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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

"Economic Chivalry" (S639: 1907)
Some Replies to Bishop Gore by Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace . . . [[et al.]]

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Comments by several notables, including Wallace, printed in the 24 May 1907 issue of Public Opinion (London). Wallace's comment appeared first, on page 639. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S639.htm

     Bishop Gore's remarkable address to Convocation, in presenting the report on "The Moral Witness of the Church on Economic Subjects," which was published in last week's Public Opinion, has elicited the following criticisms in response to a request from the Editor:--

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace

     Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace writes:--"I really do not think Bishop Gore's views worth discussing. He recognises a few of the fundamental evils of the competitive system--shoddy and sham, and adulteration and lying everywhere, affecting our whole system of production and trade, to the deterioration of our race in body and mind, the horrible increase of preventable disease and death, and the still more horrible massacre of millions of infants in all our great cities; and to remedy all this he gives us a few pious opinions--a few small bits of sticking-plaster as the sole remedy for the perpetual wounding and slaughter on the competitive battlefield of modern civilisation!

     "All this is a little too late in the day. Fortunately, the workers themselves, who have seen all these evils at first hand, are beginning to know their power, and to be determined to exercise it. The Bishops and their like recognise not one of the fundamental injustices of our social system--the land monopoly, the capital monopoly, the whole system of wild-beast competition. They will not even recognise that, if they will still have competition--individualism--it should be a fair one--all should start even. There should be absolute 'equality of opportunity' for every child from birth to manhood, then an equal start in life, and then only shall we have true individualism.

     "But they will not even have that. Oh, no! That would involve interference with property. Sacred property! Hereditary property! Even multi-millionaires must not have their property taken from them, even after their deaths! even though it certainly demoralises their heirs and the thousands that prey upon them. No! Property once acquired, by whatever means, becomes sacred in the eyes of these 'chivalric economists.' Else, why do they not openly and boldly advocate the resumption by the State of all wealth above, say, £10,000 or £20,000 at the death of its owners, for the establishment of equality of opportunity--of a true civilisation, without that daily massacre of the innocents--that deterioration of all that is best in humanity--that has gone on increasing with our increasing wealth?

     "This very year, they tell us, our trade--our commerce, our wealth--has increased more than ever before; yet we are still too poor to abolish the life-long misery and actual starvation in the class that creates that wealth. Shame on the men in power, whether lords or commoners, Bishops or commercial princes, who see all this and now talk of 'chivalry' as an adequate remedy!"

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