The labouring classes have lately obtained legal and practical powers, some of which may be singly defended, but the whole of which combined and acting together is excessive:

1. They have a legal right to combine to terminate a contract by a strike, which is in itself quite defensible.

2. They have a legal right, which is less defensible, to combine to picket in crowds with a view to information about another's business which they have voluntarily left.

3. They have a practical power, which is wholly indefensible, of committing crimes of intimidation and violence, individually and in crowds, without adequate punishment.

4. They retain a legal right, in spite of previous crimes, as yet unpunished by Government in the law Courts, to propose arbitration by the same Government on the Board of Trade, which uses its quasi-judicial powers without reference to the past with cynical indifference.

5. They have also a practical power of playing upon the sympathies of the public. People, not realizing that injudicious sympathy is a vice, all the more dangerous because it appears to be a virtue, accord indiscriminate sympathy sometimes directly in the form of subscriptions, but more often indirectly in the cheap form of A advising B to be kind to C. The latter plan, frequently adopted by politicians, parsons, and papers, brings the overwhelming force of public opinion to bear on the employers to adopt conciliation and take back their former workmen, no matter what may have been their violence and no matter what may be the sequel.

The result of this excessive combination of powers used together by men in crowds is that workmen, who have not made a business, and can and do leave it whenever they wish, nevertheless obtain the prac

tical control of it, whether they work or not, and even after they have struck and ostensibly terminated their connexion with it. After a strike, armed with their after-powers, as one may call them, they are practically able in the majority of instances to behave as if they were the sole persons who could possibly be employed. They pose as the men', and are commonly called by everybody' the men'; whereas if they were conscious of being 'the former men', and were so treated by the State and society, they would never have dared to behave as they do. Moreover, this practical monopoly reacts on the business even without a strike; employers will grant almost any terms to avoid such a catastrophe. Without being legal owners, a given number of workmen thus become practical masters.

However much this result may recommend itself to the socialistic spirit of the times, or rather because it does so, the consequences are inevitable:

1. Contracts for employment are founded less on freedom than on fear.

2. The consequence to capital is partly its gradual destruction and diversion from this country, but still more the less noticed decrease in its productiveness. We reckon our national capital by millions, and often congratulate ourselves on its increase, but forget that a million now means much less in the way of interest. For example, the problem of railway directors at the present moment is how to save out of a maximum of wages a minimum of dividend.

3. The consequence to labour is a continual diminution of its productiveness, because workmen use their excessive powers to get higher wages for less work. Though there are no doubt many exceptions, the common motto of the British workman is fast becoming, 'Do as little work during as few hours as you can for as much wages as you can screw.' Perhaps we all have some such tendency; but, if it is a human

failing, it is all the more dangerous when a body of men have excessive powers of putting it into action.

4. The whole community suffers from the increased cost of production, which drives up prices and, when they cannot rise, leaves so little margin of profit and interest on capital that employers are tempted to make cheap and inferior articles. Railways also, to take an industry which we all use, find it now so difficult to make both ends meet that they cannot do for the public as much as in prosperous times.

5. Finally, here we have, not perhaps the whole secret, but one of the main causes of the difficulty of competing with foreign countries. When the labouring classes have powers so great as to become practical masters of undertakings made by capital which is not theirs, and to counteract the laws of political economy by terrorism, and by making contracts for wages, hours, and for what they will do and what they will not do, depend on the fears of their employers, how can this great country hope to maintain a commercial position which was won not by fear but by freedom? September 28.



The sixteenth annual Conference of the Labour Party was opened at Manchester on January 23, 1917, Mr. George Wardle, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, in the Chair.

FROM The Times, JUNE 11, 1917.

Since the death of Lord Palmerston in 1865 three serious changes have come over this nation. First, having in the course of centuries gradually risen to greatness under a mixed government of King, Lords, and Commons, limiting one another so that the general good might not be sacrificed to the particular good of the one, the few, or the many, the nation

has drifted into an absolute democracy, or unlimited government by the many for the many at the expense of the few. Secondly, whereas the traditional Constitution was based on the rights of property and contract, the nation has become too lenient to the use of might, in the hysterical extravagances of suffragettes, and in the violent strikes of trade unionists. Thirdly, from utter abhorrence the nation has passed into a certain approbation of revolution, without reflecting that revolution is an infectious disease which may cross the Channel to these islands.

These three changes may easily, through the tyranny of the majority, the habit of using might against right, and the infection of revolution, become causes of an actual revolution; not, I mean, a political construction of 'republican societies but a fundamental reconstruction of society itself, as adumbrated in the unanimous resolutions which were passed at the Conference of the Labour Party at Manchester from January 23 to 26, and which may be summarized as follows:

The Conference demanded that the plenipotentiaries to negotiate a peace should include Parliamentary representatives of organized labour, and that the resettlement of seven or eight million wageearners-soldiers, sailors, munition workers, women -should be managed through trade unions and by labour exchanges, each under a committee of employers and trade unionists, but so that any attempt at a reduction of wages by employers should be prevented by the Government. The Conference demanded that all the rules, conditions, and customs adopted in workshops before the war should be restored after the war by the Government, without any quibbling evasion' by employers, without compulsory arbitration, and without any restrictions on the right to strike. The Conference demanded a

statutory minimum wage for all trades of not less than 30s. a week, and the opening of trade unions of men to women at trade union rates of wages. The Conference demanded, first, the nationalization of railways, canals, and mines, with the participation of the employees in the management; secondly, the State control of all agricultural land, and its full cultivation by the establishment of large Government farms, small holdings, municipal enterprises, and allotments for labourers; and, thirdly, an equitable conscription' of accumulated wealth, a graduated increase of taxation on unearned incomes' up to not less than 155. in the pound, a land taxation so revised that the land of the nation shall belong to the nation for the nation, and an effort to nationalize the banking system.

The future of the nation depends on its attitude to these unanimous resolutions. In all they constitute the revolutionary programme of a reconstruction or, rather, an inversion of existing society. On the one hand, the trade unionists, increased in numbers and strengthened by statutory guarantees, would be elevated into a novel kind of partnership with the State, from which they would gain in wealth, social status, and political power. On the other hand, the present lawful owners and masters would lose in capital, in income, and in the management of property; and in consequence, as servants rose masters would sink in wealth, social status, and political power, until ownership and mastership would become little more than names. This social and political revolution would enlarge the tyranny of the many over the few and enrich manual labourers. But would it be for the permanent good of the nation?

A revolutionary programme is not a revolution. But in this case it is sure to issue in revolution, because the State has made so many and great promises to the trade unionists in the war, that

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