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which is patriotism, is incompatible with an empty larder and a cheerless hearth. It is not to be expected among scores of thousands of men who are unemployed; it is not to be expected among those, more numerous still, whose employment provides, for themselves and their families, nothing beyond the means of bare subsistence. We all wish that the poor, for their own sakes, should become less poor; and we all wish it for the sake of the realm. Thus, the ominous question with which we are dealing is one to be pondered seriously. We may not, by mere argument, lull the whole community into patriotism; but we may at least, by bringing the facts of the great subject into the clear light of reason, do something to mitigate the social dis. temper, breeding treason and anarchy, from which our country, in common with many a neighbour, is suffering. On the threshold of our task, we are conscious of a peculiar embarrassment. We are aware that there will not be in our writing a single important paragraph of which it will be im: possible for some Socialist to say that it is no criticism of any doctrine affirmed by himself. The Socialists are not united. Like the Liberals of a time the catchwords of which are within a youthful memory, they “glory in their freedom to differ in their opinions.” Their differences are so wide, and the glory of them is so exuberant, that sometimes, as on Tower Hill, the desire to proceed against the common enemy is second in urgency to the duty of rebuking one another with their fists. There are fire-eating Progressives who despise the Social Democratic Federation ; the Social Democrats contemn the Fabians; the Fabians, who ruminate on the imperfections of society over drawing-room tea-cups of ancient china, look on both with a blend of benign despair and sweeter hope; and the Anarchists, in supreme disdain, are not on speaking terms with any sect of the Progressive Alliance. That disunion benefits the nation; but it discomposes anyone who desires to plead in favour of the established order. Such an advocate may frame the most convincing argument against the proposition of any Socialist sect, and leave his case undefended against the propositions of all the other sects. In order, therefore, to treal our subject satisfactorily, we must deal with the propositions common to all the Socialist sects, as well as with those which are peculiar to this or to that form of the various creeds. . First, then, let us set forth the truth about the things in relation to which natural rights, whatsoever they are, constitute a claim. Let us for the moment assume that the inhabitant of the United Kingdom are entitled to have the whole wealth
of the kingdom divided among them. How should we o e The extreme politicians who think that nothing less than such a distribution of the means of life would be justice have an answer to that question which is subject to striking correction. At the instance of Mr. Henry George, they believe that the rental of our aristocracy is now about 800,000,000l. In reality, as Mr. Mallock has found on consulting the official statistics, it is not more than 30,000,000l. Politicians who think that rents of lands held by the aristocracy make up two-thirds of the national income, whilst in reality they are only 24 per cent. of it, may be expected to err in their reckonings as regards the parts of the subject which involve deeper enquiries and more complex calculations. Their misapprehensions are grave. Some of them believe that a communistic treatment of the wealth of the United Kingdom would give each man an ‘independence,’ an income upon which he could live independently of his own exertions. That is a mistake. In the event of the division of wealth which the communist seeks, a workman at present in receipt of 70l. a year would receive 110l.; but he would not be able to be at leisure long. The additional 401, would not be the same thing as the interest on a legacy. If he did not continue to work, he would, besides consuming the windsall, lose his normal revenue. That is clear when it is stated clearly; but popular notions on the subject are vitiated by oversights. The man who wishes an ‘independence, which means the possibility of being idle if he wills, overlooks the fact that, if the division of the national wealth could produce ‘independences’ for us all, all of us might, like himself, elect to live in idleness. If all of us did decide upon that course, the capital out of which our “independences’ were provided would be entirely consumed by the first year's operations in leisure. In a nation in which all were equal, what could not be done by all could not be done by any. Therefore, in order to be supplied with the means of life, all of us would have to work; and, as the provision of our living wages unimpaired would depend upon the exertions of the whole community, it would become our unanimous concern to see that no one shirked his task. There would be little happiness in having our 70, increased to 110l. at the cost of working at least as hard as at present without any hope of being allowed to strike for a decrease of the hours of labour or for an increase of the sum by which the labour was requited. When we look into the matter particularly, we are confronted by results equally unfamiliar to the populace. . . The gross income of the United Kingdom is computed at 1300,000,000l. That estimate must not be relied upon by those who, eve 2 E 2 in in fancy only, contemplate a division of the wealth according to the proposal of the extreme. The sum total is not arrived at without many of the items having been counted twice. For example, a fashionable physician who goes to the Continent to attend a client receives a fee of 1,000l.; and, while the physician pays income-tax on his fee, the client pays tax on his whole income. Thus, the estimate of the national wealth, which is based upon statistics in which the income-tax returns have a large share, is erroneous in respect of duplications of certain items. Professor Leone Levi has estimated that the exaggerations from that cause amounted, ten years ago, to no less than 113,000,000l.; Mr. Giffen and Mr. Mulhall have arrived at practically the same conclusion. Mr. Mallock, however, anxious to give the hypothetical commune the rosiest prospect possible, deducts, in respect of the sums duplicated in the returns of income-tax, 100,000,000l. only, and leaves the income of the United Kingdom, estimated with a view to its division, at 1200,000,000l. Now, the people of the United Kingdom number a little over 38,000,000. The share of each person, therefore, would be about 321. As we are not all of the same age, and not all of the same sex, the commune, it is probable, would resolve upon certain mitigations of equality. 1. a week to each man, 15s. to each woman, 10s. to each boy, 9s, to each girl, and 4s. 6d. to each baby, might be considered an arrangement equitable in the light of reason; but, as men and women and . live in families as a rule, we will take the family as the unit. It consists of four persons and a half on the average, and there are 8,500,000 families in the United Kingdom. It would seem, then, that each family would receive an income of 140l.; but the tax-gatherer would not disappear with the establishment of the commune, and if his exactions remained at the rate now current, which, as the cost of govern. ment always increases with the extension of state-control, would be extraordinary, each family would be taxed to the extent of 16l., and its met income would be 124!. Our hypothetical income for every adult man, that is to say, would be reduced to 19s. 6d. a week; that of every adult woman, to 14s. Those whose views on the economics of social life are deter. mined by the rhetoric of agitation, will think the result incredible. They will say, if they know the facts, that, while not more than 23 per cent. of the wage-earners of the United Kingdom earn less than 11. a week, 35 per cent. earn from ll. " 11. 5s., and 41 per cent. more than 11. 5s. ; and they will be disposed to flout the assertion that an arrangement by which result in a diminution of the average wage. That is because they have had in their mind's eye only one phenomenon of the subject, the wide difference between the incomes of the poor and those of the rich. They have forgotten that, in our workhouses and elsewhere, throughout all grades of society, there are hundreds of thousands of men and women who, far from earning even the average wage, earn nothing at all; and that, unless the State resolved upon putting to death every man and every woman among us unable or unwilling to work, the average wage-earner himself would be one of the comparatively rich men who, to their detriment and for the communal good, must have their incomes thrown into the pool. If, letting moderate incomes alone, we dealt with the most flagrant incomes, which are those of the peers and the country gentlemen, of the National Debt and the railway companies, and of the Monarchy, none of us would be appreciably better off. Out of the ruin of the great landowners, each adult would gain a little over a farthing daily; the interest on the National Debt and the profits of the railway companies would yield him barely more; and from the confiscated income of the Monarchy he would draw sixpence halfpenny a year. Such considerations, together with the certainty that the distribution of the income of the commune would be fraught with endless complexities, some of which any rational man can imagine for himself, are perhaps enough to put the proposal which we have been discussing out of court; but it is not the most depressing of the considerations which emerge in course of a thorough investigation of the subject. In order that our survey might be as comprehensive as the purview of the most advanced Social Reformer, we have, for the sake of argument, been taking it for granted that, if all the people in the United Kingdom, or a sufficient majority of them, desired an equitable distribution of the national wealth, it would be possible to carry out their wish. That is a fallacious assumption. A communistic division of the national wealth is not only, as we have endeavoured to show, theoretically undesirable; it is practically impossible. It would be practically possible if the wealth were a heap of sovereigns; but that condition is wanting. Sovereigns are a very small part of wealth. There are only, in this country, 226 of them for every nominal 10,000. While the United Kingdom alone, as has been mentioned, produces 1300,000,000l. a year, the whole world, within the same time, yields gold and silver to the amount of 38,000,000l. only. We, for our share, have only one new sovereign for every nominai
325l. of new riches. It is clear, then, that wealth and money
stood the deceitfulness of riches.