|Work and Wealth|
CHAPTER XIX: INDIVIDUAL MOTIVES TO SOCIAL SERVICE
§1. Our examination of the existing industrial system discloses
certain discords of interest and desire between the owners of the several
factors of production, on the one hand, between producers and consumers on the
other. Among the owners of factors of production the sharpest antagonisms are
those between the capitalist employer and the wage-earner, and between the
landowner and the owners of all other factors. Except as regards the ownership
of land, these antagonisms are not absolute but qualified. The interests of
capital and labour, of producer and consumer, march together up to a certain
point. There they diverge. These discords of interest materialise in what we
term 'the surplus,' that portion of the product which, though not essential to
the performance of the economic process, passes to capital, labour or the
consumer, according to the economic strength which natural or artificial
conditions assign to each. The humanisation and rationalisation of industry
depend, as we recognise, upon reforming the structure of businesses and
industries, so as to resolve these discords, to evoke the most effective
cooperation, in fact and will, between the several parties, and to distribute
the whole product, costs and surplus, among them upon terms which secure for it
the largest aggregate utility in consumption. The operation of industry upon
this truly and consciously cooperative basis, would, it is contended, evoke
increased productive powers, by bringing into play those instincts of mutual aid
that are largely inhibited by present methods, and by distributing the increased
product so as to evoke the highest personal efficiency of life and
But it would be foolish to ignore the doubts and objections which are raised against the spiritual assumption upon which this ideal of human industry is based. It is often urged that man is by nature so strongly endowed with selfish and combative feelings, so feebly with social and cooperative, that he will not work efficiently under the reformed economic structures that are proposed. He must be allowed free scope to play for his own hand, to exercise his fighting instincts, to triumph over his competitors, and to appropriate the prizes of hazard and adventure, the spoils attesting personal force and prowess, or else he will withhold the finest and most useful modes of his economic energy.
The distinctively spiritual issue thus raised is exceedingly momentous. Suppose that the business life can be set upon what appears to be a sound and equitable basis, is human nature capable of responding satisfactorily to such an environment? Putting it more concretely, are the actual powers of human sympathy and cooperation capable of being organised into an effective social will? This issue is seen to underlie all the doubts and difficulties that beset the proposals to apply our organic Law of Distribution for purposes of practical reform. All proposals by organised public effort to abolish destitution give rise to fears lest by so doing we should sap the incentives to personal effort, and so impair the character of the poor. Among such critics there is entertained no corresponding hope or conviction that such a policy may, by the better and securer conditions of life and employment it affords, sow the seeds of civic feeling and of social solidarity among large sections of our population whose life hitherto had been little else than a sordid and unmeaning struggle. Proposals to secure for public use by process of taxation larger shares of surplus wealth are met by similar apprehensions lest such encroachments upon private property should impair the application of high qualities of business and professional ability. The growing tendency of States and Municipalities to engage in various business operations is strongly and persistently attacked upon the ground that sufficient public spirit cannot be evoked to secure the able, honest management and efficient working of such public concerns.
Finally, the whole basic policy of the Minimum Wage and the Maximum Working-day is assailed on the same ground as a levelling down process which will reduce the net productivity of industry and stop all economic progress.
§2. To such criticism two replies are possible, each valid within its limits. The first consists in showing that the existing business arrangements are extremely ill-adapted for offering the best and most economically effective stimuli to individual productivity. They are not well-directed to discover, apply, and improve the best and most profitable sorts of human ability and labour. In other words, the actual system for utilising selfishness for industrial purposes is wofully defective: nine-tenths of the power remains unextracted or runs to waste.
Those who rely upon this criticism base their reform policy upon the provision of better economic opportunities and better personal stimuli to individuals. But such reforms will not suffice. What is needed above all is a social soul to inhabit the social body in our industrial system. A conscious coordinating principle -- an industrial government, in which the consent of the governed shall be represented in their several wills and consciousness as well as in some central organic control -- is to be desiderated. Now is this condition of thought and of desire really attainable? Can we really suppose that any sort of education is likely to arouse and maintain in the rank-and-file of employees either in the public services or in the great private industries a sense of public duty and a realisation of the larger industrial harmony, which will compensate in any appreciable measure for the dulness and drudgery of their particular job, and furnish an effective check upon shirking or slacking? Suppose that a salary basis of payment, a shortened work-day and security of tenure, with adequate insurance against economic mishaps, had been obtained in all regular occupations, would the quickened sense of cooperation yield a productive energy adequate to the requirements?
To this question it must, I think, be frankly answered, that we cannot tell. We have no sufficient data for a confident reply. The general reply of business men and of economists would, I think, be in the negative. It would be urged that the greater part of the routine work of industry will always remain so dull and tiresome, the sense of public duty so weak and intermittent, that the fixed salary basis of remuneration will not prove an adequate incentive for the required amount of human effort.
The experience of existing social services would be adduced in support of this judgment. Public employees, it is complained, work with less energy than private employees; there is more slacking and scamping and more malingering; the 'government stroke' has become a by-word. The dignity of social service does not evoke any clear response in the breast of the employee. Such is the complaint. It is probably not ill-founded. The great mass of public employees are certainly not animated by much conscious pride and satisfaction in rendering social service. But, before registering a final judgment upon such evidence, certain qualifying considerations must be taken into account.
The attitude of a worker towards his work will be strongly affected by the prevailing attitude of those around him. So long as the general economic environment is one in which the interests of employer and employed are represented as antagonistic, similar ideas and sentiments will continue to affect the feelings of public servants. They will not realise that they are working for themselves in working for society of which they are members: they will treat the department for which they work rather as an alien or a hostile body, bent upon getting as much out of them and giving as little as possible. It is just here that we touch the most sensitive spot in the psychology of government, the best recognised defect of bureaucracy. The higher officials, who control and manage public businesses, evoke in the rank-and-file of the public employees very much the same sentiments of estrangement or opposition that prevail in most private businesses between employer and employee. For in point of fact, the temper and mental attitude of higher officials are those of a master in his own business, not those of a public servant. That affects their dealings not only with the rank-and-file in their department, but with the outside public. In a so-called democracy, where the highest as well as the lowest officers of state are paid by the people to do work for the people, no method of effective popular control over the official services has yet been devised. The absence of any such control is clearly recognised by all high officials, and it powerfully influences their mind and their behaviour. Uncontrolled, or insufficiently controlled power, of course, affects differently different types of men. It induces slackness and the adoption of a slow conservative routine in those of torpid disposition. Men of arbitrary temper will be led to despotic treatment of their staff. Men of brains and enterprise will be free to embark upon expensive enterprises, to the gain or loss of their paymasters. But in no case does the actual situation favour the permeation of the public service by a full sense of social cooperation and joint responsibility. High officials may and often do exhibit great energy and disinterested zeal in the public service. But the sense of mastery, both in relation to the lower grades of employee and to the public, is always discernible. They have this power and they know it. Until, therefore, the sense of public service can be made a reality among the higher public officers, no true test of the efficacy of the general will is to be obtained. This reformation of Bureaucracy is the chief crux of modern democracy. For unless some mode is found of expelling from the higher public servants the pride of caste, and of keeping them in sympathetic contact with the general current of popular feeling, the mass of the subordinate employees will not respond to the social claim upon their economic energies.
Finally, the familiar criticism of the inefficiency of public employees in this country does not take proper account of conditions of employment. For while the top grade of officials is paid more handsomely and enjoys more dignity and security than in other countries, the lower grades are often subject to conditions of pay, hours and tenure, not appreciably better than those prevailing in the ordinary labour-market. Until these conditions are improved, it may reasonably be contended that the dignity of public service cannot be expected to furnish an effective economic motive.
If, however, increased security of life and livelihood could be obtained for the people, with such improvement of our educational system as provided adequate opportunities for enabling the children of the poorer classes to enter all grades of the public services, the beginnings of a great change in the spirit of those services might be attained. For, if the wide gaps of dignity and of emoluments, which divide at present the higher from the lower grades, could be reduced, while at the same time effective publicity and criticism could be brought to bear upon all departments of public work, the 'bureaucratic state' might be transformed into something more nearly approaching a self-governing society.
§3. The cool practical business men will, however, probably insist that none of these devices for improving education and for stimulating public spirit will enable a public department to get out of its employees so large an output of productive energy as can be secured by the stimuli of private profit-seeking enterprise. And this may possibly be true. But those who have accepted the general lines of our analysis will recognise that such an admission is not fatal to the case for salaried employment and public service. For the private business is primarily concerned with one side of the human equation, the product, and is able in large measure to ignore the human costs involved in getting it. But the State, as representing the human welfare of its members, must take the costs into account as well. An intelligent Society would regard it as a foolish policy to attempt to get out of its employees the amount of daily toil imposed under the conditions of most profit-making businesses. While, therefore, it is true that a public service, run upon an adequate basis of fixed salary and short work-day, would stand condemned, if the output of effective energy per man fell greatly below that furnished under the drive of ordinary capitalism, a slight reduction of that output might be welcomed as involving an actual gain in human welfare. The diminished utility of the product might be more than compensated in terms of human welfare by the diminished human cost of the productive process.
It is not, therefore, incumbent upon the advocates of a new industrial order, based upon a closer application of the organic law, to show that such an order will yield at least as large an output of economic energy and economic product as can be got out of the mixed competition and combination which prevail at present. Applying this standard of human valuation, they are entitled to set off against any reduction of purely economic stimuli that may ensue from their reforms, not only the relief in human costs which accompanies such reduction but the enlargement of other human gains.
For, though in this endeavour to value industrial activities and products in terms of human welfare, we have for the most part confined ourselves to the human costs and utilities directly connected with the processes of economic production and consumption, we cannot ignore the wider meaning of these processes. Man lives not by bread, or economic goods, alone, but by 'admiration, hope and love.' Though the various non-economic goods and activities do not directly enter into our human valuation of industry, we cannot neglect the interactions between the economic and the other human interests involved in the organic nature of man and of society.
§4. The wider problem of human economy, the employment of all human powers for human welfare, must in fact involve a continual readjustment between the respective claims of the economic and the non-economic activities upon our lives. Most thoughtful critics of our age complain that this adjustment is defective in that business bulks too largely in our lives. They consider that our modern command over the resources of nature for the satisfaction of our wants ought to issue not so much in the larger supply of old, and the constant addition of new economic wants, as in the increased liberation of human powers for other modes of energy and satisfaction. There exist whole countries even in our time, such as China, where population lies so thick upon the earth, and where the arts of industry remain so primitive, that virtually the whole vital energy of the people must be absorbed in the economic processes. This is not our case. With our improving arts of industry and our dwindling growth of population, we can afford to give an increasing share of our interests and energies to the cultivation and enjoyment of intellectual and moral goods. The gradual realisation of this human economy is the best measure of our civilisation. Our greatest impediment in this progress is the superstitious and excessive value put by all classes of our people upon industry and property. This is almost identical with a charge of materialism, for economic values centre round material forms of property. 'Getting and spending we lay waste our powers.' This is a literal statement of our bad economy. Until we can, as a nation, throw off the dominion of the economic spirit, we cannot win the spiritual liberty needed for the ascent of man. So long as we stand, for full six-sevenths of our time and more, with hands and eyes, intelligence and will, dedicated to the service of industrialism, we cannot see, much less realise, better ideals of humanity. Absorbed in earning a livelihood, we have no time or energy to live.
Such sentences as these, I am well aware, have become commonplaces, and such wisdom as they contain has so become almost impotent. This drawing of the fangs of truth by reducing it to truisms is one of the most serious obstacles to intellectual and moral progress. From the time of Wordsworth to the present day our wisest teachers have demanded that industry and property shall be put in their right places as servants, not masters, of men, and that our conquest over nature shall be attended by a liberation of all sorts and conditions of men from the tyranny of matter. In no adequate degree has this liberation been achieved. The iron of industrialism has entered so deeply into our souls that we are loth to use our liberty. Why is this so?
Man is a spiritual as well as a material being. His ascent in civilisation implies an increasing satisfaction of his spiritual needs. In this higher life economic processes and market values play a diminishing part. How comes it, then, that the vast economies of modern industry have done so little to release us from the bondage of the economic system? Why have industry and property retained so dominant a grasp upon our thoughts and feelings, continually checking our aspirations to the higher life, continually encroaching on the time and energy which by rights would seem to belong to that life?
§5. The true answer to these questions is not difficult to find. We have sketched a growing order, harmony and unity, of industrial life, concerned with the regular supply of economic needs for mankind. Were such an order effectively achieved, in accordance with the rational and equitable application of our human law of distribution, the economy of industrial processes would be accompanied by a corresponding economy of thought and emotion among the human beings engaged in this common cooperation. This social economy demands, as we have seen, the substitution of social welfare for private profit as the directing motive throughout industry. But it does not imply a completely socialistic system in which each productive process is under the direct and exclusive control of Society. For that assertion of absolute unity would contain a denial of the manifoldness of desire and purpose involved in the very concept cooperation. Scope must remain, in the interests of society itself, for the legitimate play of individuality. The well-ordered society will utilise the energies of egoism in fruitful fields of individual activity. The human ego will always seek a directly personal self-expression in the free exercise of artistic instincts and other creative or adventurous activities that yield the glory of achievement.
These primarily self-regarding impulses are made socially profitable by allowing them free expression in these fields. The attempt to regulate and direct these impulses and their productive activities would be disastrous. This play of unfettered personality in the fine arts, in literature, in the unsettled and experimental section of each profession and each trade, must be conserved, not as an inherent right of individuals but as a sound social economy. For the distinction between these free creative activities and the ordinary run of routine work in the trade and professions is fundamental. It is not that the former, the free unorganised activities, are not as truly social as the latter in their ultimate significance and worth. But their social value is best secured by leaving them to the stimuli of personal interests. The creative activities, including all work which pleasure, interest, surprise or personal pride, cause to be desired upon its own account, need no social compulsion to evoke them. Their product is the free gift which the individual makes to the commonwealth out of the riches of his active personality. As their cost to him is more than compensated by the pleasures of creation, he will contribute them freely to the service of mankind. But even if a coarser streak of selfishness causes the creative artist, poet, inventor, discoverer, to claim some large share of the marketable value of his product for himself, it will better serve society to pay him his price, than to attempt to 'organise' creation on a public basis. Such sufficient material rewards of genius or high talent, if they are really necessary to evoke the creative activity, must rightly be considered 'costs' rather than 'surplus.' There will remain a margin of such unfettered private enterprise, not only in the fine arts and the learned professions, where the creative mind seems most in evidence, but at the growing point of every living industry. For the distinction between creation and imitation or routine, as we have seen, cannot be applied in a wholesale way to entire trades and occupations. Budding and experimental industries, involving large application of inventive and constructive energy, appealing to new and uncertain tastes, carrying heavy risks of capital and reputation, are better left to individual enterprise. The same industries, settled on established lines, with smaller risks and smaller opportunities of useful change, will properly pass under direct social control. It is hardly conceivable that the development of the motor-car and the aeroplane could have been so rapid, if these industries had been at the outset claimed as State monopolies and official experts had alone been set to operate them. The injurious retardation of electric lighting and transport in this country by the legal shackles imposed upon them has been a striking testimony to the social harm done by premature application of social control to an industry in its early experimental stage.
On the other hand, it is equally foolish to exclude from effective social regulation or state organisation entire professions, such as teaching, law, or medicine, on the ground that they are essentially 'creative.' For they are not. The very name profession implies the adoption of prescribed and accepted methods for dealing with large ordinary classes of cases, that is to say routine procedure. Though, as we recognise, such procedure may never reach the same degree of mechanical routine as prevails in ordinary processes of manufacture, the common factors may be so predominant as to bring them properly under the same public regimen. Though, for example, class-teaching will always carry some element of originality and personal skill, a true regard for public interests establishes close public control of curriculum and method in those branches of instruction in which it is convenient to give the same teaching to large numbers of children at the same time. In education, as in medicine and in every other skilled calling, there are grades of practice rightly classed as regular or routine. Where it is important for members of the public to be able to obtain such services, in reliable qualities upon known and reasonable terms, effective social control of them must be secured. For, otherwise, a power of private tyranny or of extortion or neglect is vested in the producers of such services. The inadequate public control over the medical and legal services in this country is raising a crop of grave practical problems for early solution.
So in every industry or occupation the relatively routine work requires direct social organisation while the preponderantly creative work should be left to 'private' enterprise. The former class contains the great bulk of those industries which, concentrated in large businesses for the profitable supply of the prime needs and conveniences of ordinary men and women, breed combinations and monopolies. Whereas in the creative industries there exists a natural harmony of interests between producer and consumer that will secure to society the best fruits of individual effort, this is not the case in the routine industries. There the operation of the human law of distribution can only be secured by direct social organisation. Only thus can excessive private surplus, involving a tyranny over labour on the one hand, the consumer on the other, be prevented. In no other way can the main organs of industry be infused with the human feelings of solidarity and cooperation essential to the stability and progress of social industries.
§6. For to this vital point we must return. The substitution of direct social control for the private profit-seeking motive in the normal processes of our industries is essential to any sound scheme of social reconstruction. For not otherwise can we get the social meaning of industry represented consciously in the cooperative will of the human factors of production. It is not too much to say that the pace of civilisation for nations, of moral progress for individuals, depends upon this radical reconstruction of common industry. For the existing structure of ordinary business life inhibits the realisation of its social meaning by the stress it lays upon the discordant and the separatist interests. The struggle to keep or to improve one's hold upon some place in the industrial system, to win a livelihood, to make some gain that involves a loss to someone else, derationalises the intelligence and demoralises the character of all of us.
This derationalisation and demoralisation are seen to be rooted in the defective structure and working of industrialism itself.
If industry were fairly apportioned among all, according to the capability of each, if Property were allotted to each according to his needs, by some natural process of distribution as regular and certain as the process of the planets, persons would not need to think or feel very keenly about such things as Industry and Property: their intellects and hearts would be free for other interests and activities.
But the insecurity, irregularity and injustice of economic distribution keep Industry and Property continually in the foreground of the personal consciousness.
Here comes into terrible relief the moral significance of the unearned Surplus the term which gathers all the bad origins of Property into the focus of a single concept.
At present much industry is conducted, much Property is acquired, by modes which are unjust, irrational and socially injurious. Legal privilege, economic force, natural or contrived scarcity, luck, personal favour, inheritance -- such are the means by which large quantities of property come to be possessed by persons who have not contributed any considerable productive effort to their making.
Such property stands in the eye of the law, and in the popular regard, upon precisely the same footing as that owned by those who have earned it by the sweat of their brow, or the effort of their brain. The failure of so many thoughtful men and women to appreciate the vital bearing of the issue of origins upon the validity of property is the supreme evidence of the injurious reactions of the present property system upon the human mind. The crucial moral fallacy which it evokes is the contention, seriously put forth by certain social philosophers, as well as by social reformers, that property acquired in the ways I have just indicated is validated in reason and morality by the good uses to which it may be put by its owners. Mr. Carnegie and Mr. Rockefeller have seriously propounded the theory that certain individuals are endowed by nature or by circumstances with the opportunity and power of accumulating great wealth, but that their wealth, though legally their private property, is rightly to be regarded by them as a 'social trust' to be administered by them for the benefit of their fellow-men. It seems to them a matter of indifference that this wealth is 'unearned,' provided that it is productively expended. So fragments of profits, earned by sweating labour or by rack renting tenants, are spent on pensions, public hospitals or housing reform. Fractions of the excessive prices the consuming public pays to privileged transport companies or 'protected' manufacturers are given back in parks or universities. Great inheritances, passing on the death of rich bankers, contractors or company promoters, drop heavy tears of charity to soften the fate of those who have failed in the business struggle. Fortunes, gained by setting nation against nation, are applied to promote the cause of international peace. This humor is inevitable. Unearned property can find no social uses more exigent than the application of charitable remedies to the very diseases to which it owes its origin. So everywhere we find the beneficiaries of economic force, luck, favour and privilege, trying to pour balm and oil into the wounds which they have made. The effect of the process, and what may be called its unconscious intention, is to defend the irrationality and injustice of these unearned properties by buying off clear scrutiny into their origins. Sometimes, indeed, the intention attains a measure of clear consciousness, as in the cases where rich men or firms regard the subscriptions given to public purposes as sound business expenditure, applying one fraction of their gross profits to a propitiation fund as they apply another to an insurance fund.
§7. The radical defect of this doctrine and practice of the 'social trust' is its false severance of origin from use. The organic law of industry has joined origin and use, work and wealth, production and consumption. It affirms a natural and necessary relation between getting and spending. A man who puts no effort into getting, a rent-receiver, cannot put well-directed effort into spending. He is by natural proclivity a wastrel. A man who is purely selfish in his getting, as the sweater, gambler, or monopolist, cannot be social in his spending. The recipient of unearned income is impelled by the conditions of his being to a life of idleness and luxury: this is the life he is fitted for. He is unfitted for the administration of a social trust.
These obvious truths, so fatally neglected, are no vague maxims of revolutionary ethics, but are firmly rooted in physical and moral fact. We have seen that there is throughout organic life a quantitative and qualitative relation between function and nutrition, each being the condition of the other. He who does not eat cannot work; he who does not work cannot eat. It is true that the latter law works less directly and less immediately than the former. Parasitism, individual or social, continues to exist to many walks of life. But it never thrives, it always tends to degeneration, atrophy and decay. Normally, and in the long run, it remains true that 'Whosoever will not work, neither can he eat.' If then the recipiency of unearned wealth, parasitism, disables the recipient from putting his 'property' to sound personal uses, is it likely that he can put it to sound social uses? Though abnormal instances may seem, here as elsewhere, to contravene the natural law, it remains true that the power of individual earning, not merely involves no power of social spending, but negates that power. It might even be contended that there will be a natural disposition in the recipient of unearned wealth to spend that wealth in precisely those ways in which it injures most the society he seeks to serve. This is probably the case. It is more socially injurious for the millionaire to spend his surplus wealth in charity than in luxury. For by spending it on luxury, he chiefly injures himself and his immediate circle, but by spending it in charity he inflicts a graver injury upon society. For every act of charity, applied to heal suffering arising from defective arrangements of society, serves to weaken the personal springs of social reform, alike by the 'miraculous' relief it brings to the individual 'case' that is relieved, and by the softening influence it exercises on the hearts and heads of those who witness it. It substitutes the idea and the desire of individual reform for those of social reform, and so weakens the capacity for collective self-help in society. The most striking testimony to the justice of this analysis is furnished by the tendency of 'model millionaires' to direct all their charity to wholesale and what they deem social purposes, rather than to individual cases. In order to avoid the errors of indiscriminate charity, they fasten their munificence upon society in the shape of universities, hospitals, parks, libraries and other general benefits. Realising quite clearly, as they think, that the character of an individual is weakened and demoralised by a charitable donation which enables him to get what otherwise he could only have got by his personal exertion, they proceed to weaken and demoralise whole cities and entire nations, by doing for these social bodies what they are quite capable of doing for themselves by their own collective exertions. These public gifts of millionaires debauch the character of cities and states more effectively than the private gifts of unreflecting donors the character of individuals. For, whereas many, if not most, of the private recipients of charity are victims of misfortune or of lack of opportunity, and are not fully responsible for the evil plight in which they stand, this is not the case with an organised self-governing community, a City or a State. Such a society is able, out of its own resources, if it chooses to secure and use them, to supply for itself all its own legitimate needs. It has a far larger self-sufficiency for meeting all ordinary emergencies and for following an economy of self-development and progress, than has the individual citizen. For it can supply its needs out of the social income which its collective life is constantly assisting to produce, out of that very surplus which, wrongly allowed to flow, unearned, into the coffers of rich individuals, is the very fund used for this debasing public charity.
§8. The clear recognition of these truths is closely germane to our central consideration in this chapter, viz., the question whether there can be evoked in the common consciousness a flow of true social or cooperative feeling strong and steady enough to evoke from individual citizens a sufficient voluntary efficiency in production. No absolutely convincing answer to the question is at present possible. But, if any such experiment is to be tried hopefully, it can only be done by setting Property upon an intelligible moral and social basis, so that it passes into the possession of him to whom it is really 'proper', in the sense that he has put something of himself into its making. Only by resolving unearned into earned income, so that all Property is duly earned either by individuals or by societies, can an ethical basis be laid for social industry. So long as property appears to come miraculously or capriciously, irrespective of efforts or requirements, and so long as it is withheld as irrationally, it is idle to preach 'the dignity of labour' or to inculcate sentiments of individual self-help.
When all Property is visibly justified, alike in origin and use, the rights of property will for the first time be respected, for they will be for the first time respectable. To steal, to cheat, to sweat, to cadge or beg, will be considered shameful, not because the law forbids, but because such acts will be felt by all to be assaults upon the personality of another. For the first time in history, also, the tax-dodger, the contractor who puts up his price for public works, the sinecurist, the jobber, the protectionist and other parasites upon the public purse, will receive the general reprobation due to robbery. For when the State is recognised as having rights of property identical in origin and use with those of individual citizens, that property will claim and may receive a similar respect. Property, in a word, becomes a really sacred institution when the human law of distribution is applied to the whole income, surplus as well as costs. Such inequalities in income as survive will be plainly justified as the counterpart of inequality of efforts and of needs. The wide contrasts of rich and poor, of luxury and penury, of idleness and toil, will no longer stagger the reason and offend the heart.
So the standard of sentimental values which affects the conventional modes of living of all classes -- largely by snobbish imitation and rivalry -- will be transformed.
Ostentatious waste and conspicuous leisure, with all their injurious reactions upon our Education, Recreation, Morals, and AEsthetics, will tend to disappear. The illusory factor of Prestige will be undermined, so that the valuations, both of productive activities and of consumption, will shift towards a natural, or rational, standard.
§9. Not merely will the wide gulf which severs mental from manual workers disappear, but all the elaborate scale of values for different sorts of intellectual and manual work would undergo a radical revision.
The effect of setting on a human basis the industry of the country would, of course, react upon all other departments of life, Religion, Family and Civic Morality, Politics, Literature, Art and Science. For though economics alone cannot mould or interpret history, the distinctively economic institutions of Industry and Property have always exercised a powerful, sometimes a dominant influence, upon other institutions. The reformation of economic life must, therefore, produce equally beneficent effects upon all other departments -- transforming their standards and feeding the streams of their activities with new thoughts and feelings, drawn no longer from the minds of a little class or a few original natures, but from the whole tide of human life flowing freely along every channel of individual and social endeavour.
The security and rationality of the economic order will give to all that confidence in man, and that faith in his future, which are the prime conditions of safe and rapid progress. For the brutal and crushing pressure of the economic problem in its coarsest shape -- how to secure a material basis of livelihood -- has of necessity hitherto absorbed nearly all the energy of man, so that his powers of body soul and spirit have been mainly spent on an unsatisfactory and precarious solution of this personal economic problem. Religion, politics, the disinterested pursuits of truth or beauty, have had to live upon the leavings of the economic life.
An economic reformation which, by applying the human law of distribution, absorbs the unproductive surplus, would thus furnish a social environment which was stronger and better in the nourishment and education it afforded to man. Every organ of society would function more effectively, supplying richer opportunities for healthy all-round self-development to all. So far as the economic activities can be taken into separate consideration, it is evident that this justly-ordered environment would do much to raise the physical, and more to raise the moral efficiency of the individual as a wealth-producer and consumer. But its most important contribution to the value and the growth of human welfare would lie in other fields of personality than the distinctively economic, in the liberation, realisation and improved condition of other intellectual and spiritual energies at present thwarted by or subordinated to industrialism.