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Socialism: Positive and Negative
by Robert Rives La Monte
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Here follows the paragraph upon which the Reverend Doctor Morgan Dix and other clerical defenders of the economic conditions that cause marital and non-marital prostitution pounced with such avidity:

"We have therefore, given late marriage and the passing of prostitution,[23] two alternatives, the requiring of absolute chastity of both sexes until marriage or the toleration of freedom of sexual intercourse on the part of the unmarried of both sexes before marriage, i. e., before the birth of offspring. In this event condemnation of sex license would have a different emphasis from that at present. Sexual intercourse would not be of itself disparaged or condemned, it would be disapproved of only if indulged in at the expense of health or of emotional or intellectual activities in oneself or in others. As a matter of fact, truly monogamous relations seem to be those most conducive to emotional or intellectual development and to health, so that, quite apart from the question of prostitution, promiscuity is not desirable or even tolerable. It would therefore, seem well from this point of view, to encourage early trial marriage,[24] the relation to be entered into with a view to permanency, but with the privilege of breaking it if proved unsuccessful and in the absence of offspring without suffering any great degree of public condemnation.

"The conditions to be considered in any attempt to answer the question that thus arises are exceedingly complex. Much depends upon the outcome of present experiments in economic independence for women, a matter which is in turn dependent upon the outcome of the general labor 'question.' Much depends upon revelations of physiological science. If the future brings about the full economic independence of women, if physiologists will undertake to guarantee society certain immunities from the sexual excess of the individual,[25] if, and these are the most important conditions of all, increases in biological, psychological and social knowledge make parenthood a more enlightened and purposive function than is even dreamed of at present and if pari passu with this increase of knowledge a higher standard of parental duty and a greater capacity for parental devotion develop, then the need of sexual restraint as we understand it may disappear and different relations between the sexes before marriage and to a certain extent within marriage may be expected."

The Socialist materialist leaves idle speculations of this nature to the bourgeois Utopians; he knows that a revolution in economic conditions must precede any material changes in sexual relations, and that when such changes take place they will take place in response to the stimuli of the transformed economic environment, and not in accordance with any preconceived notions of Mrs. Parsons or others.

Those, who are horrified at such proposed modifications of marriage as Mr. George Meredith's marriages for a fixed, limited period, and Mrs. Parsons' "trial marriages," will do well to ponder this posthumous aphorism of the clearsighted Norse genius, Ibsen, recently published in Berlin:

"To talk of 'men born free' is a mere phrase. There are none such. Marriages, the relations of man and woman, have ruined the whole race and set on all the brand of slavery."[26]

In the same case is what we may call the stage-setting of the monogamous family, the home. The home ceases to be regarded as the sacred and eternal Palladium of society. It, too, is destined to change, if not to disappear. "With the transformation of the means of production into collective property," Engels writes, "the private household changes to a social industry. The care and education of children becomes a public matter."[27]

This does not deny the splendid role that the Home has played in the history of the last three centuries. Many an English and American home to-day still merits even such an offensively pretentious epithet as "Palladium." What morals our people have known and practised they have learned and been drilled in in the homes. That these morals should have been warped by a class-bias was inevitable. A home, itself the product of a society divided into classes, could not teach anything but a class-morality. A purely social morality (if morality be the proper name for the highest conduct in a classless society) is even yet impossible.

But, much as we owe to the home, (I pity the reader who can recall his or her early home life with dry eyes), the Nihilism of Socialism tells us the day of the home is drawing to its close. So it may be as well for us to consider for a moment the bad side of the home as we know it to-day. It may be that when we have done so, we shall be able to anticipate its passing with greater equanimity.

At this late day—when seventeen years have rolled by since Ibsen's "The Doll's House" was first introduced to an English-speaking audience at the Novelty Theatre in London—it is surely not necessary to dwell upon the dwarfing and stifling effects upon women of even "happy" homes. In the brilliant preface to "Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant," Bernard Shaw, referring to middle-class home life, speaks of "the normal English way being to sit in separate families in separate rooms in separate houses, each person silently occupied with a book, a paper, or a game of halma, cut off equally from the blessings of society and solitude." "The result," he continues, "is that you may make the acquaintance of a thousand streets of middle-class English families without coming on a trace of any consciousness of citizenship, or any artistic cultivation of the senses."

In the following paragraph he adds:

"In proportion as this horrible domestic institution is broken up by the active social circulation of the upper classes in their own orbit, or its stagnant isolation made impossible by the overcrowding of the working classes, manners improve enormously. In the middle classes themselves the revolt of a single clever daughter (nobody has yet done justice to the modern clever Englishwoman's loathing of the very word 'home'), and her insistence on qualifying herself for an independent working life, humanizes her whole family in an astonishingly short time; and the formation of a habit of going to the suburban theatre once a week, or to the Monday Popular Concerts, or both, very perceptibly ameliorates its manners. But none of these breaches in the Englishman's castle-house can be made without a cannonade of books and pianoforte music. The books and music cannot be kept out, because they alone can make the hideous boredom of the hearth bearable. If its victims may not live real lives, they may at least read about imaginary ones, and perhaps learn from them to doubt whether a class that not only submits to home life, but actually values itself on it, is really a class worth belonging to. For the sake of the unhappy prisoners of the home, then, let my plays be printed as well as acted."

A concrete picture may give us a better idea of what Shaw means when he calls women "the unhappy prisoners of the home." In that magnificent scene in the third act of "Candida," after Morell has called on Candida to choose between him and the poet, Marchbanks, Candida gives us a vivid glimpse of what her home life had been, in this speech, addressed to Marchbanks, and, in reading it, remember that Morell was "a good husband" and that Candida loved him.

"—You know how strong he (Morell) is—how clever he is—how happy! Ask James's mother and his three sisters what it cost to save James the trouble of doing anything but be strong and clever and happy. Ask me what it costs to be James's mother and three sisters and wife and mother to his children all in one. Ask Prossy and Maria how troublesome the house is even when we have no visitors to help us slice the onions. Ask the tradesmen who want to worry James and spoil his beautiful sermons who it is that puts them off. When there is money to give, he gives it: when there is money to refuse, I refuse it. I build a castle of comfort and indulgence and love for him, and stand sentinel always to keep little vulgar cares out. I make him master here, though he does not know it, and could not tell you a moment ago how it came to be so."

This should make it easy for us to understand why so many women are ready to sympathize with William Morris in the sentiments he expressed in the following paragraph in "Signs of Change:"

"As to what extent it may be necessary or desirable for people under social order to live in common, we may differ pretty much according to our tendencies toward social life. For my part I can't see why we should think it a hardship to eat with the people we work with; I am sure that as to many things, such as valuable books, pictures, and splendor of surroundings, we shall find it better to club our means together; and I must say that often when I have been sickened by the stupidity of the mean, idiotic rabbit warrens that rich men build for themselves in Bayswater and elsewhere, I console myself with visions of the noble communal hall of the future, unsparing of materials, generous in worthy ornament, alive with the noblest thoughts of our time, and the past, embodied in the best art which a free and manly people could produce; such an abode of man as no private enterprise could come anywhere near for beauty and fitness, because only collective thought and collective life could cherish the aspirations which would give birth to its beauty, or have the skill and leisure to carry them out. I for my part should think it much the reverse of a hardship if I had to read my books and meet my friends in such a place; nor do I think I am better off to live in a vulgar stuccoed house crowded with upholstery that I despise, in all respects degrading to the mind and enervating to the body to live in, simply because I call it my own, or my house."

From the viewpoint of this historical materialism, the State loses its attribute of permanence and becomes the product of definite economic conditions—in a word, it is the child of economic inequality. "The State," in the words of Engels, "is the result of the desire to keep down class conflicts. But, having arisen amid these conflicts, it is as a rule the State of the most powerful economic class that by force of its economic supremacy becomes also the ruling political class, and thus acquires new means of subduing and exploiting the oppressed masses. The antique State was, therefore, the State of the slave owners for the purpose of holding the slaves in check. The feudal State was the organ of the nobility for the oppression of the serfs and dependent farmers. The modern representative State is the tool of the capitalist exploiters of wage labor."[28]

"The State, then," Engels says on another page of the same work, "did not exist from all eternity. There have been societies without it, that had no idea of any State or public power.[29] At a certain stage of economic development, which was of necessity accompanied by a division of society into classes, the State became the inevitable result of this division. We are now rapidly approaching a stage of evolution in production, in which the existence of classes has not only ceased to be a necessity, but becomes a positive fetter on production. Hence, these classes must fall as inevitably as they once arose. The State must irrevocably fall with them. The society that is to reorganize production on the basis of a free and equal association of the producers, will transfer the machinery of the State where it will then belong—into the Museum of Antiquities by the side of the spinning wheel and the bronze ax."[30]

In another work, he says: "The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society—the taking possession of the means of production in the name of Society—this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not abolished. It dies out."[31]

It is thus seen that, according to the teaching of historical materialism, the State is destined, when it becomes the State of the working-class, to remove its own foundation—economic inequality—and thus, to commit suicide.

Many of those, who have witnessed with mingled consternation and amusement the strenuous efforts of Mr. Roosevelt and the frantic zeal of Mr. Hearst to enlarge the scope of governmental action to cover every conceivable field of human activity from spelling to beef-canning, will hail with delight Engels' tidings that the State is to "die out."

The thesis, that the realization of the socialist ideal involves the atrophy of Religion, the metamorphosis of the Family, and the suicide of the State, would now appear to be sufficiently demonstrated.

One cannot help wondering what proportion of the "educated and professional" persons, who, Mr. Street testifies, are in growing numbers yielding to the lure of Socialism, really desire these results. Many of them, no doubt, are trying on a new field the old experiment of serving God and Mammon, of putting new wine into old bottles. Ibsen's Nora, though she had far less learning than is usual in the "educated and professional classes" of England and America, was, in this matter, far wiser than are they. When the falsehood and slavery of life in "The Doll's House" became unbearable to her, she knew that she must choose between the Old and the New; and that, if she chose the new life of revolt and freedom, she must leave behind her all the badges of her doll's life. Had she taken with her the trinkets and gauds that the master of the Doll's House had given her, she would not have escaped from the doll's life when she turned her back on the Doll's House. Her woman's instinct did not fail her, and, when, with a woman's courage she chose the New and left the Old, she told Torvald, "Whatever belongs to me I shall take with me. I will have nothing from you either now or later on."

Many of the young people of education, who have of late come into the socialist movement, have left—temporarily, at least—the Doll's House of conservatism; but they have brought with them many of the habits of thought, many of the conventions of their old doll's life. Some of them, doubtless, realizing that the Materialist Conception of History involves the Nihilism of Socialism, and thus calls on them to abandon their religious, metaphysical, and dualistic habits of thought, to cast aside their conventional class morality, to cease vaporing about that impossible monstrosity, "the Socialist State," attempt to cut the Gordian knot by denying the Materialist Conception of History, while clinging to their socialist ideal. They thus repeat in inverted form the curious feat in intellectual acrobatics performed by Professor Seligman, who believes in historical materialism, but rejects Socialism. "There is nothing in common," he asserts, "between the economic interpretation of history and the doctrine of socialism, except the accidental fact that the originator of both theories happened to be the same man." And a few pages further on he reiterates: "Socialism and 'historical materialism' are entirely independent-conceptions."[32]

To the educated socialists, who deny or mutilate the doctrine of historical materialism, the materialist socialist might well reply by asserting that these educated socialists are socialists only because of the artistic, intellectual, ethical, and spiritual changes they expect the economic revolution of socialism to produce. The fact that they, lovers of "the things of the spirit," are socialists proves that they believe, albeit unconsciously, in economic determinism.

But, although this personal argument might Well be deemed sufficient, it can readily be proven affirmatively that the whole theory of Modern Socialism rests upon the foundation of historical materialism. This clearly appears in the' admirable summary of the teachings of Marx that Gabriel Deville gives in the Preface to his epitome of Marx's "Capital."

"History, Marx has shown, is nothing but the history of class conflicts. The division of society into classes, which made its appearance with the social life of man, rests on economic relations—maintained by force—which enable some to succeed in shifting on to the shoulders of others the natural necessity of labor.

"Material interests have always been the inciting motives of the incessant struggles of the privileged classes, either with, each other, or against the inferior classes at whose expense they live. Man is dominated by the material conditions of life, and these conditions, and therefore the mode of production, have determined and will determine human customs, ethics, and institutions—social, economic, political, juridical, etc.

"As soon as one part of society has monopolized the means of production, the other part, upon whom the burden of labor falls, is obliged to add to the labor-time necessary for its own support, a certain surplus-labor-time, for which it receives no equivalent,—time that is devoted to supporting and enriching the possessors of the means of production. As an extractor of unpaid labor, which, by means of the increasing surplus-value whose source it is, accumulates every day, more and more, in the hands of the proprietary class the instruments of its dominion, the capitalist regime surpasses in power all the antecedent regimes founded on compulsory labor.

"But to-day, the economic conditions begotten by this regime, trammelled in their natural evolution by this very regime, inexorably tend to break the capitalist mould which can no longer contain them, and these destroying principles are the elements of the new society.

"The historic mission of the class at present exploited, the proletariat, which is being organized and disciplined by the very mechanism of capitalist production, is to complete the work of destruction begun by the development of social antagonisms. It must, first of all, definitively wrest from its class adversaries the political power—the command of the force devoted by them to preserving intact their economic monopolies and privileges.

"Once in control of the political power, it will be able, by proceeding to the socialization of the means of production through the expropriation of the usurpers of the fruits of others' toil, to suppress the present contradiction between collective production and private capitalist appropriation, and to realize the universalization of labor, and the abolition of classes."[33]

If the "educated and professional" socialists cannot break the chain of this logic, they find themselves, as Nora did, face to face with the necessity of making a choice. Behind them is the old doll's house life with its manifold conventions—once useful, but through economic evolution outgrown and thus become false and deadly—a life, easy enough mayhap, but wholly devoid of idealism; before them is the new life of freedom, of revolt against outworn beliefs and conventions—a life of great difficulty, mayhap, but a life cheered by a noble ideal—an ideal in whose realization the socialist materialists believe as fully, as passionately as the ancient Hebrews believed in the fulfilment of the Messianic prophecies.

Theirs is a hard case. Without ideals they cannot, in any worthy sense, live. The only possible ideal, that even the keen eyes of so shrewd an observer as Mr. Street can perceive, is the ideal of Socialism. But they cannot accept this ideal without abandoning much, I do not say that is dear to them, but much that by habit and tradition has become part and parcel of their intellectual being.

If they decide to go forward into the New, the old world of dolls' houses must become a strange land to them. In the difficulties and trials of the new life, they cannot send back for aid to the old world, which will have become a world of strangers to them. Nora's woman's instinct did not fail her here; when Torvald asked if he could send help to her in case of need, her unhesitating reply was, "No, I say. I take nothing from strangers."

Far better is the case of the workingman attracted by the socialist ideal. The Nihilism of Socialism has no deterrent terrors for him, for, as Karl Marx said long ago, "he has nothing to lose but his chains, and a whole world to gain." He has long since lost all interest in religion; the factory by enlisting his wife and children as workers has already destroyed his home; and to him the State means nothing but the club of the policeman, the injunction of the judge, and the rifle of the militiaman.

But for the man of the "educated and professional classes" leaving the doll's house is indeed a difficult task. For its performance three things are requisite: a free and open mind, courage, and a vivid imagination. The Russian genius, Peshkoff (Maxim Gorky), did it, and did it with relative ease because he was a workingman before he became an educated man. For the same reason, though in a less degree, Jack London has also done it successfully, though here and there he still lapses into the doll's mode of thought. The sex-interest in the latter part of "The Sea Wolf" is obviously treated from the dolls' point of view; but it should be remembered that Mr. London necessarily expected the majority of the purchasers of "The Sea Wolf" to be dolls. But, in spite of this instance, we may be sure that Jack London brought but little with him when he left the Doll's House; and I am very sure he never sends back to have parcels forwarded to him.

When Mr. Upton Sinclair left the Doll's House, he evidently stuffed his mental pockets with a large assortment of intellectual lingerie and millinery from the doll wardrobes. In telling us what Life means to him in a recent magazine, he says that during a certain stress and storm period of his life he lived in close intimacy with three friends who "loved" him "very dearly." "Their names are Jesus, Hamlet and Shelley." Can any one imagine William Morris writing a sentiment so perfectly satisfying to a doll's sense of beauty? When I read these lines there rises before me a picture of the author tastefully robed in an exquisite dress—a doll's dress—of dotted swiss.[34]

Recently he has started a Co-operative Home Colony quite in the spirit of the bourgeois Utopians who founded Brook Farm more than half-a-century ago. Colony-founding, historians tell us, was a favorite amusement of the dolls of that era.

In the "Times Magazine" (for December 1906) he tells us that "the home has endured for ages, and through all the ages it has stayed about the same." This belief, I am informed, is almost universal among dolls.

I find myself the prey of a growing suspicion that Mr. Sinclair from time to time receives express parcels from the "Doll's House."

William Morris was a genius; he had a free and open mind; he had courage; and he had a vivid imagination. When he left the Doll's House, he took nothing with him, and he never afterward took anything "from strangers." It was his poet's imagination that enabled him to write "News from Nowhere," the only Utopia in whose communal halls the unwary reader does not stumble over dolls' furniture. Morris is the perfect type of the man of culture turned revolutionist.[35]

Mr. H. G. Wells has recently written a Utopian romance, "In the Days of the Comet," which, although it possesses in the fullest measure Mr. Wells' well known charm of style, is in substance at best a very feeble echo of "News from Nowhere." One of the modes of thought specially characteristic of eighteenth century French dolls is strongly to the fore in Mr. Wells' treatment of war. In the conversations "after the Change" between Melmount, the famous Cabinet Minister, and the pitiful, cowardly, inefficient hero (?), Leadford, they both appear to be inexpressibly shocked at the unreasonableness of war. It is true it is somewhat difficult to tell just what Melmount did think or feel, for Melmount is in one particular like Boston's distinguished litterateur, Mr. Lawson,—he appears to be constantly on the point of uttering some great thought, but never utters it. But so far as light is given us Melmount after the Change seems to have looked on war much as Carlyle did long before. Every one remembers Carlyle's two groups of peasants,[36] living hundreds of miles apart, who never heard of each other, and had not the slightest quarrel, the one with the other, but who none-the-less obeyed the orders of their respective kings, and marched until they met, and at the word of command shot each other into corpses. Most of us will agree with Carlyle and Melmount that, viewed from the peasants' standpoint, this was unreasonable to the point of sheer folly.

But, if I understand Mr. Wells aright, he seems to elevate the reason of the peasant into something very like the "eternal reason" of Diderot and Rousseau. He apparently forgets for the nonce that Engels long ago pointed out that "this eternal reason was in reality nothing but the idealized understanding of the eighteenth century citizen, just then evolving into the bourgeois." The difficulty that Mr. Wells will encounter in trying to bring human society into harmony with "eternal reason" is the impossibility of getting different classes of men to agree as to what is reasonable. No one outside of dolls' houses any longer believes in "eternal reason." Every man and every class has an ideal of what is reasonable, but these ideals vary. War is unreasonable to the peasant-target; it is also unreasonable to Melmount and Mr. Wells so far as they are representatives of the citizens of the classless society of the future, a society based on social solidarity, on world-wide brotherhood. But to the socialist materialist, war, in a world based on private ownership of the means of production used to produce commodities, with its concomitants, the wage-system, competition—domestic and international,—and ever-recurring "over-production," is so very far from unreasonable that it is absolutely inevitable.[37]

Mr. Wells evidently brought something with him when he left the Doll's House.

We now begin to realize what a very difficult matter it is to rid the mind completely of the effects of what Professor Veblen calls "the institutional furniture handed down from the past." The man, who yields to the lure of Socialism, must sooner or later effect a revolution within his own mind; if he does not, he will sooner or later return to his Doll's House, or make an excursion into some field of "pragmatic romance" where he will build himself a new doll's house.

Granted the truth of historical materialism, how will future generations look on the literature of to-day and yesterday? To a generation wholly untrained in theological, metaphysical and dualistic modes of thought how much meaning will there be in the poetry of Tennyson and Browning? For my part, I never read Browning now without being unpleasantly reminded of the aphorism Nietzsche put into the mouth of Zarathustra: "Alas, it is true I have cast my net in their (poets') seas and tried to catch good fish; but I always drew up the head of some old God."

But I am glad to believe that the matchless melody and the chiseled beauty of Tennyson's verse will charm the senses of men to whom his curious mixture of pantheism and Broad Church theology, which the middle classes of England and America in the latter decades of the nineteenth century welcomed as the ultimate massage of philosophy, will not be ridiculous only because it will be meaningless. But I am unable to think of the men of the future deriving any pleasure from our greatest poet, Browning. On the other hand it is not impossible that the fame of Swinburne will stand higher in the twenty-first century than it does in this opening decade of the twentieth.

The men and women of the future will, I am sure, feel themselves akin to Shelley. They will probably enjoy Byron too, so far as they understand him; but men and women, who have never known any relationship between the sexes but that of independence and equality, will be bored and baffled by that great bulk of Byron's verse which shocked his contemporaries.

When we turn to the drama, it appears probable that the revolution in the relations of the sexes will convert into mere materials for the historian even our greatest plays, such as Ibsen's "The Doll's House," Sudermann's "The Joy of Living," Maeterlinck's "Monna Vanna," and Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession."

Are the "educated and professional" socialists prepared to accept gladly such tremendous changes? They are confronted by a momentous question. It was of their class William Morris was thinking when he wrote:

"I have looked at this claim by the light of history and my own conscience, and it seems to me so looked at to be a most just claim, and that resistance to it means nothing short of a denial of the hope of civilization.

This, then, is the claim:—

It is right and necessary that all men should have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to do: and which should be done under such conditions as would make it neither over-wearisome nor over-anxious.

Turn that claim about as I may, think of it as long as I can, I cannot find that it is an exorbitant claim; yet again I say if Society would or could admit it, the face of the world would be changed; discontent and strife and dishonesty would be ended. To feel that we were doing work useful to others and pleasant to ourselves, and that such work and its due reward could not fail us! What serious harm could happen to us then? And the price to be paid for so making the world happy is Revolution."[38]

Are they willing to pay the price? Nora paid the price for her freedom and paid it in full.

She took nothing from strangers.

If they are unwilling to pay the price, what is there left for them save the joyless sensuality and black despair of pessimism?

FOOTNOTES:

[7] "The Theory of Business Enterprise," Veblen, New York, 1904. Pages 351, 352. See also my article on Veblen the Revolutionist, International Socialist Review, June, 1905, vol. V, page 726.

[8] Throughout this article "nihilism" is not used in its strict technical or philosophical sense, but is used simply as a convenient term by which to designate the aggregate of those aspects of Socialism which, viewed from the standpoint of the existing regime, appear as negative and destructive.

[9] "A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy." Karl Marx, New York, 1904. Pages 11, 12.

[10] "See Philosophical Essays," Joseph Dietzgen, Chicago, 1906. Pages 174 and 52.

[11] "Essays on the Materialistic Conception of History." Antonio Labriola, Chicago, 1904. Pages 85, 86.

[12] l. c. pages 155-6, 158.

[13] "Philosophical Essays." Dietzgen. Page 86.

[14] "Socialism and Modern Science." Enrico Ferri, New York, 1904. Pages 60, 61.

[15] "Philosophical Essays." Dietzgen. Page 116.

[16] The reader will observe that Ferri reads into the Erfurt pronouncement on religion (quoted in full above) a broader spirit of tolerance than its words necessarily imply.

[17] See "The Theory of the Leisure Class." Thorstein Veblen, New York, 1905. Pages 287, 288.

[18] Marx in "Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechts Philosophie."

[19] "The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State." F. Engels, Chicago, 1905. Page 99, and "Woman under Socialism," August Bebel, New York, 1904. Page 127.

[20] Engels, "Origin of the Family, &c." Page 100.

[21] (Mrs. Parsons'.) The enlightened public opinion of to-day finds the chief if not the only warrant for universal male suffrage in its being an educational means. In this view women need the suffrage at present even more than men.

[22] (Mrs. Parsons'.) Dr. Alice Drysdale Vickery gave striking expression to one phase of this subject at a recent discussion of the London Sociological Society. She urged that without economic independence the individuality of woman could not exercise that natural selective power in the choice of a mate which was probably a main factor in the spiritual evolution of the race. The American Journal of Sociology, Sept., 1905. Page 279.

[23] (LaMonte's.) No wonder such a startling hypothesis aroused the ire of our clerical friends.

[24] (LaMonte's.) It is worthy of note that this suggestion of a serious modification of marriage under existing economic conditions comes characteristically, not from a Socialist, but from the wife of a Republican member of Congress and the daughter of a distinguished financier.

[25] (Mrs. Parsons'.) Through the discovery of certain and innocuous methods of preventing conception. The application of this knowledge would have to be encouraged by public opinion in cases where conception would result in a degenerate offspring. Public opinion would also have to endorse the segregation of persons tainted with communicable sexual disease.

[26] Berlin cablegram in the New York Sun of Dec. 7, 1906.

[27] "Origin of the Family, &c.," Pages 91, 92. See also Bebel, "Woman under Socialism," Page 122, and elsewhere.

[28] "Origin of the Family &c." Pages 208, 209.

[29] On the existence of organized societies without a co-ercive State, see also, "Ancient Society." Lewis H. Morgan, Chicago, 1907.

[30] "Origin of the Family &c." Pages 211, 212.

[31] "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific." F. Engels, Chicago, 1905. Pages 76, 77.

[32] "The Economic Interpretation of History." Edwin R. A. Seligman, New York, 1903. Pages 105 and 109.

[33] "The People's Marx." Gabriel Deville, New York, 1900. Pages 18, 19.

[34] Cartoonists are warned that this idea is protected by copyright.

[35] The other day I chanced upon a pamphlet by one Oscar Lovell Triggs of Chicago. It bore the title, "William Morris, Craftsman, Writer and Social Reformer." In turning over its pages I was somewhat startled to read: "'Scientific' socialism he never understood or advocated." And again further on my eye fell on this gem: "It is apparent that Morris's 'Socialism' is poetic and not scientific socialism." This pamphlet should have a place of honor in every doll's library.

[36] In "Sartor Resartus."

[37] In fact, Professor Veblen has shown that for the last quarter of a century the commonest cause of seasons of "ordinary prosperity" has been war. See "The Theory of Business Enterprise." Pages 250-1.

[38] From "Art and Socialism," a pamphlet that is now rare.



THE BIOGENETIC LAW

It is very easy to go too far in drawing analogies between biology and sociology. Society—as yet, at least—is not an organism in the sense that a tree or a mammal is. It is quite true that with the perfect organization and solidarity to which Socialists look forward the analogy will be more complete than it is to-day, but for the present we must always remember that, as the lawyers would say, "the cases are not on all fours." If we bear these reservations in mind laws drawn from natural science are often of the greatest aid in enabling us to understand the phenomena of psychology and sociology.

One of the most helpful of these laws of science is the biogenetic law which is always associated with the great name of Ernest Haeckel, its most distinguished exponent. Doctor William Boelsche, in his book[39] on Haeckel, uses, to illustrate this law, the familiar example of the frog. The mother frog lays her eggs in the water. In due course a new little frog develops from each of these eggs. But the object that develops from them is altogether different from the adult frog. This object is the familiar fish-like tadpole. It finally loses its tail, develops legs, and becomes a frog. Doctor Boelsche discusses the matter as follows:—

"There are reasons on every hand for believing that the frogs and salamanders, which now stand higher in classification than the fishes, were developed from the fishes in earlier ages in the course of progressive evolution. Once upon a time they were fishes. If that is so, the curious phenomenon we have been considering really means that each young frog resembles its fish ancestors. In each case to-day the frog's egg first produces the earlier or ancestral stage, the fish, it then develops rapidly into a frog. In other words, the individual development recapitulates an important chapter of the earlier history of the whole race of frogs. Putting this in the form of a law, it runs: each new individual must, in its development, pass rapidly through the form of its parents' ancestors before it assumes the parent form itself. If a new individual frog is to be developed and if the ancestors of the whole frog stem were fishes, the first thing to develop from the frog's egg will be a fish and it will only later assume the form of a frog.

"That is a simple and pictorial outline of what we mean when we speak of the biogenetic law. We need, of course, much more than the one frog-fish before we can erect it into a law. But we have only to look around us and we find similar phenomena as common as pebbles.

"Let us bear in mind that evolution proceeded from certain amphibia to the lizards and from these to the birds and mammals. That is a long journey, but we have no alternative. If the amphibia (such as the frog and the salamander) descend from the fishes, all the higher classes up to man himself must also have done so. Hence the law must have transmitted even to ourselves this ancestral form of the gill-breathing fish.

"What a mad idea, many will say, that man should at one time be a tadpole like the frog! And yet—there's no help in prayer, as Falstaff said—even the human germ or embryo passes through a stage at which it shows the outlines of gills on the throat just like a fish. It is the same with the dog, the horse, the kangaroo, the duck mole, the bird, the crocodile, the turtle, the lizard. They all have the same structure.

"Nor is this an isolated fact. From the fish was evolved the amphibian. From this came the lizard. From the lizard came the bird. The lizard has solid teeth in its mouth. The bird has no teeth in its beak. That is to say, it has none to-day. But it had when it was a lizard. Here, then we have an intermediate stage between the fish and the bird. We must expect that the bird embryo in the egg will show some trace of it. As a matter of fact, it does so. When we examine young parrots in the egg we find that they have teeth in their mouth before the bill is formed. When the fact was first discovered, the real intermediate form between the lizard and the bird was not known. It was afterwards discovered at Solenhofen in a fossil impression from the Jurassic period. This was the archeopteryx, which had feathers like a real bird and yet had teeth in its mouth like the lizard when it lived on earth. The instance is instructive in two ways. In the first place it shows that we were quite justified in drawing our conclusions as to the past from the bird's embryonic form, even if the true transitional form between the lizard and the bird were never discovered at all. In the second place, we see in the young bird in the egg the reproduction of two consecutive ancestral stages: one in the fish gills, the other in the lizard-like teeth. Once the law is admitted, there can be nothing strange in this. If one ancestral stage, that of the fish, is reproduced in the young animal belonging to a higher group, why not several?—why not all of them? No doubt, the ancestral series of the higher forms is of enormous length. What an immense number of stages there must have been before the fish! And then we have still the amphibian, the lizard, and the bird or mammal, up to man.

"Why should not the law run: the whole ancestral series must be reproduced in the development of each individual organism? We are now in a position to see the whole bearing of Haeckel's idea."

In analogy with this, is it not true that every thinking man and woman in the course of his or her development, epitomizes the history of human thought? To be more specific, I take it that you, reader, are an educated man of middle-class origin, and that you have been a socialist for at least six months, and have, of course, read Engels' "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific." Now, is it not a fact that your socialism has developed from Utopia toward Science exactly along the lines Engels has traced for the movement at large? So true was this in my case that for a long time I was inclined to push the biogenetic law too far and to conclude that every socialist had traveled the same road. I still think the law holds here, but not in the narrow way I first applied it.

In the course of my work as an agitator (and socialist agitation is the best School of Socialism) I met many sterling socialists who had never been Utopians as I had. They were born fighters, so to speak, and had been full of the class spirit, and fighting the capitalists in the trade-union and elsewhere in every way they could think of, long before they had ever heard of the ideal of the Co-operative Commonwealth. And these men are among our best and most uncompromising socialists. Here was a hard problem for me. I believed in my law, but it did not seen to cover the cases of these militant socialists. I was long in solving the problem, but I solved it at last.

Socialism has two aspects. As the most vital fact of modern life it is a kinetic force. "Modern Socialism" in Engels' words "is, in its essence, the direct product of the recognition on the one hand, of the class antagonisms, existing in the society of to-day, between proprietors and non-proprietors, between capitalists and wage-workers; on the other hand, of the anarchy existing in production." This is Socialism, the most pregnant actuality in the palpitating life all about us. But, as Engels pointed out, Socialism also has its ideological side. In this sense it may correctly be called a theory, if we bear in mind that it is the virile force of class-feeling, and not the theory, that is going to effect the Social Revolution. Now, every individual socialist does in his development conform to the biogenetic law; but the bourgeois socialist is more apt to epitomize the history of Socialist theory, while the proletarian socialist recapitulates the development of class feeling as a kinetic force from blind and often unavailing hatred of the rich to the fruitful class-consciousness of the Marxian Socialist. The individual may combine these two processes in varying proportions; but in broad outline the bourgeois may be expected to reproduce fairly closely the history of Socialism, as a theory, while the proletarian reproduces the history of Socialism, the great kinetic force.

While, from the standpoint of socialist theory, the statement of Doctor Parkhurst and many others that "Christ was a Socialist" is a manifest absurdity, the historian who traces back the history of Socialism, the kinetic force, will surely be led by the chain of facts to James and Jesus and Isaiah. For they were among those who gave most effective expression to the class hatred which is the lineal ancestor of Marxian Socialism viewed as a kinetic actuality. In this sense Jesus was one of the founders of Socialism.

Here are a few extracts from these ancient sowers of the seeds of discontent:

"The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.

What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts."

"Wo unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!" ISAIAH.

"Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter the kingdom of heaven.

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

"Wo unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation." JESUS.

"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.

Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth." JAMES.

James would appear to have been somewhat more class-conscious than is deemed decorous by most of our modern Christian Socialists. But Isaiah and Jesus and James all give expression to precisely the same fierce emotions that I have many a time seen blazing out of the eyes of poor hopeless proletarians grouped around the soap-box; and it is the glory of Modern Socialism that it has been able to transform this fierce class hatred into intelligent class-consciousness which aims by loyalty to the Proletariat to rescue the rich as well as the poor from the fatal curse of economic inequality.

The bourgeois and the proletarian who come into the Socialist movement both have tadpole tails to lose in the course of their development into scientific socialists; but the tails are different. The proletarian has to rid himself of his hatred of the rich as individuals. He has to learn that Rockefeller, just as much as he himself, is a product of economic conditions. After he once thoroughly learns this there will be no danger of his being a Democrat or Anarchist or any other species of dangerous reactionary. The bourgeois tail is harder to lose. It consists of animistic, theological and dualistic habits of thought, issuing in utopianism and non-materialistic idealism. For, if I may be permitted to toy with the Hegelian dialectic in the manner of Marx, no man can be a fruitful idealist until he has become a materialist.

The reader of this volume will probably find himself able to agree pretty fully with what I have said in "Science and Socialism." That is because, when I wrote that, I had not fully gotten rid of my idealistic tadpole tail. He will probably have more difficulty in assenting to the theses of "The Nihilism of Socialism." That is because he has not yet gotten rid of his tadpole tail. I do not wish to be understood as speaking with contempt or depreciation of the tadpole tails. Without their aid most of us bourgeois socialist frogs would never have been able to get out of our old conservative shells. It was the utopianism of our tails, in most cases, that first cracked the shell.

I should be sorry to have any reader interpret the materialism of "The Nihilism of Socialism" into a disposition to deny or depreciate the great and beneficent influence that Christianity has had in the past. I should be greatly chagrined to be accused of irreverence in discussing religion. Irreverence is ever a sign of a narrow intellectual horizon and a limited vision. The scoffer is the product of the limited knowledge characteristic of what Engels called "metaphysical materialism." Unfortunately the mental development of many in the past has been arrested at this Ingersoll-Voltaire stage. But with the growth of Modern Socialism the tendency is for the metaphysical materialist to grow into socialist or dialectic materialism with its Hegelian watchword, "Nothing is; every thing is becoming."

The socialist materialist realizes that the obsolescent ideals of Christianity and the Family have played leading roles in the great drama of human progress. It is impossible for him to speak lightly or contemptuously of the ideals which have sustained and comforted, guided and cheered countless hosts of his fellows through the long, dark ages of Christian Faith. But he knows that those ages are past and that present day adherence to the old ideals is atavistic and reactionary. But none-the-less his mental attitude toward the old ideals is one of reverent sympathy and, I had almost added, gratitude. This state of feeling has found perfect expression in these lines by William Morris:

"They are gone—the lovely, the mighty, the hope of the ancient Earth: It shall labor and bear the burden as before that day of their birth; It shall groan in its blind abiding for the day that Sigurd hath sped, And the hour that Brynhild hath hastened, and the dawn that waketh the dead; It shall yearn, and be oft-times holpen, and forget their deeds no more, Till the new sun beams on Baldur, and the happy sea-less shore." (From SIGURD the VOLSUNG.)

FOOTNOTE:

[39] Haeckel: His Life and Work. By William Boelsche. George W. Jacobs & Company.



KISMET.

"Verily I say unto you. That there be some of them that stand here which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." Mark, ix, 1.

The very close analogy between primitive Christianity and Modern Socialism has often been pointed out both by materialists, such as Enrico Ferri, and by Churchmen, such as the Reverend Doctor Hall.

We find in both the doctrine of the Advent. The primitive Christian believed in all simplicity and sincerity that he should not taste death until the Son of Man had come and established upon earth His kingdom of justice, peace and brotherhood. The Marxian Socialist to-day is even more sure that men and women now living will bear a part in the Social Revolution which is to usher in the reign of Fellowship on earth. The secret of the propaganda power of both movements is in the sincerity of this conviction.

Just at this point we are often met with two queries, both of which bear witness to the persistence of the utopian tadpole tails of the questioners. The first question is: If the early Christians were sincere and yet mistaken, may not the Socialists also be mistaken in their doctrine of the inevitability of Socialism? The second question is: If Socialism is inevitable—is coming anyhow—why do you Socialists vex your souls agitating for it?

The doubt of the inevitability of Socialism on analysis is always found to be a doubt of the pro-socialist desires and actions of the Proletariat. No one disputes that the Capitalist system is breaking down. With the great mass of the producers receiving bare subsistence wages the impossibility of disposing of the almost miraculously stupendous product of modern machines and processes is mathematically demonstrable. The former paradox of the Socialist agitator, that the Utopian is the man who believes in the possibility of the continuance of the present system, has become a platitude. Nor can many be found to dispute the statement that the centralization of industry in the United States has reached a point where Socialism is economically entirely practicable. The doubt of the sceptics is: Will the workers create, in the language of economics, an effective demand for Socialism? Two eminent Utopians have voiced this doubt in the recent past. Their names are George D. Herron and Daniel DeLeon. Both alike forget that the desires, ideals, and motives of the proletariat cannot but be in harmony with their economic environment, and I do not think that either of them would deny that, as we near the downfall of Capitalism, the economic environment will more and more imperatively drive men to Socialism as the only avenue of escape from chaos and pessimism. On this point, of the motives to action of the individual being formed by economic conditions, Marx wrote in "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte": "On the various forms of property, on the conditions of social existence, there rises an entire superstructure of various and peculiarly formed sensations, illusions, methods of thought and views of life. The whole class fashions and moulds them from out of their material foundations and their corresponding social relations. The single individual, in whom they converge through tradition and education, is apt to imagine that they constitute the real determining causes and the point of departure of his action." (Prof. Seligman's translation.)

The man who has thoroughly assimilated the doctrine of historical materialism cannot for a moment doubt the inevitability of Socialism. The utopianism which evinces itself in this doubt may be depended upon to betray itself elsewhere in the views of the doubters. We find that this is signally true in the case of the two illustrious utopian sceptics I have mentioned. The Natural Rights platform that Professor Herron wrote and the Socialist Party adopted in 1904 is only less utopian than Daniel DeLeon's curiously childish conceit that in the highly factitious, "wheel of fortune" form of organization of the Industrial Workers of the World[40] we have the precise frame-work of the coming Co-operative Commonwealth.

It does not seem too much to say that doubt of the inevitability of Socialism is in all cases a symptom of failure to apprehend clearly the full implications of the Materialist Conception of History.

The second question, If Socialism is inevitable, why do Socialists work to bring it about?, would appear to have been answered by implication in the course of our discussion of the first question. In brief, we work for it because we know that if we did not it would never come. It is inevitable simply because Socialists are inevitable. Our activity as Socialist agitators is a necessary result of the development of capitalist industry just as much as the Trust is. Again, we work for Socialism because we know we can get it, and we work all the harder if we believe it is coming soon. One of the most active of our wealthy socialists has said: "If I had to be in 'the hundred year, step at a time, take-what-you-can-get' class, you would find me automobiling my life away down at Newport with Reggie Vanderbilt instead of editing this magazine.... As said, I would rather chase down the pike on my Red Dragon at 'steen hundred miles an hour, terrifying the farmers, than go in for any 'reform game'." (Gaylord Wilshire in Wilshire Editorials. New York, 1907. Pages 232, 233.) So we find that in practice the belief in the inevitability and the proximity of Socialism is the most powerful stimulus to socialist activity.

We believe that the doctrine of the inevitability of Socialism is scientifically true, that its proclamation is the most effective weapon in the arsenal of the Socialist agitator, and that it is the most powerful incentive to Socialist activity; so that we mean exactly what the words imply when we address our non-socialist friends in the words of William Morris:

"Come, join in the only battle wherein no man can fail, Where whoso fadeth and dieth, yet his deed shall still prevail."

FOOTNOTE:

[40] I trust that no one will construe this as an attack on the Industrial Workers of the World. It is not my intention to express in this place any opinion as to the merits or demerits of that organization. It is only mentioned here because mention of it was necessary to illustrate the most curious case I know of the abnormally prolonged retention of the utopian tadpole tail.



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