Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/99

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

Government and Property

operates automatically, undeterred by human will and enabling us to make predictions. The law may be stated thus: the worker's possession and enjoyment, including disposition, of his past production determine the amount of his future production; or, the level of consumption (wages) determines the level of production.

It is admitted that what has already been produced may be alienated from the producer, and nature interposes no automatic restraints. That is to say, so long as it is possible by legal or illegal methods to shift possession physically, there is no imperative relationship between production and consumption; one can consume what another has produced. But this fact applies to past production only and does not take into account the continuing process of production. It should be kept in mind that the object of production is the satisfaction of desires and that desires do not cease until life ends. Man exerts labor in order that he may consume the output, and if he is frustrated in his purpose, what will be the effect on his future efforts? There can be no question as to the answer. The only point at issue is whether the consequent curtailment of effort is an act of will or is as automatic as, say, the rise and fall of tides. If it is an act of will, then the use of force will keep production going in spite of the thievery; but if it is "in the nature of things" that production must drop in the amount of defalcation practiced, then all the king's men and horses will not keep the productive machinery going.

In a primitive economy there is no difficulty in tracing the relationship between production and consumption. For here the worker culls directly from nature and the identity of his exertion with his property is clearly evident. He eats the animal he slaughters, the grain he grows; he wears the hides and the pelts he gathers; he keeps warm in a house he built with

75