The Holy Family Chapter VIII

7) Revelation of Political Economic Mysteries

a) Theoretical Revelation of Political Economic Mysteries

First revelation: Wealth often leads to waste, waste to ruin.

Second revelation: The above-mentioned effects of wealth arise from a lack of instruction in rich youth.

Third revelation: Inheritance and private property are and must be inviolable and sacred.

Fourth revelation: The rich man is morally responsible to the workers for the way he uses his fortune. A large fortune is a hereditary deposit — a feudal tenement — entrusted to clever, firm, skilful and magnanimous hands, which are at the same time charged with making it fruitful and using it in such a way that everything which has the good luck to be within the range of the dazzling and wholesome radiation of that large fortune is fructified, vitalised and improved.

Fifth revelation: The state must give inexperienced rich youth the rudiments of individual economy. It must give a moral character to riches.

Sixth revelation: Finally, the state must tackle the vast question of organisation of labour. It must give the wholesome example of the association of capitals and labour, of an association which is honest, intelligent and fair, which ensures the well-being of the worker without prejudice to the fortune of the rich, which establishes links of sympathy and gratitude between these two classes and thus ensures tranquillity in the state for ever.

Since the state at present does not yet accept this theory Rudolph himself gives some practical examples. They reveal the mystery that the most generally known economic relations are still ..mysteries” for Monsieur Sue, Monsieur Rudolph and Critical Criticism.

b) “The Bank for the Poor”

Rudolph institutes a Bank for the Poor. The statute of this Critical Bank for the Poor is as follows:

It must give support during periods of unemployment to honest workers with families. It must replace alms and pawnshops. It has at its disposal an annual income of 12,000 francs and distributes interest-free assistance loans of 20 to 40 francs. At first it extends its activity only to the seventh arrondissement of Paris, where most of the workers live. Working men and women applying for relief must have a certificate from their last employer vouching for their good behaviour and giving the cause and date of the interruption of work. These loans are to be paid off in monthly instalments of one-sixth or one-twelfth of the sum at the choice of the borrower, counting from the day on which he finds employment again. The loan is guaranteed by a the borrower’s word of honour. Moreover, the latter’s parole jurée [sworn sword] must be guaranteed by two other workers.

As the Critical purpose of the Bank for the Poor is to remedy one of the most grievous misfortunes in the life of the worker — interruption in employment — assistance would be given only to unemployed manual workers. Monsieur Germain, the manager of this institution, draws a yearly salary of 10,000 francs.

Let us now cast a mass-type glance at the practice of Critical political economy. The annual income is 12,000 francs. The amount loaned per person is from 20 to 40 francs, hence an average of 30 francs. The number of workers in the seventh arrondissement who are officially recognised as “needy” is at least 4,000. Hence, in a year only 400, or one-tenth, of the neediest workers in the seventh arrondissement can receive relief. If we estimate the average length of unemployment in Paris at 4 months, i.e., 16 weeks, we shall be considerably below the actual figure. Thirty francs divided over 16 weeks gives somewhat less than 37 sous and 3 centimes a week, not even 27 centimes a day. The daily expense on one prisoner in France is on the average a little over 47 centimes, somewhat over 30 centimes being spent on food alone. But the worker to whom Monsieur Rudolph pays relief has a family. Let us take the average family as consisting of man, wife and only two children; that means that 27 centimes must be divided among four persons. From this we must deduct rent — a minimum of 15 centimes a day — so that 12 centimes remain. The average amount of bread eaten by a single prisoner costs about 14 centimes. Therefore, even disregarding all other needs, the worker and his family will not be able to buy even a quarter of the bread they need with the help obtained from the Critical Bank for the Poor. They will certainly starve if they do not resort to the means that the bank is intended to obviate — the pawnshop, begging, thieving and prostitution.

The manager of the Bank for the Poor, on the other hand, is all the more brilliantly provided for by the man of ruthless Criticism. The income he administers is 12,000 francs, his salary is 10,000. The management therefore costs 85 per cent of the total, nearly three times as much as the mass-type administration of poor relief in Paris, which costs about 17 per cent of the total.

Let us suppose for a moment that the assistance that the Bank for the Poor provides is real, not just illusory. In that case the institution of the revealed mystery of all mysteries rests on the illusion that only a different distribution of wages is required to enable the workers to live through the year.

Speaking in the prosaic sense, the income of 7,500,000 French workers averages no more than 91 francs per head, that of another 7,500,000 is only 120 francs per head; hence for at least 15,000,000 it is less than is absolutely necessary for life.

The idea of the Critical Bank for the Poor, if it is rationally conceived, amounts to this: during the time the worker is employed as much will be deducted from his wages as he needs for his living during unemployment. It comes to the same thing whether I advance him a certain sum during his unemployment and he gives it back when he has employment, or he gives up a certain sum when he has employment and I give it back to him when he is unemployed. In either case he gives me when he is working what he gets from me when he is unemployed.

Thus, the “Pure” Bank for the Poor differs from the mass-type savings-banks only in two very original, very Critical qualities. The first is that the Bank for the Poor lends money “à fonds perdus” [not to be repaid], on the senseless assumption that the worker could pay back if he wanted to and that he would always want to pay back if he could. The second is that it pays no interest on the sum put aside by the worker. As this sum is given the form of an advance, the Bank for the Poor thinks it is doing the worker a favour by not charging him any interest.

The difference between the Critical Bank for the Poor and the mass-type savings-banks is therefore that the worker loses his interest and the Bank its capital.

c) Model Farm at Bouqueval

Rudolph founds a model farm at Bouqueval. The choice of the place is all the more fortunate as it preserves memories of feudal times. namely of a château seigneurial [feudal manor].

Each of the six men employed on this farm is paid 150 écus, or 450 francs a year, while the women get 60 écus, or 180 francs. Moreover they get board and lodging free. The ordinary daily fare of the people at Bouqueval consists of a “formidable” plate of ham, an equally formidable plate of mutton and, finally, a no less massive piece of veal supplemented by two kinds of winter salad, two large cheeses, potatoes, cider, etc. Each of the six men does twice the work of the ordinary French agricultural labourer.

As the total annual income produced by France, if divided equally, would come to no more than 93 francs per person, and as the total number of inhabitants employed directly in agriculture is two-thirds of the population of France, it will be seen what a revolution the general imitation of the German caliph’s model farm would cause not only in the distribution, but also in the production of the national wealth.

According to what has been said, Rudolph achieved this enormous increase in production solely by making each labourer work twice as much and eat six times as much as before.

Since the French peasant is very industrious, labourers who work twice as much must be superhuman athletes, as the “formidable” meat dishes also seem to indicate. Hence we may assume that each of the six men eats at least a pound of meat a day.

If all the meat produced in France were distributed equally there would not be even a quarter of a pound per person per day. It is therefore obvious what a revolution Rudolph’s example would cause in this respect too. The agricultural population alone would consume more meat than is produced in France, so that as a result of this Critical reform France would be left without any livestock.

The fifth part of the gross product which Rudolph, according to the report of the manager of Bouqueval, Father Chatelain, allows the labourers, in addition to the high wage and sumptuous board, is nothing else than his rent. It is assumed that, on the average, after deduction of all production costs and profit on the working capital, one-fifth of the gross product remains for the French landowner, that is to say, the ratio of the rent to the gross product is one to five. Although it is beyond doubt that Rudolph decreases the profit on his working capital beyond all proportion by increasing the expenditure for the labourers beyond all proportion — according to Chaptal (De l'industrie française, t. 1, p. 2 39) the average yearly income of the French agricultural labourer is 120 francs — although Rudolph gives his whole rent away to the labourers, Father Chatelain nevertheless reports that the prince thereby increases his revenue and thus inspires un-Critical landowners to farm in the same way.

The Bouqueval model farm is nothing but a fantastic illusion; its hidden fund is not the natural land of the Bouqueval estate, it is a magic purse of Fortunatus that Rudolph has!

In this connection Critical Criticism exultantly declares:

“You can see from the whole plan at a first glance that it is not a utopia.”

Only Critical Criticism can see at a first glance at a Fortunatus’ purse that it is not a utopia. The first glance of Criticism is — the glance of “the evil eye"!