Charles T. Fowler, “The Reorganization of Business” (1885)

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The General Business Situation.—Characterized by the Concentration of Capital and a Division of Labor— Slavery or Co-operation Inevitable. Government Aid Inefficacious.—Repeal Legislation Delusive,—Cannot Remedy what is out of its Sphere. Profit In Practice.—Its Organic Law,—To bring the Demand to the Supply,—Profit must Reciprocate with its System,-. Pan only be Relieved by the People taking the Initiative, The Fulcrum Of Power.—The Consumer.—Bring the Supply to the Demand, A New Birth, The People’s Pool.—Its Nature,—Power.-Application.


Its Economy- In Advertising, Rent, Stock, Capital, Clerks, Stores &c. Executive Department.—Individuality of Functions-Character. The Contract.—Its Conditions. National Purchasing “Syndicate- How Formed. Competition.—How Utilized.— Profit Abrogated.—English Co-operation. Objections Considered.—Nature and Working of the Pool. Review.—Efficiency and Economy.


A Just And Scientific Currency.—Falsity of the Specie Basis Hypothesis,—What is a Paper Dollar?—A Labor vs. a Commodity Currency.— How it does not Fluctuate with Commodities. A Free Currency.—No Interest,—The Bank’s Example,—Redeemer Greater than the Issuer,—An Inherent Right,—Inseparable from Contract,—Impossible to Prohibit.—Characterized by Economy,—Utility,—Usefulness,—Safety,—Elasticity,-Indispensable,—Solvent. The Mobilization Of Credit —Natural and Easy,- Character of Security,—Real Estate,—Warehouse Receipts,—The Check Bank,– Solidarity of Credit. National Association —Credit Strategetic. Simplicity Of Labor Banking.-’1 he Gold dollar vs the Labor dollar,– Results.


Labor Employs Capital.—Their Mutual Relations.— Ethics of the Contract. Compensation vs. Exploitation.—Wherein they differ— Interest.—The Cost of Superintendence. How Adjusted. The Two Methods Contrasted—Capital Insecured and with Labor at War vs. Capital Secured and in Peace with Labor.—The Latter Immediately Practical under Co-operation. Four Corollaries—Wages,- Capital,—Competition,—Tariff. Three-fold Unity.—Consumption, Production and Exchange.—Complete Epitome of Business,—Its Cumulative Power.

Practical Application.—The Pool at Work.—Complete Labor Exchanges Organized. Propaganda.—Organization before Education.—Times ripe and Ready.—Double-Edged and All Powerful. Prospectus.—Influence of the Reorganization of Business on Land Tenure and the Railroads.—New Applications of the Pool,— Complete Reconstruction of Property —From a Legal to a Natural and Labor Basis.—Its Effect on Society and Government. Summary.


The ‘sun’ is Devoted to the Practical Application of the Principles of Liberty And Equity. The Next Number will be devoted to Free Travel, or How to get Possession of the Railroads, Succeeding numbers will treat of The Land, or How to Oust the Landlords: The Home, and The Republic. No Subscription for this series will be taken longer than during 1885. We have something, then, more practical, still, to offer. Meanwhile, subscriptions for 1885, will be $1. per year, or, at a proportionate rate, for a shorter time. Back numbers always ready, and special terms for Extra copies.

“The general system of our trade is one of selfishness: is not measured by the law of reciprocity. . . Why should professional labor and that of the counting-room be paid so disproportionately to the labor of the porter and the wood sawyer?. . . . Only Love, only an idea is opposed to property, as we hold it.”

“Of all debts, men are least willing to pay their taxes. . . . Everywhere they think they get their money’s worth except for these Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well… Want of liberty, by strengthening law and decorum, stupefies conscience. . . . From neither party while in power has the world any benefit to expect. . . The appearance of character makes the State unnecessary. . . Roads can be built, letters carried, and the fruits of labor secured when the government of force is at an end.”—Extracts from Emerson.


“Put Money in Thy Purse.”—Iago.      “There’s Millions in It.—Col. Sellers.


IN a previous issue, we ascertained that the first principles of Co-operation were Liberty and Equity, We showed what they were and their mutual relations. We found that majority rule, in government, must give way to equal sovereignty, and profit, in commerce, give place to cost;—one the rule for properly minding one’s business, the other the basis of common honesty.

Now, these invisible laws, if such, are just as operative when disobeyed as when obeyed. The only part which we are asked to perform is to adapt ourselves to them in our organization. In examining the working, of the present profit-making system we shall see wherein they are violated, and how to apply the remedy.


As we look over the tendency of the general business world what do we find? A concentration of capital, on the one hand, and a division of labor, on the other. If every co-operator will imagine himself in the position of the body politic, we will indicate his present condition. First, if we regard the telegraphic system as corresponding with his nervous organization, we find it entirely manipulated by one man, and he a stock gambler. His muscles, the railroads which draw off all natural resources, are subject to a ‘pool,’ wherever there is any competition. His blood, the currency, which courses through his veins and arteries, is controlled by a syndicate of Shylocks, literally establishing all prices. And this three-fold power by its monopoly of the land, the mines, the forests, the fisheries, machinery in production and all means of employment, is able to bind the hands and garrison the stomach. Then, after having all, as if there was more, the insatiable greed of profit, would even rise up over the very bones of its immolated victim and bellow forth its dissatisfied rage, in ‘the public be d—d,’—as the case will bear.

On the other hand, look at the unorganized producers and consumers, who pay tribute to this organized presumption. Go among the cumbrous and revolving machinery, and they are a part. The machine however gets oiled when it needs it for it is owned, but only the services of the operator are owned. Harnessed to steam, all his functions are automatic, mechanical and monotonous. Has he a place to stay? By paying rent. Has he a corporation store? To prevent his ever having the money with which to run away. He even has not an assurance of work any longer than it will declare a dividend.

Are the farmers better off than the operative? Not if they had to buy everything in dollars and cents. What can they not afford providing it can only be paid for in work, work is the cheapest commodity the farmer knows, money the dearest. Is it not noted that agricultural laborers, both as to the number of hours they work and the compensation they receive, are nearer to Feudal serfdom than any other class?

But suppose we finally come to the general consumer, are the prices of the articles he buys at all governed by that wonderful law of the economists called supply and demand? Not one, every leading article has had the price set beforehand by a combination.* And before combined monopolies of such monstrous proportions, the people retire in subservient and appalling apathy.


* President Gowen. of the Reading railroad, defended, before the Pennsylvania Legislature, his part in the coal combinations, on the ground that he had to reciprocate with the rest of the trade, for, said he:—

“Every pound of rope that we buy, for our vessels, or for our mines, is bought at a price fixed by a committee of the rope manufacturers of the United States. Every keg of nails, every paper of tacks, all our screws and wrenches and hinges, the boiler flues for our locomotives, are never bought except at the price fixed by the representatives of the mills that manufacture them Iron beams for your houses or your bridges, can be had only at the prices agreed upon by a combination of those who produce them. Fire brick, gas pipe, terra cotta pipe for drainage, every keg of powder we buy to blast coal, are purchased under the same arrangement. Every pane of window glass in this house was bought at a scale of prices established exactly in the same manner. White lead, galvanized sheet iron, hose, belting. and files are bought at and sold at a rate determined in the same way,”—The Lords of Industry, by H.D. Lloyd, in the North American Review, June, 1884,

There are 3000 members of the New York Produce Exchange, whereas 30, properly organized in the interests of the producers, could easily handle all the business. Every article is bought and sold forty or fifty times while delivered but once, in the city there are also 11,000 brokers, which probably average $5,000 a year, to cover expenses. Cotton, wheat, corn, and other cereal products, lard, pork, bacon, butter cheese, oil, iron, steel, copper, &c., have been added to the list of things bought and sold on margins.


Now it is evident, to reach these evils, we must have national co- operation, but this is a different thing from governmental co-operation. There are some so totally confiding as to suppose that the government can aid them out of their difficulty. Such credulity is beautiful to” see, were it not lacking in sagacity to supposes that government can ever become a grand bureau of philanthropy. When that bureau is established, it will be the one missing article in its furniture. How did wise men come by the idea, that the farther back one goes, there is no government, while the farther forward you come, government increases? Just the opposite is the case. The great inaugural, the culmination of governmental authority, the palmiest days of the era of ‘law and order’ were when savage beasts roamed the wilds, and rent the air with their ferocious howling. Then government began, in aggression, and by it it has always lived, and when it ceases, the government will be no more. For this is its last analysis describing its species.*

But there are certain well meaning ones, who hold the same relation to authority in government, that others do to the same in religion. They think that they will remedy the source of one party’s oppression by substituting that of another. Thinking they see a law that needs ‘repealing,’ they feel it their duty to be drawn into the cogs of the political machine. And so they defraud themselves and nature, by repeated attempts to galvanize new life into this great, secular superstition.

The only wholesome way to ‘repeal’ a ‘bad’ law, is to ignore it, as no law at all, and to organize for the substitution of the real law that is ever active, self executing, and whose authority never can be gainsaid. There are no laws in nature that need to be ‘repealed.’ And when we are organizing in harmony with them, there are no others that we need to fear. The high water mark to its oppression is only reached when the people are too ignorant to help themselves. The man who sincerely enters politics to help you may be innocently demented at first, but he cannot long remain there without becoming unconsciously corrupted. History is full of blasted lives and hopes, which, if they had had a natural foundation upon which to build, might have moved the world. The organization of business is so foreign to the proper function and organization of government, that it cannot aid us. An animal with fins cannot perform the functions of one having wings. As so much dynamite, it can blow out one’s brains, but it cannot put them back again. It may destroy the outward symbol, but it cannot disturb an organized idea.


* The basic idea of all past governments has been force, not liberty. It emanates from a central head, or an arbitrary power. The pretext for the exercise of its authority is to make men good, wise, pure and moral.

Now co-operative government does not meddle with people’s pursuits, nor aim to make their acts moral, good, wise, or pure. Its authority emanates from no central head or arbitrary power its use of force is to counteract and destroy it.

Therefore, they are opposite; where one commences, the other leaves off; until one is destroyed, the other cannot prosper. Such a brutal monster has government ever been, there is no doubt that when it is outgrown, there will be a peaceable reciprocity. The cry of ‘anarchy,’ is only the cry of sacrilege by the worshiper of his idol.


If then we are alone to look to the reorganization of business for aid, let us examine more closely into the ways of profit. When among savage tribes, it was well in its place, but the closer relations of civilized life now cause it to be unreciprocal. However, had it been left to itself, the free course of things would have long since reduced it to labor cost. But in order that all competition might be destroyed, fraud struck hands with force, and entrenched itself behind the government. It is the organic law of profit, like a coward, that it must have some advantage in order that it may bring the demand to the supply. The greater this advantage, the more urgent the demand, the higher the profit. Until at last, so coherent has this profit-making organisation become, that, like a great Trades Union, with starvation on one hand, and ‘overproduction’ on the other, it is able to strike against all society,

But, we cannot blame profit for this result, when there is no other alternative left to it, except to reciprocate with profit? What began as a tyrant, now continues as a conspiracy among slaves. The weaker will surely go to the wall and the stronger devour them. Does anyone suppose that they can inaugurate cost? It would be their destruction. They cannot tell what cost is from their standpoint. Such an organization must begin with the people. Trade itself is waiting for them to start the initiative. Until they do it, profit must keep on centralizing until co-operation is a necessity.

Now what is the nature of this advantage that all the producers and consumers can be controlled by a few speculators? Is not the producer the first possessor? Does not the consumer pay the profit? And has such a power no advantage over the speculator’s necessity?


We saw that the real advantage of profit consisted in its being able to bring the demand to the supply, and that each consumer was the outlet for the profit on that supply. Then, is there any other alternative, except to reverse the process by organizing the consumers so as to bring the supply to the demand? This will relieve profit, serve as an inlet for production and exchange, turn profit to cost, an oligarchy to a democracy, the corporation to co-operation, and mark the evolution from a chaotic, competitive, commercial cannibalism, to that of an orderly and scientific organization of business.


The nature of this consolidation of the consumers is to pool their custom and hold it together so as to dictate the terms upon which it shall be served. The association is voluntary and guided by self-interest. For, each one’s custom being his own, he has a right to “do with it as he pleases. It is therefore, not a combination, or clique, aimed against anybody, but a co-operation of the whole people against a false system, for universal ends. It is not a new expenditure of power, but a simple change of attitude. “Whereas I once supported usury and found it grievous to be borne, I now relinquish it, and support it no longer. Hereafter, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Its Power.—Since the trader must follow his customers, the withdrawal of custom from one place and the casting it in another is able to build up and break down trade. The consumers become ‘boss’ instead of the trader;—if anybody is to ‘be damned’ it is he, not ‘the public’ Moreover, this consolidated custom, as a commercial franchise, is a very valuable piece of property.

We now have the driving power and balance wheel of co-operation, constituting the great monopoly of the people. It remains for us, according to the law of individuality, to attach the different machinery. In doing so, let us begin with the store.


* The writer humbly declines any credit for originality in the use of this word.



Its Economy.—Our customers being secured, we have:—

(1) No advertising to do in order to get them. They were easily obtained at first, and they will always remain. Nor do we need any shop-window or side-walk displays to catch the passer-by. We need no parade within, to show our goods, only a few samples with their quality and price attached.

(2) Our rents are small. We have no occasion for the main street, the thorough-fare, or the costliest corners. Nor need we fear our landlord will raise the rent because he thinks we cannot move and carry away our custom.

(3) Our stock is small. For, being acquainted with the customers’ needs, we know what, how much, and when to buy. Our goods are fresh, in date, and not shop-worn.

(4) Our capital need not be large, or idle, for our goods will be turned often. And let it be here understood, that our store is not, primarily a deposit of supplies, with the design of bringing customers to it, but an exchange depot, a commodity-clearing house, with only such things on deposit as cannot be exchanged direct, without the intervention of a middle man.

(5) Our clerical force is much less, since our customers, in buying from themselves, have no interest in consuming another’s time. Our delivery, also, makes shorter drives, and the hours for keeping open store can be much reduced.

(6) The number of stores to each community is now determined, an item of much greater importance than the number of clerks required for each store.

The stability of the store is assured from the fact that the customers are pledged. Whereas, under profit and high prices, 95 per cent, failed, now under cost and low ones, 100 per cent, succeed.

Thus we see that the pool, in controlling trade, possesses under coat, such an economic organism that no profit-making system can begin to duplicate its prices.

The Pool’s Limitations.—But as the pool has had a function to perform, so must it stop when it gets through. This function we found to be, to so club the custom as tofget for it the best possible terms. It may advertise for proposals, or servants, or appoint a trustee, secretary, agent, or executive committee of one, to act for it, but having made its contract, it has nothing more to do, unless it be to see that it is fulfilled. It does not go to keeping store, nor become resolved into a ‘joint stock company.’


The store-keeper, as well as the custom, has his function, and in it, is lord of all he surveys. Unless he is free he cannot be made responsible. Co-operation is not a commune, but concord. It is not unity, but a harmonious working of free and independent parts. Its executive department is something more than greenness, on the one hand, and irresponsibility on the other, fused into an automatic mediocrity. Co-operation must have a head ; what is everybody’s business is nobody’s. It must command better services than does the corporation. First, because the popular association of the people can extend greater pecuniary reward, and second, it is reinforced by greater moral power. Honesty, in order to inspire confidence, will be the first desideratum, and next, good judgment to satisfy the highest expectations. Of course our store-keeper should see the full extent for which the pool is organized, and be willing to adapt himself to its accomplishment. The tricks of trade and a faculty to ‘draw’ would not be considered so indispensable. Our reinforcements will largely come from^those who have outgrown the present profit-making system.


The store-keeper and the custom now being independent in law and practice, the conditions of the contract are to be considered. The customers constitute the first party. They are not obliged to accept the first or second application. Situated as they are, however, they can afford to give, for the best man, more than he can possibly get elsewhere. His compensation, to insure support, should be stated, and charged in the sales, so that every person would contribute to it in proportion to the service rendered to each. So in the delivery, those only should pay for a thing who are benefited. Persons and things, which do not belong together, should be left separate, be free to act in their spheres, and be made responsible. In addition, to promote emulation, the store-keeper might properly be allowed a percentage on all sales over a specified amount.

But what if he should say, this pooling arrangement is somewhat new, I have no assurance, other than their word, that they will guarantee so much trade. How could the agreement between them partake of a business character, without some consideration? This would have to be whatever they could agree upon, and be raised voluntarily, as each consenting customer felt he would be benefited, or there would be no risk. But how could one be sure of guaranteeing so much custom? By having a margin left to go on, besides what is required. Who would hold the money? The party agreed upon. If he should run off with it, why, then he would need to be secured. But if the pool should gain customers, then it would be safe to refund the money.

On the other hand, the customers would require the store-keeper to guarantee the following conditions:—

(1) That there shall be but one price to all. (2) That this be the cost price.* (3) That it should be marked openly. (4) The quality and grade of goods to be represented. (5) These representations to be guaranteed. (6) Goods returnable, (7) No trust. (8) Books subject to inspection. (9) A successor to be appointed at any time, by the customers taking an invoice of the goods at their market price. This would insure competition in office.

But who will furnish the money? Well, the store-keeper, the customers, or both. If the customers, it would necessitate putting the store-keeper under bonds. If they furnish one half, it should be as an independent loan, secured by a mortgage on the stock. The better and simpler way, however, would be for the store-keeper to furnish it, as we shall find it to be but about one fifth of what is ordinarily required. What figure this ‘capital’ is to cut in compensation, will be further treated under banking and production.


We have, then, now organized a local store, whose organism, under ‘cost,’ is wholly different from that under profit. As soon as several of these stores are organized, they unite to form a central purchasing agency. The relation of each store-keeper to the same being a duplicate of the one already existing between the customer and the store-keeper. As the customers buy of the local storekeeper, so the store-keeper buys of this central purchasing syndicate. As the store-keeper is independent of the custom, so is the syndicate independent of the store-keeper. A repetition of the same development, except on a different plane.

The goods now, for each retail store, are bought in bulk by the syndicate from the manufactory without the intervention of any wholesale house. The goods come direct, are fresh, in style, in moderate quantity, and at bottom prices. In progress of time this syndicate may have a representative in every state. And as consumers are also producers, and buyers, sellers, there will be a universal exchange or brokerage of commodities. Have and Want will find an automatic clearance, and the number of ‘middle men’ be reduced to perfect accuracy.


Now that our Monitor is fairly launched, it will be seen, from the pool’s nature, that it must have a tight. But her victories are in the interests of peace. We make no war upon traders in the competitive, profit-making sense. We rather pity their lot, and would gladly assist them in unloading their goods. But some capitalists, superlatively wise in their own conceit, will not be run ashore by a ‘cheese box.’ They will break us up, if it takes their last dollar.

Now, while our capitalist is just cutting under our prices, and drawing away our custom, how can we keep up our expenses? We do not aim to ‘make money,’ neither have we any to lose. In the fight, then, with capital shall we not go down? No, two ways are open. First, our store is so lightly equipped, it can stand a running tire, until we exhaust our adversary’s exchequer. Second, our pool, in guaranteeing a minimum of custom, can afford, for such great advantages, to keep its organization idle. For, the moment it should die, capital would again put up its prices to cover its loss. But, if it only sells at cost, we can then undersell it, for, from the nature of our organization, their cost price is above that of our’s.

If we had no opposition, what should we be good for? The point is however, in so overcoming our opponent, as to be accelerated in our progress. So that our capitalist would not only lose his trade, but his capital also. And where would he find it? In the hands of the pool. For, the process we are inaugurating, is the transfer of one system into that of another. Just as a wine merchant, by means of a syphon transfers a full cask into an empty one. And in this operation we work with nature and, as by force of gravity, are reinforced by all her power.


“But,” it is said, “if you reciprocate with the trade, and do not sell at cost, you will meet with no competition.” But that is just the opposite of what we have set out to do. It is the profit-making system from which we have fled. The whole of the laborer’s cause is wrapped up in labor-cost. It is the secret of our economy, it dictates the outward character of our store, and inspires its inward harmony. Cost is our beginning and end, our anchor and destiny, the only real profit to any individual, and the only profit for all. “But would not everybody come to the store?”

“But outsiders would then get their goods as cheap as those who first formed the pool?” True, but had we these outsiders to begin with, we should have never needed to form any pool. They are preserving the objects of the pool, to get their goods at cost, and we shall soon need them to further the cause of co-operation.* “But should not the first contributors of money receive some dividend?” But, the making of a loan is a separate affair from the selling of goods, and will be further treated under co-operative banking. “Then are we to have no profit?” cries our interlocutor. So far from it, that unless, through the store, we can attack privileged usury itself, ‘the savings of the store may prove a greater curse to co-operators, than potatoes have been to Ireland, or rice to the Chinese. For then would the holders of land and money make up the difference in wages.

English Co-operation.—What is the sole, economic and organic secret of the English co-operator’s success? Nothing but having his custom previously pledged. Why, then, should he discriminate against those who would help him swell that custom? If the dividend of twenty five cents on a sack of flour belongs to him, why does he not take it, on the spot, when it is due, without the check system? And what about those other co-operators, who raised and ground the flour? Do they not deserve a dividend? But this would leave the purchaser twenty five cents out of pocket. What, then, is the English co-operator’s great weakness? This nibbling at profit. How could he be expected to throttle the vampires of his native Isle, while fishing for minnows from the mouth of a shark? For, is it not this very system which leaves all laborers out of pocket?

Then imagine, if you can, each laborer strutting as a small ‘capitalist.’ Hear him deliver his mind of such sapient utterances a these: “The whole trouble with labor does not lie in the system, but in human nature. Would he but leave off dissipation and laziness, any slave might soon become a master. The real reason the country is going to the dogs, is because laborers themselves are unwilling to sufficiently ‘retrench,’ and this, in turn, brings on an ‘overproduction’“ He even relieves God of all responsibility in his make-up, by declaring himself a ‘self made’ man, and capable of standing along side of Jay Gould. A most incorrigible ‘co-operator’ is he, who, once having been a slave, has become an overseer!


* Since we do no advertising.your new customers will mainly come through the reports of the old ones, and will subscribe to the principles of a concern from which they derive benefit. It is the law, where no goods are sold for profit, to class it as a charitable institution, requiring no ‘license.’


We will now attempt, in further elucidation, to answer some objections that might be brought against the pool. And first, does it seem impracticable to pool a custom before there has been a store-keeper selected? But would the objections not be greater afterward? If the pool selects its own store-keeper, would it not insure greater satisfaction? And where all are interested, would not the selection be a proper one:’?

But the people are not ready or sufficiently wide awake to form a pool. But there are some people sufficiently interested to form one pool, the first one, when all outsiders will be drawn into it. If this cannot be done, then nature’s method of bringing the supply to the demand can never be accomplished. But you will have all sorts of cranks who will immediately stamp your movement with ridicule and throw it into contempt. But, it is not necessary that it should assume that cast, while it is guided by a reform idea, its realization is purely a matter of business.

But the majority in your pool would domineer the rest. How could they, when the conditions of membership are voluntary, without fees, and with every one’s interest kept separate? But to begin with, you elect the store-keeper by a majority vote, and there are two candidates, each having friends, and one might come within a few votes of being elected, would not such an infringement of the rights of the minority break the pool? No, for the benefits accruing from remaining in it, would more than counterbalance those received by staying out. Nor would anyone’s liberty be infringed by being permitted to choose that which he liked best.

But supposing the character of the pool should be so entirely changed, by the majority, as to divert it into a joint-stock profit-making concern? Then of course the minority would be justified in forming another pool, by dividing, and each going its way. But, if there is no binding obligation, the pool will be like a flock of sheep. But our obligation is internal, based upon self interest. There is no other required; where compulsion is necessary, dissolution begins. But would not contracts, thus made, rest upon an insecure foundation? But a contract, to be binding, must be voluntarily made. After we agree to guarantee a minimum of custom, we are willing to secure the store-keeper against all risk, in his venture on our behalf.

In turning profit into cost, what is cost? The labor cost, first, that entering into the raw material, next, its manufacture, last, its distribution, including insurance, waste and expense. But this is a circuitous and complicated transaction. Assuredly, but if free, the natural course of supply and demand will adjust itself to the labor cost. But, on ‘change, there are now fluctuations every minute. Yes, to artificially produce them is the life of profit, but when we get one normal exchange, the crops will determine prices. But can one expect to compete with small Jewish second-hand stores, where the wife lives in the rear, takes boarders, tends the baby, and waits on the store. without any cost? No, we do not desire to compete in that direction, below cost; and, when the full influence of our organization is felt, no one we hope will be compelled so to do.

But is not co-operation the most delusive of words, else, how so many failures? The Sovereigns of Industry, started well, but finally failed. But this was not owing to the fact that co-operative principles would not work, but because they were wrongly interpreted and applied. Perhaps the exponents in those movements now see that their failure was less owing to the unwillingness of the people to be led, than to the imperfection in their plan of organization. Such failures only emphasize the practical importance of a study of the first principles of social and economic action.


Now, as the Lord looked upon Creation and ‘pronounced it good,’ let us take a parting glance at the store. Can its management be abused? Not unless a liberty has been granted without an equal responsibility. Can its custom break up? No, for they have voluntarily followed their self interest. But may they not alter their minds? Yes, and in the change of management, we have made provision for growth. We do not claim to alter human nature, only to have put greater inducements in its way for honesty than dishonesty. And as for the economy of the store, how could it be improved? Is not the interest of buyer and seller identical? Cannot the best goods, in any market, be bought for the least money? This should be the final test.



WE now have the store, where everything can be bought that money can buy, as a miniature world for the circulation of our currency. Soon production, which will be needed to furnish the store with supplies, will make the complete round of exchanges.


But what is it that we have to exchange? We have seen that ‘cost’ at the store, was to be the basis of the price, and ‘cost’ will dictate the price, at the factory. What, then, must a currency be, to sandwich these two conceptions, unless it be a labor currency?

Is all property and prosperity to dance at the caprice of one small, shining fetich, called gold, and this in the hands of professional gamblers? It cannot be. But can we any the more accept, as a substitute out of this dilemma, the issuing of multitudinous paper promises to pay that which we have not got, never will have, and which does not exist! Most surely not. Then, too, what is a paper dollar? It must have some objective reality, besides being a mere chimera of the imagination. If it is not gold, then what other commodity is it? No other. Then it is not any particular commodity. Can we not then see that the birth of the first paper dollar was the logical and inevitable end of the last specie one? For, between the two, there is no middle ground.

But, if the dollar represents no special commodity, yet passes in exchange for all commodities, what is its real standard of value ? Plainly, labor, that which underlies all commodities, including gold itself. And what is its par standard? The average labor in the most common avocations.

We need, then, to change the old nomenclature, and for dollars, to insert the new standard, ‘hours of labor.’ For, if for ten hours labor, I get seven hours labor and three dollars, must I not again measure my three dollars by labor, before I can count my money? And if in doing so, I find that the dollar, measured by the natural labor products of the country, is not worth more than fifteen minutes of my labor, then I should find myself greatly cheated.

Likewise, any commodity other than gold, as a measure of labor, would be as unsuitable, with which to make contracts. If, instead of a labor note, I take, for my service, an order for a bushel of wheat, and carrying it a year, present it to the farmer, the changed conditions of production might bankrupt him, or, when considering the cost, might bankrupt me. For the average product of labor, during that time, would be other than a bushel of wheat. But, the labor, throughout, remains the same. Therefore, it can, at any time, both measure, and redeem all commodities. It is the only just statement of the elements in the human equation between the contracting parties. It corresponds with the only defensible postulate concerning property and price, and a currency which is just. may be said to contain nearly all the elements of a perfect one.


Having provided against the inherent injustice in the gold dollar, let us proceed to rout it from the royalty of its bankii g prerogative. In other words, to put a stop to the toll it imposes, as a part of profit, and winch it styles interest.

If a paper dollar can be issued on a fictitious gold dollar, it can be issued on a house, that will sell for gold dollars. If in one case the interest is saved to the banker, in the other case, it is saved to the property holder. And when the value of the house is so many more times that of the gold, it is easy to see which will be the first to “suspend specie payment.” For, as it happens, when the bank fails, its real specific basis is the assets of its patrons. Now, unless the sinner is greater than its redeemer, what is now being done under usury, can be done at cost, providing the property holders only have the proper machinery.

But is the way to do this perfectly open to all our governmental brethren? If not, we shall have to stop and give them a lift, for, unless the ground of action commends itself, we shall be called ‘impractical.’ Let us, then, briefly state the grounds for, and the nature of a free currency.

First, we have the right to make exchanges. This right is only second to the right to produce. Without it, surplus products must perish on the spot. And in expediting exchanges, parties have the right to issue such commercial paper as will make a record of the transaction.

Inseparable.—Neither can this function be separated from the exchange, or the right to make a contract. Nor is there any power that can prevent it, since to do so, would put an end to commerce.

Utility.—Without local self government in finance, how can all credit be made available e with it, even the demands of the pawnbroker can be met and satisfied.

Indispensable.—And we are further prepared to prove that no currency can be normally got into circulation except through loans, payment for services, or damages, which are all subject to local application.

Elasticity.—How in any other way can its volume be regulated, except it be free to regulate itself. Just as loaves of bread are regulated, by the natural law of supply and demand.

Usefulness.—The reason that a home currency is as useful as a general one, arises from the fact that 95 per cent. of it would be spent at home, most of it, in going to the store, on Saturday night.

Economy and Safety.—Besides, a local currency is less liable to forgery, owing both to the small inducement to do so, and the greater chance for detection. It is also unnecessary to add, that the more local the admimstration, the more economical and efficient.

Solvency.—It is thought by some that only a government currency is solvent, and that all other is ‘wild cat.’ So the Catholic thinks that only Papal infallibility is solvent, and that all Protestantism is ‘wild cat.’ So the Anglican church looks upon all voluntaryism, as the death of religion. Whereas, the history of American religion shows it to have been solvent, only as it has been free. So of the faith in things financial. While the promissory notes of business men are preferred at a low discount at the bank, one half of our State and municipal securities are either at default, compromised, or repudiated. No national government ever, nominally, paid its debts. Probably there never will be one, for no other reason than because they have been paid so many times already. For, next to the multiplication table, there probably is nothing truer, than, that, to pay a debt once, in whatever form, is just as good as to pay it 999 times. And ‘the people,’ who are constantly paying these, over and over again, will come to the conclusion that they will rest while the coupon-cutters work. “But such a doctrine would not be reciprocal in private life.” No, when parties voluntarily make a bad contract, let them mutually be held. But when an irresponsible class, contracts debts, for class purposes, and supports them by party supremacy, with whom does it reciprocate? Such debts do not possess in law one element of a solvent contract. They are not voluntary, just, or certain of fulfillment. Had there been a contracting party, he died long ago. If there are any so reverential, as to suppose the ‘public faith’ can be any greater, or different from private faith, that is their risk. Between the bondholder and the bondman, as between the slaveholder and the slave, we side with the latter. ‘Public faith,’ first, toward labor, then private contributions for bond holders is our motto.

When one remembers all the depreciations of the currency, its inflations, and contractions to suit a creditor class, its periodic hard times to rob the poor, and its panics to throw into convulsions legitimate enterprise, one is led to damn the solvency of such a concern, and the stupidity of all its abettors.*

On the contrary, individuals are responsible, in law, They own property which can be attached. And, by local, voluntary, association, they can become as general as they please: and where the whole, individually agree to be responsible for each, a solidarity of credit is obtained.

It was probably through the influence of some such considerations as these, which caused Plato to say: “That currency is best which is good for its own time and place, and worthless everywhere else.” Certainly, to organize such a one, is the easiest part of co-operation. On every hand, we see tickets, orders,† checks, notes, and various forms of commercial handwriting, which are examples of a non-interest bearing currency.


* Two Methods. While we sympathize with the Greenbacker, as to the end he has in view, a non-interest bearing currency, as that is what the greenback assuredly is, we diverge as to methods. He begins with the government and leaves off with the individual: we begin with the individual,and leave off where he began. He regards the present governmental machinery as a proper medium for financial co-operation: while we, in our analysis of the function of governmental sovereignty, can find no ground for its either issuing, or regulating the currency. He recognizes bad laws, and attempts to repeal them : while we do not recognize that they are laws, and would peaceably organize to ignore them. He calls upon Congress for aid, while we would aid ourselves. One does not see how this can be done: while the other cannot see how anything can be accomplished in any other way. So one be wails legislative usurpation, while the other bewails the stupidity of political organization.

† The corporations already have their co-operative stores; and are now doing a free banking business, in the form of ‘store orders,’ over the heads of their employees.


Let us, then, show how easily the machinery for a non-interest bearing currency can be practically put in operation. A half dozen customers of the store decide to pool their credit.

Occasions for Credit.—One wants to lay in his winter’s coal, one to pay his taxes, one to release a sewing machine from pawn, one to pay a doctor’s bill, another to buy. stock to which to feed his surplus corn. You may say these occasions for credit grew out of old conditions. But this does not obviate the necessity for their relief. These parties, being of different employments, may be able to balance these exchanges, or nearly so, on book account, and so require but little money except for the purpose of making ‘change.’

Object.—But the primary object of this credit mobilier is to move one man’s stock for another’s coal, without interest, and to utilize the old currency, in paying off its interest bearing debts.

Method.—And to do so, we appoint a broker, to break up the farmer’s property, and under a general mortgage deed, as security, to; issue several little, transferable ones, of different denominations. After the deed of trust has been made out, for the purposes stated, the broker turns engraver and with his pen, on the spot, writes out the scrip, for the farmer to sign, and the thing is done.*

System.—But, uniformity of method as to security, length of loans &c, will now be needed. We should say that one half of the assessed value of improved real estate, for the last ten years, would allow sufficient security, for a year’s loan; and that an elevator, or warehouse receipt on grain &c, would serve as security for ninety days. Of course, through endorsement, other security could be rendered available. The individuality of function, and the voluntary independence of each individual should be preserved. Co-operators cannot become incorporated, except as they do it themselves, through their right of private contract. Then, if they are sued, it will be as individuals. However, this does not prevent them all from enlisting in the defense. Neither is it incompatible with a mutual contract to be severally responsible, in the form of insurance, for the unavoidable short comings of each. This would constitute a local solidarity of security.

National Association. —Now if these local associations should agree, for facility of exchange among themselves, to issue ten per cent, on these local securities we should have a national currency. And if, as with the local solidarity, the whole should agree to be responsible for the failure of any separate association, we would then have a national solidarity of credit, the most solvent imaginable. But, before then, through letters of credit, bills of lading, commercial reports, the telegraph, in conjunction with our stores and purchasing syndicate, a national clearance can easily be effected.

Credit Strategetic.—We must now remember that the emergencies arising out of the present relations between labor and ‘capital,’ invite the display of some new and original tactics. We see the Trades Unionists out of employment and starving, while the wheat of the Grangers is rotting, and they out of money. What is to unite these interests except a new manipulation of credit? There are thousands of men yearly going on a ‘strike,’ and millions fleeced from the farmers, in exorbitant transportation rates. Both the railroads and the manufactories would be glad to get on their knees and beg, in view of a new application of credit. Then. again, there is the present creditor class, few in numbers, but setting their trap and waiting for the game. Now, we know just how much gold there is in the country, should we not know where it is? For, having an organization of business completed, what is there to hinder our turning the tables upon them if but one man in ten, on Saturday night, should hoard his $5. gold piece. The National banks threatened Congress, cannot labor, properly organized, threaten both?


* We purpose to be here a little flippant, to divest this transaction of its mystery.


How different now the laborer’s credit from Shylock’s credit. We have been extricating ourselves. One entailed debt, distress, and was always prospecting how and when it could take advantage. But the other is so simple, I had almost said, it needs no credit. For what does labor need credit if it gets paid, will there not be sufficient floating capital? There is no stringency, for which it must borrow, to get out.* And it cannot ‘speculate’ or gamble, for if it should lose, as one party must, there is no natural law that could enforce the collection of debts. No, an exact and complete equivalent passes in all transactions. There is no interest to compute, no ‘investments,’ no ‘dividends.’ But how improvements go forward, and of such a solid character; and natural resources are developed, hand in hand with labor. There is no ‘watered stock’ now, nor interest bearing bonds, the bridges, the school-houses, the markethouses, the water works, the railroads are all built without interest. No more hard times, ‘suspensions,’ ‘panics.’ For the gold dollar, both as to its intrinsic nature, and its mode of issue, has become transformed into a Labor Dollar.

But, if equity should not prevail, but be compromised with profit and a cheap commercial spirit, should the acceptor of credit go wild over his new ‘perpetual motion,’ or the prospective value of corner lots, then, somebody will get his security, and he never will be in a position again to borrow, without interest;—partly on account of the risk incurred, and partly owing to his necessity. Again has the labor dollar become one of gold!


* There are two kinds of credit. Credit at cost, and credit monopoly. Credit for speculation and credit for labor exchange. One enslaves, the other liberates. One creates debts, the other does not enforce their collection. One produces bankruptcy and panics, the other fails only when the crops fail. Then enhanced prices cancel the loss. These two credit systems should not be confounded.



Now we have the capital, hurrah! With it. we have helped many a poor fellow out of the grasp of Shylock. Now, ho! for the employment office;—and there are a few who will apply! All sorts; and cannot we handle them? What, not those who want to work? Of course we can. Labor now employs capital, instead of it employing labor. The “capitalists” are more sorely in need of labor now, than labor is of their capital. We can undersell them by ten per cent. the first leap. Besides, we now have our goods already sold before they are made, without any canvassers, commissions, or ‘overproduction.’ But we must attend to those demanding work. And, strange to say, they come in faster than our stores need supplies. They are difficult to classify, some are tramps, some broke jail, some are college graduates, many can do nothing well, all are in search of an ‘easy job.’ Now these people must be guaranteed. immediately, something that all can do, for subsistence, second, what each likes to do, and can do best, third, they must have a chance to learn what they would like to do, but cannot. Those that are skilled laborers of course find employment in the factories, while those that are unskilled, are set at some plain mechanical pursuit, go on to the land, or become apprentices.

Now for the kind of management, and the ethical relations that shall exist between ‘labor and capital’ One must be satisfied, the other, secured. In elucidating this, let us suppose that the capital, or plant, is entirely owned by one man, and according to individuality of function, is controlled by him, what is to determine the law of harmony between employer and employee?

Their Mutual Relations. —The manufacturer has the machine, but all that it is good for is to be run, and, if idle, it will require labor to keep it in condition. On the other hand, the laborer wants the means of employment, whereby he can utilize his labor to the best advantage. Now, how shall the machine be kept in tact, and what shall be the wages for work and superintendence?

Compensation and Exploitation.—There are but two ways to settle this. One is to debit the use of the machine to the laborer and credit him with his product. The other is to debit him with his product and credit him with an allowance for subsistence while he is employed. Between these two positions there is no middle ground. In one case, there is compensation, in the other, income. This income is made up of interest and skill. But we have disposed of interest; how now shall laborers dispose of the reward for superintendence? By putting it up at auction. The one who can be found that will do the work best for the least money will decide the compensation. How will it compare with menial labor? As to the supply, there will be many who can fill the position, and as to the demand, it will be preferred to menial labor. While responsibility consumes more vitality, all other considerations are in favor of the labor that contains the least drudgery. Probably Vanderbilt would prefer to do the work he now does, at the same price, than to serve as brakeman on his road.

But, it may be asked, how is the laborer to secure capital, since he starts with nothing. Had he got his deserts he would have had something, for the first day’s work leaves a net result to secure capital. The first day the laborer becomes capitalist. How, otherwise, could capital find immunity?


In the first case, the laborer is, substantially, working for himself. As he gets in proportion to what he produces, it is for his interest to produce all he can : In the second case, he is working against time, and it is for his interest to produce as little as possible. In one case, the workman is responsible for damages: in the other, the proprietor, so that capital is never secure. In the first case, wages automatically adjust themselves, according to what one contributes. There are no strikes, for there is nothing to strike against. Between the hand that produces and the thing produced there can be no warfare. But, in the other case, there is a chronic civil war between labor and capital. In one case, there is an equality of relationship between employer and employee: in the other case, one is ‘boss,’ the other a hand.’ In one case, a foreman lays out the work: in the other case, an overseer spurs on the men. In one case, there

are no disputes to arbitrate: in the other, arbitration fails and dynamite is used instead. In one ease, they work many hours to accomplish little: in the other case, they work few hours and accomplish much. In one case, they welcome inventions: in the other case they oppose them. As consumption increases as 2, 4, 6, 8, and production according to 2, 4, 8, 16, &c, there will soon be a net result to labor. Prices under co-operation, would then eventually fall into the category of natural resources, and property at last become a spiritual entity. Artisans would then become artists, and labor exercise. It would be set to music and rhythm, as the brooks now flow, as the birds sing, as the flowers bloom, or as the planets roll. Laborare est orare, to labor is to pray. For when

“The traveller and the road seem one, with the errand to be done,
That were man’s and lover’s part, that were Freedom’s whitest chart.”


If what we have now passed over is correct, three deductions, somewhat important, may be derived:—

(1) Wages.—When usury is abolished and we get what we earn there is no more slavery in working for another than in working for one self. Neither is the possession of private capital, void of legislative increase, at all inconsistent with either liberty or equity. The farmer who possesses it and employs himself, may be a greater slave than those who do not possess it and who work for wages. It is impossible for anyone to say for another just where his surplus possessions begin and his personal needs leave off. Whatever is net beyond immediate use belongs to the producer just as much as what has been consumed, and to divest him of it would be robbery. As a proprietor then, he has a right to hire others, and they can justly work, for wages. The “wage system” then must forever remain. And because of the law of individuality of functions in nature it is perfectly compatible with co-operation. The recognition of this may simplify, and hasten the possibility of organizing co-operative production.

(2) Capitalistic Interest—The capitalist may now inquire how he is to be benefited by owning property upon which he can derive no revenue? This is answered in the fact that in nominally losing his ten per cent. ‘dividend’ in a false system, he saves as a producer and a member of society vastly more on his labor, in conjunction with his capital, nature and co-operation. ‘Industrial partnerships’ are an inefficacious but sure forerunner of this result. The quicker this change is made, the surer will be the chances of realizing par upon the present plant. For a lesson and a warning, against what might prove a possible and unexpected result, reference is made to the present and former condition of Southern slaveholders. Their plantations are unsaleable at ten per cent, of their former valuation, and yet, they could not now be persuaded, did the law allow it, to invest $50. in a Fall River operative, —so much cheaper is ‘free’ than slave labor.

(3) Competition under Co-operation.—Again it will be noticed that competition under co-operation is not abolished as it is under communism and state socialism. But it is animated by a new idea and directed into new channels. Under co-operation the problem is solved how the fullest exercise of individual genius is wholly compatible with the public good. While society gains in efficiency and economy, individuals are preserved from loss. Competition, as guided by the demand, builds up instead of breaks down. Under profit, society and individuals both alike pay the penalty, now all parties are benefited. Under profit the greatest trickster and the longest purse survive: under co-operation the most useful member of society survives.

(4) The Tariff.—Having now a free currency, all peoples of the globe and every climate, from Alaska to Mexico, cannot we compete with England? I think we can, and with New England, also. For co-operators will do their manufacturing on the spot where the raw material is raised. Meanwhile, by pooling our consumption, we shall be able to share in the bonus paid to capital, for our ‘protection.’ Thus, is it seen, that co-operation, without entering the arena of politics or waiting for another presidential election, outflanks the custom-house, and settles the tariff question in the interest, alike, of both Free Trader and Protectionist.


We now have consumption, distribution and production, the store, the bank, the farm and factory. These three are one: they constitute the three sides of the triangle to the complete reorganization of business and industry. The pool is designed to make a complete round of labor exchanges. The store, alone, would be of minor importance, not reaching the hidden springs of usury. There is now such competition, and so little margin, that most of them fail. It is probable that the economic administration ot our store would save us from this result. But when one, complete, three-fold exchange has been made, there is saved all profit, waste, antagonism, strikes, failures, rent, interest and middle men. The st ore, now, as related to these, is of prime importance. It makes a market for production, gauges the amount, and guarantees employment. And this furnishes us with a field for the inauguration of exchange. While, all joined together, they reinforce and aid each other.

Now, this three-fold organism contains the application of every element entering into the organization of business. When once it is completely formed, in however small a way, its natural superiority of organization must necessarily absorb and drive out the old system. It cannot resist natural law any more than the weaker can destroy the stronger. And through its outstretching and beneficent arms in new applications, all laborers may be relieved and set free. Every strike that now occurs,we are in a position to utilize, every failure that takes place we can buy in at bankrupt sale, and when the panic comes we can sit under our own vine and fig tree, and say, “Gentlemen, you can have your money; it is good for nothing; the trap that you were setting for us, has sprung back upon yourselves; you can now stay out and perish, or come in and behave.” Possessing such a fulcrum of power, we shall find little occasion to ‘boycott.’ Instead of ‘tearing down’ the old, it will be our only care to get out of its way, lest it fall down. “Stay as long as you ea»,” Nature cries, “we will not compel you, but you must.”


So, methinks, I see the humble beginning of the first store. It is in an attic. The customers are only ten. Their stock in trade is perhaps but a sack of coffee. It may have taken thirty days for this to accumulate. For, on the first of the month, they make their first division. An humble beginning? But the smaller the better, since this leaves room for growth. By the chain of cause and effect, if there are no wrong or missing steps to retrace, these co-operators can now see the end from the beginning. This end is, from the attitude of the consumer, to break all profit-making organizations.

The next month, having told it to their friends, they are joined by ten others, and they make a division in two weeks. At the end of the second month, each member’s encouraging report of hoe much they had saved by pooling their custom, brought their numbers to forty, with cash orders, on Saturday night, amounting to $150. Now, they had heretofore simply bought at wholesale, buying but one grade of goods, which bore the largest profit, and could be most easily divided. One of their number did the purchasing, made the division, and rendered a statement, free; the goods came at wholesale rates. But now, the orders are so increased, and are so varied, that a room and a store-keeper are necessary. But only a room for filling these orders, storing what is left, and a place to put any special bargains, or to keep a small assortment. And the store-keeper must be occupied only at stated hours, sufficient to serve this custom. Therefore, a room in the store-keeper’s house would be most convenient. Now the bare cost of transacting this business is the store-keeper’s compensation. It can be reckoned from the time consumed by each, or rated on the amount of goods sold. The terms of the contract and the character of the organization having been heretofore detailed.

Now, how are we situated? The customers we will say, are 75 in number. Their trade averages $3. each per week, or $225. altogether. Before, they got their goods at wholesale rates, which was a saving of 20 per cent. Now the extra expense of room and storekeeper costs $5. per week, or 2 per cent. on the amount of sales, which leaves their profit 18 per cent.

The store-keeper opens the store but an hour or two each day to accommodate this custom. He is independent, furnishes his capital or credit, buys his own goods according to his judgment, to supply his customers needs. But supposing the other stores find he is getting some of their trade. They denounce him as a pirate and a bushwhacker. The ‘leading dealer,’ who has ‘capital’ attempts to cut on prices. The two systems, ‘capital’ and ‘cost,’ now come in contact, and one or the other must go under. If we had the ordinary organization, it would be ourselves. Even some of our cooperators say “Now we have got a good thing, why not hold.on to it by forming a joint stock store, why should we be anxious to sell goods to the outside world at cost?” But if we do not go on, we shall go backward, and at last be absorbed by capital. Now while our customers, in patronizing outside concerns, are partaking of the indirect benefits of their organization, they must not disband it. Here is where comes in the application of the guarantee fund with the store-keeper, to pay for the use of the room, and to preserve the coherency of the pool. While capital Is sinking its money, our expense in such sales is nearly zero. When it has sunk all it can afford, our customers come back, bringing with them those of the other store. For, we sell at cost, to all.

Meanwhile, a purchasing syndicate has been formed between the managers of several local stores, that they may buy at bankrupt sales, and at manufacturer’s rates. They select an individual to serve them, just as they serve the local custom. Moreover the local store, which had kept a mixed stock of goods, open only on part of the time, finds its custom sufficiently large to keep open all the time, and to move into a department building of its own. Here samples may be seen of nearly everything that money can buy. It has a social, ethical, and unobtrusive air of reciprocity not found in common stores. The emulation seems as great to sell things low as high, and any fluctuation or flaw is as readily pointed out when against you as in your favor. Anyone can send a child, or order goods by mail as by person. The number of the regularly enrolled custom is a guide to the management, but the pool is now transformed, so far as consumption is concerned, into organized society.

But, long before this, production and the mobilization of credit have begun. They began almost simultaneously with the store. The farmer first added his supplies, and soon many articles of the store, which had been brought from abroad, are now manufactured nearer home. Of course our store-keeper buys goods where he can get them the cheapest. And, in doing so, we patronize those mills which espouse the labor cost principle. In the first place, as interest with us, has become one of the lost arts, we pay it no longer. As we pool our consumption, at cost, we are to lop off 42 per cent. tariff. We are not to pay any exorbitant profit for superintendence. For who can superintend better than a skilled workman? Nor are we to pay for the present waste and antagonism, of strikes and failures, advertising, wholesale dealers, commission men and runners. We have a market for our goods, and there can be no possible risk in supplying them. If producing in large quantities is economical, so is home production, besides conferring independence. And just now electricity is coming to our aid in changing the world’s motor power.

But when these tolls to capital have been eliminated, the farmers and wage workers establish the price, which is one of labor. And since the only standard of a reciprocal exchange is a “day’s work,” we again come to the point where the labor dollar becomes the labor note. The mobilization of credit we found required no establishment, but little organization, and was the easiest part of co-operation. A half dozen financial reformers among the pool first agreed that they would relieve each other in dn emergency, by loaning their spare money on deposit. They drew up a chattel mortgage, each to himself, and capable of being available, at any time, by endorsement. They next agreed, under these, to issue so much scrip. One of the men was a blacksmith, one a doctor, one a miller, one a soap maker, the other two were farmers, and they had $300. issued between them. As these parties are well known, their word being as good as their note, the store-keeper agrees to take the scrip and locks up the securities in his safe, until the first of the month, when a statement and a clearance is made. Soon, others start a warehouse for deposits, and their receipts are transformed into certified checks, indelibly perforated with certain definite amounts. They issue a currency on real estate, also bonds for their department store, for illumination, and for water. These are in denominations as low as $5., and are paid for in work, materials, or money. In return, they are redeemed in service, meanwhile passing as currency.

With this three-fold organized exchange, we not only are able to make one labor exchange free from the tolls to monopoly but we have a stereotyped organism which will forever establish all exchanges on a labor basis. Then will the pool and its machinery become merged in society, where riches are alone the reward of merit, and poverty only the consequence of indolence. Then there will be an ethical yard-stick with which to measure prices, and the variations of supply and demand so well regulated, that their influence will be almost imperceptible in modifying the first cost.

We therefore, as consumers, call a halt on all the tolls to capital of whatever description. We affirm the utmost freedom for the exercise of equity, knowing that it has the power to banish all deadheadism. We constitute a power before whose gaze there is neither sufferings nor martyrdom, but a veritable bonanza. Nature, invention, association, all pour their treasure into the lap of labor. Has any one any doubt that the only way to prevent being defrauded is to stop dividing? The only way then to do this is to form a channel where an integral exchange can take place. Is it possible to conceive how labor can be otherwise emancipated? It is not a labor or class movement, but a societary one. It takes in all classes equally but the most obtuse, and these will be finally compelled to come in. It is limited to no particular country in its application; it is capable of immediate introduction, and of conferring immediate benefits.


So our organization is ripe, even though education has not begun. We do not expect the tin pail brigade, or the farmer, weary with following the plow, to sit down and study political economy, or the science of government. Few read, fewer think, less reason, less still reason correctly, and hardly any can apply their thought to life. Yet all can see, and feel, have common sense, self interest, and know what benefits their condition. And the test of our gospel is not that it brings a serpent, or a sermon, or a stone, but bread, and money, and fishes. All can partake of the results, when they will be friendly to the principles. We have no fees, no formulas no pledges, not even a name. What have we to defend? We pursue the even tenor of our course. Whom need we offend? The trader can be taken in. Cannot a club of custom be obtained as easily as a political club? Do not people want to get out of debt? Are they not travelling the streets for employment? Do they not want a home? Is not capital seeking a safe investment? Do not all desire a competence, in old age? Is not the whole industrial world groaning and in travail to be relieved? Then, let them come to us, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. The marriage feast is spread, Nature’s banquet stands waiting,—Come ye in out of the by-ways and hedges O! ye Long-Defrauded, and partake of what is yours. But, for the loafer, the non-producer, there is no place left for him, no alchemy in nature’s laboratory hat can sustain his life.


But what shall we say of the influence this changed method of production, and the mobilization of credit must have on the present land tenure, in distributive centres, and the tariff on railroad traffic? Much we may safely say, for our organization is finally national, and carries away the trade monopolies. Even those, ‘protected,’ are looking about for a place to unload their goods. But we are not left to any indirect action of business to cope with these powerful monopolies. The efficacy of the pool is not limited to one kind of application. It can be applied to the railroads and landlords as well,—yes to the Stock Exchange and the Boards of Trade. The whole of that old legal word, “property,” is liable to get a terrible shaking. If there is any virtue in the future organization of labor, it can show the landlord’s titles as trees walking, and send ‘securities,’ in Wall street, higher than they were ever tossed by bulls and bears. When we show our strength we shall begin to be respected. The priest will then make favorable mention in his prayers, and the judge reserve a place for us in his constructions. Even Madame Grundy, herself, will desire to make our acquaintance. And lastly, the politicians, scenting our power, leeringly hover around to catch the breeze. But, poor old government, what can she do now that Babylon is falling? Divorced from her banking laws, her tariff tinkering, her chartered privileges, from all class legislation and meddling with private pursuits, what is there left for her to do? To appoint the Post-masters? Every improvement in the Post-office has come through the instigation or competition of private enterprise. The surveying of the public lands? That has only been an obstacle to natural development. A Bureau to educate the Freedmen? That is a farce, without land or credit. Having these, they are amply able to educate themselves. A police force? But local jurisdiction is only competent for this. A standing army? What use will the workingmen and women have for a standing army, when the usurers are dead? Then is there nothing left for her to do. Like the fifth wheel to a coach, or a last year’s almanac, she is inoperative and obsolete. What, arbitrary force exist, when there is no more fraud? It is impossible. While one vestige of it remains, fraud has not entirely ceased. One is the cause, the other the effect. In life, they were happily united, in death, they cannot go undivided. Yes, authority with profit must die. Then pass away, hoary old monster, and thief, and tyrant of time! No more voting,—for you to make ‘good’ laws over us, or to unmake bad ones, but a recognition of those that require no ‘making.’ No more taxing,—to compel one to buy what he does not want, or could get cheaper nearer home. In a word, no more war! But, instead, Peace arches the heavens, supported by two pillars,—Liberty and Equity. Cost, the only enduring basis of profit, and the Equal Sovereignty of All, the only tranquil source of authority. The all mighty Dollar is no longer supreme. A new social ideal has taken its place. Humanity is exalted, and Labor is King.

But we care to indulge in no Utopian flights. All that we claim for society is contained in a few, simple, definite, and self evident things. If they are not as yet enjoyed by man, they already belong to the brute creation. They are these:—

First,—A place to work. A guarantee of work. A kind that is adapted to the worker.

Second,Compensation. All one earns. The product of the producer, or its labor equivalent.

Third,Capital Secured. The creature and the creator at peace.

Fourth,Poverty and the Crimes against property, no longer a necessity.

Fifth,—A Some and a Competence for All.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.