Love, Marriage, and Divorce (1853/1889)

by Henry James, Sr. (1811-1882), Horace Greeley (1811-1872)
and Stephen Pearl Andrews (1812-1886)


[Online editor’s note: This appendix appears only in the first edition (1853). – RTL.]

[The following discussion with the Tribune, partly upon the Sovereignty of the individual and partly upon the Cost Principle, occurred previously to that upon Marriage and Divorce, contained in the preceding pages. I insert it here, as well to preserve it, as a part of the history of the reception of those doctrines, as, also, further to elucidate points which are referred to in the preceding Discussion and not there sufficiently explained. It is my object so far to interest the reader in the whole subject, if possible, that he will pursue it afterward in the larger works devoted to a more formal exposition of the Principles.]


[by George Ripley (1802-1820)]

LMD-Appx1.3 This is a new and enlarged edition of the original work on Social Science, which has furnished its present editor, Mr. S. P. Andrews, with the basis for the views which he has set forth with so much force of argument and felicity of illustration in his recent publications, entitled “The True Constitution of Government” and “Cost the Limit of Price.” Of the profound importance which he attaches to the alleged discoveries of Mr. Warren, no one can doubt after reading the preface to this volume. He announces it as “one of the most remarkable ever printed – a condensed presentation of the most fundamental principles of Social Science ever yet discovered. He does not hesitate to affirm that there is more scientific truth, positively new to the world, and immensely important in its bearings upon the destiny of mankind, contained in it than was ever before consigned to the same number of pages.” It is the deep conviction of the truth of their system, which is cherished both by Mr. Warren and Mr. Andrews, we are willing to own, which has awakened our interest in the subject, rather than any sympathy with its methods or any faith in its pretensions. We have an inborn catholicity of taste for every thing which claims to be a scientific improvement, and can never repudiate a theory which challenges our acceptance, on rational grounds, without first endeavoring to look at it in the point of view in which it is presented. Indeed, we hold it the duty of every free mind to exercise a large hospitality to novel systems, in proportion to the scorn and neglect which they are likely to experience at the hands of a timid and unreasoning conservatism. In the present case, we can not better show our appreciation of the ability and genuine devotion to social progress, displayed in this little volume, than by the perfect frankness with which we shall criticise its claims.
LMD-Appx1.4 One of the two leading principles to which the work is devoted receives our heart concurrence. This is, the establishment of individual Sovereignty as the object of social organization. A variety of forcible considerations, in support of this position, are brought forward by Mr. Warren. But on this point his views can not pretend to novelty. They have, perhaps, never been more admirably stated than by Mr. Andrews in his treatise on “Government;” but they more or less distinctly pervade the writings of all who have perceived the superiority of man to his accidents. In our opinion the guarantee of individual rights is the paramount object of social reform. Our zeal for the masses is based on a sense of the individual injustice which arises from the usurpations of privilege. The most complete development of humanity, in all its parts, all its members, all its fragments, is as much the purpose of a true social order, as the most perfect action of the productive elements of the earth and atmosphere is the aim of a true system of agriculture. It is the inspiration of this idea which has prompted the efforts of every wise social reformer, and most emphatically of Charles Fourier, the most philosophical, the most profound, and the most comprehensive of all teachers of social science in the nineteenth century. We quarrel with the present order of society because it enslaves the man to institutions, subjects the masses (the aggregate of individuality) to oppressive and crushing influences, keeps the noblest elements of humanity in a state of slumber or paralysis, leaves no scope to the various manifestations of genius, reduce the people to a dead level of custom and fashion, and absolutely deprives myriads of the living, breathing, aspiring beings, who bear the impress of creative Deity on their natures, of the essential conditions of physical health, spiritual culture, interior harmony, and glorious beatitude, which is implied in the Christian verity that man is made in the image of God.
LMD-Appx1.5 The development and sovereignty of the individual is a chimera without the possession of property. The universal instinct, which dreads poverty as the crowning terror of life, is a genuine impulse of nature. If in one sense it is true, that the rich man can not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it is equally true in anther sense, that the Kingdom of Heaven can not enter within the soul of the poor man. He is shut out from command of himself, which is the essential foundation of celestial felicity. He can not do what he will with his own; for he has neither choice nor ownership. He is under bondage to the external world, to society, to his own physical wants. His very selfhood is eaten out of him by the canker of sharp necessity and inexorable care. He has no guarantee that he can find a place to lay his head, for houses and land are monopolized. He may be in want of food to eat, for the silver and gold are no longer the Lord’s, nor the cattle on a thousand hills, but have become the prey of the strong, and the shrewd, and the ungodly. Even the right to gain his bread by the sweat of his brow depends on the convenience of capital, which may be the least in need of his work when he most wants something to eat. Still less has he any chance of attaining the spiritual culture and harmony which are the birthright of man – the golden fruitage of affection and hope – the enchantments of poetry – the charms of divine philosophy – the ample revelations of science – and the serene grandeur of thought and feeling inspired by the consciousness of an ever-present God. Alas! he is the first to lose the sentiment of humanity amid the dismal shades of ignorance and the blind terrors of superstition.
LMD-Appx1.6 Hence, we maintain, that man can not be a man without property. He can not be his own, without an outward owndom. He can not be master of his soul without first being master if external nature. If he would be an individual he must also be a proprietor. In fact, this is involved in the very significance of the terms. If the individual is divided off (individualized) he must possess something peculiar, proper to himself (proprium, property), or he might as well be lost in the mass.
LMD-Appx1.7 Socialism, accordingly, which aims to make all society a body of proprietors – giving each man the ownership of every thing essential to his development – establishes the Sovereignty of the Individual.
LMD-Appx1.8 The whole course of political progress tends to the same result. He must be stone-blind who does not see that the revolutionary spirit of the age is a struggle for Individual Sovereignty – for the inauguration of man in the power and glory of universal humanity. This tendency is apparent from the progress of history, and its successive gradations may be easily traced to their first principles in human nature.
LMD-Appx1.9 In a state of society where brute force and cunning are the prominent features, monarchy is the natural, perhaps the inevitable order. The sovereignty of one man usurps the sovereignty of the people. The will of the masses, and, of course, the will of the individuals composing the masses, is lost in the will of the despot. The sentiment of humanity is absorbed in the possession of power. A step in advance is gained by the development of aristocracy. The sovereignty is claimed by a privileged few, to whom the masses are subservient instead of to the monarchy. But here is a step toward the diffusion of privilege. The one-man power has yielded to the power of the magnates. Humanity, however, is far from its goal. The will of “the dear God who loveth all” is not yet accomplished. Democracy must be established, proclaiming equality against privilege, the people against the aristocracy, the masses against classes, man against men. But the practical working of democracy effects only the sovereignty of the majority. Taking power from the few, who had seized it from the monarchy (the one-man power), it gives it to the many. But with all its pretensions, democracy does not emancipate the masses. The Sovereignty of the Individual has not yet arrived, because the majority, to a great extent, ignores the interests of the minority, and the majority of to-day may become the minority of to-morrow. Hence, democracy does not guarantee the rights of universal humanity; hence, it is but a stepping-stone to better things to come, and, hence, a new and larger development in the cycle of the ages is as certain as that man has been made partaker of an infinite nature. The last step is the emancipation of humanity by inaugurating the Sovereignty of the Individual. This is the object of Socialism, or at least that from of Socialism which is better known as Association. The Socialist or Associative idea of human society is not monarchy, the sovereignty of one man – nor aristocracy, the sovereignty of a privileged class – but humanity, or the integral Sovereignty of the Individual.
LMD-Appx1.10 This, as we have stated, is a prominent thesis of the present work. But it is not so original as the author seems to suppose. It underlies, more or less definitely expressed, the great humanitary movement, the instinct of which gave such a fervent inspiration to Rousseau, which found a devoted disciple in Herder, which softened the arid formulas of Kant and Fichte by the promise of a glorious future for the race, which has blended with the highest philosophy and poetry of the present age, which has fired the master-spirits of the world with quenchless fervor, and which, in another form, is now everywhere at work in the hearts of the people, and with “fear of change perplexing monarchs.” [Online editor’s note: Milton, Paradise Lost I. 598-99. – RTL] Among social reformers by profession, St. Simon and Fourier regarded the Sovereignty of the Individual as the ultimate end of a true social order. Differing from each other and from the author of this volume, as to the methods of its attainment, they agree in the supremacy of man over institutions as the true destiny of the race. The same idea has been elaborated, we need not say, with rare force and eloquence, by our friend Henry James; and though less directly and consciously, is the dominant thought in the most valuable writings of Dr. Channing and Theodore Parker. [Online editor’s note: William Ellery Channing (1780-1842; not to be confused with his nephew of the same name, a poet) and Theodore Parker (1810-1860), Unitarian ministers and antislavery activists. – RTL] We do not call in question the fact that Mr. Warren has drawn his system form his own mind. In that sense, his clam to originality will stand good. There is no reason to suppose that he owes it to foreign suggestion. But he exaggerates his own share in its promulgation. He is by no means the exclusive herald of an idea, with which the age is fermenting.
LMD-Appx1.11 We have said that the possession of property is essential to the sovereignty of the individual. In this statement, we find the refutation of Mr. Warren’s second principle, that “Cost is the Limit of Price.” According to this theory, equal amounts of labor are made to balance each other, without regard to the value of the product. Equitable Commerce, it maintains, is the exchange of the results of equal labor, as virtual equivalents. A commodity which has cost you the labor of an hour is to be exchanged on equal terms for one that has cost me labor to the same amount of time, irrespective of the utility of the product to either party.
LMD-Appx1.12 Now we utterly fail to perceive the connection of this principle, with that of the sovereignty of the individual. On the contrary, we are persuaded that they are in irreconcilable antagonism. The sovereignty of the individual is secured only by the guarantee of individual property. Universal freedom depends on universal ownership. But the right of property is based on the right of the individual to the products of his labor. If there is an intuitive principle in the science of society, it is this. Just in proportion as this natural right is set aside, the individual loses one of the most important elements of sovereignty. We do not say that an individual, or a society of individuals, may not waive their exercise of this right, for the sake of another order of considerations. For instance, I yield the rigid application of the principle, in behalf of social charity. I assent to the arrangement by which a portion of the products of my labor is assigned to the child, the sick, the infirm, the aged; but this is a voluntary act in obedience to my conviction, that the strong ought to share the burden of the weak. It is not enforced by the law of natural justice, in the distribution of products, but adopted as the dictate of benevolent sentiment. Or I may belong to an industrial association, consisting of various branches of industry, and organized on the plan of dividing the aggregate product of labor, according to the amount performed, instead of allowing each individual to enjoy the actual, specific product of his labor. But this, again, is a voluntary abdication of a natural right in the interests of social unity. It is prompted by the sentiment of friendship, a desire for an equality surpassing that of nature, or by other motives, no matter what. No one can pretend that it is the result of a scientific analysis of the methods of industrial repartititon. In like manner, I can conceive of a society founded on the principle of “Cost the Limit of Price,” as laid down in this volume; and though I should not be sanguine of its success in producing integral harmony, it might be attended with advantages so far superior to the present order, as to justly challenge a fair trial for the experiment. But this admission does not countenance the scientific accuracy of the principle; for which we find no valid reason set forth by the author, and which, in our opinion, is at war with the natural right of the individual to the products of his labor.
LMD-Appx1.13 It follows from this right that my title to the products of my labor is good against the world. No man gave it to me, and no man can take it from me. It is not the result of any legislation of monarch, parliament, or congress, not determined by the vote of any majority, but the enactment of the supreme and divine law inherent in the organization of my nature. But if the product of my labor is my own, no one can decide the terms on which I shall part with it but myself. The right of exchanging it at pleasure is involved in the right of ownership. The attempt to establish a compulsory law for this purpose is a gross violation of my acknowledged sovereignty. This view, we think, is fatal to the theory in question, apart from the practical inconveniences that would arise from its application.
LMD-Appx1.14 We have admitted that the right of the individual to the products of his labor may be set aside or suspended by arrangements to which he gives his voluntary assent. But this does not militate with the scientific validity of the principle. In Communism – of which Mr. Warren’s system is one form, in spite of its pretensions to exclusive individualism – it is renounced in favor of equal distribution, for the sake of absolute equality. Integrating the society as one man, Communism distributes the aggregate products to the aggregate mass. In Association – which, be it well understood, is heaven-wide from Communism – the principle is renounced in favor of a graduated distribution of products, for the sake of integral harmony, proceeding from graduated inequality. In the system of Mr. Warren, which makes “Cost the Limit of Price,” the principle is renounced in favor of an arbitrary arrangement, which, as far as we can see, has no foundation but in the fancy of its inventor. If, in one hour, A produces an article which has ten times the value – measured by its adaptation to supply human wants – of one produced in the same time by B, the parties are bound to exchange them, if exchanged at all, on perfectly equal terms. The absolute ownership of the article is thus destroyed, by an arbitrary restriction on the process of exchange. Could there be a more flagrant violation of the Sovereignty of the Individual?
LMD-Appx1.15 Mr. Warren argues that, making value the limit of price is identical with the maxim of trade, that a thing is worth what to will bring, and that hence it is productive of all the evils due to the “system of civilized cannibalism by which the masses of human beings are mercilessly ground to powder for the accumulation of the wealth of the few.” But this is a fallacy, arising from losing sight of the distinction between mercantile value and absolute value. The mercantile value of a commodity is quite a different thing from its absolute value. The former is determined by several external elements; the latter, by intrinsic qualities. The mercantile value, or the market price of an article, depends on the law of demand and supply, on the prevalence of speculation, on the plenty or scarcity of money, and numerous other conditions irrespective of its absolute value. This is decided by the adaptation of the article to the satisfaction of human wants. Setting aside the mercantile value, then, as factitious, we contend that the adjustment of price, according to absolute value, as one element in the problem, is necessary to the maintenance of Individual Sovereignty. The product being the property of the producer, and its value dependent on its intrinsic qualities, his natural right is defeated by limiting its rice to the cost of production. This must be one element, it is true; but another, and one equally essential, is its absolute value. From these elements the price must be decided by the agreement of the parties. A basket of strawberries and a vase of flowers may be produced by the same amount of labor, but it does not follow that they are exchangeable values; their relation must depend on the tastes of the parties in the trade; if I am willing to give three baskets of strawberries for a vase of flowers, or three hours of my labor for one of yours, it is an equitable transaction, and no arbitrary arrangement can prevent it without infringing the liberty of the Individual.
LMD-Appx1.16 The reverse of this is implied in Mr. Warren’s system, and the presence of this fallacy vitiates much of his reasoning. If the same amount of labor, in different cases, does not produce the same product, it follows that unequal products must be exchanged on equal terms. At first blush this is contrary to equity. Nor does Mr. Warren succeed in making out a reconciliation. He says, indeed, that the genius, skill, facility of execution, or what not, which makes the labor of one man more productive than another, is a natural gift, and must be paid like all the gifts of nature, that is to say, not paid at all. But this is begging the question. Genius and skill are no less indispensable elements of production than muscular force, and no scientific reason, as far as we know, has ever been alleged, why the latter should receive remuneration and not the former. If the agencies of production are to be remunerated at all, why should not the whole of them be remunerated? On what principle is the selection made? Shall the brute force which is devoted to labor be entitled to the product, while the skill which directs and utilizes that force is deprived of its share? This, it seems to us, so far from sustaining Individual Sovereignty, tramples it under foot. The Communists say that the products of labor shall be distributed, not according to the amount of labor, but equally, irrespective of labor, or at least, if a difference is made, it shall be according to the wants of the individual, not according to his industry. Very well. This may be benevolent, but it is not scientific. It proceeds from the law of friendship, not from that of distributive justice. Mr. Warren, while claiming to sustain individuality, approaches Communism, which is the grave of individuality. The Communists set aside all the elements of production as the basis of remuneration. Mr. Warren sets aside all but one element, and yet claims to be at the antipodes of Communism. The Communists are consistent at the expense of individuality; Mr. Warren saves individuality at the expense of his consistency.
LMD-Appx1.17 “Every individual should sustain as much of the common burden as is sustained by any body on his account.” True; but how is the share of the burden to be measured? By the time of labor, says Mr. W., including its difficulty and disagreeableness. By the useful effect of labor, says the common sense of mankind, except in the Communists, who sacrifice distributive justice to the sentiment of friendship. Suppose a field of grain is to be harvested, where the growth is uniform, as well as the facility of labor; does the skillful reaper fail to sustain his share of the labor, because he accomplishes as much in one day as the bungler does in two? If he performs an equal amount of work, shall he not take his own time for its performance? On Mr. Warren’s theory, the skillful reaper and the bungler must work through the same length of time, in order equally to discharge their obligations to each other. But this is sheer Communism, since it deprives the individual of the fruit of his labor, for the benefit of the mass.
LMD-Appx1.18 It will be seen that we regard Mr. Warren’s theory of “Equitable Commerce”as a failure. We have no space to indicate more fully the objections to which it is liable. Instead of making “Cost the Limit of Price,” we would carry into effect the great natural law of giving the producer ownership of his products. The neglect of this is at the foundation of slavery, pauperism, crime, and the myriads of social evils which the philanthropist deplores, and which it is the function of social science to remedy. Let the products of labor, in all cases, be guaranteed to the producer, and the material condition of individual sovereignty will be fulfilled. This principle should be made the absis of all plans for social reform; and when it is wisely applied we shall see the “new Heavens and a new Earth,” [Online editor’s note: Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1. – RTL] which is promised by the divinest instincts of man, and to doubt which would be practical Atheism.

LMD-Appx1.n1.1 * NOTE. – The Book Reviewer of the Tribune is GEORGE RIPLEY, formerly President of the Brook Farm Association, and a Prominent Disciple of Fourier. This Review is attributed to him.

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