Socialism - A Summary and Interpretation of Socialist Principles
by John Spargo
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Such, briefly stated, is the theory. We may illustrate it by the following example: Let us say the average cost of a day's subsistence is the product of five hours' social labor, which is represented by a wage of $1 per day. In a factory there are 1000 workers. Their labor-power they have sold at its exchange value, $1 per day per man, a total of $1000. They use up $1000 worth of labor-power, then. They also use up $1000 worth of raw material and wear out the plant to the extent of $100 in the course of their work. Now, instead of working five hours each, that being the amount of time necessary to reproduce the value of their wages, as above described, they all work ten hours. Thus, in place of the $1000 they received as wages for the labor-power they sold, they create labor products, valued at just twice that sum, $2000. According to our suppositions, therefore, the gross value of the day's product will be $3100, the whole of it belonging to the capitalist, for the simple and sufficient reason that he bought and paid for, at their full value as commodities, all the elements entering into its production, the machinery, materials, and labor-power. The capitalist pays,—

For labor-power $1000 For materials 1000 For repairs and replacement of machinery 100 ——- He receives, for the gross product 3100 $2100 The surplus-value is, therefore 1000

and this sum is the fund from which rent, interests, and profits must be paid.

It will be observed that there is no moral condemnation of the capitalist involved in this illustration. He simply buys the commodity, labor-power, at its full market price, as in the case of all other commodities. No ethical argument enters into it at all. It is very evident, however, that the interest of the capitalist will be to get as much surplus-value as possible, by buying labor-power at the lowest price possible, prolonging the working day, and intensifying the productivity of the labor-power he buys, while the interest of the workman will be equally against these things. Here we have the cause of class antagonism—not in the speeches of agitators, but in the facts of industrial life.

This is the Marxian theory of surplus-value in a nutshell. Rent, interest, and profit, the three great divisions of capitalist income into which this surplus-value is divided, are thus traced to the exploitation of labor, resting fundamentally upon the ownership by the exploiting class of the means of production. Other economists, both before and since Marx, have tried to explain the source of capitalist income in very different ways. An early theory was that profit originates in exchange, through "buying cheap and selling dear." That this is so in the case of individual traders is obvious. If A sells to B commodities above their value, or buys commodities from him below their value, it is plain that he gains by it. But it is equally plain that B loses. If one group of capitalists gains what another group loses, the gains and losses balance each other; there is no gain to the capitalist class as a whole. Yet that is precisely what occurs—the capitalist class as a whole does gain, and gain enormously, despite the losses of individual members of that class. It is that gain to the great body of capitalists, that general increase in their wealth, which must be accounted for, and which exchange cannot explain. Only when we think of the capitalist class buying labor-power from outside its own ranks, generally at its natural value, and using it, is the problem solved. The commodity which the capitalist buys creates a value greater than its own in being used up.

The theory that profit is the wages of risk is answerable in substantially the same way. It does not in any way explain the increase in the aggregate wealth of the capitalist class to say that the individual capitalist must have a chance to receive interest upon his money in order to induce him to turn it into capital, to hazard losing it wholly or in part. While the theory of risk helps to explain some features of capitalism, the changes in the flow of capital into certain forms of investment, and, to some small extent, the commercial crises incidental thereto, it does not explain the vital problem, the source of capitalist income. The chances of gain, as a premium for the risks involved, explain satisfactorily enough the action of the gambler when he enters into a game of roulette or faro. It cannot be said, however, that the aggregate wealth of the gamblers is increased by playing roulette or faro. Then, too, the risks of the laborers are vastly more vital than those of the capitalist. Yet the premium for their risks of health and life itself does not appear, unless, indeed, it be in their wages, in which case the most superficial glance at our industrial statistics will show that wages are by no means highest in those occupations where the risks are greatest and most numerous. Further, the wages of the risks for capitalists and laborers alike are drawn from the same source, the product of the laborers' toil.

To consider, even briefly, all the varied theories of surplus-value other than these would be a prolonged, dull, and profitless task. The theory of abstinence, that profit is the just reward of the capitalist for saving part of his wealth and using it as a means of production, is answerable by a priori arguments and by a vast volume of facts. Abstinence obviously produces nothing; it can only save the wealth already produced by labor, and no automatic increase of that saved-up wealth is possible. If it is to increase without the labor of its owner, it can only be through the exploitation of the labor of others, so that the abstinence theory in no manner controverts the Marxian position. On the other hand, we see that those whose wealth increases most rapidly are not given to frugality or abstinence by any means. It may, certainly, be possible for an individual to save enough by practicing frugality and abstinence to enable him to invest in some profitable enterprise, but the source of his profit is not his abstinence. That must be sought elsewhere. Abstinence may provide him with the means for taking the profit, but the profit itself must come from the value created by human labor-power over and above its cost of production.

Still less satisfactory is the idea that surplus-value is nothing more than the "wages of superintendence," or the "rent of ability." This theory has been advocated with much specious argument. Essentially it involves the contention that there is no distinction between wages and profits, or between capitalists and laborers; that the capitalist is a worker, and his profits simply wages for his useful and highly important work of directing industry. It is a bold theory with a very small basis of fact. Whoever honestly considers it, must, one would think, see that it is both absurd and untrue. Not only is the larger part of industry to-day managed by salaried employees who have no part, or only a very insignificant part, in the ownership of the concerns they manage, but the profits are distributed among shareholders who, as shareholders, have never contributed service of any kind to the industries in which they are shareholders. Whatever services are performed, even by the figure-head "dummy" directors of companies, are paid for before profits are considered at all. This is the invincible answer to such criticisms as that of Mr. Mallock, that Marx and his followers have not recognized "the functions of the directive ability of the few." When all the salaries of the directing "few" have been paid, as well as the wages of the many, and the cost of all materials and maintenance of machinery, there remains a surplus to be distributed among those who belong neither to the "laboring many" nor the "directing few." That profit Mr. Mallock cannot explain away. Marx himself, in "Capital," called attention to the "directing ability of the few," quite as clearly as Mr. Mallock has done. He first shows how the "collective power of masses" is really a new creation; that it involves a special kind of leadership, or directing authority, just as an orchestra does; then he proceeds to point out the development of a special class of supervisors and directors of industry, "a special kind of wage laborer.... The work of supervision becomes their established and exclusive function."[178] Socialists, contrary to Mr. Mallock, have not overlooked the function exercised by the directing few, but they have pointed out that when these have been paid, their salaries being sometimes almost fabulous, there is still a surplus-value to be distributed among those who have not shared in the production, either as mental or manual workers. As Mr. Algernon Lee says:—

"The profits produced in many American mills, factories, mines, and railway systems go in part to Englishmen or Belgians or Germans who never set foot in America, and who obviously can have no share in even the mental labor of direction. A certificate of stock may belong to a child, to a maniac, to an imbecile, to a prisoner behind the bars, and it draws profit for its owner just the same. Stocks and bonds may lie for months or years in a safe-deposit vault, while an estate is being disputed, before their ownership is determined; but whoever is declared to be the owner gets the dividends and interest "earned" during all that time."[179]

It is an easy task to set up imaginary figures labeled "Marxism," and then to demolish them by learned argument—but the occupation is as fruitless as it is easy. It remains the one central fact of capitalism, however, that a surplus-value is created by the working class and taken by the exploiting class, from which develops the class struggle of our time.


[163] The People's Marx, by Gabriel Deville, page 288.

[164] Capital, Vol. I, Kerr edition, page 41.

[165] Professor J. S. Nicholson, a rather pretentious critic of Marx, has called sunshine a commodity because of its utility, Elements of Political Economy, page 24. Upon the same ground, the song of the skylark and the sound of ocean waves might be called commodities. Such use of language serves for nothing but the obscuring of thought.

[166] William Petty, A Treatise on Taxes and Constitutions (1662), pages 31-32.

[167] The Wealth of Nations, Vol. I, Chapters V-VI.

[168] Benjamin Franklin, Remarks and Facts Relative to the American Paper Money (1764), page 267.

Marx thus speaks of Franklin as an economist: "The first sensible analysis of exchange-value as labor-time, made so clear as to seem almost commonplace, is to be found in the work of a man of the New World, where the bourgeois relations of production, imported together with their representatives, sprouted rapidly in a soil which made up its lack of historical traditions with a surplus of humus. That man was Benjamin Franklin, who formulated the fundamental law of modern political economy in his first work, which he wrote when a mere youth (A Modest Inquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency), and published in 1721." A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, by Karl Marx, English translation by N. I. Stone, 1894, page 62.

[169] David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, Chapter I, Sec. III.

[170] Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter X.

[171] Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, Chapter I, Sec. 1, Sec. 4.

[172] See "The Final Futility of Final Utility," in H. M. Hyndman's Economics of Socialism, for a remarkable criticism of the "final utility" theory, showing its identity with the doctrine of supply and demand as the basis of value.

I refer to the theory of final or marginal utility as the "so-called Austrian theory" for the purpose, mainly, or calling attention to the fact that, as Professor Seligman has ably and clearly demonstrated, it was conceived and excellently stated by W. F. Lloyd, Professor of Political Economy at Oxford, in 1833. (See the paper, On Some Neglected British Economists, in the Economic Journal, V, xiii, pages 357-363.) This was two decades before Gossen and a generation earlier than Menger and Jevons. In view of this fact, the criticism of Marx for his lack of originality by members of the "Austrian" school is rather amusing.

[173] Principles of Economics, by Edwin R. A. Seligman (1905), page 198.

[174] Cf., for instance, my little volume, in the Standard Socialist Series (Kerr), entitled Capitalist and Laborer; Part II, Modern Socialism, page 112.

[175] Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, Chapter V, Sec. 35.

[176] Value, Price, and Profit, by Karl Marx, Chapter XIV.

[177] It is worthy of note that the taxation of land values, commonly associated with the name of Henry George, was advocated as a palliative in the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels.

[178] Capital, by Karl Marx, Vol. I, Chapter XIII, of Part IV.

[179] The Worker (New York), February 5, 1905.




Many persons who have thought of Socialism as a scheme, the plan of a new social edifice, have been disappointed not to find in all the voluminous writings of Marx any detailed description of such a plan, any forecast of the future. But when they have grasped the fundamental principles of the Marxian system of thought, they realize that it would be absurd to attempt to give detailed specifications of the Socialist state. As the Socialist movement has outgrown the influence of the early Utopians, its adherents have abandoned the habit of speculating upon the practical application of Socialist principles in future society. The formulation of schemes, more or less detailed, has given place to firm insistence that Socialism must be regarded as a principle, namely, the efficient organization of wealth production and distribution to the end that the exploitation of the wealth producers by a privileged class may be rendered impossible. Whatever contributes to that end is a contribution to the fulfillment of the Socialist ideal.

Still, it is natural and inevitable that earnest Socialists and students of Socialism should seek something more tangible by way of a description of the future state than the bald statement that it will be free from the struggle between exploiting and exploited classes. The question is, can we go further in our attempt to scan the future without entering the realms of Utopian speculation? If Socialism is, objectively considered, a state of society which is being developed in the womb of the present, are there any signs by which its peculiar form and spirit, as distinguished from the form and spirit of the present, may be visualized? Within certain limits, an affirmative answer seems possible to each of these questions. There are certain fundamental principles which may be said to be essential to the existence of Socialist society. Without them, the Socialist state cannot exist. Regardless of the fact that Karl Marx never attempted to describe his ideal, to give such a description of his concept of the next epoch in evolution as would enable us to compare it with the present and to measure the difference, it is probable that every Socialist makes, privately at least, his own forecast of the manner in which the new society must shape itself.

There is nothing Utopian or fantastic in trying to ascertain the tendencies of economic development; nothing unscientific in trying to read out of the pages of social evolution such lessons as may be contained therein. So long as we bear in mind that our forecasts must not take the form of plans for the arbitrary shaping of the future, specifications of the Cooeperative Commonwealth, but that they must, on the contrary, be based upon the facts of life—not abstract principles born in the heart's desire—and attempt to discern the tendencies of social and economic evolution, we are upon safe ground. Such forecasts may indeed be helpful, not only in so far as they provide us with a more or less concrete picture of the ideal to be aimed at, but also, and even more important, in that they at once enable us to gauge from time to time the progress made by society toward the realization of the ideal, and to formulate our policies most effectively. Especially as there are certain fundamental principles essential to the existence of a Socialist state, we may take these and correlate them, and these principles, together with our estimate of economic tendencies, drawn from the facts of the present, may provide us with a suggestive and approximate outline of the Socialist society of the future. So far we may proceed with full scientific sanction; beyond are the realms of fancy and dream, the Elysian Fields of Utopia.[180] We must not set about our task with the mental attitude so well displayed by the yearning of Omar—

"Ah Love! could you and I with Him conspire To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would not we shatter it to bits—and then Remold it nearer to the Heart's Desire!"

From that spirit only vain dreams and fantastic vagaries can ever come. What we must bear in mind is that the social fabric of to-morrow, like that of yesterday, whose ruins we contemplate to-day, will not spring up, complete, in response to our will, but will grow out of social experience and needs.


One of the greatest and most lamentable errors in connection with the propaganda of modern Socialism has been the assumption of its friends, in many instances, and its foes, in most instances, that Socialism and Individualism are entirely antithetical concepts. Infinite confusion has been caused by setting the two against each other. Society consists of an aggregation of individuals, but it is something more than that in just the same sense as a house is something more than an aggregation of bricks. It is an organism, though as yet an imperfectly developed one. While the units of which it is composed have distinct and independent lives within certain limits, they are, outside of those limits, interdependent and inter-related. Man is governed by two great forces. On the one hand, he is essentially an egoist, ever striving to attain individual freedom; on the other hand, he is a social animal, ever seeking association and avoiding isolation. This duality expresses itself in the life of society. There is a struggle between its members motived by the desire for individual expression and gain; and, alongside of it, a sense of solidarity, a movement to mutual, reciprocal relations, motived by the gregarian instinct. All social life is necessarily an oscillation between these two motives. The social problem in its last analysis is nothing more than the problem of combining and harmonizing social and individual interests and actions springing therefrom.

In dealing with this social problem, the problem of how to secure harmony of social and individual interests and actions, it is necessary first of all to recognize that both motives are equally important and necessary agents of human progress. The idea largely prevails that Socialists ignore the individual motive and consider only the social motive, just as the ultra-individualists have erred in an opposite discrimination. The Socialist ideal has been conceived to be a great bureaucracy. Mr. Anstey gave humorous and vivid expression to this idea in Punch some years ago, when he represented the citizens of the Socialist state as being all clothed alike, known only by numbers, strangers to all the joys of family life, plodding through their allotted tasks under a race of hated bureaucrats, and having the solace of chewing gum in their leisure time as a specially paternal provision. Some such mental picture must have inspired Herbert Spencer's "Coming Slavery," and it must be confessed that the early forms of Socialism which consisted mainly of detailed plans of cooeperative commonwealths afforded some excuse for the idea. Most intelligent Socialists, if called upon to choose between them, would probably prefer to live in Thibet under a personal despotism, rather than under the hierarchies of most of the imaginary commonwealths which Utopian Socialists have depicted.

Even in the later propaganda of the modern political Socialist movement, there has been more than enough justification for those who regard Socialism as impossible except under a great bureaucracy. In numberless Socialist programmes and addresses Socialism has been defined as meaning "The social ownership and control of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange." Critics of Socialism are not to be seriously blamed if they take such "definitions" at their face value and interpret them quite literally. It is not difficult to see that in order to place "all means of production, distribution, and exchange" under social ownership and control, the creation of such a bureaucracy as the world has never seen would be necessary. A needle is a means of production quite as much as an electric power machine in a factory is, the difference being in their degrees of efficiency. A jackknife is, likewise, in certain circumstances, a means of production, just as surely as a powerful planing machine is, the difference being in degrees of efficiency. So a market basket is a means of distribution quite as surely as an ocean steamship is; a wheelbarrow quite as much as a locomotive. They differ in degrees of efficiency, that is all. The idea that the housewife in the future, when she wants to sew a button upon a garment, will be obliged to go to some department and "take out" a needle, having it properly checked in the communal accounts, and being responsible for its return, is, of course, worthy only of opera bouffe. So is the notion of the state owning wheelbarrows and market baskets and making their private ownership illegal. "The socialization of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange," literally interpreted, is folly. But none of those using the phrase must be regarded as seriously contemplating its literal interpretation. For many years the phrase was included in the statement of its "Object" by the English Social Democratic Federation, and even now it appears in a slightly modified form, the word "all" being omitted,[181] perhaps because of its tautological character. For several years the writer was a member of the Federation, actively engaged in the propaganda, and how we spent much of our time explaining to popular audiences in halls and upon street corners that the socialization of jackknives, needles, sewing machines, market baskets, beer mugs, frying pans, and toothpicks was not our aim, is a merry memory.

When this is understood, the nightmare of the bureaucracy of Socialism vanishes. It is no longer necessary to fret ourselves asking how a government is to own and manage everything without making slaves of its citizens. The question propounded by that venerable and distinguished Canadian scholar, Professor Goldwin Smith,[182] whether a government can be devised which shall hold all the instruments of production, distribute to the citizens their tasks, pick out inventors, philosophers, artists, and laborers, and set them to work, without destroying personal liberty, loses its force when it is remembered that Socialism involves no such necessity.

The Socialist ideal may be said to be a form of social organization in which every individual will enjoy the greatest possible amount of freedom for self-development and expression; and in which social authority will be reduced to the minimum necessary for the preservation and insurance of that right to all individuals. There is an incontestable right of the individual to full and free self-development and expression so long as no other individual's right to a like freedom is infringed upon. No individual right can be an absolute right in a society, but must be subject to such restrictions as may be necessary to safeguard the like right of every other individual, and of society as a whole. Absolute personal liberty is not possible; to grant it to any one individual would be equivalent to denying it to others. If, in a certain community, a need is commonly felt for a system of drainage to protect the citizens against the perils of a possible outbreak of typhoid or some other epidemic disease, and all the citizens agree upon a scheme except two or three, who, in the name of personal liberty, declare that their property must not be touched, what is to be done? If the citizens, out of solicitude for the personal liberty of the objecting individuals, abandon or modify their plans, is it not clear that the liberty of the many has been sacrificed to the liberty of the few, which is the essence of tyranny? Absolute individual liberty is incompatible with social liberty. The liberty of each must, in Mill's phrase, be bounded by the like liberty of all. Absolute personal liberty is a chimera, a delusion.

Even the Anarchist must come to a realization of the fact that liberty is not an absolute, but a relative and limited, right. Kropotkin, for example, realizes that, even under Anarchism, any individual who did not live up to his obligations, or who persisted in conducting himself in a manner obnoxious or injurious to the community, would have to be expelled.[183] This is very like Spencer's practical abandonment of the doctrine of laissez faire individualism. Says he: "Many facts have shown us that while the individual man has acquired liberty as a citizen and greater religious liberty, he has also acquired greater liberty in respect of his occupations; and here we see that he has simultaneously acquired greater liberty of combination for industrial purposes. Indeed, in conformity with the universal law of rhythm, there has been a change from excess of restriction to deficiency of restriction. As is implied by legislation now pending, the facilities for forming companies and raising compound capitals have been too great."[184] Here is a very definite confession of the insufficiency of natural law, the failure of the laissez faire theory, and a virtual appeal for restrictive and coercive legislation.

This is inevitable. The dual forces which serve as the motives of individual and collective action, spring, unquestionably, from the fact that individuals are at once alike and unlike, equal and unequal. Alike in our needs of certain fundamental necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, cooeperation for producing these necessities, for protection from foes, human and other, we are unlike in tastes, appetites, temperaments, character, will, and so on, till our diversity becomes as great and as general as our likeness. Now, the problem is to insure equal opportunities of full development to all these diversely constituted and endowed individuals, and, at the same time, to maintain the principle of equal obligations to society on the part of every individual. This is the problem of social justice: to insure to each the same social opportunities, to secure from each a recognition of the same obligations toward all. The basic principle of the Socialist state must be justice; no privileges or favors can be extended to individuals or groups of individuals.


Politically, the organization of the Socialist state must be democratic. Socialism without democracy is as impossible as a shadow without light. The word "Socialism" applied to schemes of paternalism, and to government ownership when the vital principle of democracy is lacking, is a misnomer. As with Peter Bell—

"A primrose by a river's brim, A yellow primrose was to him"

and nothing more than that, so there are many persons to whom Socialism signifies nothing more than government ownership. Yet it ought to be perfectly clear that Russia, with her state-owned railways, and liquor and other monopolies, is no nearer Socialism than the United States. The same applies to Germany with her state railways. Externally similar in one respect to Socialism, they radically differ. In so far as they prepare the necessary forms for Socialism, all examples of public ownership may be said to be "socialistic," or making for Socialism. What they lack is a spiritual quality rather than a mechanical one. They are not democratic. Socialism is political democracy allied to industrial democracy.

Justice requires that the legislative power of society rest upon universal adult suffrage, the political equality of all men and women, except lunatics and criminals. It is manifestly unjust to exact obedience to the laws from those who have had no share in making them and can have no share in altering them. Of course, there are exceptions to this principle. We except (1) minors, children not yet arrived at the age of responsibility agreed upon by the citizens; (2) lunatics and certain classes of criminals; (3) aliens, non-citizens temporarily resident in the state.

Democracy in the sense of popular self-government, the "government of the people, by the people, and for the people," of which political rhetoricians boast, is only approximately attainable in any society. While all can equally participate in the legislative power, all cannot participate directly in the administrative power, and it becomes necessary, therefore, to adopt the principle of delegated authority, representative government. But care must be taken to preserve a maximum of power in the hands of the people. In this respect the United States Constitution is defective. It is not, and was not intended by its framers to be, a democratic instrument,[185] and we are vainly trying to-day to make democratic government through an undemocratic medium. The political democracy of the Socialist state must be real, keeping the power of government in the hands of the people.

How is this to be done? Direct legislation by the people might be realized through the adoption of the principles of popular initiative and referendum. Or, if representative legislative bodies should be deemed best, these measures, together with proportional representation and the right of recall, might be adopted. There is no apparent reason why all legislation, except temporary legislation as in war time, famine, plague, and such abnormal conditions, could not be directly initiated and enacted, leaving only the just and proper enforcement of the law to delegated authority. In practically all the political programmes of Socialist parties throughout the world, these principles are included at the present time; not merely as means to secure a greater degree of political democracy within the existing social state, but also, and primarily, to prepare the required political framework of democracy for the industrial commonwealth of the future.

The great problem for such a society, politically speaking, consists in choosing wisely the trustees of delegated power and authority, and seeing that they justly and wisely use it for the common good, without abuse, either for the profit of themselves or their friends, and without prejudice to any portion of society. Will there be abuses? Will not political manipulators and bosses betray their trusts? To these questions, and all other questions of a like nature, the Socialist can only give one answer, namely, that there is no such a thing as an "automatic democracy," that eternal vigilance will be the price of liberty under Socialism as it has ever been. There can be no other safeguard against the usurpation of power than the popular will and conscience ever alert upon the watch-towers. With political machinery so responsive to the popular will when it is asserted and an alert and vigilant electorate, political democracy attains its maximum development. Socialism requires that development.


With these general principles prevised, we may consider, briefly, the respective rights of the individual and of society. The rights of the individual may be summarized as follows: There must be freedom of movement, including the right to withdraw from the domain of the government, to migrate at will to other territories. Freedom of movement is a fundamental condition of personal liberty, but it is easy to see that it cannot be made an absolute right. Quarantine laws, for social protection, for example, may seriously inconvenience the individual, but be imperatively necessary for all that. There must be immunity from arrest, except for infringing others' rights, with compensation of some kind for improper arrest; respect of the privacy of domicile and correspondence; full liberty of dress, subject to decency; freedom of utterance, whether by speech or publication, subject only to the protection of others from insult, injury, or interference with their equal liberties, the individual being held responsible to society for the proper use of that right. Freedom of the individual in all that pertains to art, science, philosophy, and religion, and their teaching, or propaganda, is essential. The state can have nothing to do with these matters, they belong to the personal life alone.[186] Art, science, philosophy, and religion cannot be protected by any authority of the state, nor is such authority needed.

Subject to the ultimate control of society, certainly, but normally free from collective authority and control, these may be regarded as imperative rights of the individual. Doubtless many Socialists, in common with many Individualists, would considerably extend the list. Some, for instance, would include the right to possess and bear arms for the defense of person and property. On the other hand, it might be objected with good show of reason by other Socialists that such a right must always be liable to abuses imperiling the peace of society, and that the same ends would be served more surely if individual armament were made impossible. Again, some Socialists, like some Individualists, would include in the category of private acts outside the sphere of law and social authority the union of the sexes. They would do away with legal intervention in marriage and make it and the parental relation exclusively a private concern. On the other hand, probably an overwhelming majority of Socialists would object. They would insist that the state must, in the interest of the children, and for its own self-preservation, assume certain responsibilities for, and exercise a certain control over, all marriages. They would have the state insist upon such conditions as mature age, freedom from dangerous diseases and physical defects. While believing that under Socialism marriage would no longer be subject to economic motives,—matrimonial markets for titles and fortunes no longer existing,—and that the maximum of personal freedom together with the minimum of social authority would be possible in the union of the sexes, they would still insist upon the necessity of that minimum of legal control.

The abolition of the legal marriage tie, and the substitution therefor of voluntary sex union, which so many people believe to be part of the Socialist programme, is not only not a part of that programme, but is probably condemned by more than ninety-five per cent of the Socialists of the world, and favored by no appreciable proportion of Socialists more than non-Socialists. There is no such thing as a Socialist view of marriage, any more than there is a Republican or Democratic view of marriage; or any more than there is a Socialist view of vaccination, vivisection, vegetarianism, or homeopathy. The same may be said of the drink evil and tobacco smoking. Some Socialists would prohibit both smoking and drinking; others would permit smoking, but prohibit the manufacture of intoxicating liquors; most Socialists recognize the evils, especially of drunkenness, but believe that it would be foolish at this time to state in what manner the evils must be dealt with by the Socialist state.

Our hasty summary by no means exhausts the category of personal liberties, nor does it rigidly define such liberties. To presume to do that would be a piece of charlatanry, social quackery of the worst type. It is not for the Socialist of to-day to determine what the citizens of a generation hence shall do. The citizens of the future, like the citizens of to-day, will be living human beings, not mere automatons; they will not accept places and forms imposed upon them, but make their own. The object of this phase of our discussion is simply to show that individual freedom would by no means be crushed out of existence by the Socialist state. The intolerable bureaucracy of collectivism is wholly an imaginary evil. There is nothing in the nature of Socialism as it is understood to-day by its adherents which would prevent a wide extension of personal liberties in the social regime.

In the same general manner, we may summarize the principal functions of the state[187] as follows: the state has the right and power to organize and control the economic system, comprehending in that term the production and distribution of all social wealth, wherever private enterprise is dangerous to the social well-being, or is inefficient; the defense of the community from invasion, from fire, flood, famine, or disease; the relations with other states, such as trade agreements, boundary treaties, and the like; the maintenance of order, including the juridical and police systems in all their branches; and public education in all its departments. It will be found that these five functions include all the services which the state may properly undertake, and that not one of them can safely be intrusted to private enterprise. On the other hand, it is not at all necessary to assume that the state must have an absolute monopoly of any one of these groups of functions in the social organism. It would not be necessary, for example, for the state to prohibit its citizens from entering into voluntary relations with the citizens of other countries for the promotion of international friendship, for trade reciprocity, and so on. Likewise, the juridical functions being in the hands of the state would not prevent voluntary arbitration; or the state guardianship of the public health prevent voluntary associations of citizens from taking measures to advance the health of their communities. On the contrary, all such efforts would be advantageous to the state. Our study becomes, therefore, a study of social physiology.

The principle already postulated, that the state must undertake the production and distribution of wealth wherever private enterprise is dangerous, or inefficient, clarifies somewhat the problem of the industrial organization of the Socialist regime, which is a vastly more difficult problem than that of its political organization. Socialism by no means involves the suppression of all private industrial enterprises. Only when these fail in efficiency or result in injustice and inequality of opportunities does socialization present itself. There are many petty, subordinate industries, especially the making of articles of luxury, which might be well allowed to remain in private hands, subject only to such general regulation as might be found necessary for the protection of health and the public order. For example, suppose that the state undertakes the production of shoes upon a large scale as a result of the popular conviction that private enterprise in shoemaking is either inefficient or injurious to society in that the manufacturers exploit the shoemakers on the one hand, and, through the establishment of monopoly-prices, the consumers upon the other hand. The state thus becomes the employer of shoeworkers and the vender of shoes to the citizens. But A, being a fastidious citizen, does not like the factory product of the state any more than he formerly did the factory product of private enterprise. Under the old conditions, he used to employ B, a shoemaker who does not like factory work, a craftsman who likes to make the whole shoe. Naturally, B was not willing to work for wages materially lower than those he could earn in the factory. A willingly paid enough for his hand-made shoes to insure B as much wages as he would get in the factory. What reason could the state possibly have for forbidding the continuance of such an arrangement between two of its citizens?

Or take the case of a farmer maintaining himself and family upon a modest acreage, by his own labor. He exploits no one, and the question of inefficiency does not present itself as a public question, for the reason that there is plenty of farming land available, and any inefficiency of the small farmer does not injure the community in any manner. What object could the state have in taking away that farm and compelling the farmer to work upon a communal, publicly owned and managed farm? Of course, the notion is perfectly absurd.[188] On the other hand, there are things, natural monopolies, which cannot be safely left to private enterprise. The same is true of large productive and distributive enterprises upon which great masses of the people depend. Land ownership[189] and all that depends thereon, such as mining, transportation, and the like, must be collective.

It will help us to get rid of the difficulty presented by petty industry and agriculture if we bear in mind that collective ownership is not, as is commonly supposed, the supreme, fundamental condition of Socialism. It is proposed only as a means to an end, not as the end itself. The wealth producers are exploited by a class whose source of income is the surplus-value extracted from the workers. Instinctively, the workers struggle against that exploitation, to reduce the amount of surplus-value taken by the capitalists to a minimum. To do away with that exploitation social ownership and control is proposed. If the end could be attained more speedily by other methods, those methods would be adopted. It follows, therefore, that to make collective property of things not used as a means of exploiting labor does not necessarily form part of the Socialist programme. True, some such things might be socialized in response to an urgent demand for efficiency, but, of necessity, the struggle will be principally concerned with the socializing of the means of production which are used as means of exploitation by a class deriving its income from the surplus-value produced by another class. It is easy enough to see that, according to this principle of differentiation, it would be necessary to socialize the railroad, but not at all necessary to socialize the wheelbarrow; while it would be necessary to socialize a clothing factory, it would not be necessary to take away a woman's domestic sewing machine. Independent, self-employment, as in the case of a craftsman working in his own shop with his own tools, or groups of workers working cooeperatively, is quite consistent with Socialism.

In the Socialist state, then, certain forms of private industry will be tolerated, and perhaps even definitely encouraged by the state, but the great fundamental economic activities will be collectively managed. The Socialist state will not be static and, consequently, what at first may be regarded as being properly the subject of private enterprise may develop to an extent or in directions which necessitate its transformation to the category of essentially social properties. Hence, it is not possible to give a list of things which would be socialized and another list of things which would remain private property, but perfectly possible to state the principle which must be the chief determinant of the extent of socialization. With this principle in mind it is fairly possible to sketch the outlines at least of the economic development of the collectivist commonwealth; the conditions essential to that stage of social evolution at which it will be possible and natural to speak of capitalism as a past and outgrown stage, and of the present as the era of Socialism.

Socialists, naturally, differ very materially upon this point. Probably, however, an overwhelming majority of the leaders of Socialist thought in Europe and this country would agree with the writer that it is fairly probable that the economic structure of the new society will include at least the following measures of socialization: (1) Ownership of all natural resources, such as land, mines, forests, waterways, oil wells, and so on; (2) operation of all the means of transportation and communication other than those of purely personal service; (3) operation of all industrial production involving large compound capitals and associated labor, except where carried on by voluntary, democratic cooeperation, with the necessary regulation by the state; (4) organization of all labor essential to the public service, such as the building of schools, hospitals, docks, roads, bridges, sewers, and the like; the construction of all the machinery and plant requisite to the social production and distribution, and of things necessary for the maintenance of those engaged in such public services as the national defense and all who are wards of the state; (5) a monopoly of the monetary and credit functions, including coinage, banking, mortgaging, and the extension of credit to private enterprise.

With these economic activities undertaken by the state, a pure democracy differing vitally from all the class-dominated states of history, private enterprise would by no means be excluded, but limited to an extent making the exploitation of labor and public needs and interests for private gain impossible. Socialism thus becomes the defender of individual liberty, not its enemy.


As owner of the earth and all the major instruments of production and exchange, society would occupy a position which would enable it to insure that the physical and mental benefits derived from its wealth, its natural resources, its collective experience, genius, and labor, were universalized as befits a democracy. It would be able to guarantee to all its citizens the right to labor, through preventing private or class monopolization of the land and instruments of production and social opportunities in general. It would be in a position to make every development from competition to monopoly the occasion for further socialization. Thus there would be no danger to the state in permitting, or even fostering, private industry within the limits described. As the organizer of the vast body of labor essential to the operation of the main productive and distributive functions of society, and to the other public services, the state would automatically, so to speak, set the standards of income and leisure which private industry would be compelled, by competitive force, to observe. The regulation of production, too, would be possible, and as a result the crises arising from glutted markets would disappear. Finally, in the control of all the functions of credit, the state would effectually prevent the exploitation of the mass of the people through financial agencies, one of the greatest evils of our present system.

The application of the principles of democracy to the organization and administration of these great economic services of production, exchange, and credit is a problem full of alluring invitations to speculation. "This that they call the Organization of Labor," said Carlyle, "is the Universal Vital Problem of the World." This description applies not to what we commonly mean by the "organization of labor," namely, the organization of the laborers in unions for class conflict, but to the organization of the brain and muscle of the world to secure the greatest efficiency. This is the great central problem of the socialization of industry and the state, before which all other problems pale into insignificance. It is comparatively easy to picture an ideal political democracy; and the main structural economic organization of the Socialist regime, with its private and public functions more or less clearly defined, is not very difficult of conception. These are foreshadowed with varying degrees of distinctness in present society, and the light of experience illumines the pathway before us. It is when we come to the methods of organization and management, the spirit of the economic organization of the future state, that the light fails and we must grope our way into the great unknown with imagination and our sense of justice for guides.

Most Socialist writers who have attempted to deal with this subject have simply regarded the state as the greatest employer of labor, carrying on its business upon lines not materially different from those adopted by the great corporations of to-day. Boards of experts, chosen by civil service methods, directing all the economic activities of the state—such is their general conception of the industrial democracy of the Socialist regime. They believe, in other words, that the methods now employed by the capitalist state, and by individual and corporate employers within the capitalist state, would simply be extended under the Socialist regime. If this be so, a psychological anomaly in the Socialist propaganda appears in the practical abandonment of the claim that, as a result of the class conflict in society, the public ownership evolved within the capitalist state is essentially different from, and inferior to, the public ownership of the Socialist ideal. It is perfectly clear that if the industrial organization under Socialism is to be such that the workers employed in any industry have no more voice in its management than the postal employees in this country, for example, have at the present time, it cannot be otherwise than absurd to speak of it as an industrial democracy.

Here, in truth, lies the crux of the greatest problem of all. We must face the fact that, in anything worthy the name of an industrial democracy, the terms and conditions of employment cannot be wholly decided without regard to the will of the workers themselves on the one hand, nor, on the other hand, by the workers alone without reference to the general body of the citizenry. If the former method fails to satisfy the requirements of democracy by ignoring the will of the workers in the organization of their work, the alternate method involves a hierarchical government, equally incompatible with democracy. Some way must be found by which the industrial government of society, the organization of production and distribution, may be securely and fairly based upon the dual basis of common civic rights and the rights of the workers in their special relations as such.

And here we are not wholly left to our imaginations, not wholly without experience to guide us. In actual practice to-day, in those industries in which the organization of the workers into unions has been most successful, the workers, through their organizations, do exercise a certain amount of control over the conditions of their employment. Their right to share in the determination of the conditions of labor is conceded. They make trade agreements, for instance, in which such matters as wages, hours of labor, apprenticeship, output, engagement and discharge of workers, and numerous other matters, are provided for and made subject to the joint control of the workers and their employers. Of course, this share in the control of the industry in which they are employed is a right enjoyed only as a fruit of conquest, won by war and maintained by ceaseless vigilance and armed strength. It is not inconceivable that in the Socialist state there might be a frank extension of this principle. The workers in the main groups of industries might form autonomous organizations for the administration of their special interests, subject only to certain fundamental laws of the state. Thus the trade unions of to-day would evolve into administrative politico-economic organizations, after the manner of the mediaeval guilds, and become constructive agencies in society instead of mere agencies of class warfare as at present.

The economic organization of the Socialist state would consist, then, of three distinct divisions, as follows: (1) Private production and exchange, subject only to such general supervision and control by the state as the interests of society demand, such as protection against monopolization, sanitary laws, and the like; (2) voluntary cooeperation, subject to similar supervision and control; (3) production and distribution by the state, the administration to be by the autonomous organizations of the workers in industrial groups, subject to the fundamental laws and government of society as a whole.[190]


Two other functions of the economic organization of society remain to be considered, the distribution of labor and its remuneration. In the organization of industry society will have to achieve a twofold result, a maximum of general, social efficiency, on the one hand, and of personal liberty and comfort to the workers on the other. The state would not only guarantee the right to labor, but, as a corollary, it would impose the duty of labor upon every competent person. The Pauline injunction, "If any man will not work, neither shall he eat," would be applied in the Socialist state to all except the incompetent to labor. The immature child, the aged, the sick and infirm members of society, would alone be exempted from labor. The result of this would be that instead of a large unemployed army, vainly seeking the right to work, on the one hand, accompanied by the excessive overwork of the great mass of the workers fortunate enough to be employed, a vast increase in the number of producers from this one cause alone would make possible much greater leisure for the whole body of workers. Benjamin Franklin estimated that in his day four hours' labor from every adult male able to work would be more than sufficient to provide wealth enough for human wants; and it is certain that, without resorting to any standards of Spartan simplicity, Franklin's estimate could be easily realised to-day with anything approaching a scientific organization of labor.

Not only would the productive forces be enormously increased by the absorption of those workers who under the present system are unemployed, and those who do not labor or seek labor; in addition to these, there would be a tremendous transference of potential productive energy from occupations rendered obsolete and unnecessary by the socialization of society. Thus there are to-day tens of thousands of bankers, lawyers, traders, middlemen, speculators, advertisers, and others, whose functions, necessary to the capitalist system, would in most cases disappear. Because of this, they would be compelled to enter the producing class. The possibilities of the scientific organization of industry are therefore almost unlimited. Every gain made by the state in the direction of economy of production would test the private enterprise existing and urge it onward in the same direction. Likewise, every gain made by the private producers would test the social production and urge it onward. Whether socialized production extended its sphere, or remained confined to its minimum limitations, would depend upon the comparative success or failure resulting. The state would not be a force outside of the people, arbitrarily extending its functions regardless of their will. The decision would rest with the people; they would be the state, and would, naturally, resort to social effort only where it demonstrated its ability to serve the community more efficiently than private enterprise, with greater comfort and liberty to the individual and to the community.

While in the Socialist regime labor would be compulsory, it is inconceivable that a free people would tolerate a bureaucratic rule assigning to each individual his or her proper task, no matter how ingenious the assignment might be. Even if the bureaucracy were omniscient, such a condition of life would be intolerable. Just as it is necessary to insist that all must be secured in their right to labor, and required to labor, it is necessary also that the choice of one's occupation should be as far as possible personal and free, subject only to the laws of supply and demand. The greatest amount of personal freedom compatible with the requisite efficiency would be secured to the workers in their chosen occupations through their craft organizations.

But, it will be objected, all occupations are not equally desirable. There are certain forms of work which, disagreeable in themselves, are just as essential to the well-being of society as the most artistic and pleasing. Who will do the dirty work, and the dangerous work, under Socialism? Will these occupations also be left to choice, and, if so, will there not be an insurmountable difficulty arising from the natural reluctance of men to choose such work?

In answering the question and affirming the principle of free choice—for so it must be answered—the Socialist is called upon to show that the absence of compulsion would not involve the neglect of these disagreeable, but highly important, social services; that it would be compatible with social safety to leave them to personal choice. In the first place, much of this kind of work that is now performed by human labor could be more efficiently done by mechanical means. Much of the work done by sweated women and children in our cities is in fact done in competition with machines. Machinery has been invented, and is now available, to do thousands of the disagreeable and hurtful things now done by human beings. Professor Franklin H. Giddings is perfectly right when he says: "Modern civilization does not require, it does not need, the drudgery of needle-women or the crushing toil of men in a score of life-destroying occupations. If these wretched beings should drop out of existence and no others take their places, the economic activities of the world would not greatly suffer. A thousand devices latent in inventive brains would quickly make good any momentary loss."[191]

When, in England, a law was passed forbidding the practice of forcing little boys through chimneys, to clean them, chimneys did not cease to be swept. Other, less disagreeable and less dangerous, means were quickly invented. When the woolen manufacturers were prevented from employing little boys and girls, they invented the piecing machine.[192] Thousands of instances might be compiled in support of the contention of Professor Giddings, equally as pertinent as these. Another important point is that the amount of such disagreeable and dangerous work to be done would be very much less than now. That would be an inevitable result of the scientific organization of industry. It is likely that, if the subject could be properly investigated, it could be shown that the amount of such labor involved in wasteful and unnecessary advertising alone is enormous.

Addressing an audience composed mainly of scientific men upon the subject of Socialism, the writer was once questioned upon this phase of the subject. "Gentlemen," was the reply, "it is impossible for me to say exactly how the intelligence of the people in a more or less remote future will solve the problem. The Socialist state will be a democracy, not a dictatorship. But if I were dictator of society to-day and wanted to solve the problem, I should assign to such men as yourselves all the most disagreeable and dangerous tasks I could find. This I should do because I should know that at once your inventive brains would begin to devise mechanical and other means of doing the work. You would make sewer cleaning as pleasant as any other occupation in the world." There was, of course, nothing original in the reply, but the men of science recognized its force, and it fairly states one important part of the Socialist answer to the objection we are discussing. Still, with all possible reduction of the quantity of such work to be done, and with all the mechanical genius brought to bear upon it, we may freely concede that, for a long time to come, there must be some work quite dangerous, altogether disagreeable and repellent, and a great difference in the degree of attractiveness of some occupations as compared with some others. But an occupation repellent in itself might be made attractive, if the hours of labor were relatively few as compared with other occupations. If six hours be regarded as the normal working day, it is quite easy to believe that, for sake of the larger leisure, with its opportunities for the pursuit of special interests, many a man would gladly accept a disagreeable position for three hours a day.

The same holds true of superior remuneration. Under the Socialist regime, just as to-day, many a man would gladly exchange his work for less pleasant work, if the remuneration offered were higher. To the old Utopian ideas of absolute equality and uniformity of income these methods would be fatal, but they are not at all incompatible with modern, scientific Socialism. Nothing could well be sillier, or more futile, than the Rooseveltian attacks upon the Socialism of to-day as if it meant equality of possession, or equality of anything except opportunity.[193] Finally, in connection with this question, we must not forget that there is a natural inequality of talent, of power. In any state of society most men will prefer to do the things they are best fitted for, the things they can do best. The man who feels himself to be best fitted to be a hewer of wood or a drawer of water will choose that rather than some loftier task. There is no reason at all to suppose that leaving the choice of occupation to the individual would involve the slightest risk to society.

While equality of remuneration, meaning by that uniformity of reward for labor, is not an essential condition of the Socialist regime, it may be freely admitted that approximate equality of income is the ideal to be ultimately aimed at. Otherwise, if there should be the present inequality of remuneration, represented by the enormous salary of a manager like Mr. Schwab, to quote a conspicuous example, and the meager wage of the average laborer, class formations must take place and the old problems incidental to economic inequality reappear. There is no need to regard uniformity of reward for all as the only solution of this problem, however. Given such an industrial democracy as is herein suggested as the essential condition of Socialism, there is little reason to doubt that gradually, by the free play of economic law, approximate equality would be attained. This brings us to the method of the remuneration of labor.


Socialists are too often judged by their shibboleths, rather than by the principles which those shibboleths imperfectly express, or seek to express. Declaiming, rightly, against the wages system as a form of slave labor,[194] the "abolition of wage slavery," forever inscribed on their banners, the average man is forced to the conclusion that the Socialists are working for a system in which the workers will divide their actual products and then barter the surplus for the surplus products of other workers. Either that, or the most rigid system of governmental production and a method of distributing rations and uniforms similar to that which obtains in the military organization of present-day governments. It is easily seen, however, that such plans do not conform to the democratic ideals of the Socialists, on the one hand, nor would either of them, on the other hand, be compatible with the wide personal liberty herein put forward as characteristic of the Socialist state.

The earlier Utopian Socialists did propose to do away with wages; in fact, they proposed to do away with money altogether, and invented various forms of "Labor Notes" as a means of giving equality of remuneration for given quantities of labor, and providing a medium for the exchange of wealth. But when the Socialists of to-day speak of the "abolition of wages," or of the wages system, they use the words in the same sense as they speak of the abolition of capital: they would abolish only the social relations implied in the terms. Just as they do not mean by the abolition of capital the destruction of the machinery and implements of production, but the social relation in which they are used to create profit for the few, so, when they speak of the abolition of the wages system, they mean only the use of wages to exploit the producers for the gain of the owners of the means of production and exchange. Though the name "wages" might not be changed, a money payment for labor in a democratic arrangement of industry, representing an approximation to the full value of the labor, minus only its share of the cost of maintaining the public services, and the weaker, dependent members of society, would be vastly different from a money payment for labor by one individual to other individuals, representing an approximation to their cost of living, bearing no definite relation to the value of their labor products, and paid in lieu of those products with a view to the gathering of a rich surplus value by the payer.

Karl Kautsky, perhaps the greatest living exponent of the theories of modern Socialism, has made this point perfectly clear. He accepts without reserve the belief that wages, unequal and paid in money, will be the method of remuneration for labor in the Socialist regime.[195] When too many laborers rush into certain branches of industry, the natural way to lessen their number and to increase the number of laborers in other branches where there is need for them, will be to reduce wages in the one and to increase them in the other. Socialism, instead of being defined as an attempt to make men equal, might perhaps be more justly and accurately defined as a social system based upon the natural inequalities of mankind. Not human equality, but equality of opportunity, and the prevention of the creation of artificial inequalities by privilege, is the essence of Socialism.

What, it may be asked, will society do to prevent the hoarding of wealth on the one hand, and the exploitation of the spendthrift by the abstinent upon the other? Here, as throughout this discussion, we must be careful to refrain from laying down dogmatic rules, giving categorical replies to questions which the future will settle in its own way. At best, we can only reason as to what possible answers are compatible with the fundamental principles of Socialism. Thus we may safely answer that in the Socialist regime society will not attempt to dictate to the individual how he shall spend his income. If Jones prefers objets d'art, and Smith prefers fast horses or a steam yacht, each will be free to follow his inclinations so far as his resources will permit. If, on the contrary, one should prefer to hoard his wealth, he would be free to do so. The inheritance of such accumulated property, other than personal objects, of course, might be denied, the state being made the only possible inheritor of such accumulated property. Even in the absence of such a regulation, the inheritance of hoarded wealth would not be a serious matter and would speedily adjust itself. There would be no opportunity for its investment, so that at most individuals inheriting such property would be enabled to live idly, or with extra luxury, until it was spent. The fact of inheriting property would not give the individual power over the life and labor of others. By either method, full play for individual liberty would be coupled with full economic security for society. There would be no danger of the development of a ruling class as a result of natural inequalities.

With such conditions as these, it is not difficult nor in any sense romantic to suppose that the tendency to hoard wealth would largely disappear. In the same way we must regard the possibilities of the exploitation of man by man developing in the Socialist state, through the wastefulness and improvidence of the one and the frugality, abstinence, and cunning of the other, as slight. With the credit functions entirely in the hands of the state, the improvident man would be able to obtain credit upon the same securities as from a private creditor, without extortion. Society would further secure itself against the weakness and failure of the improvident by insuring all its members against sickness, accident, and old age.


The administration of justice is necessarily a social function in a democratic society. All juridical functions should be socialized in the strict sense of being maintained at the social expense for the free service of its citizens. Court fees, advocates' charges, and other expenses incidental to the administration of justice in present society are all anti-democratic and subversive of justice.

Finally, education is likewise a social necessity which society itself must assume responsibility for. We have discovered that for self-protection society must insist upon a certain minimum of education for every child able to receive it; that it is too vital a matter to be left to the option of parents or the desires of the immature child. We have made a certain minimum of education compulsory and free; the Socialist state would make a minimum—probably much larger than our present minimum—compulsory, but it would also make all education free. From the first stages, in the kindergartens, to the last, in the universities, education must be wholly free or equality of opportunity cannot be realized. So long as a single barrier exists to prevent any child from receiving all the education it is capable of profiting by, democracy is unattained.

Whether the Socialist state could tolerate the existence of elementary schools other than its own, such as privately conducted kindergartens, religious schools, and so on, is by no means agreed upon by Socialists. It is like the question of marriage, a matter which is wholly beyond the scope of present knowledge. The future will decide for itself. There are those who believe that the state would not content itself with refusing to permit religious doctrines or ideas to be taught in the schools, but would go further, and, as the protector of the child, guard its independence of thought in later life as far as possible by forbidding religious teaching of any kind in schools for children below a certain age. It would not, of course, attempt to prevent parental instruction in religious beliefs in the home. Beyond the age prescribed, religious education, in all other than public institutions of learning, would be freely admitted. This restriction of religious education to the years of judgment and discretion implies no hostility to religion on the part of the state, but complete neutrality. Not the least important of the rights of the child is the right to be protected from influences which bias the mind and destroy the possibilities of independent thought in later life, or make it attainable only as a result of bitter, needless, tragic experience. This is one view. On the other hand, there are probably quite as many Socialists who believe that the state would not attempt to prevent the religious education of children of any age, in schools voluntarily maintained for that purpose, independent of the public schools. They believe that the state would content itself with insisting that these religious schools must be so built and equipped as not to imperil the lives or the health of the children attending them, and so conducted as not to interfere with the public schools,—all of which means simply that, like vaccination, and the form of marriage contract, the question will be settled by the future in its own way. There is nothing in the fundamental principles of Socialism, nor any body of facts in our present experience, from which we can judge the manner of that settlement.

In this brief outline of the Socialist state as the writer, in common with many of his associates, conceives it, there are many gaps. The temptation to fill in the outline somewhat more in detail is strong, but that is beyond the borderland which divides scientific and Utopian methods. The purpose of the outline is mainly to show that the ideal of the Socialism of to-day is something far removed from the network of laws and the oppressive bureaucracy commonly imagined; something wholly different in spirit and substance from the mechanical arrangement of human relations imagined by Utopian romancers. If the Socialist propaganda of to-day largely consists of the advocacy of laws for the protection of labor and dealing with all kinds of evils, it must be remembered that these are to ameliorate conditions in the existing social order. Many of the laws for which Socialists have most strenuously fought have their raison d'etre in the conditions of capitalist society, and would be quite unnecessary under Socialism. If a reference to one's personal work may be pardoned, I will cite the matter of the feeding of school children, in the public schools, at the public expense. I have, for many years, advocated this measure, which is to be found in most Socialist programmes, and which the Socialists of other countries have to a considerable extent carried into practical effect. Yet, I am free to say that the plan is not my ideal of the manner in which children should be fed. It is, at best, a palliative, a necessary evil, rendered necessary by the conditions of capitalist society. One hopes that in the Socialist regime, home life would be so far developed as to make possible the proper feeding and care of all children in their homes. This is but an illustration. The Socialist ideal of the state of the future, when private property is no longer an instrument of oppression used by the few against the many, is not a life completely enmeshed in a network of government, but a life controlled by government as little as possible; not a life ruled and driven by a powerful engine of laws, but a life as spontaneous and free as possible—a maximum of personal freedom with a minimum of restraint.

"These things shall be! A loftier race Than e'er the world hath known shall rise With flower of freedom in their souls And light of science in their eyes."[196]


[180] Cf. Das Erfurter Program, by Karl Kautsky.

[181] Cf. Ensor's Modern Socialism, page 351.

[182] Labour and Capital: a Letter to a Labour Friend, by Goldwin Smith, D.C.L. (Macmillan, 1907).

The reader of Professor Smith's little book is referred, for the Socialist answer to his criticisms, to a small volume by the author of this book: Capitalist and Laborer: an Open Letter to Professor Goldwin Smith, D.C.L. (Kerr, Standard Socialist Series), 1907.

[183] La Conquete du pain, Pierre Kropotkin, 5th edition, Paris, 1895, page 202.

[184] The Principles of Sociology, by Herbert Spencer, Vol. III, page 534.

[185] Cf. The Spirit of American Government, by J. Allen Smith, LL.B. Ph.D., for a discussion of this subject.

[186] This statement must not be interpreted too narrowly, of course. While the nature of these things makes possible an infinitely wider range of personal liberty than is possible in some other things, individual liberty must ultimately be governed by the liberty of others. A fanatical religious sect practicing human sacrifice, for instance, could not be tolerated by any civilized society. Obscenity in art is another example.

[187] I use the word "state" throughout this discussion in its largest, most comprehensive sense, as meaning the whole political organization of society.

[188] This view is fully shared by Kautsky, Agrarfrage, pages 443-444, and by Paul Lafargue, Revue Politique et Parliamentaire, October, 1898, page 70.

[189] Of course, this does not mean that there must not be private use of land.

[190] The student who cares to pursue the subject will find that this analysis is, in the main, agreed to by the most eminent exponents of Marxian Socialism to-day. Cf., for instance, Kautsky's Das Erfurter Program; the same writer's The Social Revolution, especially pages 117, 159; Vandervelde, quoted by Ensor, Modern Socialism, page 205; also, Vandervelde's Collectivism, page 46. Jaures, the brilliant French Socialist, may not perhaps be strictly included in the category of "eminent Marxists," but he accepts the position of Kautsky, see Studies in Socialism, by Jean Jaures, pages 36-40. See, also, Engels, Die Bauernfrage in Frankreich und Deutschland, published in Die Neue Zeit, 1894-1895, No. 10; Kautsky, Die Agrarfrage; and Simons, The American Farmer. That most of these deal with petty agriculture rather than petty industry is true, but the principle holds in regard to both.

[191] "Ethics of Social Progress," by Professor Franklin H. Giddings in Philanthropy and Social Progress (1893), page 226.

[192] "The Economics of Factory Legislation," in The Case For the Factory Acts, by Mrs. Sidney Webb, page 50.

[193] See, for instance, Mr. Roosevelt's speech at Matinecock, L.I., near Oyster Bay, July 11, 1908, as reported in the daily papers by the Associated Press. Also, the Republican National Platform, 1908, which states that Socialism stands for "equality of possession," while the Republican Party stands for "equality of opportunity"—a complete misrepresentation, both of Socialism and the Republican Party!

[194] For condemning the wages system as a form of slavery, Socialists are often vigorously condemned, but there are few sociologists of repute who question the truth of the Socialist claim. Herbert Spencer, for example, is as vigorous in asserting that wage-labor is a form of slavery as any Socialist. See The Principles of Sociology, Vol. III, Chapter 18.

[195] See Kautsky's Das Erfurter Program, and also The Social Revolution, especially pages 128-135; Anton Menger, L'Etat Socialiste, page 35; and Vandervelde's Collectivism, pages 149-150.

[196] J. Addington Symonds.




You ask me how the goal I have described is to be attained: "The picture," you say, "is attractive, but we would like to know how we are to reach the Promised Land which it pictures. Show us the way!" The question is a fair one, and I shall try to answer it with candor, as it deserves. But I cannot promise to tell how the change will be brought about, to describe the exact process by which social property will supplant capitalist private property. The only conditions under which any honest thinker could give such an answer would necessitate a combination of circumstances which has never existed, and which no one seriously expects to develop. To answer in definite terms, saying, "This is the manner in which the change will be made," one would have to know the exact time of the change; precisely what things would be socialized; the thought of the people, their temper, their courage. In a word, omniscience would be necessary to enable one to make such a reply.

All that is possible in this connection for the candid Socialist is to point out those tendencies which he believes to be making for the Socialist ideal, those tendencies in society, whether political or economic, which are making for industrial democracy; to consider frankly the difficulties which must be overcome before the transition from capitalism can be effected, and to suggest such means of overcoming these as present themselves to the mind, always remembering that other means may be developed which we cannot now see, and that great storms of elemental human passion may sweep the current into channels unsuspected.

Those who are familiar with the writings of Marx know that, in strange contrast with the fundamental principles of that theory of social evolution which he so well developed, he lapsed at times into the Utopian habit of predicting the sudden transformation of society. Capitalism was to end in a great final "catastrophe" and the new order be born in the travail of a "social revolution." I remember that when I joined the Socialist movement, many years ago, the Social Revolution was a very real event, inevitable and nigh at hand, to most of us. The more enthusiastic of us dreamed of it; we sang songs in the spirit of the Chansons Revolutionaires, one of which, as I recall, told plainly enough what we would do—

"When the Revolution comes."

Some comrades actually wanted to have military drill at our business meetings, merely that we might be ready for the Revolution, which might occur any Monday morning or Friday afternoon. If this seems strange and comic as I relate it to-day, please remember that we were very few and very young, and, therefore, very sure that we were to redeem the world. We lived in a state of revolutionary ecstasy. Some of us, I think, must have gone regularly to sleep in the mental state of Tennyson's May Queen, with words equivalent to her childish admonition—

"If you're waking call me early,"

so fearful were we that the Revolution might start without us!

There can be no harm in these confessions to-day, for we have grown far enough beyond that period to laugh at it in retrospect. True, there is still a good deal of talk about the Social Revolution, and there may be a few Socialists here and there who use the term in the sense I have described; who believe that capitalism will come to a great crisis, that there will be a rising of millions in wrath, a night of fury and agony, and then the sunrise of Brotherhood above the blood-stained valley and the corpse-strewn plain. But most of us, when we use the old term, by sheer force of habit, or as an inherited tradition, think of the Social Revolution in no such spirit. We think only of the change that must come over society, transferring the control of its life from the few to the many, the change that is now going on all around us. When the time comes that men and women speak of the state in which they live as Socialism, and look back upon the life we live to-day with wonder and pity, they will speak of the period of revolution as including this very year, and, possibly, all the years included in the lives of the youngest persons present. At all events, no considerable body of Socialists anywhere in the world to-day, and no Socialist whose words have any influence in the movement, believe that there will be a sudden, violent change from capitalism to Socialism.

If it seemed necessary, abundant testimony to the truthfulness of this claim could be produced. But I shall content myself with two witnesses—chosen from the multitude of available witnesses for reasons which will unfold themselves. The first witness is Marx himself. I choose his testimony, mainly, because there is no other name so great as his, and, secondly, to show that his profoundest thought rejected the idea of sudden social transformations which at times he seemed to favor. It is 1850. Marx is in London, actively engaged in a German Communist movement with its Central Committee in that great metropolis. The majority are impatient, feverishly urging revolt; they are under the illusion that they can make the Social Revolution at once. Marx tells them, on the contrary, that it will take fifty years "not only to change existing conditions but to change yourselves and make yourselves worthy of political power." They, the majority, say on the other hand, "We ought to get power at once, or else give up the fight." Marx tries vainly to make them see this, and resigns when he fails, scornfully telling them that they "substitute revolutionary phrases for revolutionary evolution."[198] Mark well that term, "revolutionary evolution," for it bears out the description I have attempted of the sense in which we speak of revolution in the Socialist propaganda of to-day. And mark well, also, that Marx gave them fifty years simply to make themselves worthy of political power.

As the second witness, I choose Liebknecht, whose name must always be associated with those of Marx, Engels, and Lassalle, in Socialist history. Not alone because of the fact that Liebknecht, more than almost any other man, has influenced the tactics of the international Socialist movement, but for the additional reason that detached phrases of his are sometimes quoted in support of the opposite view. Words spoken in oratorical and forensic passion, or in the bravado of irresponsible youthfulness, and texts torn from their contexts, are used to show that Liebknecht anticipated the violent transformation of society. But heed this, one of many similar statements of his maturest and profoundest thought: "But we are not going to attain Socialism at one bound. The transition is going on all the time, and the important thing for us ... is not to paint a picture of the future—which in any case would be useless labor—but to forecast a practical programme for the intermediate period, to formulate and justify measures that shall be applicable at once, and that will serve as aids to the new Socialist birth."[199]

So much, then, for quotations from the mightiest of all our hosts. What I would make clear is not merely that the greatest of Socialist theorists and tacticians agree that the change will be brought about gradually, and not by one stroke of revolutionary action, but that, more important still, the Socialist Party of this country, and all the Socialist parties of the world, are based upon that idea. That is why they have their political programmes, aiming to make the conditions of life better now, in the transition period, and also to aid in the happy, peaceful birth of the new order.


Having disposed of the notion that Socialists expect to realize their ideals by a single stroke, and thus swept away some of the greatest obstacles which rise before the imagination of the student of Socialism, we obtain a clearer vision of the problem. And that is no small advance toward its solution.

Concerning the political organization of the Socialist state, so far as the extension of political democracy is concerned, not much need be said. You can very readily comprehend that this may be done by legal, constitutional means. Step by step, just as we attain power enough to do so, we shall extend the power of the people until we have a complete political democracy. Where, as in some of the Southern States, there is virtually a property qualification for the franchise, where that remnant of feudalism, the poll tax, remains, Socialists, whenever they come into power in those states, or whenever they are strong enough to force the issue, will insist upon making the franchise free. And where, as in this state, there is a sex qualification for the franchise, women being denied the suffrage, they will work unceasingly to do away with that relic of barbarism. By means of such measures as the Initiative and Referendum, and election of judges by the people, the sovereignty of the people will be established. It may be that without some constitutional amendments it will be found impossible to make political democracy complete. In that case, moving along the line of least resistance, they will do all that they can within the limits of the Constitution as it is, changing it whenever by reason of their power they deem that practicable.

As to the organization of the industrial life of the Socialist state, bringing industry from private to public control, here, too, Socialists will work along the line of least resistance. First of all, it must be remembered that there are tendencies to that end within society at present. Every development of industry and commerce, from competition to monopoly, so far as it centers the control in few hands and organizes the industry or business, makes it possible to take it over without dislocation, and, at the same time, makes it the interest of a larger number to help in bringing about that transfer. In like manner every voluntary cooeperative organization of producers makes for the Socialist ideal. This is a far less important matter in the United States than in England and other European countries. Finally, we have the enormous extension of public functions developed already in capitalist society, and being constantly extended. Our postal system, public schools, state universities, libraries, museums, art galleries, parks, bureaus of research and information, hospitals, sanatoria, municipal ferries, water supply, fire departments, health boards, lighting systems, these, and a thousand other activities of our municipalities and states, and the nation, are so many forms created by capitalism to meet its own needs which belong, however, to Socialism and require only to be infused with the Socialist spirit. This will be done as they come under the influence of Socialists elected to various legislative and administrative bodies in ever increasing number as the movement grows.

All this is not difficult to comprehend. What is more likely to perplex the average man is the method by which Socialists propose to effect the transfer of individual or corporate property to the collectivity. Will it be confiscated, taken without recompense; and if so, will it not be necessary to take the bank savings of the poor widow as well as the millions of the millionaire? On the other hand, if compensation is given, will there not be still a privileged class, a wealthy class, that is, and a poorer class? These are the questions I see written upon your faces as I look down upon them and read the language of their strained interest. Every face seems a challenge to answer these questions. I shall try to answer them with perfect candor, as far as that is possible within the limits of our time. May I not ask you, then, to follow carefully a brief series of propositions, or postulates, which I shall, with your permission, lay before you?

First: The act of transfer, whether it take the form of confiscation or otherwise, must be the will of a legal majority of the people. If the unit is the city, a legal majority of the citizens there; if the unit is the state, then a legal majority of the citizens of the state; if the unit is the nation, then a legal majority in the nation. I use the term "legal majority" to indicate my profound conviction that the process itself must be a legal, constitutional process. Of course, in the event of some great upheaval occurring, such as, for example, the rising of a suffering and desperate people in consequence of some terrific panic or period of depression, brought on by capitalist misrule, or by war, this might be swept away. Throughout the world's history such upheavals have occurred, when the people's wrath, or their desperation, has assumed the form of a cyclone, and in such times laws have been of no more resistance than straws in the pathway of the cyclone sweeping across the plain. Omitting such dire happenings from our calculations—for so we must wish to do—we may lay down this principle of the imperative necessity for a legal majority, acting in legal manner.

Second: The process must be gradual. There will be no coup de force. No effort will be made to socialize those industries which have not been made ready by a degree of monopolization. This we can say with confidence, if for no other reason than that we cannot conceive a legal majority being stirred sufficiently to take action in the absence of some degree of oppression or danger, such as monopoly alone contains. Further, as a matter of hard, practical sense, it is not conceivable that any government will ever be able to deal with all the industries at one time. The railroads may be first to be taken, or it may be the mines in one state and the oil wells in another. The important point is to see that the process of socialization must be piecemeal and gradual. This does not mean that it must be a slow process, suggesting the slowness of geologic formations, but that it must be gradual, progressive, advancing from step to step, and giving opportunities for adjusting things. Otherwise there would be chaos and anarchy.

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