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Short answer: Yes, failures are the stepping stones to success.
At this point, in the enumeration of the evils of society, the mere levellers of former times usually stopped: but their more far-sighted successors, the present Socialists, go farther. In their eyes the very foundation of human life as at present constituted, the very principle on which the production and repartition of all material products is now carried on, is essentially vicious and anti-social. It is the principle of individualism, competition, each one for himself and against all the rest. It is grounded on opposition of interests, not harmony of interests, and under it every one is required to find his place by a struggle, by pushing others back or being pushed back by them. Socialists consider this system of private war (as it may be termed) between every one and every one, especially fatal in an economical point of view and in a moral. Morally considered, its evils are obvious. It is the parent of envy, hatred, and all uncharitableness; it makes every one the natural enemy of all others who cross his path, and every one’s path is constantly liable to be crossed. Under the present system hardly any one can gain except by the loss or disappointment of one or of many others. In a well-constituted community every one would be a gainer by every other person’s successful exertions; while now we gain by each other’s loss and lose by each other’s gain, and our greatest gains come from the worst source of all, from death, the death of those who are nearest and should be dearest to us. In its purely economical operation the principle of individual competition receives as unqualified condemnation from the social reformers as in its moral. In the competition of labourers they see the cause of low wages; in the competition of producers the cause of ruin and bankruptcy; and both evils, they affirm, tend constantly to increase as population and wealth make progress; no person (they conceive) being benefited except the great proprietors of land, the holders of fixed money incomes, and a few great capitalists, whose wealth is gradually enabling them to undersell all other producers, to absorb the whole of the operations of industry into their own sphere, to drive from the market all employers of labour except themselves, and to convert the labourers into a kind of slaves or serfs, dependent on them for the means of support, and compelled to accept these on such terms as they choose to offer. Society, in short, is travelling onward, according to these speculators, towards a new feudality, that of the great capitalists.
Who with any good-will and reflection will not see how much the want of coherence—the disorder, the want of combination, the parcelling out of labour and leaving it wholly to individual action without any organization, without any large or general views—are causes which limit the possibilities of production and destroy, or at least waste, our means of action? Does not disorder give birth to poverty, as order and good management give birth to riches? Is not want of combination a source of weakness, as combination is a source of strength? And who can say that industry, whether agricultural, domestic, manufacturing, scientific, artistic, or commercial, is organized at the present day either in the state or in municipalities? Who can say that all the work which is carried on in any of these departments is executed in subordination to any general views, or with foresight, economy, and order? Or, again, who can say that it is possible in our present state of society to develop, by a good education, all the faculties bestowed by nature on each of its members; to employ each one in functions which he would like, which he would be the most capable of, and which, therefore, he could carry on with the greatest advantage to himself and to others? Has it even been so much as attempted to solve the problems presented by varieties of character so as to regulate and harmonize the varieties of employments in accordance with natural aptitudes? Alas! The Utopia of the most ardent philanthropists is to teach reading and writing to twenty-five millions of the French people! And in the present state of things we may defy them to succeed even in that!
We all know that failures are Stepping Stones to Success.
Mr. Thornton enters into a minute examination of the limits to the efficacy of Trades’ Unions—the circumstances in which increased wages may be claimed with a prospect of success, and, if successful, of permanence. These discussions I must content myself with recommending to the attention of the reader, who will find in them much matter of great value. In the present article there is only room for the most general considerations, either of political economy or of morals. Under the former aspect, there is a view of the question, not overlooked by the author, but hardly, perhaps, made sufficiently prominent by him. From the necessity of the case, the only fund out of which an increase of wages can possibly be obtained by the labouring classes considered as a whole, is profits. This is contrary to the common opinion, both of the general public and of the workmen themselves, who think that there is a second source from which it is possible for the augmentation to come, namely, prices. The employer, they think, can, if foreign or other competition will let him, indemnify himself for the additional wages demanded of him, by charging an increased price to the consumer. And this may certainly happen in single trades, and even in large branches of trade, under conditions which are carefully investigated by Mr. Thornton. The building trade, in its numerous subdivisions, is one of the most salient instances. But though a rise of wages in a given trade may be compensated to the masters by a rise of the price of their commodity, a rise of general wages cannot be compensated to employers generally by a general rise of prices. This distinction is never understood by those who have not considered the subject, but there are few truths more obvious to all who have. There cannot be a general rise of prices unless there is more money expended. But the rise of wages does not cause more money to be expended. It takes from the incomes of the masters and adds to those of the workmen; the former have less to spend, the latter have more; but the general sum of the money incomes of the community remains what it was, and it is upon that sum that money prices depend. There cannot be more money expended on everything, when there is not more money to be expended altogether. In the second place, even if there did happen a rise of all prices, the only effect would be that money, having become of less value in the particular country, while it remained of its former value everywhere else, would be exported until prices were brought down to nearly or quite their former level. But thirdly: even on the impossible supposition that the rise of prices could be kept up, yet, being general, it would not compensate the employer; for though his money returns would be greater, his outgoings (except the fixed payments to those to whom he is in debt) would be increased in the same proportion. Finally, if when wages rose all prices rose in the same ratio, the labourers would be no better off with high wages than with low; their wages would not command more of any article of consumption; a real rise of wages, therefore, would be an impossibility.
Again, the author, in his chapter on the Rights of Capital [pp. 124ff.], very truly and forcibly argues, that these are a portion of the rights of labour. They are the rights of past labour, since labour is the source of all capital; and are sacred, in the same sense, and in an equal degree, with those of present labour. From this he deduces the equal legitimacy of any contract for employment, which past labour may impose on the necessities of present labour, provided there is no taint of force or fraud. But is there no taint of force or fraud in the original title of many owners of past labour? The author states the case as if all property, from the beginning of time, had been honestly come by; either produced by the labour of the owner himself, or bestowed on him by gift or bequest from those whose labour did produce it. But how stands the fact? Landed property at least, in all the countries of modern Europe, derives its origin from force; the land was taken by military violence from former possessors, by those from whom it has been transmitted to its present owners. True, much of it has changed hands by purchase, and has come into the possession of persons who had earned the purchase-money by their labour; but the sellers could not impart to others a better title than they themselves possessed. Movable property, no doubt, has on the whole a purer origin, its first acquirers having mostly worked for it, at something useful to their fellow-citizens. But, looking at the question merely historically, and confining our attention to the larger masses, the doctrine that the rights of capital are those of past labour is liable even here to great abatements. Putting aside what has been acquired by fraud, or by the many modes of taking advantage of circumstances, which are deemed fair in commerce, though a person of a delicate conscience would scruple to use them in most of the other concerns of life—omitting all these considerations, how many of the great commercial fortunes have been, at least partly, built up by practices which in a better state of society would have been impossible—jobbing contracts, profligate loans, or other abuses of Government expenditure, improper use of public positions, monopolies, and other bad laws, or perhaps only by the manifold advantages which imperfect social institutions gave to those who are already rich, over their poorer fellow-citizens, in the general struggle of life? We may be told that there is such a thing as prescription, and that a bad title may become a good one by lapse of time. It may, and there are excellent reasons of general utility why it should; but there would be some difficulty in establishing this position from any principle. It is of great importance to the good order and comfort of the world that an amnesty should be granted to all wrongs of so remote a date that the evidence necessary for the ascertainment of title is no longer accessible, or that the reversal of the wrong would cause greater insecurity and greater social disturbance than its condonation. This is true, but I believe that no person ever succeeded in reconciling himself to the conviction, without doing considerable violence to what is called the instinctive sentiment of justice. It is not at all conformable to intuitive morality that a wrong should cease to be a wrong because of what is really an aggravation, its durable character; that because crime has been successful for a certain limited period, society for its own convenience should guarantee its success for all time to come. Accordingly, those who construct their systems of society upon the natural rights of man, usually add to the word natural the word imprescriptible, and strenuously maintain that it is impossible to acquire a fee-simple in an injustice.
Failure is a stepping stone on the way to success.
Whether it has seemed to work or not, every step you've taken up to now has brought you closer to success. Failures are but stepping stones on the road to success. You have the confidence to move ahead. You understand that your desire for success has to be greater than your fear of disappointment and failure. Take the steps that will take you were you need to be. It’s up to you.
Yes, and I certainly see great reason in that. The advantages which the possession of large capital gives, which are very great, and which are growing greater and greater inasmuch as it is the tendency of business more and more to be conducted on a large scale; these advantages are at present, not from any intention of the Legislature, but arising from things into which intention does not enter at all, to a great degree a monopoly in the hands of the rich, and it is natural that the poor should desire to obtain those same advantages by association, the only way in which they can do so. Perhaps I may add this also: I think there is no way in which the working classes can make so beneficial a use of their savings both to themselves and to society, as by the formation of associations to carry on the business with which they are acquainted, and in which they are themselves engaged as workpeople, provided always that experience should show that these associations can keep together. If the experiment should succeed, I think there is much more advantage to be gained to the working classes by this than by any other mode of investing their savings. I do not speak of political or social considerations, but in a purely economical sense. When it has happened to any one, as it must have happened to most people, to have inquired or to have known in particular cases what portion of the price paid at a shop for an article really goes to the person who made it, and forms his remuneration, I think any one who has had occasion to make inquiries into that fact, must often have been astonished to find how small it is, and how much less a proportion the remuneration of the real labourer bears to the whole price than would be supposed beforehand; and it is of great importance to consider what is the cause of this. Now one thing is very important to remember in itself, and it is important that the working classes should be aware of it; and that is, that this does not arise from the extravagant remuneration of capital. Capital, when the security is good, can be borrowed in any quantity at little more than three per cent., and I imagine there is no co-operative association of working-people who would find it their interest to allow less than that remuneration, as an inducement to any of their members who, instead of consuming their share of the proceeds, might choose to save it, and add it to the capital of the association. Therefore it is not from the remuneration of capital that the evil proceeds. I think it proceeds from two causes: one of them (which does not fall strictly within the limits of the inquiry which the Committee is carrying on) is the very great, I may say, extravagant portion of the whole produce of the community that now goes to mere distributors; the immense amount that is taken up by the different classes of dealers, and especially by retailers. Competition no doubt has some tendency to reduce this rate of remuneration; still I am afraid that in most cases, looking at it on the whole, the effect of competition is, as in the case of the fees of professional people, rather to divide the amount among a larger number, and so diminish the share of each, than to lower the scale of what is obtained by the class generally. Another cause, more immediately connected with the present inquiry, is the difference between interest which is low, and profits which are high. Writers have very often set down all which is not interest, all that portion of profit which is in excess of interest, as the wages of superintendence, as Adam Smith terms it, and, in one point of view, it is properly called so. But then it should be added, that the wages of the labour of superintendence are not regulated like other wages by demand and supply, but are in reality the subject of a sort of monopoly; because the management of capital is a thing which no person can command except the person who has capital of his own, and therefore he is able, if he has a large capital, to obtain, in addition to interest, often a very large profit, for one-tenth part of which he could, and very often does, engage the services of some competent person to transact the whole of the labour of management, which would otherwise devolve upon himself. I do not say that this is unjust in the present state of society, for it is a necessary consequence of the law of property, and must exist while that law exists in its present form; but it is very natural that the working classes should wish to try whether they could not contrive to get this portion of the produce of their labour for themselves, so that the whole of the proceeds of an enterprize in which they were engaged might be theirs, after deducting the real remuneration of the capital they may require from others, which we know does not in general, when the security is good, much exceed three per cent. This seems to be an extremely legitimate purpose on the part of the working classes, and one that it would be desirable to carry out, if it could be effected; so that the enterprizes in which they would be engaged would not be conducted, as they are now, by a capitalist, hiring labourers as he wants them, but by the labourers themselves, mental as well as manual, hiring the capital they require at the market rate.
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