The proper name of Socialism was historically first bestowed on that movement or system which, about fifty years ago, began to be heard of in connection with such leaders as Robert Owen in Britain, and St. Simon and Fourier in France. Under that name it has agitated, roundly speaking, all the peoples of western Christendom, so that now it is everywhere an object of solicitude to thoughtful men who intelligently reflect on movements of the popular mind in their bearings on the outlook for humanity.
It is, in the first instance, economical in its purpose, namely, [unclear: the] promotion of the material interests of mankind, especially of the laboring class—temporal well-being as depending on enjoyment of commodities; and in this respect it has a claim upon attention on the part of the religion of the Son of Man (Matt. xi. 27-29, 1 Tim. iv. 8). But for that religion of the Living God it has a far profounder interest on account of its character, unfolded in its history, as being not simply secular, but distinctly secularistic, making enjoyment of commodities to be the one true end of life—the only such movement, so spreading among the peoples, that ever has proposed a really atheistic basis of life for mankind. And for Christianity, the tragedy of interest thus created, the pity of it and the terror of it, are deepened by the circumstance, that this Black Death of Atheism has risen within the pale of Christendom, and that its movement has been among the foremost Christian peoples.*
* Atheism is a dreadful calamity as well as crime (Jude 7, 14; Ps. ix. 17; Is. i. 3-6; Rom. i. 18; 2 These, i. 7-10; Eph. iv. 18,19, ii. 12). And we shrink from taking in the dreadfulness of the thought, that it should be in a real sense a character of a movement among the Christian peoples, especially among those who literally labor and are heavy laden; that such an angel should have descended into this wide Siloam! We instinctively cast about for qualifying considerations, that may, to our feeling, somewhat relieve the blackness of the darkness. Hence, though vaguely aware of the fact of that atheism, we do not realize the fact in its terrible significance, but are as men residing in the neighborhood of a volcanic mountain that is always bid from view by being enveloped in clouds. The present formality of demonstration may serve to bring about a desirable realization of the fact, whose existence can hardly be doubted by any one.
Proof of the Fact.—1. Mr. Ollier's chapter (xxv, Vol. ii, Cassell's History of the War Between Germany and France) may, in our process of proof, represent the general aspect of Socialism, his indications of its ungodliness being simply incidental on his part, but to a skilled observer leaving no room to doubt. 3. A first-class theological witness is Dr. Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. in, p. 484, stating (in A.D. 1871), that the leaders are openly opposed to the very being of the family, of the State, and of all religion, especially the Christian, and that their principles logically follow from doctrines that are advocated by others who are less outspoken. 8. We may refer to two specialists in relation to Socialism, political writers who have made a special study of the subject as political thinkers, and who set forth the result in standard publications. (1) Mr. Kirkup's elaborate article, "Socialism," in the Encyclopedia Britannica (new ed.), has only a general statement as to the atheism of the movement, which, however, is incidentally illustrated in his detailed notices of leaders and of incidents; while the qualifying considerations he adduces, for the purpose of softening the effect of the fact, bring the reality of the fact into fresh light of distinctness—placing it as a criminal at the bar to crave mitigation of sentence. (2) Mr. Rae's now standard work (Contemporary Socialism) originally appeared in the Contemporary Review. To him we are very much indebted for the materials collected in the following:
Reprinted from January (1892) number of Presbyterian and Reformed Review.
Survey of the Peoples—to illustrate the fact.—" Catholic Spain" in 1869, was seen by Lavaleye, who bears witness as follows: The Socialist movement is widespread among the people. Its meetings are held in the churches. There an orator will inveigh from the pulpit against everything once held sacred there, such as "God" (!) and "religion." In the audience there will be women (!) carrying their children (!!) as if attending sermon. "Holy Russia," at the opposite extremity of western Christendom, is head-centre of the Eastern or Greek Church, "Catholic and Apostolic." In the Nihilism of the peasants there may not have been much of any distinct (anti-) theological conviction. But the directing intellectual impulse of the movement among them was derived from an atheistic speculation ("The Extreme Left" of Hegelianism), which, native produce of Germany and France, youthful fanatics and veteran conspirators had imported into Russland from that west. In Central Europe, Germany is the country in which, more even than France, the movement has taken deepest hold. As representative of that region we may take the (now deceased) FrancoGerman Jew, erst exile in London That versatile cosmopolist is to be regarded as more than any other man the systematic thinker of Socialism, the constructive brain of the movement. His expositions of the system proceed expressly on a theoretical ground of materialistic atheism. Britain is presumably represented in the first instance by that most mournful confession of atheism, which Mr. Rae puts dramatically into the mouth of his typical Socialist of the working class: "We are not atheists, but we have done with God." Practical atheism is, finally, the relative meaning of the sentiment expressed by a Socialist leader professing to give the view of the school: "The obstacles to our movement are the family, patriotism, and religion.
It is from this recent historical Socialism that we will form our conception of the nature of the Socialism that is now to be inquired about by us. And we earnestly request attention to the fact that our statements with reference to this Socialism, are not to be held as intended by us with reference to anything but what we distinctly define as the Socialism which we are to inquire about. We restrict ourselves to one thing, in order that the principles in question may be thoroughly tested. In particular these statements have no intended reference to what is known as "Christian Socialism." That, page 37 both in England and on the continent of Europe, has been simply a private experiment in social economics on the part of some professing Christians, who have assumed the proper name of Socialism into, so to speak, personal union with a surname of "Christian." Its real action, in all its phases, has, as tested by the economical principle of the recent historical Socialism, been never veritably Socialist, but always distinctly anti-Socialistic *
* To the mind that is formed by popular English literature, this side movement has an importance far out of proportion to its real significance in relation to either practical or theoretical economics. It first appeared in England under the auspices of Maurice, etc. Its ideas are exhibited in Kingsley's Alton Locke and Yeast, and its theosophy in his Hypatia and Two years Ago. Its method and claims are criticised by Greg in the discussions collected into his volume, Mistaken Aims and Realizable Ideals of the Artisan Class. Later appearances of the side movement on the European continent, among both Roman Catholics and Protestants, have not assumed the aspect of coming to supercede the received economic order of society (Art. "Socialismus" in Herzog's Encyclopædia, German). The following notes may [unclear: seen] to illustrate further the nature of the case as regards the real historical Socialism, under the form of showing that the" Christian Socialism," in all its phases, has been, not veritably Socialist, but essentially anti-Socialist, in its real action.
1. The Continental "Christian Socialism."—Its operations are familiar under the received economic order: Friendly Society, Savings Bank, Cooperative Store. They are essentially antagonistic to the Socialist root-principle, that the individual shall be relieved of the care of himself by its being thrown on the community. They lay the burden on him in connection with others. So, for instance, with reference to the case of greatest ostensible success, namely, that of some Roman Catholic districts where the priesthood has succeeded in blocking out the secular Socialism by preoccupying the people with such operations. (1) It is not the whole community that here takes care of the individual, but the priesthood of one Church. (2) It is not all members of the community that are taken care of, but only those under control of that priesthood. (8) Above all, the kind of care that here is taken of the individual is essentially different from that intended by the real historical Socialism. The Socialist reproach of laissez faire—'let alone"—against the received economic order, on account of its leaving the full-grown bird to shift for itself, has reference to the main central burden of mainenance for a man and his household. Socialism will keep the full-grown bird in the nest, relieving the individual of the care as to that main central burden. The "Christian Socialism," in relation to that main central burden, which is the thing in question, leaves the individual to provide for himself.
2. The English "Christian Socialism" calls for notice more full. It was favored by a sort of thunder-and-lightning humanitarianism of moral atmosphere, represented, e. g., by the writings of Dickens and Carlyle. And it had an initial advantage in the literary ability and social influence as well as personal excellence of its promoters. But it was a confessed failure; and its real character has to be kept in mind, because in literature a popular view of it continues to be a medium of misrepresenting the received Christianity, while misleading men in relation to root questions of social economics. It contracted a grave responsibility by bearing on the front of it an implication of indictment against the generality of Christians on account of [unclear: there] compliance with the received economic order, especially the system of wages and competition. On that account they were virtually accused of systematic or habitual mean, hypocritical selfishness, regardless of Christian benevolence and even justice, helping the capitalist employers (manufacturers, merchants, shopkeepers) to fatten on the spoils of labor, defrauded of its due reward. The side movement was professedly intended for commendation of Christianity to the favorable consideration of the community, especially the working class, as a religion of exalted benevolence and justice. How that class, or any class, were likely to be influenced in favor of Christianity by representing the generality of its adherents as basely conspiring with the wealthy and powerful to grind the faces of the helpless, toiling poor, does not appear to have been much considered. It might rather appear as if the intention had been to disparage the religion of the generality of Christians in order to make way for a new kind of Christianity (Rigg: Modern Anglican Theology). But what we now note is the fact that, all this time, the "Christian Socialism" itself, in its only real action, never took any one step on the ground of that Socialism whose name it had assumed and was wearing, but invariably proceeded on the recognized business principles and rules of economic order which it [unclear: formerly] condemned and lived by condemning.
Its only real action was setting on foot cooperative associations of workingmen. That may be a very good thing in itself. But it was preposterous to imagine that this could be the evangel eureka of a new economic order. Its method of business partnership with limited liability was perfectly familiar [unclear: unto] the received economic order. Even the [unclear: internal] accidental detail of the partners all being workers, and the workers thus being their own employers, is quite familiar in ordinary business, and one of the most primeval methods now in use—in the cases, e. g., of fishermen all working the boat and nets which are their common property; gold diggers, combining to work their own "claim;" masons, jointly contracting for a building to be done by their own hands altogether. "Industrial partnership" may prove to be a true way towards solution of economical problems. (M. Godin, who labored much and long at a scheme of it, died a few years ago—1888.) But it must be in the hands of men who really understand the subject. In the hands of those "Christian Socialists" the movement in that direction came to comparatively nothing: setting on foot some [unclear: cosperative] associations was regarded as a mountain In labor to produce a mouse. But the point for us at present is, that—The cōoperativs association is not Socialist, but essentially anti-Socialist, and fitted to make a veritable Socialism impracticable in a community. Thus, 1. It is not the whole community taking care of individuals, but a select class of individuals taking care of themselves by combining in a business partnership. 2. All who really need to be taken care of are excluded from the association by the constitution of it, in its requiring, as a qualification, that the person shall be a workingman, able to go into business partnership with a share of the capital contributed by him. 3. Real Socialism in a community is thus made impracticable. There is withdrawn from its operation, and sent away on a private business of their own, that class of prudent and energetic workingmen whose presence in the operation of a veritable Socialism would be vitally indispensable for success, as the bone and sinew, the pith and marrow, the very heart and soul of strength (cp. "that which every joint supplieth," Eph. iv. 16). A community without them would be a helpless mass of blubber. 4. Above all (theoretically) the very foundation stones of the fabric are thoroughly anti-Socialist.
The foundation stones of the association are precisely those things which to real Socialism arc the grand offence in the received economic order, namely, private capital, wages and competition. 1. Private capital is the life-blood of the whole business, which is carried on wholly by means of the capital contributed by the partners (£100 each). 2. Wages, essentially, is the nature of the "advances" made, from the funds of the association, to the individual shareholder in course of the year, in a proportion to the value of the work done by him from week to week (repayable "advances" would be loan). And wages expressly are paid to the skilled manager, who is not a shareholder. 3. Competition (the bête noire of Socialism) is the sheet-anchor of this whole business, of which avowedly the only hope of life is in successfully competing for public custom by offering cheaper or (same thing) better work than is offered by ordinary producers (whom they spoke of "driving out of the market" in this way). If the promoters had been secular instead of "Christian" Socialists, they might have asked themselves, Is this fair to those other producers? Is it what they have reason to expect from a religious movement of lofty benevolence and justice? What sort of "benevolent brotherhood and human fellowship" was it towards those ordinary producers who asked no man's help, but simply a fair field and no favor? They were heavily handicapped in their business by a movement which took the wind out of their sails, and sent it into the sails of a rival business. The eloquence and influence of the promoters of that rival business were devoted to touting—leading the public to believe that a man, while getting the very best bargain in the market, would somehow be doing a fine philanthropic thing by purchasing at their shop. And the shop was simply a business partnership of capable men trading on their own capital, which the eloquence and influence went to make a monopoly supported by delusion of philanthropy.
The confessed failure of the English movement was almost as truly instantaneous as that of the New Harmony experiment of Robert Owen (see the references to the failure by Charles Kingsley in Letters and Memoirs of His Life). Yet the kind of thing, [unclear: cofiperative] association, is good in its own nature, and suitable for some kinds of production as well as for distribution. Whence the failure in this case?
The recriminations directed against the general Christian community for not joining in the movement are imprudent, for they recall to mind the fact that the movement was distrusted by Christians of the type of Dr. Chalmers and Archbishop Whately. So as to the reproachful complaints about the workingmen's not having embraced the movement. Why did they not embrace it? It was professedly intended for their especial benefit. They could know what was good for them. And their distrust of the movement is presumptive proof of there having been some hollowness in it, while "hope told a flattering tale." There was in it the falsetto of giving the name of Socialism to what really was anti-Socialist. And both Christians and working class might be further led to distrust the movement by perceiving that the movers did not really understand the subject. But it is to be noted that though it had been completely successful, the success would not have really touched the social problem of helping the helpless. It would only have made more comfortable a very small number of men who are best able to help themselves.
The Economical Principle of the system, we define as being that, relatively to enjoyment of commodities, the individual shall be taken care of by the community, to the effect of his being relieved of the care of himself. This is the constitutive essence of the system. This, and only this, is in fact the vital principle of unity and historical identity of the movement in all its ramifications and articulations. There is veritable Socialism wherever and so far as it operates; and without its operative presence a veritable Socialism cannot be—though there may be sociology supposed to be Socialist.
The communism of Acts iv-v is an essentially different thing. That (1) was not for the community of mankind in general, but only for the Church within herself; (2) it was not prescribed as obligatory, but was left to the discretion of individuals; and (3) it does not appear to have existed except in Jerusalem for a very short period; and presumably was the result of extraordinary special effort to meet an unprecedented special crisis, that was constituted by the influx of thousands of converts (Acts ii. 41, iv. 4) upon a small page 39 congregation (Actsi. 15; cp. 1 Cor. xv. 6), whose organization had not yet been completed (an abiding provision is made in Acts vi. 1, etc.; cp. 1 Tim. iii. 8, etc.). In the settled normal condition of the Church under the apostles, Christianity (2 Thess. iii. 10—one of the earliest epistles) declares for the rule, that he who will not work shall not eat; and one of the latest utterances of its great organizing apostle is, that if any man provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Tim. v. 8; cp. Eph. v. 28, written at the same time of the Roman imprisonment; and see Acts xx. 34–35).
"Communistic Societies of the United States" (the title of a work by Nordhoff), which have arisen within the recent period, differ from Socialism in this respect, that they are not for the whole community—say, in a locality—but for a particular class of individuals; perhaps (see between the lines of Hawthorne's Blythesdah Romance) because they are peculiarly constituted. Some old religious movements were of a [unclear: religious] character; such as (Robertson: Charles V) that of the German Anabaptists of the Reformation time. But in these page 40 the temporal communism was for the spiritual interest of the kingdom of God. It was like the distribution of rations from the common store of an emigrant ship to passengers whose hearts are in a land of promise beyond sea. In the recent Socialism, on the other hand, the temporal good is itself the promised land. This makes an essential difference, though the communism should call itself Christian. The Christian tent-making of Aquila and Priscilla, for their own behoof, is an essentially different thing from Paul's tent-making, which—not much to the credit of some people, 2 Cor. xii. 13—is for the support of the gospel at Corinth.
The Socialist programme of action, in application of the said principle, we shall define as being; That all the produce of labor in the community shall be held by the whole community collectively, for distribution among all the members of the community, so that every individual shall have adequate means of living through receiving an equable portion of that whole amount of produce. This definition is designedly to some extent vague, elastic or ambiguous in its import, so as to leave room within its terms for an uncertainty, variety or contrariety regarding mode of proceeding, that page 41 may exist among those who are Socialist in holding the economical principle of the system as defined above. The following exercise may serve as a beginning of bringing the inner nature of the economical system out into distinctness. The exercise is in form an inquiry as to the principle of distribution of commodity; what is to be the rule for determining the amount that is to be given to A, B, C, etc., respectively? That is to say, we are trying to fix a meaning for "equable" in the above definition of the programme.
1. Shall we make "equable" to mean equal, so that all shall receive the same amount of commodity? That this "equal dividend" is to be the principle of distribution was, at the time of the present writing, intimated to the public by a Socialist, who evidently thought he was expressing the mind of the whole school. But the American Mr. R. Dale Owen, quite recently speaking (Threading My Way, pp. 257,258) about the first actual trial of Socialism, at New Harmony, at the expense of Robert Owen, his father, ascribes the total instantaneous collapse of that experiment mainly to there being given the same rate of remuneration to all sorts of workmen—e. g., to "the genius and the drudge;" and says that such a rule will always send away the good workmen, leaving behind only the useless hands, and will thus make failure inevitable. The rule in strictness would give to the newly-born babe the same amount of commodity as to Hercules in the full blast of his twelve labors; so that equal here seems not equitable.
2. Shall we make "equable" to mean in the measure of want or need? This apparently would be in accordance with the doctrine of a French master, who holds that the individual has a right to be maintained by the community—which he is entitled to assert by force (whose?); he bases that right simply on the want, or need, of the individual. On the rule thus suggested, the fasting girl would receive nothing on account of nutriment; and A would receive twice as much as B, though he is not half so good a workman, because, being twice as large as B, he has twice as much want or need of food and raiment and houseroom. But Mr. R. Dale Owen has warned us that this would send away B, and ruin the community; and the Socialist public witness just mentioned gives us to know that it is wholly different from what is intended by the school.
3. Shall we, in the spirit of the judgment of Mr. R. Dale Owen, make "equable" to mean in proportion to the value of the individual's work as a contribution to the common stock of produce? Then we—as Socialists—are "hoist with our own [unclear: petsde]." For (1) while A ("the booby") may have to starve, the just reward of an Arkwright or of a Watt will be literally inexpressible in greatness, thus making us a bankrupt Socialism: and a Wellington of industry page 42 will for his headwork be entitled to the Socialist equivalent of a dukedom, a palace and £10,000 a year, while a pensionary 6d. a day will be what is due an industrial Tommy Atkins, who is only "a tall fellow with his hands." And (2) what is all this in its essential nature, but just that received economic order of things—of wages, competition, accumulation of private capital—to destroy and superdede which is the essential purpose of the great Socialist revolution?
The questions we have suggested are not mere puzzles for theoretical perplexing. They represent real problems of practical administration, the solution of which would require to be distinctly agreed upon in the Socialist community, before there could be taken so much as one step of real action that would not involve a peril of deadlock and explosion. The glimpse that we already have thus received of the Socialist mind betrays a chaotic inward condition of it, such that an attempt at real action of the existing Socialism would be like an endeavor, in dim light of dawn, to march an army across a river upon broken ice that comes tumbling down the stream. It must be remembered that the Soeiahst region is to be a perfect democracy; so that in this business of distributing commodities all are to be virtually managers, A London cooperative association of thirty tailors, though so few and no doubt intelligent, while every individual had a felt personal interest in the work he was doings yet employed and paid a skilled manager to keep the business in orderly movement. A management of one hundred debaters would rain any business in one season. The management of the Socialist business will be in the hands of, with the "Commune" say a million, or with the "International" fourteen hundred millions of men, women and children, not one of whom has any felt personal interest in the work in hand, more than in the agriculture of the moon or in the building of Noah's ark. The animals of that ark, set to manage the navigation of a vast fleet of provision ships, in stormy weather, for the purpose of reaching all the individuals of mankind with commodities continually, would probably be unsuccessful. And the mul-titudinous management of Socialism would be found everywhere pulling in different ways, in respect even of principles of distribution.
There may be Socialists who do not look beyond the initial process of a confiscation and distribution of private property, in which they can be only gainers, as in the game of "heads I win, tails you lose," But the opinion of an impecunious rough in favor of pillaging a factory or warehouse, or that of a penniless vagrant boy in favor of the dessolution of a confectionary store, is not weighty in the judgment of political reason. On the other hand, if there be Socialists who, really looking beyond that initial process to page 43 abiding condition, have in their own mind imagined some way of avoiding the economical and political consequences we have pointed at, then the question rises as to the plan in their mind—Is it derived from the Socialist principle?—if not, what have we, in reasoning about a doctrine, to do with the mind of an individual?
Some appear to imagine that if only Socialism have fine ideas—e. g., of universal brotherhood and human fellowship—that will suffice. And in a merely ideal system of a poet's daydream or a philosopher's closet speculation, the ideas may be all in all; everything else may be only drapery and stage machinery for exhibition of them. But the Socialism we are inquiring about is (not "of the chair," merely, but) a practical system, that lives on the earth, and moves among the peoples, and is a candidate for the government of mankind. And in such a case the ideas may be nothing but showy vapor in the air; or they may be a Satan's disguise as an angel of light. Jack Cade has fine ideas of universal brotherhood and human fellowship. And we approve them, rather than the ideas of Shylock and of Mr. Justice Shallow. But if Cadeism be proposed as a plan of life for? the community, then we disregard Cade's ideas, and inquire only as to his practice: What is the principle of his real proceedings in his life, and what is his programme of action in application of that principle, with reference, e. g., to the collection as well as to the distribution of commodities?
Some were offended, or surprised, by the avowal of the late Mr. Mill (Autobiography), that he sympathized with the Socialist ideas, rather than with ideas that are found among the political economists. They thought the avowal strange, if not disloyal, on the part of one who himself was the greatest master of economic science since Adam Smith. But this was because they were under the delusive impression, that to approve a man's ideas is to favor his practical system. Chalmers approved the Socialist ideas. The idea, for instance, of the great importance of the temporal well-being of the laboring class was a working power in all his career—far greater on account of his being a Christian than if he had been a Socialist. And the Socialist root-idea, of the unity of mankind, which lies at the root of all the great Christian doctrines regarding man, and is the soul of the Christian conception of a catholic Church, must have throbbed in the bosom of Chalmers and agonized [unclear: him] in all his battles, all through his life's campaigning for man's reconciliation unto God through the gospel. He thus would no doubt have scorned a mere political economist, who makes trade and its natural laws to be everything; as a patriotic statesman, who himself is a master in finance, would scorn a mere arithmetician, whose decalogue is the multiplication table, and who puts the ready reckoner page 44 in place of the laws of the realm and principles of the constitution, and heroic, far-descended traditions of the race. But all this time Chalmers, a strenuous political economist, as well as a Christian, would never dream of accepting Socialism as a plan of society.
Political economy, inquiring into natural laws of commerce through its facts, is a science, as astronomy is; and, like astronomy, has its own due place and right use. But commerce is not all the life of man. The vast complexity of human existence is not completely bounded by its economic laws. Deeper than these laws there are principles, connecting this one department with the whole system of "the earth and the world" (Ps. xc. 2). And wider than the principles there are ideas, of "the true, the beautiful, the good," embracing all details as an atmosphere, comprehending all systems as the firmament contains the stars. Correspondingly, beyond the science of political economy, there is a political philosophy, speculating in the region of principles and ideas, about all that is connected with the social constitution, everything that could find a rightful place in a Politico, like Aristotle's or a De Republicâ like Cicero's. The Socialist ideas are not a private property of Socialism, any more than the starry firmament belongs exclusively to France. And Mr. Mill is no more made a Socialist by holding social ideas in common with Robert Owen and Karl Marx, than Chalmers is made a heathen by holding political ideas in common with Cicero and Aristotle, or than Sir Isaac Newton is made a Chaldean by gazing at the stars.
On behalf of Socialism there is invective against political economy; so that, as Hugh Miller had a famous chapter on "The Geology of the Anti-Geologists," there might be a chapter on "The Economy of the Anti-Economists." For Socialism all the time is an economy—"administration"—itself. Itself as an [unclear: administration], or system of administering commodities in the interest of the community, is the only thing it has to give in exchange for the soul. And in opposing political economy, it bears witness against itself as being presumably a bad economy. For says Hartly, "if reason be against a man, a man will be against reason." Political economy is the disciplined reason of mankind, ascertaining natural laws of commerce. Socialism, consequently, in opposing that science, establishes against itself a presumption of being irrational; really setting itself against natural law, as if engaging to work the mills of a country by motive power of rivers running up-hill; according to Hugh Miller's maxim, that where special knowledge is required, "common sense" is usually common nonsense. In the present case, what is adduced is the first impression of ignorance against reason's deliberate ascertainment of natural law. A Socialist page 45 inveighing against political economy is an advocate in a poison case who allows the jury to see that his side of the case has against it all the expert scientists alive who have made a special study of poisons.
It is known that Prince Bismarck has made some detailed proposals of a Socialist character, and it is understood that Napoleon III made some overtures to Socialism. Politicians may have their by-ends to serve by offering a sleeve to those who want the gown; but since the creation of the world no practical statesman, responsible for a people's life, ever dreamed of placing that life on a Socialist basis. The constitutions of Lycurgus (Plutarch's Lives, "Lycurgus") were not for the whole community of Laconia or Lacedæmon, but only for the warrior caste of the Spartans. The only appearance of Socialism as a received thing that there has been in the history of mankind was in a loose condition—not properly tribal—before the formation of States or constituted peoples; a condition that is the most elementary provision of barbarous society for [unclear: self-defense] against mere savagery of club law. When States begin to be formed the very appearance of Socialism passes away.
* A virtual rejection of it by them all is involved in there never having been a really Socialist people in the maturity of nation or State. The quasi-Socialist condition of immature societies is thus shown to have been only as a tadpole or grub condition of humanity. But in the recent movement there has been more than a simply instinctive abandonment of what nature feels to be unfit. There has been deliberate rejection. That is involved in the fact of there now being no Socialist people after that candidature of half a century. The following collection of illustrative details has reference to the minorities favoring Socialism. It is fitted to illustrate the selfishness of the movement or system, by bringing into view the fact that the minorities have apparently not been determined by any political feeling, e. g., feeling in favor of democracy, but simply have favored what promised to favor them in their private material interests. Here again we are greatly indebted to Mr. Rae for the materials of our picture.
Survey of the Minorities—to illustrate the self-interest of Socialism.—Spain has really shown a superiority to the lowest soundness of epicurean selfishness. Though the people on the whole are economically well placed, yet a Socialist feeling is peculiarly widespread and keen among them, because of their passionate hatred of the monarchical and aristocratic institutions of their country. In Portugal, on the other hand, where the monarchy is not unpopular, Socialism is little seen or heard of; which again may seem to show that, in this peninsula, a really political feeling has some determining influence on men's feeling in relation to the social question. But any general inference from that appearance is discountenanced by the system of facts as a whole; they show that Spain is exceptional. Thus, as to the Anglo-Saxon peoples. Effectively, the peoples in Anglo-Saxondom have now, with no need of violence, complete command of the situation relatively to [unclear: social] questions. And they, precisely, are the peoples whose decisiveness in the rejection of Socialism has been most complete. [Note.—As to "nationalization of the land." Among them the meaning of this is not communistic occupation of the land, but perhaps only a national suzerainty over it, such as had place in the feudal and the clan systems, and has existed in the relative constitutions of all the Aryan peoples, as indeed it must exist in some way wherever a people is in real occupation of a country.]
Democratic Switzerland (having private property) is resolute against Socialism. In Italy, where, under the popular dynasty of Victor Immanuel, there is no serious political dissatisfaction, nevertheless the Socialist feeling is widespread and intense, as it is in Spain on account of a miserably bad economical condition of all classes. In Germany, the great hotbed of the system, the people, educated and consequently sensitive, are distressingly poor, and the proportion of really wealthy individuals is'remarkably small. France curiously illustrates unity of presumable self-interest in diversity of theoretical opinions. The urban artisan class, adventurous and restless, very much in debt and always ready for anything Socialistic, is completely neutralized in its influence, so that it is a question whether Socialism as a political force is not dead in France, by the rural population, with its multitudinous peasant proprietory, solidly opposed to everything that may seem to threaten sacred rights of private property. The Scandinavian peoples exhibit the same unity in diversity, perhaps more remarkably. Though in substance they are more fully homogeneous than the English, Scotch and Irish; yet (1), in Denmark, which is to some extent a manufacturing and commercial country, the movement finds an opening, while (2) it finds only a closed door in Sweden and Norway, where the soil is mainly owned by those in occupation of it, so that the community is in large measure a nation of small proprietors farming their own land.
Russia has a strong claim on the sympathy of sister peoples. In that land there is a great nation which is not a constituted people. Antiquated forms of patriarchy are proving to be old bottles containing an explosive new wine of bitter, fierce unhappiness. The average Nihilist peasant is presumably thinking only of the interests and privileges of his own commune. But how vast, in eighty millions of human beings, may be the chronic sorrow that is signified by the murder of a czar, where, within our memory, the majesty of czarism was all but worshiped as earthly deity! The movement may have been partly of blind desperation, as Israel's giant (but see Judg. xvi. 28), when the light was gone out of his own life, drew his enemies down with him in his death. There may also have been in it something of a "destructive mania," charitably spoken about in the diagnosis of Parisian pctroleumism. And perhaps (writings of Count Tolstoi) there was in darkened hearts a glimmering thought of contributing, by destruction of everything now in existence, towards clearing the way for some better state of things (but see Is. xl. 3–8).
Cardinal Newman (Apologia) in his boyhood had daydreams about the genius of the Anglo-Saxon peoples as "the angel John Bull." It is in them that the business instinct of peoples has reached its highest. All virtually democratic, and of unsurpassed civil courage, they are accustomed to see the legislatures bend before a distinct, persistent manifestation of their mind. Not one of them has ever moved a finger on behalf of anything supposed to be really Socialistic. Individualism, as opposed to Socialism, appears to be the genius of the Anglo-Saxon race, which does more of the world's "business" than all the rest of the world together. In the great American Republic, we learn from the able and thoughtful work of Mr. Rae, Contemporary Socialism, there is no Socialist opinion worth reckoning except among German immigrants importing it from their fatherland. The working classes of the mother country have, in its industrial centres, which are the head-centres of the business of the world, had the most terrible experiences of evils which page 47 can befall their class under the received economic order. And they have always most resolutely refused to look to any Socialist intervention of the State for solution of their problems. "England," says Mr. Rae, "has always been the despair of continental Socialists." The English Socialists once made a proposal to affiliate cooperative association in the programme of action, which was rejected by the continentals. The rejection is no wonder. The wonder is that such a proposal should have been made. It was a proposal to affiliate a young cuckoo or hawk into a sparrow's nest, or a young fox into a poultry yard. No doubt Mr. Odger, etc., were, on that occasion, the [unclear: unwilling] organs of the genius of Anglo-Saxonism, involuntary oracles of "the angel John Bull."
Of those holding Socialism as a theory, there are some who, being thus everywhere in the minority, do not aim at carrying their doctrine into practice at present, but are willing to wait until the doctrines have made their way into the belief of mankind. Theirs is not the Socialism known to history as a real thing. Where the real thing is in men's minds, petroleum and dynamite are in the air. Regarding the disposition of the real historical Socialism, relatively to carrying its theories into practical application, we here will cite an expert historical witness, who speaks with the authority of manifest masterv of the historical facts and masterly comprehension of page 48 their significance. Mr. Oilier, the writer of Cassell's History of the War Between Germany and France, does not speak as a partisan of Christianity or of any religion, but simply as a general historian who has occasion to give an account of the most memorable appearance of communism in the experience of mankind, including a truly dramatic first appearance of the Socialist "International" as an interlude or episode in the perturbed stormy action. As an introduction to that account of what thus appeared in the second siege of Paris in 1871, he has (chap, xxv, Vol. ii), a remarkably able and lucid survey of the general nature and character of Socialism or Communism as manifested in its history. And the following is a digest of his impressively judicial summing up (p. 364) in the close of that review:
The characteristic opinions—regarding community of goods, absorption of the individual in the community, and unrestrained intercourse of the sexes—are as old as human records of opinion. They no doubt were held by men before Plato exhibited and embodied them in his ideal Republic. There were many Socialist risings in the Middle Ages, both in Britain and on the European continent. The Socialist movements, down to the first and the last French Revolutions, have always been characterized by "ferocity." Selfishness, appearing In a "pitiless ferocity," a total disregard of the feelings of others, has always shown itself as the character of the Socialist minority "whenever it gets the upper hand." Its "tyrannous cruelty," in propagation of opinion "by fire and sword," is inspired by the consciousness of being in the minority. What comes into view is thus a conspiracy, whose method is the "last refinement of despotism and of political criminality "—men thrusting their own theory on an unwilling world "under penalty of death." This guilt is what so deeply stained the policy of the International.
The substantial accuracy of the above representation of facts can be doubted by no candid mind intelligently acquainted with the relative history of facts. The only historical parallel to the movement so represented, is that furnished by the lava torrent of Mohammedan fanatical brutishness at its lowest and worst, say in the person of that "unspeakable Turk," regarding whom it was a saying that fruit never again ripened and the grass was never green again where once the soil had been trodden by his horse's hoof. But as compared with the Socialist movements, the Mohammedan had some things to redeem its animalism from absolutely perfect sordidness; that is, in its association with a religion and with the thought of a celestial paradise. It is true that the Mohammedan "Allah" is a morally characterless deity, whose will thus is a mere omnipotent volition, essentially different from the good and wise and holy will of God. But it had at least a certain sublimity in it which might raise the believer to a greatness correspondingly, though, like a Satan's greatness, it should be only in evil. The Socialist worldliness is the mere Belialism of caring only for enjoy- page 49 ment of commodities. And subjection to the mere will—such a "will of the flesh."—of a successfully conspiring minority of godless epicureans, is a condition of a community from whose revolting reign of terror imagination shrinks.
The Impulsive Principle of socialism we define as being that enjoyment of commodities is the one true end of life. Some early leaders of the movement, even in "infidel France," represented the system as being an applied Christianity. The New Christianity was the title of a work of St. Simon in exposition of socialism; and Cabet said that their movement would not have been needed if the ideas of Christianity had been duly carried out by Christians. But ideas of Christianity without Christ the Lord, are only vapor of "clouds without rain." A "new Christianity" without the living God is a new life of the world without the sun. And the atheism of the movement has not remained as a simply passive irreligion. It has been actively and aggressively anti-Christian and anti-religious; and its antagonism to the fear and love of God has sprung from a root of antipathy to the family affection and to the love of nation and reverence for the State.
Woodman! spare that tree;
Touch not a single bough. It sheltered me when young,
And I'll protect it now.
Hence, as Voltaire said "crush the wretch," so now, in order that socialism may live and thrive, this religion is doomed to die. For instance, as to family, socialism reasons that family must not be suffered to exist because a parental affection would set itself to accumulation of private property as an inheritance of provision for one's "own household" (1 Tim. v. 8). But there Christianity sees pollution of a sacred fountain which it is divinely set to guard. "Profanation" (Heb. xii. 16), desecration of human life, is what especially causes the revulsion against socialism in unsophisticated minds and commonly clean hearts. The system, therefore, is most peculiarly revolting to humanity in its bearing upon that innermost social relationship of which family is the true normal embodiment. There, the profanation is a defilement of man's life at the fountain in its natural sanctuary, pollution of the ashes of a desolated hearth of home, foul outrage on the remains of a domestic circle that is broken and destroyed; and there, in the defence of humanity, threatened with violation in its very heart of life, Christianity stands forward as the protagonist, with its religious "Odi profanum vulgus et arceo."
Relatively to political union of mankind, socialism is a merely disintegrating force—an anarchy at the discretion of the sheer will of that godless epicurism which is the life of socialism. Christianity is not the patron or exclusive partisan of any one form of civil government—monarchical, aristocratic, democratic or mixed. Natively, it is "a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth" (the Greek word for "pilgrim"—paroikos—is what goes to make parishioner). Its first home among the peoples was under patriarchy. When Israel (Ex. xix. 6) was formed into a nation, the form of government—one people in twelve tribes with elders and heads of houses—was a sort of federal republic, to which a limited monarchy was at a later date added on. But always the real government was theocracy— page 51 kingdom of God (cp. 1 Pet. ii. 9 and Rev.i. 5)—under Mosaic institute, with written divine law, and prophetic applications of the same, and priestly mediation at the heart of all. And that, as a political constitution, was fitted and intended only for Israel until the fullness of the times. Accordingly, when Shiloh came, the sceptre was departing from Judah, and the law-giver from between his feet. The Son of David disclaimed all temporal sovereignty, and in Christendom, the domain of Christ (Rev. xi. 15), the last empire of the Son of Man from the Ancient of Days, there is a sisterhood of politically distinct nationalities which are spiritually one through their common connection with the Redeemer, who is Incarnate God (cp. Eph. ii. 11-18 and iv. 13). Christianity, as an influence, binds all mankind into one; but as an institute it patronizes no form of the State, while it is in good relation to the State in all its forms, tolerated in its doctrine and discipline, protected in its temporal interests, variously favored by the peoples under every conceivable political constitution. And if all mankind, in a wittenagemote of the whole world, or congress of humanity, at Babel or elsewhere, should agree upon having only one people or State, then this religion might not feel under constraint of obligation, say, on the ground of Rev. vii. 9, to command the peoples to remain distinct. But no such arduously speculative question as is thus suggested is raised, for the working purposes of Christianity, by the fact of the matter as to socialism. The movement has formal declarations about a democracy—perhaps about a universal socialist republic. But in reality of effect, what the movement means politically is anarchy, dissolution or disintegration of the State or constituted people as desired by mankind, through domination of the mere will of individuals who happen to hold a certain economical principle, along with godless epicurism as impulsive principle.
While socialism is divided into two camps, like the Jewish factions within Jerusalem at the time of the great siege, yet, as the factions combined against the Romans, so the two kinds of socialism alike efface nationality from the system of the world, and extirpate patriotism from the heart and life of men. 1. "The Commune" is the population of a district autonomic—self-contained and self-governed—politically isolated, like an island in the sea, a lagoon upon the land, or a balloon up in the air. That effaces [unclear: nations] and roots out patriots, for it cuts the vital cord of connection between the citizen in a locality and the citizenship of the nation as a whole. The body politic is thus dismembered, and strewn in fragments out of corporate existence. 2. "The International"—lucus a non lucendo—abolishes nation and suppresses patriot by putting a universal republic (namely, a conclave of conspiring demagogues) in the place of political supremacy, thus reducing the historical constitutions of page 52 the peoples into geographical expressions, like the ancient names of provinces on a recent map of France.
Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent,
A virtuous populace may rise the while,
And stand, a wall of fire, around their much-loved isle.
In passing from domestic affection to patriotism he seems to descend, upon his wing of song, from pure ethereal poesy towards an oratory which belongs more to the earth. And oratorical patriotism is often a mere earthly thing, a sort of generalizing boastfulness about "our noble selves." The heathen "virtue" of patriotism was thus essentially a selfishness, requiring to be corrected by the risen Son of Man (Acts xvii. 26), being an idolatrous devotion to one's own state, involving disregard of the rights and feelings of other peoples. And it is noteworthy that the New Testament moral teaching, with all its distinctness in relation to common duties (see the two Apostolic Directories for these, Eph. v. [unclear: 26.] vi. 9, and 1 Pet. page 53 i. [unclear: 12.] iii. 9) has not a word about the duty of "patriotism." The political duty it speaks of is simply that of reverence for the State, subjection to the civil government of the country (cp. Is. xix. 11 and Mat. xxvi. 63) in which the Christian's lot is cast.
It allows us to see (Rom. ix. 1–5), in the great heart of the Apostle of the Peoples (Acts ix. 15, Eph. iii. 8), that a passionate private affection for one's kindred nationality is possible for a Christian whose "natural affections" (Rom. i. 81) are not extinguished by the baptism of regeneration, but (1 Pet. i. 21–23) restored in a heart of flesh. But even under the Old Testament that love towards Israel, Canaan, Jerusalem, Zion, which we see as a character of the formed man of God (2 Tim. iii. 15–17), is never a simply private tribal or natural affection towards those who are Abraham's posterity according to the flesh (Prof. Hearn's The Aryan Household states that generally mere blood relationship was not the principle of unity in clan, but a spiritual relation). The affection always had in it the catholicity of regard for "the kingdom" of God, as the true characteristic essence of what the outward nationality contained as an envelope. What has come in place of that (as is magnificently intimated, Heb. xii. 18–24), is the brotherly love that is due to all Christians as the true Israel of God (1 Pet. ii. 8, 17; cp. Phil. iii. 3). But still the affection which man has naturally for his own country, has the sanction of Christianity, though this religion does not enter into detailed adjustments—e. g., between the rights of natural affection for the old land of birth and obligations of duty to a new land of adoption. The soldier who best loves his old regiment is the best soldier of his new one. But what the religion sees in all regiments alike is an authority(cp. Luke vii. 8), and the divine ordinance of civil government it supports with all its legitimate influence.
That moral support Christianity gave to the State with loyal cordiality under the apostles when the chief magistrate was the monster emperor Nero, and all through the centuries of the period of "the persecutions" (Mark x. 30) then beginning. And now, if it should give any countenance to socialism, the action would be that of a kingdom going to war against itself—Christianity against the Christian peoples on behalf of an atheist that seeks to stamp out natural affections in the interest of a godless epicurism. (And here Prof. Vinet's "individualism," Essai de Philosophie Morale, etc., failing to give full right to the State as well as to the Church, comes short of the Scriptural constitution of man; much more does a hard secular individualism like that of Auberon Herbert, A Politician in Trouble About His Soul).
The abiding outward occasion of socialism we may regard as being the law of necessary wages under the system of competition— page 54 that is, the received system of free contract as fixing the reward of labor, under pressure of competition in the labor and produce markets. That law is by socialism branded as "hard and cruel," on account of its bringing wages ever to the level, or normal, of what is necessary as means of living to the workman (Mat. x. 10; cp. Luke x. 7)—including his family. And here we shall pause in order to distinct and full recognition of the fact, that, under the existing economic order, that law is [unclear: as] inevitable as gravitation.
It is not a device of political economy, nor an arbitrary creation of particular statutes or customs, any more than gravity is an invention of Sir Isaac Newton. It exists by necessity of the nature of things under the received economic order: because under that order there is freedom; especially, freedom of the workman, to dispose of his labor as he chooses; but also freedom of other individuals of the consuming public, not to purchase the produce of labor at a price they do not choose to give. These two—the producing laborer and the consumer—are the only real parties having a veto power or free voice in this matter. The employing capitalist—manufacturer, merchant, retail dealer—is only a medium of communication between these two. He has no real determining power in relation to the wage rate. In the last analysis the power is wholly in the free-will of the workman, treating with the consumer, who also has a determining office of free-will in this matter. The law of necessary wages would be in operation with a certainty like that of gravity, though the employing capitalist had no existence.
* Regarding combination. The detailed ethics of combination are outside of our present inquiry. We will assume that a man is entitled to merge his individuality in a trade, as a business partnership in labor; then a combination is for us simply a representative of labor. It can be A, in our illustration in the text above, competing in the labor market by offering to work at 10s. a day per man, as well as an individual workman can. Combination has an advantage for labor in respect of equality of power with the capitalist, where the individual workmen might be Little Red Ridinghood negotiating with Grandmother Wolf. But only a small proportion of the laboring class can come into the plan of combination, and many workingmen might—like Hugh Miller—prefer to be free from the entanglements of trades-unionism. The following notes are worth recording here:
1. Regarding conciliation. The late Mr. [unclear: Dunlap] of Craigton, who, as Lord Provost of Glasgow and otherwise, had been a good deal called in as arbiter in trades disputes about wages, stated to the present writer that he had never found insuperable difficulty in bringing the parties to a peaceful settlement when he could see the work-people themselves face to face. That he had found it only when he had to deal with them through professional leaders, who might have even a pecuniary interest in [unclear: the] continuance of the war. "A word is enough to the wise."
2. Regarding forced elevation of wages. (1) It is maintained by economists that the gain to the working class through temporary elevation of wages by force of strikes is not equal to the loss to that class through idle time and disturbance of business. Of course, the community is heavily a loser through such idleness, non-production and disturbance. (2) In some cases, namely, where the kind of work is practically a monopoly, natural or artificial, work-people may succeed in permanently keeping the wage-rate above the normal (normal as appearing in the reward of labor elsewhere of the same natural value). It is a question whether the success of the exorbitancy—on the consuming public—in that exceptional case, is not detrimental rather than beneficial to the whole working class. But the exceptional case of monopoly is outside of the general reasoning here, which has regard only to the [unclear: ordinary] case, in which there is not monopoly.
3. Regarding the goose that laid the golden eggs. The more the employers "wallow" in wealth, the better for the work-people; because a prosperous employer can give steady employment. It is to be noted that all trades-unionism is in its nature intensely anti-socialistic; for the very essence of its being depends on private capital—socialism will have only State capital. It lives upon capital even when making war upon it: like the invading armies of Napoleon I, making "war support war." Trades-unionism is thus natively adverse also to cooperative association of workingmen, because these are capitalist employers of themselves. There is room in trades-unionism for base irrational selfishness, but there are excellent purposes (e. g., mutual insurance) of trades-union apart from war, which itself may in this or that case be "just and necessary."
It is stated by Mr. Mill (Political Economy) that ordinarily the actual rate of wages is somewhat higher than would result from a mathematical rigor in application of the economic law. And perhaps in retail dealing the actual amount that is ordinarily given over the counter is somewhat more than exactly the yard measure to a hair or the pound weight to a grain. Hugh Miller, journeyman mason, has a law unto himself always to give rather more work than he bargained for. It is only in Joe Miller that we meet the man who—" righteous overmuch," more than perpendicular—if he hear the "stop working" when his mallet is uplifted for a stroke, allows it to roll down over his shoulder behind him, rather than go a stroke beyond his contract. Still Hugh has the bargain before his mind's eye as drawing a line, which he chooses to overstep. It is by the imperial standard that the dealer weight and measures. There is no imperial standard of the reward of labor, as there is not of the price of corn. The thing has to be felt after, through "higgling of the market." But the thing that is being felt after is that minimum of means of living for the workman; and an employer page 56 cannot continue to give wages materially above that, without ruin to himself and injury to those who are dependent on his thriving.
It is impossible to keep the rate away from that level by mere force of will, as it is impossible for an eagle, fighting against nature's force of gravitation, to remain always in the air, or for a whale to remain always under water. A combination of working people may, with compulsitor of strikes, force up wages for a time as a foot-ball is sent into the air; and, as the ball is thrust under water, so for a time the wage rate may, with compulsitor of lock-outs, be forced down by combination of employers. But gravity works on, and the ball returns to its level. A strike fund is only provision taken up in a balloon, and a lock-out fund is only provision taken down in a diving-bell it can last only for a time. And in the meantime persistence in the strife of wills may be the ruin of one or both of the parties, as a fish will die if it remain too long above the surface of its pool, or a diving fowl if it remain too long below that surface. For instance, a trade may be driven out of the country, if, e. g., through high wage rate, it be made impossible to produce a ship in Britain for less than £105,000 that can be produced in Belgium for £100,000 (in this way ship building was lost to Dublin). Or, again, a trade may be sent out of existence, if, e. g., the dearness of linen cloth produced on the Tay lead to discontinuance of the use of it in favor of a jute cloth produced on the Hoogly (some years ago a Dundee manufacturer stated to the present writer that his firm had 5000 operatives employed on the Hoogly). Wherefore, as Abraham Lincoln said, "Let us have peace."*
The complaint of socialism, relatively to the law of necessary wages, may be stated as follows:
* Compare note above, p. 54.
On the ground of what is thus complained against, socialism proposes a radical revolution of the existing economic order, in especial abolition of wages, competition, market, private capital or property.
That the socialist complaint is groundless is a proposition which we will now consider. Although it had not been groundless that would have been no sufficient reason for embracing socialism, as "the thousand ills that flesh is heir to" are not a sufficient reason for suicide, were it only on this account—that it is better "to bear the ills we have than flee to others that we was not of." And in order to show that the complaint is groundless, it is not necessary to deny the fact that there are grievous evils in the existing condition of the community. For it may be possible to show that the evils are not caused by the existing economic order, in so far as that is bound up in the system of wages—that is, of rewarding labor by an amount of commodity fixed by free contract of individuals, employer and employed.
The fact of the existence of grievous evils under the received order in Britain at the present, is demonstrated by the following statements which we find in Mr. Rae's Contemporary Socialism (pp. 60, 61):
In the wealthiest country in the world, almost every twentieth inhabitant is a pauper. One-fifth of the population are insufficiently clad. The agricultural laborers and large classes of working people in towns are so poorly fed as to be exposed to "starvation" diseases. The vast proportion of the population live in monotonous, incessant toil, with nothing before them for old age but penury and parochial support. One-third, if not one-half, of the inhabitants of the country are huddled six in a room.
The fall of pauperism, from one in twenty towards one in thirty, within a short term of years, incidentally illustrates the fact that, in our time, the material condition of the laboring class is rapidly improving; and we shall see, what is shown by Mr. Rae, that their condition in our time is very greatly in advance of the conditions that obtained some generations ago, before the incoming of that industrial epoch which is blamed for the existence of the evils complained of. Still, his generalizations are unquestionable; and when we reflect upon their significance, we perceive that they must represent a vast amount of temporal evil in detail; so that between the lines of them we seem to read the awful [unclear: Isaidf can] page 58 description (Is. i. 5, 6) of utmost wofulness in the condition of a body politic. Nevertheless it can be shown—and that is the present point—that the evils thus existing in the economical condition of the community are not caused by the nature of the economic order of society in connection with the system of wages, competition and market; so that the cause of them has to be sought elsewhere, and the cure or the prevention of them has to be sought in some other way than that of radical revolution of the existing order.
We concentrate our attention on the one case of Great Britain. For that one case, which is most fully known, suffices for our purpose in the present inquiry. It is the case in which there have been most fully in operation those peculiar influences of the present industrial epoch of western Christendom, whose characters have been the real occasion of the recent socialism. To that case the conditions in other communities will tend to conform as the influences go on working in those communities. And apart from this, we see in that one case what is possible under the received economic order. We see in it that Providence, in placing us under that order, has been really kind to us (undeserving). It is cause for thankfulness that, under that order, demonstrably, it is fairly within reach of laboring mankind to have sufficient means of living in "innocence and health and sweet content" (Burns). But there must be some "root of bitterness" that, "springing up," is producing the existing evils. And there is good cause for believing that socialism, even apart from its atheism, is (Is. i. 4) fatally misdirecting its researches and expectations in looking for the cause and cure of evils in mere surface arrangements about commodity.
The following dialogue is from life. Farmer: "What's this thanksgiving that your Synod have appointed for?" Minister: "The harvest." Farmer: "The harvest? It's no muckle above an average this year, aa'm thinkin'." It is heathenish to be thankless (Rom. i. 21). And surely it is heathenish thanklessness to rail at a law as "hard and cruel," that makes it impossible for wages to remain below what is necessary; when it is the workman's own judgment that determines what is to be deemed necessary or sufficient. Paul knew from experience what it is to labor with his own hands (Acts xx. 34, 35; 2 Cor. xii. 13); and it is through this apostle (who can say experto crede) that Christianity teaches, that if a man have food and raiment he ought therewith to be content (1 Tim. vi. 10). He requires of a full-grown man (Acts xx. 34; Eph. iv. 28) to aim at having, in addition to what he can live upon, something that he may be able to give to the needy. And now we shall find it proved by experts that in the existing condition of the British workman there are means of conforming to this apostolic page 59 requirement, if only there be the "waste not, want not," of which an example was set by the Son of Man and Lord of glory, when, having shown His liberality by miraculously feeding thousands, He said, "Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost."
What in reality is "necessary wages? "It is often supposed to-mean "starvation" wages. It really is, what the workman deems necessary, what suits him, what he feels he can tolerate and get along with, rather than leave this occupation; in short, what will enable him to live as he has been accustomed to live, in the manner of his class. For—because men are free—he has complete command of the situation. The consuming public may wish to get coals at 10s. a ton instead of 10s. 6d. But suppose that this cannot be without reducing the miners' wages from 10s. 6d. a day to 10s. That does not suit them. They prefer less unpleasant open-air work at 10s.—which is not so well paid as raining because it is not so unpleasant as mining; they leave the nether-world and straightway the consuming public is starved (with cold) and frightened (with gasless darkness) into surrender. Short of exorbitancy—which will be cured by competition—the workman can have what wages he will have, or what he reckons to be necessary.
The one sure way of permanently raising wages is intellectual and moral elevation of the laboring classes. For (1) education, by its refining influence, creates necessities or felt wants which do not exist in the case of the uncultured: the American citizen cannot live on acorns and clothe himself only with blue paint. And (2) the community is greatly enriched when the workman's wages thus keep rising; for we shall see, as he goes on being educated he goes on growing in value as a workman.
1. It was estimated by Prof. Leone Levi (and others, arriving at the same result by a different process) that the working classes of Great Britain annually spent on tobacco and intoxicating drink, £00,000,000, of which £40,000,000 was put to the account of hurtful excess. 2. In the case of about three hundred families in a manufacturing town, where the conditions of working-class economy—general state of trade, rate of wages, price of commodities—were all rather unfavorable than otherwise, the ascertained average amount of earnings per family was £104 per annum, while the estimated cost of living per family, drink included, was £71 a year. 3. Of preventible losses, Mr. Greg gives the following estimates, all, he says, lower than those of the Messrs. Chambers (tract on Misexpenditure): (1) Ten per cent, through a bad system of retail dealing; (2) from five to ten per cent, (he would say ten) through unthrift—careless or unskillful shopping, bad cookery, etc.—of the working people themselves; (3) what he calls "a most unprofitable mulct" in supporting a trades-union fund. He holds that the working class lose in broken time more than they gain from a temporary rise page 60 of wages through a successful strike, while of course the community is a loser through non-production and disturbance of business. 4. He makes a general statement with capitals and italics as follows: "That Thirty Per Cent., equivalent to raising wages nearly one-third, could be saved by the artisan and manufacturing working class of Great Britain easily profitably, i. e., we understand in respect of real enjoyment of life) and without any out-of-the-way measure of frugality.
That there was little sign of the working class taking advantage of the rise in wages to make real improvement in their condition; that they spent all on higher living without making provision for slack times; and that further augmentation of wages would be no real advantage to them without improvement in respect of temperance and education (reprinted in the volume of his Essays in Social [unclear: Reformfs)].
At the close of a summer season of high wages, the masons, mostly young unmarried men, had nothing to begin the winter with, excepting young Hugh, who had saved £12 to enable him to give the winter to self-culture. But an aged laborer, who had only 14s. a week while they had 27s, had, in addition to decently maintaining his house, put some money in the bank. The laborer was known to Hugh as a real man of God, while the [unclear: other's] were in their practice undisguisedly godless epicureans.
In respect of essential conduciveness of material conditions to physical well-being, an ordinarily well-conditioned British workman of this day is better fed, page 61 better clad, and better housed, than Queen Elizabeth was with all her 3000 (?) gowns. Since a later date than hers, the London death-rate has fallen from forty In the thousand to twenty-five, which shows a vast improvement that must be mainly in the condition of the working class. The New Zealand death-rate is less than half that vastly improved London rate. In Australasia an unskilled laborer, with from 6s. to 10s. a day of wages, can easily command for himself the essential conditions of material well-being—food, raiment, house-shelter—really as good as it is physically possible to command them for Queen Victoria, and that in a glorious climate, the like of which Her Most Gracious Majesty cannot enjoy (the "unemployed" problem does not come directly into the general question of rate of wages). And as the colonies are thus open to the British workman, so the whole world is open to all mankind, in so far as men are free. The importance of such freedom of migration of labor (see Bagehot, Postulate of Political Economy) brings to view another aspect of the whole subject.
Socialism destroys all possibility of economical prosperity amply by abolishing freedom. Because men are free, there takes place, through colonization or other migration, an adjustment of population to conditions of prosperity, labor finding its way to where it is most needed and best rewarded, so that man's estate of earth is made the most of. Because men are free, there is, in the mother country from which the future nations are swarming off, continually in operation a whole system of similar processes of self-adjustment of population, salutary as the circulation of vital fluids in the body. Thus, 1. The rate of increase of population in [unclear: Gaai] North England is much more rapid than it is in agricultural South England, because labor is moving from low wages to more abundant employment. 2. Glasgow, in the seventeenth century, sought public protection against a "tyrannous cruelty" of invasion by Rutherglen, now a microscopic suburb of the great city—a city where are probably occupied not far from a fourth of the whole population of Scotland, while a fisherman in a dot of an island (Heisker, where the present writer was storm-stayed two nights; cp. Acts xxviii. 2, where the word is philanthropy) out on the Atlantic, near lone and wild St. Kilda, makes a little fortune by catching lobsters to be sent by smack and steamer to the Clyde. 3. There is also, simultaneously with that geographical (horizontal) migration, what may be described as a perpendicular or vertical migration in the transition from lower to higher kind of employment, or discontinuance of an industry in favor of one that supersedes it. When steam power comes into cotton weaving, the Uddingston villagers all at once abandon the hand-loom, and speedily, with their versatile because exercised intelligence, make their mark as the most skillful quarrymen, ploughmen, etc., in the countryside; while the Camlachie weavers, clinging to an employment now antiquated—a moon that lingers dolefully after sunrise—bring an entail of misery on their children along with themselves.
1. Every British workman has on an average machinery assistance equivalent to eighty colleagues, or, if the unskilled laborers be taken into account, forty colleagues. 2. A piece of muslin is now sold at six cents which at one time would have been eagerly purchased at two and a half dollars. 3. He estimates that, with the amount of producing power now in existence, mankind could (ideally) live at present on three hours' work a day.
He thinks that that would be far too short a day's work for the good of the generality of mankind at present. It has been estimated (by Mr. Giffen) that improved methods of production have, within the last thirty years, raised man's producing power twenty-five per cent. That would almost suffice for reducing the ten or twelve hours of older industrial communities to the eight hours which is normal (though not statutory) in Australia. A distinguished physiologist, Prof. James Miller, of Edinburgh University, stated (Labour Light-ened, Not Lost), that, with one day's rest in seven, eight hours is the ideally good working day. The West Indian negroes, after their "apprenticeship" pupilage was completed, could live in heretofore undreamt of affluence on two days' work a week, but chose to live on one day's in miserable, thievish destitution. Sydney Smith says (Lectures on Moral Philosophy) that a lion, which rises from sleep to kill and eat a man, and then goes to sleep again, cannot make progress. So of the South Sea Islander whose main industry is waiting for the fruit of a tree he has not planted. But, under the received economic order of an epoch really industrial, we see—a thing to be profoundly thankful for—a good opportunity of temporal well-being to mankind if they be free. Further, in particular:
Fact placed in evidence before a Royal Commission, that, where an uneducated workman needs two-thirds of his time for looking at the work he is doing, the educated workman can do the looking in one of those two-thirds of time.
And on a large scale the same thing was illustrated in the discussions about the Nebraska territory, by the contention that land, which would support a free population of one hundred millions, could, with slave labor, support only twenty-five millions. But the socialist "Nickel the Soulless," while a slave, would not be a Christian Uncle Tom, but only a heathenish Quashee. And we have learned from history, addressing us through her expert witness, that the socialist community, with only hunger in place of a soul, is in possession of a friend, like the Gadarene demoniac, whom no man could keep in chains. The socialist programme of action, in the hands of the workers it would favor, could not keep the existing human race from dying of sheer hunger.
Prof. Jevons had a hint about insurance against slack times. That would correspond to capital's insuring itself against business losses—the workman's "business loss "is being out of employment. Again, poorly paid professional men support an Aged and Retiring Fund, and a Widows' and Orphans' Fund; and workingmen insure themselves in some measure through friendly societies and (what Prof. Jevons prefers) through trade societies. Why not systematically, and to the requisite amount, take such insurance into the plan of life as a "necessary"—like wearing shoes and stockings—to be taken into the calculation of "necessary wages?" The capitalist insures his "plant." The workman's "plant" is his health and life. We [unclear: see] that he has command of the situation.
Oamaru, New Zealand.