The Postulates of Socialism.
Published By The Liberty And Property Defence League, 25, Victoria Street, Westminster.
The Postulates of Socialism.
It might seem at first that there was no room or no need for another exposure of the errors of Socialism, after the admirable writings of Mr. Herbert Spencer, Mr. Auberon Herbert, Mr. Mallock, and others. But those who have engaged in controversy know how truth has to be repeated over and over again, in forms as endless as the mistakes it opposes, if it is to prevail. What is an answer to one man is no answer to another, who perhaps misses your main point altogether, and goes off on a side issue, or understands one of your terms in a totally different sense to yourself. An experienced teacher once told me that, when he bad given a careful explanation of anything to a pupil, he always asked him, "Do you understand?" If the answer was "Yes," he followed it up with "What do you understand?" and, by compelling the pupil to give the explanation in his own words, he would tell if he had been understood. But you cannot do this with a controversial opponent. A heretic is like a man on the under-side of a cloth armed with a bodkin, which he thrusts through the cloth, first in one place, then in another, while the malleus hereticorum on the upper side places his finger, armed with a thimble, to stop the passage of the point. He finds that, though he is triumphant at the place where his finger rests for the moment, the troublesome and unabashed bodkin comes up in endless places all round it. Error is like the hydra, and its heads require not only a tap with the club, but searing with a hot iron to prevent them springing up again.
The advocacy of Socialism, I admit, does honour to the hearts, if not to the heads, of its upholders. They see, as we all must, that there is much wrong and suffering in the world, and wish, as we all do, to cure it. Every instance of wrong and suffering is, taken by itself, preventable. Hence it follows that, if certain assumptions or premises are granted, a millennium or state of perfection will ensue. It is with these assumptions that I propose principally to deal. There is seldom any fault in people's reasoning, or, for the matter of that, in the reasoning of animals. Error comes in either in a false major premiss, an assumption contrary to fact, or in what logicians call "undistributed middle"— page 4 that is, using the same word in different senses in the two premises. If you grant their assumptions—which, mind you, are never stated, but only taken for granted—socialistic arguments are unanswerable.
If Socialists would take the trouble or be honest enough to write out their syllogisms in full, they could hardly deceive themselves and others as they do. Let me give an example : "State officials never make a mistake in management. We propose to turn every business into a department of the State. Therefore we should abolish mistakes in management. Errors in management are the sole cause of poverty. We should do away with errors of management. Therefore we should abolish poverty." Such is the socialistic argument. Here everyone can see that the initial assumptions, without which the conclusion falls to the ground, are absurd.
Socialists are fond of asserting that Socialism is "advancing by leaps and bounds," is "winning all along the line," and so on. There is a good deal that favours this view. Indeed, one very clever prominent politician has asserted of certain other prominent politicians that, as long as they confine themselves to a negative and purely destructive policy, they can never hope to win. In other words, that, unless they promise to bring in a Bill to make three sixpences in a shilling or something of a similar kind, they will lose the support of the working classes. It is natural that Socialism should meet with general acceptance, since it is a gospel that tells people that their want of success is due to anybody but themselves. If a man is poor or out of work, it is not because he has never taken the trouble thoroughly to master his trade; because he drinks or smokes too much; because he throws up a good berth before he has got a better; because he has driven his master's trade away by strikes. No. It is the fault of this neighbour, his employer, "Society," or "the State."
The first Socialists were Adam and Eve. Adam threw the blame on his wife, and she on the serpent. I wonder, as the critics explain the story of the Fall as a myth or allegory, that they do not point out that the serpent is an allegorical representation of "capitalism," "the present social system," or whatever they call that which is the cause of all the evil in the world. No doubt, if there had been a "State" in Eden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil had been under the care of a State department, with a Minister at £5,000 a year, a permanent secretary at £1,500 a year, ten first-class clerks and twenty second-class clerks, with a messenger to sell them gold watch-chains on commission, the temptation would have been averted, and the history of the world would have been different.
A Socialist apostle, like an Irish Home Rule member, is a Mr. Facing-both-ways. The latter, when addressing Englishmen, says that page 5 all he asks for is the power to settle all purely local and Irish affairs in Ireland, and that he has no thought of weakening the tie which makes Ireland part of the Empire. To his own countrymen he tells a very different tale. He says that he will never rest till Ireland takes her place among the nations, and can impose her own tariffs, make her own treaties, and declare that to be lawful in Ireland which is not lawful in England. So a Labour leader tells the employer that his men will produce as much in eight hours as they did in ten. To the workmen he says that they will only produce four-fifths as much, and therefore there will be employment for so many thousands of the now unemployed. To those who have not joined a union he declares that the country is fast being ruined; that the rich are growing richer, and the poor poorer. But to the members of his union he boasts that the labourers have already secured a large slice of the property of their employers, an earnest of the whole they mean to get, and that this success is due to unions and strikes.
Now these opposite assertions cannot both be true. On the last point I look to my own experience as a University man. I know no callings in which wages have risen much more than those which are chiefly adopted by University men—curacies and teaching. Yet neither of these callings has formed a union, nor have the members of them ever struck. Domestic servants form another example. The wages of capable servants are something like double what they were fifty years ago. Yet servants are entirely unorganised, and have never had a strike. In all these cases employers found that good workmen were gradually turning to other walks in life where the conditions were better, and they had gradually to bid higher to draw them back. The change taking place gradually enabled the necessary adjustments to be made without disorganising society. It is the suddenness of the change, more than the change itself, that is so disastrous. Any cyclist knows that if, when he comes to a steep descent, he puts on the brake gently at first and back pedals, he will reach the bottom of the hill safely. But if he starts full speed and in the middle of the hill suddenly jams the brake hard down, he will take a flying somersault over the handles, and probably break his neck. I will not assert that trade unions and strikes have no influence in raising wages, but, if I did, I should be nearer the truth than the labour leaders are, who credit them with the whole increase. Most people have so little idea of evidence that they do not see that, if a certain event happens hundreds of times after another event, that is no proof that the second named is the effect of the first, unless we can show that the second in order of time never happens when the first is absent, and the first never occurs without being followed by the second. English soldiers wear scarlet, and they page 6 are generally victorious; but even if they had never been defeated, that would not prove that a scarlet coat was the cause of victory.
A good example of the confusion of thought which lies at the base of all Socialism is furnished by one of its dogmas : "The land belongs to the people." If we asked, "What people?" the makers of the assertion would find themselves in a difficulty, for they have never thought out the matter. It reminds one of the witty saying of Mr. Barrie in one of his novels, that it is a great epoch in a young man's life when he finds that it is not women that are formidable, but a woman. Do the Socialists mean that, as in Russia, the land of the village is to be periodically divided afresh, so that the industrious and careful may lose the fruit of their labours, and the idle and improvident get a share of it. If Smith and Brown settle on a ten acre island, and each farms the half of it, and Brown imports a wife and has twenty children, is Smith to be robbed of nine-tenths of his little farm to fill the rapacious mouths—"like attic windows perpetually flying open"? In the early days of economics people were puzzled to explain bow it was that, while bread was so useful and diamonds so useless, the value of tbe one as expressed in price was so little, and that of the other so great. The difficulty vanishes at once when we see that we do not compare "bread" and "diamonds," but a particular loaf and a particular diamond. If I lose this loaf, but by going a few yards can find a baker's shop full of other loaves, the value of that one loaf to me is very small. But to a traveller in the Sahara, with no other loaf within a thousand miles, the value of the one that he has exceeds that of all the diamonds in the world.
Socialists assert that capital robs labour of a large part of the friuts that labour has created—"exploits labours" is their phrase. The assumption underlying this is that the average profits of capitalists are very large, for, if most employers could afford to make a considerable addition to the wages of their workmen, their profits must be very great. But all those who are well informed know that the average profits of capital are not large. Thousands of masters, with all their capital, their anxiety, and working sixteen hours a day instead of eight, do not make more than one of their workmen. To compel them to pay higher wages would ruin them and throw all their workmen out of employment. It is true that some of the more successful masters might pay higher wages but the unions would soon be up in arms if wages were not the same all round. Even Professor Marshall, who is very indulgent to Socialism, tells us that, of every ten persons who start in business, nine fail in a year or two. Therefore, for the average profits to be two per cent, the successful ones must make twenty per cent. The most successful business that I have known and dealt with nearly thirty years makes page 7 eight per cent. for every hundred pounds of capital. In that thirty years I have known many of its servants leave and set up for themselves, only to be swallowed up and disappear in a short time What fact is more familiar, to those who walk through back streets than the constant change of name over the small shops? If what the Socialists say is true, the proof is easy. Any ten skilled workmen, by abstaining from marriage and beer for a time, could easily save enough to start for themselves, and appropriate the enormous profits that the wicked employer now so unjustly robs them of. One such object lesson would be worth all the tracts of the Fabian
The State (hateful word !) is to be the universal employer. But the State would have to use as managers the present capitalist employers, for there are no fresh officials waiting in the moon to be brought down. We see, then, that the assumption is that, if a man is a duffer or a rogue as a private employer, by turning him into a salaried State official he will become clever and honest. It is just the same with the cry of the advanced women. They say that if women were only independent—if their fathers left them a small fortune, or if they were taught some profession by which they could support themselves—there would be no unhappy marriages. These excellent creatures never stop to reflect that, if every woman had £300 a year, that would not create one more good and worthy man. There might be a little shuffling of the cards, and Seraphina Smith might carry off the model husband who now falls to the lot of Distaffina Jones; but the number of happy marriages could not be greater than the number of good men, few of whom are left unmarried now. Again I appeal to facts. There is a considerable number of women who, as singers, actresses, and so on, earn such incomes as make them independent, and give them great power of choice. It is notorious that the number of unhappy marriages among women of this class is vastly greater in proportion than it is among their less favoured or less gifted sisters.
Socialism is no new thing. In all ages, from Plato downwards, amiable enthusiasts have devised in their studies plans for magically transforming mankind—plans which, however varied the details, all agreed in this : that the change was to be wrought by laws. Now, laws are of no use unless they are enforced. But, to be enforced, there must be men to enforce them. Then the result cannot be superior to the average intelligence and virtue of the enforcers. I know that all socialistic schemes tacitly presuppose a committee of angels to carry them out, as much superior to the governed as a clever and virtuous father is to a child two years old. But statesmen and administrators are not angels, but ordinary men, with the limitations and page 8 weaknesses of ordinary men. Those who have been at school and college with them would smile at the idea of their old school-fellows being anything but men, perhaps a trifle above the average in talent and character, who had devoted themselves to politics instead of to law, fighting, or divinity. Indeed, so far are these Ministers from attempting to force an exalted code on a submissive people that they are chiefly occupied in trying to keep their seats by voting for any measure that the more noisy and unthinking of their followers, Irish or English, thrust upon them. If one of my opponents, then, had the combined wisdom of Solon, Lycurgus, and Plato, the results of his scheme could not be better than the imperfect instruments he would have to choose to carry it out.
Mr. Giffen is quoted as reckoning the total incomes of the working classes as 500 millions, and those of the richer classes as 850 millions. It is easy to see that the assumption is that, if the latter were seized and divided among those who are called the workers, each would have double the income. But rich men do not swallow their incomes. The great bulk is paid away to others in return for various services, and appears as part of their incomes. So that the working classes already share the greater part of the incomes of the rich among them. If some of the income of the rich is spent unproductively, so is some of the income of the poor. I have seen 200,000 people on Doncaster Twon Moor. Each of those had spent a shilling or two on railway fare, something on food, a good deal on drink, and perhaps something on bemug. What a vast expenditure to earn a headache and a fit of the blues! If the Socialists wish to prevent a duke spending his money ill, why do they not also regulate the budget of a dustman? But, any way, the Socialist does not seem to realise how large a part of these great income is spent in managing and improving the estates, and how comparatively small the net income is, which the owner can spend as he will. And if one duke spends his income on baccarat, another, like the Duke of Bridgwater, spends it all in making a canal, thereby enriching the country. What tribunal is to be set up which is to be trusted to say to Duke A, "You spend your money badly, and we will take it away"; and to Duke B, "You spend your money well, and may keep it"? Or perhaps all dukes are to have their property taken away, on the ground that working men would spend it better. Experience does not confirm this view. Great numbers of workmen spend their money ill; and the higher their wages, the more wretched is their lot. I shall be told that they are improving in this respect. I gladly assent; but so are dukes. I am told that the joiner who now makes a baccarat table for a duke would, under the Socialist rule, be employed in making a better house for a working man. That is pure assumption. Many dukes now spend page 9 considerable sums in providing better houses for workmen, who do not always appreciate the sanitary appliances or take care of the fittings. It is the same old story. The Socialists contrast our present social state, composed of weak and erring mortals, with a system of their own imagining, ruled and peopled by beings with wings.
It is highly diverting to contrast the denunciation of the well-to-do classes as idlers, who prey upon the industrious, with the Socialist proposal to give everyone a pension at fifty. Now, before a man can retire he has to work hard and save money. But then, without a perfect army of spies and inspectors, it would be impossible to prevent the greatest shirker from retiring on a pension which he had never earned. Besides, if the rich took the Socialists at their word, and descended into the labour market, would they not immediately be denounced as scabs and blacklegs, beating down wages and taking the bread out of honest workmen's mouths?
Besides expediency, let us look at justice. I am told that 500 millions a year is paid in rent and interest. But those who receive this created the whole of the property in respect of which they receive it, the workmen having had their share, and often more than their share, in wages. To prove this we have only to ask why a man goes to work in a factory instead of working for himself at home. The answer, of course, is because he earns more, for no one compels him to go in. Then the extra amount that he earns above what he would make at home was created, not by himself, but by his employer; and, if the employer also earns some profit for himself, justice demands that he should keep it. And it is not even proposed that the profits of a factory should be divided among the workpeople in that factory, who, at any rate, have had something to do with creating them, but they are to go to the State, the whole nation, so that the idle and the vicious will have as much as the good. As to rent, Socialists seem not aware that thousands of tenants pay absolutely nothing for the land, what they pay being but a very small percentage on the cost of buildings, roads, fences, drains, etc., made by the landlord. As to capital, the beginnings were when a savage first made a fish-hook or an arrow-head. I have no doubt there were Socialists even then, who, when they saw a comrade so employed, lay down at their ease, saying: "Go on, Quashee, you makee hook, me use it, for capital no ought be private property."
England was long a poor country, so that, according to Professor Thorold Rogers, for two hundred years the population did not increase. At that time trade and commerce were hampered by endless socialistic and grandmotherly restrictions. Since we have shaken off these we have advanced by leaps and bounds, so that our people and our language are rapidly covering the earth. That is because we have been page 10 free. Let us go back to the good old times of Cobden and Bright, These men were real Liberals. They were for freedom, abolition of restrictions, overthrow of privileges, minimum of Government interference. Every man was to be at liberty, so long as he did not injure his neighbour, to seek his own welfare by his own means, and was to have the enjoyment of what he created and earned. All these strikes are only diminishing the total that has to be divided among the workmen. Every inspector's salary is provided by a tax on wages. The Socialists cry out against middlemen; but what is their "State" but a gigantic middleman, which, having by an army of bloodsuckers collected the plunder of the industrious and thrifty, will dole out the amount, sadly diminished, among a crowd who have abandoned their manhood and depend on anyone but themselves.
I have seen it asserted that no Socialist ever advocated strikes. I only know that many who express sympathy with Socialism express sympathy with strikers and subscribe to strike funds, and that the leaders of strikes justify their action on socialistic grounds. I grant that they speak of strikes as the lesser of two evils, and that they would like to see the necessity for them done away with by legislation. The difference between these remedies is that, while strikes do intermittent harm, legislation does permanent harm. It is not the mode of coercion that is in fault. The wrong is in subjecting a million circumstances, every one of which is different, to a hard-and-fast rule, and in interfering with every man's natural right to be the judge of the hardness of his work, of his own power to endure it, and of the question, which varies with every man and every day, whether, at a given time, an hour's more work or an ounce less food is the greater evil. Besides, the world is built on the system of periodicity; there are busy times, and there are slack times. "There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." But all this labour legislation is directed to preventing men doing so. It is tyranny. But such words have an unpleasant sound. The same author I have just quoted makes one of his characters object to the use of the word "steal." He says, "Convey, the wise do call it." Just so. Do not call a thing by its right name—"tyranny." Call it "beneficent legislation," and you will get thousands of votes. Socialists suffer from an inability to see the essential identity of two things when disguised under different names. They know that some of the fairest countries on earth, which once were populous, highly civilised, and prosperous, are now thinly peopled, barbarous, and poor. What is the sole cause? It is that when one of the inhabitants, by industry and thrift, has got a little property, the Government steps in and takes it from him. That is just what is advocated now by those who call themselves advanced Liberals. In page 11 the one case the wrong is done by a Pasha, and in the other by a tax-gatherer. This is merely a question of name. One of the party, more candid than his fellows, the other day defined Government as "an instrument for taking away money from one set of people and giving it to another set."
This tyranny will, at any rate, be impartial, and oppress both classes alike. It will forbid the man who is young and has a family of children to work any longer than the man who is elderly and has got all his children off his hands. So it will compel the master who makes small profits or has an inferior workman to pay the same wages as the one who makes large profits or has a first-rate workman. So, if the prosperous man pays the same rate of wages as the struggling man, he cannot avoid the crime of making large profits. If the struggling man pays the same rate as the prosperous man, he is ruined, and his workmen go to swell the ranks of the unemployed. Numbers of men, willing to work, are now, I hear, forced into the workhouse, for they are no longer worth three shillings a day, though fully worth half-a-crown. But the unions say, "Three shillings or nothing." So the masters naturally, if forced to give young men's wages, will have young men's work; and we have come to this : that the chief buyers of hairdye are not elderly Lotharios, but working men who conceal their grizzling locks to give them a better chance of employment. Could the rule of Lobengula or Cetewayo be worse than that? People complain of the power and influence exercised in Europe by the Jews on account of their wealth. Now, a Jew is not a magnet that has the power of attracting gold. There is no source of wealth open to Jews which is not open equally to Christians. All the millions of the Rothschilds were amassed by the observance of two rules. Whatever income a Jew has he tries to live on the half of it, and if he cannot get a shilling he will take sixpence rather than nothing. Yet your Socialists expect Englishmen to become rich, individually or collectively, by pursuing the opposite tactics.
I am told that the best economists agree with Mr. Ruskin that the distress of the poor, irrespective of that caused by sloth, minor errors, or crime, arises from competition and oppression. This is very like saying that the mortality in battle, irrespective of that caused by bullets and bayonets, is due to sword cuts. I fancy the best economists are not in such accord with Mr. Ruskin as is assumed, but let that pass. If Mr. Ruskin's assertion is true, how is the capitalist to blame for competition? He does not cause it, and he cannot cure it. I was coming out of a railway station the other day, and as I was going to call on a lady I thought I would have my boots blacked. On searching my pockets I found I had only a penny left. I held this penny up, and page 12 immediately three youths rushed forward to serve me. I was not to blame that there were three competing for the work of one. What was I to do? I might pick out one, give him the job, and send the other two away disappointed. I might take two, tell each to black one boot, and give them a halfpenny each. For this, if a Socialist had been by, I should have had my head broken. I might have accepted the offer of one to do both for a halfpenny, and made a ragged boy happy by buying an evening paper with the other, for which I should equally have had my head broken as a sweater and an oppressor.
We Individualists are accused of hard-heartedness and want of feeling, because we say that failure is a man's own fault. We have all laughed at the story of the Irishman who offered his mare for sale, warranting her as "without fault." When a bystander pointed out that she was blind, he answered: "Oh, that's not the poor craythur's fault; it's her misfortune." Yet, like many jests, this story contains a deep philosophy. Nature knows absolutely no difference between misfortune and fault. If a man who can clear fifteen feet tries to jump a twenty-foot dyke, he will fall in and be drowned, and it will not be much consolation to him or his friends to know that it was misfortune, and not his fault. If a man does not learn his own powers and deficiencies, and the limits of what powers he has, you may call it his fault—at any rate, he will be punished for it. Social Democracy is founded on the assumption that all men are much of a muchness, and that, as one of my opponents says, the art of creating and managing a huge business can be learned. So one of the Labour leaders is credited with the remark that he had not seen a man who was worth more salary than £800 a year. This reminds one of the man who said that he could write plays as good as Shakespeare's if he had a mind, on which Charles Lamb, who was present, drily remarked: "So you see it is only the mind that is wanting." What is the use of laying the blame on our "social system" if a man fails because he attempts something for which he is not fitted? And if for hundreds of thousands of years there have been these cardinal differences between one man and another that we see to-day, what reason can the Socialists give us for expecting in the near future to see men more on a level? I do not call a man a failure because he remains a workman instead of rising to be an employer. If all men were employers, where would their work-men come from? We do not call every clergyman a failure because he does not become a bishop, nor a soldier a failure because he is not a field marshal. The failure comes in when a man attempts something for which he is not fitted. Many men make excellent subordinates, but poor chiefs. Every reverse the British arms have sustained has page 13 been caused by men being promoted to command who were not fitted for it.
I am asked why I call the "State" a hateful word. I do so because the use of it is both the result and the cause of confusion of thought-It is plain that from using the term people unconsciously look upon the State or Government, as a power outside the population, possessing funds from which it can make gifts to the people, as if these gifts came from the sky. Yet the State can give us nothing that it has not first taken from us, and what it returns is always less than what it took. If the State is to educate my neighbour's child, it must first take from me enough money to educate it, and so much more as will pay an inspector to see that it is educated, and so much more as will pay a second inspector to see that the first does his duty, and so much more as will pay ft clerk to keep the accounts, to say nothing of providing a room for the clerk to sit in. Let people express what they think and want in plain English. Instead of talking of the "State" providing "Free" Libraries, let them say honestly that they want to take away by force their neighbours' money, in order that a milliner's apprentice may surfeit herself with trashy novels, or a grocer's boy may learn the state of the odds, so that he may be inspired to rob his master's till. If real culture is wanted, the best and most interesting books in the English language may now be bought for the price of a pot of beer, and no man's rise is checked by reason of the cost of books. One Socialist says that the "State" means the Government and not the whole people. Another speaks of the State as the "representative of the whole people." Which am I to believe?
What a universal delusion is the belief in a panacea! It stares us in the face on every wall and in every newspaper, and the quack medicines advertised are sold by millions. Let us consider the assumption that underlies them all. A man for forty years, let us say, violates every law of health. He eats too much, drinks too much, smokes too much, sleeps too much, works too much. Having from these complicated causes got every organ of his body subject to a complication of disorders, comes Mr. Bolloway or Mr. Heecham and says: "Swallow but one box of my pills, and hey, presto! all your ailments will vanish." They "touch the spot," as if there were only one "spot," and not a hundred. So every social and political medicine man has his pet nostrum. With one it is free money, with another it is free land, with a third teetotalism. Introduce but this one change, and poverty and crime will vanish. Yet success or failure in life is affected by a hundred causes:—The constitution and tendencies a man inherits from his father; his training in youth; the pains he has taken to learn his trade; the diligence with which he has followed it: his prudence in page 14 marriage; his thrift, and so on. Most of these are inside the man, How can any one change, and that a change in outside circumstances,
In the case of some of these social remedies we have the means of direct proof. In respect to teetotalism we can point to immense nations of abstainers where yet the general level of well-being is far below ours, and extreme poverty far more common. It is true that teetotalers can insure their lives at a lower rate than others. But their acting in any way contrary to received opinions and practices shows that they are thoughtful persons, above the average in intelligence, and likely to order their lives generally with moderation and regularity. We see the same in Quakers and Unitarians here, Protestants in Italy or Spain, etc. Any small body of people who adopt unpopular tenets on conviction will surpass the average of the population in intelligence and virtue. Teetotalism is the effect, not the cause, of superiority.
Those who say that the present system requires replacing should give a glance at the system it has replaced. Let them compare Leeds with, say, Thebes in Egypt. In the latter they would see the remains of immense and magnificent buildings, so solid that they have stood for thousands of years. But they are all temples, palaces, and tombs, built for the luxury and gratification of Kings. Of the wretched mud hovels, in which the workmen who built them dwelt, not a trace remains. If we could see these workmen as they lived, we should find their sole possessions a cotton shirt and two onions. When we turn to Leeds we find the public buildings very inferior to those of Egypt, in splendour and permanence; but, on the other hand, we should see miles of streets lined with workmen's bouses. We should notice their solidity, often their bright appearance—their flowers, clean steps, curtains. A glance inside would show some prints and books, perhaps a piano, and other signs of cultivation and refinement, and of a lot raised above a mere animal struggle for existence.
Yet I am told that the destitute outcasts form one-tenth of the population, and that "the general condition of the whole proletarian population is one of sickening wretchedness." How can we hope to arrive at a correct solution from such false premises? At every cricket or football match I see a crowd of many thousands. Where does the gate money come from if not from the proletariat? I see the streets filled on Sunday with workpeople—the men in decent black, the women with gloves, watches, feathers, silks, and parasols. Every man I meet is smoking. Their pleasures may not be always my pleasures, but a right-thinking mind cannot but derive great satisfaction ftom these general signs of well-being.
Socialists call the workmen the slaves of the capitalists. So Burns page 15 talked of the degradation of having "to ask of a fellow-man leave to toil" There is no such need. He could toil as much as he liked without asking anybody's leave. What he asks of his fellow-man is to be kept out of the other's savings for some months, till his work is ready for the market. I have been over a great clothing factory. I found that a capable woman could earn much higher wages than if she sewed by herself in a garret. This was because the head of the firm, by spending thousands of pounds in erecting a healthy and convenient building, by buying costly machinery, by bringing the workers near together so as to save time, by division of labour and skilled direction, enables each worker to produce much more. The whole of this increased turn-out is the creation of the master, representing the outlay of thousands of pounds, and years of toil and anxiety, with no Eight Hours Bill to relieve the strain the employer feels all the twenty-four hours. A considerable part of their increased production goes to the workpeople in increased wages, and yet, though they have stipulated for a certain sum to be paid punctually every week, whether the employer is making a profit or loss, they want to rob the employer of the share he takes to reward him for hard toil, long waiting, and great risk. The workman, that is, says to his employer, "Heads I win, tails you lose."
Someone tells me that organising power is as easily learned as carpentry. Does he not know that one waggoner or coachman, with the same training, will get twice as much work out of a team of horses as another, and yet keep them in better condition? That one colonel will have his regiment in perfect order, ready to follow him anywhere, and another will come after him, and, without apparent cause, in a few weeks have the men almost mutinous? That, of two masters turned out of the same training-college, one will keep a class of a hundred hanging on his lips by the hour and remembering everything he teaches, and the other cannot prevent the attention of a class of ten from wandering?
It is amusing to hear that capitalism has depopulated Ireland. The great want of that country is more capital. So, in Egypt and other great empires of antiquity, the accumulation of capital in private hands, and its application to the creation of wealth, were checked by violence and insecurity. The State there, like the proposed Socialist State, had immense wealth; but it spent it, not in creating more wealth, but in unproductive buildings. It is for Socialists to explain why their State will be different from all the States that have preceded it. The Socialist State would be a great slave-owner, supplying the direction and foresight, while the people, like slaves, ate and drank, lived for the day, and looked to the "State" to dry-nurse them.page 16
The state of ancient Egypt was more socialistic than capitalistic. I am asked how that can be, when the fundamental idea of Socialism is that every man shall receive the full produce of his labour. I answer that I have nothing to do with ideas. Ideas are cheap enough; they are like professions. I do not care what a man's ideas or professions are, be he Socialist or professing saint. I look to his actions, and the necessary result of those actions. A Socialist cries that I shall be saying next that American slavery and Russian serfdom are socialistic! He is quite right. I do say so. Most people seem quite incapable of picking out the essential features of anything, and fix their attention on some casual or accidental point. From some memories of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," they fancy that every slave-owner is a Legree. Yet, if they had studied Mrs. Stowe's tale, they would remember that Legree was quite an exception, and that the majority of slave-owners were kindly, and domestic slaves, at any rate, had an easy time. It is not being flogged that makes a man a slave, but putting off responsibility on to other shoulders than your own. What was the condition of the great bulk of the slaves? They were in a state of equality—no wicked millionaires or wretched paupers among them; had plenty of food and clothing; were cared for in sickness and old age; and had no anxiety. That exactly realises the Socialist ideal.
I have before me a list of the principal aims and objects of Socialism. Some of these are ends, and some are means to those ends. Some of these ends I should be equally glad to see realised; but it is the means that I object to, as sure to bring about results very different from those desired. I should like a Socialist to sit down and draw up a scheme of his expenditure under a socialistic system. Let him put on one side his income, and on the other the various sums he expends for the comfort and welfare of his wife and children. He would probably not wish to diminish many of these, and, if he is like most of us, there would not be a large surplus left. But if there is any, let him put against it the various items which the Socialist State would add to his expenses. Thus, under the head of "Compulsory construction of healthy dwellings," there would be : "Item, to building my neighbour a healthy dwellings," so much." "Item, to replacing the gas and water pipes, which my neighbour tore up and sold, so much." Or else : "Item, to paying an inspector to go round and see that my neighbour does not sell his piping, so much." Under the head of "Pensions" would be: "Item, to persion for my neighbour, who spent his time in rabbit coursing while I had to work hard, so much." Or else : "Item, to paying an inspector to see that my neighbour does not shirk his work, so much." "Item, to keeping my neighbour, who threw up a good post because he did not like the colour of his employer's whiskers, so much." And so on to the page 17 end of the chapter. How much would be left, for these would be first charges on the income? If people would only realise that, when they talk of the State doing this and that, it means that they themselves will have to find the money, and additional money to keep the officials who control the laying out of the money!
If men are improvident and idle now when they suffer for it, are they likely to be better when they are sure of a pension at fifty? I am told that, as under the Apostles, so under Socialism, if a man will not work, neither shall he eat. That is excellent on paper, or when you have Apostles to see to it; yet, however well things may have gone in their presence, we know from their letters that all sorts of abuses crept in the moment their back was turned. When a man has left his native village, how are you to find out whether he has been industrious or idle when he comes back and claims his pension?
I am told that landlordism is one of the great causes of distress. Then let the man who thinks so go to Canada. There he will have 160 acres of land free from the landlord and the capitalist. He will have enough to eat and drink in a rough way; will wake up in the morning and find a foot of snow on the counterpane; and will have to turn out at daylight and plough, while his wife leads the horses with one hand and holds the baby with the other. If he prefers such a state of things to his present lot, by all means let him go. I am simply preaching obedience to the laws of nature. I did not make the world; and if I, or even one of my Socialist opponents, had been consulted at the making, possibly we should not have bettered it. I am asked when the capitalists made the land or the minerals. A piece of land, undrained, unfenced, unmanured, with no road to it or buildings on it, is unmade; it is worth little. Coal is practically nonexistent till the capitalist spends £100,000 or so in sinking a shaft and putting in machinery. A man cannot go to a farm in Canada unless he is a capitalist, and has money to pay his passage and buy tools, and feed himself till his crop is reaped. Our ancestors could not have come to this country unless they had been capitalists, and had ships and weapons and stores of food.
Oh! it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
Will they hang every man who can lift half a ton? Some men have an extraordinary power in attracting the love of women. This is sometimes misused. Is, therefore, every man of whom more than six women speak well to be ordered to execution? We come round to the old point—Socialism is tyranny. Of old not only the possession of wealth or talent, but even of great virtue, gave a man power; and he was therefore marked out for death, as dangerous to the Government.
which may be freely rendered : "Whatever folly the chiefs commit, it is the rank and file who have to pay the piper." Another instance of the similarity of ancient tyranny to modern Socialism. I am not saying page 19 a word against the moral duty which lies on us all to help our neishbours over the stile.
Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi,
Some people speak of Individualism as if it meant selfishness—everyone striving for his individual advantage, regardless of his neiehbour's. Of course, this is not so. What we object to is not charity, but compulsory charity, which may be, and always is, counted on beforehand and discounted. In considering the limits of State action we have always to keep in view the indirect effect of any measure. Mr. Mallock says that it is socialistic to keep up a highway at the public expense. But the reason we do so is that it costs far less in money, and in time and trouble, which are money, to levy the cost as a tax than a toll. Moreover, when a man is reflecting whether he can afford to get married, the scale would never be turned in the slightest degree by the consideration that the road he walked on is paid for by the community. But if he knew that his children, when they came, would get free education, free boots, or free breakfasts, it would be a strong inducement to him to chance it. There is, therefore, a broad toe of demarcation between acts that are merely division of labour—the nation its corporate capacity, saving the time of individuals, which would be wasted if each did that which is better done collectively—and acts which either interfere with the individual's rightful freedom, or foster improvidence, by throwing on the thrifty the burdens of the thriftless.page break
|Property in Land : A Justification of Individual Ownership. By J. C. Spence
|Trade Unionism in Relation to Wages. By James Birks
|Nationalisation of Land. By Lord Bramwell
|Fallacies of Teetotalers
|The Problem of Unemployment. By Rev. P. S. G. Propert, M.A.
|The Man versus The State. By Herbert Spencer
|The Socialist Spectre. By the Earl of Wemyss
|The Impossibility of Socialism. By William Schofield