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Title: The Common Sense of Socialism - A Series of Letters Addressed to Jonathan Edwards, of Pittsburg
Author: Spargo, John, 1876-1966
Language: English
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Author of "The Bitter Cry of the Children," "Socialism: A
Summary and Interpretation of Socialist Principles,"
"The Socialists: Who They Are and What They
Stand For," "Capitalist and Laborer,"
Etc., Etc., Etc.


Copyright 1909





CHAPTER                                PAGE

I BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION                                        1

II WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH AMERICA?                              4

III THE TWO CLASSES IN THE NATION                              12


V THE DRONES AND THE BEES                                      44

VI THE ROOT OF THE EVIL                                        68

VII FROM COMPETITION TO MONOPOLY                               81


IX WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT--_Continued_          118


XI WHAT SHALL WE DO, THEN?                                    170



II HOW SOCIALIST BOOKS ARE PUBLISHED                          179




    Socialism is undoubtedly spreading. It is, therefore, right
    and expedient that its teachings, its claims, its tendencies,
    its accusations and promises, should be honestly and seriously
    examined.--_Prof. Flint._

_My Dear Mr. Edwards_: I count it good fortune to receive such letters
of inquiry as that which you have written me. You could not easily
have conferred greater pleasure upon me than you have by the charming
candor and vigor of your letter. It is said that when President
Lincoln saw Walt Whitman, "the good, Gray Poet," for the first time he
exclaimed, "Well, he looks like a man!" and in like spirit, when I
read your letter I could not help exclaiming, "Well, he writes like a

There was no need, Mr. Edwards, for you to apologize for your letter:
for its faulty grammar, its lack of "style" and "polish." I am not
insensible to these, being a literary man, but, even at their highest
valuation, grammar and literary style are by no means the most
important elements of a letter. They are, after all, only like the
clothes men wear. A knave or a fool may be dressed in the most perfect
manner, while a good man or a sage may be poorly dressed, or even
clad in rags. Scoundrels in broadcloth are not uncommon; gentlemen in
fustian are sometimes met with.

He would be a very unwise man, you will admit, who tried to judge a
man by his coat. President Lincoln was uncouth and ill-dressed, but he
was a wise man and a gentleman in the highest and best sense of that
much misused word. On the other hand, Mr. Blank, who represents
railway interests in the United States Senate, is sleek, polished and
well-dressed, but he is neither very wise nor very good. He is a
gentleman only in the conventional, false sense of that word.

Lots of men could write a more brilliant letter than the one you have
written to me, but there are not many men, even among professional
writers, who could write a better one. What I like is the spirit of
earnestness and the simple directness of it. You say that you have
"Read lots of things in the papers about the Socialists' ideas and
listened to some Socialist speakers, but never could get a very clear
notion of what it was all about." And then you add "Whether Socialism
is good or bad, wise or foolish, _I want to know_."

I wish, my friend, that there were more working men like you; that
there were millions of American men and women crying out: "Whether
Socialism is good or bad, wise or foolish, _I want to know_." For that
is the beginning of wisdom: back of all the intellectual progress of
the race is the cry, _I want to know_! It is a cry that belongs to
wise hearts, such as Mr. Ruskin meant when he said, "A little group of
wise hearts is better than a wilderness full of fools." There are lots
of fools, both educated and uneducated, who say concerning Socialism,
which is the greatest movement of our time, "I don't know anything
about it and I don't want to know anything about it." Compared with
the most learned man alive who takes that position, the least educated
laborer in the land who says "I want to know!" is a philosopher
compared with a fool.

When I first read your letter and saw the long list of your objections
and questions I confess that I was somewhat frightened. Most of the
questions are fair questions, many of them are wise ones and all of
them merit consideration. If you will bear with me, Mr. Edwards, and
let me answer them in my own way, I propose to answer them all. And in
answering them I shall be as honest and frank with you as I am with my
own soul. Whether you believe in Socialism or not is to me a matter of
less importance than whether you understand it or not.

You complain that in some of the books written about Socialism there
are lots of hard, technical words and phrases which you cannot
properly understand, even when you have looked in the dictionary for
their meaning, and that is a very just complaint. It is true that most
of the books on Socialism and other important subjects are written by
students for students, but I shall try to avoid that difficulty and
write as a plain, average man of fair sense to another plain, average
man of fair sense.

All your other questions and objections, about "stirring up class
hatred," about "dividing-up the wealth with the lazy and shiftless,"
trying to "destroy religion," advocating "free love" and "attacking
the family," all these and the many other matters contained in your
letter, I shall try to answer fairly and with absolute honesty.

I want to convert you to Socialism if I can, Mr. Edwards, but I am
more anxious to have you _understand_ Socialism.



    It seems to me that people are not enough aware of the
    monstrous state of society, absolutely without a parallel in
    the history of the world, with a population poor, miserable
    and degraded in body and mind, as if they were slaves, and yet
    called freemen. The hopes entertained by many of the effects
    to be wrought by new churches and schools, while the social
    evils of their conditions are left uncorrected, appear to me
    utterly wild.--_Dr. Arnold, of Rugby._

    The working-classes are entitled to claim that the whole field
    of social institutions should be re-examined, and every
    question considered as if it now arose for the first time,
    with the idea constantly in view that the persons who are to
    be convinced are not those who owe their ease and importance
    to the present system, but persons who have no other interest
    in the matter than abstract justice and the general good of
    the community.--_John Stuart Mill._

I presume, Mr. Edwards, that you are not one of those persons who
believe that there is nothing the matter with America; that you are
not wholly content with existing conditions. You would scarcely be
interested in Socialism unless you were convinced that in our existing
social system there are many evils for which some remedy ought to be
found if possible. Your interest in Socialism arises from the fact
that its advocates claim that it is a remedy for the social evils
which distress you--is it not so?

I need not harrow your feelings, therefore, by drawing for you
pictures of dismal misery, poverty, vice, crime and squalor. As a
workingman, living in Pittsburg, you are unhappily familiar with the
evils of our present system. It doesn't require a professor of
political economy to understand that something is wrong in our
American life today.

As an industrial city Pittsburg is a notable example of the defective
working of our present social and industrial system. In Pittsburg, as
in every other modern city, there are the extremes of wealth and
poverty. There are beautiful residences on the one hand and miserable,
crowded tenement hovels upon the other hand. There are people who are
so rich, whose incomes are so great, that their lives are made
miserable and unhappy. There are other people so poor, with incomes so
small, that they are compelled to live miserable and unhappy lives.
Young men and women, inheritors of vast fortunes, living lives of
idleness, uselessness and vanity at one end of the social scale are
driven to dissipation and debauchery and crime. At the other end of
the social scale there are young men and women, poor, overburdened
with toil, crushed by poverty and want, also driven to dissipation and
debauchery and crime.

You are a workingman. All your life you have known the conditions
which surround the lives of working people like yourself. You know how
hard it is for the most careful and industrious workman to properly
care for his family. If he is fortunate enough never to be sick, or
out of work, or on strike, or to be involved in an accident, or to
have sickness in his family, he may become the owner of a cheap home,
or, by dint of much sacrifice, his children may be educated and
enabled to enter one of the professions. Or, given all the conditions
stated, he may be enabled to save enough to provide for himself and
wife a pittance sufficient to keep them from pauperism and beggary in
their old age.

That is the best the workingman can hope for as a result of his own
labor under the very best conditions. To attain that level of comfort
and decency he must deny himself and his wife and children of many
things which they ought to enjoy. It is not too much to say that none
of your fellow-workmen in Pittsburg, men known to you, your neighbors
and comrades in labor, have been able to attain such a condition of
comparative comfort and security except by dint of much hardship
imposed upon themselves, their wives and children. They have had to
forego many innocent pleasures; to live in poor streets, greatly to
the disadvantage of the children's health and morals; to concentrate
their energies to the narrow and sordid aim of saving money; to
cultivate the instincts and feelings of the miser.

The wives of such men have had to endure privations and wrongs such as
only the wives of the workers in civilized society ever know.
Miserably housed, cruelly overworked, toiling incessantly from morn
till night, in sickness as well as in health, never knowing the joys
of a real vacation, cooking, scrubbing, washing, mending, nursing and
pitifully saving, the wife of such a worker is in truth the slave of a

At the very best, then, the lot of the workingman excludes him and his
wife and children from most of the comforts which belong to modern
civilization. A well-fitted home in a good neighborhood--to say
nothing of a home beautiful in itself and its surroundings--is out of
the question; foreign travel, the opportunity to enjoy the rest and
educative advantages of occasional journeys to other lands, is
likewise out of the question. Even though civic enterprise provides
public libraries and art galleries, museums, lectures, concerts, and
other opportunities of recreation and education, there is not the
leisure for their enjoyment to any extent. For our model workman, with
all his exceptional advantages, after a day's toil has little time
left for such things, and little strength or desire, while his wife
has even less time and even less desire.

You know that this is not an exaggerated account. It may be questioned
by the writers of learned treatises who know the life of the workers
only from descriptions of it written by people who know very little
about it, but you will not question it. As a workman you know it is
true. And I know it is true, for I have lived it. The best that the
most industrious, thrifty, persevering and fortunate workingman can
hope for is to be decently housed, decently fed, decently clothed.
That he and his family may always be certain of these things, so that
they go down to their graves at last without having experienced the
pangs of hunger and want, the worker must be exceptionally fortunate.
_And yet, my friend, the horses in the stables of the rich men of this
country, and the dogs in their kennels, have all these things, and
more!_ For they are protected against such overwork and such anxiety
as the workingman and the workingman's wife must endure. Greater care
is taken of the health of many horses and dogs than the most favored
workingman can possibly take of the health of his boys and girls.

At its best and brightest, then, the lot of the workingman in our
present social system is not an enviable one. The utmost good fortune
of the laboring classes is, properly considered, a scathing
condemnation of modern society. There is very little poetry, beauty,
joy or glory in the life of the workingman when taken at its very

But you know very well that not one workingman in a hundred, nay, not
one in a thousand, is fortunate enough never to be sick, or out of
work, or on strike, or to be involved in an accident, or to have
sickness in his family. Not one worker in a thousand lives to old age
and goes down to his grave without having known the pangs of hunger
and want, both for himself and those dependent upon him. On the
contrary, dull, helpless, poverty is the lot of millions of workers
whose lines are cast in less pleasant places.

Mr. Frederic Harrison the well-known conservative English publicist,
some years ago gave a graphic description of the lot of the working
class of England, a description which applies to the working class of
America with equal force. He said:

    "Ninety per cent of the actual producers of wealth have no
    home that they can call their own beyond the end of a week,
    have no bit of soil, or so much as a room that belongs to
    them; have nothing of value of any kind except as much as will
    go in a cart; have the precarious chance of weekly wages which
    barely suffice to keep them in health; are housed for the most
    part in places that no man thinks fit for his horse; are
    separated by so narrow a margin from destruction that a month
    of bad trade, sickness or unexpected loss brings them face to
    face with hunger and pauperism."[1]

I am perfectly willing, of course, to admit that, upon the whole,
conditions are worse in England than in this country, but I am still
certain that Mr. Harrison's description is fairly applicable to the
United States of America, in this year of Grace, nineteen hundred and

At present we are passing through a period of industrial depression.
Everywhere there are large numbers of unemployed workers. Poverty is
rampant. Notwithstanding all that is being done to ease their misery,
all the doles of the charitable and compassionate, there are still
many thousands of men, women and children who are hungry and
miserable. You see them every day in Pittsburg, as I see them in New
York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, and elsewhere. It is
easy to see in times like the present that there is some great, vital
defect in our social economy.

Later on, if you will give me your attention, Jonathan, I want you to
consider the causes of such cycles of depression as this that we are
so patiently enduring. But at present I am interested in getting you
to realize the terrible shortcomings of our industrial system at its
best, in normal times. I want to have you consider the state of
affairs in times that are called "prosperous" by the politicians, the
preachers, the economists, the statisticians and the editors of our
newspapers. I am not concerned, here and now, with the _exceptional_
distress of such periods as the present, but with the ordinary,
normal, chronic misery and distress; the poverty that is always so
terribly prevalent.

Do you remember the talk about the "great and unexampled prosperity"
in which you indulged during the latter part of 1904 and the following
year? Of course you do. Everybody was talking about prosperity, and a
stranger visiting the United States might have concluded that we were
a nation of congenital optimists. Yet, it was precisely at that time,
in the very midst of our loud boasting about prosperity, that Robert
Hunter challenged the national brain and conscience with the
statement that there were at lease ten million persons in poverty in
the United States. If you have not read Mr. Hunter's book, Jonathan, I
advise you to get it and read it. You will find in it plenty of food
for serious thought. It is called _Poverty_, and you can get a copy at
the public library. From time to time I am going to suggest that you
read various books which I believe you will find useful. "Reading
maketh a full man," provided that the reading is seriously and wisely
done. Good books relating to the problems you have to face as a worker
are far better for reading than the yellow newspapers or the sporting
prints, my friend.

When they first read Mr. Hunter's startling statement that there were
ten million persons in the United States in poverty, many people
thought that he must be a sensationalist of the worst type. It could
not be true, they thought. But when they read the startling array of
facts upon which that estimate was based they modified their opinion.
It is significant, I think, that there has been no very serious
criticism of the estimate made by any reputable authority.

Do you know, Jonathan, that in New York of all the persons who die one
in every ten dies a pauper and is buried in Potter's Field? It is a
pity that we have not statistics upon this point covering most of our
cities, including your own city of Pittsburg. If we had, I should ask
you to try an experiment. I should ask you to give up one of your
Saturday afternoons, or any day when you might be idle, and to take
your stand at the busiest corner in the city. There, I would have you
count the people as they pass by, hurrying to and fro, and every tenth
person you counted I would have you note by making a little cross on a
piece of paper. Think what an awful tally it would be, Jonathan. How
sick and weary at heart you would be if you stood all day counting,
saying as every tenth person passed, "There goes another marked for a
pauper's grave!" And it might happen, you know, that the fateful count
of ten would mark your own boy, or your own wife.

We are a practical, hard-headed people. That is our national boast.
You are a Yankee of the good old Massachusetts stock, I understand,
proud of the fact that you can trace your descent right back to the
Pilgrim Fathers. But with all our hard-headed practicality, Jonathan,
there is still some sentiment left in us. Most of us dread the thought
of a pauper's grave for ourselves or friends, and struggle against
such fate as we struggle against death itself. It is a foolish
sentiment perhaps, for when the soul leaves the body a mere handful of
clod and marl, the spark of divinity forever quenched, it really does
not matter what happens to the body, nor where it crumbles into dust.
But we cherish the sentiment, nevertheless, and dread having to fill
pauper graves. And when ten per cent, of those who die in the richest
city of the richest nation on earth are laid at last in pauper graves
and given pauper burial there is something radically and cruelly

And you and I, with our fellows, must try to find out just what the
wrong is, and just how we can set it right. Anything less than that
seems to me uncommonly like treason to the republic, treason of the
worst kind. Alas! Alas! such treason is very common, friend
Jonathan--there are many who are heedless of the wrongs that sap the
life of the republic and careless of whether or no they are righted.


[1] Report of the Industrial Remuneration Conference, 1886, p. 429.



    Mankind are divided into two great classes--the shearers and
    the shorn. You should always side with the former against the

    All men having the same origin are of equal antiquity; nature
    has made no difference in their formation. Strip the nobles
    naked and you are as well as they; dress them in your rags,
    and you in their robes, and you will doubtless be the nobles.
    Poverty and riches only discriminate betwixt

    Thou shalt not steal. _Thou shalt not be stolen from._--_Thomas

I want you to consider, friend Jonathan, the fact that in this and
every other civilized country there are two classes. There are, as it
were, two nations in every nation, two cities in every city. There is
a class that lives in luxury and a class that lives in poverty. A
class constantly engaged in producing wealth but owning little or none
of the wealth produced and a class that enjoys most of the wealth
without the trouble and pain of producing it.

If I go into any city in America I can find beautiful and costly
mansions in one part of the city, and miserable, squalid tenement
hovels in another part. And I never have to ask where the workers
live. I know that the people who live in the mansions don't produce
anything; that the wealth producers alone are poor and miserably

Republican and Democratic politicians never ask you to consider such
things. They expect you to let _them_ do all the thinking, and to
content yourself with shouting and voting for them. As a Socialist, I
want you to do some thinking for yourself. Not being a politician, but
a simple fellow-citizen, I am not interested in having you vote for
anything you do not understand. If you should offer to vote for
Socialism without understanding it, I should beg you not to do it. I
want you to vote for Socialism, of course, but not unless you know
what it means, why you want it and how you expect to get it. You see,
friend Jonathan, I am perfectly frank with you, as I promised to be.

You will remember, I hope, that in your letter to me you made the
objection that the Socialists are constantly stirring up class hatred,
setting class against class. I want to show you now that this is _not
true_, though you doubtless believed that it was true when you wrote
it. I propose to show you that in this great land of ours there are
two great classes, the "shearers and the shorn," to adopt Talleyrand's
phrase. And I want you to side with the _shorn_ instead of with the
_shearers_, because, if I am not sadly mistaken, my friend, _you are
one of the shorn_. Your natural interests are with the workers, and
all the workers are shorn and robbed, as I shall try to show you.

You work in one of the great steel foundries of Pittsburg, I
understand. You are paid wages for your work, but you have no other
interest in the establishment. There are lots of other men working in
the same place under similar conditions. Above you, having the
authority to discharge you if they see fit, if you displease them or
your work does not suit them, are foremen and bosses. They are paid
wages like yourself and your fellow workmen. True, they get a little
more wages, and they live in consequence in a little better homes
than most of you, but they do not own the plant. They, too, may be
discharged by other bosses above them. There are a few of the workmen
who own a small number of shares of stock in the company, but not
enough of them to have any kind of influence in its management. They
are just as likely to be turned out of employment as any of you.

Above all the workers and bosses of one kind and another there is a
general manager. Wonderful stories are told of the enormous salary he
gets. They say that he gets more for one week than you or any of your
fellow workmen get for a whole year. You used to know him well when
you were boys together. You went to the same school; played "hookey"
together; bathed in the creek together. You used to call him "Richard"
and he always used to call you "Jon'thun." You lived close to each
other on the same street.

But you don't speak to each other nowadays. When he passes through the
works each morning you bend to your work and he does not notice you.
Sometimes you wonder if he has forgotten all about the old days, about
the games you used to play up on "the lots," the "hookey" and the
swimming in the creek. Perhaps he has not forgotten: perhaps he
remembers well enough, for he is just a plain human being like
yourself Jonathan; but if he remembers he gives no sign.

Now, I want to ask you a few plain questions, or, rather, I want you
to ask yourself a few plain questions. Do you and your old friend
Richard still live on the same street, in the same kind of houses like
you used to? Do you both wear the same kind of clothes, like you used
to? Do you and he both go to the same places, mingle with the same
company, like you used to in the old days? Does _your_ wife wear the
same kind of clothes than _his_ wife does? Does _his_ wife work as
hard as _your_ wife does? Do they both belong to the same social "set"
or does the name of Richard's wife appear in the Social Chronicle in
the daily papers while your wife's does not? When you go to the
theater, or the opera, do you and your family occupy as good seats as
Richard and his family in the same way that you and he used to occupy
"quarter seats" in the gallery? Are your children and Richard's
children dressed equally well? Your fourteen-year-old girl is working
as a cash-girl in a store and your fifteen-year-old boy is working in
a factory. What about Richard's children? They are about the same age
you know: is his girl working in a store, his boy in a factory?
Richard's youngest child has a nurse to take care of her. You saw her
the other day, you remember: how about your youngest child--has she a
nurse to care for her?

Ah, Jonathan! I know very well how you must answer these questions as
they flash before your mind in rapid succession. You and Richard are
no longer chums; your wives don't know each other; your children don't
play together, but are strangers to one another; you have no friends
in common now. Richard lives in a mansion, while you live in a hovel;
Richard's wife is a fine "lady" in silks and satins, attended by
flunkeys, while your wife is a poor, sickly, anæmic, overworked
drudge. You still live in the same city, yet not in the same world.
You would not know how to act in Richard's home, before all the
servants; you would be embarrassed if you sat down at his dinner
table. Your children would be awkward and shy in the presence of his
children, while they would scorn to introduce your children to their

You have drifted far apart, you two, my friend. Somehow there yawns
between you a great, impassable gulf. You are as far apart in your
lives as prince and pauper, lord and serf, king and peasant ever were
in the world's history. It is wonderful, this chasm that yawns between
you. As Shakespeare has it:

            Strange it is that bloods
    Alike of colour, weight and heat, pour'd out together,
    Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off
    In differences so mighty.

I am not going to say anything against your one-time friend who is now
a stranger to you and the lord of your life. I have not one word to
say against him. But I want you to consider very seriously if the
changes we have noted are the only changes that have taken place in
him since the days when you were chums together. Have you forgotten
the Great Strike, when you and your fellow workers went out on strike,
demanding better conditions of labor and higher wages? Of course you
have not forgotten it, for that was when your scanty savings were all
used up, and you had to stand, humiliated and sorrowful, at the relief
station, or in the "Bread Line," to get food for your little family.

Those were the dark days when your dream of a little cottage in the
country, with hollyhocks and morning-glories and larkspurs growing
around it, melted away like the mists of the morning. It was the dream
of your young manhood and of your wife's young womanhood; it was the
dream of your earliest years together, and you both worked and saved
for that little cottage in the suburbs where you would spend the
sunset hours of life together. The Great Strike killed your beautiful
dream; it killed your wife's hopes. You have no dream now and no hope
for the sunset hours. When you think of them you become bitter and
try to banish the thought. I know all about that faded dream,

Why did you stay out on strike and suffer? Why did you not remain at
work, or at least go back as soon as you saw how hard the fight was
going to be? "What! desert my comrades, and be a traitor to my
brothers in the fight?" you say. But I thought you did not believe in
classes! I thought you were opposed to the Socialists because they set
class to fight class! You were fighting the company then, weren't you;
trying to force them to give you decent conditions? You called it a
fight, Jonathan, and the newspapers, you remember, had great headlines
every day about the "Great Labor War."

It wasn't the Socialists who urged you to go out on strike, Jonathan.
You had never heard of Socialism then, except once you read something
in the papers about some Socialists who were shot down by the Czar's
Cossacks in the streets of Warsaw. You got an idea then that a
Socialist was a desperado with a firebrand in one hand and a bomb in
the other, madly seeking to burn palaces and destroy the lives of rich
men and rulers. No, it was not due to Socialist agitation that you
went out on strike.

You went out on strike because you had grown desperate on account of
the wanton, wicked, needless waste of human life that went on under
your very eyes, day after day. You saw man after man maimed, man after
man killed, through defects in the machinery, and the company, through
your old chum and playmate, refused to make the changes necessary.
They said that it would "cost too much money," though you all knew
that the shareholders were reaping enormous profits. Added to that,
and the fact that you went hourly in dread of similar fate befalling
you, your wife had a hard time to make both ends meet. There was a
time when you could save something every week, but for some time
before the strike there was no saving. Your wife complained; your
comrades said that their wives complained. Finally you all agreed that
you could stand it no longer; that you would send a committee to
interview the manager and tell him that, unless you got better wages
and unless something was done to make your lives safer you would go
out on strike.

When you and the manager were chums together he was a kind,
good-hearted, generous fellow, and you felt certain that when the
Committee explained things it would be all right. But you were
mistaken. He cursed at them as though they were dogs, and you could
scarcely believe your own ears. Do you remember how you spoke to your
wife about it, about "the change in Dick"?

You went out on strike. The manager scoured the country for men to
take your places. Ruffianly men came from all parts of the country;
insolent, strife-provoking thugs. More than once you saw your
fellow-workmen attacked and beaten by thugs, and then the police were
ordered to club and arrest--not the aggressors but your comrades. Then
the manager asked the mayor to send for the troops, and the mayor did
as he was bidden do. What else could he do when the leading
stockholders in the company owned and controlled the Republican
machine? So the Republican mayor wired to the Republican Governor for
soldiers and the soldiers came to intimidate you and break the strike.
One day you heard a rifle's sharp crack, followed by a tumult and they
told you that one of your old friends, who used to go swimming with
you and Richard, the manager, had been shot by a drunken sentry,
though he was doing no harm.

You were a Democrat. Your father had been a Democrat and you "just
naturally growed up to be one." As a Democrat you were very bitter
against the Republican mayor and the Republican Governor. You honestly
thought that if there had been a good Democrat in each of those
offices there would have been no soldiers sent into the city; that
your comrade would not have been murdered. You spoke of little else to
your fellows. You nursed the hope that at the next election they would
turn out the Republicans and put the Democrats in.

But that delusion was shattered like all the rest, Jonathan, when,
soon after, the Democratic President you were so proud of, to whom you
looked up as to a modern Moses, sent federal troops into Illinois,
over the protest of the Governor of that Commonwealth, in defiance of
the laws of the land, in violation of the sacred Constitution he had
sworn to protect and obey. Your faith in the Democratic Party was
shattered. Henceforth you could not trust either the Republican Party
or the Democratic Party.

I don't want to discuss the strike further. That is all ancient
history to you now. I have already gone a good deal farther afield
than I wanted to do, or than I intended to do when I began this
letter. I want to go back--back to our discussion of the great gulf
that divides you and your former chum, Richard.

I want you to ask yourself, with perfect candor and good faith,
whether you believe that Richard has been so much better than you,
either as workman, citizen, husband or father, that his present
position can be regarded as a just reward for his virtue and ability?
I'll put it another way for you, Jonathan: in your own heart do you
believe that you are so much inferior to him as a worker or as a
citizen, so much inferior in mentality and in character that you
deserve the hard fate which has come to you, the ill-fortune compared
to his good fortune? Are you and your family being punished for your
sins, while he and his family are being rewarded for his virtues? In
other words, Jonathan, to put the matter very plainly, do you believe
that God has ordained your respective states in accordance with your
just deserts?

You know that is not the case, Jonathan. You know very well that both
Richard and yourself share the frailties and weaknesses of our kind.
Infinite mischief has been done by those who have given the struggle
between the capitalists and the workers the aspect of a conflict
between "goodness" on the one side and "wickedness" upon the other.
Many things which the capitalists do appear very wicked to the
workers, and many things which the workers do, and think perfectly
proper and right, the capitalists honestly regard as improper and

I do not deny that there are some capitalists whose conduct deserves
our contempt and condemnation, just as there are some workingmen of
whom the same is true. Still less would I deny that there is a very
real ethical measure of life; that some conduct is anti-social while
other conduct is social. I simply want you to catch my point that we
are creatures of our environment, Jonathan; that if the workers and
the capitalists could change places, there would be a corresponding
change in their views of many things. I refuse to flatter the workers,
my friend: they have been flattered too much already.

Politicians seeking votes always tell the workers how greatly they
admire them for their intelligence and for their moral excellencies.
But you know and I know that they are insincere; that, for the most
part, their praise is lying hypocrisy. They practice what you call
"the art of jollying the people" because that is an important part of
their business. The way they talk _to_ the working class is very
different from the way they talk _of_ the working class among
themselves. I've heard them, my friend, and I know how most of them
despise the workers.

The working men and women of this country have many faults and
failings. Many of them are ignorant, though that is not quite their
own fault. Many a workingman starves and pinches his wife and little
ones to gamble, squandering his money, yes, and the lives of his
family, upon horse races, prize-fights, and other brutal and senseless
things called "sport." It is all wrong, Jonathan, and we know it. Many
of our fellow workmen drink, wasting the children's bread-money and
making beasts of themselves in saloons, and that is wrong, too, though
I do not wonder at it when I think of the hells they work in, the
hovels they live in and the dull, soul-deadening grind of their daily
lives. But we have got to struggle against it, got to conquer the
bestial curse, before we can get better conditions. Men who soak their
brains in alcohol, or who gamble their children's bread, will never be
able to make the world a fit place to live in, a place fit for little
children to grow in.

But the worst of all the failings of the working class, in my humble
judgment, is its indifference to the great problems of life. Why is
it, Jonathan, that I can get tens of thousands of workingmen in
Pittsburg or any large city excited and wrought to feverish enthusiasm
over a brutal and bloody prize-fight in San Francisco, or about a
baseball game, and only a man here and there interested in any degree
about Child Labor, about the suffering of little babies? Why is it
that the workers, in Pittsburg and every other city in America, are
less interested in getting just conditions than in baseball games from
which all elements of honest, manly sport have been taken away; brutal
slugging matches between professional pugilists; horseraces conducted
by gamblers for gamblers; the sickening, details of the latest scandal
among the profligate, idle rich?

I could get fifty thousand workingmen in Pittsburg to read long,
disgusting accounts of bestiality and vice more easily than I could
get five hundred to read a pamphlet on the Labor Problem, on the
wrongfulness of things as they are and how they might be made better.
The masters are wiser, Jonathan. They watch and guard their own
interests better than the workers do.

If you owned the tools with which you work, my friend, and whatever
you could produce belonged to you, either to use or to exchange for
the products of other workers, there would be some reason in your
Fourth of July boasting about this

            Blest land of Liberty.

But you don't. You, and all other wage-earners, depend upon the
goodwill and the good judgment of the men who own the land, the mines,
the factories, the railways, and practically all other means of
producing wealth for the right to live. You don't own the raw
material, the machinery or the railways; you don't control your own
jobs. Most of you don't even own your own miserable homes. These
things are owned by a small class of, people when their number is
compared with the total population. The workers produce the wealth of
this and every other country, but they do not own it. They get just
enough to keep them alive and in a condition to go on producing
wealth--as long as the master class sees fit to have them do it.

Most of the capitalists do not, _as capitalists_, contribute in any
manner to the production of wealth. Some of them do render services of
one kind and another in the management of the industries they are
connected with. Some of them are directors, for example, _but they are
always paid for their services before there is any distribution of
profits_. Even when their "work" is quite perfunctory and useless,
mere make-believe, like the games of little children, they get paid
far more than the actual workers. But there are many people who own
stock in the company you work for, Jonathan, who never saw the
foundries, who were never in the city of Pittsburg in their lives,
whose knowledge of the affairs of the company is limited to the stock
quotations in the financial columns of the morning papers.

Think of it: when you work and produce a dollar's worth of wealth by
your labor, it is divided up. You get only a very small fraction. The
rest is divided between the landlords and the capitalists. This
happens in the case of every man among the thousands employed by the
company. Only a small share goes to the workers, a third, or a fourth,
perhaps, the remainder being divided among people who have done none
of the work. It may happen, does happen in fact, that, an old
profligate whose delight is the seduction of young girls, a wanton
woman whose life would shame the harlot of the streets, a lunatic in
an asylum, or a baby in the cradle, will get more than any of the
workers who toil before the glaring furnaces day after day.

These are terrible assertions, Jonathan, and I do not blame you if you
doubt them. I shall _prove_ them for you in a later letter.

At present, I want you to get hold of the fact that the wealth
produced by the workers is so distributed that the idle and useless
classes get most of it. People will tell you, Jonathan, that "there
are no classes in America," and that the Socialists lie when they say
so. They point out to you that your old chum, Richard, who is now a
millionaire, was a poor boy like yourself. They say he rose to his
present position because he had keener brains than his fellows, but
you know lots of workmen in the employ of the company who know a great
deal more about the work than he does, lots of men who are cleverer
than he is. Or they tell you that he rose to his present position
because of his superior character, but you know that he is, to say the
least, no better than the average man who works under him.

The fact is, Jonathan, the idle capitalists must have some men to
carry on the work for them, to direct it and see that the workers are
exploited properly. They must have some men to manage things for them;
to see that elections are bought, that laws in their interests are
passed and not laws in the interests of the people. They must have
somebody to do the things they are too "respectable" to do--or too
lazy. They take such men from the ranks of the workers and pay them
enormous salaries, thereby making them members of their own class.
Such men are really doing useful and necessary work in managing the
business (though not in corrupting legislators or devising swindling
schemes) and are to that extent producers. But their interests are
with the capitalists. They live in palaces, like the idlers; they
mingle in the same social sets; they enjoy the same luxuries. And,
above all, they can invest part of their large incomes in other
concerns and draw enormous profits from the labors of other toilers,
sometimes even in other lands. They are capitalists and their whole
influence is on the side of the capitalists against the workers.

I want you to think over these things, friend Jonathan. Don't be
afraid to do your own thinking! If you have time, go to the library
and get some good books on the subject and read them carefully, doing
your own thinking no matter what the authors of the books may say. I
suggest that you get W.J. Ghent's _Mass and Class_ to begin with.
Then, when you have read that, I shall be glad to have you read
Chapter VI of a book called _Socialism: A Summary and Interpretation
of Socialist Principles_. It is not very hard reading, for I wrote the
book myself to meet the needs of just such earnest, hard-working men
as yourself.

I think both books will be found in the public library. At any rate,
they ought to be. But if not, it would be worth your while to save the
price of a few whiskies and to buy them for yourself. You see,
Jonathan, I want you to study.



    It is easy to persuade the masses that the good things of this
    world are unjustly divided--especially when it happens to be
    the exact truth.--_J.A. Froude._

    The growth of wealth and of luxury, wicked, wasteful and
    wanton, as before God I declare that luxury to be, has been
    matched step by step by a deepening and deadening poverty,
    which has left whole neighborhoods of people practically
    without hope and without aspiration.--_Bishop Potter._

    At present, all the wealth of Society goes first into the
    possession of the Capitalist.... He pays the landowner his
    rent, the labourer his wages, the tax and tithe-gatherer their
    claims, and keeps a large, indeed, the largest, and a
    constantly augmenting share of the annual produce of labour
    for himself. The Capitalist may now be said to be the first
    owner of all the wealth of the community, though no law has
    conferred on him the right of this property.... This change
    has been effected by the taking of interest on Capital ... and
    it is not a little curious that all the lawgivers of Europe
    endeavoured to prevent this by Statutes--viz., Statutes
    against usury.--_Rights of Natural and Artificial Property
    Contrasted_ (_An Anonymous work, published in London, in
    1832_).--_Th. Hodgskin._

You are not a political economist, Jonathan, nor a statistician. Most
books on political economy, and most books filled with statistics,
seem to you quite unintelligible. Your education never included the
study of such books and they are, therefore, almost if not quite
worthless to you.

But every working man ought to know something about political economy
and be familiar with some statistics relating to social conditions.
So I am going to ask you to study a few figures and a little political
economy. Only just a very little, mind you, just to get you used to
thinking about social problems in a scientific way. I think I can set
the fundamental principles of political economy before you in very
simple language, and I will try to make the statistics interesting.

But I want to warn you again, Jonathan, that you must use your own
commonsense. Don't trust too much to theories and figures--especially
figures. Somebody has said that you can divide the liars of the world
into three classes--liars, damned liars and statisticians. Some people
are paid big salaries for juggling with figures to fool the American
people into believing what is not true, Jonathan. I want you to
consider the laws of political economy and all the statistics I put
before you in the light of your own commonsense and your own practical

Political economy is the name which somebody long ago gave to the
formal study of the production and distribution of wealth. Carlyle
called it "the dismal science," and most books on the subject are
dismal enough to justify the term. Upon my library shelves there are
some hundreds of volumes dealing with political economy, and I don't
mind confessing to you that some of them I never have been able to
understand, though I have put no little effort and conscience into the
attempt. I have a suspicion that the authors of these books could not
understand them themselves. That the reason why they could not write
so that a man of fair intelligence and education could understand them
was the fact that they had no clear ideas to convey.

Now, in the first place, what do we mean by _Wealth_? Why, you say,
wealth is money and money is wealth. But that is only half true,
Jonathan. Suppose, for example, that an American millionaire crossing
the ocean be shipwrecked and find himself cast upon some desert
island, like another Robinson Crusoe, without food or means of
obtaining any. Suppose him naked, without tool or weapon of any kind,
his one sole possession being a bag containing ten thousand dollars in
gold and banknotes to the value of as many millions. With that money,
in New York, or any other city in the world, he would be counted a
rich man, and he would have no difficulty in getting food and

But alone upon that desert island, what could he do with the money? He
could not eat it, he could not keep himself warm with it? He would be
poorer than the poorest savage in Africa whose only possessions were a
bow and arrow and an assegai, or spear, wouldn't he? The poor kaffir
who never heard of money, but who had the simple weapons with which to
hunt for food, would be the richer man of the two, wouldn't he?

I think you will find it useful, Jonathan, to read a little book by
John Ruskin, called _Unto This Last_. It is a very small book, written
in very simple and beautiful language. Mr. Ruskin was a somewhat
whimsical writer, and there are some things in the book which I do not
wholly agree with, but upon the whole it is sane, strong and eternally
true. He shows very clearly, according to my notion, that the mere
possession of things, or of money, is not wealth, but that _wealth
consists in the possession of things useful to us_. That is why the
possession of heaps of gold by a man living alone upon a desert island
does not make him wealthy, and why Robinson Crusoe, with weapons,
tools and an abundant food supply, was really a wealthy man, though he
had not a dollar.

In a primitive state of society, then, he is poor who has not enough
of the things useful to him, and he who has them in abundance is rich,
or wealthy.

Note that I say this of "A primitive state of society," Jonathan, for
that is most important. _It is not true of our present capitalist
state of society._ This may seem a strange proposition to you at
first, but a little careful thought will convince you that it is true.

Consider a moment: Mr. Carnegie is a wealthy man and Mr. Rockefeller
is a wealthy man. They are, each of them, richer than most of the
princes and kings whose wealth astonished the ancient world. Mr.
Carnegie owns shares in many companies, steelmaking companies, railway
companies, and so on. Mr. Rockefeller, owns shares in the Standard Oil
Company, in railways, coal mines, and so on. But Mr. Carnegie does not
personally use any of the steel ingots made in the works in which he
owns shares. He uses practically no steel at all, except a knife or
two. Mr. Rockefeller does not use the oil-wells he owns, nor a
hundred-millionth part of the coal his shares in coal-mines represent.

If one could get Mr. Carnegie into one of the works in which he is
interested and stand with him in front of one of the great furnaces as
it poured forth its stream of molten metal, he might say: "See! that
is partly mine. It is part of my wealth!" Then, if one were to ask
"But what are you going to do with that steel, Mr. Carnegie--is it
useful to you?" Mr. Carnegie would laugh at the thought. He would
probably reply, "No, bless your life! The steel is useless to _me_. I
don't want it. But somebody else does. _It is useful to other

Ask Mr. Rockefeller, "Is this oil refinery your property, Mr.
Rockefeller?" and he would reply: "It is partly mine. I own a big
share in it and it represents part of my wealth." Ask him next: "But,
Mr. Rockefeller, what are _you_ going to do with all that oil? Surely,
you cannot need so much oil for your own use?" and he, like Mr.
Carnegie, would reply: "No! The oil is useless to me. I don't want it.
But somebody else does. _It is useful to other people._"

To be rich in our present social state, Jonathan, you must not only
own an abundance of things useful to you, but also things useful only
to others, which you can sell to them at a profit. Wealth, in our
present society, then consists in the possession of things having an
exchange value--things which other people will buy from you. So endeth
our first lesson in political economy.

And here beginneth our second lesson, Jonathan. We must now consider
how wealth is produced.

The Socialists say that all wealth is produced by labor applied to
natural resources. That is a very simple answer, which you can easily
remember. But I want you to examine it well. Think it over: ask
yourself whether anything in your experience as a workingman confirms
or disproves it. Do you produce wealth? Do your fellow workers produce
wealth? Do you know of any other way in which wealth can be produced
than by labor applied to natural resources? Don't be fooled, Jonathan.
Think for yourself!

The wealth of a fisherman consists in an abundance of fish for which
there is a good market. But suppose there is a big demand for fish in
the cities and that, at the same time, there are millions of fish in
the sea, ready to be caught. So long as they are in the sea, the fish
are not wealth. Even if the sea belonged to a private individual, as
the oil-wells belong to Mr. Rockefeller and a few other individuals,
nobody would be any the better off. Fish in the sea are not wealth,
but fish in the market-places are. Why, because labor has been
expended in catching them and bringing them to market.

There are millions of tons of coal in Pennsylvania. President Baer
said, you will remember, that God had appointed him and a few other
gentlemen to look after that coal, to act as His trustees. And Mr.
Baer wasn't joking, either. That is the funny part of the story: he
was actually serious when he uttered that foolish blasphemy! There are
also millions of people who want coal, whose very lives depend upon
it. People who will pay almost any price for it rather than go without

The coal is there, millions of tons of it. But suppose that nobody
digs for it; that the coal is left where Nature produced it, or where
God placed it, whichever description you prefer? Do you think it would
do anybody any good lying there, just as it lay untouched when the
Indian roved through the forests ignorant of its presence? Would
anybody be wealthier on account of the coal being there? Of course
not. It only becomes wealth when somebody's labor makes it available.
Every dollar of the wealth of our coal-mining industry, as of the
fishing industries, represents human labor.

I need not go through the list of all our industries, Jonathan, to
make this truth clear to you. If it pleases you to do so, you can
easily do that for yourself. I simply wanted to make it clear that the
Socialists are stating a great universal truth when they say that
labor applied to natural resources is the true source of all wealth.
As Sir William Petty said long ago: "Labor is the father and land is
the mother of all wealth."

But you must be careful, Jonathan, not to misuse that word "labor."
Socialists don't mean the labor of the hands only, when they speak of
labor. Take the case of the coal-mines again, just for a moment:
There are men who dig the coal, called miners. But before they can
work there must be other men to make tools and machinery for them. And
before there can be machinery made and fixed in its proper place there
must be surveyors and engineers, men with a special education and
capacity, to draw the plans, and so on. Then there must be some men to
organize the business, to take orders for the coal, to see that it is
shipped, to collect the payment agreed upon, so that the workers can
be paid, and so on through a long list of things requiring _mental

Both kinds of labor are equally necessary, and no one but a fool would
ever think otherwise. No Socialist writer or lecturer ever said that
wealth was produced by _manual labor_ alone applied to natural
resources. And yet, I hardly ever pick up a book or newspaper article
written against Socialism in which that is not charged against the
Socialists! The opponents of Socialism all seem to be lineal
descendants of Ananias, Jonathan!

For your special, personal benefit I want to cite just one instance of
this misrepresentation. You have heard, I have no doubt, of the
English gentleman, Mr. W.H. Mallock, who came to this country last
year to lecture against Socialism. He is a very pleasant fellow,
personally--as pleasant a fellow as a confirmed aristocrat who does
not like to ride in the street cars with "common people" can be. Mr.
Mallock was hired by the Civic Federation and paid out of funds which
Mr. August Belmont contributed to that body, funds which did not
belong to Mr. Belmont, as the investigation of the affairs of the New
York Traction Companies conducted later by the Hon. W.M. Ivins,
showed. He was hired to lecture against Socialism in our great
universities and colleges, in the interests of people like Mr.
Belmont. And there was not one of those universities or colleges fair
enough to say: "We want to hear the Socialist side of the argument!" I
don't think the word "fairplay," about which we used to boast as one
of the glories of our language, is very much liked or used in American
universities, Jonathan. And I am very sorry. It ought not to be so.

I should have been very glad to answer Mr. Mallock's silly and unjust
attacks; to say to the professors and students in the universities and
colleges: "I want you to listen to our side of the argument and then
make up your minds whether we are right or whether truth is on the
side of Mr. Mallock." That would have been fair and honest and manly,
wouldn't it? There were several other Socialist lecturers, the equals
of Mr. Mallock in education and as public speakers, who would have
been ready to do the same thing. And not one of us would have wanted a
cent of anybody's money, let alone money contributed by Mr. August

Mr. Mallock said that the Socialists make the claim that manual labor
alone creates wealth when applied to natural objects. _That statement
is not true._ He even dared say that a great and profound thinker like
Karl Marx believed and taught that silly notion. The newspapers of
America hailed Mr. Mallock as the long-looked-for conqueror of Marx
and his followers. They thought he had demolished Socialism. But did
they know that they were resting their case upon a _lie_, I wonder?
That Marx never for a moment believed such a thing; that he went out
of his way to explain that he did not?

I don't want you to try to read the works of Marx, my friend--at
least, not yet: _Capital_, his greatest work, is a very difficult
book, in three large volumes. But if you will go into the public
library and get the first volume in English translation, and turn to
page 145, you will read the following words:

"By labor power or capacity for labor is to be understood the
aggregate of those _mental and physical_ capabilities existing in a
human being, which he exercises when he produces a use-value of any

I think you will agree, Jonathan, that that statement fully justifies
all that I have said concerning Mr. Mallock. I think you will agree,
too, that it is a very clear and intelligible definition, which any
man of fair sense can understand. Now, by way of contrast, I want you
to read one of Mr. Mallock's definitions. Please bear in mind that Mr.
Mallock is an English "scholar," by many regarded as a very clear
thinker. This is how he defines labor:

"_Labor means the faculties of the individual applied to his own

I have never yet been able to find anybody who could make sense out of
that definition, Jonathan, though I have submitted it to a good many
people, among them several college professors. It does not mean
anything. The fifty-seven letters contained in that sentence would
mean just as much if you put them in a bag, shook them up, and then
put them on paper just as they happened to fall out of the bag. Mr.
Mallock's English, his veracity and his logic are all equally weak and

I don't think that Mr. Mallock is worthy of your consideration,
Jonathan, but if you are interested in reading what he said about
Socialism in the lectures I have been referring to, they are published
in a volume entitled, _A Critical Examination of Socialism_. You can
get the book in the library: they will be sure to have it there,
because it is against Socialism. But I want you to buy a little book
by Morris Hillquit, called _Mr. Mallock's "Ability,"_ and read it
carefully. It costs only ten cents--and you will get more amusement
reading the careful and scholarly dissection of Mallock than you could
get in a dime show anywhere. If you will read my own reply to Mr.
Mallock, in my little book _Capitalist and Laborer_, I shall not think
the worse of you for doing so.

Now, let us look at the division of the wealth. It is all produced by
labor of manual workers and brain workers applied to natural objects
which no man made. I am not going to weary you with figures, Jonathan,
because you are not a statistician. I am going to take the statistics
and make them as simple as I can for you--and tell you where you can
find the statistics if you ever feel inclined to try your hand upon

But first of all I want you to read a passage from the writings of a
very great man, who was not a "wicked Socialist agitator" like your
humble servant. Archdeacon Paley, the great English theologian, was
not like many of our modern clergymen, afraid to tell the truth about
social conditions; he was not forgetful of the social aspects of
Christ's teaching. Among many profoundly wise utterances about social
conditions which that great and good teacher made more than a century
ago was the passage I now want you to read and ponder over. You might
do much worse than to commit the whole passage to memory. It reads:

    "If you should see a flock of pigeons in a field of corn, and
    if (instead of each picking where and what it liked, taking
    just as much as it wanted, and no more) you should see
    ninety-nine of them gathering all they got into a heap,
    reserving nothing for themselves but the chaff and the refuse,
    keeping this heap for one, and that the weakest, perhaps
    worst, pigeon of the flock, sitting round and looking on, all
    the winter, whilst this one was devouring, throwing about and
    wasting it; and if a pigeon, more hardy or hungry than the
    rest, touched a grain of the hoard, all the others instantly
    flying upon it, and tearing it to pieces; if you should see
    this, you would see nothing more than what is every day
    practised and established among men.

    "Among men you see the ninety-and-nine toiling and scraping
    together a heap of superfluities for one (and this one, too,
    oftentimes the feeblest and worst of the set, a child, a
    woman, a madman or a fool), getting nothing for themselves,
    all the while, but a little of the coarsest of the provision
    which their own industry produces; looking quietly on, while
    they see the fruits of all their labor spent or spoiled; and
    if one of their number take or touch a particle of the hoard,
    the others joining against him, and hanging him for theft."

If there were many men like Dr. Paley in our American churches to-day,
preaching the truth in that fearless fashion, there would be something
like a revolution, Jonathan. The churches would no longer be empty
almost; preachers would not be wondering why workingmen don't go to
church. There would probably be less show and pride in the churches;
less preachers paid big salaries, less fashionable choirs. But the
churches would be much nearer to the spirit and standard of Jesus than
most of them are to-day. There is nothing in connection with modern
religious life quite so glaring as the infidelity of the Christian
ministry to the teachings of Christ.

A lady once addressed Thomas Carlyle concerning Jesus in this fashion:
"How delighted we should all be to throw open our doors to him and
listen to his divine precepts! Don't you think so, Mr. Carlyle?" The
bluff old puritan sage answered: "No, madam, I don't. I think if he
had come fashionably dressed, with plenty of money, and preaching
doctrines palatable to the higher orders, I might have had the honor
of receiving from you a card of invitation, on the back of which would
be written, 'To meet our Saviour.' But if he came uttering his sublime
precepts, and denouncing the pharisees, and associating with publicans
and the lower orders, as he did, you would have treated him as the
Jews did, and cried out, 'Take him to Newgate and hang him.'"

I sometimes wonder, Jonathan, what really _would_ happen if the
Carpenter-preacher of Gallilee could and did visit some of our
American churches. Would he be able to stand the vulgar show? Would he
be able to listen in silence to the miserable perversion of his
teachings by hired apologists of social wrong? Would he want to drive
out the moneychangers and the Masters of Bread, to hurl at them his
terrible thunderbolts of wrath and scorn? Would he be welcomed by the
churches bearing his name? Would they want to listen to his gospel?
Frankly, Jonathan, I doubt it. A few Socialists would be found in
nearly every church ready to receive him and to call him "Comrade,"
but the majority of church-goers would shun him and pass him by.

I should not be surprised, Jonathan, if the President of the United
States called him an "undesirable citizen," as he surely would call
Archdeacon Paley if he were alive.

I wanted you to read Paley's illustration of the pigeons before going
into the unequal distribution of wealth. It will help you to
understand another illustration. Suppose that from a shipwreck one
hundred men are fortunate enough to save themselves and to make their
way to an island, where, making the best of conditions, they establish
a little community, which they elect to call "Capitalia." Luckily,
they have all got food and clothing enough to last them for a little
while, and they are fortunate enough to find on the island a supply of
tools, evidently abandoned by some former occupants of the island.

They set to work, cultivating the ground, building huts for
themselves, hunting for game, and so on. They start out to face the
primeval struggle with the sullen forces of Nature as our ancestors
did in the time long past. Their efforts prosper, every one of the
hundred men being a worker, every man working with equal will, equal
strength and vigor. Now, then, suppose that one day, they decide to
divide up the wealth produced by their labor, to institute individual
property in place of common property, competition in place of
co-operation. What would you think if two or three of the strongest
members said, "We will do the dividing, we will distribute the wealth
according to our ideas of justice and right," and then proceeded to
give 55 per cent. of the wealth to one man, to the next eleven men 32
per cent. and to the remaining eighty-eight men only 13 per cent.
between them?

I will put it in another way, Jonathan, since you are not accustomed
to thinking in percentages. Suppose that there were a hundred cows to
be divided among the members of the community. According to the scheme
of division just described, this is how the division would work out:

     1 Man would get    55 Cows for himself
    11 Men would get    32 Cows among them
    88 Men would get    13 Cows among them

When they had divided the cows in this manner they would proceed to
divide the wheat, the potato crops, the land, and everything else
owned by the community in the same unequal way. I ask you again,
Jonathan, what would you think of such a division?

Of course, being a fair-minded man, endowed with ordinary intelligence
at least, you will admit that there would be no sense and no justice
in such a plan of division, and you doubt if intelligent human beings
would submit to it. But, my friend, that is not quite so bad as the
distribution of wealth in America to-day is. Suppose that instead of
all the members of the little island community being workers, all
working equally hard, fairly sharing the work of the community, one
man absolutely refused to do anything at all, saying, "I was the first
one to get ashore. The land really belongs to me. I am the landlord. I
won't work, but you must work for me." And suppose that eleven other
men said in like manner. "We won't work. We found the tools, we
brought the seeds and the food out of the boats when we came. We are
the capitalists and you must do the work in the fields. We will
superintend you, give you orders where to dig, and when, and where to
stop. You eighty-eight common fellows are the laborers who must do the
hard work while we use our brains." And suppose that they actually
carried out that plan and _then_ divided the wealth in the way I have
described, that would be a pretty good illustration of how the wealth
produced in America under our existing social system is divided.

_And I ask you what you think of that, Jonathan Edwards. How do you
like it?_

These are not my figures. They are not the figures of any rabid
Socialist making frenzied guesses. They are taken from a book called
_The Present Distribution of Wealth in the United States_, by the late
Dr. Charles B. Spahr, a book that is used in most of our colleges and
universities. No serious criticism of the figures has ever been
attempted and most economists, even the conservative ones, base their
own estimates upon Spahr's work. It would be worth your while to get
the book from the library, Jonathan, and to read it carefully.

In the meantime, look over the following table which sets forth the
results of Dr. Spahr's investigation, Jonathan, and remember that the
condition of things has not improved since 1895, when the book was
written, but that they have, on the contrary, very much worsened.


          |     No. of |   Per |  Average |       Aggregate |   Per
Class     |   Families |  Cent |   Wealth |          Wealth |  Cent
Rich      |    125,000 |   1.0 | $263,040 |  32,880,000,000 |  54.8
Middle    |  1,362,500 |  10.9 |   14,180 |  29,320,000,000 |  32.2
Poor      |  4,762,500 |  38.1 |    1,639 |   7,800,000,000 |  13.0
Very Poor |  6,250,000 |  50.0 |          |                 |
Total     | 13,500,000 | 100.0 |   $4,800 | $60,000,000,000 | 100.0

Now, Jonathan, although I have taken a good deal of trouble to lay
these figures before you, I really don't care very much for them.
Statistics don't impress me as they do some people, and I would far
rather rely upon your commonsense than upon any figures. I have not
quoted these figures because they were published by a very able
scholar in a very wise book, nor because scientific men, professors of
political economy and others, have accepted them as a fair estimate. I
have used them because I believe them to be _true and reliable_.

But don't you rest your whole faith upon them, Jonathan. If some fine
day a Republican spellbinder, or a Democratic scribbler, tries to
upset you and prove that Socialists are all liars and false prophets,
just tell him the figures are quite unimportant to you, that you don't
care to know just exactly how much of the wealth the richest one per
cent. gets and how little of it the poorest fifty per cent. gets. A
few millions more or less don't trouble you. Pin him down to the one
fact which your own commonsense teaches you, that the wealth of the
country _is_ unequally distributed. Tell him that you _know_,
regardless of figures, that there are many idlers who are enormously
rich and many honest, industrious workers who are miserably poor. He
won't be able to deny these things. He _dare_ not, because they are

Ask any such apologist for capitalism what he would think of the
father or mother who took his or her eight children and said: "Here
are eight cakes, as many cakes as there are boys and girls. I am going
to distribute the cakes. Here, Walter, are seven of the cakes for you.
The other cake the rest of you can divide among yourselves as best you
can." If the capitalist defender is a fair-minded man, if he is
neither fool nor liar nor monster, he will agree that such a parent
would be brutally unjust.

Yet, Jonathan, that is exactly how our national wealth is divided up.
One-eighth of the families in the United States do get seven-eights of
the wealth, and, being, I hope, neither fool, liar nor monster, I
denounce the system as brutally unjust. There is no sense and no
morality in mincing matters and being afraid to call spades spades.

It is because of this unjust distribution of the wealth of modern
society that we have so much social unrest. That is the heart of the
whole problem. Why are workingmen organized into unions to fight the
capitalists, and the capitalists on their side organized to fight the
workers? Why, simply because the capitalists want to continue
exploiting the workers, to exploit them still more if possible, while
the workers want to be exploited less, want to get more of what they

Why is it that eminently respectable members of society combine to
bribe legislators--_to buy laws from the lawmakers!_--and to corrupt
the republic, a form of treason worse than Benedict Arnold's? Why, for
the same reason: they want to continue the spoliation of the people.
That is why the heads of a great life insurance company illegally used
the funds belonging to widows and orphans to contribute to the
campaign fund of the Republican Party in 1904. That is why, also, Mr.
Belmont used the funds of the traction company of which he is
president to support the Civic Federation, which is an organization
specially designed to fool and mislead the wage-earners of America.
That is why every investigation of American political or business life
that is honestly made by able and fearless men reveals so much
chicanery and fraud.

You belong to a union, Jonathan, because you want to put a check upon
the greed of the employers. But you never can expect through the union
to get all that rightfully belongs to you. It is impossible to expect
that the union will ever do away with the terrible inequalities in the
distribution of wealth. The union is a good thing, and the workers
ought to be much more thoroughly organized into unions than they are.
Socialists are always on the side of the union when it is engaged in
an honest fight against the exploiters of labor.

Later on, I shall take up the question of unionism and discuss it with
you, Jonathan. Meanwhile, I want to impress upon your mind that _a
wise union man votes as he strikes_. There is not the least bit of
sense in belonging to a union if you are to become a "scab" when you
go to the ballot-box. _And a vote for a capitalist party is a scab
vote, Jonathan._


[2] Note: In the American edition, published by Kerr, the page is



    Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions
    yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being.
    They have enabled a greater population to live the same life
    of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of
    manufactures, and others, to make large fortunes.--_John
    Stuart Mill._

    Most people imagine that the rich are in heaven, but as a rule
    it is only a gilded hell. There is not a man in the city of
    New York with brains enough to own five millions of dollars.
    Why? The money will own him. He becomes the key to a safe.
    That money will get him up at daylight; that money will
    separate him from his friends; that money will fill his heart
    with fear; that money will rob his days of sunshine and his
    nights of pleasant dreams. He becomes the property of that
    money. And he goes right on making more. What for? He does not
    know. It becomes a kind of insanity.--_R.G. Ingersoll._

    Is it well that, while we range with Science, glorying in the time,
    City children soak and blacken soul and sense in City slime?
    There, among the gloomy alleys, Progress halts on palsied feet,
    Crime and Hunger cast our maidens by the thousand on the street.
    There the master scrimps his haggard seamstress of her daily bread,
    There a single sordid attic holds the living and the dead;
    There the smouldering fire of fever creeps across the rotted floor,
    In the crowded couch of incest, in the warrens of the poor.

When you and I were boys going to school, friend Jonathan, we were
constantly admonished to study with admiration the social economy of
the bees. We learned to almost reverence the little winged creatures
for the manner in which they

    Improve each shining hour,
    And gather honey all the day
    From every opening flower.

We were taught, you remember, to honor the bees for their hatred of
drones. It was the great virtue of the bees that they always drove the
drones from the hive. For my part, I learned the lesson so well that I
really became a sort of bee-worshipper. But since I have grown to
mature years I have come to the conclusion that those old lessons were
not honestly meant, Jonathan. For if anybody proposes to-day that we
should drive out the drones from the _human_ hive, he is at once
denounced as an Anarchist and an "undesirable citizen."

It is all very well for bees to insist that there must be no idle
parasites, that the drones must go, but for human beings such a policy
won't do! It savors too much of Socialism, my friend, and is
unpleasantly like Paul's foolish saying that "If any man among you
will not work, neither shall he eat." That is a text which is out of
date and unsuited to the twentieth century!

    "Allah! Allah!" cried the stranger,
    "Wondrous sights the traveller sees;
    But the greatest is the latest,
    Where the drones control the bees!"

Every modern civilized nation rewards its drones better than it
rewards its bees, and in every land the drones control the bees.

I want you to consider, friend Jonathan, the lives of the people. How
the workers live and how the shirkers live; now the bees live and how
the drones live, if you like that better. You can study the matter for
yourself, right in Pittsburg, much better than you can from books, for
God knows that in Pittsburg there are the extremes of wealth and
poverty, just as there are in New York, Chicago, St. Louis or San
Francisco. There are gilded hells where rich drones live and squalid
hells where poor bees live, and the number of truly happy people is
sadly, terribly, small.

_Ten millions in poverty!_ Don't you think that is a cry so terrible
that it ought to shame a great nation like this, a nation more
bounteously endowed by Nature than any other nation in the world's
history? Men, women and children, poor and miserable, with not enough
to eat, nor clothes to keep them warm in the cold winter nights; with
places for homes that are unfit for dogs, and these not their own;
knowing not if to-morrow may bring upon them the last crushing blow.
All these conditions, and conditions infinitely worse than these, are
contained in the poverty of those millions, Jonathan.

If people were poor because the land was poor, because the country was
barren, because Nature dealt with us in niggardly fashion, so that all
men had to struggle against famine; if, in a word, there was democracy
in our poverty, so that none were idle and rich while the rest toiled
in poverty, it would be our supreme glory to bear it with cheerful
courage. But that is not the case. While babies perish for want of
food and care in dank and unhealthy hovels, there are pampered poodles
in palaces, bejeweled and cared for by liveried flunkies and waiting
maids. While men and women want bread, and beg crusts or stand
shivering in the "bread lines" of our great cities, there are monkeys
being banqueted at costly banquets by the profligate degenerates of
riches. It's all wrong, Jonathan, cruelly, shamefully, hellishly
wrong! And I for one, refuse to call such a brutalized system, or the
nation tolerating it, _civilized_.

Good old Thomas Carlyle would say "Amen!" to that, Jonathan. Lots of
people wont. They will tell you that the poverty of the millions is
very sad, of course, and that the poor are to be pitied. But they will
remind you that Jesus said something about the poor always being with
us. They won't read you what he did say, but you can read it for
yourself. Here it is: "For ye have the poor always with you, and
_whensoever ye will ye can do them good_."[3] And now, I want you to
read a quotation from Carlyle:

    "It is not to die, or even to die of hunger, that makes a man
    wretched; many men have died; all men must die,--the last exit
    of us all is in a Fire-Chariot of Pain. But it is to live
    miserable we know not why; to work sore and yet gain nothing;
    to be heart-worn, weary, yet isolated, unrelated, girt-in with
    a cold universal Laissezfaire: it is to die slowly all our
    life long, imprisoned in a deaf, dead, Infinite Injustice, as
    in the accursed iron belly of a Phalaris' Bull! This is and
    remains forever intolerable to all men whom God has made."

"Miserable we know not why"--"to die slowly all our life
long"--"Imprisoned in a deaf, dead, Infinite Injustice"--Don't these
phrases describe exactly the poverty you have known, brother Jonathan?

Did you ever stop to think, my friend, that poverty is the lot of the
_average_ worker, the reward of the producers of wealth, and that only
the producers of wealth are poor? Do you know that, because we die
slowly all our lives long, the death-rate among the working-class is
far higher than among other classes by reason of overwork, anxiety,
poor food, lack of pleasure, bad housing, and all the other ills
comprehended in the lot of the wage-worker? In Chicago, for example,
in the wards where the well-to-do reside the death-rate is not more
than 12 per thousand, while it is 37 in the tenement districts.

Scientists who have gone into the matter tell us that of ten million
persons belonging to the well-to-do classes the annual deaths do not
number more than 100,000, while among the very best paid workers the
number is not less than 150,000 and among the very poorest paid
workers at least 350,000. To show you just what those proportions are,
I have represented the matter in a little diagram, which you can
understand at a glance:

    [Illustration: DIAGRAM
    Showing Relative Death-Rate Among Persons of Different Social

There are some diseases, notably the Great White Plague. Consumption,
which we call "diseases of the working-classes" on account of the fact
that they prey most upon the wearied, ill-nourished bodies of the
workers. Not that they are confined to the workers entirely, but
because the workers are most afflicted by them. Because the workers
live in crowded tenement hovels, work in factories laden with dust and
disease germs, are overworked and badly fed, this and other of the
great scourges of the human race find them ready victims.

Here is another diagram for you, Jonathan, showing the comparative
mortality from Consumption among the workers engaged in six different
industrial occupations and the members of six groups of professional

    [Illustration: DIAGRAM
    Showing Relative Mortality From Tuberculosis.

    Deaths per 100,000 living in the same occupation

    Marble and stone cutters.                             540
    Cigar makers and tobacco workers.                     476
    Compositors, printers, pressmen.                      435
    Barbers and hairdressers.                             334
    Masons (brick and stone).                             294
    Iron and steel workers.                               236
    Physicians and Surgeons.                              168
    Engineers and Surveyors.                              145
    School teachers.                                      144
    Lawyers.                                              140
    Clergymen.                                            123
    Bankers, brokers, officials of companies, etc.         92]

I want you to study this diagram and the figures by which it is
accompanied, Jonathan. You will observe that the death rate from
Consumption among marble and stone cutters is six times greater than
among bankers and brokers and directors of companies. Among cigar
makers and tobacco workers it is more than five times as great. Iron
and steel workers do not suffer so much from the plague as some other
workers, according to the death-rates. One reason is that only fairly
robust men enter the trade to begin with. Another reason is that a
great many, finding they cannot stand the strain, after they have
become infected, leave the trade for lighter occupations. I think
there can be no doubt that the _true_ mortality from Consumption among
iron and steel workers is much higher than the figures show. But,
taking the figures as they are, confident that they understate the
extent of the ravages of the disease in these occupations, we find
that the mortality is more than two and a half times greater than
among capitalists.

Now, these are very serious figures, Jonathan. Why is the mortality so
much less among the capitalists? It is because they have better homes,
are not so overworked to physical exhaustion, are better fed and
clothed, and can have better care and attention, far better chances of
being cured, if they are attacked. They can get these things only from
the labor of the workers, Jonathan.

_In other words, they buy their lives with ours. Workers are killed to
keep capitalists alive._

It used to be frequently charged that drink was the chief cause of the
poverty of the workers; that they were poor because they were drunken
and thriftless. But we hear less of that silly nonsense than we used
to, though now and then a Prohibitionist advocate still repeats the
old and long exploded myth. It never was true, Jonathan, and it is
less true to-day than ever before. Drunkenness is an evil and the
working class suffers from it to a lamentable degree, but it is not
the sole cause of poverty, it is not the chief cause of poverty, it is
not even a very important cause of poverty at all.

It is true that intemperance causes poverty in some cases, it is also
true that drunkenness is very frequently caused by poverty. They act
and react upon each other, but it is not doubted by any student of our
social conditions whose opinion carries any weight that intemperance
is far more often the result of poverty and bad conditions of life and
labor than the cause of them.

The International Socialist Congress which met at Stuttgart last
summer very rightly decided that Socialists everywhere should do all
in their power to combat alcoholism, to end the ravages of
intemperance among the working classes of all nations. For drunken
voters are not very likely to be either wise or free voters: we need
sober, earnest, clear-thinking men to bring about better conditions,
Jonathan. But the Socialists, while they adopt this position, do not
mistake results for causes. They know from actual experience that
Solomon was right when he attributed intemperance to ill conditions.
Hunt out your Bible and turn to the Book of Proverbs, chapter 31,
verse 7. There you will read: "Let him drink and forget his poverty,
and remember his misery no more."

That is not very good advice to give a workingman, but it is exactly
what many workingmen do. There was a wise English bishop who said a
few years ago that if he lived in the slums of any of the great
cities, under conditions similar to those in which most of the workers
live, he would probably be a drunkard, and when I see the conditions
under which millions of men are working and living I wonder that we
have not more drunkenness than we have.

A good many years ago, "General" Booth, head of the Salvation Army,
declared that "nine-tenths" of the poverty of the people was due to
intemperance. Later on, "Commissioner" Cadman, one of the "General's"
most trusted aides, made an investigation of the causes of poverty
among all those who passed through the Army shelters for destitute men
and women. He found that among the very lowest class, the "submerged
tenth," where the ravages of drink are most sadly evident, depression
in trade counted for much more than drink as a cause of poverty. The
figures were:

    Depression in trade            55.8 per cent.
    Drink _and Gambling_           26.6 per cent.
    Ill-health                     11.6 per cent.
    Old Age                         5.8 per cent.

Even among the very lowest class of the social wrecks of our great
cities, who have long since abandoned hope, depression in trade was
found to count for more than twice as much as drink and gambling
combined as a producer of poverty.

That is in keeping with all the investigations that have ever been
made in a scientific spirit. Professor Amos Warner, in his valuable
study of the subject, published in his book, _American Charities_,
shows how false the notion that nearly all the poverty of the people
is due to their intemperance proves to be when an intelligent
investigation of the facts is made.

Dr. Edward T. Devine, of Columbia University, editor of _Charities and
the Commons_, is probably as competent an authority upon this question
as any man living. He is not likely to be called a Socialist by
anybody. Yet I find him writing in his magazine, at the end of
November, 1907: "The tradition which many hold that the condition of
poverty is ordinarily and as a matter of course to be explained by
personal faults of the poor themselves is no longer tenable. Strong
drink and vice are abnormal, unnatural and essentially unattractive
ways of spending surplus income." Dr. Devine very frankly and bravely
admits that poverty is an unnecessary evil, "a shocking, loathsome
excrescence on the body politic, an intolerable evil which should come
to an end." What else, indeed, could a sane man think of it?

As a conservative man, I say without reservation that accidents
incurred in the course of employment, and sickness brought on by
industrial conditions, such as overwork accompanied by under
nourishment, exposure to extremes of temperature, unsanitary workshops
and factories and the inhalation of contaminated atmosphere, are far
more important causes of poverty among the workers than intemperance.
Every investigation ever made goes to prove this true. I wish that
every one who seeks to blame the poverty of the poor upon the victims
themselves would study a few facts, which I am going to ask you to
study, without prejudice or passion. They would readily see then how
false the belief is.

Last year there was a Committee of very expert investigators in New
York which made a careful inquiry into the relation of wages to the
standard of living. They were not Socialists, these gentlemen, or I
should not submit their testimony. I am anxious to base my case
against our present social system upon evidence that is not in any way
biased in favor of Socialism. Dr. Lee K. Frankel was Chairman of the
Committee. He is Director of the United Hebrew Charities of New York
City, an able and sincere man, but not a Socialist. Dr. Devine,
another able and sincere man who is by no means a Socialist, was a
member of the Committee. Among the other members were also such
persons as Bishop Greer, of New York, Reverend Adolph Guttman,
president of the Hebrew Relief Society, Syracuse, New York, Mrs.
William Einstein, president of Emanu El Sisterhood, New York; Mr.
Homer Folks, Secretary State Charities Aid Association and Reverend
William J. White, of Brooklyn, Supervisor of Catholic Charities. The
Committee was deputed to make the investigation by the New York State
Conference of Charities and Corrections, and made its report in
November, 1907, at Albany, N.Y.

I think you will agree, Jonathan, that it would be very hard to
imagine a more conservative body, less inoculated with the virus of
Socialism than that. From their report to the Conference I note that
the Committee reported that as a result of their work, after going
carefully into the expenditure of some 322 families, they had come to
the conclusion that the lowest amount upon which a family of five
could be supported in decency and health in New York City was about
eight hundred dollars a year. I am quite sure, Jonathan, that there is
not one of the members of that Committee who would think that even
that sum would be enough to keep _their_ families in health and
decency; not one who would want to see their children living under the
best conditions which that sum made possible. They were
philanthropists you see, Jonathan, "figuring out" how much the "Poor"
ought to be able to live on. And to help them out they got Professor
Chapin, of Beloit College and Professor Underhill, of Yale. Professor
Underhill being an expert physiological chemist, could advise them as
to the sufficiency of the expenditures upon food among the families

But the total income of thousands of families falls very short of
eight hundred dollars a year. There are many thousands of families in
which the breadwinner does not earn more than ten dollars a week at
best. Making allowance for time lost through sickness, holidays, and
so on, it is evident that the total income of such families would not
exceed four hundred and fifty dollars a year at best. Even the worker
with twenty dollars a week, if there is a brief period of sickness or
unemployment, will find himself, despite his best efforts, on the
wrong side of the line, compelled either to see his family suffer want
or to become dependent on "that cold thing called Charity." And Dr.
Devine, writing in _Charities and the Commons_, admits that the
charitable societies cannot hope to make up the deficit, to add to the
wages of the workers enough to raise their standards of living to the
point of efficiency. He admits that "such a policy would tend to
financial bankruptcy."

Taking the unskilled workers in New York City, the vast army of
laborers, it is certain that they do not average $400 a year, so that
they are, as a class, hopelessly, miserably poor. It is true that many
of them spend part of their miserable wages on drink, but if they did
not, they would still be poor; if every cent went to buy the
necessities of existence, they would still be hopelessly, miserably

The Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics showed a few years ago, when
the cost of living was less than now, that a family of five could not
live decently and in health upon less than $754 a year, but more than
half of the unskilled workers in the shoe-making industry of that
State got less than $300 a year. Of course, some were single and not a
few were women, but the figures go far to show that the New York
conditions are prevalent in New England also. Mr. John Mitchell said
that in the anthracite district of Pennsylvania it was impossible to
maintain a family of five in decency on less than $600 a year, but
according to Dr. Peter Roberts, who is one of the most conservative of
living authorities upon the conditions of industry in the coal mines
of Pennsylvania, the _average_ wage in the anthracite district is
less than $500 and that about 60 per cent. receive less than $450 a

I am not going to bother you with more statistics, Jonathan, for I
know you do not like them, and they are hard to remember. What I want
you to see is that, for many thousands of workers, poverty is an
inevitable condition. If they do not spend a cent on drink; never give
a cent to the Church or for charity; never buy a newspaper; never see
a play or hear a concert; never lose a day's wages through sickness or
accident; never make a present of a ribbon to their wives or a toy to
their children--in a word, if they live as galley slaves, working
without a single break in the monotony and drudgery of their lives,
they must still be poor and endure hunger, unless they can get other
sources of income. The mother must go out to work and neglect her baby
to help out; the little boys and girls must go to work in the days
when they ought to be in school or in the fields at play, to help out
the beggars' pittance which is their portion. The greatest cause of
poverty is low wages.

Then think of the accidents which occur to the wage-earners, making
them incapable of earning anything for long periods, or even
permanently. At the same meeting of the New York State Conference of
Charities and Corrections as that already referred to, there were
reports presented by many of the charitable organizations of the state
which showed that this cause of poverty is a very serious one, and one
that is constantly increasing. In only about twenty per cent. of the
accidents of a serious nature investigated was there any settlement
made by the employers, and from a list that is of immense interest I
take just a few cases as showing how little the life of the average
workingman is valued at:

  _Nature of Injury._              _Settlement_

  Spine injured                    $ 20 and doctor
  Legs broken                       300
  Death                             100
  Death                              65
  Two ribs broken                    20
  Paralysis                          12
  Brain affected                     60
  Fingers amputated                  50

The reports showed that about half of the accidents occurred to men
under forty years of age, in the very prime of life. The wages were
determined in 241 cases and it was shown that about 25 per cent. were
earning less than $10 a week and 60 per cent. were earning less than
$15 a week. Even without the accidents occurring to them these workers
and their families must be miserably poor, the accidents only plunging
them deeper into the frightful abyss of despair, of wasting life and
torturous struggle.

No, my friend, it is not true that the poverty of the poor is due to
their sins, thriftlessness and intemperance. I want you to remember
that it is not the wicked Socialist agitators only who say this. I
could fill a book for you with the conclusions of very conservative
men, all of them opposed to Socialism, whose studies have forced them
to this conclusion.

There was a Royal Commission appointed in England some years ago to
consider the problem of the Aged Poor and how to deal with it. Of that
Royal Commission Lord Aberdare was chairman--and he was a most
implacable enemy of Socialism. The Commission reported in 1895: "We
are confirmed in our view by the evidence we have received that ... as
regards the great bulk of the working classes, during their lives,
they are fairly provident, fairly thrifty, fairly industrious and
fairly temperate." But they could not add that, as a result of these
virtues, they were also fairly well-to-do! The Right Honorable Joseph
Chamberlain, another enemy of Socialism, signed with several others a
Minority Report, but they agreed "that the imputation that old age
pauperism is mainly due to drink, idleness, improvidence, and the like
abuses applies to but a very small proportion of the working

Very similar was the report of a Select Committee of the House of
Commons, appointed to consider the best means of improving the
condition of the "aged and deserving poor." The report read: "Cases
are too often found in which poor and aged people, whose conduct and
whose whole career has been blameless, industrious and deserving, find
themselves from no fault of their own, at the end of a long and
meritorious life, with nothing but the workhouse or inadequate outdoor
relief as the refuge for their declining years."

And what is true of England in this respect is equally true of

Let me repeat here that I am not defending intemperance. I believe
with all my heart that we must fight intemperance as a deadly enemy of
the working class. I want to see the workers sober; sober enough to
think clearly, sober enough to act wisely. Before we can get rid of
the evils from which we suffer we must get sober minds, friend
Jonathan. That is why the Socialists of Europe are fighting the drink
evil; that is why, too, the Prussian Government put a stop to the
"Anti-Alcohol" campaign of the workers, led by Dr. Frolich, of Vienna.
Dr. Frolich was not advocating Socialism. He was simply appealing to
the workers to stop making beasts of themselves, to become sober so
that they could think clearly with brains unmuddled by alcohol. And
the Prussian Government did not want that: they knew very well that
clear thinking and sober judgment would lead the workers to the ballot
boxes under Socialist banners.

I care most of all for the suffering of the innocent little ones. When
I see that under our present system it is necessary for the mother to
leave her baby's cradle to go into a factory, regardless of whether
the baby lives or dies when it is fed on nasty and dangerous
artificial foods or poor, polluted milk, I am stirred to my soul's
depths. When I think of the tens of thousands of little babies that
die every year as a result of these conditions I have described; of
the millions of children who go to school every day underfed and
neglected, and of the little child toilers in shops, factories and
mines, as well as upon the farms, though their lot is less tragic than
that of the little prisoners of the factories and mines--I cannot find
words to express my hatred of the ghoulish system.

I should like you to read, Jonathan, a little pamphlet on _Underfed
School Children_, which costs ten cents, and a bigger book, _The
Bitter Cry of the Children_, which you can get at the public library.
I wrote these to lay before thinking men and women some of the
terrible evils from which our children suffer. _I know_ that the
things written are true. Every line of them was written with the
single purpose of telling the truth as I had seen it.

I made the terrible assertions that more than eighty thousand babies
are slain by poverty in America each year; that some "2,000,000
children of school age in the United States are the victims of poverty
which denies them common necessities, particularly adequate
nourishment"; that there were at least 1,750,000 children at work in
this country. These statements, and the evidence given in support of
them, attracted widespread attention, both in this country and in
Europe. They were cited in the U.S. Senate and in Europe parliaments.
They were preached about from thousands of pulpits and discussed from
a thousand platforms by politicians, social reformers and others.

A committee was formed in New York City to promote the physical
welfare of school children. Although one of the first to take the
matter up, I was not asked to serve on that committee, on account of
the fact, as I was afterwards told, of my being a Socialist. Well,
that Committee, composed entirely of non-Socialists, and including
some very bitter opponents of Socialism, made an investigation of the
health of school children in New York City. They examined, medically,
some 1,400 children of various ages, living in different parts of the
city and belonging to various social classes. If the results they
discovered are common to the whole of the United States, the
conditions are in every way worse than I had declared them to be.

_If the conditions found by the medical investigators for this
committee are representative of the whole of the United States, then
we have not less than twelve million school children in the United
States suffering from physical defects more or less serious, and not
less than 1,248,000 suffering from malnutrition--from insufficient
nourishment, generally due to poverty, though not always--to such an
extent that they need medical attention._[4]

Do you think a nation with such conditions existing at its very heart
ought to be called a civilized nation? I don't. I say that it is a
_brutalized_ nation, Jonathan!

And now I want you to look over a list of another kind of shameful
social conditions--a list of some of the vast fortunes possessed by
men who are not victims of poverty, but of shameful wealth. I take the
list from the dryasdust pages of _The Congressional Record_, December
12, 1907, from a speech by the Hon. Jeff Davis, United States Senator
from Arkansas. I cannot find in the pages of _The Congressional
Record_ that it made any impression upon the minds of the honorable
senators, but I hope it will make some impression upon your mind, my
friend. It is a good deal easier to get a human idea into the head of
an honest workingman than into the head of an honorable senator!

Don't be frightened by a few figures. Read them. They are full of
human interest. I have put before you some facts relating to the
shameful poverty of the workers and their pitiable condition, and now
I want to put before you some facts relating to the pitiable condition
of the non-workers. I want you to feel some pity for the millionaires!


"When the average present-day millionaire is bluntly asked to name the
value of his earthly possessions, he finds it difficult to answer the
question correctly. It may be that he is not willing to take the
questioner into his confidence. It is doubtful whether he really

"If this is true of the millionaire himself, it follows that when
others attempt the task of estimating the amount of his wealth the
results must be conflicting. Still, excellent authorities are not
lacking on this subject, and the list of the richest fifty-one persons
in the United States has been satisfactorily compiled.

"The following list is taken from Munsey's Scrap Book of June, 1906,
and is a fair presentation of the property owned by fifty-one of the
very richest men of the United States.

 Rank | Name.                 | How Made.      | Total Fortune.
   1  | John D. Rockefeller   | Oil            |   $600,000,000
   2  | Andrew Carnegie       | Steel          |    300,000,000
   3  | W.W. Astor            | Real Estate    |    300,000,000
   4  | J. Pierpont Morgan    | Finance        |    150,000,000
   5  | William Rockefeller   | Oil            |    100,000,000
   6  | H.H. Rogers           |     do         |    100,000,000
   7  | W.K. Vanderbilt       | Railroads      |    100,000,000
   8  | Senator Clark         | Copper         |    100,000,000
   9  | John Jacob Astor      | Real Estate    |    100,000,000
  10  | Russell Sage          | Finance        |     80,000,000
  11  | H.C. Frick, Jr.       | Steel and Coke |     80,000,000
  12  | D.O. Mills            | Banker         |     75,000,000
  13  | Marshall Field, Jr.   | Inherited      |     75,000,000
  14  | Henry M. Flagler      | Oil            |     60,000,000
  15  | J.J. Hill             | Railroads      |     60,000,000
  16  | John D. Archbold      | Oil            |     50,000,000
  17  | Oliver Payne          |     do         |     50,000,000
  18  | J.B. Haggin           | Gold           |     50,000,000
  19  | Harry Field           | Inherited      |     50,000,000
  20  | James Henry Smith     |     do         |     40,000,000
  21  | Henry Phipps          | Steel          |     40,000,000
  22  | Alfred G. Vanderbilt  | Railroads      |     40,000,000
  23  | H.O. Havemeyer        | Sugar          |     40,000,000
  24  | Mrs. Hetty Green      | Finance        |     40,000,000
  25  | Thomas F. Ryan        |     do         |     40,000,000
  26  | Mrs. W. Walker        | Inherited      |     35,000,000
  27  | George Gould          | Railroads      |     35,000,000
  28  | J. Ogden Armour       | Meat           |     30,000,000
  29  | E.T. Gerry            | Inherited      |     30,000,000
  30  | Robert W. Goelet      | Real Estate    |     30,000,000
  31  | J.H. Flager           | Finance        |     30,000,000
  32  | Claus Spreckels       | Sugar          |     30,000,000
  33  | W.F. Havemeyer        |     do         |     30,000,000
  34  | Jacob H. Schiff       | Banker         |     25,000,000
  35  | P.A.B. Widener        | Street Cars    |     25,000,000
  36  | George F. Baker       | Banker         |     25,000,000
  37  | August Belmont        | Finance        |     20,000,000
  38  | James Stillman        | Banker         |     20,000,000
  39  | John W. Gates         | Finance        |     20,000,000
  40  | Norman B. Ream        |     do         |     20,000,000
  41  | Joseph Pulitzer       | Journalist     |     20,000,000
  42  | James G. Bennett      | Journalist     |     20,000,000
  43  | John G. Moore         | Finance        |     20,000,000
  44  | D.G. Reid             | Steel          |     20,000,000
  45  | Frederick Pabst       | Brewer         |     20,000,000
  46  | William D. Sloane     | Inherited      |     20,000,000
  47  | William B. Leeds      | Railroads      |     20,000,000
  48  | James P. Duke         | Tobacco        |     20,000,000
  49  | Anthony N. Brady      | Finance        |     20,000,000
  50  | George W. Vanderbilt  | Railroads      |     20,000,000
  51  | Fred W. Vanderbilt    |     do         |     20,000,000
      |                       |                +----------------
      |      Total            |                | $3,295,000,000

"It will thus be seen that fifty-one persons in the United States,
with a population of nearly 90,000,000 people, own approximately one
thirty-fifth of the entire wealth of the United States. The
Statistical Abstract of the United States, 29th number, 1906, prepared
under the direction of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor of the
United States, gives the estimated true value of all property in the
United States for that year at $107,104,211,917.

"Each of the favored fifty-one owns a wealth of somewhat more than
$64,600,000, while each of the remaining 89,999,950 people get $1,100.
No one of these fifty-one owns less than $20,000,000, and no one on
the average owns less than $64,600,000. Men owning from $1,000,000 to
$20,000,000 are no longer called rich men. There are approximately
4,000 millionaires in the United States, but the aggregate of their
holdings is difficult to obtain. If all their holdings be deducted
from the total true value of all the property in the United States,
the average share of each of the other 89,995,000 people would be less
than $500.

"John Jacob Astor is reputed to have been the first American
millionaire, although this is a matter impossible to decide. It is
also claimed that Nicholas Longworth, of Cincinnati, the great
grandfather of Congressman Longworth, was the first man west of the
Allegheny Mountains to amass a million. It is difficult to prove
either one of these propositions, but they prove that the age of the
millionaire in the United States is a comparatively recent thing. In
1870 to own a single million was to be a very rich man; in 1890 it
required at least $10,000,000, while to-day a man with a single
million or even ten millions is not in the swim. To be enumerated as
one of the world's richest men you must own not less than

I am perfectly serious when I suggest that the slaves of riches are
just as much to be pitied as the slaves of poverty. No man need envy
Mr. Rockefeller, for example, because he has something like six
hundred millions of dollars, an annual income of about seventy-two
millions. He does not own those millions, Jonathan, but they own him.
He is a slave to his possessions. If he owns a score of automobiles he
can only use one at a time; if he spends millions in building palatial
residences for himself he cannot get greater comfort than the man of
modest fortune. He cannot buy health nor a single touch of love for

Many of our great modern princes of industry and commerce are good
men. It is a wild mistake to imagine that they are all terrible ogres
and monsters of iniquity. But they are victims of an unjust system.
Millions roll into their coffers while they sleep, and they are
oppressed by the burden of responsibilities. If they give money away
at a rate calculated to ease them of the burdens beneath which they
stagger they can only do more harm than good. Mr. Carnegie gives
public libraries with the lavishness with which travellers in Italy
sometimes throw small copper coins to the beggars on the streets, but
he is only pauperising cities wholesale and hindering the progress of
real culture by taking away from civic life the spirit of
self-reliance. If the people of a small town came together and said:
"We ought to have a library in our town for our common advantage: let
us unite and subscribe funds for a hundred books to begin with," that
would be an expression of true culture.

But when a city accepts a library at Mr. Carnegie's hands, there is an
inevitable loss of self-respect and independence. Mr. Carnegie's
motives may be good and pure, but the harm done to the community is
none the less great.

Mr. Rockefeller may give money to endow colleges and universities from
the very highest motives, but he cannot prevent the endowments from
influencing the teaching given in them, even if he should try to do
so. Thus the gifts of our millionaires are an insidious poison flowing
into the fountains of learning.

Mind you, this is not the claim of a prejudiced Socialist agitator.
President Hadley, of Yale University, is not a Socialist agitator, but
he admits the truth of this claim. He says: "Modern University
teaching costs more money per capita than it ever did before, because
the public wishes a university to maintain places of scientific
research, and scientific research is extremely expensive. _A
university is more likely to obtain this money if it gives the
property owners reason to believe that vested rights will not be
interfered with._ If we recognize vested rights in order to secure the
means of progress in physical science, is there not danger that we
shall stifle the spirit of independence which is equally important as
a means of progress in moral science?"

Professor Bascom is not a Socialist agitator, either, but he also
recognizes the danger of corrupting our university teaching in this
manner. After calling attention to the "wrongful and unflinching way"
in which the wealth of the Standard Oil magnate has been amassed, he
asks: "Is a college at liberty to accept money gained in a manner so
hostile to the public welfare? Is it at liberty, when the Government
is being put to its wits' end to check this aggression, to rank itself
with those who fight it?"

And the effect of riches upon the rich themselves is as bad as
anything in modern life. While it is true that there are among the
rich many very good citizens, it is also perfectly plain to any honest
observer of conditions that great riches are producing moral havoc and
disaster among the princes of wealth in this country. Mr. Carnegie has
said that a man who dies rich dies disgraced, but there is even
greater reason to believe that to be born rich is to be born damned.
The inheritance of vast fortunes is always demoralizing.

What must the mind and soul of a woman be like who takes her toy
spaniel in state to the opera to hear Caruso sing, while, in the same
city, there are babies dying for lack of food? What are we to think of
the dog-dinners, the monkey-dinners and the other unspeakably foolish
and unspeakably vile orgies constantly reported from Newport and other
places where the drones of our social system disport themselves? What
shall we say of the shocking state of affairs disclosed by the
disgusting reports of our "Society Scandals," except that unearned
riches corrode and destroy all human virtues?

The wise King, Solomon, knew what he was talking about when he cried
out: "Give me neither poverty nor riches." Unnatural poverty is bad,
blighting the soul of man; and unnatural riches are likewise bad,
equally blighting the soul of man. Our social system is bad for both
classes, Jonathan, and a change to better and juster conditions, while
it will be resisted by the rich, the drones, with all their might,
will be for the common good of all. For it is well to remember that in
trying to get rid of the rule of the drones, the working class is not
trying to become the ruling class, to rule others as they have been
ruled. We are aiming to do away with classes altogether; to make a
united and free social state.


[3] Mark 14:7.

[4] Quar. Pub. American Statistical Association, June 1907.



    All for ourselves and nothing for other people seems in all
    ages to have been the vile maxim of the masters of
    mankind.--_Adam Smith._

    Hither, ye blind, from your futile banding!
      Know the rights and the rights are won.
    Wrong shall die with the understanding,
      One truth clear, and the work is done.--_John Boyle O'Reilly._

    The great ones of the world have taken this earth of ours to
    themselves; they live in the midst of splendour and
    superfluity. The smallest nook of the land is already a
    possession; none may touch it or meddle with it.--_Goethe._

I have by no means exhausted the evils of the system under which we
live in the brief catalogue I have made for you, my friend. If it were
necessary, I could compile an immense volume of authentic evidence to
overwhelm you with a sense of the awful failure of our civilization to
produce a free, united, healthy, happy and virtuous people, which I
conceive to be the goal toward which all good and wise men should
aspire. But it is dreary and unpleasant work recounting evil
conditions; constantly looking at the sores of society is a morbid and
soul-destroying task.

I want you now to consider the cause of industrial misery and social
inequality, to ask yourself why these conditions exist. For we can
never hope to remove the evils, Jonathan, until we have discovered the
underlying causes. How does it happen that some people are thrifty and
virtuous and yet miserably poor and that others are thriftless and
sinful and yet so rich that their riches weigh them down and make them
as miserable as the very poorest? Why, in the name of all that is fair
and good, have we got such a stupid, wasteful, unjust and unlovely
social system after all the long centuries of human experience and
toil? When you can answer these questions, my friend, you will know
whither to look for deliverance.

You said in your letter to me the other day, Jonathan, that you
thought things were bad because of the wickedness of man's nature.
Lots of people believe that. The churches have taught that doctrine
for ages, but I do not believe that it is true. It is a doctrine which
earnest men who have been baffled in trying to find a satisfactory
explanation for the evils have accepted in desperation. It is the
doctrine of pessimism, despair and wild unfaith in man. If it were
true that things were so bad as they are just because men were wicked
and because there never were good men enough to make them better, we
should not have any ground for hope for the future.

I propose to try and show you that the wickedness of our poor human
nature is not responsible for the terrible social conditions, so that
you will not have to depend for your hope of a better society upon the
very slender thread of the chance of getting enough good men to make
conditions better. Bad conditions make bad lives, Jonathan, and will
continue to do so. Instead of depending upon getting good men first to
make conditions good, we must make conditions good so that good lives
may flourish and grow in them naturally.

You have read a little history, I daresay, and you know that there is
no truth in the old cry that "As things are now things always have
been and always will be." You know that things are always changing. If
George Washington could come back to earth again he would be amazed at
the changes which have taken place in the United States. Going further
back, Christopher Columbus would not recognize the country he
discovered. And if we could go back millions of years and bring to
life one of our earliest ancestors, one of the primitive
cave-dwellers, and set him down in one of our great cities, the mighty
houses, streets railways, telephones, telegraphs, wireless telegraphy,
electric vehicles on the streets and the ships out on the river would
terrify him far more than an angry tiger would. Can you think how
astonished and alarmed such a primitive cave-man would be to be taken
into one of your great Pittsburg mills or down into a coal mine?

No. The world has grown, Jonathan. Man has enlarged his kingdom, his
power in the universe. Step by step in the evolution of the race, man
has wrested from Nature her secrets. He has gone down into the deep
caverns and found mineral treasuries there; he has made the angry
waves of the ocean bear great, heavy burdens from shore to shore for
his benefit; he has harnessed the tides and the winds that blow and
caught the lightning currents, making them all his servants. Between
the _lowest_ man in the modern tenement and the cave-man there is a
greater gulf than ever existed between the beast in the forest and the
_highest_ man dwelling in a cave in that far-off period.

Things are not as they are to-day because a group of clever but
desperately wicked men came together and invented a scheme of society
in which the many must work for the few; in which some must have more
than they can use, so that they rot of excess while others have too
little and rot of hunger; in which little children must toil in
factories so that big strong men may loaf in clubs and dens of vice;
in which some women sell themselves body and soul for bread while
other women spend the sustenance of thousands upon jewels for pet
dogs. No. It was no such fiendish ingenuity which devised the
capitalistic system and imposed it upon mankind. It has _grown_ up
through the ages, Jonathan, and is still growing. We have grown from
savagery and barbarism through various stages to our present
commercial system, and the process of growth is still going on. I
believe we are growing into Socialism.

There have been many forces urging mankind onward in this long
evolution. Religion has played a part. Love of country has played a
part. Climate and the nature of the soil have been factors. Man's ever
growing curiosity, his desire to know more of the life around him, has
had much to do with it. I have put the ideals of religion and
patriotism first, Jonathan, because I wanted you to see that they were
by no means overlooked or forgotten, but in truth they ought not to be
placed first. It is the verdict of all who have made a study of social
evolution that, while these factors have exerted an important
influence, back of them have been the material economic conditions.

In philosophy this is the basis of a very profound theory upon which
many learned volumes have been written. It is generally called "The
Materialistic Conception of History," but sometimes it is called
"Economic Determinism" or "The Economic Interpretation of History."
The first man to set forth the theory in a very clear and connected
manner was Karl Marx, upon whose teachings the Socialists of the
world have placed a great deal of reliance. I don't expect you to read
all the heavy and learned books written upon this subject, for many of
them require that a man must be specially trained in philosophy in
order to understand them. For the present I shall be quite satisfied
if you will read a ten-cent pamphlet called _The Communist Manifesto_,
by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and, along with that, the fourth,
fifth and sixth chapters of my book, _Socialism_, about a hundred
pages altogether. These will give you a fairly clear notion of the
matter. I shall not mention the hard, scientific name of this
philosophy again. I don't like big words if little ones will serve.

If you enjoy reading a good story, a novel that is full of romance and
adventure, I would advise you to read _Before Adam_, by Jack London, a
Socialist writer. It is a novel, but it is also a work of science. He
gives an account of the life of the first men and shows how their
whole existence depended upon the crude weapons and tools, sticks
picked up in the forests, which they used. They couldn't live
differently than they did, because they had no other means of getting
a living. How a people make their living determines how they live.

For many thousands of years, the scientists tell us, men lived in the
world without owning any private property. That came into existence
when men saw that one man could produce more out of the soil than he
needed to eat himself. Then, when they went out to war with other
tribes, the members of a tribe instead of trying to kill their
enemies, made them captives and used them as slaves. They did not
cease killing their foes from humane motives, because they had grown
better men, but because it was more profitable.

From our point of view, slavery is a bad thing, but when it first
came into existence it was a step upward and onward. If we take the
history of slave societies and nations we shall soon find that their
laws, their customs and their institutions were based upon the mode of
producing wealth through the labor of slaves. There were two classes
into which society was divided, a class of masters and a class of

When slavery broke down and gave way to feudalism there were new ways
of producing wealth. The laws of feudal societies, their customs and
institutions, changed to meet the needs brought about through the new
methods of making things. Under slavery, the slaves made wealth for
their masters and were doled out food enough to keep them alive. The
slave had no rights. Under feudalism, the serfs produced wealth for
the lords parts of the time, working for themselves the rest of the
time. They had some rights. The bounds of freedom were widened. Under
neither of these systems was there a regular system of paying wages in
money, such as we have to-day. The slave gave up all his product and
took what the master was pleased to give him in the way of food,
clothing and shelter. The serf divided his time between producing for
the owner of the soil and producing for his family. The slave produced
what his owner wanted; the serf produced what either he himself or his
lord wanted.

There came a time, about three hundred years ago, when the feudal
system broke down before the beginnings of capitalism, the system
which we are living under to-day, and which we Socialists think is
breaking down as all other social systems have broken down before it.
Under this system men have worked for wages and not because they
wanted the things they were producing, nor because the men who
employed them wanted the things, _but simply because the things could
be sold and a profit made in the sale_.

You will remember, Jonathan, that in a former letter I dealt with the
nature of wealth. We saw then that wealth in our modern society
consists of an abundance of things which can be sold. At bottom, we do
not make things because it is well that they should be made, because
the makers need them, but simply because the capitalists see
possibilities of selling the things at a profit.

I want you to consider just a moment how this works out: Here is a
workingman in Springfield, Massachusetts, making deadly weapons with
which other workingmen in other lands are to be killed. We go up to
him as he works and inquire where the rifles are to be sent, and he
very politely tells us that they are for some foreign government, say
the Japanese, to be used in all probability against Russian soldiers.
Suppose we ask him next what interest he has in helping the Japanese
government to kill the Russian troops, how he comes to have an active
hatred of the Russian soldiers. He will reply at once that he has no
such feelings against the Russians; that he is not interested in
having the Japanese slaughter them. Why, then, is he making the guns?
He answers at once that he is only interested in getting his wages;
that it is all the same to him whether he makes guns for Christians or
Infidels, for Russians or Japs or Turks. His only interest is to get
his wages. He would as soon be making coffins as guns, or shoes as
coffins, so long as he got his wages.

Perhaps, then, the company for which he is employed has an interest in
helping Japan defeat the troops of Russia. Possibly the shareholders
in the company are Japanese or sympathizers with Japan. Otherwise,
why should they be bothering themselves getting workpeople to make
guns for Japanese soldiers to kill Russian soldiers with? So we go to
the manager and ask him to explain the matter. He very politely tells
us that, like the man at the bench, he has no interest in the matter
at all, and that the shareholders are in the same position of being
quite indifferent to the quarrel of the two nations. "Why, we are also
making guns for Russia in our factory," he says, and when we ask him
to explain why he tells us that "There is profit to be made and the
firm cares for nothing else."

All our system revolves around that central sun of profit-making,
Jonathan. Here is a factory in which a great many people are making
shoddy clothing. You can tell at a glance that it is shoddy and quite
unfit for wearing. But why are the people making shoddy goods--why
don't they make decent clothing, since they can do it quite as well?
Why, because there is a profit for somebody in making shoddy. Here a
group of men are building a house. They are making it of the poorest
materials, making dingy little rooms; the building is badly
constructed and it can never be other than a barracks. Why this
"jerry-building?" There is no reason under the sun why poor houses
should be built except that somebody hopes to make profit out of them.

Goods are adulterated and debased, even the food of the nation is
poisoned, for profit. Legislatures are corrupted and courts of justice
are polluted by the presence of the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker
for profit. Nations are embroiled in quarrels and armies slaughter
armies over questions which are, always, ultimately questions of
profit. Here are children toiling in sweatshops, factories and mines
while men are idle and seeking work. Why? Do we need the labor of the
little ones in order to produce enough to maintain the life of the
nation? No. But there are some people who are going to make a profit
out of the labors which sap the strength of those little ones. Here
are thousands of people hungry, clamoring for food and perishing for
lack of it. They are willing to work, there are resources for them to
work upon; they could easily maintain themselves in comfort and
gladness if they set to work. Then why don't they set to work? Oh,
Jonathan, the torment of this monotonous answer is unbearable--because
no one can make a profit out of their labor they must be idle and
starve, or drag out a miserable existence aided by the crumbs of cold

If our social economy were such that we produced things for use,
because they were useful and beautiful, we should go on producing with
a good will until everybody had a plentiful supply. If we found
ourselves producing too rapidly, faster than we could consume the
things, we could easily slacken our pace. We could spend more time
beautifying our cities and our homes, more time cultivating our minds
and hearts by social intercourse and in the companionship of the great
spirits of all ages, through the masterpieces of literature, music,
painting and sculpture. But instead, we produce for sale and profit.
When the workers have produced more than the master class can use and
they themselves buy back out of their meagre wages, there is a glut in
the markets of the world, unless a new market can be opened up by
making war upon some defenseless, undeveloped nation.

When there is a glut in the market, Jonathan, you know what happens.
Shops and factories are shut down, the number of workers employed is
reduced, the army of the unemployed grows and there is a rise in the
tide of poverty and misery. Yet why should it be so? Why, simply
because there is a superabundance of wealth, should people be made
poorer? Why should little children go without shoes just because there
are loads of shoes stacked away in stores and warehouses? Why should
people go without clothing simply because the warehouses are bursting
with clothes? The answer is that these things must be so because we
produce for profit instead of for use. All these stores of wealth
belong to the class of profit-takers, the capitalist class, and they
must sell and make profit.

So you see, friend Jonathan, so long as this system lasts, _people
must have too little because they have produced too much_. So long as
this system lasts, there must be periods when we say that society
_cannot afford to have men and women work to maintain themselves
decently_! But under any sane system it will surely be considered the
maddest kind of folly to keep men in idleness while saying that it
does not pay to keep them working. Is there any more expensive way of
keeping either an ass or a man than in idleness?

The root of evil, the taproot from which the evils of modern society
develop, is the profit idea. Life is subordinated to the making of
profit. If it were only possible to embody that idea in human shape,
what a monster ogre it would be! And how we should arraign it at the
bar of human reason! Should we not call up images of the million of
babes who have been needlessly and wantonly slaughtered by the Monster
Idea; the images of all the maimed and wounded and killed in the wars
for markets; the millions of others who have been bruised and broken
in the industrial arena to secure somebody's profit, because it was
too expensive to guard life and limb; the numberless victims of
adulterated food and drink, of cheap tenements and shoddy clothes?
Should we not call up the wretched women of our streets; the bribers
and the vendors of privilege? We should surely parade in pitiable
procession the dwarfed and stunted bodies of the millions born to
hardship and suffering, but we could not, alas! parade the dwarfed and
stunted souls, the sordid spirits for which the Monster Idea is

I ask you, Jonathan Edwards, what you really think of this "buy cheap
and sell dear" idea, which is the heart and soul of our capitalistic
system. Are you satisfied that it should continue?

Yet, my friend, bad as it is in its full development, and terrible as
are its fruits, this idea once stood for progress. The system was a
step in the liberation of man. It was an advance upon feudalism which
bound the laborer to the soil. Capitalism has not been all bad; it has
another, brighter side. Capitalism had to have laborers who were free
to move from one place to another, even to other lands, and that need
broke down the last vestiges of the old physical slavery. That was a
step gained. Capitalism had to have intelligent workers and many
educated ones. That put into the hands of the common people the key to
the sealed treasuries of knowledge. It had to have a legal system to
meet its requirements and that has resulted in the development of
representative government, of something approaching political
democracy; even where kings nominally rule to-day, their power is but
a shadow of what it once was. Every step taken by the capitalist class
for the advancement of its own interests has become in its turn a
stepping-stone upon which the working-class has raised itself.

Karl Marx once said that the capitalist system provides its own
gravediggers. I have cited two or three things which will illustrate
his meaning. Later on, I must try and explain to you how the great
"trusts" about which you complain so loudly, and which seem to be the
very perfection of the capitalist ideal, lead toward Socialism at a
pace which nothing can very seriously hinder, though it may be
quickened by wise action on the part of the workers.

For the present I shall be satisfied, friend Jonathan, if you get it
thoroughly into your mind that the source of terrible social evils, of
the poverty and squalor, of the helpless misery of the great mass of
the people, of most of the crime and vice and much of the disease, is
the "buy cheap and sell dear" idea. The fact that we produce things
for sale for the profit of a few, instead of for use and the enjoyment
of all.

Get that into your mind above everything else, my friend. And try to
grasp the fact, also, that the system we are now trying to change was
a natural outgrowth of other conditions. It was not a wicked
invention, nor was it a foolish blunder. It was a necessary and a
right step in human evolution. But now it has in turn become
unsuitable to the needs of the people and it must give place to
something else. When a man suffers from such a disease as
appendicitis, he does not talk about the "wickedness" of the vermiform
appendix. He realizes, if he is a sensible man, that long ago, that
was an organ which served a useful purpose in the human system.
Gradually, perhaps in the course of many centuries, it has ceased to
be of any use. It has lost its original functions and become a menace
to the body.

Capitalism, Jonathan, is the vermiform appendix of the social
organism. It has served its purpose. The profit idea has served an
important function in society, but it is now useless and a menace to
the body social. Our troubles are due to a kind of social
appendicitis. And the remedy is to remove the useless and offending



    It may be fairly said, I think, that not merely competition,
    but competition that was proving ruinous to many
    establishments, was the cause of the combinations.--_Prof.
    J.W. Jenks._

    The day of the capitalist has come, and he has made full use
    of it. To-morrow will be the day of the laborer, provided he
    has the strength and the wisdom to use his opportunities.--_H.
    De. B. Gibbins._

    Monopoly expands, ever expands, till it ends by
    bursting.--_P.J. Proudhon._

    For this is the close of an era; we have political freedom;
    next and right away is to come social
    enfranchisement.--_Benjamin Kidd._

I think you realize, friend Jonathan, that the bottom principle of the
present capitalist system is that there must be one class owning the
land, mines, factories, railways, and other agencies of production,
but not using them; and another class, using the land and other means
of production, but not owning them.

Only those things are produced which there is a reasonable hope of
selling at a profit. Upon no other conditions will the owners of the
means of production consent to their being used. The worker who does
not own the things necessary to produce wealth must work upon the
terms imposed by the other fellow in most cases. The coal miner, not
owning the coal mine, must agree to work for wages. So must the
mechanic in the workshop and the mill-worker.

As a practical, sensible workingman, Jonathan, you know very well that
if anybody says the interests of these two classes are the same it is
a foolish and lying statement. You are a workingman, a wage-earner,
and you know that it is to your interest to get as much wages as
possible for the smallest amount of work. If you work by the day and
get, let us say, two dollars for ten hours' work, it would be a great
advantage to you if you could get your wages increased to three
dollars and your hours of labor to eight per day, wouldn't it? And if
you thought that you could get these benefits for the asking you would
ask for them, wouldn't you? Of course you would, being a sensible,
hard-headed American workingman.

Now, if giving these things would be quite as much to the advantage of
the company as to you, the company would be just as glad to give them
as you would be to receive them, wouldn't it? I am assuming, of
course, that the company knows its own interests just as well as you
and your fellow workmen know yours. But if you went to the officials
of the company and asked them to give you a dollar more for the two
hours' less work, they would not give it--unless, of course, you were
strong enough to fight and compel them to accept your terms. But they
would resist and you would have to fight, because your interests

That is why trade unions are formed on the one side and employers'
associations upon the other. Society is divided by antagonistic
interests; into exploiters and exploited.

Politicians and preachers may cry out that there are no classes in
America, and they may even be foolish enough to believe it--for there
are lots of _very_ foolish politicians and preachers in the world! You
may even hear a short-sighted labor leader say the same thing, but you
know very well, my friend, that they are wrong. You may not be able to
confute them in debate, not having their skill in wordy warfare; but
your experience, your common sense, convince you that they are wrong.
And all the greatest political economists are on your side. I could
fill a volume with quotations from the writings of the most learned
political economists of all times in support of your position, but I
shall only give one quotation. It is from Adam Smith's great work,
_The Wealth of Nations_, and I quote it partly because no better
statement of the principle has ever been made by any writer, and
partly also because no one can accuse Adam Smith of being a "wicked
Socialist trying to set class against class." He says:

    "The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as
    little as possible. The former are disposed to combine in
    order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of
    labor.... Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of
    tacit, but constant and uniform, combination, not to raise the
    wages of labor above their actual rate. To violate this
    combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort
    of a reproach to a master among his neighbors and equals....
    Masters too sometimes enter into particular combinations to
    sink the wages of labor.... These are always conducted with
    the utmost silence and secrecy, till the moment of execution."

That is very plainly put, Jonathan. Adam Smith was a great thinker and
an honest one. He was not afraid to tell the truth. I am going to
quote a little further what he says about the combinations of
workingmen to increase their wages:

    "Such combinations, [i.e., to lower wages] however, are
    frequently resisted by a contrary defensive combination of the
    workmen; who sometimes too, without any provocation of this
    kind, combine of their own accord to raise the price of labor.
    Their usual pretenses are, sometimes the high price of
    provisions; sometimes the great profit which their masters
    make by their work. But whether these combinations be
    offensive or defensive, they are always abundantly heard of.
    In order to bring the point to a speedy decision, they have
    always recourse to the loudest clamour, and sometimes to the
    most shocking violence and outrage. They are desperate, and
    act with the extravagance and folly of desperate men, who must
    either starve, or frighten their masters into an immediate
    compliance with their demands. The masters upon these
    occasions are just as clamorous upon the other side, and never
    cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil
    magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which
    have been enacted with so much severity against the
    combinations of servants, laborers, and journeymen.

    "But though in disputes with their workmen, masters must
    generally have the advantage, there is however a certain rate,
    below which it seems impossible to reduce, for any
    considerable time, the ordinary wages even of the lowest
    species of labor.

    "A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at
    least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most
    occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible
    for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen
    could not last beyond the first generation."

Now, my friend, I know that some of your pretended friends, especially
politicians, will tell you that Adam Smith wrote at the time of the
American Revolution; that his words applied to England in that day,
but not to the United States to-day. I want you to be honest with
yourself, to consider candidly whether in your experience as a workman
you have found conditions to be, on the whole, just as Adam Smith's
words describe them. I trust your own good sense in this and
everything. Don't let the politicians frighten you with a show of
book learning: do your own thinking.

Capitalism began when a class of property owners employed other men to
work for wages. The tendency was for wages to keep at a level just
sufficient to enable the workers to maintain themselves and families.
They had to get enough for families, you see, in order to reproduce
their kind--to keep up the supply of laborers.

Competition was the law of life in the first period of capitalism.
Capitalists competed with each other for markets. They were engaged in
a mad scramble for profits. Foreign countries were attacked and new
markets opened up; new inventions were rapidly introduced. And while
the workers found that in normal conditions the employers were in what
Adam Smith calls "a tacit combination" to keep wages down to the
lowest level, and were obliged to combine into unions, there were
times when, owing to the fierce competition among the employers, and
the demand for labor being greatly in excess of the supply, wages went
up without a struggle owing to the fact that one employer would try to
outbid another. In other words, temporarily, the natural, "tacit
combination" of the employers, to keep down wages, sometimes broke

Competition was called "the life of trade" in those days, and in a
sense it was so. Under its mighty urge, new continents were explored
and developed and brought within the circle of civilization. Sometimes
this was done by means of brutal and bloody wars, for capitalism is
never particular about the methods it adopts. To get profits is its
only concern, and though its shekels "sweat blood and dirt," to adapt
a celebrated phrase of Karl Marx, nobody cares. Under stress of
competition, also, the development of mechanical production went on
at a terrific pace; navigation was developed, so that the ocean became
as a common highway.

In short, Jonathan, it is no wonder that men sang the praises of
competition, that some of the greatest thinkers of the time looked
upon competition as something sacred. Even the workers, seeing that
they got higher wages when the keen and fierce competition created an
excessive demand for labor, joined in the adoration of competition as
a principle--but among themselves, in their struggles for better
conditions, they avoided competition as much as possible and combined.
Their instincts as wage-earners made them keen to see the folly of
division and competition among themselves.

So competition, considered in connection with the evolution of
society, had many good features. The competitive period was just as
"good" as any other period in history and no more "wicked" than any
other period.

But there was another side to the shield. As the competitive struggle
among individual capitalists went on the weakest were crushed to the
wall and fell down into the ranks of the wage workers. There was no
system in production. Word came to the commercial world that there was
a great market for certain manufactures in a foreign land and at once
hundreds and even thousands of factories were worked to their utmost
limit to meet that demand. The result was that in a little while the
thing was overdone: there was a glut in the market, often attended by
panic, stagnation and disaster. Rathbone Greg summed up the evils of
competition in the following words:

"Competition gluts our markets, enables the rich to take advantage of
the necessity of the poor, makes each man snatch the bread out of his
neighbor's mouth, converts a nation of brethren into a mass of
hostile units, and finally involves capitalists and laborers in one
common ruin."

The crises due to this unregulated production, and the costliness of
the struggles, led to the formation of joint-stock companies.
Competition was giving way before a stronger force, the force of
co-operation. There was still competition, but it was more and more
between giants. To adopt a very homely simile, the bigger fish ate up
the little ones so long as there were any, and then turned to a
struggle among themselves.

Another thing that forced the development of industry and commerce
away from competitive methods was the increasing costliness of the
machinery of production. The new inventions, first of steam-power and
later of electricity, involved an immense outlay, so that many persons
had to combine their capitals in one common fund.

This process of eliminating competition has gone on with remarkable
swiftness, so that we have now the great Trust Problem. Everyone
recognizes to-day that the trusts practically control the life of the
nation. It is the supreme issue in our politics and a challenge to the
heart and brain of the nation.

Fifty years ago Karl Marx, the great Socialist economist, made the
remarkable prophecy that this condition would arise. He lived in the
heyday of competition, when it seemed utter folly to talk about the
end of competition. He analyzed the situation, pointed to the process
of big capitalists crushing out the little capitalists, the union of
big capitalists, and the inevitable drift toward monopoly. He
predicted that the process would continue until the whole industry,
the main agencies of production and distribution at any rate, would be
centralized in a few great monopolies, controlled by a very small
handful of men. He showed with wonderful clearness that capitalism,
the Great Idea of buy cheap and sell dear, carried within itself the
germs of its own destruction.

And, of course, the wiseacres laughed. The learned ignorance of the
wiseacre always compels him to laugh at the man with an idea that is
new. Didn't the wiseacres imprison Galileo? Haven't they persecuted
the pioneers in all ages? But Time has a habit of vindicating the
pioneers while consigning the scoffing wiseacres to oblivion. Fifty
years is a short time in human evolution but it has sufficed to
establish the right of Marx to an honored place among the pioneers.

More than twenty-five years after Marx made his great prediction,
there came to this country on a visit Mr. H.M. Hyndman, an English
economist who is also known as one of the foremost living exponents of
Socialism. The intensity of the competitive struggle was most marked,
but he looked below the surface and saw a subtle current, a drift
toward monopoly, which had gone unnoticed. He predicted the coming of
the era of great trusts and combines. Again the wiseacres in their
learned ignorance laughed and derided. The amiable gentleman who plays
the part of flunkey at the Court of St. James, in London, wearing
plush knee breeches, silver-buckled shoes and powdered wig, a
marionette in the tinseled show of King Edward's court, was one of the
wiseacres. He was then editor of the _New York Tribune_, and he
declared that Mr. Hyndman was a "fool traveler" for making such a
prediction. But in the very next year the Standard Oil Company was

So we have the trust problem with us. Out of the bitter competitive
struggle there has come a new condition, a new form of industrial
ownership and enterprise. From the cradle to the grave we are
encompassed by the trust.

Now, friend Jonathan, I need not tell you that the trusts have got the
nation by the throat. You know it. But there is a passage, a question,
in the letter you wrote me the other day from which I gather that you
have not given the matter very close attention. You ask "How will the
Socialists destroy the trusts which are hurting the people?"

I suppose that comes from your old associations with the Democratic
Party. You think that it is possible to destroy the trusts, to undo
the chain of social evolution, to go back twenty or fifty years to
competitive conditions. You would restore competition. I have
purposely gone into the historical development of the trust in order
to show you how useless it would be to destroy the trusts and
introduce competition again, even if that were possible. Now that you
have mentally traced the origin of monopoly to its causes in
competition, don't you see that if we could destroy the monopoly
to-morrow and start fresh upon a basis of competition, the process of
"big fish eat little fish" would begin again at once--_for that is
competition_? And if the big ones eat the little ones up, then fight
among themselves, won't the result be as before--that either one will
crush the other, leaving a monopoly, or the competitors will join
hands and agree not to fight, leaving monopoly again?

And, Jonathan, if there should be a return to the old-fashioned,
free-for-all scramble for markets, would it be any better for the
workers? Would there not be the same old struggle between the
capitalists and the workers? Would not the workers still have to give
much for little; to wear their lives away grinding out profits for the
masters of their bread, of their very lives? Would there not be gluts
as before, with panics, misery, unemployed armies sullenly parading
the streets; idlers in mansions and toilers in hovels? You know very
well that there would be all these, my friend, and I know that you are
too sensible a fellow to think any longer about destroying the trusts.
It cannot be done, Jonathan, and it would not be a good thing if it
could be done.

I think, my friend, that you will see upon reflection that there are
many excellent features about the trust which it would be criminal and
foolish to destroy had we the power. Competition means waste, foolish
and unnecessary waste. Trusts have been organized expressly to do away
with the waste of men and natural resources. They represent economical
production. When Mr. Perkins, of the New York Life Insurance Company,
was testifying before the insurance investigating committee he gave
expression to the philosophy of the trust movement by saying that, in
the modern view, competition is the law of death and that co-operation
and organization represent life and progress.

While the wage-workers are probably in many respects better off as a
result of the trustification of industry, it would be idle to deny
that there are many evils connected with it. No one who views the
situation calmly can deny that the trusts exert an enormous power over
the government of the country, that they are, in fact, the real
government of the country, exercising far more control over the lives
of the common people than the regularly constituted, constitutional
government of the country does. It is also true that they can
arbitrarily fix prices in many instances, so that the natural law of
value is set aside and the workers are exploited as consumers, as
purchasers of the things necessary to life, just as they are exploited
as producers.

Of course, friend Jonathan, wages must meet the cost of living. If
prices rise considerably, wages must sooner or later follow, and if
prices fall wages likewise will fall sooner or later. But it is
important to remember that when prices fall wages are _quick_ to
follow, while when prices soar higher and higher wages are very _slow_
to follow. That is why it wouldn't do us any good to have a law
regulating prices, supposing that a law forcing down prices could be
enacted and enforced. Wages would follow prices downward with
wonderful swiftness. And that is why, also, we do need to become the
masters of the wealth we produce. For wages climb upward with leaden
feet, my friend, when prices soar with eagle wings. It is always the
workers who are at a disadvantage in a system where one class controls
the means of producing and distributing wealth.

But, friend Jonathan, that is due to the fact that the advantages of
the trust form of industry are not used as well as they might be. They
are all grasped by the master class. The trouble with the trust is
simply this: the people as a whole do not share the benefits. We
continue the same old wage system under the new forms of industry: we
have not changed our mode of distributing the wealth produced so as to
conform to the new modes of producing it. The heart of the economic
conflict is right there.

We must find a remedy for this, Jonathan. Labor unionism is a good
thing, but it is no remedy for this condition. It is a valuable weapon
with, which to fight for better wages and shorter hours, and every
workingman ought to belong to the union of his trade or calling. But
unionism does not and cannot do away with the profit system; it cannot
break the power of the trusts to extort monopoly prices from the
people. To do these things we must bring into play the forces of
government: we must vote a new status for the trust. The union is for
the economic struggle of groups of workers day by day against the
master class so long as the present class division exists. But that is
not a solution of the problem. What we need to do is to vote the class
divisions out of existence. _We need to own the trusts, Jonathan!_

This is the Socialist position. What is needed now is the harmonizing
of our social relations with the new forms of production. When private
property came into the primitive world in the form of slavery, social
relations were changed and from a rude communism society passed into a
system of individualism and class rule. When, later on, slave labor
gave way before serf labor, the social relations were again modified
to correspond. When capitalism came, with wage-paid labor as its
basis, all the laws and institutions which stood in the way of the
free development of the new principle were swept away; new social
relations were established, new laws and institutions introduced to
meet its needs.

To-day, in America, we are suffering because our social relations are
not in harmony with the changed methods of producing wealth. We have
got the laws and institutions which were designed to meet the needs of
competitive industry. They suited those old conditions fairly well,
but they do not suit the new.

In a former letter, you will remember, I likened our present suffering
to a case of appendicitis, that society suffers from the trouble set
up within by an organ which has lost its function and needs to be cut
out. Perhaps I might better liken society to a woman in the travail of
childbirth, suffering the pangs of labor incidental to the deliverance
of the new life within her womb. The trust marks the highest
development of capitalist society: it can go no further.

          The Old Order changeth, yielding place to new.

And the new order, waiting now for deliverance from the womb of the
old, is Socialism, the fraternal state. Whether the birth of the new
order is to be peaceful or violent and painful, whether it will be
ushered in with glad shouts of triumphant men and women, or with the
noise of civil strife, depends, my good friend, upon the manner in
which you and all other workers discharge your responsibilities as
citizens. That is why I am so anxious to set the claims of Socialism
clearly before you: I want you to work for the peaceful revolution of
society, Jonathan.

For the present, I am only going to ask you to read a little five cent
pamphlet, by Gaylord Wilshire, called _The Significance of the Trust_,
and a little book by Frederick Engels, called _Socialism, Utopian and
Scientific_. Later on, when I have had a chance to explain Socialism
in a general way, and must then leave you to your own resources, I
intend to make for you a list of books, which I hope you will be able
to read.

You see, Jonathan, I remember always that you wrote me: "Whether
Socialism is good or bad, wise or foolish, _I want to know_." The best
way to know is to study the question for yourself.



    Socialism is industrial democracy. It would put an end to the
    irresponsible control of economic interests, and substitute
    popular self-government in the industrial as in the political
    world.--_Charles H. Vail._

    Socialism says that man, machinery and land must be brought
    together; that the toll gates of capitalism must be torn down,
    and that every human being's opportunity to produce the means
    with which to sustain life shall be considered as sacred as
    his right to live.--_Allan L. Benson._

    Socialism means that all those things upon which the people in
    common depend shall by the people in common be owned and
    administered. It means that the tools of employment shall
    belong to their creators and users; that all production shall
    be for the direct use of the producers; that the making of
    goods for profit shall come to an end; that we shall all be
    workers together; and that all opportunities shall be open and
    equal to all men.--_National Platform of the Socialist Party,

    Socialism does not consist in violently seizing upon the
    property of the rich and sharing it out amongst the poor.

    Socialism is not a wild dream of a happy land where the apples
    will drop off the trees into our open mouths, the fish come
    out of the rivers and fry themselves for dinner, and the looms
    turn out ready-made suits of velvet with golden buttons
    without the trouble of coaling the engine. Neither is it a
    dream of a nation of stained-glass angels, who never say damn,
    who always love their neighbors better than themselves, and
    who never need to work unless they wish to.--_Robert

By this time, friend Jonathan, you have, I hope, got rid of the notion
that Socialism is a ready-made scheme of society which a few wise men
have planned, and which their followers are trying to get adopted. I
have spent some time and effort trying to make it perfectly plain to
you that great social changes are not brought about in that fashion.

Socialism then, is a philosophy of human progress, a theory of social
evolution, the main outlines of which I have already sketched for you.
Because the subject is treated at much greater length in some of the
books I have asked you to read, it is not necessary for me to
elaborate the theory. It will be sufficient, probably, for me to
restate, in a very few words, the main principles of that theory:

The present social system throughout the civilized world is not the
result of deliberately copying some plan devised by wise men. It is
the result of long centuries of growth and development. From our
present position we look back over the blood-blotted pages of history,
back to the ages before men began to write their history and their
thoughts, through the centuries of which there is only faint
tradition; we go even further back, to the very beginning of human
existence, to the men-apes and the ape-men whose existence science has
made clear to us, and we see the race engaged in a long struggle to

    Move upward, working out the beast
    And let the ape and tiger die.

We look for the means whereby the progress of man has been made, and
find that his tools have been, so to say, the ladder upon which he has
risen in the age-long climb from bondage toward brotherhood, from
being a brute armed with a club to the sovereign of the universe,
controlling tides, harnessing winds, gathering the lightning in his
hands and reaching to the farthest star.

We find in every epoch of that long evolution the means of producing
wealth as the center of all, transforming government, laws,
institutions and moral codes to meet their limitations and their
needs. Nothing has ever been strong enough to restrain the economic
forces in social evolution. When laws and customs have stood in the
way of the economic forces they have been burst asunder as by some
mighty leaven, or hurled aside in the cyclonic sweep of revolutions.

Have you ever gone into the country, Jonathan, and noticed an immense
rock split and shattered by the roots of a tree, or perhaps by the
might of an insignificant looking fungus? I have, many times, and I
never see such a rock without thinking of its aptness as an
illustration of this Socialist philosophy. A tiny acorn tossed by the
wind finds lodgment in some small crevice of a rock which has stood
for thousands of years, a rock so big and strong that men choose it as
an emblem of the Everlasting. Soon the warm caresses of the sun and
the rain wake the latent life in the acorn; the shell breaks and a
frail little shoot of vegetable life appears, so small that an infant
could crush it. Yet that weak and puny thing grows on unobserved,
striking its rootlets farther into the crevice of the rock. And when
there is no more room for it to grow, _it does not die, but makes room
for itself by shattering the rock_.

Economic forces are like that, my friend, they _must_ expand and grow.
Nothing can long restrain them. A new method of producing wealth broke
up the primitive communism of prehistoric man; another change in the
methods of production hurled the feudal barons from power and forced
the establishment of a new social system. And now, we are on the eve
of another great change--nay, we are in the very midst of the change.
Capitalism is doomed! Not because men think it is wicked, but because
the development of the great industrial trusts compels a new political
and social system to meet the needs of the new mode of production.

Something has got to give way to the irresistible growing force! A
change is inevitable. And the change must be to Socialism. That is the
belief of the Socialists, Jonathan, which I am trying to make you
understand. Mind, I do not say that the coming change will be the
_last_ change in human evolution, that there will be no further
development after Socialism. I do not know what lies beyond, nor to
what heights humanity may attain in future years. It may be that
thousands or millions of years from now the race will have attained to
such a state of growth and power that the poorest and weakest man then
alive will be so much superior to the greatest men alive to-day, our
best scholars, poets, artists, inventors and statesmen, as these are
superior to the cave-man. It may be. I do not know. Only a fool would
seek to set mete and bound to man's possibilities.

We are concerned only with the change that is imminent, the change
that is now going on before our eyes. We say that the outcome of
society's struggle with the trust problem must be the control of the
trust by society. That the outcome of the struggle between the master
class and the slave class, between the _wealth makers_ and the _wealth
takers_, must be the victory of the makers.

Throughout all history, ever since the first appearance of private
property--of slavery and land ownership--there have been class
struggles. Slave and slave-owner, serf and baron, wage-slave and
capitalist--so the classes have struggled. And what has been the
issue, thus far? Chattel slavery gave way to serfdom, in which the
oppression was lighter and the oppressed gained some measure of human
recognition. Serfdom, in its turn, gave way to the wages system, in
which, despite many evils, the oppressed class lives upon a far higher
plane than the slave and serf classes from whence it sprang. Now, with
the capitalists unable to hold and manage the great machinery of
production which has been developed, with the workers awakened to
their power, armed with knowledge, with education, and, above all,
with the power to make the laws, the government, what they will, can
anybody doubt what the outcome will be?

It is impossible to believe that we shall continue to leave the things
upon which all depend in the hands of a few members of society. Now
that production has been so organized that it can be readily
controlled and directed from a few centers, it is possible for the
first time in the history of civilization for men to live together in
peace and plenty, owning in common the things which must be used in
common, which are needed in common; leaving to private ownership the
things which can be privately owned without injury to society. _And
that is Socialism._

I have explained the philosophy of social evolution upon which modern
Socialism is based as clearly as I could do in the space at my
disposal. I want you to think it out for yourself, Jonathan. I want
you to get the enthusiasm and the inspiration which come from a
realization of the fact that progress is the law of Nature; that
mankind is ever marching upward and onward; that Socialism is the
certain inheritor of all the ages of struggle, suffering and

And above all, I want you to realize the position of your class, my
friend, and your duty to stand with your class, not only as a union
man, but as a voter and a citizen.

As a system of political economy I need say little of Socialism,
beyond recounting some of the things we have already considered. A
great many learned ignorant men, like Mr. Mallock, for instance, are
fond of telling the workers that the economic teachings of Socialism
are unsound; that Karl Marx was really a very superficial thinker
whose ideas have been entirely discredited.

Now, Karl Marx has been dead twenty-five years, Jonathan. His great
work was done a generation ago. Being just a human being, like the
rest of us, it is not to be supposed that he was infallible. There are
some things in his writings which cannot be accepted without
modification. But what does that matter, so long as the essential
principles are sound and true? When we think of a great man like
Lincoln we do not trouble about the little things--the trivial
mistakes he made; we consider only the big things, the noble things,
the true things, he said and did.

But there are lots of little-minded, little-souled people in the world
who have eyes only for the little flaws and none at all for the big,
strong and enduring things in a man's work. I never think of these
critics of Marx without calling to mind an incident I witnessed two or
three years ago at an art exhibition in New York. There was placed on
exhibition a famous Greek marble, a statue of Aphrodite. Many people
went to see it and on several occasions when I saw it I observed that
some people had been enough stirred to place little bunches of flowers
at the feet of the statue as a tender tribute to its beauty. But one
day I was greatly annoyed by the presence of a critical woman who had
discovered a little flaw in the statue, where a bit had been broken
off. She chattered about it like an excited magpie. Poor soul, she had
no eyes for the beauty of the thing, the mystery which shrouded its
past stirred no emotions in her breast. _She was only just big enough
in mind and soul to see the flaw._ I pitied her, Jonathan, as I pity
many of the critics who write learned books to prove that the economic
principles of Socialism are wrong. I cannot read such a book but a
vision rises before my mind's eye of that woman and the statue.

I believe that the great fundamental principles laid down by Karl Marx
cannot be refuted, because they are true. But it is just as well to
bear in mind that Socialism does not depend upon Karl Marx. If all his
works could be destroyed and his name forgotten there would still be a
Socialist movement to contend with. The question is: Are the economic
principles of Socialism as it is taught to-day true or false?

_The first principle is that wealth in modern society consists in an
abundance of things which can be sold for profit._

So far as I know, there is no economist of note who makes any
objection to that statement. I know that sometimes political
economists confuse their readers and themselves by a loose use of the
term wealth, including in it many things which have nothing at all to
do with economics. Good health and cheerful spirits, for example, are
often spoken of as wealth and there is a certain primal sense in which
that word is rightly applied to them. You remember the poem by Charles

    Cleon hath a million acres, ne'er a one have I;
    Cleon dwelleth in a palace, in a cottage I;
    Cleon hath a dozen fortunes, not a penny I;
    Yet the poorer of the twain is Cleon, and not I.

In a great moral sense that is all true, Jonathan, but from the point
of view of political economy, Cleon of the million acres, the palace
and the dozen fortunes must be regarded as the richer of the two.

_The second principle is that wealth is produced by labor applied to
natural resources._

The only objections to this, the only attempts ever made to deny its
truth, have been based upon a misunderstanding of the meaning of the
word "labor." If a man came to you in the mill one day, and said: "See
that great machine with all its levers and springs and wheels working
in such beautiful harmony. It was made entirely by manual workers,
such as moulders, blacksmiths and machinists; no brain workers had
anything to do with it," you would suspect that man of being a fool,
Jonathan. You know, even though you are no economist, that the labor
of the inventor and of the men who drew the plans of the various parts
was just as necessary as the labor of the manual workers. I have
already shown you, when discussing the case of Mr. Mallock, that
Socialists have never claimed that wealth was produced by manual labor
alone, and that brain labor is always unproductive. All the great
political economists have included both mental and manual labor in
their use of the term, that being, indeed, the only sensible use of
the word known to our language.

It is very easy work, my friend, for a clever juggler of words to
erect a straw man, label the dummy "Socialism" and then pull it to
pieces. But it is not very useful work, nor is it an honest
intellectual occupation. I say to you, friend Jonathan, that when
writers like Mr. Mallock contend that "ability," as distinguished from
labor, must be considered as a principal factor in production, they
must be regarded as being either mentally weak or deliberate
perverters of the truth. You know, and every man of fair sense knows,
that ability in the abstract never could produce anything at all.

Take Mr. Edison, for example. He is a man of wonderful ability--one of
the greatest men of this or any other age. Suppose Mr. Edison were to
say: "I know I have a great deal of _ability_; I think that I will
just sit down with folded hands and depend upon the mere possession of
my ability to make a living for me"--what do you think would happen?
If Mr. Edison were to go to some lonely spot, without tools or food,
making up his mind that he need not work; that he could safely depend
upon his ability to produce food for him while he sat idle or slept,
he would starve. Ability is like a machine, Jonathan. If you have the
finest machine in the world and keep it in a garret it will produce
nothing at all. You might as well have a pile of stones there as the

But connect the machine with the motor and place a competent man in
charge of it, and the machine at once becomes a means of production.
Ability is likewise useless and impotent unless it is expressed in the
form of either manual or mental labor. And when it is so embodied in
labor, it is quite useless and foolish to talk of ability as separate
from the labor in which it is embodied.

_The third principle of Socialist economics is that the value of
things produced for sale is, under normal conditions, determined by
the amount of labor socially necessary, on an average, for their
production. This is called the labor theory of value._

Many people have attacked this theory, Jonathan, and it has been
"refuted," "upset," "smashed" and "destroyed" by nearly every hack
writer on economics living. But, for some reason, the number of people
who accept it is constantly increasing in spite of the number of
times it has been "exposed" and "refuted." It is worth our while to
consider it briefly.

You will observe that I have made two important qualifications in the
above statement of the theory: first, that the law applies only to
things produced for sale, and second, that it is only under normal
conditions that it holds true. Many very clever men try to prove this
law of value wrong by citing the fact that articles are sometimes sold
for enormous prices, out of all proportion to the amount of labor it
took to produce them in the first instance. For example, it took
Shakespeare only a few minutes to write a letter, we may suppose, but
if a genuine letter in the poet's handwriting were offered for sale in
one of the auction rooms where such things are sold it would fetch an
enormous price; perhaps more than the yearly salary of the President
of the United States.

The value of the letter would not be due to the amount of labor
Shakespeare devoted to the writing of it, but to its _rarity_. It
would have what the economists call a "scarcity value." The same is
true of a great many other things, such as historical relics, great
works of art, and so on. These things are in a class by themselves.
But they constitute no important part of the business of modern
society. We are not concerned with them, but with the ordinary, every
day production of goods for sale. The truth of this law of value is
not to be determined by considering these special objects of rarity,
but the great mass of things produced in our workshops and factories.

Now, note the second qualification. I say that the value of things
produced for sale _under normal conditions_ is determined by the
amount of labor _socially necessary_, on an average, for their
production. Some of the clever, learnedly-ignorant writers on
Socialism think that they have completely destroyed this theory of
value when they have only misrepresented it and crushed the image of
their own creating.

It does not mean that if a quick, efficient workman, with good tools,
takes a day to make a coat, while another workman, who is slow, clumsy
and inefficient, and has only poor tools, takes six days to make a
table that the table will be worth six coats upon the market. That
would be a foolish proposition, Jonathan. It would mean that if one
workman made a coat in one day, while another workman took two days to
make exactly the same kind of coat, that the one made by the slow,
inefficient workman would bring twice as much as the other, even
though they were so much alike that they could not be distinguished
one from the other.

Only an ignoramus could believe that. No Socialist writer ever made
such a foolish claim, yet all the attacks upon the economic principles
of Socialism are based upon that idea!

Now that I have told you what it does _not_ mean, let me try to make
plain just what it _does_ mean. I shall use a very simple illustration
which you can readily apply to the whole of industry for yourself. If
it ordinarily takes a day to make a coat, if that is the average time
taken, and it also takes on an average a day to make a table, then,
also on an average, one coat will be worth just as much as one table.
But I must explain that it is not possible to bring the production of
coats and tables down to the simple measurement. When the tailor takes
the piece of cloth to cut out the coat, he has in that material
something that already embodies human labor. Somebody had to weave
that cloth upon a loom. Before that somebody had to make the loom.
And before that loom could make cloth somebody had to raise sheep and
shear them to get the wool. And before the carpenter could make the
table, somebody had to go into the forest and fell a tree, after which
somebody had to bring that tree, cut up into planks or logs, to the
carpenter. And before he could use the lumber somebody had to make the
tools with which he worked.

I think you will understand now why I placed emphasis on the words
"socially necessary." It is not possible for the individual buyer to
ascertain just how much social labor is contained in a coat or a
table, but their values are fixed by the competition and higgling
which is the law of capitalism. "It jest works out so," as an old
negro preacher said to me once.

I have said that competition is the law of capitalism. All political
economists recognize that as true. But we have, as I have explained in
a former letter, come to a point where capitalism has broken away from
competition in many industries. We have a state of affairs under which
the economic laws of competitive society do not apply. Monopoly prices
have always been regarded as exceptions to economic law.

If this technical economic discussion seems a little bit difficult, I
beg you nevertheless to try and master it, Jonathan. It will do you
good to think out these questions. Perhaps I can explain more clearly
what is meant by monopoly conditions being exceptional. All through
the Middle Ages it was the custom for governments to grant monopolies
to favored subjects, or to sell them in order to raise ready money.
Queen Elizabeth, for instance, granted and sold many such monopolies.

A man who had a monopoly of something which nearly everybody had to
use could fix his own price, the only limit being the people's
patience or their ability to pay. The same thing is true of patented
articles and of monopolies granted to public service corporations.
Generally, it is true, in the franchises of these corporations,
nowadays, there is a price limit fixed beyond which they must not go,
but it is still true that the normal competitive economic law has been
set aside by the creation of monopoly.

When a trust is formed, or when there is a price agreement, or what is
politely called "an understanding among gentlemen" to that effect, a
similar thing happens. We have monopoly prices.

This is an important thing for the working class, though it is
sometimes forgotten. How much your wages will secure in the way of
necessities is just as important to you as the amount of wages you
get. In other words, the amount you can get in comforts and
commodities for use is just as important as the amount you can get in
dollars and cents. Sometimes money wages increase while real wages
decrease. I could fill a book with statistics to show this, but I will
only quote one example. Professor Rauschenbusch cites it in his
excellent book, _Christianity and the Social Crisis_, a book I should
like you to read, Jonathan. He quotes _Dun's Review_, a standard
financial authority, to the effect that what $724 would buy in 1897 it
took $1013 to buy in 1901.

I know that I could make your wife see the importance of this, my
friend. She would tell you that when from time to time you have
announced that your wages were to be increased five or ten per cent.
she has made plans for spending the money upon little home
improvements, or perhaps for laying it aside for the dreaded "rainy
day." Perhaps she thought of getting a new rug, or a new sideboard for
the dining-room; or perhaps it was a piano for your daughter, who is
musical, she had set her heart on getting. The ten per cent. increase
seemed to make it all so easy and certain! But after a little while
she found that somehow the ten per cent. did not bring the coveted
things; that, although she was just as careful as could be, she
couldn't save, nor get the things she hoped to get.

Often you and I have heard the cry of trouble: "I don't know how or
why it is, but though I get ten per cent. more wages I am no better
off than before."

The Socialist theory of value is all right, my friend, and has not
been disturbed by the assaults made upon it by a host of little
critics. But Socialists have always known that the laws of competitive
society do not apply to monopoly, and that the monopolist has an
increased power to exploit and oppress the worker. That is one of the
chief reasons why we demand that the great monopolies be transformed
into common, or social, property.

_The fourth principle of Socialist economics is that the wages of the
workers represent only a part of the value of their labor product. The
remainder is divided among the non-producers in rent, interest and
profit. The fortunes of the rich idlers come from the unpaid-for labor
of the working class. This is the great theory of "surplus value,"
which economists are so fond of attacking._

I am not going to say much about the controversy concerning this
theory, Jonathan. In the first place, you are not an economist, and
there is a great deal in the discussion which is wholly irrelevant and
unprofitable; and, in the second place, you can study the question for
yourself. There are excellent chapters upon the subject in _Vail's
Principles of Scientific Socialism_, Boudin's _The Theoretical System
of Karl Marx_, and Hyndman's _Economics of Socialism_. You will also
find a simple exposition of the subject in my _Socialism, A Summary
and Interpretation of Socialist Principles_. It will also be well to
read _Wage-Labor and Capital_, a five cent booklet by Karl Marx.

But you do not need to be an economist to understand the essential
principles of this theory of surplus value and to judge of its truth.
I have never flattered you, Jonathan, as you know; I am in earnest
when I say that I am content to leave the matter to your own judgment.
I attach more importance to your decision, based upon a plain,
matter-of-fact observation of actual life, than to the opinion of many
a very learned economist cloistered away from the real world in a
musty atmosphere of books and mental abstractions. So think it out for
yourself, my friend.

You know that when a man takes a job as a wage-worker, he enters into
a contract to give something in return for a certain amount of money.
What is it that he thus sells? Not his actual labor, but his power and
will to labor. In other words, he undertakes to exert himself in a
manner desired by the capitalist who employs him for so much an hour,
so much a day, or so much a week as the case may be.

Now, how are the wages fixed? What determines the amount a man gets
for his labor? There are several factors. Let us consider them one by

First, the man must have enough to keep himself alive and able to
work. If he does not get that much he will die, or be unfit to work.
Second, in order that the race may be maintained, and that there may
be a constant supply of labor, it is necessary that men as a rule
should have families. So, as we saw in a quotation from Adam Smith in
an earlier letter, the wages must, on an average, be enough to keep,
not only the man himself but those dependent upon him. These are the
bottom requirements of wages.

Now, the tendency is for wages to keep somewhere near this bottom
level. If nothing else interfered they would always tend to that
level. First of all, there is no scientific organization of the labor
force of the world. Sometimes the demand for labor in a particular
trade exceeds the supply, and then wages rise. Sometimes the supply is
greater than the demand, and then wages drop toward the bottom level.
If the man looking for a job is so fortunate as to know that there are
many places open to him, he will not accept low wages; on the other
hand, if the employer knows that there are ten men for every job, he
will not pay high wages. So, as with the prices of things in general,
supply and demand enter into the question of the price of labor in any
given time or place.

Then, also, by combination workingmen can sometimes raise their wages.
They can bring about a sort of monopoly-price for their labor-power.
It is not an absolute monopoly-price, however, for the reason that,
almost invariably, there are men outside of the unions, whose
competition has to be withstood. Also, the means of production and the
accumulated surplus belong to the capitalists so that they can
generally starve the workers into submission, or at least compromise,
in any struggle aiming at the establishment of monopoly-prices for

But there is one thing the workers can never do, except by destroying
capitalism: _they cannot get wages equal to the full value of their
product_. That would destroy the capitalist system, which is based
upon profit-making. All the luxury and wealth of the non-producers is
wrung from the labor of the producers. You can see that for yourself,
Jonathan, and I need not argue it further.

I do not care very much whether you call the part of the wealth which
goes to the non-producers "surplus value," or whether you call it
something else. The _name_ is not of great importance to us. We care
only for the reality. But I do want you to get firm hold of the simple
fact that when an idler gets a dollar he has not earned, some worker
must get a dollar less than he has earned.

Don't be buncoed by the word-jugglers who tell you that the profits of
the capitalists are the "fruits of abstinence," or the "reward of
managing ability," sometimes also called the "wages of superintendence."

These and other attempted explanations of capitalists' profits are
simply old wives' fables, Jonathan. Let us look for a minute at the
first of these absurd attempts to explain away the fact that profit is
only another name for unpaid-for labor. You know very well that
abstinence never yet produced anything. If I have a dollar in my
pocket and I say to myself, "I will not spend this dollar: I will
abstain from using it," the dollar does not increase in any way. It
remains just a dollar and no more. If I have a loaf of bread or a
bottle of wine and say to myself, "I will not use this bread, or this
wine, but will keep it in the cup-board," you know very well that I
shall not get any increase as a result of my abstinence. I do not get
anything more than I actually save.

Now, I am perfectly willing that any man shall have all that he can
save out of his own earnings. If no man had more there would be no
need of talking about "legislation to limit fortunes," no need of
protest against "swollen fortunes."

But now suppose, friend Jonathan, that while I have the dollar,
representing my "abstinence," in my pocket, a man who has not a dollar
comes to me and says, "I really must have a dollar to get food for my
wife and baby, or they will die. Lend me a dollar until next week and
I will pay you back two dollars." If I lend him the dollar and next
week take his two dollars, that is what is called the reward of my
abstinence. But in truth it is something quite different. It is usury.
Just because I happen to have something the other fellow has not got,
and which he must have, he is compelled to pay me interest. If he also
had a dollar in his pocket, I could get no interest from him.

It would be just the same if I had not abstained from anything. If,
for example, I had found the dollar which some other careful fellow
had lost, I could still get interest upon it. Or if I had inherited
money from my father, it might happen that, so far from being
abstemious and thrifty, I had been most extravagant, while the fellow
who came to borrow had been very thrifty and abstemious, but still
unable to provide for his family. Yet I should make him pay me

As a matter of fact, my friend, the rich have not abstained from
anything. They have not accumulated riches out of their savings,
through abstaining from buying things. On the contrary, they have
bought and enjoyed the costliest things. They have lived in fine
houses, worn costly clothing, eaten the choicest food, sent their sons
and daughters to the most expensive schools and colleges.

From all of these things the workers have abstained, Jonathan. They
have abstained from living in fine houses and lived in poor houses;
they have abstained from wearing costly clothes and worn the cheapest
and poorest clothes; they have abstained from choice food and eaten
only food that is coarse and cheap; they have abstained from sending
their sons and daughters to expensive schools and colleges and sent
them only to the lower grades of the public schools. If abstinence
were a source of wealth, the working people of every country would be
rich, for they have abstained from nearly everything that is worth

There is one thing the rich have abstained from, however, which the
poor have indulged in freely--and that is _work_. I never heard of a
man getting rich through his own labor.

Even the inventor does not get rich by means of his own labor. To
begin with, there is no invention which is purely an individual
undertaking. I was talking the other day with one of the world's great
inventors upon this subject. He was explaining to me how he came to
invent a certain machine which has made his name famous. He explained
that for many years men had been facing a great difficulty and other
inventors had been trying to devise some means of meeting it. He had,
therefore, to begin with, the experience of thousands of men during
many years to give him a clear idea of what was required. And that was
a great thing to start with, Jonathan.

Secondly, he had the experiments of all the numerous other inventors
to guide him: he could profit by their failures. Not only did he know
what to avoid, because that great fund of others' experience, but he
also got many useful ideas from the work of some of the men who were
on the right line without knowing it. "I could not have invented it
if it were not for the men who went before me," he said.

Another point, Jonathan: In the wonderful machine the inventor was
discussing there are wheels and levers and springs. Somebody had to
invent the wheel, the lever and the spring before there could be a
machine at all. Who was it, I wonder! Do you know who made the first
wheel, or the first lever? Of course you don't! Nobody does. These
things were invented thousands of years ago, when the race still lived
in barbarism. Each age has simply extended their usefulness and
efficiency. So it is wrong to speak of any invention as the work of
one man. Into every great invention go the experience and experiments
of countless others.

So much for that side of the question. Now, let us look at another
side of the question which is sometimes lost sight of. A man invents a
machine: as I have shown you, it is as much the product of other men's
brains as of his own. It is really a social product. He gets a patent
upon the machine for a certain number of years, and that patent gives
him the right to say to the world "No one can use this machine unless
he pays me a royalty." He does not use the machine himself and keep
what he can make in competition with others' means of production. If
no one chooses to use his machine, then, no matter how good a thing it
may be, he gets nothing from his invention. So that even the inventor
is no exception to my statement that no man ever gets rich by his own

The inventor is not the real inventor of the machine: he only carries
on the work which others began thousands of years ago. He takes the
results of other people's inventive genius and adds his quota. But he
claims the whole. And when he has done his work and added his
contribution to the age-long development of mechanical modes of
production, he must depend again upon society, upon the labor of

To return to the question of abstinence: I would not attempt to deny
that some men have saved part of their income and by investing it
secured the beginnings of great fortunes. I know that is so. But the
fortunes came out of the labor of other people. Somebody had to
produce the wealth, that is quite evident. And if the person who got
it was not that somebody, the producer, it is as clear as noonday that
the producer must have produced something he did not get.

No, my friend, the notion that profits are the reward of abstinence
and thrift is stupid in the extreme. The people who enjoy the
profit-incomes of the world, are, with few exceptions, people who have
not been either abstemious or thrifty.

But perhaps you will say that, while this may be true of the people
who to-day are getting enormous incomes from rent, interest or profit,
we must go further back; that we must go back to the beginning of
things when their fathers or their grandfathers began by investing
their savings.

To that I have no objection whatever, provided only that you are
willing to go back, not merely to the beginning of the individual
fortune, but to the beginning of the system. If your grandfather, or
great-grandfather, had been what is termed a thrifty and industrious
man, working hard, living poor, working his wife and little ones in
one long grind, all in order to save money to invest in business, you
might now be a rich man; that is, supposing you were heir to their

That is not at all certain, for it is a fact that most of the men who
have hoarded their individual savings and then invested them have been
ruined and fooled. In the case of our railroads, for example, the
great majority of the early investors of savings went bankrupt. They
were swallowed up by the bigger fish, Jonathan. But assume it
otherwise, assume that the grandfather of some rich man of the present
day laid the foundation of the family fortune in the manner described,
don't you see that the system of robbing the worker of his product was
already established; that you must go back to the beginning of the

And when you trace capital back to its origin, my friend, you will
always come to war or robbery. You can trace it back to the forcible
taking of the land away from the people. When the machine came,
bringing with it an industrial revolution, it was by the wealthy and
the ruthless that the machine was owned, not by the poor toilers. In
other words, my friends, there was simply a continuance of the old
rule of a class of overlords, under another name.

If the abstinence theory is foolish, even more foolish is the notion
that profits are the reward of managing ability, the wages of
superintendence. Under primitive capitalism there was some
justification for this view.

It was impossible to deny that the owner of a factory did manage it,
that he was the superintendent, entitled as such to some reward. It
was easy enough to say that he got a disproportionate share, but who
was to decide just what his fair share would be?

But when capitalism developed and became impersonal that idea of the
nature of profits was killed. When companies were organized they
employed salaried managers, _whose salaries were paid before profits
were reckoned at all_. To-day I can own shares in China and Australia
while living all the time in the United States. Even though I have
never been to those countries, nor seen the property I am a
shareholder in, I shall get my profits just the same. A lunatic may
own shares in a thousand companies and, though he is confined in a
madhouse, his shares of stock will still bring a profit to his
guardians in his name.

When Mr. Rockefeller was summoned to court in Chicago last year, he
stated on oath that he could not tell anything about the business of
the Standard Oil Company, not having had anything to do with the
business for several years past. But he gets his profits just the
same, showing how foolish it is to talk of profits as being the reward
of managing ability and the wages of superintendence.

Now, Jonathan, I have explained to you pretty fully what Socialism is
when considered as a philosophy of social evolution. I have also
explained to you what Socialism is when considered as a system of
economy. I could sum up both very briefly by saying that Socialism is
a philosophy of social evolution which teaches that the great force
which has impelled the race onward, determining the rate and direction
of social progress, has come from man's tools and the mode of
production in general: that we are now living in a period of
transition, from capitalism to Socialism, motived by the economic
forces of our time. Socialism is a system of economics, also. Its
substance may be summed up in a sentence as follows: Labor applied to
natural resources is the source of the wealth of capitalistic society,
but the greatest part of the wealth produced goes to non-producers,
the producers getting only a part, in the form of wages--hence the
paradox of wealthy non-producers and penurious producers.

I have explained to you also that Socialism is not a scheme. There
remains still to be explained, however, another aspect of Socialism,
of more immediate interest and importance and interest. I must try to
explain Socialism as an ideal, as a forecast of the future. You want
to know, having traced the evolution of society to a point where
everything seems to be in transition, where a change seems imminent,
just what the nature of that change will be.

I must leave that for another letter, friend Jonathan, for this is
over-long already. I shall not try to paint a picture of the future
for you, to tell you in detail what that future will be like. I do not
know: no man can know. He who pretends to know is either a fool or a
knave, my friend. But there are some things which, I believe, we may
premise with reasonable certainty These things I want to discuss in my
next letter. Meantime, there are lots of things in this letter to
think about.

_And I want you to think, Jonathan Edwards!_




    And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall
    lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the
    fattling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the
    cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down
    together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the
    suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the
    weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk's den. They
    shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the
    earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the
    waters cover the sea.--_Isaiah._

    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, in this explanation, 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.--_W. Liebknecht._

At the head of this letter I have copied two passages to which I want
you to give particular attention, Jonathan. The first consists of a
part of a very beautiful word-picture, in which the splendid old
Hebrew prophet described his vision of a perfect social state. In his
Utopia it would no longer be true to speak of Nature as being red of
tooth and claw. Even the lion would eat straw like the ox, so that
there might not be suffering caused by one animal preying upon
another. Whenever I read that chapter, Jonathan, I sit watching the
smoke-wreaths curl out of my pipe and float away, and they seem to
bear me with them to a land of seductive beauty. I should like to live
in a land where there was never a cry of pain, where never drop of
blood stained the ground.

There have been lots of Utopias besides that of the old Hebrew
prophet. Plato, the great philosopher, wrote _The Republic_ to give
form to his dream of an ideal society. Sir Thomas More, the great
English statesman and martyr, outlined his ideal of social relations
in a book called _Utopia_. Mr. Bellamy, in our own day, has given us
his picture of social perfection in _Looking Backward_. There have
been many others who, not content with writing down their ideas of
what society ought to be like, have tried to establish ideal
conditions. They have established colonies, communities, sects and
brotherhoods, all in the earnest hope of being able to attain the
perfect social state.

The greatest of these experimental Utopians, Robert Owen, tried to
carry out his ideas in this country. It would be well worth your while
to read the account of his life and work in George Browning Lockwood's
book, _The New Harmony Communities_. Owen tried to get Congress to
adopt his plans for social regeneration. He addressed the members of
both houses, taking with him models, plans, diagrams and statistics,
showing exactly how things would be, according to his idea, in the
ideal world. In Europe he went round to all the reigning sovereigns
begging them to adopt his plans.

He wanted common ownership of everything with equal distribution;
money would be abolished; the marriage system would be done away with
and "free love" established; children would belong to and be reared
by the community. Our concern with him at this point is that he
called himself a Socialist and was, I believe, the first to use that

But the Socialists of to-day have nothing in common with such Utopian
ideas as those I have described. We all recognize that Robert Owen was
a beautiful spirit, one of the world's greatest humanitarians. He was,
like the prophet Isaiah, a dreamer, a visionary. He had no idea of the
philosophy of social evolution upon which modern Socialism rests; no
idea of its system of economics. He saw the evils of private ownership
and competition in the fiercest period of competitive industry, and
wanted to replace them with co-operation and public ownership. But his
point of view was that he had been inspired with a great idea, thanks
to which he could save the world from all its misery. He did not
realize that social changes are produced by slow evolution.

One of the principal reasons why I have dwelt at this length upon Owen
is that he is a splendid representative of the great Utopia builders.
The fact that he was probably the first man to use the word Socialism
adds an element of interest to his personality also. I wanted to put
Utopian Socialism before you so clearly that you would be able to
contrast it at once with modern, scientific Socialism--the Socialism
of Marx and Engels, upon which the great Socialist parties of the
world are based; the Socialism that is alive in the world to-day. They
are as opposite as the poles. It is important that you should grasp
this fact very clearly, for many of the criticisms of Socialism made
to-day apply only to the old utopian ideals and do not touch modern
Socialism at all. In the letter you wrote me at the beginning of this
discussion there are many questions which you could not have asked
had you not conceived of Socialism as a scheme to be adopted.

People are constantly attacking Socialism upon these false grounds.
They remind me of a story I heard in Wales many years ago. In one of
the mountain districts a miner returned from his work one afternoon
and found that his wife had bought a picture of the crucifixion of
Jesus and hung it against the wall. He had never heard of Jesus, so
the story goes, and his wife had to explain the meaning of the
picture. She told the story in her simple way, laying much stress upon
the fact that "the wicked Jews" had killed Jesus. But she forgot to
say that it all happened about two thousand years ago.

Now, it happened not long after that the miner saw a Jew peddler come
to the door of his cottage. The thought of the awful suffering of
Jesus and his own Welsh hatred of oppression sufficed to fill him with
resentment toward the poor peddler. He at once began to beat the
unfortunate fellow in a terribly savage manner. When the peddler,
between gasps, demanded to know why he had been so ill-treated, the
miner dragged him into his kitchen and pointed to the picture of the
crucifixion. "See what you did to that poor man, our Lord!" he
thundered. To which the Jew very naturally responded: "But, my friend,
that was not me. That was two thousand years ago!" The reply seemed to
daze the miner for a moment. Then he said: "Two thousand years! Two
thousand years! Why, I only heard of it last week!"

It is just as silly to attack the Socialism of to-day for the ideas
held by the earlier utopian Socialists as beating that poor Jew
peddler was.

Now then, friend Jonathan, turn back and read the second of the
passages I have placed at the head of this letter. It is from the
writings of one of the greatest of modern Socialists, the man who was
the great political leader of the Socialist movement in Germany,
Wilhelm Liebknecht.

You will notice that he says the transition to Socialism is going on
all the time; that we are not to attain Socialism at one bound; that
it is useless to attempt to paint pictures of the future; that we can
forecast an immediate programme and aid the Socialist birth. These
statements are quite in harmony with the outline of the Socialist
philosophy of the evolution of society contained in my last letter.

So, if you ask me to tell you just what the world will be like when
all people call themselves Socialists except a few reformers and
"fanatics," earnest pioneers of further changes, I must answer you
that I do not know. How they will dress, what sort of pictures artists
will paint, what sort of poems poets will write, or what sort of
novels men and women will read, I do not know. What the income of each
family will be I cannot tell you, any more than I can tell you whether
there will be any intercommunication between the inhabitants of this
planet and of Mars; whether there will be an ambassador from Mars at
the national capital.

I do not expect that the lion will eat straw like the ox; I do not
expect that people will be perfect. I do not suppose that men and
women will have become so angelic that there will never be any crime,
suffering, anger, pain or sorrow; I do not expect disease to be
forever banished from life in the Socialist regime. Still less do I
expect that mechanical genius will have been so perfected that human
labor will be no longer necessary; that perpetual motion will have
been harnessed to great indestructible machines and work become a
thing of the past. That dream of the German dreamer, Etzler, will
never be realized, I hope.

I suppose that, under Socialism, there will be some men and women far
wiser than others. There may be a few fools left! I suppose that some
will be far juster and kinder than others. There may be some selfish
brutes left with a good deal of hoggishness in their nature! I suppose
that some will have to make great mistakes and endure the tragedies
which men and women have endured through all the ages. The love of
some men will die out, breaking the hearts of some women, I suppose,
and there will be women whose love will bring them to ruin and death.
I should not like to think of jails and brothels existing under
Socialism, Jonathan, but for all I know they may exist. Whether there
will be churches and paid ministers under Socialism, I do not know. I
do not pretend to know.

I suppose that, under Socialism, there will be some people who will be
dissatisfied. I hope so! Men and women will want to move to a higher
plane of life, I hope. What they will call that plane I do not know;
what it will be like I do not know. I suppose they will be opposed and
persecuted; that they will be mocked and derided, called "fanatics"
and "dreamers" and lots of other ugly and unpleasant names. Lots of
people will want to stay just as they are, and violently oppose the
men who say, "Let us move on." But I don't believe that any sane
person will want to go back to the old conditions--back to our
conditions of to-day.

You see, I have killed lots of your objections already, my friend!

Now let me tell you briefly what Socialists want, and what they
believe will take place--_must_ take place. In the first place, there
must be political changes to make complete our political democracy.
You may be surprised at this, Jonathan. Perhaps you are accustomed to
think of our political system as being the perfect expression of
political democracy. Let us see.

Compared with some other countries, like Russia, Germany and Spain,
for example, this is a free country, politically; a model of
democracy. We have adult suffrage--_for the men_! In only a few states
are our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters allowed to vote. In most
of the states the best women, and the most intelligent, are placed on
the political level of the criminal and the maniac. They must obey the
laws, their interests in the well-being and good government of the
nation are as vital as those of our sex. But they are denied
representation in the councils of the nation, denied a voice in the
affairs of the nation. They are not citizens. We have a class below
that of the citizens in this country, a class based upon sex

To make our political system thoroughly representative and democratic,
we must extend political power to the women of the nation. Further
than that, we must bring all the means of government more directly
under the people's will.

In our industrial system we must bring the great trusts under the rule
of the people. They must be owned and controlled by all for all. I say
that we "must" do this, because there is no other way by which the
present evils may be remedied. Everybody who is not blinded to the
real situation by vested interest must recognize that the present
conditions are intolerable--and becoming worse and more intolerable
every day. A handful of men have the nation's destiny in their greedy
fingers and they gamble with it for their own profit. Something must
be done.

But what? We cannot go back if we would. I have shown you pretty
clearly, I think, that if it were possible to undo the chain of
evolution and to go back to primitive capitalism, with its competitive
spirit, the development to monopoly would begin all over again. It is
an inexorable law that competition breeds monopoly. So we cannot go

What, then, is the outlook, the forward view? So far as I know,
Jonathan, there are only two propositions for meeting the evil
conditions of monopoly, other than the perfectly silly one of "going
back to competition." They are (1) Regulation of the trusts; (2)
Socialization of the trusts.

Now, the first means that we should leave these great monopolies in
the hands of their present owners and directors, but enact various
laws curtailing their powers to exploit the people. Laws are to be
passed limiting the capital they may employ, the amount of profits
they may make, and so on. But nobody explains how they expect to get
the laws obeyed. There are plenty of laws now aiming at regulation of
the trusts, but they are quite futile and inoperative. First we spend
an enormous amount of money and energy getting laws passed; then we
spend much more money and energy trying to get them enforced--and fail
after all!

I submit to your good judgment, Jonathan, that so long as we have a
relatively small class in the nation owning these great monopolies
through corporations there can be no peace. It will be to the interest
of the corporations to look after their profits, to prevent the
enactment of legislation aimed to restrict them and to evade the law
as much as possible. They will naturally use their influence to secure
laws favorable to themselves, with the inevitable result of corruption
in the legislative branches of the government. Legislators will be
bought like mackerel in the market, as Mr. Lawson so bluntly expresses
it. Efforts will be made to corrupt the judiciary also and the power
of the entire capitalist class will be directed to the capture of our
whole system of government. Even more than to-day, we will have the
government of the people by a privileged part of the people in the
interests of the privileged part.

You must not forget, my friend, that the corruption of the government
about which we hear so much from time to time is always in the
interests of private capitalism. If there is graft in some public
department, there is an outcry that graft and public business go
together. As a matter of fact the graft is in the interests of private

When legislators sell their votes it is never for public enterprises.
I have never heard of a city which was seeking the power to establish
any public service raising a "yellow dog fund" with which to bribe
legislators. On the other hand, I never yet heard of a private company
seeking a franchise without doing so more or less openly. Regulation
of the trusts will still leave the few masters of the many, and
corruption still gnawing at the vitals of the nation.

We must _own_ the trusts, Jonathan, and transform the monopolies by
which the few exploit and oppress the many into social monopolies for
the good of all. Sooner or later, either by violent or peaceful means,
this will be done. It is for the working-class to say whether it shall
be sooner or later, whether it shall be accomplished through the
strife and bitterness of war or by the peaceful methods of political

We have seen that the root of the evil in modern society is the profit
motive. Socialism means the production of things for use instead of
for profit. Not at one stroke, perhaps, but patiently, wisely and
surely, all the things upon which people in common depend will be made
common property.

Take notice of that last paragraph, Jonathan. I don't say that _all_
property must be owned in common, but only the things upon which
people in common depend; the things which all must use if they are to
live as they ought, and as they have a right to live. We have a
splendid illustration of social property in our public streets. These
are necessary to all. It would be intolerable if one man should own
the streets of a city and charge all other citizens for the use of
them. So streets are built out of the common funds, maintained out of
the common funds, freely used by all in common, and the poorest man
has as much right to use them as the richest man. In the nutshell this
states the argument of Socialism.

People sometimes ask how it would be possible for the government under
Socialism to decide which children should be educated to be writers,
musicians and artists and which to be street cleaners and laborers;
how it would be possible to have a government own everything, deciding
what people should wear, what food should be produced, and so on.

The answer to all such questions is that Socialism would not need to
do anything of the kind. There would be no need for the government to
attempt such an impossible task. When people raise such questions they
are thinking of the old and dead utopianism, of the schemes which
once went under the name of Socialism. But modern Socialism is a
principle, not a scheme. The Socialist movement of to-day is not
interested in carrying out a great design, but in seeing society get
rid of its drones and making it impossible for one class to exploit
another class.

Under Socialism, then, it would not be at all necessary for the
government to own everything; for private property to be destroyed.
For instance, the State could have no possible interest in denying the
right of a man to own his home and to make that home as beautiful as
he pleased. It is perfectly absurd to suppose that it would be
necessary to "take away the poor man's cottage," about which some
opponents of Socialism shriek. It would not be necessary to take away
_anybody's_ home.

On the contrary, Socialism would most likely enable all who so desired
to own their own homes. At present only thirty-one per cent. of the
families of America live in homes which they own outright. More than
half of the people live in rented homes. They are obliged to give up
practically a fourth part of their total income for mere shelter.

Socialism would not prevent a man from owning a horse and wagon, since
it would be possible for him to use that horse and wagon without
compelling the citizens to pay tribute to him. On the other hand,
private ownership of a railway would be impossible, because railways
could not be indefinitely and easily multiplied, and the owners of
such a railway would necessarily have to run it for profit.

Under Socialism such public services as the transportation and
delivery of parcels would be in the hands of the people, and not in
the hands of monopolists as at present. The aim would be to serve the
people to the best possible advantage, and not to make profit for the
few. But if any citizen objected and wanted to carry his own parcel
from New York to Boston, for example, it is not to be supposed for an
instant that the State would try to prevent him.

Under Socialism the great factories would belong to the people; the
trusts would be socialized. But this would not stop a man from working
for himself in a small workshop if he wanted to; it would not prevent
a number of workers from forming a co-operative workshop and sharing
the products of their labor. By reason of the fact that the great
productive and distributive agencies which are entirely social were
socially owned and controlled--railways, mines, telephones,
telegraphs, express service, and the great factories of various
kinds--the Socialist State would be able to set the standards of wages
and industrial conditions for all the rest remaining in private hands.

Let me explain what I mean, Jonathan: Under Socialism, let us suppose,
the State undertakes the production of shoes by socializing the shoe
trust. It takes over the great factories and runs them. Its object is
not to make shoes for profit, however, but for use. To make shoes as
good as possible, as cheaply as good shoes can be made, and to see
that the people making the shoes get the best possible conditions of
labor and the highest possible wages--as near as possible to the net
value of their product, that is.

Some people, however, object to wearing factory-made shoes; they want
shoes of a special kind, to suit their individual fancy. There are
also, we will suppose, some shoemakers who do not like to work in the
State factories, preferring to make shoes by hand to suit individual
tastes. Now, if the people who want the handmade shoes are willing to
pay the shoemakers as much as they could earn in the socialized
factories no reasonable objection could be urged against it. If they
would not pay that amount, or near it, the shoemakers, it is
reasonable to suppose, would not want to work for them. It would
adjust itself.

Under Socialism the land would belong to the people. By this I do not
mean that the private _use_ of land would be forbidden, because that
would be impossible. There would be no object in taking away the small
farms from their owners. On the contrary, the number of such farms
might be greatly increased. There are many people to-day who would
like to have small farms if they could only get a fair chance, if the
railroads and trusts of one kind and another were not always sucking
all the juice from the orange. Socialism would make it possible for
the farmer to get what he could produce, without having to divide up
with the railroad companies, the owners of grain elevators,
money-lenders, and a host of other parasites.

I have no doubt, Jonathan, that under Socialism there would be many
privately-worked farms. Nor have I any doubt whatever that the farmers
would be much better off than under existing conditions. For to-day
the farmer is not the happy, independent man he is sometimes supposed
to be. Very often his lot is worse than that of the city wage-earner.
At any rate, the money return for his labor is often less. You know
that a great many farmers do not own their farms: they are mortgaged
and the farmer has to pay an average interest of six per cent. upon
the mortgage.

Now, let us look for a moment at such a farmer's conditions, as shown
by the census statistics. According to the census of 1900, there were
in the United States 5,737,372 farms, each averaging about 146 acres.
The total value of farm products in 1899 was $4,717,069,973. Now then,
if we divide the value of the products by the number of farms, we can
get the average annual product of each farm--about $770.

Out of that $770 the farmer has to pay a hired laborer for at least
six months in the year, let us say. At twenty-five dollars a month,
with an added eight dollars a month for his board, this costs the
farmer $198, so that his income now stands at $572. Next, he must pay
interest upon his mortgage at six per cent. per annum. Now, the
average value of the farms in 1899 was $3,562 and six per cent. on
that amount would be about $213. Subtract that sum from the $572 which
the farmer has after paying his hired man and you have left about
$356. But as the farms are, not mortgaged to their full value, suppose
we reduce the interest one half--the farmer's income remains now $464.

Now, as a general thing, the farmer and his wife have to work equally
hard, and they must work every day in the year. The hired laborer gets
$150 and his board for six months, at the rate of $300 and board per
year. The farmer and his wife get only $232 a year each and _part_ of
their board, for what is not produced on the farm they must _buy_.

Under Socialism the farmer could own his own farm to all intents and
purposes. While the final title might be vested in the government, the
farmer would have a title to the use of the farm which no one could
dispute or take from him. If he had to borrow money he would do it
from the government and would not be charged extortionate rates of
interest as he is now. He would not have to pay railroad companies'
profits, since the railways being owned by all for all and not run
for profit, would be operated upon a basis of the cost of service.
The farmer would not be exploited by the packers and middlemen, these
functions being assumed by the people through their government, upon
the same basis of service to all, things being done for the use and
welfare of all instead of for the profit of the few. Under Socialism,
moreover, the farmer could get his machinery from the government
factories at a price which included no profits for idle shareholders.

I am told, Jonathan, that at the present time it costs about $24 to
make a reaper which the farmer must pay $120 for. It costs $40 to sell
the machine which was made for $24, the expense being incurred by
wasteful and useless advertising, salesmen's commissions, travelling
expenses, and so on. The other $54 which the farmer must pay goes to
the idlers in the form of rent, interest and profit.

Socialism, then, could very well leave the farmer in full possession
of his farm and improve his position by making it possible for him to
get the full value of his labor-products without having to divide up
with a host of idlers and non-producers. Socialism would not deny any
man the use of the land, but it would take away the right of non-users
to reap the fruits of the toil of users. It would deny the right of
the Astor family to levy a tax upon the people of New York, amounting
to millions of dollars annually, for the privilege of living there.
The Astors have such a vast business collecting this tax that they
have to employ an agent whose salary is equal to that of the President
of the United States and a large army of employees.

Socialism would deny the right of the English Duke of Rutland and Lord
Beresford to hold millions of acres of land in Texas, and to levy a
tax upon Americans for its use. It would deny the right of the
British Land Company to tax Kansans for the use of the 300,000 acres
owned by the company; the right of the Duke of Sutherland and Sir
Edward Reid to tax Americans for the use of the millions of acres they
own in Florida; of Lady Gordon and the Marquis of Dalhousie to any
right to tax people in Mississippi. The idea that a few people can own
the land upon which all people must live in any country is a relic of
slavery, friend Jonathan.

So you see, my friend, Socialism does not mean that everything is to
be divided up equally among the people every little while. That is
either a fool's notion or the wilful misrepresentation of a liar.
Socialism does not mean that there is to be a great bureaucratic
government owning everything and controlling everybody. It does not
mean doing away with private initiative and making of humanity a great
herd, everybody wearing the same kind of clothes, eating the same kind
and quantities of food, and having no personal liberties. It simply
means that all men and women should have equal opportunities; to make
it impossible for one man to exploit another, except at that other's
free will. It does not mean doing away with individual liberty and
reducing all to a dead level. That is what is at present happening to
the great majority of people, and Socialism comes to unbind the soul
of man--to make mankind free.

I think, Jonathan, that you ought to have a fairly clear notion now of
what Socialism is and what it is not. You ought to be able now to
distinguish between the social properties which Socialism would
establish and the private properties it could have no object in taking
away, which it would rather foster and protect. I have tried simply to
illustrate the principle for you, so that you can think the matter
out for yourself. It will be a very good thing for you to commit this
rule to memory.--

_Under Socialism, the State would own and control only those things
which could not be owned and controlled by individuals without giving
them an undue advantage over the community, by enabling them to
extract profits from the labor of others._

But be sure that you do not make the common mistake of confusing
government ownership with Socialism, friend Jonathan, as so many
people are in the habit of doing. In Prussia the government owns the
railways. But the government does not represent the interests of all
the people. It is the government of a nation by a class. That is not
the same thing as the socialization of the railways, as you will see.
In Russia the government owns some of the railways and has a monopoly
of the liquor traffic. But these things are not democratically owned
and managed in the common interest. Russia is an autocracy. Everything
is run for the benefit of the governing class, the Czar and a host of
bureaucrats. That is not Socialism. In this country we have a nearer
approach to democracy in our government, and our post-office system,
for example, is a much nearer approach to the realization of the
Socialist principle.

But even in this country, government ownership and Socialism are not
the same thing. For our government is a class government too. There is
the same inequality of wages and conditions as under capitalist
ownership: many of the letter carriers and other employees are
miserably underpaid, and the service is notoriously handicapped by
private interests. Whether it is in Russia under the Czar and his
bureaucrats, Germany with its monarchial system cumbered with the
remnants of feudalism, or the United States with its manhood suffrage
foolishly used to elect the interests of the capitalist class,
government ownership can only be at best a framework for Socialism. It
must wait for the Socialist spirit to be infused into it.

Socialists want government ownership, Jonathan, but they don't want it
unless the people are to own the government. When the government
represents the interests of all the people it will use the things it
owns and controls for the common good. _And that will be Socialism in
practice, my friend._



    I feel sure that the time will come when people will find it
    difficult to believe that a rich community such as our's,
    having such command over external nature, could have submitted
    to live such a mean, shabby, dirty life as we do.--_William

    Morality and political economy unite in repelling the
    individual who consumes without producing.--_Balzac._

    The restraints of Communism would be freedom in comparison
    with the present condition of the majority of the human
    race.--_John Stuart Mill._

I promised at the beginning of this discussion, friend Jonathan, that
I would try to answer the numerous objections to Socialism which you
set forth in your letter, and I cannot close the discussion without
fulfilling that promise.

Many of the objections I have already disposed of and need not,
therefore, take further notice of them here. The remaining ones I
propose to answer--except where I can show you that an answer is
unnecessary. For you have answered some of the objections yourself, my
friend, though you were not aware of the fact. I find in looking over
the long list of your objections that one excludes another very often.
You seem, like a great many other people, to have set down all the
objections you had ever heard, or could think of at the time,
regardless of the fact that they could not by any possibility be all
well founded; that if some were wise and weighty others must be
foolish and empty. Without altering the form of your objections,
simply rearranging their order, I propose to set forth a few of the
contradictions in your objections. That is fair logic, Jonathan.

First you say that you object to Socialism because it is "the clamor
of envious men to take by force what does not belong to them." That is
a very serious objection, if true. But you say a little further on in
your letter that "Socialism is a noble and beautiful dream which human
beings are not perfect enough to realize in actual life." Either one
of the objections _may_ be valid, Jonathan, but both of them cannot
be. Socialism cannot be both a noble and a beautiful dream, too
sublime for human realization, and at the same time a sordid envy--can

You say that "Socialists are opposed to law and order and want to do
away with all government," and then you say in another objection that
"Socialists want to make us all slaves to the government by putting
everything and everybody under government control." It happens that
you are wrong in both assertions, but you can see for yourself that
you couldn't possibly be right in both of them--can't you?

You object that under Socialism "all would be reduced to the same dead
level." That is a very serious objection, too, but it cannot be well
founded unless your other objection, that "under Socialism a few
politicians would get all the power and most of the wealth, making all
the people their slaves" is without foundation. Both objections cannot
hold--can they?

You say that "Socialists are visionaries with cut and dried schemes
that look well on paper, but the world has never paid any attention
to schemes for reorganizing society," and then you object that "the
Socialists have no definite plans for what they propose to do, and how
they mean to do it; that they indulge in vague principles only." And I
ask you again, friend Jonathan, do you think that both these
objections can be sound?

You object that "Socialism is as old as the world; has been tried many
times and always failed." If that were true it would be a very serious
objection to Socialism, of course. But is it true? In another place
you object that "Socialism has never been tried and we don't know how
it would work." You see, my friend, you can make either objection you
choose, but not both. Either one _may_ be right, but _both_ cannot be.

Now, these are only a few of the long list of your objections which
are directly contradictory and mutually exclusive, my friend. Some of
them I have already answered directly, the others I have answered
indirectly. Therefore, I shall do no more here and now than briefly
summarize the Socialist answer to them.

Socialists do propose that society as a whole should take and use for
the common good some things which a few now own, things which "belong"
to them by virtue of laws which set the interests of the few above the
common good. But that is a very different thing from "the clamor of
envious men to take what does not belong to them." It is no more to be
so described than taxation, for example is. Socialism is a beautiful
dream in one sense. Men who see the misery and despair produced by
capitalism think with joy of the days to come when the misery and
despair are replaced by gladsomeness and hope. That _is_ a dream, but
no Socialist rests upon the dream merely: the hope of the Socialist is
in the very material fact of the economic development from
competition to monopoly; in the breakdown of capitalism itself.

You have probably learned by this time that Socialism does not mean
either doing away with all government or making the government master
of everything. Later, I want to return to the subject, and to the
charge that it would reduce all to a dull level. I shall not waste
time answering the objections that it is a scheme and that it is not a
scheme, further than I have already answered them. And I am not going
to waste your time arguing at length the folly of saying that
Socialism has been tried and proved a failure. The Socialism of to-day
has nothing to do with the thousands of Utopian schemes which men have
tried. Before the modern Socialist movement came into existence,
during hundreds of years, men and women tried to realize social
equality by forming communities and withdrawing from the ordinary life
of the world. Some of these communities, mostly of a religious nature,
such as the Shakers and the Perfectionists, attained some measure of
success and lasted a number of years, but most of them lasted only a
short time. It is folly to say that Socialism has ever been tried
anywhere at any time.

And now, friend Jonathan, I want to consider some of the more vital
and important objections to Socialism made in your letter. You object
to Socialism

  Because its advocates use violent speech
  Because it is "the same as Anarchism"
  Because it aims to destroy the family and the home
  Because it is opposed to religion
  Because it would do away with personal liberty
  Because it would reduce all to one dull level
  Because it would destroy the incentive to progress
  Because it is impossible unless we can change human nature.

These are all your objections, Jonathan, and I am going to try to
suggest answers to them.

(1) It is true that Socialists sometimes use very violent language.
Like all earnest and enthusiastic men who are possessed by a great and
overwhelming sense of wrong and needless suffering, they sometimes use
language that is terrible in its vehemence; their speech is sometimes
full of bitter scorn and burning indignation. It is also true that
their speech is sometimes rough and uncultured, shocking the sensitive
ear, but I am sure you will agree with me that the working man or
woman who, never having had the advantage of education and refined
environment, feels the burden of the days that are or the inspiration
of better days to come, is entitled to be heard. So I am not going to
apologize for the rough and uncultured speech.

And I am not going to apologize for the violent speech. It would be
better, of course, if all the advocates of Socialism could master the
difficult art of stating their case strongly and without compromise,
but without bitterness and without unnecessary offense to others. But
it is not easy to measure speech in the denunciation of immeasurable
wrong, and some of the greatest utterances in history have been hard,
bitter, vehement words torn from agonized hearts. It is true that
Socialists now and then use violent language, but no Socialist--unless
he is so overwrought as to be momentarily irresponsible--_advocates
violence_. The great urge and passion of Socialism is for the peaceful
transformation of society.

I have heard a few overwrought Socialists, all of them gentle and
generous comrades, incapable of doing harm to any living creature, in
bursts of tempestuous indignation use language which seemed to incite
their hearers to violence, but those who heard them understood that
they were borne away by their feelings. I have never heard Socialists
advocate violence toward any human beings in cold-blooded
deliberation. But I _have_ heard capitalists and the defenders of
capitalism advocate violence toward Socialists in cold-blooded
deliberation. I have seen in Socialist papers upon a few occasions
violent utterances which I deplored, but never such advocacy of
violence as I have read in newspapers opposed to Socialism. Here, for
example, are some extracts from an editorial which appeared January,
1908, in the columns of the _Gossip_, of Goldfield, Nevada:

    "A cheaper and more satisfactory method of dealing with this
    labor trouble in Goldfield last spring would have been to have
    taken half a dozen of the Socialist leaders in the Miners'
    Union and hanged them all to telegraph poles.

    to us after many months of reflection, that YOU COULDN'T MAKE


    "He, breathing peace, breathing order, breathing goodwill,
    fairness to all and moderation, is always the man with the
    dynamite. He is the trouble-maker, and the trouble-breeder.

    "To fully appreciate him you must live where he abounds.

    "In the Western Federation of Miners he is that plentiful
    legacy left us from the teachings of Eugene V. Debs, hero of
    the Chicago Haymarket Riots.


I could fill many pages with extracts almost as bad as the above, all
taken from capitalist papers, Jonathan. But for our purpose one is as
good as a thousand. I want you to read the papers carefully with an
eye to their class character. When the Goldfield paper printed the
foregoing open incitement to murder, the community was already
disturbed by a great strike and the President of the United States had
sent federal troops to Goldfield in the interest of the master class.
Suppose that under similar circumstances a Socialist paper had come
out and said in big type that people "couldn't make a mistake in
hanging a capitalist," that capitalists are "always better dead."
Suppose that any Socialist paper urged the murder of Republicans and
Democrats in the same way, do you think the paper would have been
tolerated? That the editor would have escaped jail? Don't you know
that if such a statement had been published by any Socialist paper the
whole country would have been roused, that press and pulpit would have
denounced it?

Socialists are opposed to violence. They appeal to brains and not to
bludgeons; they trust in ballots and not in bullets. The violence of
speech with which they are charged is not the advocacy of violence,
but unmeasured and impassioned denunciation of a cruel and brutal
system. Not long ago I heard a clergyman denouncing Socialists for
their "violent language." Poor fellow! He was quite unconscious that
he was more bitter in his invective than the men he attacked. Of
course Socialists use bitter and burning language--but not more bitter
than was used by the great Hebrew prophets in their stern
denunciations; not more bitter than was used by Jesus and his
disciples; not more bitter than was used by Martin Luther and other
great leaders of the Reformation; not more bitter than was used by
Garrison and the other Abolitionists. Men with vital messages cannot
always use soft words, Jonathan.

(2) Socialism is not "the same as Anarchism," my friend, but its very
opposite. The only connection between them is that they are agreed
upon certain criticisms of present society. In all else they are as
opposite as the poles. The difference lies not merely in the fact that
most Anarchists have advocated physical violence, for there are some
Anarchists who are as much opposed to physical violence as you or I,
Jonathan, and it is only fair and just that we should recognize the
fact. It has always seemed to me that Anarchism logically leads to
physical force by individuals against individuals, but, logical or no,
there are many Anarchists who are gentle spirits, holding all life
sacred and abhorring violence and assassination. When there are so
many ready to be unjust to them, we can afford to be just to the
Anarchists, even if we do not agree with them, Jonathan.

Sometimes an attempt is made by Socialists to explain the difference
between themselves and Anarchists by saying that Anarchists want to
destroy all government, while Socialists want to extend government and
bring everything under its control; that Anarchists want no laws,
while Socialists want more laws. But that is not an intelligent
statement of the difference. We Socialists don't particularly desire
to extend the functions of government; we are not so enamoured of laws
that we want more of them. Quite the contrary is true, in fact. If we
had a Socialist government to-morrow in this country, one of the first
and most important of its tasks would be to repeal a great many of the
existing laws.

Then there are some Socialists who try to explain the difference
between Socialism and Anarchism by saying that the Anarchists are
simply Socialists of a very advanced type; that society must first
pass through a period of Socialism, in which laws will be necessary,
before it can enter upon Anarchism, a state in which every man will be
so pure and so good that he can be a law unto himself, no other form
of law being necessary. But that does not settle the difficulty. I
think you will see, friend Jonathan, that in order to have such a
society in which without laws or penal codes, or government of any
kind, men and women lived happily together, it would be necessary for
every member to cultivate a social sense, a sense of responsibility to
society as a whole. Each member of society would have to become so
thoroughly socialized as to make the interests of society as a whole
his chief concern in life. And such a society would be simply a
Socialist society perfectly developed, not an Anarchist society. It
would be a Socialist society simply because it would be dominated by
the essential principle of Socialism--the idea of solidarity, of
common interest.

The basis of Anarchism is utopian individualism. Just as the old
utopian dreamers who tried to "establish" Socialism through the medium
of numerous "Colonies," took the abstract idea of equality and made it
their ideal, so the Anarchist sets up the abstract idea of individual
liberty. The true difference between Socialism and Anarchism is that
the Socialist sets the social interest, the good of society, above all
other interests, while the Anarchist sets the interest of the
individual above everything else. You could express the difference

  Socialism means _We_ -ism
  Anarchism means _Me_ -ism

The Anarchist says: "The world is made up of individuals. What is
called "society" is only a lot of individuals. Therefore the
individual is the only real being and society a mere abstraction, a
name. As an individual I know myself, but I know nothing of society; I
know my own interests, but I know nothing of what you call the
interests of society." On the other hand, the Socialist says that "no
man liveth unto himself," to use a biblical phrase. He points out that
in modern society no individual life, apart from the social life, is

If this seems a somewhat abstract way of putting it, Jonathan, just
try to put it in a concrete form yourself by means of a simple
experiment. When you sit down to your breakfast to-morrow morning take
time to think where your breakfast came from and how it was produced.
Think of the coffee plantations in far-off countries drawn on for your
breakfast; of the farms, perhaps thousands of miles away, from which
came your bacon and your bread; of the coal miners toiling that your
breakfast might be cooked; of the men in the engine-rooms of great
ships and on the tenders of mighty locomotives, bringing your
breakfast supplies across sea and land. Then think of your clothing in
the same way, article by article, trying to realize how much you are
dependent upon others than yourself. Throughout the day apply the same
principle as you move about. Apply it to the streets as you go to
work; to the street cars as you ride; apply it to the provisions which
are made to safeguard your health against devastating plague, the
elaborate system of drainage, the carefully guarded water-supply, and
so on. Then, when you have done that for a day as far as possible, ask
yourself whether the Anarchist idea that every individual is a
distinct and separate whole, an independent being, unrelated to the
other individuals who make up society, is a true one; or whether the
Socialist idea that all individuals are inter-dependent upon each
other, bound to each other by so many ties that they cannot be
considered apart, is the true idea. Judge by your experience,

So the Socialist says that "we are all members one of another," to use
another familiar biblical phrase. He is not less interested in
personal freedom than the Anarchist, not less desirous of giving to
each individual unit in society the largest possible freedom
compatible with the like freedom of all the other units. But, while
the Anarchist says that the best judge of that is the individual, the
Socialist says that society is the best judge. The Anarchist position
is that, in the event of a conflict of interests, the will of the
individual must rule at all costs; the Socialist says that, in the
event of such a conflict of interests, the will of the individual must
give way. That is the real philosophical difference between the two.

Anarchism is not important enough in America, friend Jonathan, to
justify our devoting so much time and space to the discussion of its
philosophy as opposed to the philosophy of Socialism, except for the
bearing it has upon the political movement of the working class. I
want you to see just how Anarchism works out when the test of
practical application is resorted to.

Just as the Anarchist sets up an abstract idea of individual liberty
as his ideal, so he sets up an abstract idea of tyranny. To him Law,
the will of society, is the essence of tyranny. Laws are limitations
of individual liberty set by society and therefore they are
tyrannical. No matter what the law may be, all laws are wrong. There
cannot be such a thing as a good law, according to this view. To
illustrate just where this leads us, let me tell of a recent
experience: I was lecturing in a New England town, and after the
lecture an Anarchist rose to ask some questions. He wanted to know if
it was not a fact that all laws were oppressive and bad, to which, of
course, I replied that I thought not.

I asked him whether the law forbidding murder and providing for its
punishment, oppressed _him_; whether _he_ felt it a hardship not to be
allowed to murder at will, and he replied that he did not. I cited
many other laws, such as the laws relating to arson, burglary,
criminal assault, and so on, with the same result. His outcry about
the oppression of law, as such, proved to be just an empty cry about
an abstraction; a bogey of his imagination. Of course, he could cite
bad laws, unjust laws, as I could have done; but that would simply
show that some laws are not right--a proposition upon which most
people will agree. My Anarchist friend quoted Herbert Spencer in
support of his contention. He referred to Spencer's well-known summary
of the social legislation of England. So I asked my friend if he
thought the Factory Acts were oppressive and tyrannical, and he
replied that, from an Anarchist viewpoint, they were.

Think of that, Jonathan! Little boys and girls, five and six years
old, were taken out of their beds crying and begging to be allowed to
sleep, and carried to the factory gates. Then they were driven to work
by brutal overseers armed with leather whips. Sometimes they fell
asleep at their tasks and then they were beaten and kicked and cursed
at like dogs. Little boys and girls from orphan asylums were sent to
work thus, and died like flies in summer--their bodies being secretly
buried at night for fear of an outcry. You can find the terrible story
told in _The Industrial History of England_, by H. de B. Gibbins,
which ought to be in your public library.

Humane men set up a protest at last and there was a movement through
the country demanding protection for the children. Once a member of
parliament held up in the House of Commons a whip of leather thongs
attached to an oak handle, telling his colleagues that a few days
before it had been used to flog little children who were mere babies.
The demand was made for legislation to stop this barbarous treatment
of children, to protect their childhood. The factory owners opposed
the passing of such laws on the ground that it would be an
interference with their individual liberties, their right to do as
they pleased. _And the Anarchist comes always and inevitably to the
same conclusion._ Factory laws, public health laws, education
laws--all denounced as "interferences with individual liberty."
Extremes meet: the Anarchist in the name of individual liberty, like
the capitalist, would prevent society from putting a stop to the
exploitation of its little ones.

The real danger in Anarchism is not that _some_ Anarchists believe in
violence, and that from time to time there are cowardly assassinations
which are as futile as they are cowardly. The real danger lies first
in the reactionary principle that the interests of society must be
subordinated to the interests of the individual, and, second, in
holding out a hope to the working class that its freedom from
oppression and exploitation may be brought about by other than
political, legislative means. And it is this second objection which is
of extreme importance to the working class of America at this time.

From time to time, in all working class movements, there is an outcry
against political action, an outcry raised by impetuous men-in-a-hurry
who want twelve o'clock at eleven. They cry out that the ballot is too
slow; they want some more "direct" action than the ballot-box allows.
But you will find, Jonathan, that the men who raise this cry have
nothing to propose except riot to take the place of political action.
Either they would have the workers give up all struggle and depend
upon moral suasion, or they would have them riot. And we Socialists
say that ballots are better weapons than bullets for the workers. You
may depend upon it that any agitation among the workers against the
use of political weapons leads to Anarchism--and to riot. I hope you
will find time to read Plechanoff's _Anarchism and Socialism_,
Jonathan. It will well repay your careful study.

No, Socialism is not related to Anarchism, but it is, on the contrary,
the one great active force in the world to-day that is combating
Anarchism. There is a close affinity between Anarchism and the idea of
capitalism, for both place the individual above society. The Socialist
believes that the highest good of the individual will be realized
through the highest good of society.

(3) Socialism involves no attack upon the family and the home. Those
who raise this objection against Socialism charge that it is one of
the aims of the Socialist movement to do away with the monogamic
marriage and to replace it with what is called "Free Love." By this
term they do not really mean free _love_ at all. For love is always
_free_, Jonathan. Not all the wealth of a Rockefeller could buy one
single touch of love. Love is always free; it cannot be bought and it
cannot be bound. No one can love for a price, or in obedience to laws
or threats. The term "Free Love" is therefore a misnomer.

What the opponents of Socialism have in mind when they use the term is
rather lust than love. They charge us Socialists with trying to do
away with the monogamic marriage relation--the marriage of one man to
one woman--and the family life resulting therefrom. They say that we
want promiscuous sex relations, communal life instead of family life
and the turning over of all parental functions to the community, the
State. And to charge that these things are involved in Socialism is at
once absurd and untrue. I venture to say, Jonathan, that the
percentage of Socialists who believe in such things is not greater
than the percentage of Christians believing in them, or the percentage
of Republicans or Democrats. They have nothing to do with Socialism.

Let us see upon what sort of evidence the charge is based: On the one
hand, finding nothing in the programmes of the Socialist parties of
the world to support the charge, we find them going back to the
utopian schemes with communistic features. They go back to Plato,
even! Because Plato in his _Republic_, which was a wholly imaginary
description of the ideal society he conceived in his mind, advocated
community of sex relations as well as community of goods, therefore
the Socialists, who do not advocate community of goods or community of
wives, must be charged with Plato's principles! In like manner, the
fact that many other communistic experiments included either communism
of sex relations, as, for example, the Adamites, during the Hussite
wars, in Germany, and the Perfectionists, of Oneida, with their
"community marriage," all the male members of a community being
married to all the female members; or enforced celibacy, as did the
Shakers and the Harmonists, among many other similar groups, is urged
against Socialism.

I need not argue the injustice and the stupidity of this sort of
criticism, Jonathan. What have the Socialists of twentieth century
America to do with Plato? His utopian ideal is not their ideal; they
are neither aiming at community of goods nor at community of wives.
And when we put aside Plato and the Platonic communities, the first
fact to challenge attention is that the communities which established
laws relating to sex relations which were opposed to the monogamic
family, whether promiscuity, so-called free love; plural marriage, as
in Mormonism, or celibacy, as in Harmonism and Shakerism, were all
_religious_ communities. In a word, all these experiments which
antagonized the monogamic family relation were the result of various
interpretations of the Bible and the efforts of those who accepted
those interpretations to rule their lives in accordance therewith. In
every case communism was only a means to an end, a way of realizing
what they considered to be the true religious life. In other words, my
friend, most of the so-called free love experiments made in these
communities have been offshoots of Christianity rather than of

_And I ask you, Jonathan Edwards, as a fair-minded American, what you
would think of it if the Socialists charged Christianity with being
opposed to the family and the home? It would not be true of
Christianity and it is not true of Socialism._

But there is another form of argument which is sometimes resorted to.
The history of the movement is searched for examples of what is called
free love. That is to say that because from time to time there have
been individual Socialists who have refused to recognize the
ceremonial and legal aspects of marriage, believing love to be the
only real marriage bond, notwithstanding that the vast majority of
Socialists have recognized the legal and ceremonial aspects of
marriage, they have been accused of trying to do away with marriage.
Our opponents have even stooped so low as to seize upon every case
where Socialists have sought divorce as a means of undoing terrible
wrong, and then married other husbands and wives, and proclaimed it as
a fresh proof that Socialism is opposed to marriage and the family.
When I have read some of these cruel and dishonest attacks, often
written by men who know better, my soul has been sickened at the
thought of the cowardice and dishonesty to which the opponents of
Socialism resort.

Suppose that every time a prominent Christian becomes divorced, and
then remarries, the Socialists of the country were to attack the
Christian religion and the Christian churches, upon the ground that
they are opposed to marriage and the family, does anybody think that
_that_ would be fair and just? But it is the very thing which happens
whenever Socialists are divorced. It happened, not so very long ago,
that a case of the kind was made the occasion of hundreds of
editorials against Socialism and hundreds of sermons. The facts were
these: A man and his wife, both Socialists, had for a long time
realized that their marriage was an unhappy one. Failing to realize
the happiness they sought, it was mutually agreed that the wife should
apply for a divorce. They had been legally married and desired to be
legally separated. Meantime the man had come to believe that his
happiness depended upon his wedding another woman. The divorce was to
be procured as speedily as possible to enable the legal marriage of
the man and the woman he had grown to love.

Those were the facts as they appeared in the press, the facts upon
which so many hundreds of attacks were made upon Socialism and the
Socialist movement. Two or three weeks later, an Episcopal clergyman,
not a Socialist, left the wife he had ceased to love and with whom he
had presumably not been happy. He had legally married his wife, but
he did not bother about getting a legal separation. He just left his
wife; just ran away. He not only did not bother about getting a legal
separation, but he ran away with a young girl, whom he had grown to
love. They lived together as man and wife, without legal marriage, for
if they went through any marriage form at all it was not a legal
marriage and the man was guilty of bigamy. Was there any attack upon
the Episcopal Church in consequence? Were hundreds of sermons preached
and editorials written to denounce the church to which he belonged,
accusing it of aiming to do away with the monogamic marriage relation,
to break up the family and the home?

Not a bit of it, Jonathan. There were some criticisms of the man, but
there were more attempts to find excuses for him. There were thousands
of expressions of sympathy with his church. But there were no attacks
such as were aimed at Socialism in the other case, notwithstanding
that the Socialist strictly obeyed the law whereas the clergyman broke
the law and defied it. I think that was a fair way to treat the case,
but I ask the same fair treatment of Socialism.

So far, Jonathan, I have been taking a defensive attitude, just
replying to the charge that Socialism is an attack upon the family and
the home. Now, I want to go a step further: I want to take an
affirmative position and to say that Socialism comes as the defender
of the home and the family; that capitalism from the very first has
been attacking the home. I am going to turn the tables, Jonathan.

When capitalism began, when it came with its steam engine and its
power-loom, what was the first thing it did? Why, it entered the home
and took the child from the mother and made it a part of a great
system of wheels and levers and springs, all driven for one end--the
grinding of profit. It began its career by breaking down the bonds
between mother and child. Then it took another step. It took the
mother away from the baby in the cradle in order that she too might
become part of the great profit-grinding system. Her breasts might be
full to overflowing with the food wonderfully provided for the child
by Nature; the baby in the cradle might cry for the very food that was
bursting from its mother's breasts, but Capital did not care. The
mother was taken away from the child and the child was left to get on
as best it might upon a miserable substitute for its mother's milk.
Hundreds of thousands of babies die each year for no other reason than

There will never be safety for the home and the family so long as
babies are robbed of their mothers' care; so long as little children
are made to do the work of men; so long as the girls who are to be the
wives and mothers are sent into wifehood and motherhood unprepared,
simply because the years of maidenhood are spent in factories that
ought to be spent in preparation for wifehood and motherhood. Here is
capitalism cutting at the very heart of the home, with Socialism as
the only defender of the home it is charged with attacking. For
Socialism would give the child its right to childhood; it would give
the mother her freedom to nourish her babe; it would give to the
fathers and mothers of the future the opportunities for preparation
they cannot now enjoy.

I ask you, friend Jonathan, to think of the tens and thousands of
women who marry to-day, not because they love and are loved in return,
but for the sake of getting a home. Socialism would put an end to that
condition by making woman economically and politically free. Think of
the tens of thousands of young men in our land who do not, dare not,
marry because they have no certainty of earning a living adequate to
the maintenance of wives and families; of the hundreds of thousands of
prostitutes in our country, the vast majority of whom have been driven
to that terrible fate by economic causes outside of their control.
Socialism would at least remove the economic pressure which forces so
many of these women down into the terrible hell of prostitution. I ask
you, Jonathan, to think also of the thousands of wives who are
deserted every year. So far as the investigations of the charity
organizations into this serious matter have gone, it has been shown
that poverty is responsible for by far the greatest number of these
desertions. Socialism would not only destroy the poverty, but it would
set woman economically free, thus removing the main causes of the

Oh, Jonathan Edwards, hard-headed, practical Jonathan, do you think
that the existence of the family depends upon keeping women in the
position of an inferior class, politically and economically? Do you
think that when women are politically and economically the equals of
men, so that they no longer have to marry for homes, or to stand
brutal treatment because they have no other homes than the men afford;
so that no woman is forced to sell her body--I ask you, when women are
thus free do you believe that the marriage system will be endangered
thereby? For that is what the contention of the opponents of Socialism
comes to in the last analysis, my friend. Socialism will only affect
the marriage system in so far as it raises the standards of society as
a whole and makes woman man's political and economic equal. Are you
afraid of _that_, Jonathan?

(4) Socialism is not opposed to religion. It is perfectly true that
some Socialists oppose religion, but Socialism itself has nothing to
do with matters of religion. In the Socialist movement to-day there
are men and women of all creeds and all shades of religious belief. By
all the Socialist parties of the world religion is declared to be a
private matter--and the declaration is honestly meant; it is not a
tactical utterance, used as bait to the unwary, which the Socialists
secretly repudiate. In the Socialist movement of America to-day there
are Jews and Christians, Catholics and Protestants, Spiritualists and
Christian Scientists, Unitarians and Trinitarians, Methodists and
Baptists, Atheists and Agnostics, all united in one great comradeship.

This was not always the case. When the scientific Socialist movement
began in the second half of the last century, Science was engaged in a
great intellectual encounter with Dogma. All the younger men were
drawn into the scientific current of the time. It was natural, then,
that the most radical movement of the time should partake of the
universal scientific spirit and temper. The Christians of that day
thought that the work of Darwin and his school would destroy religion.
They made the very natural mistake of supposing that dogma and
religion were the same thing, a mistake which their critics fully

You know what happened, Jonathan. The Christians gradually came to
realize that no religion could oppose the truth and continue to be a
power. Gradually they accepted the position of the Darwinian critics,
until to-day there is no longer the great vital controversy upon
matters of theology which our fathers knew. In a very similar manner,
the present generation of Socialists have nothing to do with the
attacks upon religion which the Socialists of fifty years ago indulged
in. The position of all the Socialist parties of the world to-day is
that they have nothing to do with matters of religious belief; that
these belong to the individual alone.

There is a sense in which Socialism becomes the handmaiden of
religion: not of creeds and theological beliefs, but of religion in
its broadest sense. When you examine the great religions of the world,
Jonathan, you will find that in addition to certain supernatural
beliefs there are always great ethical principles which constitute the
most vital elements in religion. Putting aside the theological beliefs
about God and the immortality of the soul, what was it that gave
Judaism its power? Was it not the ethical teaching of its great
prophets, such as Isaiah, Joel, Amos and Ezekiel--the stern rebuke of
the oppressors of the poor and downtrodden, the scathing denunciation
of the despoilers of the people, the great vision of a unified world
in which there should be peace, when war should no more blight the
world and when the weapons of war should be forged into plowshares and
pruning hooks? Leaving matters of theology aside, are not these the
principles which make Judaism a living religion to-day for so many?
And I say to you, Jonathan, that Socialism is not only not opposed to
these things, but they can only be realized under Socialism.

So with Christianity. In its broadest sense, leaving aside all matters
of a supernatural character, concerning ourselves only with the
relation of the religion to life, to its material problems, we find in
Christianity the same great faith in the coming of universal peace and
brotherhood, the same defense of the poor and the oppressed, the same
scathing rebuke of the oppressor, that we find in Judaism. There is
the same relentless scourge of the despoilers, of those who devour
widows houses. And again I say that Socialism is not only not opposed
to the great social ideals of Christianity, but it is the only means
whereby they may be realized. And the same thing is true of the
teachings of Confucius; Buddha and Mahomet. The great social ideals
common to all the world's religions can never be attained under
capitalism. Not till the Socialist state is reached will the Golden
Rule, common to all the great religions, be possible as a rule of
life. No ethical life is possible except as the outgrowing of just and
harmonic economic relations; until it is rooted in proper economic

No, Jonathan, it is not true that Socialism is antagonistic to
religion. With beliefs and speculations concerning the origin of the
universe it has nothing to do. It has nothing to do with speculations
concerning the existence of man after physical death, with belief in
the immortality of the soul. These are for the individual. Socialism
concerns itself with man's material life and his relation to his
fellow man. And there is nothing in the philosophy of Socialism, or
the platform of the political Socialist movement, antagonistic to the
social aspects of any religion.

(5) I have already had a good deal to say in the course of this
discussion concerning the subject of personal freedom. The common idea
of Socialism as a great bureaucratic government owning and controlling
everything, deciding what every man and woman must do, is wholly
wrong. The aim and purpose of the Socialist movement is to make life
more free for the individual, and not to make it less free. Socialism
means equality of opportunity for every child born into the world; it
means doing away with class privilege; it means doing away with the
ownership by the few of the things upon which the lives of the many
depend, through which the many are exploited by the few. Do you see
how individuals are to be enslaved through the destruction of the
power of a few over many, Jonathan? Think it out!

It is in the private ownership of social resources, and the private
control of social opportunities, that the essence of tyranny lies. Let
me ask you, my friend, whether you feel yourself robbed of any part of
your personal liberty when you go to a public library and take out a
book to read, or into one of our public art galleries to look upon
great pictures which you could never otherwise see? Is it not rather a
fact that your life is thereby enriched and broadened; that instead of
taking anything from you these things add to your enjoyment and to
your power? Do you feel that you are robbed of any element of your
personal freedom through the action of the city government in making
parks for your recreation, providing hospitals to care for you in case
of accident or illness, maintaining a fire department to protect you
against the ravages of fire? Do you feel that in maintaining schools,
baths, hospitals, parks, museums, public lighting service, water,
streets and street cleaning service, the city government is taking
away your personal liberties? I ask these questions, Jonathan, for the
reason that all these things contain the elements of Socialism.

When you go into a government post-office and pay two cents for the
service of having a letter carried right across the country, knowing
that every person must pay the same as you and can enjoy the same
right as you, do you feel that you are less free than when you go into
an express company's office and pay the price they demand for taking
your package? Does it really help you to enjoy yourself, to feel
yourself more free, to know that in the case of the express company's
service only part of your money will be used to pay the cost of
carrying the package; that the larger part will go to bribe
legislators, to corrupt public officials and to build up huge fortunes
for a few investors? The post-office is not a perfect example of
Socialism: there are too many private grafters battening upon the
postal system, the railway companies plunder it and the great mass of
the clerks and carriers are underpaid. But so far as the principles of
social organization and equal charges for everybody go they are
socialistic. The government does not try to compel you to write
letters any more than the private company tries to compel you to send
packages. If you said that, rather than use the postal system, you
would carry your own letter across the continent, even if you decided
to walk all the way, the government would not try to stop you, any
more than the express company would try to stop you from carrying your
trunk on your shoulder across the country. But in the case of the
express company you must pay tribute to men who have been shrewd
enough to exploit a social necessity for their private gain.

Do you really imagine, Jonathan, that in those cities where the street
railways, for example, are in the hands of the people there is a loss
of personal liberty as a result; that because the people who use the
street railways do not have to pay tribute to a corporation they are
less free than they would otherwise be? So far as these things are
owned by the people and democratically managed in the interests of
all, they are socialistic and an appeal to such concrete facts as
these is far better than any amount of abstract reasoning. You are not
a closet philosopher, interested in fine-spun theories, but a
practical man, graduated from the great school of hard experience. For
you, if I am not mistaken, Garfield's aphorism, that "An ounce of
fact is worth many tons of theory," is true.

So I want to ask you finally concerning this question of personal
liberty whether you think you would be less free than you are to-day
if your Pittsburg foundries and mills, instead of belonging to
corporations organized for the purpose of making profit, belonged to
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and if they were operated for the
common good instead of as now to serve the interests of a few. Would
you be less free if, instead of a corporation trying to make the
workers toil as many hours as possible for as little pay as possible,
naturally and consistently avoiding as far as possible the expenditure
of time and money upon safety appliances and other means of protecting
the health and lives of the workers, the mills were operated upon the
principle of guarding the health and lives of the workers as much as
possible, reducing the hours of labor to a minimum and paying them for
their work as much as possible? Is it a sensible fear, my friend, that
the people of any country will be less free as they acquire more power
over their own lives? You see, Jonathan, I want you to take a
practical view of the matter.

(6) The cry that Socialism would reduce all men and women to one dull
level is another bogey which frightens a great many good and wise
people. It has been answered thousands of times by Socialist writers
and you will find it discussed in most of the popular books and
pamphlets published in the interest of the Socialist propaganda. I
shall therefore dismiss it very briefly.

Like many other objections, this rests upon an entire misapprehension
of what Socialism really means. The people who make it have got firmly
into their minds the idea that Socialism aims to make all men equal;
to devise some plan for removing the inequalities with which they are
endowed by nature. They fear that, in order to realize this ideal of
equality, the strong will be held down to the level of the weak, the
daring to the level of the timid, the wisest to the level of the least
wise. That is their conception of the equality of which Socialists
talk. And I am free to say, Jonathan, that I do not wonder that
sensible men should oppose such equality as that.

Even if it were possible, through the adoption of some system of
stirpiculture, to breed all human beings to a common type, so that
they would all be tall or short, fat or thin, light or dark, according
to choice, it would not be a very desirable ideal, would it? And if we
could get everybody to think exactly the same thoughts, to admire
exactly the same things, to have exactly the same mental powers and
exactly the same measure of moral strength and weakness, I do not
think _that_ would be a very desirable ideal. The world of human
beings would then be just as dull and uninspiring as a waxwork show.
Imagine yourself in a city where every house was exactly like every
other house in all particulars, even to its furnishings; imagine all
the people being exactly the same height and weight, looking exactly
alike, dressed exactly alike, eating exactly alike, going to bed and
rising at the same time, thinking exactly alike and feeling exactly
alike--how would you like to live in such a city, Jonathan? The city
or state of Absolute Equality is only a fool's dream.

No sane man or woman wants absolute equality, friend Jonathan, for it
is as undesirable as it is unimaginable. What Socialism wants is
equality of opportunity merely. No Socialist wants to pull down the
strong to the level of the weak, the wise to the level of the less
wise. Socialism does not imply pulling anybody down. It does not
imply a great plain of humanity with no mountain peaks of genius or
character. It is not opposed to natural inequalities, but only to
man-made inequalities. Its only protest is against these artificial
inequalities, products of man's ignorance and greed. It does not aim
to pull down the highest, but to lift up the lowest; it does not want
to put a load of disadvantage upon the strong and gifted, but it wants
to take off the heavy burdens of disadvantage which keep others from
rising. In a word, Socialism implies nothing more than giving every
child born into the world equal opportunities, so that only the
inequalities of Nature remain. Don't you believe in _that_, my friend?

Here are two babies, just born into the world. Wee, helpless seedlings
of humanity, they are wonderfully alike in their helplessness. One
lies in a tenement upon a mean bed, the other in a mansion upon a bed
of wonderful richness. But if they were both removed to the same
surroundings it would be impossible to tell one from the other. It has
happened, you know, that babies have been mixed up in this way, the
child of a poor servant girl taking the place of the child of a
countess. Scientists tell us that Nature is wonderfully democratic,
and that, at the moment of birth, there is no physical difference
between the babies of the richest and the babies of the poorest. It is
only afterward that man-made inequalities of conditions and
opportunities make such a wide difference between them.

Look at our two babies a moment: no man can tell what infinite
possibilities lie behind those mystery-laden eyes. It may be that we
are looking upon a future Newton and another Savonarola, or upon a
greater than Edison and a greater than Lincoln. No man knows what
infinitude of good or ill is germinating back of those little puckered
brows, nor which of the cries may develop into a voice that will set
the hearts of men aflame and stir them to glorious deeds. Or it may be
that both are of the common clay, that neither will be more than an
average man, representing the common level in physical and mental

But I ask you, friend Jonathan, is it less than justice to demand
equal opportunities for both? Is it fair that one child shall be
carefully nurtured amid healthful surroundings, and given a chance to
develop all that is in him, and that the other shall be cradled in
poverty, neglected, poorly nurtured in a poor hovel where pestilence
lingers, and denied an opportunity to develop physically, mentally and
morally? Is it right to watch and tend one of the human seedlings and
to neglect the other? If, by chance of Nature's inscrutable working,
the babe of the tenement came into the world endowed with the greater
possibilities of the two, if the tenement mother upon her mean bed
bore into the world in her agony a spark of divine fire of genius, the
soul of an artist like Leonardo da Vinci, or of a poet like Keats, is
it less than a calamity that it should die--choked by conditions which
only ignorance and greed have produced?

Give all the children of men equal opportunities, leaving only the
inequalities of Nature to manifest themselves, and there will be no
need to fear a dull level of humanity. There will be hewers of wood
and drawers of water content to do the work they can; there will be
scientists and inventors, forever enlarging man's kingdom in the
universe; there will be makers of songs and dreamers of dreams, to
inspire the world. Socialism wants to unbind the souls of men, setting
them free for the highest and best that is in them.

Do you know the story of Prometheus, friend Jonathan? It is, of
course, a myth, but it serves as an illustration of my present point.
Prometheus, for ridiculing the gods, was bound to a rock upon Mount
Caucasus, by order of Jupiter, where daily for thirty years a vulture
came and tore at his liver, feeding upon it. Then there came to his
aid Hercules, who unbound the tortured victim and set him free. Like
another Prometheus, the soul of man to-day is bound to a rock--the
rock of capitalism. The vulture of Greed tears the victim,
remorselessly and unceasingly. And now, to break the chains, to set
the soul of man free, Hercules comes in the form of the Socialist
movement. It is nothing less than this; my friend. In the last
analysis, it is the bondage of the soul which counts for most in our
indictment of capitalism and the liberation of the soul is the goal
toward which we are striving.

It is to-day, under capitalism, that men are reduced to a dull level.
The great mass of the people live dull, sordid lives, their
individuality relentlessly crushed out. The modern workman has no
chance to express any individuality in his work, for he is part of a
great machine, as much so as any one of the many levers and cogs.
Capitalism makes humanity appear as a great plain with a few peaks
immense distances apart--a dull level of mental and moral attainment
with a few giants. I say to you in all seriousness, Jonathan, that if
nothing better were possible I should want to pray with the poet

    Make no more giants, God--
    But elevate the race at once!

But I don't believe that. I am satisfied that when we destroy man-made
inequalities, leaving only the inequalities of Nature's making, there
will be no need to fear the dull level of life. When all the chains of
ignorance and greed have been struck from the Prometheus-like human
soul, then, and not till then, will the soul of man be free to soar

(7) For the reasons already indicated, Socialism would not destroy the
incentive to progress. It is possible that a stagnation would result
from any attempt to establish absolute equality such as I have already
described. If it were the aim of Socialism to stamp out all
individuality, this objection would be well founded, it seems to me.
But that is not the aim of Socialism.

The people who make this objection seem to think that the only
incentive to progress comes from a few men and their hope and desire
to be masters of the lives of others, but that is not true. Greed is
certainly a powerful incentive to some kinds of progress, but the
history of the world shows that there are other and nobler incentives.
The hope of getting somebody else's property is a powerful incentive
to the burglar and has led to the invention of all kinds of tools and
ingenious methods, but we do not hesitate to take away that incentive
to that kind of "progress." The hope of getting power to exploit the
people acts as a powerful incentive to great corporations to devise
schemes to defeat the laws of the nation, to corrupt legislators and
judges, and otherwise assail the liberties of the people. That, also,
is "progress" of a kind, but we do not hesitate to try to take away
that incentive.

Even to-day, Jonathan, Greed is not the most powerful incentive in the
world. The greatest statesmanship in the world is not inspired by
greed, but by love of country, the desire for the approbation and
confidence of others, and numerous other motives. Greed never inspired
a great teacher, a great artist, a great scientist, a great inventor,
a great soldier, a great writer, a great poet, a great physician, a
great scholar or a great statesman. Love of country, love of fame,
love of beauty, love of doing, love of humanity--all these have meant
infinitely more than greed in the progress of the world.

(8) Finally, Jonathan, I want to consider your objection that
Socialism is impossible until human nature is changed. It is an old
objection which crops up in every discussion of Socialism. People talk
about "human nature" as though it were something fixed and definite;
as if there were certain quantities of various qualities and instincts
in every human being, and that these never changed from age to age.
The primitive savage in many lands went out to seek a wife armed with
a club. He hunted the woman of his choice as he would hunt a beast,
capturing and clubbing her into submission. _That_ was human nature,
Jonathan. The modern man in civilized countries, when he goes seeking
a wife, hunts the woman of his choice with flattery, bon-bons,
flowers, opera tickets and honeyed words. Instead of a brute clubbing
a woman almost to death, we see the pleading lover, cautiously and
earnestly wooing his bride. And that, too, is human nature. The
African savages suffering from the dread "Sleeping Sickness" and the
poor Indian ryots suffering from Bubonic Plague see their fellows
dying by thousands and think angry gods are punishing them. All they
can hope to do is to appease the gods by gifts or by mutilating their
own poor bodies. That is human nature, my friend. But a great
scientist like Dr. Koch, of Berlin, goes into the African centres of
pestilence and death, seeks the germ of the disease, drains swamps,
purifies water, isolates the infected cases and proves himself more
powerful than the poor natives' gods. And that is human nature.
Outside the gates of the Chicago stockyards, I have seen crowds of men
fighting for work as hungry dogs fight over a bone. That was human
nature. I have seen a man run down in the streets and at once there
was a crowd ready to lift him up and to do anything for him that they
could. It was the very opposite spirit to that shown by the brutish,
snarling, cursing, fighting men at the stockyards, but it was just as
much human nature.

The great law of human development, that which expresses itself in
what is so vaguely termed human nature, is that man is a creature of
his environment, that self-preservation is a fundamental instinct in
human beings. Socialism is not an idealistic attempt to substitute
some other law of life for that of self-preservation. On the contrary,
it rests entirely upon that instinct of self-preservation. Here are
two classes opposed to each other in modern society. One class is
small but exceedingly powerful, so that, despite its disadvantage in
size, it is the ruling class, controlling the larger class and
exploiting it. When we ask ourselves how that is possible, how it
happens that the smaller class rules the larger, we soon find that the
members of the smaller class have become conscious of their interests
and the fact that these can be best promoted through organization and
association. Thus conscious of their class interests, and acting
together by a class instinct, they have been able to rule the world.
But the workers, the class that is much stronger numerically, have
been slower to recognize their class interests. Inevitably, however,
they are developing a similar class sense, or instinct. Uniting in the
economic struggle at first, and then, in the political struggle in
order that they may further their economic interests through the
channels of government, it is easy to see that only one outcome of
the struggle is possible. By sheer force of numbers, the workers must
win, Jonathan.

The Socialist movement, then, is not something foreign to human
nature, but it is an inevitable part of the development of human
society. The fundamental instinct of the human species makes the
Socialist movement inevitable and irresistible. Socialism does not
require a change in human nature, but human nature does require a
change in society. And that change is Socialism. It is perhaps the
deepest and profoundest instinct in human beings that they are forever
striving to secure the largest possible material comfort, forever
striving to secure more of good in return for less of ill. And in that
lies the great hope of the future, Jonathan. The great Demos is
learning that poverty is unnecessary, that there is plenty for all;
that none need suffer want; that it is possible to suffer less and to
live more; to have more of good while suffering less of ill. The face
of Demos is turned toward the future, toward the dawning of



    Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute.
    What you can do, or dream you can, begin it!
    Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
    Only engage and then the mind grows heated;
    Begin, and then the work will be completed.--_Goethe._

    Apart from those convulsive upheavals that escape all forecast
    and are sometimes the final supreme resource of history
    brought to bay, there is only one sovereign method for
    Socialism--the conquest of a legal majority.--_Jean Jaurès._

When one is convinced of the justice and wisdom of the Socialist idea,
when its inspiration has begun to quicken the pulse and to stir the
soul, it is natural that one should desire to do something to express
one's convictions and to add something, however little, to the
movement. Not only that, but the first impulse is to seek the
comradeship of other Socialists and to work with them for the
realization of the Socialist ideal.

Of course, the first duty of every sincere believer in Socialism is to
vote for it. No matter how hopeless the contest may seem, nor how far
distant the electoral triumph, the first duty is to vote for
Socialism. If you believe in Socialism, my friend, even though your
vote should be the only Socialist vote in your city, you could not be
true to yourself and to your faith and vote any other ticket. I know
that it requires courage to do this sometimes. I know that there are
many who will deride the action and say that you are "wasting your
vote," but no vote is ever wasted when it is cast for a principle,
Jonathan. For, after all, what is a vote? Is it not an expression of
the citizen's conviction concerning the sort of government he desires?
How, then can his vote be thrown away if it really expresses his
conviction? He is entitled to a single voice, and provided that he
avails himself of his right to declare through the ballot box his
conviction, no matter whether he stands alone or with ten thousand,
his vote is not thrown away.

The only vote that is wasted is the vote that is cast for something
other than the voter's earnest conviction, the vote of cowardice and
compromise. The man who votes for what he fully believes in, even if
he is the only one so voting, does not lose his vote, waste it or use
it unwisely. The only use of a vote is to declare the kind of
government the voter believes in. But the man who votes for something
he does not want, for something less than his convictions, that man
loses his vote or throws it away, even though he votes on the winning
side. Get this well into your mind, friend Jonathan, for there are
cities in which the Socialists would sweep everything before them and
be elected to power if all the people who believe in Socialism, but
refuse to vote for it on the ground that they would be throwing away
their votes, would be true to themselves and vote according to their
inmost convictions.

I say that we must vote for Socialism, Jonathan, because I believe
that, in this country at least, the change from capitalism must be
brought about through patient and wise political action. I have no
doubt that the economic organizations, the trade unions, will help,
and I can even conceive the possibility of their being the chief
agencies in the transformation in society. That possibility, however,
seems exceedingly remote, while the possibility of effecting the
change through the ballot box is undeniable. Once let the
working-class of America make up its mind to vote for Socialism,
nothing can prevent its coming. And unless the workers are wise enough
and united enough to vote together for Socialism, Jonathan, it is
scarcely likely that they will be able to adopt other methods with

But as voting for Socialism is the most obvious duty of all who are
convinced of its justness and wisdom, so it is the least duty. To cast
your vote for Socialism is the very least contribution to the movement
which you can make. The next step is to spread the light, to proclaim
the principles of Socialism to others. To _be_ a Socialist is the
first step; to _make_ Socialists is the second step. Every Socialist
ought to be a missionary for the great cause. By talking with your
friends and by circulating suitable Socialist literature, you can do
effective work for the cause, work not less effective than that of the
orator addressing big audiences. Don't forget, my friend, that in the
Socialist movement there is work for _you_ to do.

Naturally, you will want to be an efficient worker for Socialism, to
be able to work successfully. Therefore you will need to join the
organized movement, to become a member of the Socialist Party. In this
way, working with many other comrades, you will be able to accomplish
much more than as an individual working alone. So I ask you to join
the party, friend Jonathan, and to assume a fair and just share of the
responsibilities of the movement.

In the Socialist party organization there are no "Leaders" in the
sense in which that term is used in connection with the political
parties of capitalism. There are men who by virtue of long service and
exceptional talents of various kinds are looked up to by their
comrades, and whose words carry great weight. But the government of
the organization is in the hands of the rank and file and everything
is directed from the bottom upwards, not from the top downwards. The
party is not owned by a few people who provide its funds, for these
are provided by the entire membership. Each member of the party pays a
small monthly fee, and the amounts thus contributed are divided
between the local, state and national divisions of the organization.
It is thus a party of the people, by the people and for the people,
which bosses cannot corrupt or betray.

So I would urge you, Jonathan, and all who believe in Socialism, to
join the party organization. Get into the movement in earnest and try
to keep posted upon all that relates to it. Read some of the papers
published by the party--at least two papers representing different
phases of the movement. There are, always and everywhere, at least two
distinct tendencies in the Socialist movement, a radical wing and a
more moderate wing. Whichever of these appeals to you as the right
tendency, you will need to keep informed as to both.

Above all, my friend, I would like to have you _study_ Socialism. I
don't mean merely that you should read a Socialist propaganda paper or
two, or a few pamphlets: I do not call that studying Socialism. Such
papers and pamphlets are very good in their way; they are written for
people who are not Socialists for the purpose of awakening their
interest. So far as they go they are valuable, but I would not have
you stop there, Jonathan. I would like to have you push your studies
beyond them, beyond even the more elaborate discussions of the
subject contained in such books as this. Read the great classics of
Socialist literature--and don't be afraid of reading the attacks made
upon Socialism by its opponents. Study the philosophy of Socialism and
its economic theories; try to apply them to your personal experience
and to the events of every day as they are reported in the great
newspapers. You see, Jonathan, I not only want you to know what
Socialism is in a very thorough manner, but I also want you to be able
to teach others in a very thorough manner.

And now, my patient friend, Good Bye! If _The Common Sense of
Socialism_ has helped you to a clear understanding of Socialism, I
shall be amply repaid for writing it. I ask you to accept it for
whatever measure of good it may do and to forgive its shortcomings.
Others might have written a better book for you, and some day I may do
better myself--I do not know. I have honestly tried my best to set the
claims of Socialism before you in plain language and with comradely
spirit. And if it succeeds in convincing you and making you a
Socialist, Jonathan, I shall be satisfied.



The following list of books on various phases of Socialism is
published in connection with the advice contained on pages 173-174
relating to the necessity of _studying_ Socialism. The names of the
publishers are given in each case for the reader's convenience.
Charles H. Kerr & Company do _not_ sell, or receive orders for, books
issued by other publishers.

(_A_) _History of Socialism_

The History of Socialism, by Thomas Kirkup. The Macmillan Company, New
York. Price $1.50, net.

French and German Socialism in Modern Times, by R.T. Ely. Harper
Brothers, New York. Price 75 cents.

The History of Socialism in the United States, by Morris Hillquit. The
Funk & Wagnalls Company, New York. Price $1.75.

(_B_) _Biographies of Socialists_

Memoirs of Karl Marx, by Wilhelm Liebknecht. Charles H. Kerr &
Company, Chicago. Price 50 cents.

Ferdinand Lassalle as a Social Reformer, by Eduard Bernstein. Charles
H. Kerr & Company, Chicago. Price $1.00.

Frederick Engels: His Life and Work, by Karl Kautsky. Charles H. Kerr
& Company, Chicago. Price 10 cents.

(_C_) _General Expositions of Socialism_

Principles of Scientific Socialism, by Charles H. Vail. Charles H.
Kerr & Company, Chicago. Price $1.00.

Collectivism, by Emile Vandervelde. Charles H. Kerr & Company,
Chicago. Price 50 cents.

Socialism: A Summary and Interpretation of Socialist Principles, by
John Spargo. The Macmillan Company, New York. Price $1.25, net.

The Socialists--Who They Are and What They Stand For, by John Spargo.
Charles H. Kerr & Company, Chicago. Price 50 cents.

The Quintessence of Socialism, by Prof. A.E. Schaffle. Charles H. Kerr
& Company, Chicago. Price $1.00. This is by an opponent of Socialism,
but is much circulated by Socialists as a fair and lucid statement of
their principles.

(_D_) _The Philosophy of Socialism_

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Charles H.
Kerr & Company, Chicago. In paper at 10 cents. Also superior edition
in cloth at 50 cents.

Evolution, Social and Organic, by A.M. Lewis. Charles H. Kerr &
Company, Chicago. Price 50 cents.

The Theoretical System of Karl Marx, by L.B. Boudin. Charles H. Kerr &
Company, Chicago. Price $1.00.

Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, by F. Engels. Charles H. Kerr &
Company, Chicago. Price 10 cents in paper, superior edition in cloth
50 cents.

Mass and Class, by W.J. Ghent. The Macmillan Company, New York. Price
paper 25 cents; cloth $1.25, net.

(_E_) _Economics of Socialism_

Marxian Economics, by Ernest Untermann. Charles H. Kerr & Company,
Chicago. Price $1.00.

Wage Labor and Capital, by Karl Marx. Charles H. Kerr & Company,
Chicago. Price 5 cents.

Value, Price and Profit, by Karl Marx. Charles H. Kerr & Company,
Chicago. Price 50 cents.

Capital, by Karl Marx. Charles H. Kerr & Company, Chicago. Two
volumes, price $2.00 each.

(_F_) _Socialism as Related to Special Questions_

The American Farmer, by A.M. Simons. Charles H. Kerr & Company,
Chicago. Price 50 cents. An admirable study of agricultural

Socialism and Anarchism, by George Plechanoff. Charles H. Kerr &
Company, Chicago. Price 50 cents.

Poverty, by Robert Hunter. The Macmillan Company, New York. Price 25
cents and $1.50.

American Pauperism, by Isador Ladoff. Charles H. Kerr & Company,
Chicago. Price 50 cents.

The Bitter Cry of the Children, by John Spargo. The Macmillan Company,
New York. Price $1.50, illustrated.

Class Struggles in America, by A.M. Simons. Charles H. Kerr & Company,
Chicago. Price 50 cents. A notable application of Socialist theory to
American history.

Underfed School Children, the Problem and the Remedy. By John Spargo.
Charles H. Kerr & Company, Chicago. Price 10 cents.

Socialists in French Municipalities, a compilation from official
reports. Charles H. Kerr & Company, Chicago Price 5 cents.

Socialists at Work, by Robert Hunter. The Macmillan Company, New York.
Price $1.50, net.



Nothing bears more remarkable evidence to the growth of the American
Socialist movement than the phenomenal development of its literature.
Even more eloquently than the Socialist vote, this literature tells of
the onward sweep of Socialism in this country.

Only a few years ago, the entire literature of Socialism published in
this country was less than the present monthly output. There was
Bellamy's "Looking Backward," a belated expression of the utopian
school, not related to modern scientific Socialism, though it
accomplished considerable good in its day; there were a couple of
volumes by Professor R.T. Ely, obviously inspired by a desire to be
fair, but missing the essential principles of Socialism; there were a
couple of volumes by Laurence Gronlund and there was Sprague's
"Socialism From Genesis to Revelation." These and a handful of
pamphlets constituted America's contribution to Socialist literature.

Added to these, were a few books and pamphlets translated from the
German, most of them written in a heavy, ponderous style which the
average American worker found exceedingly difficult. The great
classics of Socialism were not available to any but those able to read
some other language than English. "Socialism is a foreign movement,"
said the American complacently.

Even six or seven years ago, the publication of a Socialist pamphlet
by an American writer was regarded as a very notable event in the
movement and the writer was assured of a certain fame in consequence.

Now, in this year, 1908, it is very different. There are hundreds of
excellent books and pamphlets available to the American worker and
student of Socialism, dealing with every conceivable phase of the
subject. Whereas ten years ago none of the great industrial countries
of the world had a more meagre Socialist literature than America,
to-day America leads the world in its output.

Only a few of the many Socialist books have been issued by ordinary
capitalist publishing houses. Half a dozen volumes by such writers as
Ghent, Hillquit, Hunter, Spargo and Sinclair exhaust the list. It
could not be expected that ordinary publishers would issue books and
pamphlets purposely written for propaganda on the one hand, nor the
more serious works which are expensive to produce and slow to sell
upon the other hand.

The Socialists themselves have published all the rest--the propaganda
books and pamphlets, the translations of great Socialist classics and
the important contributions to the literature of Socialist philosophy
and economics made by American students, many of whom are the products
of the Socialist movement itself.

They have done these great things through a co-operative publishing
house, known as Charles H. Kerr & Company (Co-operative). Nearly 2000
Socialists and sympathizers with Socialism, scattered throughout the
country, have joined in the work. As shareholders, they have paid ten
dollars for each share of stock in the enterprise, with no thought of
ever getting any profits, their only advantage being the ability to
buy the books issued by the concern at a great reduction.

Here is the method: A person buys a share of stock at ten dollars
(arrangements can be made to pay this by instalments, if desired) and
he or she can then buy books and pamphlets at a reduction of fifty per
cent.--or forty per cent. if sent post or express paid.

Looking over the list of the company's publications, one notes names
that are famous in this and other countries. Marx, Engels, Kautsky,
Lassalle, and Liebknecht among the great Germans; Lafargue, Deville
and Guesde, of France; Ferri and Labriola, of Italy; Hyndman and
Blatchford, of England; Plechanoff, of Russia; Upton Sinclair, Jack
London, John Spargo, A.M. Simons, Ernest Untermann and Morris
Hillquit, of the United States. These, and scores of other names less
known to the general public.

It is not necessary to give here a complete list of the company's
publications. Such a list would take up too much room--and before it
was published it would become incomplete. The reader who is interested
had better send a request for a complete list, which will at once be
forwarded, without cost. We can only take a few books, almost at
random, to illustrate the great variety of the publications of the

You have heard about Karl Marx, the greatest of modern Socialists, and
naturally you would like to know something about him. Well, at fifty
cents there is a charming little book of biographical memoirs by his
friend Liebnecht, well worth reading again and again for its literary
charm not less than for the loveable character it portrays so
tenderly. Here, also, is the complete list of the works of Marx yet
translated into the English language. There is the famous _Communist
Manifesto_ by Marx and Engels, at ten cents, and the other works of
Marx up to and including his great master-work, _Capital_, in three
big volumes at two dollars each--two of which are already published,
the other being in course of preparation.

For propaganda purposes, in addition to a big list of cheap pamphlets,
many of them small enough to enclose in a letter to a friend, there
are a number of cheap books. These have been specially written for
beginners, most of them for workingmen. Here, for example, one picks
out at a random shot Work's "What's So and What Isn't," a breezy
little book in which all the common questions about Socialism are
answered in simple language. Or here again we pick up Spargo's "The
Socialists, Who They Are and What They Stand For," a little book which
has attained considerable popularity as an easy statement of the
essence of modern Socialism. For readers of a little more advanced
type there is "Collectivism," by Emil Vandervelde, the eminent Belgian
Socialist leader, a wonderful book. This and Engels' "Socialism
Utopian and Scientific" will lead to books of a more advanced
character, some of which we must mention. The four books mentioned in
this paragraph cost fifty cents each, postpaid. They are well printed
and neatly and durably bound in cloth.

Going a little further, there are two admirable volumes by Antonio
Labriola, expositions of the fundamental doctrine of Social
philosophy, called the "Materialist Conception of History," and a
volume by Austin Lewis, "The Rise of the American Proletarian," in
which the theory is applied to a phase of American history. These
books sell at a dollar each, and it would be very hard to find
anything like the same value in book-making in any other publisher's
catalogue. Only the co-operation of nearly 2000 Socialist men and
women makes it possible.

For the reader who has got so far, yet finds it impossible to
undertake a study of the voluminous work of Marx, either for lack of
leisure or, as often happens, lack of the necessary mental training
and equipment, there are two splendid books, notable examples of the
work which American Socialist writers are now putting out. While they
will never entirely take the place of the great work of Marx,
nevertheless, whoever has read them with care will have a
comprehensive grasp of Marxism. They are: L.B. Boudin's "The
Theoretical System of Karl Marx" and Ernest Untermann's "Marxian
Economics." These also are published at a dollar a volume.

Perhaps you know some man who declares that "There are no classes in
America," who loudly boasts that we have no class struggles: just get
a copy of A.M. Simon's "Class Struggles in America," with its
startling array of historical references. It will convince him if it
is possible to get an idea into his head. Or you want to get a good
book to lend to your farmer friends who want to know how Socialism
touches them: get another volume by Simons, called "The American
Farmer." You will never regret it. Or perhaps you are troubled about
the charge that Socialism and Anarchism are related. If so, get
Plechanoff's "Anarchism and Socialism" and read it carefully. These
three books are published at fifty cents each.

Are you interested in science? Do you want to know the reason why
Socialists speak of Marx as doing for Sociology what Darwin did for
biology? If so, you will want to read "Evolution, Social and Organic,"
by Arthur Morrow Lewis, price fifty cents. And you will be delighted
beyond your powers of expression with the several volumes of the
Library of Science for the Workers, published at the same price. "The
Evolution of Man" and "The Triumph of Life," both by the famous German
scientist, Dr. Wilhelm Boelsche; "The Making of the World" and "The
End of the World," both by Dr. M. Wilhelm Meyer; and "Germs of Mind in
Plants," by R.H. France, are some of the volumes which the present
writer read with absorbing interest himself and then read them to a
lot of boys and girls, to their equal delight.

One could go on and on talking about this wonderful list of books
which marks the tremendous intellectual strength of the American
Socialist movement. Here is the real explosive, a weapon far more
powerful than dynamite bombs! Socialists must win in a battle of
brains--and here is ammunition for them.

Individual Socialists who can afford it should take shares of stock in
this great enterprise. If they can pay the ten dollars all at once,
well and good; if not, they can pay in monthly instalments. And every
Socialist local ought to own a share of stock in the company, if for
no other reason than that literature can then be bought much more
cheaply than otherwise. But of course there is an even greater reason
than that--every Socialist local ought to take pride in the
development of the enterprise which has done so much to develop a
great American Socialist literature.

Fuller particulars will be sent upon application. Address:

CHARLES H. KERR & COMPANY, (Co-operative)
118 West Kinzie street, Chicago

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