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Title: New Worlds For Old - A Plain Account of Modern Socialism
Author: Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  The Plattner Story and others
  Tales of Space and Time
  The Stolen Bacillus and other Stories
  Twelve Stories and a Dream


  The Time Machine
  The Island of Dr. Moreau
  The War of the Worlds
  The Wonderful Visit
  The Invisible Man
  The First Men in the Moon
  The Food of the Gods
  The Sea Lady
  When the Sleeper Wakes
  In the Days of the Comet


  Love and Mr. Lewisham


  Mankind in the Making
  A Modern Utopia
  The Future in America






_Published March 1908.
Popular Edition Revised
June 1909. Reprinted
July 1909, Sept. 1922_


"Undiluted Atheism, theft and immorality.... I know of no language
sufficiently potent to express fully my absolute detestation of what I
believe to be the most poisonous doctrine ever put forward, namely

                                    HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF RUTLAND.

"Let all parties then unite to defeat this insidious Socialism which
is threatening the country, and take immediate steps to expose and
bring it to light. The country may truly be said to be sleeping over a
veritable volcano which the next general election may precipitate,
unless steps are taken at once to bring this nightmare into the light
of day and force it out of its creeping nocturnal habits."

               MR. DUDLEY S. A. COSBY in the _Westminster Review_.

"Many people think that it is possible to conduct a victorious
campaign with the single watchword 'Down with Socialism.' Well, I am
not fond of mere negatives. I do not like fighting an abstract noun.
My objection to Anti-Socialism as a platform is that Socialism means
so many different things. On this point I agree with Mr. Asquith. I
will wait before I denounce Socialism till I see what form it takes...
Socialism is not necessarily synonymous with robbery. Correctly used,
the word only signifies a particular view of the proper relation of
the State to its citizens, a tendency to substitute public for private
ownership, or to restrict the freedom of individual enterprise in the
interests of the public. But there are some forms of property which we
all admit should be public and not private, and the freedom of
individual enterprise is already limited by a hundred laws. Socialism
and Individualism,--I am not fond of these abstract phrases. There are
opposing principles which enter in various proportions into the
constitution of every civilized society. It is merely a question of
degree. One community is more Socialistic than another. The same
community is more Socialistic at one time than at another. This
country is far more Socialistic than it was fifty years ago, and for
most of the changes in that direction the Unionist or Tory Party is

                                                      LORD MILNER.







§ 1.

The present writer has long been deeply interested in the Socialist
movement in Great Britain and America, and in all those complicated
issues one lumps together as "social questions." In the last few years
he has gone into it personally and studied the Socialist movement
closely and intimately at first hand; he has made the acquaintance of
many of its leaders upon both sides of the Atlantic, joined numerous
organizations, attended and held meetings, experimented in Socialist
politics. From these inquiries he has emerged with certain very
definite conclusions as to the trend and needs of social development,
and these he is now rendering in this book. He calls himself a
Socialist, but he is by no means a fanatical or uncritical adherent.
To him Socialism presents itself as a very noble but a very human and
fallible system of ideas and motives, a system that grows and
develops. He regards its spirit, its intimate substance as the most
hopeful thing in human affairs at the present time, but he does also
find it shares with all mundane concerns the qualities of inadequacy
and error. It suffers from the common penalty of noble propositions;
it is hampered by the insufficiency of its supporters and advocates,
and by the superficial tarnish that necessarily falls in our
atmosphere of greed and conflict darkest upon the brightest things. In
spite of these admissions of failure and unworthiness in himself and
those about him, he remains a Socialist.

In discussing Socialism with very various sorts of people he has
necessarily had, time after time, to encounter and frame a reply to a
very simple seeming and a really very difficult question: "What is
Socialism?" It is almost like asking "What is Christianity?" or
demanding to be shown the atmosphere. It is not to be answered fully
by a formula or an epigram. Again and again the writer has been asked
for some book which would set out in untechnical language, frankly and
straightforwardly, what Socialism is and what it is not, and always he
has hesitated in his reply. Many good books there are upon this
subject, clear and well written, but none that seem to tell the whole
story as he knows it; no book that gives not only the outline but the
spirit, answers the main objections, clears up the chief ambiguities,
covers all the ground; no book that one can put into the hands of
inquiring youth and say: "There! that will tell you precisely the
broad facts you want to know." Some day, no doubt, such a book will
come. In the meanwhile he has ventured to put forth this temporary
substitute, his own account of the faith that is in him.[1]

    [1] As I pass these proofs I am reminded that Mr. J. R.
        MacDonald has in the press _Socialism_ (Jacks, Edinburgh)--a
        general account of the movement. From Mr. Kirkup's _An
        Enquiry into Socialism_ and from _Fabian Essays_ (the Fabian
        Society, London) a good idea of the general Socialist
        position may also be obtained.

Socialism, then, as he understands it, is a great intellectual
process, a development of desires and ideas that takes the form of a
project--a project for the reshaping of human society upon new and
better lines. That in the ampler proposition is what Socialism claims
to be. This book seeks to expand and establish that proposition, and
to define the principles upon which the Socialist believes this
reconstruction of society should go. The particulars and justification
of this project and this claim, it will be the business of this book
to discuss just as plainly as the writer can.

§ 2.

Now, because the Socialist seeks the reshaping of human society, it
does not follow that he denies it to be even now a very wonderful and
admirable spectacle. Nor does he deny that for many people life is
even now a very good thing....

For his own part, though the writer is neither a very strong nor a
very healthy nor a very successful person, though he finds much
unattainable and much to regret, yet life presents itself to him more
and more with every year as a spectacle of inexhaustible interest, of
unfolding and intensifying beauty, and as a splendid field for high
attempts and stimulating desires. Yet none the less is it a spectacle
shot strangely with pain, with mysterious insufficiencies and
cruelties, with pitfalls into anger and regret, with aspects
unaccountably sad. Its most exalted moments are most fraught for him
with the appeal for endeavour, with the urgency of unsatisfied wants.
These shadows and pains and instabilities do not, to his sense at
least, darken the whole prospect; it may be indeed that they intensify
its splendours to his perceptions; yet all these evil and ugly aspects
of life come to him with an effect of challenge, as something not to
be ignored but passionately disputed, as an imperative call for
whatever effort and courage lurks in his composition. Life and the
world are fine, but not as an abiding place; as an arena--yes, an
arena gorgeously curtained with sea and sky, mountains and broad
prospects, decorated with all the delicate magnificence of leaf
tracery and flower petal and feather, soft fur and the shining wonder
of living skin, musical with thunder and the singing of birds; but an
arena nevertheless, an arena which offers no seats for idle
spectators, in which one must will and do, decide, strike and strike
back--and presently pass away.

And it needs but a cursory view of history to realize--though all
knowledge of history confirms the generalization--that this arena is
not a confused and aimless conflict of individuals. Looked at too
closely it may seem to be that--a formless web of individual hates and
loves; but detach oneself but a little, and the broader forms appear.
One perceives something that goes on, that is constantly working to
make order out of casualty, beauty out of confusion; justice,
kindliness, mercy out of cruelty and inconsiderate pressure. For our
present purpose it will be sufficient to speak of this force that
struggles and tends to make and do, as Good Will. More and more
evident is it, as one reviews the ages, that there is this as well as
lust, hunger, avarice, vanity and more or less intelligent fear to be
counted among the motives of mankind. This Good Will of our race,
however arising, however trivial, however subordinated to individual
ends, however comically inadequate a thing it may be in this
individual case or that, is in the aggregate an operating will. In
spite of all the confusions and thwartings of life, the halts and
resiliencies and the counter strokes of fate, it is manifest that in
the long run human life becomes broader than it was, gentler than it
was, finer and deeper. On the whole--and now-a-days almost
steadily--things _get better_. There is a secular amelioration of
life, and it is brought about by Good Will working through the efforts
of men.

Now this proposition lies quite open to dispute. There are people who
will dispute it and make a very passable case. One may deny the
amelioration, or one may deny that it is the result of any Good Will
or of anything but quite mechanical forces. The former is the commoner
argument. The appeal is usually to what has been finest in the past,
and to all that is bad and base in the present. At once the unsoundest
and the most attractive argument is to be found in the deliberate
idealization of particular ages, the thirteenth century in England,
for example, or the age of the Antonines. The former is presented with
the brightness of a missal, the latter with all the dignity of a Roman
inscription. One is asked to compare these ages so delightfully
conceived, with a patent medicine vendor's advertisement or a
Lancashire factory town, quite ignoring the iniquity of mediæval law
or the slums and hunger and cruelty of Imperial Rome.

But quite apart from such unsound comparisons, it is, we may admit,
possible to make a very excellent case against our general assertion
of progress. One can instance a great number of things, big and
little, that have been better in past times than they are now; for
example, they dressed more sumptuously and delightfully in mediæval
Venice and Florence than we do--all, that is, who could afford it;
they made quite unapproachably beautiful marble figures in Athens in
the time of Pericles; there is no comparison between the brickwork of
Verona in the twelfth century and that of London when Cannon Street
Station was erected; the art of cookery declined after the splendid
period of Roman history for more than a thousand years; the Gothic
architecture of France and England exceeds in nobility and quality and
aggregated beauty, every subsequent type of structure. This much, one
agrees, is true, and beyond disputing. The philosophical thought of
Athens again, to come to greater things, was at its climax, more free,
more finely expressed than that of any epoch since. And the English of
Elizabeth's time was, we are told by competent judges, a more gracious
and powerful instrument of speech than in the days of Queen Anne or of
Queen Victoria.

So one might go on in regard to a vast number of things, petty and
large alike; the list would seem overwhelming until the countervailing
considerations came into play. But, as a matter of fact, there is
hardly an age or a race that does not show us something better done
than ever it was before or since, because at no time has human effort
ceased and absolutely failed. Isolated eminence is no proof of general
elevation. Always in this field or that, whether it was in the binding
of books or the enamelling of metal, the refinement of language or the
assertion of liberty, particular men have, by a sort of necessity,
grasped at occasion, "found themselves," as the saying goes, and done
the best that was in them. So always while man endures, whatever else
betide, one may feel assured at this or that special thing some men
will find a way to do and get to the crown of endeavour. Such
considerations of decline in particular things from the standard of
the past do not really affect the general assertion of a continuous
accumulating betterment in the lot of men, do not invalidate the hopes
of those who believe in the power of men to end for ever many of the
evils that now darken the world, who look to the reservoirs of human
possibility as a supply as yet scarcely touched, who make of all the
splendour and superiorities of the past no more than a bright promise
and suggestion for the unborn future our every act builds up, into
which, whether we care or no, all our achievements pour.

Many evils have been overcome, much order and beauty and scope for
living has been evolved since man was a hairy savage holding scarcely
more than a brute's intercourse with his fellows; but even in the
comparatively short perspective of history, one can scarcely deny a
steady process of overcoming evil. One may sneer at contemporary
things; it is a fashion with that unhappily trained type of mind which
cannot appreciate without invidious comparison, so poor in praise that
it cannot admit worth without venting a compensatory envy; but of one
permanent result of progress surely every one is assured. In the
matter of thoughtless and instinctive cruelty--and that is a very
fundamental matter--mankind mends steadily. I wonder and doubt if in
the whole world at any time before this an aged, ill-clad woman, or a
palpable cripple could have moved among a crowd of low-class children
as free from combined or even isolated insult as such a one would be
to-day, if caught in the rush from a London Council school. Then, for
all our sins, I am sure the sense of justice is quicker and more
nearly universal than ever before. Certain grave social evils, too,
that once seemed innate in humanity, have gone, gone so effectually
that we cannot now imagine ourselves subjected to them; the cruelties
and insecurities of private war, the duel, overt slavery, for example,
have altogether ceased; and in all Western Europe and America chronic
local famines and great pestilences come no more. No doubt it is still
an unsatisfactory world that mars the roadside with tawdry
advertisements of drugs and food; but less than two centuries ago,
remember, the place of these boards was taken by gibbets and
crow-pecked, tattered corpses swinging in the wind, and the heads of
dead gentlemen (drawn and quartered, and their bowels burnt before
their eyes) rotted in the rain on Temple Bar.

The world is now a better place for a common man than ever it was
before, the spectacle wider and richer and deeper, and more charged
with hope and promise. Think of the universal things it is so easy to
ignore; of the great and growing multitude, for example, of those who
may travel freely about the world, who may read freely, think freely,
speak freely! Think of the quite unprecedented numbers of well-ordered
homes and cared-for, wholesome, questioning children! And it is not
only that we have this increasing sea of mediocre well-being in which
the realities of the future are engendering, but in the matter of
sheer achievement I believe in my own time. It has been the cry of the
irresponsive man since criticism began, that his own generation
produced nothing; it is a cry that I hate and deny. When the dross has
been cleared away and comparison becomes possible, I am convinced it
will be admitted that in the aggregate, in philosophy and significant
literature, in architecture, painting and scientific research, in
engineering and industrial invention, in statecraft, humanity and
valiant deeds, the last thirty years of man's endeavours will bear
comparison with any other period of thirty years whatever in his

And this is the result of effort; things get better because men mean
them to get better and try to bring betterment about; this progress
goes on because man, in spite of evil temper, blundering and vanity,
in spite of indolence and base desire, does also respond to Good Will
and display Good Will. You may declare that all the good things in
life are the result of causes over which man has no control, that in
pursuit of an "enlightened self-interest" he makes things better
inadvertently. But think of any good thing you know! Was it thus it

§ 3.

And yet, let us not disguise it from ourselves, for all the progress
one can claim, life remains very evil; about the feet of all these
glories of our time lurk darknesses.

Let me take but one group of facts that cry out to all of us--and will
not cry in vain. I mean the lives of little children that are going on
now--as the reader sits with this book in his hand. Think, for
instance, of the little children who have been pursued and tormented
and butchered in the Congo Free State during the last year or so,
hands and feet chopped off, little bodies torn and thrown aside that
rubber might be cheap, the tyres of our cars run smoothly, and that
detestable product of political expediency, the King of the Belgians,
have his pleasures. Think too of the fear and violence, the dirt and
stress of the lives of the children who grow up amidst the lawless
internal strife of the Russian political chaos. Think of the emigrant
ships even now rolling upon the high seas, their dark, evil-smelling
holds crammed with humanity, and the huddled sick children in
them--fleeing from certain to uncertain wretchedness. Think of the
dreadful tale of childish misery and suffering that goes on wherever
there are not sane factory laws; how even in so civilized a part of
the world as the United States of America (as Spargo's _Bitter Cry of
the Children_ tells in detail) thousands of little white children of
six and seven, ill fed and often cruelly handled, toil without hope.

And in all agricultural lands too, where there is no sense of
education, think of the children dragging weary feet from the filthy
hovels that still house peasants the whole world over, to work in the
mire and the pitiless winds, scaring birds, bending down to plant and
weed. Even in London again, think just a little of the real
significance of some facts I have happened upon in the Report of the
Education Committee of the London County Council for the year 1905.

The headmaster of one casually selected school makes a special return
upon the quality of the clothing of his 405 children. He tells of 7.4
per cent. of his boys whose clothing was "the scantiest
possible--_e.g._ one ragged coat buttoned up and practically nothing
found beneath it; and boots either absent or represented by a mass of
rags tied upon the feet"; of 34.8 per cent. whose "clothing was
insufficient to retain animal heat and needed urgent remedy"; of 45.9
per cent, whose clothing was "poor but passable; an old and perhaps
ragged suit, with some attempt at proper underclothing--usually of
flannelette"; thus leaving only 12.8 per cent. who could, in the
broadest sense, be termed "well clad."

Taking want of personal cleanliness as the next indication of neglect
at home, 11 per cent. of the boys are reported as "very dirty and
verminous"; 34.7 per cent. whose "clothes and body were dirty but not
verminous"; 42.5 per cent, were "passably clean, for boys," and only
"12 per cent. clean above the average."

Eleven per cent. verminous; think what it means! Think what the homes
must be like from which these poor little wretches come! Better,
perhaps, than the country cottage where the cesspool drains into the
water supply and the hen-house vermin invades the home, but surely
intolerable beside our comforts! Give but a moment again to the
significance of the figures I have italicized in the table that
follows, a summarized return for the year 1906 of the "Ringworm"
Nurses who visit the London Elementary Schools and inspect the
children for various forms of dirt disease.

  |              | Number of |          |           |            |
  | Departments. | children  |  Clean.  | Partially | Verminous. |
  |              | examined. |          | cleansed. |            |
  | Boys       . |   34,345  |  32,726  |     847   |    1,139   |
  | Girls      . |   36,445  |  22,476  |   4,426   |   12,003   |
  | Infants    . |   42,140  |   6,675  |   2,661   |  _29,675_  |
  | Mixed      . |    5,855  |   4,886  |     298   |      897   |
  | Special    . |      977  |     624  |     133   |      296   |
  |    Total   . |  119,762  |  67,387  |   8,365   |   44,010   |

Does not this speak of dirt and disorder we cannot suffer to continue,
of women ill trained for motherhood and worked beyond care for
cleanliness, of a vast amount of preventable suffering? And these
figures of filth and bad clothing are paralleled by others at least
equally impressive, displaying emaciation, under-nutrition, anæmia and
every other painful and wretched consequence of neglect and
insufficiency. These underfed, under-clothed, undersized children are
also the backward children; they grow up through a darkened, joyless
childhood into a grey, perplexing, hopeless world that beats them down
at last, after servility, after toil, after crime it may be and
despair, to death.

And while you grasp the offence of these facts, do not be carried away
into supposing that this age is therefore unprecedentedly evil. Such
dirt, toil, cruelty have always been, have been in larger measure.
Don't idealize the primitive cave, the British hut, the peasant's
cottage, damp and windowless, the filth-strewn, plague-stricken,
mediæval town. In spite of all these crushed, mangled, starved,
neglected little ones about the feet of this fine time, in spite of a
thousand other disorders and miseries almost as cruel, the fact
remains that this age has not only more but a larger percentage of
healthy, happy, kindly-treated children than any age since the world
began; that to look back into the domestic history of other times is
to see greater squalor and more suffering.

Why! read the tombstones and monuments in any old English church,
those, I mean, that date from earlier than 1800, and you will see the
history of every family, of even the prosperous county families,
_laced_ with the deaths of infants and children. Nearly half of them
died. Think, too, how stern was the upbringing. And always before
these days it seemed natural to make all but the children of the very
wealthy and very refined, fear and work from their earliest years.
There comes to us too, from these days, beautiful furniture, fine
literature, paintings; but there comes too, much evidence of harsh
whippings, dark imprisonments and hardly a children's book, hardly the
broken vestige of a toy. Bad as things are, they are better--rest
assured--and yet they are still urgently bad. The greater evil of the
past is no reason for contentment with the present. But it is an
earnest for hoping that our efforts, and that Good Will of which they
are a part and outcome, may still go on bearing fruit in perpetually
dwindling misery.

§ 4.

It seems to me that the whole spirit and quality of both the evil and
the good of our time, and of the attitude not simply of the Socialist
but of every sane reformer towards these questions, was summarized in
a walk I had a little while ago with a friend along the Thames
Embankment, from Blackfriars Bridge to Westminster. We had dined
together and we went there because we thought that with a fitful moon
and clouds adrift, on a night when the air was a crystal air that
gladdened and brightened, that crescent of great buildings and steely,
soft-hurrying water must needs be altogether beautiful. And indeed it
was beautiful; the mysteries and mounting masses of the buildings to
the right of us, the blurs of this coloured light or that, blue-white,
green-white, amber or warmer orange, the rich black archings of
Waterloo Bridge, the rippled lights upon the silent-flowing river, the
lattice of girders and the shifting trains of Charing Cross
Bridge--their funnels pouring a sort of hot-edged moonlight by way of
smoke--and then the sweeping line of lamps, the accelerated run and
diminuendo of the Embankment lamps as one came into sight of
Westminster. The big hotels were very fine, huge swelling shapes of
dun dark-grey and brown, huge shapes seamed and bursting and
fenestrated with illumination, tattered at a thousand windows with
light and the indistinct, glowing suggestions of feasting and
pleasure. And dim and faint above it all and very remote was the
moon's dead wan face veiled and then displayed.

But we were dashed by an unanticipated refrain to this succession of
magnificent things, and we did not cry, as we had meant to cry, how
good it was to be alive! We found something else, something we had

Along the Embankment, you see, there are iron seats at regular
intervals, seats you cannot lie upon because iron arm-rests prevent
that, and each seat, one saw by the lamplight, was filled with
crouching and drooping figures. Not a vacant place remained, not one
vacant place. These were the homeless, and they had come to sleep
here. Now one noted a poor old woman with a shameful battered straw
hat awry over her drowsing face, now a young clerk staring before him
at despair; now a filthy tramp, and now a bearded, frock-coated,
collarless respectability; I remember particularly one ghastly long
white neck and white face that lopped backward, choked in some
nightmare, awakened, clutched with a bony hand at the bony throat, and
sat up and stared angrily as we passed. The wind had a keen edge that
night even for us who had dined and were well clad. One crumpled
figure coughed and went on coughing--damnably.

"It's fine," said I, trying to keep hold of the effects to which this
line of poor wretches was but the selvage; "it's fine! But I can't
stand _this_."

"It changes all that we expected," admitted my friend, after a

"Must we go on--past them all?"

"Yes. I think we ought to do that. It's a lesson, perhaps--for trying
to get too much beauty out of life as it is--and forgetting. Don't
shirk it!"

"Great God!" cried I. "But must life always be like this? I could
die--indeed, I would willingly jump into this cold and muddy river
now, if by so doing I could stick a stiff dead hand through all these
things--into the future; a dead commanding hand insisting with a
silent irresistible gesture that this waste and failure of life should
cease, and cease for ever."

"But it does cease! Each year its proportion is a little less."

I walked in silence, and my companion talked by my side.

"We go on. Here is a good thing done, and there is a good thing done.
The Good Will in man----"

"Not fast enough. It goes so slowly--and in a little while we too must

"It can be done," said my companion.

"It could be avoided," said I.

"It shall be in the days to come. There is food enough for all,
shelter for all, wealth enough for all. Men need only know it and will
it. And yet we have this!"

"And so much like this!" said I....

So we talked and were tormented.

And I remember how later we found ourselves on Westminster Bridge,
looking back upon the long sweep of wrinkled black water that
reflected lights and palaces and the flitting glow of steamboats, and
by that time we had talked ourselves past our despair. We perceived
that what was splendid remained splendid, that what was mysterious
remained insoluble for all our pain and impatience. But it was clear
to us the thing for us two to go upon was not the good of the present
nor the evil, but the effort and the dream of the finer order, the
fuller life, the banishment of suffering, to come.

"We want all the beauty that is here," said my friend, "and more also.
And none of these distresses. We are here--we know not whence nor
why--to want that and to struggle to get it, you and I and ten
thousand others, thinly hidden from us by these luminous darknesses.
We work, we pass--whither I know not, but out of our knowing. But we
work--we are spurred to work. That yonder--those people are the
spur--for us who cannot answer to any finer appeal. Each in our
measure must do. And our reward? Our reward is our faith. Here is my
creed to-night. I believe--out of me and the Good Will in me and my
kind there comes a regenerate world--cleansed of suffering and sorrow.
That is our purpose here--to forward that. It gives us work for all
our lives. Why should we ask to know more? Our errors--our
sins--to-night they seem to matter very little. If we stumble and roll
in the mud, if we blunder against each other and hurt one another----"

"We have to go on," said my friend, after a pause.

We stood for a time in silence.

One's own personal problems came and went like a ripple on the water.
Even that whisky dealer's advertisement upon the southern bank became
through some fantastic transformation a promise, an enigmatical
promise flashed up the river reach in letters of fire. London was
indeed very beautiful that night. Without hope she would have seemed
not only as beautiful but as terrible as a black panther crouching on
her prey. Our hope redeemed her. Beyond her dark and meretricious
splendours, beyond her throned presence jewelled with links and points
and cressets of fire, crowned with stars, robed in the night, hiding
cruelties, I caught a moment's vision of the coming City of Mankind,
of a city more wonderful than all my dreaming, full of life, full of
youth, full of the spirit of creation....



The fundamental idea upon which Socialism rests is the same
fundamental idea as that upon which all real scientific work is
carried on. It is the denial that chance impulse and individual will
and happening constitute the only possible methods by which things may
be done in the world. It is an assertion that things are in their
nature orderly, that things may be computed, may be calculated upon
and foreseen. In the spirit of this belief Science aims at a
systematic knowledge of material things. "Knowledge is power,"
knowledge that is frankly and truly exchanged--that is the primary
assumption of the _New Atlantis_ which created the Royal Society and
the organization of research. The Socialist has just that same faith
in the order, the knowableness of things and the power of men in
co-operation to overcome chance; but to him, dealing as he does with
the social affairs of men, it takes the form not of schemes for
collective research but for collective action and the creation of a
comprehensive design for all the social activities of man. While
Science gathers knowledge, Socialism in an entirely harmonious spirit
criticizes and develops a general plan of social life. Each seeks to
replace disorder by order.

Each of these systems of ideas has, of course, its limits; we know in
matters of material science that no calculated quantity is ever exact,
no outline without a fogging at the edge, no angle without a curve at
the apex; and in social affairs also, there must needs always be
individuality and the unexpected and incalculable. But these things do
not vitiate the case for a general order, any more than the different
sizes and widths and needs of the human beings who travel prevent our
having our railway carriages and seats and doors of a generally
convenient size, nor our sending everybody over the same gauge of

Now Science has not only this in common with Socialism that it has
grown out of men's courageous confidence in the superiority of order
to muddle, but these two great processes of human thought are further
in sympathy in the demand they make upon men to become less
egotistical and isolated. The main difference of modern scientific
research from that of the middle ages, the secret of its immense
successes, lies in its collective character, in the fact that every
fruitful experiment is published, every new discovery of relationships
explained. In a sense scientific research is a triumph over natural
instinct, over that mean instinct that makes men secretive, that makes
a man keep knowledge to himself and use it slyly to his own advantage.
The training of a scientific man is a training in what an illiterate
lout would despise as a weakness; it is a training in blabbing, in
blurting things out, in telling just as plainly as possible and as
soon as possible what it is he has found. To "keep shut" and
bright-eyed and to score advantages, that is the wisdom of the common
stuff of humanity still. To science it is a crime. The noble practice
of that noble profession medicine, for example, is to condemn as a
quack and a rascal every man who uses secret remedies. And it is one
of the most encouraging things for all who speculate upon human
possibility to consider the multitude of men in the last three
centuries who have been content to live laborious, unprofitable, and
for the most part quite undistinguished lives in the service of
knowledge that has transformed the world. Some names indeed stand out
by virtue of gigantic or significant achievement, such names as Bacon,
Newton, Volta, Darwin, Faraday, Joule; but these are but the
culminating peaks of a nearly limitless Oberland of devoted toiling
men, men one could list by the thousand. The rest have had the
smallest meed of fame, small reward, much toil, much abandonment, of
pleasure for their lot. One thing ennobles them all in common--their
conquest over the meanness of concealment, their systematic
application of energy to other than personal ends!

And that, too, Socialism pre-eminently demands. It applies to social
and economic relationships the same high rule of frankness and
veracity, the same subordination of purely personal considerations to
a common end that Science demands in the field of thought and
knowledge. Just as Science aims at a common organized body of
knowledge to which all its servants contribute and in which they
share, so Socialism insists upon its ideal of an organized social
order which every man serves and by which every man benefits. Their
common enemy is the secret-thinking, self-seeking man. Secrecy,
subterfuge and the private gain; these are the enemies of Socialism
and the adversaries of Science. At times, I will admit, both Socialist
and scientific man forget this essential sympathy. You will find
specialized scientific investigators who do not realize they are, in
effect, Socialists, and Socialists so dull to the quality of their own
professions, that they gird against Science, and are secretive in
policy. But such purblind servants of the light cannot alter the
essential correlation of the two systems of ideas.

Now the Socialist, inspired by this conception of a possible frank and
comprehensive social order to which mean and narrow ends must be
sacrificed, attacks and criticizes the existing order of things at a
great number of points and in a great variety of phraseology. At all
points, however, you will find upon analysis that his criticism
amounts to a declaration that there is wanting a sufficiency of
CONSTRUCTIVE DESIGN. That in the last resort is what he always comes

He wants a complete organization for all those human affairs that are
of collective importance. He says, to take instances almost haphazard,
that our ways of manufacturing a great multitude of necessary things,
of getting and distributing food, of conducting all sorts of business,
of begetting and rearing children, of permitting diseases to engender
and spread are chaotic and undisciplined, so badly done that here is
enormous hardship, and there enormous waste, here excess and
degeneration, and there privation and death. He declares that for
these collective purposes, in the satisfaction of these universal
needs, mankind presents the appearance and follows the methods of a
mob when it ought to follow the method of an army. In place of
disorderly individual effort, each man doing what he pleases, the
Socialist wants organized effort and a plan. And while the scientific
man seeks to make an orderly map of the half-explored wilderness of
fact, the Socialist seeks to make an orderly plan for the
half-conceived wilderness of human effort.

That and no other is the essential Socialist idea.

But do not let this image mislead you. When the Socialist speaks of a
plan, he knows clearly that it is impossible to make a plan as an
architect makes a plan, because while the architect deals with dead
stone and timber, the statesman and Socialist deal with living and
striving things. But he seeks to make a plan as one designs and lays
out a garden, so that sweet and seemly things may grow, wide and
beautiful vistas open and weeds and foulness disappear. Always a
garden plan develops and renews itself and discovers new
possibilities, but what makes all its graciousness and beauty possible
is the scheme and the persistent intention, the watching and the
waiting, the digging and burning, the weeder clips and the hoe. That
is the sort of plan, a living plan for things that live and grow, that
the Socialist seeks for social and national life.

To make all this distincter I will show the planlessness of certain
contemporary things, of two main sets of human interests in fact, and
explain what inferences a Socialist draws in these matters. You will
then see exactly what is meant when we deny that this present state of
affairs has any constructive plan, and you will appreciate in the most
generalized form the nature of the constructive plan which Socialists
are making and offering the world.



§ 1.

The first--the chief aspect of social life in relation to which the
Socialist finds the world now planless and drifting, and for which he
earnestly propounds the scheme of a better order, is that whole side
of existence which is turned towards children, their begetting and
upbringing, their care and education. Perpetually the world begins
anew, perpetually death wipes out failure, disease, unteachableness
and all that has served life and accomplished itself; and to many
Socialists, if not to all, this is the supreme fact in the social
scheme. The whole measure of progress in a generation is the measure
in which the children improve in physical and mental quality, in
social co-ordination, in opportunity, upon their parents. Nothing else
matters in the way of success if in that way the Good Will fails.

Let us now consider how such matters stand in our world at the present
time, and let us examine them in the light of the Socialist spirit. I
have already quoted certain facts from the London Education
Committee's Report, by which you have seen that by taking a school
haphazard--dipping a ladle, as it were, into the welter of the London
population--we find more than eighty in the hundred of the London
children insufficiently clad, more than half unwholesomely
dirty--eleven per cent. verminous--and more than half the infants
infested with vermin! The nutrition of these children is equally bad.
The same report shows clearly that differences in clothing and
cleanliness are paralleled with differences in nutrition that are
equally striking.

    "The 30 boys of the lowest class showed considerable failure
    to reach the average weight for their age of the school; the
    average shortage per boy for his age being as much as .7
    kilogram. The effect upon weight was more striking than upon
    height, as the average failure in height was one centimetre.
    The 141 boys of the next class worked out at exactly the
    average. The 49 well-clad boys showed an average excess per
    age-weight of .54 kilogram and age-height of 1.8 centimetres."

And who can doubt the amount of mental and moral dwarfing that is
going on side by side with this physical shortage?

Now, it may be argued that this is not a fair sample of our general
population, that these facts have been culled from a special section
of the population, that here we are dealing with the congestion of
London slums and altogether exceptional conditions. This is not so.
The school examined was not from a specially bad district. And it
happens that the entire working-class population of one typical
English town, York, has been exhaustively studied by Mr. B. S.
Rowntree, and here are some facts from his result that quite confirm
the impression given by the London figures.

    "It was quite impossible to make a thorough examination of the
    physical condition of all the children, but as they came up to
    be weighed and measured, they were classified under the four
    headings, 'Very Good,' 'Good,' 'Fair,' or 'Bad,' by an
    investigator whose training and previous experience in similar
    work enabled her to make a reliable, even if rough,

    "'Bad' implies that the child bore physical traces of
    underfeeding and neglect.

    "The numbers classified under the various heads were as

                        | Very Good, |    Good,   |    Fair,   |    Bad,
                        |  per cent. |  per cent. |  per cent. |  per cent.
    Section 1 (poorest) |     2.8    |    14.6    |    31.     |    51.6
    Section 2 (middle)  |     7.4    |    20.1    |    53.7    |    18.8
    Section 3 (highest) |    27.4    |    33.8    |    27.4    |    11.4


    Section 1 (poorest) |     2.1    |    14.6    |    31.     |    52.3
    Section 2 (middle)  |     7.5    |    21.2    |    50.4    |    20.9
    Section 3 (highest) |    27.2    |    38.     |    23.1    |    11.7

    "It will be seen that the proportion of children classed as
    'very good' in Section 3 is about ten times as large as in the
    poorest section, and that _more than half of the children in
    the poorest section are classed as 'bad.'_

    "These 'bad' children presented a pathetic spectacle, all bore
    some mark of the hard conditions against which they were
    struggling. Puny and feeble bodies, dirty and often sadly
    insufficient clothing, sore eyes, in many cases acutely
    inflamed through continued want of attention, filthy heads,
    cases of hip disease, swollen glands--all these and other
    signs told the same tale of privation and neglect. It will be
    noticed that the condition of the children in Section 2
    (middle-class labour) comes about half-way between Sections 1
    and 3. In considering the above table it must of course be
    remembered that there was no absolute standard by which each
    child could be judged, but the broad comparison between the
    different classes is unimpeachable. The table affords further
    evidence of serious physical deterioration amongst the poorest
    section of the community."

And if York and London will not satisfy, let the reader take
Edinburgh, whose Charity Organization Society has produced an
admirable but infinitely distressing report of the physical conditions
of the school children there. It gives a summary account of the homes
of fourteen hundred children in one of the Edinburgh Elementary
Schools, selected because it represented a fair mixture of prosperous
and unprosperous people. I take the first ten entries of this list
just as they come, representing thirty-eight children, and they are a
fair sample of the whole list. No amount of writing could make these
little thumbnail sketches of the reality of domestic life among our
population to-day more impressive than they are, thus barrenly given.

    "1. A bad home. Woman twice married; second husband deserted
    her six or seven years ago and she now keeps a bad house in
    which much drinking and rioting goes on. Daughter on stage
    sends 10/- a week, son is out of work. A son is in an
    institution. All as filthy as is the house. The food is
    irregular. Two children have had free dinners from school this
    and last winter, clothes were also given for one each time.
    The boy attends regularly. The woman is a hard drinker, and
    gets money in undesirable ways. The eldest child has glands,
    neck; hair not good but clean; fleabitten. The second child,
    adenoids and tonsils. Housing: five in one room. Evidence from
    Police, School Charity, Headmistress, School Officers and

    "2. The drinking capacity of this family cannot be too much
    emphasized. The parents can't agree, and live apart, the man
    allowing 7/6 a week when girl is with mother, and 5/- when she
    comes to him. She is verminous and very badly kept. Mother
    can't get charing, as she lives in so bad a neighbourhood, so
    means to move; at present she keeps other women's babies at
    6_d._ a day each. Elder boy out of work, a tidy lad, reads in
    Free Library. One child has died. Housing: three in one room.
    House not so very untidy. Evidence from Police, Church and

    "3. A miserable family and in very wretched circumstances.
    Father deserts home at intervals, but last time seemed 'sent
    back by providence,' as the works in the town he was in were
    burnt down. Children starving in his absence; one had
    pneumonia, and died since of the effects. The eldest child has
    adenoids; the second, urticaria; lice, bad; clothes full of
    pediculi. Housing: six in two rooms. Mother hard-working, does
    her best, but has chronic bronchitis; does not keep house over
    tidy. The two elder boys are very idle, tiresome fellows, and
    worry the father a great deal. They improved and found work
    during the year following the visit, in which time the father
    got into decent work in the City. The S. P. C. C. branch had
    to interfere on behalf of small children. Three dead since
    marriage, when parents were at ages 23 and 20. Food good when
    there is any. School gave free dinners and clothes to two.
    Evidence from Police, S. P. C. C. branch, School Charity,
    Parish Sister, Employer, Headmistress, School Officer and

    "4. The father a complete wreck through intemperate and fast
    living; speculation first brought him down. Was later moved to
    hospital, where he died. Had worked on railway a little time.
    Mother hard-working, works out, home untidy owing to her being
    out so much. She pays rent regularly, and does her best. An
    elder boy groom, fed and clad by his master, sends home what
    he can. Eldest boy does odd jobs, but seems a wastrel. Parish
    gave 7/6 after father ill, and feeds four children now. Winter
    of visit school dined five free daily, and clothed three, and
    previous winter three had free dinners and two had clothes. A
    school-boy earns. The twins are delicate. There are two
    lodgers. The eldest child very dirty; the second, glands; the
    third, knock-kneed, pigeon chest; very feeble, enlarged
    radices. Three children have died. Housing: nine in three
    rooms. Evidence from Police, Poor Law Officer, Parish Sister,
    School Charity, Army Charity, Children's Employment, School
    Officer, Factor, Pawnbroker and Doctors.

    "5. The mother, a nice, clean, tidy woman, doing pretty well
    by the children. They kept a little shop for a time, and she
    used to do a day's charing now and then, but has too many
    babies now. Parents married at 21 and 18 respectively; two
    children dead and another expected. He reads papers a good
    deal, gets them out of trains. This is his first spell of
    regular work. Two boys sell papers, and a Mission gives cheap
    meal. Food none too plentiful. One child gets free dinners.
    The eldest child has glands; impetigo; thin and badly
    nourished. The second, glands, hair lice and nits bad. The
    third, boils on neck, glands, thin. The fourth, glands.
    Housing: eight in two rooms. They are in two thrift societies.
    Evidence from School-master, Police, Parish Sister, Club, Army
    Charity, Charity School, Pawnbroker and Doctors.

    "6. Father works in a shop in daytime, and in a public-house
    at night. Rather soft; but wife industrious and energetic and
    does her best. Children well fed and regular at school. Two
    children have enlarged tonsils. They get no help, and belong
    to two thrift societies. One of six children dead in ten years
    of married life. Housing: seven in two rooms. Evidence from
    Police, Doctors, Society, Church, Mission, Club, Headmistress,
    Charity School and Pawnbrokers.

    "7. A family where parents are much given to drink; father
    invalided and being helped by a Sick Society, 3/- a week, and
    Parish 5/- a week. Housing: five in two rooms. They are in a
    burying club. Children fleabitten. Two have died. Food is
    rather scanty. Wife _very_ quarrelsome and drunken. The boys
    play truant often. Two were given free food and clothes two
    winters ago, and this winter one has free dinners and clothes
    given. A Mission has given cheap clothes. Evidence from
    School-master, Police, Poor Law Officer, C.O.S. branch,
    Church, School Charity, Sick Society, Children's Employment,
    Factor, School Officer, Charity School, Pawnbroker and

    "8. Fairly decent family; mother washes out, and man has very
    early work. He drinks, and his employment is somewhat
    irregular. A son in the country on a farm, and two dead. They
    were married at 21 and 18. The food is erratic, the children
    getting 'pieces' at dinner-time, or free school dinners; or
    when mother comes home, soup with her. The children are rather
    neglected, and the police give the parents an indifferent
    character. The eldest child has Eustacian catarrh and
    nasopharyngitis; glands. The second, enlarged uvula. Housing:
    four in two very small rooms. Evidence from School-master,
    Police, Parish Sister, Church, Factor and Doctors.

    "9. Father an old soldier without a pension, who reads novels.
    All the small children were found eating a large meal of ham
    and eggs and strong tea after 8 p.m., he in bed at the time.
    They have lapsed from thrift society membership. They are
    extremely filthy and the man drinks. A Mission sells them meal
    cheap. Wife 18 at marriage and one child died. They feed
    pretty largely but unhealthily, and eat 'pieces' at
    lunch-time. At time of visit, though very dirty, they were
    tidier than ever found before. The eldest child has chronic
    suppuration and large perforation of ear. Housing: five in two
    rooms. Evidence from Police, Parish Sister, Factor, Soldiers'
    Society, Charity School and Doctors.

    "10. The man a carter, who drank to a certain extent, and died
    some months after visit, when a Charity gave her help. She had
    an illegitimate child and two others. He was careless, and
    both neglected church-going. No medical evidence. Housing:
    five in two rooms. Evidence from Police, two Churches, Parish
    Sister, Employer and Charity School."

§ 2.

Now to the Socialist, as to any one who has caught any tinge of the
modern scientific spirit, these facts present themselves simply as an
atrocious failure of statesmanship. Indeed, a social system in which
the mass of the population is growing up under these conditions, he
scarcely recognizes as a State, rather it seems to him a mere
preliminary higgledy-piggledy aggregation of human beings, out of
which a State has to be made. It seems to him that this wretched
confusion of affairs which repeats itself throughout the country
wherever population has gathered, must be due to more than individual
inadequacy; it must be due to some general and essential failure, some
unsoundness in the broad principles upon which the whole organization
is conducted.

What is this general principle of failure beneath all these particular

In any given instance this or that reason for the failure of a child
may be given. In one case it may be the father or mother drinks, in
another that the child is an orphan, neglected by aunt or stepmother,
in another that the mother is an invalid or a sweated worker too
overwrought to do much for him, or, though a good-hearted soul, she is
careless and dirty or ignorant, or that she is immoral and reckless,
and so on and so on. Our haphazard sample of ten Scotch cases gives
instances of nearly all these alternatives. And from these proximate
causes one might work back to more general ones, to the necessity of
controlling the drink traffic, of abolishing sweating, of shortening
women's hours of labour, of suppressing vice. But for the present
argument it is not necessary to follow up these special causes. We can
make a wider generalization. For our present analysis it is sufficient
to say that one more general maladjustment covers every case of
neglected or ill-brought-up children in the world, and that is this,
that with or without a decent excuse, the parent has not been equal to
the task of rearing a civilized citizen. We have demanded too much
from the parent, materially and morally, and the ten cases we have
quoted are just ten out of ten millions of the replies to that demand.
Of fifty-two children born, fourteen are dead; and of the remainder we
can hardly regard more than thirteen as being tolerably reared.

Is it not obvious then that, unless we are content that things should
remain as they are, we must put the relations of parent to child on
some securer and more wholesome footing than they are at the present
time? We demand too much from the parent, and this being recognized,
clearly there are only two courses open to us. The first is to relieve
the parents by lowering the standard of our demand; the second is to
relieve them by supplementing their efforts.

The first course, the Socialist holds, is not only cruel and unjust to
the innocent child, but an entirely barbaric and retrogressive thing
to do. It is a frank abandonment of all ideas of progress and world
betterment. He puts it aside, therefore, and turns to the alternative.
In doing that he comes at once into harmony with all the developmental
tendencies of the last hundred years. For a hundred years there has
been going on a process of supplementing and controlling parental

A hundred years or so ago, the parent was the supreme authority in a
child's destiny--short only of direct murder. Parents were held
responsible for their children's rearing to God alone; should they
fail, individual good-hearted people might, if they thought proper,
step in, give food, give help--provided the parents consented, that
is, but it was not admitted that the community as a whole was
concerned in the matter. Parents (and guardians in the absence of
parents) were allowed to starve their children, leave them naked, prey
upon their children by making them work in factories or as
chimney-sweeps and the like; the law was silent, the State acquiesced.
Good-hearted parents, on the other hand, who were unsuccessful in the
world's affairs, had the torment of seeing their children go short of
food and garments, grow up ignorant and feeble, their only hope of
help the chancy kindliness of their more prosperous neighbours and the
ill-organized charities left by the benevolent dead.

Through all the nineteenth century the irresistible logic of necessity
has been forcing people out of the belief in that state of affairs,
has been making them see the impossibility of leaving things so
absolutely to parental discretion and conscience, has been forcing
them towards a constructive and organizing, that is to say towards a
Socialist attitude. Essentially the Socialist attitude is this, an
insistence that parentage can no longer be regarded as an isolated
private matter; that the welfare of the children is of universal
importance, and must, therefore, be finally a matter of collective
concern. The State, which a hundred years ago was utterly careless of
children, is now every year becoming more and more their Guardian,
their Over-Parent.

To-day the power of the parents is limited in ways that would have
seemed incredible a hundred years ago. In the first place they must no
longer unrestrictedly use their very young children to earn money for
them in toil and suffering. A great mass of labour legislation forbids
them. In the next place their right to inflict punishment or to hurt
wantonly has been limited in many ways. The private enterprises of
charitable organizations for the prevention of cruelty and neglect has
led to a growing system of law in this direction also. Nor may a
parent now prevent a child getting some rudiments of an education.

Between the parent and Heaven now, in addition to the more or less
legalized voluntary interference of well-disposed private people,
there do appear certain rare functionaries who--while they interfere
not at all between good and competent parents and their children, do,
in certain instances, save a parental default from its complete
fruition. There are the school attendance officer and the sanitary
inspector. Then there are--in the London County Council area--the
"Ringworm" nurses, who examine the children systematically and by
means of certain white and red cards of remonstrance and warning
intimidate the parent into good behaviour or pave the way for a
prosecution. Everywhere there is the factory inspector--and in certain
cases the police. All these functionaries and "accessory consciences"
have been thrust in between the supremacy of the parent and the child
within the century.

So much the Socialist regards as all to the good, as all in the
direction of that great constructive plan of organized human welfare
at which he aims. And they all amount to a destruction, so much with
this and so much with that, of the independence of the family, an
invasion of the old moral isolation of parent and child.

But while a number of people (who haven't read the Edinburgh Charity
Organization Society's Report) are content to regard these
interventions as "going far enough," the Socialist considers these
things as only the beginning of the organization of the welfare of the
nation's children. You will notice that all these laws and regulations
at which we have glanced are in the nature of prohibitions or
compulsions; few have any element of aid. By virtue of them we have
diminished the power of the inferior sort of parents to do evil by
their child, but we have done little or nothing to increase and
stimulate their powers to do good. We may prevent them doing some
sorts of evil things to the child; they may not give it poisonous
things, or let it live in morally or physically contagious places, but
we do not insure that they shall give it wholesome things--better than
they had themselves. We must, if our work is ever to reach effectual
fruition, go on to the logical completion of that process of
supplementing the parent that the nineteenth century began.

Consider, for instance, the circumstances of parentage among the large
section of the working classes whose girls and women engage in factory
labour. In many cases the earnings of the woman are vitally necessary
to the solvency of the family budget, the father's wages do not nearly
cover the common expenditure. In some cases the women are unmarried,
or the man is an invalid or out of work. Consider such a woman on the
verge of motherhood. Either she must work in a factory right up to the
birth of her child--and so damage its health through her strain and
fatigue,[2] or she must give up her work, lose money and go short of
food and necessities and _so_ damage the coming citizen. Moreover,
after the child is born, either she must feed it artificially and
return to work (and prosperity) soon, with a very great risk indeed
that the child will die, or she must stay at home to nourish and tend
it--until her landlord sells her furniture and turns her out!

    [2] The facts of the case are put very clearly, and quite
        invincibly, by Miss Margaret Macmillan in _Infant
        Mortality_. See also _The Babies' Tribute to the Modern
        Moloch_, by F. Victor Fisher. (Twentieth Century Press,
        1_d._) These are small polemical tracts. The case is treated
        fully, authoritatively and without bias in _Infant
        Mortality_ by Dr. G. Newman.

Now it does not need that you should be a Socialist to see how cruel
and ridiculous it is to have mothers in such a dilemma. But while
people who are not Socialists have no remedy to suggest, or only
immediate and partial remedies, such, for example, as the forbidding
of factory work to women who are about to be or have recently been
mothers--an expedient which is bound to produce a plentiful crop of
"concealment of birth" and infanticide convictions--the Socialist does
proffer a general principle to guide the community in dealing not only
with this particular hardship, but with all the kindred hardships
which form a system with it. He declares that we are here in the
presence of an unsound and harmful way of regarding parentage; that we
treat it as a _private affair_, that we are still disposed to assume
that people's children are almost as much their private concern as
their cats, and as little entitled to public protection and
assistance. The right view, he maintains, is altogether opposed to
this; parentage is a public service and a public duty; a good mother
is the most precious type of common individual a community can have,
and to let a woman on the one hand earn a living as we do, by sewing
tennis-balls or making cardboard boxes or calico, and on the other,
not simply not to pay her, but to impoverish her because she bears and
makes sacrifices to rear children, is the most irrational aspect of
all the evolved and chancy ideas and institutions that make up the
modern State. It is as if we believed our civilization existed to make
cheap cotton and tennis-balls instead of fine human lives.

The Socialist takes all that the nineteenth century has done in
remedial legislation as a mere earnest of all that it has still to do.
He works for a consistent application of the principle that England,
for example, tacitly admitted when she opened her public elementary
schools and compelled the children to come in; the principle that the
Community as a whole is the general Over-Parent of all its children;
that the parents must be made answerable to the community for the
welfare of their children, for their clear minds and clean bodies,
their eyesight and weight and training; and that, on the other hand,
the parents who do their duty well are as much entitled to collective
provision for their needs and economic security as a soldier, a judge
or any other sort of public servant.

§ 3.

Now do not imagine the case for the State being regarded as the
Over-Parent, and for the financial support of parents is based simply
upon the consideration of neglected, underfed, undereducated and
poverty-blighted children. No doubt in every one of the great
civilized countries of the world at the present time such children are
to be counted by the hundred thousand--by the million; but there is a
much stronger case to be stated in regard to that possibly greater
multitude of parents who are not in default, those common people, the
mass of our huge populations, the wives of the moderately skilled
workers or the reasonably comfortable employees, of the middling sort
of people, the two, three and four hundred pounds a year families who
toil and deny themselves for love of their children, and do contrive
to rear them cleanly, passably well grown, decent minded, taught and
intelligent to serve the future. Consider the enormous unfairness with
which we treat them, the way in which the modern State, such as it is,
trades upon their instincts, their affections, their sense of duty and
self-respect, to get from them for nothing the greatest social service
in the world.

For while the least fortunate sort of children have at any rate the
protection of the police and school inspectors, and the baser sort of
parent has all sorts of public and quasi-public helps and doles, the
families that make the middle mass of our population are still in the
position of the families of a hundred years ago, and have no help
under heaven against the world. It matters not how well the home of
the skilled artisan's wife or the small business man's wife has been
managed--she may have educated her children marvellously, they may be
clean, strong, courteous, intelligent--if the husband gets out of work
or suffers from business ill-luck or trade depression, or chances to
be killed uninsured, down they all go to want. Such insurance as they
are able to make, and it needs a tremendously heavy premium to secure
an insurance that will not mean a heavy fall of income with the
bread-winner's death--must needs be in a private insurance office, and
there is no effectual guarantee for either honesty or solvency in
that. In most of the petty insurance business the thrifty poor are
enormously overcharged and overreached. Rumour has been busy, and I
fear only too justly, with the financial outlook of some of the
Friendly Societies upon which the scanty security of so many
working-class families depends. Such investments as the lower and
middle-class father makes of surplus profits and savings must be made
in ignorance of the manœuvres of the big and often quite ruthless
financiers who control the world of prices. If he builds or trades, he
does so as a small investor, at the highest cost and lowest profit.
Half the big businesses in the world have been made out of the lost
savings of the small investor; a point to which I shall return later.
People talk as though Socialism proposed to rob the thrifty
industrious man of his savings. He could not be more systematically
robbed of his savings than he is at the present time. Nowhere beyond
the limit of the Post Office Savings' Bank is there security--not even
in the gilt-edged respectability of Consols, which in the last ten
years have fallen from 114 to under 82. Consider the adventure of the
thrifty well-meaning citizen who used his savings-bank hoard to buy
Consols at the former price, and now finds himself the poorer for not
having buried his savings in his garden. The middling sort of man
saves for the sake of wife and child; our State not only fails to
protect him from the adventures of the manipulating financier, but it
deliberately avoids competition with banker, insurance agent and
promoter. In no way can the middle-class or artisan parent escape the
financier's power and get real security for his home or his children's

Not only is every parent of any but the richest classes worried and
discouraged by the universal insecurity of outlook in this private
adventure world, but at every turn his efforts to do his best for his
children are discouraged. If he has no children, he will have all his
income to spend on his own pleasures; he need only live in a little
house, he pays nothing for school, less for doctor, less for all the
needs of life, and he is taxed less; his income tax is the same, no
bigger; his rent, his rates, his household bills are all less....

The State will not even help him to a tolerable home, to wholesome
food, to needed fuel for the new citizens he is training for it. The
State now-a-days in its slow awakening does show a certain concern in
the housing of the lowest classes, a concern alike stimulated and
supplemented by such fine charities as Peabody's for example, but no
one stands between the two-hundred-a-year man and his landlord in the
pitiless struggle to get. For every need of his children whom he toils
to make into good men and women, he must pay a toll of owner's
profits, he must trust to the anything but intelligent greed of
private enterprise.

The State will not even insist that a sufficiency of comfortable,
sanitary homes shall be built for his class; if he wants the
elementary convenience of a bathroom, he must pay extra toll to the
water shareholder; his gas is as cheap in quality and dear in price as
it can be; his bread and milk, under the laws of supply and demand,
are at the legal minimum of wholesomeness; the coal trade cheerfully
raises his coal in mid-winter to ruinous prices. He buys clothes of
shoddy and boots of brown paper. To get any other is nearly impossible
for a man with three hundred pounds a year. His newspapers, which are
supported by advertisers and financiers, in order to hide the obvious
injustice of this one-man-fight against the allied forces of property,
din in his ears that his one grievance is local taxation, his one
remedy "to keep down the rates"--the "rates" which do at least repair
his roadway, police his streets, give him open spaces for his babies
and help to educate his children, and which, moreover, constitute a
burthen he might by a little intelligent political action shift quite
easily from his own shoulders to the broad support of capital and

If the children of the decent skilled artisan and middle-class suffer
less obviously than the poorer sort of children, assuredly the parents
in wearing anxiety, in toil and limitation and disappointment, suffer
more. And in less intense and dramatic, but perhaps even more
melancholy ways, the children of this class do suffer. They do not die
so abundantly in infancy, but they grow up, too many of them, to
shabby and limited lives; in Britain they are still, as a class,
extraordinarily ill educated--many of them still go to incompetent,
understaffed and ill-equipped private adventure schools--they are sent
into business prematurely, often at fourteen or fifteen, they become
mechanical "respectable" drudges in processes they do not understand.
They may escape want and squalor for a while, perhaps, but they cannot
escape narrowness and limitation and a cramped and anxious life. If
they get to anything better than that, it is chiefly through almost
heroic parental effort and sacrifice.

The plain fact is that the better middle-class parents serve the State
in this matter of child-rearing, the less is their reward, the less is
their security, the greater their toil and anxiety. Is it any wonder
then that throughout this more comfortable but more refined and
exacting class, the skilled artisan and middle-class, there goes on
something even more disastrous, from the point of view of the State,
than the squalor, despair and neglect of the lower levels, and that is
a very evident strike against parentage? While the very poor continue
to have many children who die or grow up undersized, crippled or
half-civilized, the middle mass, which _can_ contrive with a struggle
and sacrifice to rear fairly well-grown and well-equipped offspring,
which has a conscience for the well-being and happiness of the young,
manifests a diminishing spirit for parentage, its families fall to
four, to three, to two--and in an increasing number of instances there
are no children at all.

With regard to the struggling middle-class and skilled artisan class
parent, even more than to the lower poor, does the Socialist insist
upon the plain need, if only that our State and nation should
continue, of endowment and help. He deems it not simply unreasonable
but ridiculous that in a world of limitless resources, of vast
expenditure, of unparalleled luxury, in which two-million-pound
battleships and multi-millionaires are common objects, the supremely
important business of rearing the bulk of the next generation of the
middling sort of people should be left almost entirely to the unaided,
unguided efforts of impoverished and struggling women and men. It
seems to him almost beyond sanity to suppose that so things must or
can continue.

§ 4.

And what I have said of the middle-class parent is true with certain
modifications of all the classes above it, except that in a monarchy
you reach at last one State-subsidized family--in the case of Britain
a very healthy and active group, the Royal family--which is not only
State supported, but also beyond the requirements of any modern
Socialist, State bred. There are enormous handicaps at every other
social level upon efficient parentage, and upon the training of
children for any public and generous end. Parentage is treated as a
private foible, and those who undertake its solemn responsibilities
are put at every sort of disadvantage against those who lead sterile
lives, who give all their strength and resources to vanity and
socially harmful personal indulgence. These latter, with an ampler
leisure and ampler means, determine the forms of pleasure and social
usage, they "set the fashion" and bar pride, distinction or relaxation
to the devoted parent. The typical British aristocrat is not parent
bred, but class bred, a person with a lively sense of social
influences and no social ideas. The one class that is economically
capable of making all that can be made of its children is demoralized
by the very irresponsibility of the wealth that creates this
opportunity. This is still more apparent in the American plutocracy,
where perhaps half the women appear to be artificially sterilized
spenders of money upon frivolous things.

No doubt there is in the richer strata of the community a certain
proportion of families with a real tradition of upbringing and
service; such English families as the Cecils, Balfours and Trevelyans,
for example, produce, generation after generation, public-spirited and
highly competent men. But the family tradition in these cases is an
excess of virtue rather than any necessary consequence of a social
advantage; it is a defiance rather than a necessity of our economic
system. It is natural that such men as Lord Hugh and Lord Robert
Cecil, highly trained, highly capable, but without that gift of
sympathetic imagination which releases a man from the subtle mental
habituations of his upbringing, should idealize every family in the
world to the likeness of their own--and find the Socialist's
Over-Parent of the State not simply a needless but a mischievous and
wicked innovation. They think--they will, I fear, continue to
think--of England as a world of happy Hatfields, cottage Hatfields,
villa Hatfields, Hatfields over the shop, and Hatfields behind the
farmyard--wickedly and wantonly assailed and interfered with by a band
of weirdly discontented men. It is a dream that the reader must not
share. Even in the case of the rich and really prosperous it is an
illusion. In no class at the present time is there a real inducement
to the effectual rearing of trained and educated citizens; in every
class are difficulties and discouragements.

This state of affairs, says the Socialist, is chaotic or indifferent
to a sea of wretchedness and failure, in health, vigour, order and
beauty. Such pleasure as it permits is a gaudy indulgence filched from
children and duty; such beauty--a hectic beauty stained with
injustice; such happiness--a happiness that can only continue so long
as it remains blind or indifferent to a sea of wretchedness and
failure. Our present system of isolated and unsupported families keeps
the mass of the world beyond all necessity painful, ugly and squalid.
It stands condemned, and it must end.

§ 5.

Let me summarize what has been said in this chapter in a compact
proposition, and so complete the statement of the First Main
Generalization of Socialism.

_The ideas of the private individual rights of the parent and of his
isolated responsibility for his children are harmfully exaggerated in
the contemporary world. We do not sufficiently protect children from
negligent, incompetent, selfish or wicked parents, and we do not
sufficiently aid and encourage good parents; parentage is too much a
matter of private adventure, and the individual family is too
irresponsible. As a consequence there is a huge amount of avoidable
privation, suffering and sorrow, and a large proportion of the
generation that grows up, grows up stunted, limited, badly educated
and incompetent in comparison with the strength, training and beauty
with which a better social organization could endow it._

_The Socialist holds that the community as a whole should be
responsible, and every individual in the community, married or single,
parent or childless, should be responsible for the welfare and
upbringing of every child born into that community. This
responsibility may be entrusted in whole or in part to parent, teacher
or other guardian--but it is not simply the right but the duty of the
State--that is to say of the organized power and intelligence of the
community--to direct, to inquire, and to intervene in any default for
the child's welfare._

_Parentage rightly undertaken is a service as well as a duty to the
world, carrying with it not only obligations but a claim, the
strongest of claims, upon the whole community. It must be provided for
like any other public service; in any completely civilized State it
must be sustained, rewarded and controlled. And this is to be done not
to supersede the love, pride and conscience of the parent, but to
supplement, encourage and maintain it._

§ 6.

This is the first of the twin generalizations upon which the whole
edifice of modern Socialism rests. Its fellow generalization we must
consider in the chapter immediately to follow.

But at this point the reader unaccustomed to social questions will
experience a difficulty. He will naturally think of this much of
change we have broached, as if it was to happen in a world that
otherwise was to remain just as the world is now, with merchants,
landowners, rich and poor and all the rest of it. You are proposing,
he may say, what is no doubt a highly desirable but which is also a
quite impossible thing. You propose practically to educate all the
young of the country and to pay at least sufficient to support them
and their mothers in decency--out of what? Where will you get the

That is a perfectly legitimate question and one that must be answered
fully if our whole project is not to fall to the ground.

So we come to the discussion of material means, of the wherewithal,
that is to say to the "Economics" of Socialism. The reader will see
very speedily that this great social revolution we propose necessarily
involves a revolution in business and industry that will be equally
far reaching. The two revolutions are indeed inseparable, two sides of
one wheel, and it is scarcely possible that one could happen without
the other.

Of course the community supports all its children now--the only point
is that it does not support them in its collective character as a
State "as a whole." All the children in the world are supported by all
the people in the world, but very unfairly and irregularly, through
the intervention of that great multitude of small private proprietors,
the parents. When the parents fail, Charity and the Parish step in. If
the reader will refer to those ten cases from Edinburgh I have already
quoted in Chapter III., § 1, he will note that in eight out of the ten
there comes in the eleemosynary element; in the seventh case
especially he will get an inkling of its waste. A change in the system
that diminished (though it by no means abolished) this separate
dependence of children upon parents, each child depending upon those
"pieces" from its particular parental feast, need not necessarily
diminish the amount of wheat, or leather, or milk in the world; the
children would still get the bread and milk and boots, but through
different channels and in a different spirit. They might even get
more. The method of making and distribution will evidently have to be
a different one and run counter to currently accepted notions; that is
all. Not only is it true that a change of system need not diminish the
amount of food in the world; it might even increase it. The Socialist
declares that his system would increase it. He proposes a method of
making and distribution, a change in industrial conditions and in the
conventions of property, that he declares will not only not diminish
but greatly increase the production of the world, and changes in the
administration that he is equally convinced will insure a far juster
and better use of all that is produced.

This side of his proposals we will proceed to consider in our next



§ 1.

We have considered the Socialist criticism of the present state of
affairs in relation to the most important of all public questions, the
question of the welfare and upbringing of the next generation. We have
stated the general principle of social reconstruction that emerges
from that criticism. We have now to enter upon the question of ways
and means, the economic question. We have to ask whether the vision we
have conjured up of a whole population well fed, well clad, well
educated--in a word, well brought-up--is, after all, only an amiable
dream. Is it true that humanity is producing all that it can produce
at the present time, and managing everything about as well as it can
be managed; that, as a matter of fact, there isn't enough of food and
care to go round, and hence the unavoidable anxiety in the life of
every one (except in the case of a small minority of exceptionally
secure people), and the absolute wretchedness of vast myriads of the
poorer sort?

The Socialist says, No! He asserts that our economic system is as
chaotic and wasteful as our system of rearing children--is only
another aspect of the same planlessness--that it does its work with a
needless excess of friction, that it might be far simpler and almost
infinitely more productive than it is.

Let us detach ourselves a little from our everyday habits of thinking
in these matters; let us cease to take customary things for granted,
and let us try and consider how our economic arrangements would strike
a disinterested intelligence that looked at them freshly for the first
time. Let us take some matter of primary economic importance, such as
the housing of the population, and do our best to criticize it in this
spirit of personal aloofness.

In order to do that, let us try to detach ourselves a little from our
own personal interest in these affairs. Imagine a mind ignorant of our
history and traditions, coming from some other sphere, from some world
more civilized, from some other planet perhaps, to this earth. Would
our system of housing strike it as the very wisest and most practical
possible, would it really seem to be the attainable maximum of outcome
for human exertion, or would it seem confused, disorderly, wasteful
and bad? The Socialist holds that the latter would certainly be the
verdict of such an impartial examination.

What would our visitor find in such a country as England, for example?
He would find a few thousand people housed with conspicuous comfort
and sumptuousness, in large, airy and often extremely beautiful homes
equipped with every convenience--except such as economize labour--and
waited on by many thousands of attendants. He would find next, several
hundreds of thousands in houses reasonably well built, but for the
most part ill designed and unpleasant to the eye, houses passably
sanitary and convenient, fitted with bathrooms, with properly equipped
kitchens, usually with a certain space of air and garden about them.
And the rest of our millions he would find crowded into houses
evidently too small for a decent life, and often dreadfully dirty and
insanitary, without proper space or appliances to cook properly, wash
properly or indeed perform any of the fundamental operations of a
civilized life tolerably well--without, indeed, even the privacy
needed for common decency. In the towns he would find most of the
houses occupied by people for whose needs they were obviously not
designed, and in many cases extraordinarily crowded, ramshackle and
unclean; in the country he would be amazed to find still denser
congestion, sometimes a dozen people in one miserable, tumble-down,
outwardly picturesque and inwardly abominable two-roomed cottage,
people living up against pigsties and drawing water from wells they
could not help but contaminate. Think of how the intimate glimpses
from the railway train one gets into people's homes upon the outskirts
of any of our large towns would impress him. And being, as we assume,
clear minded and able to trace cause and effect, he would see all this
disorder working out in mortality, disease, misery and intellectual
and moral failure.

All this would strike our visitor as a very remarkable state of
affairs for reasonable creatures to endure, and probably he would not
understand at first that millions of people were content to regard all
this disorder as the permanent lot of humanity. He would assume that
this must be a temporary state of affairs due to some causes unknown
to him, some great migration, for example. He would suppose we were
all busy putting things right. He would see on the one hand unemployed
labour and unemployed material; on the other, great areas of suitable
land and the crying need for more and better homes than the people
had, and it would seem the most natural thing in the world that the
directing intelligence of the community should set the unemployed
people to work with the unemployed material upon the land to house the
whole population fairly and well. There exists all that is needed to
house the whole population admirably, the building material, the room,
the unoccupied hands. Why is it not being done?

Our answer would be, of course, that he did not understand our
difficulties; the land was not ours to do as we liked with, it did not
belong to the community but to certain persons, the Owners, who either
refused to let us build upon it or buy it or have anything to do with
it, or demanded money we could not produce for it; that equally the
material was not ours, but belonged to certain other Owners, and that,
thirdly, the community had insufficient money or credit to pay the
wages and maintenance and equipment of the workers who starved and
degenerated in our streets--for that money, too, was privately owned.

This would puzzle our visitor considerably.

"Why do you have Owners?" he would ask.

We might find that difficult to answer.

"But why do you let the land be owned?" he would go on. "You don't let
people own the air. And these bricks and timber you mustn't touch, the
mortar you need and the gold you need--they all came out of the
ground--they all belonged to everybody or nobody a little while ago!"

You would say something indistinct about Property.

"But why?"

"Somebody must own the things."

"Well, let the State own the things and use them for the common good.
It owns the roads, it owns the foreshores and the territorial
seas--nobody owns the air!"

If you entered upon historical explanations with him, you would soon
be in difficulties. You would find that so recently as the Feudal
System--which was still living, so to speak, yesterday--the King, who
stood for the State, held the land as the Realm, and the predecessors
of the present owners held under him merely as the administrative
officials who performed all sorts of public services and had all sorts
of privileges thereby. They have dropped the services and stuck to the
land and the privileges; that is all.

"I begin to perceive," our visitor would say as this became clear;
"your world is under the spell of an exaggerated idea, this
preposterous idea there must be an individual Owner for everything in
the world. Obviously you can't get on while you are under the spell of
that! So long as you have this private ownership in everything,
there's no help for you. You cut up your land and material in parcels
of all sorts and sizes among this multitude of irresponsible little
monarchs; you let all the material you need get distributed among
another small swarm of Owners, and clearly you can only get them to
work for public ends in the most roundabout, tedious and wasteful way.
Why should they? They're very well satisfied as they are! But if the
community as a whole insisted that this idea of private Ownership you
have in regard to land and natural things was all nonsense--and it is
all nonsense!--just think what you might not do with it now that you
have all the new powers and lights that Science has given you. You
might turn all your towns into garden cities, put an end to
overcrowding, abolish smoky skies----"

"Hush!" I should have to interrupt; "if you talk of the things that
are clearly possible in the world to-day, they will say you are an
Utopian dreamer!"

But at least one thing would have become clear, the little swarm of
Owners and their claims standing in the way of any bold collective
dealing with housing or any such public concern. The real work to be
done here is to change an idea, that idea of ownership, to so modify
it that it will cease to obstruct the rational development of life;
and that is what the Socialist seeks to do.

§ 2.

Now the argument that the civilized housing of the masses of our
population now is impossible because if you set out to do it you come
up against the veto of the private owner at every stage, can be
applied to almost every general public service. Some little while ago
I wrote a tract for the Fabian Society about Boots;[3] and I will not
apologize for repeating here a passage from that. To begin with, this
tract pointed out the badness, unhealthiness and discomfort of
people's footwear as one saw it in every poor quarter, and asked why
it was that things were in so disagreeable a state. There was plenty
of leather in the world, plenty of labour.

    [3] _This Misery of Boots._ It is intended as an
        introductory tract explaining the central idea of Socialism
        for propaganda purposes, and it is published by the Fabian
        Society, of 3 Clement's Inn, London, at 3_d._ That, together
        with my tract _Socialism and the Family_ (A. C. Fifield, 44
        Fleet Street, London, 6_d._), gives the whole broad outline
        of the Socialist attitude.

    "Here on the one hand--you can see for yourself in any
    unfashionable part of Great Britain--are people badly,
    uncomfortably, painfully shod in old boots, rotten boots, sham
    boots; and on the other great stretches of land in the world,
    with unlimited possibilities of cattle and leather and great
    numbers of people who, either through wealth or trade
    disorder, are doing no work. And our question is: 'Why cannot
    the latter set to work and make and distribute boots?'

    "Imagine yourself trying to organize something of this kind of
    Free Booting expedition and consider the difficulties you
    would meet with. You would begin by looking for a lot of
    leather. Imagine yourself setting off to South America, for
    example, to get leather; beginning at the very beginning by
    setting to work to kill and flay a herd of cattle. You find at
    once you are interrupted. Along comes your first obstacle in
    the shape of a man who tells you the cattle and the leather
    belong to him. You explain that the leather is wanted for
    people who have no decent boots in England. He says he does
    not care a rap what you want it for; before you may take it
    from him you have to buy him off; it is his private property,
    this leather, and the herd and the land over which the herd
    ranges. You ask him how much he wants for his leather, and he
    tells you frankly, just as much as he can induce you to give.

    "If he chanced to be a person of exceptional sweetness of
    disposition, you might perhaps argue with him. You might point
    out to him that this project of giving people splendid boots
    was a fine one that would put an end to much human misery. He
    might even sympathize with your generous enthusiasm, but you
    would, I think, find him adamantine in his resolve to get just
    as much out of you for his leather as you could with the
    utmost effort pay.

    "Suppose, now, you said to him: 'But how did you come by this
    land and these herds so that you can stand between them and
    the people who have need of them, exacting this profit?' He
    would probably either embark upon a long rigmarole, or, what
    is much more probable, lose his temper and decline to argue.
    Pursuing your doubt as to the rightfulness of his property in
    these things, you might admit he deserved a certain reasonable
    fee for the rough care he had taken of the land and herds. But
    cattle breeders are a rude violent race, and it is doubtful if
    you would get far beyond your proposition of a reasonable fee.
    You would, in fact, have to buy off this owner of the leather
    at a good thumping price--he exacting just as much as he could
    get from you--if you wanted to go on with your project.

    "Well, then you would have to get your leather here, and to do
    that you would have to bring it by railway and ship to this
    country. And here again you would find people without any
    desire or intention of helping your project, standing in your
    course resolved to make every possible penny out of you on
    your way to provide sound boots for every one. You would find
    the railway was private property and had an owner or owners;
    you would find the ship was private property with an owner or
    owners, and that none of these would be satisfied for a moment
    with a mere fee adequate to their services. They too would be
    resolved to make every penny of profit out of you. If you made
    inquiries about the matter, you would probably find the real
    owners of railway and ship were companies of shareholders, and
    the profit squeezed out of your poor people's boots at this
    stage went to fill the pockets of old ladies, at Torquay,
    spendthrifts in Paris, well-booted gentlemen in London clubs,
    all sorts of glossy people....

    "Well, you get the leather to England at last; and now you
    want to make it into boots. You take it to a centre of
    population, invite workers to come to you, erect sheds and
    machinery upon a vacant piece of ground, and start off in a
    sort of fury of generous industry, boot-making.... Do you?
    There comes along an owner for that vacant piece of ground,
    declares it is his property, demands an enormous sum for rent.
    And your workers all round you, you find, cannot get house
    room until they too have paid rent--every inch of the country
    is somebody's property, and a man may not shut his eyes for an
    hour without the consent of some owner or other. And the food
    your shoe-makers eat, the clothes they wear, have all paid
    tribute and profit to land-owners, cart-owners, house-owners,
    endless tribute over and above the fair pay for work that has
    been done upon them....

    "So one might go on. But you begin to see now one set of
    reasons at least why every one has not good comfortable boots.
    There could be plenty of leather; and there is certainly
    plenty of labour and quite enough intelligence in the world to
    manage that and a thousand other desirable things. But this
    institution of Private Property in land and naturally produced
    things, these obstructive claims that prevent you using
    ground, or moving material, and that have to be bought out at
    exorbitant prices, stand in the way. All these owners hang
    like parasites upon your enterprise at its every stage; and by
    the time you get your sound boots well made in England, you
    will find them costing about a pound a pair--high out of reach
    of the general mass of people. And you will perhaps not think
    me fanciful and extravagant when I confess that when I realize
    this and look at poor people's boots in the street, and see
    them cracked and misshapen and altogether nasty, I seem to see
    also a lot of little phantom land-owners, cattle-owners,
    house-owners, owners of all sorts, swarming over their pinched
    and weary feet like leeches, taking much and giving nothing
    and being the real cause of all such miseries."

§ 3.

Our visitor would not only be struck by the clogging of our social
activities through this system of leaving everything to private
enterprise; he would also be struck by the immense wastefulness.
Everywhere he would see things in duplicate and triplicate; down the
High Street of any small town he would find three or four
butchers--mostly selling New Zealand mutton and Argentine beef as
English--five or six grocers, three or four milk shops, one or two big
drapers and three or four small haberdashers, milliners, and "fancy
shops," two or three fishmongers, all very poor, all rather bad, most
of them in debt and with their assistants all insecure and underpaid.
He would find in spite of this wealth of competition that every one
who could contrive it, all the really prosperous people in fact,
bought most of their food and drapery from big London firms.

But why should I go on writing fresh arguments when we have Elihu's
classic tract[4] to quote.

    [4] Elihu's tracts are published by the Independent Labour
        Party at one penny each. The best are: _Whose Dog Art Thou?_
        _A Nation of Slaves_; _Milk and Postage Stamps_; _A Corner
        in Flesh and Blood_; and _Simple Division_.

    "Observe how private enterprise supplies the streets with
    milk. At 7.30 a milk cart comes lumbering along and delivers
    milk at one house and away again. Half-an-hour later another
    milk cart arrives and delivers milk, first on this side of the
    street and then on that, until seven houses have been
    supplied, and then he departs. During the next three or four
    hours four other milk carts put in an appearance at varying
    intervals, supplying a house here and another there, until
    finally, as it draws towards noon, their task is accomplished
    and the street supplied with milk.

    "The time actually occupied by one and another of these
    distributors of milk makes in all about an hour and forty
    minutes, six men and six horses and carts being required for
    the purpose, and these equipages rattle along one after the
    other, all over the district, through the greater part of the
    day, in the same erratic and extraordinary manner."

§ 4.

Our imaginary visitor would probably quite fail to grasp the reasons
why we do not forthwith shake off this obstructive and harmful idea of
Private Ownership, dispossess our Landowners and so forth as gently as
possible, and set to work upon collective housing and the rest of it.
And so he would "exit wondering."

But that would be only the opening of the real argument. A competent
Anti-Socialist of a more terrestrial experience would have a great
many very effectual and very sound considerations to advance in
defence of the present system.

He might urge that our present way of doing things, though it was
sometimes almost as wasteful as Nature when fresh spawn or pollen
germs are scattered, was in many ways singularly congenial to the
infirmities of humanity. The idea of property is a spontaneous product
of the mortal mind; children develop it in the nursery, and are
passionately alive to the difference of _meum_ and _tuum_, and its
extension to land, subterranean products and wild free things, even if
it is under analysis a little unreasonable, was at least singularly
acceptable to humanity.

And there would be admirable soundness in all this. There can be
little or no doubt that the conception of personal ownership has in
the past contributed elements to human progress that could have come
through no other means. It has allowed private individuals in odd
corners to try experiments in new methods and new appliances, that the
general intelligence, such as it was, of the community could not have
understood. For all its faults, our present individualistic order
compared not simply with the communism of primitive tribes, but even
with the personal and largely illiterate control of the mediæval
feudal governments, is a good efficient working method. I don't think
a Socialist need quarrel with the facts of history or human nature.
But he would urge that Private Ownership is only a phase, though no
doubt quite a necessary phase, in human development. The world has
needed Private Ownership just as (Lester F. Ward declares[5]) it once
needed slavery to discipline men and women to agriculture and habits
of industry, and just as it needed autocratic kings to weld warring
tribes into nations and nations into empires, to build high roads, end
private war and establish the idea of Law, and a wider than tribal
loyalty. But just as Western Europe has passed out of the phases of
slavery and of autocracy (which is national slavery) into
constitutionalism, so, he would hold, we are passing out of the phase
of private ownership of land and material and food. We are doing so
not because we reject it, but because we have worked it out, because
we have learnt its lessons and can now go on to a higher and finer

    [5] _Pure Sociology_, p. 271-2, by Lester F. Ward. (The
        Macmillan Company, New York.)

There the Anti-Socialist would join issue with a lesser advantage. He
would have to show not only that Private Ownership has been
serviceable and justifiable in the past--which many Socialists admit
quite cheerfully--but that it is the crown and perfection of human
methods, which the Socialists flatly deny. Universal Private
Ownership, an extreme development of the sentiment of individual
autonomy and the limitation of the State to the merest police
functions, were a necessary outcome of the breakdown of the
unprogressive authoritative Feudal System in alliance with a dogmatic
Church. It reached its maximum in the eighteenth century, when even
some of the prisons and workhouses were run by private contract, when
people issued a private money, the old token coinage, and even
regiments of soldiers were raised by private enterprise. It was, the
Socialist alleges, a mere phase of that breaking up of the old social
edifice, a weakening of the old circle of ideas that had to precede
the new constructive effort. But with land, with all sorts of property
and all sorts of businesses and public services, just as with the old
isolated private family, the old separateness and independence is
giving way to a new synthesis. The idea of Private Ownership, albeit
still the ruling idea of our civilization, does not rule nearly so
absolutely as it did. It weakens and falters before the inexorable
demands of social necessity--manifestly under our eyes.

The Socialist would be able to appeal to a far greater number of laws
in the nature of limitation of the owner of property than could be
quoted to show the limitation of the old supremacy of the head of the
family. In the first place he would be able to point to a constantly
increasing interference with the right of the landowner to do what he
liked with his own, building regulations, intervention to create
allotments and so forth. Then there would be a vast mass of factory
and industrial legislation, controlling, directing, prohibiting;
fencing machinery, interfering on behalf of health, justice and public
necessity with the owner's free bargain with his work-people. His
business undertakings would be under limitations his grandfather never
knew--even harmless adulterations that merely intensify profit,
forbidden him!

And in the next place and still more significant is the manifest
determination to keep in public hands many things that would once
inevitably have become private property. For example, in the middle
Victorian period a water supply, a gas supply, a railway or tramway
was inevitably a private enterprise, the creation of a new property;
now, this is the exception rather than the rule. While gas and water
and trains were supplied by speculative owners for profit, electric
light and power, new tramways and light railways are created in an
increasing number of cases by public bodies who retain them for the
public good. Nobody who travels to London as I do regularly in the
dirty, over-crowded carriages of the infrequent and unpunctual trains
of the South-Eastern Company, and who then transfers to the cleanly,
speedy, frequent--in a word, "civilized" electric cars of the London
County Council, can fail to estimate the value and significance of
this supersession of the private owner by the common-weal.

All these things, the Socialists insist, are but a beginning. They
point to a new phase in social development, to the appearance of a
collective intelligence and a sense of public service taking over
appliances, powers, enterprises, with a growing confidence that must
end finally in the substitution of collective for private ownership
and enterprise throughout the whole area of the common business of

§ 5.

In relation to quite a number of large public services it can be shown
that even under contemporary conditions Private Ownership does work
with an enormous waste and inefficiency. Necessarily it seeks for
profit; necessarily it seeks to do as little as possible for as much
as possible. The prosperity of all Kent is crippled by a "combine" of
two ill-managed and unenterprising railway companies, with no funds
for new developments, grinding out an uncertain dividend by clipping

I happen to see this organization pretty closely, and I can imagine no
State enterprise west of Turkey or Persia presenting even to the
passing eye so deplorable a spectacle of ruin and inefficiency. The
South-Eastern Company's estate at Seabrook presents the dreariest
spectacle of incompetent development conceivable; one can see its
failure three miles away; it is a waste with an embryo slum in one
corner protected by an extravagant sea-wall, already partly shattered,
from the sea.

To-day (Nov. 4, 1907) the price of the ordinary South-Eastern stock is
65 and its deferred stock 31; of the London, Chatham and Dover
ordinary stock 10-1/2; an eloquent testimony to the disheartened state
of the owners who now cling reluctantly to this disappointing
monopoly. Spite of this impoverishment of the ordinary shareholder,
this railway system has evidently paid too much profit in the past for
efficiency; the rolling stock is old and ageing--much of it is by
modern standards abominable--the trains are infrequent, and the
shunting operations at local stations, with insufficient sidings and
insufficient staffs, produce a chronic dislocation and unpunctuality
in the traffic that is exaggerated by the defects of direction evident
even in the very time-tables. The trains are not well planned, the
connections with branch lines are often extremely ill managed. The
service is bad to its details. It is the exception rather than the
rule to find a ticket-office in the morning with change for a
five-pound note; and, as a little indication of the spirit of the
whole machine, I discovered the other day that the conductors upon the
South-Eastern trams at Hythe start their morning with absolutely no
change at all. Recently the roof of the station at Charing Cross fell
in--through sheer decay.... A whole rich county now stagnates
hopelessly under the grip of this sample of private enterprise, towns
fail to grow, trade flows sluggishly from point to point. No
population in the world would stand such a management as it endures at
the hands of the South-Eastern Railway from any responsible public
body. Out would go the whole board of managers at the next election.
Consider what would have happened if the London County Council had
owned Charing Cross Station three years ago. But manifestly there is
nothing better to be done under private ownership conditions. The
common shareholders are scattered and practically powerless, and their
collective aim is, at any expense to the public welfare, to keep the
price of the shares from going still lower.

The South-Eastern Railway is only one striking instance of the general
unserviceableness of private ownership for public services. Nearly all
the British railway companies, in greater or less degree, present now
a similar degenerative process. Years of profit-sweating, of high
dividends, have left them with old stations, old rolling stock, old
staffs, bad habits and diminishing borrowing power. Only a few of
these corporations make any attempt to keep pace with invention. It is
remarkable now in an epoch of almost universal progress how stagnant
the British privately owned railways are. One travels now-a-days if
anything with a decrease of comfort from the 1880 accommodation,
because of the greater overcrowding; and there has been no general
increase of speed, no increase in smooth running, no increase in
immunity from accident now for quite a number of years. One travels in
a dingy box of a compartment that is too ill-lit at night for reading
and full of invincible draughts. In winter the only warmth is too
often an insufficient footwarmer of battered tin, for which the
passengers fight fiercely with their feet. An observant person cannot
fail to be struck--especially if he is returning from travel upon the
State railways of Switzerland or Germany--by the shabby-looking
porters on so many of our lines--they represent the standard of good
clothing for the year 1848 or thereabouts--and by the bleak misery of
many of the stations, the universal dirt that electricity might even
now abolish. You dare not drop a parcel on any British railway cushion
for fear of the cloud of horrible dust you would raise; you have to
put it down softly. Consider, too, the congested infrequent suburban
trains that ply round any large centre of population, the inefficient
goods and parcel distribution that hangs up the trade of the local
shopman everywhere. Not only in the arrested standard of comfort, but
in the efficiency of working also are our privately owned railways a
hopeless discredit to private ownership.

None of them, hampered by their present equipment, are able to adapt
themselves readily to the new and better mechanism science produces
for them, electric traction, electric lighting and so forth; and it
seems to me highly probable that the last steam-engines and the last
oil lamps in the world will be found upon the southern railway lines
of Great Britain. How can they go on borrowing new capital with their
stock at the prices I have quoted, and how can they do anything
without new capital? The conception of profit-raising that rules our
railways takes rather an altogether different direction; it takes the
form of attempts to procure a monopoly even of the minor traffic by
resisting the development of light railways, and of keeping the
standard of comfort, decency and cleanliness low. As for the vast
social ameliorations that could be wrought now, and are urgently
needed now, by redistributing population through enhanced and
cheapened services scientifically planned, and by an efficient
collection and carriage of horticultural and agricultural produce,
these things lie outside the philosophy of the Private Owner
altogether. They would probably not pay him, and there the matter
ends; that they would pay the community enormously, does not for one
moment enter into his circle of ideas.

There can be little doubt that in the next decade or so the secular
decay and lagging of the British railway services which is inevitable
under existing conditions (in speed, in comfort, they have long been
distanced by continental lines), the probable increase in accidents
due to economically administered permanent ways and ageing stations
and bridges, and the ever more perceptible check to British economic
development due to this clogging of the circulatory system, will be of
immense value to the Socialist propaganda as an object lesson in
private ownership. In Italy the thing has already passed its
inevitable climax, and the State is now struggling valiantly to put a
disorganized, ill-equipped and undisciplined network of railways, the
legacy of a period of private enterprise, into tolerable working

§ 6.

In a second great public service there is a perceptible, a growing
recognition of the evil and danger of allowing profit-seeking Private
Ownership to prevail; and that is the general food supply. A great
quickening of the public imagination in this matter has occurred
through the "boom" of Mr. Upton Sinclair's book, _The Jungle_--a book
every student of the elements of Socialism should read. He accumulated
a considerable mass of facts about the Chicago stockyards, and
incorporated them with his story, and so enabled people to realize
what they might with a little imaginative effort have inferred before;
that the slaughtering of cattle and the preparation of meat, when it
is done wholly and solely for profit, that is to say when it is done
as rapidly and cheaply as possible, is done _horribly_; that it is a
business cruel to the beasts, cruel to the workers and dangerous to
the public health. The United States has long recognized the
inadequacy of private consciences in this concern, and while all the
vast profits of the business go to the meat packers, the community has
maintained an insufficient supply of underpaid and, it is said in some
cases, bribable inspectors to look after the public welfare.

In this country also, slaughtering is a private enterprise but
slightly checked by inspection, and if we have no Chicago, we probably
have all its mean savings, its dirt and carelessness and filth,
scattered here and there all over the country, a little in this
privately owned slaughter-house, a little in that. For what inducement
has a butcher to spend money and time in making his slaughter-house
decent, sanitary and humane above the standard of his fellows? To do
that will only make him poor and insolvent. Anyhow, few of his
customers will come to see their meat butchered, and, as they say in
the South of England, "What the eye don't see the heart don't grieve."

Many witnesses concur in declaring that our common jam, pickle and
preserve trade is carried on under equally filthy conditions. If it is
not, it is a miracle, in view of the inducements the Private Owner has
to cut his expenses, economize on premises and wages, and buy his
fruit as near decay and his sugar as near dirt as he can. The scandal
of our milk supply is an open one; it is more and more evident that so
long as Private Ownership rules the milk trade, we can never be sure
that at every point in the course of the milk from cow to consumer
there will not creep in harmful and dishonest profit-making elements.
The milking is too often done dirtily from dirty cows and into dirty
vessels--why should a business man fool away his profits in paying for
scrupulous cleanliness when it is almost impossible to tell at sight
whether milk is clean or dirty?--and there come more or less harmful
dilutions and adulterations and exposures to infection at every
handling, at every chance at profit making. The unavoidable
inefficiency of the private milk trade reflects itself in infant
mortality--we pay our national tribute to private enterprise in milk,
a tribute of many thousands of babies every year. We try to reduce
this tribute by inspection. But why should the State pay money for
inspection, upon keeping highly-trained and competent persons merely
to pry and persecute in order that private incompetent people should
reap profits with something short of a maximum of child murder? It
would be much simpler to set to work directly, employ and train these
private persons, and run the dairies and milk distribution ourselves.

There is an equally strong case for a public handling of bakehouses
and the bread supply. Already the public is put to great and entirely
unremunerative expense in inspecting and checking weights and hunting
down the grosser instances of adulteration, grubbiness and dirt, and
with it all the common bakehouse remains for the most part a
subterranean haunt of rats, mice and cockroaches, and the ordinary
baker's bread is so insipid and unnutritious that a great number of
more prosperous people now-a-days find it advantageous to health and
pocket alike to bake at home. A considerable amount of physical
degeneration may be connected with the general poorness of our bread.
The plain fact of the case is that our population will never get good
wholesome bread from the Private Owner's bakehouse, until it employs
one skilled official to watch every half-dozen bakers--and another to
watch him; and it seems altogether saner and cheaper to abolish the
Private Owner in this business also and do the job cleanly, honestly
and straightforwardly in proper buildings with properly paid labour as
a public concern.

Now, what has been said of the food supply is still truer of the trade
in fuel. Between the consumer and the collier is a string of private
persons each resolved to squeeze every penny of profit out of the coal
on its way to the cheap and wasteful grate one finds in the
jerry-built homes of the poor. In addition there is every winter now,
whether in Great Britain or America, a manipulation of the coal market
and a more or less severe coal famine. Coal is jerked up to
unprecedented prices, and the small consumer, who has no place for
storage, who must buy, if not from day to day, from week to week,
finds he must draw upon his food fund and his savings to meet the
Private Owner's raised demands--or freeze. Every such coal famine
reaps its harvest for death of old people and young children, and
wipes out so many thousands of savings' bank accounts and hoarded
shillings. Consider the essential imbecility of allowing the nation's
life and the nation's thrift to be preyed upon for profit in this way!
Is it possible to doubt that the civilized community of the future
will have to resume possession of all its stores of fuel, will keep
itself informed of the fluctuating needs of its population, and will
distribute and sell coal, gas and oil--not for the maximum profit, but
the maximum general welfare?[6]

    [6] In Dakota, 1906-7, private enterprise led to a
        particularly severe coal famine in the bitterest weather,
        and the shortage was felt so severely that the population
        rose and attacked and stopped passing coal-trains.

Another great branch of trade in which Private Ownership and private
freedom is manifestly antagonistic to the public welfare is the Drink
Traffic. Here we have a commodity, essentially a drug, its use readily
developing a vice, deleterious at its best, complex in composition,
and particularly susceptible to adulteration and the enhancement of
its attraction by poisonous ingredients and indeed to every sort of
mischievous secret manipulation. Probably nothing is more rarely found
pure and honest than beer or whisky; whisky begins to be blended and
doctored before it leaves the distillery. And we allow the production
and distribution of this drug of alcoholic drink to be from first to
last a source of private profit. We so contrive it that we put money
prizes upon the propaganda of drink. Is it any wonder that drink is
not only made by adulteration far more evil than it naturally is, but
that it is forced upon the public in every possible way?

"He tempts them to drink," I have heard a clergyman say of his village
publican. But what else did he think the publican was there for?--to
preach total abstinence? Naturally, inevitably, the whole of the Trade
is a propaganda--not of drunkenness, but of habitual heavy drinking.
The more successful propagandists, the great brewers and distillers
grow rich just in the proportion that people consume beer and spirits;
they gain honour and peerages in the measure of their success.

It is very interesting to the Socialist to trace the long struggle of
the temperance movement against its initial ideas of freedom, and to
see how inevitably the most reluctant and unlikely people have been
forced to recognize Private Ownership in this trade and for profit as
the ultimate evil. I am delighted to have to hand an excellent little
tract by "A Ratepayer": _National Efficiency and the Drink Traffic_.
It has a preface by Mr. Haldane, and it is as satisfactory a
demonstration of the absolute necessity of thoroughgoing Socialism in
this particular field as any Socialist could wish. One encounters the
Bishop of Chester, for example, in its pages talking the purest
Socialism, and making the most luminous admissions of the
impossibility of continued private control, in phrases that need but a
few verbal changes to apply equally to milk, to meat, to bread, to
housing, to book-selling[7]....

    [7] For a clear and admirable account of the Socialist
        attitude to the temperance question, see the tract on
        _Municipal Drink Traffic_ published by the Fabian Society;
        price one penny.

§ 7.

Land and housing, railways, food, drink, coal, in each of these great
general interests there is a separate strong case for the substitution
of collective control for the Private Ownership methods of the present
time. There is a great and growing number of people like "A Ratepayer"
and Mr. Haldane, who do not call themselves Socialists but who are yet
strongly tinged with Socialist conceptions; who are convinced--some in
the case of the land, some in the case of the drink trade or the milk,
that Private Ownership and working for profit must cease. But they
will not admit a general principle, they argue each case on its

The Socialist maintains that, albeit the details of each problem must
be studied apart, there does underlie all these cases and the whole
economic situation at the present time, one general fact, that through
our whole social system from top to base we find things under the
influence of a misleading idea that must be changed, and which, until
it is changed, will continue to work out in waste, unserviceableness,
cramped lives and suffering and death. Each man is for himself, that
is this misleading idea, seeking, perforce, ends discordant with the
general welfare; who serves the community without exacting pay, goes
under; who exacts pay without service prospers and continues; success
is not to do well, it is to have and to get; failure is not to do ill,
it is to lose and not have; and under these conditions how can we
expect anything but dislocated, unsatisfying service at every turn?

The contemporary anti-Socialist moralist and the social satirist would
appeal to the Owner's sense of duty; he would declare in a
platitudinous tone that property had its duties as well as its rights,
and so forth. The Socialist, however, looks a little deeper, and puts
the thing differently. He brings both rights and duties to a keener
scrutiny. What underlies all these social disorders, he alleges, is
one simple thing, a misconception of property; an unreasonable
exaggeration, an accumulated, inherited exaggeration, of the idea of
property. He says the idea of private property, which is just and
reasonable in relation to intimate personal things, to clothes,
appliances, books, one's home or apartments, the garden one loves or
the horse one rides, has become unreasonably exaggerated until it
obsesses the world; that the freedom we have given men to claim and
own and hold the land upon which we must live, the fuel we burn, the
supplies of food and metal we require, the railways and ships upon
which our business goes, and to fix what prices they like to exact for
all these services, leads to the impoverishment and practical
enslavement of the mass of mankind.

And so he comes to his second main generalization, which I may perhaps
set out in these words:--

_The idea of the private ownership of things and the rights of owners
is enormously and mischievously exaggerated in the contemporary world.
The conception of private property has been extended to land, to
material, to the values and resources accumulated by past generations,
to a vast variety of things that are properly the inheritance of the
whole race. As a result of this, there is much obstruction and waste
of human energy and a huge loss of opportunity and freedom for the
mass of mankind; progress is retarded, there is a vast amount of
avoidable wretchedness, cruelty and injustice._

_The Socialist holds that the community as a whole should be
inalienably the owner and administrator of the land, of raw materials,
of values and resources accumulated from the past, and that private
property must be of a terminable nature, reverting to the community,
and subject to the general welfare._

This is the second of the twin generalizations upon which the edifice
of modern Socialism rests. Like the first, and like the practical side
of all sound religious teaching, it is a specific application of one
general rule of conduct, and that is the subordination of the
individual motive to the happiness and welfare of the species.

§ 8.

But now the reader unaccustomed to Socialist discussion will begin to
see the crude form of the answer to the question raised by the
previous chapter; he will see the resources from which the enlargement
of human life we there contemplated is to be derived, and realize the
economic methods to be pursued. Collective ownership is the necessary
corollary of collective responsibility. There are to be no private
land owners, no private bankers and lenders of money, no private
insurance adventurers, no private railway owners nor shipping owners,
no private mine owners, oil kings, silver kings, coal and wheat
forestallers or the like. All this realm of property is to be resumed
by the State, is to be State-owned and State-managed, and the vast
revenues that are now devoted to private ends will go steadily to
feed, maintain and educate a new and better generation, to promote
research and advance science, to build new houses, develop fresh
resources, plant, plan, beautify and reconstruct the world.



§ 1.

We have stated now how the constructive plan of Socialism aims to
replace the accepted ideas about two almost fundamental human
relations by broader and less fiercely egotistical conceptions; how it
denies a man "property" rights over his wife and children, leaving,
however, all his other relations with them intact, how it would insure
and protect their welfare, and how it asserts that a vast range of
inanimate things also which are now held as private property must be
regarded as the inalienable possession of the whole community. This
change in the circle of ideas (as the Herbartians put it) is the
essence of the Socialist project.

It means no little change. It means a general change in the spirit of
living; it means a change from the spirit of gain (which now
necessarily rules our lives) to the spirit of service.

I have tried to show in the preceding chapter that Socialism seeks to
make life less squalid and cruel, less degrading and dwarfing for the
children that are born into it, and I have tried also to make clear
that realization of, and revolt against, the bad management and waste
and muddle which result from our present economic system. I want now
to point out that Socialism seeks to ennoble the intimate personal
life, by checking and discouraging passions that at present run
rampant, and by giving wider scope for passions that are now thwarted
and subdued. The Socialist declares that life is now needlessly
dishonest, base and mean, because our present social organization,
such as it is, makes an altogether too powerful appeal to some of the
very meanest elements in our nature.

Not perhaps to the lowest. There can be no disputing that our present
civilization does discourage much of the innate bestiality of man;
that it helps people to a measure of continence, cleanliness and
mutual toleration; that it does much to suppress brute violence, the
spirit of lawlessness, cruelty and wanton destruction. But on the
other hand it does also check and cripple generosity and frank
truthfulness, any disinterested creative passion, the love of beauty,
the passion for truth and research, and it stimulates avarice,
parsimony, overreaching, usury, falsehood and secrecy, by making
money-getting its criterion of intercourse.

Whether we like it or not, we who live in this world to-day find we
must either devote a considerable amount of our attention to getting
and keeping money, and shape our activities--or, if you will, distort
them--with a constant reference to that process, or we must accept
futility. Whatever powers men want to exercise, whatever service they
wish to do, it is a preliminary condition for most of them that they
must, by earning something or selling something, achieve opportunity.
If they cannot turn their gift into some saleable thing or get some
propertied man to "patronize" them, they cannot exercise these gifts.
The gift for getting is the supreme gift--all others bow before it.

Now this is not a thing that comes naturally out of the quality of
man; it is the result of a blind and complex social growth, of this
set of ideas working against that, and of these influences modifying
those. The idea of property has run wild and become a choking
universal weed. It is not the natural master-passion of a wholesome
man to want constantly to own. People talk of Socialism as being a
proposal "against human nature," and they would have us believe that
this life of anxiety, of parsimony and speculation, of mercenary
considerations and forced toil we all lead, is the complete and final
expression of the social possibilities of the human soul. But, indeed,
it is only quite abnormal people, people of a narrow, limited,
specialized intelligence, Rockefellers, Morgans and the like, people
neither great nor beautiful, mere financial monomaniacs, who can keep
themselves devoted to and concentrated upon gain. To the majority of
capable good human stuff, buying and selling, saving and investing,
insuring oneself and managing property, is a mass of uncongenial,
irrational and tiresome procedure, conflicting with the general trend
of instinct and the finer interests of life. The great mass of men and
women, indeed, find the whole process so against nature, that in spite
of all the miseries of poverty, all the slavery of the economic
disadvantage, they cannot urge themselves to this irksome cunning game
of besting the world, they remain poor. Most, in a sort of despair,
make no effort; many resort to that floundering endeavour to get by
accident, gambling; many achieve a precarious and unsatisfactory
gathering of possessions, a few houses, a claim on a field, a few
hundred pounds in some investment as incalculable as a kite in a gale;
just a small minority have and get--for the most part either
inheritors of riches or energetic people who, through a real dulness
toward the better and nobler aspects of life, can give themselves
almost entirely to grabbing and accumulation. To such as these, all
common men who are not Socialists do in effect conspire to give the

The Anti-Socialist argues that out of this evil of encouraged and
stimulated avarice comes good, and that this peculiar meanly greedy
type that predominates in the individualist world to-day, the
Rockefeller-Harriman type, "creates" great businesses, exploits the
possibilities of nature, gives mankind railways, power, commodities.
As a matter of fact, a modern intelligent community is quite capable
of doing all these things infinitely better for itself, and the
beneficent influence of commerce may easily become, and does easily
become, the basis of a cant. Exploitation by private persons is no
doubt a necessary condition to economic development in an illiterate
community of low intelligence, just as flint implements marked a
necessary phase in the social development of mankind; but to-day the
avaricious getter, like some obsolescent organ in the body, consumes
strength and threatens health. And to-day he is far more mischievous
than ever he was before, because of the weakened hold of the old
religious organization upon his imagination. For the most part the
great fortunes of the modern world have been built up by proceedings
either not socially beneficial, or in some cases positively harmful.
Consider some of the commoner methods of growing rich. There is first
the selling of rubbish for money, exemplified by the great patent
medicine fortunes and the fortunes achieved by the debasement of
journalism, the sale of prize-competition magazines and the like; next
there is forestalling, the making of "corners" in such commodities as
corn, nitrates, borax and the like; then there is the capture of what
Americans call "franchises," securing at low terms by expedients that
usually will not bear examination, the right to run some profitable
public service for private profit which would be better done in public
hands--the various private enterprises for urban traffic, for example;
then there are the various more or less complex financial operations,
watering stock, "reconstructing," "shaking out" the ordinary
shareholder, which transfer the savings of the common struggling
person to the financial magnate. All the activities in this list are
more or less anti-social, yet it is by practising them that the great
successes of recent years have been achieved. Fortunes of a second
rank have no doubt been made by building up manufactures and
industries of various types by persons who have known how to buy
labour cheap, organize it well and sell its produce dear, but even in
these cases the social advantage of the new product is often largely
discounted by the labour conditions. It is impossible, indeed,
directly one faces current facts, to keep up the argument of the
public good achieved by men under the incentive of gain and the
necessity of that incentive to progress and economic development.

Now not only is it true that the subordination of our affairs to this
spirit of gain placed our world in the hands of a peculiar,
acquisitive, uncreative, wary type of person, and that the mass of
people hate serving the spirit of gain and are forced to do so through
the obsession of the whole community by this idea of Private
Ownership, but it is also true that even now the real driving force
that gets the world along is not that spirit at all, but the spirit of
service. Even to-day it would be impossible for the world to get along
if the mass of its population was really specialized for gain. A world
of Rockefellers, Morgans and Rothschilds would perish miserably after
a vigorous campaign of mutual skinning; it is only because the common
run of men is better than these profit-hunters that any real and human
things are achieved.

Let us go into this aspect of the question a little more fully,
because it is one that appears to be least clearly grasped by those
who discuss Socialism to-day.

§ 2.

This fact must be insisted upon, that most of the work of the world
and all the good work is done to-day for some other motive than gain;
that profit-seeking not only is not the moving power of the world but
that it cannot be, that it runs counter to the doing of effectual work
in every department of life.

It is hard to know how to set about proving a fact that is to the
writer's perception so universally obvious. One can only appeal to the
intelligent reader to use his own personal observation upon the people
about him. Everywhere he will see the property-owner doing nothing,
the profit-seeker busy with unproductive efforts, with the writing of
advertisements, the misrepresentation of goods, the concoction of a
plausible prospectus and the extraction of profits from the toil of
others, while the real necessary work of the world--I don't mean the
labour and toil only, but the intelligent direction, the real planning
and designing and inquiry, the management and the evolution of ideas
and methods, is in the enormous majority of cases done by salaried
individuals working either for a fixed wage and the hope of increments
having no proportional relation to the work done, or for a wage
varying within definite limits. All the engineering design, all
architecture, all our public services,--the exquisite work of our
museum control, for example,--all the big wholesale and retail
businesses, almost all big industrial concerns, mines, estates, all
these things are really in the hands of salaried or quasi-salaried
persons _now_--just as they would be under Socialism. They are only
possible now because all these managers, officials, employees are as a
class unreasonably honest and loyal, are interested in their work and
anxious to do it well, and do not seek _profits_ in every transaction
they handle. Give them even a small measure of security and they are
content with interesting work; they are glad to set aside the urgent
perpetual search for personal gain that Individualists have persuaded
themselves is the ruling motive of mankind, they are glad to set these
aside altogether and, as the phrase goes, "get something done." And
this is true all up and down the social scale. A bricklayer is no good
unless he can be interested in laying bricks. One knows whenever a
domestic servant becomes mercenary, when she ceases to take, as people
say, "a pride in her work," and thinks only of "tips" and getting, she
becomes impossible. Does a signalman every time he pulls over a lever,
or a groom galloping a horse, think of his wages,--or want to?

I will confess I find it hard to write with any patience and civility
of this argument that humanity will not work except for greed or need
of money and only in proportion to the getting. It is so patently
absurd. I suppose the reasonable Anti-Socialist will hardly maintain
it seriously with that crudity. He will qualify. He will say that
although it may be true that good work is always done for the interest
of the doing or in the spirit of service, yet in order to get and keep
people at work, and to keep the standard high through periods of
indolence and distraction, there must be the dread of dismissal and
the stimulating eye of the owner. That certainly puts the case a good
deal less basely and much more plausibly.

There is, perhaps, this much truth in that, that most people do need a
certain stimulus to exertion and a certain standard of achievement to
do their best, but to say that this is provided by private ownership
and can only be provided by private ownership is an altogether
different thing. Is the British Telephone Service, for example, kept
as efficient as it is--which isn't very much, by the bye, in the way
of efficiency--by the protests of the shareholders or of the
subscribers? Does the grocer's errand-boy loiter any less than his
brother who carries the Post Office telegrams? In the matter of the
public milk supply, again, would not an intelligently critical public
anxious for its milk good and early be a far more formidable master
than a speculative proprietor in the back room of a creamery? And when
one comes to large business organizations managed by officials and
owned by dispersed shareholders, the contrast is all to the advantage
of the community.

No! the only proper virtues in work, the virtues that must be relied
upon, and developed and rewarded in the civilized State we Socialists
are seeking to bring about, are the spirit of service and the passion
for doing well, the honourable competition not to get but to _do_. By
sweating and debasing urgency, we get meagrely done what we might get
handsomely done by the Good Will of emancipated mankind. For all who
really make, who really do, the imperative of gain is the
inconvenience, the enemy. Every artist, every scientific investigator,
every organizer, every good workman, knows that. Every good architect
knows that this is so and can tell of time after time when he has
sacrificed manifest profit and taken a loss to get a thing done as he
wanted it done, right and well; every good doctor, too, has turned
from profit and high fees to the moving and interesting case, to the
demands of knowledge and the public health; every teacher worth his or
her salt can witness to the perpetual struggle between business
advantage and right teaching; every writer has faced the alternative
of his æsthetic duty and the search for beauty on one hand and the
"saleable" on the other. All this is as true of ordinary making as of
special creative work. Every plumber capable of his business hates to
have to paint his leadwork; every carpenter knows the disgust of
turning out unfinished "cheap" work, however well it pays him; every
tolerable cook can feel shame for an unsatisfying dish, and none the
less shame because by making it materials are saved and economies

And yet, with all these facts clear as day before any observant
person, _we are content to live on in an economic system that raises
every man who subordinates these wholesome prides and desires to
watchful, incessant getting, over the heads of every other type of
character_; that in effect gives all the power and influence in our
State to successful getters; that subordinates art, direction, wisdom
and labour to these inferior narrow men, these men who clutch and

Our social system, based on Private Ownership, encourages and
glorifies this spirit of gain, and cripples and thwarts the spirit of
service. You need but have your eyes once opened to its influence, and
thereafter you will never cease to see how the needs and imperatives
of property taint the honour and dignity of human life. Just where
life should flower most freely into splendour, this chill, malign
obsession most nips and cripples. The law that makes getting and
keeping an imperative necessity poisons and destroys the freedom of
men and women in love, in art and in every concern in which spiritual
or physical beauty should be the inspiring and determining factor.
Behind all the handsome professions of romantic natures the gaunt
facts of monetary necessity remain the rulers of life. Every youth who
must sell his art and capacity for gain, every girl who must sell
herself for money, is one more sacrifice to the Minotaur of Private
Ownership--before the Theseus of Socialism comes.

Opponents of Socialism, ignoring all these things and inventing with
that profusion which is so remarkable a trait of the anti-Socialist
campaign, are wont to declare that we, whose first and last thought is
the honour and betterment of life, seek to destroy all beauty and
freedom in love, accuse us of aiming at some "human stud farm." The
reader will measure the justice of that by the next chapter, but here
I would say that just as the private ownership of all that is
necessary to humanity, except the air and sunlight and a few things
that it has been difficult to appropriate, debases work and all the
common services of life, so also it taints and thwarts the emotions,
and degrades the intimate physical and emotional existence of an
innumerable multitude of people.

All this amounts to a huge impoverishment of life, a loss of beauty
and discrimination of rich and subtle values. Human existence to-day
is a mere tantalizing intimation of what it might be. It is
frostbitten and dwarfed from palace to slum. It is not only that a
great mass of our population is deprived of space, beauty and
pleasure, but that a large proportion of such space, beauty and
pleasure as there are in the world must necessarily have a
meretricious taint and be in the nature of things bought and made for

§ 3.

If there is one profession more than another in which devotion is
implied and assumed, it is that of the doctor. It happens that on the
morning when this chapter was drafted, I came upon the paragraph that
follows; it seemed to me to supply just one striking concrete instance
of how life is degraded by our present system, and to offer me a
convenient text for a word or so more upon this question between gain
and service. It is a little vague in its reference to Mr. Tompkins "of
Birmingham," and I should not be surprised if it were a considerable
exaggeration of what really happened. But it is true enough to life in
this, that it is a common practice, a necessity with doctors in poor
neighbourhoods to insist inexorably upon a fee before attendance.

    "A case of medical inhumanity is reported from Birmingham. A
    poor man named Tompkins was taken seriously ill early on
    Christmas morning, and although snow was falling and the
    atmosphere was terribly raw, his wife left the house in search
    of a doctor. The nearest practitioner declined to leave the
    house without being paid his fee; a second imposed the same
    condition, and the woman then went to the police station. As
    the horse ambulance was out, they could not help her, and she
    tried other doctors. In all the poor woman called on eight,
    and the only one who did not decline to get up without his fee
    was down with influenza. Eventually a local chemist was
    persuaded to see the man, and he ordered his removal to the

That is the story. You note the charge of "inhumanity" in the very
first line, and in much subsequent press comment there was the same
note. Apparently every one expects a doctor to be ready at any point
in the day or night to attend anybody for nothing. Most Socialists are
disposed to agree with the spirit of that expectation. A practising
doctor should be in lifelong perpetual war against pain and disease,
just as a campaigning soldier is continually alert and serving. But
existing conditions will not permit that. Existing conditions require
the doctor to get his fee at any cost; if he goes about doing work for
nothing, they punish him with shabbiness and incapacitating need, they
forbid his marriage or doom his wife and children to poverty and
unhappiness. A doctor _must_ make money whatever else he does or does
not do; he _must_ secure his fees. He is a private adventurer,
competing in a crowded market for gain, and keeping his energies
perforce for those who can pay best for them. To expect him to behave
like a public servant whose income and outlook are secure, or like a
priest whose church will never let him want or starve, is ridiculous.
If you put him on a footing with the greengrocer and coal merchant,
you must expect him to behave like a tradesman. Why should the press
blame the poor doctor of a poor neighbourhood because a moneyless man
goes short of medical attendance, when it does not for one moment
blame Mr. J. D. Rockefeller because a poor man goes short of oil, or
the Duke of Devonshire because tramps need lodgings in Eastbourne? One
never reads this sort of paragraph:--

    "A case of commercial inhumanity is reported from Birmingham.
    A poor man named Tompkins was seriously hungry early on
    Christmas morning, and although snow was falling and the
    atmosphere was terribly raw, his wife left the house in search
    of food. The nearest grocer declined to supply provisions
    without being paid his price; a second imposed the same
    condition, and the woman then went to the police station. As
    that is not a soup-kitchen, they could not help her, and she
    tried other grocers and bread-shops. In all the poor woman
    called on eight, and the only one who did not decline to
    supply food without payment was for some reason bankrupt and
    out of stock. Eventually a local overseer was persuaded to see
    the man, and he ordered his removal to the workhouse, where,
    after considerable hardship, he was partly appeased with

I, myself, have known an overworked, financially worried doctor at his
bedroom window call out, "Have you brought the fee?" and have pitied
and understood his ugly alternatives. "Once I began that sort of
thing," he explained to me a little apologetically, "they'd none of
them pay--none."

The Socialist's remedy for this squalid state of affairs is plain and
simple. Medicine is a public service, an honourable devotion; it
should no more be a matter of profit-making than the food-supply
service or the house-supply service--or salvation. It should be a part
of the organization of a civilized State to have a Public Health
service of well-paid, highly-educated men distributed over the country
and closely correlated with public research departments and a reserve
of specialists, who would be as ready and eager to face dangers and to
sacrifice themselves for honour and social necessity as soldiers or
sailors. I believe every honourable man in the medical profession
under forty now would rather it were so. It is, indeed, a transition
from private enterprise to public organization that is already
beginning. We have the first intimation of the change in the
appearance of the medical officer of health, underpaid, overworked and
powerless though he is at the present time. It cannot be long before
the manifest absurdity of our present conditions begins a process of
socialization of the medical profession entirely analogous to that
which has changed three-fourths of the teachers in Great Britain from
private adventurers to public servants in the last forty years.

And that is the aim of Socialism all along the line; to convert one
public service after another from a chaotic profit-scramble of
proprietors amidst a mass of sweated employees into a secure and
disciplined service, in which every man will work for honour,
promotion, achievement and the commonweal.

I write a "secure and disciplined service," and I intend by that not
simply an exterior but an interior discipline. Let us have done with
this unnatural theory that men may submit unreservedly to the guidance
of "self-interest." Self-interest never took a man or a community to
any other end than damnation. For all services there is necessary a
code of honour and devotion which a man must set up for himself and
obey, to which he must subordinate a number of his impulses. The must
is seconded by an internal imperative. Men and women _want_ to have a
code of honour. In the army, for example, there is among the officers
particularly, a tradition of courage, cleanliness and good form, more
imperative than any law; in the little band of men who have given the
world all that we mean by science, the little host of volunteers and
underpaid workers who have achieved the triumphs of research, there is
a tradition of self-abnegation and of an immense, painstaking,
self-forgetful veracity. These traditions work. They add something to
the worth of every man who comes under them.

Every writer, again, knows clearly the difference between gain-seeking
and doing good work, and few there are who have not at times done
something, as they say, "to please themselves." Then in the studio,
for all the non-moral protests of Bohemia, there is a tradition, an
admirable tradition, of disregard for mercenary imperatives, a scorn
of shams and plagiarism that triumphs again and again over economic
laws. The public services of the coming civilization will demand, and
will develop, a far completer discipline and tradition of honour.
Against the development and persistence of all such honourable codes
now, against every attempt at personal nobility, at a new chivalry, at
sincere artistry, our present individualist system wages pitiless
warfare, says in effect, "Fools you are! Look at Rockefeller! Look at
Pierpont Morgan! Get money! All your sacrifices only go to their
enrichment. You cannot serve humanity however much you seek to do so.
They block your way, enormously receptive of all you give. All the
increment of human achievement goes to them--they own it _a
priori_.... Get money! Money is freedom to do, to keep, to rule. Do
you care nothing for your wives and children? Are you content to breed
servants and dependants for the children of these men? Make things
beautiful, make things abundant, make life glorious! Fools! if you
work and sacrifice yourselves and do not _get_, they will possess.
Your sons shall be the loan-monger's employees, your daughters
handmaidens to the millionaire. Or, if you cannot face that, go
childless, and let your life-work gild the palace of the millionaire's
still more acquisitive descendants!"

Who can ignore the base scramble for money under these alternatives?

§ 4.

Let me here insert a very brief paragraph to point out one particular
thing, and that is that Socialism does not propose to "abolish
competition"--as many hasty and foolish antagonists declare. If the
reader has gone through what has preceded this he will know that this
is not so. Socialism trusts to competition, looks to competition for
the service and improvement of the world. And in order that
competition between man and man may have free play, Socialism seeks to
abolish one particular form of competition, the competition to get and
hold property--even to marry property, that degrades our present
world. But it would leave men free to compete for fame, for service,
for salaries, for position and authority, for leisure, for love and

§ 5.

And now let me take up certain difficulties the student of Socialism
encounters. He comes thus far perhaps with the Socialist argument, and
then his imagination gets to work trying to picture a world in which a
moiety of the population, perhaps even the larger moiety, is employed
by the State, and in which the whole population is educated by the
State and insured of a decent and comfortable care and subsistence
during youth and old age. He then begins to think of how all this vast
organization is to be managed, and with that his real difficulties

Now I for one am prepared to take these difficulties very seriously,
as the latter part of this book will show. I will even go so far as to
say that, to my mind, the contemporary Socialist controversialist
meets all this system of objections far too cavalierly. These
difficulties are real difficulties for the convinced Socialist as for
the inquirer; they open up problems that have still to be solved
before the equipment of Socialism is complete. "How will you
Socialists get the right men in the right place for the work that has
to be done? How will you arrange promotion? How will you determine" (I
put the argument in its crudest form) "who is to engage in historical
research in the Bodleian, and who is to go out seaward in November and
catch mackerel?" Such "posers"--they have a thousand variants--convey
the spirit of the living resistance to Socialism; they explain why
every rational man is not an enraptured Socialist at the present time.

Throughout the rest of this book I hope that the reader will be able
to see growing together in this aspect and then in that, in this and
that suggestion, the complex solution of this complex system of
difficulties. My object in raising them now is not to dispose of them,
but to give them the fullest recognition--and to ask the student to
read on. In all these matters the world is imperfect now, and it will
still be imperfect under Socialism--though, I firmly believe, with an
infinitely lesser and altogether nobler imperfection.

But I do want to point out here that though these are reasonable and,
to all undogmatic men, most helpful criticisms of the Socialist
design, they are no sort of justification for things as they are. All
the difficulties that the ordinary exposition of Socialism seems to
leave unsolved are at least equally not solved now. Only rarely does
the right man seem to struggle to his place of adequate opportunity.
Men and women get their chance in various ways; some of implacable
temper and versatile gifts thrust themselves to the position they need
for the exercise of their powers; others display an astonishing
facility in securing honours and occasions they can then only waste;
others, outside their specific gift, are the creatures of luck or the
victims of modesty, tactlessness or incapacity. Most of the large
businesses of the world now are in the hands of private proprietors
and managed either directly by an owner or by directors or managers
acting for directors. The quality of promotion or the recognition of
capacity varies very much in these great concerns, but they are on the
whole probably inferior to the public services. Even where the
administration is keenest it must be remembered it is not seeking the
men who work the machine best, but the men who can work it cheapest
and with the maximum of profit. It is pure romancing to represent the
ordinary business magnate as being in perpetual search for capacity
among the members of his staff. He wants them to get along and not
make trouble.

Among the smaller businesses that still, I suppose, constitute the
bulk of the world's economic body, capacity is enormously hampered. I
was once an apprentice in a chemist's shop, and also once in a
draper's--two of my brothers have been shop assistants, and so I am
still able to talk understandingly with clerks and employees, and I
know that in all that world all sorts of minor considerations obstruct
the very beginnings of efficient selection. Every shop is riddled with
jealousies, "sucking up to the gov'nor" is the universal crime, and
among the women in many callings promotion is too often tainted by
still baser suspicions. No doubt in a badly criticized public service
there is such a thing as "sucking up to" the head of the department,
but at its worst it is not nearly so bad as things may be in a small
private concern under a petty autocrat.

In America it is said that the public services are inferior in
personal quality to the staffs of the great private business
organizations. My own impression is that, considering the salaries
paid, they are, so far as Federal concerns go, immeasurably superior.
In State and municipal affairs, American conditions offer no
satisfactory criterion; the Americans are, for reasons I have
discussed elsewhere,[8] a "State-blind" people concentrated upon
private getting; they have been negligent of public concerns, and the
public appointments have been left to the peculiarly ruffianly type of
politician their unfortunate Constitution and their individualist
traditions have evolved. In England, too, public servants are
systematically undersalaried, so that the big businesses have merely
to pay reasonably well to secure the pick of the national capacity.
Moreover, it must be remembered by the reader that the public services
do not advertise, and that the private businesses do; so that while
there is the fullest ventilation of any defects in our military or
naval organization, there is a very considerable check upon the
discussion of individualist incapacity. An editor will rush into print
with the flimsiest imputations upon the breech of a new field-gun or
the housing of the militia at Aldershot, but he thinks twice before he
proclaims that the preserved fruits that pay his proprietor a tribute
of some hundreds a year are an unwholesome embalmment of decay. On the
whole it is probable that in spite of scandalously bad pay and of the
embarrassment of party considerations, the British Navy, Post Office,
and Civil Service generally, and the educational work and much of the
transit and building work of the London County Council and of many of
the greater English and Scotch municipalities, are as well managed as
any private businesses in the world.

    [8] _The Future in America_, Ch. IX. (Chapman & Hall, 1906.)

On the other hand, one must admit there are political and social
conditions that can carry the quality of the State service almost as
low as the lowest type of private enterprise. It is little marvel that
under the typical eighteenth century monarchy, when the way to ship,
regiment and the apostolic succession alike lay through the
ante-chamber of the king's mistress, there was begotten that absolute
repudiation of State Control to which Herbert Spencer was destined at
last to give the complete expression, that irrational, passionate
belief that whatever else is right the State is necessarily
incompetent and wrong....

The gist of this matter seems to be that where you have honourable
political institutions, free speech and a general high level of
intelligence and education, you will have an efficient criticism of
men and their work and powers, and you will get a wholesome system of
public promotion and many right men in the right place. The higher the
collective intelligence, that is to say, the higher is the collective
possibility. Under Socialist institutions which will give education
and a sense of personal security to every one, this necessity of
criticism is likely to be most freely, frankly and disinterestedly
provided. But it is well to keep in mind the entire dependence of
Socialism upon a high level of intelligence, education and freedom.
Socialist institutions, as I understand them, are only possible in a
civilized State, in a State in which the whole population can read,
write, discuss, participate and in a considerable measure understand.
Education must precede the Socialist State. Socialism, modern
Socialism that is to say, such as I am now concerned with, is
essentially an exposition of and training in certain general ideas; it
is impossible in an illiterate community, a basely selfish community,
or in a community without the capacity to use the machinery and the
apparatus of civilization. At the best, and it is a poor best, a
stupid, illiterate population can but mock Socialism with a sort of
bureaucratic tyranny; for a barbaric population too large and various
for the folk-meeting, there is nothing but monarchy and the ownership
of the king; for a savage tribe, tradition and the undocumented will
of the strongest males. Socialism, I will admit, presupposes
intelligence, and demands as fundamental necessities schools,
organized science, literature and a sense of the State.



§ 1.

For reasons that will become clearer when we tell something of the
early history and development of Socialism, the Socialist propositions
with regard to the family lie open to certain grave misconceptions.
People are told--and told quite honestly and believingly--that
Socialism will destroy the home, will substitute a sort of human stud
farm for that warm and intimate nest of human life, will bring up our
children in incubators and crèches and--Institutions generally.

But before we come to what modern Socialists do desire in these
matters, it may be well to consider something of the present reality
of the home people are so concerned about. The reader must not
idealize. He must not shut his eyes to facts, dream, as Lord Hugh
Cecil and Lord Robert Cecil--those admirable champions of a bad
cause--probably do, of a beautiful world of homes, orderly, virtuous,
each a little human fastness, each with its porch and creeper, each
with its books and harmonium, its hymn-singing on Sunday night, its
dear mother who makes such wonderful cakes, its strong and happy
father--and then say, "These wicked Socialists want to destroy all
this." Because, in the first place, such homes are being destroyed and
made impossible now by the very causes against which Socialism fights,
and because in this world at the present time very few homes are at
all like this ideal. In reality every poor home is haunted by the
spectre of irregular employment and undermined by untrustworthy
insurance, it must shelter in insanitary dwellings and its children
eat adulterated food because none other can be got. And that, I am
sorry to say, it is only too easy to prove, by a second appeal to a
document of which I have already made use.

One hears at times still of the austere, virtuous, kindly, poor Scotch
home, one has a vision of the "Cottar's Saturday night." "Perish all
other dreams," one cries, "rather than that such goodness and
simplicity should end." But now let us look at the average poor Scotch
home, and compare it with our dream.

Here is the reality.

These entries come from the recently published Edinburgh Charity
Organization Society's report upon the homes of about fourteen hundred
school-children, that is to say, about eight hundred Scotch homes.
Remember they are _sample homes_. They are, as I have already
suggested by quoting authorities for London and York--and as any
district visitor will recognize--little worse and little better than
the bulk of poor people's homes in Scotland and England at the present
time. I am just going to copy down--not a selection, mind--but a
series of consecutive entries taken haphazard from this implacable
list. My last quotation was from cases 1, 2, 3 and so on; I've now
thrust my fingers among the pages and come upon numbers 191 and 192,
etc. Here they are, one after the other, just as they come in the

    "191. A widow and child lodging with a married son. Three
    grown-up people and three children occupy one room and
    bed-closet. The widow leads a wandering life, and is
    intemperate. The house is thoroughly bad and insanitary. The
    child is pallid and delicate looking, and receives little
    attention, for the mother is usually out working. He plays in
    the streets. Five children are dead. Boy has glands and is
    fleabitten. Evidence from Police, School Officer and Employer.

    "192. A miserable home. Father dead. Mother and eldest son
    careless and indifferent. Of the five children, the two eldest
    are grown up. The elder girl is working, and she is of a
    better type and might do well under better circumstances; she
    looks overworked. The mother is supposed to char; she gets
    parish relief, and one child earns out of school hours. Four
    children are dead. The children at school are dirty and
    ragged. The mother could get work if she did not drink. The
    children at school get free dinners and clothing, and the
    family is favourably reported on by the Church. The second
    child impetigo; neck glands; body dirty. The third, glands;
    dirty and fleabitten. Housing: six in two small rooms.
    Evidence from Parish Sister, Parish Council, School Charity,
    Police, Teacher, Children's Employment and School Officer.

    "193. A widow, apparently respectable and well-doing, but may
    drink. She must in any case have a struggle to maintain her
    family, though she has much help from Parish, Church, etc. She
    works out. The children at school are fed, and altogether a
    large amount of charity must be received, as two Churches have
    interested themselves in the matter. Three children dead.
    Housing: three in two tiny rooms. Evidence from Church, Parish
    Council, School Charity, Police, Parish Sister, Teacher,
    Insurance and Factor.

    "194. The father drinks, and, to a certain extent, the mother;
    but the home is tidy and clean, and the rent is regularly
    paid. Indeed, there is no sign of poverty. There is a daughter
    who has got into trouble. Only two children out of nine are
    alive. The father comes from the country and seems intelligent
    enough, but he appears to have degenerated. They go to a
    mission, it is believed for what they can get from it.
    Housing: four in two rooms. Evidence from Club, Church, Factor
    and Police.

    "195. The husband is intemperate. The mother is quiet, but it
    is feared that she drinks also. She seems to have lost control
    of her little boy of seven. The parents married very young,
    and the first child was born before the marriage. The man's
    work is not regular, and probably things are not improving
    with him. Still, the house is fairly comfortable, and they pay
    club money regularly, and have a good police report. One child
    has died. Housing: five in two rooms. Evidence from Parish
    Sister, Police, Club, Employer, School-mistress and Factor.

    "196. A filthy, dirty house. The most elementary notions of
    cleanliness seem disregarded. The father's earnings are not
    large, and the house is insanitary, but more might be made of
    things if there were sobriety and thrift. There does not,
    however, appear to be _great_ drunkenness, and five small
    children must be difficult to bring up on the money coming in.
    There are two women in the house. The eldest child dirty and
    fleabitten. Housing: seven in two rooms. Evidence from Police,
    Club, Employer, School-mistress and School Officer.

    "197. The parents are thoroughly drunken and dissolute. They
    have sunk almost to the lowest depths of social degradation.
    There is no furniture in the house, and the five children are
    neglected and starved. One boy earns a trifle out of school
    hours. All accounts agree as to the character of the father
    and mother, though they have not been in the hands of the
    police. Second child has rickets, bronchitis, slight glands
    and is bow-legged. Two children have died. Housing: seven in
    two rooms. Evidence from Police, Parish Sister, Employer and

    "198. This house is fairly comfortable, and there is no
    evidence of drink, but the surroundings have a bad and
    depressing effect on the parents. The children are sent to
    school very untidy and dirty, and are certainly underfed. The
    father's wages are very small, and only one boy is working;
    there are six altogether. The mother chars occasionally. Food
    and clothing is given to school-children. The man is in a
    saving club. The eldest child fleabitten; body unwashed. The
    second, glands; fleabitten and dirty; cretinoid; much
    undergrown. Two have died. Housing: seven in two rooms.
    Evidence from School Charity, Factor, Police and

    "199. The house was fairly comfortable and the man appeared to
    be intelligent and the wife hard-working, but the police
    reports are very bad; there are several convictions against
    the former. He has consequently been idle, and the burden of
    the family has rested on the wife. There are six children, two
    of them are working and earning a little, but a large amount
    of charity from school, church and private generosity keeps
    the family going. The children are fearfully verminous. There
    is a suggestion that some baby farming is done, so many are
    about. Eldest child anæmic; glands; head badly crusted; lice
    very bad. Second child, numerous glands; head covered with
    crusts; lice very bad. Four have died. Housing: eight in two
    rooms. Evidence from Police, Teacher, Church, Parish Sister
    and Factor.

    "200. The home is wretched and practically without furniture.
    The parents were married at ages 17 and 18. One child died,
    and their mode of life has been reckless, if not worse. The
    present means of subsistence cannot be ascertained, as the man
    is idle; however, he recently joined the Salvation Army and
    signed the pledge. The child at school is helped with food and
    clothes. The girl very badly bitten; lice and fleas, hair
    nits. Housing: four in one room. Evidence from Church, School
    Charity, Co-operative, Employer, Parish Sister, Police and

Total of children still living, 39.

Total of children dead, 27.

Need I go on? They are all after this fashion, eight hundred of them.

And if you turn from the congested town to the wholesome, simple
country, here is the sort of home you have. This passage is a cutting
from the _Daily News_ of Jan. 1, 1907; and its assertions have never
been contradicted. It fills one with only the mildest enthusiasm for
the return of our degenerate townsmen "back to the land." I came upon
it as I read that morning's paper after drafting this chapter.

    "Our attention has been called to a sordid Herefordshire
    tragedy recently revealed at an inquest on a child aged one
    year and nine months, who died in Weobly Workhouse of
    pneumonia. She entered the institution emaciated to half the
    proper weight of her age and with a broken arm--till then
    undiscovered--that the doctors found to be of about three
    weeks' standing. Her mother was shown to be in an advanced
    stage of consumption; one child had died at the age of seven
    months, and seven now remain. The father, whose work consists
    in tending eighty-nine head of cattle and ten pigs, is in
    receipt of eleven shillings a week, three pints of skim milk a
    day, and a cottage that has been condemned by the sanitary
    inspector and described as having no bedroom windows. We are
    not surprised to learn that the coroner, before taking the
    verdict, asked the house surgeon, who gave evidence, whether
    he could say that death 'was accelerated by anything.' Our
    wonder is that the reply was in the negative. The cottage is
    in the possession of the farmer who employs the man, but his
    landlord is said to be liable for repairs. That landlord is a
    clergyman of the Church of England, a J.P., a preserver of
    game, and owner of three or four thousand acres of land."

And here, again, is the _Times_, by no means a Socialist organ,
generalizing from official statements:--

    "Houses unfit for human habitation, rooms destitute of light
    and ventilation, overcrowding in rural cottages, contaminated
    water supplies, accumulations of every description of filth
    and refuse, a total absence of drainage, a reign of
    unbelievable dirt in milk-shops and slaughter-houses, a total
    neglect of bye-laws, and an inadequate supervision by
    officials who are frequently incompetent; such, in a general
    way, is the picture that is commonly presented in the reports
    of inquiries in certain rural districts made by medical
    officers of the Local Government Board."

And even of such homes as this there is an insufficiency. In 1891-95,
more than a quarter of the deaths in London occurred in workhouses and
other charitable institutions.[9] Now suppose the modern Socialist did
want to destroy the home; suppose that some Socialists have in the
past really wanted to do so, remember that that is the reality they
wanted to destroy.

    [9] _Studies Scientific and Social_, Vol. II., Ch. XXIV.; by
        Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace. (Macmillan & Co., 1900.)

But does the modern Socialist want to destroy the home? Rather, I
hold, he wants to save it from a destruction that is even now going
on, to--I won't say restore it, because I have very grave doubts if
the world has ever yet held a high percentage of good homes, but raise
it to the level of its better realizations of happiness and security.
And it is not only I say this, but all my fellow Socialists say it
too. Read, for example, that admirable paper, "Economic and Social
Justice," in Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace's _Studies Scientific and
Social_, and you will have the clearest statement of the attitude of a
representative modern Socialist to this question.

§ 2.

The reader must get quite out of his head the idea that the present
system maintains the home and social purity.

In London at the present time there are thousands of prostitutes; in
Paris, in Berlin, in every great city of Europe or America, thousands;
in the whole of Christendom there cannot be less than a million of
these ultimate instances of our civilization. They are the logical
extremity of a civilization based on cash payments. Each of these
women represents a smashed and ruined home and wasted possibilities of
honour, service and love, each one is so much sheer waste. For the
food they consume, their clothing, their lodging, they render back
nothing to the community as a whole, and only a gross, dishonouring
satisfaction to their casual employers. And don't imagine they are
inferior women, that there has been any selection of the unfit in
their sterilization; they are, one may see for oneself, well above the
average in physical vigour, in spirit and beauty. Few of them have
come freely to their trade, the most unnatural in the world; few of
them have anything but shame and loathing for their life; and most of
them must needs face their calling fortified by drink and drugs. For
virtuous people do not begin to understand the things they endure. But
it _pays_ to be a prostitute, it does not pay to be a mother and a
home-maker, and the gist of the present system of individual property
is that a thing _must pay_ to exist.... So much for one aspect of our
present system of a "world of homes."

Consider next the great army of employed men and women, shop
assistants, clerks, and so forth, living in, milliners, typists,
teachers, servants who have practically no prospect whatever of
marrying and experiencing those domestic blisses the Socialist is
supposed to want to rob them of. They are involuntary monks and nuns,
celibate not from any high or religious motive, but through economic
hardship. Consider all that amount of pent-up, thwarted or perverted
emotional possibility, the sheer irrational waste of life implied....

We have glanced at the reality of the family among the poor; what is
it among the rich? Does the wealthy mother of the upper middle-class
or upper class really sit among her teeming children, teaching them in
an atmosphere of love and domestic exaltation? As a matter of fact she
is a conspicuously devoted woman if she gives them an hour a day--the
rest of the time they spend with nurse or governess, and when they are
ten or eleven off they go to board at the preparatory school. Whenever
I find among my press-cuttings some particularly scathing denunciation
of Socialists as home-destroyers, as people who want to snatch the
tender child from the weeping mother to immure it in some terrible
wholesale institution, I am apt to walk out into my garden, from which
three boarding-schools for little children of the prosperous classes
are visible, and rub my eyes and renew that sight and marvel at my

Consider now, with these things in mind, the real drift of the first
main Socialist proposition, and compare its tendency with these
contemporary conditions. Socialism regards parentage under proper
safeguards and good auspices as "not only a duty but a service" to the
State; that is to say it proposes to pay for good parentage--in other
words to _endow the home_. Socialism comes not to destroy but to save.

And how will the endowment be done? Very probably it will be found
that the most convenient and best method of doing this will be to
subsidize the mother--who is, or should be, the principal person
concerned in this affair--for her children; to assist her, not as a
charity, but as a right in the period before the birth of her
anticipated child, and afterwards to provide her with support for that
child so long as it is kept clean in a tolerable home, in good health,
well taught and properly clad. It will say to the sound mothering
woman, Not type-writing, nor shirt-sewing, nor charing is your
business--these children are. Neglect them, ill-treat them, prove
incompetent, and your mother-right will cease and we shall take them
away from you and do what we can for them; love them, serve them and,
through them, the State, and you will serve yourself. Is that
destroying the home? Is it not rather the rescue of the home from
economic destruction?

Certain restrictions, it is true, upon our present way of doing things
would follow almost necessarily from the adoption of these methods. It
is manifest that no intelligent State would willingly endow the homes
of hopelessly diseased parents, of imbecile fathers or mothers, of
obstinately criminal persons or people incapable of education. It is
evident, too, that the State would not tolerate chance fatherhood,
that it would insist very emphatically upon marriage and the purity of
the home, much more emphatically than we do now. Such a case as the
one numbered 197, a beautiful instance of the sweet, old-fashioned,
homely, simple life of the poor we Socialists are supposed to be
vainly endeavouring to undermine--would certainly be dealt with in a
drastic and conclusive spirit....

§ 3.

So far Socialism goes toward regenerating the family and sustaining
the home. But let there be no ambiguity on one point. It will be
manifest that while it would reinvigorate and confirm the home, it
does quite decidedly tend to destroy what has hitherto been the most
typical form of the family throughout the world, that is to say the
family which is in effect the private property of the father, the
patriarchal family. The tradition of the family in which we are still
living, we must remember, has developed from a former state in which
man owned the wife or child as completely as he owned horse or hut. He
was the family's irresponsible owner. Socialism seeks to make him and
his wife its jointly responsible heads. Until quite recently the
husband might beat his wife and put all sorts of physical constraint
upon her; he might starve her or turn her out of doors; her property
was his; her earnings were his; her children were his. Under certain
circumstances it was generally recognized he might kill her. To-day we
live in a world that has faltered from the rigours of this position,
but which still clings to its sentimental consequences. The wife
now-a-days is a sort of pampered and protected half-property. If she
leaves her husband for another man, it is regarded not as a public
offence on her part, but as a sort of mitigated theft on the part of
the latter, entitling the former to damages. Politically she doesn't
exist; the husband sees to all that. But on the other hand he mustn't
drive her by physical force, but only by the moral pressure of
disagreeable behaviour. Nor has he the same large powers of violence
over her children that once he had. He may beat--within limits. He may
dictate their education so far as his religious eccentricities go, and
be generous or meagre with the supplies. He may use his "authority" as
a vague power far on into their adult life, if he is a forcible
character. But it is at its best a shorn splendour he retains. He has
ceased to be an autocrat and become a constitutional monarch; the
State, sustained by the growing reasonableness of the world,
intervenes more and more between him and the wife and children who
were once powerless in his hands.

The Socialist would end that old legal predominance altogether. The
woman, he declares, must be as important and responsible a citizen in
the State as the man. She must cease to be in any sense or degree
private property. The man must desist from tyrannizing in the nursery
and do his proper work in the world. So far, therefore, as the family
is a name for a private property in a group of related human beings
vesting in one of them, the Head of the Family, Socialism repudiates
it altogether as unjust and uncivilized; but so far as the family is a
grouping of children with their parents, with the support and consent
and approval of the whole community, Socialism advocates it, would
make it for the first time, so far as a very large moiety of our
population is concerned, a possible and efficient thing.

Moreover, as the present writer has pointed out elsewhere,[10] this
putting of the home upon a public basis destroys its autonomy. Just as
the Socialist and all who have the cause of civilization at heart
would substitute for the inefficient, wasteful, irresponsible,
unqualified "private adventure school" that did such infinite injury
to middle-class education in Great Britain during the Victorian period
a public school, publicly and richly endowed and responsible and
controlled, so the Socialist would put an end to the uncivilized
go-as-you-please of the private adventure family. "Socialism in fact
is the State family. The old family of the private individual must
vanish before it just as the old water-works of private enterprise or
the old gas company."[11] To any one not idiotic nor blind with a
passionate desire to lie about Socialism, the meaning of this passage
is perfectly plain. Socialism seeks to broaden the basis of the family
and to make the once irresponsible parent responsible to the State for
its welfare. Socialism creates parental responsibility.

   [10] _Socialism and the Family._ (A. C. Fifield. 6_d._)

   [11] _Socialism and the Family._

§ 4.

And here we may give a few words to certain questions that are in
reality outside the scope of Socialists altogether, special questions
involving the most subtle ethical and psychological decisions. Upon
them Socialists are as widely divergent as people who are not
Socialists, and Socialism as a whole presents nothing but an open
mind. They are questions that would be equally open to discussion in
relation to an Individualist State or to any sort of State. Certain
religious organizations have given clear and imperative answers to
some or all of these questions, and so far as the reader is a member
of such an organization, he may rest assured that Socialism, as an
authoritative whole, has nothing to say for or against his
convictions. This cannot be made too plain by Socialists, nor too
frequently repeated by them. A very large part of the so-called
arguments against them arise out of deliberate misrepresentations and
misconceptions of some alleged Socialist position in these indifferent

I refer more particularly to the numerous problems in private morality
and social organization arising from sexual conduct. May a man love
one woman only in his life, or more, and may a woman love only one
man? Should marriage be an irrevocable life union or not? Is sterile
physical love possible, permissible, moral, honourable or intolerable?
Upon all these matters individual Socialists, like most other people,
have their doubts and convictions, but it is no more just to saddle
all Socialism with their private utterances and actions upon these
issues than it would be to declare that the Roman Catholic Communion
is hostile to beauty because worshippers coming and going have knocked
the noses off the figures on the bronze doors of the Church of San
Zeno at Verona, or that Christianity involves the cultivation of
private vermin, because of the condition of Saint Thomas à Beckett's
hair shirt.[12] To argue in that way is to give up one's birthright as
a reasonable being.

   [12] "The haircloth encased the whole body down to the
        knees; the hair drawers, as well as the rest of the dress,
        being covered on the outside with white linen so as to
        escape observation; and the whole so fastened together as to
        admit of being readily taken off for his daily scourgings,
        of which yesterday's portion was still apparent in the
        stripes on his body. Such austerity had hitherto been
        unknown to English saints, and the marvel was increased by
        the sight--to our notions so revolting--of the innumerable
        vermin with which the haircloth abounded--boiling over with
        them, as one account describes it, like water in a simmering
        cauldron. At the dreadful sight all the enthusiasm of the
        previous night revived with double ardour. They looked at
        each other in silent wonder, then exclaimed, 'See, see what
        a true monk he was, and we knew it not!' and burst into
        alternate fits of weeping and laughter, between the sorrow
        of having lost such a head, and the joy of having found such
        a saint." (_Historical Memorials of Canterbury_, by the Rev.
        Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, D.D.)

Upon certain points modern Socialism is emphatic; women and children
must not be dealt with as private property, women must be citizens
equally with men, children must not be casually born, their parents
must be known and worthy; that is to say there must be deliberation in
begetting children, marriage under conditions. And there Socialism

Socialism has not even worked out what are the reasonable conditions
of a State marriage contract, and it would be ridiculous to pretend it
had. This is not a defect in Socialism particularly, but a defect in
human knowledge. At countless points in the tangle of questions
involved, the facts are not clearly known. Socialism does not present
any theory whatever about the duration of marriage, whether, as among
the Roman Catholics, it should be absolutely for life, or, as some
hold, for ever; or, as among the various divorce-permitting Protestant
bodies, until this or that eventuality; or even, as Mr. George
Meredith suggested some years ago, for a term of ten years. In these
matters Socialism does not decide, and it is quite reasonable to argue
that Socialism need not decide. Socialism maintains an attitude of
neutrality. And the practical effect of an attitude of neutrality is
to leave these things as they are at present. The State is not
urgently concerned with these questions. So long as a marriage
contract provides for the health and sanity of the contracting
parties, and for their proper behaviour so far as their offspring is
concerned, and for so long as their offspring need it, the demands of
the community, as the guardian of the children, are satisfied. That
certainly would be the minimum marriage, the State marriage, and I,
for my own part, would exact nothing more _in the legal contract_. But
a number of more representative Socialists than I are for a legally
compulsory life marriage. Some--but they are mostly of the older, less
definite, Social Democratic teaching--are for a looser tie. Let us
clearly understand that we are here talking of the legal marriage
only--the State's share. We are not talking of what people will do,
but of how much they are to be made to do. A vast amount of stupid
confusion arises from forgetting that. What was needed more than that
minimum I have specified would be provided, I believe--it always has
been provided hitherto, even to excess--by custom, religion, social
influence, public opinion.

For it may not be altogether superfluous to remind the reader how
little of our present moral code is ruled by law. We have in England,
it is true, certain laws prescribing the conditions of the marriage
contract, penalties of a quite ferocious kind to prevent bigamy, and a
few quite trivial disabilities put upon those illegitimately born. But
there is no legal compulsion upon any one to marry now, and far less
legal restriction upon irregular and careless parentage than would be
put in any scientifically organized Socialism. Do let us get it out of
our heads that monogamy is enforced by law at the present time. It is
not. You are only forbidden to enter into normal marriage with more
than one person. If a man of means chooses to have as many concubines
as King Solomon and live with them all openly, the law (I am speaking
of Great Britain) will do nothing to prevent him. If he chooses to go
through any sort of nuptial ceremony, provided it does not simulate a
legal marriage, with some or all of them he may. And to any one who
evades the legal marriage bond, there is a vast range of betrayal and
baseness as open as anything can be. "Free Love" is open to any one
who chooses to practise it to-day. The real controlling force in these
matters is social influence, public opinion, a sort of conscience and
feeling for the judgment of others that is part of the normal human
equipment. And the same motives and considerations that keep people's
lives pure and discreet now, will be all the more freely in operation
under Socialism, when money will count for less and reputation for
more than they do now. Modern Socialism is a project to change the
organization of living and the circle of human ideas; but it is no
sort of scheme to attempt the impossible, to change human nature and
to destroy the social sensitiveness of man.

I do not deny the intense human interest of these open questions, the
imperative need there is to get the truth, whether one considers it to
be one's own truth or the universal truth, upon them. But my point is
that they are to be discussed apart from Socialist theory, and that
anyhow they have nothing to do with Socialist politics. It is no doubt
interesting to discuss the benefits of vaccination and the justice and
policy of its public compulsion, to debate whether one should eat meat
or confine oneself to a vegetable dietary, whether the overhead or the
slot system is preferable for tramway traction, whether steamboats are
needed on the Thames in winter, and whether it is wiser to use metal
or paper for money; but none of these things have anything to do with
the principles of Socialism. Nor need we decide whether Whistler,
Raphael or Carpaccio has left us the most satisfying beauty, or which
was the greater musician, Wagner, Scarlatti or Beethoven, nor
pronounce on the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy in any prescribed way,
because we accept Socialism.

Coming to graver matters there are ardent theologians who would create
an absolute antagonism between Socialism and Christianity, who would
tie up Socialism with some extraordinary doctrine of Predestination,
or deny the possibility of a Christian being a Socialist or a
Socialist being a Christian. But these are matters on different
planes. In a sense Socialism is a religion; to me it is a religion, in
the sense, that is, that it gives a work to do that is not
self-seeking, that it determines one in a thousand indecisions, that
it supplies that imperative craving of so many human souls, a
devotion. But I do not see why a believer in any of the accepted
creeds of Christianity, from the Apostles' Creed upward, should not
also whole-heartedly give himself to this great work of social
reconstruction. To believe in a real and personal Heaven is surely not
to deny earth with its tragedy, its sorrows, its splendid
possibilities. It is simply to believe a little more concretely than I
do, that is all. To assert the brotherhood of man under God seems to
me to lead logically to a repudiation of the severities of Private
Ownership--that is to Socialism. When the rich young man was told to
give up his property to follow Christ, when the disciples were told to
leave father and mother, it seems to me ridiculous to present
Christianity as opposed to the self-abnegation of the two main
generalizations of Socialism--that relating to property in things, and
that relating to property in persons. It is true that the Church of
Rome has taken the deplorable step of forbidding Socialism (or at
least _Socialismus_) to its adherents; but there is no need for
Socialists to commit a reciprocal stupidity. Let us Socialists at any
rate keep our intellectual partitions up. The Church that now quarrels
with Socialism once quarrelled with astronomy and geology, and
astronomers and geologists went on with their own business. Both
religion and astronomy are still alive and in the same world together.
And the Vatican observatory, by the bye, is honourably distinguished
for its excellent stellar photographs. Perhaps, after all, the Church
does not mean by _Socialismus_ Socialism as it is understood in
English; perhaps it simply means the dogmatically anti-Christian
Socialism of the Continental type.

I am not advocating indifference to any interest I have here set aside
as irrelevant to Socialism. Men have discussed and will, I hope,
continue to discuss such questions as I have instanced with passionate
zeal; but Socialism need not be entangled by their decisions. We can
go on our road to Socialism, we can get to Socialism, to the Civilized
State, whichever answer is given to any of these questions, great or



§ 1.

Having in the previous chapter cleared up a considerable mass of
misconception and possibility of misrepresentation about the attitude
of Socialism to the home, let us now devote a little more attention to
the current theory of property and say just exactly where Modern
Socialism stands in that matter.

The plain fact of the case is that the Socialist, whether he wanted to
or no, would no more be able to abolish personal property altogether
than he would be able to abolish the human liver. The extension of
one's personality to things outside oneself is indeed as natural and
instinctive a thing as eating. But because the liver is necessary and
inevitable, there is no reason why it should be enlarged to
uncomfortable proportions, and because eating is an unconquerable
instinct there is no excuse for repletion. The position of the modern
Socialist is that the contemporary idea of personal property is
enormously exaggerated and improperly extended to things that ought
not to be "private"; not that it is not a socially most useful and
desirable idea within its legitimate range.

There can be no doubt that many of those older writers who were
"Socialists before Socialism," Plato, for instance, and Sir Thomas
More, did very roundly abolish private property altogether. They were
extreme Communists, and so were many of the earlier Socialists; in
More's Utopia, doors might not be fastened, they stood open; one
hadn't even a private room. These earlier writers wished to insist
upon the need of self-abnegation in the ideal State, and to startle
and confound, they insisted overmuch. The early Christians, one
gathers, were almost completely communistic, and that interesting
experiment in Christian Socialism (of a rather unorthodox type of
Christianity), the American Oneida community, was successfully
communistic in every respect for many years. But the modern Socialist
is not a communist; the modern Socialist, making his scheme of social
reconstruction for the whole world and for every type of character,
recognizes the entire impracticability of such dreams, recognizing,
too, it may be, the sacrifice of human personality and distinction
such ideals involve.

The word "property," one must remember, is a slightly evasive word.
Absolute property hardly exists--absolute, that is to say, in the
sense of unlimited right of disposal; almost all property is
incomplete and relative. A man, under our present laws, has no
absolute property even in his own life; he is restrained from suicide
and punished if he attempt it. He may not go offensively filthy nor
indecently clad; there are limits to his free use of his body. The
owner of a house, of land, of a factory is subject to all sorts of
limitations, building regulations for example, and so is the owner of
horse or dog. Nor again is any property exempt from taxation. Even now
property is a limited thing, and it is well to bear that much in mind.
It can be defined as something one may do "what one likes with,"
subject only to this or that specific restriction, and at any time, it
would seem, the State is at least legally entitled to increase the
quantity and modify the nature of the restriction. The extremest
private property is limited to a certain sanity and humanity in its

In that sense every adult now-a-days has private property in his or
her own person, in clothes, in such personal implements as hand-tools,
as a bicycle, as a cricket-bat or golf-sticks. In quite the same sense
would he have it under Socialism so far as these selfsame things go.
The sense of property in such things is almost instinctive; my little
boys of five and three have the keenest sense of _mine_ and (almost,
if not quite so vividly) _thine_ in the matter of toys and garments.
The disposition of modern Socialism is certainly no more to override
these natural tendencies than it is to fly in the face of human nature
in regard to the home. The disposition of modern Socialism is indeed
far more in the direction of confirming and insuring this natural
property. And again modern Socialism has no designs upon the money in
a man's pocket. It is quite true that the earlier and extreme
Socialist theorists did in their communism find no use for money, but
I do not think there are any representative Socialists now who do not
agree that the State must pay and receive in money, that money is
indispensable to human freedom. The featurelessness of money, its
universal convertibility, gives human beings a latitude of choice and
self-expression in its spending that is inconceivable without its use.

All such property Socialism will ungrudgingly sustain, and it will
equally sustain property in books and objects of æsthetic
satisfaction, in furnishing, in the apartments or dwelling-house a man
or woman occupies and in their household implements. It will sustain
far more property than the average working-class man has to-day. Nor
will it prevent savings or accumulations, if men do not choose to
expend their earnings--nor need it interfere with lending. How far it
will permit or countenance usury is another question altogether. There
will no doubt remain, after all the work-a-day needs of the world have
been met by a scientific public organization of the general property
in Nature, a great number of businesses and enterprises and new and
doubtful experiments outside the range of legitimate State activity.
In these, interested and prosperous people will embark their surplus
money as shareholders in a limited liability company, making
partnership profits or losses in an entirely proper manner. But
whether there should be debentures and mortgages or preference shares,
or suchlike manipulatory distinctions, or interest in any shape or
form, I am inclined to doubt. A money-lender should share risk as well
as profit--that is surely the moral law in lending that forbids usury;
he should not be allowed to bleed a failing business with his
inexorable percentage and so eat up the ordinary shareholder or
partner any more than the landlord should be allowed to eat up the
failing tenant for rent. That was once the teaching of Christianity,
and I do not know enough of the history or spiritual development of
the Catholic Church to tell when she became what she now appears to
be--the champion of the rent-exacting landlord and the usurer against
Socialism. It is the present teaching of Socialism. If usury obtains
at all under the Socialist State, if inexorable repayments are to be
made in certain cases, it will, I conceive, be a State monopoly. The
State will be the sole banker for every hoard and every enterprise,
just as it will be the universal landlord and the universal fire and
accident and old age insurance office. In money matters as in public
service and administration, it will stand for the species, the
permanent thing behind every individual accident and adventure.

Posthumous property, that is to say the power to bequeath and the
right to inherit things, will also persist in a mitigated state under
Socialism. There is no reason whatever why it should not do so. There
is a strong natural sentiment in favour of the institution of
heirlooms, for example; one feels a son might well own--though he
should certainly not sell--the intimate things his father desires to
leave him. The pride of descent is an honourable one, the love for
one's blood, and I hope that a thousand years from now some descendant
will still treasure an obsolete weapon here, a picture there, or a
piece of faint and faded needlework from our days and the days before
our own. One may hate inherited privileges and still respect a family

Widows and widowers again have clearly a kind of natural property in
the goods they have shared with the dead; in the home, in the garden
close, in the musical instruments and books and pleasant home-like
things. Now, in nine cases out of ten, we do in effect bundle the
widow out; she remains nominally owner of the former home, but she has
to let it furnished or sell it, to go and live in a boarding-house or
an exiguous flat.

Even perhaps a proportion of accumulated money may reasonably go to
friend or kin. It is a question of public utility; Socialism has done
with absolute propositions in all such things, and views these
problems now as questions of detail, matters for fine discriminations.
We want to be quit of pedantry. All that property which is an
enlargement of personality, the modern Socialist seeks to preserve; it
is that exaggerated property that gives power over the food and needs
of one's fellow-creatures, property and inheritance in land, in
industrial machinery, in the homes of others and in the usurer's grip
upon others, that he seeks to destroy. The more doctrinaire Socialists
will tell you they do not object to property for use and consumption,
but only to property in "the means of production," but I do not choose
to resort to over-precise definitions. The general intention is clear
enough, the particular instance requires particular application. But
it is just because we modern Socialists want every one to have play
for choice and individual expression in all these realities of
property that we object to this monstrous property of a comparatively
small body of individuals expropriating the world.

§ 2.

I am inclined to think--but here I speak beyond the text of
contemporary Socialist literature--that in certain directions
Socialism, while destroying property, will introduce a compensatory
element by creating rights. For example, Socialism will certainly
destroy all private property in land and in natural material and
accumulated industrial resources; it will be the universal landlord
and the universal capitalist, but that does not mean that we shall all
be the State's tenants-at-will. There can be little doubt that the
Socialist State will recognize the rights of the improving occupier
and the beneficial hirer. It is manifestly in accordance both with
justice and public policy that a man who takes a piece of land and
creates a value on it--by making a vineyard, let us say--is entitled
to security of tenure, is to be dispossessed only in exceptional
circumstances and with ample atonement. If a man who takes an
agricultural or horticultural holding comes to feel that there he will
toil and there later he will rest upon his labours, I do not think a
rational Socialism will war against this passion for the vine and
fig-tree. If it absolutely refuses the idea of freehold, it will
certainly not repudiate leasehold. I think the State may prove a far
more generous and sentimental landlord in many things than any private

In another correlated direction, too, Socialism is quite reconcilable
with a finer quality of property than our landowner-ridden Britain
allows to any but the smallest minority. I mean property in the house
one occupies.... If I may indulge in a quite unauthorized speculation,
I am inclined to think there may be two collateral methods of
home-building in the future. For many people always there will need to
be houses to which they may come and go for longer and shorter
tenancies and which they will in no manner own. Now-a-days such people
are housed in the exploits of the jerry-builder--all England is
unsightly with their meagre pretentious villas and miserable cottages
and tenement houses. Such homes in the Socialist future will certainly
be supplied by the local authority, but they will be fair, decent
houses by good architects, fitted to be clean and lit, airy and
convenient, the homes of civilized people, sightly things altogether
in a generous and orderly world. But in addition there will be the
prosperous private person with a taste that way, building himself a
home as a lease-holder under the public landlord. For him, too, there
will be a considerable measure of property, a measure of property that
might even extend to a right, if not of bequest, then at any rate of
indicating a preference among his possible successors in the occupying

Then there is a whole field of proprietary sensations in relation to
official duties and responsibility. Men who have done good work in any
field are not to be lightly torn from it. A medical officer of health
who has done well in his district, a teacher who has taught a
generation of a town, a man who has made a public garden, have a moral
lien upon their work for all their lives. They do not get it under our
present conditions. I know that it will be quite easy to say all this
is a question of administration and detail. It is. But it is,
nevertheless, important to state it clearly here, to make it evident
that the coming of Socialism involves no destruction of this sort of
identification of a man with the thing he does; this identification
that is so natural and desirable--that this living and legitimate
sense of property will if anything be encouraged and its claims
strengthened under Socialism. To-day that particularly living sort of
property-sense is often altogether disregarded. Every day one hears of
men who have worked up departments in businesses, men who have created
values for employers, men who have put their lives into an industrial
machine, being flung aside because their usefulness is over, or out of
personal pique, or to make way for favourites, for the employer's son
or cousin or what not, without any sort of appeal or compensation.
Ownership is autocracy; at the best it is latent injustice in all such
matters of employment.

Then again, consider the case of the artist and the inventor who are
too often forced by poverty now to sell their early inventions for the
barest immediate subsistence. Speculators secure these initial
efforts--sometimes to find them worthless, sometimes to discover in
them the sources of enormous wealth. In no matter is it more difficult
to estimate value than in the case of creative work; few geniuses are
immediately recognized, and the history of art, literature and
invention is full of Chattertons and Savages who perished before
recognition came, and of Dickenses who sold themselves unwisely.
Consider the immense social benefit if the creator even now possessed
an inalienable right to share in the appreciation of his work. Under
Socialism it would for all his life be his--and the world's, and
controllable by him. He would be free to add, to modify, to repeat.

In all these respects modern Socialism tends to create and confirm
property and rights, the property of the user, the rights of the
creator. It is quite other property it tends to destroy; the property,
the claim, of the creditor, the mortgagee, the landlord, and usurer,
the forestaller, gambling speculator, monopolizer and absentee.... In
very truth Socialism would destroy no property at all, but only that
sham property that, like some wizard-cast illusion, robs us all.

§ 3.

And now we are discussing the Socialist attitude towards property, it
may be well to consider a little group of objections that are often
made in anti-Socialist tracts. I refer more particularly to a certain
hard case, the hard case of the Savings of the Virtuous Small Man.

The reader, if he is at all familiar with this branch of controversial
literature, probably knows how that distressing case is put. One is
presented with a poor man of inconceivable industry, goodness and
virtue; he has worked, he has saved; at last, for the security of his
old age, he holds a few shares in a business, a "bit of land"
or--perhaps through a building society--house property. Would we--the
Anti-Socialist chokes with emotion--so alter the world as to rob him
of _that_? ... The Anti-Socialist gathers himself together with an
effort and goes on to a still more touching thought ... the widow![13]

   [13] "The ethical case for slavery in the Southern States of
        America," my friend Mr. Graham Wallas reminds me, "was
        largely argued on the instance of the widow 'with a few
        strong slaves.'"

Well, I think there are assurances in the previous section to disabuse
the reader's mind a little in this matter. This solicitude for the
Saving Small Man and for the widow and orphan seems to me one of the
least honest of all the anti-Socialist arguments. The man "who has
saved a few pounds," the poor widow woman and her children clinging to
some scrap of freehold are thrust forward to defend the harvest of the
landlord and the financier. Let us look at the facts of the case and
see how this present economic system of ours really does treat the
"stocking" of the poor.

In the first place it does not guarantee to the small investor any
security for his little hoard at all. He comes into the world of
investment ill-informed, credulous or only unintelligently
suspicious--and he is as a class continually and systematically deprived
of his little accumulations. One great financial operation after another
in the modern world, as any well-informed person can witness, eats up
the small investor. Some huge, vastly respectable-looking enterprise is
floated with a capital of so many scores or hundreds of thousands,
divided into so many thousands of ordinary shares, so many five or six
per cent. preference, so much debentures. It begins its career with a
flourish of prosperity, the ordinary shares for a few years pay seven,
eight, ten per cent. The Virtuous Small Man provides for his widow and
his old age by buying this estimable security. Its price clambers to a
premium, and so it passes slowly and steadily from its first speculative
holder into the hands of the investing public. Then comes a slow, quiet,
downward movement, a check at the interim dividend, a rapid contraction.
Consider such a case as that of the great British Electric Traction
Company which began with ordinary shares at ten, which clambered above
twenty-one (21-7/8), which is now (October 1907) fluctuating about two.
Its six per cent, preference shares have moved between fourteen and five
and a half. Its ordinary shares represent a total capital of
£1,333,010, and its preference £1,614,370; so that here in this one
concern we have a phantom appearance and disappearance of over two
million pounds' worth of value and a real disappearance of perhaps half
that amount. It requires only a very slight knowledge of the world to
convince one that the bulk of that sum was contributed by the modest
investments of mediocre and small people out of touch with the real
conditions of the world of finance.

These little investors, it is said, are the bitter champions of
private finance against the municipalities and Socialists. One wonders

One could find a score of parallels and worse instances representing
in the end many scores of millions of pounds taken from the investing
public in the last few years. I will, however, content myself with one
sober quotation from the New York _Journal of Commerce_, which the
reader will admit is not likely to be a willing witness for Socialism.
Commenting on the testimony of the principal witness, Mr. Harriman, of
the Illinois Central Railroad, before the Inter-State Commerce
Commission (March 1907), it says:--

    "On his own admission he was one of a 'combine' of four who
    got possession of the Chicago and Alton Railroad, and
    immediately issued bonds for $40,000,000, out of the proceeds
    of which they paid themselves a dividend of 30 per cent, on
    the stock they held, besides taking the bonds at 65 and
    subsequently selling them at 90 or more, some of them to life
    insurance companies with which Mr. Harriman had some kind of
    relation. There were no earnings or surplus out of which the
    dividend could be paid, but the books of the company were
    juggled by transferring some $12,000,000 expended for
    betterments to capital account as a sort of bookkeeping basis
    for the performance.

    "Besides this, the Chicago and Alton Railroad was transformed
    into a 'railway,' and a capitalization of a little under
    $40,000,000 was swollen to nearly $123,000,000 to cover an
    actual expenditure in improvements of $22,500,000. In the
    process there was an injection of about $60,600,000 of 'water'
    into the stock held by the four, some of which was sold to the
    Union Pacific, of which Mr. Harriman was president, and more
    was 'unloaded' upon the Rock Island. Mr. Harriman refused to
    tell how much he made out of that operation.

    "It shows how some of our enormous fortunes are made, as well
    as what motives and purposes sometimes prevail in the use of
    the power entrusted to the directors and officers of
    corporations. It is a simple and elementary principle that all
    values are created by the productive activity of capital,
    labour and ability in industrial operations of one kind and
    another. No wealth comes out of nothing, but all must be
    produced and distributed, and what one gets by indirection
    another loses or fails to get. The personal profit of these
    speculative operations in which the capital, credit and power
    of corporations are used by those entrusted with their
    direction come out of the general body of stockholders whose
    interests are sacrificed, or out of the public investors who
    are lured and deceived, or out of shippers who are overtaxed
    for the service for which railroads are chartered, or out of
    all these in varying proportions. In other words they are the
    fruits of robbery."

So that you see it is not only untrue that Socialism would rob a poor
man of his virtuously acquired "bit of property," but the direct
contrary is the truth, that the present system, non-Socialism, is now
constantly _butchering thrift_! Simple people believe the great
financiers win and lose money to each other. They are not--to put it
plainly--such fools. They use the public, and the public goes on being
used, as a perpetual source of freshly accumulated wealth. I know one
case of a man of fifty who serves in a shop, a most industrious,
competent man, who has been saving and investing money all his life in
what he had every reason to believe were safe and sober businesses; he
has been denying himself pleasures, cramping his life to put by about
a third of his wages every year since he was two-and-twenty, and
to-day he has not got his keep for a couple of years, and his only
security against disablement and old age is his subscription to a
Friendly Society, a society which I have a very strong suspicion is no
better off than most other Friendly Societies--and that is by no means
well off, and by no means confident of the future.

It is possible to argue that the small man ought to take more pains
about his investments, but, as a matter of fact, investing money
securely and profitably is a special occupation of extraordinary
complexity, and the common man with a few hundred pounds has no more
chance in that market than he would have under water in Sydney Harbour
amidst a shoal of sharks. It may be said that he is greedy, wants too
much interest, but that is nonsense. One of the crudest gulfs into
which small savings have gone in the case of the British public has
been the trap of Consols, which pay at the present price less than
three per cent. Servants and working men with Post Office Savings'
Bank accounts were urged, tempted and assisted to invest in this
solemn security--even when it stood at 114. Those who did so have now
(November 1907) lost almost a third of their money.

It is scarcely too much to say that a very large proportion of our
modern great properties, tramway systems, railways, gas-works, bread
companies, have been created for their present owners the debenture
holders and mortgagers, the great capitalists, by the unintentional
altruism of that voluntary martyr, the Saving Small Man.

Of course the habitual saver can insure with an insurance company for
his old age and against all sorts of misadventures, and because of the
Government interference with "private enterprise" in that sort of
business, be reasonably secure; but under Socialism he would be able
to do that with absolute security in the State Insurance Office--if
the universal old age pension did not satisfy him. That, however, is
beside our present discussion. I am writing now only of the sort of
property that Socialism would destroy, and to show how little benefit
or safety it brings to the small owner now. The unthinking rich prate
"thrift" to the poor, and grow richer by a half-judicious,
half-unconscious absorption of the resultant savings; that, in brief,
is the grim humour of our present financial method.

It is not only in relation to investments that this absorption of
small parcels of savings goes on. In every town the intelligent and
sympathetic observer may see, vivid before the eyes of all who are not
blind by use and wont, the slow subsidence of petty accumulations, The
lodging-house and the small retail shop are, as it were, social
"destructors"; all over the country they are converting hopeful,
enterprising, ill-advised people with a few score or hundreds of
pounds, slowly, inevitably into broken-hearted failures. It is, to my
mind, the crudest aspect of our economic struggle. In the little High
Street of Sandgate, over which my house looks, I should say between a
quarter and a third of the shops are such downward channels from
decency to despair; they are sanctioned, inevitable citizen breakers.
Now it is a couple of old servants opening a "fancy" shop or a tobacco
shop, now it is a young couple plunging into the haberdashery, now it
is a new butcher or a new fishmonger or a grocer. This perpetual
procession of bankruptcies has made me lately shun that
pleasant-looking street, that in my unthinking days I walked through
cheerfully enough. The doomed victims have a way of coming to the
doors at first and looking out politely and hopefully. There is a rich
and lucrative business done by certain wholesale firms in starting the
small dealer in almost every branch of retail trade; they fit up his
shop, stock him, take his one or two hundred pounds and give him
credit for forty or fifty. The rest of his story is an impossible
struggle to pay rent and get that debt down. Things go on for a time
quite bravely. I go furtively and examine the goods in the window,
with a dim hope that this time something really will come off; I learn
reluctantly from my wife that they are no better than any one else's,
and rather dearer than those of the one or two solid and persistent
shops that do the steady business of the place. Perhaps I see the new
people going to church once or twice very respectably, as I set out
for a Sunday walk, and if they are a young couple the husband usually
wears a silk hat. Presently the stock in the window begins to
deteriorate in quantity and quality, and then I know that credit is
tightening. The proprietor no longer comes to the door, and his first
bright confidence is gone. He regards one now through the darkling
panes with a gloomy animosity. He suspects one all too truly of
dealing with the "Stores." ... Then suddenly he has gone; the savings
are gone, and the shop--like a hungry maw--waits for a new victim.
There is the simple common tragedy of the little shop; the landlord of
the house has _his_ money all right, the ground landlord has, of
course, every penny of his money, the kindly wholesalers are well out
of it, and the young couple or the old people, as the case may be, are
looking for work or the nearest casual ward--just as though there was
no such virtue as thrift in the world.

The particular function of the British lodging-house--though the
science of economics is silent on this point--is to use up the last
strength of the trusty old servant and the plucky widow. These people
will invest from two or three hundred to a thousand pounds in order to
gain a bare subsistence by toiling for boarders and lodgers. It is
their idea of a safe investment. They can see it all the time. All
over England this process goes on. The curious inquirer may see every
phase for himself by simply looking for rooms among the apartment
houses of such a region as Camden Town, London; he will realize more
and more surely as he goes about that none of these people gain money,
none of them ever recover the capital they sink, they are happy if
they die before their inevitable financial extinction. It is so
habitual with people to think of classes as stable, of a butcher or a
baker as a man who keeps a shop of a certain sort at a certain level
throughout a long and indeterminate life, that it may seem incredible
to many readers that those two typically thrifty classes, the
lodging-letting householder and the small retailer, are maintained by
a steady supply of failing individuals; the fact remains that it is
so. Their little savings are no good to them, investments and business
beginnings mock them alike: steadily, relentlessly our competitive
system eats them up.

It is said that no class of people in the community is more hostile to
Socialism and Socialistic legislation than these small owners and
petty investors, these small ratepayers. They do not understand. Rent
they consider in the nature of things like hunger and thirst; the
economic process that dooms the weak enterprise to ruin is beyond the
scope of their intelligence; but the rate-collector who calls and
calls again for money, for more money, to educate "other people's
children," to "keep paupers in luxury," to "waste upon roads and light
and trams," seems the agent of an unendurable wrong. So the poor
creatures go out pallidly angry to vote down that hated thing
municipal enterprise, and to make still more scope for that big
finance that crushes them in the wine-press of its exploitation. It is
a wretched and tragic antagonism, for which every intelligent
Socialist must needs have sympathy, which he must meet with
patience--and lucid explanations. If the public authority took rent
there would be no need of rates; that is the more obvious proposition.
But the ampler one is the cruelty, the absurdity and the social injury
of the constant consumption of unprotected savings which is an
essential part of our present system.

It is a doctrinaire and old-fashioned Socialism that quarrels with the
little hoard; the quarrel of modern Socialism is with the landowner
and the great capitalist who devour it.

§ 4.

While we are discussing the true attitude of modern Socialism to
property, it will be well to explain quite clearly the secular change
of opinion that is going on in the Socialist ranks in regard to the
process of expropriation. Even in the case of those sorts of property
that Socialism repudiates, property in land, natural productions,
inherited business capital and the like, Socialism has become
humanized and rational from its first extreme and harsh positions.

The earlier Socialism was fierce and unjust to owners. "Property is
Robbery," said Proudhon, and right down to the nineties Socialism kept
too much of the spirit of that proposition. The property owner was to
be promptly and entirely deprived of his goods, and to think himself
lucky he was not lynched forthwith as an abominable rascal. The first
Basis of the Fabian Society, framed so lately as 1884, seems to
repudiate "compensation," even a partial compensation of property
owners, though in its practical proposals the Fabian Society has
always admitted compensatory arrangements. The exact words of the
Basis are "without compensation though not without such relief to
expropriated individuals as may seem fit to the community." The
wording is pretty evidently the result of a compromise between modern
views and older teachings. If the Fabian Society were rewriting its
Basis now I doubt if any section would insist even upon that
eviscerated "without compensation."

Now property is not robbery. It may be a mistake, it may be unjust and
socially disadvantageous to recognize private property in these great
common interests, but every one concerned, and the majority of the
property owners certainly, held and hold in good faith, and do their
best by the light they have. We live to-day in a vast tradition of
relationships in which the rightfulness of that kind of private
property is assumed, and suddenly, instantly, to deny and abolish it
would be--I write this as a convinced and thorough Socialist--quite
the most dreadful catastrophe human society could experience. For what
sort of provisional government should we have in that confusion?

Expropriation must be a gradual process, a process of economic and
political readjustment, accompanied at every step by an explanatory
educational advance. There is no reason why a cultivated property
owner should not welcome and hasten its coming. Modern Socialism is
prepared to compensate him, not perhaps "fully" but reasonably, for
his renunciations and to avail itself of his help, to relieve him of
his administrative duties, his excess of responsibility for estate and
business. It does not grudge him a compensating annuity nor
terminating rights of user. It has no intention of obliterating him
nor the things he cares for. It wants not only to socialize his
possessions, but to socialize his achievement in culture and all that
leisure has taught him of the possibilities of life. It wants all men
to become as fine as he. Its enemy is not the rich man but the
aggressive rich man, the usurer, the sweater, the giant plunderer, who
are developing the latent evil of riches. It repudiates altogether the
conception of a bitter class-war between those who Have and those who
Have Not.

But this new tolerant spirit in method involves no weakening of the
ultimate conception. Modern Socialism sets itself absolutely against
the creation of new private property out of land, or rights or
concessions not yet assigned. All new great monopolistic enterprises
in transit, building and cultivation, for example, must from the first
be under public ownership. And the chief work of social statesmanship,
the secular process of government, must be the steady, orderly
resumption by the community, without violence and without delay, of
the land, of the apparatus of transit, of communication, of food
distribution and of all the great common services of mankind, and the
care and training of a new generation in their collective use and in
more civilized conceptions of living.



§ 1.

Let me insert here a few remarks upon a question that arises naturally
out of the preceding discussion, and that is the future of that
miscellaneous section of the community known as the middle class. It
is one that I happen to know with a peculiar intimacy.

For a century or more the grinding out of the middle class has been
going on. I began to find it interesting--altogether too interesting
indeed, when I was still only a little boy. My father was one of that
multitude of small shopkeepers which has been caught between the
"Stores" and such-like big distributors above and the rising rates
below, and from the knickerbocker stage onward I was acutely aware of
the question hanging over us. "This isn't going on," was the
proposition. "This shop in which our capital is invested will never
return it. Nobody seems to understand what is happening, and there is
nobody to advise or help us. What are we going to do?"

Except that people are beginning to understand a little now what it
all means, exactly the same question hangs over many hundreds of
thousands of households to-day, not only over the hundreds of small
shopkeepers, but of small professional men, of people living upon
small parcels of investments, of clerks who find themselves growing
old and their value depreciated by the competition of a new,
better-educated generation, of private school-masters, of boarding-and
lodging-house keepers and the like. They are all vaguely aware of
something more than personal failure, of a drift and process which is
against all their kind, of the need of "doing something" for
themselves and their children, something different from just sticking
to the shop or the "situation"--and they don't know what to do! What
ought they to do?

Well, first, before one answers that, let us ask what it is exactly
that is grinding the middle class in this way. Is it a process we can
stop? Can we direct the millstones? If we can, ought we to do so? And
if we cannot, or decide that it isn't worth while, then what can we do
to mitigate this cruelty of slowly impoverishing and taxing out of
existence a class that was once the backbone of the community? It is
not mere humanity dictates this much, it is a question that affects
the State as a whole. It must be extremely bad for the spirit of the
nation and for our national future that its middle mass should be in a
state of increasing financial worry and stress, irritated, depressed,
and broken in courage. One effect is manifest in our British politics
now. Each fresh election turns upon expenditure more evidently than
the last, and the promise to reduce taxation or lower the rates
overrides more and more certainly any other consideration. What are
Empire or Education to men who feel themselves drifting helplessly
into debt? What chance has any constructive scheme with an electorate
of men who are being slowly submerged in an economic bog?

The process that has brought the middle class into these troubles is a
complex one, but the essential thing about it seems to be this, that
there is a _change of scale_ going on in most human affairs, a
substitution of big organizations for detached individual effort
almost everywhere. A hundred and fifty years ago or so the only very
rich people in the community were a handful of great landowners and a
few bankers; the rest of the world's business was being done by small
prosperous independent men. The labourers were often very poor and
wretched, ill clad, bootless, badly housed and short of food, but
there was nevertheless a great deal of middle-class comfort and
prosperity. The country was covered with flourishing farmers, every
country town was a little world in itself, with busy tradespeople and
professional men; manufacturing was still done mainly by small people
employing a few hands, master and apprentice working together; in
every town you found a private school or so, an independent doctor and
the like, doing well in a mediocre, comfortable fashion. All the
carrying trade was in the hands of small independent carriers; the
shipping was held by hundreds of small shipowners. And London itself
was only a larger country town. It was, in effect, a middle-class
world ruled over by aristocrats; the millstones had as yet scarcely

Then machinery came into the lives of men, and steam power, and there
began that change of scale which is going on still to-day, making an
ever-widening separation of master and man and an ever-enlarging
organization of industry and social method. Its most striking
manifestation was at first the substitution of organized manufacture
in factories for the half-domestic hand-industrialism of the earlier
period; the growth of the fortunes of some of the merchants and
manufacturers to dimensions comparable with the wealth of the great
landowners, and the sinking of the rest of their class towards the
status of wage-earners. The development of joint-stock enterprise
arose concurrently with this to create a new sort of partnership
capable of handling far greater concerns than any single wealthy
person, as wealth was measured by the old scale, could do. There
followed a great development of transit, culminating for a time in the
coming of the railways and steamships, which abolished the isolation
of the old towns and brought men at the remotest quarters of the earth
into business competition. Big towns of the modern type, with
half-a-million inhabitants or more, grew up rapidly all over Europe
and America. For the European big towns are as modern as New York, and
the East End and south side of London scarcely older than Chicago.
Shopkeeping, like manufactures, began to concentrate in large
establishments, and big wholesale distribution to replace individual
buying and selling. As the need for public education under the
changing conditions of life grew more and more urgent, the individual
enterprise of this school-master and that gave place to the organized
effort of such giant societies as (in Britain) the old National School
Society and the British School Society, and at last to State
education. And one after another the old prosperous middle-class
callings fell under the stress of the new development.

The process still goes on, and there can be little doubt of the
ultimate issue. The old small manufacturers are either ruined or
driven into sweating and the slums; the old coaching innkeeper and
common carrier have been impoverished or altogether superseded by the
railways and big carrier companies; the once flourishing shopkeeper
lives to-day on the mere remnants of the trade that great distributing
stores or the branches of great companies have left him. Tea
companies, provision-dealing companies, tobacconist companies, make
the position of the old-established private shop unstable and the
chances of the new beginner hopeless. Railways and tramways take the
custom more and more effectually past the door of the small draper and
outfitter to the well-stocked establishments at the centre of things;
telephone and telegraph assist that shopping at the centre more and
more. The small "middle-class" school-master finds himself beaten by
revived endowed schools and by new public endowments; the small
doctor, the local dentist, find Harley Street always nearer to them
and practitioners in motor-cars from the great centres playing havoc
with their practices. And while the small men are more and more
distressed, the great organizations of trade, of production, of public
science, continue to grow and coalesce, until at last they grow into
national or even world trusts, or into publicly-owned monopolies. In
America slaughtering and selling meat has grown into a trust, steel
and iron are trustified, mineral oil is all gathered into a few hands.
All through the trades and professions and sciences and all over the
world the big eats up the small, the new enlarged scale replaces the

And this is equally true, though it is only now beginning to be
recognized, of the securities of that other section of the middle
class, the section which lives upon invested money. There, too, big
eats little. There, too, the small man is more and more manifestly at
the mercy of the large organization. It was a pleasant illusion of the
Victorian time that one put one's hundred pounds or thousand pounds
"into something," beside the rich man's tens of thousands, and drew
one's secure and satisfying dividends. The intelligent reader of Mr.
Lawson's _Frenzied Finance_ or of the bankruptcy proceedings of Mr.
Hooley realizes this idyll is scarcely true to nature. Through the
seas and shallows of investment flow great tides and depressions, on
which the big fortunes ride to harbour while the little accumulations,
capsized and swamped, quiver down to the bottom. It becomes more and
more true that the small man saves his money for the rich man's
pocket. Only by drastic State intervention is a certain measure of
safety secured for insurance, and in America recently we have had the
spectacle of the people's insurance-money used as a till by the rich

And when the middle-class man turns in his desperation from the
advance of the big competitor who is consuming him, as a big codfish
eats its little brother, to the State, he meets a tax-paper; he sees
as the State's most immediate aspect the rate-collector and inexorable
demands. The burthen of taxation certainly falls upon him, and it
falls upon him because he is collectively the weakest class that
possesses any property to be taxed. Below him are classes either too
poor to tax or too politically effective to stand taxation. Above him
is the class which owns a large part of the property in the world; but
it also owns the newspapers and periodicals that are necessary for an
adequate discussion of social justice, and it finds it cheaper to pay
a voluntary tax to the hoardings at election time than to take over
the small man's burdens. He rolls about between these two parties,
antagonized first to one and then the other, and altogether helpless
and ineffectual. So the millstones grind, and so it would seem they
will continue to grind until there is nothing between them; until
organized property in the hands of the few on the one hand and the
proletariat on the other grind face to face. So, at least, Karl Marx
taught in _Das Kapital_.

But when one says the middle class will disappear, one means that it
will disappear as a class. Its individuals and its children will
survive, and the whole process is not nearly so fatalistic as the
Marxists would have us believe. The new great organizations that are
replacing the little private enterprises of the world before machinery
are not all private property. There are alternatives in the matter of
handling a great business. To the exact nature of these alternatives
the middle-class mind needs to direct itself if it is to exert any
control whatever over its future. Take the case of the butcher. It is
manifestly written on the scroll of destiny that the little private
slaughter-house, the little independent butcher's shop, buying and
selling locally, must disappear. The meat will all be slaughtered at
some great, conveniently organized centre, and distributed thence to
shops that will necessarily be mere agencies for distributing meat.
Now, this great slaughtering and distributing business may either be
owned by one or a group of owners working it for profit--in which case
it will be necessary for the State to employ an unremunerative army of
inspectors to see that the business is kept decently clean and
honest--or it may be run by the public authority. In the former case
the present-day butcher or his son will be a slaughterman or
shopkeeper employed by the private owners; in the latter case by the
public authority. This is equally true of a milk-seller, of a small
manufacturer, of a builder, of a hundred and one other trades. They
are bound to be incorporated in a larger organization; they are bound
to become salaried men where formerly they were independent men, and
it is no good struggling against that. It is doubtful, indeed, whether
from the standpoint of welfare it would be worth the middle-class
man's while to struggle against that. But in the case of very many
great public services--meat, milk, bread, transit, housing and land
administration, education and research, and the public health--it is
still an open question whether the big organization is to be publicly
owned, publicly controlled, and constantly refreshed by public
scrutiny and comment, or whether it is to be privately owned, and
conducted solely for the profit of a small group of very rich owners.
The alternatives are Plutocracy or Socialism, and between these the
middle-class man remains weakly undecided and ineffectual, lending no
weight to and getting small consideration therefore from either side.
He remains so because he has not grasped the real nature of his
problem, because he clings in the face of overwhelming fate to the
belief that in some way the wheels of change may be arrested and his
present method of living preserved.

I think, if he could shake himself free from that impossible
conservatism he would realize that his interests lie with the
interests of the intelligent working-class man--that is to say, in the
direction of Socialism rather than in the direction of capitalistic
competition; that the best use he can make of such educational and
social advantages as still remain for him is to become the willing
leader instead of the panic-fierce antagonist of the Socialist
movement. His place, I hold, is to forward the development of that
State and municipal machinery the Socialist foreshadows, and to secure
for himself and his sons and daughters an adequate position and voice
in the administration. Instead of struggling to diminish that burthen
of public expenditure which educates and houses, conveys and protects
him and his children, he ought rather to increase it joyfully, while
at the same time working manfully to transfer its pressure to the
broad shoulders of those very rich people who have hitherto evaded
their legitimate share of it. The other course is to continue his
present policy of obstinate resistance to the extension of public
property and public services. In which case these things will
necessarily become that basis of monopolistic property on which the
coming plutocracy will establish itself. The middle-class man will be
taxed and competed out of independence just the same, and he will
become a salaried officer just the same, but with a different sort of
master and under different social conditions according as one or other
of these alternatives prevails.

Which is the better master--the democratic State or a "combine" of
millionaires? Which will give the best social atmosphere for one's
children to breathe--a Plutocracy or a Socialism? That is the real
question to which the middle-class man should address himself.

No doubt to many minds a Plutocracy presents many attractions. In the
works of Thomas Love Peacock, and still more clearly in the works of
Mr. W. H. Mallock, you will find an agreeable rendering of that
conception. The bulk of the people will be organized out of sight in a
state of industrious and productive congestion, and a wealthy,
leisurely, and refined minority will live in spacious homes, with
excellent museums, libraries, and all the equipments of culture; will
go to town, concentrate in Paris, London, and Rome, and travel about
the world. It is to these large, luxurious, powerful lives that the
idealist naturally turns. Their motor-cars, their aeroplanes, their
steam yachts will awaken terror and respect in every corner of the
globe. Their handsome doings will fill the papers. They will patronize
the arts and literature, while at the same time mellowing them by
eliminating that too urgent insistence upon contemporary fact which
makes so much of what is done to-day harsh and displeasing. The
middle-class tradition will be continued by a class of stewards,
tenants, managers, and foremen, secretaries and the like, respected
and respectful. The writer, the artist, will lead lives of comfortable
dependence, a link between class and class, the lowest of the rich
man's guests, the highest of his servants. As for the masses, they
will be fed with a sort of careless vigour and considerable economy
from the Chicago stockyards, and by agricultural produce trusts, big
breweries, fresh-water companies, and the like; they will be organized
industrially and carefully controlled. Their spiritual needs will be
provided for by churches endowed by the wealthy, their physical
distresses alleviated by the hope of getting charitable aid, their
lives made bright and adventurous by the crumbs of sport that fall
from the rich man's table. They will crowd to see the motor-car races,
the aeroplane competitions. It will be a world rich in contrasts and
not without its gleam of pure adventure. Every bright young fellow of
capacity will have the hope of catching the eye of some powerful
personage, of being advanced to some high position of trust, of even
ending his days as a partner, a subordinate assistant plutocrat. Or he
may win a quite agreeable position by literary or artistic merit. A
pretty girl, a clever woman of the middle class would have before her
even more brilliant and romantic possibilities.

There can be no denying the promises of colour and eventfulness a
Plutocracy holds out, and though they do not attract me, I can quite
understand their appeal to the more ductile and appreciative mind of
Mr. Mallock. But there are countervailing considerations. There is, it
is said, a tendency in Plutocracies either to become unprogressive,
unenterprising and stagnantly autocratic, or to develop states of
stress and discontent, and so drift towards Cæsarism. The latter was
the fate of the Roman Republic, and may perhaps be the destiny of the
budding young Plutocracy of America. But the developing British
Plutocracy, like the Carthaginian, will be largely Semitic in blood,
and like the Carthaginian may resist these insurgent tendencies.

So much for the Plutocratic possibility. If the middle-class man on
any account does not like that outlook, he can turn in the other
direction; and then he will find fine promises indeed, but much more
uncertainty than towards Plutocracy. Plutocracies the world has seen
before, but a democratic civilization organized upon the lines laid
down by modern Socialists would be a new beginning in the world's
history. It is not a thing that will come about by itself; it will
have to be the outcome of a sustained moral and intellectual effort in
the community. If there is not that effort, if things go on as they
are going now, the coming of a Plutocracy is inevitable. That effort,
I am convinced, cannot be successfully made by the lower-class man
alone; from him, unaided and unguided, there is nothing to be expected
but wild convulsive attempts at social upheaval, which, whether they
succeed (as the French Revolution did) or fail (as did the
insurrectionary outbreaks of the Republic in Rome), lead ultimately to
a Napoleon or a Cæsar. But our contemporary civilization is
unprecedented in the fact that the whole population now reads, and
that intelligence and free discussion saturate the whole mass. Only
time can show what possibilities of understanding, leadership, and
political action lie in our new generation of the better-educated
middle class. Will it presently begin to define a line for itself?
Will it remain disorganized and passive, or will it become intelligent
and decisive between these millstones of the organized property and
the organizing State, between Plutocracy and Socialism, whose
opposition is the supreme social and political fact in the world at
the present time?

§ 2.

Perhaps, also, it may be helpful here to insert a view of the
contemporary possibilities of Socialism from a rather different angle,
a view that follows on to the matter of the previous section, but
appeals to a different section of the Middle Class. It is a quotation
from the _Magazine of Commerce_ for September 1907, and leads to an
explanation by the present writer.

    "The recent return of Mr. Grayson, a Socialist, as member of
    Parliament for the Colne Valley, has brought prominently
    before the public mind the question of Socialism. Mr. Pete
    Curran's success at Jarrow a month or so ago, and the large
    number of Labour members returned at the last General
    Election, caused more or less desultory comment on Socialism
    as a possible feature of practical politics in the remote
    future; but Mr. Grayson can certainly claim that his
    achievement at Colne Valley brought the question of Socialism
    in to the very forefront at one bound. It is difficult to
    ignore Socialism, to dismiss it as a mere fad and fancy of a
    few hare-brained enthusiasts, after Mr. Grayson's success. The
    verdict of Colne Valley may be the verdict of many another
    constituency where the so-called working-class electors are
    numerically predominant. When we consider that the manual
    worker represents the majority of the electorate of the
    country, this contingency does not appear to be so very
    remote, provided that the leaders of Socialism can organize
    their resources and canvass the working-men on a wide and
    carefully-planned scale. In this respect the Colne Valley
    result may very well give them the lead and stimulus they have
    been waiting for. It must be borne in mind, too, that the
    forward section of the Labour Party is avowedly Socialist in
    its sympathies, and a definite start may therefore be said to
    have been made towards capturing the machinery of Government
    in the Cause of Socialism.

    "How will Socialism affect the business world? This is a
    question which many thoughtful business men must have already
    put to themselves. For reply we must go to the leaders of
    Socialism, and discover what their policy actually is. The
    common impression that Socialism spells barefaced confiscation
    is too superficial to be seriously adduced as an argument
    against Socialism. The leaders of the Cause include some of
    the cleverest men of the day--men who have a more rational
    basis for their policy than that of simply robbing Peter to
    pay Paul. The suggestion that Socialism means a compulsory
    'share out' may be rightly dismissed as an idle scare. The
    most bitter opponent of Socialism must at least admit that
    there is a stronger argument to be met than that implied by
    the parrot-cry of 'spoliation.' Socialism has, at any rate, so
    far advanced as to be allowed the ordinary courtesies of
    debate. We may oppose it tooth and nail, but we must confront
    argument with argument and not with abuse.

    "Despite much excellent literature which is read widely by
    cultured people, very little is known by the general public of
    the principles which modern British Socialists have adopted as
    their guiding rules. Few business men care to study the
    subject. We have therefore addressed a letter to the chief
    leaders of the Cause, with the purpose of ascertaining the
    effect which Socialism would have on our business habits. Our
    object was to discover how far Socialism might disturb or
    improve business; whether it would altogether subvert present
    methods, or whether it could be applied without injury to
    these methods. To put the matter very plainly, we wished to
    learn whether we should carry on our business much as we do
    now, giving free play to individual effort and individual

    "The reply of Mr. Wells is as follows:--

        "'MY DEAR SIR,

        "'I wish very much I could reply at adequate length to
        your very admirably framed question. The constant stream
        of abuse and of almost imbecile misrepresentations of
        Socialism in the Press has no doubt served to distort
        the idea of our movement in the minds of a large
        proportion of busy men, and filled them with an
        unfounded dread of social insecurity. If it were
        possible to allay that by an epigrammatic programme,
        "Socialism in a Nutshell," so to speak, I would do my
        best. But the economic and trading system of a modern
        State is not only a vast and complex tangle of
        organizations, but at present an uncharted tangle, and
        necessarily the methods of transition from the limited
        individualism of our present condition to the
        scientifically-organized State, which is the Socialist
        ideal, must be gradual, tentative and various.

        "'To build up a body of social and economic science, to
        develop a class of trained administrators, to rearrange
        local government areas, to educate the whole community
        in the "sense of the State" are necessary parts of the
        Socialist scheme. You must try and induce your readers
        to recognize that when Socialism finds such supporters
        as Sir Oliver Lodge and Professor Karl Pearson, as
        William Morris (who revolutionized the furniture trade),
        as Granville Barker (who is revolutionizing the London
        stage), as Mr. George Cadbury and Mr. Fels (whose names
        are not unknown in the world of advertisement), as Mr.
        Allan (of the Allan Line), as Mr. George Bernard Shaw
        and Mrs. Shaw, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb and Sir Sidney
        Olivier (the present Governor of Jamaica)--all of them
        fairly comfortable and independent people, practically
        acquainted with the business of investment and affairs
        generally and quite alive to the present relations of
        property to the civilized life--the suggestion that it
        is a raid of the ignorant "Have-nots" on the possessions
        of the wise and good "Haves" cannot be a very
        intelligent one nor addressed to very intelligent
        people. Essentially Socialism is the
        scientifically-organized State as distinguished from the
        haphazard, wasteful, blundering, child-sweating State of
        the eighteenth century. It is the systematization of
        present tendency. Necessarily its methods of transition
        will be progressively scientific and humane.

        "'So far as your specific questions go, I do not think
        there could possibly be anything in the nature of
        "compulsory profit-sharing" if a Socialist Government
        came into office. There is at present a compulsory
        profit-sharing in the form of an income-tax, but that
        tax does not appeal to the Socialist as a particularly
        scientific one. The advent of a strongly-Socialist
        Government would mean no immediate revolutionary changes
        at all. There would be, no doubt, a vigorous
        acceleration of the educational movement to increase the
        economic value and productivity of the average citizen
        of the next generation, and legislation upon the lines
        laid down by the principle of the "minimum wage" to
        check the waste of our national resources by destructive
        employment. Also a systematic shifting of the burthen of
        taxation from enterprise to rent would begin. But
        nothing convulsive would occur.'"

        "'The means of transit and communication of the country
        (both internal and external), and especially the
        railways and canals (which are now rapidly falling into
        inefficiency through the exhaustion of their capital
        upon excessive dividends in the past), would probably be
        transferred from competitive private to organized public
        control--a transfer that would certainly be enormously
        stimulating to business generally. There would be no
        "robbery," the former shareholders would become stock or
        annuity holders. Nor would there be any financial
        convulsion due to the raising of the "enormous sum"
        necessary to effect this purchase. The country would
        simply create stock, while at the same time taking over
        assets to balance the new liability.

        "'A Socialist Government would certainly also acquire
        the coal mines and the coal trade, and relieve industry
        from the inconveniences due to the manipulation of the
        supply of this vitally important factor, and it would
        accelerate the obvious tendency of the present time to
        bring the milk trade, the drink trade, slaughtering,
        local traffic, lighting and power supply into public
        hands. But none of this is the destruction of property,
        but only its organization and standardization. Such a
        State organization of public services is, I submit,
        enough to keep a Socialist Government busy for some few
        years, and makes not only for social progress, but
        social stability.

        "'And does an honest and capable business man stand to
        lose or gain by the coming of such a Socialist
        Government? I submit that, on the whole, he stands to
        gain. Let me put down the essential points in his
        outlook as I conceive them.

        "'Under a Socialist Government such as is quite possible
        in England at the present time:--

        "'He will be restricted from methods of production and
        sale that are socially mischievous.

        "'He will pay higher wages.

        "'He will pay a larger proportion of his rate-rent
        outgoings to the State and Municipality, and less to the
        landlord. Ultimately he will pay it all to the State or
        Municipality, and as a voter help to determine how it
        shall be spent, and the landlord will become a
        Government stock-holder. Practically he will get his
        rent returned to him in public services.

        "'He will speedily begin to get better-educated,
        better-fed and better-trained workers, so that he will
        get money value for the higher wages he pays.

        "'He will get a regular, safe, cheap supply of power and
        material. He will get cheaper and more efficient
        internal and external transit.

        "'He will be under an organized scientific State, which
        will naturally pursue a vigorous scientific collective
        policy in support of the national trade.

        "'He will be less of an adventurer and more of a

So I wrote to the _Magazine of Commerce_, and that for the energetic
man who is conducting a real and socially useful business is the
outlook. Socialism is not the coming of chaos and repudiation, it is
the coming of order and justice. For confusion and accident and waste,
the Socialist seeks to substitute design and collective economy. That
too is the individual aim of every good business man who is not a mere
advertising cheat or financial adventurer. To the sound-minded,
clear-headed man of affairs, Socialism appeals just as it appeals to
the scientific man, to the engineer, to the artist, because it is the
same reality, the large scale aspect of the same constructive motive,
that stirs in himself.

§ 3.

Let me finally quote the chairman of one of the most enterprising and
enlightened business organizations of our time to show that in
claiming the better type of business man for modern Socialism I am
making no vain boast. Sir John Brunner may not call himself a
Socialist, but this is very probably due to the fact that he gets his
ideas of Socialism from the misquotations of its interested
adversaries. This that follows from the _Manchester Guardian_ is pure

    Speaking at the annual meeting of Brunner, Mond and Co., Ltd.,
    in Liverpool (1907), the chairman, Sir John Brunner, M.P.,
    made a remarkable pronouncement on the subject of the
    collective ownership of canals. He said:--

    "I have been one of a Royal Commission visiting the North of
    France, Belgium, and Northern Germany, and our duty has been
    to examine what those three countries have done in the
    improvement of their canals and their waterways. We have been
    very deeply impressed by what we have seen, and I can tell you
    to-day, speaking as a man of business to men of business, that
    the fact that in these three countries there is communal
    effort--that is to say, that the State in money and in credit
    for the benefit of the national trade--has brought to those
    three countries enormous, almost incalculable, benefits; and I
    think that any man, any intelligent man, who studies this
    matter as I have studied it for a great many years, will come
    the conclusion, as I have come very clearly and decidedly,
    that the old policy which we have adopted for generations of
    leaving all public works to private enterprise--the old
    policy, so called, of _laissez faire_--is played out
    completely, and I am of opinion, very firmly, that, if we mean
    to hold our own in matters of trade, we must learn to follow
    the example that has been set us not only by France, Belgium,
    and Germany, but by the United States and by every one of the
    Colonies of our Empire. Everywhere do you find that trade is
    helped by the effort of the community, by the force of the
    State, and I shall be very heartily pleased if those who hear
    me will think the matter over and decide for themselves
    whether or not we as business people--preeminently the
    business people of the world--are to maintain the old policy
    of leaving everything to private enterprise, or whether we are
    to act together for the good of all in this important matter
    of the national trade."



§ 1.

In the preceding eight chapters I have sought to give as plain and
full an account of the great generalizations of Socialism as I can,
and to make it clear exactly what these generalizations convey, and
how far they go in this direction and that. Before we go on to a brief
historical and anticipatory account of the actual Socialist movement,
it may be worth while to take up and consider compactly the chief
objections that are urged against the general propositions of
Socialism in popular discussion.

Now a very large proportion of these arise out of the commonest vice
of the human mind, its disposition to see everything as "yes" or "no,"
as "black" or "white," its impatience, its incapacity for a fine
discrimination of intermediate shades.[14] The queer old scholastic
logic still prevails remarkably in our modern world; you find Mr.
Mallock, for example, going about arranging his syllogisms, extracting
his opponent's "self-contradictions," and disposing of Socialism with
stupendous self-satisfaction in all the magazines. He disposes of
Socialism quite in the spirit of the young mediæval scholar returning
home to prove beyond dispute that "my cat has ten tails" and, given a
yard's start, that a tortoise can always keep ahead of a running man.
The essential fallacy is always to declare that either a thing is A or
it is not A; either a thing is green or it is not green; either a
thing is heavy or it is not heavy. Unthinking people, and some who
ought to know better, fall into that trap. They dismiss from their
minds the fact that there is a tinge of green in nearly every object
in the world, and that there is no such thing as pure green, unless it
be just one line or so in the long series of the spectrum; they forget
that the lightest thing has weight and that the heaviest thing can be
lifted. The rest of the process is simple and has no relation whatever
to the realities of life. They agree to some hard and fast impossible
definition of Socialism, permit the exponent to extract absurdities
therefrom as a conjurer gets rabbits from a hat, and retire with a
conviction that on the whole it is well to have had this disturbing
matter settled once for all.

   [14] See "Scepticism of the Instrument," the Appendix to _A
        Modern Utopia_. (Chapman & Hall.)

For example, the Anti-Socialist declares that Socialism "abolishes
property." He makes believe there is a hard absolute thing called
"property" which must either be or not be, which is now, and which
will not be under Socialism. To any person with a philosophical
education this is a ridiculous mental process, but it seems perfectly
rational to an untrained mind--and that is the usual case with the
Anti-Socialist. Having achieved this initial absurdity, he then asks
in a tone of bitter protest whether a man may not sleep in his own
bed, and is he to do nothing if he finds a coal-heaver already in
possession when he retires? This is the method of Mr. G. R. Sims, that
delightful writer, who from altitudes of exhaustive misunderstanding
tells the working-man that under Socialism he will have--I forget his
exact formula, but it is a sort of refrain--no money of his own, no
home of his own, no wife of his own, no hair of his own! It is
effective nonsense in its way--but nonsense nevertheless. In my
preceding chapters I hope I have made it clear that "property" even
to-day is a very qualified and uncertain thing, a natural vague
instinct capable of perversion and morbid exaggeration and needing
control, and that Socialism seeks simply to give it a sharper, juster
and rationally limited form in relation to the common-weal.

Or again, the opponent has it that Socialism "abolishes the
family"--and with it, of course, "every sacred and tender
association," etc., etc. To that also I have given a chapter.

I do not think much Anti-Socialism is dishonest in these matters. The
tricks of deliberate falsification, forgery and falsehood that
discredit a few Conservative candidates and speakers in the north of
England and smirch the reputations of one or two London papers, are
due to a quite exceptional streak of baseness in what is on the whole
a straightforward opposition to Socialism. Anti-Socialism, as its name
implies, is no alternative doctrine; it is a mental resistance, not a
mental force. For the most part one is dealing with sheer intellectual
incapacity; with people, muddle-headed perhaps, but quite
well-meaning, who are really unable to grasp the quantitative element
in things. They think with a simple flat certitude that if, for
example, a doctor says quinine is good for a case it means that he
wishes to put every ounce of quinine that can be procured into his
patient, to focus all the quinine in the world upon him; or that if a
woman says she likes dancing, that thereby she declares her intention
to dance until she drops. They are dear lumpish souls who like things
"straightforward" as they say--all or nothing. They think
qualifications or any quantitative treatment "quibbling," to be loudly
scorned, bawled down and set aside.

In controversy the temptations for a hot and generous temperament,
eager for victory, to misstate and overstate the antagonist's position
are enormous, and the sensible Socialist must allow for them unless he
is to find discussion intolerable. The reader of the preceding
chapters should know exactly how Socialism stands to the family
relations, the things it urges, the things it regards with
impartiality or patient toleration, the things it leaves alone. The
preceding chapters merely summarize a literature that has been
accessible for years. Yet it is extraordinary how few antagonists of
Socialism seem able even to approach these questions in a rational
manner. One admirably typical critic of a pamphlet in which I
propounded exactly the same opinions as are here set out in the third
chapter, found great comfort in the expression "brood mares." He took
hold of my phrase, "State family," and ran wild with it. He declared
it to be my intention that women were no longer to be wives but "brood
mares" for the State. Nothing would convince him that this was a
glaring untruth. His mind was essentially equestrian; "human stud
farm" was another of his expressions.[15] Ridicule and argument failed
to touch him; I believe he would have gone to the stake to justify his
faith that Socialists want to put woman in the Government _haras_. His
thick-headedness had, indeed, a touch of the heroic.

   [15] What makes the expression particularly inappropriate in
        my case is the fact that in my _Mankind in the Making_ there
        is a clearly-reasoned chapter (Ch. II.) which has never been
        answered, in which I discuss and, I think, conclusively
        dispose of Mr. Francis Galton's ideas of Eugenics and
        deliberate stirpiculture.

Then a certain Father Phelan of St. Louis, no doubt in a state of
mental exaltation as honest as it was indiscriminating, told the world
through the columns of an American magazine that I wanted to tear the
babe from the mother's breast and thrust it into an "Institution." He
said worse things than that--but I set them aside as pulpit eloquence.
Some readers, no doubt, knew better and laughed, but many were quite
sincerely shocked, and resolved after that to give Socialism a very
wide berth indeed. _Honi soit qui mal y pense_; the revolting ideas
that disgusted them were not mine, they came from some hot dark
reservoir of evil thoughts that years of chastity and discipline seem
to have left intact in Father Phelan's soul.

The error in all these cases is the error of overstatement, of getting
into a condition of confused intellectual excitement, and because a
critic declares your window curtains too blue, saying, therefore, and
usually with passion, that he wants the whole universe, sky and sea
included, painted bright orange. The inquirer into the question of
Socialism will find that an almost incurable disease of these
controversies. Again and again he will meet with it. If after that
critic's little proposition about your window curtains he chances to
say that on the whole he thinks an orange sky would be unpleasant, the
common practice is to accuse him of not "sticking to his guns."

My friends, Mr. G. K. Chesterton and Mr. Max Beerbohm, those brilliant
ornaments of our age, when they chance to write about Socialism,
confess this universal failing--albeit in a very different quality and
measure. They are not, it is true, distressed by that unwashed
coal-heaver who haunts the now private bed of the common
Anti-Socialist, nor have they any horrid vision of the fathers of the
community being approved by a select committee of the County
Council--no doubt wrapped in horse-cloths and led out by their
grooms--such as troubles the spurred and quivering soul of that
equestrian--I forget his name--the "brood-mare" gentleman who
denounced me in the _Pall Mall Gazette_; but their souls fly out in a
passion of protest against the hints of discipline and order the
advancement of Socialism reveals. Mr. G. K. Chesterton mocks valiantly
and passionately, I know, against an oppressive and obstinately
recurrent anticipation of himself in Socialist hands, hair clipped,
meals of a strictly hygienic description at regular hours, a fine for
laughing--not that he would want to laugh--and austere exercises in
several of the more metallic virtues daily. Mr. Max Beerbohm's
conception is rather in the nature of a nightmare, a hopeless, horrid,
frozen flight from the pursuit of Mr. Sidney Webb and myself, both of
us short, inelegant men indeed, but for all that terribly resolute,
indefatigable, incessant, to capture him, to drag him off to a
mechanical Utopia and there to take his thumb-mark and his name,
number him distinctly in indelible ink, dress him in an unbecoming
uniform, and let him loose (under inspection) in a world of neat round
lakes of blue lime water and vistas of white sanitary tiling....

The method of reasoning in all these cases is the same; it is to
assume that whatever the Socialist postulates as desirable is wanted
without limit or qualification, to imagine whatever proposal is chosen
for the controversy is to be carried out by uncontrolled monomaniacs,
and so to make a picture of the Socialist dream. This picture is
presented to the simple-minded person in doubt with "This is
Socialism. Surely! SURELY! you don't want this!"

And occasionally the poor, simple-minded person really is overcome by
these imagined terrors. He turns back to our dingy realities again, to
the good old grimy world he knows, thanking God beyond measure that he
will never live to see the hateful day when one baby out of every four
ceases to die in our manufacturing towns, when lives of sordid care
are banished altogether from the earth, and when the "sense of humour"
and the cult of Mark Tapley which flourishes so among these things
will be in danger of perishing from disuse....

But the reader sees now what Socialism is in its essentials, the
tempered magnificence of the constructive scheme to which it asks him
to devote his life. It is a laborious, immense project to make the
world a world of social justice, of opportunity and full living, to
abolish waste, to abolish the lavish unpremeditated cruelty of our
present social order. Do not let the wit or perversity of the
adversary or, what is often a far worse influence, the zeal and
overstatement of the headlong advocate, do not let the manifest
personal deficiencies of this spokesman or that, distract you from the
living heart in Socialism, its broad generosity of conception, its
immense claim in kinship and direction upon your Good Will.

§ 2.

For the convenience of those readers who are in the position of
inquirers, I had designed at this point a section which was to contain
a list of the chief objections to Socialism--other than mere
misrepresentations--which are current now-a-days. I had meant at first
to answer each one fully and gravely, to clear them all up
exhaustively and finally before proceeding. But I find now upon
jotting them down, that they are for the most part already anticipated
by the preceding chapters, and so I will note them here, very
compactly indeed, and make but the briefest comment upon each.

There is first the assertion, which effectually bars a great number of
people from further inquiry into Socialist teaching, that _Socialism
is contrary to Christianity_. I would urge that this is the absolute
inversion of the truth. Christianity involves, I am convinced, a
practical Socialism if it is honestly carried out. This is not only my
conviction, but the reader, if he is a Nonconformist, can find it set
out at length by Dr. Clifford in a Fabian tract, _Socialism and the
Teaching of Christ_; and, if a Churchman, by the Rev. Stewart Headlam
in another, _Christian Socialism_. He will find a longer and fuller
discussion of this question in the Rev. R. J. Campbell's _Christianity
and Social Order_. In the list of members of such a Socialist Society
as the Fabian Society will be found the names of clergy of the
principal Christian denominations, excepting only the Roman Catholic
Church. It is said, indeed, that a good Catholic of the Roman
Communion cannot also be any sort of Socialist. Even this very general
persuasion may not be correct. I believe the papal prohibition was
originally aimed entirely at a specific form of Socialism, the
Socialism of Marx, Engels and Bebel, which is, I must admit,
unfortunately strongly anti-Christian in tone, as is the Socialism of
the British Social Democratic Federation to this day. It is true that
many leaders of the Socialist party have also been Secularists, and
that they have mingled their theological prejudices with their
political work. This is the case not only in Germany and America, but
in Great Britain, where Mr. Robert Blatchford of the _Clarion_, for
example, has also carried on a campaign against doctrinal
Christianity. But this association of Secularism and Socialism is only
the inevitable throwing together of two sets of ideas because they
have this in common, that they run counter to generally received
opinions; there is no other connection. Many prominent Secularists,
like Charles Bradlaugh and Mr. J. M. Robertson, are as emphatically
anti-Socialist as the Pope. Secularists and Socialists get thrown
together and classed together just as early Christians and criminals
and rebels against the Emperor were no doubt thrown together in the
Roman gaols. They had this much in common, that they were in conflict
with what most people considered to be right. It is a confusion that
needs constant explaining away. It is to me a most lamentable
association of two entirely separate thought processes, one
constructive socially and the other destructive intellectually, and I
have already, in Chapter VI., § 4, done my best to disavow it.

_Socialism is pure Materialism, it seeks only physical
well-being_,--just as much as nursing lepers for pity and the love of
God is pure materialism that seeks only physical well-being.

_Socialism advocates Free Love._ This objection I have also disposed
of in Chapter VI., §§ 2 and 4.

_Socialism renders love impossible, and reduces humanity to the
condition of a stud farm._ This, too, has been already dealt with; see
Chapter III., §§ 2 and 5, and Chapter VI., §§ 2, 3, and 4. These two
objections generally occur together in the same anti-Socialist speech
or tract.

_Socialism would destroy parental responsibility._ This absurd
perversion is altogether disposed of in Chapter VI., § 3. It is a
direct inversion of current Socialist teaching.

§ 3.

_Socialism would open the way to vast public corruption._ This is
flatly opposed to the experience of America, where local
administration has been as little Socialistic and as corrupt as
anywhere in the world. Obviously in order that a public official
should be bribed, there must be some wealthy person outside the system
to bribe him and with an interest in bribing him. When you have a weak
administration with feeble powers and resources and strong
unscrupulous private corporations seeking to override the law and
public welfare, the possibilities of bribing are at the highest point.
In a community given over to the pursuit of gain, powerful private
enterprises will resort to corruption to get and protract franchises,
to evade penalties, to postpone expropriation, and they will do it
systematically and successfully. And even where there is partial
public enterprise and a competition among contractors, there will
certainly be, at least, attempts at corruption to get contracts. But
where the whole process is in public hands, where can the bribery
creep in; who is going to find the money for the bribes, and why?

It is urged that in another direction there is likely to be a
corruption of public life due to the organized voting of the
_employés_ in this branch of the public service or that, seeking some
advantage for their own service. This is Lord Avebury's bogey.[16]
Frankly, such voting by services is highly probable. The tramway men
or the milk-service men may think they are getting too long hours or
too low pay in comparison with the teachers or men on the ocean
liners, and the thing may affect elections. That is only human nature,
and the point to bear in mind is that this sort of thing goes on
to-day, and goes on with a vigour out of all proportion to the mild
possibilities of a Socialist _régime_. The landowners of Great
Britain, for example, are organized in the most formidable manner
against the general interests of the community, and constantly
subordinate the interests of the common-weal to their conception of
justice to their class; the big railways are equally potent, and so
are the legal profession and the brewers. But to-day these political
interventions of great organized services athwart the path of
statesmanship are sustained by enormous financial resources. The State
_employés_ under Socialism will be in the position of employing one
another and paying one another; the teacher, for example, will be
educating the sons of the tramway men up to the requirements of the
public paymaster, and travelling in the trams to and from his work;
there will be close mutual observation and criticism, therefore, and a
strong community of spirit, and that will put very definite limits
indeed upon the possibly evil influence of class and service interests
in politics.

   [16] _On Municipal and National Trading_, by Lord Avebury.
        (Macmillan & Co., 1907.)

_Socialism would destroy Incentive and Efficiency._ This is dealt with
in Chapter V. on the Spirit of Gain and the Spirit of Service.

_Socialism is economically unsound._ The student of Socialism who
studies--and every student of Socialism should study very
carefully--the literature directed against Socialism, will encounter a
number of rather confused and frequently very confusing arguments
running upon "business" or "economic" lines. In nearly all of these
the root error is a misconception of the nature and aim of Socialist
claims. Sometimes this misconception is stated and manifest, often it
is subtly implied, and then it presents the greatest difficulties to
the inexpert dialectician. I find, for instance, Mr. W. H. Lever, in
an article on Socialism and Business in the _Magazine of Commerce_ for
October 1907, assuming that there will be no increase in the total
wealth of the community under Socialism, whereas, as my fourth chapter
shows, Socialist proposals in the matter of property aim directly at
the cessation of the waste occasioned by competition through the
duplication and multiplication of material and organizations (see for
example the quotation from Elihu, p. 69), and at the removal of the
obstructive claims of private ownership (see p. 65) from the path of
production. If Socialism does not increase the total wealth of the
community, Socialism is impossible.

Having made this assumption, however, Mr. Lever next assumes that all
contemporary business is productive of honest, needed commodities, and
that its public utility and its profitable conduct measure one
another. But this ignores the manifest fact that success in business
now-a-days is far more often won by the mere salesmanship of mediocre
or inferior or short-weight goods than it is by producing exceptional
value, and the Kentish railways, for example, are a standing contrast
of the conflict between public service and private profit-seeking. But
having committed himself to these two entirely unsound assumptions, it
is easy for Mr. Lever to show that since Socialism will give no more
wealth, and since what he calls Labour, Capital and the Employer (_i.e._
Labour, Plant and Management) are necessary to production and must
be maintained out of the total product, there will be little more,
practically, for the Labourer under Socialist conditions than under
the existing _régime_. Going on further to assume that the Owner is
always enterprising and intelligent and public-spirited, and the State
stupid (which is a quite unjustifiable assumption), he shows their
share may even be less. But the whole case for the Socialist
proposals, the student must bear in mind, rests upon the recognition
that private management of our collective concerns means chaotic and
socially wasteful management--however efficient it may be in
individual cases for competitive purposes--and that the systematic
abolition of the parasitic Owner from our economic process implies the
replacement of confusion by order and an immense increase in the
efficiency of that economic process. Socialism is economy. If the
student of Socialism does not bear this in mind, if once he allows the
assumption to creep in that Socialism is not so much a proposal to
change, concentrate and organize the economic process, as one to
distribute the existing wealth of the country in some new manner, he
will find there is a bad case for Socialism.

It is an amusing and I think a fair comment on the arguments of Mr.
Lever that a year or so ago he was actually concerned--no doubt in the
interests of the public as well as his own--in organizing the
production and distribution of soap so as to economize the waste and
avoid the public disservice due to the extreme competition of the soap
dealers. He wanted to do in the soap industry just exactly what
Socialism wants to do in the case of all public services, that is to
say he wanted to give it the economic advantages of a Great Combine.
In some directions the saving to the soap interest would have been
immense; all the vast expenditure upon newspaper advertisements, for
example, all the waste upon competing travellers would have been
saved. Whether the public would have benefited greatly or not is
beside the present question; Mr. Lever and other great soap
proprietors would certainly have benefited enormously. They would have
benefited by working as a collective interest instead of as
independent private owners. But in this little experiment in what was
really a sort of voluntary Socialism for particular ends, Mr. Lever
reckoned without another great system of private adventurers, the
halfpenny newspaper proprietors, who had hitherto been drawing large
sums from soap advertisement, and who had in fact been so far
parasitic on the public soap supply. One group of these papers at once
began a campaign against the "Soap Trust," a campaign almost as noisy
and untruthful as the anti-Socialist campaign. They accused Mr. Lever
of nearly every sort of cheating that can be done by a soap seller,
and anticipated every sort of oppression a private monopolist can
practise. In the end they paid unprecedented damages for libel, but
they stopped Mr. Lever's intelligent and desirable endeavours to
replace the waste and disorder of our existing soap supply by a simple
and more efficient organization. Mr. Lever cannot have forgotten these
facts; they were surely in the back of his mind when he wrote his
"Socialism and Business" paper, and it is a curious instance of the
unconscious limitations one may encounter in a mind of exceptional
ability that he could not bring them forward and apply them to the
problem in hand.

_Socialism is unbusinesslike._ See Chapter VIII., §§ 2 and 3.

§ 4.

_Socialism would destroy freedom._ This is a more considerable
difficulty. To begin with it may be necessary to remind the reader
that absolute freedom is an impossibility. As I have written in my
_Modern Utopia_:--

    "The idea of individual liberty is one that has grown in
    importance and grows with every development of modern thought.
    To the classical Utopists freedom was relatively trivial.
    Clearly they considered virtue and happiness as entirely
    separable from liberty, and as being altogether more important
    things. But the modern view, with its deepening insistence
    upon individuality and upon the significance of its
    uniqueness, steadily intensifies the value of freedom, until
    at last we begin to see liberty as the very substance of life,
    that indeed it is life, and that only the dead things, the
    choiceless things live in absolute obedience to law. To have
    free play for one's individuality is, in the modern view, the
    subjective triumph of existence, as survival in creative work
    and offspring is its objective triumph. But for all men, since
    man is a social creature, the play of will must fall short of
    absolute freedom. Perfect human liberty is possible only to a
    despot who is absolutely and universally obeyed. Then to will
    would be to command and achieve, and within the limits of
    natural law we could at any moment do exactly as it pleased us
    to do. All other liberty is a compromise between our own
    freedom of will and the wills of those with whom we come in
    contact. In an organized state each one of us has a more or
    less elaborate code of what he may do to others and to
    himself, and what others may do to him. He limits others by
    his rights and is limited by the rights of others, and by
    considerations affecting the welfare of the community as a

    "Individual liberty in a community is not, as mathematicians
    would say, always of the same sign. To ignore this is the
    essential fallacy of the cult called Individualism. But in
    truth, a general prohibition in a State may increase the sum
    of liberty, and a general permission may diminish it. It does
    not follow, as these people would have us believe, that a man
    is more free where there is least law, and more restricted
    where there is most law. A socialism or a communism is not
    necessarily a slavery, and there is no freedom under

    "It follows, therefore, in a modern Utopia, which finds the
    final hope of the world in the evolving interplay of unique
    individualities, that the State will have effectually chipped
    away just all those spendthrift liberties that waste liberty,
    and not one liberty more, and so have attained the maximum
    general freedom."...

That is the gist of the Socialist's answer to this accusation. He asks
what freedom is there to-day for the vast majority of mankind? They
are free to do nothing but work for a bare subsistence all their
lives, they may not go freely about the earth even, but are prosecuted
for trespassing upon the health-giving breast of our universal mother.
Consider the clerks and girls who hurry to their work of a morning
across Brooklyn Bridge in New York, or Hungerford Bridge in London; go
and see them, study their faces. They are free, with a freedom
Socialism would destroy. Consider the poor painted girls who pursue
bread with nameless indignities through our streets at night. They are
free by the current standard. And the poor half-starved wretches
struggling with the impossible stint of oakum in a casual ward, they
too are free! The nimble footman is free, the crushed porter between
the trucks is free, the woman in the mill, the child in the mine. Ask
them! They will tell you how free they are. They have happened to
choose these ways of living--that is all. No doubt the piquancy of the
life attracts them in many such cases.

Let us be frank; a form of Socialism might conceivably exist without
much freedom, with hardly more freedom than that of a British worker
to-day. A State Socialism tyrannized over by officials who might be
almost as bad at times as uncontrolled small employers, is so far
possible that in Germany it is practically half-existent now. A
bureaucratic Socialism might conceivably be a state of affairs
scarcely less detestable than our own. I will not deny there is a
clear necessity of certain addenda to the wider formulæ of Socialism
if we are to be safeguarded effectually from the official. We need
free speech, free discussion, free publication, as essentials for a
wholesome Socialist State. How they may be maintained I shall discuss
in a later chapter. But these admissions do not justify the present
system. Socialism, though it failed to give us freedom, would not
destroy anything that we have in this way. We want freedom now, and we
have it not. We speak of freedom of speech, but to-day, in innumerable
positions, Socialist _employés_ who declared their opinions openly
would be dismissed. Then again in religious questions there is an
immense amount of intolerance and suppression of social and religious
discussion to-day, especially in our English villages. As for freedom
of action, most of us, from fourteen to the grave, are chased from
even the leisure to require freedom by the necessity of earning a

Socialism, as I have stated it thus far, and as it is commonly stated,
would give economic liberty to men and women alike, it would save them
from the cruel urgency of need, and so far it would enormously enlarge
freedom, but it does not guarantee them political or intellectual
liberty. That I frankly admit, and accept as one of the
incompletenesses of contemporary Socialism. I conceive, therefore, as
I shall explain at length in a later chapter, that it is necessary to
supplement such Socialism as is currently received by certain new
propositions. But to admit that Socialism does not guarantee freedom,
is not to admit that Socialism will destroy it. It is possible, given
certain conditions, for men to be nearly absolutely free in speech, in
movement, in conduct; enormously free, that is, as compared with our
present conditions, in a Socialist State established upon the two
great propositions I have formulated in Chapters III. and IV. So that
the statement that Socialism will destroy freedom is a baseless one of
no value as a general argument against the Socialist idea.

§ 5.

_Socialism would reduce life to one monotonous dead level!_ This in a
world in which the majority of people live in cheap cottages, villa
residences and tenement houses, read halfpenny newspapers and wear
ready-made clothes!

_Socialism would destroy Art, Invention and Literature._ I do not know
why this objection is made, unless it be that the objectors suppose
that artists will not create, inventors will not think, and no one
write or sing except to please a wealthy patron. Without his opulent
smile, where would they be? Well, do not let us be ungrateful; the
arts owe much to patronage. Go to Venice, go to Florence, and you will
find a glorious harvest of pictures and architecture, sown and reaped
by a mercantile plutocracy. But then in Rome, in Athens, you will find
an equal accumulation made under very different conditions. Reach a
certain phase of civilization, a certain leisure and wealth, and art
will out, however the wealth may be distributed. In certain sumptuous
directions art flourishes now, and would certainly flourish less in a
Socialist State; in the gear of ostentatious luxury, in private
furniture of all sorts, in palace building, in the exquisite
confections of costly feminine adornment, in the luxurious binding of
books, in the cooking of larks, in the distinguished portraiture of
undistinguished persons, in the various refinements of prostitution,
in the subtle accommodations of mystic theology, in jewellery. It is
quite conceivable that in such departments Socialism will discourage
and limit æsthetic and intellectual effort. But no mercantile
plutocracy could ever have produced a Gothic cathedral, a folk-lore, a
gracious natural type of cottage or beautiful clothing for the common
people, and no mercantile plutocracy will ever tolerate a literature
of power. If the coming of Socialism destroys arts, it will also
create arts; the architecture of private palaces will give place to an
architecture of beautiful common homes, cottages and colleges, and to
a splendid development of public buildings, the Sargents of Socialism
will paint famous people instead of millionaires' wives, poetry and
popular romantic literature will revive. For my own part I have no
doubt where the balance of advantage lies.

It seems reasonable to look to the literary and artistic people
themselves for a little guidance in this matter. Well, we had in the
nineteenth century an absolute revolt of artists against
Individualism. The proportion of open and declared Socialists among
the great writers, artists, playwrights, critics, of the Victorian
period was out of all proportion to the number of Socialists in the
general population. Wilde in his _Soul of Man under Socialism_, Ruskin
in many volumes of imperishable prose, Morris in all his later life,
have witnessed to the unending protest of the artistic spirit against
the rule of gain. Some of these writers are not, perhaps, to be
regarded as orthodox Socialists in the modern sense, but their disgust
with and contempt for Individualist competition is entirely in the
vein of our teaching.

Even this Individualistic country of ours, after the shameful shock of
the Great Exhibition of 1851, decided that it could no longer leave
art to private enterprise, and organized that systematic government
Art Teaching that has, in spite of its many defects, revolutionized
the æsthetic quality of this country. And so far as research and
invention go, one may very reasonably appeal to such an authority on
the other side, as the late Mr. Beit, of Wernher Beit & Co. The
outcome of his experience as an individualist financier was to
convince him that the only way to raise the standard of technical
science in England, and therewith of economic enterprise, was by the
endowment of public teaching, and the huge "London Charlottenburg"
rises--out of his conviction. Even Messrs. Rockefeller and Carnegie
admit the failure of Individualism in this matter by pouring money
into public universities and public libraries. All these heads of the
commercial process confess by such acts just exactly what this
objection of the inexperienced denies, that is to say the power of the
State to develop art, invention and knowledge; the necessity that this
duty should be done if not by, then at any rate through, the State.

Socialism may very seriously change the direction of intellectual and
æsthetic endeavour; that one admits. But there is no reason whatever
for supposing it will not, and there are countless reasons for
supposing that it will, enormously increase the opportunities and
encouragements for æsthetic and intellectual endeavour.

§ 6.

_Socialism would arrest the survival of the Fittest._ Here is an
objection from quite a new quarter. It is the stock objection of the
science student. Hitherto we have considered religious and æsthetic
difficulties, but this is the difficulty of the mind that realizes
clearly the nature of the biological process, the secular change in
every species under the influence of its environment, and is most
concerned with that. Species, it is said, change--and the student of
the elements of science is too apt to conclude that this change is
always ascent in the scale of being--by the killing off of the
individuals out of harmony with the circumstances under which the
species is living. This is not quite true. The truer statement is that
species change because, allowing for chance and individual exceptions,
only those individuals survive to reproduce themselves who are fairly
well adjusted to the conditions of life; so that in each generation
there is only a small proportion of births out of harmony with these
conditions. This sounds very like the previous proposition, but it
differs in this that the accent is shifted from the "killing" to the
suppression of births, that is the really important fact. In any case,
then, the believer in evolution holds that the qualities encouraged by
the environment increase in the species and the qualities discouraged
diminish. The qualities that have survival value are not always what
we human beings consider admirable--that is a consideration many
science students fail to grasp. The remarkable habits of all the
degenerating crustacea, for example, the appetite of the vulture, the
unpleasing personality of the common hyæna, all that less charming
side of Mother Nature that her scandalized children may read of in
Cobbold's _Human Parasites_, are the result of survival under the
pressure of environment, just as much as the human eye or the wing of
an eagle. Let the objector therefore ask himself what sort of
"fittest" are surviving now.

The plain answer is that under our present conditions the
_Breeding-Getter_ wins, the man who can hold and keep and reproduce
his kind. People with the instinct of owning stronger than any other
instinct float out upon the top of our seething mass, and flourish
there. Aggressive, intensely acquisitive, reproductive people--the
ignoble sort of Jew is the very type of it--are the people who will
prevail in a social system based on private property and mercantile
competition. No creative power, no nobility, no courage can battle
against them. And below--in the slums and factories, what will be
going on? The survival of a race of stunted toilers, with great
resisting power to infection, contagion and fatigue, omnivorous as

Don't imagine that the high infantile death rate of our manufacturing
centres spares the fine big children. It does not. Here is the
effectual answer to that. It is taken from the Report of the Education
Committee of the London County Council for the year 1905, and it is
part of an account of an inquiry conducted by the headmaster of one
school in a poor neighbourhood.

    "The object of the inquiry was to discover the causes of
    variation in the physical condition of children within the
    limits of this single school. Each of the 405 boys was
    carefully weighed and measured without boots, a note was made
    of the condition of the teeth, and a general estimate of the
    personal cleanliness and sufficiency of clothing as a basis
    for determining the home conditions of neglect or otherwise
    from external evidence. The teacher of each class added an
    estimate of mental capacity." (Here follow tabular
    arrangements of results, and height and weight charts.)

    "... It may be noted in the heights and weights for each age
    that the curve is not a continuous line of growth, but that at
    some ages it springs nearer to, and at others sinks further
    from, the normal. The greatest effect upon the life capital of
    the population is produced by the infantile mortality, which
    in some years actually kills off during the first year one in
    five of all children born; the question naturally arises what
    is its effect upon the survivors--do the weakly ones get
    killed off and only the strong muddle through, or does the
    adverse environment which slaughters one in five have a
    maiming effect upon those left?... When the infantile
    mortality for the parish in which the school is situate was
    charted above the physique curve, an absolute correspondence
    is to be observed. The children born in a year when infantile
    mortality is low show an increased physique, rising nearest to
    the normal in the extraordinary good year 1892; and those born
    in the years of high mortality show a decreased physique....
    It appears certain, therefore, that in years of high infantile
    mortality the conditions, to which one in five or six of the
    children born are sacrificed, have a maiming effect upon the
    other four or five."

_The fine big children are born in periods of low infantile
mortality_, that is the essential point.

So that anyhow, since the fittest under present conditions is
manifestly the ratlike, the survival of the fittest that is going on
now is one that it is highly desirable to stop as soon as possible,
and so far Socialism _will_ arrest the survival of the fittest. But
that does not mean that it will stop the development of the species
altogether. It will merely shift the incident of selection and
rejection to a new set of qualities. I think I have already hinted
(Chapter VI., § 2) that a State that undertakes to sustain all the
children born into it will do its best to secure good births. That
implies a distinct bar to the marriage and reproduction of the halt
and the blind, the bearers of transmissible diseases and the like. And
women being economically independent will have a far freer choice in
wedlock than they have now. Now they must in practice marry men who
can more or less keep them, they must subordinate every other
consideration to that. Under Socialism they will certainly look less
to a man's means and acquisitive gifts, and more to the finer
qualities of his personality. They will prefer prominent men, able
men, fine, vigorous and attractive persons. There will, indeed, be far
more freedom of choice on either side than under the sordid conditions
of the present time. I submit that such a free choice is far more
likely to produce a secular increase in the beauty, the intellectual
and physical activity and the capacity of the race, than our present
haphazard mercenariness.

The science student will be interested to read in this connection _The
Ethic of Free Thought_ (A. & C. Black, 1888), _Socialism in Theory and
Practice_ (1884), and _The Chances of Death, and other Studies in
Evolution_ (Arnold, 1897), by Karl Pearson. Professor Pearson is not
in all respects to be taken as an authoritative exponent of Modern
Socialism, and he is associated with no Socialist organization, but
his treatment of the biological aspect is that of a specialist and a

§ 7.

_Socialism is against Human Nature._ This objection I have left until
last because, firstly, it is absolutely true, and secondly, it leads
naturally to the newer ideas that have already peeped out once or
twice in my earlier chapters and which will now ride up to a
predominance in what follows, and particularly the idea that an
educational process and a moral discipline are not only a necessary
part, but the most fundamental part of any complete Socialist scheme.
Socialism is against Human Nature. That is true, and it is equally
true of everything else; capitalism is against human nature,
competition is against human nature, cruelty, kindness, religion and
doubt, monogamy, polygamy, celibacy, decency, indecency, piety and sin
are all against human nature. The present system in particular is
against human nature, or what is the policeman for, the soldier, the
debt-collector, the judge, the hangman? What means the glass along my
neighbour's wall? Human nature is against human nature. For human
nature is in a perpetual conflict; it is the Ishmael of the universe,
against everything, and with everything against it; and within, no
more and no less than a perpetual battleground of passion, desire,
cowardice, indolence and good will. So that our initial proposition as
it stands at the head of this section, is, as an argument against
Socialism, just worth nothing at all.

None the less valuable is it as a reminder of the essential
constructive task of which the two primary generalizations of
Socialism we have so far been developing are but the outward and
visible forms. There is no untutored naturalness in Socialism, no
uneducated blind force on our side. Socialism is made of struggling
Good Will, made out of a conflict of wills. I have tried to let it
become apparent that while I do firmly believe not only in the
splendour and nobility of the Socialist dream but in its ultimate
practicality, I do also recognize quite clearly that with people just
as they are now, with their prejudices, their ignorances, their
misapprehensions, their unchecked vanities and greeds and jealousies,
their crude and misguided instincts, their irrational traditions, no
Socialist State can exist, no better State can exist, than the one we
have now with all its squalor and cruelty. Every change in human
institutions must happen concurrently with a change of ideas. Upon
this plastic, uncertain, teachable thing Human Nature, within us and
without, we have, if we really contemplate Socialism as our
achievement, to impose guiding ideas and guiding habits, we have to
co-ordinate all the Good Will that is active or latent in our world in
one constructive plan. To-day the spirit of humanity is lost to
itself, divided, dispersed and hidden in little narrow distorted
circles of thought. These divided, misshapen circles of thought are
not "human nature," but human nature has fallen into these forms and
has to be released. Our fundamental business is to develop the human
spirit. It is in the enlargement and enrichment of the average circle
of thought that the essential work and method of Socialism is to be



§ 1.

So far we have been discussing the broad elementary propositions of
Modern Socialism. As we have dealt with them, they amount to little
more than a sketch of the foundation for a great scheme of social
reconstruction. It would be a poor service to Socialism to pretend
that this scheme is complete. From this point onward one enters upon a
series of less unanimous utterances and more questionable suggestions.
Concerning much of what follows, Socialism has as yet not elaborated
its teaching. It has to do so, it is doing so, but huge labours lie
before its servants. Before it can achieve any full measure of
realization, it has to overcome problems at present but half solved,
problems at present scarcely touched, the dark unsettling suggestion
of problems that still await formulation. The Anti-Socialist is freely
welcome to all these admissions. No doubt they will afford grounds for
some cheap transitory triumph. They affect our great generalizations
not at all; they detract nothing from the fact that Socialism presents
the most inspiring, creative scheme that ever came into the chaos of
human affairs. The fact that it is not cut and dried, that it lives
and grows, that every honest adherent adds not only to its forces but
to its thought and spirit, is itself inspiration.

The new adherent to Socialism in particular must bear this in mind,
that Socialism is no garment made and finished that we can reasonably
ask the world to wear forthwith. It is not that its essentials remain
in doubt, it is not that it does not stand for things supremely true,
but that its proper method and its proper expedients have still to be
established. Over and above the propaganda of its main constructive
ideas and the political work for their more obvious and practical
application, an immense amount of intellectual work remains to be done
for Socialism. The battle for Socialism is to be fought not simply at
the polls and in the market-place, but at the writing-desk and in the
study. To many questions, the attitude of Socialism to-day is one of
confessed inquiring imperfection.[17] It would indeed be very
remarkable if a proposition for changes so vast and comprehensive as
Socialism advances was in any different state at this present time.

   [17] The student will find very clear, informing, and
        suggestive reading in Kirkup's _History of Socialism_ (A. &
        C. Black, 1906). It is a fine, impartial account of these
        developments, which may well be used as a corrective (or
        confirmation) of this book.

It is so recently as 1833 that the world first heard the word
Socialism.[18] It appeared then, with the vaguest implications and the
most fluctuating definition, as a general term for a disconnected
series of protests against the extreme theories of Individualism and
Individualist Political Economy; against the cruel, race-destroying
industrial spirit that then dominated the world. Of these protests the
sociological suggestions and experiments of Robert Owen were most
prominent in the English community, and he it is, more than any other
single person, whom we must regard as the father of Socialism. But in
France ideas essentially similar were appearing about such movements
and personalities as those of Saint Simon, Proudhon and Fourier. They
were part of a vast system of questionings and repudiations, political
doubts, social doubts, hesitating inquiries and experiments.

   [18] It was probably first used in the _Poor Man's Guardian_
        in that year. See _The Life of Francis Place_, by Graham
        Wallas, p. 353.

It is only to be expected that early Socialism should now appear as
not only an extremely imperfect but a very inconsistent system of
proposals. Its value lay not so much in its plans as in its hopeful
and confident denials. It had hold of one great truth; it moved one
great amendment to the conception of practical equality the French
Revolution had formulated, and that was its clear indication of the
evil of unrestricted private property and of the necessary antagonism
of the interests of the individual to the common-weal, of "Wealth
against Commonwealth," that went with that. While most men had to go
propertyless in a world that was privately owned, the assertion of
equality was an empty lie. For the rest, primordial Socialism was
entirely sketchy and experimental. It was wild as the talk of
school-boys. It disregarded the most obvious needs. It did not provide
for any principle of government, or for the maintenance of collective
thought and social determination, it offered no safeguards and
guarantees for even the most elementary privacies and freedoms; it was
extraordinarily non-constructive. It was extreme in its proposed
abolition of the home, and it flatly ignored the huge process of
transition needed for a change so profound and universal.

The early Socialism was immediately millennial. It had no patience.
The idea was to be made into a definite project forthwith; Fourier
drew up his compact scheme, arranged how many people should live in
each _phalange_ and so forth, and all that remained to do, he thought,
was to sow _phalanges_ as one scatters poppy seed. With him it was to
be Socialism by contagion, with many of his still hastier
contemporaries it was to be Socialism by proclamation. All the evils
of society were to crumble to ruins like the Walls of Jericho at the
first onset of the Great Idea.

Our present generation is less buoyant perhaps, but wiser. However
young you may be as a reformer, you know you must face certain facts
those early Socialists ignored. Whatever sort of community you dream
of, you realize that it has to be made of the sort of people you meet
every day or of the children growing up under their influence. The
damping words of the old philosopher to the ardent Social reformer of
seventeen were really the quintessence of our criticism of
revolutionary Socialism: "Will your aunts join us, my dear? No!
Well--is the grocer on our side? And the family solicitor? We shall
have to provide for them all, you know, unless you suggest a lethal

For a generation Socialism, in the exaltation of its self-discovery,
failed to measure these primary obstacles, failed to recognize the
real necessity, the quality of the task of making these people
understand. To this day the majority of Socialists still fail to grasp
completely the Herbartian truth, the fact that every human soul moves
within its _circle of ideas_, resisting enlargement, incapable indeed
if once it is adult of any extensive enlargement, and that all
effectual human progress can be achieved only through such
enlargement. Only ideas cognate to a circle of ideas are assimilated
or assimilable; ideas too alien, though you shout them in the ear,
thrust them in the face, remain foreign and incomprehensible.

The early Socialists, arriving at last at their Great Idea, after
toilsome questionings, after debates, disputations, studies, trials,
_saw_, and instantly couldn't understand those others who did not see;
they failed altogether to realize the leaps they had made, the
brilliant omissions they had achieved, the difficulties they had
evaded to get to this magnificent conception. I suppose such
impatience is as natural and understandable as it is unfortunate. None
of us escape it. Much of this early Socialism is as unreal as
mathematics, has much the same relation to truth as the abstract
absolute process of calculation has to concrete individual things;
much of it more than justifies altogether that "black or white" method
of criticism of which I wrote in the preceding chapter. They were as
downright and unconsidering, as little capable of the reasoned middle
attitude. Proudhon, perceiving that the world was obsessed by a
misconception of the scope of property whereby the many were enslaved
to the few, went off at a tangent to the announcement that "Property
is Robbery," an exaggeration that, as I have already shown, still
haunts Socialist discussion. The ultimate factor of all human affairs,
the psychological factor, was disregarded. Like the classic
mathematical problem, early Socialism was always "neglecting the
weight of the elephant"--or some other--from the practical point of
view--equally essential factor. This was, perhaps, an unavoidable
stage. It is probable that by no other means than such exaggeration
and partial statement could Socialism have got itself begun. The world
of 1830 was fatally wrong in its ideas of property; early Socialism
rose up and gave those ideas a flat, extreme, outrageous
contradiction. After that analysis and discussion became possible.

The early Socialist literature teems with rash, suggestive schemes. It
has the fertility, the confusion, the hopefulness, the promise of
glowing youth. It is a quarry of ideas, a mine of crude expedients, a
fountain of emotions. The abolition of money, the substitution of
Labour Notes, the possibility, justice and advantage of equalizing
upon a time-basis the remuneration of the worker, the relation of the
new community to the old family, a hundred such topics were
ventilated--were not so much ventilated as tossed about in an
impassioned gale.

Much of this earlier Socialist literature was like Cabet's book,
actually Utopian in form; a still larger proportion was Utopian in
spirit; its appeal was imaginative, and it aimed to be a plan of a new
state as definite and detailed as the plan for the building of a
house. It has been the fashion with a number of later Socialist
writers and speakers, mind-struck with that blessed word "evolution,"
confusing "scientific," a popular epithet to which they aspired, with
"unimaginative," to sneer at the Utopian method, to make a sort of
ideal of a leaden practicality, but it does not follow because the
Utopias produced and the experiments attempted were in many aspects
unreasonable and absurd that the method itself is an unsound one. At a
certain phase of every creative effort you must cease to study the
thing that is, and plan the thing that is not. The early Socialisms
were only premature plans and hasty working models that failed to

And it must be remembered when we consider Socialism's early
extravagancies, that any idea or system of ideas which challenges the
existing system is necessarily, in relation to that system, outcast.
Mediocre men go soberly on the highroads, but saints and scoundrels
meet in the gaols. If A and B rebel against the Government, they are
apt, although they rebel for widely different reasons, to be classed
together; they are apt indeed to be thrown together and tempted to
sink even quite essential differences in making common cause against
the enemy. So that from its very beginning Socialism was mixed up--to
this day it remains mixed up--with other movements of revolt and
criticism, with which it has no very natural connection. There is, for
example, the unfortunate entanglement between the Socialist theory and
that repudiation of any but subjective sexual limitations which is
called "free love," and there is that still more unfortunate
association of its rebellion against orthodox economic theories, with
rebellion against this or that system of religious teaching. Several
of the early Socialist communities, again, rebelled against ordinary
clothing, and their women made short hair and bloomers the outward and
visible associations of the communistic idea. In Holyoake's _History
of Co-operation_ it is stated that one early experiment was known to
its neighbours as "the grass-eating Atheists of Ham Common." I have
done my very best (in Chapter VIII., § 2) to clear the exposition of
Socialism from these entanglements, but it is well to recognize that
these are no corruptions of its teaching, but an inevitable
birth-infection that has still to be completely overcome.

§ 2.

The comprehensively constructive spirit of modern Socialism is very
much to seek in these childhood phases that came before Marx. These
early projects were for the most part developed by literary men (and
by one philosophic business man, Owen) to whose circle of ideas the
conception of State organization and administration was foreign. They
took peace and order for granted--they left out the school-master, the
judge and the policeman, as the amateur architect of the anecdote left
out the staircase. They set out to contrive a better industrial
organization, or a better social atmosphere within the present scheme
of things. They wished to reform what they understood, and what was
outside their circle of ideas they took for granted, as they took the
sky and sea. Not only was their literature Utopian literature, about
little islands of things begun over again from the beginning, but
their activities tended in the direction of Utopian experiments
equally limited and isolated. Here again a just critic will differ
from many contemporary Socialists in their depreciation of this sort
of work. Owen's experiments in socialized production were of enormous
educational and scientific value. They were, to use a mining expert's
term, "hand specimens" of human welfare of the utmost value to
promoters. They made factory legislation possible; they initiated the
now immense co-operative movement; they stirred commonplace
imaginations as only achievement can stir them; they set going a
process of amelioration in industrial conditions that will never, I
believe, cease again until the Socialist state is attained.

But apart from Owen and the general advertisement given to Socialist
ideas, it must be admitted that a great majority of Socialist
communities have, by every material standard, failed rather than
succeeded. Some went visibly insolvent and to pieces, others were
changed by prosperity. Some were wrecked by the sudden lapse of the
treasurer into an extreme individualism. Essentially Socialism is a
project for the species, but these communities made it a system of
relationships within a little group; to the world without they had
necessarily to turn a competitive face, to buy and sell and advertise
on the lines of the system as it is. If they failed, they failed; if
they succeeded they presently found themselves landlords, employers,
no more and no less than a corporate individualism. I have described
elsewhere[19] the fate of the celebrated Oneida community of New York
State, and how it is now converted into an aggressive, wealthy,
fighting corporation of the most modern type, employing immigrant

        [19] _The Future in America._ (Chapman & Hall, 1906.)

Professed and conscious Socialism in its earliest stages, then, was an
altogether extreme proposition, it was at once imperfect and
over-emphatic, and it was confused with many quite irrelevant and
inconsistent novelties with regard to diet, dress, medicine and
religion. Its first manifest, acknowledged and labelled fruits were a
series of futile "communities"--Noyes' _History of American
Socialisms_ gives their simple history of births and of fatal
infantile ailments--Brook Farm, Fourierite "Phalanges" and the like.
But correlated with these extreme efforts, drawing ideas and
inspiration from them, was the great philanthropic movement for the
amelioration of industrialism, that was, I insist, for all its absence
of a definite Socialist label in many cases, an equally legitimate
factor in the making of the great conception of modern Socialism.
Socialism may be the child of the French Revolution, but it certainly
has one aristocratic Tory grandparent. There can be little dispute of
the close connection of Lord Shaftesbury's Factory Acts, that
commencement of constructive statesmanship in industrialism, with the
work of Owen. The whole Victorian period marks a steady development of
social organization out of the cruel economic anarchy of its
commencement; the beginnings of public education, adulteration acts
and similar checks upon the extremities of private enterprise, the
great successful experiments of co-operative consumers' associations
and the development of what has now become a quasi-official
representation of labour in the State through the Trade Unions. Two
great writers, Carlyle and Ruskin, the latter a professed Socialist,
spent their powers in a relentless campaign against the harsh theories
of the liberty of property, the gloomy superstitions of political
economy that barred the way to any effectual constructive scheme. An
enormous work was done throughout the whole Victorian period by
Socialists and Socialistic writers, in criticizing and modifying the
average circle of ideas, in bringing conceptions that had once seemed
weird, outcast and altogether fantastic, more and more within the
range of acceptable practicality.

The first early Socialisms were most various and eccentric upon the
question of government and control. They had no essential political
teaching. Many, but by no means all, were inspired by the democratic
idealism of the first French Revolution. They believed in a mystical
something that was wiser and better than any individual,--the People,
the Common Man. But that was by no means the case with all of them.
The Noyes community was a sort of Theocratic autocracy; the Saint
Simonian tendency was aristocratic. The English Socialism that in the
middle Victorian period developed partly out of the suggestions of
Owen's beginnings and partly as an independent fresh outpouring of the
struggling Good Will in man, that English Socialism that found a voice
in Ruskin and in Maurice and Kingsley and the Christian Socialists,
was certainly not democratic. It kept much of what was best in the
"public spirit" of contemporary English life, and it implied if it did
not postulate a "governing class." Benevolent and even generous in
conception, its exponents betray all too often the ties of social
habituations, the limited circle of ideas of English upper and upper
middle-class life, easy and cultivated, well served and distinctly,
most unmistakably, authoritative.

While the experimental Utopian Socialisms gave a sort of variegated
and conflicting pattern of a reorganized industrialism and
(incidentally to that) a new heaven and earth, the benevolent
Socialism, Socialistic Liberalism and Socialistic philanthropy of the
middle Victorian period, really went very little further in effect
than a projected amelioration and moralization of the relations of
rich and poor. It needed the impact of an entirely new type of mind
before Socialism began to perceive its own significance as an ordered
scheme for the entire reconstruction of the world, began to realize
the gigantic breadth of its implications.



§ 1.

It was Karl Marx who brought the second great influx of suggestion
into the intellectual process of Socialism. Before his time there does
not seem to have been any clear view of economic relationships as
having laws of development, as having interactions that began and went
on and led towards new things. But Marx had vision. He had--as Darwin
and the evolutionists had, as most men with a scientific training, and
many educated men without that advantage now have--a sense of secular
change. Instead of being content with the accepted picture of the
world as a scene where men went on producing and distributing wealth
and growing rich or poor, it might be for endless ages, he made an
appeal to history and historical analogies, and for the first time
viewed our age of individualist industrial development, not as a
possibly permanent condition of humanity, but as something unstable
and in motion, as an economic process, that is to say, with a
beginning, a middle, and as he saw it, an almost inevitable end.

The last thing men contrive to discern in every question is the
familiar obvious, and it came as a great and shattering discovery to
the economic and sociological thought of the latter half of the
nineteenth century that there was going on not simply a production but
an immense concentration of wealth, a differentiation of a special
wealthy class of landholder and capitalist, a diminution of small
property owners and the development of a great and growing class of
landless, nearly propertyless men, the _proletariat_. Marx showed--he
showed so clearly that to-day it is recognized by every intelligent
man--that _given a continuance of our industrial and commercial
system_, of uncontrolled gain seeking, that is, given a continuance of
our present spirit and ideas of property, there must necessarily come
a time when the owner and the proletarian will stand face to face,
with nothing--if we except a middle class of educated professionals
dependent on the wealthy, who are after all no more than the upper
stratum of the proletariat--to mask or mitigate their opposition. We
shall have two classes, the class-conscious worker and the
class-conscious owner, and they will be at war. And with a broad
intellectual sweep he flung the light of this conception upon the
whole contemporary history of mankind. _Das Kapital_ was no sketch of
Utopias, had no limitation to the conditions or possibilities of this
country or that. "Here," he says, in the widest way, "is what is going
on all over the world. So long as practically untrammelled private
property, such as you conceive it to-day, endures, this must go on.
The worker gravitates steadily everywhere to a bare subsistence, the
rest of the proceeds of his labour swell the power of the owners. So
it will go on while gain and getting are the rule of your system,
until accumulated tensions between class and class smash this present
social organization and inaugurate a new age."

In considering the thought and work of Karl Marx, the reader must bear
in mind the epoch in which that work commenced. The intellectual world
was then under the sway of an organized mass of ideas known as the
Science of Political Economy, a mass of ideas that has now not so much
been examined and refuted as slipped away imperceptibly from its hold
upon the minds of men. In the beginning, in the hands of Adam
Smith--whose richly suggestive book is now all too little
read--political economy was a broad-minded and sane inquiry into the
statecraft of trade based upon current assumptions of private
ownership and personal motives, but from him it passed to men of
perhaps, in some cases, quite equal intellectual energy but inferior
vision and range. The history of Political Economy is indeed one of
the most striking instances of the mischief wrought by intellectual
minds devoid of vision, in the entire history of human thought.
Special definition, technicality, are the stigmata of second-rate
intellectual men; they cannot work with the universal tool, they
cannot appeal to the general mind. They must abstract and separate. On
such men fell the giant's robe of Adam Smith, and they wore it after
their manner. Their arid atmospheres are intolerant of clouds, an
outline that is not harsh is abominable to them. They criticized their
master's vagueness and must needs mend it. They sought to give
political economy a precision and conviction such a subject will not
stand. They took such words as "_value_," an incurably and necessarily
vague word, "_rent_," the name of the specific relation of landlord
and tenant, and "_capital_," and sought to define them with relentless
exactness and use them with inevitable effect. So doing they departed
more and more from reality. They developed a literature more abundant,
more difficult and less real than all the exercises of the schoolmen
put together. To use common words in uncommon meanings is to sow a
jungle of misunderstanding. It was only to be expected that the bulk
of this economic literature resolves upon analysis into a ponderous,
intricate, often astonishingly able and foolish wrangling about

Now in the early Victorian period in which Marx planned his
theorizing, political economy ruled the educated world. Ruskin had
still to attack the primary assumptions of that tyrannous and dogmatic
edifice. The duller sort of educated people talked of the "immutable
laws of political economy" in the blankest ignorance that the basis of
everything in this so-called science was a plastic human convention.
Humane impulses were checked, creative effort tried and condemned by
these mystical formulæ. Political economy traded on the splendid
achievements of physics and chemistry and pretended to an inexorable
authority. Only a man of supreme intelligence and power, a man
resolved to give his lifetime to the task, could afford in those days
to combat the pretensions of the political economist; to deny that his
categories presented scientific truth, and to cast that jargon aside.
As for Marx, he saw fit to accept the verbal instruments of his time
(albeit he bent them not a little in use), to accommodate himself to
their spirit and to split and re-classify and re-define them at his
need. So that he has become already difficult to follow, and his more
specialized exponents among Socialists use terms that arouse no echoes
in the contemporary mind. The days when Socialism need present its
theories in terms of a science whose fundamental propositions it
repudiates, are at an end. One hears less and less of "surplus value"
now, as one hears less and less of McCulloch's Law of Wages. It may
crop up in the inquiries of some intelligent mechanic seeking
knowledge among the obsolescent accumulations of a public library, or
it may for a moment be touched upon by some veteran teacher. But the
time when social and economic science had to choose between debatable
and inexpressive technicalities on the one hand or the stigma of
empiricism on the other, is altogether past.

The language a man uses, however, is of far less importance than the
thing he has to say, and it detracts little from the cardinal
importance of Marx that his books will presently demand restatement in
contemporary phraseology, and revision in the light of contemporary
facts. He opened out Socialism. It is easy to quibble about Marx, and
say he didn't see this or that, to produce this eddy in a backwater or
that as a triumphant refutation of his general theory. One may quibble
about the greatness of Marx as one may quibble about the greatness of
Darwin; he remains great and cardinal. He first saw and enabled the
world to see capitalistic production as a world process, passing by
necessity through certain stages of social development, and unless
some change of law and spirit came to modify it, moving towards an
inevitable destiny. His followers are too apt to regard that as an
absolutely inevitable destiny, but the fault lies not at his door. He
saw it as Socialism. It did not appear to him as it does to many that
there is a possible alternative to Socialism, that the process may
give us, not a triumph for the revolting proletariat, but their
defeat, and the establishment of a plutocratic aristocracy culminating
in imperialism and ending in social disintegration. From his study,
from the studious rotunda of the British Museum Reading-room he made
his prophecy of the growing class consciousness of the workers, of the
inevitable class war, of the revolution and the millennium that was to
follow it. He gathered his facts, elaborated his deductions and waited
for the dawn.

So far as his broad generalization of economic development goes,
events have wonderfully confirmed Marx. The development of Trusts, the
concentration of property that America in particular displays, he
foretold. Given that men keep to the unmodified ideas of private
property and individualism, and it seems absolutely true that so the
world must go. And in the American _Appeal to Reason_, for example,
which goes out weekly from Kansas to a quarter of a million of
subscribers, one may, if one chooses, see the developing class
consciousness of the workers, and the promise--and when strikers take
to rifles and explosives as they do in Pennsylvania and Colorado,
something more than the promise--of the class war....

But the modern Socialist considers that this generalization is a
little too confident and comprehensive; he perceives that a change in
custom, law or public opinion may delay, arrest or invert the economic
process, and that Socialism may arrive after all not by a social
convulsion, but by the gradual and detailed concession of its
propositions. The Marxist presents dramatically what after all may
come methodically and unromantically, a revolution as orderly and
quiet as the precession of the equinoxes. There may be a concentration
of capital and a relative impoverishment of the general working mass
of people, for example, and yet a general advance in the world's
prosperity and a growing sense of social duty in the owners of capital
and land may do much to mask this antagonism of class interests and
ameliorate its miseries. Moreover, this antagonism itself may in the
end find adequate expression through temperate discussion, and the
class war come disguised beyond recognition, with hates mitigated by
charity and swords beaten into pens, a mere constructive conference
between two classes of fairly well-intentioned albeit perhaps still
biassed men and women.

§ 2.

The circle of ideas in which Marx moved was that of a student deeply
tinged with the idealism of the renascent French Revolution. His life
was the life of a recluse from affairs--an invalid's life; a large
part of it was spent round and about the British Museum Reading-room,
and his conceptions of Socialism and the social process have at once
the spacious vistas given by the historical habit and the abstract
quality that comes with a divorce from practical experience of human
government. Only in England and in the eighties did the expanding
propositions of Socialism come under the influence of men essentially
administrative. As a consequence Marx, and still more the early
Marxists, were and are negligent of the necessities of government and
crude in their notions of class action. He saw the economic process
with a perfect lucidity, practically he foretold the consolidation of
the Trusts, and his statement of the necessary development of an
entirely propertyless working-class with an intensifying class
consciousness is a magnificent generalization. He saw clearly up to
that opposition of the many and the few, and then his vision failed
because his experience and interests failed. There was to be a class
war, and numbers schooled to discipline by industrial organization
were to win.

After that the teaching weakens in conviction. The proletariat was to
win in the class war; then classes would be abolished, property in the
means of production and distribution would be abolished, all men would
work reasonably--and the millennium would be with us.

The constructive part of the Marxist programme was too slight. It has
no psychology. Contrasted, indeed, with the splendid destructive
criticisms that preceded it, it seems indeed trivial. It diagnoses a
disease admirably, and then suggests rather an incantation than a
plausible remedy. And as a consequence Marxist Socialism appeals only
very feebly to the man of public affairs or business or social
experience. It does not attract teachers or medical men or engineers.
It arouses such men to a sense of social instability but it offers no
remedy. They do not believe in the mystical wisdom of the People. They
find no satisfactory promise of a millennium in anything Marx

To the labouring man, however, accustomed to take direction and
government as he takes air and sky, these difficulties of the
administrative and constructive mind do not occur. His imagination
raises no questioning in that picture of the proletariat triumphant
after a class war and quietly coming to its own. It does not occur to
him for an instant to ask "how?"

Question the common Marxist upon these difficulties and he will
relapse magnificently into the doctrine of _laissez faire_. "That will
be all right," he will tell you.


"We'll take over the Trusts and run them."...

It is part of the inconveniences attending all powerful new movements
of the human mind that the disciple bolts with the teacher, overstates
him, underlines him, and it is no more than a tribute to the potency
of Marx that he should have paralyzed the critical faculty in a number
of very able men. To them Marx is a final form of truth. They talk
with bated breath of a "classic Socialism," to which no man may add
one jot or one tittle, to which they are as uncritically pledged as
extreme Bible Christians are bound to the letter of the "Word."...

The peculiar evil of the Marxist teaching is this, that it carries the
conception of a necessary economic development to the pitch of
fatalism, it declares with all the solemnity of popular "science" that
Socialism _must_ prevail. Such a fatalism is morally bad for the
adherent; it releases him from the inspiring sense of uncertain
victory, it leads him to believe the stars in their courses will do
his job for him. The common Marxist is apt to be sterile of effort,
therefore, and intolerant--preaching predestination and salvation
without works.

By a circuitous route, indeed, the Marxist reaches a moral position
curiously analogous to that of the disciple of Herbert Spencer. Since
all improvement will arrive by leaving things alone, the worse things
get, the better; for so much the nearer one comes to the final
exasperation, to the class war and the Triumph of the Proletariat.
This certainty of victory in the nature of things makes the Marxists
difficult in politics, pedantic sticklers for the letter of the
teaching, obstinate opponents of what they call "Palliatives"--of any
instalment system of reform. They wait until they can make the whole
journey in one stride, and would, in the meanwhile, have no one set
forth upon the way. In America the Marxist fatalism has found a sort
of supreme simplification in the gospel of Mr. H. G. Wilshire. The
Trusts, one learns, are to consolidate all the industry in the
country, own all the property. Then when they own everything, the
Nation will take them over. "Let the Nation own the Trusts!" The
Nation in the form of a public, reading capitalistic newspapers,
inured to capitalistic methods, represented and ruled by
capital-controlled politicians, will suddenly take over the Trusts and
begin a new system....

It would be quite charmingly easy--if it were only in the remotest
degree credible.

§ 3.

The Marxist teaching tends to an unreasonable fatalism. Its conception
of the world after the class war is over is equally antagonistic to
intelligent constructive effort. It faces that Future, utters the word
"democracy," and veils its eyes.

The conception of democracy to which the Marxist adheres is that same
mystical democracy that was evolved at the first French Revolution; it
will sanction no analysis of the popular wisdom. It postulates a sort
of spirit hidden as it were in the masses and only revealed by a
universal suffrage of all adults--or, according to some Social
Democratic Federation authorities who do not believe in women, all
adult males--at the ballot box. Even a large proportion of the adults
will not do--it must be all. The mysterious spirit that thus peers out
and vanishes again at each election is the People, not any particular
person, but the quintessence, and it is supposed to be infallible; it
is supposed to be not only morally but intellectually omniscient. It
will not even countenance the individuality of elected persons, they
are to be mere tools, _delegates_, from this diffused, intangible
Oracle, the Ultimate Wisdom....

Well, it may seem ungracious to sneer at the grotesque formulation of
an idea profoundly wise, at the hurried, wrong, arithmetical method of
rendering that collective spirit a community undoubtedly can and
sometimes does possess--I myself am the profoundest believer in
democracy, in a democracy awake intellectually, conscious and
self-disciplined--but so long as this mystic faith in the crowd, this
vague, emotional, uncritical way of evading the immense difficulties
of organizing just government and a collective will prevails, so long
must the Socialist project remain not simply an impracticable but, in
an illiterate, badly-organized community, even a dangerous suggestion.
I as a Socialist am not blind to these possibilities, and it is
foolish because a man is in many ways on one's side that one should
not call attention to his careless handling of a loaded gun.
Social-Democracy may conceivably become a force that in the sheer
power of untutored faith may destroy government and not replace it. I
do not know how far that is not already the case in Russia. I do not
know how far this may not ultimately be the case in the United States
of America.

The Marxist teaching, great as was its advance on the dispersed
chaotic Socialism that preceded it, was defective in other directions
as well as in its innocence of any scheme of State organization. About
women and children, for example, it was ill-informed; its founders do
not seem to have been inspired either by educational necessities or
philoprogenitive passion. No biologist--indeed no scientific mind at
all--seems to have tempered its severely "economic" tendencies. It so
over-accentuates the economic side of life that at moments one might
imagine it dealt solely with some world of purely "productive"
immortals, who were never born and never aged, but only warred for
ever in a developing industrial process.

Now reproduction and not production is the more central fact of social
life. Women and children and education are things in the background of
the Marxist proposal--like a man's dog, or his private reading, or his
pet rabbits. They are in the foreground of modern Socialism. The
Social Democrat's doctrines go little further in this direction than
the Liberalism that founded the United States, which ignored women,
children and niggers, and made the political unit the adult white man.
They were blind to the supreme importance of making the next
generation better than the present as the aim and effort of the whole
community. Herr Bebel's book, _Woman_, is an ample statement of the
evils of woman's lot under the existing _régime_, but the few pages
upon the Future of Woman with which he concludes are eloquent of the
jejune insufficiency of the Marxist outlook in this direction.
Marriage, which modern Socialism tends more and more to sustain, was
to vanish--at least as a law-made bond; women were to count as men so
far as the State is concerned....

This disregard of the primary importance of births and upbringing in
human affairs and this advocacy of mystical democracy alike contribute
to blind the Marxist to the necessity of an educational process and of
social discipline and to the more than personal importance of marriage
in the Socialist scheme. He can say with a light and confident heart
to untrained, ignorant, groping souls: "Destroy the Government;
expropriate the rich, establish manhood suffrage, elect delegates
strictly pledged--and you will be happy!"

A few modern Marxists stipulate in addition for a Referendum, by which
the acts of the elected delegates can be further checked by referring
disputed matters to a general vote of all the adults in the

§ 4.

My memory, as I write these things of Marxism, carries me to the dusky
largeness of a great meeting in Queen's Hall, and I see again the back
of Mr. Hyndman's head moving quickly, as he receives and answers
questions. It was really one of the strangest and most interesting
meetings I have ever attended. It was a great rally of the Social
Democratic Federation, and the place--floor, galleries and
platform--was thick but by no means overcrowded with dingy, earnest
people. There was a great display of red badges and red ties, and many
white faces, and I was struck by the presence of girls and women with
babies. It was more like the Socialist meetings of the popular novel
than any I had ever seen before. In the chair that night was Lady
Warwick, that remarkable intruder into the class conflict, a blond
lady, rather expensively dressed, so far as I could judge, about whom
the atmosphere of class consciousness seemed to thicken. Her fair
hair, her floriferous hat, told out against the dim multitudinous
values of the gathering unquenchably; there were moments when one
might have fancied it was simply a gathering of village tradespeople
about the lady patroness, and at the end of the proceedings, after the
red flag had been waved, after the "Red Flag" had been sung by a choir
and damply echoed by the audience, some one moved a vote of thanks to
the Countess in terms of familiar respect that completed the illusion.

Mr. Hyndman's lecture was entitled "In the Rapids of Revolution," and
he had been explaining how inevitable the whole process was, how
Russia drove ahead, and Germany and France and America, to the
foretold crisis and the foretold millennium. But incidentally he also
made a spirited exhortation for effort, for agitation, and he taunted
England for lagging in the schemes of fate. Some one amidst the dim
multitude discovered an inconsistency in that.

Now the questions were being handed in, written on strips of paper,
and at last that listener's difficulty cropped up.

"What's this?" said Mr. Hyndman; unfolded the slip and read out: "Why
trouble to agitate or work if the Trusts are going to do it all for

The veteran leader of the Social Democratic Federation paused only for
a moment.

"Well, we've got to get _ready_ for it, you know," he said, rustling
briskly with the folds of the question to follow--and with these
words, it seemed to me, that fatalistic Marxism crumbled down to dust.

We _have_ got to get ready for it. Indeed, we have to make it--by
education and intention and set resolve. Socialism is to be attained
not by fate, but by will.

§ 5.

And here, as a sort of Eastern European gloss upon Marxist Socialism,
as an extreme and indeed ultimate statement of this marriage of
mystical democracy to Socialism, we may say a word of Anarchism.
Anarchism carries the administrative _laissez faire_ of Marx to its
logical extremity. "If the common, untutored man is right anyhow--why
these ballot boxes; why these intermediaries in the shape of law and

That is the perfectly logical outcome of ignoring administration and
reconstruction. The extreme Social-Democrat and the extreme
Individualist meet in a doctrine of non-resistance to the forces of
Evolution--which in this connection they deify with a capital letter.
Organization, control, design, the disciplined will, these are evil,
they declare--_the_ evil of life. So you come at the end of the
process, if you are active-minded, to the bomb as the instrument of
man's release to unimpeded virtue, and if you are pacific in
disposition to the Tolstoyan attitude of passive resistance to all
rule and property.

Anarchism, then, is as it were a final perversion of the Socialist
stream, a last meandering of Socialist thought, released from
vitalizing association with an active creative experience. Anarchism
comes when the Socialist repudiation of property is dropped into the
circles of thought of men habitually ruled and habitually
irresponsible, men limited in action and temperamentally adverse to
the toil, to the vexatious rebuffs and insufficiencies, the dusty
effort, fatigue, and friction of the practical pursuit of a complex
ideal. So that it most flourishes eastwardly, where men, it would
seem, are least energetic and constructive, and it explodes or dies on
American soil.

Anarchism, with its knife and bomb, is a miscarriage of Socialism, an
acephalous birth from that fruitful mother. It is an unnatural
offspring, opposed in nature to its parent, for always from the
beginning the constructive spirit, the ordering and organizing spirit
has been strong among Socialists. It was by a fallacy, an oversight,
that _laissez faire_ in politics crept into a movement that was before
all things an organized denial of _laissez faire_ in economic and
social life....

I write this of the Anarchism that is opposed to contemporary
Socialism, the political Anarchism. But there is also another sort of
Anarchism, which the student of these schools of thought must keep
clear in his mind from this, the Anarchism of Tolstoy and that other
brand of William Morris, neither of which waves any flag of black, nor
counsels violence; they present that conception of untrammelled and
spontaneous rightness and goodness which is, indeed, I hazard, the
moral ideal of all rightly-thinking men. It is worth while to define
very clearly the relation of this second sort of Anarchism, the nobler
Anarchism, to the toiling constructive Socialism which many of us now
make our practical guide in life's activities, to say just where they
touch and where they are apart.

Now the ultimate ideal of human intercourse is surely not Socialism at
all, but a way of life that is not litigious and not based upon
jealously-guarded rights, which is free from property, free from
jealousy, and "above the law." There, there shall not be "marriage or
giving in marriage." The whole mass of Christian teaching points to
such an ideal; Paul and Christ turn again and again to the ideal of a
world of "just men made perfect," in which right and beauty come by
instinct, in which just laws and regulations are unnecessary and
unjust ones impossible. "Turn your attention," says my friend, the
Rev. Stewart Headlam, in his admirable tract on Christian Socialism--

    "Turn your attention to that series of teachings of Christ's
    which we call parables--comparisons, that is to say, between
    what Christ saw going on in the every-day world around Him and
    the Kingdom of Heaven. If by the Kingdom of Heaven in these
    parables is meant a place up in the clouds, or merely a state
    in which people will be after death, then I challenge you to
    get any kind of meaning out of them whatever. But if by the
    Kingdom of Heaven is meant (as it is clear from other parts of
    Christ's teaching is the case) the righteous society to be
    established upon earth, then they all have a plain and
    beautiful meaning; a meaning well summed up in that saying so
    often quoted against us by the sceptic and the atheist, 'Seek
    ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all
    these things shall be added unto you;' or, in other words,
    'Live,' Christ said, 'all of you together, not each of you by
    himself; live as members of the righteous society which I have
    come to found upon earth, and then you will be clothed as
    beautifully as the Eastern lily and fed as surely as the

And the Rev. R. J. Campbell, who comes to Socialism by way of
Nonconformity, is equally convincing in support of this assertion that
the "Kingdom of Heaven" was and is a terrestrial ideal.

This is not simply the Christian ideal of society, it is the ideal of
every right-thinking man, of every man with a full sense of beauty.
You will find it rendered in two imperishably beautiful Utopias of our
own time, both, I glory to write, by Englishmen, the _News from
Nowhere_ of William Morris, and Hudson's exquisite _Crystal Age_. Both
these present practically Anarchist States, both assume idealized
human beings, beings finer, simpler, nobler than the heated, limited
and striving poor souls who thrust and suffer among the stresses of
this present life. And the present writer, too--I must mention him
here to guard against a confusion in the future--when a little while
ago he imagined humanity exalted morally and intellectually by the
brush of a comet's tail,[20] was forced by the logic of his premises
and even against his first intention to present not a Socialist State
but a glorious anarchism as the outcome of that rejuvenescence of the

   [20] _In the Days of the Comet._ (Macmillan & Co., 1906.)
        Anti-Socialist speakers and writers are in the habit of
        quoting passages of a review from the _Times Literary
        Supplement_, published during the heat of the "Book War,"
        and promptly controverted, as though they were quotations
        from this book.

But the business of Socialism lies at a lower level and concerns
immediate things; our material is the world as it is, full of unjust
laws, bad traditions, bad habits, inherited diseases and weaknesses,
germs and poisons, filths and envies. We are not dealing with
magnificent creatures such as one sees in ideal paintings and splendid
sculpture, so beautiful they may face the world naked and unashamed;
we are dealing with hot-eared, ill-kempt people, who are liable to
indigestion, baldness, corpulence and fluctuating tempers; who wear
top-hats and bowler hats or hats kept on by hat-pins (and so with all
the other necessary clothing); who are pitiful and weak and vain and
touchy almost beyond measure, and very naughty and intemperate; who
have, alas! to be bound over to be in any degree faithful and just to
one another. To strip such people suddenly of law and restraint would
be as dreadful and ugly as stripping the clothes from their poor

That Anarchist world, I admit, is our dream; we do believe--well, I,
at any rate, believe this present world, this planet, will some day
bear a race beyond our most exalted and temerarious dreams, a race
begotten of our wills and the substance of our bodies, a race, so I
have said it, "who will stand upon the earth as one stands upon a
footstool, and laugh and reach out their hands amidst the stars," but
the way to that is through education and discipline and law. Socialism
is the preparation for that higher Anarchism; painfully, laboriously
we mean to destroy false ideas of property and self, eliminate unjust
laws and poisonous and hateful suggestions and prejudices, create a
system of social right-dealing and a tradition of right-feeling and
action. Socialism is the school-room of true and noble Anarchism,
wherein by training and restraint we shall make free men.

There is a graceful and all too little known fable by Mr. Max
Beerbohm, _The Happy Hypocrite_, which gives, I think, not only the
relation of Socialism to philosophic Anarchism, but of all discipline
to all idealism. It is the story of a beautiful mask that was worn by
a man in love, until he tired even of that much of deceit and, a
little desperately, threw it aside--to find his own face beneath
changed to the likeness of the self he had desired. So would we veil
the greed, the suspicion of the self-seeking scramble of to-day under
institutions and laws that will cry "duty and service" in the ears and
eyes of all mankind, keep down the evil so long and so effectually
that at last law will be habit, and greed and self-seeking cease for
ever, from being the ruling impulse of the world. Socialism is the
mask that will mould the world to that better Anarchism of good men's

But these are long views, glimpses beyond the Socialist horizon. The
people who would set up Anarchism to-day are people without human
experience or any tempering of humour, only one shade less impossible
than the odd one-sided queer beings one meets, ridiculously
inaccessible to laughter, who, caricaturing their Nietzsche and
misunderstanding their Shaw, invite one to set up consciously with
them in the business of being Overmen, to rule a world full of our
betters, by fraud and force. It is a foolish teaching saved only from
being horrible by being utterly ludicrous. For us the best is faith
and humility, truth and service, our utmost glory is to have seen the
vision and to have failed--not altogether.... For ourselves and such
as we are, let us not "deal in pride," let us be glad to learn a
little of this spirit of service, to achieve a little humility, to
give ourselves to the making of Socialism and the civilized State
without presumption--as children who are glad they may help in a work
greater than themselves and the toys that have heretofore engaged them.



§ 1.

Marx gave to Socialism a theory of world-wide social development, and
rescued it altogether from the eccentric and localized associations of
its earliest phases; he brought it so near to reality that it could
appear as a force in politics, embodied first as the International
Association of Working Men, and then as the Social Democratic movement
of the continent of Europe that commands to-day over a third of the
entire poll of German voters. So much Marx did for Socialism. But if
he broadened its application to the world, he narrowed its range to
only the economic aspect of life. He arrested for a time the
discussion of its biological and moral aspects altogether. He left it
an incomplete doctrine of merely economic reconstruction supplemented
by mystical democracy, and both its mysticism and incompleteness,
while they offered no difficulties to a labouring man ignorant of
affairs, rendered it unsubstantial and unattractive to people who had
any real knowledge of administration.

It was left chiefly to the little group of English people who founded
the Fabian Society to supply a third system of ideas to the amplifying
conception of Socialism, to convert Revolutionary Socialism into
Administrative Socialism.

This new development was essentially the outcome of the reaction of
its broad suggestions of economic reconstruction upon the circle of
thought of one or two young officials of genius, and of one or two
persons upon the fringe of that politic-social stratum of Society, the
English "governing class." I make this statement, I may say, in the
loosest possible spirit. The reaction is one that was not confined to
England, it was to some extent inevitable wherever the new movement in
thought became accessible to intelligent administrators and officials.
But in the peculiar atmosphere of British public life, with its
remarkable blend of individual initiative and a lively sense of the
State, this reaction has had the freest development. There was,
indeed, Fabianism before the Fabian Society; it would be ingratitude
to some of the most fruitful social work of the middle Victorian
period to ignore the way in which it has contributed in suggestion and
justification to the Socialist synthesis. The city of Birmingham, for
example, developed the most extensive process of municipalization as
the mere common-sense of local patriotism. But the movement was
without formulæ and correlation until the Fabians came.

That unorganized, unpaid public service of public-spirited
aristocratic and wealthy financial and business people, the "governing
class," which dominated the British Empire throughout the nineteenth
century, has, through the absence of definite class boundaries in
England and the readiness of each class to take its tone from the
class above, that "Snobbishness" which is so often heedlessly
dismissed as altogether evil, given a unique quality to British
thought upon public questions and to British conceptions of Socialism.
It has made the British mind as a whole "administrative." As compared
with the American mind, for example, the British is State-conscious,
the American State-blind. The American is no doubt intensely
patriotic, but the nation and the State to which his patriotism points
is something overhead and comprehensive like the sky, like a flag
hoisted; something, indeed, that not only does not but must not
interfere with his ordinary business occupations. To have public
spirit, to be aware of the State as a whole and to have an
administrative feeling towards it, is necessarily to be accessible to
constructive ideas--that is to say, to Socialistic ideas. In the
history of thought in Victorian Great Britain, one sees a constant
conflict of this administrative disposition with the individualistic
commercialism of the aggressively trading and manufacturing class, the
class that in America reigns unchallenged to this day. In the latter
country Individualism reigns unchallenged, it is assumed; in the
former it has fought an uphill fight against the traditions of Church
and State and has never absolutely prevailed. The political economists
and Herbert Spencer were its prophets, and they never at any time held
the public mind in any invincible grip. Since the eighties that grip
has weakened more and more. Socialistic thought and legislation,
therefore, was going on in Great Britain through all the Victorian
period. Nevertheless, it was the Fabian Society that, in the eighties
and through the intellectual impetus of at most four or five
personalities, really brought this obstinately administrative spirit
in British affairs into relation with Socialism as such.

The dominant intelligence of this group was Mr. Sidney Webb, and as I
think of him thus coming after Marx to develop the third phase of
Socialism, I am struck by the contrast with the big-bearded Socialist
leaders of the earlier school and this small, active, unpretending
figure with the finely-shaped head, the little imperial under the lip,
the glasses, the slightly lisping, insinuating voice. He emerged as a
Colonial Office clerk of conspicuous energy and capacity, and he was
already the leader and "idea factory" of the Fabian Society when he
married Miss Beatrice Potter, the daughter of a Conservative Member of
Parliament, a girl friend of Herbert Spencer, and already a brilliant
student of sociological questions. Both he and she are devotees to
social service, living laborious, ordered, austere, incessant lives,
making the employment of secretaries their one extravagance, and
alternations between research and affairs their change of occupation.
A new type of personality altogether they were in the Socialist
movement, which had hitherto been richer in eloquence than discipline.
And during the past twenty years of the work of the Fabian Society
through their influence, one dominant question has prevailed. Assuming
the truth of the two main generalizations of Socialism, taking that
statement of intention for granted, _how is the thing to be done_?
They put aside the glib assurances of the revolutionary Socialists
that everything would be all right when the People came to their own;
and so earned for themselves the undying resentment of all those who
believe the world is to be effectually mended by a liberal use of
chest notes and red flags. They insisted that the administrative and
economic methods of the future must be a secular development of
existing institutions, and inaugurated a process of study--which has
long passed beyond the range of the Fabian Society, broadening out
with the organized work of the New University of London, with its
special School of Economics and Political Science and of a growing
volume of university study in England and America--to the end that
this "_how?_" should be answered....

The broad lines of the process of transition from the present state of
affairs to the Socialist state of the future as they are developed by
administrative Socialism lie along the following lines.

1. The peaceful and systematic taking over from private enterprise, by
purchase or otherwise, whether by the national or by the municipal
authorities as may be most convenient, of the great common services of
land control, mining, transit, food supply, the drink trade, lighting,
force supply and the like.

2. Systematic expropriation of private owners by death-duties and
increased taxation.

3. The building up of a great scientifically organized administrative
machinery to carry on these enlarging public functions.

4. A steady increase and expansion of public education, research,
museums, libraries and all such public services. The systematic
promotion of measures for raising the school-leaving age, for the
public feeding of school children, for the provision of public baths,
parks, playgrounds and the like.

5. The systematic creation of a great service of public health to take
over the disorganized confusion of hospitals and other charities,
sanitary authorities, officers of health and private enterprise
medical men.

6. The recognition of the claim of every citizen to welfare by
measures for the support of mothers and children and by the
establishment of old-age pensions.

7. The systematic raising of the minimum standard of life by factory
and other labour legislation, and particularly by the establishment of
a legal minimum wage....

These are the broad forms of the Fabian Socialist's answer to the
question of _how_, with which the revolutionary Socialists were
confronted. The diligent student of Socialism will find all these
proposals worked out to a very practicable-looking pitch indeed in
that Bible of Administrative Socialism, the collected tracts of the
Fabian Society,[21] and to that volume I must refer him. The theory of
the minimum standard and the minimum wage is explained, moreover, with
the utmost lucidity in that Socialist classic, _Industrial Democracy_,
by Sidney and Beatrice Webb. It is a theory that must needs be
mastered by every intelligent Socialist, but it is well to bear in
mind that the method of the minimum wage is no integral part of the
general Socialist proposition, and that it still lies open to
discussion and modification.

   [21] _Fabian Tracts._ (Fabian Society, 5_s._)

§ 2.

Every movement has the defects of its virtues, and it is not, perhaps,
very remarkable that the Fabian Society of the eighties and nineties,
having introduced the conception of the historical continuity of
institutions into the Propaganda of Socialism, did certainly for a
time greatly over-accentuate that conception and draw away attention
from aspects that may be ultimately more essential.

Beginning with the proposition that the institutions and formulæ of
the future must necessarily be developed from those of the present,
that one cannot start _de novo_ even after a revolution; one may
easily end in an attitude of excessive conservatism towards existing
machinery. In spite of the presence of such fine and original
intelligences as Mr. (now Sir) Sydney Olivier and Mr. Graham Wallas in
the Fabian counsels, there can be no denial that for the first twenty
years of its career, Mr. Webb was the prevailing Fabian. Now his is a
mind legal as well as creative, and at times his legal side quite
overcomes his constructive element; he is extraordinarily fertile in
expedients and skilful in adaptation, and with a real horror of open
destruction. This statement by no means exhausts him, but it does to a
large extent convey the qualities that were uppermost in the earlier
years, at any rate, of his influence. His insistence upon continuity
pervaded the Society, was re-echoed and intensified by others, and
developed into something like a mania for achieving Socialism without
the overt change of any existing ruling body. His impetus carried this
reaction against the crude democratic idea to its extremest opposite.
Then arose Webbites to caricature Webb. From saying that the
unorganized people cannot achieve Socialism, they passed to the
implication that organization alone, without popular support, might
achieve Socialism. Socialism was to arrive as it were insidiously.

To some minds this new proposal had the charm of a school-boy's first
dark-lantern. Socialism ceased to be an open revolution, and became a
plot. Functions were to be shifted, quietly, unostentatiously, from
the representative to the official he appointed; a bureaucracy was to
slip into power through the mechanical difficulties of an
administration by debating representatives; and since these officials
would by the nature of their positions constitute a scientific
bureaucracy, and since Socialism is essentially scientific government
as distinguished from haphazard government, they would necessarily run
the country on the lines of a pretty distinctly undemocratic

The process went even further than secretiveness in its reaction from
the large rhetorical forms of revolutionary Socialism. There arose
even a repudiation of "principles" of action, and a type of worker
which proclaimed itself "Opportunist-Socialist." It was another
instance of Socialism losing sight of itself, it was a process quite
parallel at the other extreme with the self-contradiction of the
Anarchist-Socialist. Socialism as distinguished from mere Liberalism,
for example, is an organized plan for social reconstruction, while
Liberalism relies upon certain vague "principles"; Socialism declares
that good intentions and doing what comes first to hand will not
suffice. Now Opportunism is essentially benevolent adventure and the
doing of first-hand things.

This conception of indifference to the forms of government, of
accepting whatever governing bodies existed and using them to create
officials and "_get something done_," was at once immediately fruitful
in many directions, and presently productive of many very grave
difficulties in the path of advancing Socialism. Webb himself devoted
immense industry and capacity to the London County Council--it is
impossible to measure the share he has had in securing such great
public utilities as water supply, traction and electric supply, for
example, from complete exploitation by private profit seekers, but
certainly it is a huge one--and throughout England and presently in
America, there went on a collateral activity of Fabian Socialists.
They worked like a ferment in municipal politics, encouraging and
developing local pride and local enterprise in public works. In the
case of large public bodies, working in suitable areas and commanding
the services of men of high quality, striking advances in Social
organization were made, but in the case of smaller bodies in
unsuitable districts and with no attractions for people of gifts and
training, the influence of Fabianism did on the whole produce effects
that have tended to discredit Socialism. Aggressive, ignorant and
untrained men and women, usually neither inspired by Socialist faith
nor clearly defining themselves as Socialists, persons too often of
wavering purpose and doubtful honesty, got themselves elected in a
state of enthusiasm to undertake public functions and challenge
private enterprise under conditions that doomed them to waste and
failure. This was the case in endless parish councils and urban
districts; it was also the case in many London boroughs. It has to be
admitted by Socialists with infinite regret that the common
borough-council Socialist is too often a lamentable misrepresentative
of the Socialist idea.

The creation of the London Borough Councils found English Socialism
unprepared. They were bodies doomed by their nature to incapacity and
waste. They represented neither natural communities nor any
practicable administrative unit of area. Their creation was the result
of quite silly political considerations. The slowness with which
Socialists have realized that for the larger duties that they wish to
have done collectively, a new scheme of administration is necessary;
that bodies created to sweep the streets and admirably adapted to that
duty may be conspicuously not adapted to supply electric power or
interfere with transit, is accountable for much disheartening
bungling. Instead of taking a clear line from the outset, and
denouncing these glorified vestries as useless, impossible and
entirely unscientific organs, too many Socialists tried to claim
Bumble as their friend and use him as their tool. And Bumble turned
out to be a very bad friend and a very poor tool....

In all these matters the real question at issue is one between the
emergency and the implement. One may illustrate by a simple
comparison. Suppose there is a need to dig a hole and that there is no
spade available, a Fabian with Mr. Webb's gifts becomes invaluable. He
seizes upon a broken old cricket-bat, let us say, uses it with
admirable wit and skill, and presto! there is the hole made and the
moral taught that one need not always wait for spades before digging
holes. It is a lesson that Socialism stood in need of, and which
henceforth it will always bear in mind. But suppose we want to dig a
dozen holes, it may be worth while to spend a little time in going to
beg, borrow or buy a spade. If we have to dig holes indefinitely, day
after day, it will be sheer foolishness sticking to the bat. It will
be worth while then not simply to get a spade, but to get just the
right sort of spade in size and form that the soil requires, to get
the proper means of sharpening and repairing the spade, to insure a
proper supply. Or to point the comparison, the reconstruction of our
legislative and local government machinery is a necessary preliminary
to Socialization in many directions. Mr. Webb has very effectually
admitted that, is in fact himself leading us away from that by taking
up the study of local government as his principal occupation, but the
typical "Webbite" of the Fabian Society, who is very much to Webb what
the Marxist is to Marx, entranced by his leader's skill, still clings
to a caricature distortion of this earlier Fabian ideal. He dreams of
the most foxy and wonderful digging by means of box-lids,
table-spoons, dish-covers--anything but spades designed and made for
the job in hand--just as he dreams of an extensive expropriation of
landlords by a legislature that includes the present unreformed House
of Lords....

§ 3.

It was only at the very end of the nineteenth century that the Fabian
Socialist movement was at all quickened to the need of political
reconstruction as extensive as the economic changes it advocated, and
it is still far from a complete apprehension of the importance of the
political problem. To begin with, Mr. and Mrs. Webb, having completed
their work on Labour Regulation, took up the study of local government
and commenced that colossal task that still engages them, their book
upon _English Local Government_, of which there has as yet appeared
(1907) only one volume out of seven. (Immense as this service is, it
is only one part of conjoint activities that will ultimately give
constructive social conceptions an enormous armoury of scientifically
arranged fact.)

As the outcome of certain private experiences, the moral of which was
pointed by discussion with Mr. and Mrs. Webb, the present writer in
1902 put before the Fabian Society a paper on Administrative
Areas,[22] in which he showed clearly that the character and
efficiency and possibilities of a governing body depend almost
entirely upon the suitability to its particular function of the size
and quality of the constituency it represents and the area it
administers. This may be stated with something approaching scientific
confidence. A local governing body for too small an area or elected
upon an unsound franchise _cannot_ be efficient. But obviously before
you can transfer property from private to collective control you must
have something in the way of a governing institution which has a
reasonably good chance of developing into an efficient controlling
body. The leading conception of this Administrative Area paper
appeared subsequently running through a series of tracts, _The New
Heptarchy Series_, in which one finds it applied first to this group
of administrative problems and then to that.[23] These tracts are
remarkable if only because they present the first systematic
recognition on the part of any organized Socialist body of the fact
that a scientific reconstruction of the methods of government
constitutes not simply an incidental but a necessary part of the
complete Socialist scheme, the first recognition of the widening scope
of the Socialist design that makes it again a deliberately
constructive project.[24]

   [22] See Appendix to _Mankind in the Making_. (Chapman and
        Hall, 1905.)

   [23] 1. _Municipalization by Provinces._ 2. _On the Reform
        of Municipal Service._ 3. _Public Control of Electric Power
        and Transit._ 4. _The Revival of Agriculture: a National
        Policy for Great Britain._ 5. _The Abolition of Poor Law
        Guardians._ Others to follow. (Fabian Society, 1905-6.)

   [24] This generalization is a sweeping one, and would need,
        were one attempting to give more than a very broad
        impression of the sequence of Socialist ideas, considerable
        modification. Such earlier tracts as _The New Reform Bill_,
        _Facts for Londoners_, _Facts for Bristol_, dealt mainly
        with the question of machinery.

It is only an initial recognition, a mere first raid into a great and
largely unexplored province of study. This province is in the broadest
terms, social psychology. A huge amount of thought, discussion,
experiment, is to be done in this field--needs imperatively to be done
before the process of the socialization of economic life can go very
far beyond its present attainments. Except for these first admissions,
Socialism has concerned itself only with the material reorganization
of Society and its social consequences, with economic changes and the
reaction of these changes on administrative work; it has either
accepted existing intellectual conditions and political institutions
as beyond its control or assumed that they will obediently modify as
economic and administrative necessity dictates. Declare the Social
revolution, we were told in a note of cheery optimism by the Marxist
apostles, and political institutions will come like flowers in May!
Achieve your expropriation, said the early Fabians, get your network
of skilled experts spread over the country, and your political forms,
your public opinion, your collective soul will not trouble you.

The student of history knows better. These confident claims ignore the
psychological factors in government and human association; they
disregard a jungle of difficulties that lie directly in our way.
Socialists have to face the facts; firstly, that the political and
intellectual institutions of the present time belong to the present
condition of things, and that the intellectual methods, machinery and
political institutions of the better future must almost inevitably be of
a very different type; secondly, that such institutions will not come
about of themselves--which indeed is the old superstition of _laissez
faire_ in a new form--but must be thought out, planned and organized
just as completely as economic socialization has had to be planned and
organized; and thirdly, that so far Socialism has evolved scarcely any
generalizations even, that may be made the basis of new intellectual and
governmental--as distinguished from administrative--methods. It has
preached collective ownership and collective control, and it has only
begun to recognize that this implies the necessity of a collective will
and new means and methods altogether for the collective mind.

The administrative Socialism which Mr. Webb and the Fabian Society
developed upon a modification of the broad generalizations of the Marx
phase, is as it were no more than the first courses above those
foundations of Socialism. It supplies us with a conception of methods
of transition and with a vision of a great and disciplined
organization of officials, a scientific bureaucracy appointed by
representative bodies of diminishing activity and importance, and
coming to be at last the real working control of the Socialist State.
But it says nothing of what is above the officials, what drives the
officials. It is a palace without living rooms, with nothing but
offices; a machine, as yet unprovided with a motor. No doubt we must
have that organization of officials if we mean to bring about a
Socialist State, but the mind recoils with something like terror from
the conception of a State run and ruled by officials, terminating in
officials, with an official as its highest expression. One has a
vision of a community with blue-books instead of a literature, and
inspectors instead of a conscience. The mystical democracy of the
Marxist, though manifestly impossible, had in it something attractive,
something humanly and desperately pugnacious and generous, something
indeed heroic; the bureaucracy of the Webbite, though far more
attainable, is infinitely less inspiring. But that may be because the
inspiring elements remain to be stated rather than that these
practical constructive projects are in their nature, and incurably,
hard and narrow. Instead of a gorgeous flare in the darkness, we have
the first cold onset of daylight heralding the sun. If the letter of
the teaching of Mr. and Mrs. Webb is bureaucracy, that is certainly
not the spirit of their lives.

The earlier Socialists gave Socialism substance, _rudis indigestaque
moles_, but noble stuff; Administrative Socialism gave it a physical
structure and nerves, defined its organs and determined its functions;
it remains for the Socialist of to-day to realize in this shaping body
of the civilized State of the future the breath of life already
unconfessedly there, to state in clear terms the reality for which our
plans are made, by which alone they can be realized, that is to say,
_the collective mind of humanity, the soul and moral being of



§ 1.

Such a group of ideas and motives as Socialism, fundamentally true as
it is to the needs of life, and arising as it does from the inevitable
suggestion of very widely dispersed evils and insufficiencies, does
not spring from any one source, nor develop along any single line. It
appears as a smouldering fire appears, first here, then there, first
in one form of expression and then another, now under this name and
now under that.

The manifest new possibilities created by the progress of applied
science, the inevitable change of scale and of the size and conception
of a community that arises out of them, _necessitate_ at least the
material form of Socialism--that is to say, the replacement of
individual action by public organization, in spite of a hundred vested
interests. The age that regarded Herbert Spencer as its greatest
philosopher, for example, was urged nevertheless, unwillingly and
protestingly but effectually, through phase after phase of more and
more co-ordinated voluntary effort, until at last it had to undertake
a complete system of organized free public primary education. There
the moving finger of change halts not a moment; already it is going on
to secondary education, to schemes for a complete public educational
organization from reformatory school up to professorial chair. The
practical logic of the case is invincible.

So, too, the public organization of scientific research goes on
steadily against all prejudices and social theories, and, in a very
different field, the plain inconveniences of a private control of
traffic in America and England alike, force the affected property
owners whose businesses are hampered and damaged towards the
realization that freedom of private property, in these services at
least, is evil and must end. As the proofs of these pages pass through
my hands comes the news of Mr. Lloyd George's settlement of the
dispute between railway directors and _employés_ by the establishment
of a method of compulsory arbitration. Then, again, the movement for
public sanitation and hygiene spreads and broadens, and the natural
alarm of even the most conservative at the falling birth-rate and the
stationary infantile death-rate is evidently ripening for an advance
towards public control and care even in the relation of child to
parent, the most intimate of all personal affairs.

Inevitably all such movements must coalesce--their spirit is one, the
spirit of construction--and inevitably their coalescence will take the
form of a wide and generous restatement of Socialism. Nothing but a
broader understanding of the broadening propositions of Socialism is
needed for that recognition now.

Socialism, indeed, does not simply look, it appeals to the
constructive professions at the present time, to the medical man, the
engineer, the architect, the scientific agriculturist.

Each of these sorts of men, in just so far as he is concerned with the
reality of his profession, in just so far as he is worthy of his
profession, must resent the considerations of private profit, of base
economies, that constantly limit and spoil his work and services in
the interests of a dividend or of some financial manœuvre. So far they
have been antagonized towards Socialism by the errors of its
adherents, by the impression quite wantonly created, that Socialism
meant either mob rule or the rule of pedantic, unsympathetic
officials. They have heard too much of democracy, too much of
bureaucracy, and not enough of construction. They have felt that on
the whole the financial exploiter, detestable master as he often is,
was better than the rule of either clamour on the one hand or red tape
on the other. But, as I have been seeking to suggest, mob rule and
official rule do not exhaust the possible alternatives. Neither
ignorant democracy nor narrow bureaucracy can be the destined rulers
of a Socialist State. The only conceivable rule in a Socialist
civilization is through the operation of a collective mind that must
be by its nature constructive and enterprising, because only through
the creation of such a mind can Socialism be brought about. A
Socialist State cannot exist without that mind existing also, and a
collective mind can scarcely appear without some form of Socialism
giving it a material body. Now it is only under an intelligent
collective mind that any of the dreams of these constructive
professions can attain an effective realization. Where will the
private profit in a universal sanitation, for example, be found, in
the abolition of diseases, in the planned control of the public
health, in the abolition of children's deaths? What thought of private
gain will ever scrap our obsolescent railroads and our stagnating
industrial monopolies for new clean methods? So long as they pay a
dividend they will keep on upon their present lines. The modern
architect knows, the engineer knows we might build ourselves perfectly
clean, smokeless magnificent cities to-day, as full of pure water as
ancient Rome, as full of pure air as the Engadine, if private
ownership did not block the way. Who can doubt it who understands what
a doctor, or an electrical engineer, or a real architect understands?
Surely all the best men in these professions are eager to get to work
on the immense possibilities of life, possibilities of things cleared
up, of things made anew, that their training has enabled them to
visualize! What stands in their way, stands in our way; social
disorganization, individualist self-seeking, narrowness of outlook,
self-conceit, ignorance.

With that conception they must surely turn in the end, as we
Socialists turn, to the most creative profession of all, to that great
calling which with each generation renews the world's "circle of
ideas," the Teachers!

The whole trend and purpose of this book from the outset has been to
insist upon _the mental quality of Socialism_, to maintain that it is
a business of conventions about property and plans of reorganization,
that is to say, of changes and expansions of the ideas of men, changes
and expansions of their spirit of action and their habitual circles of
ideas. Unless you can change men's minds you cannot effect Socialism,
and when you have made clear and universal certain broad
understandings, Socialism becomes a mere matter of science and devices
and applied intelligence. That is the constructive Socialist's
position. Logically, therefore, he declares the teacher master of the
situation. Ultimately the Socialist movement _is_ teaching, and the
most important people in the world from the Socialist's point of view
are those who teach--I mean of course not simply those who teach in
schools, but those who teach in pulpits, in books, in the press, in
universities and lecture-theatres, in parliaments and councils, in
discussions and associations and experiments of every sort, and, last
in my list but most important of all, those mothers and motherly women
who teach little children in their earliest years. Every one, too, who
enunciates a new and valid idea, or works out a new contrivance, is a
teacher in this sense.

And these Teachers collectively, perpetually renew the collective
mind. In the measure that in each successive generation they apprehend
Socialism and transmit its spirit, is Socialism nearer its goal.

§ 2.

At the present time in America and all the western European countries,
there is a collective mind, a public opinion made up of the most
adventitious and interesting elements. It is not even a national or a
racial thing, it is curiously international, curiously responsive to
thought from every quarter; a something, vague here, clear there, here
diffused, there concentrated. It demands the closest attention from
Socialists this something, this something which is so hard to define
and so impossible to deny--civilized feeling, the thought of our age,
the mind of the world. It has organs, it has media, yet it is as hard
to locate as the soul of a man. We know that somewhere in the brain
and body of a man lives his Self; that you must preserve that brain
entire, aërate it, nourish it lest it die and his whole being die, and
yet you cannot say it is in this cell--or in that. So with an equal
mystery of diffusion the mind of mankind exists. No man, no
organization, no authority, can be more than a part of it. Twice at
least have there been attempts of parts to be the whole; the Catholic
Church and the Chinese Academy have each in varying measure sought to
play the part of a collective mind for all humanity and failed. All
individual achievement, fine books, splendid poems, great discoveries,
new generalizations, lives of thought, are no more than flashes in
this huge moral and intellectual being which grows now self-conscious
and purposeful, just as a child grows out of its early self-ignorance
to an elusive, indefinable, indisputable sense of itself. This
collective mind has to be filled and nourished with the Socialist
purpose, to receive and assimilate our great idea. That is the true
work of Socialism.

Consider the organs and media of the collective mind as one finds them
in England or America now, how hazardous they are and accidental! At
the basis of this strange thought-process is the intelligence of the
common man, once illiterate and accessible only to the crude,
inarticulate influences of talk and rumour, now rapidly becoming
educated, or at any rate educated to the level of a reader and writer,
and responding more and more to literary influences. The great mass of
the population is indeed at the present time like clay which has
hitherto been a mere deadening influence underneath, but which this
educational process, like some drying and heating influence upon that
clay, is rendering resonant, capable of, in a dim answering way,
_ringing_ to the appeals made upon it. Reaching through this mass,
appealing to it in various degrees at various levels and to various
ends, there are a number of systems of organizations of unknown value
and power. Its response, such as it is, robbed by multitudinousness of
any personality or articulation, is a broad emotional impulse.

Above this fundamental mass is the growing moiety which has a
conscious thought-process, of a sort. Its fundamental ideas, its
preconceptions, are begotten of a mixture of social traditions learnt
at home and in school and from the suggestions of contemporary customs
and affairs. But it reads and listens more or less. And scattered
through this, here and there, are people really learning, really
increasing and accumulating knowledge, really thinking and
conversing--the active mind-cells, as it were, of the world. Their
ideas are conveyed into the mass much as impulses are conveyed into an
imperfectly innervated tissue, they are conveyed by books and
pamphlets, by lecturing, by magazine articles and newspaper articles,
by the agency of the pulpit, by organized propaganda, by political
display and campaigns. The gross effect is considerable, but it is
just as well that the Socialist should look a little closely at the
economic processes that underlie these intellectual activities at the
present time. Except for the universities and much of the public
educational organization, except for a few pulpits endowed for good
under conditions that limit freedom of thought and expression, except
for certain needy and impecunious propagandas, the whole of this
apparatus of public thought and discussion to-day has been created and
is sustained by commercial necessity.

For example, consider what is I suppose by far the most important
vehicle of ideas at the present time, which for a huge majority of
adults is the sole vehicle of ideas, the newspaper. It is universal
because it is cheap, and it is cheap because the cost of production is
paid for by the advertisements of private enterprise. The newspaper is
to a very large extent parasitic upon competition; its criticism, its
discussion, its correspondence, are, from the business point of view,
written on the backs of puffs of competing tobaccos, soaps, medicines
and the like. No newspaper could pay upon its sales alone, and the
same thing is true of most popular magazines and weekly publications.
It is highly probable that whatever checks public advertisement in
other directions, the prohibition of bill-posting upon hoardings, for
example, the protection of scenery, railway carriages and architecture
from the advertiser, stimulates the production of attractive
literature. Necessarily what is published in newspapers and magazines
must be acceptable to advertising businesses and not too openly
contrary to their interests. With that limitation the newspapers
provide a singularly free and various arena for discussion at the
present time. It must, however, be obvious that to advance towards
Socialism is, if not to undermine the newspaper altogether, at least
to change very profoundly this material vehicle of popular thought....

The newspaper disseminates ideas. So, too, does the book and the
pamphlet, and so far as these latter are concerned, their distribution
does not at present rest in the same degree upon their value as
vehicles of advertisement. They are saleable things unaided. The
average book of to-day at its nominal price of six shillings pays in
itself and supports its producers. So in a lesser degree does the
sixpenny pamphlet, but neither book nor pamphlet reach so wide a
public as the halfpenny and penny press. The methods and media of the
book trade have grown up, no man designing them; they change, and no
one is able to foretell the effect of their changes. At present there
is a great movement to cheapen new books, and it would seem the
cheapening is partly to be made up for in enhanced sales and partly by
an increased use of new books for advertisement. Many people consider
this cheapening of new books as being detrimental to the interests of
all but the most vulgarly popular authors. They believe it will
increase the difficulty of new writers, and hopelessly impoverish just
the finest element in our literary life, those original and
exceptional minds who demand educated appreciation and do not appeal
to the man in the street. This may or may not be true; the aspect of
interest to Socialists is that here is a process going on which is
likely to produce the most far-reaching results upon the collective
mind, upon that thought-process of the whole community which is
necessary for the progressive organization of Society. It is a process
which is likely to spread one type of writer far and wide, which may
silence or demoralize another, which may vulgarize and debase
discussion, and which will certainly make literature far more
dependent than it is at present upon the goodwill of advertising
firms. Yet as Socialists they have no ideas whatever in this matter;
their project of activities ignores it altogether....

Books and newspapers constitute two among the chief mental organs of a
modern community, but almost, if not equally important is that great
apparatus for the dissemination of ideas made up of the pulpits and
lecture halls of a thousand sects and societies. Towards all these
things Socialism has hitherto maintained an absurd attitude of
_laissez faire_....

So far I have looked at the collective mind as a thought process only,
but it has much graver and more immediate functions in a democratic
State. It has, one must remember, to _will_ social order and
development. In every country the machinery for determining and
expressing this will is complex. The common method in the modern
western State is through the voting of a numerous electorate, which
tends, it would seem, to become more and more the entire manhood, if
not the entire adult population of the country. It is a curious but
perhaps inevitable method. Practically thought has to percolate down
to the common man through all those strange and accidental channels,
newspapers which are advertisement sheets, books which may be
boycotted in a "Book War," pulpits pledged to doctrine and lecture
halls kept open by rich people's subscriptions; it has to reach him,
to mingle itself with generalized emotional forces in the heat of
mysteriously subsidized election campaigns, and then return as a
collective determination. For the Statesman and the Socialist there
could hardly be any study more important, one might think, than the
science of these processes and methods. Yet the world has still to
produce even the rudimentary generalizations of this needed science of
collective psychology.

§ 3.

Now, I ask the reader to consider very carefully how the Socialist
movement, using that expression now in its wider sense, stands to this
very vague and very real outcome of social evolution, the Collective
Mind; what it is really aspiring to do in that Collective Mind.

One has to recognize that this mind is at present a mind in a state of
confusion, full of warring suggestions and warring impulses. It is
like a very disturbed human mind, it is without a clear aim, it does
not know except in the vaguest terms what it wants to do, it has
impulses, it has fancies, it begins and forgets. In addition it is
afflicted with a division within itself that is strictly analogous to
that strange mental disorder, which is known to psychologists as
multiple personality. It has no clear conception of the whole of
itself, it goes about forgetting its proper name and address. Part of
it thinks of itself as one great being, as, let us say, Germany;
another thinks of itself as Catholicism, another as the White Race, or
Judæa. At times one might deem the whole confusion not so much a mind
as incurable dementia, a chaos of mental elements, haunted by
invincible and mutually incoherent fixed ideas. This you will remember
is the gist of that melancholy torso of irony, Flaubert's _Bouvard et

In its essence the Socialist movement amounts to this; it is an
attempt in this warring chaos of a collective mind to pull itself
together, to develop and establish a governing idea of itself. It is
like a man saying to himself resolutely, "What am I? What am I doing
with myself? Where am I drifting?" and making an answer, hesitating at
first, crude at first, and presently clear and lucid.

The Socialist movement is from this point of view, no less than the
development of the collective self-consciousness of humanity.
Necessarily, therefore, it must be international as well as outspoken,
making no truce with prejudices against race and colour. These
national and racial collective consciousnesses of to-day are things as
vague, as fluctuating as mists or clouds, they melt, dissolve into one
another, they coalesce, they split. No clear isolated national mind
can ever maintain itself under modern conditions; even the mind of
Japan now comes into the common melting-pot of thought. We Socialists
take up to-day the assertion the early Christians were the first to
make, that mankind is of one household and one substance; the
Samaritan who stoops to the wounded stranger by the wayside our
brother rather than that Levite....

In a very different sense indeed the Socialist propaganda must be _the
germ of the collective self-consciousness of mankind in the coming
time_. If the purpose of Socialism is to prevail, its scattered
writings, its dispersed, indistinct and confused utterances must
increase in height and breadth and range, increase in power and
service, gather to themselves every means of expression, grow into an
ordered system of thought, art, literature and will. The Socialist
Propaganda of to-day must beget the whole Public Opinion of to-morrow
or fail, the Socialists must play the part of a little leaven to
leaven the whole world. If they do not leaven it then they are
altogether defeated....

§ 4.

Now, this conception of Socialism as being ultimately a moral and
intellectual synthesis of mankind from which fresh growth may come,
sets a fresh test of value upon all the activities of the
Socialist--and opens up altogether new departments for research. Let
us face the peculiar difficulty of the Socialist position. We propose
to destroy the competitive capitalistic system that owns and sustains
our present newspapers, gives and leaves money to universities, endows
fresh pulpits, publishes, advertises, and buys books; we have to ask,
as reasonable creatures, what new media we propose to give in the
place of these accidental and unsatisfactory methods of distributing
and exchanging thought. It would almost seem as though current
Socialism breathes public opinion as the Middle Ages breathed air,
without realizing that it existed, that it might be vitiated or
withheld. And so we are beyond the range of prepared and digested
Socialist proposals here altogether. It is still open to the
Anti-Socialist to allege that Socialism may incidentally destroy
itself by choking the channels of its own thinking, and the Socialist
has still to reply in vague general terms.

_We must insure the continuity of the collective mind_; that is
manifestly a primary necessity for Socialism. The attempt to realize
the Marxist idea of a democratic Socialism without that, might easily
fail into the abortive birth of an acephalous monster, the secular
development of administrative Socialism give the world over to a
bureaucratic mandarinate, self-satisfied, interfering and unteachable,
with whom wisdom would die. And yet we Socialists can produce in our
plans no absolute bar to these possibilities. Here I can suggest only
in the most general terms methods and certain principles. They need to
be laid down as vitally necessary to Socialism, and so far they have
not been so laid down. They have still to be incorporated in the
Socialist creed. They are essentially principles of that Liberalism
out of whose generous aspirations Socialism sprang, but they are
principles that even to-day, unhappily, do not figure in the
fundamental professions of any Socialist body.

The first of these is the principle of _freedom of speech_; the
second, _freedom of writing_; and the third, _universality of
information_. In the civilized State every one must be free to know,
knowledge must be patent and at hand, and any one must be free to
discuss, write, suggest and persuade. These freedoms must be guarded
as sacred things. It is not in the untutored nature of man to respect
any of these freedoms; it is not in the bureaucratic habit of mind.
Indeed, the desire to suppress opinions adverse to our own is almost
instinctive in human nature. It is an instinct we have to conquer.
Fair play in discussion is sustained by a cultivated respect, by a
correction of natural instinct; men need to be _trained_ to be jealous
of obscurantism, of unfair argument, of authoritative interference
with opinion when that opinion is against them. In England such a
jealousy does already largely exist, it has been cultivated with us
since the seventeenth century at least; America, it seemed to me
during my short visit to the States, has somewhat retrograded from its
former British standard in this respect, there is a crude majority
tyranny in the matter of publication, an un-English disposition to
boycott libraries, books, authors and publications upon petty issues,
a growing disposition to discriminate in the mails against unpopular
views. These interferences with open statement and discussion are
decivilizing forces.

Given a clear public understanding of these necessities as primary,
then one may point out that the next necessity for the mental
existence of a Socialist State is an extension and cheapening of the
impartial universal distributing activity of the public post so that
it becomes not only the means of correspondence, but also of
distributing books and newspapers, pamphlets and every form of printed
matter. The post-office must become bookseller and newsagent. In
France this is already the case with the press, and newspapers are
handed in not by the newsboy but by the public mail. In England
Messrs. Smith and Mudie, and so forth, may censor what they like among
periodicals or books. The remedy is more toilsome and vexatious than
the injury. Neither England nor America has any security against
finding its public supply of magazines or literature suddenly choked
by the manœuvres of some blackmailing Book or News Trust squalidly
"fighting" author or publisher for an increase in its proportion of
profits, or interested in financial exploitations liable to exposure.
Neither country is secure against the complete control of its channels
of thought by some successful monopolistic adventurer....

The Socialist State will not for a moment permit such risks as these;
it must certainly be a ubiquitous newsvendor and bookseller; the
ordinary newsvendor and bookseller must become an impartial State
official, working for a sure and comfortable salary instead of for
precarious profits. And this amplification of the book and news post
and the book and news trades will need to be not simply a municipal
but a State service of the widest range.

Distribution, however, is only the beginning of the problem. There is
the more difficult issue of getting books and papers printed and
published. And here we come to an intricate puzzle in reconciling the
indisputable need for untrammelled individual expression on the one
hand with public ownership on the other, and also with the difficult
riddle how authors may be supported under Socialist conditions. It is
not within the design of this book to do more than indicate a possible
solution. These are problems the Socialist has still to work out. At
present authors with business shrewdness and the ability to be
interesting get an income from the sale of their books, and it seems
possible that they might continue to be paid in that way under
Socialism. It is difficult outside the field of specialist work (which
under any social system has to be endowed in relation to colleges and
universities) to find any other just way of discriminating between the
author who ought to get a living from writing, and the author who has
no reasonable claim to do so. But under Socialism, in addition to the
private publisher or altogether replacing him, there will have to be
some sort of public publisher.

Here again difficulties arise. It is difficult to see how, if there is
only one general State publishing department, a sort of censorship can
be altogether avoided, and even if, for example, one insists upon the
right of every one who cares to pay for it to have matter printed,
bound and issued by the public presses and binders, it still leaves a
disagreeable possibility of uniformity haunting the mind. But the
whole trend of administrative Socialism is towards a conception of
great local governments, of land, elementary education,
omnibus-transit, power distribution and the like, vesting in the hands
of municipalities as great as mediæval principalities; and it seems
possible to look to these great bodies and to the municipal patriotism
and inter-municipal rivalries that will develop about them, for just
that spirited and competitive publishing that is desirable, just as
one looks now to their rivalries as a stimulus for art and
architecture and public dignity and display.[25] Already, as I have
pointed out in a previous chapter (Chapter IX., § 5), the decorative
arts had to be rescued from the degrading influence of private
enterprise; no one wants to go back now to the early Victorian state
of affairs, and so it is reasonable to hope that out of the municipal
art and technical schools, which teach printing, binding and the like,
public presses, public binderies and all the machinery of book
production may be developed in a natural and convenient manner. So,
too, the municipalities might publish, seek out, maintain and honour
writers and sell the books they produced, against each other all over
the world. It would be a matter of pride for authors still
unrecognized to go forth to the world with the arms of some great city
on their covers, and it would be a matter of pride for any city to
have its arms upon work become classic and immortal. So at least one
method of competition is possible in this matter....

   [25] I visited Liverpool and Manchester the other day for
        the first time in my life, and was delighted to find how the
        inferiority of the local art galleries to those of Glasgow
        rankled in people's minds.

This, however, is but one passing suggestion out of many
possibilities. But in all these issues of the intellectual life, it is
manifest that public ownership must be so contrived, and can be so
contrived as to avoid centralization and a control without
alternatives. Moreover, whatever public publishing is done, it must be
left open to any one to set up as an independent publisher or printer,
and to sell and advertise through the impartial public book and news
distributing organization.

I lay some stress upon this matter of book issuing because I think it
is a remarkable and regrettable thing about contemporary Socialist
discussion that it does not seem to be in the least alive to the great
public disadvantage of leaving this vitally important service to
private gain getting. Municipal coal, municipal milk, municipal house
owning, the Socialists seem prepared for, and even municipal theatres,
but municipal publication they still do not take into consideration.
They leave the capitalist free to contrive the control of their book
supply and to check and determine all the provender of their minds....

The problem of the press is perhaps to be solved by some parallel
combination of individual enterprise and public resources. All sorts
of things may happen to the newspaper of to-day even in the near
future, it cannot but be felt that in its present form it is an
extremely transitory phenomenon, that it no longer embodies and rules
public thought as it did in the middle and later Victorian period, and
that a separation of public discussion from the news sheet is already
in progress. Both in England and America the popular magazine seems
taking over an increasing share of the public thinking. The newspaper
appears to be in the opening throes of a period of fundamental change.

But I will not go into the future of the newspaper here. All these
suggestions are merely thrown out in the most tentative way to
indicate the nature of the field for study that lies open for any
intelligent worker to cultivate, and that Socialists have so far been
too busy to consider....

The same truth that controls must be divided and a competition at
least for honour and repute kept alive under Socialism, needs also to
be applied to schools and colleges, and all the vast machinery of
research. It is imperative that there should be overlapping and
competing organizations. An educated and prosperous community such as
we postulate for the Socialist State will necessarily be more alert
for interest and intellectual quality than our present "driven"
multitude; its ampler leisure, its wider horizons, will keep it
critical and exacting of what claims its attention. The rivalries of
institutions and municipalities will be part of the drama of life.
Under Socialism, with the extension of the educational process it
contemplates, universities and colleges must become the most prominent
of facts; nearly every one will have that feeling for some such place
which now one finds in a Trinity man for Trinity; the sort of feeling
that sent the last thoughts of Cecil Rhodes back to Oriel. Everywhere,
balanced against the Town Hall or the Parliament House, will be the
great university buildings and art museums, the lecture halls open to
all comers, the great noiseless libraries, the book exhibitions and
book and pamphlet stores, keenly criticized, keenly used, will teem
with unhurrying, incessant, creative activities.

And all this immense publicly sustained organization will be doing
greatly and finely what now our scattered line of Socialist
propagandists is doing under every disadvantage, that is to say it
will be developing and sustaining the social self-consciousness, the
collective sense of the State.

§ 5.

I am naturally preoccupied with the Mind of that Civilized State we
seek to make; because my work lies in this department. But while the
writer, the publisher and printer, the bookseller and librarian, and
teacher and preacher must chiefly direct himself to developing this
great organized mind and intention in the world, other sorts of men
will be concerned with parallel aspects of the Socialist synthesis.
The medical worker or the medical investigator will be building up the
body of a new generation, the Body of the Civilized State, and he will
be doing all he can not simply as an individual, but as a citizen, to
_organize_ his services of cure and prevention, of hygiene and
selection. And the specialized man of science--he will be concerned
with his own special synthesis, the Knowledge of the Civilized State,
whether he measure crystals or stain microtome sections or count
stars. A great and growing multitude of men will be working out the
Apparatus of the Civilized State; the students of transit and housing,
the engineers in their incessantly increasing variety, the miners and
geologists estimating the world's resources in metals and minerals,
the mechanical inventors perpetually economizing force. The scientific
agriculturist, again, will be studying the food supply of the world as
a whole, and how it may be increased and distributed and economized.
And to the student of law comes the task of rephrasing his intricate
and often quite beautiful science in relation to the new social
assumptions we have laid down. All these and a hundred other aspects
are integral to the wide project of Constructive Socialism as it
shapes itself now.

And to the man or woman who looks at these issues not as one
specialized in relation to some constructive calling but as a common
citizen, a mere human being eager to make and do from the standpoint
of personal liberty and personal affections, the appeal of this great
constructive project is equally strong. You want security and liberty!
Here it is, safe from the greed of trust and landlord; here is
investment with absolute assurance and trading with absolute justice;
this is the only safe way to build your own house in perfect security,
to make your own garden safe for yourself and for your children's
children, the only way in which you can link a hundred million kindred
wills in loyal co-operation with your own, and that is to do it not
for yourself alone and for your children alone, but for all the
world--all the world doing it also for you--to join yourself to this
great making of a permanent well-being for mankind.

And here, finally, let me set out a sort of programme of Constructive
Socialism, as it seems to be shaping itself in the minds of
contemporary Socialists out of the Fabianism of the eighties and
nineties, in order that the reader may be able to measure this fuller
and completer proposition against the earlier Administrative Socialism
whose propositions are set out in Chapter XI., § 1. All those are
incorporated in this that follows--there is no contradiction whatever
between them, but there is amplification; new elements are taken into
consideration, once disregarded difficulties have been faced and
partially resolved.

First, then, the Constructive Socialist has to do whatever lies in his
power towards _the enrichment of the Socialist idea_. He has to give
whatever gifts he has as artist, as writer, as maker of any sort to
increasing and refining the conception of civilized life. He has to
embody and make real the State and the City. And the Socialist idea,
constantly restated, refreshed and elaborated, has to be made a part
of the common circle of ideas; has to be grasped and felt and
assimilated by the whole mass of mankind, has to be made the basis of
each individual's private morality. That mental work is the primary,
most essential function of Constructive Socialism.

And next, Constructive Socialism has in every country to direct its
energies and attention to _political reform_, to the scientific
reconstruction of our representative and administrative machinery so
as to give power and real expression to the developing collective mind
of the community, and to remove the obstructions to Socialization that
are inevitable where institutions stand for "interests" or have fallen
under the sway of aggressive private property or of narrowly organized
classes. Governing and representative bodies, advisory and
investigatory organizations of a liberal and responsive type have to
be built up, bodies that shall be really capable of the immense
administrative duties the secular abolition of the great bulk of
private ownership will devolve upon them.

Thirdly, the constructive Socialist sets himself to forward _the
resumption of the land by the community_, by increased control, by
taxation, by death duties, by purchase and by partially compensated
confiscation as circumstances may render advisable, and so to make the
municipality the sole landlord in the reorganized world.

And meanwhile the constructive Socialist goes on also with the work of
_socializing the main public services_, by transferring them steadily
from private enterprise to municipal and State control, by working
steadily for such transfers and by opposing every party and every
organization that does not set its face resolutely against the private
exploitation of new needs and services.

There are four distinct systems of public service which could very
conveniently be organized under collective ownership and control now,
and each can be attacked independently of the others. There is first
the need of public educational machinery, and by education I mean not
simply elementary education, but the equally vital need for great
colleges not only to teach and study technical arts and useful
sciences, but also to enlarge learning and sustain philosophical and
literary work. A civilized community is impossible without great
public libraries, public museums, public art schools, without public
honour and support for contemporary thought and literature, and all
these things the constructive Socialist may forward at a hundred

Then next there is the need and opportunity of organizing the whole
community in relation to health, the collective development of
hospitals, medical aid, public sanitation, child welfare, into one
great loyal and efficient public service. This, too, may be pushed
forward either as part of the general Socialist movement or
independently as a thing in itself by those who may find the whole
Socialist proposition unacceptable or inconvenient.

A third system of interests upon which practical work may be done at
the present time lies in the complex interdependent developments of
transit and housing, questions that lock up inextricably with the
problem of re-planning our local government areas. Here, too, the
whole world is beginning to realize more and more clearly that private
enterprise is wasteful and socially disastrous, that collective
control, collective management, and so on to collective enterprise and
ownership of building-land, houses, railways, tramways and omnibuses,
give the only way of escape from an endless drifting entanglement and
congestion of our mobile modern population.

The fourth department of economic activity in which collectivism is
developing, and in which the constructive Socialist will find enormous
scope for work, is in connection with the more generalized forms of
public trading, and especially with the production, handling and
supply of food and minerals. When the lagging enterprise of
agriculture needs to be supplemented by endowed educational machinery,
agricultural colleges and the like; when the feeble intellectual
initiative of the private adventure miner and manufacturer
necessitates a London "Charlottenburg," it must be manifest that State
initiative has altogether out-distanced the possibilities of private
effort, and that the next step to the public authority instructing men
how to farm, prepare food, run dairies, manage mines and distribute
minerals, is to cut out the pedagogic middleman and undertake the work
itself. The State education of the expert for private consumption
(such as we see at the Royal School of Mines) is surely too ridiculous
a sacrifice of the community to private property to continue at that.
The further inevitable line of advance is the transfer from private to
public hands by purchase, by competing organizations or what not, of
all those great services, just as rapidly as the increasing capacity
and experience of the public authority permits.

This briefly is the work and method of Constructive Socialism to-day.
Under one or other head it can utilize almost every sort of capacity
and every type of opportunity. It refuses no one who will serve it. It
is no narrow doctrinaire cult. It does not seek the best of an
argument, but the best of a world. Its worst enemies are those foolish
and litigious advocates who antagonize and estrange every development
of human Good Will that does not pay tribute to their vanity in open
acquiescence. Its most loyal servants, its most effectual helpers on
the side of art, invention and public organization and political
reconstruction, may be men who will never adopt the Socialist name.



§ 1.

Before I conclude this compact exposition of modern Socialism, it is
reasonable that the reader should ask for some little help in figuring
to himself this new world at which we Socialists aim.

"I see the justice of much of the Socialist position," he will say,
"and the soundness of many of your generalizations. But it still seems
to remain--generalizations; and I feel the need of getting it into my
mind as something concrete and real. What will the world be _like_
when its state is really a Socialist one? That's my difficulty."

The full answer to that would be another book. I myself have tried to
render my own personal dream in a book called _A Modern Utopia_,[26]
but that has not been so widely read as I could have wished, it does
not appeal strongly enough, perhaps, to the practical every-day side
of life, and here I may do my best to give very briefly some
intimation of a few of the differences that would strike a
contemporary if he or she could be transferred to the new order we are
trying to evolve.

   [26] Chapman & Hall.

It would be a world and a life in no fundamental respect different
from the world of to-day, made up of the same creatures as ourselves,
as limited in capacity if not in outlook, as hasty, as quick to take
offence, as egotistical essentially, as hungry for attention, as
easily discouraged--they would indeed be better educated and better
trained, less goaded and less exasperated, with ampler opportunities
for their finer impulses and smaller scope for rage and secrecy, but
they would still be human. At bottom it would still be a struggle for
individual ends, albeit ennobled individual ends; for self-gratification
and self-realization against external difficulty and internal
weakness. Self-gratification would be sought more keenly in
self-development and self-realization in service, but that is a change
of tone and not of nature. We shall still be individuals. You might,
indeed, were you suddenly flung into it, fail to note altogether for a
long time the widest of the differences between the Socialist State
and our present one--the absence of that worrying urgency to earn,
that sense of constant economic insecurity, which afflicts all but the
very careless or the very prosperous to-day. Painful things being
absent are forgotten. On the same principle certain common objects of
our daily life you might not miss at all. There would be no slums, no
hundreds of miles of insanitary, ignoble homes, no ugly
health-destroying cheap factories. If you were not in the habit of
walking among slums and factories you would scarcely notice that. Din
and stress would be enormously gone. But you would remark simply a
change in the atmosphere about you and in your own contentment that
would be as difficult to analyze as the calm of a Sunday morning in
sunshine in a pleasant country.

Let me put my conception of the Socialist world to a number of typical
readers, as it were, so that they may see clearly just what difference
in circumstances there would be for them if we Socialists could have
our way now. Let me suppose them as far as possible exactly what they
are now save for these differences.

Then first let us take a sample case and suppose yourself to be an
elementary teacher. So far as your work went you would be very much as
you are to-day; you would have a finer and more beautiful school-room
perhaps, better supplied with apparatus and diagrams; you would have
cleaner and healthier, that is to say brighter and more responsive
children, and you would have smaller and more manageable classes.
Schools will be very important things in the Socialist State, and you
will find outside your class-room a much ampler building with open
corridors, a library, a bath, refectory for the children's midday
meal, and gymnasium, and beyond the playground a garden. You will be
an enlisted member of a public service, free under reasonable
conditions to resign, liable under extreme circumstances to dismissal
for misconduct, but entitled until you do so to a minimum salary, a
maintenance allowance, that is, and to employment. You will have had a
general education from the State up to the age of sixteen or
seventeen, and then three or four years of sound technical training,
so that you will know your work from top to bottom. You will have
applied for your present position in the service, whatever it is, and
have been accepted, much as you apply and are accepted for positions
now, by the school managers, and you will have done so because it
attracted you and they will have accepted you because your
qualifications seemed adequate to them. You will draw a salary
attached to the position, over and above that minimum maintenance
salary to which I have already alluded. You will be working just as
keenly as you are now, and better because of the better training you
have had, and because of shorter hours and more invigorating
conditions, and you will be working for much the same ends, that is to
say for promotion to a larger salary and wider opportunities and for
the interest and sake of the work. In your leisure you may be
studying, writing, or doing some work of supererogation for the school
or the State--because _under Socialist conditions it cannot be too
clearly understood that all the reasons the contemporary Trade
Unionist finds against extra work and unpaid work will have
disappeared_! You will not in a Socialist State make life harder for
others by working keenly and doing much if you are so disposed. You
will be free to give yourself generously to your work. You will have
no anxiety about sickness or old age, the State, the universal
Friendly Society, will hold you secure against that; but if you like
to provide extra luxury and dignity for your declining years, if you
think you will be amused to collect prints or books, or travel then,
or run a rose garden or grow chrysanthemums, the State will be quite
ready for you to pay it an insurance premium in order that you may
receive in due course an extra annuity to serve that end you

You will probably live as a tenant in a house which may either stand
alone or be part of a terrace or collegiate building, but instead of
having a private landlord, exacting of rent and reluctant of repairs,
your house landlord will very probably be, and your ground landlord
will certainly be, the municipality, the great Birmingham or London or
Hampshire or Glasgow or such-like municipality; and your house will be
built solidly and prettily instead of being jerry-built and
mean-looking, and it will have bathroom, electric light, electrically
equipped kitchen and so forth, as every modern civilized house might
have and should have now. If your taste runs to a little close garden
of your own, you will probably find plenty of houses with one; if that
is not so, and you want it badly, you will get other people of like
tastes to petition the municipality to provide some, and if that will
not do, you will put yourself up as a candidate for the parish or
municipal council to bring this about. You will pay very much the sort
of rent you pay now, but you will not pay it to a private landlord to
spend as he likes at Monte Carlo or upon foreign missions or in
financing "Moderate" bill-posting or what not, but to the
municipality, and you will pay no rates at all. The rent will do under
Socialism what the rates do now. You cannot grasp too clearly that
_Socialism will abolish rates_ absolutely. Rates for public purposes
are necessary to-day because the landowners of the world evade the
public obligations that should, in common sense, go with the rent.

Light, heating, water and so on will either be covered by the rent or
charged for separately, and they will be supplied just as near
cost-price as possible. I don't think you will buy coals, because I
think that in a few years' time it will be possible to heat every
house adequately by electricity; but if I am wrong in that, then you
will buy your coals just as you do now, except that you will have an
honest coal merchant, the Public Coal Service, a merchant not greedy
for profit nor short in the weight, calculating and foreseeing your
needs, not that it may profit by them but in order to serve them,
storing coal against a demand and so never raising the price in

I am assuming you are going to be a house occupier, but if you are a
single man, you will probably live in pleasant apartments in an hotel
or college and dine in a club, and perhaps keep no more than a couple
of rooms, one for sleep and one for study and privacy of your own. But
if you are a married man, then I must enlarge a little further upon
your domestic details, because you will probably want a "home of your

§ 2.

Now, just how a married couple lives in the Socialist State will
depend very much, as indeed it does now, on the individual relations
and individual taste and proclivities of the two people most
concerned. Many couples are childless now, and indisposed for home and
children, and such people will also be found in the Socialist State,
and in their case the wife will probably have an occupation and be a
teacher, a medical practitioner, a government clerk or official, an
artist, a milliner, and earn her own living. In which case they will
share apartments, perhaps, and dine in a club and go about together
very much as a childless couple of journalists or artists or
theatrical people do in London to-day. But of course if either of them
chooses to idle more or less and live on the earnings of the other,
that will be a matter quite between themselves. No one will ask who
pays their rent and their bills; that will be for their own private

But if they are not childless people, but have children, things will
be on a rather different footing. Then they will probably have a home
all to themselves, and that will be the wife's chief affair; only
incidentally will she attend to any other occupation. You will
remember that the State is to be a sort of universal Friendly Society
supplying good medical advice and so forth, and so soon as a woman is
likely to become a mother, her medical adviser, man or woman as the
case may be, will report this to the proper officials and her special
income as a prospective mother in the State will begin. Then, when her
child is born, there will begin an allowance for its support, and
these payments will continue monthly or quarterly, and will be larger
or smaller according first to the well-being of the child, and
secondly to the need the State may have for children--so long as the
children are in their mother's care. All this money for maternity will
be the wife's independent income, and normally she will be the house
ruler--just as she is now in most well-contrived households. Her
personality will make the home atmosphere; that is the woman's gift
and privilege, and she will be able to do it with a free hand. I
suppose that for the husband's cost in the household the present
custom of cultivated people of independent means will continue, and he
will pay over to his wife his share of the household expenses....

After the revenue in the domestic budget under Socialism one must
consider the expenditure. I have already given an idea how the rent
and rates, lighting and water are to be dealt with under Socialist
conditions. For the rest, the housewife will be dealing on very
similar lines to those she goes upon at present. She will buy what she
wants and pay cash for it. The milkman will come in the morning and
leave his "book" at the end of the week, but instead of coming from
Mr. Watertap Jones' or the Twenty-per-cent. Dairy Company, he will
come from the Municipal Dairy; he will have no interest in giving
short measure, and all the science in the State will be behind him in
keeping the milk clean and pure. If he is unpunctual or trying in any
way, the lady will complain just as she does now, but to his official
superiors instead of his employer; and if that does not do, she and
her aggrieved neighbours (all voters, you will understand) will put
the thing to their representative in the parish or municipal council.
Then she will buy her meat and grocery and so on, not in one of a
number of inefficient little shops with badly assorted goods under
unknown brands as she does now if she lives in a minor neighbourhood,
but in a branch of a big, well-organized business like Lipton's or
Whiteley's or Harrod's. She may have to go to it on a municipal
electric car, for which she will probably pay a fare just as she does
now, unless, perhaps, her house rent includes a season ticket. The
store will not belong to Mr. Lipton or Mr. Whiteley or Mr. Harrod, but
to the public--that will be the chief difference--and if she does not
like her service she will be able to criticize and remedy it, just as
one can now criticize and remedy any inefficiency in one's local
post-office. If she does not like the brands of goods supplied she
will be able to insist upon others. There will be brands, too,
different from the household names of to-day in the goods she will
buy. The county arms of Devon will be on the butter paper, Hereford
and Kent will guarantee her cider, Hampshire and Wiltshire answer for
her bacon--just as now already Australia brands her wines and New
Zealand protects her from deception (and insures clean, decent
slaughtering) in the matter of Canterbury lamb. I rather like to think
of the red dagger of London on the wholesome bottled ales of her great
(municipalized) breweries, and Maidstone or Rochester, let us say,
boasting a special reputation for jam or pickles. Good honest food all
of it will be, made by honest unsweated women and men, with the pride
of broad vales and uplands, counties, principalities and great cities
behind it. Each county and municipality will be competing freely
against its fellows, not in price but quality, the cheeses of Cheshire
against the cheeses of France and Switzerland, the beer of Munich
against the Kentish brew; bread from the bakeries of London and Paris,
biscuits from Reading town, chocolates from Switzerland and
Bourneville, side by side with butter from the meadows of Denmark and

Then, when the provisions have been bought, she will go perhaps to the
other departments of the great store and buy or order the fine linen
and cotton of the Manchester men, the delicate woollens of the
Bradford city looms, the silks of London or Mercia, Northampton or
American boots, and so forth, just as she does now in any of the great
stores. But, as I say, all these goods will be honest goods, made to
wear as well as look well, and the shopman will have no "premiums" to
tempt him to force rubbish upon her instead of worthy makes by
specious "introduction."

But suppose she wants a hat or a dress made. Then, probably, for all
that the world is under Socialism she will have to go to private
enterprise; a matter of taste and individuality such as dress cannot
be managed in a wholesale way. She will probably find in the same
building as the big department store, a number of little
establishments, of Madame This, of Mrs. That, some perhaps with
windows displaying a costume or so or a hat or so, and here she will
choose her particular artiste and contrive the thing with her. I am
inclined to think the dressmaker or milliner will charge a fee
according to her skill and reputation for designing and cutting and so
on, and that the customer will pay the store separately for material
and the municipal workshop for the making under the artiste's
direction. I don't think, that is, that the milliner or dressmaker
will make a trading profit, but only an artiste's fee.

And if the lady wants to buy books, music, artistic bric-a-brac, or
what not, she will find the big store displaying and selling all these
things on commission for the municipal or private producers all over
the world....

So much for the financial and economic position of an ordinary woman
in a Socialist State. But management and economies are but the basal
substance of a woman's life. She will be free not merely financially;
the systematic development of the social organisation and of the
mechanism of life will be constantly releasing her more and more from
the irksome duties and drudgeries that have consumed so much of the
energies of her sex in the past. She will be a citizen, and free as a
man to read for herself, think for herself and seek expression. Under
the law, in politics and all the affairs of life she will be the equal
of a man. No one will control her movements or limit her actions or
stand over her to make decisions for her. All these things are
implicit in the fundamental generalization of Socialism, which denies
property in human beings.

§ 3.

Perhaps now the reader will be able to figure a little better the
common texture of the life of a teacher or a housewife under
Socialism. And incidentally I have glanced at the position a clever
milliner or dressmaker would probably have under the altered
conditions. The great mass of the _employés_ in the distributing trade
would obviously be living a sort of clarified, dignified version of
their present existence, freed from their worst anxieties, the terror
of the "swap," the hopeless approach of old age, and from the sweated
food and accommodation of the living-in system. Under Socialism the
"living-in" system would be incredible. Their conditions of life would
approximate to those of the teacher. Like him they would be enrolled a
part of a great public service, and like him entitled to a minimum
wage, and over and above that they would draw salaries commensurate
with the positions their energy and ability had won. The prosperous
merchant of to-day would find himself somewhere high in the hierarchy
of the distributing service. If, for example, you are a tea merchant
or a provision broker, then probably if you like that calling, you
would be handling the same kind of goods, not for profit but
efficiency, "shipping into the Midlands" from Liverpool, let us say,
much as you do now. You would be keener on quality and less keen on
deals; that is all. You would not be trying to "skin" a business
rival, but very probably you would be just as keen to beat the London
distributers and distinguish yourself in that way. And you would get a
pretty good salary; modern Socialism does not propose to maintain any
dead-level to the detriment of able men. Modern Socialism has cleared
itself of that jealous hatred of prosperity that was once a part of
class-war Socialism. You would be, you see, far more than you are now,
one of the pillars of your town's prosperity--and the Town Hall would
be a place worth sitting in....

So far as the rank and file of the distributing service is concerned
the chief differences would be a better education, security for a
minimum living, an assured old age, shorter hours, more private
freedom and more opportunity. Since the whole business would be public
and the customer would be one's indirect master through the polling
booth, promotion would be far more by merit than it is now in private
businesses, where irrelevant personal considerations are often
overpowering, and it would be open to any one to apply for a transfer
to some fresh position if he or she found insufficient scope in the
old one. The staff of the stores will certainly "live out," and their
homes and way of living will be closely parallel to that of the two
people I have sketched in §§ 1 and 2.

In the various municipal and State Transit Services, the condition of
affairs would be even closer to a broadened and liberalized version of
things as they are. The conductors and drivers will no doubt wear
uniforms for convenience of recognition, but a uniform will carry with
it no association with the idea of a livery as it does at the present
time. Mostly this service will be run by young men, and each one, like
the private of the democratic French Army, will feel that he has a
marshal's _batôn_ in his knapsack. He will have had a good education;
he will have short hours of duty and leisure for self-improvement or
other pursuits, and if he remains a conductor or driver all his life
he will have only his own unpretending qualities to thank for that. He
will probably remain a conductor if he likes to remain a conductor,
and go elsewhere if he does not. He is not obliged to take that
_batôn_ out and bother with it if he has quiet tastes.

The great organized industries, mining, cotton, iron, building and the
like, would differ chiefly in the permanence of employment and the
systematic evasion of the social hardship caused now-a-days by new
inventions and economies in method. There will exist throughout the
world an organized economic survey, which will continually prepare and
revise estimates of the need of iron, coal, cloth and so forth in the
coming months; the blind speculative production of our own times is
due merely to the dark ignorance in which we work in these matters,
and with such a survey, employment will lose much of the cruel
intermittence it now displays. The men in these great productive
services, quite equally with teachers and railwaymen, will be
permanently employed. They will be no more taken on and turned off by
the day or week than we should take on or turn off an extra policeman,
or depend for our defence upon soldiers casually engaged upon the
battlefield at sixpence an hour. And if by adopting some ingenious
device we dispense suddenly with the labour of hundreds of men, the
Socialist State will send them, not into the casual wards and colonies
as our State does, to become a social burthen there, but into the
technical schools to train for some fresh use of their energies. Taken
all round, of course, these men, even the least enterprising or able,
will be better off than they are now, with a fuller share of the
product of their industry. Many will no doubt remain as they are,
rather through want of ambition than want of push, because under
Socialism life will be tolerable for a poor man. A man who chooses to
do commonplace work and spend his leisure upon chess or billiards, or
in gossip or eccentric studies, or amusing but ineffectual art, will
remain a poor man indeed, but not be made a wretched one. Sheer toil
of a mechanical sort there is little need of in the world now, it
could be speedily dispensed with at a thousand points were human
patience not cheaper than good machinery, but there will still remain
ten thousand undistinguished sorts of work for unambitious men....

If you are a farmer or any sort of horticulturist, a fruit or flower
grower, let us say, or a seedsman, you will probably find yourself
still farming under Socialism--that is to say, renting land and
getting what you can out of it. Your rent will be fixed just as it is
to-day by what people will give. But your landlord will be the
Municipality or the County, and the rent you pay will largely come
back to you in repairs, in the guiding reports and advice of the
Agricultural Department, in improved roads, in subventions to a good
electric car service to take your produce to market; in aids and
education for your children. You will probably have a greater fixity
of tenure and a clearer ownership in improvements than you have
to-day. I am inclined to think that your dairying and milking and so
forth will be done for you wholesale in big public dairies and mills
because of the economy of that; you will send up the crude produce and
sell it, perhaps, to the county association to brand and distribute.
It is probable you will sell your crops standing, and the public
authority will organize the harvesting and bring out an army of
workers from the towns to gather your fruit, hops and corn. You will
need, therefore, only a small permanent staff of labourers, and these
are much more likely to be partners with you in the enterprise than
wage workers needing to be watched and driven.

In your leisure you will shoot, perhaps, or hunt, if your tastes
incline that way--it is quite likely that scattered among the farms of
the future countryside will be the cottages and homes of all sorts of
people with open-air tastes who will share their sports with you. One
need not dread the disappearance of sport with the disappearance of
the great house.... In the dead winter-time you will probably like to
run into the nearest big town with your wife and family, stay in an
hotel for a few weeks to talk to people in your clubs, see what plays
there are in the municipal theatres and so forth. And you will no
doubt travel also in your holidays. All the world will know something
of the pleasures and freedom of travel, of wandering and the enjoyment
of unfamiliar atmospheres, of mountains and deserts and remote cities
and deep forests, and the customs of alien peoples.

§ 4.

A medical man or woman, or a dentist or any such skilled professional,
like the secondary school-master, will cease to be a private
adventurer under Socialism, concerned chiefly with the taking of a
showy house and the use of a showy conveyance; he or she will become
part of one of the greatest of all the public services in the coming
time, the service of public health. Either he--I use this pronoun and
imply its feminine--will be on the staff of one of the main hospitals
(which will not be charities, but amply endowed public institutions),
or he will be a part of a district staff, working in conjunction with
a nursing organization, a cottage hospital, an isolation hospital and
so forth, or he will be an advising specialist, or mainly engaged in
research or teaching and training a new generation in the profession.

He must not judge his life and position quite by the lives and
position of publicly endowed investigators and medical officers of
health to-day. At present, because of the jealousy of the private
owner who has, as he says, to "find the funds," almost all public
employment is badly paid relatively to privately earned incomes. The
same thing is true of all scientific investigators and of most public
officials. The state of things to which Socialism points is a world
that will necessarily be harmonious with these constructive
conceptions and free from these jealousies. Whitehall and South
Kensington have much to fear from the wanton columns of a vulgarized
capitalistic press and from the greedy intrigues of syndicated
capital, but nothing from a sane constructive Socialism. To the public
official, therefore, of the present time, the Socialist has merely to
say that he will probably be better paid, relatively, than he is now,
and in the matter of his house rents and domestic marketing, _vide

But now, suppose you are an artist--and I use the word to cover all
sorts of art, literary, dramatic and musical, as well as painting,
sculpture, design and architecture--you want before all things freedom
for personal expression, and you probably have an idea that this is
the last thing you will get in the Socialist State. But, indeed, you
will get far more than you do now. You will begin as a student, no
doubt, in your local Municipal Art Schools, and there you will win
prizes and scholarships and get some glorious years of youth and work
in Italy or Paris, or Germany or London, or Boston or New York, or
wherever the great teachers and workers of your art gather thickest;
and then you will compete, perhaps, for some public work, and have
something printed or published or reproduced and sold for you by your
school or city; or get a loan from your home municipality for
material--if your material costs money--and set to work making that
into some saleable beautiful thing. If you are at all distinguished in
quality, you will have a competition among public authorities from the
beginning, to act as sponsors and dealers for your work; benevolent
dealers they will be, and content with a commission. And if you make
things that make many people interested and happy, you may by that
fortunate gift of yours, grow to be as rich and magnificent a person
as any one in the Socialist State. But if you do not please people at
all, either the connoisseurs of the municipal art collection or
private associations of art patrons or the popular buyer, well, then
your lot will be no harder than the lot of any unsuccessful artist
now; you will have to do something else for a time and win leisure to
try again.

Theatrical productions will be run on a sort of improvement upon
contemporary methods, but there will be no cornering of talent
possible, no wild advertisement of favoured stars upon strictly
commercial lines, no Theatrical Trust. The theatres will be municipal
buildings, every theatre-going voter will be keen to see them
comfortable and fine; they will, perhaps, be run in some cases by a
public repertoire company and in another by a lessee, and this latter
may be financed by his own private savings or by subscribers or
partners, or by a loan from the public bank as the case may be. This
latter method of exploitation by a lessee will probably also work best
in the public Music Halls, but it is quite equally possible that these
may be controlled by managers under partly elected and partly
appointed public committees. In some cases the theatrical lessee might
be a kind of stage society organized for the production of particular
types of play. The spectators will pay for admission, of course, as
they do now, but to the municipal box offices; and I suppose the
lessee or the author and artists will divide up the surplus after the
rent of the theatre has been deducted for the municipal treasury. In
every town of any importance there will be many theatres, music halls
and the like, perhaps under competing committees. In all these
matters, as every intelligent person understands, one has to maintain
variety of method, a choice of avenues, freedom from autocracies; and
since the Socialist community will contain a great number of
intelligent persons with leisure and opportunity for artistic
appreciation, there is little chance of this important principle being
forgotten, much less than there is in this world where a group of
dealers can often make an absolute corner in this artistic market or
that. You will not, under Socialism, see Sarah Bernhardt playing in a
tent as she had to do in America, because all the theatres have been
closed against her through some mean dispute with a Trust about the
sharing of profits....

And if it is not too sudden a transition, it seems most convenient in
a Socialist State to leave religious worship entirely to the care of
private people; to let them subscribe among themselves, subject, of
course, to a reasonable statute of mortmain, to lease land, and build
and endow and maintain churches and chapels, altars and holy places
and meeting-houses, priests and devout ceremonies. This will be the
more easily done since the heavy social burthens that oppress
religious bodies at the present time will be altogether lifted from
them; they will have no poor to support, no schools, no hospitals, no
nursing sisters, the advance of civilization will have taken over
these duties of education and humanity that Christianity first taught
us to realize. So, too, there seems no objection and no obstacle in
Socialism to religious houses, to nunneries, monasteries and the like,
so far as these institutions are compatible with personal freedom and
the public health, but of course factory laws and building laws will
run through all these places, and the common laws and limitations of
contract override their vows, if their devotees repent. So that you
see Socialism will touch nothing living of religion, and if you are a
religious minister, you will be very much as you are at the present
time, but with lightened parochial duties. If you are an earnest woman
and want to nurse the sick and comfort the afflicted, you will need
only, in addition to your religious profession, to qualify as a nurse
or medical practitioner. There will still be ample need of you.
Socialism will not make an end of human trouble, either of the body or
of the soul, albeit it will put these things into such comfort and
safety as it may.

§ 5.

And now let me address a section to those particular social types
whose method of living seems most threatened by the development of an
organized civilization, who find it impossible to imagine lives at all
like their own in the Socialist State....

But first it may be well to remind them again of something I have
already done my best to make clear, that the modern Socialist
contemplates no swift change of conditions from those under which we
live, to Socialism. There will be no wonderful Monday morning when the
old order will give place to the new. Year by year the great change
has to be brought about, now by this socialization of a service, now
by an alteration in the incidence of taxation, now by a new device of
public trading, now by an extension of education. This problem at the
utmost is a problem of adaptation, and for most of those who would
have no standing under the revised conceptions of social intercourse,
it is no more than to ask whether it is wise they should prepare their
sons or daughters to follow in their footsteps or consent to regard
their callings as a terminating function.

So far as many professions and callings go, this matter may be
dismissed in a few words. Under Socialism, while the particular trade
or profession might not exist, there would probably be ample scope in
the public machine for the socially more profitable employment of the
same energies. A family solicitor, such as we know now, would have a
poor time in a Socialist State, but the same qualities of watchful
discretion would be needed at a hundred new angles and friction
surfaces of the State organization. In the same way the private
shopkeeper, as I have already explained, would be replaced by the
department managers and buyers of the public stores, the rent
collector, the estate bailiff--one might make long lists of social
types who would undergo a parallel transformation.

But suppose now you are a servant, I mean a well-trained, expert,
prosperous servant; would the world have no equivalent of you under
the new order? I think probably it would. With a difference, there
will be room for a vast body of servants in the Socialist State. But I
think there will be very few servants to private people, and that the
"menial" conception of a servant will have vanished in an entirely
educated community. The domestic work of the ordinary home, one may
prophesy confidently, will be very much reduced in the near future
whether we move toward Socialism or no; all the dirt of coal, all the
disagreeableness attendant upon lamps and candles, most of the heavy
work of cooking will be obviated by electric lighting and heating, and
much of the bedroom service dispensed with through the construction of
properly equipped bath-dressing-rooms. In addition, it is highly
probable that there will be a considerable extension of the club idea;
ordinary people will dine more freely in public places, and
conveniences for their doing so will increase. The single-handed
servant will have disappeared, and if you are one of that class you
must console yourself by thinking that under Socialism you would have
been educated up to seventeen or eighteen and then equipped for some
more interesting occupation. But there will remain much need of
occasional help of a more skilled sort, in cleaning out the house
thoroughly every now and then, probably with the help of mechanisms,
in recovering and repairing furniture, and in all this sort of
"helping" which will be done as between one social equal and another,
many people who are now, through lack of opportunity and education,
servants, will no doubt be employed. But where the better type of
service will be found will probably be in the clubs and associated
homes, where pleasant-mannered, highly-paid, skilful people will see
to the ease and comfort of a considerable _clientèle_ without either
offence or servility. There still remains, no doubt, a number of
valets, footmen, maids and so on, who under Socialism would not be
servants at all, but something far better, more interesting and more
productive socially.

But this writing of servants brings me now to another possibility, and
that is that perhaps you are, dear reader, one of that small number of
fortunate people, rich and well placed in the world, who even under
existing conditions seem to possess all that life can offer a human
being. You live beautifully in a great London house, waited upon by
companies of servants, you have country seats with parks about them
and fine gardens, you can travel luxuriously to any part of the
civilized world and live sumptuously there. All things are done for
you, all ways are made smooth for you. A skilled maid or valet saves
you even the petty care of your person; skilled physicians, wonderful
specialists intervene at any threat of illness or discomfort; you keep
ten years younger in appearance than your poorer contemporaries and
twice as splendid. And above all you have an immense sense of downward
perspectives, of being special and apart and above the common herd of

Now frankly Socialism will be incompatible with this patrician style.
You must contemplate the end of all that. You may still be healthy,
refined, free, beautifully clothed and housed; but you will not have
either the space or the service or the sense of superiority you enjoy
now, under Socialism. You would have to take your place among the
multitude again. Only a moiety of your property will remain to your
sort of person if any revolution is achieved. The rents upon which you
live, the investments that yield the income that makes the employment
of that army of butlers and footmen, estate workers and underlings
possible, that buys your dresses, your jewels, your motorcars, your
splendid furnishings and equipments, will for the most part be public
property, yielding revenue to some national or municipal treasury. You
will have to give up much of that. There is no way out of it, your way
to Socialism is through "the needle's eye." From your rare class and
from your class alone does Socialism require a real material
sacrifice. You must indeed give up much coarse pride. There is no help
for it, you must face that if you face Socialism at all. You must come
down to a simpler and, in many material aspects, less distinguished
way of living.

This is so clearly evident that to any one who believes self-seeking
is the ruling motive, the only possible motive in mankind, it seems
incredible that your class ever will do anything than oppose to the
last the advancement of Socialism. You will fight for what you have,
and the Have-nots will fight to take it away. Therefore it is that the
Socialists of the Social Democratic Federation preach a class war; to
my mind a lurid, violent and distasteful prospect. We shall have to
get out of the miseries and disorder of to-day, they think, if not by
way of chateau-burning and tumbrils, at least by a mitigated
equivalent of that. But I am not of that opinion. I have a lurking
belief that you are not altogether eaten up by the claims of your own
magnificence. While there are no doubt a number of people in your
class who would fight like rats in a corner against, let us say, the
feeding of poor people's starving children or the recovery of the land
by the State to which it once belonged, I believe there is enough of
nobility in your class as a whole to considerably damp their
resistance. Because you have silver mirrors and silver hairbrushes, it
does not follow that you have not a conscience. I am no believer in
the theory that to be a _sans-culotte_ is to be morally impeccable, or
that a man loses his soul because he possesses thirty pairs of
trousers beautifully folded by a valet. I cherish the belief that your
very refinement will turn--I have seen it in one or two fine minds
visibly turning--against the social conditions that made it possible.
All this space, all this splendour has its traceable connection with
the insufficiencies and miseries from which you are so remote. Once
that realization comes to you the world changes. In certain lights,
correlated with that, your magnificence can look, you will
discover--forgive the word!--a little _vulgar_....

Once you have seen that you will continue to see it. The _nouveau
riche_ of the new Plutocratic type comes thrusting among you,
demonstrating that sometimes quite obtrusively. You begin by feeling
sorry for his servants and then apologetic to your own. You cannot "go
it" as the rich Americans and the rich South Africans, or prosperous
book-makers or rich music-hall proprietors, "go it," their silver and
ivory and diamonds throw light on your own. And among other things you
discover you are not nearly so dependent on the numerous men in
livery, the spaces and enrichments, for your pride and comfort, as
these upstart people.

I trust also to the appeal of the intervening spaces. You cannot so
entirely close your world in from the greater world without that, in
transit at least, the other aspects do not intrude. Every time you
leave Charing Cross for the Continent, for example, there are all
those horrible slums on either side of the line. These things _are_,
you know, a part of your system, part of you; they are the reverse of
that splendid fabric and no separate thing, the wide rich tapestry of
your lives comes through on the other side, stitch for stitch in
stunted bodies, in children's deaths, in privation and anger. Your
grandmothers did not realize that. You do. You _know_. In that
recognition and a certain nobility I find in you, I put my hope, much
more than in any dreadful memories of 1789 and those vindictive pikes.
Your class is a strangely mixed assembly of new and old, of base and
fine. But through it all, in Great Britain and Western Europe
generally, soaks a tradition truly aristocratic, a tradition that
transcends property; you are aware, and at times uneasily aware, of
duty and a sort of honour. You cannot bilk cabmen nor cheat at cards;
there is something in your making forbids that as strongly as an
instinct. But what if it is made clear to you (and it is being made
clear to you) that the wealth you have is, all unwittingly on your
part, the outcome of a colossal--if unpremeditated--social bilking?

Moreover, though Socialism does ask you to abandon much space and
service, it offers you certain austere yet not altogether inadequate
compensations. If you will cease to have that admirable house in
Mayfair and the park in Kent and the moorlands and the Welsh castle,
yet you will have another ownership of a finer kind to replace those
things. For all London will be yours, a city to serve indeed, and a
sense of fellowship that is, if you could but realize it, better than
respect. The common people will not be common under Socialism. That is
a very important thing for you to remember. But better than those
thoughts is this, that you will own yourself too, more than you do
now. All that state, all that prominence of yours--do you never feel
how it stands between you and life?

So I appeal from your wealth to your nobility, to help us to
impoverish your class a little relatively and make all the world
infinitely richer by that impoverishment. And I am sure that to some
of you I shall not appeal in vain....

§ 6.

And lastly, perhaps you are chiefly a patriot and you are concerned
for the flag and country with which your emotions have interwoven. You
find that the Socialist talks constantly of internationalism and the
World State, and that presents itself to your imagination as a very
vague and colourless substitute for a warm and living reality of
England or "these States" or the Empire. Well, your patriotism will
have suffered a change, but I do not think it need starve under
Socialist conditions. It may be that war will have ceased, but the
comparison and competition and pride of communities will not have
ceased. Philadelphia and Chicago, Boston and New York are at peace, in
all probability for ever at peace, so far as guns and slaughter go,
but each perpetually criticizes, goads and tries to outshine the
other. And the civic pride and rivalry of to-day will be nothing to
that pride and rivalry when every man's business is the city and the
city's honour and well-being is his own. You will have, therefore,
first this civic patriotism, your ancient pride in your city, a city
which will be like the city of the ancient Athenian's, or the mediæval
Italian's, the centre of a system of territories and the property and
chief interest of its citizens. I, for instance, should love and
serve, even as I love to-day, my London and my Cinque Ports, these
Home Counties about London, the great lap of the Thames valley and the
Weald and Downland, my own country in which all my life has been
spent; for you the city may be Ulster or Northumbria, or Wales or East
or West Belgium, or Finland or Burgundy, or Berne or Berlin, or
Venetia, Pekin, Calcutta, Queensland or San Francisco. And keeping the
immediate peace between these vigorous giant municipal states and
holding them together there will still be in many cases the old
national or Imperial government and the old flag, a means of joint
action between associated and kindred municipalities with a common
language and a common history and a common temper and race. The nation
and the national government will be the custodian of the national
literature and the common law, the controller and perhaps the vehicle
of intermunicipal and international trade, and an intermediary between
its municipal governments and that great Congress to which all things
are making, that permanent international Congress which will be
necessary to insure the peace of the world.

That, at least, is my own dream of the order that may emerge from the
confusion of distrusts and tentatives and dangerous absurdities, those
reactions of fear and old traditional attitudes and racial
misconceptions which one speaks of as international relations to-day.
For I do not believe that war is a necessary condition to human
existence and progress, that it is anything more than a confusion we
inherit from the less organized phases of social development. I think
but a little advancement in general intelligence will make it an
impossible thing.

But suppose after all that I am wrong in my estimate in this matter,
and that war will still be possible in a Socialist or partly Socialist
world; suppose that the Socialist State in which I am imagining you to
live is threatened by some military power. Then I don't think the
military power that threatens it need threaten very long. Because
consider, here will be a State organized for collective action as
never a State has been organized before, a State in which every man
and woman will be a willing and conscious citizen saturated with the
spirit of service, in which scientific research will be at a maximum
of vigour and efficiency. What individualist or autocratic militarism
will stand a chance against it? It goes quite without saying from the
essential principles of Socialism that _if war is necessary_ then
every citizen will, as a matter of course, take his part in that war.
It is mere want of intellectual grasp that has made a few
working-class Socialists in England and France oppose military
service. Universal military service, given the need for it, is innate
in the Socialist idea, just as it is blankly antagonistic to the
"private individual" ideas of Eighteenth-Century Liberalism. It is
innate in the Socialist idea, but equally innate in that is the
conception of establishing and maintaining for ever a universal peace.



§ 1.

And here my brief exposition of the ideals of Modern Socialism may
fitly end.

I have done my best to set out soberly and plainly this great idea of
deliberately making a real civilization by the control and
subordination of the instinct of property, and the systematic
development of a state of consciousness out of the achievements and
squalor, out of the fine forces and wasted opportunities of to-day. I
may have an unconscious bias perhaps, but so far as I have been able I
have been just and frank, concealing nothing of the doubts and
difficulties of Socialism, nothing of the divergencies of opinion
among its supporters, nothing of the generous demands it makes upon
the social conscience, the Good Will in man. Its supporters are
divergent upon a hundred points, but upon its fundamental
generalizations they are all absolutely agreed, and some day the whole
world will be agreed. Their common purport is the resumption by the
community of all property that is not justly and obviously personal,
and the substitution of the spirit of service for the spirit of gain
in all human affairs.

It must be clear to the reader who has followed my explanations
continuously, that the present advancement of Socialism must lie now
along three several lines.

    FIRST, and most important, is the primary intellectual
    process, the elaboration, criticism, discussion, enrichment
    and enlargement of the project of Socialism. This includes all
    sorts of sociological and economic research, the critical
    literature of Socialism, and every possible way--the drama,
    poetry, painting, music--of expressing and refining its
    spirit, its attitudes and conceptions. It includes, too, all
    sorts of experiments in living and association. In its widest
    sense it includes all science, literature and invention.

    SECONDLY, comes the propaganda; the publication, distribution,
    repetition, discussion and explanation of this growing body of
    ideas, until this conception of a real civilized State as
    being in the making, becomes the common intellectual property
    of all intelligent people in the world; until the laws and
    social injustices that now seem, to the ordinary man, as much
    parts of life as the east wind and influenza, will seem
    irrational, unnatural and absurd. This educational task is at
    the present time the main work that the mass of Socialists
    have before them. Most other possibilities wait upon that
    enlargement of the general circle of ideas. It is a work that
    every one can help forward in some measure, by talk and
    discussion, by the distribution of literature, by writing and
    speaking in public, by subscribing to propagandist

    And THIRDLY, there is the actual changing of practical things
    in the direction of the coming Socialized State, the actual
    socialization, bit by bit and more and more completely, of the
    land, of the means of production, of education and child
    welfare, of insurance and the food supply, the realization, in
    fact, of that great design which the intellectual process of
    Socialism is continually making more beautiful, attractive and
    worthy. Now this third group of activities is necessarily
    various and divergent, and at every point the conscious and
    confessed Socialist will find himself co-operating with
    partial or unintentional Socialists, with statesmen and
    officials, with opportunist philanthropists, with trade
    unionists, with religious bodies and religious teachers, with
    educationists, with scientific and medical specialists, with
    every sort of public-spirited person. He should never lose an
    opportunity of explaining to such people how necessarily they
    are Socialists, but he should never hesitate to work with them
    because they refuse the label. For in the house of Socialism
    as in the house of God, there are many mansions.

These are the three main channels for Socialist effort, thought,
propaganda and practical social and political effort, and between them
they afford opportunity for almost every type of intelligent human
being. One may bring leisure, labour, gifts, money, reputation,
influence to the service of Socialism; there is ample use for them
all. There is work to be done for this idea, from taking tickets at a
doorway and lending a drawing-room for a meeting, to facing death,
impoverishment and sorrow for its sake.

§ 2.

Socialism is a moral and intellectual process, let me in conclusion
reiterate that. Only secondarily and incidentally does it sway the
world of politics. It is not a political movement; it may engender
political movements, but it can never become a political movement; any
political body, any organization whatever, that professes to stand for
Socialism, makes an altogether too presumptuous claim. The whole is
greater than the part, the will than the instrument. There can be no
official nor pontifical Socialism; the theory lives and grows. It
springs out of the common sanity of mankind. Constructive Socialism
shapes into a great system of developments to be forwarded, points to
a great number of systems of activity amidst which its adherents may
choose their field for work. Parties and societies may come or go,
parties and organizations and names may be used and abandoned;
constructive Socialism lives and remains.

There is a constantly recurring necessity to insist on the difference
between two things, the larger and the lesser, the greater being the
Socialist movement, the lesser the various organizations that come and
go. There is this necessity because there is a sort of natural
antagonism between the thinker and writer who stand by the scheme and
seek to develop and expound it, and the politician who attempts to
realize it. They are allies, but allies who often pull against each
other, whom a little heat and thoughtlessness may precipitate into a
wasteful conflict. The former is, perhaps, too apt to resent the
expenditure of force in those conflicts of cliques and personal
ambition that inevitably arise among men comparatively untrained for
politics, those squabbles and intrigues, reservations and
insincerities that precede the birth of a tradition of discipline; the
latter is equally prone to think literature too broad-minded for daily
life, and to associate all those aspects of the Socialist project
which do not immediately win votes, with fads, kid gloves,
"gentlemanliness," rose-water and such-like contemptible things. These
squabbles of the engineer and the navigating officer must not be
allowed to confuse the mind of the student of Socialism. They are
quarrels of the mess-room, quarrels on board the ship and within
limits, they have nothing to do with the general direction of
Socialism. Like all indisciplines they hinder but they do not
contradict the movement. Socialism, the politicians declare, can only
be realized through politics. Socialism, I would answer, can never be
narrowed down to politics. Your parties and groups may serve
Socialism, but they can never be Socialism. Scientific progress,
medical organization, the advancement of educational method, artistic
production and literature are all aspects of Socialism, they are all
interests and developments that lie apart from anything one may
call--except by sheer violence to language--politics.

And since Socialism is an intellectual as well as a moral thing, it
will never tolerate in its adherents the abnegation of individual
thought and intention. It demands devotion to an idea, not devotion to
a leader. No addicted follower of so-and-so or of so-and-so can be a
good Socialist any more than he can be a good scientific investigator.
So far Socialism has produced no great leaders at all. Lassalle alone
of all its prominent names was of that romantic type of personality
which men follow with enthusiasm. The others, Owen, Saint Simon, and
Fourier, Proudhon, Marx, and Engels, Bebel, Webb, J. S. Mill, Jaurès,
contributed to a process they never seized hold upon, never made their
own, they gave enrichment and enlargement and the movement passed on;
passes on gathering as it goes. Kingsley, Morris, Ruskin--none are too
great to serve this idea, and none so great they may control it or
stand alone for it. So it will continue. Socialism under a great
leader, or as a powerfully organized party would be the end of
Socialism. No doubt it might also be its partial triumph; but the
reality of the movement would need to take to itself another name; to
call itself "constructive civilization" or some such synonym, in order
to continue its undying work. Socialism no doubt will inspire great
leaders in the future, and supply great parties with ideas; in itself
it will still be greater than all such things.

§ 3.

But here, perhaps, before the finish, since the business of this book
is explanation, it may be well to define a little the relation of
Socialism to the political party that is most closely identified with
it in the popular mind. This is the Labour Party. There can be no
doubt of the practical association of aim and interest of the various
Labour parties throughout modern civilized communities with the
Socialist movement. The Social democrats of Germany are the Labour
Party of that country, and wherever the old conception of Socialism
prevails, those "class war" ideas of the Marxist that have been
superseded in English Socialism for nearly a quarter of a century,
there essentially the Socialist movement will take the form of a
revolutionary attack upon the owning and governing sections of the
community. But in Great Britain and America the Labour movement has
never as a whole been revolutionary or insurrectionary in spirit, and
in these countries Socialism has been affected from its very
beginnings by constructive ideas. It has never starkly antagonized
Labour on the one hand, and the other necessary elements in a
civilized State on the other; it has never--I speak of the movement as
a whole and not of individual utterances--contemplated a community
made up wholly of "Labour" and emotionally democratic, such as the
Marxist teaching suggests. The present labouring classes stand to gain
enormously in education, dignity, leisure, efficiency and opportunity
by the development of a Socialist State, and just in so far as they
become intelligent will they become Socialist; but we all, all of us
of Good Will, we and our children, of nearly every section of the
community stand also to gain and have also our interest in this
development. Great as the Labour movement is, the Socialist movement
remains something greater. The one is the movement of a class, the
other a movement of the best elements in every class.

None the less it remains true that under existing political conditions
it is to the Labour Party that the Socialist must look for the mass
and emotion and driving force of political Socialism. Among the wage
workers of the modern civilized community Socialists are to be counted
now by the hundred thousand, and in those classes alone does an
intelligent self-interest march clearly and continuously in the
direction of constructive civilization. In the other classes the
Socialists are dispersed and miscellaneous in training and spirit,
hampered by personal and social associations, presenting an enormous
variety of aspects and incapable, it would seem, of co-operation
except in relation to the main Socialist body, the Labour mass.
Through that, and in relation and service to that, they must, it would
seem, spend their political activities (I am writing now only of
political activities) if they are not to be spent very largely to
waste. The two other traditional parties in British politics are no
doubt undergoing remarkable changes and internal disruptions, and the
constructive spirit of the time is at work within them; but it does
not seem that either is likely to develop anything nearly so
definitely a Socialist programme as the Labour Party. The old
Conservative Party, in spite of its fine aristocratic traditions,
tends more and more to become the party of the adventurous Plutocracy,
of the aggressive _nouveau riche_, inclines more and more towards the
inviting financial possibilities of modern "Imperialism" and "Tariff
Reform." The old Liberal Party strains between these two antagonists
and its own warring and conflicting traditions of Whiggery and
Radicalism. There can be no denying the great quantity of "Good Will"
and constructive intention that finds a place in its very
miscellaneous ranks, but the strong strain of obstinate and
irreconcilable individualism is equally indisputable.

But the official Liberal attitude is one thing, and a very
unsubstantial and transitory thing, and the great mass of Good Will
and broad thinking in the ranks of Liberalism and the middle class
quite another. Socialists are to be found not only in every class, but
in every party. There can be no "Socialist" party as such. That is the
misleading suggestion of irresponsible and destructive adventurers. It
is impossible to estimate what forces of political synthesis may be at
work at the present time, or what ruptures and coalitions may not
occur in the course of a few years. These things belong to the drama
of politics. They do not affect the fact that the chief Interest in
the community on the side of Socialism is Labour; through intelligent
Labour it is that Socialism becomes a political force and possibility,
and it is to the Labour Party that the Socialist who wishes to engage
in active political work may best give his means and time and energy
and ability.

I write "political work," and once more I would repeat that it is to
the field of electioneering and parliamentary politics under present
conditions that this section refers. The ultimate purpose of Socialism
can rely upon no class because it aims to reconstitute all classes. In
a Socialist State there will be no class doomed to mere "labour," no
class privileged to rule and decide. For every child there will be
fair opportunity and education and scope to the limit of its
possibilities. To the best there will be given difficulty and
responsibility, honour and particular rewards, but to all security and
reasonable work and a tolerable life. The interests and class
traditions upon which our party distinctions of to-day rely must
necessarily undergo progressive modification with every step we take
towards the realization of the Socialist ideal.

§ 4.

So this general account of Socialism concludes. I have tried to put it
as what it is, as the imperfect and still growing development of the
social idea, of the collective Good Will in man. I have tried to
indicate its relation to politics, to religion, to art and literature,
to the widest problems of life. Its broad generalizations are simple
and I believe acceptable to all clear-thinking minds. And in a way
they do greatly simplify life. Once they have been understood they
render impossible a thousand confusions and errors of thought and
practice. They are in the completest sense of the word, illumination.

But Socialism is no panacea, no magic "Open Sesame" to the millennium.
Socialism lights up certain once hopeless evils in human affairs and
shows the path by which escape is possible, but it leaves that path
rugged and difficult. Socialism is hope, but it is not assurance.
Throughout this book I have tried to keep that before the reader.

Directly one accepts those great generalizations one passes on to a
jungle of incurably intricate problems, through which man has to make
his way or fail, the riddles and inconsistencies of human character,
the puzzles of collective action, the power and decay of traditions,
the perpetually recurring tasks and problems of education. To have
become a Socialist is to have learnt something, to have made an
intellectual and a moral step, to have discovered a general purpose in
life and a new meaning in duty and brotherhood. But to have become a
Socialist is not, as many suppose, to have become generally wise.
Rather in realizing the nature of the task that could be done, one
realizes also one's insufficiencies, one's want of knowledge, one's
need of force and training. Here and in this manner, says Socialism, a
palace and safety and great happiness may be made for mankind. But it
seems to me the Socialist as he turns his hand and way of living
towards that common end knows little of the nature of his task if he
does so with any but a lively sense of his individual weakness and the
need of charity for all that he achieves.

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