Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/319

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307
THE GREAT POLITICAL SUPERSTITION.

rural people who here grow wheat and there pasture cattle, find it possible to occupy themselves in their special businesses? These groups can severally do it only if each gets from the others in exchange for its own surplus product, due shares of their surplus products. No longer directly effected by barter, this obtainment of their respective shares of one another's products is indirectly effected by money; and if we ask how each division of producers gets its due amount of the required money, the answer is—by fulfillment of contract. If Leeds makes woolens and does not, by fulfillment of contract, receive the means of obtaining from agricultural districts the needful quantity of food, it must starve, and stop producing woolens. If South Wales smelts iron and there comes no equivalent agreed upon, enabling it to get fabrics for clothing, its industry must cease. And so throughout, in general and in detail. That mutual dependence of parts which we see in social organization, as in individual organization, is possible only on condition that while each part does the particular kind of work it has become adjusted to, it receives its proportion of those materials required for repair and growth, which all the other parts have joined to produce: such proportion being settled by bargaining. Moreover, it is by fulfillment of contract that there is effected a balancing of all the various products of the various needs—the large manufacture of knives and the small manufacture of lancets; the great growth of wheat and the small growth of mustard-seed. The check on undue production of each commodity results from finding that after a certain quantity, no one will agree to take any further quantity on terms that yield an adequate money equivalent. And so there is prevented a useless expenditure of labor in producing that which society does not want.

Lastly, we have to note the still more significant fact that the condition under which only, any specialized group of workers can grow when the community needs more of its particular kind of work, is that contracts shall be free and fulfillment of them enforced. If when, from lack of material, Lancashire failed to supply the usual amount of cotton-goods, there had been such interference with contracts as prevented Yorkshire from asking a greater price for its woolens, which it was enabled to do by the greater demand for them, there would have been no temptation to put more capital into the woolen manufacture, no increase in the amount of machinery and number of artisans employed, and no increase of woolens: the consequence being that the whole community would have suffered from not having deficient cottons replaced by extra woolens. What serious injury may result to a nation if its members are hindered from contracting with one another, was well shown in the contrast between England and France in respect of railways. Here, though considerable obstacles were at first raised by the legislating classes, the obstacles were not such as prevented capitalists from investing, engineers from furnishing directive skill, or con-