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Full text of "The remedy for unemployment"

>N PAMPHLETS. No. 8. 

id. 




for 



lemployment 



ALFRED R. WALLACE 



THE CLARION PRESS. 

44, WORSHIP STREET, LONDON, E.G. 



THE CLARION. 



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THE REMEDY FOR 
UNEMPLOYMENT. 

BY DR. ALFRED R. WALLACE. 



THE reason why I wrote the present pamphlet (which 
first appeared in the " Socialist Review," and is now 
reprinted in a slightly modified form) was that, 
although there is a small body of avowed Socialists 
in Parliament, not one of them has, so far as I am 
aware, upheld any of the fundamental principles of 
Socialism as a means of dealing with the greatest of 
present-day problems that of chronic unemploy- 
ment and starvation all over our land. Let me 
illustrate what I mean by a few examples. Perhaps 
the most fundamental and universally admitted 
axiom of Socialism is that all production should 
be, primarily, for use and not for -profit; and the 
next in importance is that the true or proper wages 
of labour is the whole -prodiict of that labour. 

But neither in Parliament nor out of it has a 
single voice been raised to show that these principles 
must be adopted in any permanent solution of the 
problem, or to explain how they can be applied far 
more easily and economically than any of the sug- 
gested alleviations. All the talk has hitherto been 
of securing trade union rates of wages for out-of- 
works of every kind; and the underlying idea has 
always been that of the non-Socialist worker that 

1 

1350598 



the Government provision of work must not be 
looked upon as permanent, but only as enabling the 
worker to live till the capitalist employer again 
requires him. 

An equally non-Socialist view was put forth by 
one of the most respected Socialists in Parliament 
when he advocated the immediate construction of 
light railways all over the country in order that 
when labour was brought back to the land the pro- 
ducts could be carried economically to market, im- 
plying that the " products " were to be sold, thus 
competing in the market with those of other pro- 
ducers, lowering prices, and altogether ignoring the 
great Socialist principle of " production for use." 
In the discussion of this question it has been totally 
overlooked that by a proper organisation of the 
labour of the permanently or temporarily unem- 
ployed, as well as of all those whose employment 
does not supply them with the means of a thoroughly 
sufficient and healthy existence, all the necessaries 
and comforts of life can be produced in our own 
country, just as they were produced down to a few 
centuries ago. I will now proceed to the exposition 
of the whole subject. 

In order that those who have not read the Labour 
Party's Unemployed Workmen Bill may understand 
why it could not have succeeded, a short statement 
of its essential provisions may here be given. 

The first clause provides that the " Local Unem- 
ployment Authority " under this Bill shall be the 
council of every borough or district of over 20,000 
inhabitants, and for the rest of the county the 
" County Council." Clause 3 declares that " it shall 
be the duty of the Local Unemployment Authority 
to provide work for him " (any workman registered 
as unemployed) in connection with one or other of 
the " schemes "hereinafter provided, " or otherwise," 
or failing the provision of work, " to provide main- 
tenance, should necessity exist, for that person and 
for those depending on that person." 

This is the essential part of the clause, with a 
condition that the wages are to be " not lower than 
those that are standard to the work in the locality." 

2 



Then there is to be a Central Unemployment Com- 
mittee to " frame schemes," and generally look after 
the Local Unemployment Committees, which are to 
be established by every local authority, and are also 
to "frame schemes"; and the "schemes" of the 
four or five hundred local authorities are all to be 
submitted to the Local Government Board for re- 
visal or approval. Nowhere is any guide given to 
the essential principles which should underlie these 
hundreds of schemes, and we can easily imagine 
the delay, the confusion, the cost, and the almost 
certain failure of "schemes" initiated in so hap- 
hazard a manner. 

The whole conception of the Bill is, in my opinion, 
wrong. Unemployment is not a local phenomenal, 
but national, and even worldwide. It is a symptom 
of disease in our existing civilisation, and must be 
treated, if with any chance of success, on broad 
national lines, and with national resources. Even 
the one definite suggestion in the Bill that 
"schemes of national utility " might be undertaken 
to employ the out-of-works however good in itself, 
was here altogether out of place. For such schemes 
afforestation, reclamation of foreshores, drainage 
works, roads, etc. are all either not reproductive at 
all, or not for many years, in the meantime in- 
creasing taxation, and thus perhaps producing fur- 
ther unemployment; while they could only employ 
a mere fraction of those in distress (none of the 
women) and, when completed, would leave the pro- 
blem exactly where it was when they were started. 

The discussion in Parliament showed a clear re- 
cognition of the fact that it is quite impossible to 
remedy such chronic and widespread unemployment 
as exists now by finding work for the half -starved 
population in the hundreds of different occupations 
at which they have been engaged; but, strange to 
say, no one seemed to be aware that it is by no means 
impossible that it is, in fact, comparatively easy 
to enable these same people to -produce for them- 
selves the -primary necessaries of life which are their 
immediate and -permanent need. What is required 
is to organise and combine the whole of the unem- 

3 



ployed into local groups, each group or community 
being primarily made up of a due proportion of 
workers who have been engaged in the production 
of some of these necessaries, and who will form a 
nucleus for the training of others for similar work. 
These various occupations are comparatively primi- 
tive, and there is every reason to believe that they 
will be found among the unemployed in about the 
same proportions as in the whole population. The 
thorough organisation and careful supervision 
needed cannot, however, be left to the random, and 
often antagonistic, opinions of hundreds of local 
authorities, but must be undertaken by the Central 
Government itself, and that only when the guiding 
principles and the practical -procedure have been 
carefully thought out, clearly denned, and fully dis- 
cussed in Parliament, before being embodied in law. 
It is pre-eminently a work to be devised and carried 
out by the Executive Government itself. 

I will now endeavour to show in some detail how 
this can be done, what will be its results, and what 
are the various facts and arguments which render its 
success a certainty if it is fully and honestly 
carried out. 

The recent discussion of the problem of unem- 
ployment, both in Parliament and in the Press, 
affords a remarkable proof of how difficult it is to 
enforce attention to new methods of dealing with 
great social problems, if such proposals are made 
a little before their time. Thus only can it be ex- 
plained that not one Liberal, Labour, or Socialist 
Member of Parliament seems to be aware that a 
thorough and carefully-worked out scheme for 
dealing with the unemployed problem was published 
about twenty years ago, was re-issued a year or two 
later in a cheap edition by a well-known London 
publisher, was widely read and greatly admired, 
and as was to be expected at that time was very 
soon forgotten. I feel sure that this book must be 
in many public and private libraries, especially 
those of Liberal or Radical Clubs, but neither by 
Members of Parliament nor by any writers in the 
reviews have I once seen it referred to. Yet its title 

4 



alone should have caused it to be read at this time, 
since it so fully and clearly states the problem 
which has received so much attention, but no solu- 
tion, during the last few years. It is as follows : 
Poverty and the State, or Work for the Unem- 
ployed; An Inquiry into the Causes and Extent of 
Enforced Idleness, together with a Statement of a 
Remedy Practicable Here and Noiv. By Herbert V. 
Mills. London. Kegan, Paul, Trench, and Co. 
Price one shilling. 1889. 

Now, this book is pre-eminently a practical one, 
and the bold claim in its title is fully justified by 
its contents. Mr. Mills was a Poor Law Guardian 
in Liverpool for many years, where there were 
nearly tnree thousand inmates of the workhouse. 
He thus had unusual opportunities of becoming 
acquainted with the poor, and of studying the 
various problems of pauperism, such as unemploy- 
ment, food-supply, the various occupations of 
paupers, and other matters. He further obtained 
information and advice from experts in agriculture, 
and in the various trades and occupations of the men 
who came under his notice, and has thus been able 
to give us detailed estimates and calculations of the 
greatest value in formulating practical methods of 
utilising the labour of the unemployed to the 
greatest advantage, for their own benefit. He also 
visited and carefully inquired into the detailed 
working of the various Dutch Beggar and Labour 
Colonies, and obtained from them valuable informa- 
tion as to the methods that tend to success, as well 
as of those that either diminish the success or lead 
to failure. 

Having myself encountered many disappoint- 
ments in books, claiming to expound new and 
important ideas both in physical and economic 
science, I was fully prepared for another failure here. 
But I quickly found that this was really what it 
claimed to be, and I at once did all I could to call 
public attention to it, first in one of my annual 
addresses to the Land Nationalisation Society (in 
1892), and much more fully in a chapter I wrote for 
Edward Carpenter's Forecasts of the Coming Cen- 

5 



tury, published in 1897. This chapter I re- 
published, with some important additional facts and 
arguments,, in 1900, in my Studies, Scientific and 
Social; yet all appears to have been in vain. If 
the authors of the " Unemployed Workmen Bill " 
had drawn it so as to follow closely Mr. Mills' 
scheme, and had fully explained this scheme in their 
speeches by means of the facts, illustrations, and 
methods so well and concisely given in his book, I 
feel sure that the result of the debate would have 
been very different, and that not only Socialists, but 
the whole body of Labour Members, a large 
majority of Liberals, and even many Conservatives, 
would have voted in its favour; in which case the 
Government would have been obliged either to adopt 
it, or to bring in a Bill of their own on similar lines. 
The chief reason why Mr. Mills' scheme, if em- 
bodied in a Bill, should, and I think would, receive 
the support of a large majority in the present House 
of Commons is, that it utilises and combines in an 
admirable manner the most important, and at the 
same time the least disputable, methods of both 
Socialism and Individualism. To illustrate this I 
will give a few condensed extracts from his 
summary of the main features of his proposals, with 
some remarks of my own. 

(1) In each county or union, tracts of land from 
2,000 acres upwards shall be purchased or taken 
over by the State or Local Authority, and be pre- 
pared v/ith suitable houses, buildings, tools, 
machines, etc., for the accommodation of about 
4,000 or 5,000 occupants, men, women, and 
children; with skilled foremen and organisers to 
carry out the various operations of agriculture, and 
the trades and manufactures required to produce 
food, clothing, and other necessaries for the in- 
habitants. 

(2) It is shown, by the facts and calculations of 
experts, that the labour of a properly assorted popu- 
lation, for four hours daily, will, when in full 
working order (say after a year), produce all the 
necessaries of life in abundance. One hour more is 
added for the costs of skilled supervision and 

6 



another hour for the maintenance and 'schooling of 
the children, and for the support of the aged and 
the sick as they arise. 

(3) In order to effect this the ordinary methods 
and rules of the best kinds of industrial work must 
be adopted ; but, after working hours, all will be as 
completely free from control by the various indus- 
trial officials as the people of any prosperous and 
well-ordered town or village. 

(4) That the director of each of the Co-operative 
estates shall encourage the workers to make their 
homes and work-places as healthful, convenient, and 
beautiful as possible, giving them advice as to how 
this can best be done, and assistance in doing it. 

(5) That for work done co-operatively no money 
wages shall be paid, the equivalent of such work 
being the whole net -produce of the labour. This 
will be the provision of comfortable homes, 
abundance of good food and fuel, with a good 
supply of clothing, the latter being chosen by each 
person from a variety of suitable material and 
design kept in the stores. In addition to this, the 
children would all receive the best education, and 
as they grew up would each be trained in accordance 
with their faculties or tastes, in two or three useful 
occupations. 

At least four-fifths of all the work on the estate 
shall be done for home consumption, not for sale. 

(6) Every worker will be enabled to employ his 
spare time for his own use or profit, so as to obtain 
any luxuries or pleasures he might desire. Some 
would have land on which to raise choice fruits or 
vegetables for sale ; others a workshop ; the young 
women might do dressmaking, or open shops for the 
supply of small luxuries not produced co-opera- 
tively. All they required would be supplied at 
wholesale price, to be repaid by instalments out of 
the profits. 

On this subject Mr. Mills well remarks : " I can 
easily imagine that for the sake of the retriever, the 
pigeons, the tobacco, the poultry or rabbits, the 
greenhouse, the bicycle, the piano, the library, the 
concert, or the theatre, many morning and evening 

7 



industries would spring up quickly, without any 
other stimulus from the director than that which 
exists in every human heart. The acquisition of the 
luxuries of life might well be left to the ingenuity 
and activity of private enterprise." 

I would myself further suggest that the rules 
and restrictions on these estates should be as few 
as possible, and only such as are absolutely essential 
for the comfort and well-being of all. Especially 
should all healthful amusements and social enjoy- 
ments be provided for ; while such serious offences as 
repeated drunkenness, immorality, or violence 
should be punished by absolute dismissal or ex- 
pulsion. 

It should be made quite clear from the first that 
these estates or colonies are established for the 
provision of -permanent and enjoyable homes for all 
who desired to take advantage of them, not as mere 
temporary shelters in times of depression. There 
would, of course, be no compulsion to remain, but 
anyone who was dissatisfied with his surroundings 
and left could not again be admitted. 

Another point of importance is, that the organisa- 
tion of the whole community under an official 
director, whose rule must necessarily at first be 
despotic, is not intended to be permanent. When 
the colony became thoroughly self-supporting, and 
its inhabitants fully appreciated the benefits they 
enjoyed under the co-operative system, and had 
been gradually trained in the principles and 
methods essential to success, the organisation would 
be steadily modified in the direction of a self- 
governing community. 

With this end in view, the Director, as well as 
the several heads of departments of industry, 
would, after the first year, each choose a few of the 
more intelligent and industrious workers to form 
small Consultative Committees. With these he 
would hold informal weekly meetings, to talk over 
the special affairs of their departments, and consider 
whether any improvements in organisation were 
advisable, either in the interests of the workers 
themselves or of the whole community who con- 



sumed or utilised the products of the work. Later 
on these committees might be added to by the in- 
troduction of workers chosen to represent the rest; 
or, perhaps better still, by the admission of those 
who had been longest in the community, and were 
therefore best acquainted with the needs and wishes 
of all its members. These would automatically 
become members after a certain period of work, the 
older retiring as the younger entered, and would 
ultimately constitute the whole committee. Sugges- 
tion-books should also be kept in the public rooms, 
in which every member, without exception, could, if 
he wished, make proposals or suggestions on any 
matter affecting the well-being of the whole com- 
munity, or any section of it. These books would 
be examined by the committees and by the Director, 
who would decide upon their merits. Public meet- 
ings would also be held monthly or quarterly, at 
which the decision as to each of the suggestions 
would be announced, and the reasons why some 
were adopted and others rejected explained, while 
occasionally a suggestion would be given a trial and 
afterwards the opinion of a general meeting taken 
upon its adoption. 

This plan was, I believe, first tried at Ralahine 
(in 1832) by Mr. E. T. Craig, and it has since been 
adopted by a few great industrial concerns with 
excellent results. It is found that useful sugges- 
tions are made by quite ordinary workmen, and 
even by boys, affecting both the convenience of the 
workmen and economy of production. But more 
important is its educational and moral value, which 
would be especially great in a co-operative associa- 
tion, by giving to every worker a definite status, and 
making him feel that he is not only a labourer in a 
great organisation, but that he is allowed to ex- 
press his own views as to what, is essential for the 
good of all. This feeling, and the careful attention 
given to all suggestions, tends to give confidence in 
the management, and ensures willing and thought- 
ful attention to duty. 

But here some of my readers will no doubt object, 
9 



how can it be shown that such estates or colonies 
could and would produce all the necessaries of life 
with such a comparatively small amount of labour? 
We know what John Burns told us of the enormous 
cost of the Labour Colonies at Hollesley Bay and 
Laindon ; why should not these be equal failures? 
The answer is simple. The colonies now being 
tried, as well as that of General Booth in Essex, 
are a kind of rural workhouses, with no idea of 
permanency, no home life, no freedom of action, no 
prospect of a future. Neither is there any effective 
grouping of workers, no sufficient variety of occu- 
pations, no attempt at the production of all the 
necessaries of life by those who consume them. 
There is also, apparently, a large sale of produce in 
competition with outside workers, wholly different 
from the system of -production for use which is the 
very basis of Mr. Mills' scheme. 

The scope of this scheme and its far-reaching and 
permanent effects on unemployment are totally 
unlike those of our present costly and temporary 
Labour Colonies. It would at once absorb the un- 
employed workers in scores of different trades and 
occupations, all being employed in supplying 
directly the wants of the community of which each 
formed a part. The wheat grown for food would 
employ millers, machinists, sack-makers, bakers, 
etc. ; the sheep and cattle, supplying meat, milk, 
butter and cheese for all, would also by the inter- 
vention of tanners, curriers, saddlers, shoemakers, 
etc., supply all the leather goods; while the dairy 
outfit would require the work of tinmen and other 
skilled mechanics for the pans, pails, churns, 
presses, etc. The bones and horns might be used to 
make handles of domestic cutlery and for old- 
fashioned but useful lanthorns; perhaps combs and 
brushes might also be made, while the refuse fat 
would be made into soap for the use of the com- 
munity. Wherever suitable clay occurred bricks 
and tiles would be made, as well as drain pipes and 
coarse pottery for various domestic uses. Even un- 
limited sugar for a population of 5,000 might be 
produced from home-grown beet-root with suitable 

IO 



pressing, boiling, and refining machinery. The 
wool of the sheep would be cleaned, spun, and 
woven into all the chief forms of clothing and 
household articles required; while flax grown, pre- 
pared, spun, and woven at home would supply 
the needful underclothing and linen of various 
kinds. 

Artificers in wood and iron would be occupied in 
the supply and repair of carts, waggons, ploughs, 
and the simpler agricultural machines ; while water 
or wind mills (or both) would give the power for 
the various kinds of machinery, for electric light 
and power-transmission, and probably also for 
warming and cooking purposes. 

All these various industries would require a 
considerable 'engineering plant, and a body of 
trained workers, while a staff of joiners, cabinet- 
makers, plumbers, painters, and paper-makers, and 
in smaller numbers, compositors, printers, and book- 
binders, with store-keepers, clerks, and porters, 
would find constant or occasional work; and there 
would be comparatively few workers of any kind 
who would not be able to learn some one or other of 
these occupations, even if their own special skill 
in some less familiar industry was not called for. 
And besides all these, a considerable body of 
labourers would be wanted; and all adults as well 
as the older children would at times of pressure be 
called to assist in some of the varied forms of simple 
farm and garden work, such as hay-making, fruit- 
gathering, and harvesting. 

An immense advantage of such an organised 
co-operative community (and one that can hardly 
be over-estimated) is the comparative certainty of 
returns and independence of adverse seasons that 
would thus be introduced into agriculture. Much 
of our hay is now deteriorated by cutting being 
delayed beyond the period of maximum nutriment, 
or damaged by not being dried and stacked at 
the earliest possible opportunity. But with a large 
and interested population close at hand, ready and 
willing to assist at an hour's notice, and with the 
best machinery and appliances always ready, a single 

II 



fine day in an otherwise adverse season might enable 
a hay or corn crop to be secured in good condition 
which, without this assistance, would be irretrievably 
ruined. And when everyone would be thus helping 
to save his own crops the very " daily bread " that 
he himself and his family would enjoy during the 
coming year, the work, however hard, would become 
a pleasure, and every hour of the long summer's 
day (or even of the night as well) would be utilised 
by relays of workers. We can well imagine with 
what determination and energy the work would be 
carried on, and with what enthusiasm and rejoicing 
would the holiday succeeding such an effort a true 
"harvest-home" be partaken of by all. 

Another point may here be usefully dwelt on. 
Though at the first starting of such colonies it may 
be advisable to have large common dwellings and 
meals, it should at an early period be possible for 
all who wished it to have cottages or houses of their 
own ; and these should first be provided for married 
couples and their families. These could, however, 
continue to take their meals (or any meal) at the 
common table, or in lieu of these could draw rations 
of food from the stores and cook for themselves. 
Home-life,, so dear to many of us, would thus be 
rendered possible for all who wished it, while still 
retaining the economies and securities of co-opera- 
tive work. 

Yet further, keeping in view the one object of 
the establishment of these co-operative villages 
that of enabling the unemployed to work profitably 
for themselves; if after a few years' residence any 
of the workers wished to have the opportunity of 
trying an independent life on the land, he should 
not only be permitted to do so, but should be helped 
to obtain land for a small holding in the immediate 
vicinity, and, if his record in the colony justified it, 
have implements and stock provided for him, to be 
repaid by easy instalments. Thus might be ex- 
hibited, side by side, the comparison of men with 
similar training adopting the methods of co-opera- 
tion and individualism; and the results, in the 
degree of comfort and contentment attained by 

12 



each as years went oil, would be exceedingly 
instructive. 

With regard to the chances (or, as I maintain, the 
certainty} of the economic and moral success of 
colonies or villages organised with the one end of 
enabling -people to provide by their own labour all 
the essentials of a secure, a happy, and a contented 
life, it may be well to adduce a few illustrative 
facts and results. 

Between the years 1870 and 1880, workshops and 
a garden of fourteen acres were started at the New- 
castle-on-Tyne Workhouse on which to employ the 
ordinary able-bodied inmates. In a very short time 
all the vegetables required for the whole of the 
paupers was easily grown, with a considerable 
surplus which was disposed of to local shopkeepers ; 
and at the end of three years this land is stated to 
have produced a profit of 339 annually. In 
almost every department of work more goods were 
produced than the house required, so that a reserve 
of a two years' supply of boots and shoes was 
accumulated, while the whole of the inside fittings 
of new wings to the workhouse were executed by the 
inmates.* 

At Ralahine, in Ireland, eighty-one men, women, 
and children, all ordinary labourers of the lowest 
class, and with a very bad reputation in the district, 
farmed 618 acres of land, including bog and waste, 
under a committee chosen by themselves (Mr. Craig, 
who kept the accounts and supervisd the household, 
being ignorant of agriculture), and they not only 
paid the very high rent of 900 a year (in produce 
estimated at market prices), but in the course of 

* Mr. Mills quotes this from an article in Chambers' Journal of 
January ist, 1881. Mr. Jas. H. Rodgers, for many years Chairman 
of the Guardians, has been so good as to inform me that the system 
of employing paupers in various kinds of productive industry is 
still in force at Newcastle ; but that owing to a change in the class 
of inmates it is not quite so satisfactory. Over two -thirds of the 
number are now either chronic invalids, aged, or lunatics, with 
children who are mostly boarded out. Still, all who can do 
anything are employed productively, and nearly all the vegetables 
required by 1,000 to 1,500 inmates are grown on 15 acres of land 
cultivated by male paupers. 

13 



three years brought waste land into cultivation, 
purchased a reaping-machine, and at the same time 
increased their capital and lived well and con- 
tentedly. Then, the owner, having gambled away 
his property, suddenly disappeared, while the 
tenants were evicted and all their property con- 
fiscated by the Irish Court of Chancery ! 

At the Dutch colony of Frederiksoord', a mis- 
cellaneous body of " unemployed " have, under wise 
administration, converted an absolutely barren waste 
of moorland into what Mr. Mills terms " a paradise 
in the midst of a wilderness." Here a large number 
of " free fanners " have been trained, who now 
support themselves in comfort and independence, 
while another body of labourers carry on the ordi- 
nary work of the estate (which must be 
largely educational and unproductive), and yet so 
nearly support themselves that the Director informed 
Mr. Mills that he did not use agricultural machinery 
because it would make it difficult to find work for 
all, and they would then be less easily managed. 

Mr. Edward Atkinson, the great American 
statistician and advocate of capitalism, has given 
striking estimates of the productiveness of labour 
when aided by modern machinery. Two men's 
labour for a year in wheat-growing and milling will 
produce 1,000 barrels of flour, barrels included, 
which will give bread enough for 1,000 persons. But 
as we grow more bushels of wheat per acre than is 
grown in the American wheat fields, we could cer- 
tainly produce our bread on the spot quite as 
cheaply, if not much cheaper. Again, he tells us 
that one man's labour produces woollen goods for 
300 people, or boots and shoes for l,ooo. Now, 
as far as productiveness goes, spinning, knitting, 
weaving, or shoe-making machines suitable for the 
employment of a dozen or twenty men or women 
could, in our co-operative colony, be worked quite 
as economically as in a great factory where 1,000 
hands are employed perhaps even more so, because 
no overseeing would be required, and all would be 
close to their work; while as the hours would be 
shorter and would alternate with outdoor or house- 



hold work, the workers would be healthier and 
their labour more effective. 

Again, as every inmate of such a colony would be 
trained in at least two distinct occupations, one in- 
volving mostly outdoor work, a large proportion of 
these textile fabrics would be made during wet days 
and long winter evenings, and would thus utilise 
time that is now often wasted. 

Another great economy in such a colony is, that 
the whole of the middlemen's and retailer's profits 
would be saved, as well as the cost of the various 
forms of advertising, including commercial 
travellers and the high rents of retail shops in good 
situations, and that of railway freights, cartage, 
and other costs of world-wide or cross-country dis- 
tribution. The result of all these needless expenses 
is shown by the well-known fact that, on the 
average, goods of every kind in common use are 
-produced for about half what they are sold for by 
the retailer ; and to this great loss must be added, 
in the case of the individual producer for sale, the 
loss of time expended in selling and buying, and 
the frequent difficulty of finding a purchaser except 
at a ruinously low price. It is these numerous 
economics at every step of the process that justify 
Mr. Mills' careful estimate of six hours' daily work 
being ample to supply all the necessaries of life for 
a well-organised co-operative population, including 
the children, the sick, and the aged ; while a small 
farmer works usually ten or twelve hours to secure 
the same result, and can only succeed in doing so 
under somewhat favourable conditions, and with 
much greater risk of failure. 

One other point remains to be considered. What 
would be the initial cost of such colonies as are here 
suggested, up to the time at which they became self- 
supporting ? Here, too, Mr. Mills has given us the 
answer. By a careful estimate, founded on ascer- 
tained facts, he shows that the total cost, both of the 
land and of the stock, buildings, and other 
appliances, together with a half-year's food, would 
only equal the amount of two years' total expendi- 
ture for the same number of paupers. The result of 

15 



this outlay would be that after two or three years the 
necessity for poor-rates would cease. It would 
therefore be an enormous saving, even if each union 
or county purchased the land and stocked it as 

Eart of its Poor Law expenditure, and this would 
e the case even if Mr. Mills' calculations are found 
to be too favourable to the extent of even 50 per 
cent, (which I consider wildly improbable). But I 
believe that if the scheme was carried out under an 
Act of Parliament and under the general super- 
vision of the Board of Agriculture, still greater 
economies might be effected, especially in the matter 
of land. For power should be given in the Act to 
take any land required at a valuation based on the 
net rental now obtained by the owner (or on the 
valuation in the rate books), for which amount he 
should receive Government Land Bonds. As soon 
as the colonies became self-supporting, and had 
absorbed most of the unemployed, so that pauperism 
in the ordinary sense was abolished, the respective 
local authorities would only have to pay the interest 
and sinking fund on these bonds, which would be a 
mere trifle as compared with existing poor rates, and 
would itself disappear in the course of less than two 
generations. 

The farmers and labourers, as well as mechanics 
or others, who might be living upon the land thus 
taken over, would have the option of remaining upon 
it in the capacities for which they were severally 
fitted, as superintendents, foremen, or labourers; or 
if they preferred to leave would receive a reasonable 
"compensation for disturbance." 



There are always people who will not be satisfied 
with any proposed remedy for a great evil unless it 
deals with every possible phase and form of it, so 
as to abolish it completely at once, and for ever. 
Some of these will be sure to object that the worst 
of the unemployed the tramps and the men who 
will not work under any conditions will still 
remain ; and they will ask triumphantly : " How will 
you bring these into your system ? They 

16 



will flock into your colonies in winter to 
enjoy the good living and do nothing to 
earn it." There are two replies to this 
objection, which is really no valid objection at all. 
In the first place, it was not for this class of men 
that the "Unemployed Workmen Bill" was 
brought into Parliament, or for whom legislation 
has been promised by the Government. It was not 
of these unfortunates that either Socialists or 
Liberals drew such vivid pictures of undeserved 
misery, but of the genuine workmen, the men or 
women whose one object in life is to obtain work, 
however hard, however it may injure their own 
health or shorten their lives, in order that they may 
save their families from starvation, or from the 
deservedly hated workhouse. The whole of this 
great and successful agitation has been in behalf of 
those willing and anxious to work, but to whom 
by our actual social organisation it is forbidden. It 
was for them only that the "Right to Work " was 
demanded not the right to food while refusing to 
ivork. It is a sufficient reply to the objectors, 
therefore, that Mr. Mills' proposal really solves the 
problem as regards those very classes of workers for 
whom the " Right to Work " clause was drawn. 

But, secondly, it is certain that the system of 
co-operative colonies here explained would, in the 
course of a few years, absorb also the so-called un- 
employable, who are in reality by no means 
numerous, and have never yet been offered the kindly 
assistance, the sympathetic treatment, the amount 
of liberty and the congenial surroundings they 
would find in these colonies. General Booth's 
experience at his Essex colony has shown that a con- 
siderable proportion of these men are easily reclaim- 
able, and the system there is far less favourable and 
less educational than it would be in our proposed 
co-operative colonies. 

Before concluding, I will briefly advert to a few 
matters of high public importance, involving great 
cost, much loss of time and energy, widespread 
physical and moral deterioration, and terrible 

17 



sacrifice of life, which would all be ameliorated and 
would ultimately disappear in proportion as these 
co-operative colonies spread over the country. 

First and foremost, the cost of Old Age Pensions, 
which all admit to be absolutely necessary now, 
would steadily diminish with increase of these 
colonies, and ultimately become unnecessary. Next, 
the terrible mortality of infants, due to our present 
competitive manufacturing system, would rapidly 
disappear when the health and comfort of mothers 
were thoroughly safeguarded as a primary social 
duty. What- would be the result of such a natural, 
simple, healthful, yet fully-occupied life as would 
prevail in these colonies may be judged by the 
condition of some of the German colonists in Central 
Brazil. A young friend of mine is now living 
among them. They subsist almost entirely on the 
direct produce of their own labour; they have large 
and healthy families, and his two nearest neigh- 
bours have twelve and eight children respectively, 
mostly grown up, without having lost a single child. 

Then there is the enormous and ever-increasing 
system of inspectorship of factories and workshops, 
to guard against dangers of machinery, unhealthi- 
ness, and overwork, all quite unnecessary, and which 
would never even be thought of where there was no 
one to profit by such enormities. 

Lastly, there is the curse of adulteration, ever 
increasing, pervading all commercial products, 
clothing, food, and even drugs, injurious alike to 
the health and the morality of the nation, and 
which inspectors and penalties have hardly any 
effect upon. All this would absolutely disappear 
when everything now adulterated would be produced 
in these colonies for home consumption, and not 
for the profit of capitalists; and this fact would 
certainly re-act upon the private manufacturers. 
The safety and healthiness of all the co-operative 
shops would soon compel private capitalists to 
improve the conditions of their factories under the 
penalty of not being able to obtain men or women 
to work for them. 

A collateral but highly beneficial result of the 
18 



system here advocated is, that just as it extended 
and flourished, it would, by absorbing all surplus 
labour, raise the standard of wages over the whole 
country, and of itself produce that "minimum 
wage" that we may decree by law, but which, so 
long as our present system persists unchecked, we 
can certainly never enforce. The generally higher 
wages thus caused will almost all be spent on home- 
made products, and thus more than compensate for 
any diminution of foreign trade that may occur : 
for it must always be remembered that foreign trade 
is mainly carried on for the profit of the capitalist 
or to supply luxuries for the wealthy, and is little 
needed when all workers are enabled to produce the 
necessaries of life, co-operatively, for themselves. 

Yet another important economy not yet referred 
to arises from the essential nature of a co-operative 
community producing everything for their own con- 
sumption, and therefore absolutely free from the 
faintest suspicion of adulteration. We have seen 
that Mr. Mills estimated that not more than one-fifth 
of the total produce would have to be sold in order 
to purchase articles or materials which the colonists 
could not produce themselves. Each colony would 
decide, or rather would find by experience, which 
articles it would thus produce in larger amounts than 
it needed one might sell butter, cheese, and 
perhaps cream; another woollen fabrics; another 
shoes, etc., or some combination of these. But it 
would soon become known that everything made at 
the colony was genuine. The butter w r ould not be 
margarine; the cloths and flannels would be wool 
throughout, the boot-soles would not be of brown 
paper; and the matches, the china-glazes and the 
paints would all be made of non-poisonous materials. 
The certainty that this would be so everything 
being made primarily for use and not for profit 
would ensure a large and constant demand for 
everything the colonists had to sell. They would 
thus be saved all the costs of advertising or of 
taking their goods to market; as was found to be 
the case with the best of the Communistic Societies 
in the United States, whose garden and farm 

19 



seeds, dried and preserved fruits, tubs, washing 
machines, traps, and chairs, are still widely known 
and sought after for their purity and good work- 
manship. 

All the goods which the colony had for sale 
would thus bring the highest market prices with 
the minimum expenditure of time and labour; so 
that one fatal circumstance that caused the failure 
of so many attempts at co-operative workshops 
the difficulty or impossibility of selling the produce 
would never arise. 

The result of this brief, but I believe accurate, 
examination of the capitalistic and the co-operative 
systems in their essential conditions and proved 
results, is to show that the former is inherently 
wasteful to an enormous degree, and so productive 
of physical and moral evil as to be incompatible 
with a true civilisation. In every part of the world 
it is alike productive of poverty, degradation, and 
crime for large numbers of the workers, and the 
latter perhaps in an equal proportion (though in 
different ways) for the capitalist employers also. 
Such a system stands condemned at the bar of 
reason, justice, and common sense. 

I think I have now shown that the way to solve 
this great "Problem of the Unemployed" was 
clearly pointed out nearly twenty years ago, with 
precision, fulness of detail, and sufficient basis of 
fact and experience. But the time had not then 
come. The few read and appreciated the book, but 
it was generally ignored, with the usual cry of 
" Utopian " ! Now, however, the hour has arrived, 
and here is the Man whose long-neglected book 
shows us clearly the lines on which alone we can 
successfully overcome the difficulty. 

But a proviso has here to be made, which is of 
the most vital importance and which must always 
be kept in view. Even if the scheme here advocated 
is carried out to the letter, so far as its methods are 
concerned, complete success will only be attained 
if its organisers are imbued throughout with the 
human, the philanthropic, the brotherly spirit of 

30 



the propounder. This will depend almost wholly on 
the choice of men for directors of the several co- 
operative colonies. If the head is chosen for his 
supposed power of managing and governing large 
bodies of men, in the way our governors of prisons 
and masters of workhouses have been chosen; and 
if he enters on his duties with the one idea of com- 
pelling all to work alike, from the very first, and 
with that end draws up an elaborate system of rules, 
with fines and punishments to be rigidly enforced 
in the various departments of industry, then failure 
will be inevitable. Neither is the successful 
manager of a great factory or large estate more 
likely to succeed if he is a man who looks upon 
workers as mere " hands " as parts of a great pro- 
ductive machine, each to be kept in his proper place, 
and to have no will of his own. 

Our object should be to train up self -supporting, 
self-respecting, and self-governing men and women; 
and we should aim at doing this by developing the 
conceptions of solidarity and brotherhood that 
good and honest work is expected from each be- 
cause he benefits equally with every other worker 
in the joint result, and that it is therefore his plain 
duty to do his full share in producing that result. 
The type of men to be sought after are such as Mr. 
Craig, who, though a suspected stranger and sup- 
posed emissary of the landlords, yet gained the 
affection of a body of wild Irish labourers, and in a 
year of sympathetic guidance so changed their lives 
that, in their own words : " Ralahine used to be a 
hell; now it is a little heaven; " and Robert Owen, 
the self-educated Welshman, who in less than 
twenty years changed a population of over 500 per- 
sons, all Scotch mill-workers who were living in 
chronic destitution and debt, and in habits of 
almost continuous drunkenness, dirt, and vice into 
a cleanly, well-to-do, contented, and grateful com- 
munity. 

The methods by which these men produced such 
results should be studied by everyone who would 
undertake the directorship of one of the proposed 
co-operative colonies. For those who talk so con- 

21 



fidently about human nature being not good enough 
for any such co-operative life as is here suggested, 
I would adduce Owen's work at New Lanark as an 
unanswerable reply. I know of no more wonderful 
example in history, of the results to be obtained by 
appealing to men's higher feelings rather than to the 
lower and baser, than Owen's account, in his story 
of his own life, of how he stopped almost universal 
thieving, drunkenness, neglect, and other faults in 
his great body of workers, by means of his inven- 
tion of the " silent monitor " a little record on four 
sides of a tally, of each worker's conduct the day 
before, as indicated by four colours black, red, 
yellow, and white, one of which only was dis- 
played. These tallies were attached to each 
worker's place every morning, so that as Owen 
walked through the work-rooms he could see them 
both collectively and separately. At first the 
majority were black, while white was rare. But 
gradually the colours changed, and in a few years 
yellow and white prevailed. During all this time 
there were no punishments, either by fine or in any 
other way, neither did Owen ever scold a man, or 
even speak harshly to him. He merely, when the 
colour was black, looked at the man in sorrow ; and 
he tells us, how after a time he could tell a man's 
conduct by his very attitude as he passed him, with- 
out looking at the tally. 

It may be said, we have no such men now; but I 
think that is a mistake. Mr. Mills himself would 
probably be one of the first appointed ; while a post 
as responsible director of 5,000 workers would be 
congenial to many of our broad-minded clergy, to the 
more educated among the officials of the Salvation 
Army, and to such sympathetic writers about the 
poor as Mr. Whiteing, Mr. Zangwill, and many 
others. It should be considered a position of high 
rank and importance, equal, say, to that of a judge 
or a bishop, and none should be appointed who are 
not in perfect sympathy with the avowed objects of 
the "colonies," and determined to do all in his 
power to make the experiment a success. The 
salary should not be high; in fact, the lower the 

22 



better, in some respects. The office would almost 
certainly attract the best men, since it would enable 
them to initiate and develop one of the greatest 
social reforms ever undertaken in a civilised 
country. They should, of course, have practically 
a free hand, and be judged only by results. They 
must have complete power to change the heads of 
departments, it they found them difficult to work 
with, or of characters unsuited to the task of render- 
ing the labour of the community at once efficient 
and attractive to the workers. 

There would, I believe, very soon arise a healthy 
rivalry between different colonies, in which every 
individual, from the Director to the youngest 
worker, would bear his part, as to which shall 
exhibit the best results in the various industries 
carried on; in the cleanliness, comfort, and even 
elegance of their domestic arrangements and general 
surroundings; in their amusements and their 
studies; and especially in the general contentment, 
order, and happiness of the whole community. 

To attain such a result would be a truer honour 
to our country than all our past and prospective 
victories, gained at the cost of untold misery to both 
victors and vanquished, vast burdens of taxation, 
rivers of blood and tears. To attain such a bene- 
ficent result seems now actually within our reach; 
and my chief hope is that I may live to see it 
inaugurated, and that all parties and classes alike 
shall for once forget their prejudices and antagon- 
isms, and work together for the success of some such 
scheme as is here laid before them. 

It is after a considerable acquaintance with the 
literature of this subject, from the time of the grand 
pioneer, Robert Owen, down to the present day, 
that I have arrived at the most absolute conviction 
that Mr. Mills has pointed out to us the one true 
road to success, and that any considerable diver- 
gence from it will lead to failure. I therefore 
most earnestly call upon all social reformers, and 
especially all members of Parliament, whose duty it 
will be to legislate upon the subject, to make a care- 
ful study of his small volume but really great 



and illuminating work to read it carefully 
throughout; to study it in all its parts; to imbue 
themselves with its spirit as well as with its facts, its 
principles, and its arguments; to familiarise them- 
selves with the practical results of co-operative 
undertakings so far as their opportunities permit; 
and, by means of the knowledge they will have 
gained from Mr. Mills, satisfy themselves as to the 
essential causes of failure or success. 

Above all these things, let them see that when 
the time of legislation, and of giving practical 
effect to the legislation arrives, the principle of the 
whole scheme shall be, in Mr. Mills' words : " That 
within the bounds of the * Co-operative Estates ' we 
shall endeavour to cultivate able and tender-hearted 
men, and brave and independent women; and not 
to accumulate wealth." 



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