Adam Smith Misunderstanding State Power

Adam Smith (Part 3)

The World Turned Upside Down

Madawc Williams

The Wealth of Nations was published in 1776, at the same time as British soldiers in North America were singing The World Turned Upside Down.

Of the two, the song was the more accurate description of how society was actually developing. It was sung by British soldiers during their war against the rebellious American colonists, a war that was provoked by taxes that Smith thoroughly approved of. Both Smith and the ‘Redcoats’ saw the War of Independence as an irrational breach of the natural order – the natural order being the one that suited them, with many traditions uprooted but many other traditions considered to be natural and unchangeable.

Smith was solidly against the rebellious Americans, a fact that his biographers have carefully hushed up. Yet Smith’s works were destined to be popular in newly independent United States of America. Even though the man himself was against them, his principles logically led to what they were doing. The Wealth of Nations describes the state as a parasite on productive labour. Smith was not inclined to take this principle very far. But others did this for him.

Smith had defined all private and profit-based activities as ‘productive’, and everything else as ‘unproductive’. The logic of all this was that ‘unproductive’ state activities should be trimmed to the absolute minimum. Better still, they should be abolished completely. The whole world should be turned into a mass of separate households, each one following its own best interests with no wider authority that could be imposed upon them. This was the actual view of many radicals – a viewpoint that was given its highest expression by William Godwin. But Smith was no radical. This son of a customs officer supported Lord North and the tax gatherers against the tax protesters of the North America

Trade may enrich a society, but it will also disrupt it. Historically, most ruling classes were well aware of this. They tended to put limits on the accumulation of wealth. Partly their interest was selfish – trade could be expected to raise new men who would overthrow their power. But it was also idealistic – civilisation as they knew it could not be preserved unless trade was very strictly regulated and controlled. And indeed, this wisdom did enable various world civilisations to more or less preserve themselves across the centuries. The British ruling class was very exceptional in not clamping down on new productive forces when their disruptive power became obvious.

Arguably, the enlightened aristocracy of 18th century Britain achieved what they wanted. They extended their own skeptical, sexually tolerant, scientifically and intellectually open way of life to the rest of British society. Indeed, they and others were to extend it to a great deal of the rest of the world. Perhaps they would have been pleased by what they produced, perhaps not. Certainly, the actual history of the world since the rise of free capitalism suggests that all of the things that Smith called ‘unproductive’ are in fact very productive indeed. Art, culture, scholasticism and the public administration are the means by which a complex society reproduces itself. Cut back on them, or allow too much scope to other forces, and the society will simply mutate into something quite new. This is a process that has been happening for a couple of centuries now. It has accelerated dramatically under Thatcher, even though the silly bitch believed she was doing the very opposite by her free-market anti-state ‘reforms’.

Smith’s Models

The Sumerians invented the first proper urban civilisation, some six thousand years ago. There were cities even before then. But the Sumerians created a pattern of sophisticated urban society that was the basic model for almost all subsequent civilisations right up until the Industrial Revolution. The use of first bronze and then iron only produced a stronger and more sophisticated version of the same thing. Rome was merely Ur or Babylon writ large. Europe in the 18th century considered that it had some way to go before it could match the sophistication of ancient Rome. Gibbon saw the middle years of the Roman Empire as an optimum that no one since had been able to match. Adam Smith was also an admirer of ancient Rome. Indeed the educated classes of the 18th century liked to describe their age as ‘Augustan’, harking back to epoch of peace and sophisticated Roman paganism that had existed under the Emperor Augustus.

Smith also had another model for what society ought to be – Imperial China. China was the best and most sophisticated of all the heirs of the Sumerians. China under the Han dynasty was as large and strong as the Roman Empire, which never extended any further east than Mesopotamia, modem Iraq. And while Rome fell, China was able to reconstitute itself after each period of downfall or conquest. Smith admired China for its wealth, which he reckoned to be greater than that of Europe in his day. But he reckoned that Europe could do even better, since China was largely static while Europe was progressive. He never seems to have considered whether this progress would introduce a fundamentally new form of society. The Industrial Revolution is normally reckoned to have begun in the 1760s. James Watt was working right next to him at Glasgow University, The .pioneering chemist and physicist Joseph Black was a good friend to both Watt and Adam Smith. And yet Smith never made the least mention of Watt’s pioneering work with steam. He had no interest in work that was to tum the world upside down, far more thoroughly then even the American Revolution.

History suggests that states are stabilised by artisans, by small peasants and by bureaucrats. China achieved an optimal mix of these elements, and maintained a constant civilisation across two and a half millennia. In Britain, things were never as stable as that. And the industrial revolution meant the mass destruction of artisans and small peasants, which occurred at the same time as the British Civil Service was improving itself with ideas borrowed from China.

Smith and his followers make the dogmatic assumption that both free trade and small property are inherent in human nature. Experience suggests otherwise. Both of them are social constructs, and they are not even very much in harmony with each other. Factory production can produce cheaper and better goods than any artisan could manage. Department stores and supermarkets will automatically destroy small shops, particularly when they are free to offer lower prices that their smaller competitors cannot match. The European middle classes (bourgeoisie) grew to strength with restricted, national and state-regulated markets. Market freedom meant freedom for the lucky few to grow rich while putting the rest of them out of business. Market freedoms were bound to create a world in which the vast majority of the population are dependent on a wage or salary.

Now this was something that the world had never seen before. Marx correctly concluded that the ‘abnormal’ class pattern in Britain was in the process of spreading to the rest of the world. It would do this, simply because it had made Britain a much wealthier nation than rivals who were trying to hold on to their own particular way of life. Marx correctly saw that the old order was changing. His expectation was that this would quickly lead to workers rebelling and establishing communist collectivism – a notion that had been around at least since Robert Owen in the first quarter of the 19th century.

Marx was quite correct to assume that the traditional middle class (bourgeoisie) would fail to retain its own power. What he did not consider was whether it might be possible for a society to carry on with capitalism after discarding its middle class. He did not foresee what we have now, a society resting itself on a stratum of rich people, a much wider mainstream of employees and a poor and lumpen underclass. The possibility did not occur to Marx. But it did not occur to anyone else either. You had visions like that of Well’s The Sleeper Awakes, a class of super-rich capitalists destroying the middle classes and enslaving the workers. But who on earth could have expected capitalism to destroy the middle classes and elevate the workers? Such a development did not seem to be in the nature of the beast. And to a large degree, it only came into being because of the very formidable world-wide challenge to capitalism that was being posed by communist collectivism.

Appearance & Reality

The present collapse of numerous Marxist states does not vindicate Adam Smith. Smith’s vision of capitalism supposes that small-scale private property will remain the norm. He noticed the beginning of the factory system – as in his famous example of pin manufacturing, which had been broken down to eighteen essentially mindless and mechanical stages, each of which would be performed by wage labourers. But it never occurred to him that there might be problems in reducing people to such a state. Nor have his New Right followers faced up to the matter. They write as if society consisted of a seething mass of separate families trading goods and services with each other. Never mind what actually exists. Never dare to tum your eyes towards the real world and its actual problems. Construct fantasies about the world as gigantic petty-bourgeois suburb, and then denounce the existing world for being what it actually is.

One person who did realise that there was a problem was Nietzsche. Oddly enough, he and Marx never seem to have taken the least notice of each other’s existence. Nietzsche had a very different starting point from Marx. He had only a very hazy idea of what the working class was like. But he was well able to see that the wind was being sown and that a whirlwind must follow:

“Nietzsche “wrote a paragraph on ‘The labour question  in The Twilight Of The Idols, which only expresses puzzlement:

“‘The stupidity is that there is a labour question at all I simply cannot see what one proposes to do with the European worker now that one has made a question of him. He is far too well off not to ask for more and more, not to ask for more immodestly. In the end he has numbers on his side. The hope is gone forever that a modest and self-sufficient kind of man, a Chinese type, might here develop as a class: there would have been reason in that … But what was done? Everything to nip in the bud even the precondition for this: the instinct by virtue of which the worker becomes possible as a class, possible in his own eyes, have been destroyed through and through with the most irresponsible thoughtlessness. The worker was qualified for military service, granted the right to organise and to vote. Is it any wonder that the worker today experiences his own existence as an injustice? But what is wanted? I ask once more. If one wants the end, one must also want the means: if one wants slaves, then one is a fool if one educates them to be masters’.

“This passage has at least the virtue of recognising that the modern proletariat differed from all previous lower classes in that it would be unlikely to reproduce itself contentedly, (or, if not contentedly, resignedly/, on an indefinite basis.” (From the Introduction to Jack London’s How I Became a Socialist, B&ICO pamphlet of 1977, p 11.)

[You can find the same remarks  as given by a different translator at the end of this article.]

Adam Smith never asked questions like that. He assumed that a progressive oligarchy could undermine the whole economic basis of the society, uproot traditional structures within which people had lived for centuries, and yet not create a whole ferment of social change. I showed in an earlier article (L&TUR No. 32) how puzzled he was by the first instalment of that social change, the American Revolution. For him, the establishment of the world’s first modem republic was a puzzling, objectionable and thoroughly irrational departure from ‘the norm’.

For Smith and his admirers, the norm is themselves. Everything that suits them must be a step towards a rational normality. On this basis, Thatcher and Co. have uprooted much of what was still worthwhile and admirable in Britain. No doubt they did sincerely think that they were preserving it. No doubt they will regard all subsequent breakdowns as someone else’s fault. Smith’s notions have very neatly misled them, as he misled himself.

Productive and unproductive work

“There is one sort of labour which adds to the value of the subject upon which it is bestowed: There is another which has no such effect. The former, as it produces a value, may be called productive; the latter, unproductive labour. Thus the labour of a manufacturer [worker J adds, generally, to the value of the materials which he works upon, that of his own maintenance, and of his master’s profit. The labour of a menial servant, on the contrary, adds to the value of nothing …

“A man grows rich by employing a mass of manufacturers [workers]: he grows poor by maintaining a multitude of menial servants … ” (The Wealth of Nations, Book II, Chapter III., 111.iv.20. Henceforth I’ll use the abbreviation TWON for Smith’s book.)

Note than when Smith says ‘manufacturer’, he means it literally: a person who physically manufactures some item. Only later did it become a term used for employers of labour in a manufacturing industry – a shift in meaning that is of some significance in itself. The organiser of the work has displaced the actual producer. Ordinary human life comes to be seen as only a trivial example of the social power of capital and ownership.

What do the terms ‘productive’ and ‘unproductive’ mean? Broadly, they cast a slur on all activities that do not make money for a private owner or capitalist. If he had called them ‘unprofitable’, no one would have disagreed, but equally no one would have been impressed. Most human activities are not supposed to be profit-making. Yet had he tried calling them ‘useless’, he would not have been believed. Some would be willing to call an opera-singer useless. Some might say the same about a soldier or a priest. But others would have fiercely resented such an implication. So Smith was clever enough to use a vague middling term, ‘unproductive’. It taints some of the most basic and necessary forms of social activity with an aura of parasitism. And it casts a mantle of respectability over activities that are pretty much parasitical. That is the real significance of Adam Smith’s language.

Most people know that Karl Marx took over the Labour Theory of Value from Adam Smith. But behind the Labour Theory of Value lies the concept of productive or unproductive Labour. By this notion, the man who makes a piano may be considered a productive labourer, and so too perhaps is the man who tunes the piano. But the man who plays the piano is not a productive labourer.

This is not just an abstract point of theory. Much of the logic and practice of Thatcherism seems to be based on this particular notion of Adam Smith. Nothing else would account for the privatisation of an efficient and inoffensive public services – water supply, for instance. From the Adam Smith/ New Right viewpoint, a service that merely supplies good clean water cannot possibly be productive. It is only productive when it sees water as a means to an end, the end being to make a large profit out of its customers.

“The labour of some of the most respectable orders of society is, like that of menial servants, unproductive of any value … The sovereign for example, with all the officers of both justice and war who serve under him, the whole army and navy, are unproductive labourers. They are the servants of the public, and are maintained by a part of the annual produce of the industry of other people. Their service, how honourable, how useful or how necessary soever produces nothing for which an equal quantity of service can afterwards be procured. The protection, security, and defence of the commonwealth, the effect of their labour for this year, will not purchase its protection, security and defence for the year to come.” (Ibid).

Soldiers and judges depend on the rest of society to support them, but so do pin makers or coal miners. Only subsistence farmers are truly independent – and they would not be productive, by Adam Smith’s definition. Everyone else depends on the rest of society to support their own particular activity, be it bee-keeping, bridge-building or cheese-making. Soldiers and judges are normally supported out of taxes, because it has been found unwise to let them pursue their professions on a profit-making basis. Pins or coal may be freely sold on an open market without any damage to the morals of pin makers or colliers.

” … cooks and waiters in a public hotel are productive labourers, in so far as their labour is transformed into capital for the proprietor of the hotel. These same persons are unproductive labourers as menial servants, inasmuch as I do not make capital out of their services, but spend revenues on them.” {Theories of Surplus Value (Volume IV of Capital), Part 1, p 159. Progress Publishing edition 1978. Henceforth referred to as SV.)

Marx is one of the few commentators on Adam Smith who talks any sort of sense, who clarifies rather than confuses his ideas. The example of the productive or unproductive piano is his {Ibid, p 160). But it seems to me that Marx was well aware that the difference is only meaningful within a capitalist society. It is not seen as a law of nature or a necessity of human life. Marx kept in mind what Smith chose to ignore: the many possible forms of social organisation.

By Smith’s reckoning, manufacturing china dogs is a productive occupation, but healing the sick is not Nor is keeping a lighthouse that saves both lives and wealth on some dangerous stretch of coast. Talking about unproductive labour, he says:

“In the same class must be ranked, both some of the gravest and most important, and some of the most frivolous professions: churchmen, lawyers, physicians, men of letters of all kinds; players, buffoons, musicians, opera-singers, opera dancers &c.” (TWON, Ibid).

This is totally senseless. Depending on your personal beliefs, you might wish to be rid of churchmen, and perhaps also lawyers. But what about physicians, doctors, people who save lives and reduce pain? But “though this be madness, yet there is method in it”. Unlike Hamlet, Smith believed all the mad things you find him saying, and he was no fool. It ‘needed the cleverness of Marx to clarify the matter:

“Productive and unproductive labour is here throughout conceived from the standpoint of the possessor of money, from the standpoint of the capitalist, not from that of the workman; hence the nonsense written by Ganilh etc., who have so little understanding of the matter that they raise the question whether the labour or service or function of the prostitute, flunky, etc .. brings in returns.

“A writer is a productive labourer not in so far as he produces ideas, but in so far as he enriches the publisher who publishes his works, or if he is a wage-labourer for a capitalist.

“The use-value of the commodity in which the labour of a productive worker is embodied may be of the most futile kind. The material characteristics are in no way linked with its nature which on the contrary is only the expression of a definite social relation of production. It is a definition of labour which is derived not from its content or its results, but from its particular social form.” (SV p158.)

Marx also recognises that Adam Smith uses two different definitions of productive and unproductive labour. One of them is absurd even from a capitalist point of view. The first definition is the one quoted above – productive labour is labour that leads to the accumulation of capital.

“The second, wrong conception of productive labour which Smith develops is so interwoven with the correct one that the two follow each other in rapid succession in the same passage.” (SV p155.)

Smith’s second notion is that labour is only productive if it produces a commodity, a material item that may be sold in the market Immediately following on from the item about opera singers, he says

“The labour of the meanest of these has a certain value, regulated by the very same principle which regulates that of every other sort of labour; and that of the noblest and most useful, produces nothing which could afterwards purchase or procure an equal quantity of labour. Like the declamation of the actor, the harangue of the orator, or the tune of the musician, the work of all of them perishes in the very instant of its production.” (TWON, Ibid).

If some soldiers dig up, peel and cook a few hundredweight of potatoes for their regiment to eat, this is not productive labour. But if they steal some of the potatoes and sell them to local house-wives, this could be considered productive labour, in as much as the potatoes have become commodities. Soldiers of the former Red Army who sell their weapons on the black market have thereby become productive workers, as Adam Smith defines it, virtuous because they are helping to accumulate capital, and never mind what the weapons are then used for.

One could go further. A striptease artist cannot be considered a productive labourer, since no commodity is produced by her work, even though the strip-club owner may be accumulating capital very nicely. But if someone takes photos of her act, and sells these photos for money, her undressing is thereby dignified with the status of productive labour.

Obviously Adam Smith’s second definition is rubbish. By his reckoning, a portrait painter is a productive labourer, but a musician is not. The painter produces a material object that can be sold: the work of the musician “perishes in the very instant of its production”. But modem technology would allow the performance to be recorded and the recording sold to the public, which would make the musician a productive worker, albeit just for the one performance. Whereas a court painter on a fixed salary is merely a servant, unproductive, even if he should be Raphael or Leonardo.

It’s been observed that a sculptor like Michelangelo does not so much make a statue as remove some stone that happened to be round the finished work. Thus the creation of his statue of David was not productive work. Painting the Sistine Chapel arguably was, in as much as he added something to the building that would have increased its market value. If this view holds, he would have been no less productive if someone had employed him to whitewash the walls of Rome. Painting his statue of David a nice flesh pink would also count as productive work – and oddly enough, this is exactly what the Ancient Greeks would have expected him to do with it. All Greek statues were originally painted, but the paint wore off during the neglect of the Dark Ages, giving the men of the Renaissance a totally new idea of what constituted Great Art.

Smith’s second definition of productive work is seldom taken seriously. Shopkeepers and lorry drivers are normally classed as productive labourers, even though they do no more than distribute what others have produced. A factory might produce the best and cheapest washing machines in the world, and still go bankrupt if the only way to purchase one was for each individual buyer to go the factory gates, cash and carry. Let’s get back to Smith’s first definition, that labour is unproductive when it does not result in the accumulation of capital.

Smith’s definitions of ‘unproductive labour’ are very selective. He believed that landlords were doing working farmers a favour by taking part of their incomes as rent. Ricardo was . later to redefine landlords as an unproductive class, and there are many who would see stockbrokers like Ricardo as utterly unproductive. All of these views are essentially different ideas of what society should be, dressed up in the language of objective analysis.

Private good, public bad

“But though the profusion of government must, undoubtedly, have retarded the natural progress of England towards wealth and improvement it has not been much able to stop it. The annual produce of its land and labour is, undoubtedly, much greater at present than it was either at the restoration or at the revolution. The capital, the ref ore, annually employed in cultivating this land, and in maintaining this labour, must likewise be much greater.” (TWON, 11.iii.36).

The whole point of Smith’s separation of productive and unproductive labour is to make the state appear as a parasite on the rich, while denying that the rich could ever be parasites on the rest of society.

“Great nations are never impoverished by private, though they sometimes are by public prodigality and misconduct. The whole, or almost the whole public revenue, is in most countries employed in maintaining unproductive hands. Such are the people who compose a numerous and splendid court, a great ecclesiastical establishment, great fleets and armies, which in time of peace produce nothing, and in time of war acquire nothing which can compensate the expense of maintaining them … ” (Ibid, 11.iii.30).

This was very much the logic of the rebels of the North American colonies – they objected to being taxed to support an unproductive state, and wanted cheap and minimal government. The North Americans conveniently ignored the fact that they would not have existed without the British state, which put a lot of effort into establishing colonies that were initially very unprofitable. Also they would not have survived as free societies had not Britain defeated France in a series of wars in the 18th century, culminating in the ‘wonderful year’ of 1759.

Smith says in Book II of The Wealth of Nations that the government is a mere dead weight on productive capitalist society. Yet elsewhere he shows himself perfectly aware than 18th century Britain would have been an utterly different place, and much less to his taste, if it had not had a powerful and successful state machine and far-flung empire established by military means. In Book V, the portion of The Wealth of Nations that is suppressed in all commonly available editions, he shows great enthusiasm for the future state-led development of Britain’s North American colonies. He supports the principle of taxing them, and he supported the government’s war against the rebellion that this taxation provoked.

[I should really have said that Book V is left in obscurity by being less printed and seldom mentioned.  It is not suppressed, since you can freely buy it.  But the meaning is lost, in part since it seems no one else on the left has bothered to read Smith properly.]

There are major contradictions in Smith’s position. In Book Four, he says: “To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers.” Smith used this phrase at a time when Napoleon Bonaparte was still a small child, and shows a better understanding of it. Founding a great empire “is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.” (Ibid, IV.vii.c). Smith’s preference was for a world governed by free trade. But without the power of the British state, there would have been no chance whatsoever of such a world coming into existence. He says later(TWON IV.vii.c) that Britain might actually benefit from losing its colonial possessions. Yet in so far as he had any influence on the matter, he was a supporter of George III against George Washington.

Marx was probably right when he saw Smith as simply reflecting the viewpoint of the industrial capitalists.

“In so far as those ‘unproductive labourers’ do not produce entertainments, so that their purchase entirely depends on how the agents of production cares to spend his wages or his profit – in so far on the contrary as they are necessary or make themselves necessary because of infirmities (like doctors), or spiritual weakness (like parsons), or because of the conflict between private interests and national interests (like statesmen, all lawyers, police and soldiers) they are regarded by Adam Smith, as by the industrial capitalists themselves and the working class, as incidental expenses of production which are there/ ore to be cut down to the most indispensable minimum and provided as cheaply as possible.” (SV, p175.)

Note that Marx says industrial capitalists and the working class. For a moment, he concedes that industrial workers may accept their role of workers within an industry that is owned and run by other people, and concentrate on the common interests of the classes created by modem industry. Even in the Communist Manifesto, he says

“The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of modern industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product.”

This much-neglected remark leaves open the possibility of the working class accepting Adam Smith’s economics as a sensible option on a long-term basis. This was pretty much what happened in the 1980s. Fortunately the New Right made a hash of their period of power, seeing it as an inevitable ‘return to the normal’. They carried on in a highly arrogant pattern, rejecting everything that had been learned since the 1930s, and landing themselves in the worst economic mess since the 1930s. Naturally, they do not see it as their fault – nothing bad can ever be their responsibility.

Both Britain and America seem to be gradually reverting to a more sensible social democratic pattern. But other possibilities remain open, and socialists must be on guard against them. There must be no repetition of the 1970s, when socialists concentrated on fighting each other, supposing it to be impossible for class conscious workers to be anything other than socialist.

Thatcherism took a simple and simple-minded view of the matter. A view that was shared, not only by Yuppies and businessmen, but also by a large section of the working class. All state expenditure was bad, all true wealth came from selling things at a profit. ‘Private good, public bad’ – that was the bleat of the Thatcherite sheep, underlying all the flash and fancy formulas of the New Right ‘thinkers’.

Ten years of such policies have given us the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and a price see-saw that has left many home owners trapped by debt. The end of the decade has seen the decimation of the entrepreneurs and small businesses that were supposed to make Britain great again. Thatcher of course considers that other people were to blame, that her own conduct was absolutely noble and perfect. That sort of woman will always be quite sure that it’s someone else’s fault. Lawson spoiled everything by trying to shadow the Deutschmark. Never mind the vast accumulation of credit card debt that happened under Thatcher the Strict Monetarist. Never mind the Stock market crash of 1987.

Thatcherism also failed to keep faith with those in the working class who were unwise enough to take her at her word. For instance the Union of Democratic Miners was quite willing to accept the viewpoint that Marx briefly referred to in his study of Adam Smith. Fortunately for the future of socialism, Mrs Thatcher was a passionate believer in another side of Smith’s thought, the dogma that the market always knows best. She therefore did nothing to prevent the break-up of the social alliance that she had created. Though the row over pit closures has surfaced under the administration of John Major, the essential step was the ‘dash for gas’, the creation of a surplus of non-coal generating capacity, and this was done under Thatcher.

The New Right has failed. Unfortunately there are no immediate signs of anything taking its place. Taxes for useful social purposes are still seen as an unfair burden on ‘productive’ industry. Until people start to understand that taxes are part of the price of a civilised society, the society will continue to unravel. There could even be a total collapse, leaving the survivors free to enjoy a tax-free existence amidst the ruins of civilisation.


This article appeared in September 1993, in Issue 37 of Labour and Trade Union Review, now Labour Affairs.  You can find more from the era at and


Extra: What Nietzsche Said:

“The question of the Working-man.

“The mere fact that there is such a thing as the question of the working-man is due to stupidity, or at bottom to degenerate instincts which are the cause of all the stupidity of modern times. Concerning certain things no questions ought to be put: the first imperative principle of instinct For the life of me I cannot see what people want to do with the working-man of Europe, now that they have made a question of him. He is far too comfortable to cease from questioning ever more and more, and with ever less modesty. After all, he has the majority on his side.  There is now not the slightest hope that an unassuming and contented sort of man, after the style of the Chinaman, will come into being in this quarter: and this would have been the reasonable course, it was even a dire necessity. What has been done? Everything has been done with the view of nipping the very pre-requisite of this accomplishment in the bud, —with the most frivolous thoughtlessness those selfsame instincts by means of which a working-class becomes possible, and tolerable even to its members themselves, have been destroyed root and branch. The working-man has been declared fit for military service; he has been granted the right of combination, and of voting: can it be wondered at that he already regards his condition as one of distress (expressed morally, as an injustice)? But, again I ask, what do people want? If they desire a certain end, then they should desire the means thereto. If they will have slaves, then it is madness to educate them to be masters.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight Of The Idols.

This is from the free version at Project Gutenberg,  A different take on the original German.  The shockingly anti-worker meaning remains plain.