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This conclusion will be confirmed by considering in what national wealth actually consists. As we have above hinted, eyerything, which can be converted by human agency into the effective means of social comfort, prosperity, and happiness, is so far an item of the wealth of the community in which it is found. The facilities possessed by a nation for obtaining the necessaries and conveniences of life are its wealth; or, as Mr Raymond has expressed it in a single word, it consists in the capacity for attaining these ends. A nation has lands, navigable waters, roads, canals, portions of soil devoted to agriculture, streams giving motion to machinery, harbors, towns, and shipping suited to commerce, gold, silver, merchandise, and a healthy, industrious, intelligent, enterprising population engaged in all the numerous employments, which the organisation of society demands; these are its capacity for supplying the wants, and multiplying the comforts of life; these are its wealth. Labor, or efficient industry, is undoubtedly the most important element of this wealth, for it is by this that all the other elements are made productive.
The theory of Adam Smith differs not in reality from that of the econoinists. He states it in different terms, and under a modified aspect, but when pursued to its natural limits it will run to the same extreme. He divides labor into two kinds, which he calls productive and unproductive; the former denotes that labor, which produces a raw material, or adds to the saleable value of a material already produced; the latter is that which leaves nothing behind it, but whose effects terminate with the exertion. The practical agriculturist and mechanic are productive laborers, because they add a permanent value to some existing material; whereas the house servant, or the man employed merely for the convenience or gratification of others, is an unproductive laborer; he does not increase the aggregate amount of value in the community, nor of course the general stock of wealth.
The unsoundness of this theory will be perceived, when we attempt to draw the line between what the author's principles would distinguish as productive and unproductive labor. Where shall this line be drawn? Dr Smith says between that labor, which adds value to some material, and that which adds none. But why fix the limit here? The author would
reply, because the first kind of labor increases value and thus accumulates wealth. Here is the fallacy. Here is the fallacy. What he calls the wealth of a nation is wealth, it is true, but it is only a part of the whole, and other parts are to be sought in other sources, one of which is what he denominates unproductive labor. All labor is productive, which promotes the end it designs, and when this end is a benefit to the laborer himself, or to any other individual, it has value, and as far as it ministers to the wants or comforts society, or any members of society, it is an item of the general wealth. The labor of the servant is as really productive labor as that of the cultivator, or the cotton spinner, but in a different way. It produces the means of living for himself, and the means of comfort for his employer, and for every person, who is benefited by his services. That is, it adds to the mass of national wealth, not in food, or clothing, or any kind of manufactured fabrics, but in keeping up the order of society, and increasing the happiness of human existence to a certain number of individuals. So with the professional musician; his labor accumulates nothing; it produces the means of his own subsistence, and gives pleasure to others; or, in other words, it produces such results, in regard to human enjoyment, as accumulated wealth would produce. The same may be said of other professions, employed in preserving the intercourse of society. add nothing to the amount of agricultural or manufactured products, they bring no new combinations of matter into existence, yet it would be a great error to say that they are unproductive, since they are among the principal agents of social order and comfort.
Hence the distinction set up by Dr Smith between different kinds of labor does not exist. The labor, which he calls unproductive, has the same properties, and produces the same effects, as that denominated productive. The purposes of social being are equally promoted by both. The division itself is arbitrary, and, if made at all, can be fixed only at one point, and that is between agricultural and all other kinds of labor. At this point the difference is sufficiently marked, inasmuch as agricultural labor is especially productive in bringing something out of the soil, which did not exist before, and thus increasing the quantity of available materials; whereas, every other kind of labor only modifies these mate
rials, or puts them into new shapes, and thus gives them a value by changing their forms, and not by producing their substance. In this arbitrary sense the terms productive and unproductive may possibly be used as applied to labor. The theory will then be identical with that of the economists, referring all productive labor and substantial wealth to agriculture alone.
To this extreme Dr Smith was evidently unwilling to be carried; but, although he attempts to controvert the doctrine of the economists, his principles lead to it, and the force of his illustrations is mainly derived from their tendency to confirm it. He estimates the value of agricultural labor as greatly superior to that of any other, because 'in agriculture nature labors along with man,' whereas in manufactures nature does nothing, man does all.' The product of this work of nature in agriculture he considers as net gain, not to be derived from labor employed in any other pursuit. It is on this ground, that he ascribes to agriculture the chief power in producing wealth, and thus leaves his theory open to all the objections urged against the economists. His mistake consists in limiting to agriculture what he calls the labor of nature, when in reality nature works as much for the artist, the mechanic, and the mariner, as for the farmer. Let it be acknowledged that nature works in the fertilising principle of the earth, and in bringing to maturity the products of the soil; it must also be allowed, that she works equally for the mechanic in sustaining the properties of matter, and enabling it to be wrought into such forms as skill or fancy may dictate.. She works for the manufacturer by upholding the mechanical powers, and by lending her streams, the agency of her fires, and her great law of attraction, to put his machinery in motion, and give efficiency to his enterprise. She supplies the bounties of her forests, her mines, and fields to the shipwright, and freely offers her waves and her winds to waft the goods of the merchant from one clime to another in obedience to his will. In short, without the helping hand of nature nothing could be brought to pass; she works everywhere and at all times, and that is a fallacious theory, which claims her par tiality to any particular branch of human exertion. If she does more for one than another, it is because a superior in
genuity succeeds in gaining a more effectual control over her agency.
There are two things, which give advantages to manufacturing industry, not common to the other branches; first, the multiplication of machinery; and, secondly, the division of labor. In modern times these have been carried to a great extent, and are every day increasing. Simple machinery, constructed at a comparatively small expense, and kept in motion by water power, is made to perform the labor of a vast many hands, thus leaving to be turned into other channels a large portion of labor, which, without the aid of improved machinery, would be required to produce the same effects. This advantage has no limit, as machinery may be multiplied indefinitely, and the power of putting it in motion, either by water or steam, is inexhaustible. The division of labor creates skill, and rapidity of operation, by concentrating all the powers of mind and habit within a small compass, and thus enabling a certain number of men, by assigning to each a particular department, to accomplish more in a given time, than it would be possible for them to do, if each were employed in constructing the entire fabric.
Now these advantages, immense as they are in saving labor, are nearly confined to manufacture. The division of labor, it is true, is necessary to a certain degree in mercantile transactions, and the use of machinery adds something to the facilities of shipbuilding, yet the benefits to be derived from these sources are within a narrow space, and can never be extended far. And in regard to agriculture, the same remark will have still more force. Machinery here can do very little under any circumstances; the implements of husbandry must always be simple, and such as will require a large portion of manual labor to use them with effect. Nor in cultivating the earth can the division of labor take place to such an extent, as to produce much benefit; the change of seasons, and the nature of the employment, render it necessary for the practical farmer to be engaged at different times in all the branches of his profession. It thus appears, that in the means of creating value, and increasing national wealth, with the least amount of labor, manufacture possesses in some respects a decided advantage over the two other branches of industry.
This advantage is doubtless sometimes balanced by others pertaining to agriculture and commerce, but not universally. Political changes may give facilities for profitable commercial enterprise, which the manufacturer does not possess, and an uncommonly fruitful season may enlarge the average income of the farmer. The manufacturer is not affected by incidents of this nature, any farther than they produce a fluctuation in the market, and this is as likely to operate against him, as in his favor. These remarks apply to the different branches of industry, as they relate to individuals engaged in them, but when we look at each in a national point of view, we shall find that the results of commerce have an importance by no means to be surpassed by those of either of the other branches. Society is itself a system of exchanges, and although we would not say with Count Destutt Tracy, that commerce is the whole of society,' any more than we would assent to his position, that 'labor is the whole of riches,' yet we may venture to say, that all the main operations of society are carried on by commerce. A thing is valuable to us, because we can exchange it for something else, which we value more; and whether the exchange is made in our own neighborhood, or on the other side of the ocean, the benefit is the same to us, and the purposes of life are equally answered. If a man could not exchange the proceeds of his labor, for the proceeds of the labor of others, which he wants more, he would gain nothing by society, nor receive any equivalent for the independence he resigns in submitting to the social compact.
The advantages of a national commerce reach to the most trivial interests of society; it stimulates every species of industry; the farmer labors and thrives, because the merchant is ready to take his surplus produce, and give in exchange articles more valuable to him. The manufacturer works for the merchant, and if commerce or exchange should stop, his labor and his profits would be at an end. Commerce aids the successful prosecution of manufacture, the fabrics of which must be widely dispersed, before they can come into the hands of the consumers. Besides, the great advantages above described, as peculiar to manufacturing industry, can only be enjoyed in proportion as an outlet shall be found for manufactured products. A limit would be fixed to the multiplication of ma