We have often been asked, What do the friends of Association propose to themselves, in the reform to which they are devoted. Let us answer in a few words by the systematic organization of labor to make it more efficient, productive, and attractive; in this way, to provide for the abundant gratification of all the intellectual, moral, and physical wants of every member of the association; and thus to extirpate the dreadful inequalities of external condition, which now makes many aspects of society so hideous; and to put all in possession of the means of leading a wise, serene and beautiful life, in accordance with the eternal laws of God and the highest aspirations of their own nature. This in modern society is the exception and not the rule, among all classes.
Are we not laboring for an end which should command the respect and sympathy, of every sincere philanthropist? Is it not worthwhile for the most cultivated and intelligent minds, at least to look at a remedy which promises to eradicate absolute poverty … and thus bless the whole population? This reform is based upon the practical application of Christianity to the arrangements of society under the guidance of an accurate and profound science. – To doubt its practicability or its final accomplishment, would be to call in question both science and religion at once.
The Question of Social Reform
December 5th, 1845
To Wm. Lloyd Garrison.
In Association, or the Combined Order, an entirely different system prevails. The lands, edifices, manufactories, machinery, are represented by stock, divided into shares, like our railroads. This stock is owned by those who by their capital or labor have made the improvements. A fair and just interest paid on the same, and the balance of the of the product goes to those who found the Association will generally furnish the capital with which to do so, or will soon be able to purchase the stock, so that the soil and machinery will belong to those who cultivate and work them.
The choice of occupations the right of labor, and the entire profits of labor, (except the interest paid on the stock) are guaranteed to every person – man, woman and child – and the wages system or the custom of one person being hired to another, is entirely absolute. Suppose under this system the members of the Association, who are associated persons, introduce machinery as did the Capitalists; let us suppose that power looms (to continue the illustration,) are introduced, and that those who work them can produce five times as much that is, five yards, or the value thereof. There is no capitalist, or master manufacturer, to say – “This cloth is my property – I hire you to work for me, and I give you fair wages for your labor.” No – the workmen who produce the cloth own it, because they are joint owners of the machinery with which they work, and they divide it equally among themselves. They are consequently five times richer than before, collectively and individually. They pay interest upon the cost of machinery introduced, which is added to the stock of the Association, and the inventor is fairly remunerated for his improvements or discovery.
Let us suppose a further increase of mechanical power, say, as before, five-fold, so that the workmen can weave twenty-five times as much as the first. Will they receive a corresponding remuneration for their labor? Certainly. The product being twenty-five times greater than it was before machinery was introduced, the producers will receive twenty-five times as much real value.
Under such a system, the property and welfare of the producing classes will be increased in proportion to new invention and improvement in machinery, but under the present system, they decrease in about the same ratio. Universal prosperity, with its blessings of education and refinement, will be the result of the first, as general poverty, with its scourges of ignorance and discord, is of the latter.
I spoke of Tariffs in the beginning of the article; the present system protects the master-manufacturer or capitalist of our country against the overwhelming competition foreign manufacturers, back up by large capital and low wages. This is proper, because manufacturing industry ought to be developed in every country. But now we should discover the means of rendering the Tariff compound its action – that is, it should protect the interest of the laboring classes as well as those of the capitalist. If the latter should be shielded against the war of foreign competition, the former, the laborers, should also be protected against home competition, or competition among the laboring classes themselves, and of monopolized machinery against them.
But, alas! the poor laborer has no voice in the public press; without wealth or influence, he has none in our statesmen and leading politicians, who can work for those only who wield influence and can work for them.
From the Liberator
What is Doing in England
From the People’s Journal
Co-operation in Norwich. – Sir: I feel great pleasure in announcing to you the formation of a society recently established on the co-operative principle, and it is with feelings of deep satisfaction that I read in your “Annals of Progress” the progress making in the people’s cause; and as we have found ourselves very much strengthened and stimulated to exertion, from reading the various reports in your excellent Journal, we think that others may feel similar pleasure from a report of one formed in Norwich.
During the last winter two revered gentlemen of this city – one a Unitarian the other a Baptist – agreed to lay aside doctrinal differences, and united together to deliver a course of lectures, alternately, to the working classes. …The meeting took place upon the 30th of March, 1847, and after mature consultation, the following resolution was unanimously agreed to: -
“That this meeting is unanimous in considering the co-operative and associative principles as the only means worthy the consideration of the working classes, for a through amelioration of their present condition. At the next meeting the society was organized upon the above principles, and agreed to be called the “Norwich Co-operative and Redemption Society.” Its object, as stated in the rules, are; -
First: The accumulation of capital by means of pecuniary contributions, and the profit on articles sold at the common afore.
Second: The gradual employment of its members, for the benefit of themselves and the association.
Thirdly: The hire or purchase of land to enable the society to supply itself with the necessaries of life, and to become a self-supporting institution.
Knowing that union is not power, unless directed by wisdom, we meet weekly for reading and mutual information, and intend, as soon as means will allow, to establish a library and reading-room; and we hope, by it and the occasional delivery of popular lectures, to diffuse sound and practical views on the all-important topic of mutual co-operation, and other useful subjects.
Our motto is “All men are brethren;” consequently we invite men of every shade of religious and political opinion to come forward and aid us in the great and glorious work of elevating the social, moral and intellectual condition of the people.
Our subscriptions are three pence per week, and we hope to augment our funds by business transactions. We already number thirty-two members of all shades of opinion, willing to lay aside all sectarian feelings, and unite together for the above glorious purpose.
On Tuesday evening, the 8th June, an adjourned meeting of this society took place, Mr. William Heydoon in the chair. – The parties present were addressed by Mr. W.H. White, Mr. Barnard, Charles Richardson, W. Thomason, and others. At the conclusion, we doubled our number of members. M. Browning, from Farringdon street League, made some observations. On Thursday, the 10th, the committee met to make arrangements for paying the deposits, and commencing their trading operations. By diligence and integrity, there is little fear of being successful.
A Friend, writing from Manchester, with the intention of opening a communication with the writer of the letter suggesting fraternal intercourse with the Co-operative Societies of America, in No. 75 of the Journal, says – “The persons by whom I am instructed to make this application are at present engaged in carrying out the principle of co-operation on a limited scale; and though they are all workingmen, they can command from one thousand or two thousand five hundred pounds?” He adds – “They are sober Industrious men, desirous of doing good.”
Stockton Co-operative Corn Mill. – Pursuant to resolutions adopted at a public meeting held at the Temperance Lodge Room, in March last, a Co-operative Corn Mill Company has been formed at Stockton-on-Tees. The Rev. J.C. Meek is a zealous promoter of this work of brotherhood. Experiments of this nature cannot fail to do much good: they teach the people to rely upon their own exertions; to cultivate feelings of mutual affection; to regard their strength as proportionate to their union; they instruct the working classes in the elements of social organization; and are, in fact, so many nurseries, where the young trees are nurtured, until they assume a sturdy growth and stately aspect, when putting forth their mighty arms, they defy the wrath of the tempest, and adorn the land from which they draw their substance.
Our friends in Lowell, Mass. have organized for the purpose of carrying on the good work. They enter upon it with the right spirit, and will not fail to render a good account of themselves. More than fifty names are already attached to their constitution,— a band larger than many that have succeeded in revolutionizing the world . Let them only feel what they have to do, and lay their hands heartily to it and it will be done; but to this they need no exhortation. The officers of their society are,
John Allen, President
Sarah G. Bagley, Vice President
William T. G. Pierce, Secretary
D.H. Jaques, Treasurer.
They hold two meetings in the week; one on Saturday evening for social intercourse and recreation, and one on Sunday evening for lectures and discussions,—an excellent arrangement. Let Associationists unite socially, and learn to know each other not only as laborers in a common cause but as personal friends. In this way they will become more firmly united, and their efforts will be rendered more thorough and efficient.
In relation to Tracts, we will say to the society at Lowell, and to affiliated bodies elsewhere, that the Parent Society designs to prepare and publish a complete series of tracts for popular distribution, and that only the want of funds for the purpose delays its execution. This is an object which small contributions can attain. By forwarding a few dollars the publication of a new tract can be ensured, while at the same time the donors will be entitled to the value of their remittance in our publications.
The Harbinger, August 29,1846, p. 191
We see by the last “Practical Christian” that the Hopedale Community has made important alterations in its Constitution and secular arrangements. These alterations tend we understand them, to throw the members back, in a measure, upon their individual responsibility, though they are left free to associated or separate, their secular interests, as they may choose.
There reasons for this change are given at considerable length in the “Christian” They are briefly these:
1. Under the old arrangements the enterprising and responsible were overloaded with management anxiety and executive toil while the less enterprising were becoming less and less capable of planning, executing and providing! There was the statement says, an obvious enfeeblement of the capabilities of these.
2. Their connection was so close and complicated that they are always liable to be agitated by the eccentricities of individuals.
3. Personal confinement to business and a sense of restraint.
4. Want of sufficient confidence in their plan of organization to recommend the formation of other communities on the same plan.
5. The embarrassment consequent upon the retiring of disaffected members and the withdrawal of their capital.
As a believer in the necessity of social reorganization, we look with a strong interest upon every earnest endeavor to escape from the chaos of existing society and to show the world the necessity of Order and Harmony, in human relations.
We have rejoiced in view of the measure of prosperity that has fallen to the lot of our Hopedale friends, and now hope that they will be still more prosperous under their present arrangement. We believe however that they will yet learn that there is a still more excellent way.
We are not surprised that our friends felt a sense of embarrassment and restraint under their complicated artificial arrangements. – No organization that is not natural, according perfectly with God’s Law of Order will admit a free and harmonious action. In a true scientific organization Law and Liberty will be harmonized.
We believe that the true system of societal organization has been discovered, but has never yet been practically applied. There are difficulties in the way of its first application; but we believe they will be overcome, and that the world will yet see a True Society, and that the basis of that Society will be UNITY OF INTERESTS.
Associationists of Lowell are requested to take notice that meetings will be held every Sunday evening, at No. 76 Central St. until further notice. A correspondence has been opened with affiliated Unions, and individual Associationists, in various parts of the country, and some very interesting letters will be read at these meetings. All persons interested in Social progress, whither believers in Association or not are cordially invited to be present. Liberty will be given to any who are so disposed, to ask questions or to urge objections. – “Prove all things; hold fast that which is Good.”