Open main menu

Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/86

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
36
Studies in Socialism

has the harvesting-machine (which has not everywhere the adjunct of a binding-machine) laid down the grain in small parcels on the fertile earth, before the neighbouring proprietors rush to help in tying the grain into sheaves, forming bundles of the sheaves, loading these bundles into great carts, and building the stacks. Between the métayers and the small peasant proprietors, the same exchange of service takes place, and there is not merely a mutual lending of manual labour but of work animals also.

When the harvesting machine has cut down the grain, it is necessary, for fear of storms, to tie it up quickly and to heap it in stacks. In order to hasten this urgent work the peasants lend each other carts and oxen, and, I repeat it, there is no account kept. It would be impossible to value the services of one as against those of another. It is a free and friendly exchange. Thus, a little bit of the communist soul penetrates into the peasant labour and into the peasant conscience, and this lasts until the threshing-machine has done away with the last stack of the row into which the groups have spontaneously formed themselves.

The Socialists indeed have never expected to force peasant property into communistic form. Our predecessors and our leaders have always said that the example of agricultural production on a great scale would suffice to make the peasant proprietors abandon small field cultivation and