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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

On Barter

On Barter.

Since the earliest times a system of exchanging commodities has been common to man. This was known as barter. One man has exchanged, say, a valuable weapon for a horse. As knowledge increased, man discovered that by bartering in this simple way he started out at the beginning of the year with, say, five possessions, he ended the year with the same number only. He had not increased his possessions. It then occurred to him to select some article, and to give to that article an arbitrary value. In this way, say, one hundred rare featheds would be accepted as value for, say, a horse. Here we see at once that the man who could amass rare feathers by various means could substantially add to his possessions by bartering and that without parting with any articles which he really required for his own use. In this way, then, feathers, skins, cowrie shells, animals, slaves, etc., came to be used as mediums of barter or exchange. Following upon this came the stone age, when, by means of stone axes, men built canoes to voyage in and houses to dwell in. Then followed the iron age, the bronze age, and finally the age of Gold and Silver. These latter metals, ever scarce, he gradually made use of as mediums of exchange by weight. As the centuries rolled on Gold and Silver became the one medium of exchange. In consequence of this the Nation having the richest Gold and Silver mines contributed most to the wealth and power of the world, and, unfortunately, to the wealth and power of individual units of mankind. I ask you to mark this advancement well, so that you may realise that the important system of exchange should not rest alone in the hands of bankers, usurers, and capitalists, but that it should rest in and be properly controlled by the men and women who form the mass of this or any other country.

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The great Spartan law-giver, Lycurgus, appears to have seen the terrible effects which would be wrought by a Gold standard. He introduced Iron as a medium. But Iron, owing to its extreme bulkiness, did not win its way. Gold, bright yellow Gold, won its way ahead, until it has become a grinding and a crushing; force, for it has not only destroyed all other standards of exchange, but it is the arbitrary controller of the destinies of man. Hut there is a way of escape from this monster. A million of living men are of more value than a million of Gold coins. If we but grasp the meaning of this fact, grasp it with a proper faith in ourselves, a faith calculated to elevate our destinies out and above the sordid ruck into which we have allowed Gold to cast us, we can rise and escape its clutches. There are some of us—there always will be some—but comparatively a few, who will continue to worship and to lust after Gold and the power which it gives to them. Hut these will not assist to draw the masses out of the awful gutter into which that same Gold has plunged and still plunges them. Then as to the, awful crime of crimes, its regulation, to the extent of denial, of infant life. Vet this unholy domination of Gold does not appear to unduly concern the average preacher of Christianity in our day. Apparently the sacred love of a woman for her babe, the one great comfort and blessing; of a mother's life, is not a matter for the average preacher to extol. If it were he would curse the power of Gold, which is now blasting infant life, and which is making a mockery—nay, something lower, of our marriage institution. In earlier day those who were blessed with large families were objects of kindly envy: to-day parents with large families are scorned and counted fools. Landlords of houses of accommodation excuse themselves from taking families in; and folk who advertise for "a man and wife" whose services are needed—it is usually the well-to-do who thus advertise—generally add the ominous word "unencumbered." So that children have to-day become cumbersome, they are in the way, "not wanted." "Not wanted," for-sooth, dear little mites; their presence militates against those concerned making annually a few extra yellow sovereigns. "These he four gods, O Israel!" these golden sovereigns. And so it is that we have now reached a stage when married couples tell us unblushingly how many—if any at all—children they can afford to have. In the name of our common humanity I ask: Can this be right? A thousand times I answer, It is not right. And I declare that this evil state of things is largely attributable to the peculiar scarcity and power of Gold. It makes one shudder to reflect that not only is our comfort and happiness dependable upon the quantity of Gold which is mined from the earth; but also the natural processes which perpetuate our kind. And Nature, our loving mother, has she ever systematically starved us by millions? Has she ever denied to man the fruits of the earth, and of his own industry? Certainly not. For God has not intended this to be. But, under our Gold system we may starve, starve in the midst of plenty, starve whilst warehouses and grain stores are packed from floor to ceiling. And why? Why, but because we lack the Gold wherewith to purchase the bare necessaries of life. And we lack this because of the wretched system of Gold capitalism which we have so long tolerated, and which we ourselves have partly fostered by our running after Gold. Alas, parents have finally decided that the size of the family must be regulated by the income, that whilst a family of two may be supported in comfort, a family of seven will bring hardships, poverty and hunger. O, man, O woman, how much longer will you allow this sinful and beastly Kate of affairs to continue before you rise up against it as true and noble creatures of your Maker? You profess to be a divine creation "made in His image." yet you perpetuate these sins. In days of old the slaying of a single and ordinary infant caused war to-day they are page 4 slain and stifled ere born, apparently with little compunction. Pour little "not wanted." O, men and women, think what it means, not only to your individual selves, but to the race and people to which you belong; for a decreasing population means your conquest by a more natural-living' and less Gold-lustful race. In spite of this fact, our law-makers and those who dispense the law, our leading men of thought and education, and our leading writers, are all strangely silent on this vital subject. Are we ourselves then to remain alike silent? No, we must speak up to our kind as men who have the true humanitarian and Christian instinct. And we must do this ere that instinct becomes deadened and dumb in the sight of the Gold system. And let us not only curse this system, but let us, in addition to that, denounce those leading educationalists whose intellectuality exhausts itself on matters which are trifles compared to this one subject, the Gold subject.