Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Automobile as an Example of Economy in Transition

Back in 1900 very few people had automobiles. If you wanted to travel any distance you took the train. For urban dwellers there was a transit system based upon trolley cars. For everything else that moved in the city, the horse provided the traction. As a result, streets were full of manure, urine and swarms of flies. In the summer the manure became a fine dust. The noise of thousands of iron shod horses hooves on pavement was often unbearable. Thousands of horses had to be barned and fed within the city and the in-going hay and out-going manure added to the traffic.

In the small towns and rural areas – which at this time accounted for 75% or more of the population – there were no trolleys and often no rail access. This meant that people did not go very far from where they lived, walking, horse and bicycle gave a limit as to how far one could go in a reasonable amount of time, say a radius of thirty kilometers. Roads were terrible, which did not help matters.

By 1910, transportation was showing the signs of change. Motor trucks were replacing horses, and though very slow by today's standards (Maximum speed 25 k) they were twice as fast as a nag. While needing repairs, they also did not need as much attention as an animal, you could lock it in in a garage and forget about it until needed. Out in the country, better-off farmers bought trucks allowing them to get to the rail head faster and with a larger load.

There was one major problem that without resolution would have limited the automobile to urban trucking and taxi cabs. This was the appalling state of the roads. Association of auto enthusiasts, backed by the motor companies pushed for the various levels of government to improve existing roads and build new ones. Keep this in mind, the GOVERNMENT was to foot the bill, not the drivers, and definitely not the auto manufacturers. So began a massive infrastructural expenditure that only slowed down in the late 1960s. For fifty years, hundreds of billions of dollars, perhaps trillions in today's money – was spent on roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, and freeway over passes. Along with this the cost of expropriating land, signage, traffic lights and policing.

1910 was still a horse-drawn world. By 1930, it was gasoline powered. The transition took only 20 years and was paid for by government. Keep that thought in your mind!

The mass use of the auto had important progressive cultural aspects. Parochialism broke down as people could leave their communities and visit different cities and regions. (If they were white, otherwise you needed the Green Book) If your town was run by religious fanatics, a half hours drive would take you to one where you could drink moonshine and dance to the "devils music." For the youth, the car was a mobile bedroom, parking miles from the puritanical eyes of their parents. A book like "On the Road" is unthinkable without the automobile. A nation-wide bohemia was in large measure created by the auto-born Beats visiting each other in New York, Denver and San Francisco.

The late 1920s had created a rather balanced transportation system. Internal combustion served short-haul trucking. People in small towns or the country could get around with their cars. Long distance freight and travel was by train. In the cities people had the trams and inter-urban light rail. How nice it would have been had things stayed that way. Yet the auto companies came up against their capitalist nature, which is the necessity to continuously expand or go into crisis. Few city dwellers had cars, and here was an untapped source of customers. It is this point where we see something that has been positive begins to become negative and eventually start devouring its host.

The auto manufacturers began to put pressure on the cities to eliminate the trams, even going to the point of creating their own company to buy up transit systems and dismantle them. Nor was it just a matter of dismantling existing systems, the bulk of government expenditure was for highway and freeway construction and public transit was deemed a distant second. The movement toward the auto-centered city really took off after WW2. It was during this time that most trams and inter-urbans were destroyed and there was also a new and even more insidious development on the horizon.

This was the auto-suburb, or suburbia American style. Everything scattered and sprawling, the automobile was now an absolute necessity. This was the worse expenditure of resources in history, a development that was overly expensive, environmentally and socially unsound. Governments footed a large part of the bill, as tax money paid for the freeways, the new streets and utilities. In time, the ever-growing suburbs with their shopping malls destroyed the down towns in most smaller cities, adding more hidden cost to the governments who had to deal with this problem.

We were still an urban society in the late-1960s-early 1970s. By the 1990s most people lived in the suburbs. The transition had taken about 20 years, just like the transition from horse to auto. And just like in that earlier transition, it was the government that largely footed the bill.

Here it is 2019 and there is a blizzard of propaganda against doing anything about the climate crisis. "Oh, it can't happen so quickly. Where is the money going to come from? We can't do without oil, green energy isn't feasible" You know all the right-wing pro-oil talking points. Well, you have the answer. If it can take 20 years and government money to transition from horse to automobile and a further 20 year transition with government cash to turn that mode of transportation into a threat to our very being, we can damned well have a 20 year transition with government money to a green economy! What is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Political Synergy

Go to any large city and you will find that one street where most of the book shops are located. Same seems to apply to antique shops as well. There are also entire villages in Europe devoted to bookselling. You would think at first glance that this situation ought not to be, that so many different shops would compete and many would be driven to bankruptcy. You would think that being cheek by jowl would the last thing booksellers would want. Such a superficial view of economy overlooks the importance of SYNERGY.
The clustering of the shops brings in a much larger clientele than scattered shops. The shops can, and do, practice mutual aid. “Sorry, we don't have this edition, but I know Jane's Books two shops down has a copy.” As well, each shop has a slightly different focus, so they are not really competing for the same customers. One will prioritize antiquarian books, another literature, or Canadiana, or history etc.

I suggest that just as synergy can exist among certain businesses, so too might it exist among progressive political organizations. I got the first hint of this about 25 years ago when in correspondence with the English anarchist, Laurens Otter. I mentioned how I was pleased with the decline of Leninism and social democracy and proclaimed that “our time had come.” now that our political competitors were out of the way. Laurens told me not to get too worked up about this situation since his experience was, “That when they do well, we do well too.” It was true. The English anarchist movement flourished in the 1960s and 70s, the time of the New Left, the new Trotskyist parties like the SWP and Militant, and the Tony Benn Labour Left.

Thinking about this situation as I prepared this article, other historical periods came to mind. The socialist movement of the first two decades of the 20tieth Century was like one of those streets full of bookshops. This period was also the high point for both the socialist and anarchist movements. On that street you would find syndicalism, several varieties of anarchism, right, centre and left tendencies of socialism, and agrarian socialism (then called “populism”) The tendencies learned from each other, giving rise to new formations like a Marxist form of syndicalism such as the IWW, Guild Socialism and Bolshevism. (Keeping in mind that until 1921 the Bolshevik Party was multi-tendency.) All these groups would bicker, and there have always been sectarian fools, but they considered themselves more-or-less as part of the same movement.

From the mid-1920s-on the number of “shops” decreased and the “socialist business” became more and more monopolized by two tendencies – an increasingly moderate social democracy which hated its own socialist left-wing more than the capitalists, and a Stalinized Communist Party for which only one tendency (that of the leadership) was allowed. The influence of syndicalism, socialism and anarchism declined, reaching its nadir in the 1950s, when organizations that once counted their memberships in the tens, and even hundreds of thousands, were reduced to a handful of old age pensioners.

With the 1960s New Left, the little shops re-opened and the two big monopoly chain stores went into rapid decline. Rejecting ossified social democracy and official Communism, the New Leftists were open to the concepts that had previously been repressed and forgotten. There was a revival of anarchism and syndicalism. Feminism was re-born but with a much deeper critique of the patriarchal system. New movements arose such as Gay Liberation and the Ecology Movement..

I think I have belabored the point enough. A multi-tendency movement is absolutely necessary. We need Synergy, not sectarianism. No more sand box politics! The idea that we should be of one mind, let alone all within one group, is a serious error. Our individual tendencies will do well when we all do well. We need diversity of opinion and approach; in order to be creative, in order to meet the challenges of a dying capitalism, not to mention a dying environment. (Of course, I refer to rational, evidence-based approaches, not cults and sectarian know-it-all groupuscules.) None of us have all the answers and we never will. But together we might go a long way in that direction. While keeping our diversity, we must focus on what we all have in common - dealing with the climate crisis, the gross inequality, the lack of democracy, the housing crisis, and our common opposition to racism, anti-Antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia etc. This is the Common Ground that anarchists, socialists, cooperators, syndicalists, feminists and Greens can all stand on. So lets get on it!

Thursday, July 04, 2019

The Worker Autodidact and the Decline of Working Class Awareness

The late 19th and early 20th Centuries saw the development of the worker autodidact. They came out of the more skilled sector of the working class; miners, printers, carpenters, and machinists and thus had more education and somewhat higher incomes than the mill hands, let alone agricultural workers and navvys. The various socialist parties, anarchist groups and trade or syndicalist unions facilitated this development with libraries, night courses and a periodical press that was highly educational in a broad sense. Nor was this just a matter of revolutionary philosophies or critiques of capital and the state. Literature, plays and the natural sciences were considered important. The idea was that workers in their rise out of barbarism, would assimilate the best of bourgeois culture and not limit themselves to just a critique of capital and authority.

The autodidacts were the most intelligent and the best educated sector of the working class. They were , to use a much over-used term, its vanguard. They performed a leadership role, both formally as party, mutual aid society and union officials and informally as people respected in the workplace or neighborhood. The sort of people who were asked for advice and listened listened to.

While some were quite well educated and “cultured”, and could knock the stuffing out of many a “perfesser”, that did not mean that they identified with the educated middle classes, on the contrary, they stayed with their class. They saw their role as educating and uplifting the other workers – again not just in terms of political theories, but culture and personal behaviour. Unlike today's right-wing alleged friends of the workers, they did not romanticize or worship the class for its backward views or behaviours. * Few were more critical of working class ways. Many workers were drunken wife and child beating racists who believed anything their masters told them – think only of the IWW cartoon character “Mr. Block” and you get the picture. Woman workers tended to find solace in religion which made them conservative. These were some of the problems the autodidacts sought to overcome. Essentially, they were building a working class out of the rubble of a dispossessed peasantry and slum proletariat. **

Politically they were concentrated in the groups least likely to be led or dominated by middle class people – the labour-socialists and syndicalists. *** Labour socialists could be either “revolutionary” or “moderate”, what they held in common was an emphasis on class, a need to educate the working class and the concept that socialism would come from the working classes themselves and not the work of a middle class elite. Labour socialists were in smaller parties like the Socialist Party of Canada, the US Proletarian Party, the Socialist Labor Party, Communist Party, etc., or as caucuses within the larger social democratic parties. They also formed the leadership of syndicalist unions like the IWW and the Canadian OBU or of the more militant regular trade unions.

The autodidacts were an important factor in the socialist and labour movements until the Second World War. From the 1950s on, it became increasingly easier for blue collar workers, and especially their children, to go to college. Some more enterprising of these, took night courses for accreditation. If blue collars sought education, they no longer did it by themselves. Thus, rather than their knowledge having a working class focus, it now followed the liberal line of academia.

This had a negative effect upon the industrial working class. Its “brightest and best” were now leaving their roots and becoming part of the new working class of “white collar” professionals and technicians. The industrial workers were robbed of their teachers and natural leaders. These were replaced by professional politicians and labour leaders who sometimes had more in common with the bourgeoisie than with the people they were supposed to represent.

This was not the only loss suffered by the blue collars. By this time, the labour socialists had been driven out or completely marginalized within the social democratic parties, and many of the smaller parties, syndicalist unions and anarchist groups had disappeared or had greatly shrunken in membership, partly due to the Cold War witch hunt mentality. The social democratic parties, now dominated by liberals without a pretense of socialism, eliminated working class education, a class-oriented press and dropped traditions like May Day and other elements of working class history.

Thus by the 1960s the blue collar working class had been deprived of both its natural leadership and its traditions. They were basically cast adrift and the small socialist or syndicalist groups, while having some influence, could not recreate the past. As the industrial working class declined in importance due to automation and offshored production, the way was open for a portion of the class to fall into the hands of reactionaries and xenophobes. This process has been exacerbated by the adoption of neoliberalism by the social democratic parties in the 1990s. These parties now turned on their remaining blue collar supporters, wrecking their lives with privatization, cut-backs in social services and other retrograde policies. It should be noted, that in spite of all these attacks in many countries a large portion of the remaining industrial work force still holds on to its progressive values. One ought not over-emphasize a global shift from socialist to right wing “populist” on the part of industrial workers.

Thanks in no small part to the Internet, the working class autodidact has, to a certain extent, returned. Young white collar workers, dissatisfied by the limitations of their college courses, have turned to the vast resources of working class history and socialist/anarchist theory found on the Web, such as Libcom and the Marxist Internet Archive, not to forget YouTube videos and documentaries. There has been a boom in left-wing publishing. These new books and pamphlets (or reprints of the “classics” of anarchism and socialism) are eagerly perused by masses of youth in the omnipresent anarchist book fairs. No doubt the old time autodidacts would be pleased.

* The autodidacts sought moderation or abstinence in alcohol consumption, combated racial bigotry, promoted birth control, “free thought”, humane pedagogy, the rights of women and “healthy” pursuits like working class football, cycling and hiking clubs.

** See Edward Thompson, “The Making Of the English Working Class” for the classic study of how the working class self-organized and self-educated, becoming a class and no longer the 18th Century “mob.”
*** I have taken the term “labour socialist” from James Naylor's excellent study, “The Fate of Labour Socialism” U of T, 2016. Naylor shows how the Canadian labour socialists were gradually marginalized within the CFF, which became dominated by Fabians and liberals. A similar story is also told in another important work about socialism in British Columbia, Ben Isitt's “Militant Minority” , U of T, 2011. I cannot urge you enough to check out these volumes.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The Future Is Already Here

Many people do not realize that everything we need for an environmentally sane, egalitarian and authentically democratic society exists NOW. 1 The fact that these exist already is grounds for hope. Neither are most of these new developments in their embryonic form – many – thought still a minority aspect – are quite well established.

The best known of these is the relatively clean generation of electricity. 2 Solar and wind generation is at or near the tipping point for cost compared with fossil fuel power generation. Energy specialists think the tipping point could be 2025 or sooner. Some say we are there already. Countries like Costa Rica and Holland already produce or are near to producing all their electricity through renewables. Less well known, but working examples do exist of geothermal and tidal power.

The other aspect is using less electricity or other energy sources. A massive amount of energy is consumed heating and cooling buildings. Fifty percent of energy expended in the EU has to do with heating and cooling. Passive houses reduce the cost of heating and cooling to almost nothing. Houses can be oriented and constructed in such a fashion that they cool themselves naturally. 3. Trees – no yard or street should be without them, not only do they use CO2 but they also have a cooling effect. Smaller dwellings should be a priority- well designed they should be as convenient for the occupants as any McMansion. These designs already exist. There is no reason other than assuaging one's ego, that the tiny families of today need a 4000 sq. foot house. A smaller house or apartment requires less energy consumption than a large one.

Twenty-five percent of energy expended globally has to do with transport, 20% of that is trucks, 12% ships and 45% cars according to statistics in the Maritime Executive site. Energy is wasted in unnecessary driving. If you could walk to most of the shops, schools or recreation centres you would not need to drive. We need to restore the village with facilities located in a nearby 'down town' that can be easily reached on foot. Combine this with an efficient public transit system – like they have in much of Europe – and better yet make it "free" like in Luxemburg - and less people will have cars. This means, of course, less energy consumed. For many, car ownership will be a thing of the past and the existing car coops and car share companies will predominate in the urban areas.

Energy is wasted in the unnecessary traffic in goods. No non perishables ought to be shipped by truck that can go by rail and thus save energy. A carbon tax ought to be levied upon all products that can be produced locally, yet are imported from afar due to a false sense of economy. This will encourage local production – once again less energy consuming – and reduce the amount of trucking and shipping.

Agribusiness consumes a lot of energy on machinery, petroleum, pesticides and fertilizers. While I would not suggest growing wheat organically on a small scale, many other food items can be grown in this manner. Small but intensive organic horticulture can produce an enormous amount of food from a small area. Paris used to feed itself in that manner and Havana does today. No pesticides or artificial fertilizers, but the organic waste of the city. Working with tools that last a generation and not expensive, short-lived machines that require petrol. Of course, food prices will need to increase to make such small farming viable – but this could be off set by keeping rents and mortgages low through an intelligent housing policy, like the one that exists in Germany.

One of the biggest consumers of energy is the military and a good way to reduce energy consumption would be peace. They are called "Defense Departments" but few countries other than Switzerland really have a defensive policy. Most countries are geared for offense – against other countries – or their own people. Bombers, missiles, drones, air craft carriers, nuke carrying subs, are not weapons of defense – they are for attacking. Ironically, we have no enemies other than a handful of home made bomb and small arm toting maniacs against whom such offensive weapons are useless. Using the model of Switzerland, we could have a cheap – and therefore less energy consuming – military. A military trained in guerrilla warfare using small arms, RPGs and SAMs – cheap stuff.
The future that is now, is more than energy efficiency, it is also about equality and freedom. Freer, more democratic and more egalitarian institutions exist already and are more widespread than you might think.

Cooperatives are democratically run, one vote for one member, unlike corporations which are oligarchies or autocracies where votes are based upon the number of shares one has. Also unlike corporations, which are mandated to maximize profit no matter what, coops prioritize service to the members and community and practice solidarity with other coops or community organizations. For the economy of scale they federate, which means each coop keeps much of its autonomy, whereas corporations are centralized, top-down managerial hierarchies. Coops being local, keep the wealth in the community, where it can cycle up to seven times. Corporations drain wealth out of the community to the headquarters and the big shareholders, who could live anywhere.

They are not negligible. There are one billion coop members in 3 million coops world wide, employing 10% of the world's work force. The top 300 coops are worth $2.1 trillion. (Stats from the International Cooperative Association. )Swedish consumer coops 3.2 million members and have 21% of retail trade , this is fairly normal for Scandinavian countries. 4. As well, 28% of retailers in France are coops.5.

Cooperatives take a number of forms, some are completely non-profit, others are geared to giving an annual return to members. (Without forgetting to prioritize service and solidarity) There are also worker coops – which are owned and democratically controlled by the worker-owners. Although few in number in North America, they are increasingly popular in Europe and Latin America. In Europe 1.4 million people work in 50,000 worker coops. 6.

Then there are housing coops and co-housing developments. These institutions take people out of the capitalist/speculator housing market, and like other coops are democratically controlled by the members. About 200,000 Canadians live in coops as do 1.2 million Americans. Fifty thousand people live in cohousing in Denmark and the movement has spread through Europe and North America. There are also 540,000 Housing coop dwellings in Denmark. Housing coops in Sweden involve some 580,000 residents. 7. In Germany, there are 2.1 million coop dwellings housing 5 million residents. 8.

Land Trusts and maintaining/restoring the commons takes land out of the market and engenders democratic control. The goal of these institutions varies, some are to maintain wild spaces or forests, others for agricultural land or to provide relatively low cost land for housing. Land trusts have been around for about 100 years and are growing in numbers. Much forest land in parts of Europe remains in common and there is now a whole movement to generally restore the commons.

The commons has taken new forms such as shareware, copyleft, creative commons, peer to peer, all of which are moves away from the capitalist ethos of monopolization and rent-seeking. There are literally dozens of Open Source (OS) formations; As well as software there are OS architecture, appropriate technology, ecology (uniting farmers,) product development, seed initiatives, design, and manufacturing.

De-commodification is essential to the commons concept. Removing fees from certain services is one of the best ways to raise the living standard of the poor. For example, we already have city and provincial parks which people can use at their leisure without shelling out money. So too, in most of Canada and the developed world outside the USA, health care is largely removed from direct payment. Some places, such as Luxemburg, have decommodified public transit.

The social economy is even larger than the coop economy in many places. The social economy is the non-profit sector. In other words, service and not profit is the focus of the institution. Here in British Columbia a great deal of public housing is owned and run by non-profit institutions. Non profits are the number 3 sector of the economy, employing 114,000 people, just behind education and manufacturing. (BC Government) The social economy in France is 10% of workforce and is 6.5% of European employment total. 9.
Fair trade may be a small percent of the total market but involves $2B in sales annually in the UK alone .10. There are some problems with verification but the idea is a good one , as rather than being geared to maximizing profit for a multinational company, there are two aims – to increase the income of the producers and encourage them to use eco-friendly growing methods.

We now move from economy to governance. The problems with the existing system is that it really isn't very democratic. Wealthy lobbyists have more power than the ordinary person, power is centralized into government and party bureaucracies. The alternatives are direct democracy, decentralization and confederalism. These ideas are actually very old, having preceded the centralized state. However two still existing examples rooted in history will suffice. There are the towns in New England still governed by the Town Meeting. The meeting of all citizens decides policy and selects delegates (Selectpersons) to carry out these wishes. Some smaller cantons in Switzerland still use mass meetings for local decisions. While less authentically confederalist than in the past, the Swiss Federation still leaves much of the political power at the municipal and cantonal level.

In Rojava the Kurdish people, numbering some 4 million, have established both direct democracy and confederalism. So too the Zapatista area of Chiapas. (Worth mentioning that both are also developing a cooperative economy.) In Venezuela there are thousands of Neighborhood Committees that deal with local issues and some of the powers of government have been decentralized to them. The Spanish Assembly Movement involved thousands of people in hundreds of neighborhoods. These neighborhood assemblies still take place and have been successful in changing the government of Barcelona and other cities. The idea has spread and assemblies are being developed elsewhere, the latest of which is the Giletes Jaunes Movement in France.

So there we have it. Green energy, a cooperative economy and a democratic confederal form of governance already exist. The future is not some wistful utopia but is here and now. The new forms that have “grown within the shell of the old” need merely to be generalized throughout society. 11

End notes
1. I am not talking about ABSOLUTE equality, just eliminating those aspects of our society that create gross inequality. And it ought to be obvious that what we have is a very limited democracy, often more of a case of an elective dictatorship. The people do not rule directly.
2. Critics might point out that the manufacture of solar panels, wind mills, electric cars and batteries is polluting. A perfect solution is not possible- whatever we do will have some negative impact, the fact is that during the life of the solar panel, wind turbine, battery or electric car there will be much less pollution than fossil fuel power generation or petrol vehicles.
3. Porches front and back for the morning and evening sun. Deciduous trees or vines planted near a south facing wall. Awnings and shutters. High ceilings in hot climates.
4. https://www.housinginternational.coop/co-ops/sweden/
5. p. 13., Chris Wright Worker Cooperatives and Revolution, Book Locker 2014
6. p. 14 ibid
7. http://stories.coop/…/kab-how-cooperative-housing-works-in…/
8. https://www.housinginternational.coop/…/The%20German%20Co-o…
9. P 13., Chris Wright Worker Cooperatives and Revolution, Book Locker 2014
10. https://www.explainthatstuff.com/fairtrade.htmlFT
11. Right now someone will start yelling that what I am stating “Isn't really socialism.” That is beside the point, what we have here is what is happening now, and how this develops remains to be seen. What we do have is a very broad anti-capitalist tendency that will only deepen in time due to the increasingly problematic nature of capitalism. For those who think this is not radical enough, consider this; Should these tendencies, as “moderate” as they might seem, predominate, we will have undergone the greatest social revolution in history. All other revolutions have empowered a minority, this time the economy will be owned and run by the populace, and governance will be through direct democracy instead of a tiny hierarchy of professional politicians and bureaucrats.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sade – The Greatest Philosophe

"Sade was one of the most vigorously anti-authoritarian writers of all time." p. xxxiv, Penelope Rosemont, Surrealist Women, Univ. Of Texas, 1998

"Sade is the last, bleak, disillusioned voice of the Enlightenment, he is the avatar of the nihilism of the late twentieth century" p. 34, Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman, Virago, 1979

Foolish people take Sade's novels literally, as though he approved of the vast catalogs of atrocities he wrote about. In his own words, “I don't want to make vice amiable... I have made my heroes so loathsome that they will inspire neither pity or love... I become more moral than those who allow themselves 'toning down'.” 1. Essentially, Sade was writing social criticism and an examination of the psychology of domination under the guise of pornographic novels. The violent porn was not a way of attracting an audience so much as a an exaggerated description of the reality he saw around him. Somewhat like Hunter S. Thompson's “gonzo journalism.” As with Thompson's diatribes, Sade's descriptions are so over the top, so extreme, that they are humourous, in the black humour sense. Indeed, Sade is one of the greatest of black humourists, perhaps only equaled by Lautremont in Maldoror. As Breton points out, “In more ways than one, Sade, incarnates what we call black humor... at his own terrible expense moreover.” 2.

For Annie LeBrun "Il est un des très rares écrivains, peut-être le seul, à mettre la nature humaine à nu. Il peint des personnages libérant toute la violence de la passion sexuelle, l’exerçant au détriment des autres, parfois jusqu’à une cruauté sans pareille. Mais, là où il nous inquiète le plus, c’est en nous rappelant que ces actes sont monnaie courante dans l’histoire. Ses personnages jouissant de leurs crimes sont de tous les temps. " 3. ("He is one of those rare writers, perhaps the only one to examine human nature in all its nakedness. He paints a picture of people engaged in violent sexual passion to the detriment of others, with a cruelty without measure. But where he upsets us the most, is in recalling us to the fact these acts are common place in history. Such people commit their crimes all the time.") (My translation)

Along with Sade the moralist and the psychologist, we also have Sade the anarchist. Sixty years before Proudhon wrote “What is Property”, he had it nailed down as 'Property is Theft.' “Going back to the origin of the right of property, we come necessarily to usurpation. But theft is only punished because it attacks the right of property; but the right is in origin itself a theft, so that the law punishes theft because it attacks theft.” 4.

Some have correctly seen Sade as a revolutionary. According to Angela Carter, “From time to time he leaves off satire long enough to posit a world in which nobody need bleed. But only a violent transformation of this world and a fresh start in an absolutely egalitarian society would make this possible.” 5.
The greatest causes of misery for Sade were four in number; private property, class division, religion, the patriarchal family. 6. Note the inclusion of patriarchy. Unlike the Father of Anarchism, Proudhon, Sade was no misogynist. Instead, he sought “... complete equality of women and men in every circumstance” 7. Here is Sade again on poverty and wealth;“I saw the rich continually increasing the chains of the poor, while doubling his luxury... I demanded equality and was told it was utopian, but I soon saw that those who denied its possibility were those who would lose by it. 8.

The dominator system he railed against could not last forever. Sixty years before Marx, he saw that its own internal contradictions would bring it down. “The machine cannot possibly avoid breaking down before long... Wealth and property concentrating in the hands of a few... within a hundred years time , the State will necessarily be divided into two factions, one so powerful and rich that it will topple and crush the other; the country will be laid waste. 9.

The Nature of Laws - Some of Sade's greatest vitriol is aimed at the legal system. Not to mention that some of his greatest criminals are judges and many of the worst injustices in his novels are perpetrated through the courts.
“The object of laws is either to multiply crimes, or to allow them to be committed with impunity.” “A hundred innocent for one guilty, that is the spirit of the law.”10 This clearly fits the drug laws, not to mention corporate racketeering like limited liability and the “corporation as fictitious person.”
“Without laws and religion it is impossible to imagine the degree of glory and grandeur human knowledge would have attained by now; the way these base restraints have retarded progress is unbelievable... Then you would do away with laws? Yes... But anarchy... gives necessarily the cruel image of despotism. That too is a mistake... Tyrants are never born in anarchy, you would see them raise themselves in the shadows of the laws or get authority from them... give up the idea of making man better through laws; you merely make him more cunning and more wicked... never more virtuous.”11.

The Psychology of Domination – The point of amassing wealth is to have power over other people. Wealth is a means, not an end in itself. Exercising this power gives pleasure to the dominator. To dominate makes one feel superior to the dominated. The more the victim is degraded, the greater the feeling of superiority. Hence the more vicious the crime, the more pleasurable it is. Like heroin addiction, tolerance sets in - greater and greater crimes are needed to get the 'kick.' We find this today with serial killers who start out as rapists and then turn to torture and murder. But let his monsters have their word:

“The more atrocious the hurt he inflicts upon the helpless, the greater shall be the voluptuous vibrations in him; injustice is his delectation, he glories in the tears his heavy hand wrings from the unlucky; the more he persecutes, the happier the despot feels... the more he crushes his woe-ridden prey, the more extreme he renders the contrast [between him and his victims] and... he adds fuel to the fire of his lust.” 12.

“A contemptible fool, that statesman, who neglects to have the State finance his pleasures; and if the masses go hungry, if the nation goes naked, what do we care so long as our passions are satisfied? Mine entail inordinate spending; if I thought gold flowed in their veins, I'd have every one of the people bled to death.” 13.

Dominator cruelty takes many forms, not just the brutal. These lesser forms that one sees daily, police harassment, bullying bosses, all forms of petty bureaucratic nastiness, are all part of the mentality, and undoubtedly give pleasure to the perpetrators. “But one does not always have such objects in hand [beautiful women and men to degrade and torture] … what then? Why, one must learn to delight in lesser pleasures: hardheartedness toward the down-trodden... of plunging them oneself into misery if one can – these are some sort of substitute for the sublime pleasure of causing a debauchery-object to suffer.” 14

Long before the ruling class apology of Social Darwinism, Sade had his dominating class rationalize their crimes by appealing to pseudo-science. “... robbing the poor, despoiling the orphan, fleecing the widow of her inheritance, man does no more than make use of the rights Nature has given him. Crime? The only crime would consist in not exploiting these rights: the indigent man placed by Nature within the range of our depredations, is so much food for the vulture...” 15.

Here we have the Survival of the Fittest as imagined by the ruling classes “The opulent man represents what is mightiest in society; he has bought up all the rights; he therefore ought to enjoy them... he ought to the fullest possible extent pave the way for the satisfaction of his caprices by exacting discipline, forbearance and compliance … from the subordinate class...” 16.
On reading Sade, one cannot help but notice that other than their crimes, his monsters are uninteresting. Yes, they are learned to a degree – enough to rationalize their behavior with scientific or philosophical verbiage, but they are otherwise completely bourgeois. There are no artists, scholars or poets here. Only those who love wealth and power and the exercise of their privileged position to the maximum degree. There is a hint of Hannah Arendt's concept of the “banality of evil.” in Sade's novels.

Nothing causes greater fear to the dominators than the loss of their domination. There is no length to which they will not go to preserve that power. The hundreds of millions of dead from wars, concentration camps, genocide, sociopathic economic policies, over the last 120 years are good evidence that Sade was not engaging in hyperbole. Indeed, the quote below could be seen as a virtual verbatim neoliberal agenda as pursued by Pinochet, Thatcher and Reagan and their successors.

“We are frightened of a revolution... First of all we are going to suppress all the free schools whose lessons propagating too rapidly give us painters, poets and philosophers, where we want only labourers... France has need of a vigorous bleeding... To attain this aim we are first of all going to attack the unemployed with the greatest rigor; it is almost always from that class that agitators appear; we are going to destroy the hospitals and refuges; we don't want to leave the masses a single asylum which can encourage their insolence... We want them to crawl like slaves and we will spare no means to accomplish this aim.” 17.

The Dominator Use of Religion and Hypocrisy - Other tools in the domination kit are religion and morality. It would be virtually impossible to dominate without these pieces of equipment.

“The force of the scepter depends on that of the thurible... Nothing makes people so abject as religious fears... You keep the people in ignorance and superstition... because you fear them if enlightened.” 18.
The dominator must never expose their true face to the masses. They must appear not as the most vicious, but rather as the most virtuous. “Remember that … hypocrisy is an indispensable vice for him who has the fortune of possessing all the others.. it isn't your virtue that society needs, it is simply a pretext for supposing you virtuous... In addition, hypocrisy, teaching one craft and guile, facilitates countless crimes...” 19

“... the art of governing... is the one which demands the maximum of hypocrisy...[Governments] teach publicly the art of murder, and rewards him who is most successful in practicing it, and yet punish the man who gets rid of his enemy for a private reason. 20.

Sade as Greatest Philosophe - Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, are held up to us as the great Philosophes of 18th Century France. Sade is never mentioned in the same breath, and actually is rarely mentioned at all, except in ignorant condemnation. But what did the supposed Greats actually believe? They thought if you allowed Reason to predominate by eliminating superstition, having a constitutional government and a market economy, you would have more or less achieved the ideal state. There was no understanding, except in the most superficial way, of the irrational, the hidden, unknown forces operating on the psyche. They can be forgiven for their naivety, for they were among the first “Moderns.” Medieval laws, customs and practices still pervaded Europe. They were negating these. The truly advanced thinker would go beyond, finding the deep and bitter flaws within The Age of Reason.

Sade did precisely this. And in the real world, the capitalist world, not the Utopia of Reason, reason and science were harnessed for exploitation of the masses and the biosphere, and used to rationalize the ever-greater crimes of the dominator class. During the 20th Century the world of Reason descended into madness and atavism with fascism and endless war. And as long as the state, inequality and private property existed, there would be no peace, only a nightmare world of torment and suffering. He exposed these realities in his novels – no wonder he was condemned!

The climate change denying faction of the ruling class is the Sadeian nightmare come true. Fiction has become fact, two hundred years after Sade's condemnation. For here we have criminals worse than the fascists – true radical evil - a group who would rather 90% of humanity die off than lose an iota of their power and wealth. One suspects they glory in the thought that so many of the 'little people' should suffer such an appalling fate.
Since Sade saw beyond Rationalist wishful thinking, he was a finer mind than 'the Greats' and today can be seen as the most important of the Philosophes.

End notes
1. DAF Sade, quoted p. 66, Geoffrey Gorer, The Life and Ideas of the Marquis de Sade, Peter Owen publishing, 1962.
2. Andre Breton, Anthology of Black Humor, City Lights Books, 1997
3. Annie LeBrun interview, http://fredericjoignot.blog.lemonde.fr/2014/10/20/1965/
4. p. 26, Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman, Virago, 1979
5. p. 118, Sade, Juilette, Grove, 1968
6. p. 135, Geoffrey Gorer, The Life and Ideas of the Marquis de Sade, Peter Owen publishing, 1962
7. p. 130, ibid
8. Sade, Aline and Valcour, p. 108, ibid
9. p. 66, Sade, Juilette, Grove, 1968
10. Sade quoted, pps. 124, 126, ibid
11. Sade, p. 143, ibid
12. p. 119, Sade, Juilette, Grove, 1968
13. p. 234 ibid
14. p. 270, ibid
15. p 118, ibid
16. p. 174, ibid
17. p. 126, ibid
18. Sade quoted, p. 105, Geoffrey Gorer, The Life and Ideas of the Marquis de Sade, Peter Owen publishing, 1962
19. p. 261, Sade, Juilette, Grove, 1968
20. Sade, p. 116, op cit

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Conservatism Dead as a Dodo, Part 2, Where Did Conservative Values Go?

Conservatism in its authentic sense, grew as a reaction to the Enlightenment. Theirs was an authoritarian and hierarchical worldview. Liberalism was seen as dangerous to the natural order. Republicanism, democracy, the separation of church and state, were rejected vociferously. This is the aspect common to all the rightwing, conservative, neoliberal and fascist – the preservation of class domination and inequality. However, conservatism cannot simply be reduced to only these negative aspects. They plainly saw the weaknesses and contradictions in liberalism, especially as capitalism and its attendant ideology emerged,.

What did the conservatives see as the weaknesses of the liberal new order and what did they pose as alternatives? They rejected individualism, realizing that humans were rooted in, and existed through, society. Society was relational, but nonetheless real and was virtually an organism. Unlike ultra-free marketers and later social Darwinists, conservatives never rejected the concept of the "common good." Squire or agricultural labourer, everyone had their place, no one was to be denied their existence because they were incapable of enduring the "survival of the fittest." There was a notion of social obligation as well as the rights trumpeted by the liberals, "nobless oblige" and all that. (Of course, the conservatives tended to be more magnanimous in word than deed, but that is a common failing, and not limited to them.) Society was built on custom, tradition and tacit arrangements, more than regulation, plans and statute law. The traditional ways of being, the yeoman farmers, the craftsperson, the village architecture that seemed to grow right out of the earth, all these were revered as was localism and regionalism.

The organic view of society tended to contrast natural development rooted in past ways that had proven valid, with liberal utopianism. The idea that the whole of the past could be tossed to one side and a new order created out of the minds of a few ideologues was an anathema to conservatives. They detested narrow or extreme ideologies, especially the notion of "homo economicus" that underlay the liberal world view. The conservatives saw themselves more engaged in a "way of being", rather than promoting a well-structured dogma. As mass production churned out a host of shoddy goods from workers living in wretched conditions, the fear was that "quality was being replaced by quantity" This lead to a suspicion of capitalism and a loathing of its attended centralization and the cult of "the bigger the better." They scoffed at the notion of progress with a capital "P" .

So what happened to all those conservative values which were not necessarily predicated on upholding hierarchy and inequality? Hold on to your hats contemporary right wingers, they ended up being adopted by the Left. It may come as a shock, but the socialist and labour movements, in spite of dogmatic sects and social democratic philistines, engage in a constant internal criticism. Yes, there are always Orwell's "smelly orthodoxies" and party or trade union bureaucrats only too happy to stifle new thinking, but nevertheless the dialectic unfolds. Just one historical example, in 1900 Social Democracy held sway and the German Social Democratic Party was the model to follow. But the syndicalists, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin, Anton Pannakoek among others, began to discover the flaws in parliamentary socialism. Out of these critiques came Leninism, council communism and anarcho-syndicalism. And, in turn, the clash among these three new ideologies gave rise to both refined and dogmatic versions of each.

The idol of Progress was the first to fall and with it a number of other liberal suppositions. Progress with a capital "P" was hard to maintain given the horrors of capitalism and a genocidal imperialism. The final blow would come with Auschwitz and the bombing of Hiroshima. Global warming and its attendant looming destruction have only added to this sentiment. Socialists discovered that tradition and custom were double edged, many traditions were certainly upheld authority, but throughout history there were also those which were liberatory or were attempted alternatives to capitalism and the state. Involvement with Aboriginal people gave the realization that traditional knowledge was highly valuable. The centralization and "bigger is better" imposed by both corporate capitalism and Stalinism, proved inhuman and alienating, giving rise to a decentralist impulse.

In 1900 revolutionaries thought that socialism was around the corner, and its imposition would be rather easy, in a kind of socialistic Big Bang, resulting from (chose your tactic) getting elected to parliament, a general strike or a mass insurrection. Such naive utopianism has no takers today. We would be happy if humanity manages to survive. In the last decade of the 20th Century, extreme sectarian doctrines began to fade and have largely been replaced by common fronts, horizontalism and consensus. The left's critique of consumerism focuses on how consumer society destroys the quality of life. It was the left that returned to crafts, organic gardening, farmers markets and such. It is the left that seeks to preserve the forests, the streams, the wild salmon, the old buildings, the neighborhoods, the local school, and it is the right that seeks to thrust them into the ever-greedy corporate grinder.
This is the dialect in action. The left has taken the rational core within conservatism , synthesized it within its own liberatory and egalitarian nexus, to form a higher, more developed, more encompassing concept.

Of course, I have simplified this story to make for clarity. In actual fact, there were always sections of the left that never entirely swallowed liberal ideology. Most of all the anarchists, but also early socialists like Fourier and John Ruskin, heterodox Marxists like William Morris – (indeed, at times even old Marx himself) As well in the 1960s, many old-style conservatives fled to the left when they realized their ideology had become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the corporate technostructure and the war machine. (Indeed one of them, the philosopher George Grant became a mentor to the Canadian New Left)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Conservatism – Dead as a Dodo

Conservatism in its true sense is an extinct ideology. What it has been replaced with is an extreme, and in many aspects, sociopathic ideology which is called "neoliberalism." Conservatism was suspicious of extreme ideologies, and capitalism. It also had a concept of the common good, lacking in today's korporation uber alles right-wing. Below you will find excerpts from two documents. One is by a 1930s fundamentalist preacher, William Aberhart, and the other is by Pope Leo 13. Today, both men would be sneered at as "socialists" by the fake conservative neoliberal right.

1. THE SOCIAL CREDIT MANUAL by Wm. Aberhart 1935
Our Basic Premise.
It is the duty of the State through its Government to organize its economic structure in such a way that no bona fide citizen, man, woman, or child, shall be allowed to suffer for lack of the bare necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, in the midst of plenty or abundance.

The Province of Alberta is Wealthy Enough to Carry Out This Proposal.
The Canada Year Book, 1933, page 870, gives Alberta the next to the highest place with regard to her wealth pe€r capita. Her total estimated potential wealth is $2, 406, 000, 000 or that is, $3518 per person. British Columbia leads with $4012 per person. Ontario, the wealthiest province with the greatest population has $3188 per person. Nova. Scotia, the weakest of the provinces has $1769 per person.
If Alberta can not provide for the bare necessities of her people, what can the other provinces, especially Nova Scotia, do? Alberta cannot ask Ontario or Saskatchewan or Quebec to provide for her people. .That would be unreasonable. They have all they can do to provide for their own.

So the claim must be admitted, Alberta can and must feed, clothe, and shelter her own people, or they must suffer. No one else can be expected to do that which she must accomplish for herself.
In Alberta last year the total market value of all the raw products, grain, fruit, fodder... was $152, 878, 863 which is about 6% of our total estimated wealth. It is, therefore, evident that we do raise enough to care for our people. . We must not forget, however two facts about these figures: First, the value is figured .at present-day, low market prices. Two, the amount stated is for the raw products, which are often processed, increasing their value from three to fifteen or twenty times that of the raw product...
With these figures in mind it is plainly evident that we could feed, and clothe and shelter our people and still have many million dollars worth for those who are capable of earning through individual enterprise.

This should convince our readers that Social Credit is not based on any confiscation scheme by which we take the wealth of the rich or well-to-do to give to the poor. Social Credit recognizes individual enterprise and individual ownership, but it prevents wildcat exploitation of the consumer through the medium of enormously excessive spreads in price for the purpose of giving exorbitant profits or paying high dividends on pyramids of watered stock...

It is understood by those who have examined the case, that unemployment is a permanent disability of the modern state.
Social Credit points out the three great poisons at the root of our trouble:
(a) There is a Iack of purchasing power in the hands of the consumer. If one man does the work of three men for the same pay, then the two men displaced will have no purchasing power. ff a machine does the work of twenty men, at the pay of one man, then the twenty men displaced will have no purchasing power.
As the people have no purchasing power, they cannot get the goods that are piled high in the factories and warehouses. Thus there is no need to produce more, and the great factories become silent and there is much less purchasing power. So the disease becomes very bad, for we have fallen into the vicious circle.

(b) Besides this the price spread has shown by investigation, that wildcat speculation is going on. This intensifies the trouble by making the purchasing power less efficient. The dollar will not secure as much goods as it formerly did.
(c) Finally, the investment of surplus funds leaves the reaim of commerce, where huge profits are the aim, and enters the realm of bond investments where interest is the main consideration.
Thus the flow of credit is retarded so that a high rate of interest may be maintained. Today about fifty-one cents out.of every dollar taxes collected is required for the payment of interest on bonded debt. The whole country is gradually sinking into a morass of debt out of which it will be difficult to recover itself. Some are now forced to borrow to pay interest on the debt that they have already accumulated..

Social Credit As A Remedy
To understand .the Social Credit philosophy it is necessary for the individual to get the language used in Social Credit:
1. Cultural Heritage. This is the inheritance that falls to the right of the individual citizen living within the bounds of the province. The pioneering work of our forefathers and the inventive genius of scientists and others have enabled mankind to harness the solar energy and produce machinery that will do the work that was formerly done by mankind. The great wealth of our natural resources has, by this means, been brought to the very door of the individual consumer. Social Credit claims that each of these consumers has a right to a share in the production from the natural resources of the province. At the present time this great wealth is being selfishly manipulated and controlled by one or more men known as the "Fifty Big Shots of Canada." Social Credit claims that this cultural heritage is the property of the. individuals who are bona fide citizens of our province, and should ne€ver be allowed to go entirely to the control of any small group of men. We call this heritage cultural because it gives the individual an opportunity to develop his individuality.
The cultural heritage is made operative by the regular issuance of dividends from month to month sufficient to secure for the ind.individual citizen the bare necessities of food, clothing and shelter. Social Credit claims that this is the least that could be offered to .any citizen. It is wholly unreasonable to expect any person or group of persons in a province as wealthy as Alberta to exist without the bare necessities of food, clothing and.shelter. To enable each citizen to secure these bare necessities, each of them will receive a pass-book in which at the beginning of each month will. be entered the basic dividend for that month, say $25.00. This is supposed to provide for the bare necessities of food., clothing and shelter for every bona fide citizen, whether he works or does not work, and he shall not be required to pay it back or work it out. The only stipulation will be that the recipient must co-operate in every way possible. Those who work will be given their salaries, wages, or commissions over and above the basic dividends. This would at once remove all relief and dole from our land and. recover the morale of our people. Our bona fide consumers will at once have purchasing power amounting to $10,000,000 dividends, and probably in addition $20,000,000 salary, wages, and commission.
Basic dividend credit wiII be used by means of non- negotiable certificates issued in blank to each consumer.
3. Non-negotiable Certificates.
These are blank forms issued to each bona fide citizen to enable him to fiIl in the amount and signature, also the name of the recipient to whom he is transfers the credit. As it is non-negotiable, the person receiving the certificate must of necessity deposit it in the bank
or Provincial Credit House. When this is done the issuer is debited in his account and the recipient is credited in his account. The recipient, therefore, is able to issue another non-negotiable certificate of his own to pay his debts, and thus-the circulation of the credit is possible.
It is very evident to anyone who follows this thus far that this issuance of free dividends in order to prevent the province from continuously getting into debt, must be recovered in some scientific manner without introducing a hugh tax scheme. This leads us to the fourth term.

4. The Unearned Increment.
This expression means exactly what it says. There is an increment or increase in price, and this increase is not earned by the owner or the producer of the goods. The term is well known to those who have dealt in the buying or selling of land. ff a man sells a piece of property for more than he pays for it the Government claims rightly that he has an unearned increment and they proceed at once to tax him.
A Coal Mine situated far from civilization or without transportation would be of little value to anyone except in so far as it could be used for his personal needs. If ten people lived near it, it would be more valuable. If a thousand people were within reach of it, there would be that much greater demand for the coal, and, therefore it would be a greater price. Thus the price of the coal above.the cost of production is largely dependent upon the demand caused by the association of individuals in its immediate vicinity. Neither the owner nor the miner are responsible for this increased price. It is an unearne increment which accrues fronr the association of the people withiin the bounds of the Iand controlled by them.
!t sometimes goes by the name of price spread.

2. RERUM NOVARUM by Pope Leo 13
The foremost duty, therefore, of the rulers of the State should be to make sure that the laws and institutions, the general character and administration of the commonwealth, shall be such as of themselves to realize public well-being and private prosperity. This is the proper scope of wise statesmanship and is the work of the rulers. Now a State chiefly prospers and thrives through moral rule, well-regulated family life, respect for religion and justice, the moderation and fair imposing of public taxes, the progress of the arts and of trade, the abundant yield of the land-through everything, in fact, which makes the citizens better and happier. Hereby, then, it lies in the power of a ruler to benefit every class in the State, and amongst the rest to promote to the utmost the interests of the poor; and this in virtue of his office, and without being open to suspicion of undue interference - since it is the province of the commonwealth to serve the common good. And the more that is done for the benefit of the working classes by the general laws of the country, the less need will there be to seek for special means to relieve them...

The members of the working classes are citizens by nature and by the same right as the rich; they are real parts, living the life which makes up, through the family, the body of the commonwealth; and it need hardly be said that they are in every city very largely in the majority. It would be irrational to neglect one portion of the citizens and favor another, and therefore the public administration must duly and solicitously provide for the welfare and the comfort of the working classes; otherwise, that law of justice will be violated which ordains that each man shall have his due. To cite the wise words of St. Thomas Aquinas: "As the part and the whole are in a certain sense identical, so that which belongs to the whole in a sense belongs to the part."(27) Among the many and grave duties of rulers who would do their best for the people, the first and chief is to act with strict justice - with that justice which is called distributive - toward each and every class alike...

Indeed, their co-operation is in this respect so important that it may be truly said that it is only by the labor of working men that States grow rich. Justice, therefore, demands that the interests of the working classes should be carefully watched over by the administration, so that they who contribute so largely to the advantage of the community may themselves share in the benefits which they create-that being housed, clothed, and bodily fit, they may find their life less hard and more endurable. It follows that whatever shall appear to prove conducive to the well-being of those who work should obtain favorable consideration. There is no fear that solicitude of this kind will be harmful to any interest; on the contrary, it will be to the advantage of all, for it cannot but be good for the commonwealth to shield from misery those on whom it so largely depends for the things that it needs...

Rights must be religiously respected wherever they exist, and it is the duty of the public authority to prevent and to punish injury, and to protect every one in the possession of his own. Still, when there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government...

Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice. In these and similar questions, however - such as, for example, the hours of labor in different trades, the sanitary precautions to be observed in factories and workshops, etc. - in order to supersede undue interference on the part of the State, especially as circumstances, times, and localities differ so widely, it is advisable that recourse be had to societies or boards such as We shall mention presently, or to some other mode of safeguarding the interests of the wage-earners; the State being appealed to, should circumstances require, for its sanction and protection...

The most important of all are workingmen's unions, for these virtually include all the rest. History attests what excellent results were brought about by the artificers' guilds of olden times. They were the means of affording not only many advantages to the workmen, but in no small degree of promoting the advancement of art, as numerous monuments remain to bear witness. Such unions should be suited to the requirements of this our age - an age of wider education, of different habits, and of far more numerous requirements in daily life. It is gratifying to know that there are actually in existence not a few associations of this nature, consisting either of workmen alone, or of workmen and employers together, but it were greatly to be desired that they should become more numerous and more efficient. We have spoken of them more than once, yet it will be well to explain here how notably they are needed, to show that they exist of their own right, and what should be their organization and their mode of action.
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