KNOWLEDGE AND UNION ARE POWER:
POWER, DIRECTED BY KNOWLEDGE, IS HAPPINESS:
HAPPINESS IS THE END OF CREATION.
No. 5.] SEPTEMBER 1, 1828. [1d.
4. If a shop of this kind, belonging to workmen, were established in all the large towns in the kingdom, the manufactures made, by private workmen, on their own account, or by societies of workmen, might be vended to the public, through these shops, and the workman would then get the whole produce of his labour to himself. When disagreements happen, between masters and workmen, and the men are supported for a time, by subscriptions, among their fellow workmen, they might then be manufacturing goods on their own account, and disposing of them through these shops, obtain the whole profit for their own use, and thus be paving the way to their own independence.
5. Unless some plan of this kind be adopted, it does not seem likely that the workmen can ever benefit themselves by disputing with their masters. The causes which determine the rate of wages, are quite beyond the control of the master, and of the workman. We may hereafter endeavour to explain this, but at present we must take that question for granted. If the rate of wages be independent of both parties, they cannot alter it—and they ought to derive from it, a lesson of practical wisdom; that of mutual kindness and forbearance. We think we could shew that it is no crime in the master to wish to pay as little as possible for wages, nor for the workman to wish to get as much as possible : but it is criminal in either party to endeavour to obtain their end unjustly—and it is folly to attempt it by means which will only aggravate their own misery.
6. We agree perfectly with the workmen, that they ought to cherish a settled determination to better their own condition. We should look at them with unfeigned satisfaction, if we saw them doing so: but we are convinced they will never do it by endeavouring to force their masters into higher wages, by abstaining from work. During such time they must be suffering great hardships themselves: and suppose one or two masters are ruined, this is not the way to provide more work, but rather the contrary, while the probability is more in favour of masters being supplied with workmen from other parts. When new workmen, unknown to the old ones, come to take their places, the situation of the old ones may become very wretched indeed, and no redress can then remain for them.
7. The improvement which has taken place of late years, in the minds of the working classes, by which they have determined on these occasions to abstain from all acts of violence, is most creditable to their moral character, and gives us good reason for hoping that they will continue to improve more and more, and at last discover an infallible method of uniting together to secure their own independence. But this quietness is at the moment rather prejudicial to the success of their cause, because it leaves other workmen at liberty to supply the market. If a few individuals are induced by large families, or by peculiar attachments to their masters, to work at low wages, or if new workmen come and accept the wages, because they are higher than what they have been accustomed to elsewhere, it is the greatest possible act of injustice to molest them for so doing. In such cases the workmen begin by demanding justice for themselves, and end by refusing it to others.
To be continued weekly for the month of September 2023. These writings are exactly 125 years ago! Annotations supplied.