Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.

The Organization of Labor

Blanc, Louis

Louis Blanc

(Early French Utopian Socialist, 1811–1882)

WHAT is competition, from the point of view of the workman? It is work put up to auction. A contractor wants a workman; three present themselves.

“How much for your work?”

“Half a crown; I have a wife and children.”

“Well; and how much for yours?”

“Two shillings; I have no children, but I have a wife.”

“Very well; and now how much for yours?”

“One and eightpence are enough for me; I am single.”

“Then you shall have the work.”

It is done; the bargain is struck. And what are the other two workmen to do? It is to be hoped they will die quietly of hunger. But what if they take to thieving? Never fear; we have the police. To murder? We have the hangman. As for the lucky one, his triumph is only temporary. Let a fourth workman make his appearance, strong enough to fast every other day, and his price will run down still lower; there will be a new outcast, perhaps a new recruit for the prison.