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LABOUR TERSI'S CAPITAL IX BRITAIN.
A FORECAST BY A WORKING MAY,
[The author of this article writes thus: “I am no writer, having been a working man—now, I rejoice to say, able to live in retirement on my saved earnings. Beginning life very low down, I have had three or four hundred workmen at times at work under me, so know them pretty well. My schooling terminated at twelve years old." We trust his fellow-workmen will weigh the thoughtful and temperate views of so creditable a member of their own class, against the wild suggestions of the agitating demagogues whose exploitation of the interests of labour is producing such wholesale misery and trouble. — En. B. VI.]
All men are cognisant of the is to compel all and every indieveryday disputes now prevalent vidual workman, skilled and unbetween employers and employed. skilled alike, to become a fellowThese quarrels are not new—they member with them, and, all acting have a long pedigree in this free together, to become irresistible; and country; and the fact that such in order to carry out this new sysdisquieting incidents occur, while tem of conscription, they are boyit testifies to the exercise of free- cotting non-society men by putting dom on its broadest basis, exposes pressure on employers to abstain also one of the inseparable draw- from employing such men in sebac thereto, and is but one of the lected places, by withdrawing from perils which beset the course of a employment all the society hands free self-governing people. At pres- at those places, then establishing ent these differences are notable by a system of picketing, or, plainly reason of their increasing magni- speaking, annoying, molesting, or tude and frequency, as well as for anyhow terrorising over the men their widespreading significance. remaining at work, to whom they The old bone of contention—wages apply the disgusting appellation -has fallen into the background, of "blacklegs." This is the scheme though this is only temporarily which succeeded in the London and for the moment. Now, the lock strike in 1889. It has been power of control has come to the tried and failed since at Southampfront. lIours of labour and details ton, at the South London gasconcerning regulations form but works, at the gas-works at Mansecondary subjects now, and always chester, and recently on the Scotthe vital and formidable question tish railways. The success at emerges at last—viz., power of London Docks came about from control. New leaders of confed- sympathy and outside support: the erated societies of workers have true springs of action have there arisen, who conceive and foresee been since exposed, and the exthat (success in the past having perience of similar attempts at been obtained only by power) they domination in Australia, which our can get power fully developed only colonial cousins overcame easily, by a universal enrolment of work- precludes the possibility of outside ers in their ranks; so their design help from that quarter in future.
Disputes have often been carried in their especial excitability, and, to the extremity of a strike or it must be confessed, frequently lock-out by the respective parties, exhibited self-conceit; with varying results. Sometimes mon association and discussion; one, sometimes the other, has given the cheap press, of which they way, under the pressure of loss and are the great supporters, – all suffering entailed. But with few these new conditions of life and exceptions (of which the Shetlield environment have transformed outrages a quarter of a century artisan society, giving to it a ferago was the most flagrant case) menting ingredient which must these contests have been waged work itself out in some way or and settled within legal bounds, other. Let us hope that out of and without violating the estah- the seething in this huge body will lished customs of fair dealing which evolve suitable heads or leaders. characterise the British nation. Such leaders as have from time Latterly, alas ! we get very noisy to time in the past arisen, have demonstrations, as they are called, on the whole been no discredit to and ebullitions of clamorous im their origin or to the body of patience of the laws of the land, British workmen; and this waracting under which the police rants the belief that suitable men do—as they are bound to do— will arise in due time, gifted as keep a watchful eye on exhibitions heretofore and duly recognised, of brute force, and check illegal who will lead their fellows with doinination. Men in all public a true instinct in it right course. spheres are too apt to forget that But just now we must expect to freedom cannot thrive in an atmo have to do with movements and sphere of impatience. Irritability aims of a rough, crude, and even engenders a perpetual growth of rashly ambitious kind. Such are insubordination, and that is the the natural excesses of youth and weed which chokes the growth of inexperience. The majority in freedom. The adjustment of the every walk of life is always the rights of controlled and controller younger members, but somehow in this country is the eternal prob- the wisdom of the elders mainlem of the legislator of each suc
tains its sway. ceeding age and generation. To Turning now to the capitalists, abandon the peaceful study and which is the proper term for emreasonable solution of the dilli- ployers to-day, we contemplate a culty, and to resort to force, is for a race of giants. Gigantic are the free people to despair of the special proportions to which the establishgifts bestowed by freedom, and to ments or concerns have grown in plunge into revolution.
mining, manufacturing, carrying The growing power of workmen, by rail or ship, docks and wareresulting from and appertaining houses, and all the various modes to larger combinations of them ; of industrial enterprise; and the the diffusion of information and small ones are constantly merging broadening of scope; the quicken- into larger ones. Each enterprise ing of their apprehension of their is thus becoming more and more a own interests; the stimulated taste concentration under one head of for and enjoyment of luxuries; the wealth, power, scientific and meholiday and leisure times estab- chanical skill, and a mastery over lished by law and custom; the all the obstacles arising in a freefirst - fruits of national education trade competition with all the among the younger men, shown human race. At the service of
these powers electricity throbs about the number of skilled and every second of time its messages, unskilled working men. Of these conveying their commands to every about 1 million belong to trade part of the world, obliterating the societies of all kinds. Up to now old barriers of time and space. it has been impossible to get a No wonder, then, that wielders quarter of these to act together. of such powers grow despotic ! It may shortly be shown that
Bearing in mind, then, the new half a million can and will do so, resources and characteristics, such therefore we must reckon that as these, of both employers and to be the number as an active employed, one realises the nature force. Now, taking roughly these of the contest impending; and men to be heads of families, if it come in earnest, how like and five as the average family it may be to real modern war number, we get 21 millions of —short, sharp, and terribly de- persons who would be involved in structive! Yes; let us carry on à strike directly by this body of this comparison, and venture to workmen. Large enough in all hope that industrial chiefs, learn- conscience, but not so big as aping from the national chiefs ir pears to be wished for; and we studied carefulness of the main- may infer that to rule and direct tenance of peace by all possible so large a body will prove a diffimeans of compromise and forbear- cult task, when it is remembered ance, because of the iwfully ter- how long and persistently the best rible horrors of modern warfare, — organised men, the miners, have let these men also, we say, as guides worked at their system, which yet and counsellors among master's greatly lacks cohesion, splitting up, and men, forecasting the horrors as it does, at critical moments, not of strife, by dwelling wisely upon from inefficient generalship—for it it, realise its misery and horror, has produced and is led by really and the barrenness of any victory able men.
The fact that these they can gain for either side in veterans deprecate the new deparcomparison thereof. Thus they ture shows that if these ideas
prewill fertilise their minds for the vail among enlightened unionists, raising up therein of peaceful sug- the four-fifths of the gross number, gestion and compromise.
the non- society men who hold In aid of such reflections, it will aloof, may be considered wholly out be protitable to analyse the forces of active sympathy, and standing as on both sides — to examine into armed non-combatants, ready and their systems of organisation and willing to serve the other side. the extent of their powers, either Organisation. — Workmen's sofor aggression or resistance, keep- cieties are voluntary membering in mind always the certainty ships under simple rules, based that the result of any possible con on payment of periodical subtest which may be waged will de- scriptions, and of special strike pend most likely, nay, surely-- levies, for the purpose of mutuupon the capability for endurance. ally aidling and sustaining the The side which is strongest in this members in certain
of sense will in the upshot win. strife ; and there are rules to be
observed for furthering the inWORKMEN : Forcrs.-It is esti- terests of members. Some unite mated there are 10 millions of sick pay and benefit to this prius in (treat Britain and Ire- mary work. Non - payment of land, and that 5 millions calls or dues results in dismissal.
So the combination is a loose one, by working men cannot be contemeasily dissolved. An examination plated without a feeling of pain of some of the books of these and sorrow. The carnings of arsocieties would tell a tale of ex tisan and labourer, it is too well treme fluctuation in number of known, are needed week by week. members. Public lainentations by Each recurring strike or lock-out, leaders on this score occasion- fresh in the mind of the observer ally throw a gleam of light on during many years, has left its rethis inherent weakness, especial- cord of want and destitution. The ly among the unskilled workers.
5 millions of our workmen compose, The discipline of such an army with their families, quite 25 milmust necessarily be of the mild- lions of our population. Statistiest. Influence can only be ex cians tell us that the wages earned erted by appeals to self-interest, and expendedamnount to 100 million to fears, or to some of the many pounds annually; and our temperallurements held out in the re ance friends aver that 100 millions laxation of toil or the supposed at the very least of this sum goes increase of happiness from higher in drink and tobacco, which, again, wages. Now, if it could be sup- say the hygienic economists, is posed possible for the societies to purely wasted. The Savings Banks desire to get by law some greater reports, on the other hand, have a hold over their members ---say, that modest tale of a little sum put by a man should be bound to con- yearly, and this little increases. tinue a member, or that, in de- So a short study shows us that our fault, his goods and chattels be- workmen have a propensity for came liable for his dues-o
-one can wasting their resources, and that conceive how quickly such a move they virtually live from hand to would extinguish them altogether. mouth. Strikes hitherto have deThe forfeiture of interests therein pended for success on the fund is at present the only sacrifice available for paying the strikers, entailed, and is so often under- and their organisation precludes gone as to show that it is lightly the accumulation of sufficient esteemed. It must be remembered funds for large operations. Levies that these societies have been on men at work have been utilised created by the working men them- in aid of these funds; but the volselves, and the fundamental loose- untary nature of this impost shows ness of the bond may be expres- how little it can be depended on, sive of the ineradicable hold which and at a very critical time an act freedom has on the mind and in- of a hostile kind by employers can stincts of the men. So we must cut it ofl. The sympathies of perforce admit that Liberty her- public feeling have added to the self takes care that her sons shall funds on some occasions, as when not easily be beguiled back into the dockers struck; but in the case a self-imposed bondage. Societies of the gas-workers, which followed such as these, therefore, for pur- immediately, the way in which poses either of aggression or re this support dries up was rapidly sistance, are inherently weak in shown. Therefore, in case of half their organisation; and hence it a million striking, the weekly pay follows there cannot be sufficient of even 10s. a-head—which is the financial preparation for a widely very smallest sum possible to mainextended movement.
tain five persons alive-requires Resources.—The powers for ag- £250,000 a-week; and two weeks gression and endurance possessed of this would entirely exhaust all
accumulated funds. None but is to be expected, because of a unithose who know by experience can versal dread of a breakdown of the thoroughly realise the strain of a only system yet found to answer to strike when it has gone on for most people's wants in this imperweeks. If the end is gained, the fectly self-governing world—a syseffects of the struggle which re tem that is rooted in all our laws main on the character and re and customs, and which is identisources of the men, are in no fied with the rise and progress of way estimable; but if failure fol- civilisation. lows, a sullen despair is added to Working men find themselves the miseries undergone in vain. massed into large concerns by Enlarging the numbers and the employers. One of our railway area is only widening one or the companies employs 60,000 persons. other of these inevitable evil con It owns 110 millions in value of sequences.
capital invested by 34,000 share
holders. But look at the figures EMPLOYERS : Forces and Oryani- and you find each individual holsation.—The em oyers as a body der of shares does not seem much cannot be first weighed in the scale of an employer, for there are not as single individuals like the work- two men to each shareholder. Yet man, nor as having voluntary as how much closer and firmer is the sociations loosely held together, tie betwixt the 31,000 than that but for the most part have to be which binds the 60,000 ! viewed as legally constituted com- day for the smaller body comes panies, whose members are held only twice a-year; could the others together in legal bonds as subsist at all under such a pay partners, having mutual claims system? A gas company employlegally on each other in the sup- ing 10,000 hands is no matter port of, and liability for, their for surprise, and concerns which undertakings. This forms a fun- command 5000 are common affairs. damental union, vitally active and The amalgamation of smaller into sustaining, which has no counter- large combinations proceeds now, part among the workmen. The as a matter of course, under the inolern expansive joint-stock prin- operation of recognised economical ciple has laiil hold of every branch laws. Working men of all others of industry and enterprise, bring- experience this most, and do not ing into its ranks, one might say apparently grasp all its effects individually as shareholders, almost upon themselves. It congregates the entire nation by membership them in masses, and appears to under the limited liability system. promise strength from mere numIt is a small step indeed for such bers when thus they are brought a very mutually interested com- together, but with their loose inunity of capitalist employers to associations there is an absence of advance to federation of interests real strength. No army stands allfor self-protective purposes. Such powerful by reason of its countless a movement must naturally evolve host of combatants; on the conunder threat of danger or hostility. trary, its very numbers constiIndeed we see it in progress in the tute its special weakness in warshipping trade, and its extension fare, if its discipline, organisation, and universality is as certain as and commissariat are anywise imthe next sunrise to-morrow. Gen- perfect or unequal to its requireeral sympathy and support thereto ments; and the genius of good from such as may be disinterested generalship is always manifested