Tag Archives: Ruskin

Peach Si! Bomb NO!

1 Mar

Some observations by Charlie Keil on a text by Ruskin.

Peach Tree
Peach Tree by punkin3.14 at Flickr.

From John Ruskin’s Ad Valorem

“Ad Valorem” is the third essay from the work ‘Unto This Last’: Four essays on the first principles of Political Economy.

. . . it matters, so far as the labourer’s immediate profit is concerned, not an iron filing whether I employ him in growing a peach, or forging a bombshell; but my probable mode of consumption of those articles matters seriously. Admit that it is to be in both cases “unselfish,” and the difference, to him, is final, whether when his child is ill, I walk into his cottage and give it the peach, or drop the shell down his chimney, and blow his roof off.

The Aim Of Consumption

The worst of it, for the peasant, is, that the capitalist’s consumption of the peach is apt to be selfish, and of the shell, distributive; but, in all cases, this is the broad and general fact, that on due catallactic commercial principles, somebody’s roof must go off in fulfillment of the bomb’s destiny. You may grow for your neighbour, at your liking, grapes or grapeshot; he will also, catallactically, grow grapes or grapeshot for you, and you will each reap what you have sown. It is, therefore, the manner and issue of consumption which are the real tests of production. Production does not consist in things laboriously made, but in things serviceably consumable; and the question for the nation is not how much labour it employs, but how much life it produces. For as consumption is the end and aim of production, so life is the end and aim of consumption.

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