The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife.

No, there is no other way; and only by the general abandonment of our present commercial and capitalist system will the plague of war be stayed.[23]

FOOTNOTES: 

[23] When these hundreds and hundreds of thousands of men return home after the war is over, do we expect them to go meekly back to the idiotic slavery of dingy offices and dirty workshops?  If we do I trust that we shall be disappointed.  These men who have fought so nobly for their land, and who have tasted, even under the most trying conditions, something of the largeness and gladness of a free open-air life, will, I hope, refuse to knuckle down again to the old commercialism.  Now at last arises the opportunity for our outworn Civilization to make a fresh start.  Now comes the chance to establish great self-supporting Colonies in our own countrysides and co-operative concerns where real Goods may be manufactured and Agriculture carried on in free and glad and healthy industry.

XI

COMMERCIAL PROSPERITY THE PROSPERITY OF A CLASS

The economics of the statement that “commercial prosperity means little more than the prosperity of a class"[24] may be roughly indicated by the following considerations:  International trade means division of labour among the nations.  There is certainly a gain in such division, a margin of advantage in production; and that gain, that margin, is secured by the trading class.  That is all.

Let us take an example, and to simplify the problem let us leave out of account those exotic products—­like tea or rubber or raw cotton—­which can only be produced in one of the exchanging countries.  Let us take the case of Germany and England, both producing cutlery and both producing cloth.  There is no reason why each country should not produce both articles exclusively for its own use; and as a matter of fact for a long time they did so.  But presently it was found that the cost of production of certain kinds of cutlery was less in Germany, and the cost of production of certain kinds of cloth less in England.  Merchants and dealers came in and effected the exchange, and so an intertrade has sprung up.  The effect of this on the workers in England is simply to transfer a certain amount of employment from the cutlery trade to the cloth trade, and on the workers in Germany to transfer an equal amount from the cloth trade to the cutlery trade.  This may mean dislocation of industry; but the actual number of persons employed or of wages received in both countries may in such a case remain just the same as before.  There is nothing in the mere fact of exchange to alter those figures.  There is, however, a gain, there is a marginal advantage, in the exchange; and that is collared by the merchants and dealers.  It is, in fact, in order to secure this margin that the merchant class arises.  This is, of course,

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The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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