Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/252

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

some standard of measurement can be proposed by which we can find out what the share ought to be, and compare it with what is.

In any case the right to the full product of labor would be contradictory to the right to an existence, for, if the full product of the labor of some falls short of what is necessary to maintain their existence, then they must encroach upon the full labor product of the others, that is, impair the right of the latter. The "right to an existence," however, has the advantage of putting the notion in a distinct and complete form; it covers the whole ground at once; it no longer spends energy in struggling for such means as the right to property, or labor, or liberty, or life. If dogmatic affirmation can do anything, why waste it on the means? Why not expend it at once upon the desired end? The real misery of mankind is the struggle for existence; why not "declare" that there ought not to be any struggle for existence, and that there shall not be any more? Let it be decreed that existence is a natural right, and let it be secured in that way.

If we attempt to execute this plan, it is plain that we shall not abolish the struggle for existence; we shall only bring it about that some men must fight that struggle for others.

Although the right of existence has the advantage of being broad and radical, it has the disadvantage of being abstract and impracticable. Another writer[1] has recently given another formula, which, although less ambitious, is equally effective and far more practical; he affirms the natural right to capital. This must be regarded as the rational outcome, so far, of the attempt to formulate natural rights. All the good things which we

  1. "Le Droit au Capital, par Le Solitaire." Paris, 1886.