« AnteriorContinuar »
of going to enrich himself, contributes to swell the hoard of accumulating capital; augmenting the wealth of a nation, as a unit, but causing a deplorable degradation and degeneracy of the mass of the labouring people. Similar deceptions mark the course of every writer on political economy, in a greater or less degree. They are very exact in tracing the manner in which capital extorts from industry, and very scientific in their distinctions and classifications of the elements of society; but they studiously avoid any application of the natural principles of justice, to the comfort of those whose labour creates wealth, by insisting on a system consonant to a more equal distribution of industry. Where shall we look for the triumphs of science, but in the improved happiness of man? Of what utility are all our recondite researches, and intellectual investigations, if they tend not to exalt the race, and better the condition of the human family's Surely an enlightened age cannot rest satisfied with the measurement of its wealth ; content to behold it measured, and indifferent to its appropriation ? What opinion should we form of an architect, who resided in an old gothic tower—destitute of commodious apartments, and without beauty, or convenience—who should satisfy himself by measuring its ill-assorted proportions, instead of building up a new one, on the true principles of beauty, convenience, and comfort? We should, without hesitation, compassionate the unfortunate state of his mind, and exclaim, What infatuation what folly! Similar to this is the conduct of the political economists of Europe, who look up to their gothic tower with sensations of reverence approaching to adoration; so that passion blinds them to its deformities, while interest tells them, without it, their despotism and aristocracy must soon crumble to atoms, and capital and monopoly roll in the dust, together with the heads of kings, and the mummeries of hierarchies The only writers on political economy in Europe, who approach the system of natural justice, and a rational application of the principles of labour, to the advancement of the comfort and happiness of man, are the French. Among these, Sismondi holds the first rank for the humanity of his doctrines, touched . with some heresies of opinion, and inconsistencies of theory. Say, holds a middle attitude, between the darkness of the gothic principles of vassalage, and the light of true modern philosophy. Let him but step down from the pedestal of feudal custom, and he will become the pioneer of justice to a grateful posterity, a task to which I proudly aspire, in the following pages, but which the consciousness of humble abilities forbids me to reach. The errors of Say, however, are those of systems, not reason, or science. He is fettered by the manacles of extensive reading, and the ambition of recondite research. By adopting the theory of excess of population, and the insufficiency of production, to account for the penury and famine of the labouring classes, he has forever closed his eyes to the light of simple truth, which refers those calamities, not to beneficent nature, but to perverse, selfish, and rapacious monopoly. Yet to the French writers, upon this, as upon all subjects, are we indebted for the first gleams of reason, and of justice, that shone upon the dark towers of gothic usurpation, violence, and despotism. Wanting nothing but a favourable position, to perfect their science, we acknowledge their labours with gratitude, and presume
to repay them, in part, by suggesting the rational and humane sequel of the principles, and truths, they have the merit of starting. It is a singular infatuation prevailing among all modern writers on economy, that the scarcity of food among the labouring people is attributable to excess of population, whilst the palpable fact was staring them in the face, that the excess of bloated accumulation in the rich, demonstrated the falsity of the hypothesis. There is some apology, however, for the economists of Europe, in the fact of the genius of their institutions presenting an insuperable barrier to the effectuation of the principles of justice, in the distribution of labour; inasmuch that the people do not there enjoy universal suffrage. This reform of society, must be accomplished in the halls of legislation, through the action of suffrage, in the choice of the representatives of the people. Like the abolishment of the laws of primogeniture and entails, we must commence with laws establishing the true principle of the distribution of wealth. To do this, the producers of wealth must co-operate through the usual means of commanding a majority of voters, and of representatives—by PARTIEs—by combinations among the wronged, never to vote for men who will favour the principles that oppress them:—by exhortations to the mass of the people, to remain faithful to themselves: by public expositions of their grievances—public appeals to support their rights—and an inflexible determination to abide by the principles of our declaration of independence, and our national charter; until they shall become practical and real blessings, instead of nominal and visionary honours. Such are the means by which “the industrious classes of our countrymen shall be enabled better to obtain and secure the fruits of their industry"—and with those fruits the blessings of education and knowledge—without which liberty is a burden, and competence a curse. The spirit which operated to the vassalage and depression of our Working People—is the same spirit that introduced the slave trade, and peopled our southern plantations with a human race, doomed to eternal toil, on condition that they should have liberty to breathe and receive the scanty pittance of subsistence, whilst the fruits of their labour pampered their idle masters, whose luxurious pleasures were coined from the blood of their hearts.-It is the same spirit which dooms tens of thousands of noble English, to all the horrors of squalid poverty, in order that one Earl may wear his coronet, riot in his castle, and wring from the hard hand of labour the last doit of its earnings.-The Poet, Goldsmith, has so beautifully and so faithfully described, or rather painted in the colours of truth, all the effects of this inhuman usurpation on the happiness of man, that I cannot refrain from quoting the passage; which, at the same time that it touches the heart, brings the most ample conviction to the mind:—it is pathos and argument—feeling and reason—so felicitously blended, as to afford unmixed delight.
“Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey—
Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride,
This, however, is an English picture; and although it carries too many traits of resemblance to social life and political tyranny in our own country; still it is shaded by dark contrast, when brought into comparison with the American scene.
The Working MAN of the UNITED STATEs,
Placed by nature in a moral and physical attitude, which conspire to carry to perfection all the attributes that ennoble his mind, and procure happiness to his being—presents to the world the imposing spectacle of Liberty and Reason combining, to consummate Justice. For the first time, since the origin of government, he presents the instance of the sovereign power, residing in the producer of labour, to be exercised at his pleasure and discretion.—Holding THIS weapon of SELF-DEFENCE, HE CANNOT BE OPPRESSED, BUT THROUGH THE CONCURRENCE AND ACTION OF THOSE TOUCHED WITH His OWN CONDITION.