Studies in Communism
Representation And The State
mony of movement may be caught a glimpse of the lofty impulses which have served to direct its evolution. It is this philosophic essence of unity which supplies us with a quintessencial index to the meaning of the evidence I have adduced in the present essay, showing the failure of the bourgeois representative system, the inevitable collapse of its state, and the erection on its ruins of a social system which shall in truth be apostrophied as the Commonwealth! For it would be the intelligence of the community that would select the most capable administrators of its workings, instead of the plutocratic administration deciding the limits of its representation.
Happy augury of the liberty which will exist under the Socialist Commonweal, we see that as the agencies of production and distribution have become increasingly social, despite the fact that control has been private, political freedom has become more and more a reality. Thus recognising the growing incongruity of its role of legal oppressor and its mischievousness to capitalistic production, the State has more and more concerned itself with the distribution of the armed forces, the duties of the secret police, the appointment of arbitration and conciliation boards, the feeding of necessitous children as a palliative. On the other hand, thus realising its administrative character on questions of penal reform and criminal punishment, its attitude has become "more humane"—as the bourgeoisie say—the decentralisation of its authority becoming synonymous with the growth of economic oppression, and the failure of the Party system. On all hands it is, therefore, being recognised that the social problem is rapidly resolving itself into an economic rather than narrowing itself down to a political issue. The duel is between the financier and the business man on the one side, representative of private profit; and the proletarian on the other, symbolical of production for use and not for profit. To these combatants, Liberal and Tory have given way; and significant of the change, their avowed capitalist successors, under the guise of individual freedom, have assumed a chastening attitude towards the State wherein their ideals have hitherto found a safe embodiment. Their fear is lest Socialism should involve majority tyranny. Their hope is that of impressing the workers with a consciousness of the essential liberty of capitalism. The better to remove their fear, let us outline and examine the basis of their hope.
The latter's foundations are laid deep down in the social life of the bourgeoisie. It had its corner stone in the right of individuals to privately own articles or instruments of production which constitute capital. Its edifice is to be found in a social structure which seeks the elevation of his insignificancy, the individual, at the expense of his collective unconsciousness, society. Its science
of being, subsists in the growing recognition by the bourgeoisie of the necessity of mastering political economy, and the adaptation of its state-organisation to a harmonious incorporation of the rules evolved in the study. Its expression of its consciousness of its destiny is seen in the bourgeois appreciation of Buckle's very true declaration that the only good done by modern legislation was the repeal of the old. Prior to the bourgeois recognition of the importance of right opinions on political economy the State carefully sought to supervise—in direct contravention of economic laws—the price of corn, the wages of labourers, the importation of corn, the manufacture of beer, the rate of interest on loans, attendance at divine service, the apprenticeship of children, the combination of workmen, etc. All this was done in the interest of a governing and established class, conscious of its security. But economic facts made for its undoing through the medium of the very laws thus passed in its own interests. A statute of Henry VIII. went so far as to forbid the use of machinery in the manufacture of broadcloth, and the woollen trade threatened to take refuge in Holland, where the "divers devilish contrivances" were under no law. In order to encourage sheep-breeding, a law was passed that the dead should be buried in woollen garments, it being urged that since sheep would be bred, wool would rise in price, and mutton be cheaper. But economic laws re-established their inevitable social equation, and the artificial stimulant became an absurdity. All usury being urged as wrong on religious grounds, and it being thought that 10% represented the maximum interest which was compatible with a non-injury to trade, this was the interest fixed, in Henry VIII.'s reign, on loans. As economic laws asserted themselves, the anomalies this law created made for numerous modifications, until sound sense prevailed and any amount became allowable in the early half of the nineteenth century. Similarly, the State obtruded into the marital relations, and similarly its functions have become more and more anomalous, until now the right of Free Love, under the pressure of economical backing, is being recognised as valid 'by the bourgeoisie. Laws are to be found on the Statute Book setting forth with what amount of energy and thoroughness the ploughman shall plough each furrow. Regrating and forestalling were crimes, the laws against 'them being aptly said, by Adam Smith, to be laws against providence and thrift.
Recognising the general trend of economic law to assert itself, and realising the impossibility of averting the tendency, bourgeois society has made for the workman being, politically, a free man. It allows him the right to employ himself in any work he can get entrusted to him, so long as he recognises the right of the employer to employ whom he likes. He may demand any wages he thinks right, and take advantage of the favour of supply, and demand in his direction, so long as he recognises the right of similar activities on the part of the employer. He may combine and boycott so long
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