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Machines Don’t Buy Goods

ISSUE:  Winter 1931

In the early months of 1930 newspaper reports described President Hoover as very much worried over the accumulated wheat surplus, which amounted to about one hundred and fifty million bushels, and was increasing every year. The Department of Agriculture was simultaneously sending out a staff of experts to attempt to persuade the farmers of the Northwest to plant two million acres less of wheat. At the same time, in New York City, thousands of men were gathering daily in bread lines on the Bowery, standing for hours in the cold and rain waiting for a chance to get a ticket which would entitle them to stand in another line for more hours in the hope of receiving eventually a cup of coffee and a few slices of bread and butter.

In the succeeding months the wheat surplus has continued to pile up—two hundred and sixty-five million bushels in August—and the bread lines have grown conspicuously longer and more numerous.

What is true of wheat is true of other agricultural produce, and what is true of agricultural produce is also true of the products of factories, and of machine industry in general. On every hand we hear the cry of “overproduction” and on every, street-corner there are men begging for food and shelter. Some agitators call it a “Buyers’ Strike” and start “Buy Now” campaigns, and Mr. William Trufant Foster tells us that our troubles would disappear if each of us would spend five dollars a week more for two weeks. On the other hand Mr. J. W. Barton told the bankers recently convening at Cleveland that our standard of living is too high and should be lowered—that is, that we should buy less. Everybody agrees that the capacity of our productive plant is far in excess of our ability to consume, and nobody denies that millions of men and women and children are hungry, and desolate, and growing desperate.

If we knew of such things only through reading the descriptions of travelers in strange foreign parts, we could scarcely believe them. They are too incredible, Alice in Wonderland, in all her topsy-turvy world, never saw anything so absurd, so contradictory, so illogical, so completely upside down.

At the present moment, the external features of the situation are crystallizing in the phenomenon we call “unemployment.” There is a tendency to approach unemployment as a detached matter, and to discuss remedies and preventives in terms of specifics for an isolated disease. In fact, unemployment is only one aspect of a complex, far-reaching social situation, closely related to the financial depression, the agricultural and industrial surplus, the decline of the textile industry in New England, the menace of the next war, and numerous other more or less conspicuous evils.

At the same time, while unemployment is only one phase of the total situation, it is an important and illuminating phase, and a thorough grasp of the causative factors that lie back of unemployment will conduce to a clearer understanding of all the related ills, and help to point the way to remedies that will really get at the root of the whole chaotic complex. It is the purpose of this paper to set forth some of the chief factors in the unemployment situation, about which there is really nothing mysterious, intricate, or abstruse. On the contrary, the failure to understand unemployment is due largely to the difficulty of perceiving the significance of the familiar and commonplace,


First of all, it is necessary to come to a fairly definite understanding as to what is meant by unemployment. Of course, unemployment is being “out of work.” But this is not enough. More than half of the population is out of work all the time, and all of the population is out of work more than half of the time. Only certain persons are supposed to work, and these are supposed to work only part of the time. It immediately, appears that the meaning of unemployment is conditioned by the particular social structure and conventions of any society. Only those persons can be unemployed who are normally supposed to be at work, and these can be unemployed only during the hours when they are normally supposed to be at work. In such a country as the United States this immediately eliminates all persons under fourteen or sixteen years of age.

But not all of the adult population is supposed to be at work. It is not a part of our social system, in the first place, that married women should work. Many of them have to, but it is tacitly, assumed that it is a situation from which they will escape as soon as their husbands’ incomes make it possible. We would never think of applying the term unemployed to the wife of a prosperous business man, if she devotes her time to bridge, dancing, and charity—or even if she does not. Nor do we expect all children above fourteen to be at work; in fact, we rather smugly assume that they will not be, and shut our eyes to the vast numbers of them who are.

But still further eliminations must be made. Not all husbands, or heads of families, are necessarily supposed to work. The label of unemployment would be most incongruous if applied to a wealthy man who sees fit to live on his income without doing a stroke of work, nor is it ordinarily applied to the independent business man who closes his shop or shuts down his factory during a period of dull trade. Indeed, the term is not ordinarily used in connection with independent producers of any kind.

Without unduly prolonging this process of elimination, it becomes clear that the term unemployment, in its customary use, applies exclusively to hired workers, wage earners, persons who expend their time and energy on productive plants which they do not themselves own. Unemployment is a function of the labor group. The importance of recognizing this distinction becomes clearer when we consider the figures of unemployment. When we read an estimate of five or six million persons unemployed, our first tendency is to compare this number with the total population of one hundred and twenty-three million, and it does not seem so bad. But when we reflect that these are all wage-earners, and that there are only about twenty-eight million wage-earners in the country, the situation immediately takes on its true aspect of a prodigious calamity.

When, then, is a wage-earner unemployed? Certainly, not during the hours outside the normal working day in his trade or occupation, even though he might personally like to work longer. Certainly not when he chooses to take a day or week off “on his own hook.” Involuntariness is an essential factor in unemployment. But now the real difficulties begin to arise. Is a wage-earner unemployed if he is out on strike, especially if he has not personally voted for the strike? Or if his plant is experiencing a lock-out? Or if a strike in some related industry has forced a suspension of work in his plant? These are complicated and somewhat technical questions, but by no means devoid of practical bearings.

Much more important, however, is the matter of wages. Wages are the paramount economic factor in the life of the wage-earner. Employment is not employment to him except as it brings in wages. But how much wages? There is the rub. Wages in this country are not subject to even as much legal or conventional standardization as hours. Suppose, in a time like the present, a certain operative gives his force the choice between a complete shut-down of the plant or a cut of fifty per cent in wages. Suppose they refuse the cut—as workers often do—and are laid off. Are they unemployed? The reductio ad absurdtm in this query, of course, is the question whether a worker is unemployed if there is a job available to him at one cent a day.

A definition of unemployment, then, must include considerations of a normal working force, normal hours, and normal wages. In a country like the United States, this means that it is impossible to frame an exact definition at all. But with these features in mind, it is possible to proceed to an intelligent and constructive consideration of the problem.


A person who would naturally be included in the normal wage-earning force of a society may find himself out of work for three main types of causes. First, he may be suffering from some mental or physical handicap which makes it unprofitable to employ him in any of the ordinary industries of the country—which, as we say, “unfits him to earn his living.” Unemployment of this kind may be called “personal.” Second, the activity in which he is engaged may be subject to fluctuations or interruptions at different periods of the year. This is “seasonal” unemployment. Third, his occupation may be affected by conditions which are inherent in the very structure or functioning of society itself. This is “societal” unemployment.

Personal unemployment has long been recognized, and there is an ancient assumption that most unemployment is of this kind. President Hadley, in his textbook on economics, says, “Among the many causes of ‘unemployment’ the two most important are the shiftlessness of individual laborers and the fluctuations of commercial credit.” Similarly Dr. Antonio Stella, in his book “Some Aspects of Italian Immigration to the United States,” makes the categorical statement, “There are always many people unemployed, especially in the slums of large cities, but those are the people who are either crippled or disabled, or unwilling to work.” In point of fact, personal unemployment is a very small part of the total, and with proper social administration could be reduced to almost negligible proportions. The popular impression on the subject is largely traceable to the fact that during a period of depression the persons who are conspicuously out of work are likely to have a decidedly, decrepit or incompetent appearance (partly traceable, indeed, to the fact of unemployment). But during a brisk period, these very same individuals are given jobs and are actually sought out, thereby proving that they are not unemployable. But they are naturally the first to be laid off when bad times come. As someone has put it, “Personal qualities do not cause unemployment, but determine who shall be unemployed.” We are told that in ancient Alexandria society was so well organized that even the blind and gouty, were busy. If industry were really in need of labor it would be a poor specimen indeed who could not be fitted into the scheme of things. How insignificant a part of the grand total is represented by personal unemployment is revealed by the fact that practically all the figures of unemployment are based on those who have actually held jobs within a recent period.

Seasonal unemployment is of two main types. The first type arises in connection with those occupations which are directly dependent on the changing seasons of the year or on fashions that follow—or precede—the seasons. Agriculture is the most important, as well as the most easily understood, of these. In the temperate zones agricultural activities are positively controlled by the weather, particularly, by temperature and rainfall. A worker whose sole occupation is tilling the soil finds the need of his services greatly reduced at certain seasons. This situation has been intensified by the introduction of machine methods and large-scale operation onto the farms. The odd jobs that used to keep the farmer busy during the winter months have now largely disappeared.

In general, the incidence of seasonal unemployment is greatest in the cold months, because the majority of productive occupations are unfavorably affected by extreme cold rather than heat. This is true not only of agriculture and most of the extractive industries, but also of construetion enterprises, and outdoor work in general. On the other hand there are many occupations that have their busy season in the winter, such as lumbering, ice harvesting, gas manufacturing, and coal mining.

The second type of seasonal unemployment appears in industries which are not directly affected by the climate, but by certain events fixed in the calendar. In this country the most notable example is Holiday Week. Candy and paper box manufacturers, department stores, and toy manufacturers, for example, have a very busy season preceding Christmas, and a decided slump afterwards.

Seasonal unemployment presents a much more serious problem than personal, and the numbers affected are much greater. But it is a simple and comprehensible phenomenon, and could be reduced to small proportions with relative ease if there were a really keen demand for labor, and a consequent incentive for society to apply its corporate intelligence to devising a genuinely efficient system of utilizing all the available labor.


It is societal unemployment that occasions the really serious distress and presents seriously baffling problems. As will be shown, it is basic not only to a full understanding of the other types, but also to any effective remedies for those types.

The central fact in societal unemployment is that about sixty per cent of the total gainfully employed population are wage-earners, who do not own the plant upon which they work. The fact of non-ownership is determinative. In our highly mechanized and capitalized economic system, certain prerogatives and powers go with the ownership of the physical plant. First of all, the owner of the physical plant— that is, the business as a going whole—owns the product. We hear a lot about labor getting “its share of the product.” In point of fact, in any real sense, labor does not own any share of the product. Labor is paid by the owner of the product out of the proceeds of past products. Secondly, ownership of the plant carries with it management of the plant. The owner decides when the plant shall operate and when it shall shut down, what types of goods it shall turn out, how the productive processes shall be co-ordinated, and so on. Thirdly, with the ownership of the plant and of the product goes control of the disposition of the product. The owner determines selling prices, sales methods, rate of profits aimed at, and the redistribution of the proceeds for purposes of further production.

This factor of ownership is strangely ignored in the ordinary teaching of economics. Most conventional teachers of the subject still discourse about the four factors in production: Land, Labor, Capital, and Organization. They apparently fail to see that there has arisen a fifth factor, wholly, distinct from any of the others. This fifth factor is Ownership, and it is unquestionably the characteristic and dominating feature of present-day production, and the one that causes the most acute and menacing social problems.

Having no part in the ownership of the business, nor of any portion of the material plant, labor’s relation to the processes of production is merely that of an accessory. The labor class exerts no direct control over production. Its only control is through its influence on the market, that is, in its role as a consumer, not as a producer.

The extent to which the working class can affect the market depends entirely upon its purchasing power, and this in turn depends directly upon wages. From the labor point of view, accordingly, the typical situation can be summed up thus: Labor can affect the production of goods oniy as it offers a market for those goods; it can offer a market for goods only to the extent that it has purchasing power; it can have purchasing power only as it has wages; it can have wages only as it has employment; it can have employment only as the owners of businesses see fit to give it employment.


This brings us to the other side of the situation. What is the characteristic attitude of the owners of businesses toward the employment of labor? Why, and under what conditions, do they wish to employ it? The sole reason why owners wish to employ labor, or are willing to employ it and pay, it wages, is that without labor they cannot produce goods. The machines are domineering and mighty, but without at least a modicum of human labor they are impotent. Owners therefore find it necessary and desirable to employ human labor to the extent, and only to the extent, that it is indispensable in turning out the goods that they see fit to undertake to turn out. Anything that reduces the amount of labor required to turn out a given amount of goods will reduce their incentive to hire labor by just that amount.

Why, then, do owners wish to produce goods, and what determines the amount and kinds of goods that they see fit to produce? The answer to these questions is found in just one word, which is the keyword to our whole economic system—Profit Our entire economic mechanism is devised and manipulated exclusively for the purpose of profit. There is no use camouflaging it, and talking in smooth words about “Service” or “National Prosperity.” or “American Industry.” Any business that is a real business, and not pure philanthropy, which does not make profit not only will close, it must close. Any honest analysis of modern economic conditions must be willing to follow to the bitter end the quest for the nature, origin, and determination of profits.

“Profit” is one of the most misunderstood and mishandled of all the pet concepts in the befogged realm of conventional economics. It is usually described as the reward of organization. It is, in point of fact, the reward of ownership. Organization can be bought and paid for just like land, labor, and capital. If it chance that the owner himself provides the organization, he should charge the business with payment for it, just as he should charge the business for any land, labor, or capital that he himself may supply. Profits belong to the owner of the business, as owner exclusively. Profits consist in whatever is left over after all the other factors in production have received their compensation. This point can not be overstressed, for a grasp of it is vital to any true comprehension of the features of contemporary, economic life.

Businesses, then, are conducted by their owners with an eye singly on profit. Profit depends upon the difference between the selling price of the product and the total cost of production. The wider the spread between these aggregates, the greater the profit. Inherently, therefore, the incentive of owners is to keep selling prices as high as possible and production costs as low as possible.

Now in the total cost of production, even with our highly mechanized industry, the wages of labor loom as a very large item. Probably nowhere in the whole complex of productive processes is so much pressure felt by owners to keep costs down as in the pay roll. Every saving or reduction in wages appears to them as so much clear gain.

And right here we put our finger on one of the basic contradictions, one of the central anomalies, that both create our social problems and make them so difficult of solution. The wage bill, which, looked at from one side, is an irritating item in the cost of production, to be reduced as low as possible, is, when viewed from the other side, an important and indispensable item in the purchasing power of the market which makes possible the realization of the hoped-for selling price, and which should therefore be kept as high as possible. Managers of businesses, in the existing economic system, are perpetually and inevitably, fixed between this Scylla and Charybdis, and it is no wonder that they struggle and flounder helplessly and blindly a good deal of the time, Naturally enough, the ordinary owner sees the cost aspect of wages most clearly. It is the nearest to him—often so close to his organ of vision as virtually to obscure the other aspect. The wages of his own force of workers is a direct and immediate charge on his business—they are ordy a remote and diffuse, often a completely indiscernible, factor in the market for his particular product. A manufacturer of steel rails can hardly visualize his workers as a part of the market for his product. Each producer, therefore, naturally strives to make what savings he can in his own wage bill, and leaves the effect on the sales of his product to chance or blind Fate. But in the aggregate, this individual distinction fades out, and the total wage-earning group becomes an important section of the total purchasing group— just one more case where the detached individual does not, and can hardly be expected to, see matters in their broad social implications.


The next query is, what are the features of the present social order that cause the labor force to be periodically or chronically in excess of the numbers required by business owners in their quest for profits?

The basic answer is found precisely in one of those truisms, the full meaning of which is seldom grasped just because of its familiarity: Mechanization.

As intimated above, the owners of businesses hire only so much labor as is necessary to produce the goods that will yield the maximum profits,—which does not by any means always mean the maximum possible quantity of goods. For this labor they pay the smallest amount necessary. If anything can be discovered that will be as effective as labor in producing goods, and that costs less, it will be substituted for labor. Such an agency is machinery. The economic history of the past century and a half is dominated by the progressive supplanting of labor by machinery in specific industries or occupations. The question of immediate interest in this connection is, what influence has this process had upon the demand for labor in the aggregate? The prevailing economic theory during this period has been that it did not diminish the total demand for labor, because the individual laborers displaced at each successive stage of the process quickly found employment in other fields, many, of them opened up by the process of mechanization itself. Situations like the present seem to give the lie to this complacent philosophy. What are the facts?

The immediate effect of the introduction of mechanical fat jrs into a new field is usually to reduce the direct cost of production. This may, or may not, be the prime reason for the step, but it is usually essential to the step. This means that a smaller amount of money is started on its circular course through the market to appear as purchasing power for the product. This would, in itself, tend to reduce the demand for the product, which in turn would tend toward a future reduction in the amount of product. Thus the circle is a vicious one, in the truest sense of the term. If the reduction in cost of production were accompanied by a corresponding reduction in selling price this would not be true. But there is no reason why this should be the case, and usually it is not. For the extra profits, which are the incentive for mechanization, depend upon an increase in the spread between costs and selling price, which would be lost if prices were reduced proportionally,

But the most important effect results from the difference between paying money for labor and paying it for machines. This difference is the fundamental factor in the whole situation. When money is paid for labor, it becomes purchasing power immediately, and purchasing power in the hands of those who have no other means of providing themselves with economic goods. Almost the entire amount, therefore, very quickly expresses itself in a demand for finished products.

The case is very different when the same amount of money is spent for machines, or more strictly, for the use of machines. Machines do not buy goods. This money passes beyond the machines—where? To other owners, the owners of the machines.

Now to a very large extent the owners of machines are the same people who own businesses. The effect of mechanization, therefore, is to shift purchasing power from the non-owning classes, who have no products to dispose of but only their labor, and to concentrate it in the hands of those who are owners of businesses, and accordingly have products to dispose of.

What effect has this on the total volume of the market for end products?

Clearly, the first effect is to reduce the number of persons in the market. The laborers who have lost their jobs and their wages, have also lost their purchasing power and are out of the picture. But has there been a corresponding reduction in the total effective demand of the market?

Here is precisely where one of the besetting fallacies of nineteenth century economics is revealed most clearly. The characteristic doctrine of this school in this department was that general overproduction is an impossibility. “Goods exchange for goods,” and therefore no matter how many goods there may be there can never be an excess. The origin of this assumption is found in the damning error of the whole system—the inveterate tendency to think in terms of things instead of persons. Perhaps the classical economists should not be blamed too severely. Knowing little or no psychology—there was none to be known—they had no clear understanding of how (not to say why) human beings behave. But since their whole (alleged) science rested on human behavior they had to invent a typical man, and endow him with a set of largely imaginary motives and modes of action. This famous economic man is a pathetic little puppet that bobs up and down, hither and thither, through the mazes of economic analysis, in response to strings pulled by a dominating interest in material things.

The truth is, not that “goods exchange for goods,” but that persons who own goods do, or may, exchange them for goods owned by. other persons. This is as far apart from the traditional assumption as the two poles. It removes the analysis from the realm of automatism, and places it in the realm of what is ordinarily called voluntary behavior. The question now becomes, how do the owners of goods actually feel toward the goods owned by other persons?


Put this query in the form required by this present analysis—: Granting that the same amount of product is turned out after an extensive process of mechanization as before, but that the purchasing power is now concentrated in a smaller and wealthier section of the population, will the total demand for goods be as great as before?

If one of the other basic assumptions of traditional economics were true, the answer would be, Yes. This is the assumption that human desires are infinite, and it is fundamentally false. (No animosity, please understand, against conventional economists. But they have a heavy responsibility, for the present situation, and must be prepared to face the music.) Looking into the infinite future, it might be possible to say that human desires are infinite. But at any given time, with respect to the types of goods, that actually exist at that time, they are strictly limited. Any intelligent person can demonstrate this to himself. Let him imagine himself endowed with infinite purchasing power, and then let him ask himself how many grand pianos he would wish, or how many mansions, or how many steam yachts, automobiles or airplanes. He would realize that his desires for any and all of these things are strictly, limited. Then let him descend to more prosaic matters, and ask himself how many suits of clothes, or pairs of shoes, or pounds of beefsteak, or theatre tickets, or golf balls he would buy in a year. By a simple process of self-examination it becomes clear that the total potential demand of any individual for all the types of material things that exist at any given time is a definitely limited quantity.

If this is true of every individual, it is true of society. The reason why it seems untrue is that so large a proportion of the population have incomes far inferior to their desires that the total unfilled demand of society, seems infinite. If attention is centered on the possessors of vast incomes it is easy to realize that their unsatisfied desire for enjoyable goods approaches, if it does not actually reach, zero. J. J. Astor is reported to have said, “I can do nothing with my income but buy more land, build more houses, and lend money on mortgages.” This, it will be noted, means investing instead of spending, the significance of which will be touched on shortly.

The general principle that emerges from this analysis is: The mailer the number of individuals in whose hands a given amount of income is concentrated, the smaller will be the effective demand for consumable goods represented by that income. If another reductio ad absurdum is needed to make this clear, it can be furnished by imagining that the total year’s product of the economic plant of the United States were equally divided between two owners. To what extent would “goods exchange for goods”?

This is the fatal quality, of mechanization under private ownership. It tends to concentrate purchasing power more and more in the hands of those who already have an excess above their personal demands, and to remove it from those whose desires are far in excess of their purchasing power. The profit motive drives owners to divert income from the very channels which make profits possible. Business owners can be counted on to buy part of each other’s product, but they will not buy it all, and the richer individually the owners are the smaller the proportion of the product that will be bought.

Instead of buying end products with all his income, the large income receiver invests a large portion of it. But investing simply means creating more machines, and a more capacious productive plant, thereby enlarging the volume of goods to be produced, while decreasing the proportionate demand for them.

Thus, looked at from any angle, the system is revealed as inherently self-destructive. The search for profits first of all works deprivation on those who do not share in profits, and eventually, through them, destroys the very conditions which make profits possible.

If the question is raised why, if this is true, western society, has not gone on the rocks long ago, the answer is furnished by reflecting that the features of a transition period are quite different from those of the period when the new factors are thoroughly established and fully operative. The classical economists wrote in the presence of the phenomena of a transition period. They saw those phenomena, and could hardly be expected to see anything else. Naturally they made the mistake of considering them permanent, and so wrote into their system as eternal “economic laws” generalizations which were essentially temporary and ephemeral in their validity. Today the transition period is rapidly coming to a close, and the permanent features of a mechanized society are confronting us in all their stark ugliness and horror. Unemployment is only. one, though a dominant one, of these features.


What of the remedies?

As indicated above, chronic unemployment, a permanent and increasing excess of labor over the needs of the present economic system, is the basic factor in the whole situation. So-called cyclical unemployment is merely a special temporary aggravation of the permanent situation, originating in the speculative element in most modern business, with its long-time processes, and its production for an anticipated and uncertain future market. These forces and their operation have been so thoroughly and familiarly expounded in the various treatises on the business cycle that they need no elaboration here.

Until chronic unemployment can be eliminated, there is little hope of relieving either cyclical unemployment, or the two forms first mentioned, personal and seasonal. Remedies for these two are well-known, simple, and easy to understand. But they are either useless from the social point of view, or actually, worse than the disease.

Consider first of all personal unemployment. Since this is due to defects of the individual, it would seem to be curable by the removal of these defects. From the individual point of view this is true. But socially there is no gain whatever. For as long as there is a permanent reservoir of unemployed, due to an excess of available labor over the actual total demand, the improvement of any individual’s efficiency will not diminish the total volume of unemployment. His increased efficiency will not add to the total demand for labor, but will simply result in some other worker’s losing the job that he gets. In fact, under existing conditions, this process of increasing industrial efficiency is inherently injurious to labor as a class. For the higher the level of efficiency among workers in general, the smaller will be the labor force required to turn out a given product, and hence the greater the proportion of unemployed.

The same principles hold for seasonal unemployment. Methods of dealing with this evil through “dovetailing,” better planned and better balanced production, etc., are well known, and their efficacy on an individual basis has been demonstrated. But no matter how widely they, might be applied there would be no alleviation of the social situation. For if Mary J ones, a fur worker, who has habitually been out of a job about half the year, learns the artificial flower trade, and Bessie Smith, a flower worker, learns the fur trade, it does not add to the total demand for either fur or flower workers. If any change at all takes place, it simply means that Mary is employed the whole year and Bessie not at all, or vice versa. Much the same situation exists with respect to unemployment bureaus and all forms of personally remedial agencies.

Unemployment is a striking example of a type of social evil, familiar to all students of group relations, where the natural personal remedy is no social remedy at all. It is like giving a concert that will attract twelve hundred persons, in a hall that will seat only one thousand. The logical expedient, for you and me as individuals, is obviously to go early. But no matter how many individuals adopt this remedy, the total situation remains unimproved In fact, the more who adopt it, the greater is the confusion and loss of time, and still two hundred will have to stand or go home. There are only two real remedies—either to hire a larger hall or a poorer singer.


The only effective remedies for unemployment of any kind or all kinds must be thorough-going modifications in the structure or functioning of society itself. There is one outstanding remedy that emerges logically and irresistibly from an honest analysis of the situation and the factors involved. This is the common ownership of the entire productive plant by all the workers, or by society itself. This might, or might not, involve the distribution of the product on an even per capita basis among all the workers of every grade. But at any rate, it would result in a much evener and more equable distribution than at present, and consequently a healthier economic condition. The opportunity to work of certain individuals would not then be dependent on the will of other individuals, personal or corporate. The profit motive would disappear, and production could be carried on on a basis of social utility instead of personal gain. The entire mechanism could be intelligently co-ordinated, and the total productive effort distributed and directed in such a way as to promote the greatest happiness of the group as a whole.

It needs no great familiarity with revolutionary social thought to recognize in this expedient the hallmark of socialism. But what of it? Let us at least be logical. Let us be honest. Let us be willing to follow a systematic analysis to its inevitable conclusion, and then see what action is indicated. Granted that there is no authoritative socialist doctrine today that offers a workable scheme for putting this principle into practice. Granted that there are many and difficult obstacles in the way of making the necessary practical adjustments. All this is no excuse for shutting our eyes to the facts, and refusing to apply our intelligence to the determination of the next steps, starting at any point to which the pursuit of truth may. have brought us. The individualistic-capitalistic system has proved itself incapable thus far of coping with the problem. Socialism at least presents a concrete idea. If any one has a better solution, let him offer it. Nothing could be worse than the present confusion—except the future calamity that is surely impending unless some genuinely constructive remedies are found and adopted, and that right soon.


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