War-Time Financial Problems eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about War-Time Financial Problems.

Such are a few of the weaknesses involved by the theoretical basis on which Guild Socialism is built.  When we come to its practical application we find the creed still more unsatisfactory.  Even if we grant—­an enormous and quite unjustified assumption—­that the Guildsman, if he is to be paid merely for being alive, will work hard enough to pay the community for paying him, we have then to ask how and whether he will achieve greater freedom under the Guilds than he has now.  Now, freedom is only to be got by work of a kind that somebody wants, and wants enough to pay for it.  And so the consumer ultimately decides what work shall be done.  The Guildsman says that the producer ought to decide what he shall produce and what is to be done with it when he has produced it.  “Under Guild Socialism,” says Mr Cole,[1] “as under Syndicalism, the State stands apart from production, and the worker is placed in control.”  Very well, but what one wants to know is what will happen if the Guilds choose to produce things that nobody wants.  Will they and their members be paid all the same?  Presumably, since they are to be paid “as human beings” and not because there is a demand for their work.  But if so, what will happen to the Guildsman as consumer?  There will be no freedom about his choice of things that he would like to enjoy.  And what about admission to membership of a Guild, the price at which the Guilds will exchange products one with another, and the provision of capital?  The nearest approach to an answer to these questions is given by Messrs Bechhofer and Reckitt in Chapter VIII, of the “Meaning of National Guilds.”  This chapter describes “National Guilds in Being.”  It tells us that “each man will be free to choose his Guild,” which sounds very pleasant, but is completely spoilt by the end of the sentence, which says “and actual entrance will depend on the demand for labour.”  It sounds just like a capitalistic factory.  And then—­“Labour in dirty industries, sewaging, etc.—­will probably be in the main of a temporary character, and will be undertaken by those who are for the time unable to obtain an entry elsewhere.”  Most sensible, but where is the freedom?  The Guildsman will not be able to do the work that he wants to do unless there is a demand for that kind of labour, and in the meantime, just like the unemployed in the days of darkness, he will be set to cleaning the streets and flushing the drains.  Messrs. Bechhofer and Reckitt are, in fact, so sensible and practical that they abandon altogether the freedom of the producer to produce what he likes.  “Indeed,” they write, “a query often brought to confound National Guildsmen is this:  What would happen to a National Guild that began to work wholly according to its own pleasure without regard to the other Guilds and the rest of the community?  We may reply, first, that this spirit would be as unnatural among the Guilds as it is natural nowadays with the present anti-communal, capitalist system of industry” (but under the

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War-Time Financial Problems from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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