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An Examination of Its Doctrines, Policy, Aims and Practical Proposals
J. ELLIS BARKER
Author of 'Modern Germany: Her Political and Economic Problems, etc.' 'The Rise and Decline of the Netherlands'
London Smith, Elder, & Co. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1908
I. INTRODUCTION—WHAT IS SOCIALISM? 1
II. SOME SOCIALIST VIEWS OF PRESENT SOCIETY AND OF THE SOCIETY OF THE FUTURE 10
III. THE GRIEVANCES OF THE SOCIALISTS 30
IV. THE FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINES OF SOCIALISM 50
V. THE AIMS AND POLICY OF THE SOCIALISTS 92
VI. THE ATTITUDE OF SOCIALISTS TOWARDS THE WORKING MASSES 115
VII. THE ATTITUDE OF SOCIALISTS TOWARDS TRADE UNIONISTS AND CO-OPERATORS 131
VIII. SOCIALIST VIEWS AND PROPOSALS REGARDING LAND AND THE LANDLORDS 145
IX. SOCIALIST VIEWS AND PROPOSALS REGARDING CAPITAL AND THE CAPITALISTS 152
X. SOCIALIST VIEWS AND PROPOSALS REGARDING TAXATION AND THE NATIONAL BUDGET 160
XI. SOCIALISM AND THE EMPIRE 170
XII. SOCIALIST VIEWS ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND FOREIGN POLICY 183
XIII. SOCIALISM AND THE ARMY 192
XIV. SOCIALISM AND THE MONARCHY 207
XV. SOCIALIST VIEWS ON PARLIAMENT AND THE NATIONAL ADMINISTRATION 209
XVI. THE ATTITUDE OF THE SOCIALISTS TOWARDS THE TWO PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES 225
XVII. SOCIALISM AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT 240
XVIII. SOCIALISM AND AGRICULTURE 261
XIX. SOCIALIST VIEWS ON BRITISH RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING 269
XX. SOME SOCIALIST VIEWS ON MONEY, BANKS, AND BANKING 278
XXI. SOME SOCIALIST VIEWS ON FREE TRADE AND PROTECTION 285
XXII. SOCIALISM AND EDUCATION 302
XXIII. THE ATTITUDE OF SOCIALISTS TOWARDS PROVIDENCE, THRIFT, AND TEMPERANCE 311
XXIV. SOCIALIST VIEWS ON LAW AND JUSTICE 325
XXV. SOCIALISM AND WOMAN, THE FAMILY AND THE HOME 330
XXVI. THE SOCIALIST ATTITUDE TOWARDS CHRISTIANITY AND RELIGION 354
XXVII. THE RELIGION OF SOCIALISM 364
XXVIII. CHRISTIAN SOCIALISM 375
XXIX. SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM 381
XXX. SOCIALISM AND ANARCHISM 394
XXXI. SOCIALISM AND REVOLUTION 404
XXXII. STATE SOCIALISM 411
XXXIII. THE SOCIALIST ORGANISATIONS: THEIR MUTUAL RELATIONS AND THEIR POLICY 415
XXXIV. THE GROWTH AND DANGER OF BRITISH SOCIALISM 431
XXXV. HOW THE PROGRESS OF SOCIALISM MAY BE CHECKED 440
XXXVI. IS SOCIALISM POSSIBLE?—A GLANCE INTO THE SOCIALIST STATE OF THE FUTURE 444
XXXVII. CONCLUSION 470
APPENDIX—OFFICIAL PROGRAMMES OF THE SOCIALISTIC ORGANISATIONS 481
ANALYTICAL INDEX 509
INTRODUCTION—WHAT IS SOCIALISM?
What is Socialism?
It is exceedingly difficult to answer that question in a few words, for Socialism is exceedingly elusive and bewildering in its doctrines, its aims, and its proposals.
Its opponents have described it as "a doctrine of sordid materialism and of atheism," they have denounced it as "the gospel of everlasting bellyful," and as "the coming slavery." They have stated that Socialism means to abolish religion, that it "would try to put laziness, thriftlessness, and inefficiency on a par with industry, thrift, and efficiency, that it would strive to break up not merely private property, but, what is far more important, the home, the chief prop upon which our whole civilisation stands."
The Socialists, on the other hand, claim that "Socialism presents the only living ideal of human existence"; that "Socialism is science applied with knowledge and understanding to all branches of human activity"; that "Socialism is freedom," and that it is exceedingly just, for "the justice of Socialism will see all things, and therefore understand all things." One of the Socialist leaders has told us "Socialism is much more than either a political creed or an economic dogma. It presents to the modern world a new conception of society and a new basis upon which to build up the life of the individual and of the State." Another informs us "Socialism to Socialists is not a Utopia which they have invented, but a principle of social organisation which they assert to have been discovered by the patient investigators into sociology whose labours have distinguished the present century." A third has stated that "Socialism is really neither more nor less than the science of sociology." A fourth asserts that "it is a scientific scheme of national government entirely wise, just, and practical." A fifth states "Socialism to me has always meant not a principle, but certain definite economic measures which I wish to see taken."
Other Socialists have taught that "Socialism is an ethical system founded on justice and truth; it is a heartfelt, soul-inspiring religion, resting upon the love of God." "Socialism is a theory of social organisation, which reconciles the individual to society. It has discovered how the individual in society can attain to a state of complete development." "Socialism is the right of the community, acting in its corporate capacity, to intervene in the lives and labours of men and women." "Socialism is nothing but the extension of democratic self-government from the political to the industrial world." "Socialism is an endeavour to substitute for the anarchical struggle or fight for existence an organised co-operation for existence." "Socialism may be described as an endeavour to readjust the machinery of industry in such a way that it can at once depend upon and issue in a higher kind of character and social type than is encouraged by the conditions of ordinary competitive enterprise." "Socialism is the development of policies concerning the welfare of society." "It is not arbitrary destruction and reconstruction, but a natural process of development." "The idea of Socialism will conquer the world, for this idea is nothing but the real, well understood interest of mankind." "Its principles will carry the whole human race to a higher state of perfection." "It is the great modern protest against unreality, against the delusive shams which now masquerade as verities." "Socialism is of the character of a historical discovery." "Socialism, the inspiring principle of all Labour Parties, whether they know it or not, is the next world movement—the movement of the constructive intellect."
Socialism is rich in promises, and its claims to our consideration and support are manifold. Are these claims justified or not? Are the Socialists or the Anti-Socialists right in their conception of Socialism?
The Socialists maintain that all opposition to Socialism is based either on self-interest or ignorance, and principally upon the latter. Therefore one of the Socialist leaders wrote: "Those who wish to understand Socialism will be wise to study Socialist books and papers. One does not expect a true and fair account of any theory or cause from its enemies. The man who takes his ideas of Trade-Unionism from the Free Labour League, his ideas of Liberalism from the Tory papers, his ideas of South African affairs—or any other affairs—from the Yellow Press, will be misled into all manner of absurdities and errors. The statements of party politicians and party newspapers on most controversial subjects are prejudiced and inaccurate; but there is no subject upon which the professional misleaders of the people are so untrustworthy and so disingenuous as they are upon the subject of Socialism." A leading Socialist organ complained: "Our opponents decline to deal with the fundamental principles of Socialism—its unanswerable indictment of the capitalist system, with all its concomitants of wage-slavery and slumdom; prostitution and child murder—and prefer instead to indulge in calumniation and misrepresentation of Socialism. We need not complain about that. It is a tribute to the soundness of the Socialist position, to the irrefutability of its principles, the impregnability of the rock of economic truth upon which it is based, that our enemies dare not oppose the principles of Socialism, dare not attempt to meet the charge Socialism levels against the existing order."
There is much truth in these complaints. The general public and most writers and speakers know very little about Socialism, because this most interesting subject has been very inadequately treated in the existing books.
The existing books on Socialism describe, analyse, and criticise the Socialist doctrines only in the abstract as a rule. However, Socialism is not only an elaborate economic doctrine, it is at the same time a complete system of practical politics. Hence it does not suffice to study the doctrines of Socialism by themselves. In order to understand Socialism we must also investigate its practical proposals.
Following the methods of our political economists, most writers on Socialism have, unfortunately, treated Socialism rather as a scientific abstraction than as a business proposition. Consequently the most important practical details of Socialism, such as: What are the views of the Socialist with regard to the Monarchy, the Army, the Banks, the National Currency, the Law, Education? what are their practical aims as regards Parliamentary Representation, Foreign Policy, Agriculture, Taxation, Old-age Pensions, Fiscal Policy? what are their relations with the Parliamentary Parties, the Trade-Unions, the Co-operators, etc? what is their attitude towards International Communism and Anarchism? is English Socialism an Evolutionary or a Revolutionary Movement?—these and many other questions are touched but lightly or are not touched at all.
It is somewhat difficult to deal fully with the practical proposals of the Socialists, because the Socialists are very averse from formulating their aims and disclosing their plans. An English Socialist wrote: "To dogmatise about the form which the Socialist State shall take is to play the fool." Another one stated: "It is quite impossible, at this time, nor would it be desirable, if possible, to lay down any hard and fast line as to the development of the details of Socialist organisation. Broad principles are all that can with any degree of confidence be spoken about. The details will arrange themselves, as the time arrives when it becomes necessary to settle them." Gronlund, perhaps the most prominent American Socialist, stated: "Socialists do not profess to be architects. They have not planned the future in minute detail." Herr Bebel, the leader of the German Social-Democratic Party, said on February 3, 1893, in the Reichstag, replying to the Roman Catholics, "We do not ask from you the details of the future life of which you speak so incessantly. Why, then, do you ask us about the future society?" Although we are told that "Socialism claims the consideration of mankind, because it comes forward and offers a complete scheme to improve the conditions of human life," Socialists carefully abstain as a rule from giving us the details of that scheme.
The Socialists of all countries have very excellent reasons for keeping to themselves the details of their plans for the future. Nevertheless, a careful search through their numerous writings will enable us to obtain a fairly clear and comprehensive view of their political and economic plans and intentions.
Great Britain does not as yet possess a great Socialist party but only a number of Socialist groups and factions which are totally at variance as regards their aims, policy, and tactics. "They differ as to the best means of getting what they want, and as to the best ways of managing the work, and as to the proper way of sharing the earnings. Some Socialists still believe that Socialism will have to be got by force. I think there are not many. Some are in favour of buying the land, the railways, the machinery, and other things; and some are in favour of taking them, by force, or by new laws. Then some say that there should be no wages paid at all, but that everyone should do an equal share of work, and take whatever he needed from the nation's goods. Others say that all men should do an equal share of work, and have an equal share of the goods, or of the earnings. Others say it would be better to pay wages, as now, but to let the wages be fixed by the Government, or by corporations, or other officials, and that all wages should be equal. Others, again, say that wages should be paid, that the wages should be fixed as above stated, and that different kinds of work should be paid for at different rates. In one kind of Socialism the civil engineer, the actor, the general, the artist, the tram guard, the dustman, the milliner, and the collier would all be paid the same wages. In another kind of Socialism there would be no wages, but all would be called upon to work, and all who worked would 'take according to their needs.' In another kind of Socialism the civil engineer would be paid more than the navvy, the opera singer more than the milliner, the general more than the sergeant, and the editor more than the scavenger."
Notwithstanding these numerous and important differences, of which more will be learned in the course of this book, British Socialists are absolutely united in certain important respects. "The policies of Socialism are a changeable quantity, though the principle is as fixed as the Northern Star." "Socialism is as flexible in its form as it is definite in its principles."
A superficial study of Socialism reveals to us not a single and generally accepted plan, but a confused and confusing mass of mutually contradictory plans and doctrines. Therefore he who wishes to know what Socialism is, must study the many-headed movement in its entirety and give an impartial hearing to all its advocates. We can understand Socialism only if we are acquainted with practically its entire literature.
Unfortunately the literature of Socialism is very vast. A complete collection of modern Socialist literature would embrace at least thirty thousand items. Therefore a full analysis of international Socialism based upon the study of the original sources is a forbidding undertaking. I have consequently limited myself to the investigation of the British Socialist movement, although I have cast a cursory glance upon foreign Socialism whenever it seemed necessary to do so.
I have consulted altogether about a thousand books and pamphlets, and have given representative extracts from four hundred or five hundred of those which seemed most proper to elucidate the subject of this book. Having given space to the views of all the Socialist groups, this book is a summary of the whole literature of British Socialism and a key to it. It is based exclusively on first-hand evidence, and every statement contained in it can instantly be verified by reference to the original sources indicated in the footnotes. In the Bibliography at the end of this volume the full title, publisher's address, and date of publication of all sources drawn upon are given, so that readers will have no difficulty in procuring any Socialist books they may want for further study.
Most of the books quoted are unknown to booksellers, and are not in public libraries. Even the British Museum Library possesses only part of the publications used in this book, which is the first to exploit fully the whole Socialist party literature. Whilst most books on Socialism take note only of Socialist text-books addressed to students, the present volume considers chiefly the propaganda literature which is educating the Socialist rank and file and shaping its political views. For all practical political purposes the propaganda literature is undoubtedly by far the more important of the two to the statesman and the citizen.
The present volume is the only book of its kind, and I hope that the Socialist movement in Germany, France, and the United States will be treated with similar completeness by writers of these countries. The perusal of the present volume will enable us to form an opinion of the merits or demerits of the Socialistic theories and practical plans, and make it possible for us to separate the grain from the chaff, the wisdom from the folly, in the teachings of the Socialists. Thus we shall be able to see which of their complaints and proposals are justified and practical, and which are unjustified and unpractical.
Popular dissatisfaction, Socialistic and non-Socialistic, points to the existence of ills in the body politic, and the Socialistic agitation is exceedingly valuable inasmuch as it draws general attention to these ills. Some complaints of the Socialists will be found to be imaginary, others are very real.
It would be a sterile undertaking merely to analyse and criticise Socialism and the Socialistic proposals. Therefore, after having described the policy, ideals, and aims of the Socialists, I mean to analyse the disease of which Socialism is a consequence and a symptom, and to propose practical measures for curing it.
In the course of this book I shall show that Socialism seems likely to become a very great danger in this country—a far greater danger than is generally realised. Therefore its opponents will be wise not to sneer at Socialism, but to study it and to try to understand it. That task will be found worth our while, and only after it shall we be able to further Socialism if it is beneficial, to combat it if it is pernicious, and to correct it if it is only the misguided expression of genuine suffering and want. Indifference to a great and dangerous political movement such as Socialism may have the gravest consequences. Idlers do not make history. They suffer it.
 Millar, Socialism, p. 21.
 Herbert Spencer, The Man versus the State, p. 18 ff.
 Roosevelt, Presidential Message, December 1907.
 Walter Crane in Squire, Socialism and Art, Foreword.
 Bebel, Woman, p. 256.
 Kessack, Capitalist Wilderness, p. 2.
 Ford, Woman and Socialism, p. 3.
 Keir Hardie, From Serfdom to Socialism, p. 1.
 Webb, The Difficulties of Individualism, p. 3.
 Hyndman, Socialism and Slavery, Preface.
 Blatchford, Merrie England, p. 100.
 Shaw, The Impossibilities of Anarchism, p. 3.
 "Veritas," Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism? p. 1.
 Macdonald, Socialism, p. 3.
 Labour Record, February 1907.
 Webb, The Difficulties of Individualism, p. 15.
 Will Socialism benefit the British People? p. 4.
 Ball, The Moral Aspects of Socialism, p. 3.
 Williams, The Difficulties of Socialism, p. 3.
 Bebel, Woman, p. 257.
 Sorge, Socialism and the Worker, p. 13.
 Ibid. p. 16.
 Bax, Religion of Socialism, p. ix.
 Lafargue, in Bliss, Encyclopedia of Social Reform, p. 1264.
 Macdonald, Labour and the Empire, p. 108.
 Blatchford, What is this Socialism? p. 2.
 Justice, October 19, 1907.
 Keir Hardie, From Serfdom to Socialism, p. 96.
 Ethel Snowden, The Woman Socialist, p. 44.
 Gronlund, Co-operative Commonwealth, p. 126.
 Guyot, Pretensions of Socialism, p. 11.
 Hird, From Brute to Brother, p. 1.
 Robert Blatchford, Real Socialism, p. 15.
 Williams, Difficulties of Socialism, p. 4.
 Bliss, Encyclopedia of Social Reform, p. 1265.
SOME SOCIALIST VIEWS OF PRESENT SOCIETY AND OF THE SOCIETY OF THE FUTURE
"We are not indebted to reason," wrote the greatest American Socialist, "for the landmarks of human progress, for the introduction of Christianity, the institution of the monastic orders, the Crusades, the Reformation, the American Revolution, or the abolition of slavery. Man is only irresistible when he acts from passion. The masses of men are never moved except by passions, feelings, interests." "Socialism has the advantage of appealing to the interests as well as to the enthusiasm of all except the few who think the world good enough as it is.... It is, of course, to the discontented wage-workers that the Socialist can appeal with the greatest chance of success." These indiscreet words, which might have been written by the most implacable of Anti-Socialists, sum up and explain the Socialistic agitation and tactics. They are a proclamation and an avowal, and the worst enemy of Socialism would have found it difficult to pen a more damaging statement. Socialists rely not on reason or justice, but on unreason and passion, for the victory of their cause; and that fact is very much to be regretted, for it is bound to create prejudice and suspicion, and to greatly weaken their case.
The British Socialists, seeking to rouse the passions of men, habitually rely on exaggeration and misrepresentation. They do not tire of painting the present state of society in the darkest colours and of describing with an unbounded but hardly justifiable optimism and enthusiasm the advantages which will accrue to society when Socialism has come to rule. It will be seen that in describing society of the present and society of the future, Socialists let their imagination run riot in the most astounding fashion.
To the Socialist modern civilisation is worse than a failure. "Our civilisation seems all so savage and bestial and filthy and inartistic; all so cowardly and devilish and despicable. We fight by cheatery and underselling, and adulteration and bribery, and unmanly smirking for our bone of a livelihood; all scrambling and biting round the platter when there is abundance for all, if we were orderly and courteous and gentlemanly; all crushing the weaker; all struggling to the platter-side for the privilege of wearing tall hats and of giving good advice to the poor dogs outside. We, the well-fed, shout lordily to the hungry and cheer them with legends to the effect that though the poor are juggled out of earth, they may be masters in Heaven. Our civilisation is barbarous."
Where'er we go, to east or west North or south, 'tis all the same; Civilisation at it's best Is savagery's newer name. For we see on every hand 'Midst the whirr and noise of trade The toilers, crushed and trampled, and Into beasts of burden made.
"The one reality of the nineteenth century is the scramble for wealth; politics, literature, science, religion, art, are, apart from money-getting, mere lifeless wraiths." Government in general, and British Government in particular, is vicious, tyrannous, and neglectful, and deserves the utmost contempt. "National Government is devised for other objects than the adjustment of essential, economic, and hygienic arrangements for the redemption of human life; to use it for such a purpose is gross tyranny and a deadly blow at the very foundations of morality and religion! Governments exist for quite other purposes than this—to pay a million pounds yearly to one family and its immediate parasites, to supply power of life and death over the people to the exploiting class and fat places to their satellites and creatures, to squander hundreds of millions on gunpowder and armaments, to use the whole socialised power of the nation to overawe, exploit, rob, and ruin the so-called lower races—all these are the proper objects of government according to our orthodox wiseacres, but to use the same obvious instrument adequately to protect human life at home, and that life, to quote Mr. Burns, 'the weakest, the smallest, and the dearest to us all,' is to undermine the foundations of British manliness and to poison the fountain of British liberty and greatness. Such is the curious melange of selfishness, hypocrisy, prejudice, ignorance, and incoherence which passes muster for argument amongst our anti-Socialist opponents."
British social legislation has been a failure. Never was the lot of the workers worse than it is now. "Your legislation for the past hundred years is a perpetual and fruitless effort to regulate the disorders of your economic system. Your poor, your drunken, your incompetent, your sick, your aged, ride you like a nightmare. You have dissolved all human and personal ties. The salient characteristic of your civilisation is its irresponsibility. The making of dividends is the universal preoccupation; the well-being of the labourer is no one's concern. You depend on variations of supply and demand which you can neither determine nor anticipate. The failure of a harvest, the modification of a tariff in some remote country dislocates the industry of millions, thousands of miles away. You are at the mercy of a prospector's luck, an inventor's genius, a woman's caprice—nay, you are at the mercy of your own instruments. Your capital is alive and cries for food."
Virtue has disappeared, religion is a fraud, clergy and priesthood are mercenary, cowardly, and interested time-servers. "The priests and the parsons are salary-slaves as much as the workers are wage-slaves. The majority of them dare not preach the Gospel of Humanity, Justice, and Socialism from their pulpits owing to their fear of their paymasters. Religion is divorced from business, politics, the administration of public authorities, the treatment of the aged worker, and written across the actions of the professing Christians is 'Self-interest; every man for himself and the Workhouse take the hindmost.'"
Life is hell, and only Socialism can regenerate the world.
Things are all wrong, and we must put them right So say all Socialists, and truly too. Man does not get the chance here to subdue The brute in self; and hence the fearful blight Which makes one sicken at the dreadful sight Of all society in one hell stew.
Apparently all British workers spend their lives in terrible misery and constant privation. Hunger and despair are their constant companions, and they will see in Socialism their only salvation even if Socialism should destroy individual liberty, for to them individual liberty is a word without meaning. One of the most prominent British Socialists, Mr. Philip Snowden, M.P., in a pamphlet addressed to working men, writes: "Let those who fear that Socialism will destroy individual liberty and hinder intellectual development go with their talk to the machine-workers of our great northern towns, who are chained for eleven hours a day to a monotonous toil, with the eye of the overseer and the fear of dismissal spurring them on to an exertion which leaves them at the end of their day's work physical wrecks, with no ambition but to restore their wasted energies at the nearest public-house. Let them go with their talk of the blessings of civilisation to the pottery and chemical workers, whose systems are poisoned, whose sight is destroyed, where, through the bodies of the parents being saturated with poison, half the children are born dead, and of the rest not one in four lives to be five—tell them to hold fast to their share of the blessings of our glorious civilisation. Or go to the sweaters' victims, living, eating, working, dying in one room, for which a vampire landlord will take in rent one-half of all the family can earn by working day and night—talk to them of individual liberty and warn them of the tyranny of the coming Socialism. Or go on a bitterly cold winter morning to the dock gates of one of our great ports and see thousands of men waiting in the hope of a day's job, and watch how a few here and there of the strongest are selected, and the rest left to another day of hunger and despair; or, wait still, and see how a few remain behind in the hope that their mate may meet with an accident and 'they can snatch at the work he had.' Why, to talk of individual freedom and equality of opportunity under a system of cannibalistic competition like this is like the mocking laughter of a raving maniac gloating over the torture of the victim it holds in its murderous grip." In another popular pamphlet the worker is told: "After all, John, does it not strike you that there is some foul iniquity in a system which allows one part of the community to do another portion of it to death and to rob and enslave those it is pleased to let live? Do you not see that those your capitalists find it convenient and profitable to employ may live; and that those they do not choose to employ must die? Do you not see that these are hurried and driven hither and thither in haggard, destitute misery; are thrust into festering heaps in your foul slums; into your gaols, and penitentiaries, and workhouses; that they wander in hopeless misery, hungering within sight of food, penniless amid plenty, enforcedly idle, and work to which they can have no access lying upon every hand of them, as though the world were under an enchantment and God were dead!"
The British working man, as he is generally known, is a manly and very independent personage. As a rule his master is more afraid of him than he is of his master. Yet, according to the picture drawn of him by the Socialists, he is a timorous, cowardly, whining, pitiful creature who has to cringe to his tyrannic employers:
See the toiler, how he slaves For a trifle of his toil. How disease and death he braves, Yet the masters take the spoil; And how often, cap in hand, Trembling, pleading piteously, He is forced to take his stand In the mart of slavery.
Oh! ye tyrants of the earth, Who make others' ruin your trade, 'Midst licentious love and mirth Fashion, pomp, and church parade. Do you never think, oh, tell Of the hideous crime and shame That has made this earth a hell Of commercial fraud and shame?
During the week the British workers work at most five and a half days out of seven, and as a rule they work during from eight to ten hours a day. Generally speaking, the pace at which British workmen work is not forced. Except in a few special industries overwork among the working men is practically unknown. Besides, the pace at which work is performed is as a rule determined not by the employer, but by the employees. Nevertheless we read, "It is monstrous that, while some half million of men are vainly seeking employment, millions of their fellows should have no respite from arduous ill-requited toil and should be hastening to a premature death through overwork." In prose and verse the British workers are constantly told that they are slaves who are driven into starvation and suicide:
Let them brag until in the face they are black That over oceans they hold their sway, Of the flag of Old England, the Union Jack, About which I have something to say. 'Tis said that it floats o'er the free; but it waves Over thousands of hard-worked, ill-paid British slaves, Who are driven to pauper and suicide graves— The starving poor of Old England.
'Tis the poor, the poor the taxes have to pay, The poor who are starving every day, Who faint and die on the King's highway— The starving poor of Old England.
There's the slaves of the needle and the slaves of the mine, The postmen, and the sons of the plough, And the hard-worked servants on the railway line, Who get little by the sweat of their brow. 'Tis said that the labourer is worthy of his hire; But of whom does he get it? we'd like to enquire. Not of any mill-owner, or farmer, or squire, Who grind down the poor of Old England.
Now let us cast a glance at the Socialist picture of the society of the future under Socialistic rule.
The first thing which Socialism would do would be to organise work, for "practical Socialism is a kind of national scheme of co-operation, managed by the State." There would be no more employers, for "under Socialism all the work of the nation would be managed by the nation for the nation," and all would have plenty to eat, because "Socialism would leave no man to starve." "All the work of the nation would be organised—that is to say, it would be ordered or arranged so that no one need be out of work, and so that no useless work need be done, and so that no work need be done twice where once would serve."
It is expected that the national organisation and administration of all the industries would prove more efficient than private enterprise. We are assured that "under Socialism the efficiency of production developed by Capitalism will not only be preserved but improved. Mechanical invention will be encouraged and utilised to the utmost." Compulsory labour, State regulation of work, and increased production would lead to increased consumption and increased comfort. "Who would deny that, if it is everybody's duty to work, if the production of unnecessary—nay, even of injurious—articles is abolished, if production is organised in conformity with the real wants and pleasures of mankind—who would deny, I ask, that the standard of life of the whole human race might be raised infinitely above its present grade?"
Although Socialism would make work compulsory to all, and place every man, woman, and child under the direction of the great Socialist organisation with its army of officials, and although it would destroy individual liberty as at present understood, by placing the daily life of every citizen under Government regulations and restrictions, it would bring with it a greater liberty. Unfortunately the Socialists fail to say what that liberty consists in, and we must take their assurances in lieu of details. "Those who fear that Socialism will destroy individual liberty fail to distinguish between liberty and licence. Individualism is licence—it is the freedom of the individual to do as he likes without regard to the effect of his action on others, or even without regard to his own best welfare. Socialism is liberty; for it will restrict the freedom of the individual to inflict injury upon others or to do what is morally injurious to himself."
Socialism will release the British slaves out of their slavery, and restore them to everlasting freedom. "Such Socialism as we champion means for all future generations not slavery, but full and never-ending freedom." "Socialism declares it to be the duty of man to remove all artificial barriers to the improvement of circumstances, in order that humanity, as a whole, may have freedom and all possible assistance to attain to its full stature, physically, mentally, and spiritually."
With the introduction of the Socialist regime the earth would, as by a magician's wand, be transformed into a paradise. Over-population, bad harvests, the maladjustment of international demand and supply, and individual folly, laziness, wastefulness, improvidence, and passion would apparently no longer have the same unfortunate consequences which they have now. "The struggle for individual existence disappears...." "The words 'poor' and 'charity' will be expunged from the dictionary as relics of a barbarous past." "There would be no starvation, there would be no pauperism, there would be no sweaters; there would be no barefooted children in the streets; there would be no fraudulent trustees, no bankrupts; there would be no slums, no annual massacre of innocents by preventable disease; there would be hardly such a thing known as ignorance, there would be scarcely any drunkenness, and crime would shrink to microscopic dimensions."
"Practical Socialism would educate the people. It would provide cheap and pure food. It would extend and elevate the means of study and amusement. It would foster literature and science and art. It would encourage and reward genius and industry. It would abolish sweating and jerry-work. It would demolish the slums and erect good and handsome dwellings. It would compel all men to do some kind of useful work. It would recreate and nourish the craftsman's pride in his craft. It would protect women and children. It would raise the standard of health and morality; and it would take the sting out of pauperism by paying pensions to honest workers no longer able to work."
"There is something in Socialism to kill ignorance and to destroy vice. There is something in it to shut up the gaols, to do away with prostitution, to reduce crime and drunkenness, and wipe out for ever the sweater and the slums, the beggars and the idle rich, the useless fine ladies and lords, and to make it possible for sober and willing workers to live healthy, and happy, and honourable lives."
The Socialist Government would apparently be all-powerful and all-wise. At any rate, it would improve the character of the people. "Socialism would teach and train all children wisely; it would foster genius and devotion to the common good; it would kill scamping, and loafing, and jerrymandering; it would give us better health, better homes, better work, better food, better lives, and better men and women."
When Socialism is introduced and private capital abolished, the golden age of the world will begin:
When all mankind are workers, And no drones in the hive; Oh, what a happy, glorious time They'll have who are alive. This world will be a garden, An Eden full of bliss; Oh, brother—sister—won't you strive For such a state as this?
There will be no starving children, no; Nor tramps, nor beggars then; No workhouses, nor prisons, and No slums, nor sweater's den. The land-grabber and the vampire, And the fleecer of our toil, Will all have ceased to crush us In their vile rush for the spoil.
So far we have looked chiefly at the economic consequences which the introduction of Socialism is going to bring about. However, according to the Socialists, it is not true that "Socialism is merely sordid and material, and has no regard for the more ideal side of human interests. The Socialist recognises, far more than others, the higher ideals of human life as being its true end." Therefore "Socialism seeks to improve the physical, mental, and spiritual environment of every man, woman, and child, so that all mankind may be purer, healthier, happier, stronger, nobler, and that each generation may be nearer perfection than the one immediately preceding." In other words, "the creation of a higher type of mankind than the modern man will be the result of Socialism. Men will have no need to think, day in, day out, where to get the bread for to-morrow." "Material conditions form the fundamental basis of human existence. When these become common property, free to all and abundant for all, they will cease to have that importance they now possess. The sordid struggle for mere material things will disappear; free play will be given to man's higher faculties, and the struggle, competition, or emulation between man and man will be for the realisation of his highest conceivable aspirations."
According to many Socialists, money and wages would disappear. Food, clothing, lodging, &c., would be given gratis to the citizens. "Under ideal Socialism there would be no money at all and no wages. The industry of the country would be organised and managed by the State, much as the Post Office now is; goods of all kinds would be produced and distributed for use, and not for sale, in such quantities as were needed; hours of labour would be fixed, and every citizen would take what he or she desired from the common stock. Food, clothing, lodging, fuel, transit, amusements, and all other things would be absolutely free, and the only difference between a prime minister and a collier would be the difference of rank and occupation."
Not only food, clothing, and shelter would be supplied gratis by a bountiful State to the people. In order to banish ennui from among the workers, entertainments and amusements also would be provided, free of charge. Gratis travel on the railways would make life a permanent holiday, and the last cause of dissatisfaction would be removed by transferring the surroundings of the gratuitously maintained and amused people into a garden of Eden. "I would have the towns rebuilt with wide streets, with detached houses, with gardens and fountains and avenues of trees. I would make the railways, the carriage of letters, and the transit of goods as free as the roads and bridges. I would make the houses loftier and larger, and clear them of all useless furniture. I would institute public dining-halls, public baths, public washhouses on the best plans, and so set free the hands of those slaves—our English women. I would have public parks, public theatres, music-halls, gymnasiums, football and cricket fields, public halls and public gardens for recreation and music and refreshment. I would have all our children fed and clothed and educated at the cost of the State. I would have them all taught to play and to sing. I would have them all trained to athletics and to arms. I would have public halls of science. I would have the people become their own artists, actors, musicians, soldiers, and police. Then, by degrees, I would make all these things free." In the words of the Socialist poet—
We'll grow up true men and women And enjoy life from our birth.
Men, being no longer compelled to work hard for a living, will lose the desire for wealth and all that wealth supplies and will devote themselves more and more to the culture of their mind. "Under Socialism the possession of riches will cease to be a ruling passion, for honest labour will be a guarantee against want, and riches will no longer be the passport to social position. Under such conditions the possession of riches will be a superfluous burden which no sane man will wish to bear." "When land and capital are the common property of all the people, class distinctions, as we know them at present, will no longer exist. The Mind will then be the standard by which a man's place among his fellows will be determined." Hence "Socialism means the elevation of the struggle for existence from the material to the intellectual plane. Socialism will raise the struggle for existence into a sphere where competition shall be emulation, where the treasures are boundless and eternal, and where the abundant wealth of one does not cause the poverty of another."
The poet has described in a vision this phase of the golden age of Socialism as follows:
A strain of distant music Floats on the gentle breeze, Its captivating sweetness Bends e'en the proudest knees; Now soft as angel whispers, Then, loud as trumpet's blast It sounds the knell of sorrows And pains for ever past.
Now sweeter and more varied, The music doth appear; Ten thousand harps Aeolian Seem to be drawing near. Ten thousand angels' voices Are mingled with the strain, Chanting the song of Freedom— Justice has come to reign;
Telling of bounteous harvests, Of waving golden corn, Waiting the reaper's sickle, And asking to be shorn; Lands rich with milk and honey Promised in days of yore; Asking all those that hunger To eat and faint no more.
The song grows loud and mighty As thunder in the storm, The tyrant quakes and trembles, And hides his guilty form; And stronger and still stronger The joyous chorus grows— Rejoice! all ye that labour, Ye triumph o'er your foes.
"Socialism, being at the same time the sublimest science, art, and religion, will naturally elevate man. The British people will become a nation of scientists and philosophers who, throwing natural enjoyments aside, will lead a life of pure intellectual happiness. Mortal men will become demi-gods. Socialism will justify God's way to man." "Socialism comes as the Angel of Light bearing to mankind this message of truth. Socialism, equipped with all the learning of the ages, takes up the ripest teaching of the poet, the philosopher, the economist, the scientist, the historian, and joins the conclusion of each together into one harmonious whole. Now we know that suffering, misery, and poverty are a violation of God's will. Now we know that the fulness of time has come for us to cast the last relic of our fallen nature from us and to follow the beckoning angel who is waiting to lead us back through the gates of Paradise into an Eden of intellectual joys."
These things shall be! a loftier race Than e'er the world hath known shall rise With flame of freedom in their souls, And light of science in their eyes.
They shall be gentle, brave, and strong, To spill no drop of blood, but dare All that may plant man's lordship firm On earth, and fire, and sea, and air.
Nation with nation, land with land, Unarmed shall live as comrades free; In every heart and brain shall throb The pulse of one fraternity.
New arts shall bloom of loftier mould, And mightier music thrill the skies, And every life shall be a song When all the earth is paradise.
These things—they are no dreams—shall be For happier men when we are gone. These golden days for them shall dawn, Transcending aught we gaze upon.
All men will be brothers. The difference among nations and races will disappear by the rule of love and justice. "Justice is to be the foundation on which we must build: not the kind of justice we have hitherto considered as sufficient for us, and which many countries pride themselves is their watchword and standard, but a justice that demands freedom for all."
Equal rights it gives, my brothers, To the eagle and the dove; Right to air, and light, and knowledge, Right to rise your toil above— Hearken! hearken! O, my brothers, For this new great Right is Love.
Wars will be abolished.
There's a good time coming, boys, A good time coming; The pen shall supersede the sword, And right, not might, shall be the lord In the good time coming. Worth, not birth, shall rule mankind, And be acknowledged stronger; The proper impulse has been giv'n— Wait a little longer.
Being a religion of peace and love, and preaching the brotherhood of man, Socialism will conquer the world. "Socialism with its promise of freedom, its larger hope for humanity, its triumph of peace over war, its binding of the races of the earth into one all-embracing brotherhood, must prevail." "We mean the establishment of a political power which shall have for its conscious and definite aim the common ownership and control of the whole of the world's industry, exchange, &c."
According to many Socialists, Socialism is not an original religion, but it is the most sublime form of Christianity. "Socialism is in accordance with the revealed will of God." "Karl Marx was an utter pagan, but there is not an essential proposition in 'Das Kapital' that Jesus of Nazareth did not inculcate. Is it a question of rent? You are as much entitled to immunity from it as the birds of the air, or the grass of the fields. Is it a question of usury or interest? Lend, hoping for nothing again. Is it a question of profit or inequitable exchange? Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you." "Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism? Unless we are prepared to deny the truth of the Gospel, there can be but one answer—Yes. And Socialism naturally evolves from Christianity." Socialism will mean the establishment of the rule of Christ upon earth. "The political democracy, dominated by the social ideal, will be the coming of Christ to rule the nations in righteousness." The Socialist leaders see visions. "I do sometimes dream dreams, and I see a vision of what the world will be when this spirit of love and sacrifice which has actuated some noble spirits in all ages and which shone with the glory of full perfection in the life and example of Jesus of Nazareth—I sometimes see, as through a glass darkly, a vision of what the world will be when this spirit of love and sacrifice shall animate all men. I see our modern towns swept away, and in their place beautiful cities whose buildings reflect the pride of the community in their common life, and whose healthy homes show the value society attaches to the individual life. I see everywhere a change come over the face of the landscape; every meadow smiles with plenty, every valley blossoms as the rose, every hill is green with the glory of Lebanon. I see a revived art and a revived literature. I see a people healthy, happy, cultured, contented, whose wealth is life, full and free, 'whose ways are ways of pleasantness, whose flowery paths are paths of peace.' And my vision extends, though more dimly, beyond the confines of my own dear land, and I see this spirit of brotherhood among the nations has broken down international barriers, and international hatred is no more. The sword is beaten into a ploughshare, the spear into a pruning-hook, and the peoples of all lands are one, each freely sharing of its special bounties to add to the comforts of all."
The new Christian religion, like the old one, demands its saints and its martyrs, if not the reincarnation of Christ. "The only way to regain the earthly paradise is by the old, hard road to Calvary—through persecution, through poverty, through temptation, by the agony and bloody sweat, by the crown of thorns, by the agonising death, and then the resurrection to the New Humanity—purified by suffering, triumphant through Sacrifice."
The new Christ also has his forerunner and herald. "Mr. Keir Hardie, M.P., the leader of the Labour Party, resembles John the Baptist," and the Socialist leaders will do even greater things than did Christ. We are told: "When Christ told His disciples that it was possible for them to do greater things than they had seen Him do they must have been fairly staggered. Just think for a moment of the nature of the works He had done, most of them in their very presence. Those who are striving to obtain a better social order and provide a fairer distribution of the good gifts of God among the sons of men, these men I say, in so far as their efforts are successful, are doing greater things than Christ did when He performed the miracle of feeding the hungry."
"Man is only irresistible when he acts from passion. The masses of men are never moved except by passions feelings, interests. It is of course to the discontented wage-earners that the Socialist can appeal with the greatest chance of success." All Socialists agree in depicting to the workers life in present society as hell incarnate and in giving a picture of life in the Socialist State of the future which resembles the descriptions found in the "Arabian Nights" tales. They only disagree in this: that some promise him heaven, whilst those possessed of less enthusiasm promise him only an earthly paradise.
 Gronlund, The Co-operative Commonwealth, p. 187.
 Ibid. p. 184.
 Forward, October 12, 1907.
 Neil, Songs of the Social Revolution, p. 22.
 Bax, Outlooks from the New Standpoint, p. 140.
 Fisher, The Babies' Tribute, p. 6.
 Glyde, The Misfortune of being a Working Man, p. 1.
 Ibid. p. 7.
 Neil, Songs of the Social Revolution, p. 1.
 Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, pp. 4-5.
 Washington, A Corner in Flesh and Blood, p. 15.
 Social-Democratic Federation Song Book, p. 29.
 Quelch, The Social-Democratic Federation, p. 7.
 Sidney Webb, The Difficulties of Individualism, p. 18.
 Social-Democratic Federation Song Book, p. 32.
 Blatchford, Merrie England, p. 100.
 Blatchford, What is this Socialism? p. 7.
 Blatchford, Britain for the British, p. 96.
 Blatchford, What is this Socialism? pp. 5, 6.
 Macdonald, Socialism, p. 74.
 Sorge, Socialism and the Worker, p. 13.
 Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, pp. 12, 13.
 Hyndman, Socialism and Slavery, p. 13.
 "Veritas," Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism? p. 1.
 Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, p. 81.
 Davidson, The Old Order and the New, p. 170.
 Blatchford, The Pope's Socialism, p. 16.
 Blatchford, Merrie England, p. 102.
 Blatchford, Britain for the British, p. 89.
 Ibid. p. 89.
 Neil, Songs of the Social Revolution, p. 8.
 Bax and Quelch, A New Catechism of Socialism, p. 43.
 "Veritas," Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism? p. 1.
 Kautsky, The Social Revolution, p. 43.
 Bax and Quelch, A New Catechism of Socialism, p. 44.
 Blatchford, Merrie England, p. 103.
 Ibid. pp. 43, 44.
 Neil, Songs of the Social Revolution, p. 8.
 Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 9.
 Keir Hardie, From Serfdom to Socialism, p. 24.
 Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 8.
 Clarion Song Book, p. 18.
 Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 8.
 Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 9.
 Clarion Song Book, p. 14.
 Ford, Women and Socialism, p. 2.
 Clarion Song Book, p. 31.
 Ibid. p. 25.
 Keir Hardie, From Serfdom to Socialism, p. 104.
 Bax and Quelch, A New Catechism of Socialism, p. 9.
 "Veritas," Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism? p. 15.
 Davidson, The Gospel of the Poor, p. 153.
 "Veritas," Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism? p. 16.
 Snowden, The Christ that is to be, p. 13.
 Snowden, The Christ that is to be, pp. 13, 14.
 Ibid. p. 14.
 "Veritas," Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism? p. 4.
 Ward, Prevention is Better than Cure, pp. 2, 5, and 6.
 Gronlund, The Co-operative Commonwealth, p. 184.
THE GRIEVANCES OF THE SOCIALISTS
"Socialism is not only a theory of another and better system of society: it is an indictment of the existing order." The Socialist conception of society as at present constituted, given in the preceding chapter, will have prepared the reader to some extent for the Socialist grievances. These grievances are three in number, and may be summed up as follows:
(1) The workers are for all practical purposes slaves who are kept in chains and forced to work by the capitalist class.
(2) The rich men cause the poverty of the poor by defrauding them of the largest part of their wages.
(3) The workers receive only from one third to one fourth of the wage which is their rightful due.
Let us look into these grievances.
According to the Socialist leaders, the workers—
Helots in hunger nursed Slaves of their reign accursed—
keep the rich in affluence. Nevertheless they themselves are kept in poverty, degradation, and slavery by the capitalists whom they nourish by their labour. "The landlord owns the raw material and can live in idleness. The capitalist owns the machinery and can live in idleness. The worker has nothing, except his ability to work, and he cannot work without the consent of the landlord and the capitalist. Therefore, he is virtually a slave. He cannot control his own life."
As a matter of fact the position of the worker is worse than was that of the slave. "It did not always pay to starve a slave, because if he died you might have to buy another one. Therefore the lot of the slave under a good master was in many respects better than that of the proletariat in our great cities." "Poverty rather than property is the reward of labour to-day." "Poverty is our reward for creating plenty, and the class that lives in luxury by exploiting our labour contemptuously informs us that the law of supply and demand condemns us to suffer the most hideous privation whenever our excessive industry has created a glut of all the things that satisfy human needs."
The workers are unfree, being enslaved by the capitalists. It is true that they possess freedom of contract, but freedom of contract, like individual liberty, is an illusion, because the workers, being penniless, are compelled to accept whatever work is obtainable, and to be satisfied with whatever wages are offered. "The right to sell in the markets is now well established, but the chief difficulty with the majority of workers lies in the fact that they have nothing but their labour to sell, and a market is not easy to find even for that."
Although co-operation has made millions of workers in Germany, France, Belgium, and other countries prosperous and independent, independence is, according to the Socialists, for some unspecified reason, unobtainable for the workers of Great Britain, and co-operation is a failure. "The chance of the great bulk of the labourers ever coming to work upon their own land and capital in associations for co-operative production, has become even less hopeful than it ever was." "Everywhere the workman is coming to understand that it is practically hopeless for him, either individually or co-operatively, to own the constantly growing mass of capital by the use of which he lives." The advent of the great industry has not benefited but harmed him. "The supersession of the small by the great industry has given the main fruits of invention and the new power over Nature to a comparatively small proprietary class, upon whom the mass of the people are dependent for leave to earn their living." "The worker is now a mere item in a vast industrial army over the organisation and direction of which he has no control. He is free, but free only to choose to which master he will sell his labour—free only to decide from which proprietor he will beg that access to the new instruments of production without which he cannot exist."
As the capitalist class owns the factories, workshops, &c., the worker has become to that class a slave in the full and generally accepted meaning of the word. "The effect of private property in land and capital is in all essential respects the same as was the effect of private property in human beings. In each case slavery is the result. The form may have changed, but the substance remains." "The labourer to-day is a slave, and labour has become a mark of bondage." Except for a slight difference in outward form, the British wage-slaves are no better off than were the black slaves on the sugar plantations in the past. "Much as the 'free-born Briton' may dislike to hear the painful truth recited, it is a fact, not to be controverted, that four-fifths of our total population are bound as completely and as miserably as ever was a black African slave to a Western planter. There is no real freedom which is not economic freedom. He is a slave who depends for his bread upon the will or the whim of a man like himself, or of a number of such masters." In other words, capitalism and slave-owning are for all practical purposes synonymous words, as may be seen from the Socialist Catechism: "Q. What constitutes the chief difference between capitalism and slave-owning? A. The fact that the capitalist goes through the form of bargaining with the labourer as to the amount of the portion of the produce that shall be returned to him.—Q. What is this farce called? A. Freedom of contract.—Q. In what sense is it free? A. In this sense—that the labourer is free to take what is offered or nothing.—Q. Has he anything to fall back upon? A. He has absolutely nothing in countries where the tyranny of capitalism is untempered by any form of Socialism."
To those working men who might object that it is a gross exaggeration to say that the British worker is a slave, and that he is penniless, the Socialist agitator answers: "What? You are a free man and not a slave? There are no slaves in this country? What is a slave? One who works at the bidding of another, and only by permission of another, and for the profit of that other. Does not that fit your case exactly? Do you work when you like and idle when you like? Not you! You work when the capitalist requires your labour, when your services will be useful in making a profit for him. When that is not the case you can starve in the gutter, although there may be all the necessaries of life in profusion around you. These things do not belong to you, although you and your class have made them; they are so much wealth which your masters have acquired from your unpaid labour, things which you have produced, but for which you have never been paid, out of which you have been swindled by the natural operation of the system of wage-slavery of which you are the unconscious victim. From this condition of things there is no escape while the whole of the people do not own the means of production. Nothing but the abolition of the class ownership of the means of life, and the substitution of ownership of the whole people, will abolish this form of slavery."
The foregoing grievance is absurd. If regular work for a regular wage, agreed upon by contract, is slavery, then all salaried men from the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor downward are also "wage-slaves."
The Socialist agitator, after having told the working men that they are no better off than negro slaves, then asks his hearers, as a rule: "Why is it that the producers in this country are the poorest of the population? Why is it that those who do not produce are the richest?" The manner in which this question is put suggests the reply. Indeed, all Socialists agree in holding the rich responsible for the poverty of the poor, as the following utterances will show: "Socialism contends that the poverty of the poor is caused by robbery on the part of the rich. The mansion explains the hovel. Belgravia has its counterpart in Shoreditch. The factory, the foundry, the ship-building yard account for the shooting lodge, the yacht, and the tours in foreign lands. The long day's toil of one class renders possible the life-long play of the other." "If you have no unemployed at the top of the social ladder you will have none at the bottom."
"The riches of the rich class are the cause of the poverty of the masses." "You make the automobile, he rides in it. If it were not for you, he would walk; and if it were not for him, you would ride." "Colossal poverty is the foundation of colossal wealth; he who would eliminate the poverty of the masses assails the wealth of the few."
The foregoing arguments, or rather assertions, may sound very convincing and may be exceedingly useful for propaganda purposes, but they are disproved by facts. If the existence of the rich were the cause of the poverty of the masses, the workers in countries which possess few rich capitalists, such as Ireland, Spain, Italy, Servia, and Bulgaria, should be exceedingly well off; the workers in the countries where the richest millionaires live, such as the United States, should be the poorest. In reality, the American workmen are the most prosperous, whilst the workers in Ireland and other millionaire-less countries are the poorest. Rich men are not the consumers, but merely the trustees and managers, of the national wealth which is invested chiefly in reproductive undertakings—mills, railways, mines, &c.—which supply comforts and conveniences to all.
The capitalists, the employers, British Socialists say, have become rich by defrauding the worker of his wages. The worker must starve so that a few rich people may live in luxury, and things will become better for the worker only when there are no more rich men. "The gains of the capitalist are simply the losses of labour! The partly or wholly unearned incomes of the rich consist of the unpaid, withheld wages of the industrious poor." "Only by living off another man's labour and denying another man the fruits of his toil can riches be acquired. Riches are directly responsible for poverty, and the art of being rich is the art of keeping one's neighbour poor. When there are no rich there will be no poor. To the wealth of the few, acquired at the expense of the many, and not to drink or want of thrift, are all the evils of our social life to be ascribed." "Production is carried on to-day purely in the interest and for the profit of the class which owns the instruments of production."
There are ninety-and-nine who live and die In want and hunger and cold, That one may revel in luxury, And be wrapped in its silken fold; The ninety-and-nine in their hovels bare, The one in a palace with riches rare.
Ye poor of wealthy England, Who starve and sweat and freeze By labour sore to fill the store Of those who live at ease; 'Tis time to know your real friends, To face your real foe, And to fight for your right Till ye lay your masters low; Small hope for you of better days Till ye lay your masters low.
The working men are, according to the Socialist agitators, "excluded" from property by the capitalist class which owns all the land, factories, machinery, &c. The capitalist class has thus reserved for itself a monopoly of all the instruments of production. Consequently, "the only means by which the excluded class can live is by working for the capitalist class—by getting some one or other of the capitalist class to allow them access to the tools and materials in his possession, and pay them wages in return for their labour." However, the capitalists do not grant to the workers access to the instruments of production free of charge. They exact a toll from them, and employ them only if, by so doing, they can secure a profit for themselves. In the fact that an employer will engage workmen only if he can make a profit by their labour, the Socialists see a cruel injustice. "Your capitalist class draw upon this excluded horde of landless, toolless, foodless lack-alls, and do actually find work for as many as they can employ at a profit to themselves. This excluded class have no rights—not even the elementary right to exist. What God meant by creating them when He knew, or might have known, that everything belonged to the capitalists, nobody can understand." "The whole of our industrial system is founded on a principle existing nowhere else in Nature, the principle of production and distribution for profit. If no employer can make a profit out of the worker's labour he is cast into the unemployed army." "Seven out of every eight persons in your community, 37,500,000 of the men, and women, and children who form your nation, can lay no claim to any right to exist—exist only on sufferance. If one or other of the irresponsible persons who own the country can be induced to allow them to earn their bread, well and good; if not, they must die. At the present moment there are 700,000 persons shut out in this manner from any chance of obtaining food to eat. You call it being 'out of work,' and can see the spectral army, 700,000 strong, hungry and in want. They are not kept idle and hungry because there is no 'work.' The earth is there with all its boundless store that their 'work' would turn into wealth if they could but get at it. They are kept idle because those who own the country cannot find them employment at a profit to themselves, because the blind, fatuous insanity of your 'system of trade' makes no provision even for keeping its slaves in work."
According to the Socialists, the employer of labour has no right to work at a profit, and the capitalist has no right to demand rent or interest. "The great central truth of Socialistic economy, ever to be kept in mind, is Adam Smith's definition of wages: 'The produce of labour is the natural recompense or wages of labour.' From this 'natural recompense' rent and profit are, in Socialist eyes, unnatural, illegitimate abstractions, to be recovered and added to wages as speedily as possible." "Profit is the result of unpaid labour; it is the produce of the working man, for which the latter receives no equivalent. If he received his proper and just share, if the capitalist could not deprive him of this, then the capitalist could make no profit."
Not only are "rent" and "profit" illegitimate abstractions, but they are downright theft. Every landowner, every banker, every manufacturer, every shopkeeper is a thief. All business for profit is swindling. "Land-rent and capital-rent are thefts from the produce of labour." "The manufacturer aims primarily at producing, by means of the labour he has stolen from others, not goods, but profits." "What is successful business but cheating? What is the whole basis of capitalist industry but the use of the means of production, not for the legitimate end of producing wealth for use, but for the purpose of making profit for the few by despoiling, sweating, pillaging, and murdering the many?"
Even the more moderate Socialists complain that work is carried on by the employers only "at a profit to themselves," and they wish to abolish this state of affairs, which, they argue, is demoralising to the working men, and is the cause of low wages and unemployment. "The workman is called into the workshop when capital can profitably employ him, and turned adrift again the moment capital finds it can no longer turn his services to profitable account. He is not consulted as to when he shall be employed or when cast adrift. His necessities and those of his dependents are no concern of anyone save himself. He has no right to employment, no one is under obligation to find him work, nor is he free to work for himself, since he has neither the use of land nor the command of the necessary capital." "So long as industry is carried on for profit instead of for use, for gain instead of for need, so long must the evils of low wages and no wages go on."
The grievance that the manufacturers manufacture "not for use but for profit" is ridiculous. The manufacturers manufacture things which the public will buy and use. There is consequently no distinction between manufacturing for use and manufacturing for profit, except this, that no manufacturer will give his time and trouble, and run considerable risks, without adequate compensation. The complaint must therefore be limited to the fact that the employer of labour makes a profit. The question now arises: "What does the manufacturer do with his earnings?" In the vast majority of cases he will use by far the larger part of his profits for renewing machinery and enlarging his works, and thus increase the national capital and the national power of production, spending privately only a director's salary which he would also receive as a director-employee of the Socialist commonwealth. "The employer who works without a profit breaks himself," and in breaking himself he breaks up the factory. Universal production regardless of profit would lead to universal bankruptcy, whilst the curtailing of profits may lead to a proportionate curtailment in the expansion of industry and in the production of articles for use, and to general poverty. It has the same effect whether the workers destroy the capitalist's capital or whether they break the machinery and devastate the corn-fields.
The complaints of the Socialists as to the way in which the workers are exploited by the capitalist class are founded not only on arguments such as those given in the foregoing but on figures as well, and these are exceedingly curious and interesting. Under titles such as "How the Worker is Robbed," statements are made every day, and by all Socialists, which are to prove that the national income is inequitably divided between capitalists and workers. These statements are calculated to make every workman's blood boil, and they seem to confirm the contention of the Socialists that the capitalists inhumanely plunder the working masses. However, these figures are so palpably false and so grossly misleading that attention cannot sufficiently strongly be drawn to the deception which is constantly being practised upon the workers. I hope, therefore, that my readers will patiently and carefully consider the following.
The figures relating to the yearly income of the "capitalist class" and the "working class" which are given in innumerable Socialistic writings, and which are brought forward at almost every Socialist meeting and lecture, are usually taken from a pamphlet entitled "Facts for Socialists from the Political Economists and Statisticians," published by the Fabian Society. The copy lying before me bears the notice, "Tenth Edition (Revised), 111th thousand, 1906." That pamphlet furnishes the statistical basis of fact to the Socialist agitation. Its effect may be measured by its enormous circulation. It contains a vast number of quotations from Blue-books, political economists, and statisticians; and a certain show of learning, of thoroughness, and of conscientiousness gives it at first sight the appearance of being a reliable and honest production. However, appearances are proverbially deceptive.
According to "Facts for Socialists," the whole national income amounts to 1,800,000,000l. per year (page 3), and is derived from the following sources:
"The total profits from the ownership of lands, houses, tithes, &c., the rents of mines, quarries, ironworks, gasworks, waterworks, canals, fishings, shootings, markets, tolls, &c., must amount to at least 290,000,000l.
"II.—INTEREST ON CAPITAL
"The profits of public companies, foreign investments, railways, &c., assessed to income tax in the United Kingdom, the interest payable from British public funds and from Indian, Colonial, and Foreign Governments' funds, and the interest on capital employed in private undertakings of manufacture or trade cannot be less than 360,000,000l. Adding hereto the rent (290,000,000l.), we have a total of 650,000,000l. for rent and interest together. This represents the proportion of the nation's income claimed from the workers, not in return for any service rendered to the community, but merely as the payment for permission to use the land and the already accumulated capital of the country.
"III.—PROFITS AND SALARIES
"The numbers and total income of this large class cannot be exactly ascertained. It includes workers of all grades, from the exceptionally skilled artisan to the Prime Minister, and from the city clerk to the President of the Royal Academy. It is convenient for statistical purposes to include in it all those who do not belong to the 'manual labour class.' If we take the 'rent of ability' to have increased in the same proportion as the assessments to income tax, this prosperous body may be estimated to receive for its work as profits and salaries about 460,000,000l. annually."
Adding up the income from "Rent," "Interest and Capital," and "Profits and Salaries," the pamphlet continues:
"The total drawn by the legal disposers of what are sometimes called the 'three rents' of land, capital, and ability amounts at present to about 1,110,000,000l. yearly, or just under two-thirds of the total produce.
"AND THE MASSES
"Allowing for the increase since these estimates were made, we may safely say that the manual labour class receives for all its millions of workers only some 690,000,000l."
In a short table the distribution of the national income is then given as follows:
Rent L290,000,000 Interest 360,000,000 Profits and Salaries 460,000,000 ——————-
Total (that is, the income of the legal proprietors of the three natural monopolies of land, capital, and ability) 1,110,000,000 Income of manual labour class 690,000,000 ——————- Total produce L1,800,000,000
At first sight it seems outrageous that "the income of the legal proprietors of the three natural monopolies of land, capital, and ability" should come to 1,110,000,000l. per annum, and the income of the manual labour class only to 690,000,000l. per annum, about one-third of the whole, especially as we learn on page 4 of the pamphlet that the "idle rich" are only a small fraction of the community. This statement would prove the assertion that the idle rich are causing the poverty of the poor to be correct if it were honest and fair, but it is neither the one nor the other.
In the first place the foregoing statement divides the nation into two classes "the masses" and "the classes": manual labourers and "the legal proprietors of the three natural monopolies." As the pamphlet is addressed to the uncritical body of general readers, and especially to working men, these will naturally divide, owing to the artful wording of the phrase, the national income between manual labourers and capitalist monopolists. According to this pamphlet everyone who is not a labourer is a capitalist monopolist. Therefore the capitalist monopolist class includes all lawyers and doctors, all parsons and clerks, all officers and salaried officials. Every business man, every farmer, every fisherman, every greengrocer, every baker, every butcher, every sailor, every cobbler, every chimney-sweep, every clerk, being not a wage-earning labourer, is "one of the legal proprietors of the three natural monopolies," or in plainer language, a monopolist. At least, the income of this very large class has barefacedly been credited to the capitalist class, whilst its members have been utilised (on page 4 of the pamphlet) to swell the ranks of the workers. This is dishonesty number one.
The income of the exceptionally skilled artisans, who also form a very large class, is credited on page 7 to the "classes" under the heading "profits and salaries." They also are included among the "monopolists," although their number has likewise been utilised (on page 4) to swell the number of the workers. This is dishonesty number two.
Let us now look at the result of the dishonest Fabian juggling with figures by comparing the statement regarding the national income contained in the Fabian pamphlet with a recent statement of Mr. Chiozza Money, M.P., who is a Socialist, and who divides the national income as follows:
Income of working class (33,000,000 people) about L650,000,000
Income of middle class (all except manual labourers and the rich—small business men, managers, clerks, public servants, &c., with incomes up to L700—9,750,000 people) about 475,000,000
Income of rich (with incomes L700 and above) (1,250,000 people) about 600,000,000 ——————— Total about L1,725,000,000
From the foregoing statement it appears that the rich draw not two-thirds, but only one-third, of the national income, and this fact should be carefully borne in mind in view of the contents of the following pages.
The pamphlet states on page 6 that 650,000,000l. per annum are paid in the shape of rent and interest, "not in return for any service rendered to the community, but merely as the payment for permission to use the land and the already accumulated capital of the country." The national capital is invested chiefly in perishable objects such as houses, factories, railways, steamships, mines, &c., which depreciate unless kept in proper repair. There is wear and tear in capital as in everything else. Capital is lost and destroyed every day. Lastly, the national capital is growing, and must continue growing, in accordance with the growing capital requirements of the time and the growing number of its inhabitants, or the country will decay. New houses, new factories, new railways, new steamships must be built and new mines be opened to increase the comfort of all. From 200,000,000l. to 300,000,000l. are thus reinvested every year in Great Britain, and only by this constant process of reinvestment is it possible to maintain and increase the productive power of the country for the benefit of all. The 200,000,000l. to 300,000,000l. which are yearly reinvested in reproductive undertakings are found by the capitalists, the trustees, directors and managers, not the consumers, of the national industry and of the national wealth. This sum comes out of their earnings, which thus benefit not only the capitalists but the whole nation. Much irrelevant statistical matter is given in the pamphlet, but this large item is left out. That is dishonesty number three.
On page 6 the profits of public companies are treated as "Interest on capital," and interest on capital is disparagingly called "unearned income" on page 7. Most British industries are carried on by limited companies, and limited companies are as a rule formed in this way, that the partners in the former private enterprise become directors. As directors they receive a purely nominal salary. They work as much as they did whilst the business was a private concern, and their income depends on their usually very large holding of shares. The large director-shareholders, and their number is very great, earn their dividends by hard work. Nevertheless their whole income is included in the item "interest on capital," and called "unearned income." This is dishonesty number four.
On page 7 the property of the "manual labour class," or the poor, in land and capital is given as follows:—
In 1901 the deposits in P.O. Savings Bank were L140,392,916 The deposits in Trustee Savings Banks were 51,966,386 Consols purchased for small holders were 14,450,877
In 1900 the capital of Building Societies was 46,775,143 The funds of Trade-Unions, Co-operative, Friendly, and Provident Societies were 72,219,991 The funds of Industrial Life Assurance Societies were 22,998,793 —————— Total L348,804,106
In reality the property of the "manual labour class" in land and capital amounts not to 348,804,106l., but to at least 1,000,000,000l. This is dishonesty number five.
The imports of Great Britain are larger than the exports by about 150,000,000l. The larger part of the money paid for these imports goes in wages paid to foreigners, and is paid away by the British capitalist class out of their earnings. British wage-earners surely cannot expect to be paid wages in respect of articles made abroad. However, no allowance for this large item has been made in comparing the appropriation of the national income between capital and labour. This is dishonesty number six.
Between one hundred and two hundred million pounds of the national income is derived from foreign investments. The income derived from foreign investments should in fairness either be left out of the account or the income of foreign labour, received in respect of these investments, be added to the British labour income. In comparing the income of capital and labour, the pamphlet takes note of the earnings of British capital on all five continents and on the sea, and compares with it only the income of British labour—although foreign, not British labour, produces the foreign income of British capital.
Giving as authority an ancient Board of Trade Return, and wishing to magnify the difference in the earnings of the idle rich and the industrious poor, the average yearly income of "those of the manual labour class who are best off" is given at 48l. per adult. This means 18s. per week. In view of the fact that most British workers earn between 1l. and 2l. per week, that in many Trade-Unions the average wage is about 35s. per week, the figures given are palpably wrong unless the female workers are included. Whether this is the case or no is not stated, but even if the wages of both sexes should be joined together they appear to be very considerably understated. This is dishonesty number seven.
There are many more unfair, misleading, and dishonest statements in this pamphlet which it would lead too far to enumerate.
Most of the important pamphlets issued by the Fabian Society are signed by their authors. The fact that the most effective, "Facts for Socialists," is unsigned seems to indicate that the author—apparently a well-known leader of the Fabians—had some sense of shame, and it is to be hoped that the Fabian Society will immediately, and publicly, repudiate this dishonest pamphlet.
The statements contained in the pamphlet "Facts for Socialists," may be misleading and utterly dishonest, but they are very useful for propaganda purposes. Nothing is more likely to inflame the masses than to be told that the "idle rich" take more than two-thirds of the national income. The practical effect of this pamphlet may be seen in utterances such as the following: "It has been estimated that in our country of the wealth produced, one-third is enjoyed by those who earn it and two-thirds by those who have not laboured for it. To put it in other words, of every three pounds earned by labour, one pound goes to him who earned it and two pounds to others who have done nothing towards its production." "For two-thirds of his time the worker is a slave, labouring not for himself but for others." "On the average at the present time the workers produce nearly four times as much as they consume." "Nearly two-thirds of the wealth produced is retained by an eighth of the population." "The great mass of the people, the weekly wage-earners, four out of five of the whole population, toil perpetually for less than a third of the aggregate product of labour, at an annual wage averaging at most 40l. per adult, and are hurried into unnecessarily early graves by the severity of their lives." "Out of the wealth which his labour creates, the worker receives but one-third. He is paid one-third the value of his labour, and when he seeks to lay it out he is robbed of one-half its purchasing power, and all this is done by a Christian people." "Q. How does the capitalist act? A. He extorts from those labourers who are excluded from the land a share of all that they produce, under threat of withholding from them the implements of production and thus refusing to let them work at all.—Q. On what terms does the capitalist allow the labourers to work? A. The capitalist agrees to return to them as wages about a quarter of what they have produced by their work, keeping the remaining three-quarters for himself and his class.—Q. What is this system called? A. The capitalist system." "By analysing the returns of the income-tax, various economists show that the value received by the working class and the superintendents of labour amount to a third or less of the wealth produced. The income-tax returns, however, are not a very reliable test of the degree of exploitation, though, of course, they afford us valuable and incontestable evidence that the worker does not receive more than a third of what he produces. One to four, or one to five, in my opinion, expresses more accurately the rate of exploitation."