MR. MALLOCK'S CRITICISM.
To the "North American Review," on May 3 and May 17, Mr. W. H. Mallock contri-
butes further instalments of his "Critical Examination of Socialism." In the first in- stalment (as already explained in "The Argus") he discussed the theory that wealth is produced solely by labour, and showed that even socialists as thinkers were forced to admit the essential part played by the directive industrial ability of the few in augmentation and sustenta- tion of the wealth of the modern world. As agitators socialists still preach the old fallacy of Karl Marx because admitting the productive power of "ability" would
"knock the bottom" out of popular social-
Without individual capital, how, Mr. Mal-
lock proceeds to ask, is ability to enforce on the workers its minute and co-ordinated injunctions? It is through his command of the capital, out of which wages are paid or advanced, that the possessor of ability controls production. If socialists are going to abolish "wagedom," how are the organis- ing authorities to secure the obedience of the organised? The answer is obvious. It has been frankly stated by Mr. Sidney Webb. The only substitute for the wage
system is a system of state coercion. This is a return to slavery. The employing class, "the natural monopolists of special business ability," would be retained to exer-
cise, as they do now, all their higher powers in the direction of labour. They would themselves be the servants of the state, so that the products of their ability would be taken by the state, not by themselves, and would thus be available for distribution amongst the general mass of the community.
The workers in their turn would have to be the slaves of these slaves, driven by the application of external force to carry out their orders.
Supposing the workers would submit to such rigid discipline, how is the state to secure the services of the exceptional men?
"To secure from men the exertion of their ordinary manual faculties by positive co- ercion, instead of by the inducement of
wages, is possible," says Mr. Mallock, "but
it is possible for one reason only. In re- spect of the faculties embodied in ordinary labour, any one may by looking at another can tell how far he is possessed of them— whether he can trundle a wheelbarrow, carry a hod of bricks, hit a nail on the head, and so forth; and—what is still more important—every director of labour knows exactly the individual task which he wishes each labourer to perform. But in respect of the faculties—not ordinary, but excep- tional—which are distinctive of the men by whom alone labour can be successfully directed, both these conditions are wanting. It is impossible to tell that any man of ex- ceptional ability possess any exceptional faculties for directing labour at all, unless he chooses to show them; and, indeed, until circumstances supply him with some motive for showing them he will probably be hardly aware that he possesses such facul- ties himself." Burns might have been forced to plough, or Shakespeare to hold horses at theatre doors; but no state compulsion could have produced "Auld Lang Syne" or
"Hamlet." Ability, and in particular in- dustrial ability, must be induced, for it can- not he compelled, to disclose itself.
Socialists when confronted with this pro-
blem suggest that industrial ability will out, even if its rewards be withdrawn, just as an artist may work from sheer love of art, or a philosopher toil from pure devo- tion to truth. Shakespeare and the greatest of painters were largely influenced by their desire for the money which rewarded their labours. Who, as Mr. Mallock asks, can suppose that the disinterested love of truth which made Kant and Hegel, for example, forget their dinners would stimu- late others to devote themselves to the improvement of stoves and saucepans? Socialists themselves prove how ridiculous such visionary notions are. They are for
ever denouncing the greed of the men who possess industrial ability. They admit that the desire of personal gain is just as in- separable from the temperament which goes with the power of producing exceptional wealth as "joy in creation" is from the highest art. Yet in their scheme of an imaginary socialistic future they are driven to stake all their hopes on the possibility of eliminating the motive of personal gain from the very class of men of whose charac- ter they vehemently declare that motive to be, and to have been, an inseparable
While the exceptional few are to undergo this marvellous change through socialism,
the many have the promise of increased per- sonal gain, without any increased exertion, held out to them as the bait for accepting socialism. They are to have not only the share of wealth produced by themselves, but
also a considerable slice of that produced by the self-denying few. As it is, labour really receives in a highly civilised country more than it, strictly speaking, produces. "Let us," says Mr. Mallock, "take produc-
tion in England as it was at the close of the eighteenth century, and compare it as it was about 1880, thus dealing with a period co- vered by the lifetime of one man. If the total income of the country at the earlier of these two dates had been equally divided amongst everybody each wage-earning family would have prepared about £60 an- nually. At the later date the amount which was actually distributed amongst the wage-earners gave to each labouring family an average income of more than £80. Thus in the year 1880 each labourer in England— if we still speak in terms of averages—was in the possession of considerably greater wealth than could possibly have come to him if during the lifetime of his father or grandfather the entire wealth of the rich— all their capital and their land included— had been taken from their possessors, and made over to the manual labourers in per- petuity. Now, the enormous increase in wealth production is obviously not due to any change in manual labour itself for this, in point of mere muscular force and dex- terity, has not been changed since the days of the Greeks and Romans. The only change has been in the faculties that make up directive ability. These facts show that,
contrary to the supposition of the socialists, the wealth of the man of ability is so far from consisting, even partially, of amounts really due to labour, because labour pro- duced them, that a large and increasing portion of what the labourer on an average receives is derived from the products of the ability of the able man; so that labour, as a whole, if we measure it by what it ac- tually produces, has already been long re- ceiving not less than it produces, but more."