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ever, be idle, and worse than idle, to ignore the truth that under no conceivable circumstances can the soil of this country feed the teeming population which is now concentrated in these islands. The density of population in Great Britain is at present 480 to the square mile (640 acres), so that the whole standing room of the island is only one and one-third acres for each person. France, with roughly three and one-third acres per head of population, is approximately self-supporting in food production. But, as a recent writer has pointed out, no less than 24 acres of soil are in France cultivated for each person. The amount of cultivated land in France is thus not very far short of twice the amount which Great Britain could provide for each inhabitant, even if we ploughed up our cities as well as waste land. The same writer points out that the agricultural statistics of Austria and Hungary confirm the evidence of France, that in our latitudes the countries which produce a surplus of food have considerably more than three acres per head, in other words, a density of population less than two hundred to the square mile. These are physical facts which no amount of sympathy can alter and which it were the height of folly to ignore.

Politically, it is important that the land of the country should produce the maximum amount of food of which it is capable, without too much regard for the cost at which it is produced; socially, it is important that ownership should be so far diffused as to give the maximum degree of stability to the commonweal, and at the same time to contribute to the happiness, satisfaction, and general well-being of its individual citizens; but economically the community is interested in the home production of food and other raw materials only in so far as they can be produced at home more cheaply than they can be bought from abroad. If this latter condition be not fulfilled it might be to the public advantage, from the purely economic standpoint, that every acre of agricultural land should become derelict.

1 Vaughan Cornish, A Geography of Imperial Defence, p. 93.

Such a development is in the highest degree unlikely, and even if economic considerations were to bring it within the sphere of possibility, political and social reasons would operate to forbid such a consummation. None the less is it advisable, in the interests of clear thinking, to isolate the issues. A final judgment will give due weight to each; it will take into account the requirements of national defence no less than considerations of opulence, of social contentment and individual happiness. It is conceivable that the interests of the community, broadly estimated, might dictate a policy of artificial encouragement to agriculture; it might be necessary in order to secure the highest possible yield from the soil to consolidate holdings and to apply to the production of food the principles of the factory system without regard to social amenities or the legitimate wishes of individuals; it might, for similar or other reasons, be necessary to effect sweeping changes in tenure: to 'nationalize' the land, or, conversely, to multiply peasant owners at the charge of the State.

Let it not be imagined that any one of these contingencies is regarded as probable, still less as desirable. They are indicated in order to emphasize the argument that it is essential to the formation of a right judgment to study these questions in the dry light of the laboratory, and in scientific isolation, before the considerations appropriate to each aspect of them be combined in the synthesis which should guide opinion and inspire policy.

Law of




"The gods sell us all good things for the price of our labour.'— XENOPHON.

'This we commanded you that if any would not work neither should he eat.'-ST. PAUL (2 Thess. iii. 10).

The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplied it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labour or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations.'-ADAM SMITH, Wealth of Nations.

'The most important of the sources of gain in productive power... is found in that mastership of industry which is created by the division of labour... Whatever may be true of politics the industry of the world is not tending toward democracy... mastership in industry is the most characteristic fact of the industrial system of to-day.'-F. A. WALKER.


N every community, civilized or uncivilized, backward or advanced, the great mass of the people are, to use the conventional phrase, 'compelled to work for a living'. This is no man-made law, but an inexorable decree of nature. A certain class of contemporary literature teems with references to the idle rich', but the phrase is mainly utilized for purposes of economic and political propaganda, and does not correspond to reality. The rich, as will be demonstrated when we pass to the problem of distribution, are relatively few in number; not all the rich are idle, and the few idle rich are living, as a rule, on the products of the labour of their immediate ancestors. There is a Lancashire saying, 'Clogs to clogs in three generations'; and there is more truth embodied in the homely proverb than is generally recognized. It indicates that one generation in three may possibly, though by no means invariably, take their ease. But the fool and his money are soon parted, and it has been shrewdly observed

that it requires almost greater ability and hardly less industry to keep money than to make it.

Most people, then, have to work in order that they may live; but the character of that life, the material comforts which their labour may secure to them vary enormously according to circumstances. Those circumstances, or in technical language the conditions which make for efficiency in production, must now be subjected to closer analysis.

The essential problem, let it be repeated, is to secure the greatest possible amount of wealth with the least expenditure of energy. Work, in itself, is not economically desirable. It may be morally beneficial to character that a man should work, and it may be for the well-being of society, that he should be under necessity to work. But economically work is not a good but an evil. Yet people who are out of work are said to want work. As a fact, they do not; what they want is the product of work: food, warmth, shelter, clothing. It is true that there are some exceptional individuals who, again using a conventional phrase, like work for its own sake; but that is not the natural instinct of mankind. Some people inherit from a long succession of industrious ancestors a superabundant energy which manifests itself in a variety of forms, physical, intellectual, commercial, and so on; but the natural man is averse from work. It is true that many men, although working under the stress of necessity, nevertheless take a pride in their work; but this merely means that the reward they anticipate is not only material comfort or sustenance, but intelligent appreciation. The mass of mankind do not live to work but work to live; and if one man works harder than his fellows, it is in order that he may live better.


On what conditions then does successful production, or The conin plainer language, a constant and abundant supply of ditions of commodities, depend? Those conditions may be roughly of prosummarized under five main categories. (1) Physical advantages external to man: or the gifts of nature; (2) the endowments and aptitudes of the individual; (3) the


Land and



Labour: conditions of its

organization and direction of industry; (4) an abundant supply of cheap capital, and the provision of facilities, such as those afforded by banks and credit institutions for obtaining the use of it; and (5) the character of the government; its competence to maintain order, to legislate wisely, and administer firmly, and its ability to carry on the essential work of government at the lowest possible cost to the individual citizen.

Of the first category, something has already been said in the previous chapter. Land, as we have seen, is, if not the exclusive, at any rate the primary source of wealth; and land must be taken to include not merely the ordinary products of agriculture, but all raw materials, and all physical or natural advantages such as abundance and accessibility of water; suitability of climate; and geographical proximity, on the one hand to centres of supply, and on the other to appropriate markets. Labour is, no doubt, the fund from which a community is supplied with the 'necessaries and conveniences of life', but the productivity of labour, its ability to supply necessaries and conveniences, depends in no small degree upon external advantages conferred or denied by nature. Under modern conditions, however, these advantages, though not impartially conferred by nature, are in fact, to a large extent, equalized by the applied resources of civilization.

With the equalization of natural advantages, a greater proportionate degree of importance attaches to the element efficiency. of labour. This element may, as already hinted, be regarded on the one hand from the point of view of the individual worker, and on the other from that of the organization and direction of the industry to which his labour contributes. The first essential for the worker in almost every sphere of human activity is physical health and strength. Next in importance, and not infrequently of superior importance, is technical skill and aptitude. Such aptitude may of course be acquired. Yet few people are aware in how large a degree even in occupations which appear to be purely mechanical, aptitude is inherited.

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