16 AUGUST 1930, Page 17


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—It is high time to plead for careful consideration of certain very striking facts that call upon us clearly to try, first to palliate, and then to remedy, the evil of technological unemployment by co-operation. The progress of methods of production which has given rise to the problem has, at the same time, simplified a great deal of the work so much that co-operative colonies are succeeding now as they have never done before. In Palestine and America, as well as in Switzer- land—with a special type of colony—great successes have been attained. Encouraged by them, little educational colonies are springing up, many of which are giving gratifying results. I am writing from one in France that is doing useful work of varied kinds. There are several in Italy and in Germany.

Now another effect of machinery has been to make a great deal of the work of production uninstructive, and in every way unimproving. This combination of circumstances suggests that we might do immense good by establishing educational co-operative colonies for lads during their formative years, to save them from being victimized by our industrial system. They might take the " blind-alley" jobs of modern trade and industry in pairs, working at them on some plan of rotation, and working alternate times in educational colonies. From results that have been obtained already it seems that they would certainly be able to earn, in their " colony " days, remuneration in kind as valuable to their homes as the money wage they would earn on their days of industrial employment. They would have to work short hours only to have a good share of colony produce of various kinds, as much of it as they would generally want. In their " colony " days, thus, they would have ample time for the games and sports which are of priceless value to the young, and the youths would then have variety in their occupations, and be, to some extent, artisans, farm workers, and even—as they would be able to have some produce to sell as wellms to consume and take home—traders, instead' of 'mere factory hands.. The plan would attack the evil of unemployment front every side. First it would make one job employ two youths. This, it is important to understand, would be a real social gain, not an illusory one. That is to say the young men would be only partly competitors for work or trade and partly organized Robinson Crosses, supporting themselves as such, and, to that extent, leaving the " opportunities of earning " to their elders. Secondly, the colony training would make the youths strong, healthy and versatile, and the human factor is the vitally important one, even when the unemployment is " tedmological." A versatile and energetic people would easily solve the entire problem—with or without sonic State or other help—on some system of semi-co-operative and semi- individualistic working such as the educational colony plan illustrates. Those who have studied Sir Charles Fielding's scheme will realize this easily. Energetic people would prefer such a plan, because of the great variety of occupations and opportunities it would give them. It is of special interest that the colonies would fit the youths for the most hopeful kind of mass-emigration.

But it is best to concentrate one's attention at first on the educational and juvenile welfare aspect of the co-operative colony. It gives us a hope of having an education system suitable to our industrialized and urbanized age, and of saving the future generations from the worst ills of our modern system. It is evident that town schoolchildren also would be given turns in the educational colonies and that this would brighten their lives more than any other thing we could do for them.

The difficulty one anticipates is in connexion with the capitalization of modern colonies, equipped with machinery, so that town lads would be able to work usefully, and not un- congenially, in them ; also with efficient management for such costly undertakings. The fact to encourage us in this connexion is that the most competent judges are of the opinion that the colony organization would soon begin to use the machinery and managing ability of individualistic enter- prise. That is to say, the colonies would soon begin to send their young workers out to do certain kinds of work, mostly with modern machinery, on privately owned farms and in market gardens. It is of the greatest interest that the organization might, in that manner, render agriculture the most valuable service. There is general agreement that, in establishing these co-operative colonies for the young, we should enter into a vast field of exploration of modern possi- bilities for new applications of co-operation.

Statesmen, economists, philanthropists, including specially workers for juvenile welfare, were invited by Calcutta University to give their opinions on the plan. All agreed that it was hopeful and that we ought to try it. A prominent worker for co-operation has offered a fund of £8,000 towards a pioneer educational colony, on the con- dition that others should help also. I hope that any of your readers who may be interested will apply to the Hon. Sec, of the Educational Colonies Association, J. B. Pennington, Esq., Uplyme, High Wycombe, Bucks., for information. There is a pamphlet that is sent for 3d. post free and a book, 250 pp., for

Is. 13d.—I am, Sir, &c., J. W. PETAVEL. (Late Lecturer on the Poverty Problem,

Calcutta University.) Universitd Populaire LieJra, Fontette (Aube), France.