11. So it is with the machines, necessary for making carpets, or any other manufactures: they might as well belong to a few individuals, or to a society, as to one master or to a society of masters, commonly called a PARTNERSHIP, or FIRM, or COMPANY. There is no more reason against a partnership of workmen, than against a partnership of other people of non-workmen. The son of a master is put into a counting house, and drilled, and broken in, to habits of business, and carefulness, and saving. These habits, from the idleness of his previous education, are often very hard to learn: but by the authority of his parents, and the necessity of the case, he does learn at last, after some years, to be careful and attentive, and to understand his business. It would be just as easy (and indeed more so) to break in the son of a workman to business, as the son of a master, because the former is brought up in habits of work from his infancy. It would be as easy for workmen as for masters to agree together without quarrelling. Such a society or partnership, would have rules and regulations, just as other partnerships or companies have. Troublesome individuals might easily be expelled from such societies, for infringement of rules, without injuring the other members, just as members of a company are liable to expulsion for breaking the rules.
12. It might be difficult to apply these principles to this particular case of the Kidderminster Carpet Weavers, so as immediately to enable them to work for themselves : but it is evident, that if such societies became common, among the working classes, one might take one manufacture, another might take another, so that they may work into each other’s hands. They might supply themselves plentifully, with the comforts of life; and through their different shops, they might supply the public, and so obtain a surplus capital, to purchase from other trades, and other countries, what they did not produce themselves.
13. The working classes should begin by having shops of their own. These shops should belong to a small number, who should form themselves into a society for that purpose. They should pay a weekly subscription, to go to form a common fund—just as is now done by Friendly Societies. They should deal as much as possible with their own shops, by which, each society would receive the profit upon the run of the shops, which now goes to shops in general; and by which profit, and by which alone, all the rich shopkeepers in the world grow rich, and make their fortunes. We say it is this profit alone, that maintains the splendour of all the merchants, and companies of the world. The London merchants, the Liverpool merchants, the Bank of England, all make their fortunes out of this profit.
14. Then, if this be so, the working classes have the strongest possible motives for opening shops for themselves. The sum of money, which the working classes spend, in the course of a year, is enormous. It amounts to many millions. The profit upon this sum, would of itself be sufficient to establish many manufactories. It is not the want of POWER, but the want of KNOWLEDGE, which prevents their setting to work, and making a beginning. Quarrelling with their masters will never give them a capital of their own, upon which alone their independence, or emancipation, or salvation depends: but SHOPPING for THEMSELVES, and WORKING for THEMSELVES, will give them PROFITS, and therefore CAPITAL, and therefore INDEPENDENCE.
15. There are many reasons why we do not expect that the principles of Co-operation can be applied to the case of the Kidderminster Weavers. These principles must be learned like those of other subjects. They must be explained, not by theoretical writers, but by men who have tried them, and found them answer. “One example is worth a thousand precepts.” The Society in West Street, Brighton, has answered so well, and is prospering so much, that no one can see it without being convinced of its complete success. The accumulation of its little capital to some hundred pounds, in a few months, and the mental improvement of its members, are the internal proofs of its SOUND PRINCIPLES. The jealousy which has been expressed against it, by some shopkeepers, is an external proof of the same. Men are only jealous of a rival: and only of that rival, when they think he has a good chance of success.
(To be concluded in the next)
Societies upon the principle of Co-operation, have been established at the following places.
36, Red Lion Square, London:
37, West Street, Brighton:
10, Queen's Place, Brighton:
20, Marine Place, Worthing:
Where Works on the subject may be had.
SICKELMORE, PRINTERS, BRIGHTON.