List Of Contents | Contents of Utopia of Usurers and other Essays
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The water's waiting in the trough,
The tame oats sown are portioned free,
There is Enough, and just Enough,
And all is ready now but we.

But you have not caught us yet, my lords,
You have us still to get.
A sorry army you'd have got,
Its flags are rags that float and rot,
Its drums are empty pan and pot,
Its baggage is--an empty cot;
But you have not caught us yet.

A little; and we might have slipped
When came your rumours and your sales
And the foiled rich men, feeble-lipped,
Said and unsaid their sorry tales;
Great God!  It needs a bolder brow
To keep ten sheep inside a pen,
And we are sheep no longer now;
You are but Masters.  We are Men.

We give you all good thanks, my lords,
We buy at easy price;
Thanks for the thousands that you stole,
The bribes by wire, the bets on coal,
The knowledge of that naked whole
That hath delivered our flesh and soul
Out of your Paradise.

We had held safe your parks; but when
Men taunted you with bribe and fee,
We only saw the Lord of Men
Grin like an Ape and climb a tree;
And humbly had we stood without
Your princely barns; did we not see
In pointed faces peering out
What Rats now own the granary.

It is too late, too late, my lords,
We give you back your grace:
You cannot with all cajoling
Make the wet ditch, or winds that sting,
Lost pride, or the pawned wedding rings,
Or drink or Death a blacker thing
Than a smile upon your face.


The two kinds of social reform, one of which might conceivably free us at
last while the other would certainly enslave us forever, are exhibited in
an easy working model in the two efforts that have been made for the
soldiers' wives--I mean the effort to increase their allowance and the
effort to curtail their alleged drinking.  In the preliminary
consideration, at any rate, we must see the second question as quite
detached from our own sympathies on the special subject of fermented
liquor.  It could be applied to any other pleasure or ornament of life; it
will be applied to every other pleasure and ornament of life if the
Capitalist campaign can succeed.  The argument we know; but it cannot be
too often made clear.  An employer, let us say, pays a seamstress twopence
a day, and she does not seem to thrive on it.  So little, perhaps, does
she thrive on it that the employer has even some difficulty in thriving
upon her.  There are only two things that he can do, and the distinction
between them cuts the whole social and political world in two.  It is a
touchstone by which we can--not sometimes, but always--distinguish
economic equality from servile social reform.  He can give the girl some
magnificent sum, such as sixpence a day, to do as she likes with, and
trust that her improved health and temper will work for the benefit of his
business.  Or he may keep her to the original sum of a shilling a week,
but earmark each of the pennies to be used or not to be used for a
particular purpose.  If she must not spend this penny on a bunch of
violets, or that penny on a novelette, or the other penny on a toy for
some baby, it is possible that she will concentrate her expenditure more
upon physical necessities, and so become, from the employer's point of
view, a more efficient person.  Without the trouble of adding twopence to
her wages, he has added twopenny-worth to her food.  In short, she has the
holy satisfaction of being worth more without being paid more.

This Capitalist is an ingenious person, and has many polished
characteristics; but I think the most singular thing about him is his
staggering lack of shame.  Neither the hour of death nor the day of
reckoning, neither the tent of exile nor the house of mourning, neither
chivalry nor patriotism, neither womanhood nor widowhood, is safe at this
supreme moment from his dirty little expedient of dieting the slave.  As
similar bullies, when they collect the slum rents, put a foot in the open
door, these are always ready to push in a muddy wedge wherever there is a
slit in a sundered household or a crack in a broken heart.  To a man of
any manhood nothing can be conceived more loathsome and sacrilegious than
even so much as asking whether a woman who has given up all she loved to
death and the fatherland has or has not shown some weakness in her seeking
for self-comfort.  I know not in which of the two cases I should count
myself the baser for inquiring--a case where the charge was false or a
case where it was true.  But the philanthropic employer of the sort I
describe is not a man of any manhood; in a sense he is not a man at all.
He shows some consciousness of the fact when he calls his workers "men" as
distinct from masters.  He cannot comprehend the gallantry of
costermongers or the delicacy that is quite common among cabmen.  He finds
this social reform by half-rations on the whole to his mercantile profit,
and it will be hard to get him to think of anything else.

But there are people assisting him, people like the Duchess of Marlborough,
who know not their right hand from their left, and to these we may
legitimately address our remonstrance and a resume of some of the facts
they do not know.  The Duchess of Marlborough is, I believe, an American,
and this separates her from the problem in a special way, because the
drink question in America is entirely different from the drink question in
England.  But I wish the Duchess of Marlborough would pin up in her
private study, side by side with the Declaration of Independence, a
document recording the following simple truths: (1) Beer, which is largely
drunk in public-houses, is not a spirit or a grog or a cocktail or a drug.
It is the common English liquid for quenching the thirst; it is so still
among innumerable gentlemen, and, until very lately, was so among
innumerable ladies.  Most of us remember dames of the last generation
whose manners were fit for Versailles, and who drank ale or Stout as a
matter of course.  Schoolboys drank ale as a matter of course, and their
schoolmasters gave it to them as a matter of course.  To tell a poor woman
that she must not have any until half the day is over is simply cracked,
like telling a dog or a child that he must not have water.  (2) The
public-house is not a secret rendezvous of bad characters.  It is the open
and obvious place for a certain purpose, which all men used for that
purpose until the rich began to be snobs and the poor to become slaves.
One might as well warn people against Willesden Junction.  (3) Many poor
people live in houses where they cannot, without great preparation, offer
hospitality.  (4) The climate of these picturesque islands does not favour
conducting long conversations with one's oldest friends on an iron seat in
the park.  (5) Halfpast eleven a.m.  is not early in the day for a woman
who gets up before six.  (6) The bodies and minds of these women belong to
God and to themselves.


Something has come into our community, which is strong enough to save our
community; but which has not yet got a name.  Let no one fancy I confess
any unreality when I confess the namelessness.  The morality called
Puritanism, the tendency called Liberalism, the reaction called Tory
Democracy, had not only long been powerful, but had practically done most
of their work, before these actual names were attached to them.
Nevertheless, I think it would be a good thing to have some portable and
practicable way of referring to those who think as we do in our main
concern.  Which is, that men in England are ruled, at this minute by the
clock, by brutes who refuse them bread, by liars who refuse them news, and
by fools who cannot govern, and therefore wish to enslave.

Let me explain first why I am not satisfied with the word commonly used,
Which I have often used myself; and which, in some contexts, is quite the
right word to use.  I mean the word "rebel."  Passing over the fact that
many who understand the justice of our cause (as a great many at the
Universities) would still use the word "rebel" in its old and strict sense
as meaning only a disturber of just rule.  I pass to a much more practical
point.  The word "rebel" understates our cause.  It is much too mild; it
lets our enemies off much too easily.  There is a tradition in all western
life and letters of Prometheus defying the stars, of man at war with the
Universe, and dreaming what nature had never dared to dream.  All this is
valuable in its place and proportion.  But it has nothing whatever to do
with our ease; or rather it very much weakens it.  The plutocrats will be
only too pleased if we profess to preach a new morality; for they know
jolly well that they have broken the old one.  They will be only too
pleased to be able to say that we, by our own confession, are merely
restless and negative; that we are only what we call rebels and they call
cranks.  But it is not true; and we must not concede it to them for a
moment.  The model millionaire is more of a crank than the Socialists;
just as Nero was more of a crank than the Christians.  And avarice has
gone mad in the governing class to-day, just as lust went mad in the
circle of Nero.  By all the working and orthodox standards of sanity,
capitalism is insane.  I should not say to Mr.  Rockefeller "I am a rebel."
I should say "I am a respectable man: and you are not."

Our Lawless Enemies

But the vital point is that the confession of mere rebellion softens the
startling lawlessness of our enemies.  Suppose a publisher's clerk
politely asked his employer for a rise in his salary; and, on being
refused, said he must leave the employmont?  Suppose the employer knocked
him down with a ruler, tied him up as a brown paper parcel, addressed him
(in a fine business hand) to the Governor of Rio Janeiro and then asked
the policeman to promise never to arrest him for what he had done?  That
is a precise copy, in every legal and moral principle, of the "deportation
of the strikers." They were assaulted and kidnapped for not accepting a
contract, and for nothing else; and the act was so avowedly criminal that
the law had to be altered afterwards to cover the crime.  Now suppose
some postal official, between here and Rio Janeiro, had noticed a faint
kicking inside the brown paper parcel, and had attempted to ascertain the
cause.  And suppose the clerk could only explain, in a muffled voice
through the brown paper, that he was by constitution and temperament a
Rebel.  Don't you see that he would be rather understating his case?
Don't you see he would be bearing his injuries much too meekly?  They
might take him out of the parcel; but they would very possibly put him
into a mad-house instead.  Symbolically speaking, that is what they would
like to do with us.  Symbolically speaking, the dirty misers who rule us
will put us in a mad-house--unless we can put them there.

Or suppose a bank cashier were admittedly allowed to take the money out of
the till, and put it loose in his pocket, more or less mixed up with his
own money; afterwards laying some of both (at different odds) on "Blue
Murder" for the Derby.  Suppose when some depositor asked mildly what day
the accountants came, he smote that astonished inquirer on the nose,
crying: "Slanderer!  Mud-slinger!" and suppose he then resigned his
position.  Suppose no books were shown.  Suppose when the new cashier
came to be initiated into his duties, the old cashier did not tell him
about the money, but confided it to the honour and delicacy of his own
maiden aunt at Cricklewood.  Suppose he then went off in a yacht to visit
the whale fisheries of the North Sea.  Well, in every moral and legal
principle, that is a precise account of the dealings with the Party Funds.
But what would the banker say? What would the clients say?  One thing, I
think, I can venture to promise; the banker would not march up and down
the office exclaiming in rapture, "I'm a rebel!  That's what I am, a rebel!"
And if he said to the first indignant depositor "You are a rebel," I
fear the depositor might answer, "You are a robber." We have no need to
elaborate arguments for breaking the law.  The capitalists have broken the
law.  We have no need of further moralities.  They have broken their own
morality.  It is as if you were to run down the street shouting,
"Communism!  Communism! Share!  Share!"  after a man who had run away with
your watch.

We want a term that will tell everybody that there is, by the common
standard, frank fraud and cruelty pushed to their fierce extreme; and that
we are fighting THEM. We are not in a state of "divine discontent"; we are
in an entirely human and entirely reasonable rage.  We say we have been
swindled and oppressed, and we are quite ready and able to prove it before
any tribunal that allows us to call a swindler a swindler.  It is the
protection of the present system that most of its tribunals do not.  I
cannot at the moment think of any party name that would particularly
distinguish us from our more powerful and prosperous opponents, unless it
were the name the old Jacobites gave themselves; the Honest Party.

Captured Our Standards

I think it is plain that for the purpose of facing these new and infamous
modern facts, we cannot, with any safety, depend on any of the old
nineteenth century names; Socialist, or Communist, or Radical, or Liberal,
or Labour.  They are all honourable names; they all stand, or stood, for
things in which we may still believe; we can still apply them to other
problems; but not to this one.  We have no longer a monopoly of these
names.  Let it be understood that I am not speaking here of the
philosophical problem of their meaning, but of the practical problem of
their use.  When I called myself a Radical I knew Mr. Balfour would not
call himself a Radical; therefore there was some use in the word.  When I
called myself a Socialist I knew Lord Penrhyn would not call himself a
Socialist; therefore there was some use in the word.  But the capitalists,
in that aggressive march which is the main fact of our time, have captured
our standards, both in the military and philosophic sense of the word.
And it is useless for us to march under colours which they can carry as
well as we.

Do you believe in Democracy?  The devils also believe and tremble.  Do you
believe in Trades Unionism?  The Labour Members also believe; and tremble
like a falling teetotum.  Do you believe in the State?  The Samuels also
believe, and grin.  Do you believe in the centralisation of Empire?  So
did Beit.  Do you believe in the decentralisation of Empire?  So does Albu.
Do you believe in the brotherhood of men: and do you, dear brethren,
believe that Brother Arthur Henderson does not?  Do you cry, "The world
for the workers!"  and do you imagine Philip Snowden would not?  What we
need is a name that shall declare, not that the modern treason and tyranny
are bad, but that they are quite literally, intolerable: and that we mean
to act accordingly.  I really think "the Limits" would be as good a name
as any.  But, anyhow, something is born among us that is as strong as an
infant Hercules: and it is part of my prejudices to want it christened.  I

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