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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/55

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Studies in Socialism

he is face to face with another tax, other dues in the shape of rent. And besides this, State taxation in all its forms, direct taxation and indirect taxation, pares down his already twice-diminished wage, and this not only to provide for the legitimate running expenses of a civilised society and for the advantage of all its members, but to guarantee the crushing payment of interest on the public debt for the profit of that same capitalist class, or for the maintenance of armaments at once formidable and useless. When, finally, the proletarian tries to buy, with the remnant of wages left to him after these inroads, the commodities which are necessities of daily life, he has two courses open to him. If he lacks time or money, he will turn to a retail dealer, and will then have to bear the expense of a cumbrous and unnecessary organisation of intermediary agents; or else he may go to a great store, where over and above the direct expenses of management and distribution he has to provide for the profit of ten or twelve per cent, on the capital invested. Just as the old feudal road was blocked and cut up at every step by toll-rights and dues, so, for the proletarian, the road of life is cut up by the feudal rights imposed upon him by capital. He can neither work nor eat, clothe nor shelter himself, without paying a sort of ransom to the owning and capitalist class.

And not only his life but his very liberty suffers by this system. If labour is to be really free, all