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those persons whose commodities have been produced for supplying the wants of the producers of wheat and their labourers, for these undemanded commodities are now placed in a position the same as that in which wheat is placed, in excess, so that the producers and possessors of these commodities, must, in a like manner, fail to make their ordinary demand upon those whose capital consists of commodities produced for their consumption or exchange; and so, action and reaction, all of a backward character and course, must take effect in those incomputable ways in which the national capital is exchanged.
But then all members of the community, from the poorest and most destitute labourer up to the richest capitalist, will possess abundance, or rather superabundance, of wheat. The question then is, in what manner can the superabundance be made available and beneficial? To take the case of the poorest families first. They have plenty of wheat in possession. But what can they do with it? They may eat it in the raw state as the animals would, but is this agreeable, or beneficial? They want to grind it into flour or meal. They have no mill! Can they buy a mill, or can they procure the use of a mill by hire? They have only wheat to give in exchange or to buy with, and no one will take wheat because all have it in abundance. If they do contrive to grind it into flour by a rude process of manual dexterity, how is it to be made into eatable bread? Will the baker take it or buy it of them? No! For that which he has in abundance himself and cannot dispose of to any one else, will not constitute a matter by which he can be remunerated for the cost of baking! There are his fuel, his oven, and his premises, as well as the labour employed by him, to be paid for, if they are to be maintained for use. And further, if the poor labourer, wanting some simple article of clothing or furniture, should take a
part of his possession, which is wheat, and proffer it in exchange, the insuperable impediment again arises, his superabundant commodity cannot be received, for its very character of superabundance, or the non-necessity of labour with the proper cost of maintaining labour for its acquirement, prevents all exchange virtue, or social power being imparted to it.
Again: the working of the abundance now under consideration has to be carefully traced out in all its ramifications; these being far too numerous to be adduced here. The allusion to a few more will suffice. There is, then, its operation as regards the existence of property in the shape of rent of land, rent of buildings, rent of houses, the expenditure that is made by all those wealthy families whose incomes arise from the rent of land. The expenditure of all labourers directly connected with them, and who are dependent for their subsistence upon this property, or the exchange power which is derived from it; and next, those indirectly connected or dependent, such as manufacturers, shopkeepers, and a whole host of labourers. All must be cast into a condition of destitution. Instead of the operation of the law of demand, by which all value is constituted, the creation of capital or wealth induced, it is the operation of undemand, which is the uncreation of value. or the destruction of capital and wealth, and with it the power of nourishing and maintaining the bodies of men.
If the student will conduct the application of the extreme proposition throughout the whole series of exchangeable and exchanged commodities or capital which is presented in the tabular arrangement of a nation's capital adduced in the last chapter, he will find that derangement, injury, and destruction ensue throughout the whole series, by the operation of that very attainment which most persons conceive to be so very desirable: namely, increased and unlimited abundance of the chief article of human food.
The prescient mind of our great philosophical poet discerned the course which I have now described, for, on an occasion when an ignorant and conceited man had to deliver his notions on human living and government, and to declare what he would ordain in the event of his dictation being received as law, the poet makes the favourite idea of the imbecile and conceited person consist in an abandonment of the primary necessity imposed on man by his Creator, namely, labour, and of substituting in its place, unearned abundance. The description is as follows:
Gon. "Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,
I' the commonwealth I would by contraries
No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil:
No occupation; all men idle, all;
And women too; but innocent and pure:
And yet he would be king on't!
The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning.
Of its own hand all foizon, all abundance,
To feed my innocent people." *
By the application, then, of the extreme proposition now adduced, to a given state of social facts, and by using the backward process of reasoning, or working the conclusions through inductions backwards towards and to their orginating premises, we find that the whole series of reasoning and of argument is destroyed by means of the power or operation of the conclusion; hence, the falseness of its character is * The Tempest, Act 2, Scene 1.
established. By this result we are necessarily led to the recognition of a most important and instructive body of truth, natural and social, namely:-That all matter required for the maintenance and comfort of man, together with the principles and power applicable to the development and appropriation of this matter, are fitly and abundantly provided and delivered, and that all necessary things being so duly provided and arranged FOR us, hence the misappropriations, derangements, and deficiencies, so generally attendant on the human condition, and so deeply felt and deplored, are induced BY us.
I contend that this argument will stand, as a great general conclusion, notwithstanding there may be brought against it, for the purpose of detracting from it, and disqualifying it, the fact of variableness of seasons affecting both vegetable and animal productions, or even those special visitations which, at times, are known to inflict almost total destruction of the matter that has been cultivated for human food. This special exception does not, neither can it, impair the force of the general rule. Man cannot maintain the plea of affliction accruing by reason of natural disturbance, until he can give proof that HIS part has been rightly or perfectly performed, for if this has not been done by him, the natural provision, instead of being exhausted or defective, still remains to be educed and enjoyed.
By the working of the extreme proposition we are led to see, also, the hollowness, and the destructive falseness, of the prevailing notion of the age, which is, that national benefit results from unregulated, undefined, gross, or FREE production being encouraged, and unlimited quantity or abundance procured in every possible manner, and as respects every commodity. Discovery, invention, science, and art, are being urged to the utmost degree possible, whilst the social law applicable to all discovery, invention, art, and science is
rejected by almost every man; and wonder is then expressed that the condition of man presents, in so many of its phases, such an alarming amount of want, social disorganisation, degradation, misery, and crime.
I remember to have read, many years ago, and before I had entered upon any regular investigation of the science of Political Economy, an argument in support of the principle of proportions as applicable to human developments, production, or capital. The pamphlet in which the argument was contained was a treatise on the subject of the state of Ireland, and, as a matter of course, contained reference to the trade of Ireland. I think it was written by Mr. Senior. But the writer, whoever he may have been, was, by the facts brought before him, and which he was attempting to arrange, forced to acknowledge, and to maintain, that there must, of necessity, be the prevalence of the law of proportions, although it was evident that he had not succeeded in discovering the principle by which the law could be educed. The idea having assumed in the mind of the writer, the form of a conviction, he illustrated it analogically by bringing into instance the size of the heads of sheep. He adduced the fact of its being admitted by almost every person observant of animal beauty, that a small head in sheep, in contradistinction to a large one, is a more beautiful and desirable feature. Having adduced this as an admitted fact, he then proceeded to argue, that even in this there must be, somewhere, a given proportion, for, if not, it would follow that if the heads of sheep were to become no larger than the heads of pins, this size must still be contended for as the feature of beauty, which would be a palpable absurdity. So, likewise, he contended, and concluded, that there must be in the essential nature of things, a given or definable proportion applicable to all production.