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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/35

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reward for that work, with, of course, proper care for those who are physically unable to support themselves, this natural anxiety on the part of parents would be removed. Every child would have a fair start in life, and no child would have the undue advantage that comes to those who, through no virtue of their own, find themselves in possession of a legal right to share in the product of the labour of others. For this is the true meaning of inheritance: the father leaves his son a lien on the labour of other men which he himself has obtained by clever management, special ability, or even by a stroke of luck, the rise or fall of the market, or the mere possession of a piece of land whose value has increased.

The second reason why men desire to leave a large fortune is the same as that which makes them selfishly desire to amass it: because it is one of the ways of gaining distinction. They imagine a newspaper article: "So-and-So died leaving a property of such and such value," or, in our significant phrase, "he was worth such and such a sum." But if this particular scale of personal importance were done away with altogether, men would turn their attention to some other means of exalting their own individuality, and would forget that the publication of his will was ever the means of bringing to a man a pathetically brief post-mortem distinction.

No, the average man does not work with the idea of "making a fortune," or of "leaving a