5. These are the simple principles of Co-operation, concisely stated. It is evident from these, that however valuable capital may be, it is not necessary for BEGINNING Co-operation—but that the basis, and secret of Co-operation is LABOUR. Take away from the produce of LABOUR what is necessary for the comfortable support of the workman—the remainder is profit—which saved, and accumulated, becomes CAPITAL; upon which the workman, and therefore the WORKING CLASSES might set themselves to work, and produce food and manufactures for themselves and the public, just as well as they do at present upon the capital of their masters.

6. Let us now apply these principles to the case before us—to the Kidderminster Carpet Weavers. They and their masters have quarreled about the price of wages. Both parties believe themselves right. It is impossible for us to decide between them: but this we know, full well, that if the workmen should carry their point at this time, it would not be long before their wages must fall. The wages of labour generally, are falling, and must continue to fall, and nothing can prevent it. Labour is working against machinery. Those that eat, drink, and get families, are working against those that do not eat, drink, or get families. In such a contest, the eater and drinker must be worsted. He cannot be put in a garret, and kept without food, till he is wanted. He cannot be laid up for the winter. The birth of new labourers cannot be deferred, like the production of new machines, till their labour is called for. They cannot be put together one day, and pulled to pieces another day. They come forth with new faces every day, and still there is a greater troop behind. As the waves that break upon the shore never exhaust the great body of the deep, so the womb of futurity contains more myriads of germs than there are drops of water in the mighty fathomless ocean.

7. It is miserable and affecting to see the laborious, the industrious, the indefatigable, the never-to-be-tired working classes; the skillful, the ingenious, the intelligent mechanics; the Dollands, the Troughtons, those heaven-born geniuses who enabled us to measure the world, the sun, and the planets, &c. as accurately as this piece of paper: it is miserable to see them under such uncontrollable circumstances, that they have ruined themselves, and their fellow workmen, by their own wonderful inventions. By selling these inventions to their masters, to work AGAINST themselves, instead of keeping them in their own hands, to work with themselves, and so diminish their own labour, they have built an inclined plain for themselves, down which they must infallibly descend, into the abyss of misery and despair.

8. No subscription which the generosity of the TRADE UNIONS can raise, will do more than stop up a hole. It cannot possibly prevent the final catastrophy of the working classes. It cannot prevent their ultimate ruin. If it should succeed, supposing that possible, in keeping wages at their present rate, yet this rate is not enough to maintain the workmen in tolerable comfort. The object of the working classes should be to improve their condition; but so impossible does that appear, and so great is the despair of people, at the present moment, that probably nothing would be so great a relief to the minds of all men, as a complete conviction that wages had reached their lowest point.

9. Where subscriptions have been made, among the Trade Unions, to support those who strike for wages, the persons who have received them, have generally lived in idleness. No conditions have been made by those who gave the subscriptions, and no return has been made by those who received them. The money has been spent in merely supporting the families of the workmen: nothing has been produced to replace it: it has been entirely wasted.

10. If the workmen bad received the same money from their masters, the manufactures, made by them, would have reproduced the money with a profit. With this profit, it is, that the masters grow rich—and that all the machinery is made. It would be just as easy for the workmen to reproduce this money, by working for themselves, as for the masters. As long as they are supported, no matter by whom, they could make the same carpets, or the same cloth, or the same stockings. Their carpets, cloth, or stockings, could serve the wants of the public, or of their fellow workmen—or of both, just as well as if they had passed through the hands of the masters. The masters do nothing in this respect, but distribute the goods to the public in general. It surely requires no great talent to distribute them. They are never distributed till they are wanted—till they are ordered. A family want a carpet; they go to a shop to buy one: the shopman writes to the manufacturer to send him one: be goes to his warehouse, and executes the order. As long as carpets are wanted, they will be sold. If the Carpet Weavers could have a common capital to work with, they could as well make, and preserve, and distribute carpets, when wanted, as the masters can.

(To be continued)

Share this post
The link has been copied!