The Production of Security/5

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Monopoly and Communism


Let us now examine how it is that all known governments have either been subjected to the law of monopoly, or else organized according to the communistic principle.

First let us investigate what is understood by the words monopoly and communism.

It is an observable truth that the more urgent and necessary are man's needs, the greater will be the sacrifices he will be willing to endure in order to satisfy them. Now, there are some things that are found abundantly in nature, and whose production does not require a great expenditure of labor, but which, since they satisfy these urgent and necessary wants, can consequently acquire an exchange value all out of proportion with their natural value. Take salt for example. Suppose that a man or a group of men succeed in having the exclusive production and sale of salt assigned to themselves. It is apparent that this man or group could raise the price of this commodity well above its value, well above the price it would have under a regime of free competition.

One will then say that this man or this group possesses a monopoly, and that the price of salt is a monopoly price.

But it is obvious that the consumers will not consent freely to paying the abusive monopoly surtax. It will be necessary to compel them to pay it, and in order to compel them, the employment of force will be necessary.

Every monopoly necessarily rests on force.

When the monopolists are no longer as strong as the consumers they exploit, what happens?

In every instance, the monopoly finally disappears either violently or as the outcome of an amicable transaction. What is it replaced with?

If the roused and insurgent consumers secure the means of production of the salt industry, in all probability they will confiscate this industry for their own profit, and their first thought will be, not to relegate it to free competition, but rather to exploit it, in common, for their own account. They will then name a director or a directive committee to operate the saltworks, to whom they will allocate the funds necessary to defray the costs of salt production. Then, since the experience of the past will have made them suspicious and distrustful, since they will be afraid that the director named by them will seize production for his own benefit, and simply reconstitute by open or hidden means the old monopoly for his own profit, they will elect delegates, representatives entrusted with appropriating the funds necessary for production, with watching over their use, and with making sure that the salt produced is equally distributed to those entitled to it. The production of salt will be organized in this manner.

This form of the organization of production has been named communism.

When this organization is applied to a single commodity, the communism is said to be partial.

When it is applied to all commodities, the communism is said to be complete.

But whether communism is partial or complete, political economy is no more tolerant of it than it is of monopoly, of which it is merely an extension.