Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/490

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

country) assumed the conduct of political affairs. The president, governor, and mayor do not make a profit on the business of the nation, State, or city, as employers do upon the industries which they manage. These and all other public officials receive salaries only, as agents, the business being conducted for the benefit of the people as the principals. There is no more sense in permitting the industrial affairs of this country to be run for private profit than there would be in permitting their political affairs to be so exploited. Our industries are just as properly public business as our politics, and a great deal more important to us all. As soon as the people wake up to the realization of this fact, there will be no labor question left. There will be no ground left for a dispute between workmen and capitalists, for every one will be at one and the same time employer and employee.

Benjamin R. Tucker, Anarchist:—A just distribution of the products of labor is to be obtained by destroying all sources of income except labor. These sources may be summed up in one word,—usury; and the three principal forms of usury are interest, rent, and profit. These all rest upon legal privilege and monopoly, and the way to destroy them is to destroy legal privilege and monopoly. The worst monopoly of all is that of the power to issue money, which power is now restricted to the holders of a certain kind of property,—government bonds and gold and silver. If the holders of all kinds of property were equally privileged to issue money, not as legal tender, but acceptable only on its merits, competition would reduce the rate of discount, and therefore of interest on capital, to the mere cost of banking, which is much less than one per cent. And even this percentage would not be interest, properly speaking, but simply payment for the labor and expense of banking. When money could be had at such a rate and capital bought with it, of course no one would borrow capital at a higher rate. Free competition in banking would thus abolish interest, all rent except ground rent, and all profit on merchandise not enjoying the benefit of some special monopoly.

In the absence of monopoly of any kind, whatever the merchant "makes" out of his business is not strictly profit, but the wages of mercantile labor, determined by competition. This wage is what will remain after the abolition of the money monopoly, of all tariffs and taxes on industry and trade, and of all patents and copyrights.

That form of usury known as ground rent rests on land monopoly; that is, on government protection of land titles not based on personal occupancy and use. If this protection were withdrawn, landlordism would disappear, and ground rent would thereafter exist no longer in its monopolistic form, but only in its economic form; in other words, the only existing rent would be the advantage accruing to the owner and occupier from superiority of soil or site.

The growing diversity of industry, coupled with the greater mobility that will be enjoyed by labor as soon as greater mobility is given to capital by the abolition of the monopolies, will have a strong and constant tendency to neutralize the existing inequalities of soil and site, and thus economic rent will gradually approach its vanishing point. Thus the whole ground is covered, and all forms of usury are abolished. All the drains upon labor being stopped, labor will be left in possession of its product, which is the solution of the problem. This solution is that which Anarchism offers.

The contrast between the robust uprightness and straight-forwardness

of these two answers and the flaccid incoherence