Capital and Labour as a Whole
The question is not so important as is usually supposed. It is only said that if unions gain more strength they will ruin the country by raising wages and producing foreign competition and in that way undermine the trade of the country. To a certain extent they do injure trade, e.g. by promoting emigration artificially; by opposing the introduction of machines to some trades especially to that of compositors, and most of all by prohibiting piece work. But these are breaking down. Machine made bricks, for example, are now allowed. Piece work is also progressing. My opinion is this that by degrees they (the unions) will become beneficial only when the same kind of fate overtakes them as has befallen the freemasons, and nothing more promotes that than the union of unions. So long as you have small local societies, secretly acting together, they assume the form of small clubs and conspiracies. But in the aggregate their action becomes more sensible. Their strikes are less numerous. They are beginning to find it impossible to enforce an equality of wages everywhere. In that way the wider a union becomes, and the more legal, the better. We find that the leaders of the unions are promising to establish a kind of absolute universal system of union including all the workmen of the country and more than that, an international society.1 By this latter means everything was to be made happy all round — except for the capitalists. But when you carry such a system too far it acts against itself. You can raise wages for one trade or one place, but then you take the money out of one place or trade, and when you make it universal it is carried to an absurdity.
KeywordsForeign Competition Friendly Society Office Clerk Inconvenient Time Banking Clerk
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