Hodgskin Serial, continued

Sorry about the long delay between episodes six and seven. Perhaps we can get back on track. Now, where were we?

Labour Defended, &c., Episode Seven

[Previous Episodes: One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six.]

Without troubling myself to quote more passages from these authors, or to transcribe the opinion of other writers, I shall proceed TO EXAMINE THE EFFECTS OF CAPITAL; AND I SHALL BEGIN WITH CIRCULATING CAPITAL. Mr M’Culloch says, “without circulating capital,” meaning the food the labourer consumes, and the clothing he wears; “the labourer never could engage in any undertaking which did not yield an almost immediate return.” Afterwards, he says, “that division of labour is a consequence of previous accumulation of capital;” and quotes the following passage from Dr Smith, as a proper expression for his own opinions.

“Before labour can be divided, ‘A stock of goods of different kinds must be stored up somewhere, sufficient to maintain the labourer, and to supply him with the materials and tools for carrying on his work. A weaver, for example, could not apply himself entirely to his peculiar business, unless there was beforehand stored up somewhere, either in his own possession, or in that of some other person, a stock sufficient for his maintenance, and for supplying him with the materials and implements required to carry on his work, till he has not only completed, but sold his web. This accumulation must evidently be previous to his applying himself for so long a time to a peculiar business.'”

The only advantage of circulating capital, is, that by it the LABOURER is enabled, he being assured of his present subsistence, to direct his power to the greatest advantage. HE has time to learn an art, and his labour is rendered more productive when directed by skill. Being ASSURED of immediate subsistence he can ascertain which, with his peculiar knowledge and acquirements, and with reference to the wants of society, is the best method of labouring, and he can labour in this manner. Unless there were this ASSURANCE there could be no continuous thought, no invention, and no knowledge but that which would be necessary for the supply of our immediate animal wants. The weaver, I admit, could not complete his web, nor would the shipwright begin to build his ship, unless he KNEW that while he was engaged in this labour he should be able to procure food. A merchant certainly could not set out for South America or the East Indies unless he were CONFIDENT that during the period of his absence he and his family could find subsistence, and that he would be able at the end of his voyage to pay all the expenses he had incurred. It is this assurance, this knowledge, this confidence of obtaining subsistence and reward, which enables and induces men to undertake long and complicated operations; and the question is, do men derive this assurance, from a stock of goods already provided, (saved from the produce of previous labour,) and ready to pay them, or from any other source?

I SHALL ENDEAVOUR TO SHOW THAT THIS ASSURANCE ARISES FROM A GENERAL PRINCIPLE IN THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN, AND THAT THE EFFECTS ATTRIBUTED TO A STOCK OF COMMODITIES, UNDER THE NAME OF CIRCULATING CAPITAL, ARE CAUSED BY CO-EXISTING LABOUR.

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