Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/695

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

considered perfectly normal in the communities where it prevails. I have heard it preached from a Northern pulpit that denial to the Southern black of the right of property in himself was a divine institution. The assertion of that right, and of the idea which Prof. Sturtevant calls a "simple intuition, originating in the spontaneous action of every human mind," drove many of the stronger abolitionists into open rejection of the sacred writings of Christianity, which nowhere furnished them a text for their side of the argument. The poorest slave may own something, but he does not own himself.

Neither does every man, in any community, own all the products of his voluntary efforts. Wage-workers never do. They are increasing in proportionate numbers. Hence the second part of the assumed law of nature on which it is proposed to rest the whole science of political economy is less and less true every year, and the whole present progress of civilization is away from it. The belief that it ought to be true is the foundation of the creed of those anarchists who have just been hanged, and of those who mourn them. "Labor produces all the wealth, and labor ought to own it," is their familiar cry. Since few things are produced by the efforts of single-handed men; since, as I have shown in the second paper of this series, nearly all production is by combination—ownership of product by producers, if it is to be universal and complete, must also be in combination, or, as we say, in common. This is the straight read to communism, and the first guideboard on the way is this doctrine that property in anything springs certainly and exclusively from effort expended in its production. Yet it is a doctrine which has often been laid down by the most conservative economists and philosophers. Locke stated it two hundred years ago in these terms: "Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labor with it, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property." McCulloch says,[1] "All have been impressed with the reasonableness of the maxim which teaches that the produce of a man's labor and the work of his hands are exclusively his own."

So Laveleye[2] says that "property in all the fruits of his work must be guaranteed to the worker." Bonamy Price[3] is equally emphatic: "I made it and it is mine, is a sentiment which asserts property in every human soul." Imagine the navvies who build a railroad saying this! And Herbert Spencer[4] even informs us that, "from the beginning, things identified as products of a man's

  1. "Principles of Political Economy," chap, ii, section 1.
  2. "Elements of Political Economy," chap, iii, section 9.
  3. "Practical Political Economy," chap. vi.
  4. "Principles of Sociology," section 541.