Chapter 169750942

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Chapter NumberXI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169750942
Full Date1897-01-10
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count2468
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleTruth (Sydney)
Trove TitleAn Australian Anarchist
article text

usojsr f IUSTi{itIi» ANARCHIST

f;'/\ {All Right* B*Mrvt&3

- . /Bv V. L. THOMAS.) '

. ChaiTeb XL

i(- v\ TBEETRADE W0E6B THAN FAMINE.* Bis mission as delegate of the Australiaa. JSAialtor bodies finished, Frank Morion re iptwdved to spend a few weeks in his native t - place before returning to the south. Sir ®y? Wflliani Samuels, his daughter, and bit teS-guent, Hartley Grimshaw, also remained Ballvmacort House for a short time.

Mr. Grimshaw devoted all that lime to ? ? studying the Irish Question. Perhaps he hoped to be able to confute Tim Iiealey : ? ana Sexton through the insight gained in S (bat short visit. 'England Las been guilty towards Ireland,' saya Cai-tyle, ' and ' now reaps the result of six centuries of - wrang-doiog.' Vet shrewd MitgliBhmeu ' tliink, that all these wrengs. should be righted ina few debates foil orated by an Act of Parliaraent, and when fheirremedy fails, conclude that the Irish are a per verse lot Sir-William Samuels lilted fibe country. His daughter was delighted with the people ; they reminded her of the selectors who lived around her fathei'e estate in Australia. In their desire for knowledge about a i land of which the world talks, and so few : : know but little, all three found Morton's J. aid valuable. He, of course, frequently saw them. It bae been saiid that no Irish man thoroughly knows Ire J and until he has lived out e£ it His residence in other '/' countries had enabled Morton to see how I -ireland differed from them, and why she occupied an exceptional position. 'What a pardoxical; statement,' said Grimshaw, as titer stood under the stately elms that fringe the A vonbeg stream as it passes BallymacarL * You say that Free trade was nurtured in Ireland. We Manchester men say that Lancashire was its cradle.' _ 'Ah,' retorted Morton, ' I don't know Lancashire as weLl as you do, but my mission took me there a few days ago, and I found that no name stood higher in manufacturing aitd commercial circle! Ecroyd's. Now, he's a Protectionist if evdr there was one. 1 then travelled into Yorkshire, the next county, and found Samuel Cunliffe Lister stood equally high there. He's a Protectionist too. Among the most intelligent operatives, I found a suspicion that Freetnade was not so fine a thing after all (in the other hand, I found among the unintelligent, both high and low, an unreasoning tendency to regard Freetrade as a fetish, to doubt which would be blasphemy. _ Does John Bright occupy a high position among practical Lancashire men ? I now speak of the mills, not of politics. He does not I saw the little mill at Pabdeu where Cobden failed, when mill hands rose to influence. He died as he began, a bag ? man. T. B. Potter is more of a politician than a manufacturer. I travelled up the hills beyond Bury, and looked in at the place where the fortune of the Peels was . founded,' y: ' Ah,' laughed Grimshaw, 'you then i t. came across people who were both Free1 .traders and practical manufacturers.' 'I'm not so 6ure of that,' said Morton, jti 'I found that the elder Peel passed the lip factory laws, and encountered the oppo- 1 S-' sition ef the doctrinaire economists, who P7-faow support Freetrade. Moreover, I f} think factory laws and Freetrade incop! V sistepfi If it is .necessary to protect the youthf it is just as needful tp .protect the young growing industry, by 'V.hiph he.'arid his descendants must live, is it freedoun of contraot when a man cannot engage) a hand- bSlow a tsertain ageJ? - Remember the restrictions of the Factory. Acts ' are pompulsory, while a man is not f orcitd to pay a tariff tax. As Hume shows h(j can avoid it by not considering the article taxed.'

?rimshaw was silent / ' As regards the second, Peel, whom England calls the Great Sir Robert, though Lancashire, perhaps, thought as much of the 'owd mon,' went en Mor . ton. ' I don't believe he ever was con verted to Freetrade. He doubted Gobden' s prediction that the world would follow England in Freetrade; and, if he iiad lived to sea the prediction, not only unfulfilled but scorned by the world at large, he'd very.quickly undo the work he was farced j 'fo do by stress'tif 'circumstances. This reminds mo of what 1 maintained at the outset, that it was Ireland, not. Lanca v- ghirSL which forced Peel to adopt Free . --trade.1 ;V :) ' Go on,' muttered Grimshaw, deeply intorostod. ; /Bright himself admits (hat hunger came to . fight on their side. /History tells ( ' . 1 us that famine forced Bir Robert's hand. Had there been no Irish famine, England would likely be a Protectionist country to Unless I am mistaken, yon said in ' » the House of Commons /that you disap v. 1 proved of a Uosrcien Act^ because it was ; legislation by panic.' / ? ? I did,' replied the M.P. 'Now* exclaimed Morton, 'you look up the papers of that day, and you'll find) that the repeal of the Corn laws was legis i ;- lation by panic.' :v ). 4 Then' answered Grimshaw, ' you admit /f, (hat Freetrade was the only remedy for a great national calamity.' ' I admit no such thing. There was a far mora efficacious remedy at hand.' 'What was it (hen?' asked his com panion. i , Morton paused and replied. '?My mother, living down in the village, willAellyeu that the -very yew of the / famine,' the corn stores - were fulL and prioes were higb. There was a.fli&iihe, but ,'; v -it was hot because this country was not . .. abla to growAall the food peqessary, to snpport its papulation, Instead of Import-. yng foreign 'miaizsL economists and stateB s ; ^Xnfcn shoul(f have inquired why theproduoe iJV- .hf the, land was not able to reach the ?*' mouths df tho people, why the Irish peasant /was forced to live em potatoes ? alone, jwhy the farm laborer and the /- farmer/ did not get their just share of the wealth which they produced ? People are . beginning to get a glimmering of light howT. In recent yearn laws have been I V passed. Had these laws been passed fifty .or/seventy years ago, there would have' V been no Irish Famine, and the country Veuld not have known the rather mixed J Rleseing of Freetrade. ? .' /'Oh, J see,' laughed Morton, 'then you - 4 admit .that Freetrade obviated the epolis -' /tion of the landlords, yet they bitterly / opposed it.' ' 1 Wang,' cried Morton, ' I cannot admit that mere restitution is spoliation. -I say 1 that the landlords were entitled to their - just share, but no more. I would not have allowed them to appropriate what/should bave belonged to the tiller of the soil ; but , they new bitterly resist Freetrade, because / ? it has despoiled them in a surer and cruellOr, if slower, manner than if their / rents had been reduced by law. . . More over, it takes the ineney out of their pockets ana puts it n:c the foreigner's . pocket They can derive no benefit .from But they must have benefitted j A. ?' ' .,?.... ? .

the lot of their tenants and their tenants' laborers was improved. Rents have coD#e down, and &re still coming down, owing to foreign competition. . If they were brou jht down by law, halt a century back, _ the mass of the people would have gained by the reduction. As things are, it goes to the foreigner. The prosperity of the people would raise rents again, bat the prosperity of the foreigner cannot do so. The prosperity of the foreigner -means the prosperity of a few, who trade en tbe wages of slaves, er of those who are little better than slaves. Cheap labor suits tbitm, just as cheap food benefits tha Eng lish manufacturers, much as cheap raw material and cheap oil for their machinery does/ ' What is year authority for euoh a sweeping assertion ? ' asked Grimshaw. Morton laughed and said : ' i'our Freetrade economists, Ricardo. His ' Iron Law of Wages ' tells us that wages will sink to the level of subsistence. I, therefore, . say cheaper food means lower wages.* 'Might not cheaper food mean addi tional uiouciy for the poor to purchase luxuries tlniy never knew before ?' asked' his companijon. 'You must recollect that under Freetrade the werkmg classes get. more, and their money purchases more.' 'Nonsense I' was the reply. 'You never pause to ask whether, under. Pro- tection, thB very same thing might' not have happened. Wages are raised, for instance, by the trades-unienism whioh employs nae ; prices are made cheaper by new machinery and improved means of production, by cheaper and quicker meams of transit-, and for many otber reasons. N o, my friend, Freetrade has not been su-sh a wonderful remedy as people suppose. Other factors have been at werk.' 'Well, it has been followed by an'rin crease in England's wealth,' retorted Grimsha w.' 'An increase in the wealth of the few,' answered Morton, 'and here again tyou never inquire whether other causes have not been at work. The improvement, in the world's modes of production, the bu tid ing of (he world's railways, the demand for English rails and sleepers, the intro duction of ocean steamers and quick tran sit, for instance, would have given an impetus to England's trade whether ui ider Protection er Freetrade. You people ascribe to your fiscal system the benefits arising from other causes, and you con veniently lose sight of the disadvantages by which it has been accompanied.' 1 What are these, pray V* inquired the man from Lancashire. 'Too many for me to recount, in a private conversation,' said his antagonist. ' Yet some of them are palpable. - Take, for instance, the land in which we live. You were much moved by that eviction scene the other day. Well, that is the result of your Freetrade system. I said before that but for the Irish Famine there would have been no Freetrade. Now, don't you think that in the ordinary course of affairs the Irish Famine should have beou a good thing for the survivors ? There were fewer people after to live on the produce of the land ; therefore, they should be better off. Not only Malthas, but any man of common sense must admit this.' _ ; , 'It certainly looks plausible,' remarked Grimshaw. 'Unfortunately,' continued Morton, 4 after the famine, Ireland had a new fiscal system ; Freetrade was introduced. The Irish farmer no longer fonnd corn growing profitable. He tnrned his arable land into pasture, gave up com growing for dairying and stock raising. He em ployed less labor, and for a number of years was able to pay his rent as before. But the agricultural laborers and the smaller farmers were banished: to increase yonr Irish problem across the Atlantic^ to become hewers of wood, and drawers of .water in Australia, America, apd the large English towns.' 'They got better wages, and improved their lot' interrupted Grimshaw. ' Doubtful, but I'll grant that point,' replied MortoD. ' I'm not speaking now of the neoDle whe left Ireland, but of

those who remained. Mind, von English men say a good deal about the loss of population caused by the famine, but never a word about the Iosb that has gone on, year by year since then ; bat, as I said before, the tenant farmers, by giving up corn-growing for dairying and stock raising, were able to live and give rent to the landlords as before. The loss of labor breu'gbt abont a desire' to enlarge and consolidate holding^ and this gave rise to that ' earth hunger' of whioh English orators speak.' He paused, and. resumed. 'Ireland ' promised to became a mother ' of flocks and. herds, as a certain Lord Lieutenant once hoped, disregarding Gold smith's words abont the land where wealth accumulates and men . decay. Unfortu nately, -a new invention towards the end of the seventies destroyed the beautiful arrangement. The ocean steamers intro dneed the refrigerator. America and Australia were new going to compete in the meat raising, as they had done in; corn growing. Well, Ireland never can compete against either Manitoba or Now Zealand, with no rack rente/and no bailiffs or landlords. Either the Irish farmers, must amigrate, as the agricultural laborers, had dons, or else -rents must come down. That's what brought about the Land League, and tha English Government has since been forced to abandon its precon ceived convictions about freedom of con tract and State interference. Bnt the reduction, has not been enough, for the Danes now compete with their batter, and, owing to the redaction of freights and. other means, Australia and America are sending in their prodnce cheaper than ever. English statesmen who speak witn horror of levying a small tax on imparts, and call it restriction have been forced -to interfere with the relations between land lord and tenant,' 'And how could Protection bave im proved' matters ?' inquired Grimshaw. 'Easily enough,1 answered hiB - com- panion. ' Peel in the Forties shaiild have done what Gladstone did in the Eighties — reduced rente. Ae I said before, Ireland grew enough corn then to support her population. Had the people been legis lated for. as they should have been, the potato would never bave been _ their eele diet, and the horrors of the famine would have been averted, ae well ae the horrors, as deadly, if not so acute, that have fol lowed, and are still coming.' Sir William Samnels, with his daughter Vera on his arm, appeared en the scene. 'Ah,' laughed the knight, 'you are still wrangling over Freetrade and Protection. I told -yon' in Wiltshire, Grimshaw, that' more was to be said in favor of Protection than English -publicists of the day admit. I'm glad you have found euoh a stodt opponent as Mr Morton.' ., 'I'm_glad too,' eaid Vera,- 'for I'm epre Mr Morton is right. It's really cruel to hear statesmen and economists talking of baying in the cheapest market, and disre garding the cry of the . poor worklese, people, who are starving pn' account of foreign competition.' 'Here, at any- rate, is one champion I cannot withstand,' said the manufacturer. As they moved towards, the house he seemed te be thinking deeply. ? {TO BS CONTIBOSDj ' J