Prince Kropotkin. 1s. _Clarion_
Office, 72 Fleet Street, E.C.

THE FABIAN TRACTS, especially No. 5, No. 12, and Nos. 30-37. One penny
each. Fabian Society, 3 Clement's Inn, Strand, or _Clarion_ Office, 72
Fleet Street, E.C.

OUR FOOD SUPPLY IN TIME OF WAR. By Captain Stewart L. Murray. 6d.
_Clarion_ Office, 72 Fleet Street, E.C.

THE CLARION. A newspaper for Socialists and Working Men. One penny
weekly. Office, 72 Fleet Street, E.C.

The _Clarion_ can be ordered of all newsagents


The American workingman will not find it very hard to see that the
lesson of "Britain for the British" applies with even greater force to
the conditions in his own country.

American railroads, mines, and factories exploit, cripple and kill
American laborers on an even larger scale than the British ones. We have
even less laws for the protection of the workers and their children and
what we have are not so well enforced.

No one will deny the ability of America to feed herself. She feeds the
world to-day save that some American workers and their families are
rather poorly fed. The great problem with American capitalists is how to
get rid of the wealth produced and given to them by American laborers.

Where Liberal and Conservative parties are mentioned every American
reader will find himself unconsciously substituting Democratic and

It will do the average American good to "see himself as others see him"
and to know that manhood suffrage, freedom from established Church and
Republican institutions do not prevent his becoming an economic slave
and living in a slum.

But we fear that some American readers will be shrewd enough to call
attention to the fact that municipal ownership has not abolished, or to
any great extent improved the slums of London, Glasgow and Birmingham.
It is certain some of the thousands of German laborers who are living in
America would be quick to point out that although Bismark has
nationalized the railroads and telegraphs of Germany this has not
altered the fact of the exploitation of German workingmen. Worst of
all, it would be hard to explain to the multitude of Russian exiles now
living in America that they would have been better off had they remained
at home, because the Czar has made more industries government property
than belong to any other nation in the world.

Even native Americans would find it somewhat hard to understand how
matters would be improved by transferring the ownership of the coal
mines, for example, from a Hanna-controlled corporation to a
Hanna-directed government. There would be one or two different links in
the chain of connection uniting Hanna to the mines and the miners but
they would be as well forged and as capable of holding the laborer in
slavery as the present ones.

Happily the chapter on "Why the old Parties will not do" gives us a clue
to the way out. While the government is controlled by capitalist parties
government ownership of industries does little more than simplify the
process of reorganization to be performed when a real labor party shall
gain control. The victory of such a party will for the first time mean
that government-owned industries will be owned and controlled by all the
workers (who will also be all the people, since idlers will have

American workers are fortunate in that there is a political party
already in the field which exactly meets the ideal described in the last
three chapters. The Socialist Party is a trade-union party, a labor
party and the political expression of all the workers in America who
have become intelligent enough to understand their own self-interest.
Those who feel that they wish to lend a hand in securing the triumph of
the ideas set forth in "Britain for the British" should at once join
that party and work for its success.




+MERRIE ENGLAND.+--Cloth, crown 8vo, 2s, 6d., by Robert Blatchford.

A book on sociology. Called by the Review of Reviews: "The Poor Man's
Plato." Over a million copies sold. Translated into Welsh, Dutch,
French, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Norwegian, and Swedish.

+TALES FOR THE MARINES.+--A New Book of Soldier Stories. By Nunquam.

The Daily Chronicle says:

"This volume contains a batch of stories ('cuffers,' we understand is
the correct technical term) supposed to be told by soldiers in the
barrack-room after lights are out; and capital stories they are. If we
were to call them 'rattling' and also 'ripping' we should not be saying
a word too much. For our own part we never want to see a better fight
than that between the bayonet and the sword in 'The Mousetrap,' or to
read a sounder lecture on social philosophy than that delivered by
Sergeant Wren in 'Dear Lady Disdain.' Mr. Blatchford knows the
barrack-room from the inside, and obviously from the inside has learned
to love and to enjoy it."

+JULIE.+--A Study of a Girl by a Man. Nunquam's Story of Slum Life. Price
2/6; by post, 2/8.

The Liverpool Review says:

"'Julie,' unlike 'The Master Christian,' is beautiful inside as well as
out. Nunquam, like Corelli, has a mission to perform--to utilize romance
as a finger-post to indicate social wrongs; but, unlike Corelli, he
succeeds in his purpose. And why does he succeed where she fails?
Because he goes at his task sympathetically, with a warm heart; whereas
she goes at it sourly, with a pen dipped in gall. It is all a question
of temperament. If you want an object-lesson in the effect which
temperament has upon artistic achievement, read 'The Master Christian'
and follow it up with 'Julie.'"

+THE BOUNDER.+--The Story of a Man by his Friend. By Nunquam. Price 2/6;
by post, 2/8.

All who loved the Bounder and admired his work should avail themselves
of the opportunity to possess this record of both, before the edition is

+A BOHEMIAN GIRL.+--A Theatrical Novel. By Nunquam. Price 2/6; by post,

Manchester City News:

"The swift interchange of thought and repartee in the conversations
remind one of the brilliant 'Dolly Dialogues'; but there is an
underlying earnestness and a deeper meaning in Mr. McGinnis's seemingly
careless story than in Mr. Anthony Hope's society pictures."

+MY FAVORITE BOOKS.+--By Nunquam. Price 2/6; by post, 2/8. With Portrait
of the Author.

The Christian Globe says:

"Instinct with generous and eloquent appreciation of what is brightest
and best in our literature, we have only to complain that there is so
little of it after all. Again we feel the spell of old times in the
charmed garden; the breeze blows fresh, sweet is the odor of the roses,
and we wander with our guide wherever it pleases him to lead us. We can
give the author no higher praise. May his book prosper as it deserves."

+TOMMY ATKINS.+--By Nunquam. Price 2/6; by post, 2/8. Paper, 1/-; by post,

A soldier story of great popularity which has already gone through
several editions, and was long ago pronounced by Sir Evelyn Wood, and
other great authorities on the army, to be the best story on army life
ever written.

+DISMAL ENGLAND.+--By Nunquam. Price 2/6; by post, 2/8. Paper, 1/-; by
post, 1/2.

A thrilling and life-like series of sketches of life in its darker

+PINK DIAMONDS.+--A Wild Story. By Nunquam. Cloth, 2/-; by post, 2/2.
Paper, 6d.; by post, 8d.

A capital antidote to the dumps; full of rollicking action and wild

+THE NUNQUAM PAPERS.+--2/-; by post, 2/2.

Some of Nunquam's best articles and sketches.

+FANTASIAS.+--By Nunquam. Cloth, 2/-; by post, 2/2. Paper, 6d.; by post,

Tales and essays of graphic, humorous and pathetic interest.

+A MAN, A WOMAN, AND A DOG.+--By The Whatnot. Cloth and gold, 2/6; by
post, 2/8.

+TO-DAY'S WORK.+--Municipal Government the Hope of Democracy. By George
Haw, author of "No Room to Live." Price 2/6; by post, 2/8.

A reprint, with revisions and additional chapters, of The Outlaw's
articles on Local Government, published in the Clarion under the
heading, "What we can do to-day."

+THE ART OF HAPPINESS.+--By Mont Bloug. With portrait of the Author.
Cloth, 2/-; by post, 2/2.

A mixture of fun and philosophy, of which the large edition is nearly
exhausted, and is not likely to be reprinted. Those who have neglected
to get it should do so while there is yet time. It is a book that any
reader will be thankful for.

+DANGLE'S MIXTURE.+--By A. M. Thompson. Cloth, 1/6; by post, 1/8.

+DANGLE'S ROUGH CUT.+--By A. M. Thompson. Cloth, 1/6; by post, 1/8.

Capital examples of Dangular humor, of which it can be truthfully said
that each is better than the other, while both are amusing enough to
bring out a cheerful smile upon the glummest face.

CLARION PRESS, 72 Fleet Street, London, E. C.

Read _The Clarion_

The Pioneer Journal of Social Reform.

_Author of "Merrie England," "Britain for the British," etc._



Send for Specimen Copy to the Clarion Office, 72, Fleet St.,
London, E. C.

W. Wilfred Head and Co., Ltd., "Dr. Johnson Press," Fleet Lane,
Old Bailey, London, E. C.

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