¶What are the reasons that prompted the writing of this book? I am presuming, of course, that it needs some justification, yet how can I justify it? Have I a great knowledge of Economics, of Sociology, or of the Sciences? Very little, I must confess. Of Literature or the Arts? Perhaps less. Literary style, maybe, whereby I hope to capture my reader’s imagination, and thus to ensnare him into believing to be true what may be, in reality, an illusion? That I leave my readers to judge.
¶The fact is, I am just one of the ordinary people of this world; the man you see in the train or in the bus every day of the week. I have my qualifications for my job, just as you have for yours, and although that job has necessitated some years of study, I do not, for that reason, claim any superiority in intelligence.
¶I have my family and my hobby. I have a house for the use of which I pay rent. In short, I am one of the men in the street; one of the many, not one of the few; one of the ten million, and not one of the upper ten, but one who perhaps has taken a shade more interest in the forces mechanical and social that have moulded the ideas of humanity into their present-day groove.
¶But this additional interest has produced in me a tremendous change of outlook. It has caused me to regard world affairs from an entirely different viewpoint, from the viewpoint in fact of an entirely different social system, one which could be and must be achieved–if we are to survive.
¶By comparison with the possibilities of life under the conditions of the system that I envisage, the present social and economic system stands self-condemned. If then I state my sincere belief that a world without money, a WORLD COMMONWEALTH, will make this planet a better place for me to live on, I am equally convinced it will do so for you. Insofar as you are in the same position as myself you have as much to gain, but you have yet to realise the possibility and the necessity for the change. The realisation that a fundamental change of outlook is necessary in the whole of mankind is then the principal reason for this venture into print.
¶But there are other reasons. I believe that the idea that forms the foundation-stone to the structure of this book, is at rock bottom very sound although it is so very simple. I could almost say stupidly simple, though bearing in mind the fact that true simplicity is never stupid. Nevertheless, there will be many who will refuse to accept it because of its very simplicity.
It’s all very well they will say,
but–. Others will say
It’s a lovely dream, although–. Still others will say
There are so many snags, the unforeseen, the unexpected–it’s just impossible. To these and other critics I put the simple question,
Is there any practical alternative solution to the world’s problems which offers so much for so little for all humanity? I will be prepared to argue with those critics who reply in the affirmative.
¶That there will be snags I am not going to dispute, but have there not been snags and difficulties in the way of every human achievement, and of every inhuman achievement as well? And were not those difficulties overcome? Could we not by our combined efforts, and with this goal in view, overcome those difficulties that might arise in the development of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶I am sure of it. I am as sure of it as I am sure of the ready acceptance of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH ideal by the great mass of the people of this world, would they but take the trouble of understanding the barest essentials of the idea.
¶This, then, is the main purpose, and the only justification for this book. I claim no originality for the idea, merely for its presentation, and if this is the means whereby an ever-increasing number of people become infused with the desire to see such a world in their own lifetime, it will have served its purpose.
¶In this book I am not the Professor. I am George. I am YOU.
¶PHILOREN. October, 1939–May, 1943.
You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. (CHARLES CHAPLIN in The Great Dictator.)
§ CHAPTER 1: GEORGE WANTS A
¶[George and the Professor, like many other people, have been discussing
¶George: It’s all very well for you to pull to pieces what other people want to do, Professor, but something has got to be done. What about social reforms on a very big scale, for example? I mean, a sort of all-in social insurance plan to cover everything and everyone. Don’t you think there are people clever enough to find ways of solving all these problems which are upsetting the world?
¶Professor: Listen, George. We’ve had nearly one hundred and fifty years of social reforms, haven’t we? In spite of which we’re getting still more plans which are supposed to put all previous ones in the shade. Right. Then let us see what the results are. We’ll take the case of POVERTY first. That’s the worst evil. No one who knows the facts can deny that THE CONTRAST BETWEEN RICHES AND POVERTY IS AS GREAT AS EVER. The fact is–and very few people seem to know it–that ABOUT TEN PER CENT. OF THE PEOPLE OWN ABOUT NINETY PER CENT. OF THE WEALTH OF THE COMMUNITY. This means that the land, mines, factories, machinery, railways, ships, and ALL THOSE THINGS THAT ARE USED TO PRODUCE AND DISTRIBUTE THE PEOPLE’S NEEDS OF LIFE ARE IN THE HANDS OF A VERY SMALL PART OF THE PEOPLE. So it doesn’t leave very much to go round among the other ninety per cent., does it? Is there then need to wonder that MOST OF THEM OWN LITTLE OR NOTHING? Why, they’re poor to start with, and that’s why the great majority have to depend for their living on the wages and salaries that they get for doing the jobs which they call
theirs, but which are really loaned to them. The old saying,
He who owns the means whereby I live, owns my very life is a very true one. Well, it seems that no clever person has yet thought out a social reform to do away with poverty.
¶George: No, but if people work hard–
¶Professor: So they do, George. Being poor in the first place, most of them have to, to get a living; and do you mean to say that hard work makes the poor well-off? Why, the people who do the hardest and dirtiest jobs are amongst the worst paid, while those who are rich, don’t need to work at all, because they can pay others to do it for them and can get back more than they pay in wages and salaries. Besides, anyone who has to work for a living, can’t very well pick and choose, because he knows that there are, as a rule, plenty of people, whether out of work or not, as hard-up as himself, only too willing to take over the job if it is offered to them. That’s why most people have to work hard for pay which keeps them poor, and pay on which, as a rule, they can only just make ends meet. But we still haven’t a reform that does away with low wages and overwork. You see, George, most people are poor to begin with, they have to stint themselves all through life to make ends meet however hard they work, and they finish up, as a rule, as poor as they started with the help of an old age pension. So much for poverty.
¶George: But, unemployment–
¶Professor: Yes, UNEMPLOYMENT, George. Almost disappeared, hasn’t it? No? On the contrary we’ve come to regard it as AN EVERLASTING FEATURE OF OUR NORMAL SOCIAL LIFE. The politicians have even given up promising to cure it. The only time unemployment is reduced, or looks as if it is reduced, is in war-time, or when the governments of the various countries are preparing for war. But no clever person has yet suggested everlasting war as a cure. Then there’s the SLUM PROBLEM–
¶George: But look at all the flats and houses that have been built in the past. It shows what can be done even now.
¶Professor: And very nice, too, for those who can afford them, but the slum dwellers who can’t, still have to stick to the slums of the present or shift to the jerry-built slums of the future. And then what about the people’s food? Experts tell us that a large part of the wage-earning class–about thirty per cent., I believe, don’t get enough of the right food to eat; and why? Because they are too poor. STARVATION, we used to call it years ago. Nowadays it’s called
MALNUTRITION but change of name hasn’t solved the problem. Then there’s the shoddy clothing, turned out for people who can only afford such stuff. And so I could go on pointing out lots of other evils which you and everyone else know, only too well, are hardly touched by the reforms that are supposed to cure them; but it all boils down to the one thing. You see, George, ALL THESE EVILS ARE PART AND PARCEL OF THE CHIEF EVIL–POVERTY. THEY ARE ALL POVERTY PROBLEMS, AND THEY AFFECT THE POOR ONLY. The rich have no poverty problems; that should be obvious.
¶George: Still, you can’t blame the rich for being rich.
¶Professor: Quite true, the division into rich and poor has its origin in the past, and only by studying history is it possible to understand how it arose. Nevertheless, the rich are getting richer and the poverty of the majority increases by comparison. The rich, however, also have a problem and it’s not an easy one for them to solve.
¶George: That’s interesting, Professor. What is it?
¶Professor: Their chief problem, George, is how to make poverty more bearable by the poor–hence social reforms and charity. Look around you, George, wherever you turn there are charitable organisations of one sort or another, scraping together money to relieve this or that social evil. Why, you could have a flag day for a
good cause every day of the year, but the trouble would still be there.
¶George: But they’re doing good work, aren’t they?
¶Professor: My point is, George, they don’t get rid of the problems; and as long as those problems exist there will always be the need for more charity and more reforms. Then, what about WARS? Do you know of any social reform that will do away with them? Or do you think they can be abolished by waging them on a larger and still larger scale?
¶George: It seems rather hopeless, doesn’t it?
¶Professor: The fact is, George, SOCIAL REFORMS CAN’T SOLVE THE PROBLEMS with which they are claimed to deal, however well-intentioned their sponsors may be. They don’t reach the root-cause of the trouble. All that they do, is to make more bearable by the sufferers, and then only for the time being, the bad conditions of life which arise out of the way human affairs are now arranged. SOCIAL REFORM IS MERELY A MEANS OF KEEPING THE POVERTY-STRICKEN JUST JOGGING ALONG ON THE VERGE OF WANT WHILE SOCIAL INSURANCE IS MERELY AN ADMISSION THAT UNEMPLOYMENT AND WANT ARE TO BE ALWAYS WITH US.
¶George: So it seems that THERE ARE NO REAL SOLUTIONS TO THESE PROBLEMS. I suppose these things always have been and always will be. Why, they may even get worse. It’s rather a dreadful outlook for the future, isn’t it Professor?
¶Professor: It may be to you, George, because like many other people with whom I have discussed these questions, YOU TAKE IT FOR GRANTED THAT THE ORGANISATION OF HUMAN AFFAIRS, AS WE KNOW IT TODAY, HAS ALWAYS EXISTED AND THEREFORE WILL GO ON FOR EVER AND EVER. I can well understand anyone holding that idea giving way to despair. But do you know, George, that a little knowledge and understanding of REAL history puts quite a different complexion on the matter? It can, in fact, make one quite optimistic.
¶George: In what way, Professor?
¶Professor: Well, just sit back, and listen without interrupting for a little while and I will tell you. You must also bear in mind that when I speak of real history, I mean the story of the way human beings have lived, and made their living, from the earliest known times. Now, I think it is easy enough to understand that in order to make their living, human beings have always had to come together into groups to make the best possible use of their means of making a living. By these I mean the natural surroundings into which they have been born, and the tools which they have been able to devise. It’s only the result of human nature that they should do so. You realise that, don’t you? Well, it is only a small step further to understand that the kind of tools and other means of making a living that people had, as well as their natural surroundings, such as climate and soil, etc., were the deciding factors in arranging how they should get together and how they should divide up among themselves, what they produced. Do you follow?
¶George: Yes, I think so.
¶Professor: You don’t sound too sure, George, so I’ll explain by giving examples. For instance, when men had only spears for hunting and very simple digging tools they were forced to get together into hunting and collecting
packs to get their food, which, consisting chiefly of wild fruits, nuts, roots and occasionally meat and fish, they then shared amongst themselves as equally as possible. These groups were not permanent. As need arose they would split up and new groups would form. When food was plentiful they all enjoyed it to the full. When it was scarce they all went on short rations, but, in any case, with their simple weapons and tools no man was able to produce more than the needs of himself and his dependents. In time, they improved their hunting weapons and added better digging tools to their equipment. They were thus able to add cultivated plants to their diet. Some began to till the soil and agriculture began. Others were able to tame some of the animals they hunted, and so, by keeping herds of these, became the first shepherds. But all this meant that they had to live a more settled existence, which in turn meant that more stable groups had to be formed. When times were bad and food was scarce these
tribes would fight one another for their animals, or for the produce of the land. In some cases even, to capture human beings for food–what we call cannibalism.
¶With the improvement in farming tools and methods of breeding animals coupled with the development of various crafts, it became possible for people to produce more than enough for themselves. A man could actually produce a surplus over and above the needs of himself and family. This fact had a far-reaching effect on human history. Men no longer captured others for food, they made them into slaves. They were made to work to produce a surplus on which others could live without working. And so thousands of years back there arose a division into groups–masters and slaves, rich and poor.
¶George: So that’s how it all started; this is really getting interesting, Professor.
¶Professor: Yes, George, that’s how it started. But you must remember that progress has gone on in the invention of new tools and methods of producing things; and this progress has been slow at some periods in history, more rapid in others. This progress has, however, given rise to great social changes, but in all cases, these changes, great or small can be traced back and found to be, at bottom, due to some change or improvement in the means of producing men’s needs. Now, George, do you follow me so far?
¶George: Yes, you’ve made yourself quite clear, but I still can’t quite see how a change in tools could have automatically brought about a change in the way people lived. Didn’t the people themselves have to take some part in the change?
¶Professor: George, it’s a pleasure to hear you ask that question. It shows me that your mind can still be pulled out of the rut into which most people’s seem to have fallen. Of course, George, all these changes have not come about by themselves nor have they come suddenly, or even smoothly. A great deal of human effort has been spent in bringing them about. Man has made his own history, but he has needed something to do it with.
¶George: What exactly do you mean by that, Professor?
¶Professor: Well, George, when a new or better method of producing the people’s necessities of life had been found, it took a long time before it developed fully. Naturally those who benefited most from the old arrangements and ideas, and who, as a rule, owned the old means of production, which fitted in so well with those arrangements, wanted things to stay as they were. So, being
top dogs for the time being, they did their best to hamper the activities of those who wanted to get the best out of the new methods of production. These, in their turn, tried as hard as they could to develop the new ideas; they thus strove to do away with these hindrances and to found a new set of economic arrangements more in their interests. To do this they had to get most of the people to support them, and in doing so, they had to call to their aid new ideas in all human activities, as for example in politics, law, religion, human conduct, science and so on. In fact, a new world outlook which they used to justify their claim that a change in social affairs would be for the good of all. Little by little, the new means of production became developed till they reached a point where they became the chief ones, although the old economic arrangements still remained to hinder them. However, a new system had not only become a possibility, but, from the point of view of those whose interests it would serve, an urgent necessity. So, at this point the clash between the old and the new would become very intense. The new ideas had by this time made so much headway among the people that they gained many supporters among those whose interests were not affected either way, and even, to some extent, among those who, before, had supported the old ideas. In time the great mass of the people agreed to the new system; the old either broke up or was done away with. The owners of the new means of production in the new system thus set up, became
top dogs, and being able to use what they owned freely and unfettered, prepared mankind for a further step forward in progress. Now, George, such changes have taken place more than once–
¶George: But just a moment, Professor. Pardon me butting in, but what has all this to do with what we were talking about, and why should it make one optimistic in the face of our present-day troubles?
¶Professor: I was just coming to that, George. What I want you to fix in your mind is this. THERE HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT SYSTEMS BEFORE THE PRESENT ONE. THERE IS THUS NO REASON WHY THE PRESENT ONE SHOULD NOT BE REPLACED BY ANOTHER AND A BETTER ONE, providing it can be shown to be really better, and not to hinder the progress and happiness of mankind as the present one does.
¶George: Replaced by another one? But surely, Professor, if the present system were reformed bit by bit, each social evil being thoroughly dealt with, the result would be as good as a new one? Besides, wouldn’t that be much easier to carry out?
¶Professor: I ask you, George, would it? Just think. You can patch an old pair of trousers till there are more patches than trousers. But that won’t make a new pair, nor will the result be as good as a new pair. It is, in fact, likely to fall to pieces, which, you will agree, would be rather awkward. REFORMING THIS SYSTEM, SO FAR, HASN’T TURNED IT INTO A NEW ONE. ALL THE REFORMS OF THE PAST HUNDRED YEARS HAVEN’T ALTERED ITS REAL NATURE NOR WILL ANOTHER HUNDRED YEARS OF TINKERING GET RID OF THE EVER-WIDENING DIVISION OF THE PEOPLE INTO RICH AND POOR. It is this which gives rise to all these problems and it is the acuteness of these problems, which, every few years, causes our politicians to run around like recently-beheaded chickens, looking for new solutions. No, George, you were quite right when you said, a little while ago, that there are no real solutions to these problems. There really are none and it is pure waste of time looking for them. THE TASK BEFORE HUMANITY TODAY IS, NOT TO LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS TO THESE INSOLUBLE PROBLEMS, BUT TO DO AWAY WITH THE PROBLEMS BY ABOLISHING THEIR CAUSE.
¶George: But what makes you so hopeful that this can be done, Professor?
¶Professor: The fact that world conditions have now reached a point at which A NEW WORLD SYSTEM HAS NOT ONLY BECOME A NECESSITY, BUT ALSO A PRACTICAL POSSIBILITY. INDUSTRY HAS DEVELOPED TO A STAGE AT WHICH, IF IT WERE UNHINDERED, THE WHOLE OF THE PEOPLE’S NEEDS COULD BE FULLY SATISFIED AND MORE THAN SATISFIED WITH ONLY A FRACTION OF THE WORK PUT IN NOWADAYS. In fact, George, I can picture a state of affairs in which ALL THESE EVILS, such as poverty, unemployment, slums, starvation and war, together with their attendant evils, such as crime and disease, WOULD NOT EXIST BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT. Just let that sink in, George, WOULD NOT, BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT.
¶George: What? A sort of Utopia, Professor? A never-never land of the far distant future? That won’t do, Professor. WE WANT SOMETHING NOW.
¶Professor: That’s just the point, George. We have got something now. A whole string of things. Let me rub them in once more. Poverty, unemployment, low wages, overwork, slums, starvation, illness, squalor, wars,–yes, we’ve plenty of trouble now–and plenty of social reforms thrown in. No, George, my idea is not Utopian at all. Just the opposite. It is the only practical alternative to the present state of affairs. It would mean A COMPLETE CHANGE IN OUR SOCIAL ARRANGEMENTS, WHICH COULD BE CARRIED OUT BY PRESENT-DAY PEOPLE AND WITH THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION WHICH EXIST TODAY.
¶George: And can you actually visualise such a system?
¶Professor: Yes, George, I can actually visualise its main lines, but, what is more important, with your help, we can also fill in some of the details and in that way get an idea how life could be lived if people only wanted to bring about the change.
¶George: With my help! But I don’t know anything about it.
¶Professor: No, but I’m going to tell you all about it and you’re going to pull it to bits from all angles. Now, don’t look so alarmed, George. You won’t need the knowledge of a professor of economics to understand what I’m going to explain. It’s simple enough for even a child to grasp. Just criticise and ask any questions that come to your mind. Jeer at it if you like. I can take it. On the other hand, try and think out some ideas of your own. I believe that two heads are better than one, but more heads are even better. Between us we ought to be able to make a sort of
blue-print for the new system, and so get a mental picture of how good life could be in the state of world affairs which I have in mind. Of course, I don’t say that we two can plan right down to the last detail how things would be done, because that would be the job of all the members of the community to decide when they had made up their minds to bring about the new order of things. The free expression of the opinions and desires of millions of people would, no doubt, give rise to thousands, of ideas which may never occur to us. After all, our own knowledge is limited. Still, we won’t let that stop us from trying to work out how we think things could be done under such conditions.
¶George: But you say that the change you’re thinking of could be carried out by present-day people with present-day industrial means. That’s going to put a limit to our ideas, isn’t it?
¶Professor: So much the better, George. That will show that THE CHANGE IS PRACTICABLE NOW. Our
blue-print can only take into account technical conditions and scientific developments as we know them today. If anything can be done today under conditions which are a hindrance to free development, how much better could it be done under the new free conditions. But we will also have to bear in mind that human ingenuity apparently knows no bounds, and that scientific development in the new system would necessarily be at a much higher level.
¶George: It sounds interesting, Professor, but as it seems this mysterious new world of yours will take about ten thousand years to come, I suppose we shall have to start breeding super-beings to cope with the super-machines of the time.
¶Professor: The question of time doesn’t come into it. Believe it or not, the change could take place tomorrow if the overwhelming mass of the people already understood what it meant and wanted to bring it about. If I can convince you that the idea is practical and desirable I’m sure you in your turn could convince others, and they in their turn could convince still more and more. So it would not take such a tremendous length of time as you imagine for the people to understand the idea and to become convinced that it is worth while, especially in view of the seriousness of the social evils from which we suffer today. Why, George, there is a crying need for a change from present-day conditions, and I should think people would be only too glad to know of an idea by means of which they could relieve themselves of the troublesome burdens which now depress them.
¶George: Anyhow, Professor, you’ve got to convince me first. So let’s get down to brass tacks.
§ CHAPTER 2: BRASS TACKS
¶Professor: Well, George, first of all, I must confess that the idea itself is not original. Much cleverer men than I have looked closely into the present order of things and have come to the conclusion that such a change as I visualise is the only one which can benefit humanity. I, however, am going to explain it to you in such a way that you can grasp it easily. Now, you’ve no doubt heard the old saying, hundreds of times,
Money is the root of all evil. Well, I daresay, if you had lived a hundred years ago you would have come across many people who thought, that if all evil comes from money, do away with money and–hey presto!–you get the ideal world.
¶George: Well, I must say if the abolition of money is the basis of your idea, there is certainly nothing original about it. Why, the barter system–
¶Professor: Sorry, George, I must interrupt. I am not proposing the abolition of money alone, nor a return to barter. In fact, the abolition of money alone, would solve no problems and would undoubtedly create many difficulties. But what I do propose is, that THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF MONEY AND EXCHANGE, BUYING AND SELLING, PROFIT-MAKING AND WAGE-EARNING SHOULD BE ENTIRELY ABOLISHED AND THAT INSTEAD, THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE SHOULD ORGANISE AND ADMINISTER THE PRODUCTION OF GOODS FOR USE ONLY, AND THE FREE DISTRIBUTION OF THESE GOODS TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY ACCORDING TO EACH PERSON’S NEEDS. How does that idea strike you?
¶George: Phew! What an idea! But one thing does strike me right away, and that is, such a system would have to be world-wide.
¶Professor: Naturally, that is self-evident. Besides the need for it is world-wide.
¶George: But, Professor, the idea is so childishly simple–it seems too simple–
¶Professor: Too simple to be possible, eh, George? I agree that the idea is simple, stupidly simple; but that is all the more reason why people should get to understand it quickly, and why it should be easy to apply.
¶George: But the whole thing is too fantastic for words. Why, in five minutes I could put so many holes in the idea it would look like a sieve.
¶Professor: Not a very good way of making sieves, if you don’t mind my saying so. Still, as you seem anxious to get down to the job of destructive criticism, suppose we get down to brass tacks. The important point is, does the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea
fill the bill? Would the present-day primary problems of humanity be eliminated? Could there be rich and poor? Obviously not. Would there be poverty, insecurity, unemployment, wars? Would there be need for pensions, social insurance, and all kinds of charity organisations? The answer is obviously an unqualified
NO in each case.
¶George: Just a moment, Professor. Not so fast. Aren’t you taking too much for granted? Don’t forget that this idea is quite new to me. So many things may be obvious to you yet not quite so clear to me. How do you know all these evils would not arise? For instance, can you explain to me how poverty would be abolished by your
¶Professor: That should be simple enough, George, if, as I propose to do, we work things out for ourselves in easy stages. First of all since money would not exist, and wealth could not, therefore, be measured in terms of money, no person could say that he owned a share of such-and-such value in the people’s means of production. In fact ALL THE WORLD’S MEANS OF PRODUCTION SUCH AS LAND, FACTORIES, MINES, MACHINES, ETC., WOULD THEN BELONG TO THE WHOLE OF THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD who would co-operate in using them. Now, as all these things would be the property of all, THERE COULD BE NO DIVISION OF THE PEOPLE INTO RICH AND POOR. Privilege and servility would disappear. As a result of the abolition of this division THERE WOULD NO LONGER BE THE EXPLOITATION OF MAN BY MAN, OF THE TOILING MILLIONS BY AN IDLE FEW. THE PROFIT MOTIVE WOULD BE ELIMINATED. Since all would co-operate in producing and distributing, each would take from the common fund sufficient to satisfy his needs fully. Now, George, is it clear that POVERTY AND WANT TOGETHER WITH OVERWORK AND UNEMPLOYMENT WOULD BE THINGS OF THE PAST? IS IT CLEAR, TOO, THAT INSECURITY AND EVERY FORM OF SLAVERY WOULD HAVE DISAPPEARED? With the abolition of commerce in all its forms would vanish too, the whole financial structure, banking, stock exchange speculation, insurance, advertising, commercial travelling and the host of other occupations made necessary by trade. By the transfer of all those in these redundant occupations to the necessary social work of production and distribution, the amount of time spent by each person in working would be greatly reduced. Spending less time in toil and more in leisure, people would be able to develop themselves, physically and mentally. So would disappear the chronic illness and ignorance which prevail today.
¶George: And war, Professor?
¶Professor: Well, George, you yourself soon realised that the change would have to be world-wide, didn’t you? As humanity would no longer be divided into separate groups, but would act as one united whole, there would be no markets, trade routes, national boundaries and so on to quarrel about. NATIONAL AND RACIAL PREJUDICES AND WAR WOULD AT LAST BECOME IMPOSSIBLE.
¶George: I don’t think things would work out so smoothly in practice when it came to details.
¶Professor: Possibly not, George; but we can say with certainty that THESE BROAD EFFECTS WOULD RESULT FROM SUCH A CHANGE AND FROM SUCH A CHANGE ONLY. As I have shown THEY ARISE OUT OF THE NATURE, OUT OF THE VERY BASIS OF SUCH A SOCIAL SYSTEM. Each effect follows logically as a direct result of the change in the running of affairs. The actual details of how life could be lived, given these favourable conditions could be worked out, but of course, ideas would vary with the imaginativeness, temperament, wishes and knowledge of those who undertake the task.
¶George: There’s one thing you’ve left out of consideration, Professor, and that is the human element.
¶Professor: Well, it would certainly be interesting to know why human beings should object to such a social system. Still, I am prepared to learn.
¶George: First of all, there’s this
free distribution of goods. Wouldn’t there be some grabbing! And then, what inducement would there be for a fellow to do a week’s work without his pay packet at the end of it?
¶Professor: If you don’t mind I’ll answer your second question first since it will make clear considerably more than you have in mind. In the first place, have you ever heard of anyone eating his pay packet or using it, in the manner of Adam and the fig leaf, as an article of clothing?
¶George: No; I can’t say I have.
¶Professor: Then you will agree with me when I say that under present conditions, most people do a good week’s work and at the end of it get back a limited amount–sometimes very limited–of food, clothing, shelter, beer, tobacco, etc., depending on how much can be bought with the money in the pay packet.
¶George: It’s a funny way of putting it, but I suppose it is true all the same.
¶Professor: All right, then, in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH all mankind between the ages of, say, sixteen and fifty, to give a figure, would perform their periods of duty, each according to his or her ability, and having produced all the goods and other things that the community needs, would each
take from the common fund all the food, clothing, etc., that they require each according to his or her needs.
¶George: But what inducement–?
¶Professor: The question of inducement to work could not arise in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. How could it under conditions so open and above-board. There would be no mystery about things; no rabbit in the hat. Just plain common sense would show any and every man and woman that they could not consume until they had produced, that they could not enjoy the good things of life unless they had previously spent some of their energy, working freely with their fellow human-beings, in first bringing those things into existence. On the contrary, George, I think there would be every inducement to reduce the length of the period of duty in order to do away with tedious work as much as possible. Thus, with the establishment of a WORLD COMMONWEALTH, many labour-saving ideas and processes, known today but shelved and neglected because they would not yield a money return to someone, will be put into use. In addition, people with the ability would get busy devising new ones. Think what an impetus would be given to invention and research.
¶George: I can’t see how.
¶Professor: You see, George, there would be a different outlook on things. Work would be considered a necessity imposed by Nature, necessary to produce the things needed to live and to enjoy life. Working is really preparing the means to live and we usually enjoy life best when we are not working. As, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, people would work to live, and not just live to work, as they do today, they would, in order to have more leisure for enjoying life, want to reduce to a minimum that part of their time that they spend working. It seems clear enough to me, we would not work eight hours a day, if we could satisfy all our needs to the full, by working, say, four hours a day. Even then, we could still make our work to a great degree pleasurable. So I repeat that the achieving of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH would surely see a great release of the productive powers which are now held in check because it is not profitable to make full use of them. Also a great stimulus to the use and invention of labour-saving devices as well as the economical use of the world’s natural resources and human labour-power. For example, all the overlapping work to which present-day competitive trade gives rise, would be cut out, and all the natural materials such as coal, oil, etc., which are destroyed in such enormous quantities by the present system with its waste and wars, would be conserved, and would therefore last much longer.
¶George: Excuse me, Professor, but you seem to be evading the
¶Professor: I’m sorry, George, I do tend to go off at a tangent. It’s just as well you pull me back. Inducement to work, you said, didn’t you? The wage packet at the end of the week makes a fellow want to do a week’s work, is that it? Well, if that is so, I should have thought wages would go up and up. But do they? Not likely. Why, as a rule, a demand for a wage increase is fought tooth and nail by employers, though according to you, they should be only too pleased to grant it, since it would induce their employees to work harder. On the other hand, a demand for a rise in wages often goes together with a demand for a reduction in working hours. Another thing, when a reduction of wages is enforced would you say that is done as an inducement to be lazy?
¶George: Hardly, but there seems to be a snag–
¶Professor: Yes, George, a snag in your own ideas. If you consider the average contents of a wage packet under the present system as an inducement to work, all I can say in reply is, that in my opinion, the wage-packet represents the biggest mass confidence-trick played on human beings since the beginning of history. Together with millions of your fellow-men, you are given to believe, and you do believe, that the contents of your wage-packet represents all that you have produced during your week’s work. It is, so to speak, an inducement for you to work harder to get more.
¶George: Well, Professor, if wages aren’t that, what are they?
¶Professor: Just this, George, and nothing more. In actual fact WAGES REPRESENT JUST THAT FRACTION OF WHAT YOU TURN OUT WHICH IS SUFFICIENT TO KEEP YOU JUST WELL ENOUGH–IF YOU’RE LUCKY–TO CONTINUE WORKING FROM WEEK TO WEEK TO THE END OF YOUR WORKING LIFE. The rest goes into another person’s pocket. IT IS ONLY BECAUSE YOU RECEIVE YOUR PAY IN THE FORM OF MONEY–money again, you see, George–THAT YOU DON’T REALISE THE TRUTH OF THIS, and are so easily tricked and exploited. Just think it over, George.
¶George: It’s certainly a different way of looking at wages, different, that is from what we’re accustomed. But I must pull you up again. What about
¶Professor: I’ll deal with that now, though I think you should be able to solve that problem yourself. Of course there would be no grabbing. How could there be? What need for it in a world in which there would be a continual abundance of goods, which would be distributed freely and in an orderly manner to each person according to his needs? What need for it when every person would receive all that he requires as a normal matter of course, and knowing full well that he would continue to do so throughout his life as long as he did his share in the work of the community? And while we’re on the question of grabbing, George, what have you to say of the grabbing that goes on in our present system?–the small-scale grabbing, the petty grabbing between business men competing for trade and between workers for jobs; the stealing, the robbery we call
crime. The large-scale
grabbing, on a national scale, of the possessions of backward or weaker peoples by great empires, and
grabbing on the largest scale of all when great empires grab from one another, or make a grab for the same thing at the same time. It is this last which leads to WAR, and that, you should realise by now IS ROOTED IN THE PRESENT SOCIAL SYSTEM. So, George, you can see for yourself that grabbing is one of the many evil things which will disappear with the achievement of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, one of the things which would not exist because it could not. The commandment
Thou shalt not steal would become out-of-date. Just fancy a man breaking into a store to steal something which he could have delivered to his door in broad daylight, freely and as a matter of course. It would seem silly to you, wouldn’t it, George? So would the eighth commandment under the conditions of plenty that would exist in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH.
¶George: All right, Professor, I’ll give you best on that point, but how would the WORLD COMMONWEALTH be run then?
¶Professor: Let me take a deep breath first. Now then–suppose the new social system were to start tomorrow; the great mass of people having already learnt what it meant, and having taken the necessary action to bring it about. Everybody would carry on with their usual duties for the time being, except all those whose duties being of an unnecessary nature in the new system, were rendered idle; for example, bank clerks, commercial travellers, salesmen, accountants, advertising and insurance agents, etc. These people would, in time, be fitted into productive occupations for which they considered themselves suitable. Periods of duty would then be regulated so that over-production would not ensue. Some sort of shift system would be necessary in some industries to begin with, and it would be as well to add that duty periods could not be reduced very much at the beginning.
¶George: Why not, Professor?
¶Professor: Obviously, George, because there would be need for an immediate increase in the volume of production of many kinds of goods to relieve those people who were suffering from the evil effects of the old system and to supply the needs of those who were in the process of transferring themselves from obsolete to useful occupations. For example, it would be necessary at once to produce lots of clothes of all sorts to be distributed to the millions of poverty-stricken people who always lack them nowadays. The agricultural parts of the world, freed from the restraints of the present
money-based system would pour out the abundance of health-giving foodstuffs to feed the half-starved populations of the world; not, as often happens nowadays, to be burnt, thrown into the sea, or otherwise destroyed because they cannot be sold at a profit. For the first time, the conditions would exist for turning into reality the beautiful plans for housing the people in real homes instead of the sordid slums or the dull cities which the present social system has called into existence. These plans exist today–on paper–and will remain so, while it is necessary to have money to get a decent home. Released from the
money necessity, architects, builders, designers, artists, engineers and scientists would be enabled to get together to build towns, homes and work-places which would be a joy to live and work in, a job at which even today their fingers are itching to get. How long this period would last would depend upon the size of the mess left by this
precious system of ours. Personally, I don’t think it would take very long since we have seen how quickly even with the obstacles of the present social system, backward countries can be developed by modern industrial methods. It should not, therefore, take very long, for those parts of the world which are already highly industrialised to turn out enough goods to make the whole of humanity tolerably comfortable as far as the fundamental necessities of life are concerned. Besides, the advanced parts of the world would help and teach the backward parts and thus assist them to improve their level of existence. How different from the present state of affairs, in which, after several centuries of
uplift the backward races still exist to be exploited by their advanced
¶Well, having got rid of the worst relics of the old order, production could then be adjusted so that enough is turned out to satisfy fully, the needs of everyone, making, of course, due provision by storage for the possible, though infrequent, natural calamities such as earthquakes. So, it is obvious that in a comparatively short time, duty periods could be comfortably reduced to an average of, say, three or four hours a day or, who knows?–perhaps less. Perhaps it might be better to work on the basis of, say, a thousand-hour year, which could be divided up into fifty weeks of twenty hours or forty weeks of twenty five, and so on, to suit the needs of the different industries, and of the people themselves. To arrange such things is not beyond the ingenuity of human brains. The people who could do this exist today, and are doing similar sort of work. Still, whichever way it would be organised, periods of duty would occupy nowhere near the greater part of our waking hours as it does today.
¶George: Heaven on earth for the lazy bounders.
¶Professor: We would have the right to be lazy, George, or rather, the right to leisure. It’s only the system under which we live at the moment that makes a virtue of hard work. The most sensible way of doing a thing is the easiest way. Otherwise we would walk on our hands, and write with our toes. I believe that if a human being is intelligent enough to understand the simplicity and beauty of life in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, he will appreciate that his period of duty is a vital part of his existence just as is an animal’s search for food. He would not shirk it; he could not shirk it. Human nature would not let him. Human nature–the desire to live, to go on living, and to improve one’s living conditions–would impel him to take his part in the world’s work, since he would know that in the new conditions the good of all would be his good as well. I believe, George, that, in the final analysis, the assertion of their human nature by humanity is prerequisite to the achieving of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH.
¶George: But let’s get back to brass tacks, Professor, how would people get the things they need?
¶Professor: That should be quite a simple matter, George, surely. Having produced all that is required, all that is necessary is to distribute it to the people so that each person’s needs are fully satisfied. In the case of perishable goods it would merely be a matter of transport from factory or farm direct to the local distributing centres, and in the case of other goods to large regional, county or city stores or warehouses. From there it is but a step to the local distributing stores which would stock the whole range of necessary goods–a kind of show-room and warehouse–and from which the goods could be delivered to the homes of the people, or, of course, collected by them if so preferred. After all, George, the daily, weekly, and monthly needs of any given number of people in a district are easily worked out, even nowadays–take, for example, the distribution of milk–so it should not be very difficult to find out what stocks the local stores would require.
¶George: I see the idea, Professor, but there’s one thing you’ve overlooked. What about those people who’ve got their money invested, say, in shares, and who don’t have to work for a living? They’re going to kick against it, aren’t they?
¶Professor: I don’t see why they should, and, in any case, how they could. They wouldn’t be the worse for the change! In fact, in at least one respect they would be better off! They would be exchanging a limited share in some industry for an unlimited participation in the whole of the world’s resources. Besides, taking part in the work of the community would give them a new interest in life. I am sure many of these people are very capable and would become very helpful and useful members of society.
¶George: But then who would own all those things that they own now? To whom would belong the land, the factories, the mines, the railways, and all those things that humanity needs for its existence?
¶Professor: As I explained to you before they woundn’t belong to anyone, George! Look at it from this point of view; the air is necessary for our existence–isn’t it?–but nobody owns it, yet everybody is able to use it and get as much benefit as they can from it. Well, the means of life would be regarded as belonging to nobody, but everybody in the community would be free to take part in using them, and in enjoying freely of their fruits.
¶George: In a way, then, they would really belong to everybody.
¶Professor: That is, perhaps the best way of putting it. You see, George, belonging to nobody means belonging to everybody; so in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH the means of life would belong to the whole community and not to any one person or group of persons.
¶George: It’s a big idea, Professor. But you’ll have a job to convince people that it can work. For one thing it’s too big a change.
¶Professor: Of course, it’s a big change, George. It must be a big change. In fact if we want to get out of the mess that we’re now in, we’ve got to make THE GREATEST COMPLETE CHANGE THAT HUMANITY HAS EVER CARRIED OUT. It has always been my opinion that, if you are in a mess, get out of it as quickly as you can, putting all your energy into the process. It’s no use floundering about, getting deeper into the mire, hoping things will improve. Trying to pull yourself out by your own shoe-laces is just wasted effort.
¶George: Then you think you can cure all these evils, Professor.
¶Professor: No, George. I can’t cure them, nor can any one person, nor any small group of people. It isn’t a job for a dictator, neither is it a job for leaders. IT’S A JOB FOR THE WHOLE, OR AT LEAST, THE GREAT MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE TO CARRY OUT FOR THEMSELVES, because in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH each person would take a conscious and responsible part in running it. But a system that’s going to be run by the people will have to be got by the people. Before they get it they’ll have to want it and before they want it, they’ll have to understand it. And before they understand it, they will need to have it explained and described to them in such a way that they can easily see the great benefits to be derived from the change. This should not be difficult in view of the wretched prospect in life that the present social system offers. This, George, is what am I doing: but what’s more important, it’s what you and any other person can do, once the main features of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH are understood. Now these are really quite simple, so I’ll proceed to sum them up for you in a few sentences.
¶Firstly, the new social system must be world-wide. It must be a WORLD COMMONWEALTH. The world must be regarded as one country and humanity as one people.
¶Secondly, all the people will co-operate to produce and distribute all the goods and services which are needed by mankind, each person, willingly and freely, taking part in the way he feels he can do best.
¶Thirdly, all goods and services will be produced for use only, and having been produced, will be distributed, free, directly to the people so that each person’s needs are fully satisfied.
¶Fourthly, the land, factories, machines, mines, roads, railways, ships, and all those things which mankind needs to carry on producing the means of life, will belong to the whole of the people.
¶These four points form the foundation of the new system, a world in which all our present-day social evils would not exist because they could not. They form the basis on which the New World Order must be built. The details of organisation would depend on the will of the people, who would make such changes as were necessary, whenever, wherever and however they were required. So, for the first time in human history, mankind as a whole would have complete control both over its means of life, and over itself. And that, George, would mean REAL CIVILISATION. Until that goal is reached we are only serving our apprenticeship to civilisation, we are not yet civilised.
¶George: Well, Professor, you must admit, I’ve been a good listener. What you have told me certainly goes deeper into things, than the high falutin talk of our politicians and wise men. They always seem to be running round in circles. But the idea of a MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH, the way you describe it does seem a way out. It certainly makes a chap think, but as I’m not used to having my mind jolted like this, you’ll have to give me time to think it over. I don’t intend to let you get away with it so easily. I’m sure there must be lots of snags, and I’m going to see if I can find them.
¶Professor: I’m sure there are lots of snags, George, and I’m just as sure there isn’t one that couldn’t be overcome in a world in which
money is no object and people would be free to arrange their own lives. Still, it’s getting late, and I think you’ve had enough for a
taster. Perhaps by tomorrow you’ll have some real problems for us to work out. Good night, George.
¶George: Good night, Professor.
§ CHAPTER 3: TIDYING UP
¶Professor: Well, George, did you sleep well last night?
¶George: Not too well, Professor, your MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea will give me nightmares yet. Somehow, when I think things over, it seems as if there are a thousand and one arguments I could put against it. Still, for the time being, there are just a few points arising out of our discussion of yesterday, that I should like cleared up.
¶Professor: That’s a good idea, George; then you could perhaps, sort out your other points, so that we could discuss them systematically.
¶George: Firstly, Professor, there’s the question of food. It interests me since, as you know, I’ve got a fairly healthy appetite. You, judging by this morning’s breakfast, don’t eat enough to keep a respectable pigeon alive. Now, is it fair that, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, I should have more food than you? Similarly, there’s the question of clothes. I’m a big fellow, and obviously need more cloth for my clothes than you do. It wouldn’t seem fair somehow.
¶Professor: George, I’m surprised and shocked. Do you know what you deserve as punishment? A breakfast of twenty eggs and forty rashers of bacon, half a dozen loaves cut into thick slices, well buttered, a dozen cups of coffee, all forced down your throat till you ate your own words. And if you didn’t, George, I’d eat you! Surely you must realise that I eat as little as I do because I prefer to do so, and you as much, for the same reason.
¶George: And you really think you might not prefer to eat more if it were freely available?
¶Professor: I’m sure of it, George; and for this reason. The one thing that no housewife economises on, unless she can possibly help it, is food. She knows it is false economy. Unfortunately, under present-day conditions, and probably in millions of homes, even food has to come under the axe. Now carry that to its logical conclusion and you get the extreme case where the family sell all but the barest essentials in order to get food to live. At the other extreme, the wealthy do not eat much more food than many of their so-called
middle class brethren. It may appear more because it is more varied: it certainly is more expensive since it is the very best. But speaking generally, and apart from the occasional
banquet, people who can afford to, eat as much or as little as stomach capacity and habit permit. And remember, too, that under WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions there would be no question of
affording, there would be more than enough food for all. What matter if one eats more than another, where all can satisfy their varied appetites?
¶George: It does seem, though, Professor, that there would be a tendency to hoarding especially with clothes; and that would upset the calculations of the distribution dêpots.
¶Professor: And why should there be hoarding, George, tell me that? I can understand people hoarding things in circumstances where there is likely to be a shortage, but if you knew that whenever you wanted a new shirt, you could have one for the asking, would you stack six dozen in your wardrobe? I think it can be fairly taken for granted that, in the case of shirts for example, there is a reasonable number beyond which no reasonable man would go. As only reasonable and intelligent human beings could bring the WORLD COMMONWEALTH into existence, the question answers itself.
¶George: Well I must say, Professor, that so far you’ve put a fairly strong case. So much so, in fact that I feel reluctant to put the next question. I really feel that you won’t be able to answer it–satisfactorily at any rate, and I should hate to see it knock the bottom out of such a fine idea.
¶Professor: I am anxious to hear it.
¶George: What I would like to know is, who’s going to do the dirty work? Are the coal miners going to carry on with their hard and dangerous work, while you and I have nice soft jobs in, say, a factory or a college? Even if it is only for a couple of hours a day, is Bill Jones going to carry on with his job of cleaning out sewers while Jack Smith has the comparatively comfortable job in an office organising, say, the distribution of potatoes? No, Professor, this, I think, settles the whole question, makes it ridiculous, in fact. Why, nowadays, where we’ve nothing like equality there’s envy of the other fellow’s soft job. Give us equality of opportunity and there will be more envy, not less.
¶Professor: George, it seems as if I’m beaten! We’ll have to give up this idea. Put it right out of our minds–forget it. But what a pity! What does a miner’s life consist of now? Hard work, as you say, eight hours a day of it. Dangerous work, too, because safety in mines costs money. Wages? Sufficient, but only just sufficient, to buy the bare necessities of life for the wife and family and himself. Leisure? Plenty of that, when he’s on the
dole–and the joyful prospect of using that leisure–watching his wife’s face grow more haggard each day; his children more stunted in growth and warped in mind. No, George! I’m not beaten; I’m going to ask the miners, and the dockers, and the sewage cleaners, and all those others whose brawn gives us comfort, whether they prefer the present mode of life, to life in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH; whether they prefer the long hours of toil in the present system to the possible two or three hours a day in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH; whether they prefer enforced idleness and semi-starvation, to real leisure and security; whether they prefer a pinched and sordid life on a pay-packet to a life of freedom and the free use of their productiveness in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH.
¶George: In other words, Professor, you are going to hold a pistol at their heads and virtually say to them:
You’ve done the dirty work before, carry on doing it now, or else– You are in fact, going to ask them to make a virtue of necessity. It doesn’t seem fair. No, Professor, you are not going to weaken me with your fine speeches.
¶Professor: I had no intention of doing so, George, but you must bear in mind this very important fact. From a physical and from a mental point of view we are not built the same way. We will never be cast in a mould or made to a pattern. In our
make-up we each have characteristics that enable us to do one kind of job more easily than others. The muscular man will always find
easy the heavy physical work that his weaker brother calls
difficult. The mentally nimble person will laugh at
knotty problems which are apparently insoluble to others. Under present conditions the great majority of people have very little opportunity of choosing their job when they leave school. They just drift into any sort of blind alley, and provided it means a few shillings added to the family exchequer, they and their families worry little. In the WORLD COMMONWEALTH there will be free choice. You might say, of course, that no man would willingly choose the life of a miner or a sewage cleaner, but I’m sure you would find on enquiry, it’s not the work they object to so much as the conditions of work. I am quite certain that the real cause of their objection is the length of hours, the danger, and the little wages they get for doing the work, but in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH as much as possible of this dangerous, hard, and dirty work would be eliminated. In any case, most people who’ve been at any one job for a length of time tend to find the work monotonous; hence in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, people would be enabled to change their duties quite frequently if they so desired.
¶George: But surely that would result in reduced efficiency?
¶Professor: Surely people are not efficient who are doing work in which they have lost interest? Why, George, a change of occupation is as good as a tonic to almost everyone. In any case you must remember that a good proportion of our needs are produced by machines that require little more than minding. Future developments in machinery will probably make machine-minding almost unnecessary.
¶George: Talking about machinery, Professor, what inducement will there be for people to invent new machinery if they are not going to get any more than the other fellow for their work? Why should they rack their brains and burn the midnight oil if their reward is to be no more than if they did quite simple work and spent their leisure playing golf or billiards? Why, it seems to me that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, progress in engineering, the arts, and the sciences would come to a dead end. You simply must admit this, Professor.
¶Professor: I’ll admit nothing of the kind, George. First, you asked me who’s going to do the dirty work without extra reward? Now you ask me, who’s going to do the brainy work–without extra reward? Just get this into your brain, George. In a world in which everybody’s needs would be amply satisfied there could not arise the question of extra reward, because a surplus of goods would be of no use to anybody. People would do their jobs because they found those jobs most suited to their abilities. Remember what I said before. We all have
kinks in our make up, that enables us to do one kind of job more easily than another. In some people these
kinks become abnormally developed, and so we get the Einsteins, the Curies, the Faradays, and so on. But they didn’t do their work, for what they’ve got out of it–in money. They just couldn’t help doing it, because they were interested and happy in their work, and because the particular scientific and other problems which they solved were there to be done. They were square pegs in square holes. They were the right people for the right jobs and since, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, people would be able to choose the work in which they would be happy and interested, I can see progress going forward by leaps and bounds. Besides with much more leisure-time people could develop much more versatile interests.
¶George: In spite of all that, Professor, it doesn’t seem fair somehow, that the people who use their brains shouldn’t get some sort of extra reward.
¶Professor: That statement, George, implies: (a) that it is possible to do some work without the use of brains; (b) that all the scientists, inventors, discoverers and so on, have all had ample rewards for their work; (c) that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, a certain group of people engaged in special duties will expect more from the common fund of production than they can consume; (d) that some work is more
difficult than others.
¶The reply to the first is almost self-evident. It is impossible to do anything without using one’s brain, and when this is diseased, or befuddled with excess of alcohol, the amount of work that can be done is necessarily restricted. To the second I can only say that thousands of scientists have in the past devoted their lives to the study of fundamental problems, and have died in poverty. To the third I say briefly and simply this. That the greatest reward, even under present-day conditions, for a man who can do something much better than his fellow-men, is in their acclamation. And after all, George, can a man reasonably want more than he needs? To the fourth we have the opinions of many eminent scientists, who have confessed that they have solved their problems by normal work and without undue mental exertion. You must remember that great knowledge of one subject does not imply a great knowledge of all. Einstein himself may be a perfect duffer at Greek, and you, a very good car mechanic would no doubt make a sorry sight as a bricklayer. And now, George, I’ll leave you. Tomorrow, if you are interested, we’ll discuss the WORLD COMMONWEALTH plan in a little detail. In the meantime you can think over this. Have you as a result of our talks come to the conclusion that a WORLD COMMONWEALTH is possible; that difficulties must necessarily arise but need not be insurmountable? If you have, perhaps you will meet me here tomorrow.
§ CHAPTER 4: MAKING PLANS
¶Professor: Well, George, I’m glad to see you.
¶George: But don’t think it’s because I entirely agree with you. After all there are so many things that seem to work well on paper but don’t work out quite so well in practice.
¶Professor: Quite true, George, but have you ever realised there is a reason for this? I think you’ll find that in almost every case where that’s happened, the natural defects in planning have been the main cause. Let us look at it from a practical point of view. Suppose you were designing a new machine, say, one for the mass-production of cigarettes. Wouldn’t you go about it something like this? You would ponder over the problem for some time, and then, having the germ of an idea, you would get out some paper and make a few rough drawings. You would then do some more thinking, and after a time you would have in your mind’s eye the basic principles of the machine. Having reached that stage, you would unroll some cartridge paper on your drawing board and begin designing. And you would probably work in this way.
This is the fundamental mechanism, you would say, and then would follow some hours’ drawing.
Now this movement has to travel at a certain speed and so a cam has to be placed here–more drawing.
And this cam must move a lever here–more drawing, and so on. After some days, or weeks, your drawings would be complete. You’d then survey them very carefully, and feeling quite confident, on paper, that the machine would work, you would pass the blue-prints over to the engineers. They in their turn would build it. At last it is complete, and it works. Proudly you look it over.
A fine bit of work, that you say.
Hundred a minute! Not bad. But then you look it over again more carefully, perhaps some time later.
Ah! you say,
it would have been a much better machine if I’d have done this and that or that. You see, George, when you are planning a thing that’s never been planned before you can’t expect perfection–even if such a thing can be attained. In the case of a machine, the second model is an improvement on the first, the third an improvement on the second, and so on. In the planning of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, I believe it is possible to give the equivalent of a
blue-print, or diagram if nothing more; an indication, if you prefer the word, as to how life could be lived in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH. It would show us at any rate the least we could expect.
¶George: Well, I’m glad you don’t expect us to buy a pig in a poke, Professor. But seriously, do you mean to tell me that you have the WORLD COMMONWEALTH completely mapped out? Every detail of it?
¶Professor: Yes and no, George, would answer you completely. In my mind’s eye I can visualise almost every detail. Almost, I said, mark you, just as the inventor designing his machine has almost a complete mental picture of his machine at work. But I’m fully aware of the difficulties we are up against–hence the
no. You see it’s absolutely useless visualising a perfect world with its tablet teas, winged inhabitants, ninth dimension, and perfect bliss. Its been done before, by novelists and others, and the results are precisely nothing. The planning of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH must start from NOW. The present time is to be our
¶George: I don’t know, Professor, sometimes I feel quite enthusiastic about this idea; then I look around at the world as it is, and the people in it as they are, and the job looks about as impossible as emptying the sea with an egg-cup. Now you’ve got to the stage of actual planning, it seems to me that the egg-cup could quite easily be replaced by a sieve. Good Lord, man, where are you going to start? Slum clearance? Organised food distribution? Fuel supplies? Transport? I give it up, Professor; you start.
¶Professor: It seems quite clear, George, you have been thinking about things. But it’s equally clear you’ve been thinking along the wrong lines. Let us try an analogy, bearing in mind of course that analogies don’t prove anything. Suppose you were given a plot of virgin land and you were going to make it into a garden. You would decide that this part was going to be a lawn; that, a flower bed; here, a pool; there, a vegetable patch, and so on. After a time, all going well, you’d have a garden. But suppose, instead, you were given a garden, and you wished to make it a better one. Your plan of campaign would obviously be different. You would take the rose-trees from here and put them there. The chrysanths, you think, would look better on their own, so you transplant them. The lawn is quite nice, but you think a pool at one end would look rather effective. So you construct a pool. You see the difference, George, we haven’t virgin land to deal with; we have a
garden. A poor one in many respects, it’s true. The
soil is so impoverished, but we can improve that. There are so many
weeds, but we’ll pull them out. The
plants look so weak and frail, but we’ll change their environment, and give them good food. Do you see what I’m getting at? All those things you mentioned, food distribution, slum clearance, and so on, are all being seen to now. From a different point of view, it’s true, and only in a lackadaisical way in many respects, because IN THE COMMERCIAL WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE THESE THINGS ONLY GET DONE WHEN THEY PUT MONEY INTO SOMEBODY’S POCKETS. But–and here’s the point–THE TECHNICAL ORGANISATION AND THE PERSONNEL FOR ATTENDING TO THESE THINGS ARE AVAILABLE NOW.
¶George: Look here, Professor, we’ve been wandering about too much. I’m going to start right now, to tie you down to the answering of definite questions. It’s the only way of getting any real satisfaction out of this discussion.
¶Professor: I quite agree, but before you do that, let me summarise the conclusions we have come to. First, I said that a MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH is possible and could start tomorrow if the majority of people wished it so. That this would involve the abolition of the whole system of money and trade, and in its place the production of goods for use and free distribution. That this, in turn, would mean that the whole of mankind eligible would be engaged in productive, distributive and other useful duties with the subsequent reduction of duty periods eventually to a mere two or three hours a day. That represents, in essence, my fundamental idea of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. Now fire away.
¶George: Right. Now, what about international trade? What–?
¶Professor: Stop, George, for goodness’ sake! Are you really hopeless? And I thought you were beginning to understand. Haven’t I made it quite clear that a MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH implies the abolition of all trade? Isn’t it simple enough to understand that, if all the goods produced belong to all the people, and such goods are available for free distribution, trading is neither possible nor necessary? All that will be required is the production of goods and their distribution to those regions where they are needed. WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL TRADE MEAN TODAY IN THE LONG RUN, BUT INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY AND WAR? And what does war mean but greed and gas masks, bombs and black-outs? Do you want these things? Does any sane, intelligent, thinking Tom, Dick, or Harry in any other country want these things? The inhuman slaughter of innocent women and children, and the so-called
humane slaughter of the husbands, fathers and sons. No, George, we do NOT want these things; we, here, nor in any other country in the world. We are taught to want them. We are taught to believe that our interests are at stake, that we will lose our freedom if our trade rivals win the war. There is only one thing worth fighting for today, George, and the weapons are words. The WORLD COMMONWEALTH must be the aim, the only goal for which humanity must strive, and in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH there would not be war because there could not.
¶George: But you will admit that war does bring out the best qualities of a people.
¶Professor: Yes, George, the best–and the worst. A little of the former, but a devil of a lot of the latter. And after all, the fine qualities so apparent in war, the courage, the endurance, the devotion to duty, are not a military product. They exist in civil life and are essentially a social product.
¶George: Look here, Professor, we’re getting off the subject again. What about international–now don’t get excited again–you know what I mean. I won’t call it
exchange, instead. After all, some parts of the world will be predominantly exporting and others will be importing.
¶Professor: International exchange!–no, George, I won’t get excited again–I’m just thinking. International exchange–boundaries–frontiers–outposts of Empire–this is your country, this mine–pretty colours on the maps–nation against nation–race against race–patriotism–jingoism–bolshevism–nazism–and all the other isms. Embassies and diplomats–exchange rates and currencies–F.O.B. and C.I.F.–Oh, George, if only for the getting rid of all this nonsense, the WORLD COMMONWEALTH is worth while. We won’t want boundaries and frontiers in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, nor the hundreds of rules and regulations that go with them. The WORLD COMMONWEALTH rule will be
FITNESS FOR PURPOSE, and it will be solely that, whether it be man or mankind with which it is concerned. Just as the man most fitted for a certain duty will do it because he wants to, and not through bureaucratic compulsion or unfortunate necessity, so will those regions of the world most suited for the production of certain goods be used for their production, because it would be stupid to do otherwise. In the WORLD COMMONWEALTH goods will be
transported; just as if the whole of the world’s goods were pooled and then each region were to draw what it required. To give you another analogy, just consider the present International Postal Services. Letters and parcels from all parts of the world are distributed or transported to other parts irrespective of number. Great Britain probably sends to U.S.A. only a fraction of the packages which U.S.A. sends to Great Britain. Nevertheless, the U.S.A. does not demand an equal number in return. So would it be with goods under WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions.
¶George: In other words, Professor, there will have to be some kind of regional planning. Russia and the Argentine, say, would be the granaries of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH; England, iron and steel; Germany, glass and lenses, and so on.
¶Professor: In a very crude way you’ve got the idea, since in actual fact, and to some extent, that is the state of affairs that normally exists. It is only present-day conditions–that is, a
money-based world–and the possibility of war that makes some countries try to produce things for which they are not really suited.
¶George: But look here, Professor, aren’t you assuming an ideal human nature in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH? Suppose, for example, the people of Russia don’t want to send us our quota of wheat for one period, because during that period they don’t need so much of our iron. Suppose they decided, instead, to give it to their pigs or use it for fuel. It would be rather awkward for us here, wouldn’t it?
¶Professor: Do you see what you’ve done, George? Quite unthinkingly, I daresay, you have again abandoned the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea of free distribution and gone back to the present method of exchange. Surely, by now, you can appreciate the difference. Directly or indirectly, exchange requires a money standard or its equivalent. Free distribution means exactly what it says. The fact that all would benefit from such free distribution is surely the only justification needed for its existence. In any case, your statement presupposes a shortage, both of food for pigs and fuel for fires. Can you justify that statement? You see, George, when I say that production will be planned, do not make the mistake of imagining some super-bureaucratic organisation or World State imposing such a plan. This would not be necessary as the process would be so simple. The average requirements of a person are known: say x pounds of this, y pounds of that; multiply by the number of people in the locality concerned, and you have on an average the total amount necessary to be
shipped to that place for local distribution. Now, isn’t that, though in a difficult and more complicated way, exactly what’s being done now? Doesn’t Mr. Brown, the wheat importer, know, almost exactly how much wheat he can distribute to his factors and doesn’t he import accordingly? Why should things be different in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, tell me that? Though perhaps I’m being somewhat hasty. Things will be different, but only in a small way. Whereas now you have dozens of importers for wheat, eggs, butter and so on, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH there will be a food control or administration–
¶George: There is nothing new about that, Professor; it’s the usual thing in war-time.
¶Professor: Quite, George, but with this difference. The function of such a control in war-time is the rationing of supplies due to the possibility, or the actual existence, of a shortage. The WORLD COMMONWEALTH control will have no need to concern itself with either rationing or shortage. Rather the reverse. Its function will be to organise production so that there is no excessive surplus, and distribution so that the demands of the people are satisfied.
¶George: Ah! But who’s going to do the organising, Professor? People doing that work get good money nowadays.
¶Professor: Oh dear! you just won’t learn. First you asked
Who’s going to do the dirty work? So I answered that. You then wanted to know, who was going to invent the machines, and I believe I satisfactorily answered you that. Soon you’ll be wanting to know who’s going to drive the trains, who make the books, the pens, and the pills. Now, George, for the last, the very last time. In the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, those people will do those duties for which they are best fitted. They will do so because their abilities, their physique, their inclination, their intelligence, in other words their whole make-up fit them best to be trained for that particular duty. Each person will himself determine the direction in which his inclination lies. If I have to repeat that, I’ll–
¶George: Sorry, Professor, let’s get back to the food control.
¶Professor: I was saying that production will be planned; I should have no need to add, it will be planned for plenty. The food control in each region will arrange for the satisfaction of the needs of that region, and will in addition plan for the distribution of its own products in excess of its needs, to other regions. There will no doubt be need of a central world organisation–probably a statistical body–to control the whole output of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, but I can foresee few difficulties in that direction. I believe I have already explained how the distribution would proceed from this point. From place of production to distribution dêpot, and from there to local dêpots. From the local dêpots there would be daily delivery of perishable foods, much as we have today for milk, and possibly weekly and monthly deliveries of other foods. That’s all, George; simple, isn’t it?
¶George: It is, truly, and not very much different technically from nowadays.
¶Professor: That’s the point, George. It shows quite clearly we are not planning a Utopia. We are taking the people of today and the world of today and simply changing the methods of working, the organisation,–for use instead of for money-making.
¶George: But what will happen to the shops, Professor? Wouldn’t it be possible to make some use of them? For clothes and other odds and ends, they will serve some purpose.
¶Professor: There will be no need for retail shops, George. They would be a very wasteful and uneconomic method of distribution. In many respects they are that, even nowadays, as evidenced by the gradual elimination of the small shopkeeper in the development of the present social system. Clothes and other goods not required frequently or regularly, would be obtained at large stores somewhat similar in layout, I should imagine, to the present-day Selfridge’s or Gamage’s. These will be placed at points in the various localities according to the needs and convenience of the local population. At these stores people will do their
shopping without money, much as they do today, with; but, of course, with this difference. Whereas they would be able to obtain all their requirements without money, most people nowadays are unable to do so because their purchases are limited by the amount of money they get as wages.
¶George: I see, and the people who get to the stores first will also get the pick of the goods. As nowadays, the early bird will get the fattest worm.
¶Professor: Do you know, George, when you make remarks like that, I realise the difficulties that confront me in spreading the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea. Just put this into your head, ram it in well and sleep on it. In the WORLD COMMONWEALTH there will be only one quality of everything–and that naturally, the best. It will be the best, because, in the long run, the best is the most economical. There will be different styles, without a doubt, various colours, designs and shapes; individuality, yes; poor workmanship or quality, emphatically no. The people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will produce everything they need to satisfy their needs. Apply common-sense to that straight-forward proposition and the rest follows.
§ CHAPTER 5: THE WHEELS GO ROUND
¶George: Tell me, Professor, the Utopian novelists almost without exception have, in their peeps into the future seen, amongst other marvels, aeroplanes travelling at a thousand miles an hour and interplanetary travel. Do you think the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH would make such things possible?
¶Professor: Now, now, George, you must not let your imagination run riot. You’ll become a super-Utopian if you don’t keep yourself in check. Just to curb your enthusiasm let me remind you that we assume the WORLD COMMONWEALTH starts from now. We’ve got to take things, at first, as we find them, and use them to the best advantage. There is, after all, a difference between what would be done, and what could be done, and it is as well to bear this distinction in mind. But don’t look so disappointed, George; if you are so anxious to travel at a thousand miles an hour in some super-streamlined space-rocket, and play football on Mars, I feel sure some clever engineer in the future will oblige by inventing a machine for the job–and if he doesn’t, I think, personally, you won’t have missed much.
¶George: I’m surprised at you, of all people saying that. Why, with your advanced ideas, I’d have thought you would be the first to be interested in such an idea.
¶Professor: Perhaps I ought to make myself clear or you may misunderstand me. As I see it, George, the history of science shows us that the need for a new technical process or scientific discovery has invariably produced the man for the job. To take a simple example with which you may be familiar. Michael Faraday is well known as the discoverer of the principle upon which is based the whole of modern electrical engineering. But do you think he would have been interested in such problems if he would have lived two hundred years earlier, or if he had been brought up on some island far away from civilisation?
¶George: He might have been interested, Professor.
¶Professor: If he would, George, it would have been the interest of a dilettante, much as Hero, the ancient Greek scientist, played with the steam engine a couple of thousand years ago. You see, George, a scientist or inventor can only effectively make use of the ideas and the outlook inherent in the
world conditions in which he lives. Where there is no immediate practical use to be made of an idea, you can be sure that that idea is, for the time being only perhaps, just useless lumber.
¶George: In short, Professor, that’s what you think of interplanetary travel.
¶Professor: Frankly, George, yes. And it seems that the financiers and industrialists of the world today agree with me, since no one seems anxious to finance such a venture.
¶George: But finance couldn’t stand in the way in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH. If an inventor wanted to construct such a machine he would have a right to the use of the materials, surely?
¶Professor: He would have that right today, George, if he could demonstrate clearly that there was something to be gained by the venture.
¶George: But if nobody would question his right to a four-foot rod of steel for making, say, a new toy of his own design for his son, why should there be–and you seem to imply it–any objection to, say, 500 tons of steel for building his machine?
¶Professor: Let me put it this way, George. As far as your ordinary duties were concerned, you and all of us would be doing work necessary for the maintenance of the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. What you would do in your leisure time would be your concern. But if what you would do in that time put an undue strain on any one section of the community, its members would have the right to object–and rightly so. Don’t you think that’s fair?
¶George: It’s fair in a way, Professor, but there are thousands of people interested in
¶Professor: And there are thousands interested in the Johanna Southcott box. Numbers prove nothing, unless the ideas held by those numbers can be shown to satisfy a human need. I really can’t see that any such need would be satisfied by interplanetary travel.
¶George: But people’s needs vary. There are lots of people with all sorts of queer interests and hobbies. Have you the right to dictate–?
¶Professor: I must object, George, I have no such right. But the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH would have. Not the right to dictate, but the right to protest. In the case of the people with their specialised hobbies and interests, it should be obvious that those people who cater for them now–and they are available now,–would cater for them then. But why all this interest in trips to Mars and high speed planes. Do you think it’s of such importance?
¶George: Well, high speed transport would be, at any rate, or are you going to be hypercritical about that?
¶Professor: Now seriously, George, apart from your own personal high speed inclinations–for which indeed I have the greatest respect–is it your opinion that high-speed transport is such a vital necessity?
¶George: I should say it is; why, perishable foods–
¶Professor: Ah! Yes–but you must remember that even now the transport of such foods is not the difficult problem it was even twenty years ago. Refrigeration and other methods of storage are a commonplace today, and you must bear in mind that investigation is still going on. Apart from that, as much as possible of the food, etc., that is needed in a very fresh state, could be grown or produced as near as possible to the place where it is needed. There would be no transport of
coal to Newcastle or
sand to Egypt to use the hackneyed expressions. In this way, that is, by a system of
zoning, a lot of overlapping transport could be eliminated. Still, as you’ve brought up this subject of transport, suppose we apply our minds to the problem, and by dissecting present-day ideas, get perhaps some idea of how the WORLD COMMONWEALTH might set about the planning of its own transport system.
¶George: That sounds interesting, Professor. This is just my line.
¶Professor: Then just take a look at this list I have here (Fig. 1). It includes, near enough, all the usual methods of transport available in this country at the present time. Somewhat similar methods are used in other countries, but for simplicity we will consider only those we have here. Now some of you will observe, are marked with a G. These are the methods of transport most commonly used for the conveyance of GOODS. Some of the others are occasionally used for this purpose, I know, but the volume is insignificant compared with those marked. I have also marked some W, representing methods of transport used for the conveyance of people to their WORK, and some, P, methods of transport used to convey people to their PLEASURES and PASTIMES. I have bracketed three together because these three serve all three purposes. From this point of view, then, they are truly the most economical, as they are the most fundamental.
¶P.W. … Bicycles.
¶P.W. … Private Cars.
¶P.W. … Taxis.
¶P.W. … Buses.
¶P.W. … Trolleybus.
¶P.W. … Coach.
¶P.W.G. … Trains–short distance (and tubes). P.W.G. … Trains–medium distance (suburban). P.W.G. … Trains–long distance.
¶P.G. … Ships.
¶G. … Horse and cart.
¶G. … Lorry.
¶G. … Barges.
¶(P.G.)? … Aeroplanes and airships and submarines.
¶George: Excuse me butting in, Professor, but where is this all leading to? It all seems so obvious.
¶Professor: It all leads to this, George; that in the same way as the WORLD COMMONWEALTH would regard a multiplicity of retail shops as an uneconomical and wasteful form of distribution, and so rapidly eliminate them, so will efforts be directed towards the elimination of all unnecessary forms of transport. This would not only economise human energy but would also probably reduce road accidents through the reduction in volume of road traffic. What I am attempting here is a simple analysis, which may be useful in giving an idea as to possibilities.
¶George: Really, Professor, now I think you are going too far. Why, if you had to wait for a bus in the City, sometimes in heavy rain, you might say as I do, that we could do with a little more transport, not less.
¶Professor: Quite right, George, but you see, that’s now; most of us nowadays, who go to work and are lucky enough to have work to go to, have to get in at some time between say 7.30 a.m. and 9 a.m. We all leave work at some time between, say, 5.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. So for 2 1/2 hours a day practically the whole of the city or town transport system is working at high pressure. In fact, isn’t it just this, the thousands of people having to travel all more or less at the same time, whether it be to their job, or on holiday, that’s the cause of the transport manager’s big headache, the
peak periods? Hence the recent discussions about
staggered hours and
¶George: A very good idea, too.
¶Professor: I agree, but in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, the use of
staggering will be so obvious and natural that
discussion about it will, in a sense, be unnecessary. After all, the basic arrangements of the duty periods will almost automatically bring about staggering.
¶George: You mean, of course, that variable hours of duty, will automatically bring about different times of beginning and finishing work.
¶Professor: Exactly; but enough of this digression. Let us get back to the P.W.G. chart. I was saying that the WORLD COMMONWEALTH transport organisers will eliminate unnecessary forms of transport. How can this be done? Suppose, we take a look at present-day tendencies, and see what happens when we take those tendencies to their logical conclusion. You will, no doubt, agree that there has been a marked inclination for manufacturers to build their factories out in the suburbs. This inclination has had to be modified in some cases, owing to the difficulty of obtaining local workpeople. Quite apart from this, you will also agree that there has been a marked migration to the suburbs of people who work in town. Combine these two facts and the problem is solved! Is that clear?
¶George: About as clear as mud.
¶Professor: Can’t you see what happens when these two tendencies are developed further and still further in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH? Can’t you see, George, that there’s no reason why quite a number of small, and preferably clean industries should not be conducted in ideal country conditions? And why not more and still more people, who now live in the cities, living in the suburbs and country?
¶George: More nightmares in solving the housing problem.
¶[Digitizer’s note: Figure 2 shows two concentric circles. The inner-most circle is labeled
Town, while the outer circle is labeled
Country & Suburb. The letter
A is printed three times in the top of the outer circle. Lines go from A, through the inner-most circle labeled
town, to the part of the outer circle labeled
Country & Suburb.]
¶Professor: One thing at a time, George. We’ll deal with that when we come to it. In the meantime, look over this diagram I have here (Fig. 2). Now, can you see what happens to W transport under these conditions. In the main it will consist of short distance travel radially from points A in diagram. In brief, George, this is the, plan as I, rather crudely perhaps, see it. Light industries now carried on in town will be transferred out of town. Those people engaged in these industries would naturally move with them. They will live at short distances from the factories, and thus practically all W traffic along the lines marked
dot-dash will be eliminated.
¶George: Eliminated? Why?
¶Professor: Because, George, the majority of people who travel from town to country and back again day by day, are clerks–thousands of them; agents–a hundred and one varieties; business men–big and small; shopkeepers, and their assistants. These people in their present-day capacities will no longer be required. They will take up productive and distributive duties, that are really useful to the community.
¶George: Some clerks will be wanted surely?
¶Professor: Some, yes, but comparatively few. Have you ever thought of the enormous number of invoices, bills and receipts made out in the course of a year? There will be no need of these in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. The immense number of business letters and circulars? There will be no need for these. The millions of cheques, bills, banknotes, coins?–what a terrible waste of time, energy and human endeavour!
¶George: Coming back to your
cartwheel, Professor. It looks very pretty, but it seems to me more of a theoretical ideal, than a practical possibility.
¶Professor: That’s because I have not yet finished. I still have to fit in the P.W.G. chart. Look at this chart again. As I said earlier on, trains are a
fundamental feature of transport. I doubt whether much in the way of reduction could take place here; nevertheless, the fact that improvement is necessary, in the way of rolling stock, railway stations, etc., is obvious, and needs no further comment. Ships would obviously be required for the transport of goods between countries, but here again improvements, especially in the living conditions of seamen, are a necessity and would be attended to very quickly. That ships would also be used for
pleasure–well, perhaps I’d better leave that to your imagination. The horse and cart is an archaic method of transport and, in all probability would not be used at all. Lorries would be used much as they are today, for transport of goods from trains to dêpots and between dêpots. Barges, especially those motor-driven, are very useful for some goods and would no doubt be retained. Now, at the top of the chart–
¶George: I say, Professor, you’ve forgotten aeroplanes, etc.
¶Professor: Bring your thoughts down from the clouds. I was saying, George, at the top of the chart we have six methods of transport which need very careful examination, as here I believe, very drastic reductions can be made. Suppose we analyse each one fairly closely. The bicycle as a means of recreation is a fine thing, and for that purpose, would in all probability be more used than it is today. Nowadays, of course, one principal use is as a means of getting to one’s work. As in the majority of cases, this is done from the point of view of economy, little more need be said; except that–
¶George: I can see that, Professor; bicycles will still be used by people to get to their jobs, but they will do so because they prefer it, and not for the saving of money, which they won’t have.
¶Professor: Good! Now we come to private cars. These present a much more formidable problem. Still, I hope you will agree with me, when I say they would not be required in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH.
¶George: Oh! I say, Professor! This is the limit. You’ve certainly put your foot in it, here. Why–
¶Professor: Don’t worry, George, I know all your questions and I have all the answers. You were, I expect, going to say
What about holidays–and going to see Aunt Jessie at Christmas–and that occasional weekend at Margate–and those lovely picnics up the river. Why, look at the time and money saved. Ah! You see! Money! We can rule that out at once. Time? Well, George, you should by now, be able to see that life in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH would not be the hectic hurry, scurry, and indigestion that it is nowadays. With almost as much time for leisure as you now have for work, why George, life will be one long holiday. Nevertheless, holidays, in a general sense, will form a feature of life in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, and so will be discussed later. In the meantime just think this over. The private motor-car serves no purpose in the transport of goods; it is used only to a small extent for the transport of people to their jobs. Its main purpose, therefore, puts it almost entirely in the P category. Pleasures and pastimes will be dealt with later; so we’ll carry en with the chart. As the bus and trolleybus–I’ll call them both
bus to save words–have somewhat similar range and purpose, we’ll dispose of them together. Now will you agree, George, that nowadays, in all the big towns, buses serve their most useful purpose in transporting workers to and from their place of work?
¶George: I agree.
¶Professor: And that most of these factories are in, or only just on the outskirts of, these towns.
¶George: Yes, I suppose so.
¶Professor: You will also admit that there are large numbers of Smiths and Jones who work at X and live at Y, while a similar number work at Y and live at X.
¶George: Quite true, Professor.
¶Professor: Then you should agree that the diagram (Fig. 3) I have here gives some idea of ordinary everyday W traffic under present conditions.
¶George: Quite fair, I think.
¶Professor: Then you will also admit that the bulk of this traffic is carried by buses.
¶George: Oh no! You’ve forgotten the Underground–
¶[Digitizer’s note: Figure 3 shows two concentric circles with lines running throughout; above the inner-most circle is the letter X, while below the inner-most circle is the letter Y.]
¶Inner Circle=Town. Outer Circle=Country and Suburb.
¶Professor: I have already included that in the P.W.G. class. They are fundamental, so where they now exist they will stay; that is, of course if they continue to serve a useful purpose. I often have a feeling that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH they will not be as necessary as they are now–but time will tell.
¶George: They make useful air-raid shelters!
¶Professor: Your expression suggests that you do not make that remark seriously, and I am glad to see it. If we are to plan transport or housing or anything else for possible wars we might just as well burrow our way into the earth, and leave its surface to the more intelligent creatures. No, George, as you seem to realise yourself, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH there would be no wars, because there could not. But I digress again. Let me continue. Now if the factories are transferred to the suburbs and country, and if offices in such large numbers are not required, well, there you are, the buses will not be wanted!
¶George: But, Professor, there would be some W traffic across towns–and again, not everybody living in the country or suburbs, would live at walking distance from their jobs. I sometimes think you regard people as pawns on a chessboard that you move about according to your
plan disregarding the fact that they are human beings you are dealing with, and will willy-nilly do what they wish to do, and to hell with your plans. Forgive this outburst, Professor, but this talk on transport has left me feeling rather limp.
¶Professor: I’m sorry to hear that, George, since it shows that I have been perhaps a little too theoretical. Still, I have never lost sight of the fact that it is human beings we are dealing with. Nor do I deny that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH people will do as they wish to do. On the contrary, George, they would have far more opportunity of so doing. What opportunity have they now with regard to that one thing under consideration? Choice of living accommodation is determined in the main by one important factor, and that, George, is amount of rent demanded by the landlord.
¶George: Yet, in spite of that, lots of people do live close to their work nowadays.
¶Professor: Yes, George, so close that they eat, drink, and breathe the filthy smoke belching out of the factory chimney. But enough of this for the moment. We still have two items on our chart, and these two will, I believe, solve your problem. Taxis and coaches. It is my opinion, George, that a combination of these two, will solve all the problems of W transport in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. Not exactly as they are, maybe, but modified to suit the needs of the community. In the case of taxis for example, I should imagine that a large proportion would be practically identical with our present-day private car–
¶George: I say, Professor, you are weakening!
¶Professor: –but with this difference; they would be garaged in their hundreds at convenient centres, for the use of all who could drive. At these garages they would be properly serviced and would be readily available for the afternoon trip, the week-end tour, or the four-week or the fourteen-week vacation. Nor would you worry if you preferred to leave the car, to return by some other means. You would just leave it at the local garage, and as far as you are concerned, the matter is ended. To paraphrase a well-known advertising slogan, it would be a case of
You take the car, we do the rest.
¶George: That whets my appetite, Professor. But there would have to be some restrictions.
¶Professor: Naturally, but that’s a very minor detail, and hardly worth discussion. In any case we’ve had enough for tonight. Tomorrow we’ll discuss
housing in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. So think of some questions. In the meantime, Good-night.
¶George: Oh! I say, Professor, what about aeroplanes–?
¶Professor: You can have them all, George; and the airships, and the submarines. The devilish things!!
§ CHAPTER 6: BRICKS AND MORTAR
¶George: In our talk yesterday, Professor, you suggested or implied that the simplification of transport in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH would help solve the housing problem. How do you think this might be done?
¶Professor: In the first place, George, there is, truthfully speaking no housing
problem. The fact is, more and better living accommodation is required, but, at the present time, is not being built in sufficient quantity and at a reasonable enough rent. If I add that the reason for this is money, you will know what I mean. Houses and flats are not built unless there is prospect of a profit. If there is more profit to be made by investment in more lucrative ventures, few houses are built. If, however, houses are built they must be profitable. For this reason houses that are built to be sold or let at a high price are built well. Those at a moderate price or rent not so well; those at a low price are just jerry-built.
¶George: From which I gather that with no rents and no jerry-building, we will in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, all live in stately mansions.
¶Professor: I don’t think so, George; you see, in the first place, most people would for a time live where they are now. Only those who are living in unfit dwellings would first be moved into better homes.
¶George: What! you’ll expect me to stay in my semi-detached, while Lord Moneybags continues living in his country mansion. Not likely! And do you seriously believe that those people who now live in the slums won’t object? They’ll be the equals of old Moneybags remember; won’t they want equal living conditions? Why! Professor, there’d be a revolution!
¶Professor: Well, hardly a revolution, George, but there would certainly be some fun. Can’t you imagine Mr. and Mrs. Jones and family coming to take possession of
Moneybags Towers, being met by Mr. and Mrs. Smith and family, who had already taken possession; or better still, being confronted by Moneybags himself? No, George, we must face the question sensibly, lest we wander round in circles looking for the solution of a problem, which strictly speaking does not exist. Let us first deal with this equality bogey. You seem to imagine that the WORLD COMMONWEALTH implies absolute equality in every way, a sort of general standardisation.
¶George: Why, surely, Professor, doesn’t it?
¶Professor: Certainly not, George. I see you haven’t grasped the significance of a point I emphasised the other day. Human beings are products of Nature, and she knows nothing of absolute equality; only variations and similarities. How can people be equal if their needs are unequal? How can a dustman he
equal to a doctor if the one has a larger appetite than the other? How can the musician be
equal to the mathematician if the composing of a symphony is not
equal to the solving of a problem in the calculus? Can an apple be
equal to an orange, granting they are both fruits and are of the same weight? In one sense only would there be equality, and that is in equality of access to the needs of a full and happy life. Equality? Yes, if you like, in the sense that there would no longer exist the division into rich and poor, which is the real source of all our present social evils. Equality? Yes, insofar as the needs of each would be one hundred per cent. satisfied, although no doubt each would receive unequal amounts of goods. Any idea of equality beyond this would be absurd. You see, George, human beings are not equal though, like the apple and the orange, which have a fruity nature, they have something in common–and that something is–a HUMAN nature. It is this, and the intelligent understanding of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH principles by the majority of the people, that give me good grounds for believing that people will be content to put up with their present living accommodation for a comparatively short time until better is provided. And when I say better, I mean really better–there will be no jerry-building. The pattern for the future would be the best that can be built today. What is now available to the rich would be made available to all. Naturally, in those cases where present living accommodation is very bad, temporary homes would be found.
¶George: And who will be judge of the
badness of that accommodation?
¶Professor: Who better than those who suffer from its
badness? And I am inclined to the opinion, George, that it may even be necessary to persuade a few people to leave their vermin-infested homes.
¶George: That seems a peculiar statement, Professor.
¶Professor: Peculiar, but in the main, true, nevertheless. No matter how poor the home and how dilapidated, people seem to acquire an attachment to a house that–to be really brutal–is positively unhealthy and incredibly insane.
¶George: It doesn’t seem possible somehow–but I suppose people can get so accustomed to bad living conditions, that a change to better is at first quite painful. Still, I suppose you have a plan for the
bricks and mortar of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶Professor: And why not ferroconcrete, George–and plastics? Yes, I have a plan, in a manner of speaking, but before I tell you what it is, I must warn you, firstly, that I lay no claim to prophetic insight and secondly, that I am not a town-planning expert. With these provisos, let me tell you what pictures have in my mind’s eye. When we discussed WORLD COMMONWEALTH transport, I was rather surprised you made no objection on the ground of the possible break up of family life.
¶George: I don’t follow.
¶Professor: Now don’t you see, George, if Mr. Jones, his son and his daughter have their duties at considerable distances from one another–
¶George: Well, that’s simple enough, they’ll live away from home. It’s not an uncommon thing even nowadays.
¶Professor: True, George; but I prefer putting it another way. They won’t live away from home; they’ll live at their own homes but away from their parents.
¶George: But that wouldn’t suit everybody, Professor?
¶Professor: I had no intention of suggesting that it would. If I have inadvertently given that impression it is because I am strongly of the opinion that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH it would suit the majority. After all, George, the family is the economic unit under present-day conditions, simply because it is the economical unit. It makes it easier on the family exchequer. But with the elimination of money, and so of the cost factor, I really believe most parents would even prefer to see their grown-up children going their own way. They would not be forcibly parted, as they often are in war-time, would they?
¶George: But surely, Professor, there’s something about family life that does make it different; it’s hard for me to explain what I mean–but different, say, to club life.
¶Professor: Not really all that different under average conditions. Though I agree there are times, such as occasions of great stress and strain, severe illness for example, when family ties become closely knit. Still the comparison with club life is a useful one. Take the Jones family for example. Father arrives home at half past six, tired and hungry.
Got my slippers, ma? Ma, preparing supper in the kitchen, sighs, leaves her pots and pans, gets said slippers. Pa puts them on, sinks into arm-chair and reads newspaper for a few moments. Ma brings in supper, Pa puts down paper, makes remark that
Soccer ain’t what it used to be, eats supper, and returns to arm-chair for quiet smoke. Ma clears up. Half past seven. Mary walks in, singing latest dance tune.
Hullo, folks; I’m going out with Joe tonight. Can I have my supper quickly, mum, there’s a dear? Mum sets table, goes into kitchen, brings out supper. Mary eats supper and reads Film News. Supper ended, Mary pats on powder.
Cheerio–I may be home late, so don’t wait up for me. Father grunts; mother sighs.
Girls ain’t like what they used to be. Now when I was twenty– Half past eight and Tom walks in. Supper episode repeated for third time. Radio World replaces Film News. Supper finished,
Can I have the table now, Mum? I want to finish the wireless set. Mum clears table and sighs
If only they’d all have supper together. Pa lowers paper and removes pipe.
Why can’t you do your dirty work up in the attic? Mum intervenes.
You know it’s too cold up there just now, and we can’t afford to have two fires going. Pa replaces pipe and returns to paper.
Boys ain’t like what they used to be–mollycoddled, that’s what they are. Tom proceeds with wireless set. And there is peace–at a price. The price, George, is harmonious disharmony. You can modify this picture in a thousand different ways. There may be a little more, or a little less of that family
give and take as we call it, but in the end the results are more or less the same.
¶George: And the results are–?
¶Professor: Lack of self confidence, and, necessarily, in varying degrees. In my own limited experience I find it always lends to be worse in those families where interests, hobbies, etc., are widely different and the space available is restricted. Tom wants the table for his wireless set, Bill wants it for his model aeroplane making, Mary wants to do some sewing. There’s certainly to be trouble, and resentment at some time or another. You see, George, all our actions are ultimately selfish; even when they are apparently selfless. We always strive to do those things that in the long run give us the greatest satisfaction. This applies even when you ruin a suit of clothes by diving into the river to save a drowning child. You can easily visualise your dissatisfaction if you were to do nothing in leaving the child to drown. Now just try analysing Tom’s thoughts as he gets on with his wireless set. Wireless is his hobby. Practically all his spare time, and his spare cash is spent on it. It does make a little mess it’s true; but what of it? He always tidies up when he’s finished, so why should father get annoyed? Knocking with the hammer? But that’s not too often. The smell of the soldering iron? But that’s not so bad. The whistling and the buzzing as he tests out this coil and that? But what’s a fellow to do? So, after all, George, is it so different from club life? The club bore is a familiar species. Major Cast-Iron with his
When I was in Poonah– is little different from Pa and his
boys ain’t like what they used to be. Colonel Know-All, the arm chair strategist playing with flags on a map, and monopolising the large table, is only an older edition of Tom.
¶George: What’s all this leading to, Professor?
¶Professor: Here then is the point, George, which you should, by now, be able to grasp. Speaking generally, and in the main, present-day living accommodation is very far from ideal for the development of a complete personality.
¶George: I’m rather of the opinion, Professor, that you’re making much ado about nothing. You make it look much worse than it really is. Don’t you think that the example you give is exceptional?
¶Professor: Far from exceptional, I should say, George. Much more likely, in my opinion, to be the general rule in the average working-man’s home, where there are, say, two or more children. As for making much ado about nothing, I hope you don’t mean that. Do you think it so unimportant that children, young and old, should have anything but ideal facilities for recreation, whatever form that recreation may take? Is it of such little consequence that children should need to make
sacrifices that their brothers and sisters should play in their own way or do such other things as they wish? Does it matter so little that parents should do without, that their children may have?
¶George: But don’t you think that parents really enjoy making sacrifices for their children?
¶Professor: More often, I believe, it’s a case of making a virtue of necessity. Still the fact remains that quite frequently they do make such so-called sacrifices, yet is it not obvious that they would be far happier if no sacrifice were necessary? The father who has to sell a fine library of books that his son may continue his studies does not do so for pleasure. It pains him to do so. He would rather keep his library, if he could be sure that by doing so he would not be impeding his son’s career.
¶George: Look here, Professor, we’ve been talking a lot but we are not getting anywhere. What has all this to do with the housing problems of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶Professor: Just this, George, that family life as we know it today, and satisfactory though it may appear in some respects, would probably–please note that I leave it open–be quite different in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. I believe that the natural outcome of the change in human relations, due to the abolition of the
money system, would be a desire for a more communal life. That this in turn would lead virtually to a world of flat dwellers, such flats being used principally as dormitories.
¶George: I know, and communal kitchens. I wondered when you were coming to it, Bah!
¶Professor: Why communal kitchens, George? Why not communal restaurants, such as those in the luxurious service-flats enjoyed by the rich, today? In any case who would be there to compel people to make use of them? They would be perfectly free to cook their own meals in their own kitchens if they so desired. And I don’t doubt for a moment that there would be as many doing the one as the other. Why, George, even the wealthy, who nowadays have their clubs and first-class restaurants, do quite often have meals at home. Don’t you think it would be possible to have a really large local recreational centre in which a restaurant would be available for the occasional and perhaps frequent use of the local population?
¶George: Exactly what do you mean by a recreational centre?
¶Professor: I mean a building, a building beautifully built, one it will be a pleasure to look upon, and surrounded by ample open space; a building in which there will be available facilities for one’s hobbies, games, cultural interests, gymnastics, dancing, studying, and so on. A place where people can come and go as they choose, where they can meet their friends and discuss mutual interests, where they can dance and dine, play chess or darts, drink beer or tea, develop their films or their physique, just as fancy or whim dictates. A home from home, George, where people could sleep, should it be necessary or should they desire.
¶George: It seems rather Utopian to me, Professor.
¶Professor: Then why should it be, George, tell me that? Why, I doubt if twenty such would cost as much in human energy and material as a battleship. And need I add that they would serve much better purpose. I feel quite certain that such centres would serve a very useful purpose, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH; for would they not form a centre, a hub if you prefer it, from which the homes of the local community would radiate?
¶George: I can just imagine it, a temple of pleasure with barracks all round it.
¶Professor: No, George, not barracks. You wouldn’t give that name to Park Lane flats, would you? Or to the super-luxury flats that you see in some parts of the country. Why even the working-class flats of today are an improvement on many of the old type of slum tenement. In some parts of the world they are a tremendous improvement. And can’t we improve on those? Why not beautifully laid-out gardens, with deck-chairs, tables, garden-seats, hammocks, swimming-pool, and so on. But there I go again, imagination running riot. Let me continue. The recreational centre would form the hub of social life for the thousand or so families living around it. They would live either in flats or in the usual type of semi-detached house beloved by the suburbanite. We must not forget, too, the possibility of smaller blocks of four or six flats which can be quite pleasing in layout and would be no more obtrusive than ordinary houses. It is, in my opinion, not outside the capabilities of present-day architects to so plan a small town, that a pleasing variety is obtained even with such apparently difficult material.
¶George: You suggest then, that people would use their flats and houses as dormitories, and that most of the spare time including meal-times would in the main be spent at the recreational centre. Surely you’re taking too much for granted? People need some privacy apart from their bedrooms. There may be need for entertaining some friends at home.
¶Professor: I believe, George, that such a simple problem can safely be left to the architects and interior decorators of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. Remember we have seen tremendous changes in the furnishing and layout of rooms even during the past fifty years. There is no longer that desire for the multitude of rooms, seldom or never used; nor is there that cluttering-up of rooms with the knicks-knacks and other odds and ends beloved of the Victorians. I’m rather of the opinion that there will be much more built-in than there is even today in many of the
modern houses and flats. In any case the personal possession of furniture would be quite unnecessary because all flats and houses would be complete with furniture. It is not beyond the power of my imagination to conceive of bed-cum-sitting room as a standard, modifiable, of course, by the occupants, should they so desire. And apart from bedrooms, kitchen and so on there would be one reasonably large room to be used as a living room.
¶George: And a play room, or day nursery for the children?
¶Professor: –will be communal to the advantage of all. To sum up, George, in one area, not necessarily under one roof, there would be, if so desired, say, a hundred or so flats, with central heating, central refrigeration, a telephone to each flat, a central day nursery for the younger children, together with the usual amenities that one associates with the present-day well-designed service flats, And no doubt there would be incorporated quite a number of ideas, unthought of today.
¶George: It certainly sounds very attractive, Professor. I suppose the young men and women whose duties were local would live at the flats most convenient? But suppose they wish to visit their parents, and perhaps stay overnight? With a prescribed number of beds and bedrooms the old folks may find the situation rather difficult.
¶Professor: Another use for the recreational centre, George. Spare bedrooms for the
refugees. What could be simpler? And after all, isn’t this somewhat similar to what you’d do nowadays in identical circumstances? Except, of course, that a nearby hotel would take the place of the local recreational centre.
¶George: Quite true, Professor. I can now form a more or less well defined picture in my mind of a town, planned on the lines you mention. But there’s one thing that strikes me as curious. You suggested when discussing transport, that the bulk of the town population would be living in the country. If that be so, is there to be no countryside at all? And what about the towns? Are they to be left desolate?
¶Professor: Let me make it quite clear, George, that the plan I have so far outlined represents to some extent, an ideal. In my opinion it is a practical ideal: an ideal that could be achieved, and no doubt with many modifications, will be achieved. You need have little fear for the countryside, for as I see it there could exist quite large areas consisting of nothing else. What I do object to however, and most strongly, is that sort of gradual transition from town to country that is so common nowadays. I should like to see in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, as far as we here are concerned at any rate, a clean break. I would prefer to see a larger number of small towns, each a complete unit, with large areas of vale and meadow and pleasing landscape between them. That this would involve large scale demolition as well as rebuilding, I would not deny; but what of it? Wars involve almost as much, and to less advantage. Don’t you think, honestly now, George, that the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH would be capable of thinking on a scale big enough and grand enough to plan a world nearer to their hearts’ desire? I most emphatically do.
¶George: I’m half inclined to agree, Professor. But when I think of the raw material, in the way of human beings, I begin to wonder how long it would be before new slums would arise even under such ideal conditions. Why, look what happens when present-day slum-dwellers are moved to better surroundings. They’ve every opportunity for starting afresh; and do they? If, for the first time in their lives, they have a bathroom of their own, they use the bath for coal. It’s no use, Professor, you can’t change human beings by just moving them into better homes.
¶Professor: Your last sentence, George, is the crux of the matter; and let me tell you, what you say in that sentence is quite true! The fact is you can’t change human beings by moving them into better houses. But don’t you see, George, they’ll be doing far more than that, they’ll be moving themselves into a better world. And just as the Duke of Arden could find
books in the running brooks, sermons in stones so will the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH find a new outlook towards life, and therefore towards their homes, in the new world which they will have brought into being. You see George, when present day slum-dwellers are moved to better houses or flats, they cannot help, as a rule, but take their slum pay-packet with them. And that same pay-packet may have to cope with greater expenses as a direct result of the move. The result therefore, is in many cases even greater impoverishment. Apart from this, they are still living in the same
money world, a world of insecurity, possible unemployment, ill-health, undernourishment. What can you expect in such circumstances? The surprising thing is, that there is any improvement at all.
¶George: Why, is there any improvement?
¶Professor: Undoubtedly, and in so many cases, according to the town-planning experts, that I am full of optimism for the towns of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. It is the
money world that has made the slums and the slum-dweller. The MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH will unmake both, as it will the other evils now manifest. As for the
coal in the bath story, George, many housing experts are agreed that it is little more than a legend that has grown up from maybe one or two cases. Nevertheless, and granting its truth, I cannot conceive of people being intelligent enough to bring a WORLD COMMONWEALTH into being, and being at the same time so stupid as to do so preposterous a thing. There may be a few, a very tiny minority, who will need to be educated to the new standard, but what better text-book than a new world? Think it over, George.
§ CHAPTER 7: LEARNING–TO LIVE?
¶George: I have thought it over, Professor, and I am inclined to agree with what you say. That WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions will in fact educate people to the level where they will appreciate the better housing and other amenities of life. I’ll even go further than that, Professor. It seems to me that in many respects, they are actually being educated up to a higher level even now!
¶Professor: Apparently you’ve been thinking.
¶George: True, I have, and I should like to explain to you how I thought it out. It occurred to me that when people see, in newspapers and magazines, advertisements and pictures of things they would like and yet at the same time can’t afford to buy, they are in a way, being educated up to a higher standard of living. If for example they see pictures of beautifully appointed homes, they can’t help but make comparison with the homes they actually live in, generally, not to the advantage of the latter.
¶Professor: And yet, George, in spite of such striking evidence of their poverty, they accept as inevitable a world in which such poverty exists. How do you account for that, George?
¶George: I suppose–yes, I must admit it–they’re taught that such poverty always has been, and therefore always will be.
¶Professor: That’s the point, George. They are taught to believe it. The greater part of our present day education is directed towards that end. And not only education, but in addition most of the forces of environment tend to have that effect.
¶George: What do you mean by that, Professor?
¶Professor: I mean this, George. While we live in a
money-based world we can only think in terms of
money values. We therefore take for granted conditions in which wealth–calculated in terms of money–is unequally divided. Bill Jones, for example, looks with something akin to envy at Tom Smith, who perhaps is earning a pound or two a week more than he is; and Tom Smith in his turn may cast equally envious eyes at Jack Robinson who, with a car and a maid, gives some evidence of an even larger income; and so on till we come to the very large incomes of the comparative few. In a similar way, George, all the other implications of ordinary, everyday life tend to mould our ideas into accepting as a natural thing the existence of poverty on the one hand and wealth on the other. That the Press, for example, creates such an impression may not always be obvious, but it is there nevertheless.
¶George: I must say, Professor, that when I look back at my school-days, I can appreciate now, how much I was taught that is practically useless to me now, and in addition how much that was, to put it mildly, distortion of the truth. History for example was a subject I particularly disliked, not only because we had to learn a lot of facts in parrot fashion, but also because we were not taught it in a manner which suggested any relevance to present-day conditions. And then again, why were we given the impression that we, the British people, were always right, and the foreigner invariably in the wrong?
¶Professor: I’m rather of the opinion that you’ve forgotten more than you think, George. It’s more than likely that even in your school days, a little spice was occasionally added to the history lessons, in the form of just a little wrong-doing on our part. Otherwise, even your simple childish brains might have become a little suspicious. Still, it is a fact that history is taught in every country from the point of view of that country’s pre-eminence. In the schools, at any rate. In spite of that, however, there has been a little progress. Ideas on education are in a far healthier state nowadays than they were, say, fifty years ago.
¶George: In what way?
¶Professor: Well, George, there are quite a number of people, in different parts of the world, who are interested in education not only as their means of livelihood, that is to say, as teachers, but are, in addition, taking education seriously from the long-range point of view. They are, in fact, beginning to realise that education is concerned with far more than mere schooling, and that alone is a step in the right direction. It means, George, that such people are links,–though perhaps not conscious of it,–in the chain of WORLD COMMONWEALTH education. Their ideas may be good or bad, right or wrong, useful or otherwise, I am not sufficient authority to praise or condemn, but it is really of little consequence. The important thing is that those interested in education are beginning to think, and are discussing amongst themselves, the new education, which in a sane world would develop sane people fit to live in it.
¶George: I suppose you have some ideas on education yourself, Professor?
¶Professor: If I were to say that I have, George, it would be doing some injustice to those whose ideas I’ve read and inwardly digested. Yet at the same time, if we are to discuss education, it would not be out of place, to discuss those ideas in terms of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. And remember, George, we start off with one tremendous advantage over those who would like to make changes in educational methods within the structure of the present system. We start with a new world, in which there would be no encumbrances to the introduction of such methods; in which intelligent parents–obviously intelligent since they would have brought into being the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH–would co-operate with the teachers more readily and with more leisure to do so, and in which education would have a different significance from what it has to-day.
¶George: I would never have thought I should have been so impatient to learn something about learning. Carry on, Professor.
¶Professor: Has it ever occurred to you, George, that human beings are the only animals that go to school?
¶George: Well, I suppose human beings are the only animals that do all sorts of queer things. What of it?
¶Professor: I am only concerned with that one queer thing–schooling, so suppose we forget the others for the time being. I am concerned with it because we are discussing education, and because it is in my opinion the most vital factor in the future development of mankind.
¶George: That’s rather a steep statement to make, Professor.
¶Professor: I could justify it, but for the moment let this suffice. Those countries of the world and those periods in history in which progress has been very slow, are those in which schooling has played a very small part. Less than a hundred years of compulsory education has, in this country, done quite a lot, and that in spite of its many deficiencies. What immense possibilities there would be in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH should be obvious not only to you, George, but to all those teachers and parents, who know and appreciate the difficulties of educating the child of today. Look at young Tommy Jones as a fair sample of the present-day child. He is five years old and the middle one of three children. He lives in a district which though not quite slum, is yet not far from it. The street is his playground, as there is little better within reasonable reach. His father’s wages are just sufficient to enable them to enjoy a modicum of comfort, but in no way approaching even minor luxury. But, of course, his father has been fortunate; he has had only three spells of four weeks each out of work in two years, which is about the average for his work. Mrs. Jones, between bouts of cooking, washing, sewing, darning, sweeping and shopping, does her best–a poor best at times–to keep the children, all under eight, as tidy as her pocket, and sometimes her patience, will permit.
Thank goodness he starts school next week, she sighs as young Tommy comes in, howling, with a bruised knee. So, come next week, with shining face and well-brushed hair, sees Tommy Jones set on the first rung of the educational ladder–Apple Street Council School. He will, if he is an average child, stay there five to six hours a day, five days a week, for nine years, holidays of course excluded, and during that period will be one of a class of perhaps 30 to 50 children of near enough the same type as himself.
¶George: Of course, Professor, that’s one of the principal faults. Under those conditions it’s next to impossible for a teacher, no matter how conscientious, to take much interest in any special talents of any one pupil.
¶Professor: The surprising thing is, George, that many teachers do, but are yet helpless! They are tied hand and foot to a system which forces them to drive the children under their care, like so many sheep, along a certain specified path. But not all sheep are destined at once for the slaughter-house, and in like manner Tommy may be one of the few–the very, very few, who at eleven years of age, gain a scholarship place at a Secondary School. Whether he gains such a place or not, is, needless to say, conditioned by many factors, but few educationalists will quarrel with me if I select as particularly important, the amenability of Tommy’s home surroundings, and the general or particular nature of his
¶George: What do you mean by that, Professor?
¶Professor: In the first place, George, the interest of a child in his schooling is determined to a large extent by his parents’ interest. I believe that children are much more observant in this respect than parents are prone to think. I also believe that a home in which books are a dominant feature, and in which intelligent discussion is encouraged, form a background to a child’s life, which cannot help but influence him, not only in his interests and desire for knowledge, but also to a large extent in his choice of friends.
¶George: Tommy’s home, of course, is not like that.
¶Professor: I’m afraid not, George, but even if it were, he might still fail at an examination which is after all, merely a test of general knowledge and equally general capability. It is not outside the bounds of possibility that Tommy might be a particularly bright lad at one or two subjects that he likes, yet a perfect duffer at others that perhaps do not interest him. Still, he may gain a place in a Secondary School. His parents then have to consider the sacrifices they will need to make in order to keep him at school till 16 years of age or even longer. Can they do it? If he leaves school at 14, he could help out the family exchequer to the extent of a few shillings a week. And he would be paying for his keep. Dare they gamble their present sacrifice against a possible professional career for Tommy at a much later date? I will leave the Jones’s to solve that problem themselves. But if Tommy does not reach secondary school standard, he still has opportunity of a little more advanced education at a Central School. Here, his education may be directed more or less along commercial lines to the age of 15 or so. The important fact that we derive from this study of Tommy Jones is just this. That, broadly speaking, the educational system of today is a means for producing workers of three types. The industrial, with knowledge of little more than the three Rs; the commercial, who by virtue of his black coat and suburban outlook considers himself superior to his industrial brother; and lastly the professional, who belonging to the group of the moderately high income–there are exceptions to this, of course–does not prefer to include himself in the working-class in any circumstances. So you see, George, that fundamentally, education nowadays is a means toward an end; and that end, the production–I could say mass production–of workers for different types of job. The fact that one gets £4 a week and the other £1,000 year is really of little consequence. They are both still wage-workers. Their different levels of income are decided by what it costs to train and maintain their different kinds of skill, while supply and demand is the principal factor that regulates fluctuations from time to time.
¶George: Well, Professor, you’ve been somewhat destructive in your criticism of present-day schooling. Let’s have some constructive ideas. What are your ideas for WORLD COMMONWEALTH education?
¶Professor: I wasn’t aware that I had been particularly destructive. But, all the same, what is more constructive than destructive criticism? The one naturally presupposes the other, for is destruction ever an end in itself? Clearly, George, destruction is the necessary prerequisite to construction.
¶George: Very interesting, no doubt, Professor, to the philosophers, but what has all this–?
¶Professor: I know, George; what has all this airy philosophy to do with the problem of education in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH? Just this. That in order to get something of an idea of the new education we must appreciate fully the defects of the old. If I say, therefore, that the principal defect of our present system of education is in its objective–that is in the production of useful workers–you will, I hope, not misunderstand, me. All the peoples of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will be doing useful work–that is obvious–but the important difference as far as, we are concerned is that education will not be directed towards the sole end of producing workers. There will be no need for direction of that kind, since environment will impress at an early age the necessity for everybody doing his or her share of the world’s work. We thus cannot help but arrive at the conclusion that fundamentally, education in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will be liberal in the true sense of that word.
¶George: And in what sense do you use that word, Professor?
¶Professor: The old idea of a
liberal education was equivalent to that education befitting a
gentleman, but in its wider sense it was used to include those subjects having little or no bearing on trade or profession. I like to think of education in that wider sense. I like to think that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, education will be considered as an end in itself, not as a means towards an end. That children will go as happily to school as they do to play. That education to them will be akin to listening to a fine symphony orchestra by an intelligent adult. Something they will enjoy for its own sake, not something to dread as a necessary evil. Something that will help them to get some fun, interest and pleasure out of life, not something which will enable them to become fitted to a lifetime of toil.
¶George: That sounds fine, Professor, but what is to be the foundation–what are they going to learn?
¶Professor: What better foundation, George, than that freedom inherent in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH? Why compulsory Latin or Greek for the children where there is no compulsory coal-mining or sewage-cleaning for their parents? What better curriculum than one devised by themselves for themselves? Why indeed compulsory education at all in a world where children could and would virtually educate themselves and one another?
¶George: Surely, Professor, children would not go to school unless they were compelled to?
¶Professor: They would be compelled! But not by authority. They would be compelled in the first place, at, say, kindergarten age by that perfectly natural desire to play with other children of their own age. They would be compelled to continue by the encouragement of teachers who were enthusiasts, and who loved their work: by teachers who were more concerned with the fostering of the desire for knowledge than by knowledge in itself. They would be compelled, with developing childhood, by their own interest in learning something about the world in which they live–and since it will be their own world–really their own world–there will be every inducement for them to understand it. In short, George, I believe that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH education would consist in the development of that which is essentially inherent in every child–curiosity–the understanding and the mastering of environment. I believe that a child could be encouraged to take some interest in every
subject, but should be further encouraged rather than penalised if one
subject interests him more than another. Finally, I believe that education as thus described would be quite distinct from, though running a parallel course with, vocational training, but that both would cater for the individual rather than the mass.
¶George: That seems to suggest there would be more specialisation.
¶Professor: Not quite, George. Specialisation has its dangers. It is only a half truth that a little learning is dangerous, since he is a better
specialist in his own field who has roamed through the pastures of
general practice. The specialist often tends to too narrow an outlook, not only in his own field of study but also in the generalities of everyday life. I may be biased, George, but I would much rather converse with a person having a reasonably intelligent understanding of the many interesting things in life than the erudite professor with his encyclopœdic knowledge of one subject. The latter has his place in the world, I dare say, but a community of such would to me be intolerable. So, when I described the education of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH and the vocational training–as catering for the individual, I had in mind the possibilities of perfect freedom of choice in study: the possibilities of the youngster of five going to school because he will be able to do certain things there that he could not do so well at home, and of continuing to attend school to acquire knowledge and understanding of the world he lives in, for the rest of his life if he be so inclined. I can envisage the examination system going the way of the other archaic features of the
money world, and in its place a system of
marking, which, unknown to the pupils, would enable the teachers to determine their particular aptitudes.
¶George: Have you thought of the possible shortage of teachers, Professor?
¶Professor: I certainly have; there will, in the early stages be a serious shortage, I have little doubt of that. But what better method of countering that difficulty than students teaching one another? Suppose for example, half a dozen students of one class in, say, chemistry, each volunteering to coach three or four students in the class below them. I may be optimistic, but I’m inclined to think they might learn more that way than by the orthodox method. After all, they would have access to these
helpers at all times, and I venture to suggest they would be more inclined to
helpers, where a particularly knotty point arises, than they would dare to with
proper teachers. I claim no credit for the idea. It has been tried before, with quite useful results. I merely suggest it as a means of obviating the difficulties of a possible shortage of teaching-staff, and perhaps as a means of encouraging to teaching duties those who find they have a liking for it.
¶George: And vocational training?
¶Professor: Let us consider again the case of Tommy Jones–but, of course, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH this time. By the age of fourteen or so Tommy will have shown a definite bent towards, say, science. So from then onwards he will quite naturally devote the greater part of his time to science and less to other subjects. At, say, sixteen years of age he may have decided on electrical engineering as his forte. He will then begin part-time civil duties in that industry but his education will continue side by side with his vocational training to, say, the age of eighteen.
¶George: You don’t seem anxious to fix definite age limits, Professor. I suppose that Tommy won’t be compelled to begin part-time civil duties at the age of, say, sixteen, and presumably full-time duties at, say, eighteen?
¶Professor: You seem anxious to find some example of compulsion in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, George, but believe me, you won’t! Apart of course from the necessity of co-operating with one’s fellows in the production and distribution of the needs of mankind. But that necessity is inherent in life. There may appear to be risks in freedom but there are few aspects of life free from risk. I am confident that the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will face such risks just as they will, in the early years, face the other many and varied problems of the change. Tommy will begin his civil duties, part-time or otherwise, just as soon as he feels inclined to. I see no reason why he should be compelled to do otherwise. He may, for example, have an urge towards research. Would he then be better employed in, say, telephone maintenance?
¶George: That would be one way of avoiding one’s responsibilities.
¶Professor: I refute that, George, most emphatically. Research is by its very nature a great responsibility, and the desire for such work is not so common as you seem to imagine. That there will be more interested in science, I do not for one moment doubt; but that is all to the good. It will be a
¶George: So scientific, Professor, that the time will come when there’ll be no need to work at all. Then what will we do with our leisure?
¶Professor: So many things, George, that it would be as well if we discussed it another time. In the meantime, however, give this subject of education some attention. It warrants it, since you or your children will have some voice in the direction that WORLD COMMONWEALTH education will take. He would be a brave man to become prophet, but then I am no coward! In the new world you will not only be learning to live, you will also be living to learn.
¶George: Why not living and learning?
¶Professor: Excellent, George, excellent!
§ CHAPTER 8: THEY
SPEND THEIR TIME
¶George: Our discussion on Education seemed to suggest that you anticipate that that alone will solve the problem of leisure. Do you think you can justify that?
¶Professor: You assume too much, George. If I have given you that impression I apologise. WORLD COMMONWEALTH education will, I believe, solve many problems, including to some extent the problem of leisure. But we cannot afford to look too far ahead. That there will be no such problem after one or two generations in the new world is to my mind perfectly clear and obvious. An intelligent and educated person is never bored. What we ought to consider more carefully is this problem from the more immediate point of view. Whether in fact, there will be such a problem in the early stages, soon after the change over. What is your opinion, George?
¶George: Frankly, Professor, I am not at all optimistic. I have uncomfortable visions of people loafing at street corners, filling up public houses, cinemas, dance halls and cafés, riotous living of all sorts, including especially wine, women and song. If it is an illusion on my part, I hope you will quickly dispel it.
¶Professor: You paint a gloomy picture, George, but I am afraid you cover a restricted canvas. It is a picture which might more accurately portray present-day people’s ideas of spending leisure time. Still, you relieve my mind in one direction. I was wondering whether you might suggest a sudden and overwhelming rush to the universities, the opera houses, symphony concerts, lectures of all sorts, and so on. But your expression shows disapproval. I take it then, that you are of the opinion that the majority of young people do not nowadays prefer this latter method of utilising their leisure. In fact, George, I have more than a suspicion that you yourself belong to this majority.
¶George: Well, I must admit we do have a good time, but then you can’t blame us. We don’t get very much time in which to enjoy ourselves, after a day’s work. That’s why we have to make our fun
¶Professor: Then I wonder if you’ll agree with me when I say that you and your
good time friends would very soon tire of their
good time fun if you were free to enjoy yourself in that fashion ad lib.
¶George: Well–I suppose we would.
¶Professor: Clearly then, as in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH you would have perfect freedom to enjoy yourself in this fashion, without let or hindrance, we can only conclude that it would not be long before you tired of these frothy and ephemeral pleasures, and used at any rate a reasonable proportion of your time in the pursuit of what are really more lasting and satisfying entertainments.
¶George: In the same way I suppose that we will desire less in the way of clothes and so on, since we will be free to have as much as we wish.
¶Professor: Exactly. And in the same way as those who live in wine-producing countries are as a rule more temperate than those who are not so favoured.
¶George: It seems quite reasonable.
¶Professor: Moreover, George, we have to bear in mind–we must indeed constantly keep in mind–this very important point. The WORLD COMMONWEALTH can only be achieved as a direct result of the majority of people wanting to bring such a world into existence. They will want it only when they have acquired the knowledge and understanding of its possibilities. The acquisition of this knowledge and understanding naturally presupposes an intellectual awakening and enlightenment which cannot help but arouse an interest in many things previously regarded with little interest, if not with lowbrow disgust. But there is another important point which should not be disregarded. As I have pointed out before, hours of duty could not at once be reduced to the 1,000 hour year which I suggested as a practical world standard. There would be so much to do making up for the deficiencies of our present so-called
civilisation. So many hungry mouths would have to be filled. So many ragged and ill-clad people to be clothed and shod. And, most important, so many homes to be built and furnished. If I am an optimist in saying that this period, which I prefer to regard as a clearing-up period, will not be of undue length, it is solely because I have confidence in the inventive genius, faith in the resourcefulness, and assurance in the courage to face difficulties of my fellow men.
¶George: I suppose that hours would have to be gradually decreased.
¶Professor: True; and the advantages of such a gradual decrease are obvious. It would give people the opportunity of slowly acclimatising themselves to the new conditions, including, of course, the increased hours of leisure. Why, George, isn’t this exactly what has been happening under our very noses during the past forty-odd years? Have we not seen hours of labour reduced from seventy hours and more per week to less than fifty; and coinciding with this an increase in the number of tennis courts, dance halls, clubs, evening classes, literary and dramatic societies, cinemas and so on? Was it merely coincidental, or am I right in saying that these forms of utilising leisure arose as a direct result of the increased hours of leisure? I see no reason why this process should come to a full stop. Indeed, I am of the opinion that this expansion of leisure activities could be extended considerably. I can even visualise the possibility of new leisure activities arising. There is even the possibility of a Bureau of Leisure, organised for the purpose of advising on this leisure problem, just as there are today organisations which arrange holidays.
¶George: What, more bureaucrats?
¶Professor: You do not like the word, George, and I have affection for neither word nor specimen. But we must not lose sight of the fact that in a
money world they have both power to enforce obedience and money to ensure your subjection. In the WORLD COMMONWEALTH they will have neither. We will not be their servants; in a sense, they will be ours. Those people with that particular flair for organising entertainment; with that skill and imagination and knowledge that form the essential characteristics of those who would undertake such a duty, those people, I repeat, would be no better and no worse off than their fellows. They would take freely from the common fund of production as much as they need. I don’t doubt, George, that amongst your friends there are one or two who could fill such a duty admirably.
¶George: Why, yes! Jimmy for one; which reminds me. There’ll be no bookmakers–no backing horses or dogs–no gambling of any sort. Say, Professor, life is going to be rather dull without a little flutter. A man can’t gamble unless he’s got a few shillings in his pocket. What do you propose doing about that?
¶Professor: The problem of gambling is interesting, and I should have referred to it even if you had not. It is sometimes difficult for one who has not succumbed to a particular vice to understand those who have. If I say then that I do understand the gambling fever you will, I hope, not misunderstand me. I believe that the fascination of gambling lies in the combination of two factors–the desire for gain and the desire for excitement. I must emphasise that these two factors cannot be separated if we are to understand gambling correctly. It is obvious that the desire for gain may result in loss; consequently the uncertainty produces the excitement. Conversely the desire for excitement may create the desire for gambling and gain. However, it may produce other desires, such as women, wine or war. Or it may produce healthier desires such as football, running, swimming and the kindred sports. It may also produce such diverse desires as research and road-racing, skiing and stamp-collecting. But to return to our gamblers. It should be clear that with the elimination of the
gain motive due to the abolition of money, there would be no desire for gambling.
¶George: Just a moment, Professor, it would still be possible to use counters.
¶Professor: But that would not be gambling. The counters would surely represent little more than a scoring device. Without the possibility of material gain, we cannot accurately describe a game as a gamble. There may be interest and excitement, but that is natural to all games and sports where there is competition. I see little reason for concerning ourselves with the possible lack of excitement in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. There will always be people who consider they can do something a little better than the next man, even if it’s something as stupid as
shooting Niagara Falls in a bath tub. The competitive element in sport and other activities will not be eliminated. Rather, I think would it be fostered. There will still be
pot-hunting of a fashion, in spite of the fact that the
pots would have no value apart from their indication of superiority.
¶George: You seem to have covered rather a narrow field in this talk on leisure. Frankly, I don’t feel satisfied.
¶Professor: Perhaps then my conclusion will remedy that. Let us face facts. In the
money world of today leisure, as far as the majority of people is concerned is badly used, in fact, wasted. But as a
money world is a
bad world in which waste of all kinds is commonplace, that is not surprising. Consider for a moment just one aspect of a
money world, and one of its particularly bad features–War. How do some members of the various armed forces spend their leisure when they are not killing one another?
¶George: Sex–and so on. Yes, I see what you’re getting at.
¶Professor: They are trained to become efficient killers, and no one will deny that killing can only appeal to the worst, to the most beastly elements in human character. With his reduction to a beast in this one aspect it is not surprising that many a man will exercise a primitive and innate function in a beastly manner. But they are more to be pitied than blamed. True blame attaches to those who, while excusing and approving and blessing the beastliness of war, condemn the activities of those who have become demoralised by the beastliness they have been taught.
¶George: But then, this brings us back to my first contention; that the kind of education people will get will decide, in the main, how they will use their leisure.
¶Professor: Quite true; and being as I anticipate a
liberal education in the widest sense of the word, a drawing out of intelligence and a fostering of that natural curiosity innate in all human beings, I expect that leisure would be used in a leisurely and satisfactory way, in a manner that would be both healthy and interesting.
¶George: What spare-time occupations do you think would be most popular?
¶Professor: So many, that it would be difficult to enumerate them. Age, temperament, sex, physique and mental alertness are the principal factors that would determine choice of recreational activity. If you would like a rough idea consider some of the possibilities. Firstly, there are the quiet activities; rest, meditation, reading, writing, conversation, indoor games such as chess and draughts, and so on. Then those a little more active; dramatics, painting, drawing, music, photography, dancing, operatics, woodwork, metalwork, knitting, and there are of course others. And lastly, the most active; sports and athletics of all sorts.
¶George: True; when you come to think of it there are many things people could do with plenty of time for the purpose.
¶Professor: Yes, George, that is the crux of the matter. In the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH people would have plenty of leisure time, but without a shadow of doubt, it would never be plentiful enough for the doing of all those things that sensible people would and could do.
§ CHAPTER 9: HOLIDAYS
¶George: I must admit, Professor, that you seem to find little difficulty in smoothing out the difficulties I try to put in your way. With great fluency and sometimes even with the rhetoric of a stump orator, you are beginning to have some influence on me. The main trouble with your explanations, as far as I can see, is that you tend to generalise too much. What I was expecting to have by this time was something approaching a clear picture. Instead of this, I’m afraid I have something resembling more an out-of-focus photograph. When we discussed the leisure problem, you seemed to cover a lot of ground, yet when thinking it over, I began to realise how much you’d omitted. Take holidays for instance. I may be wrong, but it’s my opinion that the most important aspect of the leisure problem is in the annual fortnight or so at the
¶Professor: You consider it important, George, as no doubt you get a fortnight
or so; how much more important to those millions of people who would be glad to have a week. How much more important still to those innumerable children who have not even seen the sea. No, George, you accuse me quite rightly of generalising, but I was hoping you’d appreciate that I can do little more. You present for my consideration the subject of holidays. I must admit that this would present a problem to the peoples of the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH, but I see no reason for assuming that such a problem would be so difficult of solution.
¶George: Would it be so difficult for you to solve it?
¶Professor: I believe I have already told you, George, I am drawing merely a plan, a very rough diagram. If at times I have tended to paint too rosy a picture, it is simply the expression of my confidence in the strength of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH foundations. What I am concerned with, is, what in my opinion could be done. What would be done is, of course, another matter. If I say then that the people whose duty it will be to arrange such matters may, and probably will, have ideas quite different from mine, you must at the same time remember that the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will know what they want and will see that they get it. You mention holidays. It would be easy enough to draw a picture in the manner of the Utopian novelists, of an afternoon swim at Cannes, and an evening cabaret in New York. It would, however, be equally easy to imagine chaos arising, for example, as a result of everybody wanting their holidays at the same time. Or even greater chaos as a consequence of people all wanting excessively long holidays. Why, you George, might even demand a three months vacation in the South of France. You look both pleased and startled. Well, George, and why shouldn’t you have three months or even six months if you want it? Can you see any objection?
¶George: Not at all from my point of view. But don’t forget the others. As you quite rightly said, what of the possibility of everyone wanting six months holiday? Why, there wouldn’t be any work done. Really, Professor, I believe you’re losing your grip of the subject.
¶Professor: Not losing my grip, George. Merely loosening my muscles. So to compensate for that, I’m going to ask you to tighten up yours. We’re going to work out a problem in mathematics. It’s not a very difficult one, but we shall need a pencil and some paper. Now here are the facts and figures. The present 48-hour week is equal roughly to 2,500 hours a year. I have already previously stated that duty periods could not be reduced immediately. There is even the possibility–let me whisper it–that duty periods may be raised for a short time. Clearly, this would be due to the fact that owing to lack of purchasing power, many people, under present-day conditions are unable to buy all that they need apart from the barest necessities. Consequently, their needs, having priority over all others–reasonably so, in my opinion–would have to be fulfilled at once. Moreover there are two other important factors to be taken into consideration. First, the training of a great influx of untrained operatives, who, coming in most cases from jobs not even remotely connected with their new duties, will need teaching.
¶George: That’s going to be a difficulty.
¶Professor: Not quite so difficult. War-time conditions demonstrate clearly enough how quickly people can and do undertake work in which they have had very little, if any, experience. If they do it, often under some compulsion for the purpose of war, with how much greater enthusiasm would they do it for peace–perpetual peace–and for themselves. But that is by the way. The second factor is the need for supplying those parts of the world now backward, industrially and otherwise, with all their requirements. This would be much more than a merely generous gesture on our part, since they in their turn would supply us with many of the raw materials that we need.
¶George: I’m still waiting for my holiday, Professor.
¶Professor: Nevertheless, in a reasonably short time, probably some months, I believe it would be possible to reduce duty periods to, say, 1,800 hours a year. Now, George, here’s the point. As long as you do your prescribed hours of duty per year, does it matter very much how those hours are spread out. In this case, for example with an 1,800 hour year, what would it matter whether you divided up the year into 45 weeks of 40 hours giving you seven weeks’ holiday, or 36 weeks of 50 hours with a really long holiday of 16 weeks.
¶George: Good heavens, Professor, industry couldn’t carry on like that. You spoke of chaos a little while ago. Why, if such an arrangement as you suggest wouldn’t lead to chaos, nothing else would.
¶Professor: You have then, George, the courage to suggest and the audacity to imply, that there are not available in the industrial and commercial organisations of today, people, who, given a free hand in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH could not so organise production and distribution, so that everyone could have and enjoy the holiday they desire. An outrageous and preposterous suggestion and I do not apologise for my righteous indignation. Why, George, the organisation of industry today is much more complicated than it could ever possibly be under WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions. I will not tolerate such an insult to the efficient executives of our present
money world. That such a simple problem would worry them is unthinkable. I have such confidence in their ability, George, that I feel certain they could arrange at least a month’s holiday for all, immediately after the change over. Then, think of future possibilities–and when I say future, I don’t mean the dim, distant future. I mean the practical possibility of a 1,000-hour year that I believe would be quite feasible, once the primary problems of production had been solved. Would you mind 50 hours a week for 20 weeks, with the prospect of almost 8 months holiday to come?
¶George: It certainly sounds very tempting.
¶Professor: I believe that such an allocation would suit a number of industries quite well; though naturally not everyone would take kindly to work at this high pressure in spite of such an inducement. But then, there’s the possibility of dividing up the year into 40 weeks of 25 hours a week leaving 12 weeks holiday, and so on. It’s really quite simple, isn’t it, George?
¶George: Even then, there’d be some unlucky people who will have to take their holidays in the winter.
¶Professor: Although that sounds more like a grumble than a criticism, I will treat it as an objection. The objection is hereby declared null and void. If you will make an effort you may remember that you were once taught in Geography that it’s not winter all the world over at the same time. True, with a month’s holiday in the early stages there would not be so much scope nor time for locating warmth and sunshine for a lengthy period; but I do not for one moment believe that the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will worry unduly with the certain prospect in view of, say, a three months’ holiday on a sea trip to South Africa.
¶George: Tell me, Professor, will we still have our week-ends and Bank Holidays?
¶Professor: Such optimism! It makes me feel that the WORLD COMMONWEALTH is already in sight. Will
we have indeed! Yes, George,
we will if
we want them. Week-ends of any length. What does it matter, provided the work is done. And
Bank holidays! With no Banks? Why concern ourselves with such piffling problems? I’m surprised, really. During the course of our discussions, I have shown you quite clearly, I believe, some of the possibilities inherent in a world organisation based on the production of goods for use and for free distribution. I have indicated that this and the consequent abolition of the
money system will free mankind, once and for all time, from the horrors of war, poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, and their attendant evils. I have also made clear that such a change would not only free mankind from the slavery of the machine, but would also produce such a revolution in human relationships and in human ideas, that one’s imagination tends to run riot. And you, George, worry about Bank holidays!
¶George: I’ll admit, it’s not all that important, Professor, but it’s rather difficult to draw the line. You might, for instance, consider the question of hotel accommodation unimportant; though to my mind it seems as big a problem as housing.
¶Professor: You are thinking of it as a problem in connection with the
Bed and Breakfast–10 minutes from Sea type of place, versus the De Luxe Hotel on the esplanade. You must not lose sight of the fact however that the former exist merely as a means towards making a living on the part of a small family with one or two spare rooms. They would not do that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH though they might make welcome such friends and relatives, who wish to, stay with them. In my opinion the problem of holiday accommodation in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH is being solved for us now!
¶Professor: There are two movements, both expanding at a rapid rate which give me not only a firm basis for my opinion, but a definite clue towards possible trends. I refer to the Youth Hostel movement for one, and the holiday camp for the other.
¶George: They only cater for people who want a cheap holiday. Besides, such a holiday wouldn’t suit everybody.
¶Professor: I will not dispute the latter statement, but I will, the former. The fact remains that generally speaking, hiking holidays and holiday camps do suit the younger people. I feel sure they would suit the majority of young men and women under the ideal conditions prevailing. There could be no
snob element which I believe does sometimes detract from the pleasure of such holidays. The extension of such camps on a very large scale would be neither a difficult nor a lengthy task. In the meantime plans could be made for the erection in the future of more elaborate holiday camps probably on the lines of the Town recreational centres we have already discussed. The
orthodox hotels could, I believe, be used mainly by elderly people who would appreciate and would naturally deserve the extra comforts that such places provide. And so, George, every, body should be reasonably satisfied. At youth hostels, at holiday camps, on sea trips, visiting other countries, all will be free to live their holidays as they live their lives–free from worry, anxiety and fear. Secure in the knowledge that their fellowmen are using their energy, knowledge and skill in making such holidays possible, and knowing that they in their turn will enjoy theirs.
§ CHAPTER 10: THE ARTS AND SCIENCES
¶George: One thing does seem clear to me, Professor, and that is, the people of the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH will put a different interpretation on the word
Freedom from what we do nowadays. It’s something that I can feel rather better than I can express. We have freedom of a sort at the present time, yet I cannot help thinking that there is something artificial and cramping in this, our present-day freedom. I suppose your talks have been the cause of this.
¶Professor: If that is so, I am pleased. If my talks have made you feel that a WORLD COMMONWEALTH is to be preferred to our present mode of life, even if only from this aspect of a greater and a grander freedom, then my voice has not been used in vain. But what have you in mind?
¶George: It occurred to me that even the possession of great wealth under present conditions does not necessarily ensure against insecurity. Otherwise why do people who are already extremely wealthy, keep on piling up more and more when they could comfortably retire on what they already have?
¶Professor: It’s a vicious circle, George–really little more. Or perhaps I could more aptly call it a pernicious disease. People of great wealth are not in the habit of walking about with thousands of pounds in their pockets. Their money is invested in companies of one sort or another. It exists in reality in the form of land, factories, machinery, railways, and so on–the things that the community needs in order to carry on its existence. Quite often their wealth grows in this manner at a faster rate than they can spend it. Apart from this there is a fascination, to some people, of accumulating wealth, which is in effect little different from the fascination of stamp or coin collecting.
¶George: It isn’t only people with investments who get large incomes; look at the tremendous incomes of the film stars. Which brings me to the point I should like you to talk about today; that is the position of the Arts in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH.
¶Professor: What do you mean by
¶George: I have just mentioned film stars; but apart from these, whose incomes are in the main, extremely large, there are quite a number of other people who have fairly high earnings by virtue of the fact that they are supreme in one art or another. Composers, orchestra conductors, novelists, artists, sculptors, and so on. These people are celebrities. They have a status in society. Are they likely to give that up, apart from their large incomes, to become just units in a WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶Professor: In asking the question, George, you have yourself almost answered it. If these people you mention are celebrities now, why should they be less so in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH? What magic power would be evolved that would take their skill from them? And for what reason? Could their status in society be lowered by a change in the organisation of society for the purpose of abolishing the evils of a
money world? Unless of course by
society you mean the exalted planes of cocktails, caviare and champagne. Society with a capital S. I am loth to believe that those who are artists now in spite of the inducements of money and Mayfair, will not be so without such incentives. That they will now accept, and may at times even bargain for large salaries, is nothing more than an effect of a
money world. Our
money world is a trading world and, like most other people who have to work for a living, artists have to trade their abilities in order to live. Naturally, the celebrities, being in greatest demand, can get a much higher price than the others. They will take as much as they can get; but then, don’t we all? Our present mode of life makes imperative such an outlook; for who knows what the morrow may bring?
¶George: Your explanation is interesting, but it’s not quite all I had in mind. Seeing that you have so far stressed the words
distribution I was wondering how the Arts fitted into your scheme of things. What
goods are produced by an orchestra? Where the
utility of a fine painting or marble? Are artists to be a privileged élite or will they take their part in the workaday world, using their spare time in the practice of their interest or recreation?
¶Professor: That sounds like a challenge, George, which I feel bound to accept. You ask me to justify the
usefulness of fine music, exquisite paintings and so on. I might just as profitably ask you to justify the
usefulness of jazz, third-rate picture papers, films, and Comic Cuts; but I have not done so, nor will I. In my opinion they are of some use–as a contrast! You must remember, George, that
work, although a necessity imposed by Nature, will be the least important part of life in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. People will
work in order to live, to live fully, happily and completely. If to live thus involves the
employment of dance bands, symphony orchestras, Comic Cuts, artists, and sculptors, they will need to have people whose duty it will be to satisfy them in these ways. Obviously then, those people who are so gifted or inclined would be more
profitably thus engaged than in other duties for which they had no such inclination. If you still insist that such duties are non-productive I may feel inclined to commend your accuracy but to invoke your clemency. The functions of musicians, artists, etc., may be regarded as service to the community, thus qualifying them to participation in the common pool of production and services. You must realise, too, that the increased hours of leisure would spontaneously bring into existence, a large and increasing number of keen devotees of the Arts, who might prefer to regard their art as a hobby or recreation. Needless to say that should public acclaim convince them of their more suitable
employment they would if they so wished, adopt that art as their duty. Just think of the possibilities of the recreational centre from this one point of view alone. Studios for the artists, sculptors, and photographers. Theatres for ballet, opera, and drama. Music rooms for the musicians, and so on.
¶George: All sound insulated I hope; but seriously, Professor, don’t you think there would need to be some rationing system in art materials, if in nothing else. There must be a good deal of waste in such materials, under present conditions. Would there not be very much more when
money’s no object. If artists can have canvases, photographers their plates and papers, and amateur sculptors their marbles, why, the demand for such materials would be enormous. Apart from this, think of the possibility of the sudden and immediate demand for expensive cameras, violins, pianos. The factories of the world simply couldn’t cope with such an overwhelming demand, even with a 24-hour day.
¶Professor: You make an assumption that I think you will find it difficult to justify. Why should there be a shortage of such materials? You talk of waste. Why, George, our present-day world thrives on waste; in war, waste is raised to a fine art, the waste of human lives–the waste of raw materials. It would need an enthusiasm for the Arts on a colossal scale to see waste equivalent to an insignificant fraction of the waste involved in war. And even if it were miraculously equal, it would be waste to better purpose. Let me remind you too that in spite of the possible shortage of materials that you are so eager to envisage, almost every manufacturer is anxiously trying to persuade, by means of advertisement, more and more people to use his products. His salesmen, travel throughout the world, often with the injunction that
the sky is the limit. Would you agree that they are in a better position to appreciate the possibilities of a shortage of raw materials?
¶George: But some things are naturally scarce; sculptors’ marbles, for instance.
¶Professor: True, but sculptors’ marbles are not in universal demand nor are there any grounds for belief that they would be under WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions. If they really are naturally scarce in a
money world I cannot see how a MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH can help such a situation. Neither can I see how a
money world nor an
improved money world can remedy matters. It’s just something we must accept. What would be of more concern would be a widespread demand for something that is naturally scarce, but I think you would find it something of a task to light upon anything that comes within that category. Even if such scarce substances did exist, sharing or taking turns would surely overcome that difficulty. Apart from this, you should not lose sight of the fact that at rock bottom, the WORLD COMMONWEALTH is essentially a
bread and butter proposition. AM CONCERNED WITH DEMONSTRATING THAT SUCH A CHANGE IN WORLD ORGANISATION WOULD SOLVE THE MAJOR PROBLEMS OF HUMANITY. If in the course of discussion I deal with certain other aspects, it is merely with the intention of drawing a picture of how life in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH could be lived–not necessarily how it would be lived. You mention that certain raw materials are
naturally scarce. I agree. But so are great violinists and great pianists. Nowadays, the
problem of hearing them
in the flesh is solved by means of a personal tour. They would no doubt do likewise then as they do now.
¶George: But sculptors’ marbles can’t make a personal tour.
¶Professor: You must have a secret passion for that art, or you would not talk as you do. Do you seriously imagine that more than a few in a million would’ undertake the laborious and arduous training involved in the pursuit of such an art? And if a large and increasing number do, I have no doubt that the technicians of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will get down to the problem and solve it.
¶George: But if everybody wanted to become an amateur sculptor?
¶Professor: Nonsense, George. No statistician would allow for such a contingency. Our interests and artistic ambitions are as diverse as our temperaments. Could a change in world organisation possibly alter that? It is unthinkable.
¶George: Would people take as much care of, say, expensive musical instruments, as they do now? After all, Professor, if a person pays, say, twenty pounds for a violin, he naturally treats it as a valuable possession, and looks after it, since he is well aware that he may not be able to afford another for perhaps many years. If, however, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH he could have a new one whenever he felt so inclined he would probably not be so careful. There would be here the possibility of terrible waste of really expensive material.
¶Professor: Tell me, George, have you ever observed that people, as a very general rule, will take more care of articles loaned to them, than they will of their own.
¶George: I wouldn’t say it’s a general rule, but I’ll admit there is a tendency in that direction.
¶Professor: It’s more than a tendency, George. Libraries offer an outstanding example. The percentage of books misused is remarkably low. Moreover, you will agree that people of fair average intelligence are far more likely to take good care of such loaned articles than those of less intelligence.
¶George: I’ll grant you that.
¶Professor: Then you will possibly agree when I say that as the WORLD COMMONWEALTH can come into being only as the result of the intelligent co-operation of all peoples, they will necessarily be of fair average intelligence, at least.
¶George: That seems reasonable, Professor, but how long do you think it will take to breed such intelligent beings? In the main they’re a stupid lot.
¶Professor: You do your fellows a gross injustice if you rate them at that level. With the evidence to the contrary in front of me, how can I believe such a statement. I can’t believe it, George, and I won’t. Stupid!? Why, George, you and your fellows run the world between you. You create the good things for all mankind. You cross the seas and carry those goods from continent to continent. You bridge the rivers with mass of stone and metal, and, with mysterious waves in etheric space, bridge the gulf between man and man. Stupid, George? Never! Not stupidity, but lack of understanding, and that, sir, is not incurable, if you refuse to so regard it. I believe that people who are intelligent enough to understand the need for the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will understand their responsibilities in it. Such people could not help but take reasonable care of violins, cameras, pianos, etc., loaned to them.
¶Professor: Yes, loaned–with the option of keeping such instruments as personal possessions until such time as they tired of them, when they would be returned to be used by others in their turn.
¶George: But that couldn’t be done with, say, a Strad violin?
¶Professor: What need, when such unique products would be the property of all mankind. Only an acknowledged master of such an instrument could do it justice, and all would enjoy it.
¶George: But this library system wouldn’t suit everyone. There are some people who would like to have some of these things as personal possessions, even if they aren’t using them constantly.
¶Professor: I agree, George, and I see no reason why such people couldn’t have them as personal possessions. You would, no doubt, find that these would be the real enthusiasts, whereas the
dabblers would try out one complicated instrument after another, get indifferent results, and after giving it up in disgust would revert to a simpler instrument. You see, George, it’s difficult to realise the diversity of interests that exists now, and is just as likely to exist in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. You, for instance, might prefer an aeroplane as a personal possession; as far as I am concerned you could have two thousand. But would you, in your turn, envy me my possession of a telescope?
¶George: Not very likely.
¶Professor: There are few people who would desire an aeroplane as a personal possession, though there might be many who would at times feel inclined to use such infernal contraptions. Still fewer would desire a telescope. Speaking generally, elaborate scientific apparatus would be communal property, to be used by those who had acquired the requisite knowledge and ability.
¶George: In other words, University graduates and so on. Which reminds me, will there still be the need for University degrees?
¶Professor: And what are degrees, George, to the man of real worth? Nothing but trimmings. Just a mere array of letters added to one’s name, and usually acquired almost in passing. To the lesser fry they have a snob value quite out of proportion to their real value. How many people,–yes, George, including even those engaged in scientific work, could tell you, off-hand the University degrees carried by such names as Sir Oliver Lodge, Eddington, Jeans, Madame Curie, Einstein. These scientists are known for their work, their achievements, their contribution to human knowledge, not for their scraps of diplomas or silly ornamentation.
¶George: That may be true, Professor, but it seems to me that to some extent, the work of these scientists is the outcome of their having acquired these academic distinctions.
¶Professor: Ridiculous, George; to assume that would be to make the degree more important than the graduate. And would you discount the work of such men as Priestley, Davy, Stevenson, Watt, Faraday, Marconi, and Edison, to name a few, just because of their lack of academic qualifications? Would you suggest they might have been
better scientists, with?
¶George: You might find it difficult to prove the contrary.
¶Professor: And it would be sheer waste of time. What we do know is what they have done; what they might have done belongs to the realm of speculation.
¶George: Evidently, you have no use for degrees.
¶Professor: The point is, George, would there be need of them in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH? Let us see whether such a need would arise. There are, nowadays, some people–very few, I admit–who have a strong liking for science for its own sake. Others may have an inclination towards science, but are far more concerned with the fact that the attainment of a degree will give them agreeable work, together with a reasonably high standard of living. Needless to say that under present-day conditions the latter expectation is not always realised. Within recent years there have been many fully fledged B.Sc.’s earning little more than the corporation dustman. Consider then these two types under the new conditions. The first, if, as is likely, is interested in science technically as well, will study it from a vocational as well as from an educational point of view. If not, he will take up some other duty and study science as an amateur in his spare time. The second type will take up some branch of science as his vocation and will not be particularly interested in science outside it. Both will I believe contribute their quota to teaching and research, but they will do so through choice, and for no other reason. Now, George, in this roughly drawn scheme that I have briefly outlined, do you think there would be need for continuing the silly business of Dr. A—- B—-, Ph.D., D.Sc., F.Z.S., F.R.S., with all the ridiculous paraphernalia of hoods and wigs and caps and gowns?
¶George: I admit that the way you put it, does make this diploma business seem unnecessary. But how will distinction be made between capabilities of scientists for varied grades of duty? Perhaps I can make myself clearer by an example. In a large chemical works there is a laboratory responsible for the analytical control of incoming and outgoing materials. In addition there is probably a research laboratory, where new ideas and new processes are put to experimental test. Over the whole laboratory there is in control, a person with high academic qualifications. Below him in status, there are one or two with lower qualifications. Still lower, and doing the routine work there will be found the newly qualified graduates, assisted by those not yet qualified. You must agree, Professor, it is the University degree that is the ultimate factor determining the choice of these people for these positions.
¶Professor: I don’t agree, George. What counts is not the degree, but what it represents. And what does it represent? Obviously, a D.Sc. or Ph.D. is essentially a B.Sc plus a few years teaching, training, or research experience. A B.Sc. in his turn is a matriculant plus three or four years extra teaching and training. The study of a science is naturally continuous and progressive. I see no reason, therefore, why at each level of knowledge and ability there should not be students and scientists capable of undertaking the duties you have given in your example. As with increasing ability they find themselves capable of undertaking more responsible work, they will do so. There will be no inducement for pretence or deceit in such matters since there will be no wages, and therefore no larger pay packet to be considered. So in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH degrees and diplomas which are often obtained by
cramming a lot of academic knowledge and which nowadays enable a scientist to compete for a job, would not be necessary. What would be of major importance would be the fact that he had had a thorough practical and theoretical training and had proved his worth and demonstrated his experience on the job itself.
§ CHAPTER 11: POSTMAN’S KNOCK
¶George: There are two things worrying me, Professor.
¶Professor: Only two? I am surprised. Still, there’s yet time for two dozen. What are they, anyway?
¶George: At the Post Office this morning, I was about to send a telegram to a friend, when I suddenly changed my mind and sent a postcard instead. There’s nothing very remarkable about that I know. Nor was there in the old lady in front of me, who, with a beaming smile, took her old age pension, remarking,
It’s not much to last a week, but it might be worse.
¶Professor: There doesn’t seem much cause for worry in these two incidents.
¶George: Then I must be beginning to think more acutely than I’ve ever thought before.
¶Professor: Excellent progress, George; may it continue!
¶George: Arising out of the first incident, came the sudden thought that in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH there would be no need for a postal service!
¶Professor: How did you deduce that?
¶George: Obviously, if my friend had a telephone I could have contacted him very quickly by that means. As in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, the telephone will be universal, I should have had need to concern myself with neither telegram nor postcard. As there will be no
business letters, and little in the way of parcels that could not be sent by rail–hey presto!–the postman’s knock disappears.
¶Professor: And with it the Valentine, the love letter, the birthday present and the Christmas gifts.
¶George: H’m, that’s too bad; especially the love letters. I hadn’t thought of that.
¶Professor: Of course, if postmen thought they would be justifying their existence on these errands alone, they might be inclined to continue such duties. Personally, I doubt it. If, as a result of the change, they saw their mail bags dwindling to a handful of love letters from the London Romeos to the Birmingham Juliets, they would have cause for complaint–and rightly so.
Give her a ring, they might say, And the Romeos could do so–in two ways! Still, as you say there does seem a possibility of the postman disappearing. But what of the second incident? The old lady with the beaming smile?
¶George: I thought of her as an example of the difficulties you are up against in spreading the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea. No matter how badly off people are, they are always hoping, Micawber-like, that something will turn up. In the everyday struggle in which we are all engaged whether we like it or not, a few
make good, but for the vast majority that struggle for existence goes on throughout their lives. The amazing thing is they don’t seem to care one jot. I often get the impression they regard it as just part of the game of life, and like any other game do their best to enjoy it. How can you expect people to want a better world if, on the surface at any rate, they are content with things as they are? The fact is, Professor, you can’t change human nature.
¶Professor: And the fact is, George, I have no intention of doing so, even if it were possible. For after all, what is human nature? The
nature of the human–really little more than self-preservation–the desire for
human company–for food, clothing, shelter, some degree of comfort even if it be only in a mud hut. A mate, children, variety, and so on. But the kingpin in the nature of the human is the will to live. Human nature does not change, I agree; it is now little different if at all, from primitive man’s human nature. But something has changed in man during those thousands of years that separate us from our savage, animal-like forbears. And what else but thoughts, impressions, notions–in other words–IDEAS. If I were to give you time to think the matter over carefully you might be prompted to ask the question,
What has brought about this change in ideas? but I am going to forestall you, since there is a possibility of your not asking the question and it is too important to miss. Clearly, George, there was a world long before there was life, and therefore long before there was man. In other words there was an environment, there were conditions of living before there were
ideas. To put it in yet another way, as you still seem a little puzzled, it was the state of the world as man found it that caused him to think. Obviously, George, there were no thoughts or ideas before there was a world.
¶George: That seems quite clear.
¶Professor: Man’s thinking, man’s ideas changed the world, but the changed world in turn changed him, altered his ideas, which in their turn changed the world and so on. Changes in environment produce changes in ideas, and these ideas in their turn produce a changed environment. Don’t trouble to remember it, George; you won’t get much opportunity to forget it, by the time I’ve finished with you. Let me repeat then that I am not concerned so much with human nature as with human conditions and human ideas. I am concerned with human ideas because I am anxious to hurry along certain changes in such ideas towards the appreciation and understanding of WORLD COMMONWEALTH. You say, quite correctly, that there are difficulties, since people
on the surface appear to be content with things as they are. I agree! But apart from the superficial nature of that satisfaction, we must bear in mind that people will quite naturally accept things as they are if they can see no prospect of anything better. But just give them the glimmer of a prospect and what happens? Says the orator,
Let me be your leader and I will give you happiness and prosperity or words to that effect. It has worked so often that one is inclined to doubt its ever failing. It must fail eventually, since mankind in the main is not stupid. We learn our lessons slowly, but we do learn; and what we learn we must pass on. Let us pass on this WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea; pass it on by word of mouth, quickly, speedily; let us hasten the day when mankind will free itself from the fetters of money, the slavery of the machine, and the dungeon of ignorance. Too long have we let our leaders do our thinking for us. Now, we begin to think for ourselves, to plan the world for ourselves, that we may live fully, freely, and completely.
¶George: Your long speeches are all very well, and sound very convincing, but they tend to lead away from the main issue. There’s one point I should like to pull you up on. You said that self-preservation is fundamental in human nature. In spite of that there have been occasions when people have sacrificed their lives for an ideal, for a cause, and at times in an effort to save another person’s life. There seems to be a contradiction here.
¶Professor: These cases are sufficiently rare to prove nothing. There are few heroes and fewer martyrs, which is perhaps just as well, or mankind would have disappeared from this earth long ago. No hero would risk his life unless he thought there was a sporting chance of survival; no martyr would give up this life unless conditions were intolerable and a belief that a possible life beyond the grave was to be preferred.
¶George: Don’t you think that to some extent we inherit ideas, or, at any rate, characteristics that influence our ideas and thus our actions?
¶Professor: The latter part of your question is to some extent true; we do in fact inherit certain characteristics that produce tendencies towards particular traits of character. Environment–that is, the
idea-producing instrument takes these tendencies in hand and gently moulds them to its own particular pattern. The important point to remember is that ideas are produced by conditions of life, by environment in its widest sense; they do not drop ready made out of the clouds. We get ideas from the books and newspapers we read, our teachers, friends, parents, workmates, experiences, surroundings and so on, and become
our ideas by a process of sifting and blending. This distinction between human nature and human ideas is in my opinion very important; since in discussion you will find the former words inaccurately used. Generally speaking human nature doesn’t change, but human conditions, ideas and behaviour do.
¶George: It’s strange, though, Professor, that as far as ordinary everyday matters are concerned, people’s ideas are very much the same in any one country. How do you explain this in view of the fact that environments are so different?
¶Professor: People’s ideas are not very much the same except in those matters where they have been made so. We have an excellent example in the attitude of people towards the present organisation of the world. Is it an idea dropped out of the clear blue sky and into our little heads at birth that makes us believe that the present world order is the only one and the best possible? Is there a
money instinct we inherit from our remote ancestors, that makes us recoil with horror from a
moneyless, wageless, and tradeless system of society that would he better than the present one? Is there some mysterious gland in our bodies that causes us to accept the present-day evils of poverty and war, as natural occurrences, over which we have no more control than we have over an earthquake? Obviously, George, it is none of these things. It is education. We are taught certain things at school, and in the main we accept them without argument. Later on we accept the opinions of newspaper, radio and books in like manner.
¶George: Newspapers often express different opinions, Professor?
¶Professor: True. There are probably as many opinions as to the best method of running a
money world as there are methods of committing suicide. The results are equally unsatisfactory to those who wish to live.
¶George: And I take it, Professor, that those who wish to live will have to work for their living. Still there will be some, a few maybe, who just won’t want to work. What will be done with those gentry?
¶Professor: Not work, George–duty–and that word should suffice. Today most of us work because we have to. There are certain difficulties in the way of getting food, clothing and so on, unless we have the money with which to buy them. In the WORLD COMMONWEALTH we will do our duty, simply because it is
our duty to
ourselves. Because to shirk that duty under such ideal conditions would be to outlaw oneself from human society, Could any sane, normal, human being stand that? The man who plays
ca canny in the factory of today is often admired by his fellows for
doing the boss. What would be their attitude in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶George: I don’t like that somehow, it savours too much of forced labour and spying.
¶Professor: Forced labour, George? Nothing would be forced on people in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. Freedom is its very essence–Real freedom. There would be no authorities compelling anyone to do anything. Yes–there would be biological compulsion–the compulsion of nature–of
human nature–to seek food, clothing and shelter. And those who preferred to fend for themselves would be free to do so. I have little doubt they would soon appreciate the great benefits of co-operation with their fellows. As for those who really did not want to do their duty, well, George, you can be sure they would not starve. They would not be faced with the alternatives presented to most people today,
You work or you rot, with the latter the more likely in times of crisis and slump.
¶George: And the greedy people–those who insist on a wardrobeful of new clothes–who insist on a new pair of shoes for every day of the year?
¶Professor: It’s a difficult problem, George, and like most difficult problems is best answered simply. I’m afraid such people, no doubt few in number, would have to be tolerated until such time as their own experience and good sense taught them that what they were doing was antisocial and not in the best interests of the community. Greed is an
idea arising out of the
money world environment, not an element of human nature. Animals and young children are greedy since they are not sure of their next meal, or next toy, or next ice cream. Where there is an abundance–and intelligence–greed could not possibly exist except as a disease of the brain. The
human is by
nature generous and sociable. This was demonstrated in the early history of the human race before any form of slavery was known. Both of these virtues tend to be perverted by a
money world. It is for this reason I insist on the necessity for the understanding and appreciation of the principles of WORLD COMMONWEALTH; for such could not help but instil a sense of responsibility, that would make such greediness impossible. Today we live in a cage; we must not do this or that; we cannot have this–or that; we should not–thou shalt not–so we don’t! But tomorrow the cage will be open–the chain removed, we shall be free to do this and that–to have this and that. You might despair of humanity withstanding the strain of such freedom. Of doing so much and wanting so much more. But I am serenely confident; and confident because of that fundamental proviso, that there will be no WORLD COMMONWEALTH until people understand it and through such understanding acquire a breadth of outlook, a feeling of kinship, and a sense of humanity that will make many of our present-day perversions sheer atavisms.
¶George: This changing of ideas with changing environment gives rise to some interesting speculations. It is obvious that the ideas of a Chinaman are different from those of an Englishman. I can’t help getting the impression that ideas will in a sense be levelled out, that there will be a greater uniformity in ideas.
¶Professor: In one sense that is happening now; witness for example the Westernisation of dress in the country you mentioned. But in another and a wider sense, whether for example it is to the advantage of the Chinese that they imitate our bad habits, I sincerely hope that will never happen. There will be far more opportunity for the diffusion of ideas than there is at present, and this will no doubt lead to greater progress in many directions. The one idea that must begin diffusing now–immediately–and throughout the world is the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea. I have no fear of the consequences of this as an immediate
level. Rather would it confer immediate benefits. For would not its rapid propagation throughout the,
civilised world make more difficult that uncivilised
pastime called war? Moreover, would not reforms be introduced by those in authority, in a panicky but vain endeavour to stem the tide?
¶George: That seems likely, at any rate. But another difficulty arises. Every nation has characteristics which are to some extent objectionable to others. Some are pugnacious and will find cause for quarrel very easily. Others are very vain and will extol their own virtues to the skies. Yet others are dirty and are inclined to regard dirtiness as akin to godliness. Now I am not going to suggest that these differences could lead to wars, though such a possibility should not be overlooked. They could, however, lead to serious discontent, which could quite easily bring about difficulties in production and distribution.
¶Professor: It’s an old story, George, and a dangerous one; a true story–in part, and a false one. For what are these peculiarities you mention but adaptations to environment, and transmitted from generation to generation by custom and teaching. If certain ideas, customs, or ways of living enable a nation or mass of people to better survive in difficult circumstances, you may be sure they soon become part and parcel of their tradition. What better example than the Jews? As human beings they are no worse and no better than the average of any other people or religious sect. If they are clever and cautious and often cunning they are so as a direct result of the intolerance and persecution to which they have been subjected for many hundreds of years. And again, George, let us be frank, are we English loved in every part of the world on which we set foot? On the contrary you will find many parts where we are intensely disliked. The important point in all these nationalistic feelings and ideas is that they are taught. And they are taught for a purpose–they have, for those in authority, a survival value in the struggle for existence. There is thus, in principle, little difference between the Jews handing down the tradition of their fathers, to their children, and the wealthy, in possession of power and privilege, handing down their
traditions to those whom they wish to accept as inevitable a world in which poverty must exist because it always has. I do not for one moment believe there is any instinctive hatred between peoples. Hatred is taught–when it serves the purpose of those who have something to gain–or lose. The people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will not be angels–they will be human–and humane. They will even be taught to hate! but only those things worthy of hate–disease and pestilence. They may even quarrel as husbands and wives do, occasionally–and their children. There will be sufficient vain people, the egotistic, the miserable, the happy, and the hundred and one other varieties to take the monotony off the physiognomical landscape. But they will not be taught to stick a bayonet in the bellies of their fellow-men–to wear a gas mask–to destroy cities by bomb and shell.
War is the trade of barbarians said Napoleon, and he must have known. And we do! I can admire those who, in war, fight for an ideal or an idea, who go through mud and blood, suffer hell and hunger, in the hope that by their actions mankind will derive some benefit. But I would admire them so much more if they would but listen to the WORLD COMMONWEALTH message, a message which if heeded would bring them down from the skies of murder to the earth magnificent.
¶You have the message George. You must be the postman. You will knock at many doors throughout the world. Will they open? Then gently persuade them of your good intentions. The message is urgent and vital. It contains a recipe–a formula–a common formula.
WE ARE HUMANS, WITH A COMMON HUMAN NATURE. WE CAN HAVE THIS EARTH–OUR COMMON HERITAGE. WE COULD USE IT–FOR OUR COMMON PURPOSE. THAT WE MAY ENSURE–OUR COMMON NEEDS.
§ CHAPTER 12: GOOD HEALTH!
¶George: When I referred yesterday to the possibility of the greater uniformity of ideas, I rather had in mind that arising out of a universal language.
¶Professor: I have little doubt that that would come about eventually; there is a good deal of sentiment attached to one’s own language, its traditions, literature and so on. It will be a hard break, and for that reason, no doubt, a gradual one.
¶George: After all, Professor, the metric system is universally used by scientists, and doctors throughout the world use Latin for their prescription writing.
¶Professor: Yes, George, bad Latin, bad writing, and bedside manner; the three outstanding characteristics of the medico.
¶George: So you intend to indict those poor fellows, too. Leave them alone, Professor, the novelists have prior rights on that territory.
¶Professor: It’s hardly a question of indictment, George, rather is it one of criticism. They cannot object to that if they have nothing to hide. Mind, I am not denying the good intentions, the devotion to their profession, and the hard work of the majority of general practitioners; but if the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, the road to Heaven is paved with devotions and the road to WORLD COMMONWEALTH with hard work. It is the last which concerns us.
¶George: One curious thing, Professor; doctors depend for their living on the existence of disease. Can there be much sincerity in the preventive measures introduced into the science of medicine?
¶Professor: So George, you do medicine the honour of including it in the sciences. Do you think you can justify that?
¶George: That shouldn’t be difficult. Why, look at the subjects they study at college: chemistry, zoology, physiology–
¶Professor: And so you solve the problem! They study chemistry, zoology and so on, but they practise as doctors. So you see, George, medicine is a practice or profession which deals with disease, its manifestations and treatment. In the course of his training, the student acquires an elementary knowledge of some of the branches of science and a more advanced knowledge of others. In the main, however, these are subsidiary to his
medical training accurately speaking. The trouble arises as a result of the existence in each of these sciences of specialists who make discoveries which have some bearing on medicine.
¶George: Not only scientists, Professor. I’ve read that lemon juice as a preventative against scurvy on ships was discovered by a ship’s captain, over 200 years before it was officially recognised by the medical profession.
¶Professor: That is quite true, George; and there are many other examples. Medicine
progresses by what it learns from the layman on the one hand, and by what it is almost forced to learn from the sciences on the other. Quite logically any discovery which betters the health of the community, affects adversely the pocket of the medico; that is the crux of the matter. Scientific discovery is ever progressing, and medicine, like other professions must needs take note of these advances or else confess a biased attitude which public opinion would not tolerate. When however its interests are threatened by some new and fundamentally different form of treatment, it will fight tooth and nail for the protection of what it considers to be its vital rights. Osteopathy and its fight for recognition is a case in point.
¶George: But there are some forms of preventive treatment, immunisation for example, that requires the skill of the doctors. They justify their existence here, surely?
¶Professor: I am not so sure, George. There is a large and a growing body of opinion–yes, including medical opinion–which is beginning to doubt the preventive benefits of
¶George: You surprise me, Professor. Why, I thought it was as much scientific fact as Darwin’s theory.
¶Professor: Facts in science are recognised by all scientists without exception. Theories are continually being tested by experience and experiment. Basically a theory may be sound, but time may show need for amendment.
Immunisation is based on the theory that germs are the cause of disease, yet there seems to be considerable evidence that the theory is not sound. What concerns me, and is seriously concerning others, is not the possible truth or otherwise of the
germ theory, but the fact that immunisation” is still carried on while the theory is in doubtful acceptance. After all, the injection into the body of foreign substances, though it may do no immediate damage–incidentally, it frequently does–can have some injurious effects later on. Only with difficulty could symptoms arising perhaps weeks or months later, be connected directly with
¶George: Certainly very interesting, Professor, and information that I shall have to digest at my leisure. It is evident though, that you have no great liking for the medical profession.
¶Professor: No, George, I have the greatest admiration for all those doctors who do so conscientiously strive to alleviate the ills of mankind; and I have even greater admiration for all those anatomists, physiologists and biochemists who in their endeavours to assist their medical confrères, have sought so much but have discovered so little.
¶George: Professor! This is sacrilege, surely?
¶Professor: No, George, just plain fact. From the common cold to cancer, what have these scientists to show in the way of results? A
cure is announced in glaring headlines, and within a year or so another
cure follows. Cancer is a particularly frightful example. Deaths from this disease have been increasing at an appalling rate, yet there is probably more money spent on cancer
research than on any other disease. Think, too, of the millions of bottles of medicine dispensed during the course of a year. Do they really
cure the conditions for which they are prescribed? In my opinion the patient recovers–when he does–in spite of, and not because of the physic, but such is the influence and power of suggestion that the credit is given to the
bottle rather than to the body.
¶George: In a way then, Professor, the doctors are not really to blame.
¶Professor: True, the doctor is not entirely to blame. He has to compete with his colleagues though perhaps not openly. A
money world necessarily demands such competition. Bed-side manner and advice may be useful, but a public with little understanding of the nature of disease, and its positive aspect, good health, expect and often demand something more tangible. Hence the
bottle. But does this satisfy them? The increasing profits of the patent medicine manufacturers gives the answer.
¶George: And don’t the doctors know it, Professor? And how annoyed they must feel at all that money passing them by. Still, Professor, money doesn’t enter into all the health services. I believe there’s a lot of good work done at the hospitals, welfare clinics, and so on.
¶Professor: The hospitals of today serve as very useful training schools for medical students. They also serve a useful purpose in attending to the major accidents of modern industrial life, including of course the accidents arising from transport. I have yet to be convinced that the training received by the average medical man is the best possible. Neither am I convinced that nine-tenths of the operations that take place daily in the world’s hospitals are either necessary or the results permanently satisfactory.
¶George: Well, Professor, after all this destructive criticism, you’ll need to show something substantial in the way of improvement under WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions.
¶Professor: I don’t think that will be so difficult since we begin with conditions in which good health is made both easy to acquire and pleasant to maintain. After all, George, what is good health?
¶George: Something you don’t know you’ve got till you haven’t got it.
¶Professor: Smart, but not quite accurate. It is possible to appear quite fit and yet be in imperfect health. It may surprise you, George, but recent figures show that only 9 per cent. of the population of this country could be regarded as perfectly healthy. Now, I am not optimistic enough to believe that perfect health will appear, as by the touch of a magic wand, with the change to WORLD COMMONWEALTH. But I will hold fast to the opinion that perfect health will become possible. For the vast majority it is now impossible.
¶George: Don’t you think ignorance is the cause of a good deal of illness? Food values, and so on?
¶Professor: Yes, George, ignorance is the cause, but not so much ignorance of food values. It is ignorance of the cause of their poverty. Poverty is the root cause of bad health in at least 50 per cent. of cases investigated. I believe that good health can practically be guaranteed given ideal conditions. And you should realise by now that WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions will be ideal.
¶George: It depends on what you mean by ideal.
¶Professor: You are very cautious, George. By ideal conditions I mean a combination of several factors each in itself ideal. Let us consider them in turn. Firstly, good food in abundance, food that is clean, fresh and wholesome. I believe that every region would endeavour to make itself as near self-supporting as possible in such perishables as dairy produce and vegetables. Secondly, good living conditions. Thirdly, a duty that is not irksome and does not take up an undue amount of one’s time. Fourthly, opportunity for recreation in fresh air and health surroundings. Fifthly, opportunity for self-expression; and sixthly, absence of worry and anxiety. Is that sufficient, George?
¶George: But, Professor, there will be some illness in spite of the ideal conditions. For goodness sake don’t abolish the doctors.
¶Professor: I have little fear of that happening for a very, very long time. Mankind has too long a history of disease to expect a miracle to happen in just one or two generations. Still, with a return to sanity in one direction, there is no knowing to what extent the ideas of civilised mankind may change in others. They may even become sufficiently understanding to appreciate the benefits of natural food in place of the impoverished rubbish served out nowadays.
¶George: What do you mean by
¶Professor: As far as we know, plant life preceded animal life on this earth. Primitive animal life was thus able to live by virtue of the vegetation already available; thus the
animal is in my opinion, fundamentally herbivorous. However, during the millions of years that life has existed on this planet, conditions no doubt arose–the Ice ages, and so on–when in some parts of the world plant life disappeared entirely. In these circumstances, it is conceivable that some animals became carnivorous, and in course of time developed tooth and digestive structure to cope with such diet. But most animals, including man, are physiologically herbivorous, and should
naturally eat those vegetables, fruits and so on unprepared and unrefined. Still, I appreciate the fact that I am treading on delicate and controversial ground; suppose I carry on with the medico. I was suggesting that he would still serve a useful purpose in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, but I imagine he would have a different function. Whereas he is now more concerned with relieving the symptoms of disease, since his living depends on it, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH he would be more concerned with the maintenance of health. There would be for the time being need for really little more than an extension of our present National Health Insurance to cover everyone, and from this
health point of view, though later there would no doubt be modifications to suit the needs of a world growing healthier generation by generation.
¶George: And the quacks will rapidly go out of business.
¶Professor: Not rapidly, George; at once–in a flash! And I could include in that species, many who though legally qualified medical practitioners, have no more interest in their job than I have in a trip to Mars. To them it is a means of making a living–and usually a good one. No doubt in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH they will find duties that will suit them better. With no incentive to make a living out of the ill health of their fellows, only those will take to
Health practice with a keen desire to do so. And with that change of viewpoint the hospitals will become centres of a new teaching–the teaching of an art–the Art of Health.
§ CHAPTER 13: DARBYS AND JOANS
¶George: Looking at this WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea coldly and logically there seems to be only one sound and fundamental reason for such a change from the present
¶Professor: And what single reason do you think would cover, George?
¶George: Quite simply, it would be so much better! That is of course, if all you have said is really possible. After all, I have never thought along such novel lines before; if I were older and wiser, it is possible that I might have refuted many of your arguments.
¶Professor: Age and wisdom are not necessarily synonymous. An old person may have had considerable experience in one or several directions, yet may be quite ignorant and inexperienced along unfamiliar channels. It is rare indeed to find wisdom allied to old age. Great erudition possibly, since knowledge if pursued with avidity, is necessarily augmented with time. I’m afraid, George, that the teaching of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea will make little impression on the old folks. They are, in the main, too much concerned with looking back; youth is ever looking forward. WORLD COMMONWEALTH gives them something to look forward to.
¶George: If I did not know you so well, Professor, I might deduce from that, your entire unconcern for the aged in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. I hope I am mistaken.
¶Professor: Most emphatically you are. I cannot for one moment believe that the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will be so inhuman as to think in terms of anything so abominable as an Old Age Pension. Its paltriness is unpardonable; its rank inhumanity stinks; it is one of the most disgusting impertinences foisted on a public ignorant of the nature and the quantity of the wealth it produces.
¶George: There are many who would virtually starve without it.
¶Professor: Yes, and there are many who starve with it! And that even with the help of the workhouse; for in all conscience, can it be considered very much more than starvation to which they are subjected? The irony of it. They spend the best years of their lives producing mountains of wealth–for others; for themselves a life of poverty, and a lingering death by slow starvation. We would be a very poor, a very inhuman lot of creatures in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, if we could not promise them very much more than that.
¶George: More politicians’ promises.
¶Professor: Yes, George, the politicians–they promise so much–they give so little. And we–we need so little–and we get–so much less! But I am no politician, George, and I am making no promises. I am merely drawing a picture–a picture I have in my mind’s eye of a world you can get–when you want it. And in that picture I can see two rooms. Shall I describe them to you?
¶George: Please do.
¶Professor: One room is here and now. It is eight o’clock, and a cold, grey December morning. Mrs. Robinson, a widow, 75 years old, painfully raises herself on her pillow, shivers at the bleakness of the room’s atmosphere, and very slowly and carefully gets out of bed. Having lit the gas-ring, and for a few moments warmed her toil-worn fingers over its comforting blue flame, she fills the kettle from a tap on the adjacent landing, and places it on the ring. Very gently and with slow movements that betray much weakness and lowered vitality, she dresses herself in clothes which show extreme age by their colour and patchiness. By this time the kettle is boiling, so, lowering the gas, she concludes her toilet, with occasional mutterings,
Well, now for a cup of tea. There’s nothing like it, to warm you up. But I’ll leave the gas on for a while, just to cheer the place up. And we old folks need cheering up sometimes. Things wouldn’t be so bad really if we had a bit of company, and something to do. After all, we don’t need much, but we get so darned little! A decent room to live in would make all the difference. And she gazes around at the four dark walls of her
artistically decorated with luxuriant vegetation.
It’s a wonder them flowers don’t grow, it’s so damp. And she sighs.
Ah, well, we just go on living–until– So ends picture
¶George: And the other room is in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, I presume.
¶Professor: Yes, George, it is a room in one of those lovely country mansions, once owned by Lord Moneybags, and now owned by no-one–or everyone, as you wish. With the touch of our magic wand we have brought Mrs. Robinson into her WORLD COMMONWEALTH home. She painfully raises herself on her pillow, and looks through the window at the grey December bleakness beyond it; for there is no bleakness within. The room is comfortably warm; conditioned air is blown in a warm gentle breeze through a ventilator in one corner. Tastefully furnished, the bed-sitting room reflects the care which is taken to ensure the comfort and freedom from anxiety of the old folks. Mrs. Robinson looks around for a moment and then appears to come to a decision. She pushes the bell-push at her side, and in a few moments the door opens, admitting a trim pleasant-looking nurse.
Good morning, Miss Blake; I don’t feel too good this morning. I think I’ll have my breakfast in bed.
Sorry to hear that, Mrs. Robinson, I’ll just phone down for your breakfast–which she does.
Now we’ll switch on the radio, and at 11 o’clock, I’ll send up the masseur with the infra-red lamp. And I’ll bet this afternoon you’ll be playing darts with the rest, and as right as ninepence. Cheerio. The door closes gently behind the white-clad Miss Blake.
Almost an angel muses Mrs. Robinson,
and this must be heaven. And to think that in the
bad old days we used to talk of the good old days.
I’ll be as right as ninepence, she said; Ninepence–ninepence; now let me see, twelve pence in a shilling, twenty shillings in a pound. Isn’t it strange to think of the world carrying on without money. Why didn’t people think of it before? Think of the misery, the worry, and the illness all caused by those funny bits of metal and pieces of paper. Why, everybody’s better off now without it. What would I be doing now if I were living in the bad old days? A tiny damp room at four shillings a week, up three flights of stairs, and six shillings left to provide myself with food. All on my own, no one to talk to, nothing to do. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
¶And it doesn’t, does it, George?
¶George: I believe you have deliberately drawn your pictures very contrasty. Needless to say if it were a question of choice there’s not much doubt as to which they’d prefer. Still, I’m not so certain that the old people of today are as miserable as you suggest. Those that I’ve seen, like that old lady in the post office, seem quite happy and contented.
¶Professor: Those that are, George, are so, in spite of and not because of their present vile conditions. As you have already suggested, no matter how badly off one is, it is not difficult to conceive a state of misery still worse. And so they comfort themselves with the illusion,
I might be worse off instead of the more sensible and positive proposition,
I deserve to be better off.
¶George: Do you think the staffing of these Rest Homes will be so simple, Professor? Most modern girls don’t take too kindly to nursing as a career. You might, of course, offer some special inducements, as I believe some hospital authorities have done in the past.
¶Professor: And why do you think it was necessary to make such concessions? If working conditions were comparable with those of other industries, would there be need for such inducements? It is the length of hours, the low wages, and the petty restrictions that deter most girls from this really noble vocation. I believe that most women are far better adapted to this occupation than to work in factory or office. I can foresee no more difficulty in obtaining recruits for this duty than for the hundred and one others that require great skill, patience and understanding. Those who in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH undertake this onerous task will be as conscious of its importance in social life as their sisters do today.
¶George: So, having reached the age of–, which reminds me; at what age does one retire in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶Professor: Why put the onus on me, where an issue of such importance is concerned. The fact is, George, that there are many who nowadays are glad to retire at 50 or so, while there are probably just as many who, very much in love with their work, carry’ on till 70 or more.
¶George: But surely, Professor, there’ll need to be some fixed age at which people can cease duties if they wish to do so?
¶Professor: That’s the point, George; if they wish to do so. And so they will decide. There’s nothing to be gained by our arguing on the merits or demerits of any particular age for retirement from active duties. It would be just as easy to make out a case for 70 as for 50. The nett result of such a discussion would be exactly nothing. Clearly, if
Old John at 50 begins to feel that he is not doing Justice to himself and to the community by continuing at his duties, it would be unreasonable to insist on his doing so. This would not necessarily mean that he would spend the rest of his life doing nothing. Idleness is an occupation that human beings do not take up very readily. It is more than likely that after a few months’ rest, old John would be quite anxious to take up some duties once again. On the other hand, Old Bill at 65 hale and hearty, might be
good for another 10 years at his duties; but should he be forced to continue for that reason?
¶George: So here again there would be absolute freedom of choice.
¶Professor: There are no absolutes in nature; and man’s choosings provide no exception. A man’s ideas, makeup, physique, and so on, will determine whether he does or prefers one thing rather than another. In the WORLD COMMONWEALTH there would be far greater opportunity for freedom of choice in this as in all other matters. With a better standard of health, and better living conditions generally, I can foresee quite large proportion of men and even women, carrying on with duties to what we would nowadays call quite a ripe old age, for no other reason than sheer love of their duties and the companionship of their mates. As I have so frequently stated, there would be a different feeling towards the things that they produced, since things would be made solely for the purpose of being used. Nowadays that aspect is secondary to the fact that a profit must be made first. This condition must be satisfied before any article, no matter how useful, is manufactured. But apart from this, there would be opportunity for doing so many other things; pleasure cruises, visiting other countries, hobbies of all sorts. So you see George, that although approaching the close of life, the old folks would still be able to enjoy what little remains, with no regrets and with no need for the futile
It might be worse. Rather will they say,
It is better–and how!
§ CHAPTER 14: WOMAN, MARRIAGE AND MORALS
¶George: I have been thinking over a statement you made yesterday that merits further consideration.
¶Professor: And what is it, George?
¶George: You suggested that since women are better adapted to nursing they would take up such duties without duress. Now let’s be fair, Professor; hasn’t that been the male argument from time immemorial; that women are
better adapted to scrubbing floors, looking after baby, washing linen and such like occupations? The fact is, Professor, that for many years past women have been engaged in almost every occupation previously monopolised by men, and no-one will deny that in their respective jobs they have justified their existence. They may wish to continue at these jobs, in spite of your contention that they are better adapted to others.
¶Professor: Of course, George, the lady shop assistants are going to be unlucky; and the lady bank clerks, ledger clerks, and so on. And last, but not least, the ladies of easy virtue–the prostitutes. It’s an old, old question–this woman question; one so difficult of solution in a
money world–and yet how simply solved in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH.
¶George: I admire your optimism, Professor–simply, indeed!
¶Professor: Yes, George, simply! The clue to the solution of the problem is that woman was the first slave and has remained so to this day. She will break her bonds when together with her menfolk, she brings to its end this
money system and introduces WORLD COMMONWEALTH. In a sense, woman is doubly enslaved–to man and to money.
¶George: Slavery is a harsh word, Professor.
¶Professor: Not so harsh, George, as you will see. She barely removed a link in her chains when she was given the vote. She is still tied to an archaic marriage system, preposterous divorce laws, and the sale of her body as a final resort to the earning of a living.
¶George: One thing at a time, Professor. You spoke of an archaic marriage system, Why archaic? And in what way will marriage be so different in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶Professor: We are on a thorny subject, one that fairly bristles with controversy. We must feel our way cautiously. There has been so much said and written on this subject that you could condemn me, out of hand, for the little I am going to say. In the first place, George, it is only within comparatively recent times that woman has been competing with man for the same jobs. It has been said that this competition is the cause of low wages and therefore of poverty. The facts give the lie to this. Wages are just as low in industries such as coal-mining where women are rarely if ever employed. It is thus not the peculiarity of women as a competitor for jobs that is the cause of low wages, but merely the fact that competition exists. The girl of 14 is forced into one job or another today for much the same reason as her brother. She must earn her keep. Whether it be in office or in factory she must contribute her few shillings to the family exchequer. Does she like her work? That is of little importance. She must earn her living. It can safely be assumed that, at best, the majority find work just tolerable; and only just. For her, then, there is an avenue of escape–marriage.
¶George: That’s rather crude, Professor. Many girls continue with their work after marriage.
¶Professor: Quite true; but then there is an object in view. A nice home–the putting by of a reserve for a rainy day and so on. Most girls do not anticipate working for many years after marriage–if they can possibly help it. This is, however, not the only reason why girls marry. There is the
natural one–the sex urge. And of course, there is the question of pride. A certain social stigma remains forever attached to an unmarried woman, strangely enough even where she has had no urge towards marriage.
¶George: What bearing has all this on the question of women’s duties in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶Professor: I have already stated that everyone will take up duties for which they consider themselves best fitted, and I have indicated that in my opinion a good many young women are best fitted for duties such as nursing. But that is my opinion, nothing more. You may be sure the womenfolk themselves will have a word to say in this matter–most probably, the last word, too. I see no reason why they should be debarred from any occupation they care to choose. We often think of lady doctors as a recent innovation, forgetting that they were giving a good account of themselves in some parts of the world, many hundreds of years ago.
¶George: I suppose you’ll consider me old-fashioned if I say that woman’s place is in the home.
¶Professor: Yes, George, and even more so, if you were to say it’s woman’s job to bake the bread, make the soap and candles, fetch the water from the well, brew the beer, weave the wool and spin the yarn. Work such as this has to all intents and purposes disappeared from the home, and for a very obvious reason. It has been found by experience that some work is more quickly and effectively done by people co-operating socially rather than by individuals. If the things produced so far have not always been of the best, do not blame the principle, but rather the
money world in which we live. Social mass production in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will be mass production of the best quality because it will be production for use. Machinery will be used to lighten toil, and not to squeeze the last ounce of energy out of the worker. I am rather inclined to the opinion that woman’s place will be very much less in the home, and much more as a human being outside it. After all, it is possible for restaurants to cook and serve really good meals, and for laundries to do a really good job of work; there is really little left.
¶George: I can almost hear you advocating
free love next.
¶Professor: No doubt, George, there are some that prefer the
bought variety, but I believe that under normal conditions they are a minority. Love will be free, since it will not be bound. If there is mutual affection, respect, and understanding there is no scrap of paper worth the printing necessary to make such legal and binding. A woman who holds her man on the strength of a marriage certificate holds not a husband but a helot.
¶George: So, quite simply, marriage is abolished.
¶Professor: Not abolished, George, but altered in form. It will be a free and voluntary association of man and woman harmonising with the social conditions of WORLD COMMONWEALTH from which it will arise. And since WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions will harmonise with human nature, it goes without saying that this form of marriage will satisfy the needs of human nature; people will have a saner and a cleaner outlook towards it, since they will see it as it really is, not clouded by religious futilities, nor cloaked in the silly romanticism of the cheap novelette. Regarded simply as a pleasurable physiological experience with a biological end–the continuation of the species–sex will be freed from its cobwebs, and back-street obscenities.
¶George: I suppose people will need to register the fact of their having married?
¶Professor: I often wonder whether even that will be necessary. There will be no need for wills or property transfer to be considered.
¶George: Are you being cynical, Professor, or am I even more old-fashioned than I thought? I’m afraid I don’t like your ideas on this subject. They are far too matter of fact and materialistic. You think of love and marriage in terms of biology and physiology, but it seems to me that there’s more in it than just that. Science may be very useful when it enables us to cross the Atlantic in hours instead of days, but when it deals with the intimacies of human beings it is so horribly cold. Why, Professor, isn’t there some warmth and glamour in the mating of animals?
¶Professor: Yes, George, and in insects. As an excellent example, Madam Spider, when she devours her husband after the sexual act. It is remarkable, George, that you commend the efforts of science in the one direction, yet find cause to censure it in the other. It is a very short-sighted point of view. But why concern ourselves with the
scientific aspect? Surely, common-sense indicates that
love-making is nothing more than the necessary preliminary to the sexual act. If our present system of
marriage does not recognise this openly it is adding physiological harm to shameless hypocrisy. A couple who wish to live together will be free to do so without legal sanction or religious approval.
¶George: And if I want half-a-dozen wives–?
¶Professor: You flatter yourself, George; it is possible that the half-dozen potential wives may not want you. And with true male egotism you ignore the possibility of Miss Ultra Modern wanting half-a-dozen husbands. I have no doubt you expect the same reply here that I have made previously with regard to socks, ties and shirts,
If you want them and need them you can have them. But we are not now dealing with manufactured goods. Women are human beings and in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will have equal rights in choice of mate as in all things. They will woo and will be wooed; they will love and be loved; and if I may be excused the expression, they will do so in an
open market. Under such conditions how could there be polygamy? What woman would share with another what she could have for herself? The very fact that the sexes are approximately equal in number would make polygamy very improbable.
¶George: I’m inclined to think that in this connection you hold too high an opinion of mankind in general and of man in particular. You may be right in your opinion that men would not want more than one wife–as a wife–but I’m afraid you’ll find it difficult to convince me, or any other man for that matter, that even in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH married men and women will remain faithful to their first partners.
¶Professor: And if they didn’t, George, what would it matter? You look surprised–and shocked. And for goodness sake, why? Is sex immoral? In what respect is it more immoral than perspiring or any other natural function? I do not advocate promiscuity or unbridled licentiousness. I advocate only that which is moral–that which is good for humanity. And is it bad to counsel freedom in love to those who will live in a world of freedom? Have no fear of the consequences. I am fully aware of the responsibilities of this freedom, and I am sure that those who understand WORLD COMMONWEALTH will do likewise. Love is mutual or it is not love. It cannot be one-sided. I would be foolish indeed to ignore the feasibility of married men falling in love, but it would not, it could not, be
bought love. It would of necessity have to be mutual in the true sense of the word. I can understand your perplexity, George. So far in our talks we have covered ground that is more or less familiar; there are many pioneers who have already hacked their way through the undergrowth of tradition, leaving a more or less clean path for us to follow. But on this subject the pioneers though not few in number have had a more onerous task. They have had to fight against the sex taboo, the dirt and the back-street obscenity that is a commonplace feature of our everyday life. I believe that side by side with the rapid development of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea will develop a cleaner and more wholesome outlook towards sex and all its implications. With that belief I can confidently leave the marriage problems of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH to take care of themselves.
¶George: You talk of sex and its implications, Professor. The implications are, I think, greater than you imagine. You have already referred to the approximate equality in the number of the sexes. That may be so as far as the world as a whole is concerned, though we know it is not so in this country. Would you suggest emigration would solve the problem for those girls who cannot hope to find a husband here? And what of the possibilities of intermarriage?
¶Professor: Emigration would solve many problems, including this one. I am sure many would emigrate now were it possible. What holds them back? Did you say
money, George? No; lack of it. And insecurity–since there is the possibility of their not finding a husband. At home, there are friends and relations, and it is
out there, strangers and loneliness. How different in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH! This planet is your home, Blue Eyes. There is food and comfort for you everywhere. How friendly everyone is. So lift up those pretty ankles, Blue Eyes. Take ship to fresh pastures. There is a light in your eyes, a song in your throat and an urge in your blood. You will find him somewhere. Go! Seek!
¶George: Very pretty, Professor, but I did mention the possibilities of intermarriage. The coloured races and so on.
¶Professor: Coloured? Well, George, aren’t we all? Or would you call our anaemic pink no colour? There is the possibility of Blue Eyes and a negro falling in love. What of it? All human beings on this earth will have equal rights, equal liberties. How then can we make exception? Too long have we looked at this question of colour from our side of the fence. We will in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH not neglect the other side. Would it not be absurd to imagine that every negro, Chinaman, Indian, and so on will be particularly anxious to marry a
white girl? And what possible harm if some do? They will be able to live happily, and they need have no regrets in a world of intelligent and understanding human beings. There will be no colour bar, George; that should be obvious. Only ignorance and the desire for cheap labour sustains such a ridiculous illusion. Never has it been demonstrated that
coloured people are of inferior stock or of lower intelligence and capabilities than their
discoloured brethren. Given freedom–real freedom–they will prove our equals in some respects, and probably our superiors in others.
¶George: Nicely put, Professor, and I agree wholeheartedly. And now another line of thought before I forget it. Do you think there would be a tendency towards early marriage? With no need for the customary
saving up for a trousseau and a home, youngsters might
settle down to wedded bliss at a very early age.
¶Professor: Looked at superficially, I admit that does seem likely, but it would not be safe to generalise. There are probably many factors apart from money that deter young men and women from early marriage. As evidence of this, the daughters of the wealthy quite often defer marriage to the late twenties. No doubt with a greater variety of means of enjoyment, marriage would, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, be as often deferred to about that age as it would take place at earlier ages. Or am I being cynical?
¶George: I believe you are, though I am of the opinion that personally you favour early marriage.
¶Professor: There are advantages. After all, animals mate as soon as they are sexually mature. And parents are more in sympathy with the ideas of their children if there is not too wide a gap in age between them. On the other hand many early marriages are not successful, but I hold very strongly the opinion that the root-cause of failure is very often bound up with our present
money world. Bad early home environment, uncongenial work, lack of stimulating recreation; and so on often lead to early marriage. Couple with this the low wages usually paid to the average young man of 20 or so and we need no longer wonder at the frequent failures. On a subject such as this, it is difficult to foresee possibilities, but I have a feeling that under WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions early marriages would be far more successful than they are today.
¶George: And if they were not, divorce would be easy, I suppose?
¶Professor: And why shouldn’t divorce be easy, George? There has been more ridiculous nonsense written and spoken on this subject than it really merits. Why on earth two people, mutually agreed that their marriage has been a mistake should be virtually forced to continue living together, is to me a profound mystery. Is there any reason, common sense, or logic in a system that permits such a state of affairs? I doubt it. But I am certain of this. That until people understand WORLD COMMONWEALTH and the potentialities of a life of freedom within it, they will be swayed by silly sentiment on the one hand, and outworn religious ideas on the other. While marriage is a property relationship, there will be lawyers who must needs earn a living, and politicians who cannot afford to lose votes. In our present-day
money world divorce procedure may be simplified in some respects, but I doubt whether it will ever be brought to its logical conclusion, the mere registration of dissolution.
¶George: But, Professor, don’t you think that making divorce as simple as that will tend to make marriage less stable and permanent? Why there are times when a quarrel between husband and wife would lead to divorce, whereas owing to present-day impediments, they now quickly patch up their differences, and it’s soon forgotten.
¶Professor: It is important to bear in mind, that a very large proportion of the quarrels of family life are, nowadays, due directly or indirectly to money or its lack. Those that do not come within this category have their origin in conditions that would probably not be evident in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. Of course, I am not suggesting that family disagreements will not occur, but I am sure you will agree they will be less frequent and less intense than they are now. So you see, George, divorce, when it occurs, will be due to causes more intimate and more fundamental to married life than just superficial squabbles. Wouldn’t you agree that in those circumstances easy divorce is an advantage?
¶George: Quite true, Professor, but there are other factors to be considered. If men were by nature constant in their affections, I would have nothing more to say, but to what extent is this so? In the minority of cases, I am sure. I will admit, though that usually there’s nothing really serious in these illicit encounters since divorce is difficult and costly, and the consequences to the children, if any, have to be considered. Have you ignored the possibility of such affairs becoming more serious with easy divorce coupled with WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions? Don’t you think that increased leisure alone would tend to encourage promiscuous love-making, thoughtless marriages, frequent divorces and spoilt children?
¶Professor: In short, George, you have certain opinions, average opinions if I may say so, on the subject of immorality. You live in a world in which poverty is the normal condition for the majority; in which food is destroyed to maintain prices; in which human beings kill or maim one another at the behest of governments; in which unemployment exists as a problem which cannot be solved–except by war; a world in which all these and other evils exist is accepted by the majority of people as something which always has been and therefore always will be. They would dismiss as inapt, the word
immoral applied to these abominations of our so-called
civilisation, and that in spite of the fact that vast numbers are affected. It is these things that are immoral, George, horribly immoral, if I understand the word correctly. But what immorality is there in the exercise of a perfectly natural function, by two adults of opposite sex who wish to enjoy the pleasures of that function without the preliminaries of prayers or priest, or the licence of a registrar? What harm to themselves or to humanity? You say people are not constant in their affections. I agree. But to what extent this is due to our present mode of life remains to be seen–by a change to WORLD COMMONWEALTH life. If such inconstancy still exists, mankind will evolve a moral code in accordance with the ideas prevailing; but you may be sure such moral code will be based on freedom and not on restraint. Public opinion and an innate sense of decency provide sufficient safeguard against indecent behaviour properly so called. I am firmly convinced that man is born
open-minded, neither good nor bad, but is corrupted by the
money world in which we now live. The influences of a WORLD COMMONWEALTH, a moral world, cannot help but shape man to a moral life. Increased leisure, under such conditions, could not possibly make man immoral. It may give him more time for making love, but would you deny him that?
¶George: It seems to me, Professor, that you almost condone prostitution.
¶Professor: I advocate only that which is moral–that which is good for humanity. I advocate WORLD COMMONWEALTH, a moral world, since it provides the greatest good for the greatest number. We live now in an immoral world in which the greatest good is for the few. In this, our present immoral world, things are made to be sold and bought. To deny woman’s right to sell her body in a world of buying and selling is to deny that which is fundamental to a
money world. Very few women become prostitutes by choice–they are driven to it by necessity. Few are sexual perverts–most are undersexed. I do not condone prostitution–prostitution is immoral; but it is one way of getting money, without which one cannot live–in a
money world. In the WORLD COMMONWEALTH there would not be prostitutes-because there could not. There would be neither the
street woman selling herself to all and sundry, at
piece rates, nor her more
dignified sister selling herself to a fortune, by licence. The one is no more immoral than the other. The man and woman who wish to live together whether for short time or a lifetime will do so by reason of mutual attraction and for no other. Prostitution could not possibly exist. In a world of artificial stimulants and excitements, of highly-spiced foods, novels and cocktails fostered by highly-spiced advertising, of bridge and brandy on the one hand, and beer at the local on the other, we have lost the zest for natural living. The wealthy, by virtue of an education which fosters
poise but little
brain, become bored as one
fashionable excitement follows its predecessor. The not-so-wealthy feebly attempt to ape the
betters, don evening wear for opera, frequent the best hotels, and succeed as apes! When other stimulants and excitements pall, and
madame becomes insipid through over-indulgence in drink, dress, and dance,
milord takes himself a new
madame–for a change. And he can afford to buy the
best. The poor, living a restricted and monotonous life have as great a need for interests and excitements as the wealthy, but apart from the
licenced wife do not usually buy their sexual pleasures. With them, extra-marital experiences are usually more or less accidental–just an incident, quickly over, and as quickly forgotten. But you see, George, they have not so much time for one thing, not so much money, for another, and not so much chance of getting bored with the few other excitements available. Whether one finds pleasurable excitement in the solving of abstruse mathematical problems, or in the more mundane game of skittles, there is superadded in almost all human beings the response to the pleasures of sex. With good mental and physical health the norm, with couples well mated, physiologically, and sexual education taught in its proper place, the schoolroom, I see little cause for worry in the sexual health of the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH.
¶George: Well, Professor, it has been a long discussion, and a very interesting one. You have covered a very wide field, and needless to say the subject requires much greater study than I am prepared to give it. I should imagine too there are many controversial points that you have glossed over. Nevertheless, you have given me something to think about. One thing is certainly clear. Women have as much and perhaps even more to gain by the change to WORLD COMMONWEALTH as we menfolk. Your comments on
free love were I must admit rather startling to my mid-Victorian ears, and though I am prepared to agree that such freedom would be possible in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, I find it difficult to conceive our
neighbour conscious womenfolk thinking along such lines. In spite of precautions there would still be
illegitimate children. Would scandal loving tongues stop wagging by virtue of change to WORLD COMMONWEALTH?
¶Professor: People would be more than
neighbour conscious; they would have a neighbourly
conscience. This is particularly evident in times of crisis, when neighbours give mutual help without stint. Only a new and a sane outlook towards life and its problems will bring about the change to WORLD COMMONWEALTH, which in turn will bring about a new outlook towards the new life and the new problems that will confront it. Women will form no exception. They may even lose their
scandal-loving tongues, since with equal educational facilities, they will have so much more interesting things to talk about. There will be no
illegitimate children–only children!
§ CHAPTER 15:
THEY ALSO SERVE–
¶George: Talking of women–
¶Professor: What, the fair sex again, George? What’s on your mind today?
¶George: Not the fair sex in general, but the
generals of the fair sex. The servants, the charwomen, and all those others who assist the housewife in her domestic duties.
¶Professor: Not forgetting, of course, the parlourmaid, the chamber-maid, the cook, the butler, and the chauffeur. It certainly looks a formidable problem.
¶George: Formidable or not, it’s a bread and butter problem. If things are going to be made nice and easy for us menfolk, it would not be fair to overlook woman’s part in the picture. Do you think you could fit household chores into your 1,000-hour year?
¶Professor: You call it a bread and butter problem, George, whereas I should be more inclined to call it a cake and coffee one. It is a problem which in the main affects the wealthier people and their more or less highly-paid satellites. They form a comparatively small proportion of the population in most countries of the world. The majority (the working class) have many problems, the principal one being the problem of living; but the servant problem worries them little–unless they are servants. People who, on an average get only sufficient in wages to maintain life, and provide for elementary comforts–including a coffin–cannot afford to pay for domestic help, even if, as often happens, they are really in need of such help. I’m sorry, George, I don’t see the point of your so-called problem.
¶George: Perhaps I have not made myself clear. What I want to know is this. As the standard of living of the majority of the world’s population is to be raised–and that, I take it, is an obvious deduction–people will quite naturally expect, and on the whole will get, many of the extra comforts and conveniences now the prerogative of people who now enjoy that higher standard of living. Am I presuming too much in including amongst these extras, the services of the weekly charwoman, and so on?
¶Professor: Your question, George, seems to have a familiar flavour. Isn’t it a variation on your old theme,
Who’s going to do the dirty work?
¶George: Not quite, Professor, there’s a distinct difference. Those people who take up, say, coalmining, as a means of livelihood do so in spite of the fact that they could if they wished–and in fact some do–take up other employment, This does not apply in the instance under consideration. Most domestics and charwomen usually take up such employment as a last resort. Being work that requires little or no skill, it can be adopted as a means of livelihood by women who have had for some reason or other, no opportunity for acquiring skill in any other calling. Or, of course, by spinsters and widows who have become too old for the work which sustained them in their youth. It is for this reason that young girls from poor homes are more inclined to enter domestic service, and middle-aged and elderly women become charwomen. Now, Professor, I can hammer home my point. I claim that these people won’t want to do this work–whether you call it duty or anything else.
¶Professor: Hear, hear! George; I agree. They won’t want to do the work, and they won’t. And Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Smythe won’t want to do the work and they won’t. So the work won’t be done–even if, as you suggest, I call it duty. Still I’m glad you didn’t suggest a raise in salary as an inducement! Suppose then we do a spot of work ourselves, and begin by climbing a ladder. No, not the window-cleaner’s ladder, George, but the ladder of society. The ladder that begins in the rabbit warrens of the working class districts, often very accurately called
dwellings–they are not
homes–and ends in the palatial mansions and luxury flats of the captains of industry. We may miss a few rungs here and there, but then we are both agile! Like Samuel Smiles, we start at the bottom, and we find here a great mass of the population, the lower-paid working class, who as I have already stated, do not as a rule employ domestic help of any kind. Skip a rung or two and we come to the next group of importance, the so-called lower-middle class, consisting in the main of the moderately paid workers, and the smaller shopkeepers. Domestic help is here occasionally found, but seldom consists of more than the services of the weekly
char and the casual window-cleaner. Still higher we go, George, and now in the regions of the higher-paid workers, and the more prosperous shopkeepers we find a sprinkling of those who
live in and seldom
get out. Steady, George, we approach the rungs of soft carpets, and lace curtains; of
full figure fashions, and four figure incomes. And observe, George; two maids! Only here and there, ’tis true, but not infrequently a nursemaid and a personal maid to
madam make an uncompromising appearance. And so rung by rung into the regions of wealth, the realm of affluence, where madam toils little and spins less, where housemaids, nursemaids, parlourmaids, chambermaids, chauffeurs and butlers quite often outnumber the family for whose needs they cater. What do they do, George, all these
wallahs of the wealthy? Do
they also serve who only –at table? We have seen sufficient–sufficient to convince us that, as in all things extremes are unhealthy. Let us then consider on our way down the ladder, something approaching a healthy mean. Ah, here it is, George! A pleasant, comfortable house, complete with two children ages four and seven. In attendance a nursemaid, housemaid, twice weekly charwoman and the fort-nightly window cleaner. The nursemaid looks after the children, attends to their meals, gives an eye to their play, and often accompanies them to school. The housemaid dusts and
hoovers, assists madam in the preparation of meals, tidies up after meals, washes up, makes beds, and various odd jobs, unclassifiable. The dirty work is left to the charwoman, and includes scrubbing floors, polishing furniture and glassware, and occasionally cleaning windows. Errors and omissions excepted, I believe that represents a fair sample of the domestic work in the household indicated.
But, you may ask,
what does madam do? Her work, George, consists in ensuring that the others do theirs, but she often does a little more than just that. The shopping, the cooking and the occasional assistance with the lighter household duties, distinguish her from her poorer overworked sisters on the one hand, and her richer underworked ones on the other.
¶George: I hope I’m not interrupting you, Professor, but I can’t see where we are getting–on this ladder.
¶Professor: Why, George, aren’t you comfortable on these rungs? Do you want to go up–or down? If you go up–they will stay down; if you go down, you and your fellows down there will toil and sweat to provide for those who are up at the top of the ladder. I am quite comfortable here, George. The children appear to be well fed, not over-fed, well clothed, but not richly, well looked after but not spoilt. Madam looks well and happy, though at times a little anxious, wondering perhaps if it will last. Business has been bad before. She has had to go without lots of those little things that conduce to home comfort and family well-being. It may happen again. There, George, is your Golden Mean. Go; tell her that the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will give her all she has now, plus security. Then she will be happy–always. If she will have no
Nanna for her own children there will be
Nannas for many, and if no personal maid for dusting and
hoovering and no charwoman for the weekly
scrub, she will have the services of a cleaning organisation armed with every weapon for the elimination of dirt, and making their rounds weekly, fortnightly and monthly as the case may be.
¶George: And so, Professor, like the conjuror, you put into the hat the servants and charwomen, and take out a
cleaning organisation, which I expect you hope I will accept as something different. It won’t work, Professor. You can’t evade the issue by playing conjuring tricks on ladders. I contend that women won’t do this work.
¶Professor: And have I indicated that women will? Is it not possible that many men might prefer this form of duty if performed with such mechanical and electrical appliances as have already practically eliminated such work as road-sweeping?
¶George: Sweeping roads is one thing, but scrubbing floors is quite another. I can’t imagine any man taking up such a duty unless compelled to. It’s too lowering and degrading.
¶Professor: Ah! We now approach the crux of the matter. It is because such work is considered degrading now that suggests to you the possibility of it being similarly considered under WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions, when, mark you, it will not be work for wages–and very low wages at that–but a duty, hygienically necessary and therefore socially useful. It is strange, George, that you readily gave way to my argument on this
dirty work problem when it involved coalminers, dustmen and so on, but fight to the last ditch on behalf of our domestic friend. I commend your loyalty even if I deprecate your obstinacy. But I intend to investigate this matter further. Suppose we take your domestic friends and push them up the ladder–only a little to begin with, they must get acclimatised–and pay them, say, three to four pounds a week; strange, George; it doesn’t seem quite so degrading now, does it? Up a little higher, now–say four hundred a year–gracious! people are flocking for the job. Yes, George; just a shade higher–say, six hundred a year; what’s this!–a profession! complete with Royal Charter! and certainly not lowering to one’s dignity! Now let us put the ladder on one side and get down to fundamentals. In one of our earlier talks, I made the assertion that people are as varied in their
make up as they are in their handwriting: that for this reason they feel inclined towards one type of job rather than another. It is thus not inconceivable that there will be many attracted to cleaning duties, rather than to, say, factory duties. Not everyone would take readily to factory duties even under the ideal conditions prevailing in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. Probably fewer would take to the little office work that would still be necessary. And fewer still to the duties that involve much study, and the application of much knowledge and skill. Remember too, George, it is the conditions that produce the ideas. Your attitude towards the subject under discussion–it is the common attitude–is entirely the product of your environment, a
money world. Get rid of that, and you will rid your brain of the idea that any work can be degrading that is socially useful. Duties that are really necessary to human welfare will have to be done somehow, and in the unlikely event of no-one volunteering, we shall have to take turn, until some suitable device is invented making such duty unnecessary or less unpleasant.
¶George: What about the other household jobs?
¶Professor: With the many advantages accruing to madam by the change to WORLD COMMONWEALTH, I do not for one moment believe she will object to the few chores that remain when all the heavy work has been done for her. She may even get her husband to help, since apart from bed-making and dusting there need be little else. Again, George, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are only on the fringe of great developments in the uses of new materials, plastics and so on, that would revolutionise our conceptions of home and room design. It is quite possible that these alone may solve many of the dirty work problems in a world where
money is no object.
§ CHAPTER 16: SPINNING A YARN
¶George: Well, Professor, the WORLD COMMONWEALTH is rapidly taking shape. Under the influence of your skilful tongue, I am already seriously considering the possibilities; which means that I am either foolish enough or optimistic enough to believe that it may even happen next week. Just imagine the blazing headlines in the newspapers
¶Professor: Your optimism cheers me, George, almost as much as your reference to newspapers interests me. Here is an aspect of WORLD COMMONWEALTH life that we have not yet considered. Suppose you put your mind to the problem, George. What do you think will happen to the newspapers?
¶George: Obviously, there’ll be no need for advertisements. As there will be nothing to sell, there’ll be no need to advertise.
¶Professor: And will there be need for so many?
¶George: Why of course! You yourself admit there’ll be as much variety of ideas as there is nowadays. Why shouldn’t we read the newspaper that we prefer, as we do now? You give us freedom with one hand and want to take it back with the other.
¶Professor: Your reproach is unjustified since I give you neither freedom nor its lack. It is you and your fellows that will get freedom and everything else when you so desire. But do not overrate the significance of this word,
Freedom, as it has different meanings from different lips. It is a word I have used on several occasions, so it would be as well at this point to consider its meaning. But I shall confine myself strictly to the point at issue, otherwise I am afraid I should be talking for days. In the sense, then, that there is no restraint on your choice of newspaper, I agree that you are free even today. In much the same way you are free to drink champagne at the local instead of beer. But you will not deny, George, that there are conditions attached to your choice. Although free to drink the one or the other, you
choose beer. Apart from the question of cost–not a minor consideration–you
prefer beer. In the same way you
prefer and therefore
choose The Daily Scream to The Daily Scribe. What
force then directs your choice? Is there not something in your
make-up that compels you towards one rather than the other? Have not the circumstances of your life, your home influences, friends, and so on all determined your outlook towards newspapers in general, and one in particular? In short, George, haven’t we reached a familiar–?
¶George: I’ve got it, Professor; the conditions produce the ideas. What it boils down to in this case is that I’m no more responsible for my choice of newspaper than I am for the colour of my eyes. It’s a peculiar way of looking at it, but I think I see your point.
¶Professor: I’m glad you do, George, since it will make it easier to extend this interpretation to WORLD COMMONWEALTH conditions. Clearly, George, the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will be
free to print as many newspapers as they wish, but the desire for leisure and the enjoyment of life will be the force compelling them to restrict the number to a bare minimum. Hence though
free they will still be
bound. They will be bound by the Iron Law. You can’t eat your cake and have it. If they really wish to enjoy life they will have to forego many of the superfluities that people seem to think so necessary today; chiefly as a result of commercial advertising. If, on the other hand, they want these and other luxuries they will have to work a little harder to get them. To penalise one section of the people–printers, compositors, and so on–by an extravagant demand for inessentials would be considered antisocial.
¶George: Just a moment, Professor, how do you distinguish between what is and what is not essential? Where do you draw the line?
¶Professor: Well, George, as we’re on the subject suppose we apply ourselves to this newspaper problem, and consider what demands would be likely in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH. To do this effectively, it would be as well if we begin by studying what newspapers are published nowadays, and–more important–why. For simplicity I will use the word
paper to cover all newsprint published periodically. It will thus include:
proper–day, evening and weekly;
- weeklies–catering for various hobbies, interests, etc.,
- monthlies–somewhat similar to those under (b);
- quarterlies–catering mainly for scientific interests;
- biannuals and annuals–interests many and various
¶If you are a stickler for accuracy you may find many flaws in this analysis, but it will answer our purpose. Now, you will no doubt agree that with very few exceptions new papers are published with a profit motive. In this respect they are no different from any other commodities produced at the present time; and like them, they must, to be marketable have features distinctive from contemporaries. This distinction may take the form of a new policy, often political; an appeal to enthusiasts of a hobby or other recreational interest; or an appeal to a new tendency in the ideas of the people. But the important point, George, is that these new features which enterprising publishers use as a bait to attract new readers, serve also as a bait to attract advertisers. Were it not for advertising revenue few papers could be sold at the low prices now current. Here then are the facts, which we must consider carefully before we proceed further. These papers supply a need or they would not sell; they sell in spite of the fact that there are several overlapping, especially in groups (a), (b) and (c). It is the fact that they sell that induces advertisers to make use of them. Advertisements being a profitable source of revenue tend to encourage the publication of new papers, since there is the prospect of inducing advertisers to spend still more. And so a circle, but not necessarily a vicious one, since almost as fast as new papers appear–group (a) particularly–old ones die.
¶George: The death of a newspaper is a comparatively rare occurrence, Professor.
¶Professor: The fact that such demises are rare is proof that there are certain ideas that change very slowly. We shall soon see what these ideas are. But you must remember that a newspaper–group (a)–can only live while it has the support of a sufficiently large number of people whose ideas
fit in with it. Now what are these ideas expressed by these newspapers that rouses in its readers a response, sufficient to cause them to purchase that same paper day after day, often for many years without a break?
¶George: If it’s a riddle, Professor, I give it up. Oh! I see! You mean it’s politics.
¶Professor: Exactly, George; politics. Fashion editors may come and go, cartoonists become more or less pungent, leading articles more or less animated, but the politics of a newspaper are as fixed and inflexible as the stars in their courses. These then are the ideas, the slowly changing ideas, the political ideas, that maintains a newspaper’s circulation. There are probably many factors that determine a person’s political ideas, but in the main, the newspaper he chooses and reads regularly is the one that is in accord with those ideas. The newspaper then moulds those ideas, and
educates them along the lines determined by the proprietors. We thus deduce–it is not an extravagant deduction–that there exists an affinity between the newspapers and political ideas prevailing. And, arising out of this the further deduction that in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH–a world organisation, in which there would be no need for politics, newspapers will have lost one of their main functions, the dissemination of news and ideas biased in the interests of the financial groups that control them.
¶George: What! No politics?
¶Professor: You look surprised, George, which means that I must digress for a moment. Tell me, George, have you ever considered what causes a new party to enter the political arena?
¶George: I’ve never given it a thought.
¶Professor: I will put it simply and very briefly. When a large number of people have a grievance which for its amelioration requires Parliamentary authority, they have some few ways in which they can voice that grievance. By forming a group or association they can approach sympathetic Members of Parliament, in the hope that by thus stating their case, some action will be taken. Or by meetings, outdoor and indoor, and vigorous speeches on the part of its sponsors, they can attract the interest and enthusiasm in their cause, sufficient to form such an association. A political party arises out of such a group or association when it has a cause, which it considers will arouse a sympathetic response, in a mass of people, sufficient in number to justify direct representation in the
House. The important point, however, is that the cause must be one which affects the vital interests of that group and the people it represents. In a
money world there is nothing more vital than money. Hence though it may be possible for a person with unorthodox views on, say, religion or vaccination to occupy a seat in Parliament, it is his political views that get him these. So, George, no money–no politics.
¶George: It looks too simple, Professor. There must be a flaw in your argument somewhere. Surely Parliament is concerned–
¶Professor: Yes, concerned with the GOVERNMENT OF PEOPLE. And only so since the people are the producers of wealth, which, when produced belongs not to those that produce that wealth but to a few, who, by virtue of the power given them by you, and millions like you, use that power, through press, radio, and Parliament, to their own advantage. Whatever form of control the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH devise will be concerned WITH THINGS, their production and distribution, and such control will be for the benefit of all, not for the few. It was with the greatest reluctance that I digressed into this interlude on politics, since I hope to show later that though there is a political aspect to the WORLD COMMONWEALTH movement, it is merely a means to an end, and of secondary importance. Now, may I proceed with our newspaper problem?
¶George: Carry on, Professor; your idea of a governmentless world is rather appealing.
¶Professor: Having disposed of the political bias of newspapers, and the political ideas of those that read them, we can now consider the other features of newspapers that make them a
necessity of present-day life. I have analysed these features and present them here for your consideration.
- News of events and of
importantpeople in various parts of the world.
- Popular science news (rather rare).
- Articles on varied
topics of the day.
- News of interest to those partial to certain sports, games and hobbies.
¶Local newspapers cover very much the same ground, but naturally devote the greater amount of space to local news. Now, George, advertisements plus the four items listed represent on an average the contents of a daily newspaper. We have already
eliminated the adverts. Let us see what we can do with those that remain. Clearly, there will be many people–more than nowadays–with interests and hobbies of all sorts. Apart from the facilities for enjoying these hobbies and interests, a magazine relating to such topics, and distributed at, say, weekly intervals, would serve a very useful purpose.
¶George: One for each hobby I suppose.
¶Professor: Yes. And as each would be a complete little journal, covering that hobby in all its aspects, we can draw a line through item (4) on our list. Similarly we can strike out items (2) and (3) by the inclusion on the WORLD COMMONWEALTH publication list, of a weekly magazine, well illustrated, on subjects of general interest, and of topical events. Somewhat similar to the illustrated weekly journals which now circulate chiefly amongst the wealthy. We are thus left with
hot news to justify a daily newspaper. Personally, I doubt whether the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH would consider
hot news so vital as to warrant the expenditure of energy and material required for daily newsprint. Especially, as the radio and cinema have become so well adapted to that purpose. But if the demand should be there, you may be sure it will be satisfied.
¶George: Well, Professor, having resigned myself to the possible loss of my favourite daily crossword puzzle, what do you propose doing with the monthlies, quarterlies, annuals and biannuals on your list?
¶Professor: I doubt the need for monthly publications if the needs of all are satisfied by the weeklies. In much the same way, I am of the opinion that the present-day quarterly reviews of the Arts and Sciences could be replaced by weekly publications. But in matters such as this it is difficult to prophesy. Such a large quantity of the printed matter published today is sheer unadulterated trash, that there would be little lost by its absence.
¶George: That suggests that the present day
cheap jack novelist would come under the axe. Or would they be permitted to carry on their novel writing as a
¶Professor: It’s not so much a question of
permission as of
admission. If at any age, there developed a desire for writing and aptitude were shown, popular acclaim would possibly suggest that the person concerned, should, like his brothers in the instrumental and vocal arts, be free to devote his time to such recreational duties. If he were not so good, there would be plenty of
free time for him to indulge in his interest as an
amateur. Needless to say he would be one of very many. There would probably still exist a demand for the thrillers, the romances, and the other ephemeral literature that lumbers the bookstalls at the present time, but whether the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH would be prepared to regard them as products of duty is another matter. It would be interesting and amusing to debate the question. At any rate, George, I hope I have convinced you that so far as newspapers are concerned, it is not so difficult to decide what would be considered inessential in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH.
¶George: Suppose a comparatively small group of people have some ideas and opinions for the expression of which they required a journal of their own!
¶Professor: They could have it! Though I see no reason why to begin with such ideas and opinions could not be
aired in one of the regular
weeklies. With increasing demand for such opinions more space could be allocated, until eventually a new publication was deemed necessary. The editor and his staff would of course be free from other duties.
¶George: I was just wondering whether you would regard radio entertainment as essential. Like the conjuror, you seem to have no difficulty in eliminating things out of existence. Why not try your hand with radio?
¶Professor: I assume you are not being facetious, George. Where I have been uncertain of the utility of any present-day institutions or ideas in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH organisation, I have not hesitated to indicate my doubt. I do not think it would be too difficult to argue
out of existence, to use your words, our old friends of radio. As a source of
lowbrow entertainment, it does not compare with the average
music-hall. For more highbrow entertainment it fails lamentably. But why should we deny ourselves this and other pleasures if the means and the instruments are already in existence for their provision. Would it not be more wasteful and extravagant to destroy such apparatus?
¶George: Don’t forget, Professor, it’s also used for the broadcasting of news, lectures and so on. And there are special instructional broadcasts to schools.
¶Professor: So much the better. It would thus take over the one remaining function of the newspaper in the broadcasting of
hot news. The educational possibilities are still barely out of the experimental stage, so I am loth to forecast what developments would be likely under the new conditions. One thing is, however, certain. Those lecturers who broadcast, whether to schools, or to the general public, would not do so from a blue-pencilled script. They would be free to speak freely and fearlessly, unimpeded by the indignity of the ridiculous censorship now imposed.
§ CHAPTER 17: LAW AND RELIGION
¶George: Professor, I must compliment you on your versatility. You have in these talks covered a very wide field, with a very persuasive tongue.
¶Professor: And I must thank you, George, for an undeserved compliment. I have, in each of our talks, skirted the fringe of subjects that are worthy of much more detailed treatment, but I am hoping that before long, specialists in each of these branches will get down to the job of planning WORLD COMMONWEALTH now. I need hardly add they will have an enjoyable task. Planning for a world in which money is no object, they may at times need to curb their enthusiasm lest imagination run riot.
¶George: My imagination was running riot last night, but in a different direction. I was racking my brain, trying to think of some aspect of present-day life on which you had not yet touched. I could find only two.
¶Professor: I am impressed by the small number, though not flattered by the implication. I would be vain indeed to believe that in the short time at our disposal we have covered every aspect of our present
money world and its horrors. Still, George, whatever my shortcomings in this respect, I shall be perfectly content if my
persuasive tongue as you call it, has persuaded you of the necessity, the desirability, and the practicability of WORLD COMMONWEALTH now. What are your two
¶George: Strangely enough they are both professions. I believe they are called the
learned professions, though, since both are
awe-inspiring to the layman, I feel inclined to call them the
awful professions. The Law and the Church.
¶Professor: They have more than that in common, George. Both are non-productive, and the adoption of either as a career involves much hard study at University, followed by examinations of no mean difficulty. In court, as in church, voice, poise, and gesture are valuable and cultivated assets. To compare the judge or magistrate with the Almighty is, I hope, not blasphemous, but both sit
on high, both are appealed to for
justice, and both ensure that
law breakers get it
hot. To add to temperature a touch of
colour I will add that one is
black coat and the other
black cloth which though distinctive, are not
distinctions. I feel sure that, to the student, law is an interesting study, but even more interesting would be a comparative study of the legal systems of the world, of their origins and their development. The fact that I have made no such study, does not deter me from stating this generalisation. That in all countries where there is one, the legal system is based on the need for safeguarding property interests. Whether it be birth or death, marriage or divorce, whether it be petty fine for petty crime, or hard labour for grand larceny, practically all laws are made and re-made because money or property is, or may be involved.
¶George: So with very much pleasure and with few regrets, you announce that the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, being a moneyless world will have no
laws. But that’s only half the problem, Professor, there will still be property, there will be food, clothing and other goods in the warehouses, there will be the warehouses and the shops, the houses and flats, roads and railways, mines and ships. Oh! Of course, there will be no selling since it will belong–Why! Professor, who will control all these things. The State?
¶Professor: No, George; not that abstraction we call the State, because there wouldn’t be one!
¶George: What? No State?
¶Professor: Surely George, there would be no need for one.
¶George: Why not, Professor?
¶Professor: For this reason. Our present
money-based world is, as I have shown you a world in which there are two kinds of people. Firstly, there is a small group, the rich, who, between them own nearly everything. Secondly, there is that very large group, the poor, who own little more than nothing. The rich, being
top-dogs, need a means of keeping the poor–the
bottom-dogs–in their place as the need arises. For this reason a State becomes a necessity, since there are laws to be made, taxes to be raised for the purpose of maintaining an army, navy, air force, police force and civil service, all of which are used to enforce and administer these laws in the interests of the wealthy few. Hence, in our present competitive profit-making system, based on the existence of rich and poor, there is an inducement for those who have little or nothing to obtain a little extra wealth from those who have, or in other ways do things which are against the interest, of those who possess. Laws are made by a Government or State to protect the rights of those who have money or property. They are essentially orders to be obeyed by the people. Disobeying or breaking the law is called
crime. Since in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH there would no longer exist, the division into
top dogs and
bottom dogs and since the good of each would be the good of all, there would be no need for any such weapon–it is nothing more than that–as a State. People would co-operate freely and willingly in producing and distributing the needs of humanity. Neither force nor violence would be used to compel people to do anything, since they would fully understand what they were doing, and would be doing it for their own benefit. Civil servants to
direct them to their work would to them seem as stupid as the calling in of a policeman to demonstrate the eating of a meal.
¶George: But if there is no State, who would control all those things that make civilised life possible?
¶Professor: Who better than the peoples of the world themselves who have produced all these things, and who, in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH would co-operate in using them for the benefit of all?
¶George: All the same, Professor, there will need to be laws of some kind, otherwise chaos would result.
¶Professor: Not laws, George, just a common-sense code of conduct. In my opinion that is all that would be necessary. Of course, you may suggest there is little difference, that change of name will make the rose no sweeter, and the laws no better. Suppose then we consider the matter more carefully. Firstly, I have already stated that the greater bulk of legal enactments are concerned with property or money. I believe you will agree that in disputes at law,
might often triumphs over
right, especially when the
might is money power. Secondly, the law imposes penalties for offences, these ranging from a mere fine a few shillings to the supreme penalty–death by hanging, electric chair, or the axe depending on geographical location. These penalties are imposed as deterrents, but whether they serve that purpose is debatable. Thirdly, laws are so worded that loopholes exist enabling those with knowledge of these expedients to continue their nefarious practices often becoming wealthy by so doing. Keeping on the right side of the law–but only just–is a common feature of
city business. Fourthly, although simplification appears to offer a solution to many legal difficulties, we can expect little change in this direction since the unravelling of its intricacies affords large incomes to a small but none the less powerful profession. Now, George, compare this unsatisfactory, unwieldy, clumsy, ill-contrived, and often unprofitable instrument with, say, the rules of a club, or similar organisation.
¶George: But is that fair, Professor–
¶Professor: Pardon me, George, you are quite right. It isn’t fair to compare two things which have so little in common. In a club there exists a community of interests, a common inspiration and a common goal. All members have equal voice in its organisation, and delegate responsibility to a committee to carry out their wishes. All club assets and property belong equally to all, and so in a sense to none. The club exists for the enjoyment and benefit of all members without distinction, not for a privileged few. And so, George, you are certainly quite right, it isn’t fair to compare the rules of a club with the laws necessary for the government of a country. Equality of status is a fact in the one, a dangerous fiction in the other. But I maintain, with due emphasis, that it is fair to compare the rules of a club with the code of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH, since they have very much in common. There will be a community of interests, a common inspiration and a common goal; the desire to produce as much as is necessary to satisfy the needs of all, so that all may live happily and enjoy life. All will have equal status and equality of voice in the selection of delegates for specified duties or organisation. The world will belong to all, for the benefit and enjoyment of all, not for a few. Now perhaps you may appreciate the distinction between laws on the one hand, and a social or moral code on the other. In essence, laws arise out of property relationships, are imposed by
superior authority, which prescribes penalties for their breach. A code has its origin in social relationships; it arises out of man’s natural desire to live in community rather than in isolation, in harmony with his neighbours rather than in discord. It is not imposed by authority but arises out of social opinion. Thus for any given period and for any particular geographical location certain things are
not done, but beyond social disapproval, no penalties are imposed for a breach of the social taboo.
¶George: I don’t quite understand, Professor. This code that you suggest would take the place of our present elaborate legal system would, I take it, be comparatively simple, but it would nevertheless be restraining. Obviously then, those who do not conform would have to be punished. Since there could be no fines, what penalties would be imposed? Would there still be prisons–or what?
¶Professor: It is quite evident that you are a little puzzled, so perhaps I can make myself clearer by an example. In the first place, you speak of restraint as if it were fear of consequences that deterred you from murdering your neighbour, raping his wife, and stealing his valuables. You will agree, that as a sensible and intelligent human being, there is no conscious feeling of restraint in thus witholding from such antisocial intentions. If I am not being presumptuous by suggesting that the people of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH will be as sensible and as intelligent as you, we can take it that in the main they would not feel irksome the few simple and commonsense rules drawn up by common agreement amongst themselves. I see no reason or sense in punishment by imprisonment. Social disapproval would, I believe, be sufficient. Homicide and similar offences would be regarded as pathological or psychological diseases, and would be treated accordingly.
¶George: There would still be people with grievances, Professor. How would they give voice to them?
¶Professor: Let us consider first how they do so now; and, more important, with what results. If you are a member of a trade union you appeal to the local secretary, who in turn approaches your employer. If he sees fit to adjust your grievance he may do so, but is not pleasantly disposed towards you as a result. Obviously not very satisfactory. On the other hand he may not see eye to eye with you on this question of
grievance, in which case you have the option–put up with it, or strike. In either event, unsatisfactory. You are, of course,
free to change your job, but with unemployment figures at their usual high level such a change needs, to put it mildly, very careful consideration. Take another example. You have a grievance which invites legal action. Should you take such action you may win your case, but you will have lost something even if it be merely the time spent in consulting a solicitor. If you lose your case, you will have lost all. Again, in either event unsatisfactory. Hence, George, in a very large number of cases, people realising the futility of voicing their grievances or demanding justice, endure the hardships that necessarily arise out of a
money world. Once again, unsatisfactory. How then does this objectionable state of affairs compare with WORLD COMMONWEALTH? The important difference is that by whatever means you voice your grievance, you will have nothing to lose. Having equal status with every, one else, there are few problems of
grievance that could not be solved by mutual co-operation and tolerant understanding. In finely balanced disputes between two people, where even a Solomon would be perplexed, recourse could be had to that relic of these barbaric times. No, George, not pistols, but a simple copper coin–tossed up!
¶George: I resent your use of the word
barbaric, Professor. You have in these talks painted a very gloomy picture of the world as it is, so by comparison make the WORLD COMMONWEALTH look very rosy and almost heavenly. I do not deny that in places and at times there has been much suffering, and many instances of cruelty and oppression, but taken as a whole, the world is a much better place to live in than it was, say, 300 years ago. People are better dressed, better behaved, have greater freedom of expression, and access to pleasures undreamt of in the days of good Queen Bess. Give credit where it is due, Professor.
¶Professor: I deny your implied charge of exaggeration, George, since I do not believe I have been unjust in my accusations. With greater justification could I accuse you of injustice since you compare two things–two modes of living, which cannot fairly be compared. Would you say that Miss Modern is
better off than your Good Queen Bess, by virtue of silk stockings, access to cinemas, and the possession of a radio? If such
luxuries were then not available, what basis have you for comparison? We can only compare the relative
better-offness. Those as a group who were wealthy then, are, as a group, very much wealthier now. Again, as a group those who had to work for their living in those days, are as a group, perhaps a shade better off now. The total amount of wealth produced has increased enormously, but the greater share is taken by a few. People are better dressed. Quite true, George; I have heard that said so often. Put a well dressed working girl by the side of a duchess and you can’t tell the difference! Silly nonsense! Why dress them anyway! The resemblance would be closer were they both in the nude. As if all the camouflage in the world could disguise the fact–the actual fact–that the one, to live, has to work for her living. The other may work, if she is so inclined, but the necessity is not forced on her. And people are better behaved, you say. Yes! And more moral! I agree. But was it the imposition of laws, and still more laws that made them so? I refute such a ridiculous suggestion. Morality is as much a part of the evolutionary process as is man himself. If it is not fashionable to watch the sufferings of a cat with tin can appended, it is because ideas have changed and are ever changing. There is no other reason. And freedom! Yes, George, freedom of expression of opinion. But it has been fought for–bitterly, and against the most vicious, shameful, immoral, and iniquitous opposition; the opposition of both State and Church.
¶George: The Church?
¶Professor: You seem surprised, George, and I can understand it. Such facts seldom get the publicity of a film star’s divorce. And towards the close of the last century when hostilities were at their peak, it required fearless courage to brave the forces, mental and physical, arrayed against those who stood for freedom of speech and of the Press. Overwhelming fines and imprisonment were common, but the war went on. The part played by the Churches in this vindictive offensive is an everlasting indictment against those who, perhaps with tongue in cheek, profess the brotherhood of men.
¶George: It is evident, Professor, you don’t like the Churches.
¶Professor: Of course, I could go back further, to the Christian Europe of the Middle Ages, when the professing of unbelief was to invite disaster. When the mere expression of an opinion inimical to Gospel teaching was to court
enquiry from the Inquisitorial Staff. But I will not dwell on these horrors. You suggest I do not like the Churches. Let me put to you this perfectly simple and straightforward question. What good have the Churches in particular and religion in general rendered mankind that could not have been as well rendered without them?
¶Professor: I will spare you the effort of reply. I will even go so far as to forgive them, one and all, their errors of the past. I will overlook the barbarities of the Roman Church; I will forget that there ever existed a man Calvin, who pleaded for tolerance, but who when in power had burned at the stake, one Servetus who differed from him in opinion; I will excuse–but truly with difficulty–the indignities and worse suffered by such men as Henry Hetherington, Richard Carlile, Thomas Paine, Charles Bradlaugh, and their gallant confrères who fought with such courage and valour against the contemptible and cowardly State and Church that could not break their indomitable spirit. I will make allowance for the Churches’ condonation of slavery, for its neglect of and even apathy towards urgent social problems, for its blood lust in time of war. I will even accept, with reservations, that they might have contributed a moiety towards man’s progress through the ages. But the question I have already asked still remains to be answered. Moreover, and more to the point, there is the extension of that question to be considered. What do the Churches do now that could not be done as well–and perhaps better–without their aid? We no longer expect rain by praying for it, nor do we grovel in the dust before some local Mumbo-jumbo in an endeavour to increase our harvests. We apply science to our problems, with results that make possible a world of plenty. Even if religion has served some purpose in the past there appears to be little demand for it now, and every indication of its rapid decay in the future.
¶George: Does that mean the abolition of the Churches, Professor?
¶Professor: That, George, would be both stupid and unnecessary. Stupid, since, to acquire freedom with one hand and deprive others of that freedom with the other would not be in accordance with WORLD COMMONWEALTH principles. Unnecessary, since the Churches are in any case losing their hold on an increasingly growing proportion of the population. People requiring religious service will not be deprived of it, but I am of the opinion that the majority of people would disapprove of the ministering to
spiritual needs being classed as a duty. It would need to be a spare-time occupation.
¶George: That doesn’t seem fair, Professor. Why discriminate between the spiritual need supplied by a minister and that supplied by musicians and other artistes?
¶Professor: You must remember, George, that only the greatest of artistes will practise their art as a duty. All others will regard such in the light of hobby or recreation.
¶George: And who will be judge as to qualification for
¶Professor: What more obvious than popular acclaim?
¶George: And if such acclaim demands ministerial duties?
If. That’s the point, George. It is a very doubtful
if. Regular churchgoers are becoming fewer and fewer, whereas interest in the Arts is increasing, and would in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH increase even more rapidly. The acquiring and maintaining of great skill in the Arts requires much study, patience, and continual practice. A 1,000-hour year would hardly suffice for the demands that would no doubt be made on our greatest artistes. The Arts supply a need that is, generally speaking, felt by all. Cinemas, theatres, opera houses, amateur theatricals and so on are becoming more and more popular almost as fast as interest in religion is becoming less and less. Take all these facts into consideration and ask yourself the question whether it would be just to impose on society a group of people who, productive of neither goods nor useful services, could if they so desired use their leisure for the purpose of satisfying the
spiritual needs of their respective flocks. With the coming of WORLD COMMONWEALTH will go the money power of the Church; will go, too, the stranglehold that religion still has on present day education: and in a straight fight between the forces of superstition and the power of knowledge, there can be only one outcome. Out of man’s ignorance, religion was born; out of fear has it been maintained. The WORLD COMMONWEALTH will be the product of man’s intelligence and understanding; of his desire for joy and happiness in this, the only world we know. That world will soon be a New World, a world without money, and in which goods are produced for use and for free distribution. Then, and only then, will belief in the supernatural give place to understanding of the natural, and ignorance and fear give way to knowledge and confidence.
§ CHAPTER 18: HOW–WHY–AND WHEN
¶George: Well, Professor, I have sent my luggage to the station; all that now remains is to say Good-bye, and to thank you for a holiday that has been particularly pleasant, and in one respect unique.
¶Professor: Your pleasure and your company have been sufficient recompense for your stay, but for its uniqueness I can rightfully claim no credit. These talks on WORLD COMMONWEALTH–and I assume this is the unique feature to which you refer–have been as much inspired by you as they have been the result of my efforts to side-track present-day worries and problems. Still it is a fine day, George; suppose I walk to the station with you.
¶George: That’s a fine idea, Professor. The walk will do you good. And it will give me the opportunity, of asking for an explanation of your so-called
side-tracking of present-day problems. Do you, ostrich-like, bury your head in the sand? How can you hold yourself aloof from such matters?
¶Professor: It’s quite simple, George! I just think of more pleasant things; WORLD COMMONWEALTH for example. But more seriously, it isn’t quite as simple as that. Inasmuch as I live on this earth, and know of no means of leaving it, I must necessarily endure such inconveniences as our present
money world imposes on me. But the least we can do who know of something better is to let others know that means exist for eliminating these inconveniences. In train and in shop, in factory and in cafe, in pub and in club there must be one dominating subject of discussion, and that is WORLD COMMONWEALTH. If such discussion should by chance lead to quarrel, it may be in your interest to intercede, but before you do, make quite certain it is WORLD COMMONWEALTH that is the subject of disagreement. If it is not, of what interest to you, who know that there is only one way of abolishing mankind’s main problems. You will, of course, be careful to avoid the bricks being thrown about.
¶George: I sometimes wonder whether it is just hatred of the wealthy that makes you think as you do. Or perhaps envy.
¶Professor: Let me make it quite clear, George, that my interest in WORLD COMMONWEALTH is conditioned by no such useless passions. Rather is it the product of pure, unalloyed selfishness. As far as I am concerned, I am convinced that such a world organisation would suit me.
But, you may ask,
am I equally convinced that it would suit others? And why shouldn’t it? If I were the exception rather than the general rule, if I were a perfect specimen of physical, moral and intellectual manhood, free from the general run of human failings, you could reasonably accuse me of being unreasonably selfish; of wanting to change the world to suit my own vain ego. But if I know myself as well as I believe I do; if I am aware of my imperfections, as I believe I am, I can conceive of no advantage accruing to myself that could not be enjoyed by every human being on this earth. It provides the only means of solving all the problems of all mankind.
¶George: Suppose they don’t like it when they’ve got it?
¶Professor: And why on earth shouldn’t they like it? What have they to lose? Their shackles? What have they to gain? Have I not explained in sufficient detail? Will they not know what
living really means? Do they live now, in their hovels? Are they not slaves to a machine and
money world that will not loosen them from its octopus grip? Is this not sufficient justification for change?
¶George: I’m not so certain that it is, Professor.
¶Professor: Then you shall have more! The present
money system has reached that stage in its development where it is becoming an obstacle to further progress. No one will dispute the fact that it was necessary, that it has made possible the production of man’s needs in an abundance hitherto undreamed of. But it has served its purpose, and just as the slave systems that preceded this one, have each in turn given way to its successor, so will the present one give way to man’s last and greatest achievement–WORLD COMMONWEALTH; the slavery of the Machine–not to it! It will be more than a better world, George, it will be the Best Possible, since it will permit of man’s free and unrestricted development. What achievements would ultimately be possible in such a world my poor brain cannot foresee; I prefer to leave that to the imagination of the novelists.
¶George: You should write a book yourself, Professor.
¶Professor: That is your task, George–
¶Professor: Don’t be alarmed, George; you will one day. But don’t hurry. There’ll come a day, when you’ll just have to sit down and write that book, or burst; and when you do, that book will be worth reading.
¶George: And those readers who agree with the idea will, I suppose, form the nucleus of a MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH movement. Don’t you think it’s rather an unwieldy name, Professor?
¶Professor: Don’t worry about the name, George; it’s what the name means that matters. A
snappier word could always be applied later on should it be thought necessary. For the time being MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH serves the purpose quite well–probably as well as or better than any coined name–because it so accurately describes the kind of world we aim at. As for a WORLD COMMONWEALTH movement, well–it is no secret that there are throughout the world quite a number of people who are working for just such a change. The book that I hope you will write should give a fillip to their efforts, since you should by now be able to portray in unmistakable manner the possibilities of the social organisation that they desire. Such a work is long overdue in order to clear away the welter of confusion engendered by the numerous reformers of the present
money-based profit system. It would, too, provide a ray of hope to those who can see no alternative, together with those who have become apathetic through their desperate struggle to solve their insoluble problem–the problem of poverty.
¶George: Well, Professor, I agree with everything you have said, unreservedly. It is a practical proposition, a wonderful idea, but you must admit it is Utopian–
¶Professor: Stop! I refute that charge! On what grounds can you call Utopian, a proposition that you admit is practical?
¶George: I was going to add, Professor, that it is Utopian, since if it ever does happen, it will be in the very remote future. It’s too–too-, well, Utopian, is the only word I can think of.
¶Professor: I will make you a gift of some others; high-flown, fantastic, theoretical, chimerical, visionary, idealistic, and there are no doubt many other suitable adjectives. All these words will be applied to the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea in its growth, and yet you, George, admit it is practical! I am content. But you question its immediate practicability. That is another matter and to that there is only one reply. IT DEPENDS ON YOU!
¶George: On me!
¶Professor: Yes, George, on you and your fellows throughout the world. The WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea is a force that just cannot be stopped, because the present-day insoluble problems make it the only alternative and therefore an inevitable necessity, but the rapidity of its growth depends on you. You have the power, George, since you are one of the many. THE IDEA MUST BE SPREAD.
¶George: That’s all very well, Professor, but that power is something intangible. How could that help in bringing about such a change? It would involve such a tremendous upheaval. How could you impose such a system on the peoples of the world without some colossal form of dictatorship? Wouldn’t you agree we’ve seen quite enough of that form of government?
¶Professor: Never, never, never forget our fundamental proviso. THE WORLD COMMONWEALTH CAN ONLY BE BROUGHT INTO BEING BY THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES. It will never arise by the imposition of a dictator or a government, though there is the possibility of a spurious substitute being offered in its place. Reject such substitutes without hesitation. With the power to get the whole hog, don’t be satisfied with a slice of bacon. And that power you have is not intangible. It is the power of numbers, and it is numbers that count, especially when, as in this instance, the idea presented is to change the world. It has been said that a country gets the government it deserves. That is an impudent travesty of the facts. More correct would it be to say that a country gets the government it wants, since even a dictator needs to have the support of a majority, be it ever so small. Moreover, George, even a dictator has to be sure that he has the support of a majority before he can safely take power. And how can he satisfy himself that he has such support? Surely there is only one method? He must count–in numbers! And with what does he count?
¶George: That’s easy–the ballot box.
¶Professor: Then you yourself have solved the problem of how the change to WORLD COMMONWEALTH can be effected. No other method will do if WORLD COMMONWEALTH is the aim. The ballot box is the door and your votes, the keys. You will use those keys for that purpose when your understand the need for change, and what change is needed, and are convinced it is that one change only that will give lasting relief from your pressing social problems. You must take the long range view–the selfish view; that your problems are mankind’s problems; that to solve those problems in your own interest you must solve the problems of all mankind. The
patch-work of reform has failed–will always fail. It is inevitable.
¶George: That certainly does make me think. The ballot-box–we want a change–we vote for it–and we get it! Simple!
¶Professor: So simple, George, that you have very crudely, paraphrased the words of that great American, Abraham Lincoln, who, in 1848, said:
¶Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right–right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.If you need sanction for change, George, here in these striking words you have it.
¶George: You have given no indication that the new government would not go the way of all others; make promises, get to Parliament and forget all else. That is not uncommon, as you should know.
¶Professor: It is far too common, George, but you seem to forget that the WORLD COMMONWEALTH idea is unique. That in itself should be sufficient to distinguish between voting for WORLD COMMONWEALTH and voting for Bill Brown, who is
such a nice man or
a very genuine fellow as the case may be. But no matter how
nice and how
genuine, people vote, in the main, according to their
political sympathies. In effect therefore they vote for certain principles or ideas held by
their political party.
¶George: And isn’t that just what WORLD COMMONWEALTH enthusiasts would do? There’s no difference here, surely?
¶Professor: There is a difference, George, and a very important one. It can be expressed in one word–AIM. And one word–REFORMS–will suffice to sum up the aims of all political parties up to now claiming your vote. For is it more than reforms that they so assiduously promise? Do they not constantly and invariably play on variations of those old, old themes, better housing, lower rents, higher wages, lower-taxes and so on? And you are satisfied if some of these reforms materialise; if they do not, you are still satisfied since the art of politics is the manufacture of good excuses, The important point is that politicians, generally speaking, promise what they believe people want, or can be persuaded is in their interest, It is pathetic but nonetheless true that what people want now are reforms. This then is the fundamental difference between the party which desires a MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH and all others. It will be easily distinguished from all others and you will recognise its supporters by the fact that they will not be concerned with the reforming of the present
money system, but solely with its abolition. Their aim will be world-wide, not limited to anyone geographical region. Implicit is the idea of all the world for all the people, who will co-operate in producing and distributing all their requirements in accordance with their needs thus making money obsolete. Once this idea is fully understood, people will be satisfied with nothing less. They will not rest until that aim is realised. Is it likely, George, that people with such understanding of their
want, and fully aware that such
want is the only universal
want, would be hoodwinked by reformist promises of crafty politicians?
¶George: They are just as likely to be fooled by their own.
¶Professor: They would be–if they were fools, but foolish people would not want WORLD COMMONWEALTH. Intelligent and understanding people will. Such people would merely select from among themselves, members of their organisation to whom they would entrust the responsibilities of carrying out their wishes, namely, the speedy termination of the present
money system and the introduction of WORLD COMMONWEALTH. What scope for political fooling in such an open and above board organisation. Although political in aim, its aim is not political.
¶George: As an Irishism, that’s perfect. I don’t understand.
¶Professor: It would use the present political organisation–the ballot-box, etc.–to attain its ends and thus end the need for politics, Is that better?
¶George: So you are quite convinced that political action is the only means by which the change can be brought into effect. I’m inclined to think you’re optimistic. What of those countries where dictators rule the roost? What prospects of their people using the ballot-box?
¶Professor: When I say that political action is the only means, I should add two riders to indicate accurately what such a statement implies. The first is that political action is the only effective means of determining numerical strength and of assuring united and simultaneous action. The second I have already mentioned, but it will bear repetition. That if WORLD COMMONWEALTH is the aim, political action is the only means if bringing it into effect. It is herein that danger lies dormant. Simple enough is it to state that the WORLD COMMONWEALTH can only arise as a result of the desire of the majority of people, but I am well aware that there will be a number of people who for some peculiar reason do not like simple methods. They will be either in a terrific hurry and want
something now–what they will want
now,–I need hardly add will not be WORLD COMMONWEALTH,–or else they will believe that something approaching WORLD COMMONWEALTH can be achieved only by achieving something else first; very much as if you, with the railway station directly ahead, were to decide that the best and quickest means of getting there was to stay where you are. Make no mistake, George, there is only one WORLD COMMONWEALTH, and that is a world without money, and in which goods are produced for use and for free distribution. All else is counterfeit. Whatever is got
now by the
rush methods of the few, will ultimately turn out to be for the benefit of the few. Whatever immediate aims are proposed as a step towards WORLD COMMONWEALTH will sooner or later, result only, in benefit to its few sponsors. The road to WORLD COMMONWEALTH is a straight one–with only one obstacle–the lack of understanding of the idea by the majority of people. Beyond the annihilation of mankind, there is no force on earth that can frustrate its realisation. Dictators will come and go, will storm and threaten, will
eliminate, will torture and murder–but to the spread of ideas they can do nothing. Dictators try to satisfy the need of those who want something
now. But they are powerless in the grip of circumstances–a
money world and its insoluble problems. These problems cannot be solved–they must be abolished. This, dictators will not, cannot do–they frantically attempt the solving of the unsolvable. Dictatorships cannot last for the same reason that the
money world is doomed. The same impossible conditions that will kindle desire for WORLD COMMONWEALTH will conduce to the downfall of all dictatorships.
¶George: Seriously, Professor, do you really believe that the world is ready for such a tremendous change? All countries are not at the same level of development; and not all people, even in this country. Should not this be the first step? The raising of industrial and cultural development. Could not this rightly be considered as an immediate aim?
¶Professor: George, we are nearing the station, and very soon I shall be leaving you. Here is the fork road–the station lies ahead. The one road will get you there quickly and, more important, with no possibility of loss of direction. If the railway station is your goal, you will take this road. Having reached the station you will then be free to travel wherever you wish. But you must get to the station first. The other road is a long road; it twists and turns, runs back on itself, narrows to a footpath overgrown with bushes through which one passes with difficulty, skirts a pond into which many tumble, crosses a river–and the bridge is not particularly safe–and ends–in a blind alley! Many have taken this road, convinced that here was a short cut. They have returned in disgust. I will not strain the metaphor further. The moral is obvious. There is no short cut to WORLD COMMONWEALTH; there is a short road. The short road is the direct road, the straight road, and it suffers from all the defects of straight roads. It appears to be longer, since it lacks variety; there is little or no excitement en route. Whatever immediate aims you or others may propose, can have no bearing on the attainment of WORLD COMMONWEALTH. They represent little more than the natural developments of our present
money world. Insofar as all such natural developments conduce to greater efficiency and so to greater profits, they are useful–to those who take profits. They will also in due time be useful to WORLD COMMONWEALTH, but for the more efficient production of goods for use, not for profit. The backward countries are rapidly coming forward in spite of the lack of WORLD COMMONWEALTH stimulus. If there are some still backward at the time of change they will be assisted with all the means available. All the industrial development that has taken place during the past two hundred years has resulted in little benefit to those whose blood and sweat has effected the improvements. The greater benefit has been to the few at whose behest these developments have been inaugurated. The cultural and educational level has advanced for the same reason. To the people as a whole very little has been given–without the greater advantage accruing–to those who give. The people in this country, the people in practically every country are no less ready for WORLD COMMONWEALTH through their lack of
higher education, or scantiness of
culture. These are no obstacles–lack of understanding is. What they lack now, in education, in
culture and in everything else they need, they will in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH have opportunity of acquiring. Do not deprecate those who through lack of desire and more often of opportunity, have little or no interest in
highbrow pursuits. Rather give credit to those who in spite of adverse conditions have developed such interest. The understanding and appreciation of the simplicity of life in the WORLD COMMONWEALTH needs neither
high education nor
highbrow culture–merely understanding, and arising therefrom, desire. This understanding you must give them. Being to their advantage they will listen–and being to their advantage–it is to yours.
¶George: You have said quite a lot, Professor, and I will admit it’s rather inspiring. But your last sentence raises a difficult question The WORLD COMMONWEALTH will be to the advantage of many, I agree; but what of the few, the wealthy. Will they not virtually be robbed of their wealth?
¶Professor: Robbed! George? And of their wealth? By what moral law is it theirs? Have they built the bridges, the roads, the houses, the palaces? Have they produced the food that sustains us, and the materials that clothe us?
That ship cost a million pounds they proudly exclaim. Is not this utter nonsense? Could an infinite number of millions of pounds build a ship? Is it not human energy, applied to the bounty of Mother Nature, that has built it? Could anything other than human energy build anything, make anything? Could all the money in the world do what a child with a hammer can do? Knock a nail into a piece of wood? Money has never made a single pin–and we are told it can build a palace. What could we take from those whom you describe as
the wealthy. Their stock and share certificates? They could keep them–as souvenirs. Their bonds and banknotes? Who would want them, anyway? Their diamonds and pearls? It is only their money value that makes them so precious. Their lands and properties from which they draw rents? Of what use to them, with no rents forthcoming? Their factories and warehouses, ships and mines and railways? What! with no profits to be drawn? The
wealthy as you call them, are so only by virtue of the power you give them. You, George, and your fellows produce everything and then give it away–for the few, the
wealthy to redistribute, and who by means of the
money trick, ensure that they get the lion’s share. What is this power you give them, this
magic influence? It is nothing more than the right to own everything you produce. Make no mistake, George, it is as simple as that. You and your fellows give them that right, and you give it freely and willingly every time you drop your vote into the magic box–the ballot-box. And if it is you that give them that right, of what do you rob them, if you take away that right? Moreover, if it is you that give them that right, what cause for complaint if they use that right to their advantage? And if it is by virtue of the ballot-box you give them that right, what other logical means of withdrawing that right?
¶George: Very simple, Professor. And you also must be very simple, if you’ll pardon my rudeness. Do you seriously believe that these wealthy people will just look on while their wealth, together with their privileged position, disappears into the maw of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH? Do you imagine such a gigantic change can be wrought without bloodshed–without civil war?
¶Professor: Let me tell you a story, George; a true story. It is a story of a
civil war, a truly
civil war since it is taking place between civilians and in civilian dress. It is a strange war indeed; there are no firearms, no shells, no bombs. True, there are casualties, but only on one side. This war is ever raging; there can be no truce. There are no heroes; no villains; no distinctions; little glory. The
warriors seldom meet, but when they do, there is exchange of little more than words. It is a most unusual war, George. If weight of numbers alone decided the issue, it should have been over long ago. The one side has an overwhelming preponderance, yet it has not won. And why? The answer is simple–and amazing! It doesn’t know there’s a war on! And who are the combatants in this curious conflict? Listen patiently, George, and I will tell you. The bone of contention is the juiciest, the most succulent the world has ever known. It is the wealth, the goods produced by the application of your energy, and that of your fellows to nature-given materials. It is strange, isn’t it, George? You produce all this wealth–you give it away–you fight to get back a little more of the produce–and yet you remain blissfully unaware of the fact that you are fighting! And whom do you fight? The answer is so silly, so stupid, it makes me laugh–and cry. You fight against those to whom you willingly and freely give up this succulent bone. How incredibly insane–and yet, how clever the conjurers who use the
money trick as the trump card. Translate the word
money and the trick becomes apparent. Your share of the wealth–or money–is wages;
their share is rent, interest, dividends, profits. Get this firmly fixed in your mind. This war–or perhaps more accurately–this struggle, is nothing more than a conflict between two dogs for the same bone. You and your fellows are the big dog, you produce the bone, but you give the little dog the power to decide how much–or how little you shall have as your share. The little dog, being a conjurer, produces the
money trick, and is able to convince you, and satisfy you that you are entitled to no more than he chooses to give you. Let us leave these strained and mixed metaphors and look at some facts. The first fact is an important one. Part of the wealth you produce consists of things–ships, machines, factories, railways, and so on–which are used for the production and distribution of goods. The other part consists of those goods that are produced and consumed. It is by virtue of the fact that a small group of people–you call them the
wealthy–own the first part that they have claim on the second. But don’t forget George, you and your fellows have produced both. And don’t forget, too–it is very important–that both parts of this wealth are theirs with your consent. You produce it and you give it to them. I have said it before, and I do so again–without apology–you have given that consent and you alone can take it away. The ballot-box may be used for the purpose. The
civil war now ensuing for a
fair share of the wealth will culminate in a
civil war, it is true. But it will be a war for the whole of the wealth, equally
civil, and for one simple reason. The political action to which I have already referred, results, via the ballot-box, in control of government, and government alone controls the instruments of
uncivil war. Control of government would therefore ensure that the change-over would be peaceful, since the instruments of
uncivil war would be taken out of the hands of those who might desire to use them for
uncivil purposes. They would then be in the safe keeping of those who would not require blood, shed to achieve their aim–that is the overwhelming majority of the people, who, wanting only one thing, a MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH, would be in a position to get it. If for the sake of argument, such
uncivil war did ensure in spite of this control it would result, if won by the few, in the actual slavery of the many by the few. The slavery of a very large majority by a small minority, and without consent–now it is with. To conceive of slavery on such a stupendous scale is unthinkable. It would involve martial law on the grand scale; soldiers in every factory, on every ship, on every yard of railroad, on every train; and the
soldiering would have to be done by the few; it is as ridiculous as it is impossible.
¶George: And so the story has a happy ending; political action–the ballot-box–control of Parliament–the end of government–and then–WORLD COMMONWEALTH. Your speeches as they get longer, tend to become less convincing. Haven’t you thought of the possibility of trouble arising long before the
majority stage was reached? Of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH movement becoming illegal? Of a dictatorship being imposed to prevent its further growth?
¶Professor: Illegal, George? How could the suppression of a perfectly peaceful, constitutional and legally acting movement be justified? Even if the purpose of that movement is to end government by introducing WORLD COMMONWEALTH? Could it be done without the self-condemnation of the policy of the suppressors? Would they not be disclosing their own weakness and revealing themselves in their true colours? Such action could as well have the contrary effect to that intended; for would not greater interest be aroused through the widespread publicity? Is it not likely that such would be the means of gaining greater sympathy and more support for the movement? I could point to more than one instance in the not so distant past, in which the attempted suppression or hindering of a movement has led to its more vigorous growth. No, George, opposition would be far more likely to take quite a different course from that which you fear. In my opinion the growth of the WORLD COMMONWEALTH movement would lead to the governments granting more and more reforms in the desperate hope that by attracting people’s interests along other paths, the further growth of the movement would be impeded. It would be a hopeless attempt to delay the inevitable; for are we not aware that reforms don’t get rid of the evils from which the people suffer? In time these evils will necessarily become more and more intense thus bringing about the conditions for larger numbers of people to seek the means for ending them. You, George, must convince them that their present-day evils can be ended only by ending the
money-based system that produces them, and that the inauguration of a MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH would do this–and more. But that is a job for the majority. No power can resist the voice of the people, but that voice must be heard. It will be heard when it is loud enough. It will be loud enough only when it is the voice of the majority. If it is the voice of the majority, it will be the desire of the majority, and if the desire is for WORLD COMMONWEALTH there is no force on earth can prevent its realisation. Your task, George, is urgent and vital. You must use every means within your power to instil understanding of and desire for WORLD COMMONWEALTH in every person you meet. Insist that they in their turn do likewise since the speed of its attainment is dependent on the efforts of you and your fellows. Do not spend too much time and energy criticising the present
money system; by comparison with the possibilities they will themselves see in the MONEYLESS WORLD COMMONWEALTH, the
money world will stand self-condemned. Let me repeat, George, the urgent and vital task is the dissemination of the idea. To the majority it will speak for itself. It may not come tomorrow, but tomorrow will come.
¶George: And having come, you will be acclaimed World Leader–
¶Professor: No, George, leaders are for this world, not for that; for money-power and poverty, not for plenty; for wars and waste and misery, not for comradeship and concord. Leaders thrive where men are sheep, not where men are human; where men are slaves and sycophants, not where all are comrades. So, George, though I am deeply grateful for the honour you are so anxious to bestow upon me, I can only reply with that well-worn phrase: I am not worthy of it. There is no man on earth worthy of this honour, since there is no such honour due. It is you and your fellows throughout the world who will bring the new world into being. It is you and your efforts that will make it possible for all of you to enjoy the full fruits of your labours. I cannot do this for you, nor can any man. So take then this honour with my grateful thanks, divide it into thousands of millions of pieces and share it amongst you as you will tomorrow share this good earth that you have been endowed with by Nature.