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The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour

Abstract

PROFESSOR FOXWELL treats his part of this book as complementary to Dr. Menger's treatise, but in reality he contributes more than half of the actual printed pages. To allocate the shares briefly, Dr. Menger has analysed critically and historically the socialistic theories of natural rights; Prof. Foxwell has written the history of early English socialists, and added a complete list of their works. The main interest of the book to English readers will be this rescue from oblivion of the men to whom the whole of modern socialistic theory is originally due; they are Godwin, Hall, Thompson, Gray, Hodgskin, and Bray. Godwin's “Political Justice”(1793) analyses the right to property, regarding want as the only equitable right, thus forecasting the phrase “to each according to his needs.” Hall's “Effects of Civilisation on the People in European States”(1805) contends that the chief effects are, on the one hand, a constant increase of the wealth and power of the idle rich, and, on the other, the greater poverty and subjection of the labouring poor. Thompson's “Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth most conducive to Human Happiness”(1824) bases his hypotheses on “the ascertained truths of political economy” of the new Ricardian school, to whose “crude generalisations” socialism owed “its fancied scientific basis,” and who, “by a singular irony of fate, by this imperfect presentation of economic doctrine, did more than any intentionally socialist writer to sap the foundations of that form of society which he was trying to explain, and which he believed to be the typical and natural, if not, indeed, the ideal social state.” Thompson held that “to the producer should be secured the free use of whatever his labour has produced,” while the capitalist should be indemnified for the wear and tear of his goods, and receive an income equal to that of the bes workmen, but that rent and interest are only forced abstractions sanctioned by law.

The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour.

By Dr. Anton Menger, Professor of Jurisprudence in the University of Vienna. Translated by M. E. Tanner, with an Introduction and Bibliography by H. S Foxwell, M.A., Professor of Economics at University College, London. Pp. cxviii + 271. (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1899.)

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B., A. The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour. Nature 59, 555–556 (1899). https://doi.org/10.1038/059555a0

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