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A SOCIALIST'S REPLY TO JOHN MOODY.
BY ALLAN L. BENSON,
Author of Socialism Made Plain, The Confessions of Capitalism, etc.
ITH the spirit of John Moody's article in the October ARENA, every lover of justice must be in sympathy. Entitled "The Conservation of Monopoly," its purpose was to point the way toward the destruction of the power that private monopoly now gives to a few to exploit the rest of the people. But here, the present writer at least, must cease his praise. For in the article mentioned, the distinguished author of The Truth About the Trusts falls into some of the most amazing errors in outlining the attitude of the Socialists toward private monopoly and their remedy therefor; and he also does strange things in the name of logic in trying to demonstrate that the Socialist plan would fail while the Single-Tax plan would succeed.
The first question that seems seriously to puzzle Mr. Moody is the source of monopoly-power. "It is not capital, labor, nor land," says he, and then he asks if it is a fourth factor in "production," or rather wealth-diversion, as he afterwards puts it. He says it is a fourth factor in trust parlance and the remainder of the article shows that this opinion is also his own.
“The 'scientific' Socialist," he adds, "holds that capital and monopoly are one, but he ought to know better."
The scientific" Socialist not only "ought to know better," but he does know better than to hold that "capital and monopoly are one," notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Moody accuses him of such an error. He holds no such belief. On the contrary, he holds that there is a vast difference between competitive capital and coöperative capital. As an illustration of the Socialist view of this matter, the various plants that were afterwards merged into the United States Steel Corporation may be used. Before the mergBefore the merg
er, these plants were in competition with each other, and the capital represented by them was not regarded by any Socialist as the equivalent of monopoly; and for the simple reason that there was no monopoly in the steel business at that time. After the merger the capital represented in every plant that entered the trust was regarded by every Socialist as monopolistic capital, for the reason that the capital thus merged was controlled by private individuals for the purpose of creating a monopoly of the steel business. Is it not, therefore, plain that while monopoly-power, as Mr. Moody says, "is neither capital, labor nor land," it arises from the control of all of these factors to a greater or lesser extent, so far as concerns the purpose of a given industry? Then again:
"While the majority of trusts possess monopoly-power in one form or another," says Mr. Moody, "yet all do not, and it is universally true that where a trust possesses no monopoly-power at all, it cannot be broadly or permanently harmful to the community.”
And then he illustrates this statement by citing the careers of the coal-trust and the steamship-trust, so-called, the first of which has achieved a great monopoly success while the latter has not.
Is it not true that a trust achieves the full possibilities of the purposes for which it was formed only to the extent that it creates a monopoly in the line of business in which it is engaged? Are trusts formed for anything else except to curtail competition, and actually to destroy it if possible? Of course, the few trusts of which Mr. Moody speaks that have no monopoly power cannot be "broadly or permanently harmful to the community." They cannot be broadly or permanently harmful
to the community for the simple reason that having failed to secure a monopoly they are unable to practice the extortions that monopoly makes possible, because they are still in a competitive struggle with the others engaged in the same industries. According to Mr. Moody's own statement, the failure to secure a monopoly was the very reason why the steamship-trust fell so far short of its possibilities as a trust. "It was obliged to operate from the start on a competitive basis," he says. And why was it compelled to operate from the start on a competitive basis, when the coal-trust, which neither does now, nor ever has owned all the coal-mines, was enabled to whip its competitors into line and compel them to maintain prices even if they continued to operate as individuals? Is it not possible that the fact that the coal-trust owned all the railroads leading from the mines had something to do with it? If the steamship-trust had owned the oceans over which its competitors wished to sail, is there any reason to suppose that its success would have been less signal than that of the coal-trust? Then why seek to convey the impression that a trust may be eminently successful without the possession of monopoly-power, when all the facts point irresistably to the conclusion that such a trust has "gone wrong," so to speak, and has been a disappointment to its promoters? There can be only two reasons for the formation of any trust, to make possible more economical production by eliminating the wastes of competition and to exercise the powers of monopoly and extortion that an absence of competition gives. And thus far, the evidence is all to the effect that the latter is the more potent consideration in bringing about mergers.
Proceeding next to the subject of governmental regulation or supervision of monopolies, it is necessary only to mention Mr. Moody's statement that the Socialists are in favor of such regulation or supervision and that the monopolists really want to be regulated. In a foot
note to Mr. Moody's article, the Editor of THE ARENA called attention to the wellknown fact that the Socialists look upon "regulation" as an utter delusion, while in an editorial were given some of the abundant reasons for believing that the monopolists are not in favor of the regulation of their monopolies by the government. The present writer does not fully agree with either gentleman on the latter point. He believes that on general principles, no monopolist wants to be regulated, either by the introduction of new competitors into his field, or by the government. But he also believes that in certain emergencies, regulation is not only welcomed but sought, as a means of escape from apparently impending evils that appear even more menacing than regulation. It is sometimes safer to take the chances on regulation and name the regulator" at Washington, than it is to keep before the legislatures of forty-five states the temptation to do the regulating themselves.
In discussing the present agitation for the governmental regulation of monopoly, Mr. Moody makes the point, and we think quite correctly, that monopoly can no more be eliminated by restrictive and regulating legislation "than the sunlight can be regulated by statute law." Paradoxical as it may seem, trace monopoly back to its origin and it is to be found in unrestricted competition. Unrestricted competition was possible so long as the machinery of production was inadequate to supply the demands of the people for the things produced. New plants were being erected to fill these demands and there was thus an opportunity for competition without the annihilation of the competitors. Competition was not fierce. But there came a day when the capitalists realized that too many plants and too much machinery had been brought into being; that the tendency was toward "over-production" and the periodical industrial depressions that accompany the inability of the manufacturers to find markets for their goods. And when that
day came, the era of the trust dawned. Instead of building more machinery with which to intensify competition, capitalists engaged in the same line of industry sought to pool their interests, close such of their superfluous plants as were not needed to supply the trade, and fight anyone else who wanted to build more. All of these things were done because the installation of more than enough plants to keep pace with the people's ability to buy their products had brought about a ferocity of competition that made production wasteful and profits infinitesimal. Thus was the trust born out of necessity-the necessity of killing death-dealing competition and supplanting it with life-giving coöperation; and having been born, the trust magntes, Yankee-like, at once proceeded to make a virtue out of necessity by putting to the fullest use their newfound powers of extortion that came to them through monopoly when competition died. The line of reasoning is therefore this: Unrestricted competition is no longer industrially possible; coöperation is the next step in industrial evolution, and being the law of nature, cannot be repealed by the act of an earthly legislature.
Now if the principle of industrial cooperation be accepted and the great capitalists themselves are the most emphatic defenders of this principle-the only question is whether the coöperation shall be by a few for the benefit of those few at the expense of all or whether it shall be cooperation by all at the expense of none for the benefit of all. We now have in the trusts the first kind of coöperation, for the simple reason that industrial evolution has made competition impossible and in enforcing coöperation has created a situation-new and not understood by the people that has given the private coöperators an opportunity to practice the extortion powers of monopoly until such time as the people shall understand the beneficent character of coöperation and apply its possibilities to their own Monopoly-power arising naturally
and inevitably through the enforced abandonment of competition, Socialists contend that the only question that is worth while to discuss in this connection is not whether we shall attempt the impossible by trying to make men compete at a loss, but how can we make coöperation, which we have and cannot escape, a public benefit instead of a public curse for the enrichment of a private few? Plainly, they say, the course is to supplant the private coöperators, who by virtue of their opportunities as monopolists become extortioners, with public coöperators in whose hands monopoly would not be an evil, since monopoly is not to be feared-notwithstanding Mr. Moodyunless it be used for extortion; and public monopolists could not use monopoly for extortion, for the simple reason that there would be no advantage in the people trying to extort money from themselves. In other words, the Socialist plan is to have all industry owned and managed by the people through the government for the benefit of all the people, with all products sold at the cost of manufacture and no profits for any private capitalist.
But this cannot be done, says Mr. Moody. In a qualified manner he expresses the opinion that governmental ownership of railroads would be of benefit to the people, but he balks at governmental ownership of the coal-mines, for instance, on the ground that the monopolists would certainly control the government and thus fry the fat out of the people in a different way.
"They (the monopolists) do not worry much about the programme of the Socialists," says Mr. Moody. What the moopolist thinks of Mr. Moody's remedy of the initiative and referendum, combined with the Single-Tax, is difficult to discover from his article, for in the same paragraph he says that the referendum "will be ridiculed, cried down and poohpoohed by every monopolist," while four lines later he says that "Propose the referendum plan and he (the monopolist) is up in arms at once." Now while I do
not quite understand how the monopolist could have such instantaneous and widely conflicting emotions immediately upon the mentioning of Mr. Moody's plan of the initiative and referendum, it is the opinion of the writer that the monopolist is in fact thoroughly alarmed at the proposal of either the Socialist plan or the initiative and referendum plan. In fact, every well-informed capitalist knows that the initiative and referendum plan is an integral part of the Socialist plan; that it is in every Socialist platform, together with the demand for the right to exercise the imperative mandate; and that every Socialist speaker emphasizes the fact that governmental ownership is of no value if the government is to continue to be dominated by the great capitalists and not by the people; as he also knows that in this connection, Socialist speakers always instance the case of Russia where there is governmental ownership of the railroads, which is of no value to the people because the people do not control the government. But to get back to Mr. Moody's plan of the initiative and referendum.
"This is the first thing," he says, "and until this is done, nothing is done. This
puts the power to do in the hands of the people as nothing else ever can. Then, briefly, having once gotten the actual power to do, let the community not seek to pre
serve, conserve or cherish this element of monopoly, but rather seek measures to eliminate and wipe it out. The Socialist thinks you cannot do this; but the Socialist does not know, he only thinks."
The italicised words show plainly that Mr. Moody has no doubt of the ability of the people to wrest control of the government from the monopolists if they be given the initiative and referendum. In this every Socialist will agree with him, because every Socialist is preaching the same doctrine every day. But if this much be admitted, what becomes of Mr. Moody's objections to the Socialist plan of the public-ownership of all capital? He admits that he believes the public
ownership of railroads to be correct in principle, but objects to the public-ownership of coal-mines and other industries on the ground that the monopolists would control the government and use their control for their own benefit and against the welfare of the people? How could they do it, when the Socialists have long advocated the initiative and referendum, which Mr. Moody says would leave the monopolists shorn of all political power and "put the power to do in the hands of the people as nothing else ever can"? Either the initiative and referendum would not be as powerful as Mr. Moody believes it is, and as we Socialists believe it is, or else it becomes necessary for him to discover new objections to Socialism if he wishes to continue to oppose it.
If Mr. Moody's logic be faulty, as the present writer believes it to be, his errors unquestionably arise from his desire to eliminate monopoly"-to destroy it. And his error in this respect plainly arises from a confusion of terms. We submit that monopoly, in itself, is beneficial to the public and not harmful. It is the power of extortion that may be derived from private monopoly that is a menace to the public interests. Monopoly, in itself, means merely absence of competition. nation of the tremendous wastes of comAbsence of competition means the elimipetition and the effecting of the numerous economies that may be brought about by would be of benefit to the public if the means of coöperation. All of these things public were the monopolists and in a position to buy their commodities more cheaply. Yet these beneficent effects of coöperation become a positive injury to the public when the economies of cooperation are not only appropriated by private coöperators, but additional sums are also extorted through the exercise of the powers of extortion made possible by the existence of private monopoly.
Is it not clear, then, that it is the extortion made possible by private monopoly and not the monopoly itself that is harmful to the public? Mr. Moody says: “The
Socialist thinks you cannot eliminate monopoly; but the Socialist does not know, he only thinks." Wrong again. The Socialist does not think anything of the kind. On the contrary, he knows that it is within the range of human possibilities to "eliminate" almost anything except the earth, the air and the surrounding planets. Civilization itself can even be "eliminated"; it has been done before now, and it is therefore not an impossible thing to eliminate monopoly. But why should we want to eliminate monopoly, when it is only extortion that we want to kill? Why should we try to force men who say they can not do business on a competitive basis to return to it, when the facts plainly show that the time for competition is past? At the present development of industry it is a wasteful, suicidal, cut-throat method. Yet it is Mr. Moody's method, as it must be the method of everyone who would free the people of the effects of an extortion born of the power of private monopoly without adopt
THE WHIPPING-POST FOR WIFE-BEATERS.
BY R. W SHufeldt, M.D,
ECENTLY there has appeared in several of the New York daily newspapers the statement that there are at the present time some sixty thousand wives in that city who have been deserted by their husbands, and that, owing to this state of affairs, there are no fewer than one hundred thousand children who are at this moment lacking all parental support.
Apart from all sentimental aspects that may attach to this truly unprecedented record, if it be really true, its causes are deserving of the closest study on the part of students of human nature, mankind, and sociology. This is all the more important when one comes to consider the
ing the Socialist plan of making all monopolies public monopolies and thus preserving their good features while destroying the possibilities for wrong use in private hands.
Yet the present writer can understand how Mr. Moody holds his acknowledged views. The same views are held by many men of the highest intelligence who need yield to no others in their love for their kind and their desire for their highest welfare. But the circumstance that is not so easy to understand is how a man of Mr. Moody's acknowledged standing as an expert on certain economic matters could err so grievously and so often in attempting to define the attitude of the Socialist party-a party that is worldwide in its scope, universal in its cardinal principles, millions strong in its adherents and a persistent circulator of hundreds of tons of pamphlets declaring that it does not advocate the things that Mr. Moody says it advocates. ALLAN L. BENSON. Detroit, Mich.
number of divorce trials in this same community which annually terminate in the dissolution of the bonds of marriage in the case of married couples. They, too, run far into the hundreds and perhaps thousands, and are calculated to lead any thoughtful and well-informed person to believe that there must be something radically wrong in the whole scheme of our marital relations, and, indeed, the entire institution of monogamic marriage. For, be it known, these desertions, be the case one of a man deserting his wife or vice versa, and these divorces, are by no means restricted to any particular plane of society, as they occur among people in all conditions of life.