COMPETITION AND MONOPOLY CONFOUNDED.
[Liberty, September 1, 1888.]
To the Editor of Liberty:
Does compelition mean war? you ask, and then go on to answer:
"The supposition that competition means war rests upon old notions and false phrases that have been long current, but are rapidly passing into the limbo of exploded fallacies."
Pardon me, Mr. Tucker, but are you quite sure that the supposition in question rests upon nothing more than "old notions and false phrases"? Go out into the highways and byeways of the work-a-day world, look around you, and then tell us candidly if what you see there is likely to inspire any lover of his kind with a wish to foster competition.
Ah! but you reply: "This is not free competition; this is monopoly and privilege."
Exactly so, but what is monopoly but the very soul of competition? I venture to submit that it is not for wealth per se men strive, but for the mastership it confers; hence, if you deny the spoils of victory to the victor, you sheathe the sword forever. Monopolies and privileges of every kind are nothing more than resultants of a competition as free as nature could make it, for even the grand old Sphinx herself has not been able to evolve "equal liberty" from the free competition of unequal forces.
When the benefits of competition cease to "be won by one class at the expense of another," and when they are shared "by all at the expense of nature's forces," competition loses its raison d'être and dies.
When lower and semi-barbarous economic forms are subjected to the strong solvent action of higher ethical concepts, they disappear; that is to say, when mutual confidence and good-fellowship prevail over hostility and love of mastership, competition must give place to co-operation; hence, to my mind there is no escape from the conclusion that competition means war so long as it is the economic expression of hostility and mastership, and after that it will mean—nothing. "Equal liberty," however, would still remain, for what is it at bottom but community of interest?
W. T. Horn.
What the person who goes out into the work-a-day world will see there depends very much upon the power of his mental vision. If that is strong enough to enable him to see that the evils around him are caused by a prohibition of competition in certain directions, it is not unlikely that he will be filled with a "wish to foster competition." Such, however, will not be the case with a man who so misapprehends competition as to suppose that monopoly is its soul. Instead of its soul, it is its antithesis.
Whatever the reason for which men strive for wealth, as a general thing they get it, not by competition, but by the application of force to the suppression of certain kinds of competition,—in other words, by governmental institution and protection of monopoly.