Page:Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin - Expropriation.djvu/8

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Freedom Pamphets.

keep his fortune intact, and win for himself a snug little annual income as well.

That is very easy in our society, for the good reason that the towns and villages swarm with workers who have not the wherewithal to live for a month, or even a fortnight. So our worthy citizen starts a factory: the banks hasten to lend him another £20,000, especially if he has a reputation for "business ability"; and with this round sum he can command the labor of five hundred hands.

If all the men and women in the country-side had their daily bread sure and their daily needs already satisfied, who would work for our capitalist, or be willing to manufacture for him, at a wage of half-a-crown a day, commodities selling in the market for a crown or even more?

Unhappily—we know it all too well—the poor quarters of our towns and the neighbouring villages are full of needy wretches, whose children clamour for bread. So, before the factory is well finished, the workers hasten to offer themselves. Where a hundred are required a thousand besiege the doors, and from the time his mill is started the owner, if he is not more than commonly stupid, will clear £40 a year oat of each mill-hand he employs.

He is thus able to lay by a snug little fortune, and if he chooses a lucrative trade, and if he has "business talents," he will increase his income by doubling the number of the men he exploits.

So he becomes a personage of importance. He can afford to give dinners to other personages, to the local magnates, the civic, legal, and political dignitaries. With his money he can "marry money," by-and-by he may pick and choose places for his children, and later on perhaps get something good from the government—a contract for the army or for the police. His gold breeds gold; till at last a war, or even a rumour of war, or a speculation on the Stock Exchange, gives him his great opportunity.

Nine-tenths of the huge fortunes made in the United States are (as Henry George has shown in his "Social Problems") the result of knavery on a large scale, assisted by the State. In Europe nine-tenths of the fortunes made in our Monarchies and Republics have the same origin. There are not two ways of becoming a millionaire.

This is the secret of wealth; find the starving and destitute, pay them half-a-crown, and make them produce ten shillings worth in the day, amass a fortune by these means, and then increase it by some lucky hit, made with the help of the State.

Need we go on to speak of small fortunes attributed by the economists to forethought and frugality, when we know that mere saving in