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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/20

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strength and skill are of no use to him unless he has the material on which to exercise them. But as that material is all in the hands of other men, he has to go to them to ask for the privilege of working in order to live. From that moment their power over him begins to be exercised. Though it is true that the owners of wealth need the labour of the non-owner in order to make their wealth yield its increase (or as the optimistic conservatives are so fond of putting it, "Capital and Labour are partners"), they do not need the labour as much as the labourer needs the wealth. For the labourer's position is essentially a hand-to-mouth one: he must have instant access to the material, while the owners can very well let it stand over for a while if it seems more to their advantage to do so. The most they can lose by delay is an expected addition to their wealth: he loses the necessities of life. From this superior position in the matter of the labour contract it results that the owners or their agents do actually control the conditions of life of the non-owner. They decide in the first place whether he shall work at all: if for any reason it seems more profitable for them that he should remain in idleness, they deny him access to the material he needs in order to work, and he has no choice but to wait their good pleasure.[1]

  1. Robert Hunter states that in America over two million working men are unemployed from four to six months in the year. "If what Charles Booth says is true (and many