Page:Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin - Expropriation.djvu/12

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Freedom Pamphets.

Industry and commerce would be at a dead-lock, yet a return to the first principles of justice would not have been achieved, and society would find itself powerless to construct a harmonious whole.

If agriculture could free itself from great landowners, while industry still remained the bond slave of the capitalist, the merchant and the banker, nothing would be accomplished. The farmer suffers to-day not only in having to pay rent to the landlord, he is oppressed on all hands by existing conditions. He is exploited by the tradesman, who makes him pay half-a-crown for a spade which, measured by the labor spent on it, is not worth more than sixpence. He is taxed by the State, which cannot do without its formidable hierarchy of officials, and finds it necessary to maintain an expensive army, because the traders of all nations are perpetually fighting for the markets, and any day a little quarrel arising from the exploitation of some part of Asia or Africa may result in war.

Then again farmer and laborer suffer from the depopulation of country places: the young people are attracted to the large factory towns by the bait of high wages paid temporarily by the manufacturers of articles of luxury, or by the attractions of a more stirring life. The artificial protection of industry, the industrial exploitation of foreign countries, the prevalence of stock-jobbing, the difficulty of improving the soil and the machinery of production—all these are causes which work together against agriculture, which indeed is burdened not only by rent, but by the whole complexity of conditions developed in a society based on exploitation. Thus, even if the expropriation of land were accomplished, and every one were free to till the soil and cultivate it to the best advantage, without paying rent, agriculture, even though it should enjoy—which can by no means be taken for granted—a momentary prosperity, would soon fall back into the slough in which it finds itself to-day. The whole thing would have to be begun over again, with increased difficulties.

The same holds true of industry. Take the converse case; make over the factories to those who work in them, but leave the agricultural laborers slaves to farmer and landlord. Abolish the master-manufacturers, but leave the landowner his land, the banker his money, the merchant his Exchange, maintain still the swarm of idlers who live on the toil of the workmen, the thousand and one middlemen, the State with its numberless officials, and industry would come to a stand-still. Finding no purchasers in the mass of country people still as poor as ever, having no raw material, unable to export its products, and embarrassed by the stoppage of trade, industry could only struggle on feebly, and thousands of workers would be thrown upon the streets. These starving crowds would be ready and willing to submit to the first