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H { 
, M3 ? 



Dp:liveked before the Democratic Club, Brussels, Bel- 
gium, Jan. 9, 1848 

With Extract from La Mis£:re dk la Fhilosophib 



Translated into English 



With Preface 



BOSTON 1888 


718 AND 720 Broadway 

Copyright 1888 
By Lee and Shepard 



Towards the end of 1847, a Free Trade Congress 
Avas held at Brussels. It was a strategic move in the 
Free Trade campaign then carried on by the English 
manufacturers. Victorious at home, by the repeal of 
the Corn Laws in 1846, they now invaded the conti- 
nent in order to demand, in return for the free admis- 
sion of continental corn into England, the free 
admission of English manufactured goods to the con- 
tinental markets. At this Congress, Marx inscribed 
himself on the list of speakers ; but, as might have 
been expected, things were so managed that before 
his turn came on, the Congress was closed. Thus, 
what Marx had to say on the Free Trade question, he 
was compelled to say before the Democratic Associa- 
tion of Brussels, an international body of which he was 
one of the vice-presidents. 

The question of Free Trade or Protection being at ' 
present on the order of the day in America, it has been 
thought useful to publish an English translation of 
Marx' speech', to which I have been asked to write an 
introductory preface. 

" The systiem of protection," says Marx,* " was an 
artificial means of manufacturing manufacturers, of ex- 
propriating independent laborers, of capitalizing the 
national means of production and subsistence, and of 

1 Karl Marx, Capital London: Swan Sonnenschein Co., 1886; p. 




forcibly abbreviating the transition from the mediaeval 
* to tiie modern mode of production." Such was protec- 
tion at its origin in the seventeenth century, such it 
remained well into the nineteenth century. It was 
then held to be the normal policy of every civilized 
state in western Europe. The only exceptions were 
the smaller states of Germany and Switzerland — not 
from dislike of the system, but from the impossibility 
of applying it to such small territories. 

It was under the fostering wing of protection that 
the system of modern industry — production by steam- 
moved machiner}'- — was hatched and developed in 
England during the last third of the eighteenth cen- 
tyry. And, as if tariff-protection was not sufficient, 
the wars against the French Revolution helped to 
secure to England the monopoly of the new indus- 
trial methods. For more than twenty years English 
men-of-war cut off the industrial rivals of England 
from their respective colonial markets, while they 
forcibly opened these markets to English commerce. 
The secession of the South American colonies from the 
rule of their European mother-countries, the conquest 
by England of all French and Dutch colonies worth 
having, the progressive subjugation of India, turned the 
people of all these immenss territories into customers 
for English goods. England thus supplemented the 
protection she practised at home, by the Free Trade 
she forced upon her possible customers abroad; and, 
thanks to this happy mixture of both systems, at 
the end of the wars, in 1815, she found herself, with 
regard to all important branches of industry, in 
possession of the virtual monopoly of the tradfs of the 

This monopoly was further extended and strength- 
ened during the ensuing years of peace. The start 


which England had obtained during the war, was in- 
creased from year to year ; she seemed to distance more 
and more all her possible rivals. The exports of man - * 
ufactured goods in ever growing quantities became 
indeed a question of life and death to that country. 
And there seemed but two obstacles in the way : the 
prohibitive or protective legislation of other countries, 
and the taxes upon the import of raw materials and 
articles of food in England. 

Then the Free Trade doctrines of classical political 
economy — of the French physiocrats and their Eng- 
lish successors, Adam Smith and Ricardo — became 
popular in the land of John Bull. Protection at home 
was needless to manufacturers who beat all their 
foreign rivals, and whose very existence was staked on 
the expansion of their exports. Protection at home 
was of advantage to none but the producers of arti- 
cles of food and other raw materials, to the agricultural 
interest, which, under then existing circumstances in 
England, meant the receivers of rent, the landed aris- 
tocracy. And this kind of protection was hurtful to 
the manufacturers. By taxing raw materials it raised , 
the price of the articles manufactured from them ; by 
taxing food, it raised the price of labor ; in both ways, 
it placed the British manufacturer at a disadvantage 
as compared with his foreign competitor. And, as all 
other countries sent to England chiefly agricultural 
products, and drew from England chiefly manufactured 
goods, repeal of the English protective duties on corn 
and raw materials generally, was at the same time an 
appeal to foreign countries, to do away with, or at 
least, to reduce, in return, the import duties levied by • 
them on English manufactures. 

After a long and violent struggle, the English indus- 
trial capitalists, already in reality the leading class of 


the nation, that class whose interests were then the chief 
national interests, were victorious. The landed aris- 
. tocracy had to give in. The duties on corn and other 
raw materials were repealed. Free Trade became the 
watchword of the day. To convert all other countries 
to the gospel of Free Trade, and thus to create a 
world in which England was the great manufacturing 
centre, with all other countries for its dependent agri- 
cultural districts, that was the next task before the 
English manufacturers and their moutlipieces, the 
political economists. 

That was the time of the Brussels Congress, the 
time when Marx prepared the speech in question. 
/^Vhile recognizing that protection may still, under 
certain circumstances, for instance in the Germany 
' of 1847, be of advantage to the manufacturing capi- 
' talists ; while proving that Free Trade was not the 
panacea for all the evils under which the working class 
suffered, and might even aggravate tliem ; he pro- 
nounces, ultimately and on principle, in favor of Free 
Trade, "^o him. Free Trade is the normal condition 
of modern capitalistic production. "^Only under Free 
Trade can the immense productive powers of steam, of 
electricity, of machinery, be fully developed ; and the 
quicker the pace of this development, the sooner and 
the more fully will be realized its inevitable results :^ 
society splits up into two classes, capitalists here, wage- 
laborers there ; hereditary wealth on one side, heredi- 
tary poverty on the other ; supply outstripping 
demand, the markets being unable to absorb the ever 
growing mass of the productions of industry ; an ever 
recurring cycle of prosperity, glut, crisis, panic, chronic 
depression and gradual revival of trade, the harbinger 
not of permanent improvement but of renewed over- 
production and crisis; in short, productive forces 



expanding to such a degree that they rebel, as against 
unbearable fetters, against the social institutions under 
which they are put in motion ; the only possible solu- 
tion : a social revolution, freeing the social productive 
forces from the fetters of an antiquated social order, and 
the actual producers, the great mass of the people, from 
wage-slavery, •^nd because Free Trade is the natu- 
ral, the normal atmosphere for this historical evolu- 
tion, the economic medium in which the conditions for 
the inevitable social revolution will be the soonest 
created, — for this reason, and for this alone, did Marx 
declare in favor of Free Trade. 

Anyhow, the yeats immediately following the victory 
of Free Trade in England seemed to verify the most ex- 
travagant expectations of prosperity founded upon that 
event. British commerce rose to a fabulous amount ; 
the industrial monopoly of England on the market of 
the world seemed more firmly established than ever ; 
new iron works, new textile factories arose by whole- 
sale ; new branches of industry grew up on every side. 
There was, indeed, a severe crisis in 1857, but that was 
overcome, and the onward movement in trade and 
manufactures soon was in full swing again, until in 
1866 a fresh panic occurred, a panic, this time, which 
seems to mark a new departure in the economic his- 
tory of the world. 

The unparalleled expansion of British manufactures 
and commerce between 1848 and 1866 was no doubt 
due, to a great extent, to the removal of the protective 
duties on food and raw materials. But not entirely. 
Other important changes took place simultaneously 
and helped it on. The above years comprise the dis- 
covery and working of the Californian and Australian 
gold fields which increased so immensely the circulat- 
ing medium of the world ; they mark the final victory 



o'f steam over all other means of transport ; on the 
ocean, steamers now superseded sailing vessels ; on 
land, in all civilized countries, the railroad took the 
first place, the macadamized road the second ; trans- 
port now became four times quicker and four times 
cheaper. No wonder that under such favorable cir- 
cumstances British manufactures worked by steam 
should extend their sway at the expense of foreign 
domestic industries based upon manual labor. But 
were the other countries to sit still and to submit in 
humility to this change, which degraded them to be 
mere agricultural appendages of England, the " work- 
shop of the world " ? 
< The foreign countries did nothing of the kind. 
France, for nearly two hundred years, had screened her 
manufactures behind a perfect Chinese wall of protec- 
tion and prohibition, and had attained in all articles of 
luxury and of taste a supremacy which England did 
not even pretend to dispute. Switzerland, under per- 
fect Free Trade, possessed relatively important manu- 
factures which English competition could not touch. 
Germany, with a tariff far more liberal than that of 
any other large continental country, was developing 
its manufactures at a rate relatively more rapid than 
even England. And America was, by the civil war of 
1861, all at once thrown upon her own resources, had to 
find means how to meet a sudden demand for manufac- 
tured goods of all sorts, and could only do so by creat- 
ing manufactures of her own at home. The war 
demand ceased with the war ; but the new manufac- 
tures were there, and had to meet British competition. 
And the war had ripened, in America, the insight that 
a nation of thirty-five millions, doubling its numbers 
in forty years at most, with such immense resources, 
and surrounded by neighbors that must be for years 



to come chiefly agriculturalists, that such a natio.n had 
the " manifest destiny " to be independent of foreign 
manufactures for its chief articles of consumption, 
and to be so in time of peace as well as in time of war. 
And then America turned protectionist. 

It may now be fifteen years ago, I travelled in a rail- 
way carriage with an intelligent Glasgow merchant, 
interested, probabl}^ in the iron trade. Talking about 
America, he treated me to the old Free Trade lucubra- 
tions : "Was it not inconceivable that a nation of sharp , 
business men like the Americans should pay tribute to 
indigenous iron masters and manufacturers, when they 
could buy the same, if not a better article, ever so much 
cheaper in this country?" And then he gave me ex- 
amples as to how much the Americans taxed themselves 
in order to enrich a few greedy iron masters. " Well," 
I replied, "I think there is another side to the ques- 
tion. You know that in coal, water-power, iron and 
other ores, cheap food, home-grown cotton and other 
raw materials, America has* resources and advantages 
unequalled by any European country ; and that these 
resources cannot be fully developed except by America 
becoming a manufacturing country. You will admit, 
too, that nowadays a great nation like the Americans 
cannot exist on agriculture alone ; that that would be 
tantamount to a condemnation to permanent barbarism 
and inferiority ; no great nation can live, in our age, 
without manufactures of her own. Well, then, if 
America must become a manufacturing country, and if 
she has every chance of not only succeeding, but*even 
outstripping her rivals, there are two ways open to her : 
either to carry on, for let us say fifty years, under Free 
Trade an extremely expensive competitive war against 
English manufactures that have got nearly a hundred 
years' start ; or else to shut out, by protective duties, 



English manufactures, for say twenty-five years, with 
the almost absolute certainty that at the end of the 
twenty-five yeiirs she will be able to hold her own in 
the open market of the world. Which of the two will 
be the cheapest and the shortest? That is the question. 
If you want to go from Glasgow to London, you can 
take the parliamentary train at a penny a mile and 
travel at the rate of twelve miles an hour. But you do 
not ; your time is too valuable, you take the express, 
pay twopence a mile and do forty miles an hour. Very 
well, the Americans prefer to pay express fare and to 
go express speed." My Scotch Free Trader had not a 
word in reply. 

'* Protection, being a means of artificially manufactur- 
ing manufacturers^' may, therefore, appear useful not 
only to an incompletely developed capitalist class still 
struggling with feudalism ; it may also give a lift to 
the rising capitalist class of a country which, like Amer- 
ica, has never known feudalism, but which has arrived 
at that stage of development where the passage from 
agriculture to manufactures becomes a necessity. 
America, placed in that situation, decided in favor of 
protection. Since that decision was carried out, the 
five and twenty years of which I spoke to my fellow- . 
traveller have about passed, and, if I was not wrong, 
protection ought to have done its task for America, and 
ought to be now becoming a nuisance. 

That has been my opinion for some time. Nearly 
two years ago, I said to a protectionist American : " I 
am convinced that if America goes in for Free Trade 
she will in ten years have beaten England in the 
market of the world." 

Protection is at best an endless screw, and you never 
know when you have done with it. By protecting one 
industry, you directly or indirectly hurt all others, and 



have therefore to protect them too. By so doing you 
again damage the industry that you first protected, and 
have to compensate it ; but this compensation reacts, as 
before, on all other trades, and entitles them to redress, 
and so on in infinitum. J America^ in this respect, offers 
us a striking example of the best way to kill an impor- 
tant industry by protection. In 1856, the total im- 
ports and exports by sea of the United States 
amounted to $641,604,850, of this amount, 75.2 per 
cent, were carried in American, and only 24.8 per cent, 
in foreign vessels. British ocean-steamers were already 
then encroaching upon American sailing vessels ; yet, 
in 1860, of a total sea-going trade of $762,288,550, 
American vessels still carried 66.5 per cent. The civil 
war came on, and protection to American ship-building ; 
and the latter plan was so successful that it has nearly 
completely driven the American flag from the "high 
seas. In 1887 the total sea-going trade of the United 
States amounted to $1,408^02,979 ; but of this total 
only 13.80 per cent, were carried in American, and 86.20 
per cent, in foreign bottoms. The goods carried by 
American ships amounted, in 1856, to $482,268,274; in 
1860 to $507,247,757. In 1887 they had sunk to 
$194,356,746.^ Forty years ago, the American flag was 
the most dangerous rival of the British flag, and bade 
fair to outstrip it on the ocean ; now it is nowhere. 
Protection to ship-building has killed both shipping 
and ship-building. 

Another point. Improvements in the methods of 
production nowadays follow each other so rapidly, and 
change the character of entire branches of industry so 
suddenly and so completely, that what may have been 
yesterday a fairly balanced protective tariff is no 

1 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, etc., for the 
year 1887. Washington: 1887 ; pp. xxviii., xxix. 


longer so to-day. Let us take another example from 
the Report of the Secretary of the Treasury for 1887 : 

" Improvement in recent years in the machinery 
employed in combing wool has so changed the charac- 
ter of what are commercially known as worsted cloths 
that the latter have largely superseded woollen cloths 
for use as men's wearing apparel. This change . . . 
has operated to the serious injury of our domestic manu- 
facturers of these (worsted) goods, because the duty 
on the wool which they must use is the same as that 
upon wool used in making woollen cloths, while the rates 
of duty imposed upon the latter when valued at not ex- 
ceeding 80 cents per pound are 35 cents per pound and 
35 per cent, ad valorem, whereas the duty on worsted 
cloths valued at not exceeding 80 cents ranges from 10 
to 24 cents per pound and 35 per cent, ad valorem. In 
some cases the duty on the wool used in making worsted 
cloths exceeds the duty imposed on the finished article,^'* 
Thus what was protection to home industry yesterday, 
turns out tq-day to be a premium to the foreign im- 
porter; and well may the Secretary of the Treasury say: 
"There is much reason to believe that the manufacture 
of worsted cloths must soon cease in this country unless 
the tariff law in this regard is amended " (p. xix.). 
But to amend it, you will have to fight the manufac- 
turers of woollen cloths who profit by this state of 
things ; you will have to open a regular campaign to 
bring the majority of both Houses of Congress, and 
eventually the public opinion of the country, round to 
your views, and the question is. Will that pay ? 
f But the worst of protection is, that when you 
once have got it you cannot easily get rid of it. Diffi- 
cult as is the process of adjustment of an equitable 
tariff, the return to Free Trade is immensely more 
difficult.*^ The circumstances which permitted England 



to accomplish the change in a few years, will not occur 
again. And even there the struggle dated from 1823 
(Huskisson), commenced to be successful in 1842 
(Peel's tariff), and was continued for several years 
after the repeal of the Corn Laws. Thus protection 
to the silk manufacture (the only one which had still 
to fear foreign competition) was prolonged for a series of 
years and then granted in another, positively infamous 
form ; while the other textile industries were subjected 
to the Factory Act, which limited the hours of labor of 
women, young persons and children, the silk trade was 
favored with considerable exceptions to the general 
rule, enabling them to work younger children, and to 
work the children and young persons longer hours, 
than the other textile trades. The monopoly that the 
hypocritical Free Traders repealed with regard to the 
foreign competitors, that monopoly they created anew 
at the expense of the health and lives of English chil- 

But no country will again be able to pass from Pro- 
tection to Free Trade at a time when all, or nearly all 
branches of its manufactures can defy foreign competi- 
tion in the open market. The necessity of the change 
will come long before such a happy state may be even 
hoped for. That necessity will make itself evident in 
different trades at different times ; and from the con- 
flicting interests of these trades, the most edifying 
squabbles, lobby intrigues, and parliamentary conspira- 
cies will arise. The machinist, engineer, and ship- 
builder may find that the protection granted to the 
iron master raises the price of his goods so much that 
his export trade is thereby, and thereby alone, pre- 
vented; the cotton-cloth manufacturer might see his 
way to driving English cloth out of the Chinese 
and Indian markets, but for the high price he has to 



pay for the yarn, on account of protection to spinners ; 
■ and so forth. The moment a branch of national industry 
' has completely" conquered the home market, that mo- 
ment exportation becomes a necessity to it. Under 
capitalistic conditions, an industry either expands or 
wanes. A trade cannot remain stationary; stoppage 
of expansion is incipient ruin; the progress of mechani- 
cal and chemical invention, by constantly superseding 
human labor, and ever more rapidly increasing and 
concentrating capital, creates in every stagnant indus- 
try a glut both of workers and of capital, a glut which 
finds no vent everywliere, because the same process is 
taking place in all other industries. Thus tlie passage 
from a home to an export trade becomes a question of 
life and death for the industries concerned ; but they 
are met by the established rights, the vested interests of 
others who as yet find protection either safer or more 
profitable than Free Trade. Then ensues a long and 
obstinate fight between Free Traders and Protection- 
ists ; a fight where, on both sides, the leadership soon 
passes out of the hands of the people directly in- 
terested into those of professional politicians, the wire- 
pullers of the traditional political parties, whose interest 
is, not a settlement of the question, but its being kept, 
open forever; and the result of an immense loss of 
time, energy, and money is a series of compromises, 
favoring now one, now the other side, and drifting 
slowly though not majestically in the direction of 
Free Trade — unless Protection manages, in the mean- 
time, to make itself utterly insupportable to the nation, 
which is just now likely to be the case in America. 
, There is, however, another kind of protection, the 
worst of all, and that is exhibited in Germany. Ger- 
many, too, began to feel, soon after 1815, the neces- 
sity of a quicker development of her manufactures. 



But the first condition of that was the creation of a 
home market by the removal of the innumerable cus- 
toms lines and varieties of fiscal legislation formed by 
the small German states, in other words, the formation 
of a German- Customs Union or ZoUverein. That could 
only be done on the basis of a liberal tariff, calculated 
rather to raise a common revenue than to protect home 
production. On no other condition could the small 
states have been induced to join. ^Thus the new Ger- 
man tariff, though slightly protective to some trades, 
. was, at the time of its introduction, a model of Free 
Trade legislation ; and it remained so, although, ever 
since 1830, the majority of German manufacturers kept 
clamoring for protection. Yet, under this extremely 
liberal tariff, and in spite of German domestic industries 
based on hand-labor being mercilessly crushed out by 
the competition of English factories worked by steam, 
the transition from manual labor to machinery was 
gradually accomplished in Germany too, and is now 
nearly complete ; the transformation of Germany from 
an agricultural to a manufacturing country went on 
at the same pace, and was, since 1866, assisted by 
favorable political events : the establishment of a strong 
central government, and federal legislature, ensuring 
uniformity in the laws regulating trade, as well as in* 
currency, weights and measures, and, finally, the flood 
of the French milliards. \ Thus, about 1874, German 
trade on the market of the world ranked next to that 
of Great Britain,^ and Germany employed more steam 
power in manufactures and locomotion than any Euro- 
pean Continental country. The proof has thus been 
furnished that even nowadays, in spite of the enormous 

1 General Trade of Exports and Imports added in 1874, in millions 
of dollars ; Great Britain — 8300 ; Germany — 2325 ; France — 1665 ; 
United States— 1245 millions of dollars. (Kolb, Statistik, 7th edit. 
Leipsic ; 1875 ; p. 790.) 


start that English industry has got, a large country can 
work its way up to successful competition, in the open 
market, with England. 

Then, all at once, a change of front was made?" Ger- 
many turned protectionist, at a moment when more 
than ever Free Trade seemed a necessity for her. The 
change was no doubt absurd ; but it may be explained. 
While Germany had been a corn-exporting country, 
the whole agricultural interest, not less than the whole 
shipping trade, had been ardent Free Traders. But in 
1874, instead of exporting, Germany required large 
supplies of corn from abroad. About that time, Amer- 
ica began to flood Europe with enormous supplies of 
cheap corn ; wherever they went, they brought down 
the money revenue yielded by the land, and conse- 
quently its rent ; and from that moment, the agricultural 
interest, all over Europe, began to clamor for protection. 

^ At the same time, manufacturers in Germany were 
suffering from the effect of the reckless overtrading 
brought on by the influx of the French milliards, while 
England, whose trade, ever since the crisis of 1866, had 
been in a state of chronic depression, inundated all ac- 
cessible markets with goods unsalable at home and 
offered abroad at ruinously low prices. Thus it hap- 
pened that German manufacturers, though depending, 
above all, upon export, began to see in protection a 

^ means of securing to themselves the exclusive supply 
of the home market. And the government, entirely in 
the hands of the landed aristocracy and squirearchy, 
was only too glad to profit by this circumstance, in 
order to benefit the receivers of the rent of land, by 
offering protective duties to both landlords, and manu- 
facturers. I In 1878, a highly protective tariff was 
enacted both for agricultural products and for manu- 
factured goods. 



") The consequence was that henceforth the exporta- 
tion of German manufactures was carried on at the 
direct cost of the home consumers^ Wherever possi- 
ble, "rings " or " trusts " were formed to regulate the 
export trade and even production itself. Tlie German 
iron trade is in the hands of a few large firms, mostly- 
joint stock companies, who, betwixt them, can pro- 
duce about four times as much iron as the average 
consumption of the country can absorb. To avdid un- 
necessary competition with one another, these firms 
have formed a trust which divides amongst them all 
foreign contracts, and determines in each case the 
firm that is to make the real tender. This "trust,'' 
some years ago, had even come to an agreement with 
the English iron masters, but this no longer subsists. 
Similarly, the Westphalian coal mines (producing 
about thirty million tons annually) had formed a trust 
to regulate production, tenders for contracts, and prices. 

, And, altogether, any German manufacturer will tell 
you that the only thing the protective duties do for 
him is to enable him to recoup himself in the home 
market for the ruinous prices he has to take abroad. 
And this is not all. This absurd system of protection 
to manufacturers is nothing but the sop thrown to 
industrial capitalists to induce them to support a still 
more outrageous monopoly given to the landed inter- 
est. Not only is all agricultural produce subjected to 
heavy import duties which are increased from year to 
year, but certain rural industries, carried on on large 
estates for account of the proprietor, are positively 
endowed out of the public purse. The beet-root sugar 
manufacture is not only protected, but receives enor- 
mous sums in the shape of export premiums. One 
who ought to know is of opinion that if the exported 
sugar was all thrown into the sea, the manufacturer 



would still clear a profit out of the government pre- 
mium. Similarly, the potato-spirit distilleries receive, 
in consequence of recent legislation, a present, out of 
the pockets of the public, of about nine million dollars 
a year. And as almost every large land-owner in 
Northeastern Germany is either a beet-root sugar manu- 
facturer or a potato-spirit distiller, or both, no wonder 
the world is literally deluged with their productions. 

This policy, ruinous under any circumstances, is 
doubly so in a country whose manufactures keep up 
their standing in neutral markets chiefly through the 
cheapness of labor. Wages in Germany, kept near 
starvation point at the best of times, through redun- 
dancy of population (which increases rapidly, in spite 
of emigration), must rise in consequence of the rise in 
all necessaries caused by protection ; the German 
manufacturer will, then, no longer be able, as he too 
often is now, to make up for a ruinous price of his arti- 
cles by a deduction from the normal wages of his 
hands, and will be driven out of the market. \/Protec- 
tion, in Germany, is killing the goose that lays the 
gojden eggs. 

✓ France, too, suffers from the consequences of protec- 
tion. The system, in that country, has become, by its 
two centuries of undisputed sway, almost part and 
parcel of the life of the nation. Nevertheless, it is 
more and more becoming an obstacle. Constant 
changes in the methods of manufacture are the order 
of the day ; but protection bars the road. Silk velvets 
have their backs nowadays made of fine cotton 
thread ; the French manufacturer has either to pay 
protection price for that, or to submit to such inter- 
minable official chicanery as fully makes up for the 
difference between that price and the government 
drawback on exportation ; and so the velvet trade 



goes from Lyons to Crefeld, where the protection price 
for fine cotton thread is considerably lower. French 
exports, as said before, consist chiefly of articles of 
luxury, where French taste cannot, as yet, be beaten ; 
but the chief consumers, all over the world, of such 
articles are our modern upstart capitalists who have 
no education and no taste, and who are suited quite as 
well by cheap and clumsy German or English imita- 
tions, and often have these foisted upon them for the 
real French article at more than fancy prices. The 
market for those specialties which cannot be made out 
of France is constantly getting narrower, French ex- 
ports of manufactures are barely kept up, and must 
soon decline ; by what new articles can. France replace 
those whose export is dying out? If anything can 
help here, it is a bold measure of Free Trade, taking 
the French manufacturer out of his accustomed hot- 
house atmosphere and placing him once more in the 
open air of competition with foreign rivals. •^Indeed, 
French general trade would have long since begun 
shrinking, were it not for the slight and vacillating 
step in the direction of Free Trade made by the Cobden 
treaty of 1860 ; but that has well-nigh exhausted 
itself and a stronger dose of the same tonic is wanted. 

It is hardly worth while to speak of Russia. There, 
the protective tariff — the duties having to be paid in 
gold, instead of in the depreciated paper currency ol 
the country — serves above all things to supply the 
pauper government with the hard cash indispensable 
for transactions with foreign creditors ; on the very day 
on which that tariff* fulfils its protective mission by 
totally excluding foreign goods, on that day the Rus* 
sian government is bankrupt. And yet that same gov- 
ernment amuses its subjects by dangling before their 
eyes the prospect of making Russia, by means of this 



tariff, an entirely self-supplying country, requiring 
from the foreigner neither food, nor raw material, nor 
manufactured articles, nor works of art. The people 
who . believe in this vision of a Russian Empire, se- 
cluded and isolated from the rest of the world, are on 
a level with the patriotic Prussian lieutenant who went 
into a shop and asked for a globe, not a terrestrial or a 
celestial one, but a globe of Prussia. 

To return to America. There are plenty of sj'^mp- 
toms that Protection has done all it could for the 
United States, and that the sooner it receives notice to 
quit, the better for all parties^ One of these symptoms 
is the formation of " rings " and " trusts " within the 
protected industries for the more thorough exploitation 
of the monopoly granted to them. Now, "rings " and 
" trusts " are truly American institutions, and, where 
they exploit natural advantages, they are generally, 
though grumblingly, submitted to. The transformation 
of the Pennsylvanian oil supply into a monopoly by 
the Standard Oil Company is a proceeding entirely in 
keeping with the rules of capitalist production. But if 
the sugar-refiners attempt to transform the protection 
granted them, by the nation, against foreign competi- 
tion, into a monopoly against the home consumer, that 
is to say against the same nation that granted the pro- 
tection, that is quite a different thing. Yet the large 
sugar-refiners have formed a "trust" which aims at 
nothing else. And the sugar trust is not the only one 
of its kind. Now, the formation of such trusts in pro- 
tected industries is the surest sign that protection has 
done its work, and is changing its character ; that it 
protects the manufacturer no longer against the foreign 
importer, but against the home consumer; that it 
has manufactured, at least in the special branch con- 
cerned, quite enough, if not too many manufacturers ; 



that the money it puts into the purse of these manu- 
facturers is money thrown away, exactly as in Ger- 

In America, as elsewhere. Protection is bolstered up 
by the argument that Free Trade will only benefit Eng- 
land. The best proof to the contrary is tliat in Eng- 
land not only the agriculturists and landlords but even 
the manufacturers are turning protectionists. In the 
home of the " Manchester school " of Free Traders, on 
Nov. 1, 1886, the Manchester chamber of commerce 
discussed a resolution " that, having waited in vain 
forty years for other nations to follow the Free Trade 
example of England, the chamber thinks the time has 
arrived to reconsider that position." The resolution 
was indeed rejected, but by 22 votes against 21 ! And 
that happened in the centre of the cotton manufacture, 
i. e., the only branch of English manufacture whose 
superiority in the open market.seems still undisputed ! 
But, then, even in that special branch inventive genius 
has passed from England to America. The latest im- 
provements in machinery for spinning and weaving 
cotton have come, almost all, from America, and Man- 
chester has to ado^t them. In industrial inventions of 
all kindis America has distinctly taken the lead, while 
Germany runs England very close for second place. 
The consciousness is gaining ground in England that 
that country's industrial monopoly is irretrievably lost, 
that she is still relatively losing ground, while her 
rivals are making progress, and that she is drifting into 
a position where she will have to be content Avith being 
one manufacturing nation among many, instead of, as 
she once dreamt, " the workshop of the world." It 
is to stave off this impending fate that Protection, 
scarcely disguised under the veil of " fair trade " and 
retaliatory tarifl's, is nov/ invoked with such fervor by 


the sons of the very men wlio, forty yearSv ago, knew 
no salvation but in Free Trade. And when English 
manufacturers begin to find tliat Free Trade is ruining 
tliem, and ask the government to protect them against 
their foreign competitors, then, surely, the moment has 
come for these competitors to retaliate by throwing 
overboard a protective system henceforth useless, to 
fight the fading industrial monopoly of England with 
its own weapon, Free Trade. 

But, as I said before, you may easilj^ introduce Pro- 
tection, but you cannot get rid of it again so easily. 
The legislature, by adopting the protective plan, has 
created vast interests, for whicli it is responsible. And 
not every one of these interests ---the various branches 
of industry — is equally ready, at a given moment, to 
face open competition. Some will be lagging behind, 
while others have no longer need of protective nursing. 
This difference of position will give rise to the usual 
lobby-plotting, and is in itself a sure guarantee that 
the protected industries, if Free Trade is resolved 
upon, will be let down very easy indeed, as Avas the 
silk manufacture in England after 1846. That is una- 
voidable under present circumstancesf and will have to 
be submitted to by the Free Trade party so long as the 
change is resolved upon in principle. 

)The question of Free Trade or Protection moves 
entirely within the bounds of the present system of 
capitalist production, and lias, therefore, no direct 
interest for us Socialists who want to do away with 
that system. Indirectly, however, it interests us, inas- 
much as we must desire the present system of produc- 
tion to develop and expand as freely and as quickly as 
possible ; because along with it will develop also those 
economic phenomena which are its necessary conse- 
quences, and which must destroy the whole system: 



misery of the great raass of the people, in consequence of 
overproduction ; this overproduction engendering either 
periodical gluts and revulsions, accompanied by panic, 
or else a chronic stagnation of trade ; division of soci- 
^ety into a small class of large capitalists, and a large 
one of practically hereditarj'' wage-slaves, proletarians, 
who, while their numbers increase constantly, are at 
the same time constantly being superseded by new 
labor-saving machinery ; in short, society brought to a 
deadlock, out of »which there is no escaping but by a 
complete remodelling of the economic structure which 
forms its basis.7 From this point of view, forty years 
ago, Marx pronounced, in principle, in favor of Free 
Trade as the more progressive plan, and, therefore, the 
plan which would soonest bring capitalist society to 
that deadlock. But if Marx declared in favor of Free 
Trade on that ground, is that not a reason for every 
supporter of the present order of society to declare 
against Free Trade ? If Free Trade is stated to be 
revolutionary, must not all good citizens vote for Pro- 
tection as a conservative plan ? 

V^f a country nowadays accept Free Trade, it will 
certainly not do so to please the Socialists. It will do 
so because Free Trade has become a necessity for the 
industrial capitalists. But if it should reject Free 
Trade, and stick to Protection, in order to cheat the 
Socialists out of the expected social catastrophe, that 
will not hurt the prospects of Socialism in the least. 
Protection is a plan for artificially manufacturing manu- 
facturers, and therefore also a plan for artificially manu- 
facturing wage-laborers. You cannot breed the one 
without breeding the other. The wage-laborer every- 
where follows in the footsteps of the manufacturer ; he is 
like the " gloomy care " of Horace, that sits behind the 
rider, and that he cannot shake off wherever he go. You 



cannot escape fate ; in other words you cannot escape 
the necessary consequences of your own actions. A 
system of production based upon the exploitation of 
wage-labor, in which Avealth increases in proportion to 
the number of laborers eraplpyed and exploited, such a 
system is bound to increase the class of wage-laborers, 
that is to say, tlie class which is fated one day to 
destroy the system itself. In the meantime, there is no 
help for it : you must go on developing the capitalist 
system, you must accelerate the production, accumula- 
tion, and centralization of capitalist wealth, and, along 
with it, the production of a revolutionary class of 
laborers. yWhether you try the Protectionist or the 
Free Trade plan will make no difference in the end, 
and hardly any in the length of the respite left to you 
until the day when that end will come. For long 
before that day will protection have become an unbear- 
able shackle to any country aspiring, with a chance of 
success, to hold its own in the Avorld market. | 




Gentlemen, — The Repeal of the Corn Laws in 
England is the greatest triumph of Free Trade in the 
nineteenth century. In every country where manufac- 
turers discuss Free Trade, they have in mhid cliiefly 
Free Trade in corn or raw material generally. To bur- 
den foreign corn with protective duties is infamous, it 
is to speculate on the hunger of the people. ' 

Cheap food, high wages, for this alone tlie English 
Free Traders have spent millions, and their enthusiasm 
has already infected their Continental brethren. ^ And, 
generally speaking, all those who advocate Free Trade 
do so in the interests of the working class. / 

But, strange to say, the people for whom cheap food 
is to be procured at all costs are very ungrateful. 
Cheap food is as ill reputed in England as is cheap 
government in France. The people see in these self- 
sacrificing gentlemen, in Bowring, Bright & Co., their 
worst enemies and the most shameless hypocrites. 

Every one knows that in England the struggle be- 
tween Liberals and Democrats takes the name of the 
struggle between Free Traders and Chartists. Let us 
see how the English Free Traders have proved to the 
people the good intentions that animate them. 

This is what they said to the factory hands, — 

"The duty on corn is a tax upon wages; this tax you 
pay to the landlords, those mediaeval aristocrats ; if your 
position is a wretched one, it is so only on account of 
the high price of the most indispensable articles of food." 




Tlie workers in turn asked of tlie manufacturers, — 

" How is it that in the course of the last thirty years, 
while our commerce and manufacture has immensely 
increased, our wages have fallen far more rapidly, in 
proportion, than the price of corn has gone u[) ? 

" The tax Avhich you say we pay the landlords is 
about three pence a week per worker. And yet the 
wages of the hand-loom weaver fell, between 1815 and 
1843, from 28s. per week to 5s., and the wages of the 
power-loom weavers, between 1823 and 1843, from 208. 
per week to 8s. 

" And during the whole of the time that portion of 
the tax which 3'^ou say we pay the landlord has never 
exceeded three pence. And, then, in the year 1834, 
when bread was very cheap and business lively, what 
did you tell us ? You said, ' If you are poor, it is only 
because you have too many children, and your mar- 
riages are more productive than your labor ! ' 

" These are the very words you spoke to us, and you 
set about making new Poor Laws, and building work- 
houses, those bastilles of the proletariat." 

To this the manufacturers replied, — 

" You are right, worthy laborers : it is not the price 
of corn alone, but competition of the hands among 
themselves as well, which determines wages. 

" But just bear in mind the circumstance that our 
soil consists of rocks and sandbanks only. You surely 
do not imagine that corn can be grown in flower-pots ! 
If, instead of wasting our labor and capital upon a thor- 
oughly sterile soil, we were to give up agriculture, and 
devote ourselves exclusively to commerce and manufac- 
ture, all Europe Avould abandon its factories, and Eng- 
land would form one huge factory town, with the whole 
of the rest of Europe for its agricultural districts." 

While thus haranguing his own workingmen, the 



nianiifactiuer is interrogated by the small tradesmen, 
who exclaim, — 

"If we repeal the Corn Laws, we shall indeed ruin 
agriculture ; but, for all that, we shall not compel otlier 
nations to give up their own factories, and buy our 
goods. What will the consequences be ? I lose my 
customers in the country, and the home market is 

The manufacturer turns his back upon the working- 
men and replies to the shopkeeper, — 
XT "As to that, you leave it to us! Once rid of the 
duty on corn, we shall imjDort cheaper corn from abroad. 
Then we shall reduce wages at the very time when they 
are rising in the countries where we get our corn. Thus 
in addition to the advantages which we already enjoy 
we shall have lower wages, and, with all these advan- 
tages, we shall easily force the Continent to buy of us." 

But now the farmers and agricultural laborers join 
in the discussion. 

"And what, pray, is to become of us? Are we to 
help in passing a sentence of death upon agriculture, 
when we get our living by it? Are we to let the soil 
. be torn from beneath our feet ? " 

For all answer the Anti-Corn Law League contented 
itself with offering prizes for the three best essays upon 
the wholesome influence of the Repeal of the Corn 
Laws on English agiculture. 

These prizes were carried off by Messrs. Hope, 
Morse, and Greg, whose essays were distributed broad- 
cast throughout the agricultural districts. One of the 
prize essayists devotes himself to proving that neither 
the tenant farmer nor the agricultural laborer would 
lose by the rei)eal of the Corn Laws, and that the 
landlord alone would lose. 

" The English tenant farmer," he exclaims, " need 
not fear repeal, because no other country can produce 



such good corn so cheaply as England. Thus, even if 
the price of corn fell, it would not hurt you, because 
this fall would only affect rent, which would go down, 
while the profit of capital and the wages of labor 
would remain stationary." 

The second prize essayist, Mr. Morse, maintains, on 
the contrary, that the price of corn will rise in conse- 
quence of repeal. He is at infinite pains to prove that 
protective duties have never been able to secure a re- 
munerative price for corn. 

In support of his assertion he quotes the fact that, 
wherever foreign corn has been imported, the price of 
corn in England has gone up considerably, and that 
when little corn has been imported the price has fallen 
extremely, y^his prize-winner forgets that the import- 
ation was not the cause of the high price, but that the 
high price was the cause of the importation.^ In direct 
contradiction of his colleague he asserts that every rise 
in the price of corn is profitable to both the tenant 
farmer and laborer, but does not benefit the landlord. 

The third prize essayist, Mr. Greg, who is a large 
manufacturer and whose work is addressed to the large 
tenant farmers, could not afford to echo such silly stuff. 
His language is more scientific. 

He admits that the Corn Laws can increase rent 
only by increasing the price of corn, and that they can 
raise the price of corn only by inducing the investment 
of capital upon land of inferior quality, and this is ex- 
plained quite simply. 

In proportion as population increases, it inevitably 
follows, if foreign corn cannot be imported, that less 
fruitful soil must be placed under cultivation. This 
involves more expense and the product of this soil is 
consequently dearer. There being a demand for all 
the corn thus produced, it will all be sold. The price for 
all of it will of necessity be determined by the price of 



the product of the inferior soil. The difference between 
this price and the cost of production upon soil of better 
quality constitutes the rent paid for the use of the 
better soil. 

If, therefore, in consequence of the repeal of the Corn 
Laws, the price of corn falls, and if, as a matter of 
course, rent falls along with it, it is because inferior 
soil will no longer be cultivated. Thus the reduction of 
rent must inevitably ruin a part of the tenant farmers. 

These remarks were necesssary in order to make Mr. 
Greg's language comprehensible. 

" The small farmers," he says, " who cannot support 
themselves by agriculture must take refuge in manu- 
facture. As to the large tenant farmers, they cannot 
fail to profit by the arrangement : either the landlord 
will be obliged to sell them their land very cheap, or 
leases will be made out for very long periods. This 
will enable tenant farmers to invest more capital in 
their farms, to use agricultural machinery on a larger 
scale, and to save manual labor, which will, moreover, be 
cheaper, on account of the general fall in wages, the im- 
mediate consequence of the repeal of the Corn Laws." 

Dr. Bowring conferred upon all these arguments the 
consecration of religion, by exclaiming at a public 
meeting, " Jesus Christ is Free Trade, and Free Trade 
is Jesus Christ." 

It will be evident that all this cant was not calcu- 
lated to make cheap bread tasteful to workingmen. 

Besides, how should the workingmen understand 
the sudden philanthropy of the manufacturers, the very 
men still busy fighting against the Ten-Hours Bill, 
which was to reduce the working day of the mill hands 
from twelve hours to ten ? 

To give you an idea of the philanthropy of these 
manufacturers I would remind you of the factory regu- 
lations in force in al\ their mills. 



Every manufacturer has for his own private use a regu- 
lar penal code by means of which fines are inflicted for 
every voluntary or involuntary offence. For instance, 
tlie hand pays so much when he has the misfortune to 
sit down on a chair, or whisper, or speak, or laugh; if 
he is a few moments late ; if any part of a machine 
breaks, or if he turns out work of an inferior quality, 
etc. The fines are always greater than the damage 
really done by the workman. And to give the work- 
ingman every opportunity for incurring fines the fac- 
tory clock is set forward, and he is given bad material 
to make into good stufl*. An overseer unskilful in 
multiplying infractions of rules is soon dischai ged. 

You see, gentlemen, this private legislation is enacted 
for the especial purpose of creating such infractions, 
and infractions are manufactured for the purpose of 
making money. Thus the manufacturer uses every 
means of reducing the nominal wage, and even profiting 
by accidents over which the workers have no control. 

And these manufacturers are the same philanthropists 
who have tried to persuade the workers that they were 
capable of going to immense expense for the sole and 
express purpose of improving the condition of these 
same workingmen ! On the one hand they nibble at 
the workers' wages in the pettiest way, by means of 
factory legislation, and, on the other, they are prepared 
to make the greatest sacrifices to raise those wages by 
means of the Anti-Corn Law League; 

They build great palaces, at immense expense, in 
which the league takes up its official residence. They 
send an army of missionaries to all corners of England 
to preach the gospel of Free Trade ; they print and 
distribute gratis thousands of pamphlets to enlighten 
the workingman upon his own interests. They spend 
enormous sums to buy over the press to their side. 
They organize a vast administrative system for the con- 



duct of the Free Trade movement, and bestow all the 
wealth c;f their eloquence upon public meetings. It was 
at one of these meetings that a workingman cried out, — 

" If the landlords were to sell our bones, you manu- 
facturers would be the first to buy them, and to put 
them through the mill and make flour of them." 

The English workingmen have appreciated to the 
fullest extent the significance of the struggle between 
the lords of the land and of capital. They know very 
well that the price of bread was to be reduced in order 
to reduce wages, and that the profit of capital would 
rise by as much as rent fell. 

Ricardo, the apostle of the English Free Traders, the 
leading economist of our century, entirely agrees with 
the workers upon this point. 

"Fin his celebrated work upon Political Economy he 
says: "If instead of growing our own corn ... we 
discover a new market from which we can supply our- 
selves ... at a cheaper price, wages will fall and 
profits rise. The fall in the price of agricultural 
produce reduces the wages, not only of the laborer 
employed in cultivating the soil, but also of all those 
employed in commerce or manufacture." 

And do not believe, gentlemen, that it is a matter of 
indifference to the workingman whether he receives 
only four francs on account of corn being cheaper, 
when he had been receiving five francs before. 

Have not liis wages always fallen in comparison with 
profit ? And is it not clear that his social position has 
grown worse as compared with that of the capitalist? 
Beside which he loses actually. So long as the price of 
cern was higher and wages were also higher, a small 
saving in the consumption of bread sufficed to procure 
him other enjoyments. But as soon as bread is cheap, 
and wages are therefore low, he can save almost noth- 
ing on bread, for the purchase of other articles. 



The English workingmeii have shown the English 
Free Traders that they are not the dupes of their illu- 
sions or of their lies ; and if, in spite of this, the workers 
have made . common cause with the manufacturers 
against the landlords, it is for the purpose of destroying 
the last remnant of feudalism, that henceforth they 
may have only one enemy to deal with. The workers 
have not miscalculated, for the landlords, in order to 
revenge themselves upon the manufacturers, have 
made common cause with the workers to carry the Ten- 
Hours Bill, which tlie latter had been vainly demand- 
ing for thirty years, and which was passed immediately 
after the repeal of the Corn Laws. 

When Dr. Bow;ring, at the Congress of Economists, 
drew from his pocket a long list to show how many 
head of cattle, how much ham, bacon, poultry, etc., is 
imported into England, to be consumed — as he as- 
serted — by the workers, he forgot to state that at the 
same time the workers of Manchester and other factory 
towns were thrown out of work by the beginning of 
the crisis. 

As a matter of principle in Political Economy, the 
figures of a single year must never be taken as the 
basis for formulating, general laws. We must always 
take the average of from six to seven years, a period 
during which modern industry passes through the suc- 
cessive phases of prosperity, overproduction, crisis, thus 
completing the inevitable cycle. ^^ 

Doubtless, if the price of all commodities falls, — and 
this is the necessary consequence of Free Trade, — I can 
buy far more for a franc than before. And the work- 
ingman's franc is as good as any other man's. There- 
fore, Free Trade must be advantageous to the working- 
man. There is only one little difficulty in this, namely 
that the workman, before he exchanges his franc for 
other commodities, has first. exchanged his labor for the 



money of the capitalist. If in this exchange he always 
received the said franc while the price of all other com- 
modities fell, he would always be the gainer by such a 
bargain. The difficulty does not lie in proving that, 
the price of all commodities falling, more commodities 
can be bought for the same sum of money. 
/ Economists always take the price of labor at the 
moment of its exchange with other commodities, and 
altogether ignore the moment at which labor accom- 
plishes its own exchange with capital. When it costs 
less to set in motion the machinery which produces 
commodities, then the things necessary for the mainte- 
nance of this machine, called workman, will also cost 
less. If all commodities are cheaper, labor, which is a 
commodity too, will also fall in price, and we shall see 
later that this /commodity, labor, will fall far lower in 
proportion than all other commodities. If the working- 
man still pins his faith to the arguments of the econo- 
mists, he will find, one fine morning, that the franc has 
dwindled in his pocket, und that he has only five sous 
left. / 

Thereupon the economists will tell you, — 
" We admit that competition among the workers will 
certainly not be lessened under Free Trade, and will 
very soon bring wages into harmony with the low 
price of commodities. But, on the other hand, the low 
price of commodities will increase consumption, the 
larger consumption will increase production, which will 
in turn necessitate a larger demand for labor, and this 
larger demand will be followed by a rise in wages. 
V " The whole line of argument amounts to this ; Free 
Trade increases productive forces. 1 When manufac- 
tures keep advancing, when wealth, when the produc- 
tive forces, when, in a word, productive capital in- 
creases, the demand for the labor, the price of labor, 
and consequently the rate of wages, rises also." 


The most favorable condition for the.workingman is 
the growth of capital. This must be admitted : when 
capital remains stationary, commerce and manufacture 
are not merely stationary but decline, and in this case 
the workman is the first victim. He goes to the wall 
before the capitalist. And in the case of the growth of 
capital, under the circumstances, which, as we have said, 
are the best for the workingman, what will be his lot? 
He will go to the wall just the same. The growth of 
capital implies the accumulation and the concentration 
of capital. This centralization involves a greater divis- 
ion of labor and a greater use of machinery. XThe 
greater division of labor destroys the especial skill of 
the laborer ; and by putting in the place of this skilled 
w^ork labor which any one can perform it increases 
petition among the workere. )C 
This competition becomes more fierce as the division 
of labor enables a single man to do the work of three. 
Machinery accomplishes the same result on a mtich 
larger scale. The accumulation of productive capital 
forces the industrial capitalist to work with constantly 
increasing means of production, ruins the small manu- 
facturer, and drives him into the proletariat. Then, 
the rate of interest falling in proportion as capital 
accumulates, the little rentiers and retired tradespeople, 
who can no longer live upon their small incomes, will 
be forced to look out for some business again and ul- 
timately to swell the number of proletarians. Finally, 
the more productive capital grows, the more it is com- 
pelled to produce for a market whose requirements it 
does not know, — t he_more supply tries to force de- 
mand, and consequently crimes increas e in frequency* 
^id in intens ity. h\xi every crisis in turn hastens the 
concentration oi capital, adds to thfi J)l*6l6tarUt. ihus, 
as productive capital grows, c ompuUtiuii among llig* 
\vork"gr5r grows loo. and grows linr far fJ'l'^alBr prupur- 


tion. The reward of labor is less for all, and the bur- 
den of labor is increased for some at least. 

In 1829 there were, in Manchester, 1088 cotton 
spinners employed in 36 factories. In 1841 there were 
but 448, and they tended 53,353 more spindles than 
the 1088 spinners did in 1829. If manual labor had in- 
creased in the same proportion as productive force, the 
number of spinners ought to have risen to 1848 ; im- 
proved machinery had, therefore, deprived 1100 work- 
ers of employment. 

We know beforehand the reply of the Economists — 
the people thus thrown out of work will find other 
kinds of employment. Dr. Bowring did not fail to 
reproduce this argument at the Congress of Econo- 
mists. But neither did he fail to refute himself. In 
1833, Dr. Bowring made a speech in the House of Com- 
mons upon the 50,000 hand-loom weavers of London 
who have been starving without being able to find that 
new kind of employment which the Free Traders hold 
out to them in the distance. Let us hear the most 
striking portion of this speech of Mr. Bowring. 

" The misery of the hand-loom weavers," he says, "is 
the inevitable fate of all kinds of labor which are easily 
acquired, and which may, at any moment, be replaced 
by less costly means. As in these cases competition 
amongst the work-people is very great, the slightest 
falling-off in demand brings on a crisis. The hand- 
loom weavers are, in a certain sense, placed on the 
borders of human existence. One step further, and 
that existence becomes impossible. The slightest shock 
is sufl&cient to throw them on to the road to ruin. By 
more and more superseding manual labor, the progress 
of mechanical science must bring on, during the period 
of transition, a deal of temporary suffering. National 
well-being cannot be bought except at the price of some 
individual evils. The advance of industry is achieved 



at the expense of those who lag behind, and of all dis- 
coveries that of the power loom weighs most heavily 
upon the hand-loom weavers. In a great many articles 
formerly made by hand, the weaver has been placed 
hor8 de combat ; but he is sure to be beaten in a good 
many more stuffs that are now made by hand.'* 

Further on he says, — "I hold in my hand a corre- 
spondence of the governor-general with the East 
India Company. This correspondence is concerning 
the weavers of the Dacca district. The governor says 
in his letter, — A few years ago the East India Com- 
pany received from six to eight million pieces of calico 
woven upon the looms of the country. The demand 
fell off gradually and was reduced to about a million 
pieces. At this moment it has almost entirely ceased. 
Moreover, in 1800 North America received from India 
nearly 800,000 pieces of cotton goods. In 1830 it did 
not take even 4000. Finally, in 1800 a million oiE 
pieces were shipped for Portugal; in 1830 Portugal 
did not receive above 20,000. 

" The reports on the distress of the Indian weavers 
are terrible. And what is the origin of that distress? 
The presence on the market of English manufactures, 
the production of the same article by means of the 
power loom. A great number of the weavers died of 
starvation ; the remainder has gone over to other 
employment, and chiefly to field labor. Not to be able 
to change employment amounted to a sentence of death. 
And at this moment the Dacca district is crammed with 
English yarns and calicoes. The Dacca muslin, re- 
nowned all over the world for its beauty and firm text- 
ure, has also been eclipsed by the competition of Eng- 
lish machinery. In the whole history of commerce, it 
would, perhaps, be difficult to find suffering equal to 
what these whole classes in India had to submit to." 

Mr. Bowring's speech is the more remarkable because 



the facts quoted by him are correct, and the phrases 
with which he seeks to palliate them are characterized 
by the hypocrisy common to all Free Trade discourses. 
He represents the workers as means of production 
which must be superseded by less expensive means of 
production, pretends to see in the labor of- which he 
speaks a wholly exceptional kind of labor, and in the 
machine which has crushed out the weavers an equally 
exceptional kind of machine. He forgets that there is 
no kind of manual labor which may not any day share 
the fate of the hand-loom weavers. 
21^" The constant aim and tendency of every improve- 
ment of mechanism is indeed to do entirely without 
the labor of men, or to reduce its price, by superseding 
the labor of the adult males by that of women and chil- 
dren, or the work of the skilled by that of the unskilled 
workman/T In most of the throstle mills, spinning is 
now entirely done by 'girls of sixteen years and less. 
The introduction of the self-acting mule has caused the 
discharge of most of the (adult male) spinners, while 
the children and young persons have been kept on." 

The above words of the most enthusiastic of Free 
Traders, Dr. Ure, are calculated to complete the con- 
fessions of Dr. Bowring. Mr. Bowring speaks of cer- 
tain individual evils, and, at the same time, says that 
these individual evils destroy whole classes ; he speaks 
of the temporary sufferings during a transition period, 
and does not deny that these temporary evils have 
implied for the majority the transition from life to 
death, and for the rest a transition from a better to a 
worse condition. When he asserts, farther on, that the 
sufferings of the working class are inseparable from the 
progress of industry, and are necessary to the pros- 
perity of the nation, he simply says that the prosperity 
of the bourgeois class presupposes as necessary the suf- 
fering of the laboring class. 



All the comfort which Mr. Bowriiig ofiEers the 
workers who perish, and, indeed, the whole doctrine 
of compensation which the Free Traders propound, 
amounts to this, — 

You thousands of workers who are perishing, do 
not despair! You can die with an easy conscience. 
Your class will not perish. It will always be numerous 
enough for the capitalist class to decimate it without 
fear of annihilating it. Besides, how could capital be 
usefully applied if it did not take care to keep up its 
exploitable material, i. e. the workingmen, to be ex- 
ploited over and over again ? 

But, then, why propound as a problem still to be 
solved the question: What influence will the adoption 
of the Free Trade have upon the condition of the work- 
ing class? All the laws formulated by the political 
economists from Quesnay to Ricardo, have been based 
upon the hypothesis that the trammels which still 
interfere with commercial freedom have disappeared. 
These laws are confirmed in proportion as Free Trade is 
adopted. i.The first of these laws is that competition 
reduces the price of every commodity to the minimum 
cost of production. ^Thus tlie minimum of wages is the 
natural price of labor. And what is the minimum of 
wages? Just so much as is required for production of 
the articles absolutely necessary for the maintenance 
of the worker, for the continuation, by hook or by 
crook, of his own existence and that of his class, 

But do not imagine that the worker receiveiS onlt/ 
this minimum wage, and still less that he always re- 
ceives it. No, according to this law, the working class 
will sometimes , be more fortunate, will sometimes 
receive something above the minimum, but this surplus 
will merely make up for the deficit which they will have 
received below the minimum in times of industrial de- 
pression. That is to say that within a given time which 



recurs periodically, in other words, in the cycle which 
commerce and industry describe while passing through 
the successive phases of prosperity, overproduction, 
stagnation, and crisis, when reckoning all that the 
working class has had above and below mere necessa- 
ries, we sliall see that, after all, they have received 
neither more nor less than the minimum ; i. e., the 
working class will have maintained itself as a class 
after enduring any amount of misery and misfortune, 
and after leaving many corpses upon the industrial 
battle-field. But what of that? The class will still 
exist ; nay, more, it will have increased. 

But this is not all. The progress of industry creates 
less and less expensive means of subsistence. Thus 
spirits have taken the place of beer, cotton that of wool 
aiid linen, and potatoes that of bread. 
"^Thus, as means are constantly being found for the 
maintenance of labor on cheaper and more wretched 
food, the minimum of wages is constantly sinking. 
If these wages began by letting the man work to live, 
they end by forcing him to live the life of a machine. 
His existence has no other value than that of a simple 
productive force, and the capitalist treats him accord* 
ingly. This law of the commodity labor, of the 
minimum of wages, will be confirmed in proportion as 
the supposition of the economists,, Free Trade, becomes 
an actual fact. ^^Th us, of two things one: either we 
must reject all political economy based upon the as- 
sumption of Free Trade, or we must admit that under 
this same Free Trade the whole severity of the econ- 
omic laws will fall upon the workers. .' - ^ 

^ To sum up, what is Free Trade under the present 
conditions of society? Freedom of Capital. When 
you have torn down tlie few national barriers which 
still restrict the free development of capital, you will 
merely have given it complete freedom of action. So 



long as you let the relation of wages-labor to capital 
exist, no matter how favorable the conditions under 
which you accomplish tlie exchange of commodities, 
there will always be a class which exploits and a class 
whicli is exploited. It is really difficult to understand 
the presumption of the Free Traders who imagine that 
the more advantageous application of capital will 
abolish the antagonism between industrial capitalists 
and wage-workers. On the contrary. The only result 
will be that the antagonism of these two classes will 
stand out more clearly. 

Let us assume for a moment that there are no more 
Corn Laws or national and municipal import duties ; 
that in a word all the accidental circumstances which 
to-day the workingman may look upon as a cause of 
his miserable condition have vanished, and we shall 
have removed so many curtains that hide from his eyes 
his true enemy. 

He will see that capital released from all trammels 
will make him no less a slave than capital trammelled 
by import duties. 

Gentlemen ! Do not be deluded by the abstract word 
Freedom! whose freedom? Not the freedom of one 
individual in relation to another, but freedom of Capi- 
tal to crush the worker. 

Why should you desire farther to sanction un- 
limited competition with this idea of freedom, when 
the idea of -freedom itself is only the product of a social 
condition based upon Free Competition ? 

We have shown what sort of fraternity Free Trade 
begets between the different classes of one and the 
same nation. The fraternity which Free Trade would 
establish between the nations of the earth- would not 
be more real, to call cosmopolitan ex[)loitation univer- 
sal brotherhood is an idea that could only be engen- 
dered in the brain of the bourgeoisie. / Every one of the 



destructive phenomena which unlimited competition 
gives rise to within any one nation is reproduced in 
more gigantic proportions in the market of the world. 
We need not pause any longer upon Free Trade 
sophisms on this subject, which are worth just as much 
as the arguments of our prize essayists Messrs. Hope, 
Morse, and Greg. 

For instance, we are told that Free Trade would 
create an international division of labor, and thereby 
give to each country those branches of production most 
in harmony with its natural advantages. 
/You believe perhaps, gentlemen, that the production 
of coffee and sugar is the natural destiny of the West 

Two centuries ago, nature, which does not trouble 
itself about commerce, had planted neither sugar-cane 
nor coffee trees there. And it may be that in less than 
half a century you will find there neither coffee nor 
sugar, for the East Indies, by means of cheaper produc- 
tion, have already successfully broken down this so-called 
natural destiny of the West Indies. A 

And the West Indies, with their natural wealth, are 
as heavy a burden for England as the weavers of Decca, 
who also were destined from the beginning of time to 
weave by hand. 

One other circumstance must not be forgotten, namely 
that, just as everything has become a monopoly, there are 
also nowadays some branches of industry which prevail 
over all others, and secure to the nations which espe- 
cially foster them the command of the market of the 
world. Thus in the commerce of the world cotton alone 
has much greater commercial importance than all the 
other raw materials used in the manufacture of clothing. 
It is truly ridiculous for the Free Traders to refer to the 
few specialties in eacli branch of industry, tin-owing them 
into the balance against the product used in every-day 



consumption, and produced most cheaply in those coun- 
tries in which manufacture is most highlj'^ developed. 

If the Free Traders cannot understand how one 
nation can grow rich at the expense of another, we 
need not wonder, since these same gentlemen also 
refuse to understand how in the same country one 
^lass can enrich itself at the expense of another. 

Do not imagine, gentlemen, that in criticising free- 
dom of commerce we have the least intention of de- 
fending Protection.^ 

One may be opposed to constitutionalism without 
being in favor of absolutism. 
\^ Moreover, the Protective system is nothing but a 
means of establishing manufacture upon a large Scale 
in any given country, that is to ^ay, of making it de- 
pendent upon the market of the world ; and from the 
moment that dependence upon the market of the world 
is established, there is more or less dependence upon 
Free Trade too. Besides this, the Protective system 
helps to develop free competition within a nation. 
Hence we SQ^_thkt in countries where the bourgeoisie 
is beginning to make itself felt as a class, in Germany 
for example, it makes great efforts to obtain Protective 
duties. They serve the bourgeoisie as weapons against 
feudalism and absolute monarchy, as a means' for *the 
concerrtration of its" own powers for the realization of 
Free Trade within the country. 

But, generally speaking, the Protective system in these 
days is conservative, while the Free Trade system works 
destructively. It breaks up old nationalities and carries 
antagonism of proletariat and bourgeoisie to the utter- 
most point. \^In a word, the Free Trade system hastens 
the Social Revolution. In this revolutionary sense 
alone, gentlemen, I am in favor of Free Trade. 



Extract from La Mis^re de la Philosophie. 
By Karl Marx. 

[Chap. II. §J. Observation VII.] 

The Economists have a queer way of doing things. 
For them there are but two sorts of institutions, artifi- 
^ cial and natural. The institutions of feudalism are 

artificial, those of the bourgeoisie are natural. In this 
the Economists are like the theologians, who also set up 
two sorts of religion. Every religion not their own is 
an invention of man, while their own is a revelation 
fromf God. When the Economists say that the present 
conditions — the conditions of capitalist production — 
are natural, they give us to understand that they are 
conditions in which wealth is created and the produc- 
tive forces developed in conformity with natural laws. 
Therefore these conditions are themselves natural laws 
independent of the influence of time. They are eternal 
laws, which must always rule society. Thus there has 
been history, but there is none now; there has been 
history because there have been feudal institutions and 
because tliese feudal institutions involved conditions of 
production wholly different from those of that bour- 
geois society, which the Ecoiloniists want to pass off as 
natural and therefore as eternal. 

Feudalism, too, had its proletariat — serfdom, which 
contained all the germs of the modern bourgeoisie ; and 
feudal production too had its two antagonistic elements, 
which have also been characterized as the good side 
and the bad side of feudalism, without reflecting that 
it is the bad side which always ends by conquering the 
good side. It is the bad side which produces the 
movement which makes history by engendering struggle. 



If, at the time of the domination of feudalism, the Econ- 
omists, carried away by the virtues of chivalry and by 
the well balanced harmony between rights and duties, 
by the patriarchal life of the cities, by the prosperous 
condition of domestic industry in the country, by the 
growth of trade and handicraft organized in corpora- 
tions and guilds, — in a word, by all that forms the 
good side of feudalism, — if the Economists, then, had 
set themselves the problem of eliminating the shady 
side of this picture — serfdom, privilege, anarchy, — 
what would have happened ? They would have an- 
nulled all elements of struggle, would have stifled in 
its germ the development of the bourgeoisie. They 
would have set themselves the absurd problem how to 
put an end to history. 

When the bourgeoisie had got the upper hand it was 
no longer a question of the good or the bad side of 
feudalism. The productive forces which the bour- 
geoisie had developed under feudalism were now con- 
centrated in its hands. All the old economic forces, 
the social relations corresponding to them, the political 
state which was the official expression of the old so- 
cieties, were shattered. Thus to form a correct idea of 
feudal production it must be considered as a method of 
production based upon social antagonisms. It must be 
shown how wealth was produced within this antagonism, 
how the productive forces developed simultaneously 
with the antagonism of classes, how one of these classes, 
the class forming the bad side, the drawback of 
feudal society, grew steadily until the material condi- 
tions of its emancipation had reached maturity. Is not 
this equivalent to saying that the mode of production, 
the condition within which productive forces develop, 
are anything but eternal laws? That on the contrary 
they correspond to a certain stage in the development 



of niiankind and of their productive powers, and that a 
change in the productive powers of men necessarily in- 
volves a change in their conditions of production ? 

As above all it is of importance not to be deprived of 
the fruits of civilization, of the productive forces that 
have been acquired, the traditional forms under which 
they have been produced must be broken to pieces. 

That once accomplished, the revolutionary class be- 
comes conservative. The bourgeoisie starts with a 
proletariat that is itself a remnant of feudalism. In 
the course of its historical development the bourgeoisie 
of necessity develops its antagonistic character, a 
character that at the outset was more or less disguised 
and existed only in a latent form. In proportion as 
the bourgeoisie develops, a new proletariat, the mod- 
ern proletariat, is forming within its womb. A struggle 
between the proletarian class and the bourgeois class 
develops, a struggle which, before it is felt by both 
sides, perceived, grasped, understood, admitted and 
finally proclaimed aloud, is only manifest at first by par- 
tial and transitory conflict and by desultory upheavals. 
On the other hand, if all the members of the modern 
bourgeoisie have the same interests, in so far as they 
form a class face to face with another class, they have 
opposed, antagonistic interest in so far as they are face 
to face with one another. This conflict of interest 
proceeds from the economic conditions of their bour- 
geois life. Thus from day to day it becomes more ; 
clear that the conditions of production under which the 
bourgeoisie exists are not of a homogeneous and simple 
character, but are two-sided, duplex ; that in the same 
proportion in which wealth is produced, poverty is pro- 
duced also ; that in the same proportion in which there 
is development of the productive forces, there is also 
developed a force that begets repression, that these 



conditions only generate middle-class wealth, that is 
the wealth of the bourgeois class, by continuously de- 
stroying the wealth of individual members of that class 
and by producing an ever growing proletariat. 

The more this antagonism becomes evident, the 
more the Economists, the scientific representatives of 
capitalist production, come into conflict with their own 
theory and split up into different schools. 

We have the Fatalistic Economists, who are in theory 
as indifferent to what they call the evils of the capitalist 
mode of production as the bourgeois themselves are in 
practice to the sufferings of the proletarians who help 
them to acquire their wealth. In this fatalistic school 
there are the Classicists and the Romanticists. The Clas- 
sicists like Smith and Ricardo, represent a bourgeoisie 
which, still struggling with the remnants of feudal soci- 
ety, is only striving to cleanse the economic State of feu- 
dal taint, to multiply productive forces, and to inspire 
Trade and Commerce with new energy. The proleta- 
riat, taking part in this struggle, absorbed in this fever- 
ish work, has but transitory and accidental sufferings, 
and itself regards them as such. Economists like Adam 
Smith and Ricardo who are the historians of this epoch 
have no other mission than to show how wealth is ac- 
quired under the conditions of capitalist production ; to 
formulate these conditions in categories, laws, and to 
demonstrate how much these laws and categories in 
relation to the production of wealth are superior to the 
laws and categories of feudal society. Poverty in 
their ej'^es is only the pain which accompanies every 
birth, in nature as well as in industry. 

The Romanticists belong to our own epoch, in which 
the bourgeoisie stands in direct conflict with the prole- 
tariat, and poverty grows in the same abundance as 
wealth. The Economists then pose as blasS fatalists, 


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mhnn /oir AoHi g^t that* r> ^'^^'^^^^ '^^^ f 

prrciirs, LEmi^i^A LETTERS 


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