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Unto This Last and Other Essays on Political Economy
written by "Ruskin, John, 1819-1900"
...s a little of everything,—if food must be of many kinds, and dress of many fashions,—if multitudes live by work which, ministering to[Pg 251] fancy, has its pay measured by fancy, so that large prices will be given by one person for what is valueless to another,—if there are great inequalities of knowledge, causing great inequalities of estimate,—and finally, and worst of all, if the currency itself, from its largeness, and the power which the possession of it implies, becomes the sole object of desire with large numbers of the nation, so that the holding of it is disputed among them as the main object of life:—in each and all these cases, the currency enlarges in proportion to the store, and, as a means of exchange and division, as a bond of right, and as an expression of passion, plays a more and more important part in the nation's dealings, character, and life. Against which part, when, as a bond of Right, it becomes too conspicuous and too burdensome, the popular voice is apt to be raised in a violent and irrational manner, leading to revolution instead of remedy. Whereas all possibility of Economy depends on the clear assertion and maintenance of this bond of right, however burdensome. The first necessity of all economical government is to secure the unquestioned and unquestionable working of the great law of Property—that a man who works for a thing shall be allowed to get it, keep it, and consume it, in peace; and that he who does not eat his cake to-day, shall be seen, without grudging, to have his cake to-morrow. This, I say, is the first point to be secured by social law; without this, no political advance, nay, no political existence, is in any sort possible. Whatever evil, luxury, iniquity, may seem to result from it, this is nevertheless the first of all Equities; and to the enforcement of this, by law and by police-truncheon, the nation must always primarily set its mind—that the ...

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