British Socialism - An Examination of Its Doctrines, Policy, Aims and Practical Proposals
by J. Ellis Barker
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The statements given above, with their superlatives, their laboured philosophy, their lyrics, hysterics, and prophecies, are singularly unconvincing. The manner in which the simple question, "How do you propose to fit actual human nature into your scheme?" is answered by the Socialists, proves that they find that question unanswerable. History teaches us that revolutions based on plunder, euphemistically called confiscation, expropriation, or socialisation, have indeed altered human nature, but they have altered it for the worse. All revolutions have hitherto caused a fearful depravation of manners and led to the most hideous crimes—and will a Socialistic revolution prove an exception? Why should it be an exception? Are its teachings such as make it seem likely that a Socialistic revolution will prove an exception? An attempt to establish the Socialist Commonwealth would undoubtedly lead, not to a revolution, but to a series of revolutions, to Anarchism and to civil war. The tragedy of the great French Revolution might be acted over again.

Now let us look into some practical questions which the Socialist State of the future will have to settle. Let us, for instance, inquire:


Many Socialists think that different workers should get different wages: "The citizens shall be consciously public functionaries, and their labours shall be rewarded according to results."[1226] "Socialism does not propose that everyone shall have an equal share of the product of collective labour."[1227] How, then, is the amount of the unequal wages to be calculated? Some Socialists, following Marx, propose to determine wages by means of labour-time. "Ascertain the time taken to produce two commodities and we know their relative exchange value. And this quality tallies with market valuations. So far as creating value is concerned, then, one man creates as much value as another, and on the basis of equal labour-time equal value, Socialists rest their argument of social equality."[1228] "The working time which the making of an article requires is the only scale by which its social value can be measured. Ten minutes of social work in one branch are exchangeable for ten minutes of social work in another. It will be easy to calculate how much social working time each single product requires."[1229] A hunter hunts all day and shoots a deer. A fisher fishes all day and catches a sprat. Will the hunter exchange his deer for the sprat, on the principle of equal labour-time? Will highly skilled workers be satisfied to receive the same wages as the most unskilled labourers? Will equal labour-time pay for all not lead to universal dawdling, shrinkage in production, and consequent starvation? Would workers not strive to get the maximum pay for the minimum work? To prevent dawdling, could it be ascertained how long it should take to repair a machine, paint a picture, amputate a leg, plough an acre?

It is manifestly impossible to pay men of varying capacity and productive power equal labour-time wages. Therefore many Socialists, especially the Fabians, maintain: "The principle of inequality of payment must be recognised. It is a necessary consequence of inequality of ability."[1230] "Every man should receive from the Commonwealth a fair equivalent in payments or services for the payments or services which the Commonwealth receives from him. It is not possible to say exactly how much each citizen has contributed to the wealth of the State, and absolute economic justice is therefore impossible."[1231] The question now arises how is the "fair equivalent for services rendered" to be determined? Many Socialists teach the doctrine that "the labourer is entitled to the entire product of his labour."[1232] Should the labourer be given an equivalent to the product of his labour minus various necessary expenditures? Could the value of the labour of an individual be calculated at all in the complicated processes of modern industry? What is the value produced by a day's labour of a ploughman, a railway porter, a postman, a book-keeper, a policeman, a machine-minder? Mr. Bax very sensibly argues: "What does each man produce of himself as an individual? Show me how much cotton any given factory operative has produced in the course of a year? I don't mean the amount of wages the capitalist has given him for the exploitation of his labour power during that period—but the actual product of his labour in the manufactured article. You could not do so, because his labour, like all modern labour, is associated; and the work of the individual producer is completely and indissolubly merged in that of the group (factory, mill) to which he belongs, which is again inseparable from that of the machinery employed in the process and from that of other groups."[1233]

It is impossible to calculate the exact value of service to the community by work in a factory or a field as soon as the wages system based on demand and supply has ceased to exist. Besides, differential pay will be impossible, because none will be satisfied with the pay received, except those who receive the highest pay. Therefore the same Fabian Society which in other writings, such as those quoted in the foregoing, advocates unequal payment, concludes: "Inequality of pay would be odious; the impossibility of estimating the separate value of each man's labour with any really valid result, the friction which would arise, the jealousies which would be provoked, the inevitable discontent, favouritism, and jobbery that would prevail: all these things will drive the Communal Council into the right path—equal remuneration of all workers."[1234] The Fabians, like so many other Socialists, cannot apparently quite make up their mind whether to plunge into the Scylla of equal pay or into the Charybdis of unequal pay. Therefore they plunge alternately into the one or the other.

Many Socialists are in favour of equal pay: "The credits granted to the citizens will be equal in all cases, without reference to skill, intelligence, or the nature of the service performed."[1235] "The labours of the bus driver or the mangler will be appraised just as highly as those of the Prime Minister, with this difference perchance, that if it can be clearly shown by statistics that buscraft uses up the life energy of a man more rapidly than statecraft, four hours of busmanship shall count, say, as five of statesmanship."[1236] Equal wages should logically be followed by equal treatment for all. "An anti-Socialist will say, 'How will you sail a ship in a Socialist condition?' How? Why, with a captain and mates and sailing-master and engineer (if it be a steamer) and A.B.s and stokers, and so on, and so on. Only there will be no first and second and third class among the passengers, the sailors and stokers will be as well fed and lodged as the captain or passengers, and the captain and the stoker will have the same pay."[1237]

So confused are the minds even of the leading Socialists with regard to the important question of the remuneration of labour that Mr. William Morris, one of the founders of British Socialism, in a poem first recommends individualistic Socialism and pay according to results:

For that which the worker winneth shall then be his indeed, Nor shall half be reaped for nothing by him that sowed no seed.

Two lines later in the same poem he recommends Communism and equal pay for all, regardless of the work done:

Then all Mine and Thine shall be Ours, and no more shall any man crave For riches that serve for nothing but to fetter a friend for a slave.[1238]

The above extracts show that confusion reigns in the Socialist camp regarding the settlement of the Wage Question.

Wage-earners are not philanthropists. Highly skilled men will not be content with wages equal to those of unskilled labour, not even in the name of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. In the absence of a free demand and supply, which automatically graduates wages in accordance with the social value of the work done, its attractiveness or unattractiveness, &c., it cannot scientifically, though it can perhaps autocratically, be determined how wages should be graduated. When it comes to the fixing of differential wages in the Socialist State of the future, quarrels will immediately arise, which will lead to strife and rebellion, for all workers will use arguments such as the following ones recently put forward by Mr. Smillie, President of the Lanarkshire Miners' County Union. In reply to the reproach that miners, by unduly high wages, increased the cost of coal to the poor, Mr. Smillie answered: "Miners are being blamed in some quarters for the high price of coal. Their wages at present range from 6s. 6d. to 8s. per day, or from 30s. to 2l. 5s. per week when broken time is taken into consideration. Will anyone grudge an income of this kind to a worker whose labour is of a most uncomfortable and exhausting nature, and who takes his life in his hand from the moment he steps into the cage until he reaches the surface again? The miner recognises that high-priced coal means pinching and suffering in the homes of the poor, and he has real sympathy for this class, but he argues that the true value of coal must include a reasonable sustenance for those who risk their lives in its production."[1239] If miners claim higher wages than other workers because their work is uncomfortable and dangerous, railway workers, sailors, and many others will raise the same claims; fishers and butchers will claim higher wages because their work is disgusting; factory workers because their work is sedentary and monotonous; waiters because it is menial; postmen because they have to walk; drivers because they have to sit still; washerwomen because they have to stand; farm labourers because they have to work in the cold; bakers because they have to work in the heat, &c. All workers would of course demand the maximum pay, and who could adjudicate on all the rival claims? The Wages Question seems likely to prove insoluble.


We are told: "Labour will be organised on principles of perfect freedom. Everyone decides for himself in which branch he desires to be employed. If a superfluity of workmen occur in one branch and a deficiency in another, it will be the duty of the executive to arrange matters and readjust the inequality."[1240] In accordance with the variations in demand and supply and the rise and decay of industries, the introduction of labour-saving machinery, &c., labour requires continual redistribution. That redistribution is at present automatically effected largely through the rise and fall of wages. A rise in the wages of industries which require more labour, and a decline in the wages of industries which require less labour, cause labour to turn from shrinking to growing industries. When wages are no longer fixed with reference to commercial demand and supply, how will the periodical and necessary redistribution of labour be effected? Some Socialist leaders think: "As the workers, of course, will not be drafted into the different branches of production under military compulsion, irrespective of their wishes, it may well turn out that some will have a superfluity of labour, while others will suffer from scarcity. The necessary equilibrium could then be restored by reducing the wages in those industries where the applicants are too many and by raising them in those where the applicants are too few, till each branch has just the number of workers which it requires. It could be restored also by other means; for instance, by the shortening of the hours of labour in those industries that are short of workers. With all that, however, the general rate of wages throughout the working class will be influenced no longer by supply and demand, but by the quantity of available products. A general fall of wages in consequence of over-production will be impossible."[1241] In other words, the beautiful schemes of remuneration independent of the laws of supply and demand discussed in the foregoing would immediately break down. In order to redistribute labour, workers would either have to be compelled by direct force to work in those trades which required additional labour, or their wages or hours of work would arbitrarily be altered in order to effect the necessary changes by economic pressure—that is, by reducing their food. In other words, commercial demand and supply would break down the Utopian regulations of the Socialist Commonwealth as soon as they had been framed.

While some Socialists wish to distribute and redistribute labour by arbitrarily changing wages and hours of labour, some of the more logical and scientific Socialist leaders are frankly in favour of compulsory labour: "We already see official salaries regulated, not according to the state of the labour market, but by consideration of the cost of living. This principle we seek to extend to the whole industrial world. Instead of converting every man into an independent producer, working when he likes and as he likes, we aim at enrolling every able-bodied person directly in the service of the community for such duties and under such kind of organisation, local or national, as may be suitable to his capacity and social function. If a man wants freedom to work or not to work, just as he likes, he had better emigrate to Robinson Crusoe's island or else become a millionaire. To suppose that the industrial affairs of a complicated industrial State can be run without strict subordination and discipline, without obedience to orders, and without definite allowances for maintenance, is to dream, not of Socialism but of Anarchism."[1242] "Everyone should have a legal right to an opportunity of earning his living in the society in which he has been born; but no one should or could have the right to ask that he shall be employed at the particular job which suits his peculiar taste and temperament. Each of us must be prepared to do the work which society wants doing, or take the consequences of refusal."[1243] And what consequences would refusal to do the allotted work at the allotted pay entail? Either dismissal, which would mean starvation—for the State, as the sole employer, would control all employment and all the food—or bodily chastisement, or imprisonment. There could be no strike on the part of dissatisfied workers, for the State—that is, the officials—holding all the wealth, would be able to starve them out in a week.

Socialists admit: "Mankind is as lazy as it dares to be."[1244] "In the average man there is a strong tendency to mere idleness and aimlessness which, but for the compulsions and temptations of existing circumstances, might run to great lengths. The trouble is that, while the average man is willing to work occasionally where his choice is free, he considers his lot a hard one if necessity compels him to continue regularly at a given task. He is willing to work at almost anything save that at which he is asked to work. It is a common thing to hear even good workmen profess a dislike to their trade."[1245]

How will shirking and idling be prevented in the Socialist Commonwealth when men are no longer compelled by economic necessity and free competition to do their best?

The leading American exponent of Socialism prophesies that workers will work no longer in order to live in comfort, but that they will henceforth see in work a semi-religious duty, which they perform owing to their strong sense of beneficence: "In the New Commonwealth the butcher will be conscious and satisfied that 'the essential thing is not that he shall have a living, but that meat shall be supplied.' The work of the citizen will be the willing performance of social office. He will be a worker whose best efforts, best ardour, and highest aims will be drawn out by his sense of the beneficence of his work, even though it be such a coarse routine of manual labour as machinery should soon remove altogether from human hands. He will be habituated to regard his wages, not as a quid pro quo, but as the provision made by society to enable him to carry out his labour."[1246] Will the "sense of beneficence" induce men who are not satisfied with the condition and remuneration of labour to transport milk and other provisions during the night so that the townspeople may have them early in the morning? Will men be induced by their sense of duty to clean the sewers? To ask these questions is to answer them. Bebel puts the question, "What becomes of the difference between the industrious and the idle, the intelligent and the stupid?" and answers, "There will be no such difference, because that which we associate with these conceptions will have ceased to exist."[1247] "If there is one vice more certain than another to be unpopular in a Socialist community, it is laziness. The man who shirked would find his mates making his position intolerable even before he suffered the doom of expulsion."[1248] Arguments such as the above should really not be placed before grown-up people. They are only fit for the nursery.

The tendency towards lazing and idling, the desire to make money without exertion, is strongly developed in Great Britain. "The essence of gambling is the craving to obtain something from others without giving an equivalent."[1249] Perhaps in no country is betting and gambling in every form so much in evidence as it is in Great Britain. Betting on the turf, missing-word competitions, limerick competitions, &c., draw every year many millions of pounds from the pockets of millions of British workers. How then can the natural tendency of men to loaf and idle and to live rather by their wits than by their work, which is strong in all men, be overcome in the Socialist State of the future? The fundamental book of the Fabian Society, the most scientific Socialist body in Great Britain, tells us: "A very small share of the profits arising from associated labour acts as a tremendous stimulus to each individual producer,"[1250] and it suggests, as do many Socialist writers, that the workers will do their best because they know that the more they produce the greater will be their individual share in the general production. Great Britain has 12,000,000 workers. Therefore a worker will make as his own share an extra sovereign if by extra exertion he succeeds in producing an extra 12,000,000l. worth of goods, a feat the accomplishment of which will require several thousand years. That is a "tremendous stimulus" to the individual producer! Can any argument be more foolish than the foregoing one?

An influential Socialist writer tells us: "The credits granted to the citizens will be equal in all cases, without reference to skill, intelligence, or the nature of the service performed; but no credits will be given to the able-bodied shirkers, who will thus be starved into doing their share of the world's work without other compulsion."[1251] Other Socialist writers have put forth similar views. This is a cheerful outlook for the free citizens of the free Socialist Commonwealth. The workers will become "wage-slaves" in the fullest sense of the term. They will have to submit to forced labour, arbitrary wages, and arbitrary hours of labour, and those who do not produce as much as the official overseers require—and they may have a private grudge against some unfortunate worker who does his best—will be starved until they work harder. The lot of savages ruled by the knout, the kourbash, and the sjambok will be preferable to the lot of men ruled by starvation in the free Socialist Commonwealth of the future. The former have at least some liberty, while the latter will be kept by officials, who will distribute food and force them to work by rewards of food alternated by starvation, like performing dogs and apes.

To carry on the business of the country the Socialist Government would have to drop the principle of perfect freedom and to rely on coercion, and it would be justified in doing so. If, as Mr. Blatchford has repeatedly told us, "man has no right to himself because he did not make himself," if man belongs not to himself and his family, but to "society," it logically follows that society may compel him to work, apportioning to him his task and his pay, without reference to his wishes. Society being represented by its officials, elected or appointed, these officials would absolutely dispose of the people. Great Britain would be ruled like a gigantic convict prison.

The spirit in which even moderate Socialists already contemplate the freedom of the individual may be seen from an address on Sweated Labour which Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, M.P., delivered in Glasgow in autumn 1907. He said: "There was no use tinkering with the problem. Personally, he was not in favour of home work at all. To eliminate it might seem a cold-blooded way of dealing with sweating, but it was the only way that would give definite and final results. He would, however, proceed carefully and scientifically. Home work had got extremes, but one section was much riper for treatment than the other, and he would begin with the worst. The first difficulty was to find out the sweated workers. It was certain that a great percentage escaped detection by sanitary inspectors. Now his proposal was that, instead of the sanitary inspectors hunting for the home worker, the home worker should hunt for the inspector; and this he sought to accomplish under the Bill introduced last session, by making it necessary for the home worker to take out a licence and by making it obligatory on the employer to keep an absolutely complete list of his workers. The factory inspector must have right of access, and a certificate must be obtained from him for a separate licence. The casual home-worker would be discouraged." In other words, factory inspectors should apparently be authorised to break without a search warrant into private houses. They should certainly be empowered to prosecute a working man if he defended the privacy of his house by refusing the inspector admittance. That measure would abolish the sanctity of the home. The "Right to Work," which the Socialists so loudly champion, would be taken from the home-worker, and one cannot help asking: Is that high-handed measure devised for the benefit of the sweated or for that of the highly paid workers, represented by Mr. Macdonald, who wish to abolish the competition of underpaid home-workers? Sweated labour can be abolished and must be abolished, and it can be abolished, as I may show in another book, without destroying the home. If Mr. Macdonald should have his way, the Socialist principle, "Property is robbery," will have to be supplemented with the principle "Liberty is tyranny."

The unchecked absolutism of a Socialist State will hardly be palatable to Socialist workers who have been told that Socialism means freedom, and these see the only solution in the establishment of Anarchism: "The damnable idea of being marshalled and drilled or numbered and docketed like any other merchandise in a state of glorified capitalism is not the Socialist's ideal, but its antithesis, no matter what the capitalists and their protagonists, the pseudo-Socialists, choose to name it. We don't want to be driven to the gate of the municipal or other factory to hustle and elbow our fellows out of the way so that we may catch the official's eye in the mad and sordid scramble for mere belly food, for a mere animal subsistence. With the advent of Socialism, the whole of the capitalist State and its superstructure will collapse, with its cant of living wages, its Brotherhoods of Man, and the rest of its nauseous humbug."[1252] "If the worker continues to be paid in wages, he necessarily will remain the slave or the subordinate of the one to whom he is forced to sell his labour force; be the buyer a private individual or the State—it would still be an odious tyranny."[1253] "Socialism will entail compulsory service on all able-bodied members of the community, or rather the State. For that is what we shall have; the State with its hosts of functionaries, its big pots and its little pots, and its never-ending officialism and petty tyrannies. Organisation must either be compulsory or free. If compulsory, you have the military spirit with all its attendant evils; if free, you have the Anarchist spirit with all the advantages that arise when the fetters that hinder individual initiative and development are removed."[1254]

The foregoing should suffice to show that the Socialist State could organise work only by relying on forced labour and by creating the most unbearable despotism which the world has seen, or by "organising" the chaos of Anarchism, and it is difficult to say which of the two would be the more hideous solution.


Socialists tell us rather vaguely: "Socialism means the elevation of the struggle for existence from the material to the intellectual plane. Socialism will raise the struggle for existence into a sphere where competition shall be emulation, where the treasures are boundless and eternal, and where the abundant wealth of one does not cause the poverty of another."[1255] "State employment, when the State itself is only an organised democracy and class distinctions cease, means not slavery, but freedom."[1256] "Freedom and equality will then be no longer empty and cheap phrases, but will have a meaning; when all men are really free and equal, they will honour and advance one another."[1257] "In Socialistic administrations there are no employers, no superiors, no oppression; all are equals and enjoy equal rights."[1258] "Under Socialism all the work of the nation would be managed by the nation."[1259] "Under Socialism the State, as we have known the State in the past, will have disappeared; for under Socialism there will be no classes, but all the people will form one class, and the Government and organisation will be democratic, each individual having an equal voice in directing the affairs of the common life."[1260] "The State will no longer be the bureaucratic State of to-day, but a democratic State assisted directly by the whole people."[1261] "All adult members of the commune, without distinction of sex, take part in the necessary elections, and determine to what persons the conduct of affairs shall be entrusted. There is no such thing as a hierarchical system."[1262] "Appointments will be made from below. In the Post Office Department, for example, the letter carriers will elect their immediate superiors; these, we will say, the post-masters; and these, in their turn, the Post-Master General."[1263]

In other and plainer words, the Socialist State would, according to the authorities quoted, be ruled by the same system by which it is ruled at present, although elections might be more numerous, and although the suffrage might be given a wider basis. Now if the system of government remains the same as it is at present, is there any reason for anticipating better results than those obtained at present? Will the elected administrators no longer place personal and party interests above national ones? And will not the infinitely greater range of administrative functions make it more difficult to exercise control and to allocate responsibilities, and thus make irresponsibility, favouritism, dishonesty, and the evasion of punishment more easy and more frequent? Is a larger number of voters likely to pick out abler administrators than a small one? Does not the elective system, according to the Socialists themselves, cause the scum to rise to the top, and result in the election of plausible windbags?[1264] Are the people's votes never won by any other means than the testimony of results? Will there no longer be the fascination of eloquence, the attraction of boundless promises, the glamour of prejudice, the tie of party, the pressure put by an Association upon its members? If amateurs show now little ability in administering a few comparatively simple things, is it likely that results will be better when they have to administer everything? Will not amateur government prove an absolute failure?

Most thinking Socialists clearly foresee that the Socialist State of the future could not possibly be administered by amateurs; that it would have to be administered by experts, by permanent officials; that Socialism would mean the death-knell of elected governors, and therefore of democracy, as may be seen in Chapter XV. of this book. The philosopher of British Socialism tells us: "Socialism aims at the supersession of democracy, as of every other form of government. The will of the majority of an ideal democracy, a social democracy, must, as regards its special expressions, be subordinate to the general moral canon of a Socialist Commonwealth. That in affairs of management, of tactics, of administration, or in decisions requiring special knowledge, authority, in its nature dictatorial, is necessary, all must admit. There must be a controlling, an authoritative voice in direction; so much must be clear, one would think, to all practical or reasonable persons when once stated. The real point to determine is the nature and limits of that amount of dictatorial power which, we must admit, is essential in any organised community of which we can at present conceive. Social Democracy, while it means all for the people, does not mean the impossible absurdity that everything should be directly regulated by the people, i.e. by a direct popular vote."[1265] These views seem irrefutable, and it follows that not only for economic reasons, but for political reasons as well, the establishment of the Socialist State will lead to the establishment of a "dictatorial authority."

If Socialism be introduced, the fall of democracy and the establishment of absolutism cannot possibly be avoided. Democratic States are ruled by public opinion. The voice of an individual does not carry very far. Therefore public opinion can be formed only by means of an independent Press. An independent Press is the strongest, one might almost say the only, guarantee of national liberty. As long as there are numerous independent papers owned by private people, papers which represent all shades of opinion, everyone who has something to say can always freely express his opinion in one set of papers or the other. A striking speech is read the next day by the whole nation; a striking injustice to a single individual, or a Government blunder, may be taken up by the whole nation. The disappearance of private property will necessarily mean the disappearance of the free Press, and therefore of public opinion. All newspapers would be owned, edited, and printed by the Government, and is any Government likely to assist a hostile opposition by printing its views, and to assist in bringing about a revolution, probably accompanied by bloodshed and its own destruction? Such a thing has never been. Such a thing will never be. People might be dissatisfied and be ill-treated by the Socialist Government; they might be starved to death or shot by the thousand; there might be risings and rebellions and civil war in some parts of the country; the fleet might be defeated and the colonies lost—yet not a word need appear in the Socialist Government Press.

Some Socialists are childish enough to argue: "Though the printing press will be a collective institution, it will be available to all. Anyone, whatever unpopular opinions he may entertain, however hostile to the administrators he may be, will be entitled to have anything decent printed, provided he is ready to pay for the work done, or to guarantee, or induce his friends to guarantee, that the cost will be defrayed."[1266] "It would always be open to individuals or to groups of individuals to publish anything they pleased on covering the cost of publication. With the comparative affluence which would be enjoyed by each member of the community, anyone who really cared to reach the public ear would be able to do so by diminishing his expenditure in other directions."[1267]

The Government would certainly neither print, nor circulate through its post-office and newsagents, matter which it would consider to be dangerous to its existence or seditious. The assertion that a private individual in the Socialist Commonwealth might at his own expense circulate his views throughout the country—there would be no more millionaires but only wage-earners—is like asserting that a bricklayer might with his savings pay off the British National Debt.

Lacking an independent public opinion, elections could be managed by the officials through the official Press in their own interest; elections would become a sham, and would no doubt soon fall into disuse. The official class would become a caste of hereditary rulers governing millions of serfs.

The foregoing makes it clear that in political as in economic matters the Socialist State must fall a prey to the most complete absolutism which the world has known, an absolutism which probably, through a series of revolutions and civil wars, would at last end in anarchy. At present a dissatisfied worker can change his employer, he can get justice in the Law Courts, and in extreme cases he can put his grievances before the nation. In the Socialist State there would be only one authority—the all-controlling and all-powerful State, or rather an all-controlling and all-powerful bureaucracy. The nation would be composed of two classes: permanent officials possessing absolute power, and ordinary citizens possessing neither power nor right; overseers and workers; slave-drivers and slaves; and the only way of escaping the tyranny of the State—for absolute and unchecked power has always led, and will always lead, to tyranny—would be by committing suicide. As in Rome under the rule of Nero and Caligula, suicide would be the only way to liberty.

A leading Socialist wrote with unconscious humour: "The Utopist needs no knowledge of facts. Indeed such a knowledge is a hindrance. For him the laws of social evolution do not exist. He is a law unto himself; and his men are not the wayward, spasmodic, irregular organisms of daily life, but automata obeying the strings he pulls. In a word, he creates, he does not construct. He makes alike his materials and the laws within which they work, adapting them all to an ideal end. In describing a new Jerusalem the only limits to its perfection are the limits of the writer's imagination.... Humanity will rise to heights undreamed of now; and the most exquisite Utopias, as sung by the poet and idealist, shall to our children seem but dim and broken lights compared with their perfect day. All that we need are Courage, Prudence, and Faith. Faith above all."[1268] Every reader of this book will no doubt heartily agree with the latter remark. Socialists are wise to appeal rather to blind faith than to plain common-sense.

The philosopher of British Socialism tells us: "Socialism is the great modern protest against unreality, against the delusive shams which now masquerade as verities."[1269] Another Socialist leader asserts: "Socialism is a scientific scheme of national government entirely wise, just, and practical."[1270] A third leader affirms: "Socialism is neither more nor less than the science of Sociology."[1271] The "Socialist Catechism" asks: "How may Socialists reply to the taunt that their scheme is impracticable? By quoting the opinion of John Stuart Mill that the difficulties of Socialism are greatly overrated; and they should declare that, so far from being an impracticable Utopian scheme, it is the necessary and inevitable result of the historical evolution of society."[1272]

Socialism stands condemned, not so much by the criticism of its opponents as by the doctrines and proposals of its leaders, and these are the men who aspire to rule the universe and who claim: "We mean the establishment of a political power in place of the present class-State, which shall have for its conscious and definite aim the common ownership and control of the whole of the world's industry, exchange, &c."[1273]

I think the readers of the foregoing pages will be inclined to believe that Socialism is methodised insanity.


[1203] Kautsky, Social Revolution, p. 41.

[1204] Socialism, For and Against, p. 7.

[1205] Clemenceau, in Jaures' Practical Socialism, p. 11.

[1206] Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 12.

[1207] Kautsky, The Social Revolution, p. 42.

[1208] Blatchford, Real Socialism, p. 5.

[1209] Macdonald, Socialism and Society, p. 126.

[1210] Ethel Snowden, The Woman Socialist, p. 7.

[1211] Ford, Woman and Socialism, p. 2.

[1212] Macdonald, Socialism and Society, pp. 122, 123.

[1213] Sir Oliver Lodge, Public Service v. Private Expenditure, p. 11.

[1214] Blatchford, Not Guilty, p. 37.

[1215] Ibid. p. 251.

[1216] See ante, Chapter XXIII.

[1217] Herbert Spencer, The Man versus the State, p. 43.

[1218] Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 9.

[1219] Ben Tillett, Trades Unionism and Socialism, p. 14.

[1220] Bax and Quelch, A New Catechism, p. 30.

[1221] Kautsky, The Social Revolution, p. 43.

[1222] Joynes, The Socialist Catechism, p. 14.

[1223] Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 11.

[1224] Ibid. p. 18.

[1225] Ward, Religion and Labour, pp. 7, 8.

[1226] Gronlund, Co-operative Commonwealth, p. 77.

[1227] Kautsky, The Social Republic, p. 32.

[1228] Hazell, Summary Marx's Capital, p. 6.

[1229] Bebel, Woman in the Past, Present, and the Future, p. 193.

[1230] Sir Oliver Lodge, Public Service versus Private Expenditure, p. 10.

[1231] New Age, November 21, 1907.

[1232] See ante, p. 61 ff.

[1233] Bax, Outlooks from the New Standpoint, p. 81.

[1234] Fabian Essays in Socialism, pp. 163, 164.

[1235] Leatham, Socialism and Character, p. 91.

[1236] Davidson, The Old Order and the New, p. 170.

[1237] Morris, Communism, pp. 14, 15.

[1238] Independent Labour Party Song Book, p. 40.

[1239] Forward, October 12, 1907.

[1240] Bebel, Woman in the Past, Present, and Future, pp. 183, 184.

[1241] Kautsky, The Social Revolution, pp. 16, 17.

[1242] Sidney Webb, Socialism True and False, pp. 17, 18.

[1243] Socialism and Labour Policy, p. 7.

[1244] The Economics of Direct Employment, p. 6.

[1245] Leatham, Socialism and Character, pp. 102, 103.

[1246] Gronlund, Co-operative Commonwealth, p. 169.

[1247] Bebel, Woman, p. 194.

[1248] Fabian Essays in Socialism, p. 167.

[1249] Ward, The Ideal City, p. 7.

[1250] Fabian Essays in Socialism, p. 167.

[1251] Leatham, Socialism and Character, p. 91.

[1252] Socialist, December 1907.

[1253] Kropotkin, Anarchism, its Philosophy and Ideal, p. 15.

[1254] Freedom, October 1907.

[1255] Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 1.

[1256] Hyndman, Socialism and Slavery, p. 10.

[1257] Sorge, Socialism and the Worker, p. 14.

[1258] Bebel, Woman, p. 199.

[1259] Blatchford, Real Socialism, p. 14.

[1260] Snowden, The Individual under Socialism, p. 12.

[1261] Jaures, Practical Socialism, p. 6.

[1262] Bebel, Woman, p. 181.

[1263] Gronlund, Co-operative Commonwealth, p. 126.

[1264] Thompson, Hail Referendum, pp. 3, 4.

[1265] Bax, Essays in Socialism, pp. 75, 76.

[1266] Gronlund, Co-operative Commonwealth, p. 135.

[1267] Fabian Essays in Socialism, p. 159.

[1268] Fabian Essays in Socialism, pp. 149, 169.

[1269] Bax, Religion of Socialism, p. ix.

[1270] Blatchford, Merrie England, p. 100.

[1271] Hyndman, Socialism and Slavery, Preface.

[1272] Joynes, The Socialist Catechism.

[1273] Bax and Quelch, A New Catechism, p. 9.



The leading Socialists claim that Socialism is at the same time a scientific doctrine and a practical policy. A perusal of this book should suffice to prove that it is neither the one nor the other. On its scientific side it consists of twenty catch-phrases which are very effective for propaganda purposes, but which are contrary to general experience and to common-sense. On its practical side it consists of a number of fantastic proposals which are likewise contrary to general experience and to common-sense.

Socialism has two faces. The one which is turned towards the cultured and towards the non-Socialists of the middle class constantly asserts that Socialism is a scientific and perfect system of well-ordered government and co-operation, which will evolve order and harmony out of the chaos of individualism and of competition, and which will raise men to the highest level of perfection. The other, which is turned towards the masses, and which is by far the more important, is purely predatory in character. It appeals to all the passions of the multitude. It denounces law, religion, charity, thrift, temperance, and all existing institutions. It preaches envy, hatred, greed, selfishness, violence, civil war, and general plunder. It sets class against class, and creates among its supporters a frame of mind which makes not for harmony, order, and co-operation, but for disorder, revolution, and anarchy.

The followers of Socialism do not see in it a science. "With the speculative side of Socialism the average man has but a small concern; it is its common-sense which appeals to him. By inherited instinct we are all communists at heart."[1274] The attraction of Socialism to the masses lies in its promise of the spoliation of the rich and of the general division of their wealth. It is true that Socialists habitually and very emphatically protest that Socialism is not a system of robbery and of general division. It is true that Socialists merely propose that all private property should be transferred to the State by expropriation—which is a euphemism for confiscation—and that the State should manage it for the general good of the masses. However, that is a distinction without a difference. Property is valuable because of the income which it yields. Therefore it comes for all practicable purposes to the same, whether the Socialist leaders propose dividing all the private property or all the income derived from that property. A prominent Socialist writer has asked: "Is not honesty—the sense of right of possession in the fruits of our labour—the very basis of Socialism?"[1275] Regretfully one must answer that question with a very emphatic "No."

Socialism is not a system of organisation and of national co-operation, but merely a plan of spoliation and of general division. That may clearly be seen from the fact that the Socialist leaders have not the slightest desire to create a Socialistic model commonwealth, and thus demonstrate the practical value of their highly speculative doctrines, in a new country where Socialism could be introduced peacefully, easily, and without a revolution, where co-operation and exchange would be comparatively simple because wants are simple, the commodities produced are few, and the opposition of vested interests would be nil. In spite of all these great advantages, the Socialist leaders prefer introducing Socialism into old countries where the confiscation of the existing property seems a shorter way to wealth than work, and where confiscation will have the most satisfactory results to the despoilers.

We have seen that the various Socialistic organisations agree on hardly one point in their constructive policy. However, they absolutely agree in their main purpose—spoliation. On that point there is absolute unanimity among all the British Socialists, and they condemn State Socialism (see Chapter XXXII.) because State Socialism would not mean confiscation and general division. Besides, it would not enable the Socialist leaders to overturn the State and to seize the reins of Government. British Socialism is purely destructive in character, and if Socialism should ever be established in Great Britain it would lead not to national co-operation, but to civil war among the various Socialistic sections for the spoils, and to a series of sanguinary coups d'etat similar to those which arose out of the great French Revolution.

The "scientific" proposal of transferring all private property to the State, and of using that property for the common good, merely circumscribes the word and act of confiscation and of general division. Therefore we may say that Socialism has no scientific basis, unless we choose to call science a collection of fallacies expressed in involved terms so as to deceive the simple. Karl Marx was not a scientist but a professional demagogue and revolutionist, and his merit from the Socialists' point of view consists only in this, that he elaborated a formula of roundabout spoliation and general division, which he took from his Anarchist predecessors, and gave it a much needed, though rather transparent, cloak of scientific respectability.

Socialism is, in the first place, a business proposition. Therefore, if it were practical, it should appeal particularly to business men. However, it is noteworthy that the loudest champions of British Socialism are not business men, of whom but few are to be found in the Socialist ranks, but pushing writers in search of self-advertisement, whose special domain is the highly spiced and the sensational, writers who, knowing that many people mistake eccentricity for genius and paradoxical absurdity for brilliancy, have discarded common-sense, let their imaginations run riot, and outbid one another for notoriety.

The complaints of the Socialists about the unequal distribution of wealth are as old as is humanity itself. Since the earliest times demagogues have endeavoured to obtain a following by working upon the misery, envy, short-sightedness, and passions of the poor, by promising them equality and boundless wealth to be obtained by the simple process of seizing and dividing up the property of the well-to-do. The identical arguments and proposals which are now put forward in the name of Marx, and of modern "scientific" Socialism, as something new and original may be found throughout literature since the very dawn of history.[1276] However, history teaches us that, although countless Socialistic experiments have been made, all attempts at enriching the poor by spoliation and at creating an artificial equality among men have proved a failure. They have invariably ended in national ruin, and have left the masses poorer and more miserable than ever. The reason of this universal failure is obvious. Man cannot reconstruct Nature. He may violate, but cannot alter, the laws of Nature. Inequality rules throughout Nature, and it seems as little possible to equalise the fortunes, as it is to equalise the bodily and mental powers, of men. We all are the slaves of Nature. The inequality of natural gifts and the division of labour are the principal causes of the division of men into classes and of the unequal distribution of wealth. Nature is only governed by obeying her. We can certainly diminish poverty, but we cannot, for any length of time, maintain an artificial equality among naturally unequal men.

The first duty of the State, as of the individual, is self-preservation. British Socialism, being by those teachings which it addresses to its supporters a revolutionary doctrine in the worst sense of the term, and therefore a purely destructive factor, must unconditionally be resisted and combated. However, at the same time all that can be done must be done to alleviate the distress of the British masses, which is undoubtedly very great, and which makes them exceedingly receptive to the revolutionary doctrines of Socialism. As it would require too much space to deal with the social problem in Great Britain in its entirety, only a few of the most important points can be touched upon.

The greatest scourge of the British worker is no doubt irregular and ill-paid employment. The first step to improve his position is therefore to improve employment. Hence the most urgent reform is the revision of Great Britain's economic policy. Great Britain's present economic policy, Free Trade, was based upon the supposition that Great Britain, as Cobden prophesied, was, and always would remain, the workshop of the world; that other countries were compelled to buy British manufactures because British manufactures were as necessary to them as foreign foodstuffs are now to Great Britain. In 1846, when Free Trade was introduced, there was some reason for that supposition. Before the advent of electricity manufacturing was based exclusively upon coal. Great Britain's absolute predominance in manufacturing for the markets of the whole world immediately before the introduction of Free Trade may therefore best be seen from the following table:


Quantity produced. Percentage of Tons world's production Great Britain 31,500,000 64.2 Belgium 4,960,077 10.1 United States 4,400,000 8.9 France 4,141,617 8.4 Prussian States 3,500,000 7.0 Austrian States 659,340 1.4 ————— —— 49,161,034 100

The above table shows that Great Britain produced two-thirds of the world's coal, and the coal of most other countries was supposed to be unsuitable for manufacturing purposes. However, Great Britain produced not only two-thirds of the world's coal, but she produced likewise two-thirds of the world's iron, she consumed two-thirds of the world's cotton, and she possessed two-thirds of the world's shipping. Her railway mileage was greater than that of the whole Continent of Europe.[1278]

Times have changed. Great Britain is no longer the workshop of the world. British manufactures are no longer indispensable to foreign countries. In the present age of steel, the production of steel is the best index of a nation's manufacturing eminence, and how greatly conditions have changed, and are still changing, to England's disadvantage may be seen from the following figures:


United States. Germany. Great Britain. Tons Tons Tons 1890 4,277,000 2,127,000 3,679,000 1906 23,246,000 11,135,000 6,462,000

Great Britain, which formerly produced nine-tenths of the world's steel, produces now little more than one-tenth of the world's steel.

As Great Britain has to buy vast quantities of food and raw material from foreign countries, she must sell to foreign countries vast quantities of manufactured goods. However, market after market is being closed to her industries by ever-rising tariff walls, and the profits from her exports have been greatly diminished through foreign competition. Her home market has been reduced through the decay of her agriculture and the shrinkage of her agricultural population, and it is systematically spoiled by combinations of foreign manufacturers. Foreign syndicates determine not only the price of British wheat and meat, but of British iron and other manufactures too, and they endeavour to ruin the British industries completely. Great Britain, far from being the world's manufacturer, has become the world's dumping ground. From the richest country in the world she is rapidly becoming one of the poorer countries of the world. Her industries are suffering, and the result is bad times, low wages, irregular employment, unemployment, poverty, and distress. It is noteworthy that, on an average, unemployment among the skilled workers in free-trade Great Britain is always five times greater than it is in protectionist Germany;[1279] that British emigration per million is eleven times larger than German emigration; that German savings-banks deposits are four times larger than British savings-banks deposits, and that the former increase ten times faster than the latter.[1280]

What can be done to improve the position of the British workers? Emigration on the largest scale has proved a palliative, but no remedy. During the last twenty years almost five million people have left Great Britain. Yet the labour market is as over-stocked, and unemployment and poverty are as great, as ever. Besides, the United States and the British colonies may not always be able to absorb the vast and ever-growing numbers of British unemployed workers. Employment and wages depend upon the prosperity of industries, and the prosperity of industries depends on a sufficiency of markets. The British industries have not a sufficiency of markets. Therefore the British population suffers from irregular employment, unemployment, and consequent want and misery; and want and misery among the British masses are likely to continue increasing and ever increasing until Great Britain adapts her economic policy to the altered circumstances of the time, protects the industries by which her workers live, and secures a sufficient outlet for their productions by preferential arrangements with the self-governing Dominions. Under the shelter of Protection at home and with the aid of preferential arrangements throughout the empire, Great Britain will be able vastly to extend her manufacturing industries. Great Britain has unrivalled facilities for manufacturing. Whilst the manufacturing centres of the United States, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Italy, and other countries lie far inland near their coalfields, Great Britain has the unique advantage of being able to manufacture on the seashore, where coal, iron, great manufacturing towns, and excellent harbours lie in close proximity. The potentialities of the British industries under fair conditions and under the wise care of a fostering Government are boundless.

Under the shelter of Protection the rural industries of Great Britain may be revived, especially if the British peasantry be re-created. A hundred years ago the great agricultural authority, Arthur Young, wrote: "The magic of property turns sand into gold. Give a man a bleak rock, and he will turn it into a garden. Give him a nine years' lease of a garden, and he will convert it into a desert." Since the time when these words were written most European countries have created a freehold peasantry by buying out the landed proprietors and settling the rural labourers on the land, and Great Britain will be wise in following their example.

The tripartite question of Fiscal Protection for the home market, of an Imperial Customs Union, and of Imperial Federation is not a party question. It is a question of life or death for Great Britain. It may soon become a question of prosperity or starvation for the masses. Great Britain stands at the parting of the ways. She must either protect and re-create her industries, federate with her colonies, and make the British Empire a reality, or sink into insignificance, and history knows no instance of a great nation becoming a small one without the most intense suffering to the masses of the people. Great Britain must either adopt that constructive and protective national policy which the greatest statesmen and Empire builders of modern times—Richelieu, Cromwell, Colbert, Lord Chatham, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Stein, and Bismarck—have pursued, or she will share the fate of the great commercial world empires of the past, from Phoenicia to the Netherlands. She must either follow the policy of Mr. Chamberlain, build up the Empire and make it strong and prosperous, or that of revolutionary demagogues, who will wreck the Empire and drag Great Britain through plunder and ruin to destruction and anarchy.

The experience of other industrial nations allows us to conclude that a wisely framed protective tariff will save the British industries and improve employment and wages. But better wages alone will not improve the position of the workers. A large part of the British working class must alter their personal habits, and especially their drinking habits. At present every rise in wages leads immediately to a great increase in the Drink Bill, and therefore benefits rather the brewer than the worker. "The strongest answer to the theory that poverty causes drink is the statistical fact that as wages rise general drunkenness follows, insanity increases, and criminal disorders due to drink keep pace with all three. Wherever one seeks for information dispassionately, one sees that drink does cause poverty to a greater extent, overwhelmingly so, than that poverty causes drink. Poverty is due to intemperance in varying degrees from twenty-five to fifty-one per cent, of cases and areas investigated."[1281] "The Committee on Physical Deterioration in 1904 declared that if the drink question were removed three-fourths of the difficulty with regard to poverty and deterioration would disappear with it."[1282] The drinking section of the working class spends 18l. 15s. 4d. per family on drink,[1283] a sum much larger than that spent on rent. "There are two great causes of physical deterioration—these are dirt and drink. The former is responsible for nearly every form of disease. The latter is the direct cause of the vast number of defects."[1284] "The most urgently needed public health reform of the present day is not so much one of environment as one of personal life."[1285]

Many British workmen are incredibly wasteful. When one visits public-houses and working-men's clubs, when one goes to racecourses, football or other matches, and music-halls, the British workers seem to be the richest in the world. When one looks at their homes, their clothes, and especially their savings, they seem to be the poorest in the world. British working men drink, waste, and gamble to a much greater extent than foreign working men. Therefore not only the higher paid American workers, but also the lower paid French, German, and Swiss workers, are better housed, better clothed, and better fed—and are therefore better off and healthier—than British workers.[1286] Besides, as their savings are much larger they are better able to stand a short spell of ill-luck or of bad times. Whether a working man is prosperous or poor, happy or unhappy, depends—under fair conditions of employment, which Protection should create—perhaps more on his personal habits and on those of his wife than on the actual amount he receives in wages. Social reform, to be effective, must be assisted in the home. The worker must aid the social reformer. Outside assistance alone will little benefit wasteful and improvident men who refuse to help themselves.


[1274] Keir Hardie, From Serfdom to Socialism, pp. 33, 34.

[1275] Leatham, Socialism and Character, p. 96.

[1276] See Mencius' Works in Legge's Chinese Classics; Euripides, The Suppliants; Aristotle, Politics, vii. 5; Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae and Plutus; Plutarch, Tiberius Gracchus, 9; Livius, ii. 32; Sallust, Catiline's Conspiracy, 20, 23, 37-39; Virgil, Georgics, i. 125; Tibullus, i. 3, 35 Propertius, ii. 13, iii. 5, 11; Seneca, Epistles, 90, &c.

[1277] Taylor, Statistics of Coal, p. xxi.

[1278] See Encyclopaedia Britannica, 8th edition, 1853-1860, articles: Cotton, Iron, Railways; Meyer, Konversations Lexikon, 1839-1855, article: Grossbritannien; Porter, Progress of the Nation, 1847; MacCulloch, British Empire, 1846; MacCulloch, Dictionary of Commerce, 1847; Macgregor, Commercial Statistics, 1844-1850, &c.

[1279] See Board of Trade Labour Gazette and Reichs Arbeitsblatt.

[1280] Ellis Barker, Modern Germany, 546 ff.

[1281] Burns, Labour and Drink, pp. 15, 18.

[1282] Newman, The Health of the State, p. 189.

[1283] Whittaker, Drink Problem, p. 10.

[1284] McMillan, The Child and the State, p. 4.

[1285] Newman, Health of the State, p. 194.

[1286] See Reports of the Mosely Industrial Commission to the United States; The Brassworkers of Berlin and of Birmingham; The Gainsborough Commission, Life and Labour in Germany; Horsfall, The Improvement of the Dwellings—The Example of Germany; Marr, Housing Conditions in Manchester; City of Birmingham, Report of the Housing Committee; Steele, The Working Classes in France; Rowntree and Sherwell, The Temperance Problem; Rowntree, Poverty; the publication of Charles Booth, &c.




Programme and Rules as revised previous to the Annual Conference held at the Labour Institute, Bradford, Easter 1906

Object.—The Social-Democratic Federation is a part of the International Social-Democracy. It believes:—

1. That the emancipation of the working class can only be achieved through the socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and their subsequent control by the organised community in the interests of the whole people.

2. That, as the proletariat is the last class to achieve freedom, its emancipation will mean the emancipation of the whole of mankind, without distinction of race, nationality, creed, or sex.

3. That this emancipation can only be the work of the working class itself,[1287] organised nationally and internationally into a distinct political party, consciously striving after the realisation of its ideals: and, finally,

4. That, in order to ensure greater material and moral facilities for the working class to organise itself and to carry on the class war, the following reforms must immediately be carried through:—


Political.—Abolition of the Monarchy.

Democratisation of the Governmental machinery, viz. Abolition of the House of Lords, Payment of Members of Legislative and Administrative bodies. Payment of Official Expenses of Elections out of the Public Funds, Adult Suffrage, Proportional Representation, Triennial Parliaments, Second Ballot, Initiative, and Referendum. Foreigners to be granted rights of citizenship after two years' residence in the country, without any fees. Canvassing to be made illegal. All elections to take place on one day, such day to be made a legal holiday and all premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors to be closed.

Legislation by the people in such wise that no legislative proposal shall become law until ratified by the majority of the people.

Legislative and Administrative independence for all parts of the Empire.

Financial and Fiscal.—Repudiation of the National Debt.

Abolition of all indirect taxation and the institution of a cumulative tax on all incomes and inheritances exceeding 300l.

Administrative.—Extension of the principle of Local Self-Government.

Systematisation and co-ordination of the local administrative bodies.

Election of all administrators and administrative bodies by Equal Direct Adult Suffrage.

Educational.—Elementary education to be free, secular, industrial, and compulsory for all classes. The age of obligatory school attendance to be raised to 16.

Unification and systematisation of intermediate and higher education, both general and technical, and all such education to be free.

State Maintenance for all attending State schools.

Abolition of school rates; the cost of education in all State schools to be borne by the National Exchequer.

Public Monopolies and Services.—Nationalisation of the land and the organisation of labour in agriculture and industry under public ownership and control on co-operative principles.

Nationalisation of the Trusts.

Nationalisation of Railways, Docks, and Canals, and all great means of transit.

Public ownership and control of Gas, Electric Light, and Water supplies, as well as of Tramway, Omnibus, and other locomotive services.

Public ownership and control of the food and coal supply.

The establishment of State and municipal banks and pawnshops and public restaurants.

Public ownership and control of the lifeboat service.

Public ownership and control of hospitals, dispensaries, cemeteries, and crematoria.

Public ownership and control of the drink traffic.

Labour.—A legislative eight-hour working day, or 48 hours per week, to be the maximum for all trades and industries. Imprisonment to be inflicted on employers for any infringement of the law.

Absolute freedom of combination for all workers, with legal guarantee against any action, private or public, which tends to curtail or infringe it.

No child to be employed in any trade or occupation until 16 years of age, and imprisonment to be inflicted on employers, parents, and guardians who infringe this law.

Public provision of useful work at not less than trade union rates of wages for the unemployed.

Free State Insurance against sickness and accident, and free and adequate State pensions or provision for aged and disabled workers. Public assistance not to entail any forfeiture of political rights.

The legislative enactment of a minimum wage of 30s. for all workers. Equal pay for both sexes for the performance of equal work.

Social.—Abolition of the present workhouse system, and reformed administration of the Poor Law on a basis of national co-operation.

Compulsory construction by public bodies of healthy dwellings for the people; such dwellings to be let at rents to cover the cost of construction and maintenance alone, and not to cover the cost of the land.

The administration of justice and legal advice to be free to all; justice to be administered by judges chosen by the people; appeal in criminal cases; compensation for those innocently accused, condemned, and imprisoned; abolition of imprisonment for contempt of court in relation to non-payment of debt in the case of workers earning less than 2l. per week; abolition of capital punishment.

Miscellaneous.—The disestablishment and disendowment of all State Churches.

The abolition of standing armies, and the establishment of national citizen forces. The people to decide on peace and war.

The establishment of international courts of arbitration.

The abolition of courts-martial; all offences against discipline to be transferred to the jurisdiction of civil courts.


Constitution and Rules. 1907-8

Object.—An Industrial Commonwealth founded upon the Socialisation of Land and Capital.

Methods.—The education of the community in the principles of Socialism.

The Industrial and Political Organisation of the Workers.

The Independent Representation of Socialist Principles on all elective bodies.

Programme.—The true object of industry being the production of the requirements of life, the responsibility should rest with the community collectively, therefore:

The land, being the storehouse of all the necessaries of life, should be declared and treated as public property.

The capital necessary for industrial operations should be owned and used collectively.

Work, and wealth resulting therefrom, should be equitably distributed over the population.

As a means to this end, we demand the enactment of the following measures:

1. A maximum of 48 hours working week, with the retention of all existing holidays, and Labour Day, May 1, secured by law.

2. The provision of work to all capable adult applicants at recognised trade union rates, with a statutory minimum of sixpence per hour.

In order to remuneratively employ the applicants, Parish, District, Borough, and County Councils to be invested with powers to:

(a) Organise and undertake such industries as they may consider desirable.

(b) Compulsorily acquire land; purchase, erect, or manufacture buildings, stock, or other articles for carrying on such industries.

(c) Levy rates on the rental values of the district, and borrow money on the security of such rates for any of the above purposes.

3. State pensions for every person over 50 years of age, and adequate provision for all widows, orphans, sick, and disabled workers.

4. Free secular, moral, primary, secondary, and university education, with free maintenance while at school or university.

5. The raising of the age of child labour, with a view to its ultimate extinction.

6. Municipalisation and public control of the drink traffic.

7. Municipalisation and public control of all Hospitals and Infirmaries.

8. Abolition of indirect taxation and the gradual transference of all public burdens on to unearned incomes with a view to their ultimate extinction.

The Independent Labour Party is in favour of adult suffrage, with full political rights and privileges for women, and the immediate extension of the franchise to women on the same terms as granted to men; also triennial Parliaments and second ballot.


has no official programme. A semi-official programme, contained in a statement of its Secretary, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, M.P., will be found on page 425 of this book.


Basis.—The Fabian Society consists of Socialists.

It therefore aims at the reorganisation of Society by the emancipation of Land and Industrial Capital from individual and class ownership, and the vesting of them in the community for the general benefit. In this way only can the natural and acquired advantages of the country be equitably shared by the whole people.

The Society accordingly works for the extinction of private property in Land and of the consequent individual appropriation, in the form of Rent, of the price paid for permission to use the earth, as well as for the advantages of superior soils and sites.

The Society, further, works for the transfer to the community of the administration of such industrial Capital as can conveniently be managed socially. For, owing to the monopoly of the means of production in the past, industrial inventions and the transformation of surplus income into Capital have mainly enriched the proprietary class, the worker being now dependent on that class for leave to earn a living.

If these measures be carried out, without compensation (though not without such relief to expropriated individuals as may seem fit to the community), Rent and Interest will be added to the reward of labour, the idle class now living on the labour of others will necessarily disappear, and practical equality of opportunity will be maintained by the spontaneous action of economic forces with much less interference with personal liberty than the present system entails.

For the attainment of these ends the Fabian Society looks to the spread of Socialist opinions, and the social and political changes consequent thereon, including the establishment of equal citizenship for men and women. It seeks to achieve these ends by the general dissemination of knowledge as to the relation between the individual and Society in its economic, ethical, and political aspects.


Object.—The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.


The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds that society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (i.e. land, factories, railways, &c.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce, and those who produce but do not possess.

That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into the common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind, without distinction of race or sex.

That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation, and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working-class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.


The Socialist Labour Party is a political organisation seeking to establish political and social freedom for all, and seeing in the conquest by the Socialist Working Class of all the governmental and administrative powers of the nation the means to the attainment of that end.

It affirms its belief that political and social freedom are not two separate and unrelated ideas, but are two sides of the one great principle, each being incomplete without the other.

The course of society politically has been from warring but democratic tribes within each nation to a united government under an absolutely undemocratic monarchy. Within this monarchy again developed revolts against its power, revolts at first seeking to limit its prerogatives only, then demanding the inclusion of certain classes in the governing power, then demanding the right of the subject to criticise and control the power of the monarch, and finally, in the most advanced countries this movement culminated in the total abolition of the monarchical institution, and the transformation of the subject into the citizen.

In industry a corresponding development has taken place. The independent producer, owning his own tools and knowing no master, has given way before the more effective productive powers of huge capital, concentrated in the hands of the great capitalist. The latter, recognising no rights in his workers, ruled as an absolute monarch in his factory. But within the realm of capital developed a revolt against the power of the capitalist. This revolt, taking the form of trade unionism, has pursued in the industrial field the same line of development as the movement for political freedom has pursued in the sphere of national government. It first contented itself with protests against excessive exactions, against all undue stretchings of the power of the capitalist; then its efforts broadened out to demands for restrictions upon the absolute character of such power, i.e., by claiming for trade unions the right to make rules for the workers in the workshop; then it sought to still further curb the capitalist's power by shortening the working day, and so limiting the period during which the toiler may be exploited. Finally, it seeks by Boards of Arbitration to establish an equivalent in the industrial world for that compromise in the political world by which, in constitutional countries, the monarch retains his position by granting a parliament to divide with him the duties of governing, and so hides while securing his power. And as in the political history of the race the logical development of progress was found in the abolition of the institution of monarchy, and not in its mere restriction, so in industrial history the culminating point to which all efforts must at last converge lies in the abolition of the capitalist class, and not in the mere restriction of its powers.

The Socialist Labour Party, recognising these two phases of human development, unites them in its programme, and seeks to give them a concrete embodiment by its demand for a Socialist Republic.

It recognises in all past history a preparation for this achievement, and in the industrial tendencies of to-day it hails the workings out of those laws of human progress which bring that object within our reach.

The concentration of capital in the form of trusts at the same time as it simplifies the task we propose that society shall undertake, viz. the dispossession of the capitalist class, and the administration of all land and instruments of industry as social property, of which all shah be co-heirs and owners.

As to-day the organised power of the State theoretically guarantees to every individual his political rights, so in the Socialist Republic the power and productive forces of organised society will stand between every individual and want, guaranteeing that right to life without which all other rights are but mockery.

Short of the complete dispossession of the capitalist class which this implies there is no hope for the workers.



The Union consists of members of the Church of England who have the following objects at heart:—

1. To claim for the Christian law the ultimate authority to rule social practice.

2. To study in common how to apply the moral truths and principles of Christianity to the social and economic difficulties of the present time.

3. To present Christ in practical life as the living Master and King, the enemy of wrong and selfishness, the power of righteousness and love.


Principles.—The Church has a mission to the whole of human life, Social and Individual, Material and Spiritual.

2. The Church can best fulfil its social mission by acting together in its corporate capacity.

3. To this end the members of the League accept the principles of Socialism.

Object.—To secure the corporate action of the Church on these principles.

Method.—1. To cultivate by the regular use of prayer and sacraments the life of brotherhood.

2. Members undertake to help each other in fulfilling the object of the League by speaking and lecturing and in other ways.

3. Members shall co-operate as far as possible to secure the consideration of social questions at their various Ruridecanal and Diocesan Conferences and the election of Socialists on these and other representative bodies.

4. Members shall work for the disestablishment of the patron and the substitution of the Church in each parish in conjunction with the Church in the diocese in the patron's place.

5. To secure the representation of the wage-earning classes upon all the representative bodies of the Church.


Objects.—1. To get rid, by every possible means, of the existing prejudices, especially on the part of "Secularists," against the Church, her sacraments and her doctrines: and to endeavour to "justify God to the people."

2. To promote frequent and reverent worship in the Holy Communion, and a better observance of the teaching of the Church of England as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.

3. To promote the study of social and political questions in the light of the Incarnation.


[1287] This paragraph is not to be understood as debarring individual members of the possessing classes from participating in the work of the movement.



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