Open main menu

Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/23

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

so great a power over the lives of those who must get at that wealth in order to live that it may fairly be described as tyrannical. Indeed so undoubted is this power that one of those who exercise it felt constrained to account for its existence by declaring, in words that instantly became famous, that in his opinion it was of divine origin; God in His infinite wisdom had chosen certain worthy men to administer the wealth of the country, and the inference was that any revolt against their authority was impious. If it is fair to judge any system by the statements that its warmest supporters make concerning it, the present system under which wealth is produced must stand condemned on the strength of the defence offered by that railroad president. According to the standard of justice and social expediency the process by which wealth is created is as imperfect as that by which it is divided.



It would be a mistake, however, to hold the individual owner responsible for social injustice. The tyranny of the owner is in most cases an impersonal tyranny, not deliberate or malevolent, but mechanical, indirect, and inevitable. He does what is called "investing his money," that is, he puts the wealth-producing wealth at his disposal into the hands of a group of other men, organisers, managers, and so on, who take upon